lamb_da_calculus's Profile

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DTW. Dead chef estate sales

Good on you for kicking a pretty significant something back to him.

Apr 11, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Great Lakes

Wild/Alpine Strawberries

Thanks! I'll try to get up there in May. Do you know if there are specific vendors I might call?

And for the future if anyone sees them around Chicago an update here would be appreciated.

Apr 10, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Chicago Area

what should I do with a giant bag of dry roasted hazelnuts?

One thing I like to do with roasted hazelnuts is make a basic ganache by pouring boiling heavy cream over dark chocolate, mix in a little Gran Marnier, coat the hazelnuts, then sprinkle to coat with powdered dehydrated or roasted orange zest. I'm a big fan of the hazelnut/orange/chocolate combination although it is really only good for a day or two in the fridge.

Apr 10, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Wild/Alpine Strawberries

Do you know when these usually show up?

Apr 09, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Chicago Area

Wild/Alpine Strawberries

I'll look into jam if I turn up nothing looking for fresh. Any recommendations on that end?

I've read that they grow in Minnesota, although even that would probably be pushing it since that same person quoted a few hours as enough time to seriously affect picked wild strawberries.

Apr 06, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Chicago Area

Japanese household veggies

If Haruki Murakami's books are any indication, Japanese bachelors eat a lot of ham-and-cheese sandwiches and spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce.

(Seriously, almost every book he writes has a scene where a guy cooks tomato sauce, and every time he starts by sweating - not browning - onions.)

Apr 05, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

Wild/Alpine Strawberries

I've never had these but have heard people speak of them in hushed tones. Does anyone know if there's ever a way to find them in Chicago? I understand they travel/keep really poorly.

Apr 05, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Chicago Area

If You Could Create Any Restaurant....

This is maybe not quite what you were asking, but I've thought for a while that a noma-style terroir restaurant in semi-rural Alaska would be really interesting.

Apr 05, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Not About Food

Cooking with peanut butter

I've made some Thai-influenced thing that uses fried chilis, garlic, onion, ginger, a hefty amount of Thai basil, natural peanut butter, and a glug of fish sauce several times. Natural works fine.

Apr 03, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Eggs - What a Beautiful Thing!

I recently made a modified version of chawanmushi in which I made a kombu stock (i.e. dashi without the bonito flakes), tempered a few lightly beaten eggs with it, and then cooked the eggs by stirring constantly over a double boiler until thickened around 165-170F. Topped with strips of green onion and the hydrated kombu. Really simple, clean, and tasted great to me.

I think savory custard is an underrated route for eggs. I'm looking forward to doing one this spring that uses braised morels, asparagus, and chive blossoms. I might swap out chive blossoms for ramps since the morels and asparagus are pretty strong, but I'm a sucker for how pretty the blossoms are.

Mar 31, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

Do you cook when you're down?

Yeah. When I'm down it's usually because I'm stuck in my head somewhere. So the best thing to do is something physical that requires attention, like picking parsley or doing a bunch of knifework, which is also relaxing. I actually don't approach food as a "comfort" thing and the way I eat is pretty well separated from my emotions. My main connection with cooking is intellectual/creative, and it's this that's missing when I cook whe I'm down.

It doesn't always work of course. One time I was already frustrated and spent a few hours making this bizarre coffee cake where the whole thing felt wrong - weird ingredient amounts, odd texture, way more batter produced than the recipe listed - and came out of the oven okay but not something I wanted to eat. So I took one bite, said whatever, and decided the best use was to throw the rest of it at a brick wall.

Mar 29, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics
1

kitchen OWIES!?!

I have a few scars on my hands and forearms from hot cast iron pans and ovens and have only had minor cuts from knives.

The worst pain I've felt was when, in the middle of seeding and stemming some dried chiles using just my hands, I stopped to vigorously rub my hand into my itchy eye. There were a few seconds between "uh oh I shouldn't have done that" and the ensuing horrible burning that actually made me involuntarily double over before I got to a sink and flushed my eyes out. I was laughing about it a few seconds later because that's how I react to pain that isn't serious and stupidity is funniest when it's you.

I've also used my fingers to clean stuck food from between the blades of my stick blender while it was plugged in, and it worries me to think about how much good karma I've used up in not accidentally turning the thing on while I'm doing so.

Mar 29, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Not About Food

Insect flour or otherwise cooking with bugs (and avoiding the ick factor)

Noma and its research arm, Nordic Food Lab, have been exploring cooking with insects for a while now. Here, for example, is a post that experiments with making broths with various insects:

http://nordicfoodlab.org/blog/2014/2/...

There are other posts about insects at that site. At least one insect item has made it onto the menu according to the "Copenhagen" episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown.

Mar 26, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

What's the mass of a star anise pod?

I'm aware of these differences, I just wanted a baseline to start from. The first time I make something I follow a recipe, and then I experiment from there.

Mar 25, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

What's the mass of a star anise pod?

Thanks for actually doing this. I followed the advice above and just tried to "rebuild" a few and then mass those and came to about .7-.8g per pod.

So for future reference it seems to be a little over .7g a piece, as a ballpark.

