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BostonAdam

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We Aged Eggnog for 1 Year to See if It's Worth the Wait

I totally agree that one year old nog is worse than fresh nog -- harsh and boozy. But after TWO or more years, it mellows back down, smooths out, and I think becomes much more interesting. Kenji, please hold on to some for another year, come back, and let us know if you agree! I've done 3 years twice and was very pleased with the results on both occasions.

I also discovered that adding just a small amount of fresh milk -- even 1/8 by volume -- totally erases the booziness in the younger aged nog. Maybe this is just due to dilution but it's an interesting and profound effect.

Unfortunately, while I am a fan of long aging, it definitely does strip some of the interesting "fresh" characteristics, as mentioned. For example, I like my nog with a bit of peach liqueur in the mix, and aging makes those flavors completely vanish. Spiking a bit of fresh dairy and mixing the two, however, seems to bring about the best of both worlds. Next step, Solera method nog!

Israeli-Style Extra-Smooth Hummus

I've made this twice more, both times with high quality tahini (Soom). See my post above about my earlier mods, and not having any fresh tahini on hand.

Both times I actually found it was a bit too thick -- probably because I was so stingy with the water for fear of making soup. And both times I went back to the Greek yogurt. Just a small amount stirred in really adds a nice lightness, a bit of tanginess, and takes any remaining edge off of the texture.

Also I'm happy to report that hummus freezes beautifully. I noticed absolutely no degradation after a month in the freezer.

The Best Salad Spinner

Since there are no other spinners listed I can only assume that this is in fact an advertorial. Weak.

8 Easy Upgrades for Better Banana Bread

Fewer nuts. More chocolate chips. Done :-)

BraveTart: DIY Fudgsicles Are Even More Intense and Refreshing Than the Real Deal

@Timpenin

Xanthan will not give you a gel texture. What you want to look at is "kappa-lbg" -- kappa carrageenan plus locust bean gum, mixed 60/40. It's tough to say exactly how much you'll need but I would start on the low end, maybe 0.2% or 0.3% of the mix, as a percentage of the total liquid.

Note that you'll need to make several changes, as opposed to what's listed in the recipe: For example, you have to heat carrageenans to get them to fully mix and gel. (You'll want to get the mixture over 158F.) You'll also need to add some calcium salts (calcium chloride, calcium lactate, etc), as I presume you're going to be using a nut milk or some other vegan sub, and carrageenans work best in the presence of calcium. You'll want to do the heating step using liquid that doesn't yet have the calcium salts added, in order to control the timing of the gelling.

You can get all of the chemicals on Amazon. Buy small packets, as you really don't need much. Good luck!

The Food Lab's BLT Manifesto

@Kenji

Interesting. My experience with Benton's is that it has a much higher fat-to-lean ratio than most bacons, and if cooked in the oven it's not chewy or meaty at all. On the contrary, it's extremely tender and so fatty it almost melts on the tongue. Of course this works only if you don't overcook or over-render it. You have to be open to the idea of eating some softened fat.

That version of bacon, to me, is perfect inside of a BLT. You get crunch from the bread, crisp texture from the lettuce, juice from the tomato, mild sourness and creaminess from the mayo, and melting smoky richness from the bacon.

The Food Lab's BLT Manifesto

*sigh*

Your bacon is just so utterly overcooked. Crispy?? No. It should be tender and yielding. It should not be fully rendered, and should have enough fat left to pop and melt as it hits the tongue. Benton's, oven-roasted until JUST sizzling. That's where it's at.

The Best Pressure Cookers and Multi-Cookers

Did you test any Fissler models? Just curious as that's what I own and I would be interested in knowing how it stacks up. (Not that I'll be replacing it anytime soon; it's quite solid in my opinion.)

Make a Splash With Bukkake Udon (Japanese Cold Noodles With Broth)

@BillyZoom

I think the other thing is named after this thing. In any case, yeah. It's forever ruined.

Japanese Oyakodon: Chicken + Egg + 15 Minutes = Dinner

Probably my favorite dish of all time. The egg yolk on top is an interesting idea I've never seen before. Kind of gilding the lily though!

I really like making this with shiitakes in addition to or even completely subbed for the chicken. Also works nicely with pressed tofu (brown it first to give the dish some additional texture).

Also personally I half caramelize the onions, and then add the liquid. Get a bit more depth that way.

And finally, a little bit of toasted sesame oil stirred in with the egg adds a really nice touch in my opinion.

