RetiredChef's Profile

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Signs that someone is a GOOD cook

I read a lot of these responses and while we have a different take I’ll give you mine. First off sharp knives, well-worn pans, unsalted butter, etc. etc. Mean nothing. I have seen all of these things in kitchens of people who can’t make toast.

My biggest “tells” would be the following:

4) Doneness of food: While this might seem like something easy it’s actually not. From overcooked shrimp to chicken breasts that are not juicy or not allowing roasts to rest before carving are all signs of someone who is not at the top of their game.

3) Timing of food: Having all of the components of the meal be ready at the same time so that whole plate is served at the correct doneness and temperature.

2) ACID: The cook not only understands how to season the food but understands that acid is an integral component of food. Ergo, they will have a nice selection of vinegars in their kitchen

1) Cohesiveness of flavors: This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I see “good” cooks make. They have dishes that have competing flavors, seasonings, textures, etc. and it results in the meal being palette tiring. While all of the dishes on their own may be a 10 out of 10 when unharmonious dishes/sides are put next to each other the whole becomes “less” than the sum of the parts. A meal should flow, from appetizers to dessert.

Are food allergies really hereditary, or is my SIL overly cautious?

I'm not a doctor and haven't research this but anecdotally everyone I know with a seafood allergy is a one-off. No-one else in their family has it and their children don't have it and in at least one case their grand-kids don't have it either.

Does the SIL have every right to ask for this minor and simple accommodation, sure.

The main question in my mind is why did this "upset and stress" your mom out? I mean how hard was it to scoop out some rice before the seafood was added? Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to see my mom upset but I would either step in and help dish up my SIL portion and maybe get my mom a drink and have her sit down and relax with dad.

Dec 24, 2014
RetiredChef in Not About Food

Osso buco question

Looking at the recipe drongo linked too, I think he is using a slightly higher temp to help reduce the sauce. You can always go lower and if necessary reduce the liquid on the stovetop if needed.

Dec 24, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

How to cook multiple pieces of beef tenderloin

There is no "best" way, but if it was me I would cut them into medallions, mark them on a hot grill and finish in the oven. You can then plate them with a sauce or compound butter, or sautéed mushrooms, etc, whatever goes along with your other sides.

PS your I initial plan was great.

Dec 24, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

What do you not order in restaurants...

I wanted to say what you did but am tired of getting flamed on this board.

The other day I had a salt crusted baked chicken for two that was out of this world. Before that I had a truffle chicken Ballantine that blew my mind.

Like you said chicken is so versatile and there is no end to the options you have with it, I can't imagine why anybody would rule it out.

whole roasted chicken left out cooling 4 hrs

I won't get into the pathogen science because I've been told on this forum that facts and science don't matter. But the bottom line is 4 hours out of oven is not a problem. Your chicken probably had more pathogens on it before you cooked it then now.

Christmas salad ideas


Unfortunately you are correct. Facts mean very little to so many people while their beliefs are absolutes. The earth is flat. The earth was created 7,000 years ago. Climate change isn’t real. Vaccines cause autism. Obama was born in Kenya, UFO’s brought down the world trade center, blah, blah, blah. Fourunder and ilk like him believe in these things but that doesn’t mean sane, rational people need to shy away from telling the truth.

There is empirical truths, there are facts that are undeniable, and there are truths that we know. Even though some people will challenge them there is no reason to bow down to them. I understand the desire to “say” that all dishes go equally well together but after looking at your posts on this board I “know” that you don’t really believe that. Let us reason rationally, if incongruent meals went together why don’t we find restaurants serving them? . . . . . . You know the answer as well as I do, square peg, round hole.

Happy Holidays.

PS If cooking is art then obviously you agree with my very first post

“Think of it this way. The food you are serving is like art and much like art you don't want to intermix different art styles on one canvass (your table). Imagine a canvass that has part surrealism, part impressionism, part pop art and part Fauvism on it. It would be displeasing to the eye just as foods scattered from across the globe and served as one cohesive meal are displeasing to the palate. NOTE: All of the dishes (just like all of the art) may have been expertly created and taste great but put together they sum, in this case, is worth much less than the parts.” AKA square peg, round hole.

Dec 23, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

What do you not order in restaurants...

You would be surprised at how many professional kitchens use a mix. Different states have different laws, but many health codes dictate very short holding times of product kept in the "danger zone".

Dec 22, 2014
RetiredChef in General Topics

The Dreaded Cheese Log - The Fruit Cake of Cheese!

I've lived a totally sheltered life, I had to google what a "cheese log" was and I can honestly say I have never seen one or eaten one and after looking at the recipes on-line I can say I have no desire to.

Dec 22, 2014
RetiredChef in General Topics

Sides that cut through fat/ richness

You didn't specify what sauces you were using, but my sides would compliment the sauce so the whole meal seems congruent in nature. For example the website lists several sauces the first one is nuoc cham. If I was using that sauce I would start the meal with Green Papaya Salad and/or Fresh Rolls then serve rice or possible bean thread noodles for the starch and sautéed spinach with garlic and pepper. Have some pickled carrots and bean sprouts on the table and you now have a great Vietnamese style feast with all of the dishes harmonizing with each other.

