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What are you baking these days? September 2012 [old]

I just made Martha Stewart's salted toffee-chocolate squares. They were insanely delicious and embarrassingly easy! I plan to make them again to give as teacher gifts for the holidays :)

Sep 10, 2012
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Share the best single thing you ate TODAY!

Grilled cheese for dinner! I used whole grain bread and extra sharp Tillamook and added caramelized red onions, seared tomato slices, and crunchy cold romaine.

Aug 24, 2012
BananasFoster in General Topics

Ice cream challenge summer: this week something with peaches

I like the idea (since you'l have both peaches and raspberries) of a peach melba-inspired ice cream. I'd do a vanilla bean-infused custard, swirled with alternate ribbons of peach and raspberry puree. I'd top with some toasted, slivered almonds and some soft whipped cream to serve, and garnish with a few fresh raspberries.

Jul 14, 2012
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

"Is everything OK?"

I'd put it along the same lines as the cashier who gives the obligatory "did you find everything ok?" and the acquaintance who asks "how are you?". It's more of a formality, unless there's a serious problem.

Jul 13, 2012
BananasFoster in Not About Food

Say you were going to make a brisket calzone.....

Since you're going with a barbecued meat already, why not your favorite barbecue sauce (I like Gates' mild sauce) and some nice melting cheese, like Monterey or pepper Jack? I like the chard idea, though!

Jul 10, 2012
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

do you follow a recipe to the letter?

Almost never. Honestly, I don't use recipes very often, and when I do, my thought process is more like "I think maybe a minced shallot would be good sauteed with the carrots here", so I just add stuff that sounds good (like you said). This is also why I do not make a great baker....

Jun 22, 2012
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Restaurant for Birthday Dinner?

I'd guess around 7-8 (and my grandmother is not adverse to reserving back rooms for even a group of this size!).

Jun 18, 2012
BananasFoster in San Francisco Bay Area

Restaurant for Birthday Dinner?

My birthday is on July 1, and I'm trying to find a place that everyone in my family can enjoy. We all live in the Lamorinda area, but we frequent all the local places (Chow, Amorama, Table 24, etc.) often enough that they aren't really sufficient for a more special occasion. Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Rockridge, are all good options for area, but although I like both Indian and other more exotic cuisines, that's not going to sit well with some of the older diners. Chinese would also be avoided, as my grandmother can't eat anything that's stir-fried (oil upsets her stomach). I'm not picking up the tab, and it has been made known that price is not an issue (within reason, of course). Thanks in advance!

Jun 18, 2012
BananasFoster in San Francisco Bay Area

Upscale Summer Picnic Menu?

that's actually perfect, my grandmother grew up in Santa Maria!

Apr 04, 2012
BananasFoster in General Topics

Best Bagged Tea Brands?

For hot tea, it's always Constant Comment. However, Lemon Lift makes great iced tea and is a personal favorite.

Mar 16, 2012
BananasFoster in General Topics

Upscale Summer Picnic Menu?

Great ideas, guys! I hadn't realized that I didn't post in Home Cooking :)

Mar 16, 2012
BananasFoster in General Topics

Upscale Summer Picnic Menu?

We're planning a birthday picnic for my mom and brother in early April, and I'm trying to start coming up with a menu. It's going to be probably 15 or 20 people, and it'll be "lunch-ish", in other words nibbling throughout the afternoon. So far, I've come up with cold platters of things like roasted asparagus and thin-sliced rare beef tenderloin. Steak is a huge favorite in my family, especially tri-tip. It's practically mandatory! Any ideas for salads, mains, sides, and/or dessert and drinks? Thanks!

Mar 05, 2012
BananasFoster in General Topics

Poetry of joy of the foods we eat.

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Dec 04, 2011
BananasFoster in Not About Food

Sugar on Top of Pie Crust?

I do for apple pies always. I don't do it because it keeps the crust from getting soggy, but I do love the taste of a piece of crust that has a nice crunch and sweetness from sugar. Just beat an egg and brush it on top of the pie, then sprinkle with regular or vanilla sugar before baking!

Dec 03, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Buche de Noel - Yule Log Tiramisu-style

That is what I meant by filling; thanks for specifying! I didn't mean to be unclear :) As an added note, Cook's Illustrated recommends rolling up the cake in a tea towel, towel and all, when it is removed from the oven and cooling for about 15 minutes. Then, when you spread the filling on and roll up the cake, it will already have the "memory" of the roll and it will be less likely to crack.

Dec 02, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Better cheddar?

The giant block of Extra-Sharp Tillamook is pretty awesome, I have to say. I find most cheddars to be bland and... well, just yuck. The extra sharp is tangy, savory, and full of flavor!

