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Welcome to tastingmenu.com. My repository for thoughts and notes on my eating experiences. Hopefully you'll find something enjoyable, entertaining, or informative. Click here to see where I'm coming from.

 

Wednesday, April 30, 2003, 11:59 PM


Asia Cuisine writes about the Icons of Gastronomy - a collection of chefs including Patricia Yeo and Frédéric Anton. These chefs and others were at the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore.

 

Sunday, April 27, 2003, 1:30 PM


While I’ve written volumes on how wonderful Nishino is, we had yet another meal there whose contents demand description. Nishino is one of the best restaurants in Seattle, and certainly the best Japanese restaurant on the west coast. Check out the countless visits (09/30/02, 10/26/02, 12/17/02, 02/07/03 ) to read descriptions of what a great meal and experience you can have there. Chef Tatsu Nishino didn’t disappoint on this visit either. Some key new items that we tried. One was a veggie hand roll with small fried garlic chips, tempura avocado, and napa cabbage. Quite good. On a later visit Lauren had a garlic/cilantro roll that she felt rivaled even the Lauren roll as her favorite veggie sushi. Of course she didn’t write it down so we need to have them recreate it at some point. That said, the star of the evening was the Foie Gras with Soy/Red Wine reduction Nigiri. This amazing little morsel was truly delectable, The foie gras was cooked perfectly and the Asian reduction was a perfect complement. The reduction and the slight and delicious oil from the foie gras mixed with the rice as you ate in an amazing way that really embodies the incredible creativity of Nishino and his crew. As if that weren’t enough, we had all the usual complement of wonderful items including the always amazing Temari-Zushi with slightly less rice than in the past which really made it absolutely flawless. But the chef had something special for us for dessert as well – Fried Ice Cream with Azuki (red beans). Essentially it was ice cream inside a sponge cake that had been battered and fried. I’m a big fan of contrasting temperatures. Pairing a deep friend item with ice cream in a delicate arrangement was not only screamingly delicious but an amazing technical feat to get everything just right and timed perfectly. Victor, who’s had variations on this before at Cantonese restaurants was very impressed. To make matters even more enjoyable (difficult to believe) Alex brought the 1999 Heitz Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. At ~$32 a bottle (much cheaper than it’s famous cousin the Martha’s Vineyard version) it was absolutely fantastic. Big fruit, unique flavor, great tannins and finish. My kind of wine. I bought a case! Bottom line, Nishino continues its amazing streak of creativity and excellence.

 

