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Do you employ any of these "secret supermarket ingredients" used by chefs?

From the Bon Appetit Blog:

"Time was, what we're about to tell you would have been a dirty little secret. But lately, supermarket ingredients are showing up on restaurant menus across the country in not-so-hush-hush ways, delivering results that fancier ones can't. Here are 16 chefs who use humble foods for a lofty outcome."

Read about all of the 16 "secrets" here: http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandfor...

I've used some of these (e.g. corn flakes, Worcestershire sauce, bread in meatballs, Nutella, etc.), but the use of Altoids was new to me.

What about you?

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  1. I think I've used every one of them in one thing or another, EXCEPT the orange flavor Pop Rocks. That is new and strange to me. I assume they must be used as a garnish sprinkled on top at the last minute. To mix them into the actual mousse would just end up as pockets of gas, it seems to me.

    Oh wait. I don't use Altoids in lamb sauce either. I may try it one day, but meantime I don't believe it would be mare satisfactory than real mint. A possible substitute if you can't get real mint? Maybe.

    Everytime I make saurbraten -- last time was about a week ago -- I am newly amazed at what a fantastic thickener crushed ginger snaps are in a gravy. Don't know why I don't use them in more than that one dish.

    And I only wish I could buy Wondra flour in any old supermarket at any old time of year. In my area it seems to have dwindled to a holiday commodity. I have to stock up in the most budget unfriendly stock-up time of year!

    I think the most universally used ingredient on their list has to be Worcestershire Sauce. It's ubiquitous!

    Fun article. Thanks!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1

      How Worcestershire sauce is a secret ingredient is beyond me.


      1. re: Davwud

        I agree... If she used W sauce in making ice cream... That would definitely qualify as a "secret ingredient". :D

    2. Yes, the Pop Rocks, I'm clueless, I've never actually tried them.

      Many items of the list are packed in large quantity for the food service industry, anyway. How about a 50# bag of Wondra, Caroline?

      14 Replies
      1. re: bushwickgirl

        LOL! I don't think it would all fit in my flour canister at one time! Maybe we can find another two or three people to go in on one with us? '-)

        1. re: Caroline1

          I was actually shocked by the price listed for the Wondra at the link, $5 for a 13.5 oz container? Sounds like NYC prices, although with the $4 15 oz jar of Hellman's. I suppose, since Wondra's processed futher than AP flour. Not to change the tone of the thread, but have you tried rice flour for breading? Very crispy.

          I like Wondra for it's blendability, especially in gravy or sauces, no fooling around with roux or cornstarch, and I have a biscuit recipe that uses it, for a very tender crumb.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            I'm not Caroline, but I have discovered the wonders of breading w/rice flour, bwg, and a great discovery it was as the only way I could get it was to buy a 6 lb. bag (for a cup or so needed in a recipe) at a local international market, albeit a very cheap 6 lbs.. (Wondra, otoh, is readily available in my neighborhood supermarket, but not cheap.)

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              Wondra used to also be available in supermarkets in 2# bags. Wish they'd bring that back. Trader Joe's has rice flour in a smaller, maybe 1#?, bag.

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                you should be able to find smaller packages of rice flour than that! Look for Arrowhead Mills or Bob's Red Mill at Whole Foods Market, or small 1-lb boxes of Mochiko rice flour at Asian supermarkets...or you can buy as much or as little as you need in the bulk section of Whole Foods if your store has a good one.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  when I was looking, I couldn't find it at WF, but it never occurred to me to check the bulk bins--and I've since discovered that the Arrowhead Mills products are in their own special section . . . it's moot, of course, b/c I still have a lot of that lg. bag left.

              2. re: bushwickgirl

                Any chance of that biscuit recipe, m'dear?

                1. re: buttertart

                  Whoops! I just checked the recipe, I made a little mistake, they are not made with Wondra, rather White Lily; What was I thinking? I should have known better that a good biscuit would be made with a self rising soft wheat flour.

                  RLB's The Bread Bible makes popovers with Wondra, maybe that's what I was thinking of. Have that one?

