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Gira Polli's Michele's Cheesecake

From: Tracy 
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 7:20 PM
Subject: cheesecake

Any help would be wonderful

This restaurant cheese cake from Mill valley California. Never had cheese cake 
like this from anywhere or homemade. Pudding like consistency. Can you help

Don Michele's" own secret recipe for cheesecake from:

Gira Polli of Mill Valley
590 E. Blithdale Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941

Hello Tracy,

Sorry, I had no success. It appears that they don’t give out their recipes and no one has created a copycat.


Panda Express Shanghai Beef

-----Original Message----- 
From: Julie 
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:32 AM
Subject: Tender beef

I am trying to find the recipe for the Shanghai Steak at Panda Express.  I 
have been searching the Internet, with no luck, but your name was mentioned 
as the Guru of recipe finding!  I don't really care about the whole recipe - 
what I want to know is how they get their beef so tender.  As a pretty 
experienced cook, I have never been able to get steak anywhere near THAT 
tender.  I mean, tender is one thing, but that meat just melts in your 
mouth.  And it's not the typical mystery beef that you find in many Chinese 
restaurants, that is pounded thin and doesn't quite taste like beef - it's 
the real thing.  Can you shed any light on the subject?

Hello Julie,

Sorry, I had no success with this. No one appears to have created a copycat recipe. Sometimes, it just ain't out there to be found.

This beef is stir-fried, so the tenderness is probably not related to the cooking method. It's likely due to the cut, kind, and source of beef used and the marinade used. It's always possible that you happened in during a time that they had some extraordinarily tender beef on hand. It may not be quite as tender the next time. They do specify Angus steak on their menu. There are some "Shanghai Beef" recipes on these sites that you can try:

The Complete Cookbook

I'll post this on my site. There's always a chance that a former Panda Express employee will come though.


Chinese Tender Beef Secrets                       

Timm in Oregon

Make sure the meat is thinly sliced across the grain straight down with no angle, 
preferably on a meat slicer.

Marinade Options:

#1 In medium size mixing bowl, mix 1/2 cup corn starch to 1 cup cold water for 
each pound of beef; mix well to remove any lumps. 
Add the sliced beef to the bowl. Toss until each piece is evenly coated with the 
corn starch mixture. Refrigerate and stir every few hours until ready to cook.

#2 Marinate the beef in a mixture of  1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3 tablespoons water, 
2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon soy, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 
1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon oyster sauce for at least 30 minutes. 
#3 Marinate the beef in 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon chili oil, 1 teaspoon 
sesame oil, 1 teaspoon sugar and 4 tablespoons soy for at least 30 minutes. 
Note: this mixture gets very foamy.
#4 Some Chinese restaurants tender beef is marinated in sugar water after cutting. 
Sugar water both tenderizes beef and improves its flavor.

Note: A "trade secret" used by many Chinese restaurants to give the meat a more tender 
texture is oil poaching, also called velveting; this seals in the juices of the meat. 
After marinating, heat between 2 to 4 cups of oil in the wok to a temperature of about 
325F degrees and immerse the marinated meat in the hot oil for several seconds. Remove 
the meat from the wok, drain, and cook further as called for in the recipe.

Zabar's Russian Coffee Cake

From: Susan 
Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2012 7:00 PM
Subject: Zabar's Russian Coffee Cake

I would love to make Zabar's Russian Coffee Cake at home, as I am not able to get into NYC often. 
Thanks for your help in locating the recipe


Hello Susan,

I first searched for a copycat recipe for this coffee cake back in 2006, with no success. I’m sorry to say that six years have made no difference – there is just not a recipe available for the product sold by Zabar’s. It appears, from the little actual information about the coffee cake that I was able to find, that it is actually made by Delancy Dessert Company. They sell it wholesale to Zabar’s. You really don’t have to live without it in between your trips to New York, because you can buy it online and have it shipped to you, either from Zabar’s or from Delancey’s:


