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vanilla pudding won't set

Cornstarch is quite fragile as it cools, your problem is not the eggs, it's your technique.
If you mix/agitate the mixture as it cools, then it will never set up. Once the pudding comes to a boil do nothing to it but pour it into containers.

Mar 24, 2011
peekpoke in Home Cooking

Real Diner Food in OC

I recommend the Hobo Omelet, the home fries are good and usually fresh.

I've had a burger a couple times, and do not recommend it, or the fries.

My wife likes the country fried steak.

Stick with breakfast foods for best results.

Also the Dana Point one has served me some terrible food, I've never had a problem at the Sunset beach location.

Jun 05, 2008
peekpoke in Los Angeles Area

Fries - Robuchon method

I do a half home fries sort of thing with sliced potatoes. I cut the potatoes about 1/3" thick, put them in a non-stick pan with a a couple teaspoons of fat (usually peanut oil), salt, and some crushed red pepper. I add water half way up the sides of the potatoes, cover and put on medium heat for about 35 to 40 minutes.

The tops of the potatoes are fluffy steamed, the bottoms are crisp fried.

It's particular good using stock instead of water, it makes a sort of lacy crisp savory caramel from the stock boiled dry.

She loves to season them with lime, and tons of flakey salt.

Jan 07, 2008
peekpoke in Home Cooking

November 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Runoff Vote

Dean & DeLuca Cookbook

Love his Matzah Ball recipe. This is what his Taste cookbook should have been more like.

Oct 15, 2007
peekpoke in Home Cooking

david rosengartens strawberry soup

I would try contacting David Rosengarten, and the Food Network directly. If they get enough requests maybe someone will offer his Taste show on DVD.

Otherwise, you could try the Way Back Machine Internet Archive to look at the old "The TV Food Network" website, they likely had many Taste recipes online.

Oct 01, 2007
peekpoke in Home Cooking

Haagen-Dazs Reserve Line

My problem with the acai berry sorbet is not the flavor, it's the gritty texture from all the seeds. Yuck. I took a couple bites, and now it sits deep in the freezer waiting for me to think of some way to use it. Perhaps in a blended drink?

Sep 18, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Perfect ice cream for cobblers, crisps...

The HD Vanilla sold in Southern California has a strong alcohol/vanilla extract flavor, with a hint of sulfur/egg yolk.

The texture/mouth feel is great.

It's certainly better than the new HD Lite Vanilla made under license by Dreyers. The Lite Vanilla besides being far too sweet (first few ingredients are skim milk, sugar, cream, corn syrup), has a strange mentholated chemical flavor. I assume that's from the "Natural Flavors" used instead of pure ingredients.

As for Double Rainbow, it's fine if you like your ice cream gummy and sticky from stabilizers/gums. I find all their flavors very muted.

Breyer's (at least the old version) was "crumbly" because of the large amount of air, lack of butterfat, and no stabilizers.

Aug 14, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Perfect ice cream for cobblers, crisps...

Full Circle Vanilla - tastes just like Breyers did 30 years ago.

Just Cream, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla Bean.

No stabilizers, starches or gums.
No alcohol.
No eggs.
No corn syrup.
No extract of arctic creatures.

Relatively light and refreshing with a clean mouth feel, no aftertaste (even when Breyers was really pure, it was starting to have a sour afternote).

Sadly, I cannot find it in Southern California. They sold it at the local Food City in Tennessee when I was visiting a few weeks ago. Fantastic discovery.... I'm sad I cannot have it anymore.

Aug 12, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Perfect ice cream for cobblers, crisps...

HD vanilla tastes strongly of vanilla extract (including the nasty alcohol taste).

Pity they don't make a HD Cream flavor, just sweet, no vanilla.

Jul 13, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Best Ice Cream in LA?

Breyer's "all natural" isn't pure anymore. Unilever took over, and now it's cheap supermarket ice cream loaded with stabilizers/gums, "Natural Flavors" instead of vanilla, fake chocolate chips and other crimes against the unknowing public.

Jul 10, 2007
peekpoke in Los Angeles Area

Perfect ice cream for cobblers, crisps...

I agree the Costco Kirkland vanilla ice cream is very dense and creamy. But it's also sticky and gummy, it doesn't melt right. I think they decided to load it up with stabilizers so they could extend it's shelf life and not worry about sloppy handling (I've had defrosted and refrozen Haagen Daaz bars from CostCo a couple times, very nasty icy).

I would have recommended Breyer's for it's clean taste, but they've recently cheapified the recipe so that it's no better than other generic store brands like Dreyers.

Jul 10, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Childhood Favorites

I used to love Breyer's Butter Almond! I've never seen it in Southern California, only on the east coast.

Sadly, it's not made with butter and other good stuff anymore. So I doubt I'd like the current version. Unilever took over Breyer's, and turned it into cheap supermarket ice cream made with stabilizers/gum, non-wholesome flavorings (their vanilla doesn't have vanilla anymore), and worse. Yuck.

