Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
s

scott123's Profile

Title Last Reply

Sunday Gravy

I unabashedly based my Sunday Gravy on the family Sunday gravy I was served as a child- Ragu Pasta sauce :) Just about every aspect is upgraded, though: higher quality evoo (and more of it), slow caramelized onions and locatelli romano (and more of it).

I am unbelievably religious about not cooking tomatoes for pizza sauce, but, when it comes to pasta, I love the earthy dark sweetness of paste.

This sauce and my home made meatballs... forgetaboutit. This sauce on lasagna? Mamma mia!

Aug 27, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Dried pintos and dried rice

Try soaking the beans in the fridge for a couple of days. Then break one apart and see how far the moisture has penetrated- you can typically see a line. If you can get the moisture to penetrate all the way to the center, you should be okay.

Baking soda apparently has a softening effect on beans, but I'm not sure if it would make much of a difference in helping water penetrate an especially old bean. Might be worth a try.

Aug 27, 2015
scott123 in General Topics

Would you attend a culinary school to become a better home cook?

For any class that you're considering, you want to look closely at who's teaching it. You want to look at their credentials, you want to, if possible, read some of what they've written, and you want to talk to their students and get an idea of how good of a teacher they are.

I've both taken classes and taught at community colleges, and I've found a very wide range in teaching abilities, with a lot of it leaning towards the sub par level.

Even if the instructor of the course you're looking at is a great teacher, $500 still feels like a bit much. It's important to keep in mind that, although community colleges typically get money from the state, at the end of a day, it's a business. The instructor has to be compensated AND the school has to get their cut- and the cut the school makes it quite substantial. If, after doing your homework, you decide the instructor is worth learning from, you might want to contact them directly and see how much they charge for private training. If you can rope a friend or two into training with you, that could make it even more cost effective. Technology can also be helpful. These kinds of skills can be taught very effectively remotely, over a web cam. I teach aspiring pizzeria owners all over the world how to make pizza this way.

The internet is a phenomenal place to learn how to be a better cook/baker, but a good teacher can accelerate the learning curve- especially with more complex subjects such as baking.

Aug 23, 2015
scott123 in General Topics
1

25°F oven temperature increments, no kidding?

I'm not talking about NY style vs Neapolitan style pizza. I'm talking about the difference between a NY style pizza baked at 525 on steel plate for about 4 minutes, versus a NY style pizza bake at 500 on steel plate for about 7. The faster bake changes the crumb dramatically. It's not Neapolitan puffy, but the accelerated bake produces better oven spring. It's fast NY- softer, puffier, a little bit charred, with plenty of character, versus generic, golden brown, crispier, 7 minute pizza that you can get just about anywhere.

I'm talking about a style of pizza that, for the most part, you can't walk into a modern day pizzeria and buy, and, until the advent of steel, one couldn't make at home- even with a cleaning cycle hack. It's a pizza that, for 99 out of 100 people, when they taste it, they go "wow!"- and the difference between a 'wow!' and a 'meh' is 25 degrees.

And, just to be clear, I'm talking about an actual steel temp of 525, not a dial temp. Many ovens with dials that only go to 500 will actually run hotter, so an oven with a 500 deg. dial isn't the kiss of death for the best NY style pizza. If it's only capable of heating the steel to 500 deg., though, then it's McPizza city.

Billions of dollars of McPizza are sold in the U.S. every year. People enjoy it quite a bit, but if you've never tried a balanced 4 minute NY bake, I highly recommend tracking down an oven that can produce one- a 525 deg. oven (or better yet, 550) with 1/2" steel plate and a broiler in the main compartment.

Aug 22, 2015
scott123 in Cookware

25°F oven temperature increments, no kidding?

If you're baking pizza on steel plate, there's a world of difference between baking it at 525 and 500. 525, depending on your skills, is bordering on the best NY style pizza on the planet, while 500 is no better that your average local McPizzeria.

Aug 22, 2015
scott123 in Cookware

cauliflour dimemna

Can you ask a neighbor if the power went out, and, if so, for how long?

Aug 22, 2015
scott123 in General Topics

What oven range to buy?

What's wrong with making pizza? :)

Speaking of pizza... is baking the best possible pizza important to you? Because, if it is, then there are certain attributes you should be looking for when shopping for an oven.

Aug 20, 2015
scott123 in Cookware

Desperately searching for chicken with peanut butter and tomato recipe

Could it be ground nut stew?

Aug 18, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

What do you think of this menu?

