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westernmeadowlark's Profile

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Make-ahead meals for two weeks (vegetarian and meat-eating)

have you looked into any of the 'once a month' freezer meal plan meals? i haven't tried any of them but seems like it might be helpful here: i do really like the slow cooker for crunch days, coming home to hot food is so nice.

good luck! hope your crunch time goes as smoothly as possible!

Cornbread with cream added during cooking.

i believe i have had this. I don't have a recipe, but the friend who made it called it spider bread? she didn't pour the cream in a cross shape, the lines were more radial and ended up looking a bit like a spider's web, but the cream was definitely added mid-bake

googled to find:

also, do NOT google "spider bread" if you have any sort of arachnophobia!

$500 on the line with a friend in a steak cook off

Absolutely sous vide!! you already know it's the right thing to do here ;) I have known exactly one person (female, but not a girly girl) who liked her steak overdone, but she was an older person. I think it is extremely rare to find someone who doesn't like rare/medium rare. I've never done a sugar rub on a steak, so I will be interested to see what people post. I do love a carne asada spice mix on beef, personal pref.

What's your impression of sous vide? I discovered it recently and am curious to see what people think about it

I love it, particularly for cooking meat. The majority of cooking is done in the waterbath (we have the Anova), then a quick sear finish on the stove or grill. I agree with some of the other commentors here, no resemblance to 'boil in a bag' cooking. I've also used it to make egg based custards, which work quite well!

edited to add: I can't believe I forgot to include, but the sous vide is also EXCELLENT for tempering chocolate! :)

Good ideas/recipes for ground beef

Haha, yeah, we did that a few years ago. So much ground beef. Here's a few of my favorites we did in that time:

Alton Brown's shepherd's pie recipe is fabulous

Greek moussaka with ground beef and eggplant

long and slow cooked spaghetti sauce - this is great with ground beef

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition! [old]

Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen (so fantastic! got it from the library and had to have it for my very own)
Panna Cotta by Camilla Saulsbury (found at half-price books yesterday, trying out the PB&J panna cotta tonight, sounds fantastic)

Favorite Weeknight dinner?

chicken picatta, pasta with parmesan, roasted broccoli. we lived on this when i was a picky kid being shuttled to dance classes/soccer practice and my mom had half an hour or less.

When you get home, put water on to boil and set the oven to 425.

Cut up the broccoli, toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic powder, put in the oven (don't worry if it isn't up to temp, it'll get there).

Chicken picatta - cut chicken breasts in half, or by the pre-cut packaged chicken. pound the chicken thin with a meat hammer (great stress relief after a long day at work!). dredge in seasoned flour. Heat pan with a little olive oil and butter, once the butter starts to brown add the chicken in batches, 3 minutes per side. Once all the chicken is cooked, add 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup white wine or dry sherry to the pan and cook down, then add capers. Add the chicken back to the pan, turning to coat in the sauce.

Pasta - add the pasta to the boiling water when you start cooking the last batch of chicken. 10-12 minutes is good for most pastas. While the pasta is boiling and chicken is baking, prep pasta bowl with butter/parmesan or a dollop of pre-made pesto or whatever sauce you like and have on hand. Once pasta is done, drain and dump in bowl.

Pull broccoli from oven when crispy and brown, should be done right about as chicken and pasta are ready. And voila, moderately healthy, very tasty and easy dinner in about half an hour.

Does anyone actually put stuffing inside the turkey anymore?

We are having both stuffing and dressing (aka inside v outside) this year. My family always did dressing and I love the added crunch you get from the browned top, my husband's family always did stuffing which he loves precisely because it doesn't have that crunch :) Whatcha gonna do? So both it is

Turkey Day Live

I have today pretty easy, dinner at my mother-in-law's tonight and I'm only responsible for pecan pie. Got my pie crust dough together last night, it's warming up now to roll out and pre-bake. Planning to do so to the sound of the thanksgiving day parade when it comes on here in 10 min. hurray longstanding family traditions :) I'm thankful today that I get to spend the day with both sides of my family, including my parents who just moved back to town this spring :) Happy thanksgiving everyone!

What's the 'best' way to navigate guests food preferences when hosting?

I have a lot of friends with dietary restrictions of one kind or another (no fish, pescatarian, kosher, soy-allergic, you name it). Frankly, a dinner guest with no restrictions is a rare and precious find! ;) But they're my friends and I want them to feel safe and cared for when they are eating at my house. As another commentator said (more elegantly), by accepting challenges you make for a more interesting meal.

A good way to handle a large crowd with diverse issues is a tapas-style party. That way people can avoid what they can't eat and will still be able to eat (usually) at least half the items, and there's no single 'main course' item that someone ends up feeling left out for. Also, tapas are delicious :)

Hosting a party is hard work

same here!

How do you organize your cookbooks?

I have a bookshelf divided into 4 quadrants. Bottom left has my absolute best/heavy reference tomes - how to cook everything, new york times cookbook, chez panisse, molly stevens, julia child, etc. Bottom right has my favorite books on topical matters - the ice cream books, the seafood books, etc - plus the binders of recipes friends and family have given me. Top right has my less commonly used single topic books - books that i love one recipe out of but haven't really made much more from. top right holds books I don't really use.

Of course, Modernist Cuisine has a shelf all it's own. :)

What's Your Salad Style?

hm, mostly green salads with vinaigrettes for me. our basic salad is romaine or butter lettuce with shredded carrots and thin sliced green onions, with a basic balsamic dressing or a soy/rice wine vinegar/ginger dressing, adding in avocados and tomatoes seasonally. if we're going fancy, it becomes a mixed green with mustard-balsamic dressing, with blue or goat cheese crumbles, toasted walnuts and finely sliced apples or pears. i love a good ceasar at a restaurant, but haven't really bothered to master it at home. any good tutorials out there for creamy dressings?

