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Smash Burger Culver City

I'm in Colorado where Smashburger started. It's a good burger, but not great. Larkburger here is FAR better at similar high prices. I've heard others rave about Smashburger, and I wondered if I was just being too picky. But then I saw all the news about their massive franchise expansion in the US and overseas, and that's not a good sign. I'd rather see a better burger first. What's wrong? Nothing really. Just not a intense beefy taste, the smash technique seems to always overshoot my preferred medium rare, and their topping / sauce combos fall flat for me.

Feb 06, 2013
danbob in Chains

Viking Coffee Maker Expensive, lousy AND made in China

Chemex!
Made in USA.

Nov 23, 2012
danbob in Cookware

Szechuan in the Boulder area?

Aha! Now I see Yurihana's "authentic chinese" menu online. Will give them a try too. "Stir-fried pickled mustard greens, ground park and fresh soybeans" sounds pretty good!

Nov 11, 2012
danbob in Mountain States

Szechuan in the Boulder area?

Thanks for the tip! Will try it out.

Boulder - Longmont - Loveland - Fort Collins seem to be plagued with "ethnic" restaurants that take all the styles and dishes of all the regions of an entire country, and put them on one menu. It's certainly that way for Mexican food, just like Chinese.

I prefer to experiment with different regions!

Nov 11, 2012
danbob in Mountain States

does anyone have the lodge cast iron wok?

I have the Lodge 14 inch wok. The flat part is 5-1/2 inches diameter.

Note that this wok is nothing like a real Chinese cast-iron wok, which is far thinner, lighter and more fragile. But the Lodge holds a LOT of heat. toddster63 is exactly right -- it's about your only chance of even approaching wok hei on an american burner.

I usually stir fry outdoors on a propane burner with a carbon-steel northern style wok, (one long handle for pao action) but even Hulk Hogan couldn't pao the Lodge! And it's 11 deg F here outside, with 30 mph winds. Heating up the Lodge wok right now!

Their pre-seasoning gives you a good start, but you'll need to build it up before you really get wokking.

DAN

Nov 11, 2012
danbob in Cookware

Making Carne Seca - Any Sonorans out there?

Thanks! I'll put a big pot roast on the menu soon, to be sure I have leftovers!
DAN

Nov 11, 2012
danbob in Home Cooking

Making Carne Seca - Any Sonorans out there?

Thanks for the replies, all. I can still taste this stuff, and it's been a week!
I'm going to start out by buying a bag of it dried and pre-shredded at a local tiendita, then marinate that, then hot smoke it.
Will report back here!
DAN

Oct 30, 2012
danbob in Home Cooking

cooking in a hotel (fridge and microwave only!)

If you have no cookware at all, bacon microwaves just great right on white motel towels. Pay for your room with cash, and leave a false address, as the motel staff will not be amused after you leave.
Yes, I'm bad.

Oct 27, 2012
danbob in Home Cooking

Making Carne Seca - Any Sonorans out there?

Just returned from Tucson AZ; had a food epiphany there with the carne seca!

I'd like to make it at home, but all the recipes I'm finding either call for cooking the meat in an oven all night, or salting / draining in the fridge all week. What I had down there was sun-dried in a cage on the roof.

I'm not in the desert, but I have a food dehydrator and a smoker available, and have successfully made beef jerky in both.

All I could pry out of the restaurant was that the beef was marinated and dried, then shredded (how do I do this?), then the shreds marinated again in green chili sauce overnight and then grilled very hot to give some char.

Any recipes or suggestions as to how to proceed?

It was amusing that the waiter made us taste it before ordering, because many out-of-towners complain that it's "just shredded beef jerky" and they hate it. Of course it's the fresh lime juice on the fine shreds that make this stuff so awesome!

Thanks in advance..
DAN

Oct 27, 2012
danbob in Home Cooking

French Press vs Chemex?

Oh no, another new technique I have to try now! (cold brew)

I also can't say enough about cowboy coffee, though I thought it amusing that there's such an enthusiastic writeup on the Wikipedia coffee brewing page. Wasn't me that put that up there, but I tend to concur.

