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mdzehnder's Profile

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apple juice vs. cider

I agree that the flavor profile of the pasteurized variety can be good. The difference is that the unpasteurized sort, if left to sit for a week or so after pressing, will start to ferment ever so slightly from the natural bacteria on the apple skins. Not enough to develop any real alcohol content, but enough to get fizzy and bubbly, and get a slight tang. It's an incredibly lovely drink.

Oct 26, 2014
mdzehnder in General Topics

Perfect Margarita

Saying that Cointreau isn't Triple Sec because of a differing proof and differing sourcing methods for the oranges is like saying a Geo Metro isn't a car because it only has three cylinders (although I suppose some people might argue that's the case ;-). Cars are made with all different styles, designs, engine styles, etc.; they still fall into the underlying category of 'car.'

Oct 08, 2014
mdzehnder in Recipes
1

How to use bourbon?

I make my own homemade vanilla extract by splitting two vanilla beans lengthwise and dropping them in the bottle, letting them extract for about a month, and then using that in any application calling for vanilla extract.

Dec 03, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

apple juice vs. cider

No need for a cooler--just keep it out of direct sunlight and intense heat. The worst that might happen after several days of non-refrigeration is that the cider will begin to ferment--and it tastes better that way!

Dec 03, 2013
mdzehnder in General Topics

Apple Pie Recipes?....Pretty Please!

This one is my standard go-to.

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/1...

However, last week I made a pie with this one for the first time, with incredible results.

http://joythebaker.com/2008/11/apple-...

Either is outstanding.

Nov 26, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Apple Pie Recipes?....Pretty Please!

I've definitely become a convert to the all-butter pie crust method. I made an apple pie last week and the crust was absolutely phenomenal; you could look in through the slits I made in the top crust and see dozens of miniscule flaky layers. Beautiful. I still prefer lard (real lard, not hydrogenated whatever) but its difficult to find and annoying to make onesself and if the choice lies between Crisco and all butter, go all butter all the way.

Nov 25, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Apple Pie Recipes?....Pretty Please!

Joy the Baker's recipe is generally my go-to.

http://joythebaker.com/2008/11/apple-...

Shrinkage does occur with this recipe, and the apple when finished definitely have a remaining bit and chew to them, which doesn't bother me, but if its an issue for you then you may definitely want to consider combining this with a pre-cook methodology.

I do, however, highly recommend the step of reducing the juices. Really contributes to the overall texture and flavor.

Nov 25, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Bourbon.

Nov 25, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

CHOW Reviews: Vitamix 5200 Standard

I'm not lowering it--I'm simply observing it as being where it in fact is, and commenting from that perspective. Asking me why I'm "lowering the denominator beyond common" is like asking the weatherman why he's making it rain.

Nov 09, 2013
mdzehnder in Cookware

Dressing Romaine Salad in Advance?

Do you have a picture/link to this container? Sounds useful, and not like anything I have currently. Spatially, would it be similar to using a mason jar?

Oct 21, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Dressing Romaine Salad in Advance?

"Travel with container upright." Excellent, if you commute by car and have a large bag with a flat bottom which allows you to place the container securely. What do you recommend for those who travel by public transit, or bike, or those who walk or travel by car but have a bag which requires their container to be shoved in awkwardly, sideways?

Oct 20, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Freezing Hard Boiled Eggs

Out of curiosity, how many eggs do you have? We go through nearly two dozen a week, and there's only two of us!

Oct 19, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Near Santa Fe

Thanks for your thoughts, ninrn. I remember the thread you referenced--it was one of the sources I consulted when I was researching the food scene prior to moving here. I was about to respond to your comments above by saying something to the effect of, "so you're saying that the essence of NM cuisine is poor quality and execution?" A little snarky, perhaps. Then I read your comments on the other thread and realized that, in a way, that's exactly what you were saying (I'm referencing your comments on "Canned stuff, commercial lard, white flour tortillas and government cheese"). While I think that's a fair point, I find it difficult to accept that these things are the "essence" of the cuisine. Most of these dishes probably existed, at least in some form, prior to the advent of these things.

