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Help me build a dinner menu to host a friend/former colleague

Under these circumstances, assuming you wish to maximize face-time with the guest, I'd avoid any grilled or seared scallops type of preps, although sea scallops can be seared and finished quickly enough that I'd not rule them out (brown-butter and sage sauce, finish in oven).

Short ribs would work well, but they're richer than my own taste these days. You could consider some make-aheadable pastas (lasagna, Bucatini All’ Amatriciana [if you have access to guanciale]):

http://www.mariobatali.com/recipes/bu...

Those dishes are better a day or two after cooking, also lamb shanks, beef shanks, most stews and chilis.

Quiche, also.

about 11 hours ago
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

32 Hungry Boys

Wow--32 young guys. I go with those who suggest a pulled pork BBQ, as it's something that can be made ahead, dealt with on paper plates, sitting in chairs, etc. Potato-bread rolls. With some forks, you can add cole slaw. That's a large crowd!

Mar 03, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Lasagna with fresh pasta

Thanks for this. That's about what I used--close to 4 cups flour and eight eggs. Turned out to be more than absolutely necessary, because my fillings ran out before my pasta, but I'm saving the extra pasta.

Feb 28, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Lasagna with fresh pasta

Anyone know offhand how to calculate how much fresh pasta (flour weight and eggs) that I should prepare to fill an large pyrex dish, which tapers out from the bottom and probably measures about 12"x18" at the top (less at the bottom). I bet it's a lot.

Feb 27, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

What Is This Salmon I Bought

Here's a link:

http://www.fishchoice.com/buying-guid...

I have no direct experience.

Feb 26, 2015
Bada Bing in General Topics

Pork leg - please help

Unusual cut. Probably too lean for pulled pork. I'd roast it, rolled and tied if need be, with seasonings inside and out. Like GhostChef1 suggests. Remove from oven at 145-148 degrees internal temp and let rest for 15 minutes or more.

Feb 26, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Can yellow and orange bell peppers be substituted for green?

Have you roasted your own red/yellow peppers? They're not tart, But the commercial versions always come with some degree of vinegar, greater or lesser. I generally do not like commercial roasted red or yellow peppers for that reason, for most purposes.

Feb 25, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking
1

Cannot post on Chrome but can on Safari (Mac OS)

Thanks. Will try. It's odd that I can reply in Chrome but not post.

Feb 25, 2015
Bada Bing in Site Talk

Do you test-run a preparation before making it later for guests?

OP here: I'm thinking after seeing these interesting, accumulated comments that experience is a factor perhaps more important than some philosophy about caution or hospitality. I guess I've just cooked so many types of foods by now (after some 35 years) that I seldom encounter a dish with a technique I find unfamiliar, and it's really at the level of basic technique that most fails happen.

My son is 15, and we've been exploring all kinds of cooking over the last few years. When he does something and it goes wrong, I recall for him that, in my first years of cooking, virtually every event was instructive to me about one or more things that I should definitely NOT do next time with that dish.

Lasagna with fresh pasta

Okay, I'm committing now. I wonder if someone has tips about process. Because lasagne is basically three or more elements all made before assembly.

I'm looking to Sunday presentation. I suppose I could make a sauce, perhaps Bolognese, Friday and then the pasta and bechamel and assembly Saturday. Then cook it on Sunday?

Recipe recommendations still welcome. I know my way around a dried-pasta Italian-American style just fine, but I use ricotta and a fairly coarse meat sauce for that type. Not sure it's optimal for this fresh-pasta style.

Planning to seek out some 00 flour.

Feb 24, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Do you test-run a preparation before making it later for guests?

Yeah, I guess part of my attitude is that most of my guests I know in a way that if the food isn't sublime, we just roll with it.

I cannot remember making something that turned out to be outright problematic since 15 years ago when I tried a Cooks Illustrated recipe for lemon tart: it called for a quantity (rather than weight) of lemon zest, and because I zest with a microplane, I apparently ended up with way more zest than the recipe intended. It was not exactly bad but just mind-blowingly lemony.

