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Thread: Connoisseur's Diary

  1. #1

    Default Connoisseur's Diary

    I enjoy certain special products (generally food) from time to time, that are not quite normal. I'm betting there are others among us with similar tastes and discoveries. So, what do you enjoy that is slightly out of the norm, harder to find (but still generally available) and may (but does not necessarily) cost more.

    Here are two to start off, both from a US perspective:


    Mexican Coca-Cola
    Coke changed from sugar to corn syrup for most/all their US sold soda some time ago (plug: see the movie King Corn). For some reason, Coke made in Mexico is still made the old way and its now being imported. Restaurant price: $3/bottle. Costco price: $0.85/bottle.

    Canadian Heinz
    For some reason (must be the tomatoes), Heinz made in Canada is way better than Heinz made in the US, milder, sweeter, I'm not certain - but its good. Its available in markets, but only as certain varieties. Look for the smaller plastic bottles that are not shiny, generally Low Salt, Organic, etc. Shiny/glossy bottle = US, dull/smooth bottle = Canada. Check the label on the back to be sure.


    What do you enjoy?
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Jones brand soft drinks are also made with cane sugar and I like them. The bottles are too expensive but they have some big cans that are not out of line where I buy them.

    I recall a segment on some show a few years ago about an old Dr Pepper bottling plant somewhere in the States that still used cane sugar. They only bottle it in the old returnable DP bottles. Their customers must return the bottles to buy more. I like DP and I'd love to try some made with the old ingredients.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Trashman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Broguierie's chocolate milk. It comes in a glass bottle is probably runs about $5 for a quart. I'm not sure if it's available out of state, but they do sell it around Los Angeles, and the dairy it comes from is in Montebello. It's made with real cream and is, well, super creamy. I first started buying it at a deli in Covina, but have also bought it in Albertson's, there, and in Whole Foods, here in Glendale. Without a doubt, it is the best chocolate milk I've ever had.

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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Chocolate. One example is bubbly chocolate bars. Nestle ruined the Aero bar after they bought up the Rowntree line (Kit Kat, Smarties, Aero) in Canada. It is now grainier and cheaper tasting. I still like the mint Aero but the rest are poor.

    For a year or three you could buy Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly bars here in Canada. They were made in Ireland and had a European taste and were much smoother than the Nestle Aero. They were as good (though different) as the Rowntree Aero bars.

    At Christmas time I discovered Sears was selling a Swiss-made bubbly chocolate bar (100 grams) under their store brand. They were excellent, especially at a price of $1.49 until my (extended) family cleaned them out here in town. So I was suffering withdrawal for a few months.

    The other day I discovered that Zellers / The Bay is selling the same bars (in 40 gram size) under their store label. So I'm a happy camper again.

    Greg
    Last edited by greg_in_canada; 05-04-2009 at 11:01 PM. Reason: typos
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    Flashaholic* MarNav1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    I used to absolutely love Vienetta, haven't been able to find it for several years.
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Good thread idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by greg_in_canada View Post
    ... until my (extended) family cleaned them out here in town.
    LOL. I'm trying to picture that. That's funny. Really funny.

    Lake Champlain chocolates. Well, others too but we had a whole chocolate thread a while back so I'll stop there.

    I tried a bottle of Heinz organic ketchup a while back. It was too stale. It might have been good if it was more fresh. I like the Heinz best of the regular U.S. ketchups but it is too much sugar & vinegar. I think it didn't used to be quite so strong that way. Now you've got me intrigued to drive 8 hrs & try the version from our northern friends.

    I used to suggest the BJ's house brand maple syrup "Berkeley & Jenkins", but ever since it was raved about in the Cook's Magazine then all of a sudden it changed. Still says Grade A dark but it's very obviously Grade B. Very obvious to me anyway, but I've been pouring real syrup on my breakfast nearly every day of my life. I've been meaning to write to BJ's to let them know it has been noticed.

    Elsa Balsamic vinegar. The 12-yr one in the V-shaped bottle. It's expensive but nowhere near the sky-high $75 per 4 oz of the official Modena judged red-topped stuff and not a huge difference in flavor. Both of course very noticeable difference from other regular "balsamic vinegar".

