Amateur Foodie

  • Location: San Francisco
  • Favorite foods: Mac and Cheese
    Creme Brulee
  • Last bite on earth: Tea Egg

Win a Copy of 'Heritage'

biscuits and gravy

Win a Copy of 'Plenty More'

Vietnamese Kiem Sweet Soup

The Secrets of Cantonese Cooking, America's First Chinese Cuisine

My God, that was a wonderful jaunt through some of my favorite Chinese dishes, some of which I haven't seem since moving to the Left Coast over a decade ago. Great article!

The Serious Eats Field Guide to Chinese Pastries

Oooo, I love the savory steamed buns. There use to be a Taiwanese bakery/tea house near my office. They made a really good chicken & vegetable steamed bun. Alas, the hard times forced them to close, so no more steamed buns and boba tea for lunch anymore.

Bacon and Avocado Take Your In-N-Out Animal-Style Double Double to the Next Level

That burger also screams for some fries to be added, on top of the avocado. Too much?

The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)

@smashleyhamer, for your coconut milk issue, try using powdered coconut milk. Should dissolve in the hot water without extra heating.

Taste Test: Who Makes the Best Natural-Casing Hot Dog in the Bay Area?

@Kenji, you might want to retest Miller's beef frankfurters again because yesterday, I was shopping for hotdogs at Safeway (in Campbell, way south of SF)and I saw 2 types of Miller's beef frankfurters: the "too-big" ones and the narrow "normal" looking franks that might have that snap. Yep, both of them labeled beef frankfurters.

Win a Copy of 'Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food'

Fried egg sandwich

Doritos Migas With Pepper Jack Will Rock Your Morning, Hangover or Not

@B.Schnockered, Amen!

I think this migas should qualify in the what-took-you-so-long category along with Dorito Tacos. I would probably make this and put the Doritos in at the last minute, cuz I like a little more crunch.

Taste Test: Who Makes the Best Natural-Casing Hot Dog in the Bay Area?

@Kenji, I tend to see Boar's Head hot dogs in the smaller upscale markets like Draeger's and Lunardi's, and often at the deli counter.

Taste Test: Who Makes the Best Natural-Casing Hot Dog in the Bay Area?

I am a former New Englander myself. When I moved to the SF Bay Area in 1999, I lamented the lack of those snappy hotdogs, really good full-fatted ice cream that is made in-house (no, fro-yo is not that same), and Italian deli meats like hot capicola. It's better now, though still searching for an Italian deli that makes grinders like the ones I used to eat growing up in CT. Casper's is a good hotdog. Miller's IS too big, but the flavor is decent. Haven't tried the Evergood hotdog, but they make a nice Hot Link.

The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)

@andreasduess, get the organic Better Than Bouillon. There isn't any msg or hydrolyzed soy protein in the ingredients.

The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)

@Ming-Tzu, you can make cozies for jars. It can be as simple as stitching a terry cloth or tea towel to create a pocket or a bit more complicated as crotcheting a cozy. Just drop in your jar and you're good to go.

Or you can buy it,

How Bad Wine Led Me to Great Shrimp Scampi

Sorry, that should be "could you post the instructions..."

How Bad Wine Led Me to Great Shrimp Scampi

@Daniel, could you the instructions for soaking the shrimp in baking soda and water?

Manner Matters: In Praise of Place Cards

Heaven forbid you should separately seat a couple apart because EVERYONE knows that once joined in marriage or commitment, a couple MUST be joined at the hip and neither person is capable of interesting conversation with anyone other than his or her significant other. PULEEZE...this is a column about manners, if you don't like articles of this nature, I suggest not reading anything titled "Manner Matters:..." Might I recommend the great article below about roux and gumbo?

Butter and Sage Gnudi From 'Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food'

The link for the recipe is under the photo.

How Roux Made Its Way Into the Gumbo Pot

I'm in the soupy-gumbo camp and I make my roux like Poppy Tooker, going a bit further and sauteing the onions and peppers first (until slightly caramelized) before they go into the dark roux. This technique is from a friend who has been a chef for over 40 years (he's not from Louisiana, but he makes an excellent gumbo). The precooked onions and peppers add another complexity of flavors to the gumbo.