For example, I love the green chilli at Tesuque Market. What distinguishes it from others I've had? As far as I can tell its simply that 1) they use fresh, locally grown, freshly roasted chilli from the local market (or frozen in the winter, but never canned) and 2) it's well made using good techniques and no fillers, so it doesn't taste dull and flat. It's fresh, sharp, complex and delicious. I simply don't see how it violates the soul or essence of NM cookery to make the chilli from freshly roasted local chilli rather than with canned chilli from Hatch.

You say, "it's very basic, a little monotonous, and not particularly fresh or refined." I agree with all of those except the 'fresh.' If I can make my chicken tamales with Tyson's frozen from Costco, and they'll be bland, dry and pointless or I can make them with a locally raised heritage breed of chicken that has incredible moistness and flavor on its own and will elevate rather than drag down the final product, how does it violate the spirit of NM food to do the latter?

I'm not asking to change the face of NM food. I don't have a problem with things being blanketed in chilli, per se (that comment was intended to refer to the chilli blanket as a tourist trap, not to dismiss chilli blankets entirely): I just want that chilli to be done WELL (especially since sometimes it seems it's the majority of what I'm eating). I just want decent ingredients and decent execution; I want the NM dishes that exist and are served to be the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. When I go to El Parasol, for example and get a delicious, well seasoned, moist and spicy green chilli vegetarian tamale, and then I go someplace else and get a bland tamale with dried-out masa and meat that tastes like sawdust, I just have to wonder what they're doing, and whether they're not simply serving crappy food because they can--because if they put enough chilli on it and call it, "new mexican"--some tourist WILL buy it.

Anyhow, not trying to start a war here. Just airing some frustrations and thoughts.

Oct 15, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Near Santa Fe

Oct 15, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Santa Fe Restaurants, Dish by Dish

On a recent thread regarding recommendations for New Mexican dining in Santa Fe (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9179...) a discussion broke out regarding the fact that it is sometimes easier to find good specific dishes for NM cuisine than an overall best restaurant. It started with this comment from finlero:

"It took me several years living in NM to have an "aha moment" that different NM restaurants have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to specific dishes. Once place might kick butt with its carne adovada burrito with red, but its chiles rellenos in green might suck. So while there's a lot of healthy debate on CH and elsewhere about "best NM food", that's kind of a huge oversimplification."

So let's try it. Restaurant by restaurant and dish by dish, who do you think does what well, and poorly?

I'll start with a few:

Best heuvos rancheros of my life at Tesuque Village Market

Amazing red chilli chicken tamale at Cafe Pasquals

Excellent vegetarian tamales at El Parasol, and hands down the best posole I've had

Anyone had good experiences with menudo? The version I had at Atrisco was passable, but not amazing.

Oct 15, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Near Santa Fe

And +1 on your estimation of La Boca. Absolutely love that place. Its quite possible I would take their blood sausage as my last meal.

Oct 15, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Near Santa Fe

What then, in your view, does make a NM restaurant? What makes it stand out? I ask only because I've been asking people ever since I came here what makes NM food--what makes it unique or different from other cuisines--and the only answer I've ever really gotten is precisely that--a handful of ingredients. That is, the green chilli, the fact that it typically uses pinto beans instead of black, which is more typical of mexican, the chicos, things like that. If it isn't that that makes an NM restaurant, what does?

Also, what places do you think do a good job other than La Choza (and also, evidently, what dishes at those places should I try)? I agree that much of what's on the menu at Pasqual's isn't NM food--it ranges from French to meso-american--but when I HAVE had an NM dish there it has typically represented the best version I've had of that particular dish. For example, the red chilli tamale I had there was the best tamale I've ever eaten.

