Josh Mandel

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The Food Lab: The Best Meatloaf

@starbuckscout, that sounds like a pretty ultimate umami bomb!

Sometimes Sweeter Is Better: Mini Hawaiian-Style Salmon Burgers

I don't want to be one of those people who looks at an online recipe and says, "Ooooh, man, that looks GOOD!", but ooooh, man that looks good.

The Food Lab: 5 Steps to the Best Grilled Shrimp

It also matters what *brand* of Kosher salt you use. Diamond and Morton are the two biggest brands by far, but while Morton's are flakes (and thus much more easily compacted), Diamond is still in a crystalline shape. A cup of Morton's salt weighs 8 ounces, but a cup of Diamond only weighs 5 ounces. Cook's Illustrated always specifies Diamond. Make something with Morton by mistake, and the dish will be WAY too salty. Perhaps that's played a role here?

The Subtle Secrets to Making the Best Ice Cream Mix-Ins

@RobC_: Jeni, of Jeni's Ice Creams, always adds melted chocolate in a thin stream during the last couple minutes of churning. We've followed her directions (as in her first ice cream cookbook) and never had anything less than ultrasmooth, superior results. My guess is that if you add the warm chocolate as it's churning, yes, you melt a little batter, but as you're still churning, the ice cream is re-frozen in the proper manner, preventing crystallization. It's not the same as putting a warm ingredient into already-frozen ice cream and having it refreeze into rough crystals.

Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

@Kenji: Thank you kindly for the clarification. It's difficult for me to believe that this version could be that much better than the full-buttermilk, unseparated eggs version that's taken its place, but I'm certainly game to try it. :-)

Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

Waitaminnit, I'm SERIOUSLY confused.

This was not at all the recipe it was a week ago. I have the printout. Even the name has changed from "Light and Fluffy Pancakes" to "Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes."

Moreover, the original recipe -- the one I printed out a week ago -- did NOT call for sour cream and did NOT call for separated eggs and whipping the whites. It called for 16oz of buttermilk, and you simply whisked the eggs 'til frothy and then whisked in the melted butter, and finally the buttermilk.

What the heck is going on here? The recipe I made this week (twice now) and adored has mutated to something significantly more complicated (making a meringue!) and requiring more ingredients.

VERY confused!

Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

@Kimin Kim: you need an acid, such as the buttermilk contains, to activate the baking powder and baking soda. This is baking, so the recipe is finely tuned to each of the ingredients. You can't really just substitute ingredients in baking and expect a similar (or even acceptable) outcome. You'll want to find a recipe that's already tuned not to use an acid if you don't like buttermilk or any of the substitutes.

Just made this for the first time today, for my 9-year-old daughter and her friend and myself. Fantastic. My daughter was reluctant, because she's used to diner-style pancakes, which she finds inedible after the first couple of bites. She snarfed up seven of these without blinking, and loved them. So did her friend and I.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Scrambled Eggs, Your Way

My wife likes her scrambled eggs with all the life cooked out of them: very dense, without a hint of moisture anywhere. I hate them this way, but now I know the best way to (shudder) achieve it!

GREAT article, Daniel, as usual.

The Ultimate Mad Men Finale Dinner Party

+1 for dpnash. My first thought was, "Rumaki."

Ricotta and Black Pepper Gnudi With Sage and Brown Butter

My situation turned out close to AnitaW's. A skin never really formed; the balls were moist and pliable, even on the surface, even after sitting in the semolina in the fridge for a full 48 hours.

As a result, when I cooked them, most of them burst, a few of them held together in the cooking water but burst by the time they finished cooking in the butter sauce.

Still delicious, but really, no skin at all. Followed the directions to the letter.

The Best Matzo Ball Soup

By the way, I just finished making this recipe! (I had to cheat a little on the chicken soup aspect as I don't have the ingredients to make homemade stock handy.) It's fantastic. I opted for almost-impossibly-light balls; I used seltzer and 3/8 teaspoon of baking powder.

