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MichaelNatkin

Congrats to Caroline Russock, Philly City Paper's New Food Editor

Way to go, Caroline! I can only imagine how much work the SE gig was - if you bring that much passion to Philly you are going to kill it.

Michael Natkin's Aromatic Tofu Packets

You can find the banana leaves in the freezer section of any good Asian grocer.

My Favorite Japanese Meal: Yudofu, or 'Hot Water Tofu'

In Seattle, fresh Yuba is available at Northwest Tofu at 20th and Jackson St. Good stuff.

Have You Tried Modernist Cuisine at Home?

Indeed, I'm working my way through MC as well, and am greatly inspired by it. It adds so much context and reliable info to what has been somewhat of a confusing set of resources in the past. Here's my take on the famous MC caramelized carrot soup: http://bit.ly/pFzFsi.

Yaki Onigiri

Not so sure about the advice to leave rice out at room temperature for several hours. The general safety rule is no more than 2 hours in the danger zone from 40-140 degrees F.

Sunday Brunch: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Interesting... I'd never heard of GBC before, and then I happened to see a prepackaged snack of them at Walgreens the other day. I'm not normally tempted by plastic wrapped drug store snacks, but this one was odd enough ("St Louis style Gooey Butter Cake" ?!?) that I was tempted, though I fought it off. Odd to see it here just a couple days later, now I know what it really is. Thank you!

Quesadilla Fritas (Fried Quesadillas) with Pickled Jalapeños, Cilantro, and Chipotle Crema

This same method works awesome with corn tortillas. Frying with enough oil makes all the difference. I've written about it here: http://www.herbivoracious.com/2008/07/quesadilla.html

How to Make Your Own Cocktail Bitters: Krangostura

Good lord. Don't let the idiotic comments get you down, Zach. I was just thinking about learning how to make bitters and was planning to do some research, and you just handed me the keys to the car in one neat, easy to follow post. Thank you!

Maple Syrup Caramels

What is the purpose of step 2? Why wouldn't it work to just stir the cream, butter and salt into the sugar caramel at step 4?

Serious Beer: The Best Pumpkin Ales

I'm a big fan of Lakefront Brewery's pumpkin, from Milwaukee.

No Oven Required: My Peanut Butter Cup Runneth Over

I personally love that slight amount of grit in the Reese's filling. My thought, not yet tried, is to use tapioca maltodextrin to dry up the oiliness of the peanut butter and create a sandy texture. I'd add some finely ground sea salt to it as well.

Seriously Meatless: Polenta with a Leek and Mushroom Ragu

A young, semi-soft pecorino would be superb. The truffle-flecked kind if you are feeling indulgent.

Serious Heat: Obsessed with Gochujang, the Korean Chile Sauce

Love the stuff. It just has so much more flavor than typical hot-sauce bases. I've noticed that affinity for soft-boiled eggs. Here's another dish, with a crispy pancake made from soba noodles.

What Can a Vegetarian Eat at The Bazaar, Jose Andres' Temple of Molecular Gastronomy?

@erOck - yes, they leave the anchovies out when they do a vegetarian version of it.

Keftes De Prasa, the Sephardic-Style Leek Fritters

I don't think they would ever be as crispy in the oven, but they might be ok. Far and away the best way to eat them is out of the frying pan, onto the plate, salt, fork.

Seriously Meatless: Polenta with a Leek and Mushroom Ragu

@akatzman - I've heard good things about the oven technique but never tried it. I see no reason it shouldn't work well, though for me the stovetop technique doesn't seem to be any big deal either. I've never been sure why folks act like it is such a trial.

Mobile Chowdown 3: Seattle vs. Portland Street Food

Great job, Jay! As it happens I'm down in PDX right now and had *two* whiffies pies for dinner last night (a vegetarian empanada with pumpkin and soyrizo) and a raspberry. It was too bad they couldn't make it up for the Chowdown, no doubt they would have been a big contender.

Taste Test: Store-Bought Tofu

@Kenji and the rest of the silken gang -

Ok, I just went and bought three firm silken tofus - Island Springs (Organic), Azumaya (Organic, not labeled firm, just silken, but quite firm), and Mori-Nu Organic Firm (unlike the Mori-Nu non-organic extra firm I used before).

I've got several thoughts.

(1) There is a lot more silken tofu out there then I realized. I've been tofu blind. Probably because I tend to use tofu a lot more in fried applications, and I've always associated silken with soft. But that isn't correct.

(2) The Azumaya was good; I could eat it up plain, no problem - which confirms my thought that I'm not anti-silken :). The Island Spring was slightly sour, but it also expires just a few days from now, which goes back to my point above - you really want tofu that was made as recently as possible.