I don't think its the case that I don't like NM food--I've had much that I do like, such as the huevos I mentioned at Tesuque Market, the posole and tamales at El Parasol, and some others. I just feel like much of what's on offer could be so much better; primarily through the use of better quality ingredients, but also through infusing more complexity and subtlety into their flavors. That's what I felt like Pasqual's did, and why I liked it. More specifically as well, I feel like the places that are "known" for their NM food--the places where that's the thing they do, such as La Choza, Tomasitas, etc--often offer the worst examples of the genre, whereas more out of the way places--such as Tesuque--do a far better job.

Anyhow, your thoughts would be appreciated.

Oct 15, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Near Santa Fe

It has been two months or so since I've been there. However, if by prepared foods you're referring to the pre-made burritos and such found in their cases to go, I've never eaten those and therefore can't comment. I've only ever ordered from their regular restaurant menu, and I've never been disappointed with what I received.

Oct 14, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Near Santa Fe

It started out as a small convenience store/grocery mart serving the village of Tesuque; however, it has now expanded to a full--funky and eclectic--restaurant.

Oct 14, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Near Santa Fe

Definitely make the short, five minute drive outside the city, near the SF Opera, and check out Tesuque Village Market. Some of the better NM food I've had here, and they use nearly all local and sustainably raised ingredients. Their heuvos rancheros are the best I've had in SF. I also thought Cafe Pasqual's was quite good. I frequently feel like "NM food" is just an excuse for "let's make something of really bad quality and then dump a giant soup of green chilli on top and people will eat it because we call it, "new mexican food." I think many of the place normally cited for good NM food--La Choza, Tomasita's, Tecolote Cafe--are like this. Cafe Pasqual's, in my opinion, represents how delicious NM food can be if prepared with actual care and decent quality ingredients.

If you want to check out something related to NM, but not exactly traditional, go to Dr. Field Goods on Cerillos Rd--amazing French-trained chef who puts an NM spin on his dishes. Reasonably priced.

Second on Jambo, Counter Culture, and Tune-Up--all excellent. food. 2nd street has good beer and a great vibe, but the food is mediocre at best.

La Boca and Taberna La Boca are both incredible.

Oct 11, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Lodge Mini Cast Iron

This is sort of the "standard line" on cast iron, but I've never found it to be the case if your cast iron is properly/thoroughly seasoned. I cook with tomatoes, vinegar and other acidic ingredients regularly in my cast iron and have never found it to negatively affect either the seasoning or the flavor.

Aug 20, 2013
mdzehnder in Cookware
1

Do you use a crock-pot / slow cooker?

Can you walk me through your stock-making process? I've had very little luck with home-made stuck and am becoming frustrated, but a 24 hr simmer in a crock pot sounds promising.

Aug 19, 2013
mdzehnder in Cookware

Besides pesto with basil, what other herbs or whatnot have you used to make a similar type mix?

Arugula is definitely my favorite in the pesto family--I actually think I like it better than traditional basil pesto.

Another excellent one I've done several times this summer is purslane pesto. Delicious, bright, a bit citrusy, and best of all, the stuff grows everywhere--if you have a garden chances are some of it has come up on its own.

Jul 22, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Garlic scapes

Pesto works quite nicely. I also love roasting them in the oven. I imagine this would be a similar result to the grilling mentioned above. I just toss them in a pan with some par-boiled potatoes, herbs and S&P, then roast for about an hour, give or take. They caramelize and get very crispy and crunchy, almost like a cracker texture--totally removes the fibrous character they otherwise have.

Jul 22, 2013
mdzehnder in Home Cooking

Weight of lamb neck?

I've not raised sheep, but I've had other sorts of animals and given lots of injections and I can't see how it could possibly matter where the injection is given. When it's injected it enters the bloodstream and dissipates throughout all muscle and tissue (which is what allows it to work). I don't see how the site of the injection could matter--if you're concerned with the residual effects of injections you should avoid animals that have been injected at all.

