Josh Mandel

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The Best Roast Potatoes Ever

I don't know who this Deborah Cross is, but if you look at her comments, every one of them is an advertisement for a book. Is this sanctioned?

Silky Sweet Potato Pie: A Fresh Twist on a Southern Classic

Gotta give Stella her due! For Thanksgiving, I made her crusty dinner rolls and this pie, along with her recipe for the crust and the brown sugar whipped cream. While *every* one of these got specific compliments, I think it was the piecrust that had several family members over the top, really singling it out as the best they'd ever had, wonderfully flaky and crisp *even under the filling.* I think it may've changed a few minds about what they even thought was possible. Thank you, Stella!

Silky Sweet Potato Pie

Given my astounding success with your crispy dinner rolls, I'm making this pie (for the first time) for Thanksgiving. I know it violates the rule of "dont make anything for the first time for a dinner party," but I'm short for time.

I'm wondering if I can make the piecrust in advance (like, today, since it's nice and chilly in the kitchen -- Albany fall!) and freeze it 'til Thursday. Given the high moisture content of the crust, if I blind bake it and freeze it, will it be significantly the worse for wear?

The Best Dinner Rolls (Fluffy, Crusty, and Chewy)

@Stella: did a test batch of a few of the frozen ones on the KA parchment sheets. No sticking. So I guess my first batch stuck due to cheapo parchment. As Ralph Kramden says, "It pays to buy the best." :-)

Crisp and Fluffy Dinner Rolls by Way of Japan...and Bagels

@Jenlovesfoie: you can just toss out that dough blade. It doesn't do nearly as good a job as the regular metal blade, and someone -- was it Kenji? Probably not, it must've been Cook's -- did some testing and found the dough blade pretty inferior and worthless. I've made three batches of these rolls so far, using the metal blade each time and processing for the full 90 seconds. No overdevelopment of gluten. You're good to go.

The Best Dinner Rolls (Fluffy, Crusty, and Chewy)

@Stella, yep, they stuck to the parchment they were baked on.

Now, I'm not sure what brand these are because I bought a no-name brand once when I'd run out of the King Arthur sheets. However, this time around (I'm making a double batch for Thanksgiving, I just stuck the boiled rolls in the freezer five minutes ago!), I'm replenishing my supply of King Arthur sheets in time for Thanksgiving baking. :-)

I'll let you know if they stick to the KA sheets, but I have faith! Thank you again for the stellar recipe. ;-)

Equipment: The Best Electric Kettles

Once more, by not listing *all* the contenders you looked at, Serious Eats does us a huge disservice.

If you can't list all the ones you tested, better not to do product tests at all.

Use Gelatin to Improve Pan Sauces, Store-Bought Stocks, and Beyond

@predson, the notion that gelatin is good for fingernails and joints was disproved a long time ago. This medical "knowledge" was cooked up by Knox's marketing department *over a hundred years ago,* purely for marketing purposes (they wanted to find new avenues for people to ingest gelatin, so they made a drink and invented medical claims for it at a time when you didn't have to prove your claims. There's zero science behind it. Supposedly, Knox's rationale was that since some percentage of gelatin is made from cow hooves, and cows' hooves are hard, thus your nails will be hard.

Unless you have a specific nutrient deficiency, there's nothing you can take *orally* that will affect the quality of nails or the speed of nail growth. Maybe you had a protein deficiency earlier? (Gelatin is mostly protein, yet it's not very good in terms of usability; most of it is excreted. Still, if you had a deficiency, it might've helped.)

The Best Dinner Rolls (Fluffy, Crusty, and Chewy)

Made these last night. Huge hit; best rolls I think I've ever made. My only fly in the ointment was that most of them stuck (some quite badly) to the parchment after baking.

Use Gelatin to Improve Pan Sauces, Store-Bought Stocks, and Beyond

@scalfin, some Kosher gelatin is, indeed, fish. In my experience, fish gelatin (from the skins) is weaker than what you get in those little Knox packets. You may need to adjust your recipes.

@Richard in Jax, these days, the vast majority of gelatin is made from pigs, that's why people -- especially Jews, Muslims, and vegetarians -- keep looking for alternatives.

Overnight Sous Vide Bacon

Just finishing making it. I think it's the most you can make out of a strip of bacon. The meat was tender all throughout, except where it had been crisped; the fat melted away instantly, even the large cup-shaped areas of fat that look insufficiently cooked. All kind of the platonic ideal of bacon.