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    :) thank you! Read the article, I mean really, these seem obvious to pretty much any clued-in home cook - the Pop Rocks are a trifle out there but I've seen mention of them a good number of times in restaurant reviews. (PS Pop Rocks are made in Spain...an early outlier of Spanish whimsy in food?)

                    1. re: buttertart

                      I've had Pop Rocks (or popping candy, as they're known in the UK) in a dessert at Ramsay's RHR restaurant...they were a great addition!

                      And Heston Blumenthal adds them to lots of desserts. Maybe it's more of a British chef thing at the moment?

                2. re: bushwickgirl

                  Nothing is cheap any more, and that includes Wondra flour. I want to earn now and shop then, when it first came out! I'm not sure, but I think my first container was something like 79 or 89 cents, and I thought it was a bit on the expensive side. But you simply cannot beat it for gravies and sauces!

                  Yes, I've tried the rice flour and like it. Actually, I loke most rice stuff. One of my big favorites is rice noodles. For chow mein (or whatever) I deep fry them in really hot oit and they explode like popcorn without a lid on. Great snacks and when you put sauce on them, they revert to a boiled consistency except for the parts that stay sauce free. I also use a mixture of rice flour and AP flour in tempura batter. I think it comes out a little crispier than my usual mix of AP flour and corn starch. I keep intending to try the rice flour in a slurry, but never remember until after I've already used flour or corn starch. I need to put Post It reminders on my vent hood!

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    i love rice flour for breading. it's a godsend for those of us who can't have gluten!

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Makes excellent tempura batter as well. I guess you can include that under "breading."

              3. Worcestershire--check; Wondra--check; jarred mayo--check; frozen pearl onions--check; ginger snaps--check.
                My mother has always made meatballs using commercial soft white bread and milk.
                And then there are secrets which should never be revealed--maybe Altoids in sauce (yikes!) and Pop Rocks (which really are a secret to me; I've never heard of them.)

                3 Replies
                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  I thought everyone used Worcestershire. I have used most of these but not all. Where I come from Dr. Pepper and other colas have been used in a variety of things for years.

                  1. re: swamp

                    Agree that Worcestershire sauce is hardly a secret (seems to be in almost everyone's fridge), and Coke (rather than DP) has been used for baked ham and in braises (even in some BBQ sauces) in the South for as long as I can remember. But I guess the fact that the chefs' secret ingredients are not-so-secret is the secret.

                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                      "But I guess the fact that the chefs' secret ingredients are not-so-secret is the secret."

                      My thought exactly.

                2. None of these are surprises...just about every restaurant uses some type of commercial item in one way or another.

                  1. I think the altoids with lamb and the orange pop rocks with chocolate mousse were creative and interesting.

                    In case you don't know what pop rocks are. They were a candy craze back in the 1960's or early 70's. As I can recall they are freeze dried carbonated soda. You would put a teaspoon or so in your mouth and the moisture in your mouth would make them explode with flavor and literally.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      Pop rocks were first offered to the public in 1975. If they had been available in the 60's, I definitely would have tried them. By that 70's decade, I wasn't eating junkie stuff any longer, just the hippie natural foods veggie diet, yum.

                      I do remember the big Pop Rocks stomach explosion controversy, however.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        There was something similar when I was in elementary school in the 50's. I don't know the name but I remember buying the little packets at the soda fountain, where they also sold the candy cigarettes and the wax candy red lips. I guess the latter two were that era's equivalent of today's slutty clothes in kindergarten sizes.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          Your last remark cracked me up completely.
                          Are you talking about sherbet fountains? Tart powder in little bags with licorice straws to suck it out with?

                            1. re: sbp

                              Fizzies were Alka-Seltzer-like deals, that you put in water. These were Lik-m-ades.

                            2. re: greygarious

                              Pre-Pop Rocks, we had Space Dust, which was the cocaine to Pop Rocks' crack. I cannot believe I'm even making this analogy. (It's true, though.)

