Michele Humes

Serious Eats contributor, rabbit enthusiast, pedant.

Video: How to Make an Egg Ocarina

I really like this guy. TJ and I once spent an entire evening watching him construct and "play" his entire range of vegetable ocarinas. They all sound kind of awful, but his futile passion is winning and contagious.

Pet Peeve: it's "ballotine," not "balantine".

Kenji, you'd need either an i before the double-L or an e or y after. "Maillot de bain," bathing suit, is pronounced mah-yo; "chantilly," of course, is chohn-tee-yee.

I have this theory that the "balantine" hybrid word came about in part because of Ballantine's whiskey.

Re: mayo, I guess I'm saying that the offending aioli might actually have the teeniest smidgen of garlic in it. Oh I don't know.

Pet Peeve: it's "ballotine," not "balantine".

Kenji, it's not pronounced bah-yo-tine. It's bal-o-tine. And aioli and mayonnaise are, as I'm sure you know, different things.

The Food Lab: Turkey Brining Basics

Thanks, Kenji! Norman Rockwell is rolling in his grave a little, but hey :)

I have only ever made one Thanksgiving turkey (am a recent arrival to US) and I basically pretended I was cooking a very large version of Thomas Keller's "poulet roti a ma facon." So I salted my unbrined, unstuffed bird like crazy--with coarse salt--and put it in a roaring hot (450) oven for 2 hours. Didn't touch it or baste it during that time. Fast and moist, but, like I say, I don't have a lot to compare it to.

Which is all to say that if you ever feel like doing a exhaustive, and surely exhausting, comparison of methods, I would be very eager to see how that method stands up. I won't hold it against you if you don't, though.

The Food Lab: Turkey Brining Basics

I have a couple of questions about how your findings apply to an actual Thanksgiving turkey, since most of us will not be eating just the breast :)

1. How does brining affect the skin of the bird? I notice that you sear the breast to crisp the skin. That's not really possible with a whole bird, so what would you recommend in that case?

2. Certainly a breast is at its juiciest at 140-150F, but, if the breast part on a whole bird is at 145F, then the thigh is almost certainly still a little undercooked, right? (That's true for a chicken, at any rate.) How would you get around this? In school, we'd sometimes remove the cooked chicken breast and return the rest of the bird to cook for a little longer, but this doesn't seem practical with a whole turkey.


Macaroni Soup with Ham for Breakfast in Hong Kong

My favorite breakfast in the whole world. They usually come in sets, so you can choose a breakfast drink (tea, coffee, 1/2 tea 1/2 coffee, Ovaltine, or Horlicks) and a big piece of crustless toast with butter, peanut butter and/or sweetened condensed milk. Heaven.

Gadgets: The Original Muffin-Top Tin

If you just dolloped circles of muffin batter on a regular sheet pan, do you think they might come out sort of like domed tops anyway?

There was an opportunity here to post the Muffin Top song clip from 30 Rock, and it was missed :)

Out of the Box: Dr. Oetker Ristorante Mozzarella Frozen Pizza

I really love Dr Oetker 4-cheese. And the brand boasts pretty impressive picture-on-box fidelity, don't you think?

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Gin-to-Vermouth Ratios in Martinis

I don't know the exact ratio used, but I've been known to ask for my martinis "wet." I like vermouth! Where's the fun in a glass of neat gin?

My belief is that people are ever more concerned with appearing sophisticated and making the "correct," tasteful choice--which generally ends up meaning the dryer the better, whether it's chocolate that's 1 million % cacao, or avoiding rieslings, or, in this case, dispensing with the vermouth. It's all very silly.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Shrimp Rolls with Homemade Chive Mayo

@maggiej That's really cheap! I had heard that they were cheaper this year but that's pretty considerable. Is $8.99/pound for whole, uncooked lobster, or...? I gotta check it out.

@DELICIOUS Heh. Careful there, or people will think I'm on Zapp's payroll.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Shrimp Rolls with Homemade Chive Mayo

@delilah I've actually only found them at a very expensive "gourmet" store we have called Dean & DeLuca. If anyone has any other sources for Zapp's, please speak up!

@jammin83 Come back and let us know how it went!

