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Classic Macaroni and Cheese

OK, here's the deal. I have been in the food service management for close to 50 years. and I have learned one lesson.---don't pay any attention to how much salt to use. Add salt sparingly to all recipes and do only enough to please your palate. ALSO, IF YOU ARE A SALT FREAK HAVE A FRIEND YOU CAN TRUST TO DO THE TASTING. REMEMEBER, YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD--BUT ITS HARD TO TAKE BACK.
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However, I am going to take this one step further by suggesting the recipe may have been miswritten. Two Tablespoons of salt would be right for the boiling water that you cook the pasta in. However even a Tablespoon of salt seems a lot for Béchamel sauce. The problem is that you are tasting only the flour which is of course very bland. Don't use any salt at all until you taste the sauce WITH the cheese in it. Both cheeses are very salty in their own right and two Tablespoons of salt is simply overwhelming the cheese. Once you taste the "completed" sauce, THEN make the decision to salt if at all.
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I think if you follow these directions you will have taken a slightly flawed recipe and turned it into something truly great.
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Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Jul 24, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Your time for baking is a good one, but maybe not for everyone. I had several friends who have made this (with me it was 7 or 8) terrific recipe. Virtually everyone of us had a different opinion about the bake time.
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Since we were ALL at odds as to bake times, I thought it would be fun to see how well our ovens were calibrated. I invested in a very good electronic thermometer. We ALL gave our ovens a test and we ALL having different results. What a great investment! We were able to either adjust our ovens to correct settings or our recipe cooking times. What an improvement for everyone.

Jul 24, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

What a great idea to add green chilies I assume they are the ones with heat to give the Mac and Cheese a bit of a zing. NOW I am going to have to make this.
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Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Jun 24, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Crispy Curried New Potatoes

Yes it is difficult when an ingredient of such overpowering intensity is removed and nothing is offered as an acceptable alternative. It is well known that many dislike the taste of cilantro and as such it behooves the person offering the recipes to acknowledge that fact. WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT DOING THAT???
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A young cook might not know that the flavor is not to everyone's taste. What could be more embarrassing to a young kid than to find what they prepared was not being eaten because of the funky taste of cilantro.
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Robert Hayes Halfpenny

May 27, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Crispy Curried New Potatoes

No I t is not just you. You are in good company. Julia Child also hates arugula AND cilantro too.
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Robert Hayes Halfpenny

May 27, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Crispy Curried New Potatoes

Thank you so much for noting that I have covered the issue so well. I didn't realize I had actually covered three separate recipes in one day. As to your suggestion that I have been rendering tirades I must take some exception. I certainly admit to writing with invective but always with the purpose of making cogent points and logical conclusions. Tirades are always without purpose and without direction.
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Also for the record, I am NOT writing for the experienced cooks I am writing for the young and inexperienced cooks. I am writing for the person who is cooking for their spouse's parents or employer. I am writing for the young cook who wants to do well and to please others. I am so sorry if you have a problem with that.
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Robert Hayes Halfpenny

May 27, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Crispy Curried New Potatoes

The percentage of people who like or dislike cilantro varies widely by population to be sure. Whatever that number may actually be is far less important than the fact that cilantro is still a noxious herb to sufficient numbers of people that it should not be proffered as an ingredient without fair warning.

It might interest you to know that my opinion is shared by both Ina Garten AND Julia Child.

OH, and KaimukiMan, my references are the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

May 27, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Crispy Curried New Potatoes

Yes, you could just skip the cilantro, BUT what do you replace it with. Of course using tons of cilantro would only overpower the dish with the taste of soap. But perhaps you are used to that taste from having your mouth washed out with soap as a child for using naughty language.
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The recipe calls for "sweet new potatoes" to be the ones that are "smashed". However, you idea of slicing them makes sense since, if you look closely, you will see that it appears as if they did in fact slice them.
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I ALWAYS USE CAPS WHEN DISCUSSING THE UBIQUITY OF THIS DISGUSTING HERB. TOO MANY YOUNG NEW COOKS MIGHT BE LED TO BELIEVE IT IS A GOOD THING ONLY TO FIND THAT THEY HAVE RUINED THE DISH WITH THIS NOXIOUS FLAVORING.
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CILANTRO TASTES LIKE SOAP!! THIS IS NOT AN OPINION--IT IS A FACT. WITHOUT GOING INTO LENGTHY CHEMICAL EXPLANATIONS, IT IS THE ALDEHYDES THAT CREATE THE SMELL AND TASTE OF SOAP.

ROBERT HAYES HALFPENNY

May 27, 2014
bob3443 in Recipes

Halloween Horror Movie Menu

Nice touch the silver WASN'T polished for the pate. What a great way to start the party season with tarnished silver serving pieces for Halloween. If your friends help clean up like ours do. You might discover that special oddball who actually likes to polish silver!

