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Fish in Del Mar

What's a place to go for lunch in Del Mar that has good fish and is more or less handicapped accessible? We have a guest who is not in a wheelchair but cannot walk a long distance or maneuver picturesque obstacles. I need a place that is a little bit presentable, not a hole in the wall no matter how good the fish is, but not extravagantly expensive either. Thanks for your thoughts & happy holidays!

Dec 24, 2008
bgermain in California

I need help re; Wall ovens

We got a Kitchenaid "superba" last year & it's been good. It is electric & 24 inches. I was worried this might be small but I can roast turkeys and all my pans fit. It's a regular/convection oven on top, regular on the bottom; both have a broiler. The lower element in each oven is built into the floor which seems smart to me. Some people swear by convection. I never had one before. It's fine but I could live without it.

The repairman who told me that my old oven was dead, and who was not selling me anything, told me that most 24-inch ovens are low-end equipment sold for landlords to put in apartments, and he thought the only reliable one is the Kitchenaid.

For dishwashers, Bosch has a fine rep and ours has been good for 9 years.

May 09, 2008
bgermain in Cookware

Foodiest Spots in L.A.

OK, eboges, the ball is in your court. You have enough information -- now you really have to report back!

May 09, 2008
bgermain in Los Angeles Area

Foodiest Spots in L.A.

In addition to Jar on Beverly Blvd, try La Terza on 3rd Street, same part of town. As with jar, the meat is wonderful. For Mexican food, in addition to La Serenata de Garibaldi (only the one in Boyle Heights, not any of the westside spinoffs) try Tlapazola Grill on Gateway, just west of the 405 (the least expensive of these 4). Of the standard ambitious places people have mentioned above, 2 that have disappointed me are Lucques and Campanile: predictable mixes of luxury ingredients, never, for me, meeting the built-up expectations & buzz. For dim sum, go to Elite on Atlantic Blvd in Monterey Park, or Mission 261 on Mission Drive way east and north in San Gabriel. To know you are in L.A., go to Versailles and just tell the waiter you want the chicken, he'll know what to do. The new one on Pico is fine and the old one on Venice Blvd is fine too. While you are here, do not omit the Sunday farmer's market in Hollywood, or alternatively the Wednesday Santa Monica. Enjoy your visit!

May 07, 2008
bgermain in Los Angeles Area

Losing faith in cast iron cookware

I agree with the pragmatics of working with the tools that work well for you, for what you are doing. What works best for you IS best for you. But I disagree about the ease & efficiency conclusions above. For me an iron frying pan is not a niche item, and it is not of interest only to purists or those seeking some sort of artisanal authenticity or contact with basic materials. For me it's an easy, efficient, useful, workhorse of a tool that I thoughtlessly pull out many times a week & that needs almost no maintenance or special handling. Perfectly true that it is also not useful or appropriate for many purposes. Also true that I am not a great chef, I just cook. If I were trained in the nuances of technique I might understand things differently. Meanwhile in my current ignorance I use my pan a lot.

May 07, 2008
bgermain in Cookware

Cast Iron fans: when do you use it?

If I had a cast iron griddle, I'd definitely try that. Just can't make pancakes in my pan, that's all. You need some kind of griddle.

I forgot that the iron skillet is great for cooking liver, if you ever do that. Trim the meat very carefully, toss the pieces with flour and salt and pepper, then fry it in some fat -- either a low or high heat seems to work fine.

Also: frittatas. Fry up the vegetables on the stove, pour in the eggs, cook a bit, then put the pan under the broiler to finish the top.

One more exception: don't cook spinach in iron. Even though it's not overtly acid. Picks up the metal flavor if cooked in iron or in aluminum -- stainless is OK. (Don't serve it w/ silver utensils, either.)

May 07, 2008
bgermain in Cookware

Seasoning Cast Iron

I have no information on that but I don't think I've ever heard anybody speak of seasoning anything but plain iron, so I wouldn't tend to experiment.

May 06, 2008
bgermain in Cookware

Margarita Recipes

Aunt Jean's Margarita: 2 parts platinum or silver tequila, 1 part fresh lime juice, 1 part Grand Marnier. You can use regular old limes. Tried and true and you can do whatever you want regarding ice.

May 06, 2008
bgermain in Spirits

Seasoning Cast Iron

1) I don't think you need to sand it, and the Lodge website says wash it with a stiff brush.
2) OK, there may be more than one good and dependable way, but I don't heat it on the stove. I wash it, dry it, wipe on a layer of peanut oil inside and out and put it right side up in the oven, set the oven to 400, leave it alone for an hour, turn the oven off and let it cool. Then I do the oiling and heating (but not the washing) again. Then I'm done. I've read that lard is better and I've read that olive oil is bad. I don't know. My experience with peanut oil has been fine.
3) Yes, probably repeating it once would be good. It's what I do anyhow.
4) I always use a spiral scour/scrubber but NOT a metal one, just a plastic scrubbie with hot water, but not soap.
5) No. But as you cook with it, it continues seasoning itself and getting better. Especially if you roast chicken in it. You only have to re-season it if it gets spoiled.
6) Tips/Opinions: Avoid washing it with soap. Don't worry about submerging the pan. I don't get why people say this unless they mean "do not submerge and leave it around sitting in water for a really long time". Do worry about getting it dry after washing,so rust won't form, but don't worry a whole lot: just put the pan in the oven to dry, if the oven was used and is still warm, and take it out tomorrow. Or set the pan on the stove for a minute to dry over a flame, but don't walk away like me and forget to turn the fire off. People talk about cleaning cast iron pans with salt, but I don't do it. Maybe it's a good idea but it doesn't seem to be absolutely necessary. People recommend oiling the pans before replacing them in the cupboard, but I don't do that either. Also, often if the pan is heating on the stove (pre-heating for a steak, for example) I will wipe out any residual grease that has melted, using a paper towel. I suppose one of these days the paper towel may ignite, given paper, grease and heat all together, but it hasn't happened yet. If you get your pan beautifully seasoned and it later gets ruined by aggressive scouring with Comet or being left on a burner for way too long and drying out, don't worry. Just clean it and re-season it. It will come back. Oh and if someday you are cooking and happen to get a grease-fire in your pan, pour in a lot of salt to put the fire out. Not water. (Not because of cast iron, just because water can make grease splash and spread the fire. Maybe everybody knows this but it's good to remember if you ever turn around and see an alarming panful of flames.)