                            3. re: bushwickgirl

                              For a real blast take a mouth full of pop rocks and a glug of soda or some of us would pop an alka selzer and mouthful of water. Well we wouldn't swallow it. It was a manhood thing.

                            4. re: Hank Hanover

                              Pop Rocks were *huge* in the early-mid 80s (my childhood). We were bummed they didn't come in bigger packages. Fun Dip was the "powdered candy" that would come in little packets and you'd lick and dip a flavorless candy stick into it. Pixie stix were much easier to eat and nothing could compete with the giant ones. Nothing like ingesting dyed, flavored sugar straight-up.

                              1. re: Jen76

                                And getting Pixi Stick (or lik a made) powder down your throat!

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  Oh yeah...and then coughing up a cloud of it!

                                2. re: Jen76

                                  We fed a couple of pop rocks to my poor, long suffering cat once! don't worry, she lived to be 19!! please don't think i'm normally an animal torturer. i was much, much younger, and am still a huge animal lover. but it WAS funny to see.

                              2. Ah, wax lips. I once was invited to a Halloween potluck (back in my alternative days) and brought a bowl full of wax lips (even back in the 80s, they were starting to get difficult to find). I wonder how one would use wax lips as a secret ingredient? Hmmm, something to think about!

                                Were those the candy cigarettes that would eject "smoke" (powdered sugar, I believe) when you'd blow on them? Or the ones that were white with some sort of red dye at the end and a bunch of them were attached (you'd break them apart)?

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                  The cigs were a red-tippes chalky white candy without much flavor, although I don't remember them being attached to one another. Never saw "smoking" ones. Buttertart, I don't know if there were straws but I do remember the sweet-tart powder. Sort of like fizzing undiluted Koolaid powder. I can't even remember the name of the store though I can remember the narrow space and the color of the swiveling seats at the counter. Also that in those days an ice cream cone was a single modest scoop, which I'd like to see reinstated.

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    Yes, who wants a pint of ice cream on a cone, really!
                                    I remember the weird texture of those candy cigs, like eating candy plaster.
                                    It seems to me they were sometimes stuck together.
                                    Faintly wintergreen-flavored? (The one mint I can't abide.)

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      AHA! LIK-M-AIDS or Lik-m-ades, right? A small sachet say 2x the size of a sugar packet. Loved them. They sort of disappeared when packaging technology improved and Pixy Stix came out. Make mine red or purple pls. (The sherbet fountains were an English import, similar but the powder was tarter and more finely milled. Enough to set off a coughing jag if you took a big pull on them.)

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Yes...yes...YES!!! Thanks, I can call back the Cranial Go-fers I just tasked with searching my lobes for the name. The little guys can use a day off - just had another birthday and the older I get the busier they are. Also, remember Fizzies? They would be a neat trick for fruity toppings and for salad dressing: http://www.nostalgiccandy.com/fizzies...

                                        Now that I think about it, I may have been conflating Lik-M-Ades with Fizzies, and the former may not have been carbonated. The linked site is quite the memory lane stroll. I noticed they have "decade boxes", which are collections of nostalgic candies from various decades. Those would be neat gifts for relatives or old schoolmates. And another marvel of the Interwebs is that there are numerous online sources for wax lips and the little wax nip bottles with syrupy contents. What we didn't eat in ice cream cones we made up for in consumption of wax!

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          Yay! It just hit me out of the blue. As far as I know they were just citric or other foodgrade (I hope) acid, sugar, and flavor. Fizzies were reactive in water.
                                          My mother (another candyhead) was very scornful of the "just sugar" candies like the wax nips and these. They were supposed to be especially bad for me. And you weren't supposed to eat the wax which made them all the more alluring. Chocolates, toffees and whatnot were favored candies.

                                    2. re: nofunlatte

                                      You're right, I forgot that candy cigarettes used to blow smoke! We thought we were so cool, and guess what, I never smoked a real cigarette later in life. Just fun for the young-uns.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        And chocolate cigarettes too that had paper around the chocolate to make it look like a cigarette.