Dec 02, 2011
BananasFoster in Cheese

What Are Your Irrefutable Food Rules? [moved from Not About Food]

+2. Also, condiments are always okay, esp. ketchup! I hate when you just want to put ketchup on your eggs or hot sauce on your chicken parmesan and someone stops you with a look or a comment. Don't yuck my yum, people!

Dec 02, 2011
BananasFoster in General Topics

your dream birthday cake

Dec 02, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Buche de Noel - Yule Log Tiramisu-style

A friend and I are about to undertake making a buche de noel tomorrow and we're going to make the one from the November/December 2000 issue of Cook's Illustrated. It's a bittersweet chocolate cake with an espresso mascarpone filling. I would imagine if you brushed the hot cake with a little brandy or marsala and then filled with the espresso filling, it would taste pretty darn close to a tiramisu. Here's the recipe for the filling, just in case anyone's interested:

Espresso-Mascarpone Cream (makes 1 1/4 cups, enough to fill one cake)

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons whole espresso beans, finely ground (about 1 tablespoon ground)
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
8 1/4 ounces mascarpone cheese (generous 1 cup)

Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan over high heat. Off heat, stir in espresso and powdered sugar, transfer mixture to medium bowl and cool slightly. Whisk in mascarpone until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Dark Chocolate Ganache (makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough to cover filled roulade)

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces high-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon cognac

Microwave cream and butter in measuring cup on high until bubbling, about 1 1/2 minutes. (Alternatively, bring to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat). Place chocolate in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. With machine running, gradually add hot cream and cognac through feed tube and process until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer ganache to medium bowl and let stand at room temperature 1 hour, until spreadable (ganache should have consistency of soft icing).

Dec 02, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving: something new that WORKED

This was my first year baking a pumpkin pie from purée that I had made myself. I roasted a pumpkin and puréed the flesh until very smooth, then froze it until the day before Thanksgiving, whereupon I thawed it, drained it overnight in a colander lined with cheesecloth. I then proceeded as normal, making Chow's pumpkin pie with spiced crust. Everyone agreed it was the best pie they had ever tasted! It was lighter than normal, both in flavor and texture, and was absolutely delicious!

Nov 25, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving Dinner Recs in Contra Costa?

In Lafayette, I'd recommend Chow- they have local, fresh ingredients and it appears that they're going to have a Thanksgiving take-home menu as well. They make fresh pies too!

Nov 19, 2011
BananasFoster in San Francisco Bay Area

What is Your Thanksgiving First Course?

In my family, always a nice big salad. In the past, it's usually a fall-themed salad with green apple slices, blue cheese, and toasted walnuts over mixed greens with a champagne vinaigrette.

Nov 06, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

What Can I Shave Parmesan Over?!

this.

Oct 25, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Only Losers Ruin Their Scotch.. on the Rocks

This is why we bought my father a sachet of 'whiskey stones' for Christmas. You keep them in the freezer, they are little soapstone blocks that chill a good drink without watering it down. Plus, they look elegant and cool in a clear glass.

Oct 25, 2011
BananasFoster in Spirits

Settle something for me ... is it gauche to pre-cut your steak into bite-sized pieces?

From what I've heard, yes. Anything that makes one appear to be overly hungry (i.e. cutting up your meat in order to wolf it down) is considered impolite.

Oct 22, 2011
BananasFoster in Not About Food

I need dinner ideas for tonight...

I'm out of ideas for dinner tonight, here's what's in the fridge:

• frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
• yolk-less egg noodles
• lemons
• more campari tomatoes than you could possible imagine
• spaghetti
• panko bread crumbs
• assorted bell peppers
• onion, garlic, carrots, parsley
• kale
• about 2 tbs of heavy cream leftover from a recipe
• avocado
• pomegranate seeds
• cheddar cheese

Thank you, chowhounders!

Oct 22, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

favorite recipes from cooks ilustrated and america's test kitchen

Ooh! Those cookies are so good, they should be illegal!

Oct 21, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner # 112 [old]

I believe it will be last night's leftover lasagna-- so delicious! Layers of jarred tomato sauce that was fortified with tomato paste and extra canned tomatoes, pasta, italian sausage sauteed with onion, spinach, and mozzarella/parmesan on top! My family hates ricotta cheese, so none of that :)

Oct 20, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking

Poll -- do you have an electric, ceramic, gas or induction cooktop?

Stainless steel Dacor 6-burner gas range. It's great! Gas is easy to work with, because you can see the amount of heat to some extent, which I find easier to control than electric. I've never tried induction, but the idea is intriguing.

Oct 19, 2011
BananasFoster in Cookware

Need ideas for using Golden Syrup!

Those brandy snaps look delicious! Do you know if caster sugar is the same as like a superfine sugar?

Sep 06, 2011
BananasFoster in Home Cooking