Saturday, April 26, 2003, 11:17 PM


Rover’s restaurant and its “Chef in the Hat” Thierry Rautureau have been key stops on the tour of Seattle fine dining for the last 15 years. The phrase “the art of cooking” is the motto for Rover’s and adorns key places in the restaurant and the menu which is decidedly French. Rover’s is located in a house tucked away off of Madison which lends to it’s charm. Lauren had the vegetarian tasting menu, Debbie had the regular one, and Alex and I had the Grand Menu Degustation – ten courses and $125 per person. Things started off with an amuse bouche of Watercress Soup and a Cheese Straw. While a touch oily, the cheese straw was a deep fried surprise. The soup was good. Next up was Scrambled Egg with Lime Crème Fraiche and White Sturgeon Caviar. Egg on Egg. The crème fraiche was neat on top of the scrambled egg and a good contrast both in temperature and flavor. Deb had Smoked Salmon on Gelée with Leeks and a Chervil Cream which was ok. Lauren got Artichoke, Turnips and Baby Beet Salad with a Watercress Dressing. She enjoyed her salad but was especially impressed by its presentation which was “stunning and beautiful”. Incredibly careful arrangement, decorative layout, and almost a shame to eat as the design would be wrecked. (We had no actual qualms about eating them.) This was followed by Smoked Duck Breast with Green Lentils and a Sherry Vinaigrette. While I found the lentils not super interesting, the duck had an unreal smoked flavor. This was perhaps my favorite dish of the night. Granted if the lentils had had a super strong flavor they could have distracted from the duck. That said, I have to imagine there could be a more complementary element to that incredible smoked duck. Next was Spot Prawns with Ocean Salad and a Sea Urchin Bisque. The flavor was really great (and I’m not typically an uni fan) but the temperature wasn’t quite hot enough. Lauren had Wild Mushroom Tian with Chestnut Flan and a Walnut Vinaigrette. The flan had a very strong nutty flavor (super interesting) and the dots of red pepper aioli were really good as they really had the essence of pepper represented in a tiny dot. Alex and I then got Maine Lobster with Leeks and a Perigord Truffle-Lobster sauce. Personally I found the amount of sauce on each dish to start to get a little repetitive. The truth is that I’m used to I think a more contemporary interpretation of French cuisine and the sauces are likely par for the course. While they were excellent, sometimes I felt they were a touch too much. The presentation as beautiful as it was also I found started to become a touch less interesting as the designs were repeated throughout the dishes. Some people could reasonably say that the consistency provided thematic structure to the meal. For me I was hoping for a touch more diversity. Next up was Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Apples and an Apple Cider Vinegar Sauce; as well as Alaskan Troll King Salmon with Yellow Foot Chantarelles and a Bacon-Mushroom Infusion. Both were certainly quite good, but not nearly as memorable as the duck for me. At this point we got a Spice Infused Pinot Noir Sorbet. In general none of us were super fans of this, though it seemed like a good idea. It felt over spiced (too much cinnamon makes a funny feeling on the tongue). The lemon-thyme sorbet was quite nice though. We then had Venison Medallions with Turnips, Flageolet Beans and a Black Peppercorn Sauce which was tender and juicy; and Deb had Scottish Woodpigeon with Wild Mushrooms, Winter Squash and a Port Wine Sauce which was good but a little tough. Lauren’s final entrée was Celeriac Gratin with Baby Brussels Sprout and a Hazelnut Cream. While I wouldn’t have guessed from the description, this dish was truly fantastic. The almost vanilla-like hazelnut crème on top of the celeriac was truly inspired. Magical. Desserts were just ok, but nothing blew us away. As it was Alex’ birthday he brought a 1996 Leoville La Cases. His reaction: “not bad, but not special”. It also had a hint of tea in the nose according to Alex. Lauren and Alex felt Rovers’ was truly excellent. For me Rover’s had it’s moments but I could have used more of them. I would definitely go back. The experience was really sealed as positive when the Chef in the hat himself spent a few minutes with us after our meal chatting about dinner and food in general. He seems like a warm and funny person and that warmth is reflected in the dishes that he serves. The service reflected this warmth and relaxed atmosphere as well and was quite excellent. I would definitely go back to Rover’s to see what other items I could be inspired by.

 

Friday, April 25, 2003, 11:59PM


I'm partial to the boxed starch products in the supermarket aisle. They're always coming up with new combinations of herbs and spices and grains and pasta that seem yummy and super easy to make. I always buy them but I never eat them. In a bid to get a bunch of stuff out of my pantry I made on the other day - French Herb Quinoa Blend from Seeds of Change. First of all - what's quinoa? Apparently it's the seed of a leafy plant that's distantly related to spinach. With that explained, I should also mention that Seeds of Change started out making seeds for people to plant in their garden. The best arugula I've ever eaten in my entire life (big, peppery, delicious) was grown from their seeds. Unfortunately they couldn't bring their magic to their boxed Quinoa product. It was a boring grain, kind of like buckwheat but without the benefit of bowtie noodles to make it more interesting... Maybe next time I'll try making quinoa kasha.

 

Thursday, April 24, 2003, 10:44PM


Passover is officially over. What better way to celebrate than with a whole write-up about bread - bagels specifically. This is also finally the wrap-up of our trip to New York City. It took ten times as long to write it up than it did to actually go. Anyway... the bagel has been firmly assimilated into American culture. Thought of as a contribution of Jewish cuisine its origins in fact go back to Polish royalty.

Genealogy aside, a construct as simple as the bagel has many incarnations and can be found across North America everywhere from small family run bagel bakeries going back decades to faux Jewish bagel chains (and another, and another) and even McDonald’s. As with pizza, the Garden of Eden for this item is thought to be New York City. Establishments across the world claim to want to sell you a New York bagel. It seemed fitting as we hopped in a cab to head to the airport to fly home from New York to stop at a bagel place and get an authentic New York bagel.

