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looking for Scottish venison pie recipe...

That certainly sounds good! What I had was a traditional crust instead of a puff, and juniper berries and the red currant jelly both sound very interesting, ditto the mace; I often blend allspice with black and white pepper for a little 'rounder' flavor on meats, but mace is one I've not used. I think this requires some [yum!] experimentation, no version of which is likely to be hard on the palate.

Oct 29, 2007
dragonfare in Home Cooking

looking for Scottish venison pie recipe...

I've had this delight in Glasgow and at Loch Lomond in a little pub. It involves a deepdish pie crust, some sort of thickening [flour, I assume, to produce a thick brown gravy], with venison AND enough Scotch to taste.

Is there anybody out there who knows this recipe?

Oct 29, 2007
dragonfare in Home Cooking

banana creme pie the 'right' way...

I've met some ghastly versions of this old favorite lately from people who should know better---one of the worst being a piece with two, count 'em, two pieces of banana in the serving.

Here's how to do it the old fashioned way.
1. use cooked cream filling: this means lots of slow stirring until it thickens. Have it right at the edge of boiling.
2. hand-made pie crust, from scratch, and if you have to err, err on the side of too much rather than too little shortening: it's even better if you 'cut' shortening into your flour and then leave it in the fridge overnight. You then roll it one way, fold, roll again at a 180 degree rotation, fold again, rotate 45 degrees, 45 and 45, then roll out: this gives you really flaky crust.
3. lay out your pie crust in a very lightly greased dish and penetrate the crust before baking with numerous fork-tine jabs: this means the moisture can get up from the bottom and won't leave you with soggy crust. Bake until the whole crust is crispy golden brown, not pasty white barely done.
4. Slice a couple of nice bananas. Lay them all over the hot pie crust---the REALLY hot pie crust, until they totally coat the bottom. Then pour in the boiling hot cream filling. This cooks the bananas on the spot.
5. Whip up a real meringue, with real vanilla, and if you're scared of raw egg, just be careful not to pass the egg-white over the shells and you'll have taken a major step in food safety. Not foolproof but I've reached many years without dying of salmonella, thank you. Daub it onto the hot cream, flick it up in peaks, and pop it back in the oven to brown nicely.

THe same filling can also be put into a bowl lined with Nabisco Vanilla wafers alternated with banana [boiling hot filling] and layers of cream filling, to about 3 such layers, top with meringue, bake, and you've got banana cream pudding...

OR done with coconut lining the crispy baked pie crust and dusted over the filling before the meringue goes on, and once more onto the meringue and you get---ta da! Coconut Creme Pie.

This is a recipe that should use 'real' ingredients...and in which technique counts for a lot of how it turns out. You could do it all---and not crisp the pie crust, not poke holes in it, let the cream filling cool before adding it, and not flick up points on your meringue and you'd have a not-so-good pie, even with the best recipe and the best ingredients.

HTH, young cooks!

Oct 27, 2007
dragonfare in Home Cooking

Atkins diet? Yes or No?

alas, honeybee, if I ate that, [and I have], I'd pack on pounds like crazy. I skate hard 2 1/2 hours a day, can gain weight on one whole orange or apple, never go back for seconds, limit myself to a modest serving, never have dessert except berries, never eat hamburgers/french fries/junk, and STILL gain weight if I don't keep my carbs under 30 for the day, under 20 if I want to lose anything. People are just that different, I think...and I don't doubt for a moment that's a healthy routine you have; but carrying 80 extra pounds'll kill you, so alas, no desserts for me, not for the last 40 years, just berries, salmon, lots of salmon, chops, and, yep, bacon when I want it. I tried all the healthy diets, gained back 10 of my 40 plus pounds while strictly adhering to the shipped food from Nutrisystem; went back on Atkins and lost the 10 plus a little. So I'm downward bound some more to go.
What we'll all agree on, for sure, is a doctor's involvement: blood tests, cardiac tests, cholesterol tests, etc, and exercise as hard as you can. I'm lucky that I can skate a couple of hours a day. If you can't, it's so much harder. Brain work helps: the brain burns up more calories than one would guess...but if you can walk down the block and back, that's going to up the metabolism; and muscle is calorie-hungry, so that helps, even if you're breaking a sweat after 3 houses down the sidewalk.

