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Authentic Chinese food?

Chowsalot: I've been to authentic restaurants in other cities and passed on the sea slugs, tripe, etc in favor of dishes like salted squid in black bean sauce, eggplant stuffed with shrimp, and peapod greens. You can't find any of the more moderate "authentic" dishes in a restaurant that doesn't serve some of the more hard-core organ meats.

So please, relax on the snark. Not all of us are in a position to travel, but aren't cavemen because of it.

Nov 23, 2009
kalidaemon in Greater Boston Area

Best Boston Burger

It might be a chain, but the best burger by far in the Boston area is 5 Guys Burgers N Fries in Dedham. It's on par with In-N-Out.

Nov 23, 2009
kalidaemon in Greater Boston Area

Authentic Chinese food?

Does anyone know of a good authentic Chinese (ie no crab rangoon or lo mein) restaurant in the Boston area? If not, does anyone have a favorite place within a 30 minute drive of Greater Boston?

Nov 23, 2009
kalidaemon in Greater Boston Area

Where have you always had a bad meal?

Au contraire, Zon's truly "sucks like that". I've had better meals at a Taco Bell in BFE than the one time I went to Zon's.

Dec 01, 2008
kalidaemon in Greater Boston Area

Agave help

Agave Nectar is supposed to be more flexible than fruit juice in making sugar-free desserts. I've tried agave recipes, recipes where I subsititute agave for sugar, and followed the "reduce temp by 25 degrees, increase baking time" rule to no avail. The resulting baked goods have a weird taste and an even stranger cakey/play-doughy texture. Has anyone made good agave confections? What is your secret?

Dec 01, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Why does my veg soup taste like grass?

I'm a devoted carnivore but cook mostly vegetarian for health reasons. Veg soups need to be treated a bit differently than meat-based soups to have the same "substance". It seems like your mistake was to try to make a soup that would be awesome with chicken or beef stock and some bacon vegetarian. I would modify your soup as follows:
1. Make your stock more robust by adding carrots, onions, and celery to the ingredients you already used or use a pre-made veggie or mushroom stock
2. Saute some garlic and onions in olive oil until golden brown. Add herbs, salt, and cayenne/chili pepper before adding your tomato paste.
3. Add tomato paste and some more spicy stuff (adobo, jalapenos, more chili/cayenne).
4. Save the string beans for another dish. This is probably why your soup tastes like grass. Ditto for the peas. Kidney beans, lentils, white beans, Great Northern, or black beans might work better.
5. Pick either pasta or potatoes as your starch.
Good luck!

Nov 25, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Where have you always had a bad meal?

Zon's in JP is awful. We went once because everyone in our neighborhood raves about it, but paying $40+ per person for crap food was once too many. Stay away and go to the Oriental de Cuba instead!

Nov 25, 2008
kalidaemon in Greater Boston Area

Brookline eats...Help!

Zaftig's on Harvard Ave serves delicious Deli-style food. It's a great place to go for lunch and there's a playground right next door if it's warm enough for your son to want to run around outside.

Nov 25, 2008
kalidaemon in Greater Boston Area

Jamaica Plain lunch rec for Saturday after CSA pickup

I agree with the JP Seafood and Costello's recommendations. The Real Deal, which is next to the fire house on Centre Street near the Monument also has good sandwiches and half-way decent burgers. I would stay away from Bukhara or Wonder Spice, though.

Oct 14, 2008
kalidaemon in Greater Boston Area

Please help me make my banana bread healthy.

The sugar, butter, and white flour are the only unhealthy things in this recipe. Fats are essential in baked goods because they "carry" the rest of the flavors and make things moist. Butter is the best fat to use in baking, but it's not the only one. You could try adding an extra bananna and using 3 T of butter or you could try using 1/2 butter and 1/2 vegetable oil. If you tweak with the butter, leave the white flour and sugar as is.
Turbinado sugar is a good alternative to white sugar that doesn't affect taste. A half cup of apple sauce or concentrated white grape,apple, or pineapple juices are healthier options, but they will affect the taste. You will probably also have to bake a bunch of experimental batches before you get the hang of making fruit-juice sweetened bananna bread. Please let me know if you try this because I haven't been able to figure this one out.
As for the white flour, I would leave it in. This is a treat, after all...

Aug 06, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Help with my cooking nemesis - rice!

I would go to your nearest asian market and buy a rice cooker; takes the bother/guess work out of cooking rice.

Aug 06, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Seeking good food in Vegas

We'll have a car and consider a meal that costs between $100 and $150 for both of us an acceptable (one-time) splurge.

Jul 17, 2008
kalidaemon in Southwest

Seeking good food in Vegas

We're going to Vegas for three nights and four days next month and want to eat some good food. Specifically, we're looking for:
1. Fine dining that doesn't break the bank
2. Places off the beaten path where locals go
3. Burgers
4. Completely over the top buffets

We're both omnivores with a slight preference for healthier food, but calories don't count on vacation ;)...

Jul 16, 2008
kalidaemon in Southwest

how diligent are you about reading labels?

I think one's personal level of uptight-ness depends on whether or not someone has an allergy and/or desire to avoid a particular food. I'm more on the anal side myself because I try to avoid sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, etc. It could also depend on someone's level of motivation; I read labels because I don't want to eat any of this stuff inadvertantly. Other people might not care as much about the consequences.

