Scriever's Profile

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"Le Gourmet Chef" All Clad look-alikes

Don't know about Le Gourmet, but have you nosed around in Wal-Mart? Some locations carry tri-ply stainless Tramontina on the cheap, and it's actually quality stuff (even if the rest of the Tramontina line they carry is junk). Scoped it out after reading a very complimentary review in Cook's Illustrated. Picked up a 12" frypan for under $40 and love it.

Sep 01, 2010
Scriever in General Topics

I've Got It...Now What Do I Do With It?

That's exactly it: Went in totally unfamiliar. I wasn't expecting the added punch of flavor and probably used too much.

I'm open to trying again. Off the top, I generally combine the juice of 1 mediumlemon with cardamom, cumin, grains of paradise and cloves plus 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar (vs granulated) over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then toss in maybe a dozen halved/pitted medjools and cook just long enough to soak up the flavor.

Aug 25, 2010
Scriever in General Topics

Best inexpensive coffee?

I prefer Folger's of the three. Also, have you tried spicing your coffee? I've tossed in allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, and/or cloves to brighten up less-than-stellar brews. Cinnamon/cardamom is a favorite combo. It's better with good beans, but the spices have helped to salvage pots worth of coffee that otherwise would have been tossed in favor of Excedrin.

I've heard, too (probably via Chow), that a little salt in the coffee can improve the flavor. Have any hounds tried that to know if it works and suggest what portions to use?

Aug 24, 2010
Scriever in General Topics

Looking for Haloumi Recipes & places to buy

The cookbook Spice by Ana Sortun has a great recipe for spiced dates and pears with haloumi.

Aug 24, 2010
Scriever in General Topics

Arlington Recommendation -- Escape from Conference at National Airport

Portofino serves up a very nice Italian meal. It's on 23rd & Eads opposite Crystal City's towers across Route 1. There are also some good casual options in the same neighborhood, to include Kabob Palace (awesome take-away) and Cafe Pizzaiolo (busy/noisy but quality pizza).

NoVa Thai

Thai Peppers in Alexandria is a bright and friendly low-key restaurant and my go-to for my pad Thai, ginger beef, and fried rice fixes. Their tofu is great steamed or fried (fav) and they've got very tasty soups and small plates. Don't know how authentic an experience it is, but I dig it. Certainly the best I've had. Has anyone tried it to compare?

BTW - Myanmar is a very happy discovery.

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Thai Peppers Restaurant
2018 Mount Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301

I've Got It...Now What Do I Do With It?

- Jaggery: Never took it out of the wrapper until I ran out of granulated sugar and tried to use it as a substitute when preparing spiced dates. It was... surprising. Does that stuff go bad?

- Red Bean Paste: Have a can that's been a fixture on my kitchen shelf for a couple years now

- Salsify: Found it on happy accident while out and about on a couple occasions, but it went limp and presumably bad before I could decide how to use it

- Licorice jam: Received as a gift. Love licorice, but it's a little strange and I can't figure how best to use it.

Aug 20, 2010
Scriever in General Topics

Your Favorite Cracker or Snack Chip (Non-Potato Category)

Nothing beats simple water crackers topped with good cheese (with Alkapal: Trader Joe's are cheap & tasty). My go-to topper is cave-aged, raw-milk, Lancaster Amish cheddar sold cheap at the local farmer's market. Nom.

Maybe I overlooked it, but I'm surprised no-one mentioned pita chips. Love 'em plain or loaded with hummus. Often skip the expensive bags and split/bake pocket pita in the toaster oven with a little touch of olive oil and coarse salt.

Much love to the Cheez-It, too. I was mad for those Cheddar & More Cheddar Cheez-It Twisterz for a while. Plus, not really a chip or cracker, but when really weak-willed I can pack away Utz Cheese Balls until my tongue burns.

Aug 20, 2010
Scriever in General Topics

Best place to buy kegs in/near Arlingon/Alexandria?

We're stocking the bar for out wedding and would like to serve up some good keg beer. Any tips on where to go in Northern Virginia? Have already discovered Total Wine at Landmark.

You haven't had a ! until you've had a !!

Oo. Time to travel.

More generally -- you haven't had a date until you've had a spiced date.

I like to combine the juice of one lemon with a tablespoon of dark brown sugar, ground grains of paradise, cardamom, cumin, & cloves in a pan over medium-low heat. Once the sugar's dissolved and the mixture's steaming, toss in maybe a dozen-plus halved & pitted dried Medjool dates (the best I've found out east) cut-side down over low heat. They turn tender pretty quickly; once they're hot and tender transfer everything to a shallow bowl to continue to stew off heat.

Great fresh off the stove and almost as good as drained & chilled leftovers. (Also tasty: let them stew overlong until mushy then puree, chill, and add as a swirl in homemade ice cream.)

Aug 30, 2009
Scriever in General Topics

You haven't had a ! until you've had a !!

Cara Cara navels took the boredom out of oranges, for me. They're a low-acidity winter variety with pink flesh and a surprisingly floral, sweet taste that makes them incredibly addictive.

