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my3cflvi's Profile

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Bizarre Foods - Chicago

A bunch of friends and I once went to a Koran joint in Lincoln fueled by lots of beer for a 3 am pick-me-up. Somehow we were talked into ordering a dish the waitress referred to as "Peoples Soup." Despite the haze of booze that permeated my veins, I recall the soup was unlike anything I've ever eaten. The waitress wasn't able or unwilling to describe the ingredients, but with an eerie smile she insisted it was "Peoples Soup. "With a strange taste of tallow, and white foamy bubbles that floated to the surface, I still wonder what the hell I really ate.

Dec 12, 2008
my3cflvi in Chicago Area

Stuffing in the bird or outside?

I always bake it outside. To make the stuffing more moist, I have tried a variety of approaches: adding condensed cream of mushroom soup, or basting the dressing in a combination of pan drippings and stock. However, there is something to be said for the turkey marrying with the stuffing. An easy way would be to bake the turkey in parts, then add it to the stuffing pan and let all those natural juices flow into the stuffing. I do admit that the stuffing inside is better, but it tends to slow down the cooking time. I'd rather have a flavorful turkey than "to-die" for dressing.

Nov 19, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

Veggie Christmas Dinner Fare

I think that would fit in nicely. My Mom was German and always made that during the holidays.

Nov 19, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

Veggie Christmas Dinner Fare

Thanks for the suggestion. I just made stuffed cabbage after finding an 8 pounder at the grocery store. I like the idea of experimenting with non-traditonal dishes to broaden the palate.

Nov 19, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

Veggie Christmas Dinner Fare

That pie sounds yummy. I agree about mushrooms. They also have a meaty flavor which can make the dish robust. You should post the recipe. The mushroom birayni sounds like a great idea.

Nov 19, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

Veggie Christmas Dinner Fare

I grew up with the traditional Christmas dinner of roast beef, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding. I will admit that while it's a superb dinner, I've been a bit bored with the menu. Call it a middle age crisis. This year, I've been thinking of doing a vegetarian dinner. Since I love Indian food, I think a tofu tikka masala would be great as a main course. Granted, most Indian's don't celebrate Christmas, but that's not the point. It's more of a celebration of food, and dishes that you enjoy. I'd love to hear what veggie entrees you might serve for Christmas.

Nov 18, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

How to make thicker chili?

One more thing. While a thick chili is good, I also think its important to make sure you cook the chili at least 90 minutes to 2 hours. I've seen recipes that cook the mix for 20 minutes, That has NO flavor, and adding a mixture to thicken it will not add flavor.

Nov 18, 2008
my3cflvi in Home Cooking

How to make thicker chili?

Some Tex-Mex dishes use flour that's added to the cooked meat, then stirred. After a few minutes, you add broth or water. I've been on a Tex-Mex kick lately, and admit the consistency is a bit different but still good.

Nov 18, 2008
my3cflvi in Home Cooking

Good Italian Beef and fresh cut fries in Gurnee area?

Here is a Big Jacks combo and fries.. Makes me wanna order another one now.

Nov 15, 2008
my3cflvi in Chicago Area

Good Italian Beef and fresh cut fries in Gurnee area?

Thanks so much for the recommendation. I consider this one of the best Italian and sausage combos I've had. I really want to thank you for letting me know. I actually live 10 minutes from Jacks, and never knew about it. Guess I need to get out more often.

A few things that make this place special:

The beef was tender, cut thin and not stringy or chewy. Nor was there any gristle. As far as seasoning goes, one of the things I really despise is a chef who is heavy handed with the salt. There is no reason for it, period. And I've had my share of an Italian beef that was way too salty. This beef was seasoned just right. There wasn't any taste that was overpowering. And the salt content was perfect, just the way it should be.