Long story short -- last fall, we had 9 students up here for a 6-day class, we are off grid, everyone drinks lots of coffee, and there wasn't enough power to run a Mr coffee all day. The cowboy coffee in a big pot was great -- even got compliments -- and I further updated my technique since then to decant it into an airpot through a gold mesh fine filter. Using a glass sided saucepan helps when decanting.

It can really make some super coffee, if you are willing to pay very close meticulous attention for a couple minutes.

DANBOB

Jan 29, 2012
danbob in Cookware

Guy From The Bush ....Needs 6 burners, grill, 2 ovens ....Totaly propane non electric who makes one?

Hey Big Dan;
I feel your pain.
I've lived 11 miles from the nearest power line since 1991, and my job is renewable energy consulting for remote, fly-in fishing and hunting lodges.
It's become VERY hard to find any decent ranges or ovens that don't require electricity. Ovens are the worst! So many of them now have electric glow-bars for ignition, and these use 500 watts whenever you are cooking. Absurd! Piezo for the stovetop burners isn't as bad, but still needs a 120vac plug in.
Lots of off-grid people look for old, vintage ranges that still use pilots. Some of them are gorgeous works of art. And there are still a few that use pilot lights -- look thru the Lehman's catalog (Amish outfit). But you are unlikely to find a pro-size unit like you want.

What *I* would do -- get a nice big top of line 'outdoor' type cooktop with 6 or 8 burners, and vent it really well (even a small 12vdc fan maybe), find a couple vintage ovens that use pilot lights, and mount them under the cooktop to make your own island.

That's the best I can come up with right now.....
DANBOB

Jan 26, 2012
danbob in Cookware

French Press vs Chemex?

French press is great, if you use a burr grinder so that all the grounds are about the same size, fairly coarse. If you use a blade grinder (better called a coffee chopper), your French press coffee will be full of sediment, as those choppers are all over the place in grounds size. Fine for folks who like sludgey coffee but it's not the real deal.
DANBOB

Jan 26, 2012
danbob in Cookware

Hurt by cheap pine nuts in Stamford

Yes, thanks for the post. I was about to buy some at Costco too.
Lots of places to get the real thing from New Mexico and Nevada online, but sounds like the drought has been a real bummer -- this website I ordered from in the past says there was NO HARVEST this year. ouch!
http://www.pinonnuts.com/

DANBOB

Nov 27, 2011
danbob in General Topics

Tim Horton's (moved from Ontario board)

I spent a month in Canada once again this year.
They've really gone downhill at TH.
All I ever get anymore is the coffee. At first I thought maybe the bagel issue and the mediocre (at best) sandwich issue were due to the location at the Vancouver airport C concourse, but the TH in the town I stayed at was meh too.

DAN

Nov 08, 2011
danbob in Chains

Soda Stream or Something Else? [moved from Quebec board]

The Sodastream equipment is inexpensive and convenient, but the CO2 refills are a killer. If you make lots of carbonated drinks, in a year you'd have saved money just buying a small homebrewer's CO2 draft setup.

Small 2.5lb CO2 bottle, regulator, small 2.5 gallon Cornelius keg, fittings from tubes to keg. Just under $200 if you shop around. Used kegs are fine. CO2 refills from any homebrew shop or welding shop very cheap.

Back when I was homebrewing a lot, I kept a small Corny keg just for the kids.....they got to mix up their own soda recipes, let it chill down, and force carbonate it. You can use fresh fruit juice, honey instead of sugar, whatever you want. Favorite here was frozen limeade concentrate, honey and fresh mint cooked down and strained.

Sterilize keg with bottle brush, then boiling water (*I* did that part, and pouring sticky syrup into keg!). Chill down, and inject CO2 -- either let it sit 2-3 days, or shake the keg and do it in 5 minutes (always the favorite here).

Should be refrigerated, or it will spoil, just like beer. But we'd easily use up the 2.5 gallon keg of pop in a weekend.

DANBOB

Aug 21, 2011
danbob in Cookware

Freeze Salsa?

By all means, YES!
Fresh, homemade salsa is a perfect candidate for freezing. If you consume it within 6 months, there's not even a noticeable texture change. Far superior and much easier than canning it.
I always make double or triple batches of both my red salsa and my green tomatillo salsa, and freeze the extra.
DANBOB

Mar 21, 2011
danbob in Home Cooking

Food Dehydrator - Should I fork out the cash?

