Will Owen's Profile

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Pureeing the Myth of Sriracha Sauce

Sorry, I don't go all purist about sauces, I just use what I like for each particular purpose. Huy Fong Sriracha was a welcome discovery because I had no real choices between sambals and those sticky-sweet chili sauces until this came along. I don't think of it as a hot sauce, but as a spicy one; I might put some Yucateca habañero sauce in the eggs I'm going to scramble, but it's Sriracha I'll likely put on the scrambled ones. Sriracha and fish sauce is my go-to marinade for tofu cubes when I'm making Pad Thai or some similar dish, and nobody I've fed it to has complained or left the tofu uneaten on the plate …

about 19 hours ago
Will Owen in General Topics
1

WHICH FISH SAUCE? Different ones for different purposes? Oyster sauce, too.

Mercy, that's twice what I paid for Red Boat at 99 Ranch in Arcadia, CA. I saw some prices mention in a newspaper article about fish sauce, and expected to be spending a whole lot more.

Squid was one of the brands I'd been using when I first got into this, mostly to do vegetarian dishes, but I like Red Boat for everything. Yes, I know, but the vegetarian Mrs. O has decreed that as far as she's concerned the anchovy is not a fish but a condiment, so we don't have to mess around with no damn vegetarian fish sauce!

about 19 hours ago
Will Owen in General Topics
1

How good is your flavor imagination?

It's always been pretty good and has just gotten better, even as my tasting ability diminishes. What I like most about it is having the ability to think up a new dish and rough out the recipe with pen and paper, sitting with a glass of wine at the dining table of an evening (it functions as my desk). Thirty or forty years ago I sketched up car designs; now I sketch food. Well, I'm a hell of a lot better cook than I am a mechanic!

about 19 hours ago
Will Owen in General Topics

Petit Trois, No Reservations, No Phone, No Cash & No tipping...

Though not great, Bistro de la Gare in South Pas is damned good, very casual and very well embedded in its neighborhood. Now that they have a much better chef/owner and have subdued the clamorous interior that the former owner actually liked (!!!) it's great just for a glass of wine and some snails, or one of the variations on the theme of steak frites. No cocktails, dammit, but a nice if smallish wine list.

about 19 hours ago
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Turning pimento cheese into pimento mac and cheese?

I want to split the difference between beaten to a paste and discrete shreds, so last batch I made was with Trader Joe's shredded sharp cheddar – very fine shreds – but beaten by hand with my favorite wooden spoon.

I keep forgetting to mention that this is my favorite substance for stuffing celery stalks.

about 20 hours ago
Will Owen in Home Cooking

questions about ham and olive oil

If anyone gives a hoot I've got a recipe I came up with for Tennessee Straw and Hay, made with country ham instead of prosciutto. Works a whole lot better than maybe it should.

1 day ago
Will Owen in General Topics

What's your favorite way to cook?

When I'm cooking tight, nothing beats Bach; it's exactly the same as when I'm writing or editing copy. Mathematically precise music that also happens to be lovely somehow runs a comb through my neurons and makes everything clear. On the other hand, when I'm cleaning up, Blondie works pretty well: "The tide is high but I'm holding on …" Yee ha.

1 day ago
Will Owen in Not About Food

Turning pimento cheese into pimento mac and cheese?

I have to use the diced pimentos because you can barely taste them; Mrs. O is dramatically averse to the flavor of sweet peppers, though the hot ones (even just the hottish ones) are okay by her. For some reason the barely-there flavor of jarred pimentos just makes it right for her. No other preparation containing pimentos does, odd though it might be.

1 day ago
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Turning pimento cheese into pimento mac and cheese?

Yes. You have the sauce right there; it just needs to melt into the pasta, so simply drain the macaroni and stir it and the cheese together, then put it into a baking dish and run it through a 350º oven for about fifteen-twenty minutes. Topping it with slices of Roma tomato would be good too.

I've never had any problem getting rid of pimento cheese in this house, even if it's just the two of us … and do not believe for one minute those cautions about "Will keep refrigerated for about one week." That is total hooey. One of the reasons it's so popular for picnics in the South is that it can sit out all day without going bad or growing anything, and while it's not quite immortal in the fridge (especially if you've gone and put cream cheese in it) it'll be okay for two weeks if not three. And chances are good that the only deterioration might be a spot of fuzzy mold, which can just be scraped off unless it's the red or orange kind.

Oh, it makes KILLER grilled cheese sandwiches too!

Jul 22, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
1

poached chicken??

All due respect to Frugal, but the rule I read was that if it's broth you want, start it in cold water, but if you want cooked meat get the water boiling first. That's why a good poached-chicken recipe will recommend bring the cooking liquid to a boil then pouring it over the chicken in its pot.

