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Top Chef - Restaurant Wars - *Possible Spoilers*

I'm pretty shocked that the cod wasn't butchered correctly. She portioned the cod without any regard to where the bones were going to be? She obviously was REALLY preoccupied with something else... Hehe

Jan 26, 2009
phan1 in Food Media & News

Looking for perfect fresh pasta recipe...

I DO have the FL cookbook. Thanks!

Jan 17, 2009
phan1 in Home Cooking

Looking for perfect fresh pasta recipe...

Hi, I'm looking for the PERFECT fresh pasta recipe. My definition of perfect pasta is relative of course, so let me tell you what I'm looking for in perfect pasta. Perfect pasta is NOT Al Dente and has NO BITE! It is SOFT, SQUISHY, VELVETY! It should almost remind me of chicken and dumplings.

Now I do have 00 pasta flour and also good eggs. It's the other stuff that kinda gets me. Should it contain both eggs and eggs yolks? Olive oil or no olive oil? I'm thinking my soft and squishy pasta should NOT have egg whites, cause that would make my pasta hard. I'm thinking my version of perfect pasta should have just 00 flour, egg yolks, and olive oil. I'm just making tagliatelle with it, so it doesn't have to be strong enough to hold a filling like a ravioli.

Comments and suggestions?

Jan 17, 2009
phan1 in Home Cooking

Top Chef Jan. 7th with spoilers

It bothered me about Collichio being all "Holier than thou" and saying how Eugene wasn't honoring the fishe's life by overcooking it. I've eated that type of fried fish before and it's almost supposed to be overcooked. It's all about having extremely crisp skin so that the fish tastes very crispy. It's impossible to do that without overcooking the fish, but the crispiness makes the end result worth it. Just cause it's not what a frenchman would do, doesn't mean it's not good and it certainly doesn't mean he wasn't honoring his ingredient. What about Fabio for undercooking his lamb? I thought Collichio's comment was very out of line, as saying something like that about any Chef is very insulting.

Jan 14, 2009
phan1 in Food Media & News

Top Chef -- 12 Nights (spoilers)

1) I was really annoyed that only half the items were true one-put dishes.

2) I think Colicchio's criticism of the food as a group is unfair. You're asked to make hor dourves for 300 people, WTF do you expect? I've never had cutting-edge restaurant food that was catered to 300+ people. What's wrong with deviled eggs? If it's good food, it's good food! You just can't expect to be wowed with food given those circumstances. Judges are expecting restaurant food, but I have no idea why these chefs are put in catering challenges half of the time.

Dec 26, 2008
phan1 in Food Media & News

Your Single Ingredient Sublime One Bite

For me, it'd be fruit, particularly mangos, Asian pears, logans, lychees. Everything else usually needs an extra "something" to go along with them.

Aug 26, 2008
phan1 in General Topics

Ice cream: Eggs or no eggs?

That is the question... What are your preferences and why?

Aug 18, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Amazon UK: Cookbooks you can't get in the US

OOOH, There are SO many great cookbooks available only in the UK, especially when it comes to serious fine-dining affairs. Gordon Ramsey's 3-star cookbook (recipes actually based off his 3-star michelin restaurant), Cinnamon Club, Formulas for Flavor (Great book), and so many others. I'm definitely getting Blumenthal's Big Fat Duck Cookbook when it gets released over there too.

Aug 10, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Your favorite alcohols in desserts!

I just love alcohol in dessert. I think it's just a perfect way to end a meal, and you just feel sophisticated/sexy eating them. It's a perfect mood setter. I want to know what your favorite alcohols in desserts are. Brandy, Rum, Bailey's?

My favorite is Kirsch, and I particularly add it to creams and custards. I absolutely love it, but I've never had any other type of fruit liquors, even the popular Grand Marier. Have any recommendations for other fruit spirits? I hear pear is relatively popular...

Aug 10, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Any places that serve good offal?

Cause I want some! I've tried to make good offal at home but I'm just not good at it. I need to actually taste some good offal to see what I'm doing wrong. Anyone know a place that has really good offal? Livers, sweetbreads, brain, all that stuff.

Jul 31, 2008
phan1 in Austin

Help me learn the concept of home-made curry please...

I haven't been too successful making curry from scratch, and it's a bit sad considering I have some great spices at home. I tried to make pork butt curry. Feeling smug, I ditched the traditional ways and just threw in my pork butt, spices, and coconut milk in a pot to braise for a couple hours. Using French technique to make curry, how genius is that!?! But what I ended up with a yucky mess. My milky sauce (used coconut milk) became a clear-ish stock, with all the proteins having coagulated and clarified my curry sauce. I had to revert to my typical store-bought curry paste to salvage my dish. So sad... So let's learn the basics of curry!