    In New England, it's bread from Iggy's bakery. Crunchy, chewey crust. Flavorful centers. Great stuff. Caused my parents to stop baking their own bread after 30+ years. I still like kneading my own, but just for the fun of it and only occasionally.
    Peter

  7. #7

    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by Trashman View Post
    Broguierie's chocolate milk. It comes in a glass bottle is probably runs about $5 for a quart.
    Reminds me of eggnog from Broguiere's Dairy (Montebello, CA). They make it 6 weeks a year and few stores even carry it.



    Quote Originally Posted by binky View Post
    I used to suggest the BJ's house brand maple syrup "Berkeley & Jenkins", but ever since it was raved about in the Cook's Magazine then all of a sudden it changed. Still says Grade A dark but it's very obviously Grade B. Very obvious to me anyway, but I've been pouring real syrup on my breakfast nearly every day of my life. I've been meaning to write to BJ's to let them know it has been noticed.

    Elsa Balsamic vinegar. The 12-yr one in the V-shaped bottle. It's expensive but nowhere near the sky-high $75 per 4 oz of the official Modena judged red-topped stuff and not a huge difference in flavor. Both of course very noticeable difference from other regular "balsamic vinegar".
    Smart & Final (also in CA) carries balsamic reduction thats quite tasty and its geared for restaurants so its under $10/bottle.


    Parents of New Englanders, I grew up with maple syrup, but it was always imported, so being 'real' was a big enough deal.

    Just thought of another: Trader Joe's Kansas City BBQ Sauce
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    Flashaholic Dave Keith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    The Dr. Pepper plant that still uses the Imperial Pure Cane sugar is located in Dublin, Texas and is only fifteen miles from where I live. They have broadened their delivery area a little bit, but still pretty much a local distribution.

    The bottling equipment is old and the output is limited, but folks still come from "all around" to get their pure cane sugar Dr. Pepper fix.

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by ElectronGuru View Post
    Mexican Coca-Cola
    Coke changed from sugar to corn syrup for most/all their US sold soda some time ago (plug: see the movie King Corn). For some reason, Coke made in Mexico is still made the old way and its now being imported. Restaurant price: $3/bottle. Costco price: $0.85/bottle.

    Canadian Heinz
    For some reason (must be the tomatoes), Heinz made in Canada is way better than Heinz made in the US
    (Coca cola snob, reporting in!)

    EG, pretty much the entire Latin America still uses the (real) "classic" Coke recipe, with *real* sugar. YUMMMYY!! My wife's brother works for the CC company, so we get the good stuff at a discount... (sorry, had to rub it in)

    The sweetener used is probably why the Canadian Heinz tastes different?


    Moi?
    I enjoy a piece of good chocolate now and then. Unfortunately not much these days, since it seems to give me migraines... Dark, semi-bitter (semi-sweet, depending on who you talk to). I'm very picky when it comes to the type of chocolate I eat.

    Güitig,
    a type of *naturally* carbonated mineral water produced only by a small-ish bottling company in Ecuador. Yup, the stuff comes out carbonated straight out of the mountain srping where they bottle it! I LOVE that stuff, but I can only get it once in a year at the most. We treat it like the finest wine at home. I'll only drink it with my bro, in very special ocassions.

    Oh, and "Inca Cola", an originally Peruvian carbonated drink made out of a medicinal herb ("hierba luisa", in Spanish; my grandma used to give it to us for tummy aches). Anyhow... good stuff too. You can get it in the States now.
    Last edited by greenLED; 05-05-2009 at 04:21 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    I've been seeing commercials for Pepsi throwback. It's Pepsi made with "natural sugar". It's supposed to be available for a limited time. I wonder if it really tastes different from the current Pepsi.
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    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    As much as I enjoy a good mocha latte, I really don't like to pay for it; over the last few weeks I've devised a way to make mocha lattes at home, with no specialized equipment or techniques, for about $0.30 per 12oz serving. It's only as complicated as making cocoa, and takes roughly five minutes. The taste is dead on identical to a Starbucks mocha latte even in a side-by-side comparison, and of course since I'm making it, I can adjust/suit it to taste (I like mine darker and sweeter).

