erican's Profile

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Golden Syrup for Corn Syrup: is this a valid substitution?

I've subbed golden syrup for light corn syrup in a number of recipes because I prefer the flavor, and I've never had a problem. Well, I did have a batch of marshmallows refuse to firm up, but I am pretty sure that was due to high humidity that day.

I've never made a caramel sauce with it, but I have made lots of caramels - so my guess is that it is at least worth a try.

Dec 16, 2009
erican in Home Cooking

Charcuterie recipe salt-cured air-dried pork heart?

Wow, the subject line had me drooling.

In addition to the Ruhlman book, I have Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery. I bought them very recently, so I haven't had a chance to use either of them much yet (I've only made a pâté, and I used an amalgam of recipes from the two books). Both books seem good, but imperfect. Grigson's writing is pretty entertaining, and there is a ton of info. Her book is also, as the name would suggest, almost exclusively French recipes, and almost entirely pork. No cured pork heart, however!

Sep 20, 2008
erican in Home Cooking

Home Canning

I've been canning jam for about 6 years, but this summer I decided to step it up: 50 lbs of tomatoes, both whole and as paste, tons of pickled veggies, preserved lemons, and just about anything else that doesn't need a pressure canner... but maybe one of these days I'll spring for a canner too, and then I'll really go crazy.

The best thing I've made so far has to be Lavender Plum Chutney from The Herbfarm Cookbook - that stuff is seriously addictive. My next projects are hopefully kimchi and pickled watermelon rind, and I just started a crock of giardiniera pickles, so I'll be canning those when they're ready. .

Sep 20, 2008
erican in Home Cooking

Making sauerkraut with extra juice?

I've only made sauerkraut a couple times, but I'm under the impression that the salt ratio is pretty flexible. How about tasting the brine that you get from your cabbage, and then trying out different ratios to match the saltiness?

Sep 20, 2008
erican in Home Cooking

canning supplies

but strawberries are ripe now! ; )

Jun 27, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Union Square Farmers' Market on Saturday

The Union Square Farmers Market is the reason I loathe leaving town for the weekend - and Reliable, Capones, and all the restaurants (plus the new boutique and comic book shop) make Union a great place to spend a couple hours.

I second all the lunch recommendations as well - WuChon is very decent Korean, although I haven't tried the sushi; Independent is tasty, and though it sometimes strikes me as a little overpriced I've had a lot of good experiences there lately - and I love their cocktails; and Machu Picchu and La Mexicana are both good. Bloc 11 makes a couple really good sandwiches (and a few misses) but takes forever. Sherman is my go-to for breakfast pastries, but makes a good lunch too. I am ashamed to say that I haven't tried the new Cantina location, the Machu Picchu Grill OR The Precinct yet!

I also can't wait for the Yang's booth to open. Until then, the green garlic and garlic scapes are keeping me entertained. Since I live in Union, I always have my eyes open for neighbors at the market, now I will have to look for Chowhound hand signs too!

Jun 24, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

canning supplies

I know this thread is old, but just an update for anyone looking now - while I found one or two boxes of Ball 8oz jam jars at Market Basket last year, they seem not to be carrying them anymore. No luck in any other grocery stores either. Tags in Porter, however, has a huge selection (half-pint, pint, quart, quilted, plain, wide-mouth, lids) and plenty in stock.

Jun 24, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

scones, where do you buy the most delicious ones?

Gotta be Sherman!! They make them right there, and they have the perfect texture, sweetness and bit of crunch. Definitely "biscuity." My favorite is probably the apricot-almond also (the fruit gets a little chewy on the outside, but stays tender inside, yum) but they are all delicious.... thanks to this thread, I might have to go have one this afternoon. They are HUGE, however, so bring a friend ; )

... and if they are out of scones, you can always get one of the awesome carrot-cake muffins.

Mar 27, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

scones, where do you buy the most delicious ones?

I've seen this variety at places that do Afternoon Teas - like fancy hotels or specialty tea shops. I haven't tried any of the places that do that here in Boston, but I know there are a few.

I love both kinds!

