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Tapioca vs cornstarch for steak crust

I'm looking at a Cook's Illustrated recipe for a crust for steaks. It specifies cornstarch. Wouldn't be problem to buy some, obviously, but I have a ton of tapioca starch. All references I can find to a comparison of the two have to do with thickening agents. Anyone have any experience w/ tapioca starch as a saute/fry coating?

Oct 11, 2012
Masonville in Home Cooking

California/Midwest differences in brands

This may or may not belong on this board, but this is a start. Just spent a week in Palm Springs area visiting relatives. Two pretty standard products turned out to be quite different in California and the Midwest (Chicago, in my case). One was Hellman's mayonnaise (here), something different in Ca--sorry, have forgotten Ca name--but retailer or distributer (I forget which) insisted it's the same product, just labelled differently "west of the Rockies". I don't know about that, but in fact much prefer the Ca version--brighter flavor, fluffier (clearly whipped), less fat-heavy. The other instance was more curious. Same name, same brand--French's mustard. Here it's yellow, salty, vinegary, with mild mustard flavor, and that's it. The Ca version is all the above, but in addition has a little heat--sort of like Dijon.

Anyone with transcontinental experience run into other products like this?

Dec 23, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

Great Jewish Deli?

Amen. Manny's is not ersatz, but it's not great either. I have no idea why, but Jewish delis seem to have disappeared from chicago in the early 80's, possibly even earlier. When I arrived in 1970, there were two in the loop--no idea of name--on maybe Randolph or Washington and Madison mid-way between Franklin and State. I remember they had exquisite half-pickles and rye and every diner was served those plus a plate of cold sauerkraut for a starter. Of course the ultimate was the Ashkenaz on Morse avenue. It not only served great food but had a wonderful atmosphere--this was another country away from Chicago--and it was a beautiful place as well. Anyway, whatever the reason for their demise, they're gone and that's that. You're whistling Dixie if you expect to see a Jewish deli in Chicago. Sad, but I think absolutely true.

Dec 15, 2010
Masonville in Chicago Area

Indian Wells

CorkTree in Palm Desert--next door to Indian Wells. I liked this place. Very good service--not spectacular but without exception very good. Food excellent. This was lunch. I had a warm vegetarian salad on iceberg lettuce and brie-topped olive foccacia. The vegetarian salad was excellent--each component was obviously prepared individually and perfectly with a great vinaigrette (no idea of specific ingredients but base was probably a white balsamic). OK, the iceberg lettuce was filler, but the rest of the salad was ample and so good I'm not about to quibble about some throwaway vegetation. Spouse's salmon wrap also very good. Desert sampler ranged from very good (something like a a chocolate mousse) to mind-blowing great (bing cherry sorbet). It's not a destination restaurant, but if you're in the India Wells vicinity, it should be a satisfying choice. I don't recall the entire wine list well enough to comment on it, but was pleasantly surprised to find A-Z Pinot Gris by the glass, at a modest price.

Dec 14, 2010
Masonville in California

Frozen squash

Not a huge fan, but as a convenience I would occasionally buy prepared frozen squash. About 3 years ago, I noticed that it became an extreme upper GI issue for me (I have major esophageal reflux problem). I switched from the brand I'd previously used to a generic. Same problem. So I simply gave up. For whatever reason, about 6 months ago, I bought a butternut squash, steamed it myself. Easy to do, tastes great, and absolutely no acid reflux problem. My guess is that with the prepared stuff the manufacturers starting saving on labor costs by cooking the whole damned thing--seeds & peel included and then mashing the result. The higher cellulose content in seeds & peel were probably the culprit. Anyone else had an issue with this?

Nov 18, 2010
Masonville in Home Cooking

Do you have to sneak vegetables into your kids?

I so agree. My youngest grandaughter has not the slightest interest in liquids. She eats grapes by the ton. No interest in meat, loves peas, squash. Go figure. We used to obsessively follow her around with a sippy bottle and she'd occasionally humor us with an ounce or so. She's getting it somewhere! She does like a lot of foods with high liquid content, so maybe that's it. I can remember her first 6-9 months.--would drink minimal formula during the day, but would inhale the stuff at 2:00 a.m. Food is just not something about which you should be authoritarian. (OK, I'm not cooking separate meals for 5 kids, but that's a different matter.)