The one non-lettuce salad I just adore can only be had in the depths of summer. One perfect tomato, one perfect avocado, optional finely minced shallots, dressed with a glug of fancy olive oil and a smaller glug of fancy balsamic and a sprinkle of sea salt. heaven!

What's Your Salad Style?

french celery seed dressing? how do you make that?

Sparerib ideas, not bbq?

Pressure cooker! Cut the ribs into individual bones, dry rub, sear, then pressure cook in hoppy beer (steamer rack holding the ribs out of the beer) for 45 min. they will be so tender they will disintegrate if you aren't careful pulling them out. Coat with favorite bbq sauce, and broil or bake at 450 till the sauce bubbles and gets sticky. Works best with babyback ribs, but spare ribs will work fine if you have a big enough pot. Beef shortribs are great this way too.

Any reliable, decent airport food?

i love the little wine bar at SeaTac! great for nervous fliers...

Your first cup of coffee

haha, i have a good story for that. I was 10 or 11, and we had gone to vist my grandparents. My uncle gave my (younger!) cousins some of his wine after dinner. I was big on fairness at that point, so my dad had to come up with something even better to distract me. He told me that, yeah, wine was something grown ups drank, the even cooler grown ups drank coffee (to be fair, I think both he and my mom had glasses of wine AND coffee, my grandparents lived it up :). He made me a very weak cup of coffee with lots of milk and sugar and I felt very superior to the boys :) hehe, thanks for making me remember that, a very good memory.

What five countries do you cook most?


September 2012 San Francisco Dish of the Month - Voting


Is a Pizza Stone necessary?

Two words: cast iron

This is my pizza "stone" and I love it! It gives a wonderful crust, holds heat well and will never ever break. I love making pizza, once you get the hang of it there are few easier or more fun meals :) We make pizza about once a week here. I use this crust recipe:, it is extremely reliable. Preheat your oven at 500 with the stone in it as soon as you start your dough rising. Roll the dough out (well floured, but i don't use cornmeal and I've never had a problem with it sticking to the cast iron), and have all your toppings prepped. Pull the cast iron pan out and reduce the heat in the oven to 450 (if you are going for a super thin crust pizza keep it at 500 and decrease cooking time) transfer it to the iron stone, top with the toppings and bake at 450 for 10 min, more or less.

but if you want to try making pizza without a stone, go ahead and use a cookie sheet - the results may not be quite as good but they'll still be very tasty :)

Hollowed out grape tomatoes with B + L

oooh, i love the idea of bleu cheese :)

Something creative to do with a HUGE head of cabbage?

Braised cabbage with carrots and onions is super tasty!

Hollowed out grape tomatoes with B + L


Looks like Yerenna Farms is also at the Oakland farmer's market near me. Thanks so much folks! :)


I'm hoping to find a local source for tayberries this summer to make jam (and just to eat!). For those who are unfamiliar, the tayberry is a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry with a wonderful sweet-tart flavor. I would love to find them at a farmers market or u-pick. I think they should be in season mid-summer, but was wondering if anyone had seen them around in previous years. I'm in the east bay but would consider driving a little ways out to get them.


Sweet potato salad

about how much vinegar and bacon would you estimate you use there? sounds delicious :)

Lobster ravioli sauce

i like lobster ravioli with a sauce made thusly: sautee fine chopped shallots (~2) in butter (2-3 tbsp) until softened. deglaze pan with a cup of sherry, white wine, or if we are feeling really fancy (and hey, lobster ravioli = fancy), champagne. cook the sauce down to about half, turn heat down, then add 1/2 cup heavy cream and warm through. makes about a cup's worth of sauce. yum.

Pepperplate menu planning app

Thanks for posting this! I'd been on the lookout for something similar, and am real pleased with the functionality of this so far! I like that I can have my shopping lists right on my phone, very handy. Also that it natively supports Simply Recipes, my fav recipe website :)

Method for microwave lemon curd

huh. i love lemon curd... maybe I'll give that a shot. doesn't sound like it's really all that much less work than doing it on my double boiler though, to be fair.

What is the key to an amazing tiramisu??

I make an amazing tiramisu, not even bragging. There used to be a wonderful italian-inspired-wine country restaurant in Livermore, CA (my hometown), called Stoney Ridge Winery. They made the best tiramisu I've ever had in a restaurant. After they closed, I had to figure out how to replicate it at home. Most recipes call for eggs, but mine does not and I think it tastes all the better for it.

I started out with this recipe:

I change it up in several ways. No espresso, just a cup of brewed coffee to soak the ladyfingers, but that's mostly because I don't have an espresso machine and don't want to run to the coffee shop to buy an espresso. I replace the brandy with kaluah liquor.

To make the mascarpone filling, I whip the cream well, then separately mix up the mascarpone, vanilla, kaluah and sugar so that it is soft, then (Most Important Step) shave about half a bar of chocolate into the mascarpone mix using a microplane grater. Gently fold the mascarpone into the whipped cream.

Layer the soaked ladyfingers into the pan, then a layer of the mascarpone, then shave another quarter of the chocolate bar onto the mascarpone. put in the next layer of soaked ladyfingers, top with the remaining mascarpone, and shave the remainder of the chocolate bar over the top.

It's best if you let it come together in the fridge overnight - gives the ladyfingers time to equalize out and not be soggy, and for the coffee to seep into the mascarpone.

In my opinion the chocolate shavings replacing the cocoa powder and scattered throughout the cream mixture really elevate it

I'm considering trying to make my own mascarpone this weekend to try out in this recipe :)