H&H is commonly thought of as a premier venue for bagels in New York but multiple sources (publications and friends) told me the new king was Ess-a-bagel (“ess” being Yiddish for “eat”). We stopped there for a dozen. We ate a couple on the spot and stuffed the rest into our luggage for transport home to our freezer.

First of all, it is difficult to imagine almost any kind of baked item that is not delicious when fresh out of the oven. That said, our bar here has to be higher than that for we’re really seeking out the world’s best bagels. So out-of-the-oven freshness aside, the verdict on Ess-a-Bagel’s bagels (and New York bagels in general) was “eh”. It was really big, dense, chewy, and frankly not that interesting. It was like a more extreme version of what chains like Noah’s and Bruegger’s sell you. I could see what they were copying, but frankly, I found their commercialized versions even better.

My suspicions about my lack of ardor for New York bagels had been forming over years of trying them and while Ess-a-Bagel is not my only basis for judgment, it was my confirming evidence. I know lots of people swear by New York bagels but to me they're like something Texas would be proud of – “hey, it’s big!”.

So the question remains, what constitutes a good bagel? And where can you get one? My home Seattle is definitely not an answer as the bagels here are sad affairs making the New York bagels look interesting. The answer comes from an unlikely source. Despite its national massive insecurity complex and its unremarkable contributions (Labatt's, Canadian Bacon, Poutine Galvaude, and Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips) to the world food corpus, the best bagels in the world come from Canada – that’s right Canada.

Who would have ever thought it possible. Someday I’ll spend several months investigating the genetic history of the bagel and the reasons why these different strains of bagel have survived in Canada. That day is not today, but I can still speculate. Much of Canada’s surprisingly large Jewish community is centered in Toronto and Montreal – with some significant population in the national capital Ottawa as well. While I was born and raised in the U.S., I do have significant extended family located in Toronto and Ottawa. This has led to my exposure to Canadian bagels.

Battles between Toronto and Montreal Jews over bagel identity are common. Each city claiming to have the right bagel angle. After tasting a variety of bagels I’ve come to know of two specific bagel archetypes that I have found to be the best bagels in the world. Let’s start with Gryfe’s bagels in Toronto.

They are truly the best I’ve ever had. Deceptively light, I’ve found it possible to scarf down two or three as I walk from the store with my fresh “catch” to the car 50 feet away. How is this possible? They’re incredibly light and airy bagels. They still have substance and flavor but they are consumable in great quantities. There are certain bagels known as “bread bagels. I think the Gryfe’s bagels are different as they really aren’t bread per se but are sort of a cousin.

To simplify matters, Gryfe’s doesn’t sell 50 varieties or have any asiago/jalapeno flavors in their bagels (nothing against a little cheese and pepper of course). At Gryfe’s there’s plain, poppy, and sesame. My parents grew up friends with one of the Gryfe boys and got to eat these bagels growing up. In trying to recreate these bagels at home I’ve grilled my father for any secrets gleaned from his time at the bakery. He apparently was too busy eating the bagels to see how they were made. I’m sure that method is a closely guarded family secret anyway. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to recreate them.

On a side note I’ve recently gotten some Gryfe’s bagels delivered to me by family. They were really delicious. That said, they weren’t quite as perfect as getting them fresh from the bakery, which seems reasonable given that they were a couple of days old and had been frozen in the interim. But even after their cryogenic travails these were still better than any bagel I’d had anywhere else on the east or west coast.

Before I get into my latest efforts at recreating these bagels at home, let’s first acknowledge a type of bagel I’ve only recently been introduced to that I think is also pretty fantastic. In discussions with a friend at work (Joey) who’s from Ottawa, he’s been good enough to supply me every so often with a few bagels his parents bring to Seattle from the “old country”. (Last time he came to my office as if holding an organ ready for transplant with the clock counting down. Bagels are important!) They came from the Ottawa Bagel Shop and Deli.

Joey claims that the Ottawa bagel is a "total rip-off of the Montreal Bagel" and that these bagels are the closest he's seen to Montreal bagels" - an assertion backed up on their website where they talk about being from Montreal. According to Joey, St. Viateur's are apparently the best Montreal has to offer.

