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HandLikeAFist's Profile

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Waffles - What's Your Favorite Type??

I think there was a waffle shop in La Jolla was called John's. J. Edgar Hoover and his Clyde used to breakfast there while on holidays. Same place? Breakfast rather than cone waffles.

Feb 10, 2014
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

Waffles - What's Your Favorite Type??

I had a Belgian waffle at the 64 Fair as well. Hated it. I was sort of addicted to my mom's regular waffles. Now around LA, I only get waffles at coffee shops, but they have almost all switched from REAL small-bore waffles to lousy Belgian-style. Someday, in my my next life, probably, I want to want to try Marion Cunningham's yeast waffles.

Feb 10, 2014
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

When do you use leeks?

Really tasty side for steak, roast, etc. Not light. In baking pan put leeks, halved length-wise, in single layer, cut side up. Mix heavy cream, maybe half-pint or so, with two-three tablespoons whole-grain mustard, with the mustard seeds, very important. A little salt. Pour over leeks. Top with a good layer of lightly buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until done.

This is a very flexible recipe, and cooking times and temps are sort of what you want them to be. Cheese in the breadcrumbs? Sure, but gets very heavy. Panko? Yup.

what are your fav pizza topping combinations?

When I ate pizza at Sorbillo, in Naples, I realized that great pizza needs no toppings but tomato sauce and cheese; I went for the fresh buffalo mozzarella once, but it exuded too much liquid.

Here, I have a friend with a pizza oven. Her combos are unusual and always excellent. One secret is not too heavy a hand with the toppings.

I often bring along my jar of salt-packed anchovies from Sicily. A few fillets draped on the pizza AFTER it is cooked is fabulous. It's a crime to cook anchovies on top of a pizza.

Dec 29, 2013
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

SURVEY: When/Where/How did you learn to cook?

I am 67, grew up in SF, always loved food and cooking. My mother and grandmother were both excellent home cooks. And we also had live-in help, each with their inborn specialities. One houseboy made the best roast turkey; he went from house to house over the holidays. One cook was Polish/Rissian. Many were very good southern cooks.

From my mom, I learned stock-making, béchamel, pies (she couldn't do cakes worth beans), roast birds, roast beef, leg of lamb, jams and jellies, pickles.

From my grandmother, scalloped oysters, chicken fricassee with dumplings, all sorts of fresh vegetables, the best biscuits.

In college, I immersed myself in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and my housemates and I had many huge French feasts.

This Christmas, I made roast goose (fabulous; steam it the day before), and working just from family memories I made the brown goose stock and then the really perfect gravy, no recipes, no measuring, just 60-year-old memories. Madeira in the stock and the gravy, with a little red currant jelly in the gravy. It is such fun to cook by instinct, but I had great teachers.

Dec 29, 2013
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

Salt Brand -- How Important is the Brand?

Diamond Crystal Kosher for cooking.

For table/finishing salt, nothing except the amazing Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.

Am I the only one who doesn't like...?

Beets. Raw tomatoes. Any licorice flavor stronger than fennel seeds. Bell peppers, raw or cooked. Liver.

No booze for 13 years, for reasons that can be guessed at. Milk is disgusting on its own.

Other than that, bring it on.

Oct 03, 2013
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

What's your favorite skin?

Goose skin is EVEN BETTER than divine duck skin.

Sep 27, 2013
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

What food related items do you tuck in to your luggage?

I pretty much live in Norceria Viola (Campo de Fiori) when I am in Rome, and every time I'm there, I really, really want to buy an entire slab of their superb guanciale.

Three problems:
1. What the hell would that thing cost?
2. I'd never get it past US inspectors and their cute beagles.
3. The thing is the size of a manhole cover.

Sep 27, 2013
HandLikeAFist in Italy

Dinner at The Palm

It's my birthday, so my best friends took us three to The Palm, West Hollywood edition.

We ordered a number of dishes to share, and as the birthday boy, I ordered a steak. 18oz strip. I asked for it cooked "the rare side of medium rare," and for once the very good waitress simply said, "Of course." And that is how it came out. Very good meat, aged properly, cooked a point. I went for the Béarnaise sauce, which was perfection. It seemed freshly made, fragile, almost. Often restaurant béarnaise over-reduces the wine/vinegar/shallot/tarragon/chervil flavor base,so that it becomes a little metallic. Not so tonight.

Started with excellently dressed, very well-balanced Caesar salad. A teeny more anchovy wouldn't have hurt.

Calamari, fried in corn meal, greaseless, tasted of squid. Thin strips of pepper and lemon were also fried, a few strips each amid the pile of calamari. The lemon especially was a revelation, not bitter at all. The marinara sauce was very hearty, too much really, for the delicate squid. A tiny dab was fine, though.