The sausage was outstanding. I could tell right off it was homemade. The texture was superb, a bit chewy on the outside, yet moist and flavorful on the inside. Some places ruin the sausage by cooking it in advance, then reheating it, making it as dry as a rawhide. This sausage was cooked on the spot, so it could remain moist. I also liked the added heat from the bits of red pepper flakes. I didn't notice an overpowering flavor of fennel. I think too much fennel ruins the sausage. Also, the ends of the sausage were a bit charred, which gave the sausage more character, without it being dry.

Oh and those fries. They rank right up there with the best I've ever had a.k.a Romas and Gene & Judes. The fries weren't greasy, and were right out of the fryer fresh.

I was also impressed with the giardinara. I really can taste the store bought type. This giardinara was fresh, with little bits of peppers, carrots and cauliflower. Overall its top notch.

Overall, I'd rank this as an 11, on a scale of 1-10.

Anyone who is looking for top-tier beef, and or combo with fries MUST go to this place and try it out. Admittedly it might be out of the way if you are visiting Chicago. But, if you plan to do some holiday shopping near Gurnee during a visit, you could get there by cab. Sure it might cost more to get there by cab, but its really well worth the effort.

Nov 15, 2008
my3cflvi in Chicago Area

Sides with smoked turkey

On a related note, what wood are you using to smoke? I've used maple and tossed in some dry corn cobs.

Nov 14, 2008
my3cflvi in Home Cooking

Sides with smoked turkey

I've used the smoker before to cook a turkey. I originally paired the turkey with traditional side dishes such as green bean casserole, and bread stuffing. But it seemed something was missing. I'd suggest some Southwest dishes such as corn sauteed with green chiles,or a Southwest corn pudding. For the stuffing, how about homemade chorizo added to cornbread, laced with cilantro and chipotle peppers. Or, how about roasted winter vegetables with jalapenos.

Also, I LOVE gravy. But you cant make a smokey turkey gravy since its a bit too un-traditional. . Instead, I roast some turkey legs and neck bones if available, then use it as a base for the gravy. Of course, you want to make homemade turkey stock. I will admit, traditional dishes will work ok, but for me a Southwest flavor to a smoked turkey is delicious.

Nov 14, 2008
my3cflvi in Home Cooking

Secret to making great mashed potatoes?

I wouldn't bake them, since I find the taste of the potato is a bit different than when they're boiled. I've used a ricer before and think it works great to take out all the lumps. But, if you like some lumps to it, then use the masher. To me, using cream or whole milk and real butter makes a world of difference. I also make sure to try and remove as much moisture from the potatoes by first draining them, then putting them back on the burner for a few minutes. The burner should be turned off so the potatoes don't burn. I also find that adding more milk or cream upfront helps make them more creamy. Another idea, is to cook the sliced potatoes in cream, until they're done. That is purely decadent but delicious. Also, use cold butter. Sometimes I use olive oil. And I prefer white pepper to black pepper.

Nov 14, 2008
my3cflvi in Home Cooking

Do you REALLY not want to cook on T Day?

Personally I prefer to enjoy a home cooked meal. And I agree it doesn't even have to be a traditional meal. Instead of turkey, one year I made a complete vegetarian feast. As far as spending a week cooking, I try to make the dishes more simple, such as roasted vegetables. And forget appetizers, except a glass of champagne. I used to feel the dinner was overwhelming until I found ways to make it less stressful. Why not spice up the meal with dishes you like? E.g. What's wrong with meatballs, pasta or tamales along with the turkey? Find dishes you love and share them, even if they're store bought.

Nov 14, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

What makes great French onion soup?

To me, the broth is most important. Sadly, it seems that some will merely use canned beef stock, that is loaded with sodium and MSG. If I want a good FOS, I make my own chicken and beef broth and add salt later. Also, using good bread is important. The best soups tend to use a sturdy country loaf that stands up to the broth. I've had some versions where the bread collapses under the broth, and becomes gummy. YUCK. When I make my own soup, I will also make the bread from scratch. And I agree, the onions must be carmelized low and slow. While FOS might appear easy to make, a good version does require much TLC and effort. I think it's worth the extra effort.