                                    3. Worcestershire sauce, Muir Glen tomatoes and frozen pearl onions, as well as gingersnaps and mayo - use all of them on a regular basis (but not as noted here). I've used corn flakes in my meatloaf as the "binder", and I've tried Pomi crushed tomatoes. I like the idea of crushed potato chips being added to the panko for a crust.

                                      The Altoids used by Bowles for a jus for lamb just really weirds me out.

                                      1. Chefs don't have to go to the grocery store for corn flakes, Kelloggs sells 25 lb cases of pre-crumbled flakes, very popular at seafood places. But the sugar coated are sort of a secret that I've heard before. Before the days of coconut breading.

                                        I always use Thomas' English muffins and panko in my meatballs, I'm curious about the Wonder Bread although I'd have to buy it especially for that reason. Some day the stars may align.....

                                        Hellmanns mayo has an emulsification process that makes it better than almost anything for binding and baking, it puffs up like nothing else.

                                        1. As a Brit I'm still stuck on Worcestershire Sauce being "The American version of fish sauce".

                                          21 Replies
                                          1. re: Peg

                                            But I thought Worcestshire sauce was from England?

                                            1. re: coll

                                              I believe that's what Peg was getting at ...

                                            2. re: Peg

                                              Well I believe Lea and Perrins is now owned by Kraft or Heinz. L&P is now American through acquisition (corporate colinization) :-) lol

                                              1. re: Peg

                                                Yeah - I had an issue with that too. I don't know anyone who would think "America" when I said "Worcestershire Sauce"...hell, most can't even pronounce it! :-)

                                                1. re: guster4lovers

                                                  im pretty sure you will find a bottle of it in a sizable percentage of american refrigerators

                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    It's quite well known in the US, and widely used in the South, I believe. As for pronounciation, it's referred to by more than a few names...

                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                        In the UK it is pronounced 'Wooster sauce'.
                                                        Even though it is spelled for the county ('Woostershire') it is spoken as per the city.

                                                        1. re: Peg

                                                          I have heard that as well, and few other pronouciations over the years; it is also sometimes jokingly called, "what's this here sauce." Just for starters, I couldn't make meatloaf, bbq sauce or a Bloody Mary without it.

                                                        2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                          My family often refers to it as "WOO-cest-ISHISH-da-shest-ashist-a-sher"

                                                          1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                            Good one! I'm struggling to pronounce that...;-)

                                                            1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                              is that a bugs bunny cartoon reference?

                                                          2. re: thew

                                                            Oops.... it's suppose to go in the fridge?

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              Not that I know, I've never stored it in the fridge!

                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                I've always stored it in the fridge. My dad used to use it on steak instead of something like A-1.

                                                                As others have noted, I don't consider Worcestershire sauce a "secret ingredient". It's just something you cook with or use for flavoring. Most of the rest of the stuff is just normal ingredients - c'mon now, a particular brand of processed tomatoes, bread, used in the ways you would normally use them, these are just ingredients, nothing secret about them.

                                                                Pop rocks and altoids, now - THAT'S weird.

                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                  It's got so much vinegar in it, you could store it anywhere.

                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                    Possibly. I don't have any handy, but it's always best to check the bottle of whatever and see if it says to refrigerate.

                                                                    I was surprised when the fish sauce I just bought says specifically NOT to refrigerate it.

                                                                2. re: thew

                                                                  Um, I think ya'll missed the point of my comment. I didn't say that it wasn't known or available or used here in the US - I grew up in the US and we had a bottle in the cupboard most of the time (though didn't use it all that often). What I DID say was that it didn't scream ZOMFG*AMERICAN*ZOMFG* to me. Big difference.

                                                                  I mean, it's named after a place in the UK for heaven's sake. And I've heard as many (if not more) people say "Worcestershire" (imagine that said correctly) as "Wooster" in the UK. I don't think you can say that people always pronounce it "Wooster" in the UK any more than I can say that Americans call McDonalds "Micky D's" all the time. My authentically British husband never says "Wooster."