Excellent brussels sprouts, small, again perfectly cooked. Dunno the methods involved, but they worked. Bright green, still textured but done to a turn.

What they call hashed browns which are really little batons of fried/roasted spuds, addicting.

Crab cakes, tasting of crab, filler invisible, very crab-like but no fishiness I have encountered with lump crab meat before. Mild mango salsa.

Our waitress was utterly professional, non-robotic, friendly but just distant enough, not butting in or trying any up-selling arm-twisting.


Best meal I've had in ages. I don't eat often in the Land of $50 steaks, but having been disappointed in other LA steak-houses, The Palm was a revelation.

Looking for ideas using fresh peaches!

Two simple, good treats with peaches:

1. Brush peach halves with melted butter, sprinkle cut side with good quality curry powder. Grill.

2. Salsa: equal parts sliced red onions and sliced radishes. Rather more cut-up peaches. Mint leaves and sliced hot peppers, to taste. Fabulous with lamb.

Jun 28, 2013
HandLikeAFist in Home Cooking

two pounds of carrots for two people

Grate the carrots. In a mini-food processor blitz lemon juice, good olive oil, a clove of garlic, sea salt, and maybe a half-cup of toasted sesame seeds. Amounts to taste. Pour over carrots.

Jun 18, 2013
HandLikeAFist in Home Cooking

sea salt vs. kosher salt

Kosher to cook with, like in pasta water. Maldon alone as a "finishing" salt. Maldon flakes between the fingers, so no need for a salt-mill. Maldon really does make a difference; fabulous on a steak or a salad.

Jun 15, 2013
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

Basic bread baking guide

I learned from the Tassajara Bread Book, many years ago. A quick look at Amazon shows it still in print, with (I think) more recipes. The basic method that starts the book is well-described, not overly "scientific," and rather fun.

Jan 18, 2013
HandLikeAFist in Home Cooking

What's you favorite way to use blood oranges?

Peeled and sliced across in 1/2 - 3/4 in. slices. Three overlapping slices per salad plate. Scatter with slivers of the freshest garlic you can find, 10-15 slivers per plate. Drizzle with the absolutely best olive oil you can afford; new crop is best, and it's offering coincides with blood orange season.

That's it. Simple dish (Sicilian?) that demands the best products. Amazingly good.

Jan 17, 2013
HandLikeAFist in Home Cooking

Best crackers for cheese

Bath Oliver. Imported. Plain, sturdy, not "short."

Nov 03, 2012
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

Chinese Hot Mustard & Chili Oil

At dim sum places in SF, I remember that there was a little jar of chili oil on each table, with a nice layer of chilis proper and black beans in the bottom two inches. Nice; I used to pound the stuff. Dunno if they still do that.

I went to the Elite in SG valley the other day, and I asked for chili oil. Much incomprehension, then finally a teeny little plate with unasked-for hot mustard and a smear of chili oil. The dim sum was quite good, but not as good as I remember from SF. Except the egg tarts were the best I have had outside of Macau.

Aug 13, 2012
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

Childhood favorite sandwich

!. Peanut butter (chunky), bacon, dill pickle chips, on toasted white bread.
2. Cold sliced leg of lamb, s&p, romaine lettuce, on toasted buttered sourdough. Sometimes with a squirt of lemon juice.

Aug 03, 2012
HandLikeAFist in General Topics

What is your biggest recipe pet peeve?

Just saw this in a recipe:

2/3 cup Marsala or orange liqueur

What? This very loose alternative drives me nuts. Pick one. It's like saying "2/3 cup honey or bbq sauce"

Jul 30, 2012
HandLikeAFist in Home Cooking

Sweet and Sour Pressed Almond Duck

How very odd. I cannot guess why the recipe is not in the PDF version of Miller's book. My copy of the real book is in storage, but Cynsa'a link does affirm that the book does contain the recipe. Another reason to treasure real books.

The duck was very time-consuming to produce, but fun, and very delicious.

Sweet and Sour Pressed Almond Duck

Gloria Miller, in 1000 Recipe Chinese Cookbook, has a totally do-able, quite authentic recipe. No duck press needed.

Rome - Museo-Atelier Canova Tadolini

Amazing space. But the only place in Rome where I remember getting a really undrinkable cup of espresso.

May 16, 2012
HandLikeAFist in Italy

Scented Geraniums

The best ever: rose geranium jelly. My mom made it, and I have a couple of times. Fabulous with roast pork or roast lamb, and not too shabby on toast. Lovely pinky pale-orange color.

You make it best with lady apples, which can be located late summer. Use a good jelly recipe and put one rose geranium leaf in each jar. Simple and delicious.

May 07, 2012
HandLikeAFist in Home Cooking