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Vernick

I stopped by unplanned last Thursday after happening to walk past at 9 pm without having eaten dinner. I asked if I could just order myself one small plate and got seated at the little counter next to the bar (not a great seat, but as a solo diner without a reservation I didn't mind). They still gave me the cornbread-gazpacho amuse bouche, which was fun. I ended up getting the pepper octopus small plate, which was 1. really, really impressive and 2. enough for me for a meal on its own. I don't think Vernick is on board with small, sparsely plated dishes. Total was $21 with tax and tip, which seems pretty good for dinner at a place like this.

Looking forward to stopping by once or twice a month.

Ethiopian spices. . .

I think I remember seeing berbere in the South St. Whole Foods, and the Penzey's near 2nd St. Station will almost certainly have it.

Aug 29, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Philadelphia

Asian supermarkets in city proper?

I ended up taking the 10-minute bus ride to Chinatown and checking out the underground supermarket on Race that SteveK mentioned. This worked out OK. The place has a good selection of dry stuff, and a more or less as-expected meat and seafood counter. I did get some fish sauce, kimchi, and shallots, but it's mostly Chinese so I had less luck/selection with the Korean or Japanese things. The bin of live turtles was a neat surprise.

However, I also stopped into another supermarket near 10th and Cherry that had a much smaller dry section, better produce section (although still not very strong outside expected Chinese ingredients), and really impressive seafood counter. I remember several varieties each of head-on prawns, cockles, squid, crabs, fish, and what looked a lot like geoduck, all layed out on ice for people to pick and bag themselves. There were tongs, but they're lying haphazardly around and plenty of people just did it by hand. No fish smell either. Also saw a butchered whole silkie for $20, although it was gone by the time I finished looking around. Really cool, bustling, kind of overwhelming place.

Aug 29, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Philadelphia

Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt????

I'm new to pork and confused by this thread. I'm making a recipe that calls for 3 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, so I went to my butcher (a legitimate, Chowhound-approved butcher) and asked for that. They said they only have skin-on, bone-in shoulders (around 12 lbs) but I could buy 3 lbs pork butt instead. So I did.

Is what I have 3 lbs of "boneless pork shoulder"? Does pork shoulder, once de-boned and skinned, become pork butt?

Aug 27, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Storing cooked pork shoulder, longish-term

I'd like to make the Momofuku pork shoulder. It's pretty simple, just a deboned pork shoulder coated with salt and sugar roasted low and slow and then pulled. However, I'm one dude who isn't a big meat eater to begin with, so even with a small (say 3 lb.) cut I'd be in trouble finishing it.

So: would it work to make it, pull it, wrap in foil with a little bit of the (skimmed) drippings, and freeze in a tight ziploc? I imagine I could work through maybe a couple of pounds a month.

Aug 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Asian supermarkets in city proper?

Would I maybe be able to find Korean/Chinese/Japanese ingredients there (see above post)? barryg says it's Vietnamese above.

Aug 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Philadelphia

Asian supermarkets in city proper?

1000 block of Race is a couple of miles away but I'll keep it in mind.

For the record, I'm mostly asking because I recently bought the Momofuku cookbook and 1. it looks really fun to cook from and 2. it uses a variety of prepared condiments and seasonings I can probably only get from Asian (mostly Korean, Chinese, and Japanese) markets. Some examples: kochukaru, usukuchi, jarred preserved shrimp, denjang, black bean paste. But a good produce section would be great. Meat I'll probably get from Esposito's, although I haven't been yet.

(Also, I don't like how Trader Joe's sells almost all of its produce in plastic.)

Aug 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Philadelphia

Asian supermarkets in city proper?

Google maps gives me various configurations of bus + MFL around 50 minutes total. Not a huge deal, but ideally there'd be something within a 20 minute walk or so.

Aug 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Philadelphia

Asian supermarkets in city proper?

I'm given to understand a trip to H-Mart out in Upper Darby is the gold standard, but since that's about an hour away from me (I live near Fitler Square) by public transit - is there any supermarket worth seeking out in the city proper, e.g. Chinatown?

Oregon Market is a 20-minute bus ride away. Any strong opinions on that?

Aug 22, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Philadelphia

Fantasies of a Happier Kitchen

david chang also wrote something similar on the topic: http://luckypeach.com/david-chang-kit...

he seems a little more divided on this, like he still thinks "dark side" kitchens produce stronger (but not healthier or happier) cooks. this general question actually seems like a constant struggle for chang, who spent several hours on dvdasa (very nsfw podcast, although the chang episodes are a bit tamer) weighing the creativity anger/frustration/han can create against the overall suffering it requires.

nicely timed with the nyt amazon article too.

Would acid cause grainy whipped cream?

This is what I was wondering about, but as mentioned above heavy cream doesn't curdle so easily, and we're talking about maybe half a tsp balsamic vinegar to like 200 ml heavy cream.

Jul 30, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Would acid cause grainy whipped cream?

