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Why no cast iron on cooking shows?

Don't know about the US, but one of the most popular Cookery shows on UK TV is James Martin's Saturday Kitchen, where he uses either his own brand knives or Japanese Hattoris - rebranded as 'Kin' in the UK and sold at twice what you pay from Japanesechefsknife.com!

May 03, 2012
MadMacStew in Cookware

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

Hi Holly,

You may be missing the point about Aberdeen - the houses are not built *on* granite, they are built *of* granite. A large part of the city has houses that are 100-200 years old, built from 18-inch thick solid granite blocks - it's locally quarried stone, so not that expensive at the time. There is no reported incidence of radon being a problem, or of excess cancer rates in the area. If you've ever been to northeast Scotland, you'll be aware that, due to the very cold and windy climate, houses have small windows that are essentially never opened from October to March! :-)

Dec 30, 2011
MadMacStew in Cookware

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

Regarding the radiation scare, it's worth noting that most of the older part of Aberdeen, Scotland is built entirely from solid granite (hence 'the Silver City') and there have been zero reports of any ill effects from the many thousands of tons of this material, even though those houses have stood for longer than the USA has existed! BTW, for those who love open fires, it's worth noting that coal is also radioactive to about the same degree as granite! :-)

Dec 06, 2011
MadMacStew in Cookware

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

I would never dream of using marble in a kitchen, except as a separate pastrymaking surface - even for that, a slab of granite is just as good if less pretty. Basically, *any* kind of marble is porous and *will* stain, so that beautiful new-install worktop will look very sad after a short while when compared to granite, or especially to Silestone and similar engineered products. The point of a worktop is that you can *work* on it, it's not something to hang on the wall and be admired - marble is fine for bathrooms and walls generally, but not for kitchen countertops.

Dec 05, 2011
MadMacStew in Cookware

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

Just to throw another hat in the ring - I rebuilt our kitchen about ten years ago and I had the same agonising over worktop material. I eventually settled on large fully vitrified biscuit porcelain tiles. They look great, are abused all the time with hot pots, and have never shown any sign of cracking, scratching or staining. The most common use of this material in the UK is for tiling car showroom floors, as it is very strong and is utterly impervious to liquids.

Oct 31, 2011
MadMacStew in Cookware

Another knife question (I know they never end)

Since you seem to be ultra-thin-skinned, I'll be pedantic and say yes I am calling you a liar, because these aren't knives, they're saws! I've been using knives of all shapes, sizes and materials (including flint and obsidian) for about fifty years now, and there is *no* such thing as a knife edge which never needs sharpening - as any barber or surgeon can tell you. Ultimately, you'll get the best results in the kitchen from a necessarily expensive damascus construction with an ultra-hard cutting core, tempered to Rockwell 63 or more. You can get such knives at best price from japanesechefsknife.com, and they have thin but rigid blades which can be sharpened to a razor edge and hold that edge for a long time. You do need a proper stone and skill to sharpen them, but they are the best, if that's what you want. BTW, it's always dangerous to assume that others are less knowledgeable than you..............

Sep 15, 2010
MadMacStew in Cookware

Mortar and Pestle: Wood, ceramic, or cast iron?

It has, abbreviated to it's, *should* have an apostrophe. What were you thinking? :-)

Mar 25, 2009
MadMacStew in Cookware

Another knife question (I know they never end)

Every time you cut something, you slightly dull your blade, even a ceramic one, so it's just not true that there exists any knife which you never have to sharpen. I have a top-quality Sabatier carbon steel knife from the early seventies, and it's definitely no match for a modern stainless Global, let alone my favourite Hattori damascus steel knives, which have a super-hard cutting core but yet are made from stainless steels.

Mar 25, 2009
MadMacStew in Cookware

Global knives breaking/snapping issues?

For a superb selection of top-class knives, from everyday working knives to real collector's items with damascus blades and exotic handles (turquoise, walrus ivory, abalone, etc), try japanesechefsknife.com. Be warned though, you may have to buy a bigger knife block once you get started! :-)

My own pick would be Hattori, I have four of those replacing my previous Globals (Nakiri, Santoku (indulgent KD model), small and large Petty), although I have another half-dozen Globals which I still use (bread, boning, cleaver etc).

Mar 03, 2009
MadMacStew in Cookware

Why no cast iron on cooking shows?

Speaking of Saturday Kitchen, have you noticed that James Martin switches from week to week between his own-brand knives and Kin? Interesting, since Kin are actually Hattori knives, repackaged at twice the price in the UK! I buy mine direct from Japanesechefsknife.com.

Mar 03, 2009
MadMacStew in Cookware

No Beer for Obama

Churchill was a notorious drunk, and he won the war! I remain amazed by the hypocrisy of America, where an atheist can't get elected, but a Bible-thumping cretin can invade a country and slaughter half a million people just to cover his daddy's cowardice in the first Gulf Slaughter.