Mar 27, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Boston Organics

I think you may be right about the delivery day - ours was also Friday, and I always got the impression that they had run out of some stuff and were making substitutions, and that other stuff had been sitting in their storage since Monday.

And, yes, they were always very nice about replacing stuff, but it just seemed like a waste of what could have been good food!

Mar 25, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Boston Organics

We did BO last year and eventually quit because we weren't getting as much local stuff as we expected, and because much of the produce arrived almost-spoiled. The variety was good, especially in the summer, but it just couldn't compete with farmers market produce. After we gave up on BO, we did a winter share at Belmont CSA and are signed up for Red Fire Farm's CSA for the summer, which we plan to supplement with farmers markets. So far, our experience with CSAs has led me to believe that BO, as good of an idea as it is, just can't compete quality-wise. Even though the winter CSA's offerings had limited variety, we got tons of everything, and it was all fresh, delicious stuff that stored well, rather than the imported, on-the-brink of collapse greens we got from BO. Like some others here, I am planning on doing a lot of canning this summer, so that next winter we have a little more variety in the winter... I can't wait till the produce starts rolling in!

We also do the Houde Family Farm meat CSA, thanks to ChrisVRs recommendation, and we just LOVE it.

Mar 24, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Where can I buy espresso powder?

I believe that Christina's Spices in Inman Sq. carries it.

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Christina's Spice & Spec Foods
1255 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

Feb 29, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Where have you always had a bad meal?

Yes! I can't stand this place. They took Mongolian BBQ, which has three positive qualities (cheap, impossible to pick a bad combination of ingredients, and sesame pocket bread) and ruined every one.

When I went there, I seem to recall that they had Italian-style pasta but no pasta sauce and "Asian" sauces but no Asian-style noodles. There was actually no way to make a noodle dish that wasn't a disaster. I also think that one of the options was BBQ sauce, which just might be the very last ingredient any stirfry should have.

Even if I didn't like to cook myself, I would feel insulted by being asked to pay so much for the service of tossing food I picked out on a griddle. Not to mention that all of the "fresh" vegetables were limp and gross, stuff that you would pass right by in the grocery store! Ugh!

Feb 26, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Opinions on Blue Room brunch?

I've been to brunch at the Blue Room several times and always enjoyed it. I've never had a bad dish there, and there is always one thing that is so amazing I have to go back for thirds. I've only been once for dinner and if I had to pick one, it would definitely be the brunch.

Feb 20, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Jai Yun: What did I eat?

Thanks everyone! Now I am wondering how they were cooked, and with what, to make them so rich-tasting and easy to chew - nothing at all like the knees on the chicken I make at home!

Yes, it was the $45 menu, and we were all very full and satisfied, although thanks to all the wine we brought with us (no corkage fee!), we went out and got dessert afterwards too.

I thought the price was completely reasonable. While I've paid a lot less for great Chinese food, I've also paid a lot more for western food that was nowhere near as delicious, unusual or detail-oriented as this meal. I don't think the photos can convey how amazing the eggplant was, or the abalone... mmmmmm

Feb 14, 2008
erican in San Francisco Bay Area

Jai Yun: What did I eat?

The photos...

Feb 13, 2008
erican in San Francisco Bay Area

Jai Yun: What did I eat?

On a recent trip to SF, I joined a group of friends for an excellent meal at Jai Yun. While the food was great, there were a couple dishes we couldn't identify. Don't worry, it didn't stop us from enjoying them!

After some research, I've found photos and descriptions that cleared up most of the things we had questions on (abalone, wheat gluten, other ingredients in various salads). Most of the dishes appeared to be things that have been in rotation for a while. Can you help me figure out the last mystery?

It was something that looked like chicken knee joints, tasted like pork, and was clearly mostly cartilage... but a nice, chewable cartilage.

I've included photos of the mystery dish, but you can see everything that came with our $45 menu on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericaamc...

All in all it was a wonderful experience. We were a little worried when we turned out to be the only diners in the restaurant (a truly eerie feeling), but once the food started coming, we stopped worrying! Everything was prepared meticulously, and there were many amazing dishes I had never had before. My favorites were the satisfying abalone, the crisp and tender fried eggplant and the rich pork knuckle.