Also I loved the bees on the Apple-Honey USD cake. Where can you get them and are the edible?

Oct 31, 2013
bob3443 in Features

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Great recipe, however it is my personal opinion ALL RECIPES should only say "salt to taste", if salt is even required at all. Also, I added Coleman's English mustard and Tobasco sauce for a real kick.

The best part of what I do however, was to add a cut up ring of Kielbasa (sp) into the Mac and Cheese. It was really delicious.

Sep 07, 2013
bob3443 in Recipes

Classic Eggs Benedict

Unfortunately the word "classic" has once again raised it ugly head the naming of one of your recipes.

If it is a classic recipe that means it should follow standard procedures. In this case the Hollandaise sauce should have at least 1 tsp of tarragon and 1/2 tsp of chervil mixed into the sauce.

Also, while it is true Canadian bacon is really ham it should still be the ham of choice when making Eggs Benedict for no other reason than that it makes a tidier presentation on the English Muffin with the poached egg on top of the ham.

May 02, 2013
bob3443 in Recipes

What is your "go to" meal when there is too much month left at the end of the paycheque - past or present

OK, here's the deal. I have been in the hospitality industry for better than 50 years, most of the time spent in management. As a single parent of two, we would do a lot of eating out, so that I could "check out" new food trends. Needless to say toward the end of the month the food budget would start getting a little skimpy AND i would have to start cooking at home to economize. That is when we would start eating French and sometimes Italian cuisine.

My kids would think this was quite classy little knowing I was doing this to do some serious budget stretching, Some of the meals would be simple, but sound so much better with a French name, such as---
1. Croque-monsieur or madam with Potage de Pommes de Terre i.e. ham and cheese sandwiches with potato soup.

2. Cassoulet languedocien i.e.a bean casserole with dark meat chicken or turkey and a smoked sausage or hot dogs.

3. Salade nicoise i.e.a tossed salad with a lot of tuna, green beans, boiled potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and hard boiled eggs.

4. Frittata souffle with cheese,spinach, and ham. i.e.egg whites whipped until fairly stiff with the egg yolks folded in along with other ingredients.

5. Pasta Carbonara (my favorite) i.e. Spaghetti with eggs and ham Italian style.

I did finally get my comeuppance of sorts when a couple of parents asked me if I ever thought to fix my kids something simple like breaded fish sticks with fries and slaw. I guess it is really true that no man is a hero in his own home.

One last point, if you like using bacon as an ingredient, buy a box of the bacon scraps,portion them out, and then freeze. This is a lot cheaper than chopping up your sliced bacon.

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Apr 13, 2013
bob3443 in General Topics

Do You Always Have to Brown Meat Before Braising?

Braising is the only way to go. 50 years experience in the hospitality industry wherein I dealt with chefs of every age and from every part of the country, taught me two things---always braise the meat and DON'T ever argue with the Chef.

Personally, I feel that the crust that forms on the meat helps add to the flavor and also keeps the meat juices in the meat much longer. One thing to remember is to let the meat rest for the juices to distribute themselves in the meat.

Apr 05, 2013
bob3443 in Features

Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce

This recipe is terrible because it leaves out the most important ingredients. I refer to the Tarragon, Chervil and a dash of Tabasco. WITHOUT THESE INGREDIENTS IT ISN'T HOLLANDAISE!!!

Mar 26, 2013
bob3443 in Recipes

Used/Vintage Le Creuset--Downside?

If your cast iron is properly seasoned you don't have to worry about any interaction between the acid and the iron. Another added advantage is that the black iron always looks new and shiny. I had a large chicken fryer that had been put in storage for several years. When I finally "found" it again it was totally orange from rust. I thought it was permanently ruined because it still had a definite orangey color to it after I scrubbed it with steel wool. I decided to season it anyway, using olive oil (all over inside and out) and baking it in a 400 degree oven until it got shiny looking. When I finished with it the fryer looked glossy black. I even tested it by frying an egg (using butter) and the egg slid all over the pan just as though it was coated with Teflon. This pan was probably over 70 years old but you would think I just bought it yesterday. I have even made Hollandaise in a small well seasoned sauce pan and it came out perfectly.

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Feb 24, 2013
bob3443 in Cookware

Used/Vintage Le Creuset--Downside?

OK, here's the deal. I have always thought that LC was way way way overpriced. All it is is cast iron cookery with a pretty colored coating. You would be better off just buying new cast iron pots and pans.

All you need to do is season them which is super simple. Simply coat the pan with a thin layer of olive oil ad stick in a 300 to 400 degree oven until the pan turns shiny. If food should stick to it during cooking, all you have to do is remove the food and pour a little water into the pan and "scrub" it with a wooden utensil or whisk, (make sure pan is still very hot for this method to work well).

