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Highlights from the General Topics and Cookware boards. Food trends, food products, and burning questions.

Maker’s Mark All Mixed Up

Maker’s Mark is good bourbon, all agree, and while some can’t see why anyone would desire to combine it with more than a couple ice cubes, others offer their favorite cocktails and tall drinks making use of the drink.

A simple but delicious combination is Maker’s and a good spicy ginger ale or ginger beer (like Blenheim’s).

For those who like their Manhattans made with bourbon rather than rye, MM is the ultimate base. Here are basic proportions:

3 parts bourbon
1 part sweet vermouth
dash bitters

Many find this classic too sweet, and prefer a Perfect Manhattan, made with half sweet and half dry vermouth. Recommended brands of vermouth include Noilly Prat and the harder to find but excellent Vya.

Sable & Rosenfeld Tipsy Cherries, soaked in whiskey, make the perfect garnish, says Candy. You can order online.

Three intriguing recipes, courtesy of countbranca:

Whiskey Smash

Muddle in a highball glass:
2-3 half lemon slices
6-8 mint leaves, depending on size and to taste
1.5 tsp superfine sugar or 1/2 simple syrup, or to taste
Add 2 oz Maker’s Mark and ice, and top with soda or flat water

San Francisco Fog

Place in cocktail shaker over ice:
2 oz Maker’s Mark
3 dashes orange flower water
1/4 oz orgeat (almond syrup)
1 egg white

“Shake the hell out of it, strain into chilled cocktail glass, sprinkle with grated orange peel.”

Gold Rush

Place in cocktail shaker over ice:
2 oz Maker’s Mark
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4oz runny honey (dilute 4 parts honey with 1 part very hot water)

Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon twist.

The Stiletto: Shot of bourbon, shot of almond liqueur, rocks. “Swig, repeat” (Brandon Nelson).

Finally, gina advocates drinking MM neat–but paired with a rich chocolate dessert (e.g. flourless chocolate cake), a combo she says is wonderful.

Board Links
Maker’s Mark

The Papain Effect

Fresh (or frozen) pineapple, kiwi, papaya, figs, guava, and ginger root all contain the enzyme papain, a powerful meat tenderizer. So beware that cooking any of these fruits in combination with meat will effect the meat’s texture. If the fruit is canned, the enzyme’s been destroyed.

Board Links: Fruit with Meat; a Do or a Don’t

Havista Kyoto Noodles

HLing rhapsodizes about the Havista Kyoto brand noodles she found in a Korean market (the package is mostly red and yellow with a drawing of a Japanese doll, and a picture of a bowl of beef noodle soup in the lower left corner). Neatly combed and twisted noodles are visible through the packaging.

Besides the plain noodles, there are three flavors–chicken, beef, and kimchee. The beef flavor packet produces a broth that tastes like a perfectly cooked homemade spicy beef noodle soup: “It’s so good I don’t need actual chunks of beef in the noodles,” she raves.

Board Links: Havista kyoto noodles–great beef flavor

Bottoms Up! Beer with Clamato Juice

A drink called a “Chavela” is popular in Mexico. It’s Clamato juice spiked with beer. It’s served in a large mug with a garnish of boiled shrimp along the rim, and is good with a shot of hot sauce and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Cadbury Schweppes has been advertising their Clamato juice to Mexican communities for quite a while and it’s really caught on. You can also find it readily available in supermarkets north of the border.

Board Links: What is Chavela (Chabela) Cerveza preparada … beer with clam juice
Beer cocktails like the beer Bloody Mary

Penzey’s for Spices

Penzey’s spices are very fresh, and their extracts are equally wonderful. Customers rave about their excellent customer service.

Of all their cinnamons, the Vietnamese Extra Fancy is the best. liu has tried them all, and says this one has real deep cinnamon flavor.

Check out Penzey’s magazine called “One”, which features diverse recipes from its readers.

Board Links: spices

Ben & Jerry’s Portion Control

A pint of ice cream can disappear awfully quickly. The solution: Ben & Jerry’s new mini-size, delivering a relatively healthful four ounce portion, along with a small spoon. One weird report: John Seberg says that not only is the portion skimpy, but the size of the chocolate and cherry chunks in the Cherry Garcia flavor seems smaller as well (“isn’t that what Ben & Jerry’s is all about? Big Chunks?”).

