westernmeadowlark's Profile

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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: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo..., 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! http://www.simmerdownfood.com/tag/all...

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: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/re...

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 :) http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/...

Do you love Banana Bread? What's your favorite banana bread?

Mine is my grandmother's recipe, and you use vegetable oil instead of butter, which produces a slightly lighter cake/bread, and buttermilk which gives it some great body. To the basic batter, you add chopped dried apricots and walnuts. Best banana bread ever.

Wasted Food - How to Stop This Horrible Habit

gotta love how much celery shrinks when dried - the drying racks were completely covered a few hours ago

Wasted Food - How to Stop This Horrible Habit

mhm, all this, plus

now i'll have instant celery on hand for soups and sautees, pre-chopped and ready to go in.

a whole head of celery takes up nearly half my veggie crisper drawer - i'd rather use that space for something else :)

I'd never heard about wrapping it in aluminum foil! i will try that next time i have to buy a whole head - this one that was in my fridge is now to the leather stage on the dryer. i just tasted a piece and it was surprisingly tasty, sort of salty/umami

Wasted Food - How to Stop This Horrible Habit

dehydrated celery!!! gah, why have I never thought of that before! Thanks greygarious, I'm going to go salvage that head of celery I bought for a single rib. I really hate buying celery when I know I'm not going to be able to use it up, so this is a great idea. Plus, the dehydrator will warm up the house on this cold, cold day :)

What are you baking these days? October 2011, part deux [old]

I made some yummy pecan toffee bars (http://minimalistcook.com/2010/12/20/..., extra pecans, less toffee, no white chocolate in my house ;), but my husband has me totally beat out - crumpets, pretzels, apple pie, and experimental blackberry cookies all in the last few days. Good guy to have around!

Anyone Else Planning for Thanksgiving Already?

Thanksgiving is pretty well set in our family - off to the MIL's house, I bring the cranberry sauce (made with champagne and orange zest, very tasty) and a pecan pie :) I always make some dressing for leftovers at home (not stuffing, no where near a bird), basically a savory bread pudding with carrots and celery and lots and lots and lots of butter :)

What's for Dinner # 113 [OLD]

awesome! my husband was trying to make a cookie that tasted like a fresh blackberry. he's not satisfied with them yet, but they were awesome and BRIGHT purple :)