Great article. Hope there might be one for beignets next?

Purple Yam and Halo-Halo: The Delicious, Contradictory World of Filipino Desserts

I love cassava cake and it's much more than just texture. The rich, sweet flavor just works beautifully together without the sweetness slapping you in the face.

Halo-Halo: what's not to love? I'm a sucker for shaved ice with sweet beans and purple jam or taro. For me, it's comfort food. And I'm not even Filipino.

Taste Test: Is Domestic Parmesan Cheese Worth Using?

While this is not a domestic cheese, Trader Joe's use to carry an Australian parmesan that could have taken on Parm Reg. It was that good. And then TJ stopped carrying it....SIGH.

American Chop Suey: The Cheesy, Beefy, Misnamed Stovetop Casserole That Deserves a Comeback

I have vague recollections of it on the menu in elementary school. Was expecting something Chinese (with a name like 'chop suey, could you blame me?), but saw that it was a pasta bake. Was rather tasty from what I remember and this was the food served in the school cafeteria, so I'm thinking the homemade stuff is miles better.

Super Simple Friday Night Meatballs

You can make your own adobo seasoning. Here's a recipe without the MSG,

The Friday Night Meatball Recipe That Changed My Life

@simon, more likely because not everyone has access to panko, but we all seem to have fresh bread in some form or other. I also suspect that mixing in panko could make you overwork the meat mixture and make the meatballs tough. But these are just theories.

The Picky Eater Challenge: Helping Kids (and Adults!) Try New Foods Without Tricks

@Burger365, yes there is hope for adult picky eaters. After 32 years of avoiding all forms of fish and most seafood, my husband enthusiastically embraced sashimi. The turning point was a sashimi dinner where he had the freshest salmon belly he had ever seen or eaten. One bite and I saw this light in his eyes. I could see the realization that he knew he had been missing out on something really good and that he was really kicking himself for being so obstinate all those years. That sashimi experience was the turning point for him because after that he has been more willing to try new foods, at least twice. I've tried to help by offering foods that reflect his preferences (like crispy stuff) and avoiding what he disliked (mushy textures). A couple of years ago, he started liking tofu, a food he ordinarily detested for it's blandness, unappealing color, and mushy texture. But after sampling salt&pepper tofu (crispy fried tofu cubes topped with a garlic-salt-jalapeno condiment), he admits that he now doesn't hate all tofu. A small victory, yes, but a victory for a man who use to have the restaurant take out all the tofu in the Chinese hot & sour soup. We now have an understanding that I don't nag and he will at least try new foods.

The Picky Eater Challenge: Helping Kids (and Adults!) Try New Foods Without Tricks

My parents never made special meals because they simply didn't have the time. They both worked 60+ hours per week to support 7 kids and themselves. We kids understood that from a very early age that there would no special meals. But they didn't force foods on us. "Mommy, could you remove the leaves?". "YOU can remove those leaves if you don't like them." This was a bit of empowerment; my choice. It didn't take me very long to realize that removing all the leaves was too much of a hassle and those leaves weren't TOO terrible. Were there times I only had 2 bites of dinner? You bet, but I survived & thrived. I learned to appreciate the food that was available and to understand I could be missing out if I didn't at least try something different.

Suggestions for a Thank You gift (food)

Just got back from a trip back East. My friend and her husband hosted 4 adults and 2 babies. I wanted to bake/make something special for them as a gesture of gratitude (2 babies is alot even for experienced folks). The only requirements are that it needs to survive a few days in the mail and not melt into a puddle in the current heatwave that's hitting the Northeast US.

Any ideas? I'm sort of stumped because what I know they'll like (e.g. chocolate) is just too fragile, perishable, or meltable.

Would this work?....

Last night I made carnitas. In addition to some good meat, I also have quite a bit of salty rendered fat. It seems a shame to throw it out, so I was wondering if I could roast some potatoes in this rendered fat. Any reason this wouldn't work?

The Sprayracha

Ok, I saw this and had to post it, because it's kinda cool.

Your next food project

My next food project/challenge is tempering chocolate. I am totally intimidated by it and I would really like to make chocolate covered truffles for this year's Xmas care packages.

