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Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut

In my experience, unrinsed sauerkraut liquid overpowers the other ingredients and the result is harsh and unbalanced. Good sauerkraut is pickled and tangy even after rinsing, not at all the same as plain wet shredded cabbage. There's plenty of residual acid in the rinsed sauerkraut (which you want to drain well, not leave watery), & with the added wine and broth it's perfectly adequate to cook the pork properly as well as create a complex flavor profile.

But this is my preference. YMMV.

Dec 09, 2014
benbenberi in Recipes

Which foods do you wish were more popular?

I bet if someone came up with some sexy name for tendon so people didn't realize what it was, they'd eat it and love it.

Which foods do you wish were more popular?

yes on the tongue! Such a soft, rich, luscious meat - I miss it!

Nov 25, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics
1

Why drink chicken soup when you are sick? What so special?

You can make ginger tea with actual tea in it (green tea or black, as you prefer), or just ginger without tea leaves.

Lemon juice is a nice addition, along with honey. Not too much lemon though, the acid may disagree with a delicate stomach.

Nov 02, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics

Boneless skinless chicken breasts in slow cooker?

I was including prep time...

Nov 01, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking

Why drink chicken soup when you are sick? What so special?

Yeah, hot-and-sour is not the way to go for a funny tummy.

That's when you need some good ginger tea. (With freshly grated ginger, and maybe some honey.)

Nov 01, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics

Boneless skinless chicken breasts in slow cooker?

Agreed on all counts.

With an almost identical set of ingredients (+ a dab of olive oil) you can make a good sauteed chicken breast in 15 min.

Use the right tool for the right job. For boneless skinless breasts that come out edible, crock pot is never the right tool.

Nov 01, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking
1

Why drink chicken soup when you are sick? What so special?

Sopa de ajo (garlic soup) is also a good grandma soup when you're sick.

And hot-and-sour soup has excellent sinus-clearing properties.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts in slow cooker?

Like everybody else has said, chicken breasts, esp. the boneless skinless kind, are just no good in a slow cooker. No matter what method or recipe you use, you're pretty much guaranteed to get a dry & rubbery result. Sorry. :(

If you really want to use boneless skinless breasts you have to resign yourself to an active cooking process (e.g. a stir-fry with a bunch of pre-cut veggies, or a quick saute or pan-grill). Boneless skinless breasts only take about 10 min. to cook on top of the stove, and surely you deserve that much of a break from studying!

If you really want to use the slow cooker, it's legs & thighs for you. (Around here, they seem to be on sale fairly often, and thighs on sale are cheaper than breasts on sale. Stores in your neck of the woods may do the same - keep an eye out.)

Or if your slow cooker is big enough, try a whole chicken. It won't dry out, you get good moist breast meat, plus all the rest of the chicken and a fine carcass for soup! The easiest method: just season your whole chicken as if for a roast - salt, pepper, maybe some herbs or other seasoning - put it in the slow cooker without adding liquid, and cook till it's falling-off-the-bone done. There will be plenty of liquid in the bottom of the cooker now, which you can use to make gravy.

Oct 30, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking

Cooking hamburgers indoors

Kenji's method is very close to the way my mom always made burgers, so I've been doing it that way for years. With a good heavy-bottomed pan, getting a good crust is easy. The oil is just to slick the cooking surface, so I generally skip it when I'm using a nonstick pan.

(I generally don't like ridged griddles for a burger - they just guarantee your nice burger crust will be stripy and incomplete, with no compensating improvement anywhere else.)

Oct 30, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking

Meat pie recipe?

Here is my favorite meat pie (don't remember the original source, I've made it many times over the years):

SAVORY MEAT PIE

Crust:
¾ c butter in small pieces
2 c flour
pinch salt
4-6 Tbsp sour cream

Filling:
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 lb ground beef
¾ c cheese, coarsely grated (I usually use a very, very sharp cheddar cuz I like it)
2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried savory
1 egg, beaten

To prepare CRUST: Work butter into flour and salt till it is mealy. Stir in sour cream to bind dough. Work it into a ball. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

To prepare FILLING:
• Sauté onions in butter till lightly browned. Remove to a large bowl.
• Add meat to the same pan. Brown till cooked but not dry. Add to bowl.
• Add chopped eggs and seasonings to bowl. Combine thoroughly.
• Stir in cheese.

To prepare PIE: Roll out half the dough to line a 10-11” pie plate. Spoon in the filling. Roll out the remaining dough and cover. Press the edges with a fork. Brush top with beaten egg, prick, and bake in the lower part of the oven at 375o for 40 min., or till golden brown.

NOTE: You can also make it with store-bought pie crust to save time & effort (though the recipe crust is better). You can also make double the pie crust and half the filling, and make it up as pasties rather than one big pie.

