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Give me your Best Baked Pasta Recipes (Please)

Oh, nutmeg! What a wonderful, sensible idea.

Oct 21, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Give me your Best Baked Pasta Recipes (Please)

Thanks for the tips on the ratatouille....I think it will work great with the no-boil lasagna noodles because of the moisture in the vegetables.

If spinach is enough to tempt you the dark side, then I think that chard, kale or sturdier greens might be an even better bet! Especially if some tender stems are chopped up and added as well. I bet that sliced of butternut squash could be used in place of pumpkin puree as well.

Another idea to bring crunch and flavor.....adding toasted nuts on top (hazelnuts and pinenuts are particularly good).

Oct 21, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Give me your Best Baked Pasta Recipes (Please)

Funny- as soon as I saw this question, I thought of a pumpkin lasagna recipe that I usually make- and in the most recent version I made, I added some chopped steamed broccoli! If I'd only added carrot, it would have been your worst nightmare. :)

Anyway, my usual formula includes:
-rosemary-infused bechamel sauce (4 cups, made with 2% milk)
-ricotta mixed with tons of thawed, squeezed spinach and fresh grated parmesan (32 ounces ricotta mixed with 2 boxes of thawed spinach and 1/2 cup parmesan)
-cooked mashed butternut squash/pumpkin (canned pumpkin works fine here), seasoned with rosemary, salt and pepper (2 cups)
-mozzarella cheese (16 ounces part skim, shredded by hand)
-no boil lasagna noodles (usually 1 box is perfect for a 9 x 13 dish)

In other related news- your version sounds absolutely wonderful! Ratatouille will probably make it into my next lasagna.....

Oct 20, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

What order is best for moussaka layers?

Firm potato base is usually what I do.
Usually I'll layer meat sauce on top of the eggplant, since it soaks up flavor so nicely. Are you leaving skin on the eggplant? If so, I usually try to layer it in a way that aligns with how I would cut pieces in the finished dish, to minimize the need to cut through skin when extracting pieces.
I try to make the last layer potato (if I'm using it) to keep the top as pristine as possible. If I'm planning to freeze leftovers, I usually leave the potatoes out for optimal texture.

Enjoy rediscovering moussaka! :)

Oct 15, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving menu question and unrelated baking/freezing question

The options sound delicious! I realize looking back that horseradish cream with a meat roast was potentially off the mark, given you moniker. Oops! My apologies. :)

Oct 15, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Tough beef in stir fry

I don't think the cut of meat is the problem. "Across the grain" and "against the grain" mean the same thing, right?

I wonder if the marinade is so wet, the meat boils instead of searing.(What do you mean by "cornstarch blend".....a slurry?)

The usual mix that I use to marinate meat for stir fry is cornstarch, soy sauce, rice wine, pureed ginger, and a touch of sesame oil and sugar. If I have an egg white, I'll add that to the mix, but if not, the marinade usually works just fine.

Oct 15, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving menu question and unrelated baking/freezing question

I get stuck with the need to make something 1 week in advance that will then be served cold or room temperature (essentially, you need to freeze something, and thaw before serving.)

Most of what I think of making ahead and freezing is something that will need to be warmed at some point. Is that a dealbreaker?

You could probably roast an eye of round till juicy and pink, rest, slice thinly, and freeze the slices before thawing in the fridge and setting out with sandwich fixings. Chimichurri sauce or romesco sauce could be frozen ahead of time and thawed to serve on the side, if you want somethng a little different than mustard/mayonnaise. If you can prep for a few minutes before lunch, I'd make a really quick horseradish cream with sour cream, good quality prepared horseradish and snipped fresh chives. For all the trouble, maybe you would rather just set out nice quality purchased deli meats instead......though that means you are doing some sort of minimal preparation after the "weekend before" has passed (serving old deli meat....ick. :) )

If you have a slow cooker, I hope some of the ideas that are posted here would work. If so, a broth-based vegetable soup and some nice bread and cheese would probably be the way I would go.

Oct 15, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

Best way to cook a grassfed rump roast

Excellent- thank you! I always thought rump roast might be quite tough, but I guess when cooked properly, it can be perfectly tender.

I wish I had one of those sandwiches right now. :)

Oct 10, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

"Fancy" Apple Crisp for Thanksgiving

You could do it in individual small ramekins instead of a large dish.

If you want to do a large dish, perhaps take your cue from French apple tarts when you layer the apples in the dish, and have the crumble as an add-on component so the layering is beautifully visible. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

You can also think about getting fancy with ice cream accompaniments- cinnamon, salted caramel, and vanilla would be a wonderful line-up of flavors.