For the purposes of this assessment I'm assuming that Ottawa and Montreal bagels are essentially the same. They're diminutive like the Toronto bagels, but they have bigger centers whereas the Gryfe’s bagels close in more. (Both are dwarfed by the Manhattan monstrosities we got at Ess-a-Bagel.) But the difference in appearance is not the main factor.

Most recently I got six of these Ottawa bagels – all sesame. In Jerusalem, you can buy these things that the Israeli’s call “baygeleh” from Arab peddlers standing on the street in various parts of the city. (I always got mine at Jaffa gate outside the old city). They are like someone rolled out the dough for a four bagels and made one huge hoop instead of four small rings. They are no thicker than a typical bagel (maybe even a little smaller, but they are much much longer and end up hanging on pegs and settling in a lopsided oval shape. Most importantly, almost every square millimeter of them are covered with sesame seeds. The dough itself is strangely devoid of flavor. But the incredible roasted sesame flavor is the star. The texture is also a touch crispy on the outside and chewy yummy on the inside. I haven’t eaten one of these in at least four or five years and I can still smell and taste exactly what they’re like. That’s the kind of impression they make on someone.

Now, imagine these same “baygeleh” in the size of a bagel with all the great sesame goodness, but a flavorful bagel dough. That’s the Ottawa bagels I’ve been getting every so often. Frankly? They’re delicious. They may stand up even better to freezing and transport than the Gryfe’s. To be fair, I haven’t eaten these fresh, but they were very very good. Again, better than anything I’ve had in the United States, ever.

So, here’s the question: how do you get these bagels unless you live there (or have friends and family who are willing to deliver)? My approach has been to try making them myself. Since I’ve only (relatively) recently been introduced to the Ottawa bagels, I decided to tackle recreating Gryfe’s Toronto bagels, and still my choice for the best bagels on the planet.

A la America’s Test Kitchen, across several sessions (often with my brother-in-law Gil) I tried experimenting with different bagel recipes. We started by scouring every cookbook I have as well as the web for bagel recipes. On the web I tried to focus on recipes that purported to result in authentic Canadian bagels. (This is where I first saw the heated battle between residents of Toronto and Montreal about their bagel supremacy.)

We ended up with about a dozen different recipes which were then analyzed for ingredients, quantities, and methodologies. Those recipes that were almost identical were treated as one. We were really hunting for core schisms in techniques that could lead to such a wide array of bagel possibilities. Recipes that claimed to make “real New York bagels” were set aside as we weren’t interested in making New York bagels.

As mentioned earlier I grilled my father for secrets from his youth hanging out at Gryfe’s. He thought he remembered that they used to make the dough, let it sit in the fridge all night, and then boil and bake first thing in the morning. In some of our early experiments I tried this to less than successful results. Either my father’s memory was faulty or I misapplied the technique. I think it was the latter. I’ve heard of other people doing this since, so it bears further investigation.

Ultimately we ended up trying variations and combinations on a few different recipes. For example, we liked the texture in one recipe, the flavor in another, and so forth. One recipe was for “Montreal Bagels” adapted from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman, and another from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen. I’ve been experimenting mainly with different quantities of sugar as well as ratios of flour to yeast to water. I might say at this point that the recipe is a work in progress, but in this endeavor, the reward may be the journey. Will I ever think I've hit perfection? Will there always be a slight enhancement and adjustment to try? Whether we're on the journey or have reached the destination this recipe makes some delicious bagels right at home that in my mind are better than any you can buy in the United States. I’ll continue to update and tweak the recipe as I experiment over time, but this is a good snapshot of where I’m at right now. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Ingredients


  • 1 cup lukewarm potato water (This is essentially the water left over from boiling potatoes. Covered, this will refrigerate for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 4 months. You can also dissolve 1½ tablespoons of potato flour in 1 cup of lukewarm water, but I haven’t tried this.)
  • 1 envelope of yeast
  • 1 tablespoon beaten egg
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon malt syrup
  • ~3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Poaching Liquid

  • 16 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey

Glaze

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • poppy or sesame seeds

 