What's your next food project or challenge?

Meyer lemon marmalade

What can I do with a Meyer lemon marmalade that's a bit more bitter than expected? I made a batch this weekend and while it's not bad, it's more bitter than I like. I can give it as gifts, but I would still have about 4 half pints. Any cooking ideas?

multiple posts

Looks like I posted something 3 times. I swear I only hit the submit button once. Anyway to remove the extra posts?

Chik-Fil-A suing over kale claim

Anyone seen this yet?,0,6755981.story

Since everything tastes like chicken, I guess I can see why people would confuse kale with chicken...NOT.

Non-chocolate desserts - ideas needed

My BFF is having her annual holiday party in about 2 weeks. While I don't hate chocolate, I know from past years that most of the desserts will be some form of chocolate and I wanted to bring a spectacular dessert that did not have chocolate in it. Something that has be bit of "Wow" to it. Any ideas?

Sticky toffee pudding - without the dates?

This past weekend, I ordered a sticky toffee pudding from a restaurant. My friend asked what it was and I told her it was made with dates. The waiter than informed me that this sticky toffee pudding didn't have any dates in it. it still sticky toffee pudding if it does not have any dates in it?

Salted Fish - where is it?

I've got a major craving for salted fish and chicken fried rice. Where in the Asian supermarkets are they located? What is it called or labeled? I'm not Chinese so I have no idea what it's called. I'm in the SF Bay Area and have great access to Asian ingredients, but this one is giving me a headache. Looked all over 99 Ranch Market and am about to venture into Marina Foods. Does anyone know what and where I should be looking?

Shrimp stock - other recipes?

I have a ton of shrimp shells in my fridge and am planning to make stock this weekend. I usually use the stock in my gumbo. But got to thinking about what other recipes use shrimp stock. Any ideas?

The Shrub

I went to the San Francisco Street Food Festival on Saturday. Had a terrific time and ate until my belly was bursting. One of the highlights was a little drink called a Shrub N' Soda. It was so good (and non-alcoholic too) that I had to search the web for a recipe. Turns out it's a vinegar based syrup which would account for it's lovely tang. And it seems easy to make, basically simmer fruits in a sugar syrup and then add the vinegar. Serve up with club soda or seltzer.

The festival was great and hope you were able to attend. I avoided the long lines by going way early and doing recon on the trucks that I wanted to hit. It was a blast! See you guys at the festival next year!

Infused alcohol - how long does it last?

So last year, I had some very ripe, but delicious white peaches that I had to do something with quickly. So I threw them into some vodka and then totally forgot about them until yesterday. I've filtered out the spent peach and now have a yellowish, but clear liquid that still smells fruity. Haven't sampled it yet, but I read somewhere that infusions of this sort don't last beyond a few weeks. Something about the taste of the fruit would be gone quickly since this is just an infusion and not a liqueur.

Is that true? Or should I sample and see if the stuff is still drinkable?

Chinese Comfort Food

I'm in need of comfort food and it has to be Chinese. Not sure why, but that's what I want. For all you Chinese/Asian lurkers out there, what's your Chinese (or Asian) comfort food?

Irish Cream recipe

Does anyone have an Irish Cream recipe that results in a very white liqueur? I met an Irish woman who had made her own Irish cream liqueur. Hers looked like no Irish cream that I've seen before - it was snow white suggesting just alcohol and cream, and sugar. I don't think it had coffee or chocolate syrup in it (these ingredients seem to be on all the recipes online). Does anyone have a recipe that sounds like this?

Vegetarian Entrees w/o mushrooms - any ideas?

I have a friend who will be visiting me in about a month and I wanted to make some vegetarian entrees that do not include any mushrooms or too much cheese. She's open to tofu provided it's well prepared (i.e. not just thrown into a salad or on top of pizza). I've a lot of recipes for pizzas, stews, soups, and salads, but it feels like a limited menu, I really need an entree. She's Punjabi and has access to excellent Indian food at home, so I want to give her something different, but just as delicious. Any ideas? I'm kind of stumped.

Cream Cheese Frosting - can it be piped?

