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Unkle Al's Profile

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Blue Bell Inn Grand Reopening 4/7/14

+2

Apr 09, 2014
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

ATK / CI Beef Tenderloin Question

I don't think that you missed anything.

I think that she just felt the roast was a little bit "sloppy" and and wanted more structure to make sure that it maintained a solid shape.

Apr 08, 2014
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

Asparagus season

I like the very thick type and Whole Foods has some beautiful organic asparagus. I have bought them a few times this season. The last time I bought fine looking purple asparagus that are very, very thick. The price will require you to obtain a mortgage ($6.99 lb). They also have less expensive non organic which were not as nice but still looked pretty good.

Apr 07, 2014
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

Keeping Peeled Asparagus and Peeled Potatoes

Thank you so much, I appreciate all of your comments and advice.

Mar 27, 2014
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

Keeping Peeled Asparagus and Peeled Potatoes

The reason for peeling is that they are very thick and have a stringy outer layer.

Mar 26, 2014
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

Keeping Peeled Asparagus and Peeled Potatoes

To anyone that has worked in catering or restaurant kitchens:

I am having a large party in a couple of weeks. I would like to prep as much as possible in advance.

My questions are:

Can I peel asparagus the day before cooking them. Typically, I store unpeeled asparagus in the refrigerator in a container with a little water in the bottom?

Can I store peeled potatoes in cold water in the refrigerator? Since I am making mashed potatoes will storing them as noted reduce the starch in the potatoes?

Thank you for any help you can offer.

Mar 26, 2014
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

Shout out to Wegmans Montgomeryville

Actually, I had an unpleasant experience soon after the opening of Wegman’s in Montgomeryville.

I had purchased two boxes of crackers one was obviously stale while the other looked to have been tampered with. I did not keep my receipt for the purchase.

When I returned the items they initially were reluctant to give me either a refund or a store credit without a receipt. When they finally agreed to give me a store credit they insisted that I fill out the form for a Wegman’s card. I don’t use supermarket cards. They finally agreed to give me a store credit. What a hassle!!

From Wegman’s I went across the street to Home Depot and asked their policy on returns. They told me that they accept returns readily even without a receipt.

At Whole Foods in North Wales, I would not be surprised if you could just tell them that the product you purchased last week was not good and they would give you back the money!! Returns at Whole Foods are absolutely no problem and they are sorry that you were inconvenienced.

I am now not a big fan of Wegman’s, I guess that keeping customers happy is not high on their list of priorities.

Feb 07, 2014
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

Fun, NOT romantic, b-day dinner for four on 2/15

The Victor Cafe is a lot of fun. The food is decent but the waiters and waitresses are terrific singers.

http://victorcafe.com/live-opera/

I would also recommend Marrakesh which serves a Moroccan fixed price menu in a very unique setting, The food is good and you can request a belly dancer for entertainment.

http://www.marrakesheastcoast.com/ind...

Feb 04, 2014
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
1

Birthday Cake

I have had special cakes made at three terrific bakeries in your area. Each of them made what I consider really excellent cakes both in taste and beauty. They are:

Alice Bakery – North Wales
Night Kitchen – Chestnut Hill
Roma – Fort Washington (particularly their cream cakes or tiramisu cake or rum cake).

I don’t think that you can go wrong with any of the three above noted bakeries.

Jan 14, 2014
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
3

Restaurants With Quiet Noise Levels

My intention in starting this thread was to garner a list of restaurants that are quiet at the busy times.

Dec 20, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
2

Recommendation For Personal Chef - Allentown

Thank you for your help.

Dec 19, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

Recommendation For Personal Chef - Allentown

A family friend recently lost her daughter at a very young age. Her daughter’s family, with two young children, needs help with cooking meals.

Can anyone recommend a personal chef in the Allentown area that will cook meals and leave them in containers in the refrigerator to be eaten over the course of a week.

Any help or recommendations will be very much appreciated.

Dec 18, 2013
Unkle Al in Pennsylvania

Recommendation For Personal Chef - Allentown

A family friend recently lost her daughter at a very young age. Her daughter’s family, with two young children, needs help with cooking meals.

Can anyone recommend a personal chef in the Allentown area that will cook meals and leave them in containers in the refrigerator to be eaten over the course of a week.

