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Favorite avocado toppings?

Right, but the recipe calls for toasted sesame oil, both my brands were toasted, and several recipe comments also said to cut down the amount of sesame oil while others said it was perfect. So there is also variability among toasted sesame oils, and I'll stick with my advice to "start with half the amount called for." ;-)

Aug 06, 2015
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Favorite avocado toppings?

This carrot-ginger-miso dressing is fabulous on avocado:

-- I've found that different brands of sesame oil vary greatly in strength, so start with half the amount called for (the first one I had was perfect per this recipe, next brand was way too strong),
-- It doesn't need as much grapeseed oil as the recipe states; I substitute half or more with water.

Aug 04, 2015
sweethooch in Home Cooking

ISO Budget-Conscious, Meat-Centric Meals for a Crowd

You might check Costco again for bread flour (ask manager, call other locations in your radius), as at last some of them do carry it, 50# for something like $16. Hope you find it. (I'm in Mountain View, CA)

Jun 13, 2015
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Grocery Outlet, Bay Area June 2015

Milpitas, June 10

Gallon pot San Marzano tomato plant $4.99; they also had Sun Golds, Beefsteak, Champion, maybe others. SOme had tomatoes on them already, though not the San Marzanos.

Echo Falls beechwood smoked steelhead trout, "Patagonian waters of Chile," 4 oz $2.99 (haven't tried it yet)

Aidell's sausage $3.99 garlic gruyere, a flavor I hadn't seen before (haven't tried it yet)

They still have some of the Reserve Lot 11 Old Vine Zin 2011 $7.99 (Palo Alto did too last time I checked, ~2 weeks ago)

Hormel Natural Choice "flame seared" turkey breast; looks more like real slices than the pressed ones 6 oz $2.50

2# mini sweet peppers $3 -- I like these a lot

2# bag small avocados $2 -- have only had 2, but so far I agree with CyndiN that they ripen nicely, no duds

3# bag Fuji apples, small side of medium, they look better than apples often do at GO $4 (oops, I actually thought they were $1/lb)

Green Giant broccoli slaw 12 oz $1.49 -- I've been buying these for ages, love them. Broccoli stalks, carrot, red cabbage. (Trader Joe's bags are $1.89 I think, less carrot no cabbage, and the broccoli stalks are often more tough, like they do less trimming)

Finest brand organic beans garbanzo, pinto, black $1.

Hammond's dark choc toffee brittle bar 2.25 oz $1.50, quite good but not fabulous (better ranking on taste than mouth feel IMHO, mostly choc not much toffee)

South Georgia Pecan Co. pecan halves, baking section, 8 oz $4

Grocery Outlet May 2015

I had been buying the Coastal Range brand of organic chicken at GO, and it's owned by FF; looks like they've switched the branding to a FF label.

Potstickers : SFBA Dish of the Month May 2015

Hi -- what brand/type at Grocery Outlet do you like? I haven't tried any from there, would love a recommendation. Thanks!

Best Salad Dressing You've Ever Had

Here are two that are quite different than any already mentioned -- one extra reason to like them is that most of the volume of the dressings comes from vegetables (tomato and carrot, respectively):

1. Tomato vinaigrette, great on a big meal salad with grilled steak or chicken. I still have my original 2005 hard copy from Chow magazine (possibly the very first issue)!

As I said -- steak salad, either the potato version linked in the intro paragraph or a more standard lettuce version with steak on top (carrot curls, red bell pepper, and avocado are good). It doesn't need anything like the amount of oil in the recipe; I use no more than 1/3 cup total (grapeseed, avocado, or walnut). It can be made with old/wrinkly grape or cherry tomatoes and lasts for weeks in the fridge.

2. Carrot-ginger-miso dressing, akin to the dressing found at many Japanese restaurants. Magical on avocado. For a non-lettuce salad, try a combo of avocado, garbanzo beans, green peas. For a lettuce salad, I've included roasted asparagus, snow peas, jicama, and salmon; all great. It takes more of the dressing than you'd think.