                                                                  *sigh* I don't understand the need by Americans to claim things as "American," regardless of where it comes from.

                                                            2. Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese? better than just butter in tart dough? anyone else try this? and when she says tart dough, does she mean short crust pastry? very intriguing since i just bought some (i normally buy the local cream cheese but they had the imported stuff on sale).

                                                              18 Replies
                                                              1. re: epabella

                                                                I've only ever seen it in combination w/butter in tart doughs, myself.

                                                                1. re: epabella

                                                                  Forgot about Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which I always have on hand, but I've never used it for "tart dough," which I assume is like pie crust dough. My mother makes hundreds of miniature pecan and pumpkin pies every year at holiday time and uses a cream cheese pastry dough that works very well in this application. (If she's making a whole regular-sized pie, she always uses store-bought pastry. Go figure.)

                                                                  I've watched her do this--and it's very easy. Also works well for mini quiches. Here's her recipe:

                                                                  3 oz. cream cheese, softened
                                                                  1/2 c. butter, softened
                                                                  1 c. plus 1 T. sifted AP flour

                                                                  Preheat oven to 350. Blend cream cheese and butter. Add flour and mix well. Divide dough into quarters, and pinch off six portions of each quarter, for a total of 24. Press each portion into the cups of a mini muffin tin. Fill w/desired filling and bake until pies are brown and filling is cooked. Yield:24.

                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                    Cream cheese pie crust dough (tart dough) was my go-to back before I learned how to bake. It's so easy, imo, much easier than butter only tart dough, with very good results for nut pie fillings, custard pies, fruit pies, all the good stuff. I think I even used it for quiche more than once and I'm sure it's great for other savory things. It's really terrific for tart tins with removeable bottoms, as it doesn't shrink or distort in the tart pan the way straight butter based tart dough can, even after freezing.

                                                                    I noticed there's no water in your recipe; that is how it should be, as cream cheese contains enough water for the dough; possibly you'd need a tablespoon more or so, but maybe not.

                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                      My pecan tassies use a mixture of butter and cream cheese for the dough. It is delectable, and exceedingly easy, but I never thought of using it for a tart or pie. Must try it!

                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                        I use it in rugalach, and it is a very flaky dough

                                                                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                      Cream cheese is wonderful. The best pastry I have ever tasted is Rose Levy Beranbaum's Perfect Flaky and Tender cream cheese pie crust. You must try this no fail recipe! And use heavy cream instead of water.


                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                        hi, thanks for your tips. i'm going to try this today just to practice and use up old ingredients. one another question though: do i need to blind bake before putting in my filling? i'm either going with old fruit preserves in the ref or "krem-ung-gleys" (creme anglais) and candied cashews or probably some of both. hello to bushwickgirl too - your tips are always appreciated.

                                                                        1. re: epabella

                                                                          If you're making a fruit tart of some variety with a krem-ung-gleys filling, then yes. Freeze the shaped tart dough first or at least let it rest to relax the gluten; it will prevent shrinkage of the outer crust edge at the rim of the pan, the bain of attractive fruit tarts. If you extend the pastry dough above the tart pan rim before freezing, it'll look even better after baking. Dock the dough, add your (beans) weights and bake in the usual manner.

                                                                          The RLB recipe linked above is a excellent one; give it a try if you don't have a specific recipe picked out; the addition of baking powder and vinegar work in tandem to enhance and promote flakiness.

                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                            Even I have quite good results with that recipe.

                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                              bushwickgirl, many thanks and all that as usual - so glad you're never too busy to advise a dilettante like me. i have to clarify though as i had two tarts in mind: one custard based with old candied cashews and pilinuts. the other to use up a large jar of strawberry preserve close to expiry or some fresh pineapple that i might macerate and maybe flame with brandy or tequila. from the advice so kindly provided, i will go ahead and blind bake (weighed down with old coins wrapped in foil) but the rlb recipe lists butter - do i substitute an equal amount of cream cheese? any other adjustments to other ingredients? usual thanks in advance!