Feb 24, 2015
Bada Bing in General Topics

Lasagna with fresh pasta

How interesting! Sounds great.

Feb 24, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Do you test-run a preparation before making it later for guests?

In a kind of survey spirit, I'm curious how we are about this question. For my own part, I seldom or maybe never hesitate to make something for the first time when I'm having guests. Call it arrogance or confidence, but I'm pretty sure I won't make a mess of most things.

Although it might well change in special cases where something is very unfamilair to me technically--like a soufflé.

Feb 24, 2015
Bada Bing in General Topics

Cannot post on Chrome but can on Safari (Mac OS)

Anyone having this problem?

Feb 24, 2015
Bada Bing in Site Talk

Lasagna with fresh pasta

Oh, also, I know that dried-pasta styles of lasagna are pretty fine for making ahead. Does the same apply with fresh pasta versions?

I might need to do this a day or two ahead, or, if keeping is not an option, wake up really early one Sunday.

Feb 24, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Lasagna with fresh pasta

Thanks for all these words of experience. This site is a great resource in this way.

From my previous experiences with fresh pasta, which I've generally turned either into linguine or ravioli-types, I I get the sense of the dough being relatively fragile. Does anyone have trouble with the texture of the sauce interfering with the layering? I see jammy saying something about not saucing "too aggressively."

If I were to use beef or sausage in the sauce, for example, should I maybe par-freeze and food-process the meats a bit before making the sauce, on texture grounds?

Feb 24, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Lasagna with fresh pasta

Yeah, I know it's more properly "lasagne." Anyway, I am thinking of trying this for the first time. I've made fresh pasta before, so that's not an issue. But I'm not as certain as I'd like to be about the recipe changes from the usual American, thick, dried-pasta style. For example, how thin do you roll the fresh pasta sheets? Do they need parboiling before assembly?

I'm kind of assuming that this style would have more layers than the usual 3-4 that one sees in Italian-American baked lasagnas.

And should one think of saucing differently? Any recipe links would be welcome.

Feb 23, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Can yellow and orange bell peppers be substituted for green?

The taste of green bell is considerably tarter but tends in this kind of dish, if you give full time to the initial saute phase, to moderate a lot. (I think most recipes understate the time that this stage takes--I say 20 minutes or so.)

The red/yellow would be nice, but will affect the flavor profile in a more moderate, even blander, direction.

It's analogous to why I do not cook with those really "sweet" onions that get marketed for their mildness. Once cooked, they tend not to have much oomph left in them. I use yellow or Spanish onions for dishes that will cook for any significant length of time.

Either way, I'm sure you can enjoy the dish. The differences will be subtle rather than dramatic.

Feb 23, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking
1

Cooking for a Very Hungry, Slightly Picky Crowd

I recommend in the mix either a quiche, frittata or Spanish omelette (all somewhat akin). They can be pre-made, cooled to room temp, and pre-portioned into convenient shapes. They're great at room temp. Not messy.

The best first date spot, especially for foodies: the Sushi Bar. Agree or Disagree?

I do agree that the generation issue is tangential. But in my relatively modest world, I don't think it matters where you go with a date, and it might even be more fun to discover together that some place just sucks.

Now if I were super-wealthy, I might strategize with fine-dining atmospheres.

I'd ask the date with some options beforehand.

Feb 22, 2015
Bada Bing in General Topics

Sourdough starter issues

It's striking to me how different some people's view about starters differ from those of others. Thomas Keller probably inspires the one kind of view: everything needs to be painstaking and exact. In some matters, I tend to agree.

But bread starter is a very forgiving and malleable product, so it's a shame you threw it out. I don't know the Keller recipe itself, but I think it is a near certainty that you could have just doubled the flour and given it a few days in a sealed container on the counter. Starter is only flour and water and yeasts--and time/patience. Also, in any given loaf, when there is a bit too much moisture, it will usually end up evaporating out in baking. The bread cannot really complete its cooking until it's reached a certain level of evaporation, so a wetter dough simply present you with a longer baking time, but not necessarily a different end product.

