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Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

There are new labeling standards that are coming into place for maple syrup, so maybe that is that s/he was referring to? Syrups sold to consumers will all be under the label "Grade A" but with different descriptors. (Note- website has an ad screen that comes up before you immediately can continue to the article on the site):

Sep 15, 2014
4Snisl in Chains

Cubed Duck Breast? Ideas

Looks perfect for a fall day!

Sep 14, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Stupid easy recipes you really love

Loosely adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe (which swaps out salad greens for pasta....some days, I can't even bring myself to boil water!):

Thinly slice mushrooms- I usually have white buttons or creminis on hand

Toss mushrooms into your serving bowl (make sure it's a little roomy, you'll be tossing in this bowl)

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Give it a generous squeeze of lemon juice (wine vinegar works in a pinch)and a few teasoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt. Toss the mushrooms so they "wilt" slightly and become dressed.

Throw in a big handful or two of salad greens.

Toss everything together till it's evenly combined.

Sprinkle top with a few teaspoons of grated Parmesan (shaved off a block, but I'll use non-green-can pre-grated stuff and it's just fine!) and several grinds of black pepper.

Eat as is. Or slide on a soft-yolked egg for even more bliss.

Sep 13, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

What are some low potassium substitutes for tomatoes and dried beans/peas/lentils?

Good educated guess, paulj. :) Potassium doesn't degrade with cooking heat.

Another note- cooking for a while may evaporate the water in a sauce and make it more "concentrated" in potassium per volume unit.

Sep 13, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Idiot Proof Lobster

Thank you so much for the information!

I neglected to mention that I did space the timing of the lobsters, putting the smaller one in a few minutes later. I think the big one cooked for 20 minutes total, the smaller one 15 minutes.

Bummed that I undercooked the roe! I suppose the meat itself must have cooked to the right temperature when I rewarmed it, because that didn't seem undercooked when we ate.

Sep 12, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Idiot Proof Lobster

New adventure ahead.....hope it goes well!

I just cooked lobsters for the 1st time myself (steamed them- one was 2.25 pounds and one was 3 pounds)....here's what I wish I knew ahead of time.

1. I had every intention of doing a quick dispatch of the lobsters with a sharp knife....it didn't happen. As soon as I put the tip of the knife (in a beach cottage) at the head, I knew it would not be a clean break. So....if you're planning to use the knife-kill method, make sure you have a sharp, sturdy knife and a deft hand.

2. Plan B.....I put the lobsters in the freezer for 20 minutes to anesthetize them before going in the steamer. After that time, I put them in the steamer. They thrashed around like crazy- be prepared.....

3. Next step.....I felt I needed to do something to put the lobsters out of their misery. I pulled them out with tongs, took out the steamer basket and plunged the heads into the boiling water, to complete the dispatch.....then set them back into the steamer basket, and resumed steaming for 8 more minutes.

4. After pulling out and cooling on the counter briefly for carryover cooking (on a cutting board with a "juice catching rim"), I split them. It is messy- I wish I'd had an apron. Have a towel handy in case you need to grasp the hot shells, and do it near a sink in case you need to rinse your hands....

5. ....or, as in my case, a bunch of black stuff starts gushing out of the carapace (of the 3 pound lobster.) The yield of the lighter lobster may have been the same or even slightly more than that of the 3 pounder. I have no idea how you can tell at purchase whether a big lobster is laden with meat or with black goo, but I'm all ears. If I'd served them whole for cracking a the table, it would have been a total mess!

So, in summary, here are things I found to be lesson learned from my experience:

1. Buy good lobsters that are full of meat (I followed the standard of picking the liveliest of the bunch....not sure if there are others?)
2. Have a good plan for dispatch.
3. If you're splitting/cracking ahead of time, do it on a rimmed cutting board, wear an apron, and have towels and your sink nearby.

I too serve mussels to start. The way I handled timing was to saute all my mussel aromatics ahead of time....then, in the last minutes of lobster steaming, I dropped the mussels and steamed them open so they finished at the same time as the lobsters. We ate mussels while the lobster finished with carryover cooking on the cutting board. After mussels, I extracted the lobster meat, rewarmed it lightly in clarified butter, and served it. (Could just bring cracked lobsters to the table.....they retain heat for a bit of time.)

Good luck- I'll also follow this thread for more information!

Sep 12, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

community egg-sperryment

Sidebar....might be good to note what country experiments are located in? It's the norm to wash off the protective 'coating' in some locations, which can expedite spoilage at room temperature.

