• Favorite foods: Pizza, pizza, pizza. Fried chicken, burgers, steak, pasta, peanut butter anything. Ice cream, frozen custard, chocolate chip and molasses/ginger cookies, most anything with cinnamon (no tree nuts).

Latest Comments

Crimes Against Pizza: An Opinionated Guide to Not Messing Up Your Pie

I will grant that the rest of the article speaks truth - especially about sausage and pepperoni, an area where the standard NYC slice is often subpar. Pepperoni, in the immortal words popularized by Adam Kuban, should be little chalices of grease. And sausage should be placed raw in little nobs to cook with the pie. How people ever came to accept (or even prefer!) sliced, pre-cooked sausage on their pies is a mystery to me...

Crimes Against Pizza: An Opinionated Guide to Not Messing Up Your Pie

Niki running at Troll Level 10 today ("Casserole"). Disappointed by the previous editor of Slice. Fortunately, SE has driven off its pizza readership, so the old time Chicago Slicers can live in blissful ignorance.

The Food Lab: These Fried Chicken Sandwiches Take Only 5 Ingredients to Make

This is pretty much the old Chick-Fil-A recipe - the one they did on-site. Now, they get pre-brined chicken breasts that don't use pickle juice. As I'm not a huge fan of pickles (love vinegar, hate pickles), I'm happy they've lost the vague pickle flavor. A local fast food chain called Meatheads still does the pickle brine on their chicken - you can definitely taste it.

The Food Lab: Four Secrets to Improving Any Fried Chicken Recipe

@PAC13 - You can just add a little corn or potato starch to the flour instead of vodka. Kenji noted that cake flour was too weak, so we want something between cake and AP flour. One tablespoon per cup of AP flour will give you a blend that is about half way between AP flour and cake flour.

I'm a big fan of the Ad Hoc recipe for fried chicken - made it for 4th of July - but I definitely think I'm going to do a double fry next time. I've been doing the flour drizzle for years and it definitely leads to a craggier crust.

Zucchini Is a Terrible Pizza Topping! (Unless You Treat It Right)

Hmm... On the plus side - pizza post. On the minus side - zucchini pizza. Even Kenji says it's one of the blandest vegetables known to mankind. Methinks it was the onion, lemon and feta that was good.

What next? Jicama pizza? ;)

Chicago's Harold's is the Best Bad Fried Chicken on Earth

@tdp312 - I worked at CBOT back in the 90s and we called it Prison Chicken too. To differentiate it from "Chicken Planet" (the charbroiled place on Jackson) which was called Immigration Chicken as it was across from the INS/ICE/DHS building.

Chicago's Harold's is the Best Bad Fried Chicken on Earth

You didn't even mention the pseudo-random numbering of the locations. There is no rhyme or reason - #7 did not necessarily open after #6 or before #8 and it's not geographic. The only given is that no two franchisees will have the same number.

I've mostly been in the Loop, where Harold's is very hit-or-miss (as you say, it doesn't hold well and they precook there) and that's caused a number of them to close. My so-bad-its-good chicken place was Mickey's, across from the Cook County Correctional building. It's on a weirdly bad block (OK, across from a prison, but a block from the financial district) full of pawn shops, flop houses and fried food emporiums (fried fish and shrimp is further down the block). Mickey's is famous for their wings and their chicken fingers - you can eat like a (grease-loving) king for nothing.

So go to Mickey's, where the the owner is/was a Lebanese guy named "Mike".

The Best Lobster Rolls in Boston

The Kelly's lobster roll was the best one in Boston when I did my epic lobster roll crawl thru Massachusetts a few years back. There were better ones on the Cape, but Kelly's was a damned fine roll. Of the Boston rolls, it easily had the most meat, was dressed simply and had an excellently griddled, buttery roll. Neptune might have had a slightly better quality of lobster, but it wasn't night and day.

And, you can just go to Kelly's, walk up, order and walk across the street to eat on the beach. 5 minutes from walk-up to eating!