Jul 16, 2013
mdzehnder in General Topics

My Northern New Mexico Itinerary

Don't waste your time with Tecolote; I was distinctly underwhelmed. If you liked Tune-Up (which I do as well) you should definitely try Counter-Culture Cafe on Baca street; their burrito is one of the better ones I've had in town. If you wish to venture a bit outside of town The Tesuque Diner has always been excellent for breakfast (particularly enjoy their green chili and their heuvos rancheros). Tomasitas is also underwhelming.

If you want classic New Mexican food, I can honestly say one of the few places I've ever really enjoyed it is Cafe Pasquals; pricey, but worth it. The actually put some finesse into their dishes rather than just pouring cheap cheese and a giant lake of green chili over everything and calling it, "New Mexican."

Jul 06, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

Iconik Coffee Roasters, Santa Fe: finally, the all-around coffeehouse I've been wishing for

Agreed. I love Iconik's space and decor. I'm not a big fan of Betterday's food (with the exception of the avocado sandwich) and Iconik's is definitely better (even with the limited menu). I'd keep going back just for the fig scone, even if that was all they served--amazing. Additionally, I've had several shots of espresso over the last two weeks as they've been adjusting their roast, and, while all different, they've all been quite good. Although I like Stumptown's coffees for pour-over cups, I'm not a fan of their Hairbender espresso as a shot (although it works relatively well in cappuccinos. I'd mostly stopped drinking shots of espresso because of this until I had Iconik's.

Jul 01, 2013
mdzehnder in Southwest

CHOW Reviews: Vitamix 5200 Standard

Out of curiosity, what did you opt for?

Jul 01, 2013
mdzehnder in Cookware

CHOW Reviews: Vitamix 5200 Standard

@JoanN--I'm not saying you shouldn't or don't need to--I'm saying I find it unlikely that most people do, and I think that it's a least POSSIBLE that Chow reviews are attempting to take that into consideration when providing their information.

@Melanie Wong--"It could be an interesting re-write to put together a side-by-side comparison with using the machine in accordance with the manufacturer's directions and then tell us whether the typical consumer can figure it out and benefit from the investment." I like this idea a lot--i.e., is the learning curve of this tool worth it to the average user. I had the same thought reading the reviews of the Shun Deba knife, which got a lot of negative comments along the lines of, "this is a traditional fish-boning knife, and they're reviewing it as though it were an all-purpose chef's knife." And that's true, they were reviewing it that way. And its possible that the Chow reviewers are idiots who are too lazy to quickly Google "deba" and find out that it is a traditional Japanese fish-boning knife. However, it is ALSO possible that they believe that the majority of people who will purchase this knife aren't purchasing if for that reason and don't know of its intended purpose--they're just catching onto the Japanese knife craze and running with it. It's possible they're reviewing if from the perspective of, "in the way most people will use this knife, is it worth the investment?"

Now, if that is in fact what they're doing, should they make that explicit in the review? Yes, probably--which is why I like Melanie Wong's suggestion above.

Jul 01, 2013
mdzehnder in Cookware

CHOW Reviews: Vitamix 5200 Standard

It seems as though many of these comments say something to the effect of the reviewer being incompetent for not being able to properly read directions or not spending the time to figure out how the tool works.

I can't pretend to speak for what is in the minds of the Chow reviewers, but the information Chow provides regarding how it conducts its reviews includes the following sentence, "Each product is put through rigorous tests based on the manufacturer’s claims and what our Team believes to be a consumer’s reasonable expectations."

I believe that last part is key (and certainly would be for me if I were conducting these reviews)--that is, taking into consideration what most users are going to actually do. It would never occur to the average user of kitchen tools to read the instructions for something as basic as a blender--you put things into it, turn it on and it blends. Perhaps the Chow reviewers did read the directions, perhaps they didn't--the fact remains that most consumers won't. Furthermore, should one expect to have to read an instruction manual in order to properly use a blender?

In my opinion, the simple fact that I had to read a set of instructions prior to using a blender makes that tood a failure simply on those grounds.

Jun 30, 2013
mdzehnder in Cookware