1) You have to make a curry paste first, right? Typical onions garlic ginger, roasted spices, some water for consistency, and then blend.

2) If using tough cuts of meat like short ribs or pork butt, it'd be best to slow cook it 1st and then add it to the sauce right? Because curry isn't meant to be simmered for hours and hours to cook the short ribs. The proteins in the curry will coagulate and cause the sauce to separate

Any other good Curry hints/tidbits?

Jul 31, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

100% grass fed beef. Icky! Am I crazy?

By reputation. The same reason why France has the reputation of having the best wine in the world. And it's a reputation that has been earned, not given.

Jul 19, 2008
phan1 in General Topics

100% grass fed beef. Icky! Am I crazy?

Adam Perry Lang, famous BBQ chef,openly admits to viewing grain-fed beef as being better. The main difference being that grain-fed beef is much more fatty than grass. Grain-fed cows are the main reason why our beef is generally considered the best in the world, no matter what all-natural, organic pundants might say.

Jul 19, 2008
phan1 in General Topics

When did fake crab meat become so ubiquitous? And why isn't anyone else complaining?

I agree with the price issue. In terms of wheather or not it's worth it, I would have to say it isn't worth it for a restaurant. I think customers would rather spend less and have the fake crab (and more of it) rather than real crab. Even canned crab meat is expensive.

Jul 19, 2008
phan1 in General Topics

Help finding foods that have a "cooling sensation" (like mint)

I love that cooling sensation that comes from certain foods, but I can only think of 2 foods that have this: mint and creme fraiche. I add mint extract to a lot of my desserts. I actually don't want the mint taste, just that cooling sensation in the mouth. Can you guys think of other foods that do this?

I would also like a small science lesson as well. What causes this cooling sensation? Are there food-grade products out there that that doesn't have a taste but does leave that cool feeling in the mouth? A "cooling extract" would be my ideal product that I would love to incorporate in my food.

Jul 16, 2008
phan1 in General Topics

Who was your first food/cooking inspiration?

A simple pan sauce is what changed my life. Sauces I felt was what the difference between restaurant cooking and home cooking. Making a sauce at home was just magical to me.

Jul 14, 2008
phan1 in Not About Food

Cookbooks for taking it to the next level?

I would say just to keep on doing what you're doing. Surely you've been inspired and had your juices going by reading book, blogs, ect.

Of course, working in a professional kitchen would also be a great experience. Having to be FORCED to have good knife skills, good sanitation and organizational skills would really help you in the home kitchen. You seem to have a good amount of time on your hands; I think it's a viable suggestion. My kitchen etiquette (or lack of) is totally different after working in the kitchen for just a couple weeks.

Jul 14, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Help me analyze butterfish recipe (Mirin question)...

Hi, I have a question about a simple butterfish recipe, pretty much the same thing you'll find in any butterfish recipe:

Miso Marinade:
1 cup sake ($0.45
1 cup mirin, a sweet Japanese beverage used mostly in cooking ($0.55)
1/2 lb sugar ($0.22)
1/2 lb miso paste ($0.35)

Simple enough, but the one thing I don't get is adding mirin. From what I know, mirin is a sweet rice wine with a low alcohol content. So why am I doing this when I already have sake (in which I will boil to cook out the alcohol) and sugar in the recipe? That's like someone giving me a marinade recipe that includes red wine and red cooking wine. Could someone help me understand what role mirin plays in the recipe? I'm on the assumption that:

boiled sake + sugar = mirin (an even better mirin than I can get out of a bottle)

Jul 13, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Anyone buy non-French Escargots?

How is the quality? I noticed the other day there were some cans of snails from Indonesia that were cheaper. I know if you stick to French brands you'll be good, but has anyone bought ones from Indonesia?

Jun 16, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Is it important to give your dishes a cool name?

OK, there's this thing that's been bugging me and it all started with Richard from Top Chef giving whimsical names to his dishes. It seems like a very modern trend. He calls his cut bananas "banana scallops". And he had a poultry dish with different parts of poultry and called it "which came first". Throughout the whole season, he comes up with whimsical names for his dishes.

Of course, it's more than just naming the dish; it's adding some humor and personality to the dish. Thomas Keller has a super-fancy "Coffee and Doughnuts" and has his "tongue in cheek" dish as well. But I think there's a limit to what you can do. "Banana scallops" is OK if the dish looks like it came out of the ocean with foamy sauce and panko crumbs for sand. But by itself, it's a bit much. C'mon, it's a F'n cut up banana! And in themed restaurants, you'll have a "jungle salads" and stuff like that. What's your opinion on making up names for dishes? Cool or uncool?

