pcdarnell's Profile

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What to do with spicy preserved lemons from Indian store?

Chop some of the peel with garlic and parsley and put it under the skin of a chicken breast before baking/roasting. It's really good.

Apr 03, 2014
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Oven baked salmon help

I have made this recipe and shared it many times since I found it on epicurious. The no smell factor is a plus, and the salmon itself is tender and moist and cooked evenly through.

Mar 25, 2014
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

King Cake Mix -Oakland area!

La Farine on Fruitvale Ave. (Dimond District in Oakland) sent out an email last week saying they had them. I don't know if they still do, or if pre-ordering is required. I suggest you call them today.

Mar 02, 2014
pcdarnell in San Francisco Bay Area

Puzzling over tapioca pudding

I believe you are correct. I love homemade tapioca, especially served warm I have always made it with eggs, just like every other pudding. It's a custard. There is separated eggs involved typically, making the custard with the yolks and beating egg whites and folding them in at the end. I'm not sure what the consistency of this recipe would be.

Feb 25, 2014
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Need to buy La Bodega Sherry wine vinegar

I buy it at Piedmont Grocery in Oakland.

Aug 28, 2013
pcdarnell in San Francisco Bay Area

Favorite recipe for preserving plums?

I made some plum syrup this year when a friend delivered a bucket full of small plums. I just boiled them with sugar, water, a little lemon juice, and cinnamon sticks. It is really good. I have used in in cocktails and with sparkling wine. Also in pan sauces for meats, over vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet. The cinnamon added a nice hint of spice.

I also made some plum jam with ginger. I froze the rest for when I figure out what else I can do.

Jul 23, 2013
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Cooking From: Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree

When I was in college (Georgia Tech) I took a week-long, 40-hour class called The Basics of French Cooking (or something close). It was taught by Nathalie Dupree and was held in the Rich's department store in downtown Atlanta. They had a big teaching kitchen in the store. It was the best class I have ever taken, and 35 years later I still use the techniques I learned there.
I have never bought any of her books, but I might have to get this one.

Jul 22, 2013
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Pastry making/Bread making classes in the Bay Area?

Kitchen on Fire in Berkely has weekend and evening classes. I took a pie making class this summer that was alot of fun. Check out their website for the class calendar. They offer series and one-time classes. I think they do bread making classes. They also do some cool theme classes like different ethnic cooking, cooking for a dinner party, etc.
I would most defintiely go back, I just haven't had time.

Feb 04, 2013
pcdarnell in San Francisco Bay Area

Let's talk about pies. Vintage pies, that is.

That's the recipe my family uses too, from the old BC cookbook. My sister and one of my sons both request this instead of a birthday cake. My parents have rhubarb growing in the yard (NH). It kills me to buy it, but I'm in CA and haven't tried growing it.
I prefer strawberry rhubarb pie, myself.

Dec 05, 2012
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Anyone Hoarding Twinkies?

Every Christmas my kids buy me a cooking related gift, really only for their benefit, and usually pretty hilarious. One year it was a funnel cake maker, a pie-pop maker last year, and once it was a Twinkie making kit. Now I see the brilliance.

BTW, does anyone remember Suzie-Q's? I loved those things. Chocolate cakey oblong things with (faux) cream filling. I grew up in MA, so it must have been a Drakes product.

Nov 19, 2012
pcdarnell in General Topics

Oakland Small Plate Lunch Options-Black Friday 2012

I like Barlata (Telegraph Ave. at about 43rd) and District (Old Oakland) for small plates, wine, and cocktails. I have only been for dinner and have not checked their hours for lunch, but both are in good locations in terms of reasonable parking and interesting neighborhoods..

Nov 13, 2012
pcdarnell in San Francisco Bay Area

New England Clam Chowder: To Corn or not to Corn?

I grew up in Mass, and my mother is from Portsmouth, NH. We had clam chowder as a leftover meal after eating steamers and lobster on Saturday nights when we went to my grandparents' house in Portsmouth. There was no flour involved in her clam chowder, just clam broth from the night before and half and half. No corn, just potatoes and onions. Salt pork was used diced to render the fat in which to cook the onions.