Oct 19, 2007
dragonfare in General Topics

architectural food? Yes/no?

indeed, I tell the server. The fact that the server doesn't equate onion strings or chives, or leeks, or garnish as possibly a problem...that's a problem.

Or the server, bless 'em, decides without asking that I must be on a bland diet and requests the cook to hold the spices, the jalapenos, all the flavor...

...but not the 'flavor enhancer' in the marinade, if we get down to that.

Catsup has onions. Flavor enhancers have onions. Beef broth has onions. Sigh. I learned to cook in self-defense: learned to analyse the likely recipe and query the server---who queries the cook---but who doesn't query the last guy on the prep line, who adds the architectural garnish of onion strings. It's a little job, but it's his job, and by golly, he's devoted to it....

I love eating out. I even enjoy the occasional oddity, like the presentation of edible flowers on the plate, which turned out to go very nicely with the meal: I admire the clever swirl in the sauce. I admire the layering in a dessert. There are so many ways to look delectable without building the tower of Babel.

Oct 19, 2007
dragonfare in General Topics

Atkins diet? Yes or No?

I've tried Atkins, South Beach, Nutrisystem, low-fat, and because of my metabolism [never met a carb my system couldn't turn into 4] Atkins does best for me. I exercise. I limit portion size. I keep the fat as low as I can while eating a fairly high-fat diet; bread is a rare treat, every week, so I get the very best high-fiber, multigrain, hand-baked stuff, and have one slice. You have to LIKE meat, cheese and the like, and you have to be able to strongly limit your carb intake even after you get off the diet. You're always short of fruits, so you take vitamins and minerals. You avoid sugar like the plague, and even avoid artificial sweeteners [which cause your body to react]. Eventually your palate adjusts to less sugar [you hope] and you taste any more acutely. [I cannot drink a regular soft drink any more: it's just like syrup to me.] I've lost over 40 lbs and kept it off for 3 years, going off it in favor of other diets, gaining weight on some, holding steady on others, back on Atkins again to bust off another 40.
I adore pasta. There is one that you can get on Atkins: Dreamfields, but only after you are through most of the diet.
Mentally concentrate on the things you CAN have that are verboten on most diets. I happen to love bacon. Cheese. I can make some interesting things with sour cream added to highly spiced meat dishes. Read labels. Cook for yourself. Forget about potatoes, breads, most pastas, rice. Use very heavy bread as a treat. Have strawberries or blueberries for dessert---pile on the whipped cream, all ok [use Splenda, the one allowable sweetener.] No softdrinks, not even diet. Learn to like tea or coffee. You go through a brief few days of bad taste: then your body adjusts, and you begin to taste certain flavors very acutely. Cholesterol? No problem, actually improved, and this is under close medical supervision. Mind, this is us. Metabolisms vary.
This is not a diet you WANT to cheat on. It takes a week of VERY high protein to get through ketosis [bodily switchover, and that nasty taste], and if you cheat, you will have to go through it again to get back into fat-burning mode...and that's just too much work.

Oct 18, 2007
dragonfare in General Topics

architectural food? Yes/no?

