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Help with a fig glaze

Thanks for the input. I made two versions, one using dried figs, soaked in red wine and a little balsamic vinegar, and the softened figs then pressed through cheesecloth, with a little red pepper flakes and nutmeg. This was very good.

The second was using an Italian fig jam, cooked and reduced with red wine and balsamic, with a pinch of salt and a few twigs of thyme. This was also very good, and ultimately the one we are going with - more of a figgy taste than the first.

Thanks again for the input!

Mar 02, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

How long will you stand in line for food?

4 hours is my new limit. Depends on context. Most restaurants, anything more than 15 minutes, and I'm peeved. If it's special, and with the right company, and a bar, 1-2 hours.

4 hours was a Ramen fest in Minneapolis. Great company, entertainment while waiting, and the ramen was phenomenal. I'd do it again.

Feb 26, 2015
foreverhungry in General Topics

Help with a fig glaze

We are making a braised short rib stuffed ravioli (green and white striped), topped with a taleggio-cream sauce (some nutmeg). We're thinking about topping with a small drizzle (few drops) of a fig glaze.

We're having trouble coming up with the fig glaze recipe - looking for something that is smooth and semi-runny so it can be dropped, balance of sweet and a bit of acid, big fig taste.

We did one test, got the ravioli down, but the fig glaze recipe we used was too thick, too vinegar. The flavor combo we could see the potential of, minus the heavy balsamic.

Given we can't get fresh figs (where we are), we're looking at dried or preserves. Thoughts?

This is for a competition: thought is to serve one ravioli (2" x 2"), a dollop of taleggio-cream sauce, and a few drops of the fig glaze.

Feb 23, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Favorite broccoli raab (rabe) preps?

This. The flavor combination of roasted pork, broccoli rabe, and provolone (fat, bitter, and sharp) is fantastic. Since I now live far from Philly, I've been making these sandwiches at home.

The pork/broccoli rabe combination works great in many other preps - stews, soups, etc.

Smoking Arctic char - before or after...

I ended up adding applewood smoke from a Smoking Gun to a 1 1/4 lb filet of of Arctic Char, in the rig I use indoors - a small styrofoam cooler, ice on the bottom, fish on a grill propped up 2 inches above the ice. 3-4 blasts of smoke, 10-15 seconds each, 10-15 mins between smoke blasts.

End result was the subtle smoke I was looking for. Served alongside an Italian brass extruded fettuccine with a sauce made of heavy cream, creme fraiche, parsley and tarragon, with a Pecorino Crotonese added into the sauce and served on top of the pasta. The sheep's milk cheese added good bite to the creme fraiche and cream.

Feb 15, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Looking for Perfect Au-gratin Potatoes

That's a good looking recipe, very traditional for a gratin dauphinois.

Feb 13, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Smoking Arctic char - before or after...

I'm thinking about making a pasta dish with Arctic char, something along the lines of a fettuccine in a light cream sauce, maybe with a touch of something like taleggio and white wine, maybe with some salmon roe. Arctic char would be either along side, or in a few large chunks served on top/layered in the pasta.

With the Arctic char, I'd like to add a little smoke to it. I have a Smoking Gun that I've used pretty successfully to smoke small pieces of salmon, add smoke to scallops, stuff like that.

Question - should I add smoke to the char before cooking it (likely baking/broiling; would be baked/broiled with a little butter, S&P), or afterwards? I'm leaning towards before (raw), because I don't want it to cool down too much while adding smoke if done after cooking. If I add some smoke to it raw, what's the impact of baking/broiling? Will it hang on to the smoke? Going for a light smoke effect, but want to make sure there's still something there. Probably going to use applewood (or cherry? if anyone cares...)

Thanks in advance!!

Feb 12, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

gelato recipe

Making gelato and storing it are different. It's very possible to make and serve gelato at the "right" temperature right out of the maker. Storing it is a different issue. Depending on one's refrigerator, one could store a container of left over gelato in the lower back space of the fridge - mine regularly freezes anything I put there, but not as cold as the freezer.

cssprunger could look at David Lebovitz recipes for gelato, many are available online. My wife has made many Lebovitz ice cream/gelato recipes, and they are all excellent.

Feb 09, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Spoon and Stable - Anyone been?

Team USA placed Silver in the Bocuse d'Or competition. Spoon and Stable's Chef Gavin Kaysen coached Team USA. Congratulations to Chef Kaysen and Team USA.

Spoon and Stable - Anyone been?

A few different thoughts:

On Open Table - Restaurants must hold tables back from OP, because I've tried to get into some places on OP, and they show full, then I call the resto, and they have an opening at the same time OP showed full. Message: OP is great for first try and for getting points, but call the joint if OP is full, they often have a table.

