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From Sweets

In Which We Make A Centuple-Stuf Oreo

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As a kid, I preferred Double Stufs to single stufs. I preferred "Quadruple Stufs" to Double Stufs—twisting two doubles in half, discarding the bare cookies, and smushing the creme-bound ones together. But I really wanted more than that, and, well... hasn't everyone wanted to make a Centuple Stuf Oreo? We decided to see if it was possible.

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Robb Walsh's Fresh Field Peas

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[Photograph: Laurie Smith]

Driving around East Texas in the summertime, you're sure to pass a fair share of farm stands selling all sorts of fresh beans (or peas)—black-eyed peas, cowpeas, crowder peas and fresh pinto beans. And while most of us are familiar with cooking them either canned or dried, fresh beans have a bite and freshness that's a seasonal thing of beauty.

Robb Walsh, author of Texas Eats, keeps his Fresh Field Peas simple with a soul food-inspired recipe that begins (as many good things do) with bacon. Onions are sweated in the bacon fat, and the peas are added and simmered with chicken broth, with a few pods of okra as a thickener, and a lone chile for heat. Fresh peas don't need too much time on the stovetop; just simmer until tender and serve.

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Beyond Curry: Mangalorean Mutton Gravy

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The Mangalorean Catholic community of India is famed for some delicious meat preparations. Being half Manglorean myself, some of the popular dishes find their way to my dinner table every other week.

The usual suspects—coconut, fiery red chillies, tamarind and curry leaves—are synonymous with coastal food and found in varying proportions and combinations in this cuisine.

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From Drinks

The Serious Eats Budget White Wine Hall of Fame

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[Illustration: Robyn Lee]

It's nearly summer. What's in your fridge? High time you stocked up on affordable white wine, a stash of bottles that you can open when a friend stops by (with another friend) or someone at your party doesn't want to drink punch. You need bottles that can make your delivery Thai food dinner a little more special—without breaking the bank.

Over the past several months, we've tasted dozens of bottles under $15 in the hopes of finding a collection of wines we can proudly recommend to you. We looked for excellent values in both the crisp/light and fuller/richer categories. These are the wines we'd tell our friends to buy instead of that Yellowtail they keep picking up at the corner store—wines we'd actually buy instead of something more expensive. So without further ado, here are the May 2012 inductees into the Serious Eats Budget White Wine Hall of Fame.

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A Sandwich a Day: The Fried Chicken Luther at ChurchKey in Washington, D.C.

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Photograph: Brian Oh

If you were anything like me as a child, you'd fantasize about the foods you'd eat if your parents left you alone. Ice cream for breakfast, cookies for lunch, or some kind of concoction that wouldn't be out of place for Buddy the elf—chocolate and maple syrup, sprinkles, M&Ms, and Pop-Tarts spaghetti, anyone? In those days, if I actually attempted to eat that way, my mother would slap whatever junk out of my hands before it made it to my mouth and shove a plate of vegetables in front of me.

Now that I'm an adult, I have the luxury of eating whatever the hell I want (sorry, Mom). Which is why ChurchKey's fried chicken Luther ($10) appeals.

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Sauced: Spicy Brown Mustard

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In my last mustard post, there was a call for a good spicy brown, deli-style mustard as the next stop on mustard trail—you ask and and you shall recieve.

Breaking down the name of this mustard is all that's really needed to put together a killer recipe. Mainly, the spicy comes from the use of brown mustard seeds, which pack a greater heat than their yellow brethren.

So I used past experience with a beer mustard, and followed a similiar procedure, minus the beer, swapped yellow seeds for brown, omitted any sweeteners, and gave a little more in the spice section with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

The brown seeds, while spicier, are also way more pungent, and the mustard was incredibly bitter right after coming out of the blender. A fews days rest helped this, and I what I ended up with was richly layered sauce.

It starts with a very deep and tart mustard flavor, that has an added depth from the spices, but not so much that it tastes like a Christmas cookie. As the mustard settles on the tongue, the heat comes into play and leaves a nice burn that tingles the back of the throat. It's a perfect complement to pastrami stacked a mile high between a couple pieces of rye.