Jul 10, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

What else is better in Canada?

Breyer's isn't pure in the USA anymore either, it's not just Canada.

Jul 10, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Philly Top Five

Sadly, Breyer's isn't made in Philly anymore, and it's not Pure anymore, they use **NATURAL** Flavors (distilled chicken toe cheese), stabilizers/gums, fake chocolate chips, corn syrup/coloring instead of fruit.

Jul 10, 2007
peekpoke in Pennsylvania

Gingered Chicken Noodle Soup

I've stopped putting noodles right into a soup pot, you loose all control. Instead of a nice warm pot that lasts for hours, and makes tasty leftovers for days.... you have a narrow window of firm noodles, and then rapidly it's very unappealing mush.

I now make the stock, and separate it. When I want soup, I heat up some stock with some chicken fat (critical!), add noodles, cook until soft, and add some chicken at the last minute (which solves the overcooked chicken problem, normally impossible to avoid with white meat). This also allows variety, I can make chicken noodle, matzo balls the next day, chicken and rice the last day.

May 01, 2007
peekpoke in Recipes

Best Sit-Down Chain Burgers

I remember Fuddrucker's from 20 years ago when they actually butchered and ground the meat on site behind glass windows so you could watch. That meat was exceptional. That Fuddrucker's closed long ago.

I've had Fuddrucker's from LakeForest CA a few times recently, and although the preparation was still blah (cooked on a big flat top griddle). The meat wasn't "bad", it was just typical commercial ground beef. For me the best part of my recent Fuddrucker's visits was the condiments, particularly the sliced banana peppers and the fresh salsa (mostly diced tomato, and onion).

Apr 20, 2007
peekpoke in Chains

Outdoor Grilling - Natural Gas vs. Charcoal?

Main differences are:

1. Burning gas gives off moisture, so it's not the same dry heat you get with charcoal.

2. No burning of dripping fluids unless you use rocks (which still aren't the same, but help).

3. Often doesn't burn as hot as charcoal, particularly if you use rocks.

Of course the huge benefits are no setup, no clean up, instant heat on, and full heat adjustment.

Apr 19, 2007
peekpoke in Cookware

Ruth's Chris

Yes it continues to cook the steak. But you can remove it from the platter and eat it off the bread plate.

RC is for the butter deprived. Those seeking quality steak might want to look elsewhere.

Apr 18, 2007
peekpoke in Chains

Best Sit-Down Chain Burgers

Red Robin: Low quality meat. If you like their toppings, fine, otherwise skip it. They won't cook it less than medium well.

Claim Jumper: Huge drop in quality, now uses cheap preformed patties that are quite a bit smaller than the bun (part of the general cost savings over the years at Claim Jumper as they try to keep portions looking large whilst cutting material costs). They won't cook it less then medium well.

Cheesecake Factory: Chop house burger, best chain burger I've ever had. Simple, good quality grilled meat cooked to order (I get mine medium rare) on a quality griddled bun.

Apr 18, 2007
peekpoke in Chains

Best Frozen Cheese Ravioli?

Looking at the Divine Pasta website... the closest I see is "Cheese Ravioli" which unfortunately lists "Low-fat ricotta, parmesan & basil. (No egg)".

Apr 18, 2007
peekpoke in Los Angeles Area

Best Frozen Cheese Ravioli?

I cannot find anything on Surfa's website about frozen pasta.

It's pretty far (I'm down in Costa Mesa).

Anything else you recommend purchasing from Surfa's? (that would be a further inducement to me driving up there)

Apr 18, 2007
peekpoke in Los Angeles Area

Best Frozen Cheese Ravioli?

I'm having trouble finding specifics on the web for any Monterey brand pasta.

But if I remember correctly (tasting the store sample), problems were:

Poor texture, like pasty leftovers (they are precooked).

Strong garlic taste (makes them useless except when served in a strong garlic sauce).

Soft oozy interior, not firm.

Apr 18, 2007
peekpoke in Los Angeles Area

Best Frozen Cheese Ravioli?


Not parcooked (a very bad recent trend, horrible texture)
Not in sauce
Not big (too much filling is bad)
Not tiny (too little filling)
Not frozen in clumps (sheets you snap apart work best)
NO GARLIC (completely overpowers the cheese, ruins the ravioli for any kind of simple sauce)
NO CINNAMON (shockingly a popular brand has a powerful cinnamon taste)
LIMITED POWERFUL CHEESE - primary Cheese must be ricotta
FIRM FILLING - some have soft/runny fillings

My ideal are classic Silver Star Cheese Ravioli.
The simple grid of square ravioli.
Filled with whole milk ricotta.
Made from raw fresh paste sheets.
Seasoned with salt, pepper, and parsley.
Might have a small amount of Pecorino Romano for taste (I don't remember the label).

