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Best Wedding Mains

Could be. I've just had too many dry, gluey risotto servings at weddings that I'd rather not subject my guests to that. We're probably going to do a pollenta cake with red pepper coulis for the veg entree unless we arrive at something better, but the non-vegetarian protein entrees are worrying me. Thanks again for help!

Apr 01, 2012
pastaguy in General Topics

Homemade Soda for a Crowd

So I'm planning my wedding menu for this August, and I'd like to serve a homemade soda for those not interested in the craft beers and wine (and open bar). I bought Homemade Soda by Andrew Schloss, but I've noticed that they all use large quantities of inputs for the syrup to mix with the seltzer (ie, there's a syrup:seltzer ratio of 1:1 or akin. Think of it another way, a pint of strawberries might get you 3 servings or soda). I'm trying to serve 80 people, and I'd rather not buy out (and pay for the kitchen staff to prepare) the entire state's supply of oranges, berries, cola, whatever.

Does anyone have any non-alcoholic beverage recipes that are tasty and easier for a crowd? Alton Brown's Celery Soda is one good choice (2 TBSP of Syrup pre cup of Seltzer). Lemonade spritzer perhaps? Are there others that are equally (or even more) delicious?

Thanks!

Apr 01, 2012
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Best Wedding Mains

I'm in the incredibly lucky position of planning my wedding coming up in August out in Colorado.

I'd love some input planning the menu. As a bit of background--we're a late 20s foodie-ish couple from the east coast with guests of varying adventurism flying in from all over the globe. 80ish people max in a restaurant/wedding venue attached to a ski resort (ie, catering on-site, professional kitchen, processional staff, etc.). We were presented with a list of suggestions, none of which got us excited. When the chef suggested risotto as a vegetarian option, we not only nixed that (there's no way that's gonna be edible when it comes out), but started thinking about other choices not on the menu. Thankfully, the catering team is willing to work with us.

This is where I could use some help. The plan is to offer three options--a chicken, a fish, and a vegetarian one. Other posts here on vegetarian options have given us a ton of choices for the vegee one, but what about the other two? Wedding food is never going to blow you away, but we're looking for plates (main/sauce, sides) that are delicious and can be prepared in quantity by a catering team of unknown qualtity (ie, nothing out of a Thomas Keller cook book, I don't think). If folks have good suggestions that aren't chicken/fish, that would be fine as well.

What are the most memorable wedding meals that you've ever had? I've just had so many bad ones (I still shudder thinking about that steak that I had at a very expensive venue in New York a few years back). I'd like to stack the deck in our favor here--suggestions appreciated!

Thanks!

Apr 01, 2012
pastaguy in General Topics

Halal Cart Food?

As someone who lived in New York for two decades, I had a pang for Halal Cart food (Chicken and rice with white sauce, see http://53rdand6th.com/2011/06/16/mixe...) this weekend. Does that exist at all anywhere around here? Or do I have to make my own?

Thanks.

Dec 10, 2011
pastaguy in Chicago Area

"Meals in Minutes"

Sorry, post edited. The New Jamie Oliver one. . .

Oct 23, 2011
pastaguy in Home Cooking

"Meals in Minutes"

I almost never buy cookbooks, but after watching a youtube here or there, I broke down and bought this one off of amazon. I must say, color me impressed.

I've made four of them so far, and each has turned out well. I'm looking for ways to get a real meal on the table for me (and often guests) when I get home, and if you've done your shopping and some prep in advance, these hit the spot. The directions take the guess-work out of what to do when (my timing is awful, so that's not an issue here) to get a one pot meal or a meat/veg/potato/salad/dessert on the table in good time. None are so good that they change my life, but all (so far) are good enough to enjoy and make again.

http://www.amazon.com/Jamie-Olivers-M...

The caveat here is that if you absolutely, positively must have your food on the table in 30 minutes (instead of, say, 35 or 40, this isn't going to work. That said, if the goal is to get relatively healthy, balanced, real food on the table in an appropriate amount of time, this one's a keeper.

Anyone else have any experience with it?

Oct 23, 2011
pastaguy in Home Cooking

What to do with a giant cast iron Dutch oven?

Braise braise braise.

Oct 21, 2011
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Cooking for One: A Widow's Challenge

I'm sorry for your loss. Family members of mine are going through the same thing, and I'm watching them lose motivation for treating themselves well. A few thoughts:

1) I would leverage purchasing smaller portions so that you can cook smaller quantities (use the salad bar, purchase one serving's worth of salmon, etc.) and group things by meal (ie, salmon with potatotes and green beans, etc.), that you always make as a group. It takes the stress and questioning (and thus the effort) out of the decision. One list, one set of steps, one meal. Sit down one day and draw up twenty of those meals, and then rotate as your "base", working stuff in as needed.

2) Have lots of non-perishables in the house that you can use for the "I didn't make it to the store, what should I make?" nights.