    I've also figured out how to make the Starbucks bottled Frappucinos, again using only common kitchen ingredients. That one's a lot of fun since the standard Frappucino is pretty weak, you can get it much stronger making it yourself.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by greenLED View Post
    The sweetener used is probably why the Canadian Heinz tastes different?
    I first discovered this on a road trip into Canada, while ordering drive through french fries. As we continued north, every place was just as good. Once back south, Heinz has a reliable supply. I'm more inclined to think this is ingredients than recipe, but I'm not sure. Here's the label for the Organic dull-bottle variety:
    Tomato concentrate made from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, sugar, salt, onion powder, spice, natural flavoring PRODUCT OF CANADA


    Any Canadians experience the opposite while traveling south?
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    Flashaholic* csshih's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    As much as I enjoy a good mocha latte, I really don't like to pay for it; over the last few weeks I've devised a way to make mocha lattes at home, with no specialized equipment or techniques, for about $0.30 per 12oz serving. It's only as complicated as making cocoa, and takes roughly five minutes. The taste is dead on identical to a Starbucks mocha latte even in a side-by-side comparison, and of course since I'm making it, I can adjust/suit it to taste (I like mine darker and sweeter).

    I've also figured out how to make the Starbucks bottled Frappucinos, again using only common kitchen ingredients. That one's a lot of fun since the standard Frappucino is pretty weak, you can get it much stronger making it yourself.
    woah woah woah..stop here a moment.

    mind sharing your secrets?

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* Trashman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by ElectronGuru View Post
    Reminds me of eggnog from Broguiere's Dairy (Montebello, CA). They make it 6 weeks a year and few stores even carry it.

    Huel Howser did a show on the eggnog they make at the Broguiere's Dairy. They showed how it was actually made by hand. There was a guy that was whipping the stuff in a 5 or 10 gallon container, and he wasn't using any machine or anything, just a long metal utensil and his arm!

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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by Trashman View Post
    Huel Howser did a show on the eggnog they make at the Broguiere's Dairy. They showed how it was actually made by hand. There was a guy that was whipping the stuff in a 5 or 10 gallon container, and he wasn't using any machine or anything, just a long metal utensil and his arm!
    Ha! Saw that episode and went out the next day for some Broguieres. Good stuff. Thier eggnogg is
    Keep it simple.

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    Flashaholic* Trashman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    I'm not much of an eggnogg guy, myself. I've tried theirs, and others, and it's always just WAY to sweet for me. Their chocolate milk is awesome, though. People may think that chocolate milk is chocolate milk, but when you try theirs, you instantly notice a huge difference in quality and taste.

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    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by csshih View Post
    woah woah woah..stop here a moment.

    mind sharing your secrets?
    Print away -

    StarHalo's Cheap Mocha Latte

    9oz milk
    3oz water
    1 tsp Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso
    ~1/4 cup chocolate syrup (suit to taste)
    ~1/2 tsp sugar (suit to taste)

    Microwave water on high for 40 seconds in large mug, then add espresso powder and chocolate syrup. Bring milk to a boil in a quart pan, add to mug with sugar. Stir and serve. Makes one 12 oz serving.

    The instant espresso is sold in many grocery/specialty/online stores for $3-4 for a small jar that will provide >12 servings. You can see an image of the jar at the bottom of this page: http://www.medagliadoro.com/products.htm

    StarHalo's Homemade Bottled Frappuccino


    1/5 cup brewed coffee
    1 cup milk
    1 tsp sugar
    2 tblsp chocolate syrup

    Brew coffee then chill in freezer 30-40 minutes. Mix all ingredients in a large glass. Makes one 10 oz serving.

    The formula above (one part coffee to five parts milk) is closest to the original bottled mocha frappuccino product, being very mild and focusing mostly on the milk flavor. You can get the coffee and/or chocolate flavor much bolder to suit your taste - I prefer a nearly 1:1 mix with more chocolate and no sugar, which is quite strong.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Sweet, er sweet, Mrs Guru will be all over this. Come to think of it, this will be the first official CPF post that she is interested in.


    Got another one: Squeakers
    A byproduct of cheese making, these curds (of curds and way fame) don't make it into the normal cheese packaging. They have a fun springyness that makes a squeaking sound against your teeth while chewing. Thing is, they don't have any shelf life, so you generally can only get them direct from the dairy. Tillamook (west of Portland OR) has a good supply but word has spread so it sells out fast.

    TIP: You can recharge the squeak properties by hitting the curds with a few seconds in the microwave
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 05-07-2009 at 04:16 PM.
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    Flashaholic* Trashman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Hmmm....Never heard of the squeakers, before. I wonder if those are similar to the cheddar cheese curds they sell at Trader Joe's? I've always been tempted to buy them, but never have. I may be forced to by them, now, as I am even more curious, now.