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

From A Hamburger Today

Los Angeles: Attack of the Clones at Fusion Burgers

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[Photographs: Damon Gambuto]

Fusion Burger

5933 York Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90042 (map); 323-257-8705; Facebook page
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A family of former Umami cooks opens a knock-off burger spot that serves up high quality burgers
Want Fries with That? Yes; solid fries if you need them, but go for homemade cheesy tots for a better fried spud
Prices: House Burger, $9, The Very Cheese and Bacon Burger, $10

It was only a matter of time. The meteoric rise of the Umami Burger empire meant imitators would pop up around Los Angeles. Sure, one could make the argument that we wouldn't have seen the likes of Stout or even Rounds without Umami, but those riffed on the idea of a high-end, burger-themed restaurant. What we have with Fusion Burgers is a full tilt knock off.

The folks behind this small burger bistro in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles do little to secrete the origins of their menu. The owners, Miguel Munoz, Sr. and Jr., are a father-son team who honed their burger cookery at the Santa Monica Umami location. Apparently there was something hinky in how these guys parted ways with Umami, but I'm not going to delve into whatever that might be about. What I will get into is their burgers. Not everyone thinks Fleischman is a burger Jedi, but I'd say he taught them well. I stopped by this (very new) restaurant for lunch and found a lot that was very familiar and very good.

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From Sweets

Chocoholic: Homemade Mallomar Bars

Available year round [Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Next year, in 2013, Nabisco's Mallomar cookies will celebrate their 100th anniversary. That's a pretty amazing run if you ask me. It's crazy to think that a cookie has been able to stay popular for so long, but for many New Yorkers (where almost 3/4 of the stock are sold), it's easy to see why. This cookie is irresistible.

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Where New Vegetarian Roy Choi Eats in Los Angeles

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[Photograph: kogibbq on Flickr]

When Roy Choi recently announced that he's going vegetarian, the food world freaked out a little. Wait, the same dude who made Korean short rib sliders and pork belly tacos a thing? The Korean-American chef who started the Kogi truck back in 2008 (there's now a fleet of five trucks plus four brick-and-mortar restaurants, and he's working on a memoir called Spaghetti Junction) shared the news on his blog, Riding Shotgun. He wrote: "Animals be talking to me. They told me... stop. Stop, Roy. Please."

This doesn't mean other people have to stop; you can still get your pork belly fix. "I'm trying to cook in vegetable state of mind, and if meat flies in meat flies in," he told the New Yorker. "I'm like a boxer tying one arm behind my back, to see if I can knock you out."

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From Slice

Redd Wood in Yountville: A Pizza Destination in Napa Valley

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Redd Wood

6755 Washington Street, Yountville CA 94599 (map); 707-299-5030; redd-wood.com
Pizza style: Really its own thing; individual pies are Neapolitan-sized but with a much thinner crust, and a bit of semolina flour worked into it.
Oven type: Wood-fired
The skinny: Awesome and intelligently-topped pizzas from a Michelin-starred chef
Price: Large individual pies $10-27

When we editors are out on eating tours, like we did with Ford Escape in Napa a few weeks ago, we map out our own itineraries. But Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine does chime in with opinions from time to time—and when he does, they tend to be pretty spot-on.

"Redd Wood is Richard Reddington's new pizzeria," he emailed us. "I just met him [in Los Angeles] tonight. I had apps at his other restaurant in Yountville, Redd, and they were really good. I bet his pizza is pretty damn good. You should try it."

A few pies later, we decided that "pretty damn good" was indeed a correct assessment.

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From Drinks

Ask A Bartender: What's The Best Tip You've Ever Gotten?

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Ask A Bartender: What's The Best Tip You've Ever Gotten?

It's always nice when a customer slaps down an extra $20 at the end of the night, or when that cute girl scribbles her phone number on the coaster and leaves that, too. But tips, both monetary and not-so-monetary, get much crazier than that.

We asked 7 bartenders what their best tip ever was, and they range from a Wii to cash from George Clooney to the love of one bartender's life. Check out the answers!

About the author: Carey Jones is the Senior Managing Editor of Serious Eats. Follow her on Twitter (@careyjones).