So you sit down at a pricey new place---you order, say, a seafood item.
It arrives, a slab of fish perched [pardon pun] on a precarious stack of fruit, cheese, or vegetables.
Touch it, and the stack starts to unravel. You wanted food that stays warm thanks to contact with the crockery, that hasn't been set up in mid air. And now the pile is a mess of bits.
You're allergic to onion, and they have put some reeking little strings of deepfried onion up on the top of this mess---which, if you don't lift it off with the delicacy of a bomb disposal squad, will shed little bits of onion-flavored crumb into your dinner. Was onion listed in the menu? No. You just got the chef's little surprise. It was also strewed over the salad and appears as suspicious little flecks in the 'vegetable medley.'
Ah. Now there's a term I detest. A 'medley' of vegetables. It arrives, cooked together, so that the inevitable zucchini tastes very much like the inevitable yellow squash AND oddly like most everything else on the plate...wood fire and hickory smoke is a lovely thing---in moderation.
Dessert arrives. I ordered chocolate mousse. Should be easy, right? Nice little cup...a spoon, something I can savor quietly. No. It's nearly a foot high, with wafers and straws of this and that, and has some pouffy stuff on it with a flavor never advertised. I'm supposed to sit there talking serious business at this expensive and rare chance to talk to a certain business relationship, and I'm put to looking like a teenager dissecting the Pig's Dinner banana split---there is no way to receive this thing without a to-do, a distraction, and by the time you've taken it apart to get to what you ordered, you have bits of structural sugar untidily displayed on the plate as if you were a child playing with the green beans.
Personally, I want what I ordered, done as well as it can be done, I want it hot [or cold] according to type, I want it quietly delivered, and I want it to astonish me with its flavor, not its structural diversity.

Oct 18, 2007
dragonfare in General Topics

Broasted Chicken and JoJos

2 places in Spokane: Swinging Door and Maxwell's, but that won't help you in Portland. Had it for lunch...mmmm.

Oct 06, 2007
dragonfare in Metro Portland

Spokane - Fine Dining Recs?

Columbia Crest and Arbor Crest are probably the widest distributed. Latah Creek has some I like. Caterina is very small...I've not been to that one. Anthony's features local wines. You can go on wine tours around the region. We're not Napa, but there are some nice ones, and that extends down into Oregon as well. We have a dry, hot-ish summer and a cool, wet winter that seems to do very well for the grapes.

Sep 30, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Spokane - Fine Dining Recs?

Clinkerdagger's is ok---pricier than warranted, I think. I personally prefer Anthonys on the river, which has generally steak, chicken, seafood, all good. For steaks, oddly enough, though, I'd go to Spensers in the Doubletree. Breakfast? Fergusons on Garland, a real slice of the 50's---you wait a bit on weekends. The usual suspects [chains] are all here. I mostly avoid them: there's much else that's better. The Palm Court and the bar in the Davenport [historic restored hotel] are worth catching. Vegetarian: Mizuna; various ethnic: Thai [avoid Riverview Thai], Mexican [Casa d'Oro], Indian, Chinese, Japanese, etc, some fusion. I have my holes in the wall that I prefer to the real pricey places: Tomato Street for Italian, some items excellent: you learn which---tables there in the bar are shared during crowded hours, but people are friendly.
Bringing your own bottle---I'd ask the individual restaurant: they'd probably say yes, for a special occasion; but obviously they make a lot of their money off the wines---food is generally not overpriced, so it's coming from the bar. Spokane, like Chicago and Seattle, burned in the 1880's, and was rebuilt. There was the old mining money, the new money---there's a curious mix of styles, and some interesting places don't look like much---but serve good food, even haute cuisine; and the reverse can be true. You can park downtown and hike to almost any part of downtown through park, across the river bridges, etc, and this is a city that walks, a lot, to reach little restaurants. Temperatures will be way cooler than the south, and the walk to a restaurant is a common proposal. Another local feature is called the Pigout in the Park, where local restaurants man counters to let people graze from type to type of food...I've never ventured down there: it's never been convenient---but it's far from piggery, and has some very good food. You can't carry an open container, though at the city fests, an exception is quietly made for near the counters where they're selling drinks. There's Ballet and Bubbly [Champagne and chocolates] at the holidays. And every holiday like the 4th brings out the restauranteurs with their traveling wagons in the park---some of which are quite good: the chocolate-dipped strawberries are a treat.
There are a number of local wineries: the Columbia Valley produces a lot of wines, and there are some I favor quite highly.

