b

benk's Profile

Title Last Reply

Ben's Kosher Deli from NYC coming to Boston

What about Rubin's? What, is it chopped liver? (And yes, I enjoyed Ben's back on Long Island...)

Mar 29, 2014
benk in Greater Boston Area

Your First Exposure to the Exotic

curiously enough, there is a place called Jewel of India in Hillendale, near Silver Spring MD that serves the food considered Chinese in parts of India... so, Indian Chinese food. As an aside, I once went to a place in NY (upper west) that did Cuban Chinese. So many cultures that each have their own 'Chinese food.'

Mar 16, 2014
benk in General Topics

Would you eat lime mayonnaise?

I've made it at home. Not bad, really, adds some interesting tang in the right place.

Feb 26, 2014
benk in General Topics

Do you always brown the meat?

It does make a huge difference done right. However, most people don't brown with a good sear. There is too much oil or liquid, they don't wait for release. The meat needs to be dry, sometimes a bit of starch helps.

Alternatively, and much easier, I find, is to put the meat in an open pan over a bit of vegetable or what have you, under the broiler. Brown it heavily, flip it, finish the job. The disadvantage is that your braise pot isn't full of fond and caramel. However, you can deglaze the broiling pan, if you want, by taking the meat out when it is done and cooking the drippings some more.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

Feb 26, 2014
benk in Home Cooking

Garlic + Oil, Why is this recipe safe?

So many people have opinions about food safety, particularly those based on a precautionary principle that assumes danger in absence of data, that I wouldn't listen to anything of the chowhound opinions that don't present data or the methods for getting appropriate data. In this case, without relative risk calculations (i.e. do it a bunch of times and see if you get anaerobic spoilage), I would recommend testing the pH of the resulting product and determining whether it is in the safe range.

Another area where this comes up is time/temperature. The number of people - even food safety professionals - with completely uninformed opinions is ludicrous. I've had to review the primary literature myself to get the appropriate pH and water activity adjusted time-kill curves for enteric pathogens.

Jan 26, 2014
benk in Home Cooking

Why does "peasant food" prep dirty so damn many dishes?

There is a broad misconception - I'm not sure you are extending it here, but I think so - that in the 'olde' days, people used rotten food, particularly meats, and did things like cover them with spices or cook them a long time. This is not the case. There were times of starvation, but typically meats were 'properly' fresh or appropriately cured/preserved. Vegetables were seasonal but not eaten rotten.

On the other hand, certain practices were meant to deal with food situations we don't see as often anymore, such as really tough meat from working oxen or horses, and stale bread because there were no dough conditioners.

Jan 26, 2014
benk in Home Cooking

Duck price?

That's called 'spatchcock'

Jan 15, 2014
benk in General Topics

Duck price?

I smoked the duck on the Big Green Egg. Whole. First, dip in nearly boiling water. Stuffed with raw onion and oranges, chopped into quarters or halves. 250 degree smoker, some hickory chips (soaked) in with the charcoal. After a while, soy sauce/rice vinegar/honey baste every half hour or so. Takes 5-6 hours, mahogany in tone. Delicious.

Jan 15, 2014
benk in General Topics

Campari changes carmine to artificial color?

Azo Red (azzorubina) is one of the coal tar dyes (Food Red 3). Brilliant Blue (azul) is another (Blue 1). Tartrazine is a common synthetic yellow dye (FD&C 5).

These are generally forbidden from food use in the UK.

Dec 10, 2013
benk in Spirits

What is "Real" Chinese Food

I believe you to be incorrect if you insist that there is not a 'real' Chinese food and a 'not real' Chinese food. There are several cuisines that I have tried, including 'Korean Chinese' and 'Cuban Chinese' and 'American Chinese' which are not 'Chinese food,' but are the foods that other nations have labelled 'Chinese,' sometimes with the assistance of helpful Chinese restaurant owners. I have heard the same dialogue about authentic Italian vs American Italian. Less so about French, but a bit, and German too.

Now, you may reasonably argue that there are many Chinese cuisines, in the homeland and in the diaspora, including Cantonese and Hunan and so on, but I have heard this kind of argument applied to French and Italian as well, it is not a unique argument about authenticity or regionalism.

I think it is not helpful to be so angry...

Dec 09, 2013
benk in Food Media & News

Oysters

I was hoping there would be a place to pick up the Rappahannock oysters at the sort of prices one sees shipped but without the shipping, if you get my meaning. Are there any of the growers with retail case sale?