Problems with existing brands:

Mama Lina's Ravioli - powerful cinnamon taste, so much parsley it's almost like spinach & cheese ravioli

Rosetta - strong garlic taste, low quality filling.

Celentanos - Too large, filling is oddly soft and very bland. I believe they are now parcooked as well.

Apr 17, 2007
peekpoke in Los Angeles Area

David Rosengarten on How To Boil An Egg...

Doesn't address issues like the size of the pan, the size of the eggs, ratio of eggs to water, the burner BTUs, GAS vs Electric burners.

An electric burner will bring the water to a boil generally much faster than a typical gas burner giving very different results.

A larger pan or heavier pan holds more heat.

More water vs Eggs means the temperature will decline at a slower rate.

Larger Eggs means it will take longer for them to come up to temperature in the center.

We need a article done by Heston Blumenthal or Jeffry Steingarten that eliminates these issues.

Something that:

Weighs a bunch of eggs in grams, giving different recipes for different size eggs.

Considers egg age.

Gives the ratio of eggs to water (# of ml of water per egg), using enough water per egg so that it doesn't take a long time to come up to boil again.

Works with already boiling water to eliminate the rise to temperature issue with different heat sources.

Specifies the exact size pot to use, and any adjustments for heavy (cast iron) vs light (cheap stainless or aluminum).

Apr 05, 2007
peekpoke in Home Cooking


Something else occurs to me.... if celery juice (and thereby celery) is loaded with sodium nitrate.

Why isn't anyone concerned about eating nitrates in celery? (vs Bacon for example)

Apr 03, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics


The lactobaccillus is also added to the Niman ranch meats cured with sodium nitrate (instead of celery juice loaded with "natural" sodium nitrate). If it magically gets rid of the sodium nitrate in the "uncured" bacon, why wouldn't do the same in the "cured" bacon?

Apr 03, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics


I've had the Niman Ranch "uncured" bacon, and I agree with Cook's Illustrated and America's test kitchen. It's awful!

I'm a fan of Niman Ranch products, but using concentrated Celery Juice as a source of Nitrates (you thought the "uncured" bacon was nitrate free? Nope!) gives the Bacon a very odd flavor. YUCK!

Here is a interesting roundup on Nitrates from Celery Juice (it's Sodium Nitrate):

It's apparently a natural source for the same preserving Nitrates, but because it's in Celery Juice instead of a seperate chemical product, they can label the meat as Uncured.

Apr 02, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics


My favorite bacon is smoked jowl, sold by Burger's Smokehouse, preferably with rind on (each hunk is like a mini-slab of bacon). It's like BACON+, superb texture in the fat (that sort of sweet crunchy firmness before it's been cooked). The fat is quality enough to eat raw like Italian Lardo. I usually use the rind for soup or beans.

For City Ham, my favorite regular choice is Niman Ranch which is sold in thick round boneless steaks at Trader Joe's.

For sliced ham, I still adore Boar's Head Original Boiled Ham, sliced thin from a freshly opened ham (not old). Easy to come by in New York, but often hard to find around southern california.

For holiday ham, my recent favorite is a whole Burger's Southern Smokehouse ham, precooked, unsliced. Suprisingly moist (I've never been able to get a raw country ham to come out as well when I cook it at home). I just warm the precooked ham up like a city ham, but the flavor is much better. Fantastic for leftovers (my wife LOVES sandwiches made with the leftovers so much that we are getting one for Easter even though we had one for Christmas).

Mar 27, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Kurobuta Ham--Anyone Tried It?

David is offering that special ham again, it's in the new Tastings newsletter.

I am not a fan of it (too soft, too sweet, not salty enough, odd spice rub ruins it for leftovers, and all the fat is trimmed off), but I guess enough people liked it for him to offer it again.

Mar 27, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics

Best ham for Thanksgiving?

I did not like the Rosengarten ham, at all. For us, it had an odd baked bean tasting spice rub, the meat had an off putting soft wet texture, the cure was overly sweet not salty, and ALL the fat had been trimmed off (the horror! Roast ham with no delicious fat!). The seasoning and overly sweet taste made it useless for leftovers. We ended up throwing it all away. Rosengarten's customer service was very nice about hearing our concerns, and refunded all our money.

For Christmas 2006 we had a Burger's Smokehouse Country ham (smoked, not aged), precooked. Although labeled as a country ham, when you purchase it precooked from Burger's, they somehow infuse enough moisture in the cooking process so that it's just as moist as a quality city ham (wet cure). We really enjoyed it as something different, fantastic for leftovers. It's so good we've ordered one for Easter 2007.

When I have a taste for that city ham taste, Trader Joe's and other stores now sell Niman Ranch thick ham steaks that are the best city ham I've found locally. Delicious.

Mar 27, 2007
peekpoke in General Topics