With the usual-sized packaged breasts I get the stock going at a good simmer, not quite a boil (about 195º), and drop in room-temperature breast halves. Ready for me (almost imperceptibly pinkish) in about ten minutes, done to FDA standards in twelve. Still edible in fifteen, unless you goof and let it start bubbling – it's supposed to just move.

Jul 22, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Fun With Marinated Artichokes

Oh, my … our next-to-last day in France we were in Nice, staying with some of Mrs. O's relatives. Abel, the husband, took us out on his boat for a day to show us as much of the Cote d'Azure as we could stand, and at midday he hauled packages of these from the cooler. Floating between two small but extremely popular islands teeming with attractive, barely dressed people, eating those delightful sandwiches, then climbing down into the cool water to wash off the vinaigrette residue … Oh, my. Think I'm gonna need one of these.

Jul 22, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

What's your favorite way to cook?

We have one friend, a man in Nashville, with whom I can cook comfortably … and when I'd help in his kitchen his nephew, a chef, would often be there too, and we'd both work under Jerry. When Jerry came out to visit for a few days I was happy to see we could work together in mine. And after thirty-some years I can deal with Mrs. O and maybe a friend or two in the kitchen unless I've got to really focus on something or need to be all over the room, and then I shoo them out.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Not About Food

What's your favorite way to cook?

My favorite way to cook is how I'm cooking tomorrow, which is during the day with nobody else around and MY music (Classical KUSC) playing loud enough to hear it if I want to. I'm poaching a chicken and making French potato salad, all to be served cold Wednesday night to a group of Mrs. O's high-school buds; as it's a girls' school I'm not invited, but that's okay (I get to eat out!). Both dishes are easy to make but require lots of different processes, especially the chicken, since it involves making a broth, boiling and straining it, pouring it (boiling) over the tied-up chicken and then simmering it gently for an hour and some … lots of stuff that's hard for me to concentrate on with people coming in and asking questions. Alone like this if I screw up it's all me, so I intend not to!

I'll also clean as I go for two good reasons: no spare work space, and limited number of pots.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Not About Food

Discrimination in Restaurants - does it influence where you dine?

Nope. We didn't go to Cracker Barrel for the few years they were firing/not hiring gay and lesbian workers, however much I missed the Cousin Hershel's Favorite breakfast platter. And honestly, when I learn of a restaurant that treats its employees like galley slaves I'll avoid it, not simply because I'm against mistreating people but because I don't like the atmosphere in such places. If the boss is a butthole they'll likely take it out on me.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Not About Food
4

Newport Seafood San Gabriel Location Closing?

About three or four years behind. They moved just a few blocks east to a freestanding building on the south side of the street, with plenty of parking they don't share with anyone.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Newport Seafood San Gabriel Location Closing?

Oh!! Good to know!

ipse, if real estate values are going up it's most likely that the landlord will decide the rents must do the same. The restaurant owner – I'd think especially in the SGV, where unfortunately we eaters have gotten so used to $10-per-head dinner tabs it's a wonder anyone makes any money – is already on very thin ice. Arguments about whether we're ready to pay the price to start giving the kitchen staff something resembling a living wage are something we can't really address here – you should ask Tony Bourdain about this if you want an earful – but as greedy as the restaurant owner might be he's being asked to choose between losing his profits or losing his customers, who must also be considered a part of the equation.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

"thin" cooked egg yolks.. what could they be doing?

A lot of times when I flip frying eggs instead of turning them with a spatula one or both yolks will break, and they do stay encased in white. Since I like them however they come out if they're to be plated, I don't mind at all.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

"thin" cooked egg yolks.. what could they be doing?

Oh, I do like runny yolks all right, just not running through my fingers! Or into my lap.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
1

Fun With Marinated Artichokes

Always had to stop there coming back from any trip to Monterey when I lived in Palo Alto.

Jul 21, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Newport Seafood San Gabriel Location Closing?

I think physical space is AN important consideration, if not the most important. Their old space in that square with Golden Deli had us tangling elbows with the surrounding tables, and an ungodly mess on the table by halfway through dinner. The current one was a big improvement, especially with the multiple dining areas, but they could still stand to go bigger if possible.

Jul 20, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Newport Seafood San Gabriel Location Closing?

Greedy landlords can and do kill lots of businesses, but restaurants are especially vulnerable. Har Lam Kee on Garvey was a big favorite of ours, and I was trying to make a date for there with the rest of our posse when I learned that the next day would be their last. I haven't been by there lately, but if it's boarded up I'm gonna gloat a little.

Jul 20, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Fun With Marinated Artichokes

My stovetop-to-oven mac'n'cheese often has tomatoes, onion and those poblano strips that come frozen and peeled; I can't do bacon for home consumption, but the artichokes would fit in as a good alternative to the chiles. I do think maybe adding a smoked cheese to the mix would be a nice move too. I usually just do a mixture of sharp cheddar and fontina.