Sep 11, 2014
4Snisl in Not About Food

Feed me! Where to eat?

Oysters at Mermaid are nothing out of the ordinary, but they are fresh, well-shucked and cheap during happy hour. Can get crowded, but I'm usually able to snag a lone bar stool, down a few and go along my merry way. I don't drink, but my non-alcoholic beverages have been fine.

Almost all the places I mentioned should have decent fish and poultry options....not so sure about X'ian. Do you eat fish only, or all seafood?

Sep 09, 2014
4Snisl in Manhattan

Feed me! Where to eat?

Time for me to return the favor for all your reviews in the Capital District. :)

Off the top of my head, places I've enjoyed around that area are:
Caracas Arepas (also heard good things about Guayoyo arepas)
Xi'an Famous Foods
Pig and Khao (eclectic southeast Asian)
Bobwhite (Southern)
Northern Spy (seasonal American)
Happy hour for raw oysters and drinks at Mermaid Inn

Sep 09, 2014
4Snisl in Manhattan

Fluffy Bechamel

Second this- you might need to add eggs.

My process differs a little. I beat up whole eggs instead of just egg yolks, temper, and for additional flavor, I'll also add a handful of grated hard cheese like Parmesan. Pour this over the top of the casserole dish and bake uncovered so it puffs and browns a bit, and gets fluffy while remaining creamy.

I might give the egg yolk and stovetop cooking method a try the next time! No additional dirty dishes, which is usually the biggest reason I'll hesitate to try something different. :)

Sep 09, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

What to do with beef heart?

Advance soaking is a good idea....I've usually done that when preparing heart. Trimming well before grinding and/or cooking is definitely a good idea. Nothing like a tough ventricle to take the edge off your appetite. :) Any silverskin needs trimming off as well.

Longer cooking is the way I've most enjoyed beef heart. I've taken ground heart and cooked it in chili (I went this route because I noticed some traditional Michigan sauce recipes for hot dogs call for ground heart as an ingredient.) The spicing can help to mask any existing liverish flavors.

I've also done a traditional stew recipe with stock, root vegetables, garlic, wine, etc. Not too bad, but I wouldn't expect spoon-tender meat because of the muscle structure...it's very dense and lean, so it will eventually get tender, but not like collagen-rich fatty chuck roast.

Have fun experimenting, and keep us updated on your findings!

ETA: This is a great video on You Tube of Chris Cosentino trimming a whole beef heart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfxLp...

Sep 08, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

4 Days in Amsterdam w/ food obsessed family

Thank you so much Klary! By chance, you wouldn't happen to be the same Klary who extensively compiled Dutch recipes and Amsterdam musings on eGullet several years ago as 'Chufi'?

Sep 07, 2014
4Snisl in Europe

Question about unique idea on grinding my own beef -- has anyone tried this?

Awesome that you grind your own beef!

Not sure I'd go through the trouble of what youre describing personally. I like to cook burgers so they get a nice crust on the outside, so I'd wonder if the additional "browned bits" through the meat would make a difference.

The potential drawback I'd worry about is texture.....having pieces of cooked meat dispersed with raw meat means that there might be really overcooked tough bits close to the surface (exposed to higher heat and cooked to the point that the proteins are tightly seized up).

ETA: For a lower risk way to maximize that tasty seared flavor, may I humbly suggest going the route of the smashed burger? A great Serious Eats article summarizes its benefits and how-to tips: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

All that said, if you give your idea a try, I'd love to hear how your experimentation turns out!

Does The Finger Lakes area have ANY good restaurants?

Might be worth giving the sandwiches at Ithaca Bakery a try....may not be as traditional as what you're seeking, but usually fresh and well-prepared.

4 Days in Amsterdam w/ food obsessed family

Thank you for this excellent information, Klary! Albert Cyup Market is definitely on my list, and specific recommendations of what to try there are appreciated. I'm packing very lightly knowing that I will want to bring back all kinds of culinary treats!

Although I don't drink, I certainly enjoy going places with others who appreciate good beer, wine and spirits- particularly if the food is also noteworthy. So recommendations of good breweries are certainly welcome!

It seems like there is quite a scene when it comes to delicious snacks served in casual settings....not to mention food stands. Very glad that Amsterdam is so walkable, or else I might not fit my clothes by the end of the trip. :)

Sep 03, 2014
4Snisl in Europe

4 Days in Amsterdam w/ food obsessed family

Excellent information- thank you lagatta! I too am planning to keep my food spending budget conservative. Will be doing a bit more research and hopefully report back soon to share/ask for tips/advice.

