JDAWG's Profile

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What's for Dinner #378 - The Hot! Hot! Hot! Edition [through August 3, 2015]

That used to happen to me after an occasional evening/night of heavy drinking. It just sounds so appealing, and it was so easy to convince myself 'it can't be as bad as I remember'.

It always was.

I don't know about you, but I would always end up not with just a disappointed stomach, but also an angry stomach. It would express that anger in one of two ways: one quickly, and the other the next morning.

Fortunately there is no Taco Bell anywhere near where I live anymore so I don't have to keep relearning this lesson. That old-school Chinese food place down the street on the other hand has seen me too many times after midnight.

What's for Dinner #378 - The Hot! Hot! Hot! Edition [through August 3, 2015]

It was super hot again in southern Ontario last night, but some thunder storms came ripping across the great lakes in the evening and overnight. The weather report says it will be significantly cooler this whole week.

Dinner last night was (mostly) prepared on the grill: salmon and zucchini grilled with salt, pepper, and lemon; and grilled stuffed peppers.

The peppers were stuffed with sauteed sausage, onion, garlic, and tomatoes; orzo rice cooked in stock and wine; and parmesan cheese. The filling turned out nice, though I wish it was a little spicier. I reliased only after stuffing that I had used mild sausage instead of spicy, and I forgot to add any chili flakes, paprika, or diced jalapenos. Toasted pine nuts might be nice too, though that's becoming too much work on a hot day.

The peppers took much longer than I expected, and I was told the portion was too large. Next time I will try cutting them in half vertically, and grilling them flat on the grill with the stuffing on top, like a boat.

Need help- chicken breasts

90% of getting moist meat is simply cooking it to the right temperature. Brining and other tricks may get you that last 10%, but for everyday cooking aren't necessary.

The best advice I have is: get an instant read thermometer and don't be afraid to use it! When your chicken reaches 155 degrees, remove it from the heat (grill/oven/pan/whatever). Beyond 155 the juices really start getting squeezed out of the meat as it contracts from the heat and it drys out.

For me, getting an instant thermometer has made a world of difference and it was a fantastic investment. I can't tell you how many times I thought meat needed more time, only to stick in the thermometer and discover it was already slightly above the temperature I wanted.

Another tip specifically for chicken breasts is to pound them so they have an even thickness. If some of them are thicker than others they will all need different times to cook through, and then it's much more likely you will overcook some and they will dry out.

Biggest, most expensive bullshit at a fine dining restaurant.

How about the restaurant in L.A. that has a 45-page 'water menu', and a 'water sommelier'.


Jul 27, 2015
JDAWG in Not About Food

Dry Brining Chicken With Salt Instead of Wet Brining

"I salted a roasting chicken the night and let it sit overnight in the fridge."

You may have added to much salt, or just left the salt on too long. On a whole non-spatchcocked chicken I usually salt it lightly (but without measuerment) both under and over the skin, put it in the fridge, and leave it for three to four hours. I don't rinse it after. It turns out fine.

The perception of 'saltiness' is subjective, and measurably varies from person to person; but I have only ever had a complaint one time, and I agreed that time I erred and put on too much salt. I blame the beers downed before cooking.

Jul 26, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #374-The Summer Swamp Edition! [through July 14, 2015]

Fridge clean out on the grill. Mushrooms, red peppers, jalapenos, zucchini, and cauliflower; with a pork chop.

On the side is couscous, and a kale and cabbage salad mix from a bag.

This was my first time ever grilling cauliflower and it turned out delicious. I sprinkled it with turmeric, cumin, and a pinch of paprika. It turned out nice and smoky and a little crisp on the outside, yet tender in the center. I will definitely be grilling it again.

Crockpot lasagna

Alton Brown made a crock pot lasagna on Good Eats that I have tried several times. It tastes fine. It's certainly not his best recipe, but with a few small modifications to taste, it's not bad.

He nails the most important part of making it: getting the moisture and liquid balance right so it doesn't turn into lasagna soup. This is why he used dried noodles so they would absorb more liquid. I'm not sure if fresh noodles could absorb enough.

I usually make it in the winter when I know it will be a really long day, and by the time I get home I will just want something ready to eat a few seconds after I walk in the door.

Jul 11, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

What makes the perfect pizza?

You have reminded me about something I have wondered for some time about a variety of pizza from my childhood
In the city in Canada where I grew up, Hamilton Ontario, there is a place called "Roma Bakery". This is owned and operated by an Italian family since the 50's, though I don't know what state they are from.

They have always been best known for their "Roma Pizza" which know is even distributed to many grocery stores in the city due to high demand.

