maria lorraine's Profile

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Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School Professor, Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food

Apparently Edelman overlooked pesky details like the law he quoted, and the fact that different locations of Sichuan Garden (Brookline vs. Woburn) have different owners and different prices.

<< The law doesn't actually require treble damages. Instead, a judge can choose to award them in cases where the defendant committed a "willful or knowing violation" or "if the defendant refused in bad faith to settle." (Also, there's technically a $25 minimum for any and all damages.) The thing is, Sichuan Garden very quickly offered to refund Edelman what he'd been overcharged. According to [Georgetown University law professor Adam] Levitin, that should have put them in the clear. >>

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2...

Does Saffron taste like plastic to anyone else?

To me (in real life, as well as chemically), this flavor is far closer to iodine.

And it's very much "dosage"-related -- it means you have used too much! Too many ppm!

Dec 12, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Vin Santo

It's quite an amazing place, don't you think?
I've been there as well, and enjoyed the property immensely, not only the wines, but the unusual geometrics of the vineyards. (Jeffersonian geometry, but from before Jefferson, is what I thought.) Also saw the Vin Santo "batteria," and dined with the family. The Avignonesi Vin Santo is a rare treat indeed. I've only had it a few times.

Other less pricey options exist. I recall the Castello di Monsanto Vin Santo with some fondness.

Dec 11, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Vin Santo

Avignonesi is phenomenal. If you can find it and afford it.

Dec 10, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Vin Santo

Are you familiar with Vin Santo? The wine is already oxidized from being sealed tightly in small barrels for anywhere from 5 to 10 years (the barrels are never opened during that period).

I love Vin Santo, but some wine drinkers -- even stickie lovers -- do not care for its special oxidized flavors, even if the wine is in optimum condition.

This is an old vintage. Even though the wine is intentionally oxidized (read about how it's made), it's a tough call to say if the wine is still a beauty, or a bit too old.

So you'll just have to try it, and yes, a backup would be best. Another Vin Santo, perhaps, or 20-year tawny port (must be at least 20 years old, IMO, for the stunning, secondary flavors to develop), are what I would select in case this bottle is too old or not to your liking.

The traditional accompaniment is high-quality almond biscotti -- I prefer the cantucci or cantuccini. Accompaniments other than biscotti/cantucci are dried fruits and toasted nuts, possibly gorgonzola or other blue cheese -- a platter or wooden cutting board makes a nice presentation. Keep it simple, though. You'll be able to drink this over several evenings if the wine is intact.

Here is the writeup on the wine from Fattoria Montellori:
http://www.fattoriamontellori.it/wp-c...

Vin Santo -- scroll down for Production Methods
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vin_Santo

And here are CellarTracker notes on the wine, but not your particular vintage:
http://www.cellartracker.com/classic/...

Dec 10, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Nitrate Free Bacon- what's the difference?

Thanks for writing this. I was aware of all this, but it's still good to read it again.

I think where misunderstanding ensues is the use of specific words, and parsing the difference between what the USDA considers a cure, and what has been considered a cure historically over millennia. Salt, sugar, nitrites/nitrates are used and have been used for millennia for curing.

Also, the definition of bacon is laid down by the USDA, with certain mandated additions/procedures, yet those additions/procedure are not mandated for the home or farm cook.

Bacon, in my mind, is cured by definition.
Obviously, something "treated" with celery juice is being cured with nitrites, even though the label is allowed to say Uncured.

A pork belly treated with salt is salt pork. It is cured but not bacon. Bacon requires nitrites/nitrates and usually smoking. Please correct my understanding if I've missed a nuance.

Dec 05, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Nitrate Free Bacon- what's the difference?

The point is the nitrites are still there in the celery-cured bacon, and it's just deceptive labeling calling the bacon nitrite-free or uncured.

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Nitrate Free Bacon- what's the difference?

I'm asking...

Is there a semantics/wording tapdance calling something "Uncured" when it is actually cured using vegetable nitrites?

To draw in consumers to purchase the product, by misleading them into thinking the "uncured" is better/healthier for them than those cured with non-vegetable nitrites?

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Nitrate Free Bacon- what's the difference?

Basic questions:

Is bacon, by definition, cured?

Can pork belly that is uncured be called bacon?

Is bacon that is not cured using nitrites but cured using
vegetable nitrites, like celery juice/powder, truly "Uncured"?
"Uncured" is often listed on the package. Is this accurate?

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Nitrate Free Bacon- what's the difference?

Kathy, your family hams/bacon sound tasty, but my sense was the thread was about commercially produced bacon without nitrites/nitrates consumers can buy, rather than make.