Sep 30, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Any tried Churchill's Steakhouse in Spokane?

I live in Spokane, and have never run across Churchill's...if I were looking for the best steak in Spokane, I'd go to Spenser's, inside the downtown Doubletree [and believe me I am not usually a fan of hotel restaurants: I've had to eat in too many of them--- this one is different.] I particularly recommend the ribeye. It is not, however, inexpensive. Stay out of CJ Shenanigan's steakhouse, next door: it's incredibly over the top in price, for food that's not as good.
For fish, I'd go to Anthony's on the river. Chinese---or quasi Chinese---I'd go with the Mustard Seed. My fave is Sechzuan, but I haven't found a good one in Spokane.

Sep 28, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Where to Buy Whole Shrimp (With Heads On) in Seattle

I'm not sure, but I'd say if Pike Street Fish Market or the Japanese Market doesn't have them, they're going to be really hard to find.

Sep 24, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Prosser Restaurant Recommendation?

Only one I know is something like the Blue Goose. It was pretty nice.

Sep 21, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Ferguson's Grill: hidden treasure in Spokane

On Garland, just east of Monroe, is a little grill where time has stood still---an unpretentious little place with usually a little wait to get seated, breakfast at all hours, the cook amenable to just about any finesse you want in the recipe. The fountain [a real one, ca. 1940-50] has a dispenser for RC Cola, and the decor---well, it fits; the booths are authentic, and the recipes---we never have gotten past breakfast and the blueberry and fruit and nut pancakes: read---banana and nut; blueberries, real ones, cooked in; top with nuts? No problem. Today it was walnuts. The sausage side? They use local products, tell you where the sausage came from, the various local things: it was a rosemary pork link sausage, generous to the max. Absolutely worth the effort to find this little place: park on the street, no meters. Strictly a family operation: I think everybody's related. One of these days I'm going to have to make it into the lunch menu [today's special: coconut shrimp] and the dinner one.

Sep 16, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

FIRST Time in Seattle

Go to the water: go to the piers, that's a must----Seattle began there, and if you doubt it, don't miss the Underground Seattle tour [off Pioneer Square]: you can eat at very fun places indoors and out; go to PIke Street Market just up from the piers. And if you go up a few blocks you're into some good territory, too. The Japanese Market is fun---again, a lot of food, though you have to cook most of it. Ivars is my favorite restaurant, though I eat at many classier, fancier, all the way toward luxuriant---I'll still go back to the clam chowder and fried oysters at Ivars as my must-do whenever I'm on the waterfront at dinnertime.

Sep 15, 2007
dragonfare in Greater Seattle

West Plano - casual lunch spots

Don Miguel's in McKinney [I think on University] is good Mexican, quite small, very family, good food.
When I'm in McKinney I practically live at the Texas Road House just as you come into McKinney. Dependable, good stuff, easy noisy atmosphere.

Spokane eats?

Mizuna. They've added a few nonvegetarian things, but they're supposed to be quite good. Spokane is 150,000 people plus outliers, and the local hobby is going to restaurants. There are waits usually at: Anthony's, Tomato Street, the Outback [avoid the one at the Valley mall. The one on Division is passable.] There are excellent hotel restaurants at the Doubletree, [avoid CJ Shenanigans unless you want to spend extravagantly] and around the Hotel Lusso, near the Davenport. I've never tried the D's Palm Court, but their bar is a pretty place to sit in the evening; you're surrounded by restaurants there, but I'd avoid the Bourbon Street and the Heroes sports bar, frankly; go across the rive rand catch supper at Anthonys for a dinner with a view and good food; also good: Clinkerdaggers in the Flour Mill [it used to be one] also on the Falls. Outlying, many, many choices. Twigs up on Nevada can be good---long drive, though, about 10 miles.] THere's some sushi, but it's not a big item here. Salmon is; some local wines;

