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What do you make that is SOOO easy yet you impress yourself every time you make it?

I make it once a month. It turns any piece of farm raised salmon into something delicious. Plus you can tinker with the recipe.
A one pound piece of center cut salmon filet skin on, one 1/3 cup hosher salt, 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespooons whole white peppercorns, 2 tablespoons whole fenel seeds.
Crush the spices under a pan until fairly coarse, mix with the salt and sugar. Spread a thin layer of mix on plastic wrap, put salmon on top skin down, cover salmon with the rest of the mix, wrap in plastic, leave in the fridge for 48 hours, take out of the wrap, rinse under cold water to get rid of mix, pad dry, slice, eat.
Variations: add a tablespoon of spirit to the mix (vodka, aquavit, raki, pastis), use brown sugar, cover the mix with dill, use other whole spices (coriander, mustard, black pepper...)
Always a sucess.

Mar 29, 2010
ngardet in Home Cooking

Da Mario - Istanbul - Opinions?

So I had dinner there last week. This is a classic Italian restaurant with all the classic dishes (antipasti, soups, pasta including home made fresh, pizzas, and main courses). I had a mushroom soup with sole, fresh gnocchi with gorgonzola, and chocolate souffle. It was all tasty and well executed. The service was good. The wine list is a bit short but fine. The prices are correct for the quality. The restaurant itself is comfortable. So if you want to have good classic Italian food, go for it. It's the best Italian I have had in Istanbul so far.I intend to go back.

Jan 25, 2010
ngardet in Europe

In Istanbul, skip Lacivert

So true, upscale restaurants in Istanbul are a disaster. I tried Topaz the other day, oh my god. The food was horrible. But the wine was good, they have a proper sommelier, French guy, very nice. Of course you pay 20 times the normal price for a bottle of pinot noir blend that would be at the bottom of the shelf in any French supermarket. As long as they don't stop their BS import taxes on foreign goods and especially alcohol, the wine market will remain pathetic in Turkey, very poor to medium quality, very high prices.

Jan 19, 2010
ngardet in Europe

Da Mario - Istanbul - Opinions?

Yes I know, why go to an Italian restaurant in Istanbul when you have lots of local options but I have been invited. Has anybody been there lately? What did you think?

Jan 18, 2010
ngardet in Europe

An Open Letter to the Eaters of Istanbul

In Nisantasi you can go to Cantin, in the street behind the City's mall. The food is solid, the chef can cook.

Dec 28, 2009
ngardet in Europe

An Open Letter to the Eaters of Istanbul

TAPS used to be really good, the original master brewer left so now they are coasting.
Abracadabra is probably the most interesting restaurant in Istanbul and the food is top notch. In the same category most restaurants are pricey, pretentious, and when it comes to food, pathetic.
There is no American style barbecue in Istanbul but they do their own version (no smoking involved). There is no shortage of places, just make sure they cook over charcoal. Usually the shadier, the better.
They don't really have US style street carts besides corn, nuts, simit (Turkish bagel)... but tons of little restaurants that range from really bad to pure heaven. Ask the locals, they will give you some tips about what's good in the neighborhood.
I disagree on the cheese. Turkish cheese is bland, over salted and lacks variety. But I am French so I am biased.
Uighur cuisine, first time I hear about it since I moved here 2 years ago but sounds very interesting.
I haven't been able to find a good sandwich shop in Istanbul so far besides kebab places. As for bread it also varies. You usually find the best bread in restaurants that bake their own.
Don't go to foreign cuisine restaurants in Istanbul, they suck. Above all avoid sushi restaurants.
Istanbul is a fun city, you will love it. Some things I would not miss food wise:
lahmacun (thin rolled pizza, plenty of joints, ask for a good one), gozleme (Turkish crepe, again easy to find but ask for a good one), raki (I love that stuff), Turkish coffee (especially after lunch), fish restaurants (grilled local fish). What I recommend the most is to go to a good meyhane (traditional restaurant/bar), order plenty of mezes, a bottle of raki and you are sure to have a good time.
Finally, Turkish wine has made some progress lately but it's still not there yet so stick to raki.

Dec 13, 2009
ngardet in Europe


I usually braise the legs and grill the loins. Loins cook quickly so better for grilling. As for braising, I like to finish it with mustard and cream after reducing the liquid.
I recommend dry brining the rabbit overnight with kosher salt then soaking it into milk to remove the salt for a few hours. This way it will be more tender and juicer.

Sep 17, 2008
ngardet in Home Cooking

Rissoto why is it so hard?

Rissoto has to be al dente just like pasta, still a bit firm but definitely not crunchy nor mushy.
Personally I find serving risotto in a restaurant suicidal unless your customers are ready to wait for it. You have to cook it to order. Precooking doesn't work.

Restaurant rec's in/near Westfield Mall

I second Out The Door. The best restaurant in the food court. I go there every other week and love it. Nice, tasty, clean, fairly well priced.

What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth?

You make stock with bones because of the gelatin they contain so it thickens when reduced. That's why stock is better to use in sauces based on a stock reduction. Try doing the same with broth, it will never thicken, or marginally. Also the flavor you can impart by browning bones for stock is unique and cannot be achieved with broth. For soup it doesn't really matter, both are good.

Jun 14, 2007
ngardet in Features

Le Creuset deal... is it worth it?

The Le Creuset enamel steel line is not as good as the cast iron line. I would not buy.

Jun 13, 2007
ngardet in Cookware

Best Lunch in Napa Valley?

Pilar, downtown Napa. Lunch is a really good deal.

KOKKARI or GARY DANKO to impress visitors?

