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$$ or $$$ NYC restaurant for a celebration

Thank you for the suggestion. It does look lovely and I'm going to keep it in mind but it won't work for this purpose - its closed on sunday and that's the night I need!

Jun 21, 2014
lisaud in Manhattan

$$ or $$$ NYC restaurant for a celebration

@$50pp before tax tip and drinks. I thought I was being specific with the $$ and $$$ in the subject line but I guess that wasn't obvious.

Jun 21, 2014
lisaud in Manhattan

$$ or $$$ NYC restaurant for a celebration

I'm celebrating a big birthday this summer and looking for a nice, fun but not crazy expensive restaurant (I'm treating a few friends) in Manhattan, preferably downtown (but anywhere is OK). I'm not necessarily looking for an exciting or different menu…just good food in a nice atmosphere that will feel celebratory. I am intrigued by The Riverpark (which may be bordering on too pricey actually) and The Clam.

Jun 21, 2014
lisaud in Manhattan

Basting braised brisket??

I sautéed (but stopped short of caramelizing) a bunch of sliced onions and dumped them over the top. I would take it out and slice but I'm concerned about the amount of fat. I bought one that was still in the shrink wrap and had about 1/2" of fat still on most of it (I HATE when the remove 90% of the fat). But if I slice it then then it will be hard to remove the fat. I guess I could remove the fat at 2 hours but I'm not sure how it would change the outcome.

Apr 13, 2014
lisaud in Home Cooking

Basting braised brisket??

Thanks for the replies. Just for the record…its not in a dutch oven. I'm braising in a roasting pan in the oven at 325. Its covered tightly with heavy duty foil. Do these revelations change anyone's opinion?

Apr 13, 2014
lisaud in Home Cooking

Basting braised brisket??

Does anyone think its necessary? I usually don't because its tightly covered and I don't want to disturb it. I just had the Passover brisket discussion with a friend and she bastes her brisket every 1/2 hour! Thoughts?

Apr 13, 2014
lisaud in Home Cooking

lunch on the road from Florence to Lake Como

Thank you all for your ideas. The sunday lunch does sound very appealing however we are now starting to discuss the possibility of leaving the car in Florence and taking a train to Varenna (it seems like parking there is a huge headache and we really don't need the car since we'll only be there three nights). If we do that then obviously we will not stop for lunch!
I think I am going to purchase the book anyway since will will be in Tuscany for close to a week. I was a little surprised to see that, although the translation is new, it hasn't been updated for at least five years. But I guess things don't change all that fast in Italy anyway!

Mar 24, 2013
lisaud in Italy

"Special" dining experience at Lake Como

I posted this question a month ago and never even saw the replies as we had some issues which placed our trip in jeopardy and I took a break from planning.
So now we are back on (hopefully to stay) and I'm back to looking for the perfect spot for my husband's 60th birthday dinner.
I neglected to mention that it was on a Monday and that seems to limit us too.
I am considering Il Caminetto. How about Isola Comacina? I've read some DREADFUL reviews but also a few really good ones and it sounds like the whole experience might compensate for what's lacking in cuisine. That said, I don't want it to be inedible and some of the reviews make it sound as if would be the case.

Mar 23, 2013
lisaud in Italy

lunch on the road from Florence to Lake Como

I have a feeling we will be packing a picnic lunch but I thought I'd ask if anyone has any suggestions for an "easy" lunch stop on a SUNDAY somewhere between Florence and Lake Como. We don't want to go into any large cities or stray too far from the autostrada (looks like mostly A1 although A1 to A4 is an option on google directions).

Mar 23, 2013
lisaud in Italy

"Special" dining experience at Lake Como

I will be visiting Lake Como, staying in Varenna, at the end of April and we will be celebrating my husband's birthday while there. I'm looking for an interesting, unique restaurant. It doesn't have to be posh and expensive. In fact, I'd like to keep it around 200 euros (for both of us). We will have a car so it doesn't have to be in Varenna. I would even consider Lugano if there was something really interesting there.
If there no interesting or unique restaurants to be had then suggestions for someplace nice would be gratefully accepted too.

Feb 15, 2013
lisaud in Italy

Arthur Schwartz potato kugel AND advice on how to season a kugel

Has anyone made it or had it? It is somewhat unusual in that it has one dozen (yes, 12) eggs to 3 lbs of potatoes. I'm making a kugel today and I'm tempted to try his. I'm not too familiar with how successful his recipes are.
In addition, most ot the kugels I've had are pretty bland. Does anyone have any suggestion on how to liven them up? The seasonings in the Arthur Schwartz version are pretty standard: salt, pepper and onions.