As to your question about whether the soupy starter would have made a difference, it depends. There are two typical ways (that I know of) to develop the gluten in a dough so that a rustic bread can be made: one is the traditional approach of kneading the dough until it is elastic enough for you to pull some into a thin sheet between your hands (windowpane). The other is to apply a bit of extra water at the outset and just stir everything to moisten and let it sit sealed for 18 hours or so (autolyse, or the "no-knead" approach).

Feb 22, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

How to keep pizza from sticking to the stone.

If you're forming the pizza on a cold stone, that's the problem right there!

Feb 21, 2015
Bada Bing in General Topics

How to keep pizza from sticking to the stone.

How long do you preheat your stone? Consider investing in an infrared thermometer:

http://www.amazon.com/Raytek-MT6-Non-...

If you ensure that the stone temp is 450-550, I cannot imagine any dough that would stick to the stone, unless you perhaps allow some spillover of the topping (very troublesome, usually my drinking wine before is involved), or perhaps if you had something like egg in the dough. I preheat a stone at 550 for at least 30-40 minutes, preferably 60.

I would never bake cookies on a stone.

Maybe using a more modest amount of cornmeal, on the peel and not the stone. Sure, the cornmeal goes black, but that's no big deal. If you need to use a lot of cornmeal on the peel to let the dough be mobile, that suggests a too-wet dough. Even that's workable if you flour the bottom of the dough, too, and waste little time getting it into the oven.

I also like to give the peel a couple of shakes before applying toppings, to get a feel for how easily it will slip off. Good luck!

Feb 21, 2015
Bada Bing in General Topics

Propane Wok Burner?

Turkey fryers often have burners that are wider than optimal for woks and not focused as centrally. The Wok shop will sell a higher BTU example of the one I attached. You need to size the btus to the wok. I told Jean, the proprietor, that I should maybe get the highest BTU one, but she insisted that it's really only called for if you're using a 22"-plus wok. My woks are 14" and 16."

Feb 20, 2015
Bada Bing in Cookware

Propane Wok Burner?

Wok Shop in SF,

http://wokshop.stores.yahoo.net/wokst...

But it looks like you're in Vancouver. There must be something there, no?

Feb 20, 2015
Bada Bing in Cookware

Baking a quiche

Interesting view. Sounds sensible.

Feb 19, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Baking a quiche

Both approaches are workable. Prebaking (even parbaking) the crust is better, in my experience, although it's certainly not as convenient.

There might be differences depending on the fats. Back in the age, I used shortening or lard. Now that I seldom have those things around, I use butter. The butter crusts seem to suffer more from lack of prebaking.

Feb 19, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

How to prevent breaded fish from getting too dry?

Breading is not an especially good approach for baked fish, in my opinion. Breading requires high heat and time to brown, and fish will get overdone unless you use some kind of frying. Suggestion: preheat an oven to 400 or so; use an oven-safe pan, like cast iron or whatever, to sear the fish in a small amount of oil stovetop on one side for 5 minutes, then flip the fish and stick it in the heated oven for another 5 minutes (time varies with fish temp and thickness, though).

Feb 16, 2015
Bada Bing in Home Cooking

Bleach usage in the kitchen

I'm no scientist, but it seems that bleach is overkill for most food situations. I use wooden cutting boards and a wood countertop, and I clean them almost always simply with dish soap and water. Wood has its own antibacterial qualities, though.

Sometimes, on nonporous surfaces or when I've been cutting apart lots of chicken, I'll spray a bit of cleaning product like Lysol, some of which has, I think, bleach. I make sure to rinse heavily with water afterward.

Feb 13, 2015
Bada Bing in Cookware

Confused about cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika

Yes, chiles, like tomatoes, eggplants, and chocolate beans, are New World products, They've just been dispersed for centuries and allowed to become "native"-seeming in many places.

Feb 11, 2015
Bada Bing in General Topics