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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

Can I use yellow cornmeal for creamy polenta?

I've got one of those copper pots (a small one) along with the wooden paddle, from Bergamo (it was a wedding present). I doubt using it actually makes better polenta than using a Creuset or or other thick pot, but it's still nice to have. But I do use polenta from Bergamo or the Bergamo area - we buy a few kilos whenever we make it over. Using that certainly does result in a very different product than using Quaker Yellow Cornmeal.

Dec 29, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Can I use yellow cornmeal for creamy polenta?

There are a lot of different corn varietals grown (though that's no longer true commercially in the US), and lots of different grinds for corn. In northern Italy, there are many different varieties of ground corn for polenta that you can purchase, and different styles of polenta you can get at a restaurant. They taste very different different, much in the same way that different varieties of apples taste different.

Is polenta the same as "cornmeal mush" as someone in this thread suggested? To me, no. Folks in northern Italy are very particular about their polenta - how it's prepared, what corn and grind is used, and how it's served. Commercial yellow cornmeal from a box in the US will get you a polenta-like product. It's not too different than buying a frozen dough and canned filling and comparing that to homemade pie, or melting cheese onto toast and adding tomato sauce and calling it pizza. Some people call it elite, others are more adherent to tradition, authenticity, and good taste.

Dec 29, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Alternative raclette methods?

I'm a little confused by your question. If you want to serve raclette, then serve raclette. If you want to make a grilled cheese, make a grilled cheese. Those are two very different things. Your question is like saying that you picked up some mozzarella, but don't have a pizza stone, so can you make grilled cheeses?

Raclette is a social event with guest participation in their meal preparation. There are a few customs for raclette - small boiled potatoes, ham, cornichons, bread, and of course raclette cheese.

You could probably use a fry pan, but that's not very convenient. If you're doing it solo, then it would be just as easy to pop the cheese on a round of baguette and into a toaster oven to melt the cheese, then eat with your accoutrements.

Otherwise, use the cheese in the same way you'd use any other semi-firm cow's milk cheese - grilled cheese, mac and cheese, eat it as is with a chunk of crusty bread, lasagna, topping on a pasta dish, etc.

Dec 22, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

Best fish to be served with a mushroom risotto.

The idea of a whole fish (sea bass is always a great option) is nice because other guests may want some as well. I understand sticking to one meat when it works for everyone, but when tending to specific needs to one or a couple of guests, having enough for others that aren't of that persuasion is nice too. If you have scallops for your pescetarian, may not other guests wonder about scallops for them? This is something I've struggled with too.

Whole fish is great because some folks may decide they want a bit of each, and it also doesn't call special attention to your pescetarian friend - here's a dinner for all, but for you I made something special. That might draw undue attention to you pesc friend, and make the other like they're missing out on something.

As for the specific suggestion, sea bass is great. Halibut is too, but pretty expensive. For an odder suggestion, bluefish might be good too - it's got some body.

fudge

It might depend a bit on the ingredients. Unless you're keeping the fudge for a few months, room temp (assuming it's not 80), should be fine. There should be enough sugar in there to keep it fine. And the best keeping temp for chocolate is in the 60 degree range.

Dec 14, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

BYO-Low/No Corkage

As I understand it, not all wine is sold through the state - there are some wineries that can sell direct. A technicality for this discussion, as I understand it even then the prices are similar.

Yes, archaic in way - but then again, so are MN's laws, with liquor stores being closed on Sundays and no (real) beer, wine, liquor sold in supermarkets, unlike CA for example.

So maybe it is the economic forces at play - if PA restaurants are only getting wine 10% cheaper than citizens, then why hassle with a liquor license - let the customer do the work of bringing in the wine.

Ah, capitalism, the good and the bad.

Crock Pot Pork Belly Recipes?

I've done many pork bellies in the crock pot, and follow a three step process, depending on the end goal. In some cases, I salt the belly, sear it in a large skillet, stick the belly in the crock, deglaze the pan with either a little wine or stock, and pour that into the crock (just a few tablespoons). Or, I coat the belly in a mixture of salt, sugar, and brown sugar (or just salt and brown sugar; or maybe add other spices), wrap in cling wrap, and fridge it for 1-2 days. Then put it in the crock.

Next, when the belly is done (8-10ish hours), remove it, and put it under the broiler for 1-3 minutes to really crisp it.

Especially the sear, crock, broil method really brings out a good flavor profile and a good crisp.

Dec 12, 2014
foreverhungry in Home Cooking

BYO-Low/No Corkage

It would be great to see more BYOB restaurants. Philly has about 50 restaurants just in Center City that are BYOB, ranging from food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar to some solid places. Maybe the economics are different, but if Philly can have 50 BYOBs in Center City that seem to be able to compete, I'm not sure why that can't be replicated elsewhere, including the TC.

local source for vanilla beans?

What's the quality difference in vanilla beans among different sources? To my taste, there's a giant quality difference in many spices such as bay leaves, peppercorns, nutmeg, etc. between suppliers such as Penzy's and some coops on the one hand, and bulk distributors such as Costco on the other hand. I'm wondering why the same wouldn't apply to vanilla beans?

Of course, this implies that a quality spice makes a difference. To some,and maybe for some applications, it doesn't.

I can't believe anyone hasn't posted about #grapegate yet

Good blog post. I think you nailed it about the insecurity issue.