It's really just maple whipped cream, the balsamic vinegar is only there in a small amount to bring up the maple flavor and isn't identifiable on its own. It's nice with strawberries.

Jul 30, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Would acid cause grainy whipped cream?

Right, but this seemed to skip straight from underwhipped to overwhipped.

Jul 30, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Would acid cause grainy whipped cream?

Pre-chilled, but only in the fridge, not the freezer.

Jul 30, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Would acid cause grainy whipped cream?

The other day I whipped some heavy cream together with a pinch of salt, maple syrup, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It ended up whipping from sort-of-thick straight to grainy and watery. I've done the same thing minus the balsamic vinegar and produced the thick, substantial whipped cream I'd expect.

Would the acid in the balsamic vinegar contribute to this? It's just a splash to bring up the maple flavor. Other possible factors: it was hot in the kitchen this time around (85F) and the cream had been open for 2 weeks since the last time I made it.

At any rate, I'm not sure if acid actually affects whipped cream at all. Anyone know?

Jul 29, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Go-to cookbooks for "must impress" dinner parties

Surprised no one mentioned The French Laundry Cookbook. It manages to be both relatively modern without being very experimental (it came out right before molecular gastronomy got big). So you don't really need any fancy equipment to cook through the book, and as far as "must impress" goes all of its dishes are...well, from The French Laundry.

I actually wouldn't reach for it when cooking for guests *precisely* for that reason, though. The finished products often look as hard to make as they were, and my attitude at this point is that most guests - at least guests I'd have - don't really want you to kill yourself turning out something good. Better the stuff you've dialed in so well over the years that you can actually do it kind of effortlessly (but they couldn't).

Jul 29, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Moro cookbook recipe - 60 threads of saffron?

I ended up just halving the amount and it was pretty strong but not unpleasant. I'll probably keep doing that.

Jul 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Kind of a crazy sugar question...

Building on scott123's suggestion to make brittle without the nuts, couldn't you make brittle with powdered peanuts? Even if he's just sucking the sugar off the nuts he's getting a lot of peanut flavor, so powdered peanuts might be a way to incorporate that without the actual crunch and body of the nut itself? I imagine he actually likes the peanut + sugar flavor rather than just pure sugar.

Jul 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Moro cookbook recipe - 60 threads of saffron?

On p. 138 of the Moro Cookbook there's a recipe for chickpeas and spinach. Roughly, it's simmered chickpeas and wilted spinach mixed with a spiced fried bread mash with some saffron-infused water added near the end of cooking.

However, it's meant to serve 4 and calls for 60 threads of saffron to be soaked in 1/4c hot water. This strikes me as a ton of saffron, given that in past cooking (e.g. when using it with scrambled eggs) I've usually figured on a few threads per serving.

Does this strike anyone else as odd? It's not a typo. There are other recipes that also use 50-60 threads.

Jul 09, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Cumin seed vs. caraway seed

Wikipedia says caraway is sometimes called Persian cumin, but that's the first time I've heard that. I agree with your interpretation of cumin and caraway.

Onions in Indian Cooking

This is how all the cooks in my family do it (we're south Indian). Yellow onion, ginger, garlic, wait a while.

Jun 28, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

The end of food? Remember Soylent Green?

My roommate uses this as a meal replacement a few times a week when he's crunched for time. It's not for me since I like cooking more than he does, but it makes some sense. I've tried some. It reminds me of pureed Kix.

What Does Hunger Look Like?

Interesting look at hunger in general, but here's a quote to pique your interest:

"If you’re interested in producing more food in the future, then you probably want more small farms."

Waxy, soft, translucent, golden and raw garlic clove

Is it really "spoiled" though? It passed the sniff test with flying colors so I figured it wouldn't hurt me. And it actually tasted pretty good as mentioned above.

Been a couple hours without any adverse effects...

Waxy, soft, translucent, golden and raw garlic clove

Found this in a head of garlic. It smells and tastes more like roasted garlic. Not pungent and almost sweet. So I used it. Anyone have any thoughts/experience with this?

How has your cooking evolved with age?

OK, I'll add something after all since there have been so many responses (all of which I've read with interest).

I cooked very basic stuff through childhood and adolescence, and I watched Good Eats pretty frequently during the last couple years of high school so oddly enough I developed an OK theoretical grounding without cooking very much. I also made a few dishes out of Joy of Cooking, maybe once a month since my mom usually took care of the cooking. These were minor house events like "break out the nice plates! lamb_da_calculus is going to try to cook!"

I started sporadically cooking once I went away for college, in the not-great community kitchen, and this is when I started consciously learning about cooking. I also found Chowhound at this time, and I'd say I've learned more from Chowhound than possibly any other source. At this point my theoretical understanding of cooking outpaced my actual abilities, so a lot of my dishes were "interesting" flavor combinations jammed together without a whole lot of technical know-how. I remember rubbing a lamb shoulder chop with cocoa powder, espresso, and salt, searing it, and eating it with a bunch of strawberries. I also remember eating a blood orange out of hand with toasted cardamom, and then seared scallops with kale, raw diced tomatoes, and burnt garlic. Again, I don't think the ideas were terrible, but my skill wasn't there. I still thought I was a cook though because I didn't use recipes.