May 20, 2015
sweethooch in General Topics

Easy Irish Brown Bread

May 19, 2015
sweethooch in Recipes

Easy Irish Brown Bread

May 19, 2015
sweethooch in Recipes

Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

May 03, 2015
sweethooch in Recipes

polenta - home made

Microwave is the easiest!! Cook's Illustrated method works perfectly every time, 12 minutes. It's firm enough after chilling to slice:

1 cup cornmeal, medium-grind
3 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Stir together in a covered dish or big pyrex measuring cup covered with plastic wrap (I use a corning souffle dish with glass lid). Microwave on high for 6 minutes, stir thoroughly, microwave 6 minutes more, stir again.

Add 1/2 C of butter and cheese if you want (parmesan or blue cheese).

It's never failed me.

Apr 05, 2015
sweethooch in Home Cooking

looking for artisanal menu parody link

so fast!! thank you!!

Feb 22, 2015
sweethooch in Not About Food

looking for artisanal menu parody link

I've seen a link here at least a couple of times to an artisinal menu parody e.g. farm-to-table, sourced within 100 feet of the restaurant, made by friars, etc.

The link I'm remembering goes to just an image of the menu itself, no article, blog post, commentary etc.

Tried to search but can't re-find it -- does anyone have the link for me? Thanks!

Feb 22, 2015
sweethooch in Not About Food

Technique toolkit for TV competition

These are different approaches to preparation rather than specific ideas for recipes, but may be worthwhile. Sorry, I wrote the response and then re-read your actual question!

1) I'd get the book Ratio by Michael Ruhlman (library or purchase), and memorize as much as I could. It breaks recipes into basic formulas, by weight, for example
bread dough = 5 parts flour, 3 parts water (+yeast and salt)
biscuit = 3 parts flour, 1 part fat, 2 parts liquid
cookie dough = 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat, 3 parts flour
(the order indicates the order ones works with the ingredient, memorization would be easier for me re-ordered, since I already know to cream the fat in sugar in cookies first)

An accomplished home cook should be able to tweak these ratios and add flavors to get desired results.

2) Maybe also a book about combinations of flavors, e.g. The Flavor Thesaurus, Niki Segnit. Look for the unusual combinations here to do well on challenges needing invention.

3) a fairly successful contestant on MasterChef Australia says she would think of a specific ingredient and list 20+ different ways to use it. Repeat ad nauseum for different ingredients to learn to think inventively, quickly.

Jan 14, 2015
sweethooch in General Topics

Grocery Outlet -- January 2015

Palo Alto, 1/13:

$1.99 still for Lurpak (and an Irish one, prob Kerrygold but I don't remember for sure) 8 oz (they also had President, didn't notice the price); $2.99 1 lb Tillamook butter.

now only $.49 Hillshire Farms American Craft sausages (garlic & onion, bratwurst). Sell-by 1/15, but it's fully cooked sausage, I don't feel any huge rush to eat it.

$7.99 NV Quinta de Sonora Barrister's Port -- took a chance on this; I'm no port expert by any means, but I like it a lot -- quite sweet, rich-tasting, long(ish) finish. Notes of cherry and maybe chocolate?

$2.49 cracked freekeh (roasted green wheat) 1 lb, Delino brand (Turkey, freekeh is the only ingredient). I think I've eaten freekeh once, but have never made it. Any ideas for me?

$5/lb Screaming Dutchman smoked gouda (ends, but I got one with very little rind).

$1.97 Whole Kitchens beef jerky, 7.2 oz -- haven't had this, my husband is the big jerky eater (I mean, the big eater of beef jerky); hope he likes it. Old-fashioned, teriyaki, or peppered; the pieces are smallish but mostly look OK.

$.99 Muir Glen diced tomatoes with garlic, pizza sauce, maybe others.

$2.99 Jalapeno Kettle Chips (new flavor as far as I know) big bag -- good, just the right amount of heat for me.

I love that they reliably have organic chicken thighs, $2.39/lb, Coastal Range Organics.

Foie Gras questions

Budget option: D'Artagnan sells smallish odd-shaped trimmings as "foie gras cubes" on their website, $31/pound, shipped frozen. I had them very recently, and they were high quality, non-gristly pieces as shown in the picture. Need to sear very quickly as other posts have noted, but the yield loss seemed only a little greater than you get with slices. My only issue was that the pieces were not individually quick frozen (unlike slices), so you had to thaw the block some to pry pieces loose, and due to the size it's better to sear while mostly frozen; a bit of a catch-22.

