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Venice: The Great Binge of '09

Paolobassano, we are returning to Venice along with Bassano, Asolo and up to Cortina to eat! We hope to pick up where we left off in '09 and continue our binge. We'll also include the opera in the Roman Veronese amphitheatre in August of 12 as well as visiting what may be the most beautiful mountain town anywhere on earth, Cortina. But not to hike or ski, rather to eat...and drink.

We look forward to returning to your wondeful town on our first or second day. Thank you for thinking of me in the above thread. It was a real pleasure for me to share with you and others.

Oct 13, 2011
Joe H in Italy

Volt, Restaurant Eve, or??? is a post of mine before this was known. is our return visit.

Table 21 is a great experience.

G&M Restaurant Crab Cakes

The Narrows.

Absolute Best Risotto You Will EVER Eat: Toasted Pistachio Gorgonzola Dolce

Missieless, thank you for taking the time and having the patience to read through this and the wonderful followup. Use arborio! Good luck making it.

The chicken cooked in sherry vinegar and tarragon sounds delicious...

Oct 02, 2010
Joe H in Home Cooking

Classic Coconut Layer Cake

Prudhomme Family Cookbook. This is the single best slice of cake I have ever had in my life. Serve it on top of a puddle of Chantilly whipped cream which is fresh whipped cream laced with Courvoisier.

K-Paul's Coconut Cake
From the Prudhomme Family Cookbook

Coconut filling:
About 3 3/4 pounds fresh coconuts, or enough to yield 4 cups plus
2 tablespoons minced coconut meat, in all [be sure to reserve
coconut milk to make the glaze]
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound [2 sticks] unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 pound [2 sticks] plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and
cut into chunks
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Coconut-milk glaze:
1 1/2 cups reserved strained coconut milk [or a mixture of coconut
milk and water]
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 [3-ounce] packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 pound [1 stick] unsalted butter, very soft
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon evaporated milk
1 [1-pound] box powdered sugar, [in all four cups]

For the filling:
Drain the milk from the coconuts by carefully making a hole in each
of the three eyes of the coconuts with a clean, new, and large nail,
an icepick, or a sharp, very sturdy knife point. Strain the milk
through cheesecloth or through a fine mesh strainer lined with a
paper towel and measure out 1 1/2 cups; if necessary make up the
balance with water. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Break coconuts into small pieces with a hammer. Peel the pieces and
remove the brown inner skin attached to the white coconut meat. Rinse
and drain coconut meat well, then process it in batches in a food
processor until minced. You will need 4 cups minced coconut for the
filling, plus 2 tablespoons to garnish the top of the cake. Set aside.
[use leftover coconut as a snack or in another recipe.]

In a heavy 5 1/2 quart saucepan or large Dutch oven, heat together the
cream, sugar, and butter over medium-high heat until mixture reaches a
boil, stirring frequently. Add the four cups of minced coconut, stirring
well. Cook until mixture reduces to 5 cups, about 15 minutes, stirring
almost constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the cornstarch. Place
pan over high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the
vanilla and cook and stir about 1 minute. Remove from heat and continue
stirring a few seconds more. Cool slightly, then refrigerate until well
chilled. Note: filling will decrease in volume as it cools. Once it is
chilled, measure yield and divide by 5 to determine amount to use between
cake layers. Keep refrigerated until just before ready to use.

For the cake:
In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt;
set aside. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and
eggs; beat on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute, pushing sides down
with a rubber spatula. Add the butter; beat on low until mixture is
creamy and light colored, about 3 minutes. Beat in the milk and vanilla.
Gradually add the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, beating after
each addition just until smooth and pushing sides down as needed. Then
beat on high speed for about 1 minute more, pushing sides down.

Spoon equal portions of the batter [a slightly mounded 1 cup] into six
8-inch round cake pans that have been greased and lightly floured.
Spread batter out evenly in the pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. on the
middle rack of the oven, 3 layers at a time, until centers spring back
when lightly pressed, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let
pans sit about 5 minutes, then loosen sides of cakes with a knife and
remove layers from pans to a wire rack. Bake the 3 remaining layers.
If re-using the same pans, first wash, re-grease, and lightly flour
them. Meanwhile make the glaze and frosting.