It is a thick chewy crust, with the most common variety topped with only tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan. It's generally served at room temperature, or even cold. They have a small selection of other varieties; mostly just with one additional topping, like peperoni, hot peppers, or mushrooms; but they never add cheese beyond the sprinkle of parmesan

Roma Pizza was a fixture at events I went to, whether for Italian families or not, in the 80's and 90's. If you had a party, or were hosting a family event, you would always pick up a slab of Roma Pizza. They are still around today and just as popular.

I have since learned this variety of pizza also exists in the Philadelphia area, and is known as a Tomato Pie.
Is this what you had in Venice?

Jul 09, 2015
JDAWG in General Topics

What's for Dinner #373 - Summer Celebrations [through July 9, 2015]

Thanks for the ideas. You reminded me I had some corn tortillas and leftover slaw in the fridge. They made some delicious salmon tacos.

Jul 08, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #373 - Summer Celebrations [through July 9, 2015]

Last night was dinner at my parents'. My mother bought two huge salmon fillets which was WAY too much for the three of us, especially considering I brought shrimp too! I cut the salmon down into portions and after everyone was full I got take home six big pieces. I'm not sure what to do with all of it.

A guy walks into the movie theater with his own sandwich...

I have the same problem with people who treat the office workspace as a dining room, bringing their smelly lunches, with plates and utensils into the same space where a few feet away people are making phone calls and trying to do work.

The reality is if you are not eating the food, it smells disgusting, no matter what it is, always.

Jul 06, 2015
JDAWG in Not About Food

Thomas Keller's simple roast chicken: how to preserve crispiness?

I agree with the others not to cover the chicken once it comes out of the oven. That will just cause steam to condense on the skin, making it soggy.

I also think 15 minutes is too long to let it rest. There is a trade off between letting meat rest and having crispy, crackling crust/skin.

Unless you re-crisp with a blow torch as JRC14 says below, you should aim to serve as quickly as possible after coming out of the oven: 5 to 10 minutes maximum.

Yes, some of the juices won't have redistributed properly, but that isn't the end of the world if you haven't overcooked the meat on the whole.

I think the concept of "letting meat rest" has been taken to an unnecessary extreme lately. It's as though some people think if you cut into unrested meat Niagara Falls will erupt draining out every drop of moisture.

80% of having a juicy meat is simply making sure you don't overcook it. Brining, resting, etc..., are the bonus 20% that are nice to haves, but not the important parts.

Jul 06, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #372 - The Hot & Cold Edition [Old--through 7/2/15]

Breakfast for dinner! "Toads in the Hole*", bacon, steamed spinach, and baked tomatoes with basil.

*I've gotten flack for calling this "Toad in the Hole" before. Apparently "Toad in the Hole" is something completely different in Europe than in Canada: sausages baked in pastry with gravy. My understanding is Europeans call this egg dish "eggs in a basket" or "eggs in a nest" instead.

I am interested to know how this discrepancy was created, and where geographic lines are drawn on what it is called. I learned to call it Toad in the Hole from my mother, who learned it from her mother, who was raised in Detroit in the 1930's, before moving to southern Ontario. The Egg Industry of Canada website has a recipe for Toad in a Hole that is also simply an egg fried in a slice of bread with a hole cut out. Wikipedia's entry for Toad in the Hole mentions only the sausage baked in pastry version, common in the UK.

What do you call an egg fried in a hollow slice of bread?



What's for Dinner #371 - School's Out for Summer Edition [through June 28, 2015]


And I should expand on my comment about the salt in the tomatoes. You have to be really careful with salt in this since a lot of water evaporates as it sits in the oven and the end product is much more concentrated. If you salt it to taste at the beginning, it will be too salty at the end. Use a light touch when seasoning.

Jun 28, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #371 - School's Out for Summer Edition [through June 28, 2015]

It's a recipe from Serious Eats. I make it mostly just as written and it works out very well each time.


I omit the fish sauce as I don't usually have any. I tried subbing that for worcestershire sauce once and it was nice, but it's fine without it too.

If I have an almost empty bottle of wine around I will dump it in at at the last 20 minutes.

While it recommends you use canned San Marzano's imported from Italy, I just use regular canned tomatoes (the ones without added salt) and it still turns out fantastic.

Jun 28, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

Chowfind? Fiddes wholesale produce - Hamilton

Has anyone shopped at Fiddes on Ewen Road in Hamilton?

Fiddes is a local wholesaler of produce, but they open up to the public on Saturdays from 10 - 3, opening up the cases so you can take as much or as little as you want.