OK, I just *have* to chime in on this thread!

If you get a cheap dehydrator, likely your problem will be uneven air and heat flow, and you'll have to check it a couple times a day and move food around inside. If you keep doing it (and especially if you are a backpacker!) you'll eventually give away / sell the cheap one to another newbie, and get an Excalibur. No big whoop-- the newbie will be happy, and so will you! Great way to get started.

i just can't deal with store-bought dried fruit, even from the "good" stores. Sugar, preservatives, bad texture. yeccch!

I've found a few gems over the years that i didn't see posted in this thread, so here they are. Your mileage may vary. Keep dried fruit with no preservatives in the fridge until your backpack trip or meal....on your trip, it'll keep for at least a couple weeks with no refrigeration.

-- Fresh pineapple. Tart, crunchy, chewy and intensely flavored. No added sugar. Slice thin for the dehydrator. Heaven!

-- Watermelon. Pick the sweetest one in your garden, and slice it up thick. It will (eventually) turn into sticky, gooey, chewy strips of sugar and flavor.

-- Fruit roll ups. Make your exotic fruit pureé, put it on wax paper, and go for it.

-- Spaghetti sauce. Backpackers only, probably. Do it on wax paper, rehydrate in water prior to your trail meal, and the powdered mixes will seem totally lame.

-- Tomatoes. Making your own sun-dried takes no effort, just drying time.

-- all your backpacking veggies. freeze dried, to my palate, sucks. i just make a mix of carrots, bell peppers, onions, the works....and add it to every meal.

DANBOB

Feb 17, 2011
danbob in Cookware

How to prepare Galangal?

Part of my recent Asian Market experience.....awesome variety of food, but I didn't speak the language.

Thought I was buying a wonderfully shaped hand of ginger that had already been peeled or something, and of course I know now it is Galangal. I love the taste and smell, but,.,.

I normally use fresh ginger in stir-fry, a few seconds very hot. This treatment turned both sliced and minced galangal bits into, basically, wood chips.

So how do I prepare this stuff for my Asian sauces (I always make my own), stir fry, soups, clay pots, etc?

Garlic press? Blender? Long simmer? Stir fry or boil in bigger chunks, then remove? Blender and and then preserve in some liquid? Those are my ideas so far.

Any help appreciated. Again, i really like the taste and aroma.

DANBOB

Jan 05, 2011
danbob in Home Cooking

When do I crack open my Durian?

Thanks for your help, Chowhounds!

I cracked it open yesterday afternoon with some friends present. Some of them are still friends, some are not.

I'm quite sure it was previously frozen; the seeds inside were quite soft, and it was very easy to tear open by hand.

It was YUMMY.

DANBOB

Dec 10, 2010
danbob in General Topics

When do I crack open my Durian?

Ipsedixit;

I just don't know on the previously frozen part. They didn't speak much english at the market. It *looks* fresh, anyway. They were all in a big non-refrigerated wire mesh bin in individual plastic mesh bags.

I guess I'll find out!

DANBOB

Dec 08, 2010
danbob in General Topics

Christmas Menu: Caribbean Theme

Dana;

Here's my Curtido de Repollo recipe, from a hospedaje in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Thanks for the recipe, Rosa!

1 head finely shredded cabbage
1 fresh habeñero pepper, remove stem
3 fresh serrano peppers, remove stems
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
salt to taste (I use 2 teaspoons)
1 tsp fresh crushed cumin
---------
at serving time:
minced fresh serranos, jalapeños and / or habeñero peppers
4 diced Roma tomatoes
1 medium sweet maya onion minced
---------

Put chili peppers, cumin, water, vinegar, and salt into a blender and pureé into a glowing green liquid mush. Put shredded cabbage into a big stainless steel or plastic bowl, and pour blender mix over it and stir. Cover and refrigerate at *least* overnight, 24 hours is better as you can stir the mix every few hours when you are awake.

Mix in tomato and onion right before serving. Serve with slotted spoon so there's not so much liquid. Top with minced chilis if you want more heat.

-----
Note that I tend to use less salt and more chilis than many people. Use only jalapeños and reduce the amount if your guests are capsaicin-averse. And wear latex gloves for mincing the peppers! I was told that the long pickling time blends the flavors and is critical. Never saw a single piece of lettuce down there, they said it doesn't grow well, too hot and humid. All the salads were cabbage.