Also new and self-limiting from Ben & Jerry’s: “The Cone”, a new drumstick-type ice cream hounds find more satisfying.

Board Links: Little Ben & Jerry’s

Scrambling the Golden Egg

Should you luck into a fresh goose egg, don’t get fancy. Goose eggs are rich and full flavored, and benefit from simple cooking. Scrambling (over low heat) or omelettes are good choices, but frying won’t bring out the golden egg’s best qualities, as goose eggs, like duck eggs, have firmer whites than chicken eggs that turn tough when fried.

heidipie got her hands on a just-laid goose egg, and says It scrambled up beautifully. “Goose eggs are to chicken eggs as goose meat is to chicken meat. So very rich!”

Board Links: One Goose Egg…

A Pink, Snappy Kitchen Helper

LamsonSharp’s FoodLoop is a length of silicone that replaces kitchen twine for kitchen chores such as trussing birds, tying up roasts, or bundling vegetables. It works like a “zip-tie,” but is much easier to pull apart, withstands high oven heat and boiling water, and is dishwasher safe. None of the chowhounds who’ve used them would ever return to twine.

Sole problem: there’s only one color choice: hot pink!

Board Links: New (to me) Product: The Food Loop

Densest, Fudgiest Brownies Around

We’ve got answers for hounds who love super fudgy brownies, almost candy-like in the center.

Some preliminary advice: 1. Don’t use much flour (brownies with a high flour content have a cakey texture). 2. Don’t use leavening, which also results in cakiness. 3. Same for overbeating your batter. 4. Don’t overcook! Overcooking means drying out the fudgy interior you crave.

Here are some tried-and-true fave recipes for really dense, fudgy brownies.

IdaRed’s Chilled Out Brownies

The secret to the fudginess of IdaRed’s recipe, below, is the icy chill-down after baking. You don’t want to bake them a millisecond too long; when you first start to smell them, it’s time to check for doneness. And don’t don’t try reducing the sugar, or the recipe won’t work. If you must cut the sweetness, increase the amount of unsweetened chocolate, or add nuts.

1 cup unsalted butter
4 to 6 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler and set aside. Mix sugar into eggs, then add flour, vanilla, salt, and finally chocolate mixture. Pour into greased 9×13” pan and bake 20-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted is no longer gooey (use the smell test described above to guide you). Immediately place pan in ice bath or freezer to chill quickly and arrest cooking.

See’s Recipe (Adapted)

This recipe, adapted from See’s Candies of California, makes what Ruth Lafler calls very fudgy brownies: “dense, firm, moist but not too gooey, and intensely chocolaty.”

16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (or good-quality semisweet chocolate, cut into chunks)
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 pound plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 pound (2 1/2 cups, packed) brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and 2 tablespoons butter and melt over low heat. Melt the rest of the butter separately, and stir in the sugar. Add to chocolate mixture, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the remaining ingredients; you’ll have a very stiff, almost dough-like batter. Turn into a lightly buttered 9×13” pan and bake until set (about 30-35 minutes). Do not overbake.

Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies

Several hounds rave about Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies, which are fudgy and dense (the density results from pulling the pan from the oven partway through baking and whacking it on the counter to eliminate air bubbles!). They also freeze beautifully.

Board Links: How to Make the Densest, Fudgiest Brownies?

Coffee With…

Those who don’t drink their coffee black must keep some sort of “creamer” on hand. But when they run out, as they inevitably do, the artificial stuff fails to appeal. So here are some much better alternatives to use in a pinch:

Evaporated milk makes a good substitute for regular milk or cream. (Heat it up first, for a cafe au lait effect!).

Sweetened condensed milk (used in Vietnamese coffee) also provides sweetness.

Ice cream is, of course, always an option. Vanilla is an obvious choice, but coffee, chocolate, and chocolate ripple all work well. Pistachio lends a nice flavor, too, if you don’t mind chewing your coffee a bit. Cinnamon gelato is also worth a try.

Board Links: Desperately seeking whitener – coffee with yogurt