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Nitrate Free Bacon- what's the difference?

I've checked the USDA website on bacon and nitrites/nitrates. You can read it here:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/f...

Looks like nitrites are mandated, but nitrates are not.

Obviously, this is bacon produced commercially for sale, not homemade bacon.

Others will certainly have additional insight, and -- as mentioned earlier -- I would love to know the brand names of bacon that have no nitrites or nitrates and no naturally occurring form of those, as in celery juice/powder/salt, etc.

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Nitrate Free Bacon- what's the difference?

Happy to check out brands that contain no nitrates or nitrites. Please recommend them so I can follow up.

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in General Topics

Italy: 2005 Lechthaler Trentino Pinot Nero

Is there a special reason you wanted this particular wine?
You'd had it before or you wanted an Italian Pinot Nero/Noir?

Because there *are* others...

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Why add honey or sugar to whole wheat bread?

Honey is an invert sugar, and hygroscopic, meaning it will hold on to water. That means less evaporation of water from the bread when it's in the oven, and a lighter (less dense), more tender loaf.

To a lesser extent, the honey/sugar provides some food for the yeast, but the maltose in the flour is the biggest source of that, IIRC. From my reading, there is no issue that the yeast have trouble using a disaccharide.

From How Stuff Works:
"Yeasts obtain food from fructose, glucose, and other monosaccharides (simple sugars), which are found in most fruits. Yeast enzymes chemically break down the sugars into products that the cell can use. Other yeast enzymes can make simple sugars out of disaccharides (double sugars), which are found in certain organisms."
http://science.howstuffworks.com/life...

Also, it is my opinion that the honey has some enzymatic interaction with the yeast or the flour that improves the loaf. Nope, no scientific citation, just something that I (and a honey expert) suspect.

Finally, honey or sugar add flavor. It can be a small enough amount that the flavor change is added complexity and a reduction of bitterness rather than detected sweetness. The overall flavor of the bread improves with a small amount of honey or sugar added to the dough, IMO.

Dec 04, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

new wine experiences in napa or calistoga

2011 was also a very disappointing vintage (rain and rot), not just for Pinots but for all varietals in Napa/Sonoma. Yes, there are exceptions, but not many. Go straight to 2012.

Italy: 2005 Lechthaler Trentino Pinot Nero

2005 is an older vintage for Italian Pinot Noir/Nero, and may be extremely difficult to find. It may even be "over the hill." Did you find it reviewed in an older magazine article?

Would a different (newer) vintage work for you?

You can call the importer, Vias Wines, to get more information. Tell them where you are, and ask if any stores that carry the Lechthaler PN are near you. Also ask if there are stores you might be able to order from.

Here is the wine on their portfolio list:
http://www.viaswine.com/product.cfm?I...

Vias Imports Ltd.
http://www.viaswine.com/contact.cfm
875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2200
New York, New York 10001 USA
Telephone (212) 629 0200
Toll Free 1 (800) 936 6125
Fax (212) 629 0262
info@viaswine.com

Dec 03, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine
1

Gumphof for Thanksgiving meal?

Schiava is a very common red wine in Alto Adige/Sud Tirol. Who knows, it may be good, it may not be. Open it and find out. It's good of you to make the effort to transport wine by hand to the festivities. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Nov 25, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Gumphof for Thanksgiving meal?

Yes, it's a winery making Schiava and other Alto Adige/Sud Tirol varietals.

OP, if you've been asked to bring a bottle, and are relying on this one to be it, I'd consider bringing another. Though some of AA/ST's red wines are wonderful, not all are, and some are definitely an acquired taste.

Sure, open it (do you know how it's been stored??), but have another (better) bottle as your offering.

Nov 25, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Wine for prime rib and traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner?

The wine list is here: http://melisse.com/wp-content/uploads...

The list is predominantly French, with many California offerings. I personally love Beaujolais Cru with Thanksgiving, and you could certainly choose among these on the wine list, even selecting one of the inkier ones (perhaps one of several Morgons on the list) to pair with the Prime Rib. IMO, Prime Rib often does not have the flavor depth of grilled steak or pot roast and does better with wines not as heavy as a Cab. I'm thinking with the three of you, one bottle of red should cover the gamut. Beaujolais Cru or Pinot Noir are my choices, and please watch your budget as some of the selections are $$$.

I liked this article on Thanksgiving wine pairing in the San Francisco Chronicle quite a bit. It's written by Jon Bonne.

http://www.sfgate.com/wine/thirst/art...

Nov 23, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Sourdough starter not rising - help!