                                                                              nomadchowwoman, like buttertart says: noone should feel bad about store bought pastry dough. i don't even buy the stuff because i'm to gun-shy about my touch-and-go baking skills, i'd rather make my own dough in small amounts and keep my fingers crossed.

                                                                              1. re: epabella

                                                                                I'm starting to make my own pie crust, but my aim is to make it as good as Trader Joes.

                                                                                1. re: epabella

                                                                                  "but the rlb recipe lists butter - do i substitute an equal amount of cream cheese"

                                                                                  Do you not have this link? It's butter and cream cheese combined. Am I understanding your question correctly? I want to.


                                                                                  You don't have to include the baking powder or vinegar, if you don't have, but both are nice additions and work to increase flakiness. Increase the salt by half if you don't use baking powder, so 1/4 tsp becomes 1/2; you get it.

                                                                                  Old coins wrapped in foil, that'll work quite well for weight. It may even increase the value of the tart, not necessarily in a monetary sense, but more in the coin's ability to impart a hint of richness...

                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                    <Increase the salt by half if you don't use baking powder, so 1/4 tsp becomes 1/2>
                                                                                    That's doubling, not increasing by half.

                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                      Right, my error, thanks, important, I'm glad you brought that to attention.

                                                                                    2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                      hi bushwickgirl! i finally made the tart after very busy working holiday weekend. my first attempt as most first attempts go was soggy: the strawberry preserve was too syrupy and the relatively nice shell didn't hold up to it well (syrup didn't thicken in the oven as i'd hoped). second attempt after straining the fruit was much better. i'm also guessing the second attempt was much better since the first batch was fresh rolled unlike the well rested/refrigerated second batch. the pineapple version as well as the custard filled will have to wait until the next weekend. thanks again for all the advice.

                                                                                      "Do you not have this link? It's butter and cream cheese combined"

                                                                                      sorry about that, i followed the link on Mistral's post: http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/rec... and foolishly misread it since i didn't read past the butter in the ingredients list.

                                                                                      1. re: epabella

                                                                                        Sorry I haven't gotten back to you, I've been absent...anyway, sounds like you were able to end up with good results. That's what counts.

                                                                                2. re: epabella

                                                                                  I personally have never used the recipe, but my mother does not blind bake them for her little pies.
                                                                                  I would take bushwickgirl's advice, as she is the baker. I have almost always failed when making pastry, so I usually resort to Pillsbury's rolled & refrigerated crusts [hangs head in shame], but maybe I'll give the RLB recipe a try.

                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                    Don't feel bad, it's my biggest bugaboo too. But I soldier on.

                                                                            2. My son-in-law used lime flavored Kool-Aid when he was a little short on sugar for the icing for a coconut cake. I was dubious but it was actually pretty good.

                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                              1. re: morwen

                                                                                That must have been some giant sized package of Kool-Aid!

                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                  He ran out of sugar and only needed a small amount but it was several packets worth. They buy Kool-Aid in bundles. Their pantry disgusts me.

                                                                                  1. re: morwen

                                                                                    Wait, you mean the little paper packets? When I was a kid, those were just the dye and the flavoring. Unsweetened. Maybe things have changed since, but back then it was the canisters that had sugar in them. My mom never bought the latter; either they were too expensive or she bought into the whole you-control-the-sugar thing.

                                                                                    But the unsweetened packets were kind of horrible straight up . . . if that's what your son-in-law used, there must have been enough sugar in the icing to compensate, which is certainly not out of the realm of belief.

                                                                                    1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                      I have no idea since the only kool-aid I ever buy is two packets of unsweetened lemon once a year because it cleans the water stains out of my dishwasher (and since it does that I figure that's more reason not to consume it). When the kids were at home there was home made ice tea, lemonade, juice, or milk in the fridge, but I did not buy soda or powdered drinks or even Gator Aid. Sodas are treats and they could buy them with their own money if they wanted.