It looks like I'm going to be the lone vote here, but, if Chinese is your forte, go with your strength. Cooler weather schmooler weather :) You said your friends were originally from Laos, right? Does Laos even get that cold? And is Kung bao chicken really that much 'heavier' than chicken bastilla?

The Chengdu braised pork shoulder sounds a bit heavier than Menu 1's apps, but, it also sounds a lot like a treasured family recipe. I don't care WHAT time of the year it is, if it's 100 degrees outside or 0, or where your guests might hail from. Treasured family recipes ALWAYS trump non treasured family recipes. Every time :)

What tools, ingredients, etc. should I bring to a beach house rental?

"Skewers and fish cooker are seldom available for grilling."

That's a good point. A beach house, depending on one's lifestyle, can involve freshly caught fish and shellfish. Since the OP is near the ocean, there may be good opportunities for purchasing fresh fish as well.

The place where we stayed in Virginia had roadside stands with unbelievable watermelons right about this time. I remember having a really hard time finding enough large bowls to accommodate a large cut melon.

Aug 15, 2015
scott123 in General Topics

What tools, ingredients, etc. should I bring to a beach house rental?

Unless you know, for a fact, that you're renting this house from a foodie, or this is a very high end rental, I'd expect the worse. Expect dollar store everything. A plastic colander. Non stick pans with the coating scraped off. Melted plastic spatulas and ladles. A dented aluminum stock pot.

This is going to be difficult, but I'd try to have a rough menu in mind before you go, that way, you can bring any meal specific equipment that the rental might either be missing or be of sub par quality. You can't bring your whole kitchen, obviously, but if you have simple dishes in mind, you can bring the utensils to make those. Depending on where you go, there will probably be fruits and vegetables in season, so you might want to plan your meals with those in mind.

Aug 15, 2015
scott123 in General Topics
1

What do you think of this menu?

If you're making food for a culinary professional that you want to impress, make your best dish. You're going to have a dish or two that makes your friends and family go 'wow.' Whatever that is, regardless of the culture, that's what I'd make. For a Lao, Chinese food is probably akin to what a Maine lobster roll is to a New Yorker. As a New Yorker, if someone offered me the BEST lobster roll, I'd be all over it :)

Wegmans is coming to Morris County!

2017?! This is 2015!!!

I was watching Whole Foods in Morristown, and, if I recall correctly, from the time they had the old A&P gutted to when they opened doors, it couldn't have been more than 8 months. It's a much smaller store, but still almost 2 years for Wegmans to do an interior?

At least we have a date now (sort of).

Thanks for keeping us updated, PuniceaRana! :)

Aug 13, 2015
scott123 in New Jersey

Heaviest Possible New York Style Cheesecake??

Eggs denature/set at a lower temp than wet flour swells/gelatinizes. Since one of the most critical aspects of great cheesecake is having a smooth, creamy, eggs not completely set center, you're talking about eating raw, uncooked, ungelatinized flour. The cream cheese and sugar will hide a lot of the chalky texture and bitter taste of the flour, so it won't ruin the cake, but it's not helping the cake either.

Starch, any kind of starch, has no place in a NY style cheesecake.

Aug 13, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Heaviest Possible New York Style Cheesecake??

1. No starch
2. No egg white (just whole eggs)
3. Use a quality stable cream cheese (such as Trader Joe's) and carefully heat it in the microwave (15 seconds stir, repeat) until it's lukewarm (warmer cheese makes a more liquid batter, which holds less air)
3. Don't whip the eggs too much
4. Don't mix the batter too much
5. Pound the pan to get some of the air out prior to baking

The oven temp and time are all dependent on the shape of the pan, the pan material, the oven characteristics and the quantity of batter. It's like boiling an egg. Regardless of what you might read on the internet, there is no absolutely fool proof recipe to boiling an egg, because there are too many variables. By all means, use the recipe as a ballpark, but check it periodically to see if it's starting to set, and pull it when it's mostly set but the center is still jiggly.

Warming the cream cheese really makes a difference, but there is a risk. If your cheese isn't stable, it could curdle- and then there's no putting humpty dumpty back together again. I've had private label cheese curdle on me, but never Trader Joes.

My other thoughts on NY style cheesecake, including why you should never add starch, can be found here:

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/14933...

Aug 13, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

DIY Pizza Oven

Sounds good. Thanks for the info.

Aug 12, 2015
scott123 in Cookware

Caramel Coffee Creamer Recipe?

