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What works as faux pasta?

Instead of thinking shape, maybe try thinking flavor combos. If I was in the mood for Alfredo but I didn't want the carbs, I might serve Alfredo sauce over grilled asparagus. Tomatoes and cauliflower go great together. Tomatoes and lentils too. A crab-stuffed avocado with your favorite tomato sauce and a little fresh basil? Pesto and salmon is a no-brainer, obviously. Just spit-balling here, but it seems to me with pasta it's usually more about the sauce anyway (who eats a plate of unsauced noodles?), so I'd be thinking about what veggies or proteins my favorite sauces would go well with. I've tried a bunch of noodle substitutes and most of them are pretty disappointing. One I do love is zucchini. I shred a pile of zucchini "noodles" with the noodle-sized blade on my Benriner. Zucchini has enough heft and bite that it never leaves me longing for the real thing.

May 21, 2013
seiun in Home Cooking

Shopping for Hoisin and Mirin. Any Good Brands?

I've got a bottle right here. The label says: "Product of USA". (I like the idea of a giant tanker full of hoisin sauce floating over from Hong Kong, though.)

May 21, 2013
seiun in General Topics

Shopping for Hoisin and Mirin. Any Good Brands?

I use Lee Kum Kee hoisin because that's what they use at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant (Quang in Minneapolis) and because it's not made in China. I've quit buying Chinese products following the toxic dog food scandal and since I learned they export radioactive steel made from recycled medical equipment and put lead in cellophane noodles. I use Kikkoman hon-mirin that I get from my local liquor store. The difference between hon- and aji- is simple: hon means "true" and aji means "taste". In other words, hon-mirin is the real thing and aji-mirin is made to taste like the real thing.

May 08, 2013
seiun in General Topics

Where did all the Karahi/Indian Woks go?

Be careful what you buy. Chinese steel is often contaminated with Cobalt-60 (the Chinese see nothing wrong with incorporating a recycled medical device or two into their steel). Same with Indian steel. Get a quality product from a reputable company--it's worth the extra cost.

May 24, 2012
seiun in Cookware

Can anyone recommend a good knife for cutting meat incredibly thin? [moved from San Francisco board]

May 04, 2012
seiun in Cookware

Cutting boards

If it's old, you should toss it. In fact, if it's plastic, you should toss it. Wood is much safer. http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/fac...

May 04, 2012
seiun in Cookware

disintegrating enchiladas

Years later, I was still looking for the solution, so I thought I'd post. I spent some time experimenting, and I think I have it. The oil should be HOT (so a drop of water can't penetrate the oil, but skitters across the surface). Next, don't be afraid to fry them a bit. You're not really trying to soften them--you're trying to strengthen them. They need to be a little leathery. It's better if they crack around the edges a bit when you roll them than if they're soggy. So fry them for 20-30 seconds per side. They should bubble and puff and the edge should just slightly brown. Tortillas are cheap--buy some and practice. 10 or 15 minutes of trial and error and you'll have it down.

One other tip: Resist the urge to drench them with sauce after they're rolled and in the pan. Many cooks like to pour sauce over the top before they go in the oven. That's a recipe for soggy enchiladas. If you dredge them in sauce before you fill them and there's sauce in the filling, that's plenty of sauce. They'll crisp up in the oven and the cheese on top will melt, and they'll be perfect.

One last tip: If you're making cheese enchiladas, use a combination of cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Philadelphia cream cheese. Mix the cheeses together in a bowl with some of the sauce and you'll have an awesome filler. And spend the extra fifteen minutes or so to make your own sauce. I make mine with a 5:1 mix of anchos and chipotles. It's a great combo.

Apr 20, 2012
seiun in Home Cooking

Burgundy vs. New World Pinot Noir

Who cares? You're comparing apples to oranges. It's a complete waste of time.

Apr 14, 2012
seiun in Wine

Am I the Only One Who Doesn't Like Pinot Noir?!

You eat beef. Pinot is the wrong wine with beef. Try it with chicken sometime. Then you'll get it.

Apr 14, 2012
seiun in Wine

Pinot?

One of the great things about Pinot Noirs is that, with their lower tannins and higher acidity, they tend to sit "under" the food, rather than "pairing" with it. They're an excellent complement to just about everything ^except* beef and pork (which require higher tannins to cut the fat of a good cut of red meat). My advice is, when in doubt, pick a Pinot or a good bottle of bubbly, like Verve Cliquot. They'll rarely fail you.