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* csshih's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    Print away -

    StarHalo's Cheap Mocha Latte

    9oz milk
    3oz water
    1 tsp Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso
    ~1/4 cup chocolate syrup (suit to taste)
    ~1/2 tsp sugar (suit to taste)

    Microwave water on high for 40 seconds in large mug, then add espresso powder and chocolate syrup. Bring milk to a boil in a quart pan, add to mug with sugar. Stir and serve. Makes one 12 oz serving.

    The instant espresso is sold in many grocery/specialty/online stores for $3-4 for a small jar that will provide >12 servings. You can see an image of the jar at the bottom of this page: http://www.medagliadoro.com/products.htm

    StarHalo's Homemade Bottled Frappuccino


    1/5 cup brewed coffee
    1 cup milk
    1 tsp sugar
    2 tblsp chocolate syrup

    Brew coffee then chill in freezer 30-40 minutes. Mix all ingredients in a large glass. Makes one 10 oz serving.

    The formula above (one part coffee to five parts milk) is closest to the original bottled mocha frappuccino product, being very mild and focusing mostly on the milk flavor. You can get the coffee and/or chocolate flavor much bolder to suit your taste - I prefer a nearly 1:1 mix with more chocolate and no sugar, which is quite strong.
    oh sweet! hmm.. I better save this somewhere.. I'm probably going to be using these recipes ALLOT when I get to college

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Friday was Dad's birthday, and mom made his (and my) favorite...Atomic cake:



    Not the greatest picture, but from the bottom to the top:
    Chocolate cake
    Chocolate fudge
    Whipped cream
    Yellow cake
    Banana pudding
    Whipped cream
    White cake
    Strawberries
    Whipped cream

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    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by Rothrandir View Post
    his (and my) favorite...Atomic cake:
    WOW! I gotta try that!


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by csshih View Post
    oh sweet! hmm.. I better save this somewhere.. I'm probably going to be using these recipes ALLOT when I get to college
    Why? There aren't any classes before 8:00AM




    As for the thread:

    You can't beat a pizza that starts with homemade honey-sweetened dough with garlic paste, olive oil, and ricotta spread over it and topped with rounds of fresh mozzarella and ends after 6 minutes or so on a pizza stone in a 550˚F oven (the highest it will go except for self-clean). You'll want to dry the mozzarella rounds with paper towels to remove the excess moisture. BelGioioso packaged mozzarella is an excellent substitute with better shelf life before opening and doesn't have excess moisture.

    Or homemade pretzel rolls. (This recipe, but omit the celery seeds)

    This caramel cake is the best I've ever tasted, but use two real eggs and whole milk. You're making caramel...cake. The healthy ship has sailed.
    Last edited by LukeA; 05-10-2009 at 08:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    PAESANO ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL - it RULES! Makes you think you've got undiluted Sicilian blood in your veins.

    Add some butter, sweet basil, Kosher salt, and whatever other spices you fancy - and you could survive on nothing but pasta for years.

  25. #25
    Flashaholic Onuris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Quote Originally Posted by Dances with Flashlight View Post
    PAESANO ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL - it RULES! Makes you think you've got undiluted Sicilian blood in your veins.

    Add some butter, sweet basil, Kosher salt, and whatever other spices you fancy - and you could survive on nothing but pasta for years.
    I will have to find some of that and try it. I have been using Villa Stabbia organic extra virgin olive oil for some time. It is excellent, albeit a bit pricey at $40 for a 500ml bottle. Always willing to try something different though.

    To my taste, real organic Vermont maple syrup is much better than the Canadian or blended syrups that are more commonly available. I usually get mine from Highland Sugarworks, Birch Hill Farm, or Mansion House. Use grade A both dark and amber for general use, and grade B for cooking.

    I am a big fan of chocolate myself, esp dark, and a local health food store carries organic bars from Dagoba and Domori. Many different flavors available. My absolute favorite right now is Dagoba Chai. Has some nice spicy undertones that are just divine.

    Real organic farmstead cheese from Wisconsin cannot be beat, IMO, esp. those from buffalo/bison. For example when you get real cheddar it is a white cheese, the way it should be, not some artificially colored crap. And fresh, high-moisture mozzerella in its brine/whey.

