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plàtanos madurìsimos

I did a 40-pound lechòn (from La Gallinita, 24th & Harrison in San Francisco) Saturday and it was great. Marinated 3 days in a solution of 1 gal. water to 1 pound kosher salt, juice of 6 oranges and 2 lemons, about 12 cloves of garlic smashed with a mallet, and a couple of spoonsfuls of dried oregano. Served with mòros (¡pero sì, con sofrito!) y cristianos and plàtanos con crema to about 35 very happy people, with enough leftovers for two or three more dinners. And a friend of mine did a 50-pound lamb, raised on her own farm, and said it was terrific--cooked in under 2 hours. My one word of advice for a pierna would be to check it for doneness--you might want to use one of those thermometers with a long probe so you don't have to open the Caja. It gets really hot in that box and you wouldn't want to burn that delicious pernìl. Otherwise, go for it!

plàtanos madurìsimos

Caja China de Florida (estilo Cubano),

http://www.lacajachina.com/

y claro que sì, frijolitos negros con sofrito, arroz, amarillas con crema.

Thanks for good wishes--I'm not Peruvian but if any Peruànos are reading, I join in good wishes.

plàtanos madurìsimos

That's what I'll do by default, though I've only got from yesterday (when I bought them) till Saturday (when we roast the lechòn in our Caja China.) Thanks for the approval re accents, Cat Chow.

plàtanos madurìsimos

Yes, the East Bay is sort of off my circuit; where exactly is Oriental Lucky Mart?

plàtanos madurìsimos

A few years ago there were at least two places in the Mission District that sold way-overripe plàtanos (plantains), the skins completely black and wrinkly, sometimes with a little gray mold, the fruit pink and soft and intensely sweet. Lately I can't find these; I tried four produce stores this morning and while they had ripe ones (yellow skins with substantial black areas) as well as the green ones, nobody had them at the next stage (one place used to put these in a separate bin marked "Maduros #2") that I think is the tastiest. Anybody know where else I might find them? If you're making twice-fried tostones the medium-ripe ones are fine, but for once-fried amarillas you can't beat the #2's.

What is your favorite CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP kitchen gadget

Three pair of 12-inch aluminum tongs, from a restaurant supply place--a few bucks a pair. Heatproof fingers! I love them. And I have a 16- or 17-inch pair to use on the grill.

Jun 15, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

Ferry Plaza - So long, Fitzgerald

Fitz emailed me today to report his decision not to come back to Ferry Plaza this year. He says his sales have dropped steadily and severely over the four years (2003-2006 inclusive) since the move from Green Street to Ferry Plaza; he blames the influx of tourists, crowding out actual customers (the tourists look but buy little or nothing) in the market and making parking, never easy, next to impossible. He's on the CUESA board so his explanation carries weight; right or wrong, the sales figures don't lie, and he (along with Mariquita Farm) is packing it in. Is the Ferry market headed toward becoming a bogus tourist attraction, "market-land," with a few upscale shops (the wine place, Recchiuti) but fewer and fewer actual growers selling actual food to local customers? I sure hope not.

kitchen appliances

Unsealed burners--I have the impression you get more heat from them than from sealed.

Clleaning the grill is very easy. Turn it on, then when it's nice and hot give it a scrub with a barbecue grill brush. I got it for meat and fish but hve since discovered the joys of grilled zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, asparagus... fantastic.

Apr 09, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

Asparagus Time

Brushed with olive oil and grilled (this works better with the thicker stalks), then seasoned either with a sprinkle of Meyer lemon juice or a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Mar 15, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Home Cooking

Asparagus Time

I do this using fresh feta cheese (inside the phyllo package) from Cowgirl Creamery. Delicious.

Mar 15, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Home Cooking

Easy Pancetta

I tried making guanciale by a similar method and found that the hardest thing to come by was air circulation during the hanging. My basement was dark enough and cool enough but probably not dry enough, and without that steady breeze that I'm told is an essential part of curing Prosciutto di Parma. The result was some ugly-looking mold on the outside of the pork jowl. The inside might have been OK but I was too scared to cut into it and find out, especially since I can get beautiful guanciale from Salumi, in Seattle, and great locally made pancetta from Molinari's, Lucca, or Little City Meats here in San Francisco.