Dec 06, 2013
benk in Washington DC & Baltimore

Need Good Eats by Baltimore Airport

There's good Korean in Glen Burnie, not very far.

Dec 06, 2013
benk in Washington DC & Baltimore

Any good canned or frozen crab out there? [Moved from Home Cooking]

Jack's Catch is an old Newport RI brand that got repurposed by a Florida company and markets SEAsian crabmeat. It has the full range from jumbo lump to claw - claw, strongest taste, most brown color; jumbo lump, biggest pieces, white and sweet, most expensive.

Nov 27, 2013
benk in General Topics

Does anyone actually put stuffing inside the turkey anymore?

*chuckle* Well, a case or two of gastroenteritis is pretty rough going. The biggest problem is not so much an excessive aversion to severe pain as it is an inherited problem with cooking technique and clumsy regulation.

It is more difficult to regulate two factors (time/temperature) than it is one (peak internal temperature). Health inspectors wouldn't want to stand around and make sure that each piece of meat was hitting a certain temperature - for an hour - and they would have a hard time being sure that the employees continued the practice in their absence. Peak temperature is easier.

Also, controlling the time 'in the danger zone' at potentially contaminated sites (external for solid meats, internal for ground meats, liquids, etc) is still important. This is where high heat can help; that initial increase in temperature. Where it hurts is the tendency to overshoot, to cook unevenly, and so on.

Controlling the oven temperature and using thermometers effectively are both under-practiced skills. The payoffs are great - roast pork, roast beef, poultry, fish,... basically any protein can benefit from superior temperature control. If you want very rare roast beef, for example, it can be done safely at temperatures which scandalize - and without the fuss of sous vide - in a Dutch oven over an 8 hour window. The bacteria won't pose a problem.

Nov 20, 2013
benk in Home Cooking

Does anyone actually put stuffing inside the turkey anymore?

I'm going to be heretical here; I have been Serv-Safe trained and am a professional microbiologist. I do not believe the temperature recommendations provided are correct. The real factors are much more complex; time and temperature, humidity and matrix.

I like stuffing inside the bird. It isn't hard to do safely. Raise the temperature of the stuffing up to 120 F and spoon it into a warmed bird (roughly same). Then cook it. If you are planning on bringing the bird itself up to 165 F or so, I think you are overcooking that bird. It can be safe at 140 F, as long as it holds there for a 'long time.' Don't believe 'basic' food science popularization. Holding meat at 130 (55 F) for 1.5 hours is enough to kill 99.999% of Salmonella; 140 (60 C) for 55 minutes is good enough as well.
[see references ... applied and environmental microbiology ... http://aem.asm.org/content/67/9/4128.full or
the journal of food microbiology and safety
http://seward.co.uk/wp-content/upload...

]

The 'drying' effect in lean meat is related to the peak temperature experienced; the denaturing of protein, not actual drying due to evaporation. Cooking to a lower temperature for a longer hold time requires better temperature control in the oven, but produces a better product. Putting everything in at 450 and waiting for a peak internal temperature at 165 is decidedly sub-optimal. Initial heating (to raise temperatures quickly) and browning can be separated from the 'killing of bacteria' and safety can be achieved a much lower final temperatures.

Nov 19, 2013
benk in Home Cooking

The Very Best Egg Sandwich

Do Egyptian eggs fried in schmaltz count?

Oct 08, 2013
benk in Home Cooking

Toasted Roux in oven.

flour and oil almost equal - want a 'wet sand' texture.

Oct 08, 2013
benk in Home Cooking

NYC/LA pastrami battle - the three kings

What about 2nd Ave? Good service, good pickles. Still, you're right, Carnegie overstuff is big.

Oct 08, 2013
benk in Los Angeles Area

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

Jeez, you'll have to do better than that. There is too much. I admit, it isn't NYC - but - there is a Korea Town (Annandale) and a Vietnamese center (7 corners), a sort of Chinatown (Rockville) and a big Hispanic center (Wheaton), an East African area in Silver Spring... one of the most ethnically diverse small cities in the nation is Rockville, by the way.

So, don't stress. There are some very good szechuan (Jin River in Rockville), dumplings (several Xia Lun Bao, and also A&Js, Rockville), schwarma (Max's in Wheaton), vietnamese (7 corners) and various Indian (try Jewel in Hillandale, but there are many others, including nepalese in Bethesda).