Feb 24, 2013
bob3443 in Cookware

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

I do this a lot when I don't really want to cook. If I have whole chicken breasts I use them with the skin for added flavor or else I substitute cut up boneless skinless breasts. Since ramen noodles have never crossed my my tongue,I will substitute with any pasta or rice I might have on hand. I do like to take a handful fettuccine and break them into fourths and toss them directly into the soup. The broth gives the noodle a great flavor and you can always add a little more broth or water if necessary.

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Feb 08, 2013
bob3443 in Recipes

Basic Sweet Mochi (An Mochi)

Aren't these supposed to be cooked or steamed? This is not the first time I have found recipes that are incomplete, missing ingredients, or have confusing instructions.

Com'n guys and get your act together!!!

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Feb 07, 2013
bob3443 in Recipes

Quick Cilantro Tasting Question - what percentage taste soap?

That is really funny about the beets. I say they taste like dirt,which is of course "earthy". However, I do like mushrooms which also have an "earthy" taste about them.

Have you ever had Harvard beets. It is not a variety of beet but rather a way to prepare them. My Mom always used to prepare them that way and they tasted pretty good---NO DIRT.

Bob Halfpenny

Feb 04, 2013
bob3443 in Not About Food

Smoked Salmon and Mozzarella Calzone

The folding instructions make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Before using mozzarella, I'd rather use cream cheese with a little onion tossed in. I have no idea why anyone would want to put tomatoes in with the lox anyway. Actually this is one really goofy recipe.

Jan 11, 2013
bob3443 in Recipes

California's Shark Fin Ban Survives a Challenge

The issue between shark fin and foie gras is not the same. Shark fin should be banned because it is very clear that overharvesting of sharks could well lead to the extinctionof the creature. I have had shark fin soup in years past and quite honestly I didn't find all that terrific.

Foie gras is quite another matter. First of all the geese are bred specifically for the production of foie gras. The big issue seems to be about the geese being forced fed. When I was in France I saw the process being done. Whie the procedure may seem disgusting to some, the geese do not suffer any real pain or discomfort. What many peopl don't seem to understand is that the geese DO NOT have any type of gag reflex. It is not nearly so cruel and inhumane as the PETA people would have you think. This is what is called farming, get used to it. Geese are still being slaughtered for their meat regardless of whether they may also be slaughtered for their liver is really of little importance.

Has anyone noticed that it is virtually impossible to purchase veal in the stores anymore--unless, of course, you pay an arm and a leg for it? The big objection is that new born calves start off their very short life sequestered in small boxes to prevent them from much movement. This was done to insure the veal was white in color and very tender. Today more enlightened methods of raising veal, the animal is often fed a diet of dairy products, water, and grass. The color of the meat is now generally somewhere between ivory and a very pale pink. It is a shame the veal industry was nearly decimated by the horrific pictures spread far and wide by various organizations such as PETA.

Jan 07, 2013
bob3443 in Features

How Does One Make Killer Popovers?

As an English major in college I can aver to the fact that "leftover popovers" may be considered an oxymoron. CindyJ's point was that popovers are so great the idea of leftovers simply could not occur.

It is not absolutely necessary for the terms to be specifically opposite, the contradiction can be implied, such as in "military intelligence". The use of the word intelligence would seem to imply the military lacks intelligence---a concept with which I do not adhere. Our military does a great job, often times in spite of insurmountable odds.

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Jan 04, 2013
bob3443 in Home Cooking

The Last Kodachrome Christmas

Having been in the food business for over 50 years and a devotee of French cuisine, I have to point out that this is not Beef Wellington. It really should be designated as Filet de Boeuf en Croute.

The primary difference, aside that the French were already making the dish for some time before Wellington came along, is that the French dish uses a whole beef tenderloin (as shown in the above picture).

Beef Wellington is more generally prepared as individual portions. The final cooking time is seldom longer that about 15 to 18 minutes for medium rare to medium. The best recipe I have ever found was written by Chef Louis Szathmary in his book, "The Chef's New Secret Cookboook." Chef Louis once owned the famous "The Bakery" restaurant on the near north side of Chicago.

Dec 22, 2012
bob3443 in Features

Quick Cilantro Tasting Question - what percentage taste soap?

I guess I am the one who started this thread a long long time ago. As it happens I have been in hotel and restaurant management for over 50 years. While I would never presume to refer to myself as a chef, my personal time in various kitchens has been of longer duration than many people who do call themselves "chefs"! I state this only to establish my bona fides. Cilantro Does have a soapy taste and it is simply because a chemical or chemical compound causes that taste. People, by degree, can be more OR less sensitive to that taste.

While it is absolutely NOT my intent to gross anyone out, there is a fact about Parmesan cheese that goes to the issue as being discussed concerning cilantro. Parmesan has a chemical that creates a peculiar taste that can also be found in, HOW SO I PUT THIS DELICATELY, in "up chuck". This is a true fact!