The other leftover meals we had were lobster salad sandwiches and lobster Newburg. Those were the days!

Jul 05, 2012
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Need Asparagus Recipe Help

I just remembered a recipe i got with a CSA delivery once that was great for roasted veggies. You just roast as noted in these replies, but about halfway through .you drizzle the veggies with a mixture of olive oil, salt, chopped garlic, and red pepper flakes. It works well on anything - asparagus, cauliflower, brussles sprouts, broccoloi rabe.

I am going to try the lemon zest suggestions as well as the preserved lemon idea on my next batch of roasted vegetables.

Apr 06, 2012
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Need Asparagus Recipe Help

Definitely oven roasted. I drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then place in one layer on a cookie sheet(s) and roast at 425 until just tender. Depending on the thickness of the stalks, you should start checking for doneness in less than 10 minutes. I shake the pan about halfway through (or when I check them) to turn them a bit.

Apr 05, 2012
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Potato salad secrets?

+1 for pickle juice. A friend's grandmother told me about this and it really makes a difference. Dill pickles, and just a splash.

Mar 15, 2012
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

First apartment - best cookware to purchase

An inexpensive set of Pyrex glass bakeware - 9"x13", 8"x8', and a loaf pan - are always handy whether you are roasting a chicken or baking brownies, making mac and cheese, making meatloaf or banana bread.

Mar 08, 2012
pcdarnell in Cookware

Tastiest stop between OAK and Yountville for lunch?

I agree with Ruth about lunch in Alameda. Alameda is incredibly safe - I joke with my coworkers who live here that the whole town is in a bubble. Plus downtown Alameda is only about two miles (surface streets) from the rental car lots.
I would eat early rather than be famished later and eat too much (that's just me) too close to dinnertime.
Burma Superstar is great. There is also DragonRouge at their new location near the Park Street Bridge, but I think they open for lunch again on the 10th after their move to this new location. It's Vietnamese, but a really cool place with great food.

Mar 07, 2012
pcdarnell in San Francisco Bay Area


Thanks for the info. I'll try it with rye and play with the proportions. Maybe if I make mini drinks I can do a side-by-side tasting. I should probably wait for the weekend!

Mar 07, 2012
pcdarnell in Spirits

Steakhouses - Stop asking me to cut into my steak as soon as it arrives!

I saw this happen for the first time last weekend. We were at a non-steakhouse in Tacoma, WA called the Lobster Shop. It was a nice restaurant, right on the water. One of the folks in our party of four had ordered a medium rare steak, and when they cut into it (flashlight at the ready) it was obviously overcooked. They took it back and brought another, after about 15 minutes. I guess he would have figured it out soon enough that it was overcooked, but the whole ceremonial cutting into the steak while everyone fixated on the flashlight was bizarre. Regardless, having to send a steak back screws up the whole meal when all but one person is eating.
I have been to nice steakhouses all over the country and have never seen this before. I have never been to an Outback, Texas Roadhouse, or anything like that though.

Mar 06, 2012
pcdarnell in Not About Food


I have recently been drinking an Old Pal, which is 3 parts Bourbon, 2 parts Campari, and 2 parts dry vermouth. Serve up with an orange twist. It's a nice change from my Manhattan - lighter, almost summery.
I have seen recipes where the proportions are equal, but I have not tried that yet.

Mar 05, 2012
pcdarnell in Spirits

I thought Le Creuset didn't wear out

I have a similar problem on the one LC pot I bought that has a black faux nonstick finish. My other pots have the white enamel interiors and are fine, even after 20+ years of use.
The one with the black interior isn't blistering as much as it's just no longer smooth - going porous I guess. It retains the taste of whatever was cooked in it last, which i figured out after having cooked spaghetti sauce in it. It also manages to taste soapy after washing, no matter how well I think I rinse it.
I guess I'll contact LC. I had forgotten that option. I was this close to replacing it with an All Clad pot. Dang.
Regardless, I love all of my other LC cookware.

Feb 22, 2012
pcdarnell in Cookware

Found it! Hard to find ingredients and where to find them

+1 for Ledgers.