Eli Zabar, son of the original Zabar’s founders, has his own catering business and he also makes & sells a Russian coffee cake online:

Eli Zabar

If you want to try to take another Russian Coffee Cake recipe and experiment with tweaking it to be closer to Zabar’s, then there are several recipes to get you started here:


From: Theotokis  
Sent: Sunday, October 06, 2013 7:44 PM
Subject: re: zabar's russian coffee cake

To: Phaedrus
From: Theotokis 

Hi Phaedrus,

I grew-up in N.Y.C. on the west side of Manhattan, (60th to 90th streets) in the 60’s- 70’s, 
which was then heavily populated by Jewish people of German extraction. I now live in Greece 
for the last 25 years. So you can imagine how difficult it is to find real German Jewish food. 
I am not Jewish, but have acquired a taste for German Jewish foods after long exposure to same,
through close friends, while growing-up in Manhattan.

In those days, there were several great bakeries, on the west side, but also a great delicatessen 
store, which was practically an “institution”, named ZABAR’S. This store still exists today, on 
B’way and 81st in Manhattan.

Later on a member of the Zabar family, named Eli Zabar, (reportedly the son, of the founder of 
the Original Zabar’s delicatessen, on B’way and 81st street) created a separate company, on his 
own, and enhanced upon the great Zabar tradition in good delicatessen food, by opening several 
stores and restaurants, with many of the same type products as the original Zabar’s store, on 
Broadway and 81st Street, in Manhattan.

At the original Zabar’s store, there was a particularly good product, which they called 
“Russian coffee cake”. Presently the original Zabar’s, on B’way and 81st, still sells this 
same cake by the name of “Delancey Russian Coffee Cake”. (see link below),default,pd.html

I think but I am not sure, that this cake is made by a wholesale bakery called: 
Delancey Dessert Co Inc
573 Grand Street
New York, NY 10002 - map

 but I am not sure.

Meantime, Eli Zabar, has also created his own version of the “Russian coffee cake”, sold at his stores.
(see link below)

The 2 versions of the “Russian Coffee Cake”, sold by the original Zabar’s and at the Eli Zabar stores,
are not visually the same. Also the taste is not the same, although they are both delicious.

My request is for a recipe for each of the above versions of the great and delicious “Russian Coffee Cake”,
Which I have not been able to find anywhere on the internet.

Thanks in advance and regards


Hello Theotokis,

If you search for this using Google, then you find that dozens of people have been searching for these recipes for years, with no success. I have been getting requests for them for several years as you can see here: 05/14/2012

These recipes are just not available, and no one has been able to create an acceptable copycat or “tastes-like” recipe for them.

There are other Russian coffee cake recipes available. See:


Raisin Bran Muffins

From: Jan 
Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2012 10:41 PM
Subject: Raisin Bran muffins

Hi there,

I'm looking for a recipe from around 1977 and if I remember, it was in Mother Earth News magazine. 
It's a raising bran muffin made with Raisin Bran cereal, buttermilk, flour (with a sub of oatmeal 
2:1 for part the flour) and honey. 
You could mix this and bake fresh muffins for weeks from the resulting batter. I've found similar, 
but nothing that seems close to it. 

Thanks a lot! 


Hello Jan,

I had no success finding a bran muffin recipe with raisin bran cereal, buttermilk, flour and honey that said it was from Mother Earth News or that mentioned substituting oatmeal 2:1 for part of the flour. I did not find any bran muffin recipe at all that called for raisin bran cereal and said that it was from Mother Earth News. Sorry. I found similar recipes, but none that fit your description exactly. There are lots of bran muffin recipes that use raisin bran cereal, and also many that use Kellog’s All-Bran cereal.

If you are sure that the recipe was from Mother Earth News, then you might have some success by posting your request in the Mother Earth News Forum here:

Mother Earth News Forums

If you are willing to widen your search to include recipes with one or two ingredients slightly different from your description, then I suggest you look at these:


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