Nov 13, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

Best Sandwich in the World

For me, Chicago style Italian beef and sausage combo with hot and sweet peppers, juicy is the ultimate sandwich.

Nov 13, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

Has Anyone Ordered from Omaha Steaks?

I ordered the 1" sirloin, and grilled it. It was tender and juicy, and well worth the price. I let the meat rest for 10 minutes, then sliced it. It was delicious. I do admit the first time I overcooked it. I think part of a good cut of meat is making sure its prepared right. I originally was planning to order from Tallgrassbeef, but didn't like the fact they have a $100 minimum order.

Nov 13, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

What foods are a MUST for Thanksgiving?

My mother-in-laws must have was creamed cauliflower, which I dearly loved. She also made an extremely decadant potato kugel, literally swimming in bacon fat. It was addicting yet took away from the rest of the meal it was so good. Since I now cook for my wife and I, I am more willing to skip the tried-and-true, replacing it with new favorites such as roasted winter vegetables, or roasted green beans with almonds. The only must have is the gravey , pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.

Nov 13, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

Thanksgiving Angst!

I would cook. I can understand though how big of a chore cooking the dinner is. I used to make the whole turkey, with numerous dishes and appetizers. Instead, I scale back to a breast, with no appetizers. The side dishes consist of roasted vegetables, which is much easier to cook. Plus, since I know there will be leftovers, I skip the mashed potatoes, and just bake a sweet potato. The next day I will make mashed potatoes for a yummy leftover meal. Another option is to skip the turkey, and instead cook something on a smaller scale like duck. Or, what about a veggie meal? One other option for side dishes: replace the traditional dishes with your favorities. As an example, I recall an Italian friend whose Mom always served Thanksgiving with pasta and meatballs. An Indian friend would serve masala dosa bread stuffing. I think by using different approaches to the meal can make it seem revatilized. On a personal level, I just feel that these holidays are meant for family and homecooking. Since I prep a few days before, it really doesn't seem like cooking a big meal.

Nov 13, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

new to indian food

Try a buffet since you can sample as much or little as you want. I've introduced people to Indian food and always recommend the tandoori chicken since it;s such a staple in most Indian restaurants. Plus, it's typically not as spicey as some of the other dishes. Then you can add some of the other dishes to the plate such as basmati rice. You may first want to visit the restaurant yourself to see how the food is, especially the spice level. My wife and I have eaten at the same Indian restaurant for over a year. The food was a bit spicey but tolerable. When they hired a new chef, the heat level increased and we don't like it as much. Also, I suggest getting a beverage such as mango or sweet lassi, or masala tea.

Nov 13, 2008
my3cflvi in General Topics

A recipe you have made that was worth the effort?

One winter's day I decided to make homemade tamales. It was a huge effort since I had to first prepare the pork meat filling, Then, I made the tamale dough, with masa harina purchased from a real Mexican grocery. It literally took me about 5 hours to finish making all the tamales. I feel it was worth it. Yes, tamales aren't fancy, and might not earn respect from some, but it was satisfying to make something from scratch.

Nov 11, 2008
my3cflvi in Home Cooking
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Good Italian Beef and fresh cut fries in Gurnee area?

Thanks for the pic and info. I like how they mix the different colored peppers. I can't wait to go and will let you know this weekend how it went.

Nov 11, 2008
my3cflvi in Chicago Area

Good Italian Beef and fresh cut fries in Gurnee area?

Having lived in the city until 5 years ago, I admit being spoiled having quick access to some of the best Italian beef joints. In fact, I even worked at Roma's while attending college on Cicero avenue, which I still feel is the best place. You can't go wrong with the fresh cut froes either. Now, I love in the Gurnee area, and have yet to find a good homemade Italian beef. Every place I visit says they buy the beef from a supplier. And the french fries are frozen, not fresh like they serve at Roma's. Does anyone know of a good place in this area?

Nov 09, 2008
my3cflvi in Chicago Area