(3) The Mori-Nu Organic Firm was *much* better than the Mori-Nu Non-Organic Extra Firm. (I wish I could change just one variable, but that is what was available). Downright edible. It definitely has more of a dead, long stored taste than the bright flavor of the Azumaya. But not disgusting. Now I'll have to try and get the other two Mori-Nu's (organic, extra firm and non-organic firm) to see which was the original problem.

Taste Test: Store-Bought Tofu

@dwebs - the only other place I've seen it is Uwajimaya, and that is pretty close to the factory. Uwajimaya also carries Chuminh, another locally produced brand.

Taste Test: Store-Bought Tofu

@Kenji - fair enough. Time permitting, I'll go by Uwajimaya and see what other silken tofus I can scare up and add a note.

Taste Test: Store-Bought Tofu

@steamsoldier - thanks for pointing that out. You are quite right, the Nasoya is organic. I think I actually transposed that detail with the Sun Luck, which appears not to be organic. I will double check tonight and get the article corrected.

@everyone - I've got no problem with soft silken tofu. I like it quite a lot. I've seen no evidence that firm silken tofu is a traditional product, and the Wikipedia page on the topic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu#Fresh_tofu) seems to concur. And it hardly seems surprising that a shelf-stable product like Mori Nu is not going to be as good as fresh.

Taste Test: Store-Bought Tofu

@all - no slight intended against all of the other Asian cultures in which tofu is made and appreciated! I should have said "In Japan, for example, ...", as indeed there is a deep tradition of wonderful tofu in many other countries.

With regard to the need for a blind taste test, that is a valid point - though honestly it wouldn't have made a difference. I can tell the same-day local product from the grocery brands blindfolded, and that Mori Nu extra firm I would have spit out no matter what. Someone else who genuinely likes tofu, go buy the Mori Bu *extra firm* and tell us what you think. Maybe I'm alone on this one, but I don't think so.

Overall, my biggest two takeaways:

(1) Freshly made local tofu is generally going to stomp any other choice. Freshness counts.

(2) I was surprised there wasn't more difference among the grocery store brands. If you had told me they were all made in the same factory I wouldn't have been surprised at all. All that really made a difference was expiration date / freshness.

Taste Test: Store-Bought Tofu

@franko - I understand silken when it comes to the soft varieties, but the combination of silken + extra firm I found revolting - I wouldn't want it in a soup or anywhere else.

Try Making Refried Beans in a Pressure Cooker

I'm going to stop arguing with you, because you clearly aren't listening. The Bayless and Kennedy fundamental frijoles refritos recipes both start with frijoles de olla, and both proceed to fry the beans. One with onion, one with onion and garlic. Nothing Tex-Mex about it.

Try Making Refried Beans in a Pressure Cooker

You are quite right that there are large regional variations throughout Mexico, which is why I find your original assertion that Mexicans don't use onions or garlic kind of silly. It is going to vary from cook to cook. The recipes I cited from Bayless and Kennedy are not some obscure variation; in both cases I cited their *most fundamental* recipe for refried beans.

(And yes, you are quite correct that refried means well fried, not fried twice. The recipe I've given here doesn't really involve any frying at all, so is quite inauthentic in that way, though plenty tasty.)

What is your favorite cook's treat?

In case you don't know the term, a cook's treat is any little odds and ends or "waste" materials that you snack on while cooking. A couple of my favorites:

- little crispy bits of anything in the saute pan if I'm not going to deglaze
- weirdly, I like to drink any liquid left in the pot after wilting greens, even strong ones like mustard greens

I mentioned another one over in this post about a grapefruit crudo I made recently.

So what do you secretly snack on? C'mon, tell!

What Will You Do For Your Coffee?

Ok, I'll start. Even though I'm completely sleep-addled with a 4 month old who needs bottles in the night and a 3.5 year old who has just discovered the power of getting out of her bed 10 times a night, I still take the time before bed to get the pot all set up, and set my alarm 15 minutes before the munchkins wake so I can brew and have a few sips in peace. It might not sound like much, but sacrificing 15 minutes of sleep right now is a big deal.

So what will you do for your coffee?

What Kind Of Vegetarian Recipes Are You Looking For?

As the author of a blog mainly about vegetarian recipes, I think my perspective gets a little bit skewed. I've been a veg and a serious cook for 24 years, so I have a repertoire of dishes in my head that I'd like to share with other vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

So help me out! Are you looking for quick & easy or more complex "project" recipes? Are you trying to introduce more healthy meals? Entertaining recipes or weeknight suppers? Something for a potluck? An emergency dish when you have to entertain a vegetarian friend? What vegetarian topics interest you?