Sep 16, 2012
lisaud in Home Cooking

sprig of thyme

Thanks for your reply. I've always treated it like that: making it whatever size I thought was appropriate for the recipe. Since, however, so many recipes specify "a sprig" I thought I'd try to find out...once and for all! My suspicion is that not that many people really know what a sprig is and usually wing it. Clearly, it does refer to something specific, horticulturally if not "culinarily." So I ask, once again, what is a sprig of thyme??

Apr 06, 2012
lisaud in Home Cooking

sprig of thyme

I cook with fresh thyme fairly often and I actually have never been entirely sure if a sprig thyme is the main branch AND all the little branchlets off of it or if one of the branchlets is a sprig itself. I have always just estimated but the recipe I'm using right now calls for a lot of sprigs and it seems like a lot of thyme if the sprig includes multiple branchlets.
While I'm here, if anyone cares to comment, the recipe I'm usiing has as much rosemary as thyme and my husband hates rosemary (sad...I know) so I avoid using it. SHould I double up on the thyme or find another herb...or just forget it? I'm making brisket and rosemary and thyme are the only two herbs in the recipe.

Apr 06, 2012
lisaud in Home Cooking

Restaurant in Newport RI

I will be going next weekend and I'm looking for a restaurant, nice, maybe romantic, not too pretentious. Someone recommended Fluke (Jaques Pepin) or the Whitehorse Tavern. They both have good reviews...and their share of detractors too. I realize there are no guarentees, especially not in the restaurant world, but I'd like to stack the deck in our favor if we're dropping a couple of hundred on dinner. If I can spend less for great food...that would be nice too.

Mar 03, 2012
lisaud in Southern New England

freezing/thawing question

I think my husband couldn't believe that it hadn't thawed at all in over 24 hours in the fridge. I was a little surprised too. Anyway, now I know that it doesn't matter even if it did start to defrost.

Feb 18, 2012
lisaud in General Topics

freezing/thawing question

Actually I was pretty sure you were wrong in suggesting that it was only quality that was of concern and not safety but, before I mouthed off, I checked the USDA food safety website. I was shocked to find out that I was the one who was wrong. They say that, as long as the food was not out of the refridgerator, it is actually safe to refreeze even if it thawed completely. If it was out of the fridge for over two hours then it is not safe to refreeze and must be cooked before it is refrozen.

Wow. I guess you shouldn't believe everything your mother told you. I do think, however, that the no refreezing rule is something that a lot of people believe to be true.

Anyway, I am not the slightest bit concerned now and I will show my husband the USDA website (since he's not likely to believe anyone else). Thank you all!

Feb 18, 2012
lisaud in General Topics

freezing/thawing question

So before my husband throws out a perfectly good standing rib roast...I'd like to know if I've done something as dangerous as he claims I have. Early last Saturday I put a frozen roast into the fridge to begin thawing for Sunday dinner (I did anticipate needing some cold water baths to complete the process on Sunday). When I checked it on Sunday, however, it didn't seem to have defrosted at all so I decided to throw it back in the freezer and begin the defrosting process earlier some other time.

Well, my husband realized (inexplicably because he is usually oblivious to what goes on in the kitchen) what I did and has vowed to not eat it, sure that he and everyone else will get food poisoning. I swear it was still rock hard when I put it back in the freezer. There was no area that had softened at all. Am I endangering my family if I cook it in the future?

Feb 18, 2012
lisaud in General Topics

HELP!! Cassoulet with Tarbais beans (from D'Artagnan) is SOUP!!!

At the moment its cold and fully congealed so I'm really not sure. I guess it its like a moist bean chili. The thing that's really annoying is that there are about half as many beans because the rest disintegrated. I can't believe this happened. I thought I was fully prepared to do this right. too.
I guess I soaked them too long...about 16 hours. I often do that without this outcome but then...I've never cooked with these beans. Believe me I was shocked when I checked on them and realized they were almost overdone. I'm Kind of upset; these are not people I entertain often and I really wanted it to come out kind of perfect. Oh well.

Mar 05, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

HELP!! Cassoulet with Tarbais beans (from D'Artagnan) is SOUP!!!

They included a recipe with the kit and I followed that one. Obviously one of them is wrong. Oh well. It won't be perfect but I think it will taste good.

Mar 05, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

HELP!! Cassoulet with Tarbais beans (from D'Artagnan) is SOUP!!!

Yes, the beans were prettty much fully cooked even though I had only cooked them for maybe a half hour. I was kind of shocked because I cook beans fairly often but never Tarbais. I will NEVER use them again. I used cannellini beans last time and they were quite good. I guess I shouldn't have added all the stock but there was not a lot of liquid in the pot when I put it into bake.
So now what? Do you agree with BadaBing that I should cook it for another hour uncovered on lower heat (say 350) or will this add to the problem of soupiness? I have to serve it tonight? I wasn't going to add bread crumbs but will if it will help.