3) Have some good quality standbys for "I don't really want to cook". Just want to make pasta? Great, but instead of bottled sauce, have some cans of crushed tomatoes, frozen vegetables, and spices/herbs. In the time that it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, you can have a real sauce on your hands. It's a better quality pasta & sauce that's better for you, for example.

4) Instead of "just freeze leftovers", how about cooking with freezing in mind? This book: http://www.amazon.com/Fix-Freeze-Feas..., which I've never really worked with personally, designed recipes that you cook and then freeze in portions, and then just reheat each portion as you want them. Having a few of those in the freezer after one day's worth of cooking might be very helpful. . .

I know your pain, but there are ways of dealing with it.

Oct 21, 2011
pastaguy in Home Cooking

I've never eaten cauliflower before...

Good Eats worked with this a little while ago--AB's good at finding tasty recipes for an item that's usually unpopular.

Here's the youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CSfUz...

Oct 21, 2011
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Matzos Ball Disaster?

Thanks all for the help with the plum torte, it worked out nicely. We had one mini-disaster on Rosh Hashana, and I'd love some help making sure that it doesn't happen again.

We used Joan Nathan's 'fluffy matzos ball' recipe. Mixed it all up the night before and put it in the fridge to chill. The next morning, we dished it out into ping pong ball-sized portions (per the recipe) and then into boiling water to cook. We did a few hours before guests arrived in an attempt to get things done in advance. Lid on, and then they puffed up to about 4-5x their former size (they literally pushed the lid off the pot). Suffice it to say, at this point, we felt pretty proud of ourselves.

We turned off the heat and transferred them into the soup pot, and within about 2 minutes, they had shrunk down to golf-ball size again. When we ate them later that night, the flavor was good, but they were waaaaay too dense. I guess that you could cook them right before service, but realistically, who's going to do that?

How do you make matzos balls fluff up and stay fluffy for a few hours/days?

Oct 02, 2011
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Best lunch/brunch near Natural History Museum?

The traditional response has always been Sarabeths. It's a little up-scale for 'kid-friendly', but it's the classic AMNH-area brunch. Read some reviews and make a call, but it's delicious.

-----
Sarabeth's
423 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10024

Oct 02, 2011
pastaguy in Manhattan

New York Times Plum Torte--Springform Pan Necessary?

All,

My grandmother makes a plum torte (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/21/din...) from the New York Times that everyone loves, and now that I'm both out of the house and having company over for the Jewish Near Year on Thursday, I figured that I'd make one.

Two quick questions. One, I assume that there's no problem with my using frozen plums. I bought 'em a few weeks back, halved 'em, pitted 'em, and then froze 'em. Reconstituted, shouldn't be a problem, no?

Second, do I really need a springform pan? I'm not really the baking type (I'm a fairly good cook, but I don't bake much), and spending an extra $15 for a pan for this one thing just doesn't seem necessary. Can I use an 9 inch pie plate? Should I put parchment or something on the bottom? Grease it? Grandma says that the springform is necessary, but I don't think that she's ever tried it without and she has a massive kitchen with space to store stuff that she doesn't use that often. . .

Thanks!

Sep 24, 2011
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Fig Ice Cream?

And that's the recipe that I used the last time. ::smacks head::

Thanks so much, I'm already half way through it.

Sep 16, 2010
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Fig Ice Cream?

About a year ago, I made a batch of Fig Ice Cream. Somehow I remember turning fresh figs into a fig paste (cutting them up, boiling down, etc.) and then combining them with an ice cream base for a very very figgy, not very creamy ice cream. My girlfriend loved the stuff. And then I lost the recipe.

I have some fresh figs in the fridge going bad on me--any suggestions for a fig ice cream recipe?

Thanks.

Sep 16, 2010
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Hamentaschen

Anyone know where to get decent Hamentaschen in the Chicago? I live in River North (no car), and I'm just looking for something that reminds me of home to help me celebrate the holiday.

Thanks!

Feb 23, 2010
pastaguy in Chicago Area

Has anyone tried Ina Garten's Brisket?

It's important to note that Emeril's recipe isn't a recipe for traditionally jewish brisket. That's not to say that it's good or bad, but it's ethnically different. If you're looking for Jewish brisket, use Ina's. . .

Dec 08, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

New to Chicago

Thank you all--I can't wait to try all of these places!

Aug 29, 2009
pastaguy in Chicago Area

New to Chicago

Hello foodies. I'm a long-time New Yorker recently transplanted to Streeterville for school. I'm looking to find my new culinary home in Chicago, and I'd love some help. My roommates and I are trying to build two lists of places to go--one of places that are (relatively) close by and worthwhile--favorite chinese, thai, sushi, lunch, dessert/ice cream, deli, breakfast, etc. Since none of us have cars (and are in class most of the day), we're looking for close-ish. I'd also love a list of places worth the (not outrageously difficult) trip--places to explore on the weekends.

For the first list, we tried Dao Thai the other night and found it to be passible but not amazing.

