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Pioneer Valley catering recommendations

You may want to try Portabella. They have a shop in Amherst (College/South East St.) where they have prepared foods and gourmet products so that would give you a chance to taste what they offer. I have been to several events that they catered and they were all excellent. Black Sheep is good but IMO Portabella is better. You can't go wrong with Bub's but that may not give you much in the way of vegetarian options if that is important.

Oct 09, 2010
carolbf in Southern New England

Hersheys Chocolate Cake Recipe

I'm happy to report that the cake was a huge hit. I did substitute hot coffee for half the water as you suggested but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Thanks - this is my new favorite chocolate cake recipe!

Apr 04, 2010
carolbf in Home Cooking

Hersheys Chocolate Cake Recipe

Yes, that's the recipe I am planning to use. I thought there might be a difference because the fat content in dutch-processed cocoa is different (higher?). Thanks, I'm going to make it tomorrow...

Apr 03, 2010
carolbf in Home Cooking

America's Test Kitchen roast chicken - the best! (long)

I just discovered the Zuni method for roasting chicken and I can't believe how good and easy it is. I use a small Empire (kosher) chicken and skip the brining step. Instead of a roasting pan I use my 10" All-Clad stainless skillet and the chicken fills the whole thing so there is no burning whatsoever, even when I crank the oven up to 500 degrees. When the chicken is done (crispy!) and I move it to a platter to rest, what remains in the pan is golden brown. It is a beautiful sight to behold. I am obsessed with this recipe!

Apr 03, 2010
carolbf in Home Cooking

Hersheys Chocolate Cake Recipe

I know the Hershey Company wouldn't approve, but is it ok to use dutch-processed cocoa for this recipe (Droste)? Do you think it would improve the cake, change the flavor/texture, or make no difference at all?

Apr 03, 2010
carolbf in Home Cooking

What is one tip that you learned about cooking that was simple but made a huge difference? [old]

Use good quality spring water when you make stock, or any soup for that matter. After all, water is the main ingredient. It makes a difference.

Jan 07, 2010
carolbf in Home Cooking

Oh glorious day! Oh wonderful year! Oh lucky me! I finally, finally, finally get to host Thanksgiving. I banish thee jarred gravy (tell me about your single favorite dish)

Soup is my thing. Last year I made Calvados-Laced Squash Soup with Cinnamon and Bay Leaves and it was so good I may make it again this year, even though most of the same people will be coming and I usually try something new. That plus I have a whole bottle of Calvados in my cupboard...The recipe calls for you to roast the squash and I wouldn't skip this step in favor of buying the already peeled squash and boiling it. The roasted flavor adds a richness that you won't get otherwise. I always ask the produce person to cut my squashes in half at the supermarket so that I don't have to deal with cutting them at home. Seriously, the recipe is perfect as is and I wouldn't change a thing. The cinnamon sour-cream garnish looks elegant and your guests will be happy.

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

Nov 23, 2009
carolbf in Home Cooking

Can I prepare cake batter and store for a day or two before baking?

Thanks for all the great advice - I really appreciate it!

Nov 06, 2009
carolbf in Home Cooking

Sesame Noodle Recipes for Holiday Cocktail Party

I've made this one dozens of times and it always gets rave reviews:

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

I've modified it a bit over the years: I like to use thin spaghetti instead of linguine. I use a whole box of pasta and double the dressing. I substitute 1 tablespoon of canola oil with one tablespoon hot chili oil (we like it spicy). My family doesn't like green beans so I leave them out. You can't go wrong with this one.

Nov 06, 2009
carolbf in Home Cooking

Can I prepare cake batter and store for a day or two before baking?

I'm going away for a long weekend to a cabin in VT where there is a great kitchen. I love to cook and bake but I don't want to spend the whole time in the great kitchen, so I'm trying to do as much prep in advance to make it less time consuming when I'm there. I'm planning to make a chocolate cake and I'm wondering if I can prepare the batter at home and then bake/frost when I'm there. Alternatively, what is the best way to store a baked cake to preserve freshness?

Nov 06, 2009
carolbf in Home Cooking

Small group of old friends...