Sep 11, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest


I've not been pleased with too much downtown except Spenser's Steakhouse in the Doubletree and the bar in the Davenport. I live in Spokane; my favorites are, [a new one] Frederick's Cafe for breakfast, on Garland near Monroe---great blueberry pancakes;...the burgers and the chicken piccata at Scotty's, on Argonne; Casa d'Oro on Argonne, for Mexican; somebody asked if the Marrakesh was still in business: yes; Tomato Street on Division for Italian---sit in the bar, not the restaurant---too many kids---and if you're clever and get there on weekdays during happy hour, free pizza tastes: the fresh basil/cheese cooked in a wood oven is good; the Swinging Doors on Francis for broasted chicken---sports bar, plain, but that dish is really good: so is the chocolate spoon cake. Antonio's on the river for a class evening above a waterfall; Clinkerdaggers' above the same falls for a nice deal on appetizers that can be dinner. Cafe Europa's fun, particularly if Sidhe is playing. Many restaurants do really good salmon; things with huckleberries are sincerely good: tart, non-commercial berries, not something likely to get much exported out of the region. Blueberries tend to be local [in season]. Local wineries: Arbor Crest; Latah Creek; Caterina, etc, numerous---you can easily get to several of them in town.

Sep 10, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Suggestions in Coeur D'Alene Idaho

Phone Coeur d'Alene Cruises if you have an evening to while away: at the dock in front of the Coeur d'Alene Casino, dinner tours go out for about four hours, a baked salmon picnic style dinner and bar---nothing truly spectacular, but if you like to be on the water and out in the open air, it's fun---we make a scramble to stake out a table on the upper deck, rain or shine, and we don't mind the chill when the wind comes sweeping in after you get moving. Do take a jacket even in summer. For the less hardy, there's a warming indoors, where you can get good window views. Sometimes the performer they have aboard is great. There are other evenings...but that's why you sit on the upper deck and just watch the million-dollar lake houses go by.

A week in Spokane

This is an old, old post resurrected, but I have to defend my city: the rule is in Spokane, if it's hyped a lot in the local free papers, it's not necessarily where to go.
The best chicken piccata I've ever eaten, including in Italy, is in Scotty's Bar and Grill on Argonne, definitely not high advertising. Anthony's Riverport on the Spokane Falls, is a beautiful view and reliably good food. The best Italian in town is Tomato Street, an unassuming family place with a real cozy 'Cheers' style bar, where strangers may share tables. The good Mexican is at Argonne and I-90, Casa d'Oro, and there are a lot of hole-in-the-wall places with imaginative dishes and good old-fashioned food. Burgers---back to Scotty's. The Wall Street Diner for sandwiches, and the restaurant at the Doubletree Downtown, Spenser's, for the best steaks in the NW. Lots of ethnic food: the city is strong on Thai, among many.

Aug 30, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Best crockpot recipe

I put pork shoulder disguised as boneless spareribs dry in a crockpot, then add chipotle pepper powder, and curry powder [Spice Islands], cook all day on low, then turn up heat for last 30 minutes. Serve with a spoon.

Aug 25, 2007
dragonfare in Home Cooking

fastmex---how to, really quickly

Anybody chime in with their own shortcuts: here's mine.
Chicken Stew a la Mexicana: hot.
Chicken breasts, boneless skinless. However many you need, in pan with virgin olive oil, med-low heat [about 6 on an electric range]
Cover liberally with chili powder, both sides.
Dust with: chipotle chili powder.
Dust with: ground cumin and nutmeg.
Add good amount of jalapenos, sliced.
Cook until done. Cut chicken into 1" slices.
Add half a cup [or more] sharp cheddar.
A cup of sour cream [lite is ok].
Cook a few minutes more to make sauce.