For the difference in various fruit desserts, I appreciated this article from Serious Eats: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/07/wh...

Oct 09, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking
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Best way to cook a grassfed rump roast

Thanks- I've never cooked with a rump roast before! How is the texture of the meat with this cooking method?

Oct 08, 2014
4Snisl in Home Cooking

4 Days in Amsterdam w/ food obsessed family

Yes, my apologies for not doing so earlier.....just posted it now. There was a lot to (fondly) recall!

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/990994

Oct 02, 2014
4Snisl in Europe
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Amsterdam and surrounding towns (long summary of visited markets and restaurants)

Took a 10-day trip to Amsterdam for an overdue visit to a city I've wanted to see for some time. I'll fully admit that I couldn't tell you names of half the places I went to, but many memorably good meals and food experiences were had. For reference, I typically reside in the US.

In Amsterdam proper, here's a rundown of markets and restaurants that were visited:

Versmarkt van Swinden (Eerste van Swindenstraat 45, 1093 EV Amsterdam)- A Middle Eastern market (Turkish, perhaps) complete with a full selection of halal meats in a butcher case and some prepared dips/cheeses in a prepared case with full service. The produce section was fairly compact, but the selection was fresh and wonderful (fresh herbs, including a scrubby, fragrant thyme plant that was used in many subsequent meals.) Condiments/non-perishables included expected items (harissa, olives, etc.) as well as items that made you well aware that you were in Amsterdam (Indonesian nasi goreng paste, for example.... I rarely see that even in large Asian markets in the US) Dried spice selections is quite nice and affordable as well.

We didn't eat across the street at Roopram Roti, but it smelled rich with spices and it looked like many were enjoying their meals. Very casual, plain interior, but I liked that they had a few sinks for hand washing right in the dining room for before or after your meal.

De Kaaskamer (Runstraat 7 1016 GJ Amsterdam) was close to heaven on earth for me. A densely-packed shop of various cheeses with staff who were delighted to offer samples and stories behind their products. We walked out with several kilos of cheese, a lovely baguette of mutli-grain par-baked bread, and some wonderful cured meats. A nice touch- each cheese came with a small square of paper for optimal storage of cheeses that were taken out of vacuum wrapping.

We stopped at several Albert Heijn supermarkets, as many were open at later hours (I found that many stores tended to close by 6 PM.) Selections were usually decent and staff were friendly everywhere we went.....however, shelves did seem sparser when visit were later in the evening.

I also stopped at a Lidl market (seemed similar to Aldi) and was quite impressed with the selection and prices there. I took home a fresh leek, a huge head of pristine organic cauliflower, a (250 gram?) box of mushrooms and a (500 gram?) carton of surprisingly good tomatoes, all for around 3 euros.

As far as open air markets, we did make it to Albert Cuypmakt, which had such a fantastic array of prepared foods, fresh ingredients, and things that might not typically be expected at markets (clothing, toiletries, bedding....)Standouts were a stall that had literally a few dozen types of Indonesian sambals (all open for tasting if desired) and a produce stand with one of the most beautiful root vegetable selections I've ever seen. I'm happy that Klary (fellow hound) advised on another thread to go into brick and mortar stores adjacent to the market, because we found veal cheeks in a butcher shop and some intriguing fresh tempeh and wonderfully fragrant lemon leaves in another shop (wish I remembered the names). We did stroll through several other open markets (I think one was Dappermarkt?) but many times it was just as stalls were shutting down, with a few earnest calls out for us to take something home.

We got takeout from Kantjil & de Tijger (an Indonesian restaurant) one evening, because they were completely booked through the window of time we had for dinner. Very kind staff there- they offered us a complimentary drink while we waited, and everything was thoughtfully and neatly packaged. We did take home a rijsttafel....nothing that was a particular standout dish, but all was flavorful and nicely prepared.

Next to Rijksmuseum, we stopped for a quick drink (it seems like cappucinos typically come with some sort of small sweet? Like a piece of nougat or a cookie. Anyway, it was a nice treat.) We also sampled bitterballen, fried potato balls with bits of meat and cheese inside. The surprise spicing in ours was what appeared to be copious amounts of whole cumin seeds! Tasty, as most deep-fried cheesy potato dishes tend to be.

We ate at Kam Yin- very casual Asian restaurant near the Arena (http://www.kamyin.nl/) Delicious, generous portions of fresh food for a very affordable price. I had a duck noodle soup, and my companion had the "special" chicken with rice. The condiments on the table of nose-clearing hot sauce and sweet soy were nice touches.