By flailing around like this and hanging around Chowhound, and eventually trying random recipes from Epicurious, I hacked together enough experience to actually follow most recipe instructions. Luckily I was mostly cooking for myself at this time so the stakes weren't very high (although there was one incident, which I still cringe to remember, where I baked pumpkin cookies for my dorm [from a whole pumpkin!] and tried to make frosting with granulated sugar, and *served* the resulting grainy mess because "I followed the recipe...").

During the second half of college and the following summer I spent a lot of time learning about Mexican and French cuisine from Bayless' and Bourdain's cookbooks. Making stuff by the book, catching the bus Saturday morning (cooler in hand) at 6 to head into the city and buy good fish for bouillabaisse and good fish heads for the fish stock I'd have to make first, spending Spring break tracking down the necessary chiles to make Oaxacan black mole, and generally prizing trying new stuff over developing competencies. On a related note, I developed a very romantic view of cooking at this time. I figured it would be my *thing*, the way some guys write poetry or play guitar or whatever (and privately imagined women would respond as they might to those things), so I took cooking pretty seriously. One time I threw a cake at a wall because it didn't turn out the way I wanted. I started a food blog and ended up writing about 90 entries, each for a different dish, lovingly photographed, some made multiple times.

In the year since then (I graduated college in 2014) I think I've grown a lot as a cook. I think making all those recipes in the past couple of years really meant I finally had a pretty solid technical grounding, and writing about them helped develop how I think about food and cooking. So over the past year I've focused on developing my *own* recipes, going back to my first approach of freestyling weird stuff but doing it over and over again. For example last year I roasted whole chickens for 2 months straight, tweaking each time and trying different techniques and recipes and taking notes each time. I ended up with a sort of amalgam of the Zuni cafe and Thomas Keller approaches, and it's great and I understand it and can bang it out no problem.

I keep all of this in a Google doc, and at this point I have about a dozen recipes I've come up with, gotten good at, and described with reproducible accuracy. They're all in that sweet spot of inexpensive/healthy/good/relatively easy to make, because that's what I knew I'd need for when I start my PhD this coming fall. Think roast chicken with sage and summer savory, with roasted sweet potatoes and a lemon-dijon-mustard vinaigrette. Or a porcini-barley risotto with roasted brussels sprouts and pearl onions and a dusting of parmesan. Or a tuna sandwich made with olive oil-packed tuna, sourdough, avocado, peanuts, cilantro, mirin, lime juice, and white wine vinegar. Stuff that's not more complicated than it has to be but I'll put up quite proudly.

I'm also much less romantic about cooking than I used to be, but if called to I'm pretty sure I could bring it back no problem.

(Side note, it's interesting how almost everybody here has ended the post with "I generally cook more simply now")

Anova One sous vide cooker for $99 at Amazon

Really wish I'd seen this earlier...

Jun 16, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Cookware

Your best Egg Plant recipe

I came up with this one a year ago. The end result is crunchy little spiced bites of eggplant that feature its richness without being heavy. It's my favorite eggplant preparation if you want to spotlight the ingredient rather than use it in the service of something else. I originally came up with it because I wanted something crunchy and rich to sprinkle over a pretty light Egyptian yellow lentil soup, but it's good on its own too.

The almond flour is not some weird GF quirk, I think almond flour just brings a nutty sweetness that works well. I think it's actually vegan too, although that's not intentional either.

Slice a 12 oz. eggplant into strips, cover liberally with kosher salt, and wait 30 minutes for bitter liquid to be drawn out. Meanwhile toast 40g almond flour, 2 tsp anise seed, 1 tsp each of coriander, grains of paradise, thyme, and roasted orange peel, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Preheat an oven to 350F and grind the nut flour/spice mixture into a powder. Rinse off the eggplant, squeeze out excess liquid, and pat dry, then dice and mix with 75-100g tahini until it really sticks together. Then mix in the powder and try to separate the cubes as best you can on parchment paper and bake 30-45 minutes. You want to take it out a little before it seems crunchy since it'll harden up at room temperature. Salt at the end (the amount will vary depending on how well you rinsed the eggplant).

Jun 14, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

My cake is bitter...anyone know why?

Sometimes I just get oranges that seem to have unusually bitter zest. Not sure why, but that might have happened here.

Jun 14, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

How has your cooking evolved with age?

I've been reading a bunch of memoirs lately and personal evolution over a lifetime is on my mind. I'm 23 and have only really been cooking for a few years so don't have much to contribute to the topic, but I know there are plenty of people here who have been cooking for several decades...

Jun 13, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking