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Authentic italian ambiance & food?

Thanks to all for the helpful info. Maialino has definitely caught my eye as has Lupo.

Oct 29, 2013
cookie44 in Manhattan

Authentic italian ambiance & food?

I am overwhelmed with the volume of Italian restaurants!

Help me narrow down some options for a Saturday night somewhat nice dinner for two where we can feel like we might be somewhere in Rome or Florence or Venice for the night. It does not have to be new or hip, just good food with an authentic feel and a good selection of wine. Would like to keep the bill under $150 or so, not including the wine.

We will be staying in midtown; walking distance would be wonderful but willing to taxi wherever. Thanks in advance for any help

Oct 28, 2013
cookie44 in Manhattan

Is there a better method for oiling grill racks?

I'm glad you asked this. We use the same paper towel method, wasting oil, and I would love to find another way to do it.

Aug 29, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Gourmet Group - Theme Idea - need feedback

Well, if i were in your club I think personally I'd prefer the first variation of the theme with only the one ingredient. It allows me greater creativity and flexibility while still keeping things interesting. I think with the second option I'd feel a bit limited and perhaps even disappointed (as in "Well, I wanted to make X but since I had to use these other ingredients, I couldn't"). I also feel like the fewer ingeredients specified, the more likely it is the host (and others) may be suprised by what everyone chooses to make.

I like peaches as they're in season right now and could easily travel through a multi-course meal. Again, if it were me, I'd love to see the main ingredient continue to be seasonal in future gatherings.

Jul 16, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Pre-pregnancy feast

As the original poster, it amazes me this thread is still getting comments!

I have to say, I think mebby makes a good and valid point as far as doctors in the US as a whole dispensing advice as if everyone goes overboard and has not judgement. As far as how things have changes over the years on this topic though, I can't help but also think that perhaps some of the shift is also due to changes in commercialization/safety of our food. It is particularly easy to think that when looking at the latest lists of food recalls. Personally I've relied more on common sense than absolute bans of foods that might possibly be problematic, but I can certainly see how there is also a valid argument that it is too difficult to evaluate the safety of most mass-produced groceries in this day and age.

Jul 08, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Non-Alcoholic Beverage/Mocktail Pairing Suggestions?

I don't know your sister-in-law's tastes but as someone who used to enjoy many a pairing menu but is now 8 months pregnant I might be able to offer something useful. You also didn't mention how far along she is; since you only just found out I'd take that to mean she probably isn't too far along. It is possible she might be having nausea, heartburn, etc. The one thing I did NOT like having paired with meals was anything too sweet as it really interfered with enjoying the food offered (water would ahve been a better pairing than a sweet drink). I think I would have enjoyed starting with something like operagirl's pomegranate sparkler so long as it wasn't too sweet. i think the pasta dish is a tough one so if it were me I might just prefer some water with that course, espcially as tomatoes are acidic and can aggrevate any heartburn or similar issues (you could always have some fancy water to offer to make it more festive) . With the pork tenderloin a good ginger beer might be good. I foudn myself drinking that often while others were enjoying wine. Lastly with dessert, a good decaf coffee or tea if that is to her liking; even milk or hot cocoa or seltzer/club soda with raspberry (to go with the chocolate). Good luck and i am sure she will really appreciate whatever you offer as it is so thoughtful of you to consider!

Jun 29, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Bought too much plain yogurt.. What do you make with it?

Yes - my first thought upon seeing the title of this thread was to use it in a marinade for chicken, preferably chicken to be grilled. You can take it in an Indian direction as above OR go Greek and then have it with some of the fresh tzatziki suggested above.

Jun 13, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Summer Co-Ed Baby Shower

The one thing you may have done but didn't mention is to check with the expectant mother. I'm pregnant right now myself and even though I didn't have morning sickness or particular cravings, by the time of my shower there were definitely things I was trying to avoid or other certain eating preferences. Not that you have to plan your whole menu around her but at least double check to make sure there will be food/drink to suit her.

Jun 11, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Suggest a fruit pie, please

You might consider this No-Bake Fresh Fruit Pie: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

I make it often in the summer and people really like it; my dad often requests it. I usually make it using a combination of strawberries and blueberries, but the possibilities are endless, even using just strawberries.

May 22, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

no boil lasagna fail- need tips

Yup - I cover with foil at first too for about 3/4 of the total baking time as well.

May 20, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

no boil lasagna fail- need tips

I do lasagna with bolognese often and have been sucessfull with both "regular" noodles and the no-boil kind (both Barilla and San Giorgio brand, which I actually preferred based on the size/shape of it). I do pre-soak the no-boil noodles, a tip I picked up on a thread somewhere here, probably about 60 seconds or so in a shallow dish of my hottest tap water. I do not do anything differently to my sauce at all either way, though for either version I always ensure the sauce covers the noodles.

My husband and I haven't noticed any real difference in the final product when using the regular vs. no-boil noodles. I have found I prefer using the no-boil ones just because it makes the process a little easier - easier to simply soak a little in tap water than cook regular noodles, easier to construct the lasagna with the still somewhat stiff no-boil noodles and less opportunity for the noodles to stick to each other as I am working.

May 19, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

How do you use the Cuisinart shredding disk?

If you haven't tried Cuisnart's website, check it. They have product manuals on there and I was able to print a copy of the manual for my discontinued processor from there.

May 13, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Coconut milk pudding?

I make coconut pudding often in the warmer months as my husband loves it. This recipe is my standby - it is very easy and people always enjoy it. It calls for regular mlik but I'm sure coconut milk would work just fine and lend more coconut flavor. People love it all on its own, even without the fruit garnishes in the recipe.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

May 10, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Storing potatoes

All true.