Heat: chili beans.

Serve on same plate.

Makes nice Mexican flavor supper, feeds as many as you have chicken for: adjust the spicing to suit amount of chicken, but don't be afraid of the cumin, nutmeg and chipotle.

The beans help cool it down a bit.

And for ANYone who's not quite grown up with jalapenos, never use carbonated beverage like colas to cool it down [only makes it worse] and never taste a jalapeno or other hot pepper with the edge or tip of your tongue: this is painful. Natives of the southwest know to use iced tea or beer or wine; and to ONLY put a jalapeno in the center of your tongue, which is remarkably void of the taste receptors your tongue edge has in such abundance.

Aug 24, 2007
dragonfare in Home Cooking

Sox fans visiting Seattle

You'll be near the piers---walk down there: it's a place families go; lots of shopping, restaurants, things to see, the aquarium, etc, leading up the hill a bit to Pike Street Market. You could spend days eating your way through either venue. If you're in Safeco, get seats in the Terrace Club seating for good game fare, dogs, bar, etc, and good seats, esp. on the first base line. You can sit in the club or go down front a bit to your assigned seats. There's also the Hit It Here Cafe on that level, but personally, I prefer the dogs and Red Hook Ale approach; waiters will come and go to your assigned seats taking food and drink orders. It's only about 5.00 more a ticket to be in that area, so it's a great deal for a good view of the game and easy access to food and drink.

Aug 21, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Has anyone ever had a good experience at IHOP?

Excruciating, rude, and carrying a slop rag while serving the meal. Spokane.
Excruciating, rude, and bad food. Oklahoma City.
Fool me twice, no way a third.

Aug 18, 2007
dragonfare in Chains

Are Chinese Restaurants the most intimidating ethnic establishments?

And actually, the most excruciating experience is being in a formal Moroccan restaurant when you're the only customers. It's so dang quiet, everybody's so solemn, and it takes so long.

On the other hand, I've eaten in an Ethiopian restaurant under much the same conditions, and it was a riot: the waitperson was very bright and cheerful, asked if we understood this and that, was happy when we did, and they even brought us little extras.

I don't know if it was 'luck of the draw' with the Ethiopian; but I've been in more than one Moroccan one that was like a tomb, never mind the music was going. You hate even to converse, it's so grim.

Aug 13, 2007
dragonfare in Not About Food

US-2 from Western WA to Spokane - What's good?

IN Spokane, hit Anthony's River Port, for good never-frozen seafood and steaks; the Davenport Hotel is the class place to stay, and the bar there is great for appetizers and just pretty environment. Tour the hotel, even if you aren't staying there. The Hall of the Doges is visually worth the trip. Best Mexican in town: Casa d'Oro, Argonne @ I-90; best burger, the California burger, not to mention the Chicken Piccata, at Scotty's @ I-90 other side of Argonne. Best Italian: Tomato Street, Division at Francis. Linnie's Thai, on Second Street; and various others. We love our eats, here. And if you have an extra night in Spokane/ Coeur d'Alene ID, sign up for the Coeur d'Alene Dinner Cruise: see the neat lake houses and have a salmon feed with a floating bar---hint: get aboard early and stake out a topdeck table near the wheelhouse.

Aug 12, 2007
dragonfare in Pacific Northwest

Teaching a toddler to cook - any suggestions?