My cousin and I are planning a baby shower for our best friend and she's requested a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. My questions are: will I be able to pipe a simple border around the cake with the cream cheese frosting? Is it firm enough to hold for a few hours? We won't be outside and the shower is in early April so it will not be hot either. Or should I use a buttercream for the decorative piping?

Homemade Marshmallows

Last week, I was looking at recipes for marshmallows and encountered 2 types of recipes: recipes that include egg whites and recipes that did not contain egg whites. My question: Is there any detectable difference in final product between the 2 recipes? Just wondering.

I did make marshmallows using a recipe that did not use corn syrup (I ran out). Delicious and reminded me why I preferred homemade marshmallows.

Made Green Tomato what?

I spent the weekend cleaning out my garden, pulling up the tomato plants that were still hanging on. There were a lot of green unripen tomatoes that would have killed me to throw out, so I made a simple green tomato jam (actually I had enough to make to batches) seasoned with cinnamon and allspice. I plan to give some away as Christmas stocking stuffers, but I know that I'm going to get that "What the heck do I use this jam for?". I'm sort of stumped myself. I've read that it's good with meats, on sandwiches, and with cheese and crackers.

What kind of sandwich would benefit the most from a smear of GTJ? What kinds of meats (e.g. roasted, baked, etc)?

Any other ideas, SErs?

What's the trick for a perfect looking cheesecake?

I have a great recipe (from ATK) for a pumpkin cheesecake, but haven't been successful in getting that perfectly smooth looking cake, i.e. on the sides. Am I not greasing the springform enough? Should I be using greased parchment? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Pomegranate Molasses question

I was thinking of drizzle pomegranate molasses on some bacon wrapped dates (cooked and warm from the oven). I should not have to do any additional cooking to the molasses, right?

The Serious Eats Guide to British Sweets

We Brits love little squares of things on bone china plates served of an afternoon following a game of cribbage. We love puddings that steam like a behemoth emerging from a sauna, made from beef fat, treacle, and shrivelled fruit. We love sugared, crunchy things from packets. It's no overstatement to say tea and biscuits are our actual lifeblood. More

Where to Buy Mexican Ingredients in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has the highest population of Mexicans in the United States, with the eats to prove it. When you're done completely redefining your regional Mexican food palate by taco touring your way through this sprawling city, there may come a time when you will want to start experimenting with your very own carne asada and long-braised lamb barbacoas at home. When this time comes, you can rest assured that the hundreds of Mexican markets, corner stores, and even some major local supermarket chains will have your back. Here's where to go for the best tortillas, produce, meats, dairy, and more. More

Chinese Cooking 101: How to Marinate Meat for Stir Fries

Anyone who's read our Wok Skills 101 Guide knows that with a stir-fry, having all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go is of utmost importance. Meat should be sliced. Vegetables should be chopped, sauces should be mixed, and aromatics should be minced before you turn the heat up. But there's another secret that will improve both the flavor and the texture of your proteins: proper marinating. Here's how you do it. More

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

If the British can proudly call Chicken Tikka Masala their national dish, then surely it's time that General Tso got his chicken in our national spotlight. Everybody knows the candy-sweet take-out joint version, but I firmly believe that it has the potential to be so much more than that. How great would a homemade version of General Tso's be, with a flavor that shows some real complexity and a texture that takes that crisp-crust-juicy-center balance to the extreme? More

The Food Lab Turbo: Super Simple Gazpacho

A couple of years ago, I produced what was possibly the most time consuming gazpacho recipe ever. It was damn delicious—the best gazpacho I know how to make!—but took in excess of two hours from start to finish. Today, I'm going to share with you the version of gazpacho I make when I'm feeling lazy. Don't worry, it's still knock-your-socks-off tasty. More

How to Make Juicy Chicken Green Chile Tacos

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of great chicken tacos I've had in my life, and I'd still have one finger left to point accusingly at all the people who've served me dry, bland, flavorless meat in tortillas past. See, chicken tacos don't have to be dry. Just ask the lady who serves up the incredibly juicy chicken tacos at the El Gallo Giro truck in San Francisco's Mission district, or the slow-roasted pick-it-yourself affair from the Los Potosinos truck in Columbus, OH. Here's how I make mine. More