Equipment: The Best Manual Citrus Juicers and Reamers

I've tried several handheld squeezers:

A) Enameled aluminum: The enamel chips. They're also difficult to clean -- the oils from the peel really crust on to the enamel.

B) Stainless: Works great, easier to clean than enamel. But the cheaper models use shoddy metal that bends out of shape. And another model I had relied on a pin that held the two halves together. The pin fell out after a while and that was that.

C) Chef'n: Works as well or better than the other two options. As easy to clean as stainless, no concerns about metal bending, and unless you've had too many drinks I don't understand how you're going to snap the handles. I've squeezed hard enough that the ends touched, and they certainly didn't snap. And the whole point of the design is that you're not supposed to have to squeeze as hard. I've had mine for a few years and it's held up very well.

BTW if you want to increase yield from any of the above, first go cut side down, then flip the half (cut side up), give it a gentle squeeze to break up the flesh a bit more, and then flip it back over again. Sometimes I can get up to an extra 1/8oz from a lime this way. Which is important if I'm trying to make a couple of drinks and didn't realize that I only had one lime left in the house.

Equipment: The Best Manual Citrus Juicers and Reamers

I've tried several handheld squeezers:

A) Enameled aluminum: The enamel chips. They're also difficult to clean -- the oils from the peel really crust on to the enamel.

B) Stainless: Works great, easier to clean than enamel. But the cheaper models use shoddy metal that bends out of shape. And another model I had relied on a pin that held the two halves together. The pin fell out after a while and that was that.

C) Chef'n: Works as well or better than the other two options. As easy to clean as stainless, no concerns about metal bending, and unless you've had too many drinks I don't understand how you're going to snap the handles. I've squeezed hard enough that the ends touched, and they certainly didn't snap. And the whole point of the design is that you're not supposed to have to squeeze as hard. I've had mine for a few years and it's held up very well.

BTW if you want to increase yield from any of the above, first go cut side down, then flip the half (cut side up), give it a gentle squeeze to break up the flesh a bit more, and then flip it back over again. Sometimes I can get up to an extra 1/8oz from a lime this way. Which is important if I'm trying to make a couple of drinks and didn't realize that I only had one lime left in the house.

Muffin Myth-Busting: Don't Waste Your Time Tossing Berries in Flour

"Boom. Problem solved."

Actual LOL. This might be my favorite piece on SE, ever.

New England's Greatest Contribution to the Hot Dog

As a Boston transplant somewhat later in life, I have plenty of context with which to compare. And in this case I can actually distinctly remember the first time I experienced a hot dog with a buttered/griddled Massachusetts-style bun. And it was incredible. So much better than the standard buns I was used to.

Agreed that New York dogs are nothing special from a culinary perspective. They're certainly not bad in any way, but just nothing amazing. I can boil a cheap hot dog at home and come up with the same end result. What's great about the New York dog, for me, is where I'm eating it: in New York, which creates its own impact and memories.

And sending out my love to the butthurt New Yorkers already out in force saying that this is all a bunch of crap.

Foraged Flavor: All About Sumac

These things grow like weeds all over my neighborhood and I just discovered today that they're edible! Amazing! Can't wait to try this. The fruits are still a bit pink at the moment.

Olive Brine + Mezcal = Your New Favorite Martini

@ryuthrowsstuff

"I'm not talking about historical time line, or actual evolution from one drink to another. I'm talking about categorizing things as they exist now"

Exactly. It doesn't really matter how it was created or what its lineage happened to have been. But that was your argument, not mine.

What matters is how it is categorized, and categorization reflects what the customer expects. If a customer orders a Martini -- which is a rather unique drink in the cocktail world and probably its own category -- I believe the expectation is a cocktail which is neither sweet nor sour. Do you concur?

Olive Brine + Mezcal = Your New Favorite Martini

@selyar

Check out this new version of a quesadilla I just created. I call it Quesadilla with Jelly and Peanut Butter:

Take two pieces of white bread. Spread peanut butter on one side, and jelly on the other. Put them together, cut in half, and serve.

Based on the logic presented here so far by the non "judgey" types, that's gotta be the same thing, because it's just a simple evolution of a quesadilla:

Start with a regular quesadilla. Substitute bread for the tortilla. Still the same thing, right? We just made a simple substitution that evolved it into a grilled cheese. Now just substitute some peanut butter for the cheese. It's still the same thing...right? Now make another minor change and don't grill it anymore. Still the same? Now just add some jelly. There! We've created a brand new version of the tired old quesadilla.

Clearly it doesn't work there, and for the same reasons it also doesn't work for drinks. We name things to set expectations and ideas. It's not judgey, but rather a fight against complete bastardization of the nomenclature.