I love this place. I originally went there several years ago in search of some Pliny the Elder beer for a friend who wanted it. Of course they had it. Then I needed (wanted) some Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters for a cocktail recipe I got from a bartender in NYC. I actually called Fee Brothers and asked them where a distributor of their product was near me. I ended up buying cherry bitters and rhubarb bitters along with the grapefruit. Cherry is good in Mahanttans. I have yet to use the rhubarb.

The place is so strange - beer in boxes on the floor in no discernable order as far as I could tell. Everything is dusty. A varied clientele makes it interesting.

The Piedmont Grocery (in Oakland) has a pretty good selection of liquors, bitters, mixers, etc. Their staff is helpful too.

Feb 22, 2012
pcdarnell in Spirits

"A man's drink of choice , tells volumes of one's character"-- need help..

I work with mostly men, and there are alot of business dinners involving cocktails. Recently, I have seen the trend go from vodka martinis to either gin martinis or Manhattans. I see alot of guys order Makers Manhattans (made with Makers Mark rather than rye whiskey). Lots of guys order beer, no matter what. Some order wine, usually red wine. All of those seem pretty standard.
I recently discovered a drink called an Old Pal, which I have yet to order at a bar, only made them at home. It is not as sweet or strong as a Manhattan. 3 parts bourbon, two parts Campari, two parts dry vermouth. Serve up with a twist. Pretty elegant, not girly.
I see vodka tonics, vodka sodas, or gin and tonics more in the summer months.
Avoid the LI iced teas.
And most importantly, don't drink too much. There's nothing worse than a drunk at a business event (or a date).

Feb 21, 2012
pcdarnell in Spirits

Seeking Weight Watchers breakfasts w/ Low Points

If you have a smart phone, WW has an app (free) that is a bar code scanner. You can scan anything and it calculates the points, then you can add it to your tracker. It's a separate app from the regular WW one, but they work in tandem. I tried to see of it worked on store brand stuff and it works. It is really cool. So you can scan the barcode on the steel cut oats can and it will tell you the point value for one serving.

Feb 06, 2012
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

help with "cooking chemistry" project

That seems pretty advanced for a 6 year old! All I can think of is the old vinegar and baking soda reaction. My kids made volcanos with that mixture and food coloring for years. Not baking, though. My high school chemistry teacher had us make peanut brittle in the lab one time. She used the chemical names for everything except the peanuts. I still remember how cool that was, and it's been close to 40 years!

Since you have to do multiple iterations, fast and cheap would be the way to go, and edible so you don't have to throw away any attempts.

Lemonade? Add some pomegranate juice to one batch, then some blueberry juice to another glass(or other colored liquids) and guess what color it will turn?

Jan 10, 2012
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

what is this?

I have some of my grandmother's recipes and generally substitute butter for the shortening which seems to be very prevalent in baking recipes of old. Is that right? Or is shortening Crisco and I should just go with it?

I have a pecan pie recipe that calls for "butter, size of an egg". I laugh every time.
Her gingerbread recipe calls for molasses too.

Dec 01, 2011
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Soup for a Group; I'm looking for soups that can be made ahead and held for 4-6 hours before serving

Tortilla soup is really easy and really good after it sits a bit. Fun garnishes are avocado cubes, tortilla strips, sour cream, chopped onion, whatever

Dec 01, 2011
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Substituting chicken liver, heart and gisset for turkey liver, heart and gisset

It's a phonetic spelling of the New England pronounciation of gizzards. It's spelled almost exactly like my mother says the word - though hers sounds more like gissids.

Nov 18, 2011
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Petrini's Ultimate Turkey Recipe

They mention the white wine as an option under the gravy instructions on that site. On the bird packaging, I recall it saying something like, "The key to a great gravy is...", then the wine instruction.

Nov 17, 2011
pcdarnell in Home Cooking

Petrini's Ultimate Turkey Recipe

This is the same recipe that is on the Diestel turkey packaging, except for the brandy. I have used it every year because it is so good I don't want to experiment with anything else. I might try the brandy this year - hopefully my oven won't explode! I like the cheesecloth idea too; I'll give it a try.
I do brine my bird overnight as well, using the old SF Chronicle brine recipe they post (or used to) every year.

Nov 16, 2011
pcdarnell in Home Cooking