After the cake layers have cooled about 15 minutes, glaze one layer
by brushing glaze over the surface and on the sides with a pastry
brush, a little at a time and using one sixth of the glaze [about
2 1/2 tablespoons]. Make holes in the cake with a paring knife so
glaze can sink in. Immediately [before glazing another layer], spread
one fifth of the filling on top of the glazed layer, extending it to
about 1/2 inch from the edge. Then place another layer on top and
repeat procedure of glazing and spreading on filling until all the
layers are glazed and all but the top layer have filling spread on

Let cake cool thoroughly, then frost top and sides. Sprinkle the
remaining two tablespoons minced coconut on top. Let sit 1 hour
before slicing.

Coconut-milk glaze:
Combine the coconut milk and the sugar in a 2-quart saucepan and
bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue
boiling until glaze reduces to 1 cup, about 5 minutes, stirring
frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into
a glass measuring cup and use glaze as directed in the recipe.
Makes 1 cup.

Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium-size
bowl of an electric mixer; beat on high speed until creamy, about
1 minute. Turn speed to medium and beat in the milk and 1 cup of
the sugar, pushing sides down with a rubber spatula. Beat in the
remaining 3 cups sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing until smooth before
adding more. If the frosting becomes too thick for the mixer, do the
last bit of mixing with a spoon.


Sep 30, 2010
Joe H in Home Cooking

Most romantic dinner in Venice Italy for 25th Wedding Anniversary

Even though I wrote this almost four years ago it's still one of the best and most heartfelt posts I've had in over ten years on Chowhound.

Sep 28, 2010
Joe H in Italy

Venice: The Great Binge of '09

It is a wonderful experience to read back through this thread a year and a half after completing the trip. For anyone reading this and about to leave I wish you the absolute best on your upcoming trip. Please don't forget riding in the front of the few Vaporettos who have seats outside. For those who are merely "scrolling" some of us would suggest that this is the one place on earth which should be at the very top of your "bucket list." We will go back-but not a single memory will top our last. "The Great Binge of '09" may really have been the great binge of our life.

I wonder if the shopkeeper is still there in the cheese shop in Asolo?

How many others have had risotto at Alle Testiore?

Sep 28, 2010
Joe H in Italy

Christmas Eve Dinner

Filomena's? Serious? If you're going to Georgetown I would go to 1789 or Le Chaumiere or Citronelle or....

3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Suggestions for Padova and Verona

As much as I love Le Calandre (four visits but none in the last two or so years since the remodelling; prior I thought it was the best restaurant in Italy ((I include Pergola and Dal Pescatore in saying this)) Osteria La Fontanina will be the highlight of your trip. It is an incredible, intimate romantic experience that at least a half dozen or more friends have now been to and all absolutely loved it. It has not received the attention or here or elsewhere that it deserves although, to be honest, that is part of its appeal: it is almost unknown by Americans.

Sep 24, 2010
Joe H in Italy

HELP PLEASE - need suggestion re: no fish restaurants in Venice, Italy

Fiascheterria Toscana; ask for the first floor.

Sep 24, 2010
Joe H in Italy

Venice: The Great Binge of '09

HI Caroline! Thank you for your really nice words-they are appreciated. I honestly don't know the answer for Il Refolo. We went twice, both times at lunch, both times around 12:30 or 1:00 and it was off season (late March). On both visits there was at least one empty table the entire time that we were there. Nightime, however, is a different situation. I haven't been. But I thought it would be truly romantic/special/memorable to sit outside by the canal. I would call them or da Fiore direct and ask. Both places speak English, for both it should be no problem to clarify if a reservation is necessary for October.

Have a great trip!!!!

Sep 24, 2010
Joe H in Italy

Cafe du Parc Review

Cafe du Parc is ALL about sitting outside at one of the tables on the patio. You are literally on the side of Pennsylvania avenue with both the Capitol and the White House virtually steps from you. One of the great settings of anywhere on earth.

An "Italian Crab House" in Rimini: Italy's Best Seafood Restaurant?

Thank you busterkittycat, an absolute pleasure to read your comments. We loved this place and are really happy that you enjoyed it so much. It is indeed special.

Sep 17, 2010
Joe H in Italy

An outsider's first impressions of chowing in NOVA, and a request for suggestions ...