Sep 02, 2014
4Snisl in Europe

Planning/Creating a Dish

I place value on balancing multiple elements in a complementary way:
-flavors (spicy, sweet, salt, sour, bitter, umami)

So, for example, I may start simple dish of chicken and rice, braised together. Here's a thought process of pulling complementary ideas into a one-dish "east Asian- inspired" meal (I'll preemptively say I'm no expert in authentic cooking of any region of Asia, but this is how I'd make something that I would enjoy.):

Flavor variations: Add chili paste and ginger for spice, a pinch of sugar, a squeeze of lime for sour, a touch of sesame oil for nutty bitterness, and dried mushrooms and stock (instead of water) for umami
Temperatures: I might add a cold salad on top of lightly dressed pickled vegetables with toasted sesame seeds (and hey, that would also add some additional appealing sourness (from the pickling) and bitterness (from the seame seeds) ! )
Textures: I'll have varying textures from the crunchy vegetables, tender rice, and the meaty texture of chicken and mushrooms.
Colors: Right now, in my mind, this is looking good as long as I make sure the vegetables that are pickled are varied in color. Maybe I'll sprinkle some scallions and cilantro on top.

Here are some general ways I try to address these elements...."back pocket" ideas, if you will. If something seems to lack, I mentally refer to this playbook (you'll see there's crossover in some areas)....
Spice: hot sauce, chili flake, ginger, garlic, and whatever is kicking around in my spice cabinet.
Sweet: sugar, honey, maple syrup, fruit pieces or juice, carrot (vegetal sweetness).
Salt: salt (duh), soy sauce, tamari, fish sauce, Worchestershire sauce, Better than Boullion, anchovies. If something gets too salty, think if you can dilute with water without screwing up the dish.
Sour: lemon, lime or grapefruit juice, vinegar, yogurt
Bitter: toasted nuts or nut oils, some olives/olive oils, and citrus zest. Also can come from charring/toasting a certain element for a dish.
Umami: mushrooms, tomato paste, stock, Parmesan.... everything besides salt in the salt category!
Texture: Crunch from various raw vegetables/fruits, nuts and flaky salts. Softness/tenderness from various raw or cooked vegetables/fruits. Chewiness can come from the degree of cooking/type of many grains (e.g. Wheat berries and quinoa will naturally have a more substantial texture than fine couscous and bulgur.) Creaminess can come from yogurt or other forms of dairy, butter, eggs/egg yolk, avocado, nut butters or starchy liquid (e.g. pasta water, cornstarch slurry, etc.)
Colors: Fresh herbs, scallions,fresh produce, frozen produce (especially frozen spinach and/or frozen peas.)

Whew! That got a bit longer than I expected.....I didn't realized how much flies through my head when I cook! But I think coming to understand all these elements (by starting with basics many years ago) has helped me develop into a more instinct-driven and comfortable cook. When I use a recipe or eat a meal and I like it, I like to pick it apart and think about what made it so good (I like it much better than when I have a flop on my hands and I have to figure out how to fix it. )

Sep 02, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

4 Days in Amsterdam w/ food obsessed family

I realize that this thread is quite old, but wanted to provide my appreciation for these suggestions (in the entire thread, but in particular, the suggestions around the zoo and plantations.) I'll be visiting and staying in this area in the next few weeks, and the ideas here have jump-started my daydreaming! I'll have access to a kitchen, so I'm quite excited to visit markets as well as restaurants.
I'll likely return with a few more questions (or start a new thread) but had to tip my hat to the great exisitng suggestions here. Dank je wel!

Sep 02, 2014
4Snisl in Europe

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

It's not just you. I had an issue with a bag....a diesel-like, funky smell, with a whiff of ammonia.

I thought it might have been a storage issue on my end (I transported from 2 hours away on ice in cool weather, and it still seemed fully frozen when I got home.....but of course, the temperature wasn't tightly controlled under the circumstances.)

Anyway, it was the last purchase for me. Sorry you had the same experience. If you live close by, I wouldn't hesitate to risk it and return for a refund if you face the same issue.

Sep 01, 2014
4Snisl in Chains

any secrets to a great tuna fish sandwich?

Full disclosure- this is my favorite tuna salad, but it would probably be too wet for a sandwich.