Mar 15, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Recipes

pane pugliese?

Do any of the Bay Area artisanal bakeries make a pane pugliese, and if so, how is it for texture and taste?

Typical Sicilian ????

The cardoons at Knoll Farm stand at the San Francisco Ferry Building market last Saturday were the best I've ever had. I trimmed them (a nuisance but necessary), cut them in six-inch lengths and poached them about 30 minutes; while they cooled I made a Béchamel, added about half a cup of grated Pecorino Romano, then put the cardoons in a gratin dish, spooned the sauce over, grated some more Pecorino over the top, baked 20 minutes at 350° F. until the top was slightly browned. They were almost sweet, a really wonderful flavor--artichoke-y but different.

Mar 12, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Home Cooking

Any place to buy hog jowl or wild boar jowl?

I went in search of fresh hog jowl (planning on curing guanciale) a couple of years ago. There was a farcical moment in which I (non-Chinese speaking) tried to demonstrate, by wiggling my cheek with my hand, to a non-English-speaking Chinatown pork butcher just what I wanted. Thankfully a bilingual customer turned up who explained my request to him but he couldn't supply it; neither could Lucky Pork on Mission or La Gallinita on 24th. I finally ordered one through Golden Gate Meat Co, followed instructions on curing, then wrapped it in cheesecloth (to keep bugs off) and hung it in my garage. It was cool enough but I suspect too damp with not enough cross-ventilation; anyway the meat developed some scary-looking mold and I didn't have the nerve to scrape it off and try cooking the rest, so into the garbage it went. I order guanciale from Salumi in Seattle, run by Armandino Batali (Mario's dad) who spent a year or two in Italy studying the craft of curing pork; I do my own duck confit, but for guanciale or prosciutto I'll rely on a pro.

Cranberry vodka and blood orange juice... what else?

Combine equal parts blood orange juice and cranberry vodka in a champagne flute, then fill with Prosecco.

Feb 28, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Spirits

Safari Problem

Weirdness--Safari and this board aren't friends. I hit the Back button and instead my post starts to clone itself.. sorry. Mods? Help? Thanks.

Feb 26, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Site Talk

Immersion Blender?

I make Batali's Basic Tomato Sauce (onions, garlic, grated carrot, canned tomatoes, fresh thyme, simmer 30 minutes) and then go at it with my Cuisinart immersion blender. The result is a nice balance between smooth puree and large tomato pieces. Likewise with root veggie soups as someone said above--the result is smooth but you won't think you're eating baby food.

Feb 26, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Home Cooking

Westlake Joe's - Report [Daly City]

Another nice thing about Joe's-style places is that they serve a martini large enough to bathe a Dachshund in (if that's your idea of a good time.) Yes, I think we'll have to get out to Westlake for burgers and those big crisp-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside fries.

One more reminiscence: the old Vanessi's, which was kind of an upscale Joe's. I was there one night when Carol Doda stopped in on her break from the Condor, just down the block; the maître d' called out loudly "Miss Doda, party of two!" which if you remember her claim to fame was a perfect way to annnounce her.

Westlake Joe's - Report [Daly City]

I've always been under the impression that while all the "Joe's" (Original, New, West Portal [now defunct], the old Bruno's et al.) had a general similarity, the defining characteristic was having "Joe's Special"--scrambled eggs with ground beef and spinach--on the menu. Which Joe's originated this dish (which I never especially liked) I can't say, but they all had it. Bruno's used to have sautéd chicken livers and sautéd sweetbreads on the menu; they were served with a generic brown gravy that I think was drawn up from a vast underground pool that also had outflow pipes at the Hoffman Grill and Mike's Pool Hall on Broadway.

Which KitchenAid Stand Mixer?

I have no experience with the 600-watt model, but my 300-watt kneads pasta dough for 15 minutes (on lowest speed) with no strain--the motor housing gets warm, but that's it. So my first thought would be that you have a lemon and should get in touch with the company.

Feb 16, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

choosing a new kitchen stove

I have a Wolf gas rangetop, four 16,000BTU/hr burners and a grill, plus Viking 1200 CFM hood. All this ran about $3500 three years ago and I'm totally satisfied.

Feb 05, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

Spirits for Christmas - What's the Difference?