Feb 13, 2008
erican in San Francisco Bay Area

Trip Report: 5 days in LA, Ventura, Ojai

Restaurants visited:
-In ‘n’ Out
-Chosun Galbee
-Jim and Rob’s Fresh Grill
-Suzanne’s Cuisine
-Movino
-Ozeki Sushi
-Wok ‘n’ South
-Luscious Dumpling
-Tea at the Biltmore
-Auberge

I’m a native southern Californian, currently living in Boston, and I just got back from a trip with my husband to visit the fam and friends in southern and cental CA. Central CA and Bay Area posts to follow. I took a number of photos, but can't seem to get chowhound to upload them right, so here they are on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericaamc...

On leaving for California, I had a list of something over 30 restaurants I wanted to try. For a 10 day trip. Obviously, I didn't get to check everything off my to-do list. My husband's list, on the other hand, was finished off on our first night in town, when, after we arrived late due to a delayed flight, we hit up IN ‘N’ OUT for a quick dinner. It’s not the best burger in the universe, of course, but there is a reason there are lines out of the parking lot. Personally, I love the buns, enjoy the burgers, and don’t care for the fries.

We spent the next day snowboarding in Big Bear, and the best thing I can say about the food at Bear Mountain is that by the time you eat it, you are so sore and exhausted that just about anything would be delicious!

That night, however, we ate at CHOSUN GALBEE. While I love Korean food, this was my first experience with real Korean BBQ (not counting a couple encounters at somewhat questionable pan-asian buffets), so I wished we had a veteran there to advise us. We ended up ordering bulgogi, chosun galbee short ribs, seafood pancake and job chae. This, along with the bountiful banchan, was more than enough for three people.

The meat was very good, nicely marbled and really good rich flavors. The seafood pancake was probably the best I’ve had, with a high ratio of seafood to batter and a real harmony between the different seafood flavors and the batter. Job chae is probably my least favorite Korean dish, and Chosun Galbee's version didn’t change my mind – it was bland and oily. The banchan included some really fantastic kim chee, good cucumber, and fish cakes, and five or six other things, all tasty. While it was a great meal, I don’t think I would eat here often – the prices really kept us from ordering as much meat as I liked (though of course there was more than enough food). I suspect I would be happier at one of the other options discussed on the board for Koreatown.

The next day we spent in Ojai. Lunch was JIM AND ROB’S FRESH GRILL. I’ve been living in or visiting Ojai most of my life, and I’ve usually enjoyed Jim and Rob’s for basic cal-mex. But since my last visit there, they’ve moved into a new building, and I think they’ve lost a lot of charm as well as flavor. I had a carnitas taco and a fish taco. The fish taco was disappointing – the fish was clearly not that fresh – but the carnitas was decent. Unfortunately, neither lived up to meals I’ve eaten there in the past, nor did my husband and mother’s meals.

After a hike up Sisar Canyon, we went to SUZANNE’S CUISINE. My expectations for Suzanne’s were pretty high, as it has a great reputation around town. I ordered trout, which was deliciously cooked and seasoned. Unfortunately, it was served on a bed of plain white rice. It was actually kind of distracting, taking a bite of trout and then the rice – just not a successful combination. Brown or wild rice would have been a much more complementary flavor, but I have to say that one of the reasons it turned me off is that I expected something more complicated or subtle from a restaurant with a reputation for "fine cuisine". Around the table it was the same story – the meat or fish was perfect, but the sides were a let-down. On the positive side, however, the space is gorgeous, a very pleasant place to eat.

We topped off the night with dessert and wine at MOVINO. I like Movino, it is always a good place to kick back with some wine, but I’m pretty sure their desserts are premade/outsourced, so we ordered the chocolate cheesecake rather than the souffle cake, and it was surprisingly good.