Christmas salad ideas

I’m not sure with what you are disagreeing with? You say that seasonings and textures should complement each other, which is what I was saying and the easiest way for a home cook to do this is to stay within a certain genre rather than introducing dishes that are all over the map (pun intended).

You brought up fusion cuisine which is a perfect example. There are several well known pairings of food from different cultures that work well together but that’s because they use similar and complementary flavors. The reason so many fusion restaurants went out of business rather quickly is that these restaurateurs didn’t understand that creating a fusion dish that “works” is actually a very complicated process to make sure those flavors do go together. The restaurants that went out of business because of the very reason I gave, they threw a hodge podge of ingredients together and in the end the diners were left underwhelmed. This very thing happens to home cooks all of the time because they prepare dishes that, while on their own, are very good, don’t really harmonize with the other dishes they have prepared.

The bottom line is that most home cooks and a lot of so-called chef’s don’t have the ability to match and pair disparate cuisines into a meal that is congruent. I can guarantee you that someone who is asking for helps on salad suggestions cannot possibly do this. Therefore I suggested the most basic and simply way to create a meal where the sum is more than the parts rather than vice-versa. And BTW, that holiday meal whether it be Peruvian or South American or Italian or America or French should have dishes for everyone, there is no reason to think that it can’t.

A truly new cooking technique from Japan

That's awesome, thanks for sharing.

Dec 21, 2014
RetiredChef in General Topics

Christmas salad ideas

First off you are having a Peruvian style Turkey and an Australian Desert, the last thing you want to do is bring in a bunch of other cuisines with competing flavors. One of the first things I teach home cooks (and new culinary students) is that you want flavors that complement each other using the same philosophies of cooking. Hence why we most restaurants stick to a cooking one genre.

Think of it this way. The food you are serving is like art and much like art you don't want to intermix different art styles on one canvass (your table). Imagine a canvass that has part surrealism, part impressionism, part pop art and part Fauvism on it. It would be displeasing to the eye just as foods scattered from across the globe and served as one cohesive meal are displeasing to the palate. NOTE: All of the dishes (just like all of the art) may have been expertly created and taste great but put together they sum, in this case, is worth much less than the parts.

Therefore I suggest you stick with your main theme which seems to be the Peruvian style Turkey and try to incorporate dishes from South America that complement the main. Here are just a few suggestions.


Causa Limena (great on hot days)
Humitas AKA Peruvian Tamales


Sarsa Salad
Shrimp Salad
Peruvian Potato Salad (Peru is home of the Potato)
Bean salad


Lentils with maca
Red Kidney beans with ham and nuts
Quinoa Pilaf (make it red and green, tomatoes and scallions)
Potatoes, either Huancaina or Andean style

The list is actually endless for all of these categories. So to recap, my suggestion is to embrace a Peruvian (South American) Christmas feast. I am sure your wife will love you for it and you will allow your family and friends to experience some great food.


Good range or cooktop for large family with limited budget

Induction x2 (gazillion)

After using several different induction ranges for cooking demos I was a convert. Do yourself a favor and test them out. BTW your cast iron pans will work marvelously with induction.

Dec 20, 2014
RetiredChef in Cookware

Why It's Impossible To Have A Christmas Party In 2014. This Is Gold.

Too funny, but also too sad. It's pathetic that people clamor for attention by playing the victim.

Dec 20, 2014
RetiredChef in Not About Food

What do you not order in restaurants...

Pasta, unless it's a place that truly specializes in pasta.
Steak unless I am at a specialty steak house and even then I'll look at the other dishes first.
Roast duck

Different types of beef


You asked a great question but to be honest there really isn’t an answer because you are not comparing like categories.

>>>USDA Organic grass fed beef

Tells us nothing about what “breed” the beef is. In fact it could be USDA Organic grass fed Holstein (a milk producing variety that is not very good to eat)

>>> USDA Prime beef,

Tells us noghting about what “breed” the beef is again. All it tells us is that it was graded Prime but there are differences in tastes between breeds that can be quite notable. I am sure you have heard of Angus beef, this is an example of a breed.

>>>Wagyu beef.

Wagyu means Japanese Cattle and refers to all Japanese beef varieties. So again we don’t know which breed the beef is, only that it is a Japanese variety. For example you Wagyu beef could easily be Tajima which produces excellent meat or it could be Shimane which is rather low quality beef.

>>> Kobe style

You wrote “Kobe Style” but let me talk about Genuine certified Kobe beef. This beef only comes from the Tajima breed and raised in Hyogo prefecture. However true Kobe beef is very rare since there is only about 3,000 animals produced a year. Now Kobe Style is a completely meaningless term in the US since there is no standard. Any producer can call their beef Kobe Style no matter what the breed is however some of the more reputable ones will at least take a Wagyu (Japanese cattle), hopefully of the Tajima cattle and cross breed it with Angus cattle. I have seen Kobe style beef all over the quality map so I pay little attention to this marketing gimmick.

I hope this helps.

Chicken Ballotine - roasting recommendations

You might want to check your definitions.

