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ApprenticeGourmet's Profile

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Pulled Pork That's More Sugar Than Pork

That's most package food for you: when all else fails, drown it in sugar/salt. Cheaper than adding in real flavor, but I could have easily been tricked into getting this. Thanks for the report!

Mar 11, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Pretend to Be Pregnant, Lose Weight!

And you know where they get that hCG? Pregnant women's urine.

Mar 08, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Chefs Are Masochists, Culinary School Is a Scam

Or recommend he read Kitchen Confidential. Cliche, yes, but any fantasies I harbored about becoming a chef were swiftly eradicated by that book. Sure there are upsides to working as a chef, but just tell your brother to read the chapter where Tony describes his cuts, calluses, injuries and scars. I have a lot more respect for those in the industry after that!

Mar 01, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

The Cinnamon Stick Fails Again

Would Isles ever be willing to part with the recipe? Those sound obscenely good!

Feb 25, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Natural Peanut Butter Naturally Bad, Says Cook's Illustrated

Trader Joe's has the best peanut butter in the world; I cannot eat any other peanut butter, they've ruined me :)

Feb 23, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Carp Easier to Swallow with New Name

I'm in California, and though I'm not directly affected by the Asian carp invasion, I think it's an environmental nightmare. And apparently commercial fishing is pretty damaging, just make the Asian carp available and I'll eat it, but I have to be able to buy it first!!

Feb 18, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

CHOW Member of the Month: The Blender Girl

I love how she acknowledges that you can't have a "blanket diet"; I know people who are perfectly healthy vegan and totally unhealthy eating the same diet. Everyone is different, why should our diets be similar?

Thanks for this!

Feb 14, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

When Loved Ones Don't Eat Organic

Third: "Organic is a scam! What a sucker!"
Not entirely; when I mean "organic" I also am referring to animal products that were raised in humane conditions where they are not confined and miserable their whole lives. For me, that's worth paying a little extra. And also, not all pesticides/herbicides used on food has been rigorously tested to find any adverse effects; in fact, many have been linked to high rates of cancer among agricultural workers. (,,


And yes, I know full well that not everyone can eat organic. But not everyone can buy a Cadillac or Lambourghini either; does that mean that if you can afford one, you shouldn't buy it because there are people without cars? No. My family feels buying organic (but keeping a budget) is important, and we are willing to spend the money to get quality food that tastes good, is more nutritious (if we get it fresh from the farmers market), and better for the environment/producers/animals. If you want to help the less-fortunate, volunteer or donate to a food bank, or buy an animal for a family in a third-world country through Heifer International. That's what I do.

I know I'm probably going to get bashed again, so I just want to conclude: YES, it's not a big problem; YES, organic is more expensive; I'm not ignorant. I know that once I leave home it will be up to me to make certain decisions. And you know what? They're my own darn business. You can eat your inorganic, hormone-laced burger, and I won't. Thank you, and good night.


Jan 20, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

When Loved Ones Don't Eat Organic

Second: "What a spoiled brat! Suck it up; don't you know children are starving!?"

I think the people who wrote comments along these lines need some clarification: this is an etiquette column. Yes, this is a little non-issue, but what would you rather I write about? Ask Helena how to help my mom's business? The struggling one that has my brother's and my college tuition, as well as my parent's retirement, sunk into it? Or maybe how I can make my dad happier? The guy who travels and works a lot, so when I do see him he's so tired he just wants to rest at home. What about my brother? He got kicked-out of school for getting into fights, and has yelling matches with my parents over the smallest things...maybe Helena can help me calm him down. Or maybe she can help me, the girl who spent her Sophomore and Junior years of high school doing most of the housework and cooking; the girl who does lots of the grocery shopping and cooking for the household; the one who is a recovering anorexic; the one who finds some happiness and peace amid the stresses of school, college applications, and household drama in cooking/eating delicious food that comes from local sources? I'm sure that's exactly what Helena is qualified to do.

Jan 20, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

When Loved Ones Don't Eat Organic

As being the person who sent in the letter and has been consistently bashed, I would like to address some of my attackers. The arguments against me seem to be coming from three different camps, and I will address each one so this becomes more of a "conversation" and less of a "condemnation".

First: "She should suck it up and be grateful! And why isn't she paying?"
...I was. Not ONCE did I critique their choices, even when I didn't enjoy what was served. After all, sometimes you just need fuel! The only time I ever tried to steer them in a more sustainable was concerning meat/poultry: I recommended the free-range/grass-fed option because I said, "it tastes so much better!" They decided to try it, and agreed it was very good.

Oh, and I offered to pay (multiple times), but I never got the chance before they swooped in to pick-up the bill.

Jan 20, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Sorbet Squeezups Latest Attempt to Healthify Kids

chochotee: But a food manufacturer can't make money that way.

Sounds good, like a better alternative to Popsicles.