Apr 14, 2012
seiun in Wine

Great Pinot Noir under $20 -- Is there such a thing?

A-Z is OK. Erath is OK. MacMurray Ranch is decent. You really won't find a great bottle of pinot for under 20 bucks, though, and there are good economic reasons for that. The grapes are just too expensive, for one thing. We're talking $3000-$6000 per ton for pinot grapes, which works out to about ~60 cases. When you figure bottles, labels and cardboard add up to another 20-30 bucks a case, you're leaving very little room for profit at 20 bucks a bottle. Go for the French stuff. It's what pinot is all about. You'll pay 50 bucks or so. It will be worth it.

Apr 14, 2012
seiun in Wine

Does salt really "expire"

If the sodium and the chlorine separate, you could get very sick. I would recommend throwing away any salt that's over 500 million years old.

Mar 06, 2012
seiun in General Topics

PHO at home?

It's not that difficult. I just had some for lunch. The broth freezes well, so you can make up a huge batch and have every day. This recipe is a good starting point.

http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/...

I char the onion and ginger over a direct flame on the stove. Just stick a fork in it and toast it like a marshmallow (I usually cut the onion in half).

Give it a try. It's worth it.

Nov 22, 2011
seiun in Home Cooking

Need your help: Seasoning, Layering Flavors

I realize this is an old question, but I thought I'd add a recommendation in case anyone finds it years later (as I did today). I highly recommend The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It's a great book to fire your culinary imagination.

Nov 18, 2011
seiun in Home Cooking

Pasta Carbonara with Peas

One of my favorites. I'm a pescetarian, so I used smoked salmon cooked in olive oil instead of pancetta. Still delicious.

Oct 22, 2011
seiun in Recipes

gin in the freezer?

Unlike vodka, which is supposed to be flavorless, the delicate aromatics in gin are diminished when it gets too cold. Room temp or in the fridge is best.

Jun 27, 2011
seiun in Spirits

Tramontina vs. All Clad

I just received an 8-piece set of Tramontina, ordered from Walmart. The set I got is the standard 18/10 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply. It's all clearly marked "Made In China" on the bottom. I'd describe it as OK, or maybe pretty good. I already own a few pieces of All-Clad, and in my opinion, the Tramontina is nowhere near the same quality. It's not bad, but All-Clad is great. The fit and finish are fine (not as good as All-Clad). The stainless layers are noticeably thinner than my All-Clad, giving me the impression that I'd need to treat it with extra care, which doesn't appeal to me at all (when I'm cooking, stuff tends to fly around the kitchen). :) The handles are a little more comfortable than All-Clad. The sizes that came with the set I ordered were very usable. I was especially impressed with the saucepans (2 and 3 quart), which are great sizes to have. On first use, the saucepan immediately picked up some rouging, which makes me suspect it would be susceptible to pitting as well. The rouging was no problem to remove with a little Barkeeper's Friend, but I wouldn't want to be scrubbing these pans all the time, due to the very thin stainless layer. The pieces I tried all performed well, and I have no particular criticism in that regard. They just weren't a joy to use like my All-Clad is, and to me, that's what a great cooking tool is all about. It's gotta have a certain feel, and you have to *want* to use it. All-in-all, it's not a bad set of cookware, and I would definitely recommend you check it out for yourself if you're in the market for an inexpensive and very usable selection of cookware. But I'm returning the set I bought. I'd rather invest the extra money, a piece at a time, for cookware that I absolutely love.

Mar 12, 2011
seiun in Cookware

Best "cheap" gin?

The Gordon's gin in the classic James Bond martini was 100 proof. It's now 80 proof. Still makes an excellent martini, though.

Jan 14, 2011
seiun in Spirits

Best "cheap" gin?

Any good London Dry. I usually buy Gordon's because James Bond preferred it. Ever had a Gin Buck? Fill a highball glass with cracked ice, add a shot of gin and half a shot of Rose's lime juice. Top the glass off with ginger ale. Great for those sultry summer nights.

Jan 14, 2011
seiun in Spirits

Tanqueray vs. Hendrick's Gin?

I absolutely agree. Plymouth is excellent gin. And if Gordon's was good enough for James Bond, it's good enough for me.

Jan 14, 2011
seiun in Spirits

Tanqueray vs. Hendrick's Gin?