Instructions


  • In a large bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar into the lukewarm potato water.
  • Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it stand for 10 minutes or until it gets frothy.
  • Stir the tablespoon of beaten egg, canola oil and malt syrup into the yeast/water mixture.
  • Stir together 1 cup of the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the kosher salt.
  • Slowly beat these dry ingredients into the yeast mixture using an electric mixer until smooth. This should take about 2 minutes.
  • Use a wooden spoon to gradually mix the remaining flour in to the mixture resulting in a soft sticky dough.
  • On a lightly floured surface knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Make sure to get all the dry isolated flour spots worked out of the dough. This should take 5-10 minutes.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, rotating the dough around the bowl so its outside is covered in the grease. Cover with plastic wrap (or wax paper with grease on it and a small towel).
  • Allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1½ hours until the dough has doubled and you can poke your finger into it and leave a mark.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  • After rising, punch the dough down and knead it several times.
  • Divide the dough into 10 pieces (the recipe originally called for 12 pieces, but my bagels were getting even too small for me. I may tweak the recipe to result in an even dozen). Keep the unformed dough and formed bagels covered when you’re not directly shaping them.
  • There are two methods for shaping a bagel. One is to make a ball (don’t compress it too much) and poke your thumb through the center. You work your thumb (on the inside of the bagel) and your index finger (on the outside) all the way around the bagel until it’s formed. The other method which I prefer is to roll the dough into a long pipe and then wrap it horizontally around your hand using your fist as well as your other hand to seal it into a ring. The pipe of dough just barely wraps around my hand and I have to stretch it a bit. I like this method because the shapes end up more bagel-like, whereas for me, the first method results in more roll-like creations with small depressions in the middle.
  • Place your bagels apart on a floured and covered baking sheet. Let them rise for 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, in a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the honey and stir. This is the poaching liquid.
  • Gently slide your bagels into the water a few at a time into the water over a medium heat for 1 minute on each side. This is to proof them, they should be noticeably bigger than when they went into the water.
  • Carefully remove the bagels onto parchment paper or a foil-lined greased baking sheet using a slotted spoon.
  • Stir together the egg yolk and water and quickly brush over the bagels as they come out of the poaching liquid.
  • Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.
  • Bake in the 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 11:38PM


Good news. Tall food is out.

How can I not be psyched about restaurants leveraging technology (free registration required). Privacy be damned!

The LA Times also has the hot book list. Dr. Atkins is doing pretty well despite his recent demise.

One more cool article from LA. All about cheese.

 

Sunday, April 20, 2003, 9:55PM


Next time I'm in New York City I am definitely going to Amuse (free registration required) - this restaurant speaks to me.

 

Friday, April 18, 2003, 11:48PM


The basics of Passover are that you can't eat from five grains - wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. I'm not entirely sure what spelt is. Believe it or not, the Manischewitz Passover cakes are unbelievably delicious. The best is the Extra Moist yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I recommend eating them all year round. They are moist, tasty, sweet, fluffy and really really good - all without flour. Crazy!

Passover is much much easier this year since we're following the Sephardic tradition. The most impactful difference is described here by a late friend of my parents.

 

Thursday, April 17, 2003, 11:48PM


Last night we had a Passover Seder for 18 people - 21 including the three and under set. :) We had a zillion course meal. Alex and I shopped and cooked starting the previous Sunday morning. Peyman came by for several hours on Wednesday, and it still was psycho. We took pictures of everything, drank a bunch of wine (more than 4 cups), and documented everything in detail. In a couple of weeks we should have the whole thing up here on the site.

 

Monday, April 14, 2003, 10:10PM


The latest Heitz Napa Valley Cab (not the Martha's) is absolutely fantastic. It's the 1999 vintage and it's got tons of flavor, depth, and richness. Costco is selling it right now for around $30. Peyman was worried that Costco didn't store their wine properly, but we had a bottle of this the other night and it was quite delicious!

 

Saturday, April 12, 2003, 2:50PM


Fine Living - a cable network that I think is related to the Food network - is having a contest. You can become a winemaker for a day. You go to Sonoma and hang out at Gallo of Sonoma making your own wine blend and eat up a storm. Cool. I am going to win.