More Questions, More Bartenders

What Do You Drink Behind the Bar?
What's Your Least Favorite Drink To Make?
What's The Worst Date You've Ever Witnessed?
What Would You Ask a Bartender?

From Chicago

We Eat All of the Cream Puffs at Beard Papa's in Chicago

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: We Eat All of the Cream Puffs at Beard Papa's in Chicago

[Photographs: Debbie Carlos]

Consider the cream puff. It's easy to write them off as the overblown pastry that has become the crown jewel of the Wisconsin State Fair. But let's take a second to examine this architectural wonder in a little more detail: a squat golf ball of batter made with little more than butter, sugar, flour, and eggs bakes up hollow and hardens just enough to hold a velvety shot of custard while still retaining a delicate and crisp outer shell. This edible hug of cream and sugar is truly a thing of beauty, and we recently paid some serious homage in their high temple, which goes by the name Beard Papa's.

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From A Hamburger Today

AHT Giveaway: Case of Pat LaFrieda Burgers

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Inside the Pat LaFrieda facility. [Photograph: Nick Solares]

To celebrate National Burger Month, we're teaming up with famed New York City meat purveyor (and current stars of Food Network's Meat Men) Pat LaFrieda to give away a case of "AHT blend" burger patties (24 per case) each week for four weeks. Patties will be shipped fresh anywhere in the U.S. (sorry, international readers!), perfect for throwing a giant burger party or for cooking burger-centric meals at home. To enter this week's contest, just tell us in the comments section below: What's your best burger memory? (That doesn't necessarily have to involve the best burger you've ever eaten, but it could.)

Contest will end and comments will close at 12 p.m. ET, Monday, May 21, 2012. One entry per community member. Winners are limited to U.S. residents. Standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.

Taste Test: Bottled Ranch Dressing

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

The Winners!

Shelf Stable:

#1: Ken's Steakhouse Ranch
#2: Hidden Valley Ranch Dip
  Refrigerated:

#1: Hidden Valley Ranch Mix
#2: Marie's

I'll be honest: I didn't grow up eating ranch dressing outside of the occasional bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (this was back before they were "Cooler"), and I've personally never developed much of a taste for it. That said, there's a reason why it's the number one selling flavor of bottled dressing in America. Creamy, fatty, and tangy, it coats even the dullest-tasting leaf of iceberg lettuce or the most underdeveloped pizza crust with a salty, herbal tang. Instant flavor, just shake, squeeze, eat, and repeat.

Either that, or we all just need an excuse to eat mayonnaise on everything.

The original ranch dressing was created in the mid-1950's when dude ranches—working or semi-working ranches in which city slickers could go visit for a few days to get a glimpse of the cowboy way—were all the rage. Hidden Valley Ranch, outside of Santa Barbara, CA is where the first ranch dressing was served to guests. The mixture of mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic, herbs, and spices was so popular that it was offered by mail order delivery and eventually retail.

Since then, a number of other brands have entered the game. Most, including Hidden Valley, have developed shelf-stable versions of their dressing, while a few brands require refrigeration.

So which is the creamiest, tangiest, tastiest of the bunch?

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From Sweets

Cookie Monster: Shortbread Sandwiches

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

I've recently become a full-time coupon clipper. I used to do it haphazardly, but in all honestly it was mostly limited to bringing in the voucher for a free pair of Victoria's Secret underwear or stealing the 10% off coupons that Banana Republic sent my mother in the mail. Those actually seemed like value plays—who doesn't want free cheeky bikinis?—whereas remembering to bring in the 50 cent coupon for bananas wasn't worth my time.

Well, I've grown up or gotten my act together or learned the value of money. Whatever you want to call it, I'm now the person who hands over my loyal customer card to be punched by the cashier before even paying for my coffee. I carefully fold up my foot-long Safeway receipt and keep it hanging on my fridge.

That's not to say I'm not still learning the ropes. There's a reason that Tyson Anytizers Taco Seasoned Chicken Quesadippers With Zesty Garden Salsa are 2-for-1 and it isn't because they're awesome. And when butter goes on sale at a group discount, I don't think to check the expiration dates. But that's when I start to make shortbread.

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