Agreed. 90 F is too high. Frig temp is good. Check the other temps for the difference in flavor they produce: acetic vs. lactic acid, or a combo.

Nov 22, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Sourdough starter not rising - help!

I disagree on the flours, since the source of the yeast and bacteria that gets the starter going is ON the flour. Rye flour has the most bacteria and yeast that the starter needs, which is why I recommend going to any store (like Whole Foods) that has bulk bins and just buying a few ounces for the starter. Rye flour helps create a healthy bacterial and yeast colony. The flour that gets the starter going has no bearing on what kind of bread you eventually make and bake -- it's simply to get the starter going.

After the starter is established, remove some to bake bread, and add whatever flour you like to the starter you've removed to make bread. If you're wondering, the little bit of rye flour in the starter won't noticeably affect the final flavor of white bread,

Or, after the starter is established, gradually add in the flour you will consistently use for bread baking to the starter. Then, remove some starter each time you bake bread and re-feed the starter.

But I like to consistently feed a starter with rye flour also because it is so reliable to keep it going.

Fermentation temperature does have a bearing on the activity of the starter (room temp is fine, as bada bing suggested). Where fermentation temperature really comes into play is during bread rising when varying the temperature will change the flavor of the bread because the bacteria in the starter thrive at different temperatures. I prefer a long, cool fermentation for flavor.

See my post above at Mar 10, 2013 at 05:55 PM
for more info on how fermentation temperature affects the final flavor of the bread, and read the info at the link provided.

Good luck. You'll get there. I'd also like to recommend that you read the excellent info at the Debra Wink's website, The Fresh Loaf.
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/

Nov 22, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Making yogurt without using commercial yogurt or starter

Mentioned upthread: Both the bacteria and very unusual yeast in a starter culture provide leavening.

Commercial yeast is a completely separate subject; of course commercial yeast provides leavening.

Nov 21, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Making yogurt without using commercial yogurt or starter

Some info upthread on this.
Lots more found by Googling.

The Biodiversity of Lactic Acid Bacteria in Greek Traditional Wheat Sourdoughs Is Reflected in Both Composition and Metabolite Formation
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

Handbook of Dough Fermentations
http://books.google.com/books?id=eZjI...

The Genera of Lactic Acid Bacteria
http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&a...

Todar's Textbook of Bacteriology
http://textbookofbacteriology.net/lac...

Read about three different metabolic groups of LAB in sourdough starters and the different gases they produce:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourdoug...

About Lactobacillus sanfrancensis on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactobac...

Nov 21, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Local source for Bulk Callebaut Chocolate

Is Trader's Joes 2 pound bar still made by Callebaut?
Reports in prior years were that it was.

Requesting Course/Wine Progression Assistance, Please!

Sounds incredible. Honestly, I wouldn't change much.

I'd just make sure your portions were small and your wines were
of the same intensity as the flavors in the dishes.

My understanding of the seventh course is that the walnut soup has a sweetness, almost like a liquid-y walnut parfait, is that correct? If so, I'd serve a late harvest wine of some type and Sauternes certainly works. With the foie gras ice cream, I'd certainly serve Sauternes.

Nov 17, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Boutique Sonoma Wineries

That's in Napa Valley.

I'd really encourage the OP to find a region (AVA) of Sonoma County and focus your energies there. I'd suggest Dry Creek, as has already been suggested. Some of the wineries already mentioned are in that region.

Here are maps of the Sonoma County regions:
http://www.wineroad.com/maps/

Sourdough starter not rising - help!

I thought we were discussing Rowdee's issue in these last few posts.

Nov 15, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Sourdough starter not rising - help!

I've refrained from chiming in, but now that you've mentioned it, I will add that I also think the feeding schedule is way too often, and the starter is overwhelmed and shuts down. Give more time between feedings.

And, are you only adding a couple of tablespoons of flour at a time, and non-chlorinated (bottled) water?

I'd use rye flour because it has more of the starter lactobacillus and yeast than WW or white flour.

And, I'd not worry about cleaning the project bowl other than starting with a clean bowl -- the starter is so highly acidic that almost nothing else can grow in it. In fact, it's a miracle of nature that the yeast in a starter can grow in the highly acidic mixture.

Nov 15, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

5 Out of this World Wineries

Agreed. The wines at the other wineries are dreadful, and their buildings are not enough to recommend them.

Nov 13, 2014
maria lorraine in Wine

Making yogurt without using commercial yogurt or starter

Might be bacteria and not enzymes, true. Or both.

Oct 27, 2014
maria lorraine in Home Cooking