Nov 18, 2010
Masonville in Not About Food

Do you think eating out teaches children anything valuable about food (or anything else)?

I wouldn't pick dining out per se as a way of educating kids, if that's the only reason. On the other hand if you dine out at whatever frequency, I'd say include them. It teaches them interaction with "authority figures" (waitstaff)--even learning to order is an important experience, it exposes them to options in food, it exposes them to a broader social context involving food, it might even be FUN but that's of course a gamble. All I can say is that as a child I loved going out to restaurants and my parents wisely deferred to my choices. My grandchildren now very much enjoy restaurants and are allowed to say yes/no and it works. So, long story short, I'd say it's a plus but not a must.

Nov 17, 2010
Masonville in Not About Food

Salt Alternatives...Salternatives?

It's appalling to me the horrible effect that people may have by denying the effects of excess sodium. Shame on you, Karl S. I've respected you for a long time, but I know for a fact the effect of excess salt. I can drop my blood pressure by 20 points by abstaining from too much salt--it takes about 10 days. Fool that I am, I should do this constantly rather waiting to "clean up" my blood 6 weeks before seeing my doctor. I know you're saying this only affects a "minority", but guess what the average reader is going to say--hey, I'm no "minority". I completely applaud whoever on this thread said stay away from lunch meats. I say stay away from all prepared meats. Instead of Trader Joe's prepared meats (which are in any case better than most deli meats) I know but chicken/turkey breast or pork and cut it myself to serving-size portions, cook individually for sandwiches. As for this nitwit who refs some probably bought-and--paid-for professor from some never-heard-of university in Austria, HELLO, so WTF if some seniors suffer from salt deficit. Most are in much more danger from salt excess.

Nov 11, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

Food Terminology that makes you CRAZY!!

Any cooking verb followed by "up". Primary one being "cooked up". How a directional adverb has any place in this is beyond me. If it were just a harmless regionalism (which I suspect it was originally), no big deal, I suppose. But legions of otherwise articulate/literate people have seen fit to parrot it. It drives me crazy.

Oct 26, 2010
Masonville in Not About Food

Would a roach scare you away if the food was good and the place did not look dirty?

Palmetto bugs scare the hell out of me. I'm not concerned about germs, these things just freak me out.

Oct 03, 2010
Masonville in Not About Food

Would a roach scare you away if the food was good and the place did not look dirty?

no

Oct 03, 2010
Masonville in Not About Food

What is the Best Condiment You Ever Had?

Pickapeppa, hands down, best. And, if you're salt-challenged, Trader Joe's chili pepper sauce. It's got moderate heat, flavor combination is cumin/vinegar/peppers and zero ZERO salt.

“They’re like edible cocktails. People get smashed.”

Never actually tried it, but given how wonderful the combination of fresh pineapple & kirschwasser is, I can't imagine the preserved version would be anything but great. On the other hand, given the price of kirschwasser, might be a $$$ issue.

Sep 29, 2010
Masonville in Home Cooking

Old school table manners... what were you taught?

I haven' read the whole thread and am not about to. On balance, I think I like your grandfather. Not because of his "rules", altho they're mostly all good, but because he ate the soup of the pan. You're leaving out a a lot, but that suggests to me he was human--in a good way. Again, you're leaving out a lot, but as far as I can fill in the blanks, I think that "teaching manners" involves most of all affection and a cultivation of respect (which includes affection). It's not just about rules, per se. As for smacking lips, I am SOOOO with your there.

Sep 24, 2010
Masonville in Not About Food

An easy recipe for Preserved Lemons

Thanks for the tip. I've tried other recipes that resulted in mold. I think the heat may do the trick.

Sep 11, 2010
Masonville in Home Cooking

What was the worst food you HAD to eat as a kid?