Hugh Acheson on the Best Southern Cookbooks and How to Cope With Your CSA

When I saw "advice on the best Southern Cookbook" and "CSA", my immediate thoughts were "really, a Confederacy reference"? :D

Serious Eats and The Food Lab Have Teamed Up With Anova to Bring You the Best Sous-Vide Guides On the Planet

So, if we have a non-Anova sous vide machine, will the app be useful or is the content so well integrated into the Anova infrastructure that it would be pointless to use it for the recipes?

How to Make Cemita Rolls, The Ultimate Sandwich Bun

@Kenji - So are these a hybrid of the Pueblan style (crunchy exterior, soft interior, slightly sweet) and the New York style (hamburger buns with sesame seeds)?

The Rise and Fall of the Lime Rickey, the Soda Fountain Comeback Kid

I picked up a craving for raspberry lime rickeys when I vacationed in Cape Cod 15 years ago - that and Sundae School/Four Seas ice cream. Funny that Serious Eats has managed to stories on both in the past week.

I used to do a traditionalist take on the raspberry lime rickey (seltzer, lime juice, raspberry coulis/sweetener or Torani if I got lazy). Now, I tend to use ginger ale for the seltzer - I always have it around and it's pre-sweetened.

My shake-my-head-in-shame but it's oh-so-good-and-easy version uses diet products - Diet Canada Dry, Torani sugar-free raspberry and lots of lime juice. Except for the petrochemicals, it's good for me! :D

Why Sherry Vinegar Deserves to Be Your One True Vinegar

I love having various vinegars. I've always been partial to sherry vinegar - it's an upgrade to most wine vinegars. I've been using a lot of chinkiang vinegar in non-Asian recipes too - it's cheap *and* delicious.

How to Clean Out Your Spice Cabinet and Organize it—for Good

I am fortunate to live about 5 minutes from The Spice House, so I've got a cabinet full of their little glass jars. They put on labels that explain the spice (or spice blend) and how its used (helpful for those oddball spices you linger over and buy on a whim).

The one thing they don't carry (to my chagrin) is long pepper. Max must have another source for that...

The Best and Most Accurate Way to Measure Wet and Dry Ingredients for Baking

Caption: "Your eye should be at the same level as the line when measuring."

Me: I didn't realize how important proper eye alignment was for using the tare function on a scale...

How to Make the Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen

@erica - Kikkoman makes a nonalcoholic mirin (Koterri Mirin) but it's easy enough to make a substitute. Mirin brings sweetness and a little tang, so you can substitute some simple syrup with some rice vinegar and a pinch of salt (say, 1/3 cup of simple syrup, 1/6 cup of rice wine vinegar, add a pinch of salt if the vinegar is unseasoned to get you the 1/2 cup called for in the recipe). That'll get you in the ballpark.

You could potentially do a 2-to-1 white grape juice + vinegar (I'd do that for small amounts) but given the large quantity in this recipe, I think the flavor might be too strong.

Our Vegan Month Progress: Week 3, Checking Privilege and Staying the Course

@drmstwizard - I'm all for empathy. I don't find privilege checking especially empathetic - for instance, your assumption that I am unaware of or disinterested in extreme disparities. I grew up on public aid in the 70s - I know exactly what it's like to see your single mom struggle to buy food for the family using food stamps and the embarrassment of having to sort your groceries at the checkout aisle because some types of food and household goods could be purchased with stamps while others had to be purchased for cash.

I also know what it's like to eat Hamburger Helper for 6 nights in a row, broken up by the occasional Tuna Helper. To this day, the taste memory of Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni makes me tremble. I am also aware of the taste of squirrel, bear, raccoon, rabbit and other critters because, in my family, you had to get your protein in whatever way it could come. My mom lived in a cabin in the woods with three siblings and no mom growing up - no electricity, no car, no running water, no plumbing. I'm actually really well aware of deprivation - even teeth are in short supply among my mom's generation.

But to many of us who were raised in real poverty, the social justice mentality of "privilege" and "intersectionality" seems condescending and elitist - "I care more than you do".

tl;dr - Expressing "empathy" is appreciated by all, "checking privilege" is a marker that brings more baggage than needed.