Ballontines can be made out of any meat although traditionally they were made only out of poultry items. A bollontine can be grilled, poached, roasted and is usually served hot as a main entree item.

A galantine is usually chicken or fish that is stuffed (usually with a forcemeat) and poached. It is then covered in Aspic and served cold in a ornate arrangement, hence the name derives from the term galant. Galatines are a favorite of charcuterie display competitions and can be found on high end banquets.


quiche questions

Yes to par-baing the pie shell. The browning of the inside of the shell will give a richer taste and flakier crust. The only drawback is you may need to shield the crust when baking the quiche so as to not over brown it. Also place a sheet pan on the rack below your quiche to catch any drips and to help the bottoms from becoming over-cooked.

Quiche is best the same day it's made, but it's best served near room temperature so let it rest several hours before serving.

Pho Attack

Sounds like an allergic reaction to Star Anise.

Dec 17, 2014
RetiredChef in Not About Food

A shortcut to making latkes?

Oh my goodness this was almost a decade ago but from memory all we did was create “riffs” on the latke using flavorings from different countries, for example

Mexican Latkes = Corn, Black Beans, Cumin served with a salsa dip
Vietnamese Latkes = Lemongrass, Cilantro, star anise with a fish sauce type dip
Indian Latkes = Curry flavored with a Raita Style dip
Thai Latkes = coconut curry, cilantro with a peanut dip
Caribbean Latkes = Jicama, Allspice, cloves, cinnamon with a jerk dip
Italian Latkes = Garlic, Oregano, basil with a tomato dip
Russian Latkes = Beets (shredded), caraway seeds, dill with a vinegar sour cream dip (top it with caviar if you want to get all fancy)
Chinese Latkes = Ginger, garlic scallion, five spice with a soy dip
Hungarian Latkes = Paprika, onions with sour cream

And on and on it goes, each year we would just come up with different flavor combinations so it was always changing, however the rules was we always had to serve traditional latkes. We (myself and my kitchen staff) actually had a lot of fun doing this party, it was something different and it allowed to be creative. Just FTI we would only do 4 or 5 different latkes plus the traditional one. It kept the cooks jumping because the key is to make them as fresh as possible so we basically cooked them almost to order so the quality wouldn’t suffer.

Dec 17, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

Best fish to be served with a mushroom risotto.

I agree, "my" mushroom Risotto, while not being terribly cheesy would over power the salmon and you would have two competing rich components. A lemon or asparagus risotto, something with a little acid/bitter in it would pair nicely with the salmon.

However grilled salmon and sautéed mushrooms and a nice plain white rice do go together very nicely. This really depends upon the risotto.

Dec 17, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

Best fish to be served with a mushroom risotto.

I agree I also would want a firm texture. If the mushroom risotto is good enough to stand on its own I would suggest a mild fish. Grouper, halibut, yellowtail all fit the bill.

For something different why not top the risotto with a seafood sausage?

Dec 16, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

Best fish to be served with a mushroom risotto.

He is a pescetarian not a vegetarian.

We don't eat meat, they don't eat fish.....

Your idea of making one base is good. But I find your comment that cooking Indian food takes a lot of effort, perplexing. Most of the dishes are simplistic stews, they get thier complexity of flavor by the use of spices. But the actual prep on most dishes is under 15 minutes and if you are making several dishes, prep time drops because you use many of the ingredients.

Dec 16, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

A shortcut to making latkes?

Of course, otherwise I wouldn't have said "yes you can". I used to do a yearly "latkes from around the world" event for a large synagogue using frozen potatoes. The beauty of frozen is much of the water has been removed and you don't have to worry about discoloration.


A shortcut to making latkes?

Yes you can and I bet no one will know the difference. Just defrost them and add your other ingredients. Test fry one and flavor balance. It's s easy and doesn't effect the quality of the product.

Dec 16, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking

White Worcestershire sauce

Shhhh it's one of my 'secret' ingredients.

It wad originally called white wine Worcestershire sauce and has been rebranded into marinade for chicken. I use it to finish veges, seasoning in white based soups, background flavor in salad dressings, etc. Etc.

Btw, I don't think I've ever marinated chicken in it but I use it all the time as a flavoring component, it's really good stuff IMHO.

Dec 16, 2014
RetiredChef in General Topics

Need help for Christmas menu

You have received some excellent advice.

If you want to use potatoes and fish why not do a potato crusted fish, mashed potatoes doesn't really go with fish.

Dec 16, 2014
RetiredChef in General Topics

Veal Pot Pie

First off a pot pie is an all in one meal, the starch is the crust and the veges are in the pot pie itself. As far as what veges a Veal pot pie screams for leeks and mushrooms in my mind. I too would make a velouté with veal stock, if you don't have that half beef half chicken for a heartier flavor. Onions, carrots, leeks, mushrooms would be my veges and I would use dry vermouth (white wine is ok if you don't have any). Seasonings could be thyme and sage.

I concur with serving a starter salad with a vinergarette based dressing since pot pies are richer meals. Dessert should also be on the lighter side.

Dec 16, 2014
RetiredChef in Home Cooking