On Spoon and Stable - Wife and I went last weekend, and it was fantastic. To start, the service was excellent, best we've had in the Twin Cities. There when you want, otherwise invisible. We asked he to choose between two choices for us, she didn't bat an eye and explained her choice (not, this is my favorite). Ditto with bringing us wine-by-the-glass options to try. Bison tartare was fantastic, vidalia onion tortellini was very good, toasted wheat cavatelli was excellent (sweetbreads were fantastic), and the duck breast was also excellent (the fois gras sausage was a highlight). Overall, the place was solid. Not a ton of chances - not a Picollo - but the entire execution, from start to finish, was spot on. Safe? Maybe. That said, everything from the moment we walked in was flawless. And well worth the money.

On Daria - I have (and had) my favorite movie reviewers. Different reviewers have different likes and different styles. Just like patrons. Ditto with food reviewers. I personally am mostly polar opposite as Daria. I read what she writes on a monthly basis in a variety of publications, and continually disagree. That's cool. Haven't yet read her review of Spoon and Stable.

Robert Irvine's Second Restaurant Closes

Your original point was that "He's not exactly an authority on keeping restaurants going."

Keep on point. He's turned 70% of the restaurants he's addressed in his show around.

Like him or not, whatever. The data speak them themselves.

Robert Irvine's Second Restaurant Closes

According to the article you posted, 70% of the restaurants he's visited for Restaurant:Impossible are still open, and these are presumably places that would otherwise have shut down. That's a pretty good track record.

Shutting down your own two restaurants because you're on the road 300+ days of the year and can't spend the time there seems pretty reasonable.

If you're commenting on Irvine's being "...an authority on keeping restaurants going.", then he should be judged on his track record on the show - which is what you are referring to. 70% is pretty damned good.

Great Seafood

Huh, didn't know that. Thanks for the info. Romantic or not, one needs to be correct.

Great Seafood

Yep, thanks getgot, Fabian Seafood. We usually hit them up in the Dey Appliances parking lot on Snelling Ave near University Ave. Great quality, nice guys. You can get on their email list for their schedule. It's great to support US fishermen and a small business.

Great Seafood

There' also a fisherman dude that drives a truck up from Louisiana and makes stops in the Twin Cities and sells shrimp, crab meat, oysters, and sometimes snapper, from the back of his truck. I'm not kidding. Can't remember the name, I'll try to find it. They're done for the season until April-ish. Excellent Gulf Brown Shrimp, good prices. We get a few pounds when they're in town from a parking lot on Snelling Ave.

Great Seafood

I've always had great seafood from Coastal (both locations) and Whole Foods. I've never had issues with odors at Coastal. Their service is fantastic.

Yes, high quality seafood costs a lot no matter where you are (compared to other sentient proteins), and more-so when it has to be flown into the middle of the US. That said, between Coastal and Whole Foods, they have great specials, so if you're flexible to go with what's on sale, the price isn't that bad, especially when compared to other very high quality proteins.

Why do my slow cooker recipes always taste bad?

Does anyone know what the mechanism is for alliums imparting a metallic taste in a slow cooker?

Jan 15, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Unsalted butter + salt

I don't think it's the whole story.

http://www.chow.com/food-news/54962/h...

The variation of salt in salted butter brands is insignificant when considering how much salt is added to baking recipes, and the error in that addition.

1 Tablespoon of butter is 14 gram. The salt content is 50 - 100 mg.

1 Tablespoon of kosher salt is 15 grams (according to my scale). That's 15,000 mg.

When making a cake or pie, if a recipe calls for, say, 6 tablespoons of butter, using salted v unsalted would be the difference of, say, 450 mg. That's about 1/3 of a Tablespoon. Is that enough to make a difference in the outcome of a baking recipe?

Jan 12, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

cooked burgers, in and out of fridge twice, still safe?

I'd keep em and eat em. If the burgers were fully cooked and then wrapped in foil, I'm not sure what kind of contamination there could be within 2 days.

Jan 08, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking
1

Why cook pasta in water and not the sauce?

I can see how fettuccine would trip some up.

My feeling about pasta is not just limited to pasta - it's true for much of what I make. I usually strive for the highest quality that I'm able to obtain given the circumstances for a dish. But at times, a dish - or a meal - is not a Paul Bocuse-esque voyage. It is sustenance, or comfort. I've made many a homemade pasta, but sometimes a blue box of kraft mac and cheese hits the spot. And sometimes I just need to replace calories. Homemade nut and seed bars are a staple in our home. If we're out, I'm reaching for that pumpkin spice clif bar in the cabinet after a workout.

I don't live in Italy, so I won't presume to know how Italian families cook. It's been a few years since I've had a homecooked meal in Italy (and all of those were Piedmont and Lombardy). But all of my family is French, I've spent considerable time in France, so I do know how they cook. And while they often cook excellent meals, the usual mid-day and dinner meals are - all homemade - based more on convenience rather than following traditional French techniques. Their coq-au-vin or cassoulet does not take 4 days to prepare. Sometimes their pie crust is store bought (!).

I would hazard a guess that many Italian families are similarly not always 100% focused on creating the optimal meal. Sometimes it's OK to be "just" OK.

Back to the OP's question, with the qualification that not every meal will be "optimally" prepared, cooking pasta in sauce is great in some circumstances, not a good idea in others.