My understanding is that Southern Comfort is a sweetened drink based on Bourbon, as Irish Mist is based on Irish, Drambuie on Scotch, Rock and Rye on rye. I find those generally too sugary, but it's all a matter of personal preference. I think you might have a pleasant surprise if you started exploring French brandies--Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados (made from distilled apples rather than wine.) Somebody above mentioned Germain-Robin; they've recently come out with a California apple brandy that I think is really amazing, though at around $60 for 750 ml it's no bargain.

Jan 29, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Spirits

I'm Hatin' It

A couple of observations: the first KitchenAid mixer I ever saw was on the first Julia Child series in the 60's; watching that balloon whisk make meringues, I was immediately gripped by desire, though I didn't cook at the time and couldn't have afforded a KA anyway. So it's an old story--older than that, really; I just watched a half-hour or so of a 50's sci-fi movie ("Earth vs. the Flying Saucers") and whaddaya know, everybody's driving a Ford product.

On the other hand I don't know of any evidence that truly subliminal ads--that is, images that go by too quickly to be registered consciously by the viewer--have any effect on consumer decisions; the notorious "popcorn" findings turned out to be completely un-reprodycible and were probably faked in the first place. My tentative conclusion: merchandising is everywhere, and given its obvious effectiveness ("must... have... balloon whisk") I don't know why any advertiser would bother with a "subliminal" message.

Jan 27, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Features

What dishes are particularly impressive when made with a Food Processor?

Crumb crusts, yes indeed. My basic fruit-crisp topping: 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup pecans, 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter; process to a coarse meal. Delicious and so easy my cat could do it.

Jan 22, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

What dishes are particularly impressive when made with a Food Processor?

Come Springtime, make a fava bean puree: shell and peel the favas, put them into the processor with a couple of coarsely chopped cloves of garlic, turn the processor on, then start adding olive oil through the feed tube until you get a nice bright green spreadable paste. Yum.

Jan 21, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

Inherited Sabatier knives - how to handle/clean/etc.?

I join in stressing the importance of prompt drying. As for storage, instead of an expensive, space-filling block, I buy plastic knife guards at the hardware store and use them consistently, so the good knives go in the same drawer as the measuring spoons and the bench scraper etc.

Jan 15, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

recipe: orange marmalade gingerbread

Do you use a loaf pan or a round cake pan for this?

Jan 13, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Home Cooking

Which KitchenAid Stand Mixer?

KA has used a variety of model names--Artisan, Classic, Ultra Power, Professional, Heavy Duty and others--over the years. I think the key variables are (1) power, measured in watts, and (2) tilt-up motor or bowl-lift. I've got a 300-watt tilt-up that does everything I need it to do, but if I could have got 450 watts and a bowl lift for an extra ten bucks, I would have. I don't know what the gears are made of but I've used the machine several times a week--sometimes kneading dough for 15 or 20 minutes at a stretch--over about six years, and no problems.

Jan 13, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Cookware

Oxtail Soup Question

I don't know nilaga, but what I do is:

1. Parboil the oxtail pieces in lots of boiling water for about ten minutes. Take them out and discard this water.

2. Brown the oxtail pieces in oil over high heat in a heavy pan--enameled cast iron is good--until a good dark brown; don't move them around a lot, let them sit there and caramelize.

3. Take the oxtail pieces out and add chopped veg--onions, carrots, celery, garlic if you want garlic; lower the heat and let the veggies soften, then deglaze the pan with red wine, add tomato paste if you like, put the oxtails back in, add water to cover by an inch or two, cover the pan and simmer at least two hours.

4. Besides terrific oxtail soup (or stock) you now have tender, nicely browned oxtail chunks; brush them with whole grain mustard, roll them in bread crumbs, and bake 20 minutes at 400°. Terrific with fried potatoes and vinegary greens.

Jan 10, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Home Cooking

Need your very best chocolate frosting recipe

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Comine all ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat until one thick bubble breaks the surface. This is less solid than a ganache, even refrigerated; it will stay liquid (though very thick) spooned over ice cream, but it makes a great frosting too.
(Adapted from Paula Peck's The Art of Fine Baking.)

Jan 05, 2007
rootlesscosmo in Home Cooking