OMG, there were many--mostly at school and at aunt's houses--my mother was a terrific cook. The worst I can recall sounds like a cartoon. Food at my Catholic school first grade (after that I went home for lunch) was utterly wretched. Possibly the worst was the "mashed potatoes", some kind of ultra-thick wallpaper paste. One day i just couldn't do it. Sister Mary Whatever patiently explained to me that I couldn't leave the lunch room until I ate my "mashed potatoes", and if I didn't eat them soon, I'd be late for Whatever. Silly Sister, she left me alone, I mashed the "mashed potatoes" into one of my shoes, and walked out. A certain kind of deceit is a necessary part of growing up. Who knows, maybe Sister Mary Whatever was checking me out for Innovation. I passed.

Sep 05, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

Restaurant recommendations for Thanksgiving

Chicago Firehouse has always in the past had a very good Thanksgiving buffet.

http://www.mainstayhospitality.com/in...

No indication if it's on for this year, but my guess is probably. Give them a call.

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Chicago Firehouse Restaurant
1401 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Sep 04, 2010
Masonville in Chicago Area

White Ribbon semillon

This is a terrific white from Penmarawines (australia). It's a modest wine, but remarkable in 2 ways: 1) it's utterly dry, with major heft and glycerine and subdued but substantial fruit and 2) it's low-alcohol (11..5). I love drinking it, but it's also a great sauce wine--none of the herbal detours of vermouth, none of the grass of sauvignon blanc, none of the fruit salad of (california) chardonnay. Unfortunately, I encountered it at Trader Joe's, which means it's an introductory offering, never to be seen again except at substantially higher (than $4.99) prices.

Aug 29, 2010
Masonville in Wine

Dressing on the side?

Amen to Sherribery. This is something that restaurant staffs are amazingly insensitive to--no, probably just not aware of. I have major sensitivity to onion/garlic/chives. Huge, all-night heartburn extending to upper throat. I've been questioned closely by waitstaff about my not wanting onions/garlic, as if I'm some dork who simply isn't familiar with garlic. NO, it's a health hazard for me, as I have a pre-cancerous esophageal condition. So thank you so much, chrisandbetcyc, for asking this question.

Aug 29, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

What got you "into" wine?

Well, yes, at first it sounds a little strange--but think about it: it's got great color, major flavor (if somewhat unusual for wine), huge sugar. Why not? Of course, I would never have believed it if I hadn't tasted it, but it was very very good. Interestingly enough, it had not of the husky beet flavor.

Aug 14, 2010
Masonville in Wine

What got you "into" wine?

I grew up in Iowa where "wine" was concord grape stuff somehow fortified, then mixed w/ 7-up. Even for an incipient alcoholic, this was gag-me stuff. There was one exception--a remarkable beet wine, but it was so exceptional as to scarcely merit mention. When I was a sophomore in college, my half-brothers, 10 and 11 years older than I, introduced me to a riesling (no idea what label or region, but I suspect it was schwartze katz); it was love at first taste. (By the way, that beet wine was amazing, and I still remember the recipe--more or less--if you're interested.)

Aug 11, 2010
Masonville in Wine

What to do with jar of fig jam?

Sounds like a great idea--I'll give it try. Thanks.

Aug 03, 2010
Masonville in Home Cooking

What to do with jar of fig jam?

I had an amazing pizza/flatbread the other night. Very thin crisp crust, toppings gorgonzola prosciutto basil [+ one other cheese I can't remember] and, in the middle of it all, a small puddle of fig jam. Terrific combination, and the fig jam was the star.

What classical desserts would you like to see make a comeback on menus?

fresh pineapple & good (or even mediocre) Kirschwasser

Aug 01, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

Cooking Lettuce

Sounds great. Any fat--preliminary butter in the pan, whatever?

Jul 31, 2010
Masonville in Home Cooking

What's happened to donuts?

Multiple things have happened. I think the transfat thing is a factor--I recall, can't find now, a good magazine article about the industry challenge involved. But I also think, as others have indicated, that it's that there are hardly any independent donut shops. The major chains all (I'm saying plural, but is there anything but DD?) tend to cater to the lowest common demoninator--which means the cheapest, most profitable, etc. I don't hate Dunkin Donuts, but it's a far cry from the wonderful potato-starch donuts my mother made (which, for all I know, were hideously unhealthful); they were very substantial, toothsome, loads of flavor even without the sugar dusting. I dunno. This is a subject for which there's probably no black-and-white.