Mar 03, 2009
MadMacStew in Features

Giada De Laurentiis GLOBAL Knife

Let's also not forget that, above the 'mass market' Global knives, there's a whole range of superb hand-made Japanese knives which make really classy gifts, of which Hattori HD are perhaps the best value. These aren't significantly more expensive than Globals, aside from the real collector's items such as Mr Itou's. Find them all at www.japanesechefsknife.com

Oct 09, 2008
MadMacStew in Cookware

How to Clean/Refresh Granite Counter?

Granite is much harder than steel wool, so there shouldn't be a scratching issue there. OTOH, I can imagine how my wife would react if one of her supposed friends started to clean down her kitchen work surfaces!

Aug 11, 2008
MadMacStew in Cookware

Kitchenaid vs Cuisinart food processor?

We use a Magimix, which is certainly of equivalent quality to KA or Cuisinart (although the anti-clockwise locking is a royal pain!). Having said this, it's certainly true that for large quantities of liquid (margaritas!) a true blender is a superior tool. We cook a lot of Indian food, and for spice grinding I would never use anything but a mortar and pestle. A coffee grinder might be OK, but a food processor is way too brutal for this task.

Jun 11, 2008
MadMacStew in Cookware

"Typhoon" brand cutting board

I've used one for about five years, excellent quality and the rubber-tipped legs keep it nicely stable when cutting.

Jun 11, 2008
MadMacStew in Cookware

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

I rebuilt our farmhouse kitchen (in England) about five years ago, and looked at various solutions to the worktop problem. What I settled on was fully vitrified biscuit porcelain tiles. These are for all practical purposes solid glass, they can be had in lots of colours, and they are both completely impervious and extremely hard. In five years of pretty heavy use, not one scratch, chip or discolouration.

You'll find these tiles at any good tile shop, they're most commonly used in high-end car showrooms for flooring, for the same reasons of durability, hardness and impermeability to car fluids.

Mar 06, 2008
MadMacStew in Cookware

A Hairy Experience

This is what happens when you annoy someone who is responsible for something you are going to put into your body. be warned - this is not an isolated incident by any means. Be rude to your waiter/chef at your peril!

Feb 28, 2008
MadMacStew in Features

Fondue Mac

Looks like no one explained to Alex that it's the least number of votes that wins! :-)

Feb 28, 2008
MadMacStew in Recipes

Ryusen knife question

I have the Hattori HD-5 and KD-31 Santokus, which both have Damascus construction. With the (much!) more expensive KD, you are paying for a knife hand made by a master craftsman (arguably the best in the world - sorry, Mr Onion). The decoration on the blade is stunningly gorgeous, and the Cowry X powdered steel cutting blade is razor-sharp and rock-hard. Having said this, the knives handle identically and there's no noticeable difference in cutting ability. The KD is a work of art and a pleasure to own and use, but in truth the HD does just as good a job in the kitchen, is a beautiful piece in its own right, and at $115 from japanesechefsknife.com, rather than $780 for the KD (when they're available) it causes less paranoia in use! If your preference is for a more 'Western' shape, the HD-7 Gyuto at $135 may be more to your taste as it's very similar to a Western chef's knife but with a thinner and sharper blade.

Feb 28, 2008
MadMacStew in Home Cooking

If I can only afford *one* fancy knife; what should it be? Santoku? Chef's?

I have 11 Global knives, although I've now replaced three of them with Hattori - HD-1, HD-3 and HD-5, and I also have a Hattori KD-31 for *very* special occasions. I'd say that a HD-5 Santoku or the HD-7 Gyuto would be ideal as an 'only' knife, with the rounded belly of the gyuto (like a chef's knife) being more suited to the Western chopping style. The damascus construction of the Hattoris is *not* merely cosmetic, it allows a very hard steel cutting blade to be ideally supported by tougher steel either side, giving a razor-sharp, thin yet rigid blade which holds its edge longer than any Global.

Feb 28, 2008
MadMacStew in Cookware

Perfect Margarita

Less pretentiously, a possibly passable recipe from several happy years working for Hughes Aircraft in Tucson, AZ:

3 parts any decent tequila (you wouldn't use single malt in a manhattan, would you?)
2 parts Cointreau or Grand Marnier (Triple Sec is less orangey)
1part lime juice
1 part lemon juice
3 parts ice
Blend until the ice is broken up.
Rub lime around the outside of the rim of a tumbler (rocks glass?), dip in salt, pour your Margarita - enjoy!

Feb 24, 2008
MadMacStew in Recipes

Martini

Hendrick's or Bombay Sapphire gin, with a 2:1 ratio to Noilly Prat vermouth (yes, two to one!), stirred with Evian ice in a chilled glass, and with a fresh Corfiot green olive. Accept no substitute!

Feb 24, 2008
MadMacStew in Recipes