DANBOB

Dec 08, 2010
danbob in Home Cooking

When do I crack open my Durian?

I realize from searching that durian has been discussed extensively on Chow, but I can't find the answer to my question. Any help is appreciated!

I had durian many years ago at a friends house, and I thought it was heavenly. Superb. Unforgettable. Awesome.

Then yesterday I was in Denver, and located an awesome Asian market, even bought my groceries for a month there (this year's holiday menu will be REALLY interesting!).

And I bought a fresh durian, "flying horse' brand in a yellow plastic mesh bag with a green tag. I tried all the usual internet tips for selecting, like shaking it (no sound or rattle that I could hear), and smelling it near the stem. Smells like strawberries and bananas, very pleasant. They were not refrigerated in the bin.

It now sits there evilly on my countertop, injuring friends who try to pick it up. It glares at me. My cats are terrified of it. The aroma has increased a bit in 24 hours, but is still very pleasant.

My question is, when do I crack this bad boy open? How long do I wait? How can I tell when it's ready? Do durians even ripen sitting on the counter? I'd hate to open it to early and miss out on the wonderful taste and texture.

Any help appreciated.

DANBOB

Dec 08, 2010
danbob in General Topics

Beef Jerky - The search for the best

babyfork;

If you ever come through northern Colorado, visit LaPorte (an outskirt of Fort Collins) and drop by Overland Foods, a small privately owned market. Their private butcher makes their own beef jerky, and it is to die for. Slices 3/8 inch thick, soft inside with a crispy outside, just salty enough. It's not dried to shoe leather and so does require refrigeration, though it keeps fine for a couple days without.

When I'm hitting the road for a fishing trip, I drive miles out of my way to stock up.

The only better I've had was home made.

Sorry, they don't ship.

DANBOB

Dec 08, 2010
danbob in General Topics

Christmas Menu: Caribbean Theme

I'd have suggested boiled yucca root, but I hate it.
And the seared endangered sea turtle cubes in hot pepper and corn meal isn't legal here, though it was pretty good.
;-)
DANBOB

Dec 02, 2010
danbob in Home Cooking

Christmas Menu: Caribbean Theme

Nice menu!
My co-workers and I did a similar thing last year, for the year anniversary of our amazing business trip to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.
More suggestions.....
~Deep fry the appetizer plantains like french fries and dip in davmar77's habeñero mango salsa instead of ketchup...or make mango ketchup.
~Coconut bread dinner rolls. I will never forget Pearl Lagoon, Nica, because of these!
~I don't see much for greens or salads in your menus. Curtido de Repollo is awesome, I'd be happy to send or post my recipe. Beats American cole slaw all to heck.
~cold Seviché with lobster, shrimp and/or scallops.
~fresh fruit juices
~almost forgot.........a bag of limes, ice (!!) and Flor de Caña rum! 7-year is the best. I don't even drink Myers anymore after trying Flo.

You putcha booka to de bench an eat, mon!

DANBOB

Dec 02, 2010
danbob in Home Cooking

Tabletop wok burner?

You think YOU have it bad, mmmcqueen.....my range is crippled by being small, propane, AND at 8200 ft elevation!

The cast iron wok (bought thanks to advice from the nice folks on this board) has helped a lot. I cook for only 1 or 2 people, so i can make it work, with breaks between ingredients for it to reheat.

But really I didn't even begin to get Wok Hei until i got an outdoor burner. It's shielded from the wind anyway, and at least I don't have to stand out in the cold for TOO long. Looked into an indoor wok burner, but way too expensive, and would need to replace my propane line, it's only 3/8" and can't flow enough gas for a big burner anyway.

DANBOB

Dec 02, 2010
danbob in Cookware

Your easiest appetizer

Baby portabello mushrooms stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, topped with fresh chives. I do them in the smoker until tender and juicy, but sauteeing in white wine works just fine. DANBOB

Nov 29, 2010
danbob in Home Cooking

Ice cube tray

I feel your pain. I live off the grid, entirely on solar and wind power with battery storage, so I have a propane fridge. No ice maker available, and it seemed I was replacing cheap plastic ice trays 3 or 4 times a year, from cracking.

