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tigerbitesman's Profile

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Cooking Is the New Thinking

This is what I love about cooking and chess, total absorption is required. Any small mistake in the moment will effect the final result, there is no erasing of error. As a cook I often perform at my best when swamped with orders, requiring peak performance. Most mistakes happen when the restaurant is slow and everyone is engaged in idle thoughts. Good cooks seem to excel at this reflexive thought but often lack reflective thinking skills.

Apr 07, 2007
tigerbitesman in Features

beautiful italian eggplants, tomato sauce--help!!!

If you can get your hands on some spinach you can make eggplant roulades. Salt quater inch long slices of eggplant, rest till sweating (half hour or so), wipe clean, sear in pan on both sides, maybe two minutes, set aside while you saute spinach with garlic, parmesean and a touch cream and salt to taste. Place a good spoonful of spinach on eggplant at one end, roll up and serve on top of heated sauce, which you hopefully beafed up with some more garlic and reduced on stove a bit to concentrate flavor. If you want you can add a pepper to the sauce or the spinach. As long as your eggplant is not bitter this is a great side.

Apr 02, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Black Truffle Oil

OK, I was inspired to try truffle oil again today. Mine's actually white truffle oil and I stirred it into a soup of criminis, leaks, potatoes, and garlic with a touch of cream. I pureed the soup, passed it through a sieve and finished by stirring in the oil and garnishing with more seared criminis. The oil definitely heightened the dish. Previously I'd used the oil in eggs and found it a little over powering, but it worked beautifully in the soup.

Mar 29, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Black Truffle Oil

I think there is a truffle oil gene, some people just go over the moon for the stuff, to me it almost tastes artificial. I'll have to give it another chance.

Mar 29, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Black Truffle Oil

hey thanks! You're right about eggs and veggies too, and it does seem best to add the oil to moderately seasoned foods.

Mar 29, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

A New Way to Cook (Sally Schneider)

I've had the book for maybe two years and really have looked at it twice. I really like her approach but I think I need pictures to be inspired. I keep telling myself I'll read it soon, the recipes seem well considered but I usually don't use recipes, just peruse them for ideas.

Mar 29, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Black Truffle Oil

Pasta, potatoes, mushroom dishes. I have some and it just lives in my cupboard unused, it's a strong flavor and a little goes a long way. Maybe a nice pureed soup of potato and mushroom with cream could be finished with some at the end. Stirred into risotto would be nice too. I just bought some almond oil that is very nice and I'll likely use more often.

Mar 29, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Silly question re: rice noodles and peanut sauce

It doesn't surprise me that this recipe has so much oil and sugar considering the source. If you want to make a sauce from scratch combine two cups peanuts, two cups water, two teaspoons rice wine vinegar, teaspoon kosher salt ( or to taste ), and half a teaspoon sambal ( a chili and garlic paste sold in Asian groceries ) into a good blender and puree. This is a basic sauce you could add to with coconut milk or sesame oil or what have you. I love raw peanut butter but most have too much refined sugar.

Mar 19, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Ideas for Carmelized Red Onions

Puree with balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, olive oil. Good served warm over salmon.

Mar 18, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Atwood Cafe @ State & Washington

We actually stopped at the Atwood just for dessert, the bread pudding was pretty good, the host corny, the room lush, salt shakers enormous, seemed decent enough.

Mar 17, 2007
tigerbitesman in Chicago Area

Help with pan-seared fish

At work we put salmon on a bed of kosher salt for one hour, then soak in water for ten minutes to remove salt. This semi-curing on one side( the pretty side ) results in a nice even browning. I like most of the tips given but avoid flour with salmon, and stress a long( two minutes or more) preheat of the pan. A briefly heated pan on high heat may be smoking hot in the center but hold less heat in total.

Mar 16, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Using phyllo dough vs. puff pastry

What else is in the fridge? Phyllo is super versatile, I just don't see it with the sausage.

Mar 16, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Falafel

I've also put minced kalamatas into the mix, I want to do some modernized mediteranean in a tapas bar style setting someday, I love falafel but find it a tad heavy and it just doesn't hold for long, so I'm trying to think of ways to make this humble food a bit more refined, though not too far removed from its roots. The problem with stuffing is the mix needs to be a touch sturdier, I want to make elegant, smooth circles that ooze out creamy cheese when bitten into: I'm thinking a goat and feta mix whipped up light and airy first. Wish I had more time to play with this but let me know if anything works for you.

Mar 16, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Recipe w/lots of Chopping

More people need to do this, they would want to cook more often, chopping can be fun if you know how. I like to freak new servers out by chopping with my eyes closed at work- and yes I can be a show off, but it's easy with a little practice. Unfortunately people develop bad habits then don't want to relearn the proper way.

Mar 15, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Falafel

The buffalobuffet link is right on. I use to make falafel for a restaurant and that's basically how I make mine. I use more parsley and scallion, which I dry well and then add to the bottom of the food processer, then weigh down with the chickpeas, cumin, salt and pepper. That's all I usually put into mine, you have to scrape and pulse repeatedly, but the buffalobuffet recipe looks very good. I've been trying to figure out how to make a sturdier ball so I can stuff them with cheese as an interesting appetizer for parties, havn't quite perfected this though.