Jan 13, 2015
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Side Dish Recommendation

If you go the squash route, I would do delicata -- it's really pretty, and you can eat the skin. Halve lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, cut into half-moons, roast with EVOO, S&P, and maybe some ground coriander. Grate lemon zest over the top just before serving (really, don't skip this!). If your leeks weren't so rich, I'd also add a bit of goat cheese (doesn't take much, maybe do it anyway).

Nov 17, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Where to get good bread in the south bay?

Acme is also sold at two Mountain View markets, Ava's on Castro Street and the Milk Pail at the corner or California Street and San Antonio Road. (Note that Acme has a bakery in MV, so it's not being trucked down from SF or Berkeley.)

Grocery Outlet (June 2014)

This cheese was available in Palo Alto as of Tuesday 6/17 (special fridge case in the wine area), and I think I also saw it in Milpitas last week (regular cheese area).

Spring/Summer dutch oven recipe suggestions?

Cook's Illustrated "Our Favorite Chili" uses two kinds of dried chilis along with jalapenos. I made it last weekend and it was my best ever, by far.

Go here if you have CI access:

or here if you don't:

May 03, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking

What to do with prosciutto?

Yes, absolutely! Sell-by does not equal consume-by. I would go months beyond that without hesitation if I somehow lost it in the drawer. Dates are there because they have to put something. It's a cured meat, it's fine. Enjoy!

May 02, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Lombardy's ultrasimple pumpkin gnocchi

So glad you reported back; thank you! I take it you haven't tried the semolina yet? Let us know if you do, please.

I hope to try it within the week....

Apr 24, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Need ideas for spring meatless entree for a crowd

Farro with asparagus, peas, mushrooms, and parmesan or goat cheese.

Apr 24, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Sauteed zucchini picnic challenge

Yes, I should have reported that it was my second batch and I did like it a lot the first time I made it. Second batch I did in the crockpot rather than a skillet, used onion rather than shallot, and cut the butter down quite a bit -- lo and behold it wasn't as tasty; my fault rather than the recipe's. Deglazing with wine is a good idea!

Apr 21, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Sauteed zucchini picnic challenge

Thanks to all for the thoughtful replies! I went most of the way down greygarious' path with the italian sausage, aromatics, and mixture of cheeses, but skipped the crostini (due to the issues of packing for travel and table space). I put the mixture in a covered casserole dish and heated it through, then topped with buttered crumbs and broiled briefly. Bundled it up in towels to keep it warm-ish; served it with bread and crackers. It went over very well. Thanks again for the help!

Sauteed zucchini picnic challenge

I have about 2-3 cups of this "zucchini butter" with onion (essentially sauteed zucchini)

It's not terrifically exciting -- I would like to re-purpose it to take to an easter picnic tomorrow. I have a boatload of carmelized onion and roasted garlic (as separate items). I have eggs, spinach, homemade bread (2/3 whole wheat), milk, cream, broth etc., italian sausage, prosciutto. Cheeses: creamy blue, goat cheese, pepper jack, asiago, romano, manchego. I have about 2.5 hours to cook tomorrow morning (could shop if needed but needs to fit in the same time frame). Food will no longer be hot by the time I get to my destination, which is holding me back from bread pudding.

Any ideas for me besides the obvious quiche? Thanks!

Apr 19, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking

Good Fried Chicken - Albertson's

this 2003 thread says Starr Market

long time ago, though! would love to hear if it's still great.

Mar 25, 2014
sweethooch in Los Angeles Area

Midtown Tapas?

It's not super-fabulous, but I had very good tapas at La Fonda Del Sol in the Met Life building at Grand Central (44th & Vanderbilt) a few years ago.

Mar 17, 2014
sweethooch in Manhattan

Help identify these things in my lentils?

Do you know what these are? They are about the same size, color, and hardness as my brown lentils, but look sort of exploded and are much less smooth. The front and back are different, the "more exploded" and "less exploded" items you see in the picture. There were only 15-20 or so in the whole bag of lentils. Are they just mutants, or some other seed or pulse or what?

Thanks for any help!

Mar 09, 2014
sweethooch in General Topics

Your house dressing

Trader Joe's orange muscat champagne vinegar, mixed 50-50 with walnut oil, a little dijon, salt (dried thyme optional). Because the vinegar is less acidic (and sweeter), it takes a lower ratio of oil than most vinaigrette. Substitute a different light/fruity vinegar if you don't have TJs.

Feb 18, 2014
sweethooch in Home Cooking