    It is hard to find really good foods in most chain stores or supermarkets. What they call "fresh" produce cannot hold a candle to what we get from our co-op organic garden.

    I would much rather pay the premium price for harder to find items over mass-market garbage. Or even make my own, like with condiments, sauces, marinades, juices, breads. So much better when made right from scratch. My gf's dad makes the best bbq sauces, and not just one kind, many different styles from many regions. Incredible stuff.

    For us fast food is eating at someplace like Panera Bread, a local mom and pop sandwich shop or deli, or at the least Jimmy John's. My kids probably don't even have to take their shoes off to count the number of times in their life that they have had McDonalds or someplace like that.

    It is sad that most people don't even realize what they are missing when it comes to real food, and culinary delights.
    "For doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace."- H.P.Lovecraft "Ex Oblivione"

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    Flashaholic* Trashman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Just thought of another one... This balsamic vinegar: http://www.dataengine.net/Merchant2/...ategory_Code=V

    I first had it at the avocado festival and bought some there. The last time I bought it was at the LA County Fair. It's not in many stores. By far, it is the best balsamic vinegar I've ever tasted. This is the kind of balsamic that goes great on ice cream (especially vanilla). That may sound weird, but it's not. My wife & roommate both thought I was weird, but after trying it, they both liked it, and I've even seen my wife putting it on her ice cream, without me doing it first. It's great with bread and makes a fantastic vinaigrette. They have other ones, too. I've also had the fig balsamic, and it's great. I would whole heartedly recommend this balsamic vinegar to anyone.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Three current favorite items come to mind. Trader Joe's Pecan Praline Granola, good dry or with milk, Murray's Pure Apple Juice, and President brand Brie, not too salty, just right. And here's a tip if you like green olives. Get them at the dollar store for about 1/3 the price of a regular grocery.

    Geoff

  28. #28

    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    Remembered a non-food (automotive) tip:

    Next time you get your tires balanced/changed, ask for stick on wheel weights. The standard (clamp on) variety is designed for steel wheels and generally scares up aluminum wheels.
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    Flashaholic* RA40's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    One of our friends turned us on to some nice olives. I've not had any that had such a creamy mild taste like these. The ones they gave are the size 16. I was a bit shocked at the $$ but man...these things are terrific!

    Main page:
    http://graberolives.com/

    Olive page:
    http://graberolives.com/index.php?cP...46f1471cfeeb57
    Mike

  30. #30

    Default Re: Connoisseur's Diary

    I'm more of an enjoyer of food than a producer so I don't think of myself as having recipes, but here's one I developed when I was a teenager.

    The premise is that most popcorn is made by throwing a bunch of heat at the kernels and hoping for the best. Generally, some kernels reach popping temperature well before others and you end up with either underdone or overdone or popcorn (or both). The solution is adding time:


    Engineered Popcorn - gas stove (easier)

    1. Start with a medium-large pan, whose flat bottom comprises 70-90% of the diameter of the top of the pan/lid.
    2. Fill the bottom with one layer thick of popping kernels.
    3. Add liquid oil (olive oil works) sufficient enough to soak most of the kernels completely (they need not be submerged).
    4. Cover with lid (heavier the better).
    5. Put the pan on low heat, giving most of the kernels equal time to come to the same temperature.
    6. Just after the kernels start to really darken (if 2+ kernels pop, don't wait), set the flame to full blast.
    7. Turn off the heat just after the popping begins to slow (or your lid starts to lift off).
    8. Salt (and butter) to taste


    Engineered Popcorn - electric stove

    1. Start with a medium-large pan, whose flat bottom comprises 70-90% of the diameter of the top of the pan/lid.
    2. Fill the bottom with one layer thick of popping kernels.
    3. Add liquid oil (olive oil works) sufficient enough to soak most of the kernels completely (they need not be submerged).
    4. Cover with lid (heavier the better).
    5. Put the pan on a small burner set to half (4/8), giving most of the kernels equal time to come to the same temperature.
    6. Before the kernels start to darken, set a second/large burner to full (8/8).
    7. Just after the kernels start to really darken (if 2+ kernels pop, don't wait), transfer the pan from the small 4 burner to the large 8 burner.
    8. Transfer from heat just after the popping begins to slow (or your lid starts to lift off).
    9. Salt (and butter) to taste
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