We haven't seen each other in a long time so need a place where 6-7 people can have a moderately priced dinner in a relaxed environment where we won't be rushed out. Not too noisy either. Prefer the West Village. I'd say atmosphere comes first, then food (but it's a close second). Reservations accepted would be a plus but as long as there's a bar it wouldn't be a problem if we had to wait a while. Any type of food (except for sushi). Thanks for your suggestions.

Jun 22, 2009
carolbf in Manhattan

Great spot halfway between Boston and North Adams ?

The glazed cider doughnuts at Donut Man on Rt 9 in Hadley are incredible - better than Atkins IMHO. They sell out quickly so get there early. Sometimes they make more during the day but not always. I drive by often and have to fight the temptation to pull into the drive-through!

May 29, 2009
carolbf in All New England Archive

Underwhelmed by Bistro 63/Monkey Bar, Amherst, MA

I have to agree with the 'underwhelmed' contingency here. I live in Amherst and every once in a while I eat there, mostly out of desperation, hoping that the food has miraculously improved since the last time. No such luck - it is usually a disappointment. Plus, the chairs are incredibly uncomfortable. The bar is ok and a few of the appetizers are decent. Unfortunately, Amherst doesn't have much to offer in this category.

May 29, 2009
carolbf in Southern New England

Restaurant Near Hilton Embassy Row

Visiting next week and would appreciate any moderately priced recommendations within walking distance of the Hilton Embassy Row on Mass Ave.hotel. Can be American or Italian preferably with an upscale atmosphere. Thanks very much.

Mar 27, 2009
carolbf in Washington DC & Baltimore

Hartford near The Bushnell

I don't know Hartford very well but would like someplace great for dinner before a show. I've been to Bin 228 and loved it but is it close by? Any other recommendations? Would prefer to park the car and walk. Any type of food... thanks.

Oct 16, 2007
carolbf in All New England Archive

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Oct 16, 2007
carolbf in All New England Archive

Norma's recommendations?

It is definitely an experience. I went with my son and my daughter and we had three different dishes: the 'Waz-za' (waffle with fruit inside and brulee topping, the Crunchy French Toast, and the Mango Papaya Crepes.

By far, the French Toast was the best of the three.. the waffle was too sweet and too many different flavors to really taste anything. The crepes were nothing special but presentation was nice.

I'd go back again for the French Toast, and a lot of people were ordering the Huevos Rancheros which looked awesome.

Enjoy, and try NOT to look at the prices :-)..

Mar 23, 2007
carolbf in Manhattan

Glazed Pork Chop recipe...

thanks - I made this last night and it was really yummy. Kids loved it too. Will definitely make again.

Feb 14, 2007
carolbf in Home Cooking

Glazed Pork Chop recipe...

From America's Test Kitchen - does anyone have this recipe? It used Cider Vinegar, Apple Cider and looked delicious. Thanks!

Feb 13, 2007
carolbf in Home Cooking

Little Owl, Bellavitae, or August

I had a great meal at Little Owl a few weeks ago, but I'm pretty sure they only had wine and beer. At least that was the case when I was there. Has that changed?

Dec 03, 2006
carolbf in Manhattan

Upscale casual dinner in West Village

My first choice is Little Owl - I called and they told me they are booked solid on Saturday but they hold 2 tables for walk-ins. They open at 5 PM.. do you think if we (2 of us) arrived at around 4:45 it would be a safe bet? We're from out of town so unfamiliar with the neighborhood. What would be a good back-up plan? Thanks so much..

Nov 08, 2006
carolbf in Manhattan

Upscale casual dinner in West Village

Seeing a show at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher St. in the West Village on Saturday. Open to just about anything with atmostphere and good food. We'd be arriving early (around 5) so reservations not necessary but a plus if they take them. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Nov 08, 2006
carolbf in Manhattan

Outer Cape

I will second Terra Luna in N. Truro. My friend and I both had the Sea Bass special and it was fresh and tasty. They DO take reservations and don't go without making one - there is no place to wait (the bar is tiny) except outside. Great menu and waitstaff was excellent.

Jul 20, 2006
carolbf in All New England Archive