                                                                                      If indeed it was only lime coloring and flavoring that he added (and it could've been, he's fairly clueless and rarely does anything more than fires up the nuke) then no wonder I didn't mind it. It was less sugary than normal frosting which I generally scrape off.

                                                                                      1. re: morwen

                                                                                        The lemon flavor cleans the water stains out of your dishwasher? Wow. I guess that makes sense, since it's probably mostly citric acid. The bottle warmer we use for the baby is supposed to be cleaned using packets of citric acid, which we've never been able to find - maybe I ought to try Kool-Aid!

                                                                                        1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                          You can also buy sour salt in the Kosher section, it's citric acid. May be cheaper per ounce.

                                                                                          1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                            Kool-Aid - As long as you don't drink the stuff!! Yikes imagine what it is doing to your body including your teeth..

                                                                                            1. re: Mistral

                                                                                              My parents never allowed it in our house, so at my best friend's house, we made it all the time. We called it "Artificial Flavourings." mmm....artificial...

                                                                                        2. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                          That's how my childless aunt and uncle. served it; Unsweetened.

                                                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                              Yikes. Were they looking for a child-repellent? Because that would have worked on me.

                                                                                              My grandmother, a classic Depression-era penny pincher, could stretch a packet of Kool-Aid to cover all 36 grandkids. It was horrible and watery, but at least she sprung for the sugar!

                                                                                    2. I was at a highly-rated (on Chowhound and elsewhere) restaurant in Toronto recently, and for dessert had a dish that was basically a rectangular extruded snake of dense chocolate mousse, topped with Cap'n Crunch cereal - the latter added by hand, at the table, by the chef himself, with a flourish. WAY too precious a performance, but I must admit it was tasty!

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                                        I was in a restaurant in Puerto Rico many years ago where they had on the desert menu (I kid you not) . . . . .



                                                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                          mmmmmmmmm, Twinkies... *insert picture of Homer Simpson drooling*

                                                                                      2. none of those applications struck me as unusual or really even noteworthy except for the Altoids.

                                                                                        and crushed corn flakes are a key ingredient in my grandmother's/mother's Thanksgiving stuffing recipe :)

                                                                                        1. I have a great source for my Chinese basics, but someone I know who's family owned Chinese-American restaurants and now sells food to that clientele, told me some of his biggest sellers are tubloads of ketchup, Open Pit, cheap worchestshire, instant brown gravy powder and so on. He was just rattling them off with recipes for how they make all those ubiquitous sauces, wish I had taken notes because it blew my mind.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                            A lot of Chinese-American places don't use powdered brown gravy, but make their own brown gravy mix with soy as the main component (speaking from experience as I grew up working in my parents' restaurant and also knowing the other Chinese places in town). Ketchup has been adapted to be used in many western-influenced Asian dishes, so it's no surprise there. Worcestshire...can be used in a lot of things, but I doubt it was in any sauces and mainly having to do with ground meat dishes and marinades.

                                                                                            Every restaurant is different, though. There's no set way to make any of the dishes we're all so familiar with when we think of Chinese American cuisine. I certainly never saw powdered gravy or Open Pit in any of the kitchens and stockrooms of Chinese restaurants I've been in, so it might also be regional tastes.

                                                                                            1. re: yfunk3

                                                                                              Thanks for the info, I really wish I had paid more attention, but he was a real talker! He was talking about the all you can eat buffets, so that may be a whole other ball of wax.

                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                Ah, well, buffets are also a whole other animal. You need to replenish often with frequent batches and a lot of the cooking is done by hired cooks and not the owners of the restaurant (unlike non-buffet restaurants). So you need uniformity and speed, which definitely explains prepared mixes and such. My mother still manages (not the owner) a Chinese buffet now, but I've never personally been in the kitchen... I'm sure they have some sort of powdered gravy for their brown sauce, though!

                                                                                                Just to clarify about the Worcestershire sauce thing: it's already so salty that it really wouldn't be in any of the brown sauces since the soy and oyster sauces over most other "salty" flavors. Didn't want anyone to get confused as to what I meant the first time around. :o)