Jan 08, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

What bread[s] do you make for dinner? Is there a pattern to what you make or do you make your bread component according to what's for dinner? Recipes if you have winners please.

Normally we don't have bread with dinner unless we are having homemade soup (from leftover chicken or turkey...yum!) Then we'll either whip-up a quick cornbread.

Sometimes my dad will get the baking itch and make an amazing loaf of whole wheat bread using the recipe from the back of the King Arthur Whole-Wheat Flour bag. He uses molasses and olive oil, and it makes an insanely delicious loaf with a wonderful crumb. This doesn't happen often, however, because we'll eat way too much!

Raisinets' Bold Move into Alternative Fruits

Peet's coffee has chocolate-covered blueberries, cranberries, and cherries that you can only get in their stores, and they are AMAZING!!!

Jan 03, 2011
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Curried Shrimp with Basil-Lime Yogurt

Dec 23, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Recipes

Dear RuBo: My Name Is Not Fucking "Sweetie"

I love this!! Ruth Bourdain kicks major ass; welcome to chow!

Dec 07, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Beanscene Espresso - Oak Park, CA

There exists on almost every block in Southern California an outpost of the "chain who shall not be named". They brew mediocre coffee (badly), serve scalding hot tea, and have low-caliber baked goods. Sadly, the prevalence of this chain has pushed out many of the funky, local, high-quality coffee shops, especially outside of LA.

Luckily, for all of those in the Westlake Village/Thousand Oaks/Agoura Hills area, there is Beanscene Espresso in Oak Park. It's a small, one-outlet place in a strip mall squished between a scrapbooking store and a dentist. It may not be as serious as the Silver Lake heavy-hitters, but what they've got is wonderful.

What sent me through their doors was a cappuccino from the evil chain: not only was it too hot, the foam had the texture of styrofoam and the coffee had a nasty metallic, burnt taste. So I stopped by Beanscene and ordered a 20-ounce nonfat cappuccino. Their chalkboard is a great guide for coffee newbies or anyone curious about what different drinks are, as each drink is accompanied by a brief description (i.e., below Cappuccino it says "1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, 1/3 foam"). Prices are in the moderate range, with my order being $3.95. They offer a variety of seasonal drinks, and a selection of "Blasts", blended beverages that come in a bunch of different flavors. Iced teas and water can be refilled for $0.50.

The cappuccinos are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up; the coffee's natural bitterness is tempered by the milk, leaving only the faintest impression of equal parts bitter and toasted. There is no skimping on foam, but it is a softer, more natural creature than that found in the drinks from the chain.

Food-wise, they have diverse offerings. I haven't tried anything except a biscotti (from Naughty Biscotti); they make some of their baked goods in-house, while others come from local bakeries. For example they offer loaf slices from Stone Ground Bakery in Agoura Hills and Suzy Lou Who bars from Susie the Baker. There is also oatmeal, granola, panini, and yogurt, so they would make a good breakfast stop.

Instead of taking your coffee to-go, hang around and benefit from their free Wi-Fi. So if you want great coffee and high-quality pastries, but don't want to give-up Wi-Fi, then ditch the chains and swing by Beanscene. I might even see you there!


(Does anyone agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear opinions!)

Beanscene Espresso
610 Lindero Canyon Rd, Oak Park, CA 91377

Ultra-Retro Wheat Pasta

I must concur with your review. Tried this recently with a homemade pasta sauce; it's definitely one of my favorite whole-grain pastas, with a heartiness and distinct flavor often missing from most.

Nov 17, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Whole Grains with Magical Qualities

Thanks for the recommendation! I've had issues with bland grain blends in the past; this sounds great!

Nov 13, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Drinking Wine While Pregnant in France

Very interesting to see the cultural difference regarding this issue; I wonder what the rate of fetal alcohol problems is in France?

And Helena, congratulations!! Best of luck for the next few months!!

Oct 19, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

How to Cook a Squirrel

I live in southern California, and there are way too many rabbits and ground squirrels around. Do you need a hunting permit for such small game? Where can you hunt? What type of gun/ammo should be used? This would be cool to try!

Oct 04, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Classic Cheesecake

Could you replace the full-fat cream cheese with neufchatal, without seriously affecting flavor and/or cooking?

Sep 20, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Recipes

Creating a Cooking Club Curricula

Does anyone have experience doing this? I'd love to hear from some people who know what this entails...

Creating a Cooking Club Curricula

Thanks! Yeah, I really want to get them "hooked" by making something that they can eat pretty quickly. At school I'll do food safety and knife skills (without actual knives, though; they're not allowed at campus). We'll probably go to farmer's markets on weekends so they get to see where their food comes from and how to pick out the best stuff.

Creating a Cooking Club Curricula

I'm just about to enter my senior year of high school, and I have noticed a severe lack of cooking skills amongst my peers. To remedy this I am creating a cooking club to teach people the basics of cooking.