For every can of well-drained tuna fish (I use Wegmans low-sodium yellowfin tuna), I add:
a sprinkle of celery salt
a sprinkle of granulated garlic
2 teaspoons of lemon-infused olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
6 chopped cherry tomatoes (my favorite is sungolds)
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
1 small scallion, chopped
Chopped fresh basil, mint and parsley

There will be a lot of flavorful "juice", so I eat this salad with a spoon, chilled. Sometimes, for texture and temperature contrast, I top it with a few coarsely-crumbled, well-toasted rye Triscuits.

Aug 31, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Baked Tortilla Chips - High or Low?

I start with slightly stale corn tortillas, rub both sides with vegetable oil, salt lightly, and cut into wedges. Space them evenly on a tray and bake at 400'F (adjust down for convection), flipping after 7 minutes, for about 13-15 minutes total. I watch for the chips to turn toasty brown, and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving for full crispness to set.

Aug 30, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Leftover Jalapeno Yogurt Dip - now what?

Along the lines of creamy salad, I might mix it up into tuna or chicken salad.

Aug 23, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Last-minute request: sw harbor to Bangor.

In Ellsworth, I just had a lovely Thai dinner at Sana Thai. Mango curry was a particularly surprising hit.

Aug 13, 2014
4Snisl in Northern New England

Lake George, any hound worthy take out spots?

Oscar's is wonderful! They had a long-aged cheddar (can't remember the number of years- I think there was a range) that was wonderful. They also have a smoked blue cheese that is very assertive on its own but I bet it's great as part of a sandwich or dip. I like their smoked chicken breast a lot- the pieces I've had are not dry at all. Sausages have all been good too.

The only thing I haven't been a fan of is the beef bacon- a bit tough and VERY salty (to be fair, I don't think it's prepared on site.) Of course, it won't be a problem for someone who just wants takeout!

Is there anyone here from western New York?

I still dream about the wings (with perfectly rendered crisp skin and a glaze of sauce that was actually HOT) and the tender, rare beef on weck that I got at Bar Bill in East Aurora. Been at least a year, hope it's still as good.

Pho Yum (Albany) . . .and then there were two

Thanks for the report! I have business travel in the area soon, and two of my favorite foods are pho and bahn mi. Guess what's going on my itinerary..... :)

Good eats along Route 17 West

I've never been there, but it might be part of a road trip sometime this summer. Thanks for sharing your experience!

summer chuck roast dishes?

Grind it up and make burgers! Or any of your favorite ground beef dishes.

Jul 01, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Good eats along Route 17 West

Old thread, but update may be of use for current travelers.....

For a little bit of an adventure, stop at Delaware Delicacies in Hancock, NY. Not a restaurant by any means, but you can grab a snack of some smoked goods. Ray is a one-man force and makes a mean smoked shrimp. He's also known for his smoked eel, fish, cheeses and poultry. No more than 5 miles off Rt. 17, but you'll feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. Call ahead to check if the place is open and to get reassurance on directions. Google lists his number as (607) 637-4443.

Another non-restaurant that might be worth a stop is Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, NY. Call ahead to get a tour, and bring a cooler if you want to bring home some goodies. If there's anything on the website that you have your heart set on, see if it can be set aside for pick-up. http://www.hudsonvalleyfoiegras.com/i... (this is not set up like a typical retail operation at all- I wandered a bit before I got to the office for on-site customers


In the Binghamton area. there's Phil's Chcken House for Cornell-style chicken and "home cooking food" and Sharkey's for spiedies. Both pretty casual. I also like the Broadway Diner in Endwell for decent Greek/American standards. Moon Star is currently my favorite place for Chinese food.

In Avon, Tom Wahl's seems to be a nostalgic favorite for folks. Burgers, dogs, floats, etc.

A rant: At the meat counter: fools or liars?

Second what Janine is saying about the USDA temperatures for "fresh" poultry.

What were the obvious signs that you saw that it was frozen, in your estimation? Frost on the packaging? Firm texture? Both those things could happen with a chicken that is techinically considered fresh. I've seen this with fresh turkeys every year- there's ice around the cavities and the flesh feels quite firm.....would likely be the same with chickens.

Water does freeze at 32'F, yes, but since chicken flesh is not pure water (and man, I hope there's no antifreeze in your chickens! ;), the true freezing temperature will be lower (think of why roads are salted in in the winter....the freezing temperature lowers because it's no longer pure water slicking up the pavement.) All the other types of molecules that make up chicken flesh besides water means that its freezing temperature is lower than 32'F.

Jun 30, 2014
4Snisl in General Topics