I had fond memories of the sturdy old aluminum ones from 30 years ago, and found some aluminum trays at Bed Bath and Beyond. Had to return all of them; the aluminum levers bent easily, and all of them broke within a week.

So, I'm back to the cheap plastic ones. I get the cheapest I can find, as they still crack regularly (sigh).

Once garage sale season fires up again, I'll be looking for the *old* aluminum ones again.

DANBOB

Nov 29, 2010
danbob in Cookware

Larkburger and truffles

The small chain Larkburger, here in Colorado, supposedly started because so many people thought the gourmet burgers by chef Thomas Salamunovich at the Larkspur Restaurant in Vail were so good. Way out of my price range, never been there. Hell, VAIL itself is out of my price range....even a McDonald's burger costs a bundle there, same with a gallon of gas.

Salamunovich also likes truffles, it seems. I mean, he REALLY likes truffles. I like them too. If you don't, you don't have to have them in your meal at Larkburger. But damn they are tasty...,.

My Truffleburger, truffle parmesan fries, and homemade large lemonade cost 14 bucks in Fort Collins, CO....ouch. But my gut can't deal with a hamburger more than once a month anyway, so why not get a good one?

The truffle/parmesan dressed fries had an awesome flavor. I thought they were a bit soggy, but the line was long today too at lunch hour, and that kind of stuff (as in, perfect fries) depends on the actual cooks and managers. The aroma in my takeout bag was heavenly. Holy crap! Truffles on FRIES! wow.

The lemonade was excellent compared to the usual high fructose corn syrup citric acid engine degreaser sold at most soda fountains. Compared to my homemade lemonade, though, it was a bit Meh. Too much sugar I guess, and no zest, or mint, or other garnishes. Probably made well in advance.

And the piece de resistance....the Truffleburger. The sauce is truffle aioli, got a slice of Tillamook cheddar for 50 cents extra, had onion rounds and tomato and lettuce. I was surprised at how perfectly round and trim it was, like some sort of modern art display .Hmmm, I thought cows tended to messy in many ways. But I ordered medium rare, and damn well got medium frickin rare. THANKS! I hate overcooked meat. Burger was juicy, but not so much that it soaked the bun. The lettuce was romaine instead of iceberg, and the tomato not bad. (I grow my own tomotoes and almost always tell the burger joint to leave them out.....insipid fast food tomatoes should be banned, or at least ridiculed). And, did I mention -- truffles?

SO........for my monthly decent burger fix, otherwise here in town we have Five Guys, and Good Times. I like Fuddruckers too, but there's no local restaurant.

How does the Larkburger compare? Pretty well. If you want a huge variety of toppings round these parts, go to Fudds or 5 Guys. But if'n you like them truffles, you can get your fix at Larkburger.

And, when i ordered "medium rare," that's exactly what i got!

DANBOB

Nov 16, 2010
danbob in Chains

Tilted Kilt?

Star;

Well, my Tilted Kilt experience was in Steven's Point, Wisconsin, where the TK was the house bar and house restaurant (!!!) for a 3-day conference at the marginal Ramada Inn Conference Center there. So at least I got 3 square meals there at TK to evaluate. And the restaurant presentation to the conference hotel clientele was superb--who *cares* about the food when you are watching the belly-button ring jingle and jangle? Now I hear downtown Denver has a Tilted Kilt too, I have not been there yet, and probably won't go out of the way.

Draught beers, with many local ones, were served at proper temps in proper glasses. Draught Guinness was done right. Mixology was nice -- tangy and strong Margs, and good Mojitos with the mint freshly muddled. The bar at this TK was excellent.

My review on the TK food is "Meh." Standard basic hit or miss "sports bar" food. One night the fish and chips was awesome, top notch, the next it was an inedible soggy mess. Same with the burgers... Same with everything else I and my 3 co-workers sampled over 3 days. Couldn't afford the real "Entreés" but I bet it's about the same. Not somewhere I'd order an expensive steak or seafood "entreé" from.

It all depends on the folks back in the kitchen, and the manager. And the folks up top who decide how many folks are working on any given night.

Are you there for the food, or the belly button ring and cleavage?
Be honest, now.

DANBOB

Oct 12, 2010
danbob in Chains