In my opinion, Hendrick's is a fascinating beverage, but it's gin for people who really don't like gin. The word "gin" is likely derived from the French "genièvre", meaning "juniper". If you don't like the taste of juniper berries, you should probably stick to vodka.

I often use Hendrick's for gin and tonics or Gin Bucks. I stick with classic London Dry gin for Martinis. My personal preference is Gordon's, mixed 4:1 with a good Italian vermouth like Martini and Rossi. If you do it right, it shouldn't taste like gin or vermouth--it should just taste clean, crisp, and sophisticated. A Martini that tastes like gin is just gin.

Jan 14, 2011
seiun in Spirits

a classic man's cocktail?

A classic man's cocktail is bourbon or scotch (preferably single-malt). If you don't care for those, you're not looking for a classic man's cocktail, you're just looking for a cocktail. Try a Rusty Nail or a Rob Roy. But seriously--develop a taste for Scotch. It's well worth it. Start with something sweet and easy like Dalwhinnie.

Oct 28, 2010
seiun in Spirits

Best martinis in the World??

My house. I make them 4:1, stir for 40 seconds and serve with an olive. Smooth and delicious.

Oct 28, 2010
seiun in Spirits

Quickie: Are you supposed to refrigerate both dry and sweet vermouth?

Vermouth is wine, so it will turn to vinegar if left out. Any non-distilled liquor requires refrigeration after opening. According the experts at Noilly Pratt, an opened bottle of vermouth will last about 3 months if properly refrigerated.

Oct 28, 2010
seiun in Spirits

How to get dried dough out of a pasta maker?

Take your metal brush. Use it to clean out your pasta maker. It's pretty simple and obvious.

Jul 11, 2010
seiun in Cookware

Indian Cusine - Would like to make at home!

I'd advise you to learn to make a good masala. Once you do that, you have the basis. Cookbooks by authors like Julie Sahni, Madhur Jaffrey, and Yamuna Devi will give you an excellent start. Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking", for example, is a great introduction to how Indian spices work.

Jul 10, 2010
seiun in Home Cooking

Searching for a Chopping Block

Just get something made out of wood. You don't need anything fancy. A hardware store will probably have what you need,

http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/fac...

Jul 10, 2010
seiun in San Francisco Bay Area

How to get dried dough out of a pasta maker?

Purchase a metal brush.

Jul 10, 2010
seiun in Cookware

Recipe Etiquette when Sharing

If you give someone a recipe and they fck it up, it's not you're fault. If they loved it when you cooked it and hated it when they cooked it, then they're a lousy cook. Just tell her. Say, "Some people don't have a knack for cooking. Maybe you should take up knitting or something." :) Seriously, what can you say? She's a lousy cook. Do you want to be the one to tell her? Give her a recipe for baked chicken--you can't possibly screw that one up.

Jul 10, 2010
seiun in Not About Food

Sushi Etiquette Questions

I'm referring to old manners as opposed to new manners. There's not much connection. My friend Nao-san told me that when the Japanese royal family dined at Sushi Zanmai, the restaurant was happy to accommodate formal rules and service, although hardly anyone follows those rules anymore. Most nights, Nao-san takes breaks by strolling through his restaurant playing saxophone. I doubt he did that the night the Crown Princess ate in his restaurant. It's all about context.

I believe in respecting the folks I'm dining with and following their example when it comes to etiquette. I have sushi frequently with my younger Japanese friends. With them, it's anything goes. They're very eager to show how "western" they are, and they go out of their way to be casual and irreverent. But there's still an element of formalism that's always there that I find both charming and inspiring. I once spent an evening bar-hopping in Boulder with a bunch of Japanese friends who were there training for the Olympics (Boulder is very popular with Japanese Olypians). It was a very enlightening experience. They talked rock and roll and tried to act casual and American, but their manners were very formal and, I guess, communal in a way that Americans don't generally understand. As "westernized" as they attempted to be, they still observed formal Japanese rules that were so complex and subtle that they told me I couldn't possibly be faulted if I violated them. One night, when we got home from an evening of eating a drinking, I left my shoes turned away from the door instead of facing the door. A discussion the next morning at breakfast convinced me that my choice to point my shoes the "wrong way" was just plain "weird". I love them for their formalism and sense of community, and I especially love them for their eagerness to accept me into a culture I will never fully understand.

Jul 10, 2010
seiun in Not About Food