One thing to keep in mind when cooking your caramel.

These

http://zionroasters.com/wp-content/up...

make up a much larger share of the coffee market than these

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...

As I said before, you're going to run into fanatics that swear by really dark coffee beans, really dark roux and/or really dark caramel, but, unless you know you're cooking for one, the lighter color is generally more of a crowd pleaser.

Aug 11, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

DIY Pizza Oven

A grill has flames, but it's considerably different than a wood fire. It's more like a home gas oven than a wood fired oven. Also, clay bricks have to have considerable compressive strength, so they're manufactured under far more stringent conditions than clay pots. I think you'll be alright.

If you plan on baking during the winter, I might pre-heat the bricks a bit slower. Half fire bricks (splits) are generally not that costly, so if you're ever in the neighborhood of a brick yard, you might want to pick up 3 and swap them out. No hurry, though.

That's a pretty good idea, btw. Most of the grill mods I've come up with have involved lowering the ceiling, not raising the floor :) How long are you pre-heating for? What kind of bake times are you seeing? And are you seeing good top color/good heat balance?

Aug 11, 2015
scott123 in Cookware

Caramel Coffee Creamer Recipe?

"If i melt/boil sugar until it's a nice deep brown (and just starts to smoke) and then add half and half, it's not sweet enough."

Caramel is a little bit like a roux. You find some folks that go nuts over really dark roux, but I think most people prefer the taste of less extreme roux, like dark peanut butter or milk chocolate.

Don't go quite as brown. You want some color, but more color isn't always better. And keep in mind that the deepest caramel flavor comes from both browning the sugar at high temps AND slightly browning the milk solids in the cream at lower temps, so make sure you cook your sauce a bit after you add the cream. If the sauce gets too thick, you can always thin it with a little water.

And don't forget a little salt. A good caramel should have a little salt.

Aug 11, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

homemade ice cream with no sweetener, will it taste okay?

It's only 1/4 cup of sugar, but this is a pretty small recipe.

Sugar provides sweetening in ice cream (which you may not miss all that much), but it's also anti-freeze and is critical to a smooth, creamy texture.

If you want ice cream that isn't icy and/or hard as a rock, you'll need to lower the freezing point some other way. What are the doctor's orders on alcohol? Alcohol is a very effective anti-freeze. There's other ways to lower the freezing point without sugar (such as gums), but they can get pretty complicated.

How does your doctor feel about splenda? The splenda won't solve your texture issue, but at least the flavor will match.

Those are my recommendations- splenda and a peach friendly alcohol like brandy.

Aug 11, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking
1

DIY Pizza Oven

The links I posted clearly show what happens when you expose moist silicate materials to fire. Moist rocks (from a lake), boom. Moist concrete, boom. When you add moisture to any kind of porous silicate material and ramp up the heat very quickly, you will have an explosion.

Talk to anyone that's made a tandoor out of a clay pot and asked them how long it's lasted. The clay tandoors that I've seen online generally don't have the moisture/safety issue, but it's still terra cotta and fire. If terra cotta was stable in open flame settings, why would fire bricks exist? Walk into any respectable Indian restaurant and look inside their oven- you will not find a clay pot, believe me. It's going to be the right material for an open flame setting- fire brick.

Terra cotta quarry tiles in a home oven, with relatively slow, even heat- that's a fantastic application for them. But flame is an entirely different beast. It will lap the surface in such a way that creates a very hot area next to a much cooler area- an expanding area next to an area that's expanding less. Repeat exposure to open flame is the kiss of death for a clay pot.

Just because clay pots will give you one or two bakes without failing doesn't make them a viable material for building an oven- of any kind.

Aug 11, 2015
scott123 in Cookware

DIY Pizza Oven

If anyone is considering building this, please, don't!

When water is converted to steam, it expands 1,700 times. Terracotta is porous, ie, it absorbs water. Once the outer pot gets rained on, the moisture will migrate through the outer pot, to the insulation, then to the inner pot. Moisture + fire = Quick conversion to steam = Boom!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjmwF...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmu1q...

It's a pot inside a pot, so there's a chance the explosion might be contained, and depending on the fire, it may not crack all that violently, but this is guaranteed to crack on it's first bake after it gets wet. Even if you put a tarp over it and keep it dry between bakes, terracotta isn't made to handle this kind of environment and will crack/spall relatively quickly.

No matter how you look at it, this project is an incredible waste of time and potentially dangerous. I can't believe that Jamie Oliver would be associated with this in any way. I've seen celebrity chefs do some really moronic things, but this could be the top of the list.