So many jobs kids used to do are now automated. I used to help grandma churn butter. Used to whip the egg meringues. [Kids' arms are inexhaustible.] 2 1/2 is pretty young, as you say: no sense of sequence. But cutting up jello squares with a tolerably blunt knife and putting them in parfait glasses. Doing 'icebox' pie WITH you. Baking cookies WITH you. It's not bad to 'forbid' him the stove and make him believe it---I believed it until I was 6 and hungry, and finally made some scrambled eggs. I'd never been allowed to break them, and a great deal of shell figured in it, but while I was always with mum when she cooked dinner, I heard a lot about "always angle the handle where you won't bump it" and "you never turn the burner up full" and "smell if you think that's done." I fetched and carried. I located the vanilla. I brought the milk. I took it back. I helped measure. I understood I was the sorcereress's apprentice and that I'd better not mess up, but I was getting more and more complex jobs---chopping nuts, measuring the vanilla for the meringue with her leaning over my shoulder---sure, I put in a quarter tsp too much, but more vanilla is good, right?

In other words, if I fidgeted, I got a job, be it 'wash that counter," "run some dishwater in the sink," or "wash these spoons." Then..."hand me the tablespoon measure." I had to pick it out. See how sneaky that is? I started reading in school---she assumed I could read a mark. "Pour 1 1/4 cups." etc. "Ok, pour it in while I mix, little at a time."
"Ok, set the mixer on 3. Keep the beaters in the batter."

It's not an event, after which he'll be great. It's a progression of working with you as his abilities increase.

Aug 10, 2007
dragonfare in Home Cooking

Santa Fe Dinner recommendation

Ah, thank you for the correction, IslayMan: I've only made that particular trip once or twice, in a trip of quite a few more miles, so it seemed short.

But the food really is good. ;)

Aug 08, 2007
dragonfare in Southwest

how do I become a better cook?

Smell things. Get a fully stocked spice cabinet and learn what each spice smells like. Learn that cloves can go with beef, that cinnamon is good with eggs, don't think just inside the box.
Then when you dine out, taste things. Savor the odd flavor in the pasta and then think *nutmeg.*.
Learn techniques. Learn how to make a cream sauce. Learn why 20 minutes is a magic number in meal prep [amazing the number of processes/cooking/things finish in 20 minutes.] Learn to make a gravy---several different ways. Learn that fruit and chicken do mesh, and how to make them do it. Learn what to do with sour cream, and how NOT to treat it.
Arrange your kitchen efficiently. Get things within an easy reach in a ballet of movement once the stuff starts cooking.
Get good pans. Yep, you can cook in bad ones, but why swim upcurrent?
Eat ethnic. Learn to identify those spices in action. Eat haute cuisine. Learn to 'read' those recipes off your palate.
Learn how fast to cook meat for what effect. Learn how to prepare veggies from scratch [it's actually faster than frozen in most instances.]
And finally---stow every single cookbook you own where you can't readily access them, look around your well-stocked kitchen and figure out what you can make out of what you've got to please the palates you're dealing with.
I once got a passel of 30 high school students to eat eggplant, yogurt, and cucumber and come back for seconds and thirds---the deal was they could tell me if they had any allergies and/or religious taboos, and I'd dodge them all; but they couldn't ask me what was in anything. They were REALLY surprised about the eggplant, which none of them would have touched with a pole.
The thing is, food hits you with the eye [presentation], the nose [smell/aroma], the ear [the sizzle and the crunch] and only lastly with the explosion on the palate, which partakes a bit of all of them.
That's my philosophy, at least: I read cookbooks for knowledge of what other people have done, but then I put them away and do my own, and have fun with it.

Aug 08, 2007
dragonfare in Home Cooking

cast iron grill pan ok on flat-top stove?

Of all the really obnoxious things that have been foisted off onto a public that doesn't really buy them [builders do, and what do they care?] the smooth-top range is the worst, right up there with avacado refrigerators and kitchen carpet. You're scared to cook on it, the best pans [iron] don't work safely, the heat gradations don't approach what gas can do, and there's just no helpful use for the things. If you have any leverage with your builder, get the things out and insist on a gas or dual type range. If I were given one, I'd cook on the backyard grill until I could afford to rip the thing out by its little wires and get another kind of stove, if I had to take a builder's special electric.

Aug 07, 2007
dragonfare in Cookware