I'd never heard of them until a small batch turned up at a market in Southern Maryland last winter. When I asked about them the greengrocer just smiled, pulled out a pocketknife and sliced one open for me. I tasted one wedge and was hooked. They were hard to find for resupply, but I bought them up whenever I could. Can't wait for the cold months this year.

Aug 30, 2009
Scriever in General Topics

Does a burger need a topping?

I'll vouch for kubasd and the egg. It's delicious; kind of like steak and eggs, only much better.

Off the subject - fried eggs also get along great with pizza. Tried it at a local DC spot that served up a seasonal Neapolitan pizza with light/fresh sauce, green tomatoes as topping and one gorgeous over easy egg at center. Bliss.

Aug 25, 2009
Scriever in General Topics

Semi-Catered Funky Picnic Wedding Food

My fiancee and I are organizing our wedding for Next September. We're trying to keep it affordable, but a guest list of 160 makes it challenging.

We figured a picnic-style reception would keep it manageable and we're thinking of cutting catering costs by maybe organizing from scrumptious take-out from local eateries and cooking up at least some of the stuff ourselves. Or, rather, using the help of talented and eager volunteers. Any suggestions for tasty, unique big batch dishes that can be prepared easily the day of or hold overnight?

Aug 22, 2009
Scriever in Home Cooking

Mason-Dixon line of Mayo

Maryland and Northern Virginia is the North/South mayo transition region, as far as I'm concerned. In Southern Maryland, where I grew up, it's very prevalent. While technically Dixie, it isn't true enough south for availability of DUKE'S - we bring out the Hellman's. My grandmother even uses it in a dessert we call the green stuff: lime Jell-O, pineapple chunks, cottage cheese, mayonnaise for opacity and creaminess. Sometimes walnuts are tossed in. I think it's quite good. But most of my MD friends and family still recoil.

When I moved further north in the state, mayo seemed less ubiquitous, and I even met people who abhorred the stuff. Northern VA, where I live now, is kind of a mixed bag, but once you mosey into the country and toward Richmond into the true south the stuff spreads wild like kudzu. Generally, I find the use of mayo increases with the menu availability of grits.

By the way: Miracle Whip is not mayonnaise. It is a mortal sin.

Aug 22, 2009
Scriever in General Topics

Mason-Dixon line of Mayo

Mayonnaise cartography? You rock.

Aug 22, 2009
Scriever in General Topics

Does a burger need a topping?

Cheeseburger or no burger. Put whatever you want on top, so long as cheese goes on first.

The burger patty is like a good pizza crust - it's a blank canvas for creative expression (even if it's OH2FL's peanut butter). Though sometimes simple is best. gotta admit, I still love a good salt & pepper seasoned grill burger topped with a slice of Kraft American quartered and stacked. Pop that on the burger before taking it off the grill and it melts down like a pat of butter, oozing over the sides of the patty and into the nooks and crannies of a toasted English muffin.

My only rule: Don't ruin a burger with ketchup. That's a child's condiment.

Aug 22, 2009
Scriever in General Topics

Does a burger need a topping?

Whoa. You're blowing my mind.

Aug 22, 2009
Scriever in General Topics

Wedding Food

The challenge: My fiancee and I are trying to throw together a wedding without going broke. We've got a guest list of 160 (!) and will be partying it up outdoors at my parents' house next September. The reception will be light and casual, like a fancy picnic.

We love food, and really want to serve up creative options. But we can't afford pricey caterers. Does anyone have any tips on good, creative food sources? Affordable caterers would be great, of course, but we're also game for serving up a mix of eclectic take-out. We're in Alexandria and are willing to make trips, though most of what we'll get will have to survive a trip to Calvert County (75 mins. SE of DC) and at least a day or two storage.

Also, we've got ready & talented volunteers to man grills and such for outdoor cooking. Any ideas for luscious big-batch cooking?

Thanks in advance for your genius.

How many vinegars can I *get by* with?

Pick up a couple specialty varieties for fun. A few favorites I've been burning through:

PURPLE SWEET POTATO VINEGAR - Great flavor, versatile. Aces for hollandaise and making a vinaigrette with pumpkin seed oil.

BLOOD ORANGE VINEGAR - Makes a great reduction to pair with homemade orange vanilla ice cream.

PASSION FRUIT VINEGAR - Good in marinade.

Mar 21, 2009
Scriever in Home Cooking

Veggie/meat yin yang in N. VA?

I'm in a mixed couple; my girlfriend is a disciplined vegetarian while I remain stubbornly omnivorous. We've worn paths to Busboys and Luna Grill for their balanced menus and she's eaten her fill of meatless pizzas and noodles and Asian cuisines. Any tips out there for a fresh spot that has wide, creative options on either side of the green divide? Prefer leads in Northern Virginia, but will wander.

Ballston Common?

Good suggestions. But about Vapiano: That place is a Eurotrendy Gap with a food counter and bar. Strikes: communal dining table; awkward seat cubes; noise; the headache of a convoluted card-based order/purchasing/food stall system. Granted, the food was pretty good. And I can see how a midweek luncher might dig the fast casual concept. But the alien experience left me feeling rushed, harried and discombobulated. And persnickety. What happened to lingering over a good meal? Whippersnappers.