Jun 13, 2008
phan1 in Not About Food

Homemade ice cream recipes?

For me, it's all about flavors that you can't find in the shops. Honestly, a chocolate ice cream that's in the store is going to taste just as good as the one done at home, so why bother? But I can't find hazelnut or almond ice cream in the shops. Vanilla ice cream with real vanilla beans is awsome as well. I think it's about finding a recipe with a good base and flavor it from there.

Personally, I use Heston Blumenthal's ice cream recipe where the base is sugar, egg yolks, powdered milk, and milk. No cream. The ice cream passes through your mouth swiftly, and the flavor doesn't linger in the mouth the same way as ice cream made with cream. It's good for ice cream, but it's not good for a-la-mode applications. Since the taste comes and goes so quickly, you actually can't taste the ice cream against the brownie or whatever you're eating the ice cream with. Too much info, but I thought it was pretty cool...

Jun 13, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

My stock isn't very flavorful...

OK, I have a problem with making stock. I've just covered the meat and veg in water, and they are all spent for sure. And the resulting stock smells wonderful, but it isn't flavorful enough. And it's not even close; some salt isn't going to help. I have to always reduce my stock literally by half. I'm assuming a stock in itself could be served as a soup. Is this typical of a stock?

Jun 02, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Ramsey vs. Colicchio??

Ramsey hands down for me. He's one of the greatest chefs ever and his reach extends across the gastronomic world. He's in the world of Michelin starred haute cuisine. Colicchio isn't even in the same category, even though he's phenomenal at what he does. Yeah, Ramsey's show is ridiculous, but that doesn't represent Ramsey's abilities as a Chef at all. Ramsey is an obsessed perfectionist. Colicchio just enjoys making food your mama could make, but he's just really really good at it.

May 29, 2008
phan1 in Food Media & News

Top Chef-Tramonto's [Spoiler]

I could not imagine being within a 5 ft radius of Lisa. I can't stand her attitude.

May 29, 2008
phan1 in Food Media & News

Top Chef - Restaurant Wars [Possible Spoilers]

I was disappointed by the losing team very much. It's pretty much a free-for-all challenge where everyone can bring out their big guns and wow people. There were really no restrictions in terms of food. But at the end of the day there was really only one item on the menu that was good? C'mon!

May 29, 2008
phan1 in Food Media & News

Cheesecake Factory Woks the Talk in LA

I just can't bring myself to hate CF. The food is just plain good (in my opinion of course), and I do like the decor. Head and shoulders compared to the Chili's, PF Chang's (I SO HATE that place) or the TGI Fridays. And I'm not going to hate against good food.

May 29, 2008
phan1 in Food Media & News

Soy sauce + butter = yum!

As a kid my favorite dish was rice with Maggi soy sauce and butter. :) I think I'll try a hollandaise sometime with soy sauce instead of vinegar. That sounds like a combination that makes sense!

May 19, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Teaching College Kids to Cook

I think recipes that are one-pot-wonders are the best college food items. They're easy, convenient, and hugely satisfying. Things like beef bourginon can have lots of vegetables and still be hearty, and cleanup is about as easy as it gets. Plus they make their own sauces, an impressive component often gets left out of home-cooking. Very practical.

The worst part of college cooking is cleanup. I'd rather not make a dish that requires many different components that leave you with a bunch of pots and pans to clean up afterward.

May 19, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Wine sauce help...

One of the problems I had was making beef bourginon or even coq a vin. I see lots of recipes where you just throw the wine, meat, and veggies in a pot, cook, and then reduce the braising liquid at the end. That just doesn't work for me at all, and the reduced sauce in the end still comes out bitter. I don't know why all wine-stew recipes don't tell you to reduce the wine first.

May 15, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking

Wine sauce help...

I've made an incredible wine sauce the first time I made beef bourgingon. And after many tries, I've never been able to replicate my success. The sauce kept coming out bitter even after experimenting with different wines and aromatics. I just could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong.

But now I think I understand what I keep on doing wrong. Let's say you're making a simple sauce out of stock and red wine. It's important to fully reduce the wine to a glaze 1st, and THEN add in the stock and reduce to taste, right?

What I've been doing is essentially mixing the wine and stock together and reducing the sauce from there. That's going to lead to a bitter and generally not very good sauce right? Because as you're reducing, by the time you get the right consistency and strength of taste, you haven't cooked out all the alcohol and bitterness from your wine. This seems like a good explanation for my constantly bitter wine sauce.

May 15, 2008
phan1 in Home Cooking