On Tuesday we headed down to Ventura to visit family, and due to a time crunch we ended up eating lunch at OZEKI SUSHI. The sushi was blah, the rolls were mediocre, with poor flavor/ingredient balance, and to top it off, the tempura ice cream had this absolutely terrible cakey batter that was thick and undercooked. I would have been happier if we stuck with nigiri and sashimi only.

That night, we went to WOK N’ SOUTH. Mongolian BBQ is my favorite made-up cuisine. I just love it, and I can’t seem to find it on the east coast. Wok n’ South is not the best I’ve had, but it is more than serviceable when you’ve got the craving. It serves up all the essentials (sesame pocket bread, lamb, cilantro, and garlic are my must-haves) in a no-nonsense, no-frills manner.

On Wednesday, we were back in LA to sightsee. We made a detour to San Gabriel to eat lunch at LUCIOUS DUMPLING. I wish there had been more than three of us, as I wanted to order everything on the menu. We settled on chive, pork, egg and shrimp dumplings, soup dumplings, pork knuckles and bok choy. The bok choy and the pork knuckles were both simply amazing. SO GOOD. The pork, especially, had this hint of five-spice flavor that was just right with the cool, chewy slices. As for the dumplings, the fillings were fantastic, but I prefer the thinner-skinned varieties. If I could go again (and I will, I hope), I would order the dumplings pan-fried, which I prefer for the thick-skinned dumpling. I would also try the soup, which looked great. An older couple next to us ordered two giant bowls of soup with sides of dumplings, plus three other orders of dumplings – all together, that’s about twice what we ordered for three people - and all I could think was, man, I wish I were that hungry!!

That afternoon, we made an attempt at sightseeing, but the MOCA was closed and it started to rain pretty seriously, so we found refuge and cucumber sandwiches at the BILTMORE. They serve a delightful full-on tea, complete with tea-cozies, champagne, and a wide variety of treats. The sandwiches were adorable, with all the right ingredient ratios. The tart shells were perfectly crisp and flaky. Cakes, scones, and chocolate strawberries were all great. The perfect escape for a rainy afternoon, and after all, the tea room is practically a sight in itself, with its ornate ceiling and arches.

That night, as if we hadn’t already eaten enough for three days, we had reservations at AUBERGE in Ojai. I guess this restaurant is under new management, and has been making some waves. I don’t usually care one way or the other about service, although it is nice if it matches the atmosphere of the place, but I definitely noticed that the waiters seemed over-trained and under-experienced here, as if they were new. That may have been due to it being a slow weekday night.

As far as the food, it certainly was a contrast to Suzanne’s. All of the meat was again, perfectly cooked. My husband claims that my steak was the best dish on the table, while I voted for the rich, tender pork he ordered. My mom’s lamb was also great, and it had a subtle and delicious Mediterranean spice blend. The side dishes were what made the difference - they were complex and, frankly, hit-or-miss. My mom’s grilled vegetables were well-paired to the lamb, while my bitter, burnt radicchio and sautéed mushrooms and onions did not go with my steak. The mashed potatoes studded with fava beans that came with the pork were good, but would have been better if the favas had been separate. We finished with a chocolate cup/soufflé thing, cooked while we waited and devoured immediately. It was incredibly rich and absolutely delicious. Even with the misses, I would pick this over Suzanne's.

Not bad for five days - highlights were definitely Luscious Dumpling and tea at the Biltmore. My only regret is that I didn't eat any ramen... one thing that is absolutely impossible to find in Boston!

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Luscious Dumplings
704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Chosun Galbi Restaurants
3330 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Suzanne's Cuisine
502 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

Rendezvous Court at the Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90071-2607

In-N-Out Burger
761 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank, CA

Jim & Rob's Fresh Grill
1876 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001

Movino Wine Bar & Gallery
308 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA

Auberge At Ojai
314 El Paseo Rd, Ojai, CA 93023

Wok'n South Mongolian BBQ
2835 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93003

Feb 03, 2008
erican in Los Angeles Area

Looking for Japanese recommendations in Boston area

Shabu Zen is definitely the best shabu in Boston - I have had both better and worse in LA.

You do have to ask for the sesame dipping sauce, but they are always happy to provide it.