Aug 11, 2015
scott123 in Cookware

Stretching food with beans

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/ind...

As I mentioned in that post, my basement is pretty damp, and not that cool, but the free buckets I get from my local supermarket bakery department keep my flour fresh for at least a year. If you do a lot of baking, you'll use up 50 lb. of flour in far less time than that.

Aug 10, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Stretching food with beans

High gluten flour will be labeled 'high gluten.' Bread flour is typically around 12.7% protein and high-gluten is around 14%, which is a better bang for protein buck.

50 lb bags of high gluten flour can be a little difficult to source, but, as long as you're close to a metropolitan area, there's almost always a few options. These include

Some Sam's Clubs
Costco
Restaurant Depot
Gordon Food Services
Any wholesale food distributor willing to sell to the public. Google 'wholesale food near mytown, mystate', call the places that show up, and ask if they 1. sell to the public and 2. sell high gluten flour. If they draw a blank at high gluten flour, ask about individual brands:

All Trumps
Pillsbury Balancer
Bouncer
Kyrol
Pendleton Power Flour

Restaurant Depot will always have at least one brand of high gluten flour and has locations in many states. While they typically require a tax id (any id, for any type of business), I have found them very easy to talk your way into ("I'm starting a business, but am behind on my paperwork, can I pick up one or two items?").

Aug 10, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Stretching food with beans

If you're looking for economical protein, nothing touches high gluten flour.

High gluten flour ($18/50 lb bag) = .36 lb.

A lb of high gluten flour contains 63g protein, translating into .0057 per gram of protein. That's half a penny.

Lentils have the most protein of any bean. It doesn't happen much but I've seen dried lentils on sale for $1/lb. A lb of lentils contains 111g of protein, so, a little less than 1 penny a gram.

As you can see, for protein bang for buck, high gluten flour is a little more than half the price of beans- and growing boys will devour bread and pizza. Butter can get expensive, but if you save the fat that renders from meat, you can go with richer doughs and end up with bread that doesn't need butter- or you can brush on the lard/tallow/bacon fat/schmaltz after baking like naan.

The cheese for pizza can get costly, but if you use a bare minimum and stick to sale cheese, you shouldn't break the bank. There's also plenty of cheese-less options for pizza.

Sure, beans are healthier, but how much healthier? It's just a little more protein and a good dose of fiber, but still a lot of starch. They aren't broccoli healthy though. I would save the money you'd spend on beans, buy high gluten flour and spend the difference on crucifers. That gives you fiber AND a boatload of nutrition.

And these numbers are for lentils, which, other than lentil soup, are pretty hard to cook with. When you move into more universal beans, such as pinto and kidney, the price per gram of protein rises a bit.

As long as your kids are active, there's really nothing wrong with bread.

Aug 09, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Would Cake Flour or Corn Starch Work In A Bechamel Sauce? (In Place Of AP Flour)

Assuming the cheddar isn't too old, and/or it wasn't out of the package too long those should be pretty stable cheeses.

I see in your answer above that you're not simmering your bechamel after it thickens. This will go a long way towards stability.

Aug 07, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Would Cake Flour or Corn Starch Work In A Bechamel Sauce? (In Place Of AP Flour)

Properly prepared bechamel doesn't go grainy the next day. Once you gelatinize the starch, cause it to swell and then break it down with wet heat and agitation, there's no putting humpty dumpty back together again.

If you're seeing a bit of graininess in day 2 cheese sauce, I can just about guarantee it's the cheese. I've seen a lot of cheese sauces that are perfect going into the fridge come out grainy the next day. It can go a little grainy without a full on curdle. The American cheese is buying you a good dose of stability, but it's not the cure all for stability issues. Here are some further means for aiding stability:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6705...
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3626...

What cheeses are you using?

Aug 06, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Kidney beans safe for consumption

Cooked beans will produce more nutrients for micro-organisms, but dried beans will still leech some nutrients into the water. I don't think soaking at room temp is going to be that much of a risk, but, if it were me, I'd refrigerate them.

Aug 06, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking

Bagel or bialy?

Perhaps it was a biagel?

Aug 06, 2015
scott123 in General Topics

Kidney beans safe for consumption

Soaking for a day and a half at room temp or in the fridge?

There's nothing inherently unsafe about a bean sprout, but food, in general, left out for a day and a half could be a bit iffy.

Aug 05, 2015
scott123 in Home Cooking