May 06, 2008
bgermain in Cookware

Cast Iron fans: when do you use it?

OK, I dunno about that grill. As to the pan, on the stove you can use it to cook meat: fry burgers, sausage, steaks, lambchops, or bacon, or sear fish such as ahi, or cook salmon coated with sesame seeds. You can fry or scramble eggs or make an omelette, using a little fat to coat the pan. (Julia Child says you should heat some butter on a high flame, watching it carefully till it foams and then the foam subsides, and then the temperature is right to add the eggs. I bet there are a million opinions, but this works great for me, and the eggs don't stick.) You can warm up leftovers, if they're not in a tomato sauce. I would probably add a few spoonsful of water, cover the pan and let it all warm up on a low heat, then uncover & let any excess water steam off. You can stirfry vegetables, with or without meat and/or rice. You can smother greens with some olive oil and garlic. You can fry indian spices (cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, fresh ginger, garlic or onion) in some sunflower or safflower oil and make vegetables (chickpeas with cauliflower, for instance). You can fry spices and vegetables in the pan and use it to finish a pilaf with nearly-cooked rice. You can fry onions or mushrooms. You can fry raw potatoes or make hash with cooked potatoes, with or without meat. You can fry garlic, with maybe some other vegetable such as broccoli, or just the garlic, then add nearly cooked pasta and some olive oil and fry till the pasta starts to develop a golden crust. I'm getting hungry.

In the oven, you can broil vegetables such as asparagus, green beans, zucchini or eggplant; you can bake cornbread; you can roast chicken either whole or in pieces, though a ten-inch skillet would only accommodate a petite chicken. I have been using a method for chicken I read in an article about Judy Rogers at Zuni Restaurant, using an untrussed and unstuffed bird. Wash it, remove any big pieces of fat from the cavity, dry it thoroughly inside and out, rub it thoroughly inside and out with salt (and you can also add black pepper and tarragon). Ideally, leave it to absorb the salt, refrigerated, for hours or up to 2 days, but I am usually operating about 90 minutes before dinner. Put the skillet in the cold oven, without fat, turn it on to 475, when the oven and pan are hot put in the chicken breast-side up, roast till it looks done, turn it, roast till it looks done on that side too, turn it to re-crisp the breast skin for 3-5 minutes, you're done. No basting. It doesn't stick to the pan. You can also put a few washed sweet potatoes in the pan, put it in the oven cold, turn it up to 400 and roast them for an hour. If there is burnt syrup in the pan, just boil water in it to dissolve, don't bother scrubbing.

Having cooked meat or chicken on the stove or in the oven, you can de-glaze and make terrific pan gravy.

Cast iron is not 100% versatile. It is really no good for pancakes -- too uneven: a griddle works better. Some people apparently prefer a non-stick pan for eggs. You dont' want to use it for food that is extremely acid, but I do throw in some tomatoes sometimes in meat and vegetable dishes, in a well-seasoned pan, and never have a problem. Have a good time!

May 06, 2008
bgermain in Cookware

Cast Iron Seasoning Woes

This has been an interesting forum. I have three old iron frying pans & from time to time have used the method described above by ThreeGigs, except with a 400 degree oven and peanut oil. This method is very dependable. It does take a few weeks or months of use for the seasoning to bake on well. I only wash these pans with hot water and a nylon scrubbie, and do make sure to heat them after washing in order to get them thoroughly dry. I never use them for anything very acidic, and I fry steaks and hamburgers all the time without any extra grease whatsoever, and zero sticking problems. (That beef is all full of grease anyhow.) Just pre-heat the pan about 3 minutes, then put in the meat. I cook eggs with a minimal amount of fat, quite often, and the pan usually has nothing left on it even before washing.

The most useful-sized pan got ruined recently by someone industrious who was trying to make it clean, so we had to re-hab it. The outside was covered in an unwholesome-looking quarter inch layer of pitted crusty carbon anyhow. I took a chance on some internet advice to put it in the oven during a self-cleaning cycle, which cleaned the iron down to the metal and does not seem to have harmed the pan in any way. And I can't figure any way that it could harm it, either. We started over, re-seasoned it with the peanut oil, & it's looking good. It won't be truly great for a while, but I'm hoping to cook with it for years to come anyway, so it should get there.

May 05, 2008
bgermain in Cookware