Our Vegan Month Progress: Week 3, Checking Privilege and Staying the Course

@crystalbunny - My neighborhood grocery store (family owned) would be right up your alley - they have an entire case of pre-prepped veggies. Peeled garlic, diced onions (red or white), chopped or sliced versions of every type of produce they carry - all in small tubs (bigger ones for bulkier foods).

If I was truly feeling lazy, I could just buy 10 tubs of stuff and make a full vegan meal in 15 minutes.

How to Make the Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen

@dorek and @Kenji - Yeah, I know the difference (I make both - my son's birthday meal each year is tonkatsu - the cutlet - with homemade sauce and sticky rice). Just fat fingered it, like the "tokotsu" in Kenji's reply. 😃

In terms of vegan vs pork, I'd make a lousy vegan not because I like eating critters (I do but feel guilty about it) but because my mushroom allergy means I can't eat most of the good vegan stuff. Trying to get "meatiness" without mushrooms is hard - you can try kombu and soy but those flavors are very distinct. I generally end up using browned tomato paste plus a little soy but it's not the same. I also have a ridiculous number of bitter receptors (I once had it tested - it's like 10x more sensitive than normal) so eggplant is only good in small doses.

But for those of you who love and can eat shrooms and eggplant, buon gusto!

How to Make the Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen

It may be the height of vegan deliciousness, but better than tonkatsu? I cannot believe that (primarily because I'm allergic to mushrooms, so I've never eaten a mushroom-enhanced broth and never will).

Pork rules!

Taste Test: The Best Fancy Drinking Chocolate

If they really want to avoid piling on the little guys, they could use a modified version of the CI template - recommended, with reservations and not recommended. Only write paragraphs on the recommended ones, a little blurb grouping the "with reservations" together and just a list of the "also rans". If the REAL issue is avoiding negativity, don't be negative about the also rans - just list them.

Taste Test: The Best Fancy Drinking Chocolate

Look, I love Kenji and he's definitely one of the good guys, but that explanation didn't fly then and doesn't fly now. It's rarely the "little producers" that fall to the bottom, it's the big (advertising purchasing) companies' cheap mass-market stuff that hits dead last.

Every one of these taste tests end up with a stream of dissatisfied comments - SE simply isn't reacting to them because we are not their customer - advertisers are. They need to find a balance between editorial content that does not offend potential advertisers and yet still draws eyeballs. In the early years, that balance was very much on the "eyeball/reader" side, which got them a loyal audience but lost money.

The balance has swung to the "make advertisers and sales" happy side, which makes the old readership grumpy but probably doesn't bother the new casual readers. I used to tease Kenji that SE was becoming a glossy and he'd scoff, but it has.

SE used to be the better, web-centric version of Cook's Illustrated - more open, more modern and more approachable with a small but devoted readership. That's hard to monetize (hence the CI model of "charge three times for the same content") especially on the web.

SE is now the better, web-centric version of Food Network Magazine - more in-depth and web-savvy than FNM but with an increasingly similar sort of "browser/grazer" readership. FNM doesn't have taste tests - they just recommend some products and give you a few paragraphs on them. Easy skimming material - quick hits mean more page views. This is a far more sustainable business model but is in serious tension with its historic brand. So us old timers see "taste test" as a betrayal of the original brand while editorial probably sees it as bridge from old (taste tests) to new (SE Recommends or What's Hot).

No one gets upset at the advertorial balance at FNM - that's who they are and what they sell and they get a readership that is fine with that. SE gets blowback because they are changing (fairly radically) while denying they are changing in any but the most benign ways.

In the end, it doesn't matter - SE needs to do what it must to survive. The grumpy old-timers will eventually leave and the comments sections will fade away or become the "OMG, SO YUMMY!" variety. Most articles are already that way.

SE used to really be "the destination for delicious" but now it's more of a "something pleasant to skim while waiting for a Food Lab article." At least, that's what it is for me - from a several times a day addiction to a check in occasionally habit.

Taste Test: The Best Fancy Drinking Chocolate

These taste tests where you try over a dozen brands and then just list the top three are really annoying. You have no idea of what was tested but didn't make the cut. The new Serious Eats tests are so much inferior to the old ones (with rankings!) that they're basically just advertisements.