Had a 3-course meal at De Struisvogel. http://www.restaurantdestruisvogel.nl/ Lively, warm room just below street level. Standouts of the meal were crisped veal cheeks as a starter and a warm apple crisp for dessert.

Oh, and just for fun, we tried the chips at Chipsy King. I'm a sucker for punny names. Nothing special- they were fresh, hot and well-salted. Glad to have the experience once in my life.

In Leiden (about an hour by train outside of Amsterdam), we went to the following places:

The Saturday Leiden Market- densely packed, lots of vendors selling meats, breads, fresh vegetables, fruits and prepared foods. This is where I tried a freshly-prepared stroopwafel (lovely flavor, not as cloyingly sweet as I expected) and a Holland herring (unadorned except for a squeeze of lemon juice.....so mild, clean-tasting and fresh.) I have no idea which stands we stopped at, they just seemed like they were good at what they did. We also found a very small Mediterranean market adjacent to the south end of the market, where we ducked in and got some lovely marinated olives, avocados and a nice loaf of Turkish bread.

We also popped into Maborek Markt (http://mabroek.nl/
)Lovely selection of Mediterranean foods, a full service halal butcher case, wide selection of olives, spices and staples. If I lived in town, I'd be there on a regular basis.

Also made it to a Jumbo market in Leiden- again, staff were kind and selection seemed to have the basics we sought (fresh fruit, standard bread, a piece of nice cheese....)

We dined out at Lundi for dinner one evening (Turfmarkt 6)- the meal pacing was quite relaxed (took 3 hours for a 3 course meal) but I was in company that didn't make it seem too long. The meal and service were excellent- standouts were a dish of steak with veal cheek garnish and a coconut panna cotta dessert with tiny, crunchy meringues that vanished on the tongue. Also the bread course came with butter that was whipped together with soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil- so delicious, it will be a regular pantry staple to keep on hand at home(have already finished a 100 gram batch we made!) Our waiter sent us home with advice on where to find a butcher that sold veal cheeks (we wanted to cook them at home) and a mix that could be used to make homemade mints at home (the same that were served with the check.)

In Rotterdam (about a 45 minute train ride outside of Amsterdam) we went to De Ijsallon (http://www.deijssalon.nl/intro.html) and I had some of the most wonderful gelato of my life. The textures were dense, almost stretchy, and the flavors were clean and not too sweet. We had a 5 scoop sampler- in approximate order of preference, we had maghreb (sour date), pistachio, stroopwafel, Oma's Appeltaart, and cassis. A high-quality treat I'd love to enjoy again.

Overall, I'd say that the trip leaned more towards ingredient shopping to cook at home (My host and I picked out a new Bosch multi-function food processor, and we had such a fun time using the new cooking toy!) General observations were:
I liked that many markets seemed to have par-baked bread that could be finished fresh in the oven in 10 minutes.
I have a renewed appreciation for cheese. And in general, I think I prefer the dairy products in the Netherlands (even standard supermarket butter seemed particularly tasty.
)Fresh flowers and produce are so widely accessible and inexpensive.
Offal and more "offbeat" cuts of meat were fun to find at butcher shops(whole heads, brains, cheek meat, etc.)
Even with our very limited Dutch, people were kind and generally comfortable with requests in English, for which we were thankful.

I look forward to a return visit! Many thanks to those who were able to offer words of advice and inspiration in advance.

Oct 02, 2014
4Snisl in Europe

4 Days in Amsterdam w/ food obsessed family

Oh, fantastisch! (I picked up just a little Dutch along the way, but I still have much more to learn. :) )

Between your Dutch cooking threads and foodblogs (also those of markemorse) I felt so much better about approaching the food landscape. They were quite a few years ago, but much of the information is still relevant and helpful in the present!

My newly-completed adventures will follow in a separate posting....welcome back, and hope your vacation was as wonderful as mine!

Oct 02, 2014
4Snisl in Europe

Feed me! Where to eat?

Had not heard about the lion burger....until now, of course! This is the place you mean, yes? http://www.thelionnyc.com/
The atmosphere of the place seems great, burger sounds delicious.

Thanks for reporting on Tink's. Had not heard of it before and glad it was a good meal. Here's to many more to come!

Sep 23, 2014
4Snisl in Manhattan

Need Easy Vegan Snack for Casual Cocktail Party

How about spiced roasted chickpeas?

Sep 18, 2014
4Snisl in Vegetarian & Vegan

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014 [OLD]

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):
http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolms...

Sep 15, 2014
4Snisl in Chains
1

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
1

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
1

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