For the second, thinking Hot Doug's, some of the Dim Sum places in Chinatown (brings back memories of weekly trips to Dim Sum Go Go or Golden Unicorn), etc. We're frankly less interested in the debates about which place is BEST (we'll try 'em all), just some pointers as to where to head.

I'm sure that this has also been covered elsewhere to some degree--if there are links that would be helpful instead of originally constructed paragraphs, those would be great as well.

Thanks!

Aug 21, 2009
pastaguy in Chicago Area

Healthy-ish at Yankee Stadium?

So I went to the Yankees game today (2nd time there), and I was taken by the food. First, let me say that I LOVE game food. Of all types. Shocking today wasn't the cost--yes, it was expensive (although I guess I'm jaded, I half expected the prices), but the calorie counts. Specifically, two shocks.

1) How astronomically high they are. I know, it's fast food--and it's delicious. But fries at wendy's are 1200 calories? Add a hotdog at 900 and you've essentially arrived at your daily calorie intake recommendations. And that's just one hotdog and fries--no drinks, dessert, or anything else.

2) How little choice for lower calorie foods there was. I know, I don't want a salad or fruit cup or anything at a baseball game, but how about something tasty for 700 calories all in? You can't make a hamburger for 500 calories and bake some fries for 250? I didn't walk ALL the way around the stadium, but did I miss something? Assuming that I want to grab food at the game (and not BYO)--what do people who are trying to only fill up one seat do?

Jul 18, 2009
pastaguy in Outer Boroughs

February 2009 COTM Schneider: Poultry and Meats

What about the grill? I'm only interested in these if I can grill them. . .any reason why that won't work?

Thanks.

Feb 24, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Brussels Sprouts recipe?

+1. Or splash balsamic vinegar instead of lemon. Or a mixture of melted butter and maple syrup. Or nothing. Good stuff.

Feb 06, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking
1

Sally Schneider's "A New Way to Cook"--Flavor Catalysts?

Rubee--I tried the Penne and Mushroom Ragu. The ragu just tastes, well, plain. Basically mushrooms and tomatoes stewed together. Wasn't bad per se, just wasn't exciting or rich in flavor. Any ideas as to why yours comes out so much better?

Feb 06, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

February 2009 COTM Schneider: Desserts

I made the flaky tarts (once again, page escapes me--I'm on the road). The dough was easy to make (and I don't bake) and fairly easy to portion and roll out. The tarts cook up nicely, but two comments. One, they don't brown particularly (perhaps some egg wash might help?), and two the crust isn't as sweet as say a pie crust. Dusting with powdered sugar helps, but the dough just isn't very sweet. Anyone else notice that? Any other desserts worth making?

Feb 06, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

February 2009 COTM Schneider: Flavor Catalysts

I made the rosemary salt (page number escapes me), but it's essentially rosemary, salt, sugar, and pepper in a spice grinder. I tossed it on pork chops and it was delicious. Any other advice for rubs/marinades that are worth making?

Feb 06, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Homemade Frozen Drinks

I've been playing around with sorbet from my ice cream maker in frozen drinks, e.g., cranberry sorbet, vodka, and lime juice in a boston shaker--the consistency (thick, soupy, and rich) is fantastic. I'm looking for other drinks that I could make that way besides a cosmo and I'm coming up dry--any ideas?

Thanks

Jan 19, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Thai Green Curry Paste

Anyone know of a good place to get some? Whole Foods was out, and food emporium didn't have anything. I'm looking for something authentic and as healthy as possible (I know, I know. . .). Any suggestions?

Jan 19, 2009
pastaguy in Manhattan

Homemade granola bars

Ok, so just read the rest of your post, but clearly there's a compromise. . .isn't there? Right? Maybe? :-)

Jan 19, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Homemade granola bars

Maybe you can help me with it. I like my granola bars a little chewy, and every time I make them, they come out of the pan falling apart goey, I cut them, and 30 minutes later they're like eating bricks. Any advice on keeping them a little softer (like they are when he eats them on the show)?

Jan 19, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Sally Schneider's "A New Way to Cook"--Flavor Catalysts?

I don't see why not. . .

Jan 19, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking

Homemade Pasta 201

For those on the board who helped me last time--a million thank yous.

I bought a pasta maker a few months back and, with the help of the new best recipe cookbook and the folks here, have essentially mastered the art of basic flour/egg spaghetti and angel hair. It still clumps a bit (that's probably because I don't separate the strands when I dry it before cooking, aka lazyness), and the dough is quite rich (anyone know what I'm talking about?), but I think that I've got the technique down.

I'm now looking for the 201 course--having taken the intro and enjoyed it, I'd love to take it to the next level. Does anyone have suggestions for appropriate next-level recipes (different doughs, flavors, or usages for a machine that rolls and cuts into the two thicknesses above?). Thought maybe spinach pasta, but then maybe not. Looking for suggestions.

Thanks.

Jan 19, 2009
pastaguy in Home Cooking