Olive Brine + Mezcal = Your New Favorite Martini

It's not a Martini at all. Not even slightly. It shares no qualities or components with a Martini. It's got sweet and sour components, neither of which are ever present in a Martini; it's got olive brine, which is only ever present in the barely-a-Martini "dirty" version; and it lacks any form of fortified wine.

Bad form, SE.

@ryuthrowsstuff That is a creative timeline but it's much more straightforward to argue that the Cosmopolitan evolved from the Sidecar via the Daisy, which is an older cocktail than either the Gimlet or the modern Martini, and which contains both Curacao and citrus.

Israeli-Style Extra-Smooth Hummus

Thanks to everyone who commented! I just made this with several modifications:

A) Soaked chickpeas exactly as called for here.
B) Cooked the chickpeas without adding any additional salt. This worked out perfectly -- they were quite salty from the large amount in the soaking water.
C) Only used enough water to barely cover. This was plenty. And I only needed to cook them maybe 45 minutes before they were completely falling apart.
D) I used the lemon juice/garlic technique as written, which worked out very nicely. But I discovered at the last minute that my tahini was much older than I thought and perhaps a bit rancid. A bit of quick googling and I discovered a Turkish variation on hummus that uses yogurt instead of tahini. So I subbed some Greek-style yogurt, which made a very tasty sauce. A bit different than intended, but I think equally good.

Blending the chickpeas in my VitaBlend was a bit of a PITA. The mixture was extremely thick and I actually could have used a bit more water than I had left from cooking. But in the end everything came together beautifully and I have an extremely smooth, light textured, and bright hummus. I'm thinking of sticking with the dairy route when I serve it tomorrow and baking it in the oven with some butter on top, which I read is another Turkish hummus technique.

Despite the issues I think this recipe has some great basic techniques, i.e. for the chickpeas and the garlic.

The Best Sautéed Broccoli Rabe Is Overcooked Broccoli Rabe

I love the notion of ditching the "everything must always be al dente" ideal. However, I feel you're doing yourself a disservice by using the negatively connotated term "overcooked." If cooking more is what's best, doesn't that imply "properly cooked?" Maybe better to differentiate using "long-cooked" or "slow-cooked" or similar.

How to Make Rich, Flavorful Caramel Without Melting Sugar

@GoCleanYourRoom:

The convection oven works more quickly by constantly moving the air around, in order to improve heat transfer. But to compensate for the air movement and to help users avoid burning things, most convection ovens drop the temperature.

In the case of this recipe, I don't think the additional air movement buys you anything. Sugar is not, e.g., like a big piece of meat with a cold core that takes a bunch of time to heat up. You're talking about a thin layer that should come right up to temperature. So you're moving air over the sugar that's already up to temperature, but the temperature is lower than your target -- meaning, much slower caramelization.

At least, that's my theory. If you can't turn off convection mode, maybe try boosting the temp by 25 or 30 degrees. (Or, better, look in your oven's manual and find out how much it compensates.)

The Comfort Food Diaries: My Coke Habit

Great piece, and there is truly nothing better on a hot day than Coke poured over crushed ice and then sipped through a straw. I don't drink it much (health, blah, blah, blah), so I savor every drop when I do.

I'm still not sure why US Coke doesn't jump on the "corn syrup sucks" bandwagon and make a more expensive pure cane sugar version like Pepsi has had for years. I'd certainly buy it and, I think, consume more Coke than I do today. (And I'm totally uninterested in the version with stevia and cane sugar. I want pure, real, unadulterated, beautiful sugar. Not that I think it's any healthier than HFCS. I think it tastes a lot cleaner.)

Why I Take My Asparagus out of the Fire and Into the Frying Pan

Another vote for roasting -- mine come out looking about the same as the ones shown here. Very easy to do larger quantities. Only issue is that very thin spears can VERY quickly go from perfectly done to winkled, dry, and stringy. Heat control is even more important when something is in the oven, out of sight and out of mind.

How to Make Rich, Flavorful Caramel Without Melting Sugar

@gg4465a

I don't think there's any reason to exceed 100C or even go as hot as 300F called for in this recipe -- if you're willing to take the time. Consider dulce de leche made from condensed milk by boiling the can for several hours. Same reaction, I think; just lower temperature and more time.

Pilsner's New Golden Age

I love the current craft beer situation. Some brilliant lagers, session beers so I can actually enjoy more than one, and cans! Where have you been all my life, beer that I can stack!?!? Good times.