So I come to you, oh wise chowhounders, to help me refine my "lesson plan". My plan is to do most of the cooking outside of school but discuss choosing ingredients/knife skills/other tasks that don't immediately require food in school. Here is my current lesson plan (or order in which I will cover them).

1) Grains (rice, quinoa, pasta, couscous)
2) Vegetables
3) Salads
Pairing ingredients
4) Chicken
5) Sauces and Marinades
6) Baking
7) Meat
8) Seafood


Huckleberry also has the best carrot cake and lemon bars. Out of this world!

Suave, Sophisticated Deliciousness!

So I troll around Chowhound granted with the impossible task of narrowing down my lunch the next day in NYC. This is my only chance to eat in the city on my trip, so I wanted to make it count.

I hear a lot about Eleven Madison Park; they are booked. I hear about the great lunch deal at Jean Georges; also booked. Other choices turn up the same.

Well, luckily for me, I came across a few mentions of a little place called Tocqueville. I checked on open table, prepared for the worst, and...seats available! Score!

* * * * * * *

Fast-forward to the next day; I've been walking around New York for a few hours, it's hot, and I'm hungry. An air-conditioned restaurant is absolute heaven, and the maƮtre d' and waiter are like angels. Here I am, a sweaty teenager in jean shorts, a flowery tank top, all alone, and they courteously offer to check any of my belongings. I hand them my shopping bag from The Strand, they hand me back the dainty tassled key to my personal locker. First impression: wow!

Into the dining room we go, and...what a beautiful space! Lit with an amber glow there is well-chosen art on the walls and an attractive large lighting fixture hanging from the center of the small dining room. Too bad there is no one else to share the space with; a couple, a group out for an elegant lunch, and two buddies will show up later, but for the first 20 minutes I am the only patron in the establishment. A little bit awkward, but kind of special, too.

After being served water one of the waiters comes over with a beautiful basket filled with house-made breads, sets down a small ceramic cup containing their house-made butter with sea salt, and offers me a selection of foccacia, brioche, sourdough, and maybe one other, but my attention was solely on the brioche, a golden-brown almost-orb topped with a few grains of coarse sea salt. The waiter suggests I try the sourdough, and I (of course) accept.

Brioche: a subtle buttery yellow on the inside, this is both light and rich at the same time. Divine, divine, divine!

Sourdough: crusty on the outside, chewy yet tender on the inside with the slightest sour kick. With the saltiness of the butter, a little bit of perfection.

I only eat half of each, because if the bread is so wonderful, I want to save room for the real meal!

But before I can finish my two halves of the breads, I am brought out an amuse-bouche of house-made duck prosciutto curled up atop some chopped pieces of cucumber, a slice of radish, and what I think was basil oil (not totally sure, though!). He tells me it is complements of the chef, and I feel particularly smug when neither the sophisticated older couple, obviously-rich group, or obviously-regular men get an amuse-bouche.

And from there, the meal begins!

Salad of Greenmarket Summer Vegetables: fresh, vibrant, summer on a plate! Vegetables both cooked or raw decorate the plate in a scattered line, accented with a smear of carrot puree, green tea-cucumber dressing, and some small tapioca-like pearls. Roe? No, I am told they are zucchini puree transformed through some feat of molecular gastronomy into chewy, slightly sour little balls. Beets (raw and cooked), carrots, new potatoes, some things I couldn't identify; overall, totally and irrevocably delicious.

Spiced Peking Duck Breast and Leg Terrine: a fancy meal that takes some inspiration from carne asada and other well-spiced summer meats. The duck breast is studded with a peppery, slightly spicy, absolutely amazing spice rub, yet the duck flavor still comes through via the chewy fat and the rare, gorgeously pink duck meat. Baby turnips add a sour-by-way-of-savory flavor, while rhubarb goes the way of sour-by-way-of-sweet. Charred escarole cream is herby, deep and absolutely marvelous with the duck. Overall, a stupendous, super-awesome meal.

The staff couldn't have been nicer or more polished, the food couldn't be better, and the space couldn't be more elegant. If you are looking for great food amidst classic New York elegance, Tocqueville is the place!

I don't know why this place wasn't absolutely packed...but it deserves to be!

1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

Aug 11, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Manhattan

Best diners in NJ

God I hope you're kidding - they suck!

Aug 08, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in New Jersey

The Biggest Restaurant Rooftop Garden Ever?

So cool!

Aug 08, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

If the Boar Glows in the Dark, Don't Shoot

Marching? Waltzing? Marauding? What did the radiation do to these animals?

Aug 05, 2010
ApprenticeGourmet in Features

Trapped Chowhound Seeks Aid!

Yeah, I'm thinking of changing my plans to Neptune; what are the best things to get there (or a board where this topic has already been covered)?

By the way, thank you very much everyone! You've been so supportive and awesome!