You just walk through the warehouse (there's a main room and a cool room), collect what you want to buy, and take it to the front room where they tell you how much it costs. There are no prices listed anywhere, but I have found every time it ends up costing less than at the Fortinos one block away. It's also good quality produce, I see very few, if any, bruised or damaged items.
They also have a lot of fresh herbs which are definitely cheaper and better quality than what you get in a store. This week they had rosemary, thyme, huge bundles of chives, parsely, and more.

NB: They take cash only and you have to bring your own bags.

It can be a bit hard to find the first time. It's at the border of a light industrial and residential area and kind of looks like a regular house. There's only one small sign out front. In a way that makes it fun. It's like your going to a secret store where everything costs less.

Here's a link to their location on Google Streetview.

Despite the outer appearance, this is not a dinky operation, they have dozens of cases of every vegetable: tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, broccoli, zucchini, squash, carrots, potatoes, everything. It gets quite crowded about noon. They also have fruits, and berries, and as I mentioned nice fresh herbs.

What's for Dinner #371 - School's Out for Summer Edition [through June 28, 2015]

That sounds amazing. Olives, cauliflower, capers, and anchovies all have such strong flavours, but each one is unique so I can see it working well. Do you add lemon at all?

I wonder how this would be mixed with some penne or farfalle; maybe a fresh cheese; and perhaps some raw diced red bell pepper for colour and texture; all served as a cold summer salad.

Can you link me to the recipe or let me know which book it is in? Google is only retrieving recipes that look similar, but which I doubt are the original.

Jun 27, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #371 - School's Out for Summer Edition [through June 28, 2015]

It's raining today and it's much cooler than anytime in the past two weeks. I decided it was a good day to turn the oven on and make some slow cooked tomato sauce.

The picture is from when it went in the oven 20 minutes ago. I'll probably leave it in for 4 hours or so. I can't wait to pour it over some pasta for dinner.

turnip v. rutabaga - what do you call it?

I just watched a video of Gordon Ramsay where he used "swedes" to make a soup. I had no idea what a swede was until I saw it and said "That's a turnip!"

Here in Ontario, Canada, as confirmed many years ago below in the comments, we call all varieties turnips. I believe they are available all year round, though I have only eaten them in the fall and winter, usually mashed like potatoes with butter and sometimes some 18% if we're feeling indulgent.

I'm still not exactly sure what is the difference between a rutabaga, turnip, and a swede.

Jun 15, 2015
JDAWG in General Topics

I have a friend who rarely puts food in the fridge who is still alive .

In general, assuming the containers are resealed or covered somehow, I don't have a concern about something pickled or canned. My understanding is the salt, acids, and preservatives block growth of bacteria very well.

For meat, it depends if it's cooked or raw.

Raw meat will have bacterial growth even at room temperature, but it doesn't become dangerous in just hours. I am fine with overnight, but not much longer. Cooking will kill bacteria, but the danger remains because as some bacteria consume meat they produce compounds that are toxic to humans, and those are not rendered inert by cooking. That is often the real cause of food poisoning.

For cooked meat, it depends on the moisture content and time passed. Have you ever heard of the famous years old McDonald's hamburger that never gets moldy or rotten? It's simply because it's completely dehydrated, and the nasty stuff requires water to live, just like us. If there's little or none in the meat, nothing happens. Now a thick stake, cooked rare, and left to sit at room temperature; I would be wary of that after 24 hours.

It's funny to see this as I just had pizza for breakfast that was left in the box on the kitchen counter overnight!

Jun 06, 2015
JDAWG in General Topics

Brining rant...

I do the under the skin method and leave the outside with salt only as I find anything else will scorch. Lift up the skin starting at the edge of the breast and thighs, and carefully work your fingers around until there's a nice big pocket. It's not super delicate, you can stretch out a nice big space to slather in some delicious seasonings. I like to put a mix of butter, lemon juice, herbs, pepper, and garlic.

When it's under the skin it has protection from the direct heat and flame of the grill so there is no chance of the fresh herbs and garlic scorching and turning bitter.

As for brining chicken, I usually don't bother. 90% of getting a moist and flavourful cooked chicken is getting the temperature right. Use a thermometer liberally, and don't worry about losing juices by poking the pieces. You will loose far more by over cooking. Take it off the grill when it passes 150F, and let it rest.

May 26, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

Which Dutch cheese is best for melting in my baked penne?

Update! I found the advice somewhat conflicting.

I ended up using a smoked gouda in the middle layer of the dish, and edam on the top, with a dash of parm. Both the edam and gouda were made in Wisconsin, and bought on recommendation from the cheese shop owner after explaining what I was using them for. Price was a factor as cheese is ridiculously expensive here due to the government cartel (Ontario, Canada) 180 grams of each cost a total of $16. To get imported dutch cheese would have been several dollars more. This was just not worth it for the circumstances.