Mar 05, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

HELP!! Cassoulet with Tarbais beans (from D'Artagnan) is SOUP!!!

So, after some discussion in a previous thread, I ordered the D'Artagnan cassoulet with the pricy Tarbais beans and pretty much followed the recipe they sent...
I am unimpressed by the tarbais. They do taste good but they cooked much faster than they should have, many fell apart and quite a few disintegrated and now I have something that is closer to soup than stew. I finished it up to the last part where the oven temp is raised to 400 and, after returning the cassoulet to room temp, it is baked for 20 minutes to brown and, I guess, to form a crust. I will do that but I don't think it will get rid of all the liquid. I was thinking of spooning it out but I fear that will eliminate some flavor (which is quite yummy actually)
So HELP!! Guidance please!!!

Mar 05, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

Breezychow - I am aware that cassoulet is a "peasant way'" of using everything one has on hand so things don't get wasted but ...one has to cook like a french peasant to begin with to have the leftovers on hand. Other wise you have to buy it and, these days, high quality "peasant food" (which is really wholesome food) costs more because they are things not commonly found in our modern day lifestyles. Ironic but true.
As for the Tarbais...well the unexamined life and all that. I'm guessing that if I make another cassoulet, I;ll prbably to back to the whole foods cannellini beans (which were quite good).
Finally, I appreciate your suggestions but I don't cook goose or duck and, frankly, have no desire to do so just to add it to the cassoulet.

Feb 28, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

I meant just skipping the duck sausage since i will leave the duck legs whole so if someone doesn't want duck (like my husband) they can avoid it but I will probably use the duck sausage too.. I will probably add some pork shoulder to it also.

Feb 28, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

The folks at D'Artagnan won't sub an extra garlic sausage for the duck so I guess I'm getting it. Actually they said its a mix of duck and pork anyway and it sounds yummy. I saw another thread about the kit with some very positive reviews so I'm looking forward to trying it including the TARBAIS!

Feb 28, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

kaleokahu - first, I'm curious enough to spend the money once just to see the difference - if there is one. Isn't it possible that the reason they are so strictly controlled, and therefore perceived and priced as being superior, may be that they are? The decision about whether they are "superior enough" to spend SO much more, regardless of what drives the pirce that high, becomes highly subjective.

SUnshine842 - I was concerned about the duck sausage, not the confit. Actually, my husband loves pork and dislikes dark meat poultry and probably will not even try the confit duck. But that's easy to eat around. If I disperse pieces of duck sausage throughout, he will not be able to avoid it.

Feb 28, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

thanks for all your replies. I am definitely going to try the kit...with theTarbais beans.( I'm quite certain I won't be unduly influenced to like them simply because I paid more. On the contrary, I'lll be looking for reasons why to like them less so I won't feel compelled to buy them the next time!)

Jaifoie - How is the duck sausage. I"m was thinking of asking D'Artagnan if I could double up on the garlic sausage and not use the duck just in case someone doesn't like duck (I know my guests are all pork eaters). Also, when you add extra demi-glace do you dilute it or use it full strength?

Feb 27, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

I'm wondering about the beans myself but I'm betting the garlic sausage adds at least as much as the duck confit. The sausage I used when I made the Cooks Illustrated recipe was Irish garlic sausage and was kind of eh. I think a really good sausage would have added a lot. I'm sure the duck confit adds a lot too.

Feb 27, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

I used 4 oz of salt pork which appeared to have a rind on it. None of the (many) cassoulet recipes I've looked at over the past couple of weeks have called specifically for pork skin. In fact, this time I was going to use the french pancetta that D'Artagnan sells.

Feb 27, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

Believe it or not, I read a little about duck fat and it seems that it is considered a relatively good fat, certainly no worse than plain old butter. The cassoulet kit is up to $99 but there is no shipping if I order by midnight tomorrow but I don't really want to use the duck sausage or the demiglace so I might just order the duck legs, garlic sausage, and the pancetta. Did you find the Tarbais beans amazing? I've read that they're harder to get the right consistency than other beans.

Feb 27, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking

cassoulet, tarbais and D'Artagnan

Last weekend I made the most recent (2009) CI recipe for cassoulet (no poulty, just sausage and pork) and it was pretty good but definitely nothing special. Since I was trying it out to see if I wanted to make it for a "french-themed" dinner party, it definitely needed more going for it. I think that mediocre (at best) sausage was at least part of the problem. so I looked for a source for french garlic sausage and found D'Artagnan (which has free shipping through tomorrow). Now I'm wondering if I should buy the whole cassoulet kit. Has anyone used it?
Also, are the Tarbais that much better than Great Northern or Cannellini? I used the latter from the bulk bin at Whole Foods and thought they were pretty good. I've also read that its more difficult to get the correct texture with the Tarbais. True?

Feb 27, 2011
lisaud in Home Cooking