Sep 28, 2013
benk in Washington DC & Baltimore

lots of purslane!

I would like to say, briefly, that purslane grows in our sidewalks; and I transplant a few sprigs into the margins of the garden each year. There it quickly crowds out weeds and fills in under tomatoes or other plants. It is delicious and basically free. It is lovely, as you know, with vinaigrette. It also is great in tuna salad, egg salad or any other such concoction needing crunch. Another options: cold somen (noodle) salad.

Jul 27, 2013
benk in Home Cooking

five guys burger sucks

Seems a bit strong; but expectations are a powerful thing. Hard to beat high expectations. I've been to a few different 5 guys and have never been terribly impressed but never disappointed. It's a modest sized burger, overcooked compared to my taste,... but then, most are, because I like it rare; and only a few restaurants will I trust to do a very rare burger. Bartleys, in Cambridge MA, is one of those few. However, the 5 guys fries have always been fresh when I had them; they are enjoyable; the burgers have been fresh and suitable. The orders sometimes get a little mixed up - service can be slow - staffing is expensive and business unpredictable.

Anyway, a decent burger, much better than the big fast food chains; and a big bag of fries. Don't expect too much more, don't be too shocked by a 'premium' price, given that a big mac meal can cost up to $8 in the US. http://www.humuch.com/prices/McDonald...

Jul 05, 2013
benk in Chains

Kapnos

There is a new restaurant opening tonight, 5 pm, at 14th and W. It is called Kapnos and will be a macedonian meze menu; the menu is mostly vegetables, but the design is centered around several 36" wood fired spits for roasting lamb, goat and pig. I may or may not be able to make it out to the opening weekend, but I'd be interested to hear any comments or reviews as they come in.

Jul 05, 2013
benk in Washington DC & Baltimore

Any really good Ice cream around here?

Try Tropical Ice Cream on Georgia near Forest Glen... I miss Harrell's too, and even some places in New Haven, but Tropical is quite fun.

Jun 12, 2013
benk in Washington DC & Baltimore

Benatti - Don't do it.

I don't usually have to make negative recommendations, but let me mention that Benatti, which took over from that atasca spin-off on Cambridge St, Cambridge, should be avoided. If you are in the neighborhood, go to Moqueca or All-Star or Wisteria House or S&S or ... well, almost anything. You'll pay less money and get much better food. And the portions will be larger, in general.

There really isn't an excuse for Benatti. Of the dozen of us there who basically bought out the place, not one was pleased with the food. Bets are on the chef being a smoker, because everything was over salted. Many things were overcooked. The open kitchen was a little showy, but not in a terribly entertaining way. The service was competent at best, but a bit clumsy and clearly not up to handling tables for more than 2 or 4.

With much better Italian all over town and much better food in the immediate neighborhood, most of it cheaper (yes, even East Coast is probably less expensive) there is no reason to bother. =/

Apr 07, 2008
benk in Greater Boston Area

mise en place

Mise en place is the big difference between the efficient line cook and the inefficient line cook. Messy work station = messy head = messy food and wasted effort. Mise en place is much less important for someone making a single bowl of something for his own dinner than it is for someone making 100 bowls of 5 things during the course of a night and trying to assemble them all post haste. However, if you are going to make 3 or more of something, it is a good idea to do a mise en place, assemble your work materials, and do things in an orderly fashion.
It also makes cleaning up much easier.

Sep 13, 2006
benk in Home Cooking

Chowhound's big meal?

Thank you for that info... that comes out $50-$75 pp, which is (hmm) not too far from many prices I've been quoted for various places. Just for perspective.

Sep 12, 2006
benk in Greater Boston Area

Chowhound's big meal?

They give prices on their website, some of which are minimum 50 people - and down at the bottom, 5% meal tax, 3% admin charge, and gratuity all on top of the listed prices... so that adds about 25% to the cost of the meal.

Sep 12, 2006
benk in Greater Boston Area

Chowhound's big meal?

Just so you know; Cafe St. Petersburg has a function room that holds 100, and it has three Prix Fixe menus at $65, $80, and $100 per person. Very nice, but perhaps a bit rough for a chowhound =/

Sep 12, 2006
benk in Greater Boston Area

Chowhound's big meal?

Seems to have been renamed Stoli...

Sep 12, 2006
benk in Greater Boston Area

Chowhound's big meal?

Interesting options, I will need to investigate them. Thanks

Sep 12, 2006
benk in Greater Boston Area