Harrumph.

Grits?

Finally tried Del Merei for the first time. I agree. Their garlic cheese grits are delicious, with just enough bite to make them interesting. The tastes of shrimp & grits I stole off my girlfriend's plate were excellent. Though without the shrimp dish's sauce my own side dish of grits was a bit too firm for my taste.

I'll certainly be back.

A note on Food Matters: Their simple grits aren't as mouth-watering a notion as Miss Shirley's (time to travel), but I think I might be a convert to the larger grain coarse yellow cornmeal. On one return trip the grits were a perfectly salt-and-pepper seasoned approximation of risotto, and even the less accomplished batches have made for great Georgia ice cream.

Grits?

I'm there.

Beer sorbet?

Good thought. Discovered a couple recipes that back you up with a similar tactic, using cold beer with simple syrup. The links were forwarded by hohokam in the same-titled thread on the Home Cooking board if you're curious.

Sep 07, 2008
Scriever in Beer

Beer sorbet?

That's fascinating. Kind of a shame they couldn't get it to work. But maybe one could add chilled Pop Rocks once the sorbet has set soft in the churn, then rush it to the freezer. Those things are just candied carbonation, anyhow. Problem solved!

...then again, maybe not.

Sep 04, 2008
Scriever in Home Cooking

Beer sorbet?

Thanks for the leads. They seem like good starting points.

Sep 04, 2008
Scriever in Home Cooking

Beer sorbet?

Some time ago I caught a piece of one of those weird food shows while channel surfing. Think it was Andrew Zimmern. He was in Belgium at this restaurant that used beer in every dish. For dessert the owner had devised a dairy-free wheat beer sorbet, which Zimmern described as tasting a lot like a glazed donut.

I like beer, and am intrigued by its conversion to dessert. So, on a whim, I tried making up a small batch based upon faint recollection. Figured I'd try the same technique as making a sweet balsamic reduction, then churn the syrupy result.

First off, I discovered that adding sugar to carbonated beer yields one hell of a lot of foam. Just 1/4 cup added to 3 poured bottles yielded a 2-quart head, if not more. Subsequent, smaller additions of sugar reacted similarly, though not as severely. When the foam eventually dissipated I tried leaving the beer & sugar concoction on a slow simmer to reduce. The batch never made it much further, though; I couldn't endure the stench of simmering beer long enough to get it to reduce very well and samples tasted like a night of suds and sweets gone sour in the stomach, if you catch my drift.

This may be partially to blame for my choice of Shock Top as the beer. One of those bright orangey varieties. Figure the citric acid couldn't have helped. The stench is only now dissipated from the kitchen, though I think it still stains my soul.

Point is, has anyone attempted anything similar and/or know of a beer sorbet recipe/technique? And is it worthwhile? I'm eager to try again if provided assurances of less toxic results.

Sep 03, 2008
Scriever in Home Cooking

Beer sorbet?

I caught a piece of that Anthony Zimmern show while channel surfing. He was in Belgium at this restaurant that used beer in every dish. For dessert the owner devised a dairy-free wheat beer sorbet, which Zimmern described as tasting a lot like a glazed donut.

On a whim, I tried making up a small batch on my own. Tried the same technique as making a sweet balsamic reduction. First off, I discovered out that adding sugar to carbonated beer yields one hell of a lot of foam. Just 1/4 cup added to 3 beers yielded a 2-quart head, easily. When that eventually dissipated I tried leaving the beer & sugar concoction on slow simmer. The batch never made it to the churn, though; I couldn't get it to reduce very well and it ended up tasting like Sunday morning after a sugar binge, if you catch my drift.

If you don't, it tasted like sweet beery vomit. (Think it's partially to blame for my choice of Shock Top as the beer. One of those bright orangey varieties. Figure the citric acid couldn't have helped.) The odor is just now dissipated from the kitchen, though I think it still stains my soul.

Point is, has anyone attempted anything similar and/or know of a beer sorbet recipe/technique? I'm eager to try again if provided assurances of less toxic results.

Sep 02, 2008
Scriever in Beer

Parmesan-Crusted Mushroom Omelets

Aug 28, 2008
Scriever in Recipes

omelette innovation

Omelette fans have got to try this twist I came up with. Or at least I like to think I'm the originating genius:

Add a thin coating of fresh-grated parmesan all over the base of your non-stick omelette pan right after buttering. Give the cheese a chance to brown just slightly, then pour in the egg. Agitate carefully, using pan swirls and the corner of a silicone spatula in small/light motions so as not to disturb the cheese beneath very much. If the egg feels as though it's sticking, don't fret. That's just the delicious cheese. Continue cooking as normal, teasing under the omelette to make sure the cheese is unsticking once the egg is set. The omelette will slide into a tri-fold easily.

If you get it right, you'll have a most excellent golden brown crust of crisp, toasted parmesan. Seriously tasty.

Aug 28, 2008
Scriever in Home Cooking