Jun 27, 2008
kalidaemon in Not About Food

Fruit Juice-sweetened ice cream/sherbet

I've managed to find a way to make good fruit-juice sweetened pastries, pancakes, and waffles, but can't seem to find a workable ice cream/sherbet recipe. Does anyone have one that works for them? Is it even possible?

Jun 27, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Vegetarian entrees/"main" proteins for omnivores?

I cook mostly vegetarian and it seems like we've got similar nutritional concerns (getting enough protein while keeping down fat). Indian food seems to fit all these criteria the best; it's filling, tastes good, and is good for you. Madhur Jaffrey's Introduction to Indian Cooking and Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Sumana Ray are two of my favorite cook books. Other SE Asian food also works well, but I think this has been commented on in earlier posts. Vegetarian Tex/Mex food is another option for omnivores who want to eat less meat. Southwest Vegetarian by Steven Pyles (?) is a good resource for those sorts of recipes. I liked this cookbook for ideas, but found myself changing some of the seasonings and tweaking with recipes to reduce fat. Are nuts ok? If so, peanut sauce over stir-fried veggies and rice is another good meal.

Jun 26, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Need Help Making Favorite Cake Recipe A Little Less Unhealthy

That's a lethal cake! I would change the fillings and topping instead of the cake batter to cut sugar and fat because tweaking the batter might not have very tasty results. My suggestion is to replace the buttercream with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and the lemon curd with sliced fruit.

Jun 24, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Any Recipes for Fruit Juice-sweetened cakes?

LOL.. No desire to inflict my dietary restrictions on anyone else. Thanks for the link. I actually found a bunch of diabetic recipes for fruit juice-sweetened cakes online. The best one so far is a hybrid between several pound cake recipes and Moosewood's lemon loaf.

May 21, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Mango crisp: a modest failure

How much sugar did you add? Mangoes are sweet enough on their own so you probably don't need much, if any. Also, did you add lemon or lime to offset the sweetness? You've inspired me try this because I'm a huge mango and crisp fan.

May 21, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

What would you do with a can of chipotle in adobo?

Freeze the left-overs and thaw as needed to flavor chili, guacamole, and make enchilada sauce.

May 21, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Menu for Food Snobs

Alternatively, you could have some fun with the food snobs, provided that they have a sense of humor and make the most low-brow dinner you can thing of. The Hostess website has some dessert ideas as do the sites for some other favorites like Top Ramen and Spam.

May 16, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Bridal Shower Menu Suggestions

Does the bride have a favorite finger food and/or fruit? What about doing multiple variations on those themes since people have probably eaten lunch. I like your idea of doing cupcakes for dessert because they're relatively easy to make and can be very festive.

May 15, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Teaching College Kids to Cook

Impressive probably isn't the best place to start with beginning cooks. I would start with simple, tasty, and relatively cheap dishes that they can eat every day like chili, pasta with marinara sauce, and shepard's pie. Picking produce and learning how to bargain shop is another important skill you could teach them. Good luck!

May 15, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Looking for cookbook

Agreed about the Joy of Cooking. It's my go-to reference for everything in the kitchen from more mundane things like muffins and bechamel to the obscure (ie water-bath canning). It's not a pretty cookbook, but it has very reliable instructions and general cooking tips. Both Moosewood and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which have been mentioned in other posts are ok for some things. The Moosewood cookbooks have good baking recipes as well as good tips on how to make meatless versions of some old favorites. However, the recipes are a little on the bland side and often require quite a bit of tweaking. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has a few good recipes, but again, many require tweaking or simply don't work so it's not a good book for someone learning to cook.
Do you like Indian or Chinese food? If so, Invitation to Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey or Chinese Vegetarian Cooking, by Eileen Yin Fe-Lo (not sure I spelled that right) are both relatively easy cook books with good instructions.

May 14, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Help me like Quinoa

There's a great recipe for Quinoa and wild rice salad with citrus vinagrette in "Southwest Vegetarian" by Stephen Pyles (not completely sure about the author's name).

May 14, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Subbing Frozen for Fresh

I use frozen peas all the time for Mater Panir. Make sure to defrost in the microwave before cooking and drain off excess liquid to avoid sogginess.

May 07, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Best dips/spreads for pitas and crackers?

The black olive and sundried tomato tapenade from Moosewood Celebrates is a good party dip as is any kind of herb cheese. My favorite is the herb cream cheese from the Frog/Commissary cookbook.

May 07, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Non cook hosting dinner party

I don't think Semolina is wheat, but it doesn't matter. Ice cream often has gluten in it so that would be a concern if your dinner guests abstain from wheat products because they have Celiac Disease.

May 07, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

I Have Discovered the Universal Condiment

Agreed that this sounds like Sriracha, which is THE universal condiment

May 06, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking

Non cook hosting dinner party

Your menu sounds great, but I would make couscous (semolina) which takes five minutes instead of the Persian rice. I would also add a green salad to eat with the meal and veggies (carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers) with hummus, olive tapenade, or some other dip for your guests to munch on while you finish the meal.
Serve the sugar and wheat-eaters berries and ice-cream for dessert and modify accordingly for the people who can't eat sugar (berries only) or wheat (gluten-free ice-cream or sorbet).

May 06, 2008
kalidaemon in Home Cooking