Any help or recommendations will be very much appreciated.

Dec 18, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

Restaurants With Quiet Noise Levels

I would like to begin a new thread per the above subject.

I think that all of us, as chowhounds. can choose restaurants, using food type, quality, service and ambiance as criteria, by reading the myriad reviews on this site.

My idea is to have folks post quiet restaurants where shouting is not necessary to be heard by our companions at our table.

Naturally, it will be better if people did not post restaurants with terrible food. But, the food quality etc is not the purpose of this thread.

I will begin by suggesting the Prime Rib and La Buca (on Locust St.) as quiet restaurants.

Is anyone interested?

Dec 17, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

Celebrity Chef Awarded $8 Million In Gulf Settlement

Dec 12, 2013
Unkle Al in Food Media & News

Best cakes in Center City or South Philly?

Try the rum cake at Isgro's located at 1009 Christian Street in South Philly. It is a great cake!

Dec 11, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
1

Amis First Time

There were four of us and we had eight antipasti and two pastas. All of the dishes were good. The portion sizes were surprisingly substantial and easily enjoyed by all four of us. They were absolutely NOT stingy with the great bread.

I really liked the baked pecorino with almond honey. I grew up eating pecorino, mostly grated but sometimes just in slivers with wine. I never had it baked before and I would surely order it again.

I think that the swordfish meatballs were a nice and interesting dish. They were very tasty and I would definitely order them again.

I ordered the cacio e pepe, it was good and I enjoyed it very much. I have made this simple dish at home but wanted to see if the Vetri version was different or better. It was good but not different or better than my own.

The pasta dishes available were not that interesting to me which is never the case at Osteria.

This restaurant, for me, is a winner and almost like eating homemade food. The only downside is the noise but, hey, I am old and crotchety.

Dec 06, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
1

Amis First Time

Thank you to everyone! We ate almost every dish recommended and enjoyed each one.

Thanks again

Dec 05, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
1

Amis First Time

I have reservations at Amis and have not eaten there before. I have been to Osteria many times and it is one of my favorite restaurants.

Which dishes should I not miss at Amis?

I am a fairly adventuresome diner and noticed the swordfish meatballs, pigs head croquettes, mortadella mousse and sweetbreads as unusual dishes, are any of these outstanding?

My inclination is to order several bruschettas, antipasti and one or two pastas and pass on secondi.

Any help will be much appreciated

Dec 03, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

Questions regarding Thanksgiving Gravy and Using Roux or Cornstarch

I saw Jacque Pepin and Julia Child on tv the other night and Jacque used a potato starch slurry.

I made two gravies this Thanksgiving one with a roux from chicken fat and flour and the other using a potato starch slurry.

They were both pretty good

Dec 02, 2013
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

No bread for you!

Recently I have noticed that getting any or more bread at some restaurants is becoming both difficult and/or expensive. Last weekend at aKitchen we were served a very small bread portion and when we asked for more bread the waiter said in disbelief "You want more bread?". At Nonna's friendly small neighborhood Italian no bread is served on the table. In recent review here of Talula's Market a CH noted the extremely small portions served and the some what negative reaction when they asked for additional bread. Ok, perhaps bread cost more or is it more about too much bread no apps ordered. But really seems some restaurants are losing a bit of civility, hospitality and tradition. I am quite sure there are other more effective way to control food costs and still provide some bread. Is the "no bread" or dwarf portions a trend?

Yes, I too have noticed the same development. I guess, to most people bread is not a big issue, but I have a hard time eating in a European restaurant that does not have great bread and is stingy with the bread. Generally I will accept the bad attitude and ask for more bread.

Concerning bread, I have occasionally been a BYO. One restaurant, Mazza in Ambler, asked that I not eat my baguette (from Alice in North Wales – great bread!). It so happens that, in my opinion, their food is great but their soft crusted bread is not my style. I will not go back to Mazza even though it is my favorite restaurant in Ambler. Alternatively, I often went to a Moroccan restaurant and brought my own bread and was welcomed with a smile because the owner knew that their bread (pita) was not really Moroccan style.