However it turned out fantastic. Both cheeses melted very well and did not get too stringy. The eadm on top did brown a little bit and was great.

May 18, 2015
JDAWG in Cheese

Which Dutch cheese is best for melting in my baked penne?

Hello Chowhounders,

In a few days I will be making a baked pasta dish with roasted eggplant, peppers, and sausage, in a light tomato sauce, plus an internal layer, and a topping of melted cheese to provide that ooey-gooey goodness factor.

It's not an uncommon recipe, except for this one item. For a really unusual reason that I won't waste your time on, I must only use Dutch cheese.

I am well aware that not all cheeses melt well, so I want to pick the best Dutch cheese. The only one I know well is Gouda, which I understand is a decent melting cheese. Are there better one's to consider? Are there one's I should avoid? Should I use regular gouda, or smoked gouda?

All help is appreciated.

Apr 27, 2015
JDAWG in Cheese

Simple is Best

I love the idea of pickled beets with the beats with beans. Perhaps adding some diced pickles/cornichons would be a nice crunchy aspect.

Apr 24, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

Any Licks left in the GTA?

I'm curious about something on that site. It lists three "services" offered by the stores. 'Drive Thru' and 'Party Room' are obvious (despite the grating spelling 'thru'); but what is "barter for retail"?

According to the legend, only one of the stores actually offers this.

Apr 21, 2015
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

As a foodie, what do you do for lunch during the week?

I work in the center of a big city and I don't find the options to be very good there either. I work in an office tower that is connected to a dozen others through underground walkways. Each one has its own food court, meaning several dozen options in walking distance, but I have yet to find anything worth my time or money.

I recently tried a place in the building next door that had gourmet sandwiches for takeout and it was terrible. I wrote about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7821...

I know of some places on the street level that do really good takeout, however, I guess because a lot of people feel the way I do, they are usually rammed at lunch. Some regularly have 15 minute lineups out the door. I don't have time to waste to walk there, then wait in line, wait for my order, then walk back.

I think it's just the factor of it being so expensive to rent space in this area that only option is either fast food chain; or for independent stores, low quality food at too high prices.

I now just always bring leftovers to enjoy. I have noticed since I started almost always bringing my own food that I am much more aware of how salty and greasy the takeout food is whenever I eat it.

Apr 19, 2015
JDAWG in General Topics

Don't let your Debit/Credit Card out of your sight when dining. .

I am a Canadian in Toronto. Debit cards are ubiquitous here. Cash transactions are now very rare. I often carry no cash at all for several days at a time. It is very rare to find even any store that does not accept debit cards. This is perhaps the reason there was no resistance to abolishing the Canadian penny coin a few years ago.

Chip/Pin cards were rolled out here for credit and debit at least 10 years ago, and you simply cannot get one without it anymore.

But now we have moved on and debit/credit cards also have the RFID transmitters. For transactions under $100.00 you can simply tap the display of the debit machine with your card and it will process the transaction instantly without requesting a PIN. It saves time and is very convenient.

Apr 16, 2015
JDAWG in Not About Food

The popularity of Swiss Chalet seems to be waning in the GTA. Thoughts?

Good call. This is definitely their problem. Almost every grocery store, except No Frills, sells roasted chickens now plus a huge variety of sides. Also they have other entrees for that one person in the family who doesn't feel like chicken. They have salad bars and bakery items that offer ten times the variety available at Swiss Chalet. Also there is the standard grocery store selection of desert if you want it.

I was just thinking about this issue the other day when I was reading about restaurant owners complaining they will take away their business, and it dawned on me that grocery stores selling massive amounts of prepared foods, which is becoming increasingly better in quality and selection, have already are taken away more of their business than food truck ever will.

Lots of the stores now even have sections for you to sit down and eat there.

Apr 15, 2015
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

What's for Dinner #359 - the April Showers Edition [through April 15, 2015]

Can an empanada expert tell me more about why they are deep fried and what regions this variety originates from?

I have traveled in South America to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and in that time I only encountered baked empanadas. Back here at home there are two empanada restaurants I have visited, and they also both offered only baked varieties of empanadas.

However a few months ago I encountered a food truck selling "Colombian style empanadas". I spotted it right at a moment where I was starving, so I ordered two. I was completely surprised to find them deep fried. I didn't like them as much as the baked varieties I had eaten, though they were inexpensive, and I wouldn't judge universally based on one order from one food truck.

How common are these? Is it only Colombian's who deep fry them?

Apr 14, 2015
JDAWG in Home Cooking

I'm the turtle at the table .


Sounds like what happens when I visit Quebec City. Except it's my own damn country.

Apr 07, 2015
JDAWG in Not About Food