Mar 15, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Weekend Restaurant Suggestions - Hip, Trendy, New

Honestly, I would skip Bin 36, definitely go to Avec as already recommended, and consider DeLaCosta strongly. If the weather is nice and you like sushi, Ra on rush is stylish and hip with good food to boot, and Rush street is the it street to stroll on weekends. At Avec don't miss the chorizo stuffed dates, but everything is good at Avec, sometimes there is a wait but not usually long for a two top, the place is so intimate you always end up chatting with your neighbors, who are mostly regulars, and sharing food with strangers.

Mar 15, 2007
tigerbitesman in Chicago Area

Will be at Museum of Science/Industry - Lunch Suggestions??

If you aren't adverse to Thai food, there is a great place on 55th street just a few blocks from the museum, the Snail restaurant is definitely not fancy but it's real good Thai at very affordable prices, authentic food and quick service. I can't help but to encourage this place as it is usually accessible only to Hyde Park residents but deserves to be known more widely. I've had several of their curries, all good, I recommend the massaman curry for those who don't want much spice, and the red curry for those who do, I like mine with duck and it's always been good. Probably less authentic, but tasty, is the fried rice which has a nice sweetness and not even slightly greasy.

Mar 15, 2007
tigerbitesman in Chicago Area

Please help me understand Balsamic vinegar

The expensive ones should be great on their own as a last touch to anoint a dish, great with red meat and bitter greens. The cheap ones I would avoid or reduce with sugar until thickened, though this really stinks the house up. You can also use to make a simple vinaigrette, I like to balance it with honey and whisk with olive oil, as a dressing for salad don't worry about too much whisking, it's better unemulsified really, could also be warmed up and served over fish. At work I briefly marinate tuna with balsamic gastrique( the vinegar reduced with sugar), soy sauce and olive oil: a great raw snack, or simply seared. Hope all that is of some help.

Mar 14, 2007
tigerbitesman in General Topics

Fat free/low fat recipes?

I have to say you might just want to eat good fats, they give you energy to burn fat. Olive oil, avocado, oily fish, coconut milk. Not what you asked for I know, but let's not give up the good stuff and ruin our food enjoyment. Food needs some fat to carry flavor, and our bodies need some fat to run. If I eat something with ample fat, say bacon, I pair it with something hyper healthy, like bok choy. This over some Jasmine rice would make a great low fat meal if you didn't go overboard on the bacon.

Mar 14, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Best calamari?

Pheonix in chinatown has exceptional calamari at dinner, not on their dim sum lunch menu though. It has a well balanced batter and the calamari was cut to an ideal thickness and fried at the proper temperature to not be greasy, so good!

Mar 14, 2007
tigerbitesman in Chicago Area

Blackbird advice or alternatives needed

My experience of Blackbird was more austere than noisy. Definitely go for the food, it's great, but I have to say Avec is more fun.

Mar 13, 2007
tigerbitesman in Chicago Area

1 nite downtown Chicago - fun, young, but delish client dinner

I may be too late but consider DeLaCosta, it's young and hip and has good seafood. I had a really good sea bass, my partner had decent scallops, and we enjoyed the fire and ice ceviche, though not the other two ceviche we sampled, too much lime for me. The dining room is ultra hip, too hip for us probably, but we were seated in a more intimate side room that was nice.

Mar 12, 2007
tigerbitesman in Chicago Area

How to Reheat Bread Pudding??

Microwave is fine, just cover to keep moist.

Mar 09, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

What hummus flavors do you create?

Hummus is a great entry food for beginning cooks, I know it was for me. One of my first jobs had me making four buckets of Hummus every day, it's still one of my favorite foods. I've made white bean and black bean versions as well as the spicy red pepper kind. It's a matter of taste but I like mine heavy on the cumin and tahini. My Egyptian boss told me it should be the color of a camel, like a boy from Indiana has any idea what that is. For dip I like a thinner, richer hummus with more oil, garlic, and lemon, but as a sandwich spead I make a thicker, less rich hummus that pairs well with turkey and milder cheeses.

Mar 09, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

learning to cook by eating, eating, eating

I actually never, or hardly ever, eat Italian out because it's so easy to do at home. I guess I'm often Americanizing ethnic dishes at home in my attempts to cook food I've enjoyed out but don't have easy access to all the ingredients for. I've baked samosa fillings inside of premade puff pastry dough and I make seaweed burritos filled with brown rice with eggs cooked in fish sauce, weird but my girlfriend, also Asian, loves them.

Mar 09, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Creative eggplant dishes for eggplant maniac

Thought of another great one: Fried eggplant slices topped with herbed goat cheese and spicy tomato jam. To make the jam you cook down peeled and seeded tomatos with sugar, a little vinegar, and some hot peppers. The sweet spicy jam combines with the creamy goat cheese and crisp eggplant really well.

Mar 09, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Creative eggplant dishes for eggplant maniac

Thanks! I'm going to make this sometime, have you seen it with peanut sauce though or am I imagining it (it's been ten years since I've had the dish).

Mar 09, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Creative eggplant dishes for eggplant maniac

There is a Japanese dish that is a roasted eggplant slice topped with a peanut sauce, I've had it in upstate NY but havn't seen it since, so good though.

Mar 08, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

learning to cook by eating, eating, eating

I find eating out a huge inspiration but I usually take away flavor combination ideas away more than duplicating exactly. Right now I want to try my hand at chorizo stuffed dates from Avec here in Chicago and I would love to know how to make the shrimp dim sum I eat at Pheonix.

Mar 08, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking

Pizza Toppings? What's your fav?

Try hot wing sauce, chicken, blue cheese, asiago. Fresh celery at the end for crunch and heat relief.

Mar 08, 2007
tigerbitesman in Home Cooking