On the other hand, a good loaf of bread is not cheap and probably costs $2.50 to $3.00. If four people share a loaf the food cost would be seventy five cents a person. Based upon a 4X food cost it will increase the price of the meal by $3.00 per person. I find that shocking but probably accurate.

Nov 19, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
1

Milanese In Advance

I am making a dish for twelve people that I guess you could call tuna Milanese (Bittman calls it tuna veal style). I will use a typical bound breading.

I would like to bread the cutlets in five hours in advance. My ideas are:

1.) Bread them and put them in the refrigerator on a wire rack covered loosely with wax paper.

2.) Bread them and put them in a large tray on a bed of ½ inch of bread crumbs and cover with another ½ inch of bread crumbs that I think will absorb any moisture. Put the tray in the refrigerator covered loosely with wax paper.

OR ???

Does anyone have any opinion on how to best proceed.

Nov 07, 2013
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

Group Dinner for 12

Tai Lake in Chinatown on 10th street between Race and Cherry is really good. They are only open for dinner and is a little expensive when compared to other Chinatown restaurants.

Nov 07, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia

Troubleshooting Marshmallows

I have made 6 trays of the marshmallow recipe from Joy Of Cooking every holiday season for the past twenty five years.

The thermometer must be absolutely accurate and you should cook to exactly 240 degrees to 244 degrees (if memory serves).

It took me about 20 years (I am a slow learner) to get a feel for how much to beat. I have learned that overbeating results in a denser and tighter and less light marshmallow (not good). I have also found that my mixer (a basic Kitchen Aid stand mixer) will not need 15 minutes to achieve the right consistency. I think that the last time I made them they reached the right consistency in about 9 minutes. The best I can tell you is that once you have reached a thick and creamy consistency stop beating.

Good luck, they are tasty!

Oct 16, 2013
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

"Best Quality" Olive Oil Advice Please

Over the past few years I have done several olive oil taste tests drinking it straight from the glass.

Recently, I tried several including:

Frantoia
Coluccio
Whole Foods Italian
Trader Joe’s Sicilian
Costco Tuscan

They are all really, really good and the tastes, to me, are very similar and have a quite spicy aftereffect.

The Frantoia and Coluccio are the most expensive while the other three are similarly priced.

I go through about a quart a week and would use any of them without hesitation.

Oct 11, 2013
Unkle Al in General Topics

Bodum Chambord

I am planning to buy five Bodum 8 cup Chambord French press coffee pots as holiday gifts. After much research I cannot find them at a discounted price lower than around $40.00.

Are there any tips for buying this item less expensively??

Oct 09, 2013
Unkle Al in Cookware

favorite biscotti recipes?

This is a very good recipe, I have used it a few times.

Most biscotti recipes use baking powder only. What does the addition of baking soda bring to the party in this recipe???

Oct 08, 2013
Unkle Al in Home Cooking

Octopus quest

I too was bamboozled by the myriad opinions on cooking octopus.

I found this article to be very helpful.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/din...

I recently cooked a two pounder and a seven pounder and I have had good success by using the following method:

Brining in a salt solution for a couple of hours.

Plunging the octopus into boiling water for about 15 seconds

Turning the heat down immediately to 185 degrees – just below a simmer (add a couple tablespoons of cold water to the pot to reduce the heat). I did not cover the pot so that I could keep an eye on the water temp.

The time needed to tenderize will rely on the size and, I guess, age of the octopus.

But, I think that you should begin checking for tenderness after 45 minutes.

At this point you can follow any recipe you like. I make a marinade / dressing with lemon / olive oil / parsley / salt and pepper and brush them all over then I grill them until crispy edges appear then again dress them with lemon / garlic / parsley etc. or just cut them into chunks and dress them.

Oct 04, 2013
Unkle Al in Home Cooking
1

Great Steaks with options for a vegetarian?

Fogo de Chao in Center City has great meat and the salad bar is a vegetarians delight.

Sep 06, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia
1

Catering--Harleysville Area

Mina at Taste Of Italy in Springhouse does catering. Her cooking is great and she uses very good and fresh ingredients.

Also, years ago (15) I went to an event catered by Abacus the Chinese restaurant in Lansdale. The food was very good.

Sep 06, 2013
Unkle Al in Philadelphia