Jul 30, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

Where in the world is Panzarotti? Why is so little heard about them?

This is very interesting. When I was in college (late 60's) in--of all places--Dubuque, Iowa, there was a tiny counter place with maybe 6 stools that specialized in panzarotti. It was one of most wonderful pastries I've ever had. Flakey light crust, cheese/tomato filling. If I could have afforded it, I'd have eaten a dozen at a sitting. Never seen anything remotely like in the Midwest, then or since. Maybe this guy was an immigrant from NJ. Who knows.

Jul 27, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

Rise in "truffle" products - disappointing and gross.

I've been trying to get an "objective" take on truffle oil for a long time. Many people rave about it, and I've in one instance enjoyed it--it was an additive to real turkey gravy on a thanksgiving dinner. But apart from that one instance, I share your pain and "rancid", while perhaps not totally accurate, pretty much describes my experience with the stuff. There's no question that nearly all of this stuff is in fact just chemicals. There may somewhere be oil infused with real truffles, but I've never seen it. My experience has been with oils purchased from extremely reputable places, but the stuff still struck me as crap. It's permanently on my "don't bother" list. P.S. In fairness, I've never tasted a real truffle, and I suppose it's entirely possible that "truffle oils" do really capture the flavor of truffles. If that's the case, sad to say, I'll never be a truffle fan.

Jul 26, 2010
Masonville in General Topics

Chew Chew Riverside

There was a brief flutter on Chowhound about the reopening of this restaurant --really a completely new restaurant in a new location--but nothing much since. We've been going there intermittently but because it's almost a "neighborhood" place for us, it hasn't occurred to me to report about it.

It's a gorgeous place, for starters. The menu is eclectic--I suppose "contemporary American" for lack of a more precise categorization. You can get anything from high-end burgers to sophisticated seafood entrees to whatever. My wife and I tend to stick to small dishes, so that's what I can talk about. Last night we had (this is not unique to last night) "baby field green" salads. The greens were the usual mix, but what was remarkable was the vinaigrette. It was perfection--and I'm extremely picky about this. In addition to the greens, there were grape halves and hazelnuts. The grapes provided a great balance for the tart/salty vinaigrette. It's a simple salad, but it was perfect. We shared a "flatbread" aka pizza that was very thin very crisp with gorgonzola prosciutto apple basil [multiple other ingredients] and, of all things, fig jam. The last was inspired. This was a terrific combination of sweet/salt/savory.

To me, the most remarkable thing about this restaurant is its approach to wine. It has a medium-sized bottle list, as far as I can recall a pretty good selection at moderate prices. But the by-the-glass approach is a great idea. What you actually get is a quartino (1/3 bottle) carafe. It's a limited selection--maybe 6-8 wines--but all are at least quite decent. Ours was Klinker Brick Z at $12; one other I recall was a Hahn Estates cab at $8. These are very reasonable prices bordering on cheap. All in all, it's not quite a destination, but if you're in the 2-or-3 suburb vicinity, give it a try.

-----
The Chew Chew
33 East Burlington, Riverside, IL 60546

Jul 25, 2010
Masonville in Chicago Area

Looking for dives..

This is a little late, but I certainly hope no one took you up on the Ogden Ave Malnati's. It's Lou Malnati in name only. When we were there a couple of years ago, it was basically a neighborhood place that served soulfood and tolerated as best as can the occasional pizza order. Service was very kindly, but food execution was execrable. In response to a request for a cheese pizza w/ anchovies, we got a cheese & sausage pizza (obviously long-frozen) w/ hideously dessicated anchovy bits on top. It was by miles the worst pizza experience I've ever had, and the apologetic way in which it was served led me to believe there was no possibility of sending this puppy back to the kitchen. I've no idea why the Malnati chain continues to lend its name to this place.

Jul 22, 2010
Masonville in Chicago Area