Dennis, we went to Mykonos about two months ago, soon after several very good dinners in Tarpon Springs. Myknonos was friendly, warm and felt on a Friday night like an oasis that we should have discovered long ago. Then, we took our first bite... was awful.

Tarpon Springs (the nondescript, vanilla sponge docks notwithstanding) was a distant memory that we missed. Sunset Hills' Mykonos drew memories of plastic menus with photos of the dishes they offered. We tried five or six. A huge disappointment.

The Absolute Best Low Calorie Shrimp Dish You Will EVER Taste!!!

Thank you, Stacy. Really sweet.

Sep 12, 2010
Joe H in Home Cooking

The Absolute Best Low Calorie Shrimp Dish You Will EVER Taste!!!

Rizza, I'll make this as a first course; half of this might actually make eight servings, it is so rich. Second course is a salad (mesclun, tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese with a sundried tomato balsamic viniagrette, main bouillibasse with garlic bread (whole loaf of crusty Italian bread sliced 1 1/4" thick slathered with garlic butter ((one and one half sticks of softened butter mixed with 7 or 8 large cloves of minced FRESH garlic, caraway seed, hot pepper flakes, oregano flakes, grated Reggiano to cover) and ice cream.

Sep 12, 2010
Joe H in Home Cooking

The Absolute Best Low Calorie Shrimp Dish You Will EVER Taste!!!

Roberto's book is called "Cooking in Piedmont."

This is the single best dish that I make. Immodestly it is also the best ice cream that I have ever tasted.

I have a 40+ year old White Mountain freezer that I hand crank and use rock salt and ice to freeze the cream, then wrap it in burlap for an hour or two then the freezer for a couple of hours more. This is my best flavor and my own recipe. I have never made it in anything other than the White Mountain so I don't know how another machine will influence the texture. I also make hazelnut where I toast and grind the nuts first and cinnamon raisin with the cinnmon made with heavy whipping cream and a cinnamon stick and the raisons macerated in Calvados.

1. Pecans-saute 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans in
2 tbsp. butter until lightly browned. Set aside.
2. Caramel-1 1/4 cups heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized, regular pasteurized), 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 whole stick organic/country butter
In a heavy bottomed saucepan scald the cream ad keep warm. In another heavy bottom saucepan combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water over medium heat and stir until it dissolves and the liquid is "clear." Turn the heat to high and boil the misture, without stirring, until it is a light to medium amber color. (NOte: this is tricky and the key to correctly made caramel-not to cook this too long.) This took me about 7 or 8 minutes. Remove fro the heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth then whisk in the butter (chunks at a time) and let cool.
3. Ice cream base: 2 cups heavy cream (pasteurized), 1 cup whole milk (NOT 2 or 1%, cream top if available), 6 organic egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, scald the cream and the milk. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, whisk egg yolks and sugar. Add the scalded cream mixture, turn up the heat until the water is boiling and whisk the mixture continuously until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the caramel. Then fold in the chooped pecans.
4. Let cool, then transfer to storage container and refrigerator for 8 hours +.
5. For a White Mountain freezer pour the cream into the stainless steel cream can. Place this inside the wooden tub. Crush ice into fine particles and place a layer about three inches deep around the can in the tub. Sprinkly 1/2 layer of rock salt on top of this. Repeat with ice and rock salt layers until the freezer is well packed. Turn crank at constant speed until cream is frozen. After 10 minutes or so the cream will noticeably become firmer. Continue for a total of about 20 to 25 minutes until the consistency is one of soft ice cream. Remove the dasher and scrape the excess back into the container.
6. To pack the ice cream in the container for hardening: place a sheet of wax paper over the top of the container, press the can cover down over this and plug the hole in the top with either a cork stopper or tape. Drain off water in wooden tub and repack with 5 parts of crushed ice and 1 part of rock salt until the entire can and lid are covered with both. Wrap and cover with a burlap bag and let stand until frozen or hard. Probably several hours. An additional hour in a freezer may also follow this depending on the desired hardness.

I also make a serious bouillibasse with a fish fumet using heads and frames.

Sep 12, 2010
Joe H in Home Cooking

The Absolute Best Low Calorie Shrimp Dish You Will EVER Taste!!!

