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Ask TP – Part Two of Two

February 20, 2015

Yesterday I did the unthinkable. I actually answered a reader’s question on the day it was asked. And you know what? It kind of felt good.

Maybe this Ask the Profussor feature has run its course. I mean, at the beginning of the blog when there weren’t that many comments being posted, answering questions meant seeing far too much of my ugly mug in the sidebar.

I don’t know. People talk about turning over new leaves all the time, yet continue to go back to their old ways. So maybe we’ll just play it out for a while and see where it goes. In the meantime, there were still a heap of unanswered questions piled up that I didn’t have a chance to tackle on Wednesday.

Now before we get onto the questions, don’t forget to check out the link of the day. Okay, here we go.

Deanna who interviewed one of our local challah experts wanted to know:
Why is it better if it’s slightly underbaked? Is it more “eggy?” I love “Jewish” food so much, including challah, and I really love to make it. Will make a batch and try the underdone version.

It’s a textural thing. Fully baked challahs tend to turn into lovely loaves of bread. But when they are slightly underbaked, those strands remain distinct. My old friend Raf described that texture/phase as “ropey” where the strands are still a bit pliable and rope-like. At that point, the crumb is a bit more elastic and tender than it will be after additional time in the oven.

Burnt My Fingers also seems suitably impressed with the Uncommon Grounds video:
Watched the video, great. So filmmaker Hudson Payer is a high school student? At Saratoga or where? I agree, this is a simple formula for describing and illustrating a process that could be used to promote many, many food places.

Yep. High School. He’s not even a senior yet. That whole north of the river area is stlil a bit fuzzy for me, but young master Payer is somewhere up around the Saratoga Springs area. He does have the bandwidth to take on a small handful of projects, but he has a very specific set of things he’s interested in documenting. This kid is going to go places. I’m glad to have had a chance to see him at this early stage.

Billy asked for a report on some of my Super Bowl snack foods:
Do tell, were the TJ’s hash browns any good? I love McDonalds hash browns and I think TJ’s would be a better choice if they’re good.

If you love the McDonald’s hash browns, the TJs version should be right up your alley. I mean, you aren’t frying them at home. Or at least I wasn’t. I cooked mine in the oven per the instructions on the box. And they were good in that puck-of-processed-potato way that McDonald’s and other places around the country, have really nailed.

Mr. Dave was trying to lead me into oblivion at Dunkin’ Donuts:
Get the Valentine’s day heart shaped cookie dough filled. It’s totally the best. I promise. You are going to love it. It is delicate and nuanced in flavor. The contrasting textures make it a real treat. Go ahead and get two (the brownie batter filled one is a close second best!). Ol’ Dave wouldn’t lie to you about something like this, now would he?

One of these days, Mr. Dave. One of these days, I’m expecting a box of these to show up on my doorstep with a love note from you. I sent you my address. Now I just sit by the door and wait. But I’m convinced that one of these days, Mr. Dave will come and take me away.

Burnt my Fingers was concerned that I might be crowdsourcing my donut assignment:
Wait a minute, are you trying to get us to write your “Best Dozen” column for AOA without you violating your pledge never to set foot in Dunkin?

Heavens no. I see the Dunkin’ part as penance for the hubris of this series. But it was a price I was willing to pay. Still, before I set foot in a Dunkin’ I wanted to be prepared. I felt it was necessary to do everything I could do in advance to stack the deck in my favor.

Jessica R W was intrigued by one of the popular varieties at Dunkin’ Donuts:
Chocolate butternut? Is that a chocolate/peanut butter mix, or a chocolate/butternut squash mix??

This is just another lie from the DD marketing team. Much like the great big blueberry lie, the butter lie, and the egg lie. Our friend enough already! seems to think that “butternut is a white walnut” and she may be technically right, but that’s not what coats this donut at the old DD. The “Crunch Topping: is made from sugar, coconut, yellow corn flour, caramel color, and BHT which Dunkin’ is now calling an “Antioxidant” which is funny, because it’s widely known as a preservative. But “preservative” sounds bad and “antioxidant” sounds healthy. That’s some brilliant creative writing.

Doug didn’t quite put it this way, but was really asking if I was Team Anna or Team Elsa:
Re: the link to your entry about Herr’s pretzels — did you reply to their non-response, or let it go? I’ve been in similar situations lately, and maybe I’m a wimp, or maybe life’s too short, but my general take is ‘why bother’.

In this case, I was Team Elsa. But I’ve been with Team Anna in the past. I guess I’m fickle that way. Maybe it has something to do with the trolls.

Shawn wasn’t asking me, but I do have an answer for him:
How would you define an “actual Japanese restaurant”? I’ve always enjoyed Sushi Tei but not sure if that fits the bill.

It’s one that doesn’t serve Chinese food or Thai food. An actual Japanese restaurant serves actual Japanese food. Probably made by actual Japanese chefs (but that last part is full of cultural bias). There can be great French restaurants helmed by non-French chefs. They get great through training. Regardless, I think Sushi Tei counts as an actual Japanese restaurant.

The Cheese Traveler clearly isn’t as jaded as I am on issues regarding food contaminants:
Why do you give up on the possibility that chocolate may be able to be made more safely. Isn’t Is there a test that a producer or manufacturer can do to determine if the levels of lead are below harmful toxicity?

History. I’ve seen stuff like this before. Similar things have happened with grapes. It’s happened with apples. We’re going through similar things with rice. Sometimes one needs to step back from trying to plug each hole in the dike with another finger, and realize that the whole thing is structurally flawed.

The solution isn’t testing chocolate. The solution will have to be testing everything. But pushing that agenda is pushing a massive food safety agenda. I don’t believe we can get that level of testing without sacrificing naturally “dirty” foods like cheeses, cured meats, fermented produce, and a host of other delicious things that should stay “dirty”.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Debra permalink
    February 20, 2015 11:35 am

    Why are all the links bringing me to East Coast Winery? I was trying to look at some of the other blogs – no dice.

    • February 20, 2015 11:39 am

      That would be the “link of the day” that I mentioned at the beginning of the post. Sorry about the confusion, but I do hope you find the opinion piece on the craft beer landscape to be interesting. I will have some thoughts to add on this next week.

      To get to some of the other blogs, I’d suggest enlisting the help of your favorite search engine.

  2. David Nardolillo (DEN) permalink
    February 20, 2015 1:30 pm

    I was also interested in where Hudson Payer goes to school, so I looked him up. The answer is Saratoga Springs High School: https://vimeo.com/hudsonpayer

  3. enough already! permalink
    February 20, 2015 8:34 pm

    I must be blind – I cannot find the link of the day. Help, please!

  4. albanylandlord permalink
    February 26, 2015 12:59 am

    Enjoyed the link, thanks. I am a big fan of having you comment or answer questions as you go, I think it leads to more discussion and sometimes more information properly stored with the original post.

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