Mar 25, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

What's the mass of a star anise pod?

I needed star anise pods and bought broken ones because they're significantly cheaper that way than when perfectly intact. On the other hand, this poses problems when recipes ask you to add a certain number of whole star anise pods. So can anyone either mass a few star anise pods and tell me the average mass of a single pod or point me in the direction of similar information? The idea is that knowing the mass of a single pod I can just convert "x star anise pods" to "y grams of broken star anise" and use my fragments that way.

Right now I'm just roughly reconstructing the fragments into whole pods before using them - they're only broken into three or four pieces each - but this is obviously not very accurate.

Mar 22, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

Single Men Who Cook

Eh, I'm a guy and I fully expect to be the one who does the cooking if I ever get married, mostly because I'll probably enjoy cooking more than she does (I enjoy cooking very much).

Mar 19, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Not About Food
2

I can't eat at our local Chinese restaurant anymore.

"My problem is why can't we have this outside of Chinatown?"

. . .

"The sad part is if someone opened a Chinatown style restaurant here, I'm not so sure it would do that well."

It sounds like you understand the reason already!

Mar 16, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics
1

If You Got Your Own Food Show...

I don't know what I'd call it, but I'd like to have a show in which each episode features three or four skilled chefs (assuming I'm exceedingly well-networked in this hyopthetical, let's say they're all say sous chefs in Michelin three-star restaurants - accomplished but not really celebrities) each making their own version of a given dish complete with explanation and commentary. So one episode might be just "omelettes" and each chef does their own rendition and talks about why they do it that way, covering technique, ideas and inspirations. I think this would be useful because it would help both learn about the given dish and show people that there are many different ways to approach a dish depending on palate, background, etc. It would be a nice break from more cookbook-style "here's the recipe" shows.

I don't think I'd actually be on it. If I could choose I'd have someone knowledgeable but fun host it, like David Chang or Anthony Bourdain. "Mind of A Chef" is actually like this sometimes, not coincidentally.

Maybe I'd call it "As I Like It"?

Mar 16, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Not About Food
1

Soaking things in milk to make them milder

I mean, the French Laundry Cookbook does this in its recipe for garlic chips so I imagine there's something special about milk. Thomas Keller doesn't seem like one to cook without thinking carefully.

Mar 16, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Soaking things in milk to make them milder

I've seen several different iterations of this involving anchovies, liver, garlic, etc.,, but the basic idea is the same: take a strong-tasting ingredient, soak it in milk for a while, or for a few changes of milk, and at the end you'll end up with a milder version of the ingredient with which you started.

So how exactly does this work? If anyone has a scientific reason I'm all ears. In particular I'm not sure how milk here is any better than water. Does it have something to do with the fat in milk?

Mar 15, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

If I could only keep the cookbooks of one author/chef/cook that author would be:

Not sure how long I could live cooking only from the French Laundry Cookbook. Great stuff but most of it is both time- and butter-heavy.

Mar 12, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Avocado ideas

I don't know why I've never thought of seaweed with avocado given how often sushi is paired with avocado. Neat idea.

Mar 06, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Vegetarian & Vegan

What Food Trends have you noticed or forecasted for this year?

Here's a YouTube video of a chef in Chicago working with them. Seems like a pretty nice intro to the ingredient.

http://youtu.be/IZ-sSD5mWAM

Feb 25, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

Avocado ideas

An alternative idea is to grate off a bit of the pit, wait a few minutes, and then marvel at 1. the only fluorescent orange natural food I've ever seen and 2. how horribly bitter an avocado pit is.

Feb 25, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Vegetarian & Vegan

Avocado ideas

The metallic/acid quality of sumac is also good if you want something different from lemon or vinegar.

Feb 25, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Vegetarian & Vegan

What Food Trends have you noticed or forecasted for this year?

Agreed. Especially in places that don't have constantly amazing access to local produce (e.g. Chicago).

Feb 19, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics
1

What Food Trends have you noticed or forecasted for this year?

Underneath my desk is a Whole Foods bag - a makeshift trashcan - emblazoned with "Collard is the new Kale!" so you're probably right.

Feb 19, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

Is "ash" a carcinogen?

Thanks to everyone for replying. This reinforced what I already thought: given that this isn't animal protein, there's no ironclad reason that this would be harmful, but at the same time given how weird a substance ash is eating it in large quantities isn't really advisable. That's fine - the pulp of a blood orange produces <1 tbsp of ash, and it's not like I do this often.

For a simultaneous answer to chococat and jill kibler: I'd heard of vegetable ash being used to coat cheeses, and I had goat cheese on hand and know that blood orange and goat cheese is a relatively well-accepted combination, so I mixed the ash into some of the goat cheese and thought it was great. This also prevents it from being unappealingly gritty.

Feb 19, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in General Topics

James Beard Semi-Finalists 2014 - Outstanding Restaurant

What's the criteria for this award? I don't think anybody would choose Spiaggia as Chicago's best restaurant. Maybe not even top 10.

EDIT: I'm not saying Spiaggia's a bad restaurant. I'm saying that even its fans don't seem to think it's Chicago's best, nor do they expect it to be.

Feb 19, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Food Media & News
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