Oct 22, 2012
bob3443 in Not About Food

Quick Cilantro Tasting Question - what percentage taste soap?

Clearly you miss the point. You simply can not leave out an ingredient and expect the dish to still have a flavor intended. While half the people who use cilantro think it tastes great,the other half of the population with far more sophisticated palates, detect a very definite taste of soap. This fact is irrefutable in that cilantro does have some type of chemical compound that is associated with the "taste" or flavor" of soap.

My main issue is that, those who write recipes, know many people do have an aversion to cilantro. All I ask is that they show the courtesy of offering an acceptable substitute to the 50% of the people who find cilantro to be distasteful.

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Oct 19, 2012
bob3443 in Not About Food

Is Organic Food Healthier? Duh

To fertilize crops organically one only needs bull s#&t, pig s#&t or chicken s#&t. And, there are plenty of those fertilizers available especially around Washington D.C.

Weedkillers strike me as something that that could be lived without, but not being a farmer, I could not comment intelligently on that issue.

So now we come to pesticides. Clearly, we don't want our crops devoured by various insects, but we don't want to put our children AND OURSELVES at risk from their use. Maybe John Stossel is right and maybe he isn't. There are natural pesticides that do work and there are insects that also do a great job of killing bad insects without causing harm themselves. An active use of these two solutions could reduce the chemical pesticides that are currently in use.

The real problem seems to be everyone wants to jump on the organic bandwagon and for one reason only. You can always charge more for things that look like they are healthier--and that's the whole hype about organic. The sheeple of our country think because they "do it for the kids" it is worth the cost. Sorry folks that is pure BULLS%*T. Big Ag is looking at the bottom line not your waistline. All you have to do is follow the money and you will have your eyes opened wide.

Just think about this logically. Why did brown eggs go from a cheap price to a price way higher than white eggs? This happened for one reason only, brown eggs were hyped as more organic. The latest thing now is bananas . How in Hell do you grow an organic banana? How would you even know if they are grown organically--they all come from South America.

JUST SAVE YOUR MONEY AND MAKE IT A POINT TO WASH YOUR VEGETABLES BEFORE EATING. In all likelihood John Stossel IS RIGHT!

Sep 07, 2012
bob3443 in Features

3-Ingredient Patio Cocktails

According to an old family recipe, dating from the 1800's, the Mint Julep was originally served in Aluminum cups. I suspect the reason may have been that at one time, aluminum was a very expensive metal, and as such, may have added a certain elegance to the drink itself.

Jun 01, 2012
bob3443 in Features

Burmese Prawn Curry

Again we have a recipe with cilantro AKA the BAR-OF-SOAP herb. Coul you not have suggested to simply pass around some chopped cilantro that people could sprinkle on themselves and stir it in with their own "flourishes".

NOVICE cooks don't know that cilantro is disliked by about 50+/-% of the population.

May 19, 2012
bob3443 in Recipes

Drunken Shrimp

AGAIN---the people at CHOW have taken what may be a pretty good recipe AND RUINED IT WITH THAT CURSED FROM HELL HERB CALLED CILANTRO!!! When will you people learn that at least 50+/-% of the population HATE HATE HATE cilantro because it tastes like SOAP SOAP SOAP!!!

For you uneducated cooks out there, NO you can not simply leave it out of a recipe. For no matter how bad it tastes to half the cooking population, we realize that to do so could leave an imbalance of flavors. Ergo, the necessity for a substitute. Obviously, the person to best make the substitution would be the one who already made or tasted the dish.

May 19, 2012
bob3443 in Recipes

Cautious Defiance as Foie Gras Ban Nears

There was a time I thought San Francisco was the town I wanted to live in and/or retire to. Thank Heaven neither of those events came to pass. It is such a shame that city once noted for its beauty, elegance, sophistication, and glamour has become a place filled kooks, malcontents, and nattering nabobs whose sole purpose is to orchestrate a sort of life style could appeal only to the brain dead. In the actual words of William Safire, "They have formed their own 4-H Club -- the "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

It would seem thay have no better use of their time than to promote one ridiculous cause after another. It is unfortunate that too many people think it is OK to let them have their way rather than stand up against their petty tyrannies.

In the overall scheme of things, to eat, or not to eat, Foie Gras may not seem like a terribly important topic. However it becomes a very important issue when government steps in to regulate what you may or may not eat. Such a law does NOT come under the perview of proper government business. When the government is allowed to take away our right to eat it, what other rights may they eventually want to take away?

If these members of the radical fringe don't approve of the farming of Foie Gras THEY don't have to eat it. They can avoid restaurants that serve it or stores that sell it. If there are enough people who agree with them the product will eventually disappear from the marketplace.

Robert Hayes Halfpenny

Apr 30, 2012
bob3443 in Features