Oct 13, 2014
benbenberi in Home Cooking

What's your WholeFoods grocery list

When I go to Whole Foods, which is only occasionally, what I generally buy is:
* local dairy products
* good cheese not available in regular grocery stores
* fish
* meat (pref. local)
* rotisserie chicken

As for their produce, it's very pretty, but in season I prefer truly local veg from farmer stands & farmer's markets, the rest of the time I can generally get organic stuff at my local supermarket that's good quality and much cheaper. Same for honey, jam & syrup - I get it from the makers, not a chain store. I'd sooner get produce from WF than TJ, though - not pleased with TJ's produce quality in CT.

I don't use much canned or packaged food & have no opinion on what WF sells.

Oct 13, 2014
benbenberi in Chains

What's your WholeFoods grocery list

When I go to Whole Foods, which is only occasionally, what I generally buy is:
* local dairy products
* good cheese not available in regular grocery stores
* fish
* meat (pref. local)
* rotisserie chicken

As for their produce, it's very pretty, but in season I prefer truly local veg from farmstands & farmer's markets, the rest of the time I can generally get organic stuff at my local supermarket that's good quality and much cheaper. Same for honey, jam & syrup - I get it from the makers, not a chain store. I'd sooner get produce from WF than TJ, though - not pleased with TJ's produce quality in CT.

I don't use much canned or packaged food & have no opinion on what WF sells.

Oct 13, 2014
benbenberi in Chains

What is a comparable cheese to Comte'?

If I needed a substitute for Comté, I would generally pick Gruyere. Or Beaufort. All 3 are very similar cheeses. & pretty much interchangeable in recipes.

You *could* use an Emmentaler (or a generic "Swiss Cheese" which is normally Emmentaler-style) but it's distinctly different in flavor & texture than Comté/Beaufort/Gruyere.

Oct 04, 2014
benbenberi in Cheese

USA heavy cream vs UK double cream

The fat content & ultra-pasteurization are separate issues.

Pasteurization is a health-and-safety regulatory requirement, and ultra-pasteurization has become the commercial standard, largely because it's efficient for large operations and the product stays fresh longer. Small dairies sometimes use the non-ultra pasteurization process -- research your local area to find out which producers are doing that and what markets carry them.

The fat content of cream is largely a result of breeding.Most American dairy cattle are Holsteins (the familiar black-and-white cow) -- they produce large volumes of relatively low-fat milk, so they're strongly preferred commercially. Jersey and Guernsey cows give very fatty milk: they're your source of the really thick cream, but they're not so common, and that really thick cream has virtually no commercial market in the US. Again, small dairies (esp. hobby farms) that don't depend on sales volume are more likely to produce it.

Oct 03, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics

Sweet Jesus: Whole Foods No Longer Getting Brillat-Savarin Due to FDA?!

Because tainted food and contaminated drugs are so very very good for us, and no one would ever deliberately market toxic, putrid, and disease-ridden things for profit.

Why would anyone go to Denny’s these days?

I spent a long weekend earlier this year at a hotel on the fringes of a small midwestern city and had breakfast at Denny's across the street 3 of the 4 days I was there. I didn't get any of their fancy named things, just your basic eggs with sausage, potato & English muffin -- the same thing I get at my local diners when I'm out for breakfast. And you know - the basic breakfast I got at Denny's was just as good as what my favorite diners make. Granted, there's nothing fancy, exotic, local or otherwise distinctive about it -- but I've had enough poor-to-mediocre breakfasts over the years to appreciate a well-cooked egg, tasty sausage, and a non-spongy English muffin.

I doubt I'd be tempted to go there for lunch or dinner. At home I have half a dozen good diners within easy breakfast range and no inclination to hunt down if there's a Denny's in the area too. But for a good basic breakfast on the road I would definitely pick Denny's over some of the alternatives.

Sep 23, 2014
benbenberi in Chains

Is minute maid frozen lemon juice still available

They've apparently been having production/supply issues for some time. According to a comment from Minute Maid yesterday on their Facebook page (answering one of many complaints about its unavailability):

"We hear your concern and want to assure you that we are aggressively working to get Minute Maid Premium Lemon Juice back on shelves for you to enjoy. Premium Lemon Juice has not been discontinued and we will continue to keep you posted with any updates!"

It is apparently not, at this moment, actually available anywhere.

Sep 23, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics

Devonsheer / Old London / Wise cheddar waffle snacks

Wise Cheez Waffies seem to cycle in & out of production, but so far they keep coming back. They're around right now (in stock at Amazon, & at stores that carry the full range of Wise snacks).

Sep 18, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics

What is the real cream used in coffee?

I live near New Haven, and I see light cream in the supermarket all the time.