The only thing I would say is: the balls were absolutely done after 30 minutes. Didn't need a whole hour.

The Best Matzo Ball Soup

@Lxsinmarin: Streit's isn't closing. They're just moving out of their old, outdated facility to a new one (probably in New Jersey).

The Best Matzo Ball Soup

Two huge thumbs-up for this article, Daniel! I've been waiting for it! Matzoh balls TODAY!

Do the Hokey Pokey: How to Make Chocolate-Coated Honeycomb Candy

@sbp123: I would buy one of those metal ice cube trays, line the bottom with parchment and spray the insert with cooking spray, and pour the molten mixture into that! Voila, perfect cubes!

Make Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi in Less Time Than it Takes to Cook Dried Pasta

Absolutely wonderful recipe. Made these for dinner tonight. Even my 9-year-old, who normally eschews anything in tomato sauce, devoured as many of these as she could. Thank you, Kenji!

Taste Test: The Best Fancy Drinking Chocolate

I heartily agree with the sentiments of those who say that taste tests that omit comparative reviews of all the entries are FAR less useful and FAR less enjoyable. We have to see what you thought of the others to really understand what YOUR benchmarks are and see how they match up to our own experiences.

Otherwise, just call it an advertisement and be done with it.

Better Than Parm? Dried Olive and Miso May Be the Ultimate Pasta-Topper


I'm with you. Cannot find an olive I can stand. The only one I've tried that I kinda almost like -- and you might want to try this if you haven't already -- is the oil-cured kind. They're small, black, wrinkly...and very meaty. I use them chopped in a pasta salad, and they're more than endurable, they're almost enjoyable. :-)

The Vegan Experience: How to Make a Rich and Creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Patrick, King Oysters and Royal Trumpets are exactly the same thing. I think the article or recipe even mentioned that. So you're all set!

How to Make Dulce de Leche From a Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

If the pot is large enough, can you do two cans simultaneously? Or is this, for some reason, not a good idea?

30-Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken With Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Chorizo


Presoaked chickpeas are still uncooked and aren't like the ones you'd get from a can (which are already cooked and tender). But if you soak them overnight, just drain them, put them back in the pressure cooker with a tablespoon of oil and the appropriate amount of water, and bring them up to low pressure and maintain it there for five minutes. Let the cooker cool off for about 15 minutes naturally, then release any remaining pressure and remove the lid. If they're not done, simmer them on low for a few more minutes. And then you've got cooked chickpeas which can THEN be used in the recipe!

Making Panela at a Colombian Sugar Mill is Still a Low-Tech Affair

With over 20,000 producers, they must eat a LOT of panela. I would be so interested to hear about whether or not they suffer from the same health effects that we Americans do from our high-refined sugar diet, or whether the nutrition from the added plant material ("impurities") helps circumvent those conditions. (But I know that there may be many other factors at play...and that one doesn't come to Serious Eats to read about nutrition!)

The Secrets of the Juiciest, Most Tender and Flavorful Italian-American Meatballs

Hey...jnj2 is right, "egg and milk-soaked bread have no place in meatballs or meatloaf," and, absent a couple of hundred years of established tradition, I guess that's correct. Hey, if you go back far enough, neither garlic nor basil have any place in Italian cooking, either.

The Secrets of the Juiciest, Most Tender and Flavorful Italian-American Meatballs

Niki, fantastic!! I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the definitive matzoh ball exposé!

The Secrets of the Juiciest, Most Tender and Flavorful Italian-American Meatballs

Now that Daniel has tackled meatballs, I find myself fervently wishing he'd take up a similar (in form, if not in function) task: figuring out matzoh balls, a topic that the Food Lab seems reluctant to approach. "Floaters" and "sinkers" use identical ingredients (matzoh meal, eggs, and oil), yet are miles apart in texture and flavor. Why the differences? How can you dependably create one or the other? This is another culinary "ball" mystery that has yet to be solved!