 

Friday, April 11, 2003, 11:59PM


On our last day in New York we had to sample some of our own ethnic cuisine. There are three purported destinations to get an authentic Jewish deli experience – Second Avenue Deli, Katz’s, and the Carnegie Deli. Despite the fact that it’s open 24 hours, my friend recommended against Carnegie describing it as a “mediocre tourist trap” (I’ve never been so I don’t know). We opted for a late Sunday morning meal at Katz’. The place is a huge high ceilinged rectangle with an odd ticket system for getting and paying for your food. It was also unclear to me whether to stand in line cafeteria style to get my food or to expect a waiter to attend to us as I’m pretty sure that both were available. Even though I failed to deconstruct the algorithm for service at Katz, I was walloped over the head by the atmosphere. Put aside the arrow pointing down hanging over the table where the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally was filmed. I was more moved by the tons of pictures on the walls of the proprietors with various famous people, the chaos, the noise, the great smells, and the incredibly generous samples of unbelievable hot pastrami I got while waiting in line to get my sandwich – God forbid I should go hungry for even a minute longer! Don’t go to Katz’ if you’re looking for a “light” meal. It’s not to be found. However great deli was. The incredible hot pastrami was thicker and juicier than anything I’d ever eaten. The steak fries (almost always a source of soggy disappointment to me) were shockingly good – crispy outside, soft inside, and flavorful. The egg cream (what the hell is an egg cream?) was yummy. I also had the best chopped liver I’ve ever had at Katz’. It was almost sweet with the typical chopped liver bitter subtext not present. The pickles were nice and crispy but not super flavorful, and while the matzah ball soup was decent commercial chicken soup, it was not even remotely close to what my grandmother used to make in terms of flavor. That said, all in all Katz’ was a tasty and fun experience.

 

Wednesday, April 9, 2003, 11:59PM


Saute Wednesday is one of the best food websites around. This week they bring us an article from the LA Times about McDonald's. I haven't been to McD's in a long time, but I will confess to getting a craving once in awhile. This article covers some of the same themes as the popular Fast Food Nation.  At some point we'll add a section to this site that compares and contrasts all the various fast food and other national establishments.

 

Saturday, April 6, 2003, 11:59PM


The Boston Globe has an interview with Jacques Pepin. Pepin is appearing at talks in the Boston area. They include a couple of his recipes as well; one for a soufflé and one for leg of lamb.

Passover is coming up soon in the Jewish calendar. At times it was considered Jewish New Year's. There's another New Year celebration coming up April 13-15 - Thai New Year.

Speaking of annual feasts, La Parrilla in Los Angeles is whipping up their pre-Easter cuisine according to the Los Angeles Times (free registration required).

What food topic is relevant given the war happening in Iraq? Ever eat an MRE? They even have links for where you can get your own!

 

Thursday, April 4, 2003, 11:59PM


When we were in New York City for our food trip, Peyman took a bunch of photos of us eating. The following series of images were taken at the Excellent Dumpling House. Peyman sent them around as an animated gif with the caption "don't you want this guy reviewing your restaurant?" Pretty amusing - and freaky.

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2003, 11:23PM


A few weeks ago I started getting a craving for really good macaroni and cheese. Not the orange Kraft stuff. Not even the half decent fancy boxed macaroni and cheese. Real homemade stuff. The mac and cheese I had in Utah at Snake Creek Grill was just periodically showing up in my brain and reminding me how good it was. So over the last few weeks I've tried to make macaroni and cheese twice at home. Debbie's always psyched about this. I've been trying various recipes on the net. The most recent was Macaroni and Three Cheeses served at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse restaurant in Chicago published in Food and Wine magazine. I think I did everything right, and frankly the result was not very good. Mostly it was the roux they had me create. Isn't there enough starch in macaroni and cheese between the pasta and the breadcrumbs without adding flour? I'm going to try this recipe next - though I may modify it by diversifying the cheese and adding some heat.


 
     
     
     
     
     

 

 

 

 

 

   

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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March 31, 2006
Las Vegas, Nevada
 

07 roquette salad gaspacho and tofu.jpg

 

Entry: July 18, 2006

 

 

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