Jan 15, 2008
erican in Greater Boston Area

Homemade holiday gifts

Great idea! I will have to try that next time.

Nov 19, 2007
erican in Home Cooking

Homemade holiday gifts

Yes - the hardest part is cutting the chewy, sticky caramels into squares!

Nov 15, 2007
erican in Home Cooking

Homemade holiday gifts

Ooooh, I made these for my cookie and candy gift packages last year also and they were INCREDIBLE. The recipe is at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

This year, I am going to do fudge, and lots of it. I've already made some cranberry grapefruit marmalade and some pumpkin butter for gifts too.

Nov 14, 2007
erican in Home Cooking

Traditional/Historic New England Cookbook Recommendations?

Thanks everyone! I am really enjoying the online Fannie Farmer cookbook, and hope to check out the others soon!

Nov 13, 2007
erican in Home Cooking

Traditional/Historic New England Cookbook Recommendations?

I'm embarrassed to say that after four years in Boston, I have yet to cook a single clam chowder! Now that it is getting cold, and my kitchen is full of squash, corn and apples, it seems like a good time to learn more about traditional New England foods. So I'm looking for a good cookbook - anyone have any favorites to recommend? Thanks!

Nov 11, 2007
erican in Home Cooking

Packing Pies for the Plane?

I traveled with two pies last year, and aside from jokes from EVERY security person "Is that pie? mmmmmmMMMM, I just might have to confiscate THAT! Ha ha ha," I had no troubles at all. I did have to unpack them once, so that is a concern.

I used a largish tupperware cake holder ($10 from target) to carry them. After putting the first pie on the base, I put the ring from a large springform pan around it and tightened it. I put a plate on top of the springform base, and the second pie on top of that. Then I tucked in dishcloths around the bottom of both pies to keep them from shifting inside the container. I have used this method for carrying pies on long walks and car rides as well, and it always works like a charm - although you have to be sure that the crust on the lower pie does not overlap the rim of the pie pan, or it will get crushed by the springform.

This is really easy to unpack for security, and as long as there are other things in the overhead compartment to keep it from sliding around, the dishtowels keep the pies secure inside.

Nov 06, 2007
erican in Not About Food

Radio Food Shows

I just started listening to The Splendid Table podcast. It's a great show, and they have a pretty huge archive of old episodes - right now I am listening to the shows from last fall!

Another great podcast is KCRW's Good Food. They also sometimes do a video podcast demonstrating recipes. The only problem with this show is that it is based in Santa Monica, and each show begins with a segment on the Farmer's Market there. Living in the Northeast, the incredible variety of fresh, local produce makes me green with envy every time!

Nov 01, 2007
erican in Food Media & News

Tell me about your CSA

Thanks so much for the information! This sounds great - it is just what I am looking for.

Oct 31, 2007
erican in General Topics

Tell me about your CSA

That sounds awesome - do you have a link or know where I can go for more info? Thanks!

Oct 30, 2007
erican in General Topics

Diesel cafe in Union Square

I also went last weekend and was pretty disappointed by the service. They only had one person making food during the breakfast rush, it took forever, they messed up two dishes out of the four we ordered and made all of them rather sloppily, and the employee at the counter acted like it was the first time she had seen a cash register.

The food was good, but not amazing - and certainly not worth the wait and trouble. That said, I am sure that the service will improve once they get a little more settled - I have never had those problems at Diesel.

I love Sherman, and I will definitely stick with them for baked goods and breakfast, but I like that Bloc 11 adds some more coffee and sandwich options to the square.

Oct 26, 2007
erican in Greater Boston Area

Sunday brunch in Cambridge/Somerville

I live nearby, and although I like the Neighborhood for massive, rich, inexpensive breakfasts, The Independent, just down the street in Union Square proper, has a nice brunch menu and awesome cocktails. The food is fancier, menu smaller, and prices higher... but that thick cut bacon... mmmm.

The other advantage is that there is never a line - I think because of a combination of lack of publicity, higher prices, and the fact that they haven't consistently offered it over the past few years.

Oct 25, 2007
erican in Greater Boston Area