Jul 20, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Fun With Marinated Artichokes

Something I forgot to mention was that I break the spaghetti in half (more or less); when you're stirring it into a sauce (such as for Tetrazzini, for instance) it mixes in more easily if it's shorter. Thanks for reminding me! (And I've had that TGiF pasta dish, too.)

Dear foodieX2: I share your problem. One reason I'm glad the TJ's artichokes are so good is that I'd been buying mine from the Roma Deli down the street, handmade and OH so good, but $6 or so for a little takeout container. More flavor than TJ's, and I do use those for company mostly, but there's much to be said for economy and convenience … and the frequency of non-chewable leaves is actually lower in TJ's.

Jul 20, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
1

"thin" cooked egg yolks.. what could they be doing?

If they grew up eating the same egg sandwiches I did they broke the yolks, as a matter of routine. I was in my mid-twenties and living in Alaska before I met anyone who left the yolks whole and runny … and they were astonished to learn that anyone did it differently. But back in the Midwest I'd never had an egg sandwich at home or in a restaurant with an unbroken yolk. And that's how I continue to make them.

Jul 20, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
3

Fun With Marinated Artichokes

Maybe four months ago, maybe more, I took home from Trader Joe's a jar of their artichokes, a little mesh bag of shallots, a plastic box of cherry tomatoes and a pound of their now-discontinued (boo hiss) High-Fiber Spaghetti. I cooked and drained about half the spaghetti, in the meantime mincing a large shallot and cooking it with olive oil in a four-quart round-bottomed nonstick pot (dirt cheap from an Asian market), then quartering about half the tomatoes and throwing them in, and draining the artichokes – save the juice! – and cutting them into slightly smaller chunks, checking for and removing any papery outer leaves. When the tomatoes had all collapsed I added the artichokes and stirred it a bit, then the spaghetti and the marinade. That got all tossed together with some grated pecorino and then devoured by us and a dinner guest, and we've repeated it several times since, though with just plain spaghetti since I still can't face the brown stuff.

Then a week or so ago I happened to glimpse on a muted TV a cooking demo, wherein the host was stirring tortellini in a pan with what looked an awful lot like my artichoke-tomato. "By golly, that should work!" I thought, and by golly it did. I just had to put a 10 oz package of the fresh cheese tortellini – pesto works too – into the pan when the tomatoes' juices and the marinade were heading towards a boil, and stir it with a silicone paddle or wooden spoon until the tortellini were tender. That was even faster and easier, done in about the time it took me to hunt-and-peck this on the keyboard, and we loved that too.

I think the next step might be incorporating these ingredients into a baked mac'n'cheese …

Jul 20, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
1

Pot Roast meat

Back when I was working harder on my chili and doing it with real meat, round was my go-to meat for it. Cubed and cooked in fat until just browning, then the chili powder goes in and it's all cooked until dark and fragrant, then come the liquid ingredients. But I would never use round for pot roast.

My mother would prepare round steak by pounding seasoned flour into it with the edge of a plate – all she had to work with – and then frying it, but of course flour is out of the question here …

Jul 20, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Favorites from the new Trader Joe's

The marinated artichokes in glass jars are a good start for a quick and simple pasta dish. I chop them up and cook some onion or shallots (99¢ for a little bag of 2 or 3) and some cut up small tomatoes, then add the drained artichokes, the marinade and some cooked pasta, grate a bunch of Parmesan or pecorino over it and it's dinner. Or you can just throw a package of the fresh tortellini in and stir-cook it in the liquid until it's tender. Quicker than take-out!

The Crèmant de Bourgogne is really nice, as is the Prosecco. My favorite fizzy is a good bit drier, cheaper and not as sparkly, the Portuguese Vinho Verde in the tall green bottle, now blessedly with a screwtop (the tiny mouth was damned hard to find a cork for!).

Jul 19, 2014
Will Owen in Chains

Railway Dininig. Ever experience it ?

General Dynamics was the parent company. No, AMTRAK was deliberately set up to wind down and then kill US passenger rail, all at the specific request of the railroads. There is an excellent article in the last month's issue of Harper's, titled 21st Century Limited, about how and why rail travel is going to hell in this country as opposed to its growth in others. That the author wrote much of it while taking a cross-country rail trip makes it even more compelling.

Jul 19, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Railway Dininig. Ever experience it ?

We take the Surfliner about once a year from LA to Ventura with some friends, usually Christmas shopping. It's great fun to have one or two of the surprisingly good Bloody Marys on the way up! We do the same thing on airplanes, but this is 'way more cool.

Jul 19, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Do you eat rabbit? How do you cook it?

I've been using corn grits to make polenta for some time now … so I'd suggest that as you're in Italy you can just use coarse polenta.

Jul 19, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking