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Tom Fitzmorris

Tune in to "The Food Show" for fun talk about restaurants, recipes, reviews and more!

Weekdays on 3WL 1350am Noon-3pm
Saturdays on WWL Noon-3pm
Email: Tom@nomenu.com

Posts from June 2014


Tom: What's the best oil to use for deep and shallow frying?
FAQ: What Oil Is Best For Deep And Shallow Frying?Q: Hearing you extol the virtues of panneed pork, I wondered what kind of oil you use. I know that olive oil breaks down at high temperatures, and isn’t good for deep-frying. But what about the dish that uses about a half-inch of oil, as you do for pannee?

A: When I pan-fry anything in more than a film of oil, I use canola oil or peanut oil, favoring the former for panneed dishes and the latter for deeper frying. Both have a few characteristics that recommend them. First, they have fairly high smoking points, and don’t burn easily.

Second, the flavor is neutral (especially in the case of canola oil), and food fried in it is lighter–just what you want from a panneed dish. You could use olive oil, but just the regular kind, called “100 Percent Pure” on the label, but no claim to any kind of virginity. The things that make extra-virgin olive oil so good in salads, marinated vegetables and the like–the aromatcs–all burn away when the heat is too high.

A lot of chefs I know like cottonseed oil. But in recent years the inventor of cottonseed oil–Wesson–has begun mixing canola oil into it, which changes some of the qualities. And corn oil has its adherents. One I never buy is “vegetable oil”–a blend. You never know what you have there.

This post originally appeared on NOMenu.com
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Tom: What's the difference between USDA grades of beef?
Q: What’s the difference among the USDA grades of beef? Which is better, Choice or Select? Where does Angus beef fit into this scheme?

A: The United States Department of Agriculture grades beef according to an eight-grade system. It is not required by law; the packing house decides whether to grade it beef or not. The grade is on the entire carcass, not on just the big primal cuts the supermarket butchers handle. The main criterion is how much fat occurs in the lean parts of the beef, a quality that shows up as fat “marbling” in the lean. The more fat, the better.
A not-very-well marbled round steak. I'd guess the USDA grade is Select.
A not-very-well marbled round steak. I'd guess the USDA grade is Select.

The top grade is USDA Prime, the overwhelming majority of which goes to restaurants–although some specialty butchers carry Prime. Next is Choice, which is the most common grade in all but discounted markets. Select is below Choice. I wouldn’t get that for sirloin strip steaks or brisket, but Select filets and ribeyes are acceptable.

Below that are five more USDA grades, none of which you are likely to see in any meat market. The names alone tell you they aren’t desirable: Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner. (I have long campaigned to have Standard renamed “USDA Okie-Dokey.”) Beef that would grade below Select but headed for a retail meat counter is usually not graded at all. Such beef is known in the trade as “no-roll,” a reference to the rolling, purple-ink marker that identifies USDA grading. I’ll just say this: you probably eat more no-roll beef than any other grade. Especially if you shop for price.)

“Angus” is a breed of cattle, not a grade. It has no direct relationship to the USDA grading system, although Black Angus beef tends to grade higher than most other breeds. “Certified Angus Beef” and similar identifiers are trademarks used by a group of cattlemen to identify beef that meets the group’s own standards, which are more stringent than the USDA standards. (Certified Angus Beef is, for example, from younger cows raised in the Midwest and Plains states.)

Here’s a funny thing: there is no comparable grading system for pork or lamb.

This post originally appeared at Tom's website, NOMenu.com
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Tom: The 12 best chilled entrees in New Orleans
 
Chilled Entrees–Dozen Best

At some point during our relentless New Orleans summers, even people disinclined to eat cold dishes open to the idea. Chilled dishes grow in their appealing the longer hot weather lingers. Here’s a list of the dozen best such summertime delicacies. We are fortunate in having many locally-grown foods that lend themselves to this sort of thing. Among them, crabmeat is king, followed closely by big shrimp.

Certain cold dishes have come to be such widespread classics that I have left them out of the consideration. Most of these have their own lists. Not included here are:

Shrimp Remoulade
Raw oysters
Salads
Sushi and sashimi
Sandwiches

That leaves a top dozen chilled dishes that are not only delicious but offbeat. That’s enough to keep your interest for the remaining–what is it, eight more months?–of summer.

PelicanClub-SeafoodMartini

1. Pelican Club. French Quarter: 615 Bienville. 504-523-1504. In the warm months, the seafood martini is a must to begin any meal at the PC. Lobster, crabmeat, and shrimp come together on top of chilled, lumpy mashed potatoes (you may not even notice that’s what it is), covered with a great ravigote sauce.