BTW, I, too, am experiencing the bug where you can't just view comments. It's a problem on Chrome, but not on Firefox.

The Food Lab: For the Best Broccoli Cheese Soup, Divide and Conquer


Huge thanks to you for attempting this experiment. It occurred to me that asking Kenji about it might not be productive, because (clearly) he'd dismissed that idea and moved on...meaning he probably hadn't tested the proper proportions and so on.

I'll await hearing about the results of your experimentation!

New York-Style Pizza Sauce

So silly. At one time long ago, tomatoes THEMSELVES would not have been considered traditional Italian food.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Me four! I have sodium citrate in my kitchen (doesn't everyone these days?) and would love to use it!

It looks fantastic, and as this is one of my favorite soups, I'm really looking forward to making it. Thank you, Kenji!

How Bad Wine Led Me to Great Shrimp Scampi

Wonderful article, and I'm looking forward to making it.

But I'm a little surprised that you didn't try the approach that Kenji has praised for making a restaurant-quality sauce at home: bloom a bit of gelatin for it.

How to Clean and Maintain Cast Iron

I think it'd be extremely useful to know the temperature (or temperature range) at which polymerization of the oil occurs. That way, with a cheap IR thermometer, you could easily tell when your pan's hot enough to polymerize -- and you don't have to worry about underheating it, overheating it, or wasting energy by heating it longer than there's any reason to.

How to Season a Cast Iron Pan (It's Easier Than You Think!)

@dwestenk, it will take a lonnnng time to make the pan smooth. Many, many layers of the seasoning will have to build up before you reach that point.

How to Season a Cast Iron Pan (It's Easier Than You Think!)

@dwestenk, it will take a lonnnng time to make the pan smooth. Many, many layers of the seasoning will have to build up before you reach that point.

How to Season a Cast Iron Pan (It's Easier Than You Think!)

I have a question, Daniel. (BTW, loved your stern appearance on Masterchef! So intimidating!)

Once in awhile, I add a layer of seasoning by heating my cast-iron pan 'til it's smoking, and then rubbing and buffing it with a thin layer of oil.

Occasionally, once the pan has cooled, I'm left with areas that feel a little gummy or sticky. I'm wondering if this is because I overheated -- or underheated -- the pan before pouring in the oil and wiping it out.

Have you ever experienced this?

Dinner in 20: For the Best Fried Chicken Cutlets, Use Clarified Butter

@Beenz: ya gotta read the comments. Quote Daniel Gritzer from the comment section of the article you're referencing: "Ghee IS clarified butter."

Yes, the milk solids are browned when making ghee. But what you're making is still clarified butter. Just because its flavor is subtly different from clarified butter made by stopping the process before the solids are browned doesn't mean that it's not butter that's been clarified.

DIY Pudding Pops

These look wonderful, and I'll be making them tonight or tomorrow.

By the way, have you tried Green & Black's milk chocolate? It's definitely on the more-chocolatey end of the spectrum for an American milk chocolate.

Mortar and Pestle + Food Processor = Great Curry Paste, Fast

@Kenji: I, too, would love a video of correct mortar and pestle use, although your description of the action *probably* tells us all we really need to know.

Classic Blueberry Muffins: Fast, Simple, and None Too Sweet

Made two different blueberry muffin recipes this past week: yours and the Jordan Marsh recipe from the NY Times. Yours were the hands-down favorite, and everyone agreed that they were, indeed, amazingly tender without being too crumbly.

My observations, were I to pass your recipe along to friends: 1. Don't be put off by the amount of batter you put into each tin. This truly does make 12 perfectly-sized muffins. 2. Mine were baked through *before* becoming brown on top. Next time, I'm going to bake them closer to the top of the oven so that I get more browning before they're done. 3. Not using liners, I found that they were so tender that a couple of them, run through with cooked blueberries, were difficult to remove from the tin in one piece. Foil liners would help that, but I'd rather not lose the browned sides and bottom.

The Food Lab: A Mind-Blowing Technique for Cleaning Deep-Fry Oil Using Gelatin

Count me as another voice in favor of learning more about chicken-fried shrimp!

Crispy Home Fries With Red Onions and Roasted Poblano Pepper

@Kenji: Okay, you will never catch me using the s******* word around here again!

I'm making these as we speak. Is the timing in Step 3 correct? It's taking me a lot longer than 6 minutes to brown these puppies on (more or less) all sides.