I have been to both and if you want to impress your visitors go to Gary Danko. Kokkari is ok but far from what I call impressive. Gary Danko is more sophisticated.
Neither are out of this world.

Carlo Petrini disinvited from Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market

Personally, I've never met a poor farmer.
I don't need to look at their balance sheet to figure out that 6$/pound for heirloom tomatoes or 4$/pound for fava beans is a total rip off. The same produce in Europe is half the price. And going to the market in Europe is not a tourist attraction that gets reviewed by food critics. It's just everyday life.
So the prices added to this city's cult of the sensational for people and things rather ordinary elsewhere explain Petrini's reaction.

May 16, 2007
ngardet in Food Media & News

Carlo Petrini disinvited from Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market

There are plenty of opportunities to get ripped off a the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market as there are plenty of bargains for quality products. The other day a store inside the building itself was selling trumpet mushrooms at crude oil market price. A "farmer" outside was selling the exact same mushrooms for 30% less. Heirloom tomato season is coming up and I already dread the sticker shock.
I am sure Petrini was quite "surprised" the first time he visited the market. He's familiar with markets in Europe where you buy the same produce for half the price and twice the quantity (kilo vs. pounds) as well as unpretentious farmers who haven't fallen for the "mother Nature sent me on a mission so let me charge you more" marketing spin.
I am glad his comments are provoking such a reaction. Time to re-think that spin.

May 16, 2007
ngardet in Food Media & News

Turkish Baklava?

Ground pistachio for sure.

May 14, 2007
ngardet in Home Cooking

Fatted Calf Boudin Noir

You have to cook it, typically pan fry it on medium-high heat until the casing is a bit brown and crisp.
On the side you can serve mash potatoes or apple slices pan fried in butter or both.

Equip your kitchen for $200...

So now he can stop using expensive equipment in his videos (all-clad cookware, 500$ blender, enamel cast iron pieces, expensive knives...) and start cooking with the items on the list. We'll see if cheap equipment will produce consistently tasty minimal food.
He admits it himself in the video, the aluminum pans will only last a couple of years. So why invest in durable cookware when you can just pollute your way toward culinary heights using aluminum and Teflon?

May 09, 2007
ngardet in Cookware

Can anyone tell me, if braised rabbit suppose to be tender or tough?

There is even a difference between the legs. Braising is best with the back legs. The forelegs can be used for pate or simply fried. I love the boned loin just grilled with herbs.
I find that dry brining the rabbit in the fridge overnight makes it really tender and juicy.

May 07, 2007
ngardet in General Topics

GQ article about Ferry Building in SF

I guess you could read that statement as "Alice Waters and sourdough bread" are the only unique elements that California has contributed.
Everything that's on Bauer's list was started somewhere else outside the US. Some people made some smart choices by bringing them to California.

May 04, 2007
ngardet in Food Media & News

New to Cast Iron...Need Help!

- Yes.
- Over a long period of time, I am talking years.
- Don't clean them, they will either cook off or become embedded in the pan and make it really non-stick.
Bottom line, keep it dry and scrub and re-season only if it is rusty.

May 01, 2007
ngardet in Cookware

New to Cast Iron...Need Help!

It's all normal. You will never achieve the perfect shiny seasoning. There will be build-up in some areas and that's fine. Eventually if there is too much of it you can scrub the pan back to the bare iron and re-season. But I wouldn't bother. You are doing just fine.

Apr 30, 2007
ngardet in Cookware

Warped All-Clad

Thanks for the answer. I think you're right on all counts. First deglazing with small amounts of liquid should be fine. I must confess I have put the hot pan under running water a few times.
The handle is definitely pulling down on the pan. I am just surprised the handle is heavier than the pan.

Apr 28, 2007
ngardet in Cookware

Interesting Foodstuff At Costco (moved from SF)

In SF they have the fancy organic mushrooms. I think they are labeled royal trumpets of something like that. You can also find them at Whole Foods as well.
They are really good.
I also found duck confit, again the same brand as Whole Foods but way cheaper. They keep for a while in the fridge so you can stock up.

Apr 26, 2007
ngardet in Chains

How the Other Half Cooks

My personal chef loves these!

Apr 25, 2007
ngardet in Features

Warped All-Clad

I have 8, 10 and and 12 inch stainless steel All-Clad skillets that are less than one year old. I can swear the 10 and 12 inch have warped. Only slightly but when I put the pan on the stove, with the weight of the handle, it is definitely not flat and there is a gap between the pan and the stove.
I bought All-Clad because I wanted something that lasts. I must say I am not very careful and I do deglaze with liquid when the pan is hot (no way around it, isn't it?).
Now I wonder if heat distribution will be as good.
Anybody out there with similar experience?

Apr 23, 2007
ngardet in Cookware

What Happened to the Food Network All-Star Winners?

These guys must live in a different world. And their food comes from a different planet. They seem to have good intentions but the result is quite "interesting". They won't be missed.

Apr 20, 2007
ngardet in Food Media & News

Burek, Bourek, Boereg, and Borekas

Sigare boregi is a variation of the regular borek. In Turkey you find both versions. The cigar version is deep fried, the other version is baked.
If you want to buy ready-made triangles of dough to make it at home, you can find them at

Apr 19, 2007
ngardet in Features


Thanks for the info, will try if I happen to be in the area.


I am only talking about A La Turka, Troya and Bursa Kebab, which I have tried (some many times). I have been to New Kapadokia a long time ago and can't definitely voice an opinion.
It is possible to get very good Turkish cuisine in the US. I have in New York for example.
If I want something good that reminds me of Turkey in the city I go to Aziza.