2. La Petite Grocery. Uptown: 4238 Magazine. 504-891-3377. Steak tartare has almost disappeared from restaurants nationwide. Reason: fear of raw beef, which is what this is. The best was on Arnaud’s lunch menu before the storm, but that meal is extinct. However, the tartare at La Petite Grocery is fully satisfying, and something I start with at least every other meal there.

3. Clancy’s. Uptown: 6100 Annunciation St. 504-895-111. Crabmeat Louis is not really a New Orleans dish–the most convincing story is that it originated in San Francisco a century ago. But it sure seems local, showing off our jumbo lump crabmeat nicely. It’s a light salad, fleshed out not only with the crabmeat but deviled egg quarters and a sauce made of mostly of mayonnaise, with chili sauce, horseradish, and green onions. Perfect in summer, as either an appetizer or an entree.

BistroDaisy-BeetsCrabmeat

4. Bistro Daisy. Uptown: 5831 Magazine. 504-899-6987. The idea of pairing beets with crabmeat seems crazy–the red beet juice gets all over the white lumps. But the flavors are really perfect together. The idea first appeared at the extinct Peristyle, where Chef Tony Schulte worked before he moved to La Petit Grocery, then to his own Bistro Daisy. The chilled crabmeat ‘n’ beets remains a fixture on his menu there, as offbeat and fascinating as ever.

CafeGiovanni-SeafoodCaprese2

5. Cafe Giovanni. French Quarter: 117 Decatur. 504-529-2154. The spicy seafood Caprese combines the standard tomatoes and fresh mozzarella (which makes it Caprese) with nice-looking local crabmeat, shrimp and crawfish. The sauce is a very light white remoulade. It’s made as an appetizer, but it’s almost big enough for an entree. Chef Duke’s antipasto assortment would also make this list.

Mariza-SalumiBoard

6. Mariza. Bywater: 2900 Chartres St. 504-598-5700. Quite a few restaurants make their own cured, smoked charcuterie and salumi. It’s very hip to do so, and most of those who make the commitment do it well. . But at this moment the most impressive, exacting such board is covered with the works of Ian Schnoebelen, who with his partner Laurie Casebonne owns Mariza. The version that includes cheeses, olives and condiments is particularly a pleasure.

7. Galatoire’s. French Quarter: 209 Bourbon. 504-525-2021. “The Galatoire Goute”is three favorite cold appetizers on one plate. Here are a) jumbo lump crabmeat maison (a dish other restaurants call crabmeat ravigote), in a light mayonnaise with mustard, capers, and lemon; 2) shrimp remoulade, tangy, spicy, and made with Louisiana shrimp of unimpeachable merit, boiled and peeled on site; and iii) crawfish with a mustardy variation of the sauce on the crabmeat. Shrimp pinch-hits when crawfish are out of season. This makes a great lunch for one, or an appetizer for the table with cocktails.

8. Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses). Gretna: 1100 Stephens. 504-366-7665. Vietnamese spring rolls are the ones made with big shrimp and cold rice noodles, wrapped in the stretchy spring roll skins, and served with a spicy carrot sauce or peanut sauce. Haven’t had better than here.

9. Cafe Granada. Carrollton: 1506 S Carrollton Ave. 504-865-1612. An assortment ofcold tapas supplies everything you need for a meal: ham, salami, manchego cheese, olives, smoked salmon, grilled chilled asparagus, carpaccio of filet mignon, and ceviche of the day. Quite a variety.

10. Antoine’s. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. Antoine’s makes the richest and best vichyssoise in town. The potato-and-leek soup with more than a little heavy cream. They recently brought it back from limbo, and I hope it stays.

11. Lola’s. Esplanade Ridge: 3312 Esplanade. 504-488-6946. No restaurant in New Orleans has made gazpacho longer than Lola’s has. The late founder Angel Miranda premiered his gazpacho at his Altamira restaurant at the 1984 World’s Fair. When he opened Lola’s a few years later, he continued to make the cold vegetable soup in the style of his native Andalucia. All the vegetables are pureed, and the soup is thickened invisibly by the addition of bread. Terrific.

12. Kim Son. Gretna: 349 Whitney Ave. 504-366-2489. Vietnamese restaurants have a wide assortment of “bun” dishes–roasted meats atop cool noodles, perhaps outright cold. Kim Son has the definitive local version of that, made with beef or pork.

This blog originally appeared on Tom's website NOMenu.com

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