Thank you, marymari L. Much appreciated!!!

Sep 12, 2010
Joe H in Home Cooking

Shrimp Boat

I remember the Shrimp Boat from the '60's. I am certain that what it was 45 years ago is different from today. Try Ray's East River instead.

Shrimp Boat
4510 E Capitol St NE, Washington, DC 20019

Recommendations of Northern Va wineries for a day visit from DC?

You should include Hillsborough in your trip. For wine Glen Manor's Hodder HIll is an excellent red by either Front Royal or Walla Walla standards. I write this as someone who has been on Leonetti's mailing list since the early '90's and today is a passionate supporter of K Vintners. Glen Manor is a step or two behind both but is the first VA winery that I thought could even challenge them one day.

The "Austrian mountainside" setting doesn't hurt either.

This is a remarkable thread with Glen Manor's wine maker the author of it. I have not met him, but his passion and dedication comes across in his writing. In person it is in his wine.

Looking for great seafood in Annapolis....Any recommendations??

Interesting that there was not a single response to my comments about the Back Porch Cafe. Hasn't anyone on this board been there? Both unique and excellent; certainly worth its own lengthy thread.


Sinplicity, which I bought at the Reston Farmer's Market on Saturday morning (three different flavors including an incredible Irish cream w/ walnuts) may be as good as the original Gifford's. I would make the argument that this is the best commercially available ice cream in the Washington area today. Seven dollars a pint and worth every penny.

6402 Arlington Blvd Ste B150, Falls Church, VA 22042

Recommendations of Northern Va wineries for a day visit from DC?

Hillsborough is incredible, too. Curiously, sitting at a table outdoors at Hillsborough looks exactly like Tuscany while sitting outdoors behind Glen Manor looks exactly like an Austrian mountainside. Serious. Both have remarkable views. Chester Gap? We'll be there in a week or two!

I believe that many of the people reading this have absolutely no idea how beautiful this part of Virginia is. Of course there is much to be said for Annapolis and the eastern shore of Maryland, too.

Recommendations of Northern Va wineries for a day visit from DC?

Thanks, Indy 67, we'll definitely try this.

Looking for best place to stop for Steamed Blue Crabs - Maryland Area

Cantler's is excellent for crabs but this is the most atmospheric of all Maryland crab houses with better sides: There will be more cars with Delaware and Pennsylvania tags in the parking lots than Maryland.

Looking for great seafood in Annapolis....Any recommendations??

O'Leary's and a place NEVER discussed on here that is extremely good: I think the Narrows still has slightly better crab cakes and cream of crab soup but overall the Back Porch Cafe is excellent. It is also intriguing: it is only open from May to October and literally, every single seat is outdoors. Yes, outdoors. It is also very picturesque sitting directly on a harbor.

Sometime, I'll post at length on here about it. If you go their strongest dishes may be their crab quesadilla and their tower of crab salad. Very good coconut and Smith Island cake, too.

3 Days Venice - Perfecting Restaurant List

Perhaps it has changed over the past year but at the time we visited it was remarkable and unknown. There are many in the thread I linked immediately above who seem to have appreciated visiting it.

Aug 29, 2010
Joe H in Italy

3 Days Venice - Perfecting Restaurant List

Aug 29, 2010
Joe H in Italy

Recommendations of Northern Va wineries for a day visit from DC?

I've been travelling to Virginia wineries for 30+ years. Arguably the most picturesque is either Hillsborough or Glen Manor. Despite the Front Royal association and whatever image this might create Glen Manor has chairs and tables in the rear of it that back to a mountainside which looks, for all the world, exactly like Austria or Switzerland.

Coincidentally GlenManor also has the best red in the state of VA, with all due respect to Barboursville's Octagon. Naked Mountain has a very pretty setting but it pales to both of these. FWIW, I'd make the argument that much of the VA wine country is among the most beautiful of any on earth.

Absolute Best Risotto You Will EVER Eat: Toasted Pistachio Gorgonzola Dolce

Sorry for this post but in over ten years on this board I've never started a thread that had 200 replies. Couldn't resist being the 200th! Of course it did take almost eight and one half years to do this...

Aug 21, 2010
Joe H in Home Cooking