Sep 18, 2014
benbenberi in General Topics

Cooking for one with limited left overs

Experienced cook-for-one here...

Your freezer is your friend. Many soups, stews & casseroles can be frozen in single-serve portions and easily reheated whenever you want them. (It's helpful to label & date them, so you know what you've got and how long you've had it.) Things that involve adding dairy late in the process, like beef stroganoff, should be frozen without it, then you can add it later when you're ready to eat it.

If you're a meat-lover, many cuts of meat can easily be cooked for one- small steaks, chops, or chicken parts. One of my go-to easy meals is to roast a couple of chicken thighs in a baking pan with some cut-up veggies. With a drizzle of oil & seasonings, bake in a hot oven till done. If you put foil in the pan, you may not even have to wash it!

Small cooking vessels are also your friend. I've got a 1-quart crockpot that's perfect for a tiny stew or mini soup. 2-3 servings fills it up, much more efficient and better results than cooking a small amount in a large pot.

If you like salads, keep a selection of your favorite ingredients packed separately in your fridge, then you can mix-and-match for a few days to always have a different salad that's got just the good stuff you like. Similarly with sandwiches.

"Cute" inexpensive lunch spot in Southern Fairfield county?

I really like Meli-Melo in Greenwich -- crepes, salads, sandwiches, smoothies, lots of healthy & fresh stuff. Cute & lively.

POLL: What's the best cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich?

For classic comfort-food grilled cheese (on buttered white bread, with tomato soup on the side), classic yellow American cheese has no equals. I'm partial to Kraft's Deli Deluxe slices, myself. (Also great on a cheeseburger.)

Sep 04, 2014
benbenberi in Cheese

Sweet Jesus: Whole Foods No Longer Getting Brillat-Savarin Due to FDA?!

Murray's Cheese in Grand Central had a lot of Brillat Savarin on hand yesterday, so whatever the issue at Whole Foods, it's not the FDA.

Sep 04, 2014
benbenberi in Cheese

Blueberry fritters are freakin' delicious: Dondero Orchards (S. Glastonbury, CT)

I went there yesterday - they had plenty of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches & some early apples. Lots of pick-your-own, as well as pre-picked & ready to go. Plus some veggies. Lots of yummy-looking pies too. Jams & pickles. And those blueberry fritters -- they fry them up fresh when you order, and they're insanely good.

Dondero Orchards is a bit out of the way for me, but for those nice weekends when I don't mind driving it's definitely on my list now as a Good Place.

THE BEST SW CT Farmer's Markets

I was in Greenwich last weekend and the farmer's market near the train station on Saturday is very high-quality. Lots of beautiful and delicious produce, gorgeous cut flowers, & an assortment of other goodies. It's not exactly the country, but it's got the best of the country on offer.

And my local fave in Hamden -- still within an hour of you -- is Hindinger Farm, which is currently overflowing with the great stuff they grow.

Blueberry fritters are freakin' delicious: Dondero Orchards (S. Glastonbury, CT)

Oh my.

I feel a need to visit Glastonbury coming over me.

Shop Rite

Here in Hamden CT, Shop Rite is right across the street from Stop & Shop, but I tend to go to Stop & Shop most of the time & Shop Rite only occasionally.

The prices are comparable & the stores are about the same size. But the produce & bakery are much better at Stop & Shop, & I tend to prefer their brand assortment as well in some departments (e.g. dairy).

I also prefer Stop & Shop's meat most of the time. But the Shop Rite meat department often has a greater variety of not-quite-mainstream items, e.g. all sorts of pig parts, organ meats, & "chicken paws" (my soup-making favorite) -- which is often what brings me into the store in the first place.

The Mid-Atlantic roots of Shop Rite are clearly evident in some things -- for example, if I liked Taylor ham, that's where I would find it. FWIW, I liked the Shop Rite stores I've been to in NJ better than the local one, though of course Wegman's was far superior when I could get there.

I actually think Big Y is overall a better general-purpose grocery store than either Shop Rite or Stop & Shop, but there isn't one as convenient to me (the nearest is North Haven) so I don't go there often. Stew Leonards & Trader Joe are both available to me on my way home from work, but neither is a full-service grocery & I tend to go to each for a few specific things, not basic shopping. (I like Stew's dairy, bakery & meat, TJ's canned goods & coffee, & both for cut flowers.)

What's good in Greenwich right now?

I'm going to be spending a week in Greenwich soon, & may have the opportunity for a few meals out (though not a huge budget). I haven't been there in a while. What can be recommended these days for good breakfast/lunch/dinner (tending toward the inexpensive/casual end of the scale)? Any grocery/bakery/goody shops I should check out?

Fish store/truck in driving distance of Sherman CT

It's a bit of a trek from Sherman, but Number 1 Fish in Hamden always has excellent fresh fish.