I store mine in a basket on the bottom shelf of my pantry (coolest spot in an already cool pantry), not in any type of bag, and with a dark-colored kitchen towel over them to keep out light but allow air and moisture to circulate. Seems to work well.

May 05, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Can I use corn flour to make chili gravy?

I haven't worked with corn flour much. The flour in chili gravy is a thickener so I'd think you could use any thickener including cornstarch or arrowroot. Does corn flour thicken? If so, I'd say give it a try!

Apr 30, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Meatballs - to brown or not brown 1st?

We do a variation of this. Brown the meatballs, remove from pan, drain but a small amount of fat from the pan (keep any brown bits), then make the sauce right in the same pan, adding the meatballs back. Good for cleanup too as it's one pan for meatballs & sauce.

Apr 25, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Best little rich dessert that can be served in a lil glass cup!

I'm curious why you instantly ruled out pudding. I think a sinfully rich homemade chocolate pudding, like this one: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/..., would be perfect and a real treat for guests.

Apr 15, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Simple, beef meatballs

Yes - that CI recipe I referenced below uses this technique as well; I believe it uses buttermilk instead of regular milk.

Apr 12, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

What to do with lemon extract?

My favorite sugar cookie recipe uses a tiny bit of lemon extract. Also used in, well, all lemon baking - as pp said cakes, cookies, pies, etc. Depends on what you like I guess.

Apr 12, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Simple, beef meatballs

My husband always makes the spaghetti & meatballs in our house and he swears by the Cooks' Illustrated recipe in the Italian Classics cookbook. I'm not certain off the top of my head how many ingredients but definitelly all beef and the taste is delicious and simple (in s good way - basic meatballs).

Apr 12, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Dinners for after a friends surgery

I'd think comfort food is perfect regardless of season. Maybe share a meal including some mashed potatoes and roast chicken. Leave the leftover roast chicken behind for sandwiches, salads, thrown into pasta, etc. or just to pick at as-is.

Apr 10, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Need help making a cherry reduction for lamb

I often make a similar reduction - I usually serve it with beef but it would be good with lamb as well. It uses dried cherries, port wine, and balasmic vinegar. So, you might want to have some balasamic on hand - especially if your reducation is coming out too sweet (per previous comment about cherries in syrup and sugar). I usually add fresh thyme as well if I've got some around.

Apr 02, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Help with an Indian Dish Recommendation

Perhaps Chicken Makhini varies from one restaurant to another or one region to another. I've had it several places in my area (Washington, DC area) and it has never had cashews and I believe I've never had one with bone-in chicken either. Just what I've seen here...

Mar 22, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Help with an Indian Dish Recommendation

I've eaten at several different Indian restaurants and, come to think of it, don't think I have ver seen BOTH the Tikka masala and the Makhani on any one menu so maybe they are variations of each other. I'm not expert on that so I'll leave that for someone else to address.

I woudl say that I've never noticed either dish to be particularly spicy - both are a creamy, red/tomato-based curry sauce. I think you'd be fine with either one. It will also be very worthwhile for you to mention when you order that you would prefer it NOT be very spicy. They can then adjust the dish if necessary.

Mar 22, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

ISO appetizer combo of cheese and honey

Endive leaves, sprinkled with Gorgonzola (or any favorite blue cheese) drizzled with honey. I've found the spiced nuts to be optional - also can replace with diced pear or apple, but definitely good with only three good ingredients.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

Mar 20, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Sauce / Dip suggestions needed for skewered mushroom tortellini

Building off that, if you want to avoid mayo, maybe a sauce of roasted garlic pureed with some olive oil to the right consistency. Add some herbs and/or a touch of cheese as desired and it should still be creamy and appropriate for room temp serving.

Mar 16, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Three course meals suggestions

Well I'll offer a suggestion for a lamb main course. These rosemary and garlic lamb chops are simple (no complicated techniques or wild ingredients) yet delicious. They were featured as part of a menu so that might give you ideas for other courses. Otherwise maybe tailor the other courses to mom's preferences. I always like potatoes of some sort with this lamb, especially given the garlic and rosemary, but that's just me.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

Mar 08, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Ideas for chicken shepherd's pie

Sounds good to me with sweets and spinach. I would consider rather than going the route of an herby creamy sauce you could also try a creamy sauce with a little nutmeg. Works with creamed spinach and should be nice with sweet potatoes so that might might work nicely.

Mar 03, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking

Wine Tasting/Tours

We've been to probably 80-ish VA wineries, so I think it is fair to say we've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. For red wines, I would suggest King Family, Burnley, Valhalla, or Breaux. King Family and Burnley are Chalotteville-ish area (King Family more so) so accomodations of any kind are available. Valhalla is much further south, not sure if that fits your plans, but their wines are really very good and the tasting room is one of the most beautiful in all of VA. Breaux is in Northern VA but out west past Leesburg; there is a ncie farm-to-table restaurant just down the road from Breaux, can't remember the name.

Amazing dessert recipe using blackberries?

Well, I don't have something that meets your exact preferences. I LOVE blackberries so much that really, for me anyhow, I prefer them in their fresh (i.e. unbaked) state best. My favorite dessert is this recipe I got from the Washington Post. The recipe calls for blackberries alone; it is equally good with a different berry or a mix of berries.

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/re...

Sorry I don't have anything in mind that better suits your preferences; I'm sure someone else will though.

Mar 01, 2010
cookie44 in Home Cooking