PS - if you ever have a chance to get north of the Bergamo area, a trip to Ristorante & Pizza Peccati Di Gola in Vilminore di Scalve is well worth the white-knuckle drive up the mountains. The pasta was excellent - and lightly sauced :).

Jan 07, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking
1

Why cook pasta in water and not the sauce?

Yup, I've been to Italy plenty of times, and have had excellent (and not so excellent) pastas there (I could tell you about the best pasta dish I've ever had [in Vilminore di Scalve this past October, a chestnut pasta with truffles, that was heaven on a plate], but I won't bore you with the details). Yes, sauce (or whatever you want to call it) is typically dished with a lighter hand. But we're not in Italy, and I'm not hand cutting my fettuccine made with 00 imported flour and eggs from chickens in my backyard.

Under the best of circumstances, a pasta dish should be a balance of all of its constituents. That's a worthy goal to strive for. But in some circumstances, I (and many others I'm acquainted with) want the pasta to be a vehicle for saucy (or meaty) goodness. Or - gasp - I just want a big bowl of carbohydrates after a 100 mile bike ride. Some nights, I (and my wife) want a bowl of mac and cheese (extra cheese, please), and I don't give a hoot about a well balanced dish and whether the pasta was left to cook for 13.7 seconds too long.

You might not want to agree to disagree, but, um, disagreeing (in a respectful manner!) is just what we're doing!

This is making me hungry for pasta. I think I'll hand cut some fettuccine this weekend for my mother-in-law who went to ilminore di Scalve with my wife and I. (No chickens in the backyard, though) :(

Jan 07, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking
1

Why cook pasta in water and not the sauce?

We can agree to disagree. Pasta type, in and of itself, is meant to a large extend to maximize the the flavors around it - fettuccine v spaghetti v penne v fusilli v all other 100s of pasta shapes. So in one respect, yes, pasta is meant as a vehicle, or at least a costar.

In other cases, though, it's clearly a vehicle. Puttanesca? Comeon. Lots of hard flavors, no pasta is going to stand up to that.

There's times for fresh pasta (or high quality dried), where the pasta is the show. There's others where it's a starch vehicle. Nothing wrong with that.

Jan 06, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking
1

Why cook pasta in water and not the sauce?

Agreed. Pasta should be able to stand on its own, and enjoyed for its own taste and texture. That said, there are times when a sauce or addition is the star, and the pasta itself is merely a vehicle.

There are good reasons for cooking the pasta in the sauce. Unless one is camping, convenience (or pot washing) shouldn't be one of them.

Jan 04, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Beet Hummus

Do you mind sharing the recipe? Sounds very interesting.

Jan 02, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Caprese Salad

Yeah, mozzarella just doesn't do it. If I want a creamy, buttery cheese, I'll go for a burrata. I have had some good buffalo mozzarelas, but they're the exception rather that the rule, to the point that it's just not worth the energy of searching.

Jan 02, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Caprese Salad

I agree with pikawicca, I'm not a big fan of mozzarella, including buffalo. Not much flavor.

Jan 02, 2015
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Caprese Salad

acgold - "It's like saying a hot dog isn't correct if you put mustard on it."

I believe you misspoke. You mean "It's like saying a hot dog isn't correct if you DON'T put mustard on it." :)

Dec 31, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Can I use yellow cornmeal for creamy polenta?

Where it gets complicated it when it comes to authenticity, and how one is using the name of a dish. Take pulled pork - to many folks, pulled pork means a whole hog or a shoulder that's been cooked over fire, then pulled or chopped. Here, smoke and bark are essential elements of pulled pork. To others, any cut of pork put in a crock pot for hours and then chopped or pulled apart is pulled pork. Both might be tasty, but they are also two very different end products. There's tons of examples of dishes have have a local origin, and then the name of that dish gets turned into a generic moniker for anything that loosely resembles it. Risotto is another example - at what point does rice+liquid that's stirred alot and then cheese added simply become cheesy rice, and is no longer risotto?

Dec 30, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

What to do with leftover couscous?

Salad; add it to a light soup, such as a chicken soup or even just a broth with vegetables; since it's plain, have it for breakfast as a sort of cream of wheat - add a little milk, honey and/or spices such as cinnamon; add it to chili to bulk it up a bit. Just a few ideas.

Dec 30, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Can I use yellow cornmeal for creamy polenta?

egit - sorry, didn't mean to imply that cornmeal isn't polenta. Just that there's a difference between what you'd get in northern Italy when you order polenta, and using Quaker cornmeal, adding water, and stirring for 10 minutes (Quaker's instructions). Again, it's like the difference between a well made pizza, and melting cheese on toast and adding tomato sauce. Are the basic components the same? Sure. But the actual ingredients and methods used are different, and they result in very different finished products.

I'm sure your polenta is very good. At the end, if it tastes good, that's what matters. But when someone asks the question "can I use any cornmeal to make polenta", the answer is tricky. Maybe it comes down to how much you (not you-you, the general you) want your product to resemble what you'd get dished out in northern Italy. For some folks it matters, and for others it doesn't.

Dec 30, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking