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Why Serious Cooks Use Carbon Steel Knives

For a long time, I lived in denial of how strong my feelings for carbon steel are. People would ask me what knives they should buy, and, unless they were professionals, I'd always steer them towards stainless steel. I figured I was giving good advice, since stainless steel is more forgiving, and most home cooks are looking for ease. But now I'm going to tell you what I really think: if you take cooking seriously, if you're ready to invest a little bit of time and a lot more care, and—this is a big one—if you're willing to sharpen your own knives, then carbon steel is where it's at. More

How to Make the Best Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs, stars of 1960s-era cocktail parties and IKEA shopping trips, are, on the surface, pretty simple: a mix of pork and beef that's lightly spiced and served with a rich gravy. Getting them just right, though, requires some fine-tuned tinkering. Here's our ultimate version, as good on a plate with buttery potatoes and lingonberry jam as speared on a toothpick. More

How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

We love cast iron here at Serious Eats. We know many of our readers love it too. And for those who are really, really serious about it, the next step is to go vintage. But just how do you fix up a rusted century-old pan? We went to a pro to find out. More

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes That Travel Well

Hosting Thanksgiving is a daunting task. Also daunting: bringing a dish with you to a dinner hosted by someone else. It needs to be something that can withstand travel and requires minimal work once you arrive—because the kitchen is going to be chock full of insanity. Here are a whole bunch of great ideas. More

How to Crack Eggs Like a Badass

For the most part, the best way to proceed in the kitchen is carefully and deliberately. But there are times when you need to get a big job done, and fast. Or maybe you just want to show off a little pro-style flair to impress your friends (we don't judge). Regardless of your reason, here's a technique for just such occasions: cracking eggs one-handed. We break it (and plenty of eggs) down. More

Tacos de Canasta: How to Make the Perfect Potluck Taco

Tacos may not seem like the kind of food that you should assemble an hour before eating, which is why I've never thought of them as a particularly good potluck dish. But that's because, until recently, I'd never encountered tacos de canasta, a special variety of taco sold by bicycle vendors in Mexico that are made in advance and get better as they sit. This is the potluck taco you've been waiting for. More

How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

@qwiksilver As was noted in the comments above, you can neutralize the lye solution by slowly adding citric acid before disposing of it safely

Spice Up Your Holiday With Three Spiced Nuts Variations

@pete I suppose you could say that, although I really had no opinion one way or the other about which I thought I'd like more. This wasn't a case of me going in with preconceived notions and then having my bias confirm them, I really just wanted to see and taste a side-by-side so that I could have a clear picture of how egg whites affected the coating. It was really just educational for me in developing the recipe and deciding what path I would take. None of them are bad, by the way, so a lot of this just comes down to personal preference. As much as we test rigorously here, and confirm or dispute commonly held notions through a methodical, scientific approach, the truth is a lot of recipe development is not born of a scientific study-based approach but of imaging a desired end result and then finding creative (or traditional) ways of getting there. Sometimes it's interesting to isolate a variable to get a better sense of the role it's playing in the recipe, and to share that with readers so they can see, for example, why a spiced nut recipe may or may not have a certain amount of egg white (they may decide they want to add more egg white to theirs, for instance, if they desire an airier coating). I do poll my colleagues from time to time and their feedback is invaluable, but at the end of the day I create a recipe that I, as the developer, feel the best about. As amazing as science is as a tool for better cooking, there's a point at which I feel that reducing cooking to strictly science and science alone does a disservice to it. Sorry, longer response than you asked for, but you got me thinking :)

Spice Up Your Holiday With Three Spiced Nuts Variations

@vegan The no-egg version is very good, it creates a more shiny lacquer on the shell since you're basically coating the nuts in a candy coating. I think you could do all of these recipes with no egg by substituting a quarter cup of water, blending it in a saucepan with the sugar and spices, cooking the water out of the syrup and coating the nuts, then baking per the instructions. Slightly different texture, but it'll be close. The cashews are a no-egg recipe so you can use that as a template (just omit the olive paste and rosemary part).

@hungrydan I don't have a recipe for tamari almonds off the top of my head, but I might try making a syrup with 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and then enough tamari to make it the dominant flavor, cook off excess liquid and toss with the almonds to coat and then roast.

Spice Up Your Holiday With Three Spiced Nuts Variations

@pete I managed to do my own tasting before the nuts went missing, so I had clear notes of my own on their differences.

Point/Counterpoint: What's the Queen of Christmas Breads?

Fruitcake is GROSS! :)

Why Serious Cooks Use Carbon Steel Knives

@dauthi I understand your point, and it's definitely worth it for everyone to explore all the myriad steel and other options when choosing a knife--including all those alloys that are exceptions to what I'd written that I alluded to in the original story above. But I don't think you're right to say that I'm comparing apples to oranges. In the great pantheon of knives around the world in modern times, if we were to add it all up, there are two basic types of metal that have far outnumbered all the others: the types of carbon steel and stainless I've described above. These two general categories of metal have been available for decades at all price points, from dirt cheap knives to incredibly expensive ones. That's not apples to oranges, that's apples to apples. I know that the carbon steel knife in my photos is an expensive one, but inexpensive options are out there too, and they too will be easier to sharpen than the vast majority of stainless knives most home cooks are considering to buy. The thing is, this was a personal story about why I love carbon steel so much, and so I was comparing it to the bulk of the stainless options on the market, not an in-depth consideration of every knife metal and how they compare. Anyway, I hope I don't sound too defensive--I really appreciate you and everyone who has added to the discussion in the comments here with more thorough information on knife metals--but I also want to point out that the basic premise here was why I love one of the most common knife metals more than another of the most common knife metals, not which is the best knife metal of all possible knife metals. Honestly, I think we agree with each other and are basically on the same page, it's just that I'm emphasizing the general rule here and ignoring the exceptions, while you're pointing out the exceptions.

Why Serious Cooks Use Carbon Steel Knives

I know there are stainless alloys out there that go against what I've written (I tried to acknowledge that in the post, but I guess it wasn't enough), and I also know about stainless-clad knives with a carbon core, in fact I own one. Of course, in singing the praises of carbon steel, I took the liberty to generalize (again, something I admitted in the piece), but I still think, based on my experience, that what I've written holds in the majority of cases. I have a drawer full of knives of all kinds of brands: Wusthof, Henckles, Shun, Global, Sabatier, Messermeister, Lamson, F.Dick, Victorinox, and on and on and on. Some of them are great knives that I use a ton, but not a single one of them sharpens as easily as my carbon steel blade, not teaches the respect that carbon steel does. That's really my point. There will always be exceptions.

Why Serious Cooks Use Carbon Steel Knives

@campcookie I assumed the same thing for a long time, but if you read up on steel, most sources agree that carbon steel is harder than stainless. I don't know why carbon is easier to sharpen, though my colleague Max likened it to hard cheese: a hard cheese like parmesan grates more easily than a soft cheese like brie. Perhaps that's an apt analogy, I don't know. It certainly makes some sense that a more brittle metal like carbon steel, even if it's harder than stainless, might flake off more readily on a sharpening stone.

@catriona That is I, not a stock photo.

Why Serious Cooks Use Carbon Steel Knives

You're In luck: Kenji has already written guides to knife sharpening and honing with stone-buying tips: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/04/knife-skills-how-to-sharpen-a-knife.html And honing how-to: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/04/knife-skills-how-to-sharpen-a-knife.html

@independentgeorge I'll be the first to admit I'm not a master sharpener, and gave up trying to answer things like the 15 or 20° question. The one law I live by that makes the biggest difference for me: consistency of angle. Pick an angle and stick with it! ;)

Pressure-Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto With Frizzled Sage and Brown Butter

@FuzzyChef If you can be more specific about the parts you find unclear, I'll do my best to explain the steps better. I'd certainly welcome the opportunity to improve the recipe instructions any way I can.

Juicy and Tender Swedish Meatballs With Rich Gravy

@I_Fortuna It depends on the type of salt you use. Table salt will definitely be too salty, but kosher salt shouldn't be which is what the recipe calls for (I tested with Diamond Crystal). Unless you are sensitive to salt, in which case you can add less, cook a test meatball, and then taste to see if it's right for you or not. You also have to count the additional ingredients, it's 4 tsp of salt for 2 pounds of meat, 2 eggs, about 1 cup of minced onion, and nearly 2 cups of bread.

How to Make the Best Swedish Meatballs

@dtremit Some of my earlier gravy batches had dairy, but to be honest, it wasn't doing much for me so I eventually took it out. I think the gravy's flavor is cleaner without it, yet still silky and creamy as far as its texture goes. That said, you could always finish the gravy with cream if you want to. It's certainly not bad!

Juicy and Tender Swedish Meatballs With Rich Gravy

@ncarreiro Yes, that's right. I used Diamond crystal-- are you worried that it's too high or too low? I tested multiple times so I'm pretty sure it's right. If you're unsure, you can always cook a test meatball and adjust salt accordingly before cooking the whole batch--that's actually always a good idea since different people have different salt preferences. What's right for me may not be right for you (though none of my tasters...about 10 of them...complained about salt levels).

How to Make the Best Swedish Meatballs

@Liam781 Funny you should mention buttermilk--that's exactly what I've been playing with (and preferring) for an Italian-American meatball recipe that's in the works. I didn't see it in CI though, though it's not surprising they've published it...it's natural to experiment with the liquid medium for the panade. I'll give you one hint now though from my tests: wine is a terrible idea.

Why You Should Own a Pair of Good Kitchen Shears

@RobC Good point, I'm putting a pair in my zombie-killing kit now! ;)

Crispy Mashed Potato Casserole With Bacon, Cheese, and Scallions

@porpoise Yes, the reheating temperature and time are flexible. You will need to keep an eye on it to prevent burning, but you should be able to reheat at a lower temperature for a longer time, or at a higher temperature for a shorter time; 480 is very high, so there's some risk of burning there, so I'd maybe cover the whole thing with foil to prevent the top from burning and only uncover for the last 5 to 10 minutes or so. Also keep in mind that the turkey will have to rest for at least 20 minutes after you've cooked it, so you have that time as well to use the oven.

Equipment: Why a Y-Peeler is the Best Vegetable Peeler

@kcAA Ha, yeah, that's a good point. In the comment thread I make a few additional points that pertain more to y-peelers in general (the pulling verses sweeping motion, I think, is generally more efficient and easier once you get used it to), but it's true that much of what I like is specific to the Kuhn Rikon, and indeed, that's the brand I look for. But I really didn't want to sound like I was shilling for that company specifically because they aren't the only ones who make a peeler that fits this description. This one, for example, is common in Europe but a little harder to come by here in the States. It's Swiss, carbon steel blade, wide grip, the works, but not made by KR. I've used the full-body metal ones before and I like them a ton too. So in my mind my allegiance is less to the company and more to the specs.

Roasted Spiced Lamb Ribs With Whole Grain Mustard Sauce

Yeah, if you want the meat to fall off the bone, definitely go longer and lower.

@sar_t That bone is a little annoying, but I just work around it with a knife until I cut it free.

Equipment: Why a Y-Peeler is the Best Vegetable Peeler

@vegan Video isn't working for me, is he using a scrubbing motion with a double-sided peeler blade?

@anononnie That's exactly it: once you behold the speed that's possible with a y-peeler, there's just no contest. A cook who's become deft with a y-peeler can just fly.

Equipment: Why a Y-Peeler is the Best Vegetable Peeler

@drROK Because the blade is carbon steel, it will rust if left wet after using, so it is important to wash and dry the peeler and not leave it sitting with fruit or vegetable juice on it. That's true of all carbon steel, but to me it's worth it for all the benefits of carbon steel. Anyway, it's not a defect of the tool, it's a fact of it, and the Amazon reviewers simply don't understand what they're working with.

@okupin In my experience, the y-peeler is faster and easier even on straight vegetables than any straight peeler I can remember ever using. While I haven't measured it with an instrument, my arms tell me the opposite of what you're postulating: the y-peeler, in my experience, requires less effort because of the pulling motion, which gets an assist from the weight of your hand/arm, whereas a straight peeler requires your wrist to subtly counteract the leveraging forces caused by resistance against the blade as you peel. Also, because the carbon steel blade is so sharp, it bites and cuts with more ease, so that also requires less force overall. But of course I have no solid proof of any of this beyond my own experience. Anyway, as someone who grew up using only straight peelers and then switched to y-peelers when I began working I restaurants, there's no contest for me, I'd rather have a y-peeler in my hand, and not just because it's cheap.

Roasted Spiced Lamb Ribs With Whole Grain Mustard Sauce

@Zach It can be a hard cut to find compared to other more common cuts. Track of lamb won't substitute well here for the reason you suggested - - overcooking will ruin them. Try a butcher or the meat counter at a good grocer or supermarket; it could require a special order.

Roasted Spiced Lamb Ribs With Whole Grain Mustard Sauce

@winow It's 2 hours total cooking time, not 1 hour (ballpark of course, as in any recipe the doneness tests are more important than the time estimates...Depending on the size of the ribs and other factors it could take longer.) True it isn't as low and slow as it could be, but mine were tender. Note that I'm not going for falling off the bone here, which would require more time.

@jantar As far as I am aware, "between" the bones is the most accurate English recipe terminology, and is used in recipes all the time. "Through" the bones, on the other hand, would be a terrible suggestion. Is there a wording you think is better?

How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

@Yuka_O From a technical perspective, I have no idea, but you get bonus points for creativity. From a practical perspective, I'm not sure why one would want to go to the trouble (isn't mineral oil easier? or why not just season right away and avoid the whole issue entirely?)

How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

@arjun It's basically drain cleaner, so I think it could go down the drain as long as you aren't worried it'd somehow damage the pipes in such large amounts. I'd maybe have cold water running just to dilute it as it goes down. Anyone see any reason not to dispose of it this way?

How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

@Joel In theory it's possible to sand down a modern pan to achieve a vintage finish, but I have no idea how to do it the right way.

The Ultimate Fully Loaded Nachos

What does it take to make an incredible plate of bar-style, fully loaded nachos? For starters, at least three kinds of cheese, two kinds of beans, and two different applications of creamy, tangy dairy. It may sound like overkill, but there's a method to this madness. More