@daemon Yes, assuming your boss is wearing a laser monocle. Please.

Fashion Fail: Burger and Fries Outfit

It's by Jeremy Scott. Here's more from the collection:

Eat for Eight Bucks: Coq au Two-Buck Chuck

@dpisping I don't dispute that a wide range of dry wines, both red and white, can be used. But cab and shiraz are far more tannic than merlot, which could potentially lead to a really astringent sauce.

South Brooklynites--Question

The city's much cheaper, but if I want to stay in Brooklyn I like Cook's Companion on Atlantic. Plus it's right next to Sahadi's and Damascus Bakery, so I can pick up a slice of baklava on my way home :)

Eat for Eight Bucks: Coq au Two-Buck Chuck

@realhound Shiraz and Cab are too full-bodied for a stew like this, which uses only wine for the braising liquid. Merlot is a lighter varietal and better suited to this dish.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Coq au Two-Buck Chuck

@nasochkas Nobody is asking you to drink it. Not drinking it is kind of the point :)

@crankycakes Thanks for the kind words!

@borrais I would suggest that you use a favorite boeuf bourguignon recipe--say, this one, which has very similar ingredients--and simply substitute the Two-Buck Chuck.

@nicochi Thanks! I'm really glad it worked out.

Sugar Rush: Cherry Snow Cone at Num Pang

I tried this yesterday and they were so stingy with the syrup and cherries :( It's a nice flavor with good potential but they're not really executing it properly.

We also got a lime/lemongrass one, which was so sour and bitter that we threw it away after a few bites.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 80: Remembering Our Serious Eater Beagle Brass

I'm sorry, Ed. What a good, sweet dog.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Coq au Two-Buck Chuck

@carriebwc That was a bad call on my part. In the UK, where I lived last, the two varieties are commonly available side by side. In fact, smoked bacon will work just fine.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Coq au Two-Buck Chuck

@laurelie I hoped that I'd made it clear that my perseverance paid off but I guess not :) Hot plate cooking really is tough, though...takes eons for the thing to get hot enough and then even longer to cool it down again.

The Nasty Bits: Southern Fried Gizzards

I've never had gizzards any other way than confit-style or in Chinese watercress soup (those were duck gizzards, I believe). But I have Southern-fried innard experience with chicken livers, marinated and breaded much as these are, but bigger and meatier.

Collard greens

Word Coinage: 'leopard spotting'

What with all the upskirt leopard-spotting, this is starting to sound like an over-cougarization of the pizza lexicon.

Laura Ling's Special Soup Revealed, Sort Of

There's nothing herbal about watercress soup. It's, as @e_ting says, "tasty and consomme-like." If it's a traditional Cantonese watercress soup it'll start with a broth of pork bones and contain duck gizzards, too. It's so popular that Campbells actually makes a special watercress and duck gizzard canned soup just for the Asian market--or used to, as I can't find it on the website anymore.

Jamba Juice's New California Flatbreads: We Ate Them So You Don't Have To

(a) Surprised "Californication" pun has not been made in some form.

(b) They're not even flat. Not. Even. Flat.

Hot and Sour Soup is Neither Hot Nor Sour

I'm sick to death of having to doctor hot and sour soups with vinegar and chili, even at otherwise respectable Sichuanese places. I have yet to find a Chinese restaurant in New York serving one that can legitimately carry this name.

Please point me in the right direction.

Marjoram: What is the deal?

It occurred to me that it's been years since I've seen marjoram either called for in a recipe or boasted about in a restaurant dish.

Furthermore, I can't actually summon the taste in my mind. What does it taste like? Can you buy it fresh? Who here uses it, and how?

Place Setting from Hell

This illustration by Natalie Dee is an accurate representation of how I feel when faced with a confusingly elaborate place setting. I can already sense the mocking from my dining partners for my unfamiliarity with bread screws. Related It's All Made of Foam 'Sitting in This Bottle Since 2003'... More

In Videos: Depression Cooking with Clara

Depression Cooking seems to be making the rounds on all the blogs again. I thought that we blogged about this gem of a video series before, but I think I'm just remembering the link that Moibec posted about in Talk back in October. Well, if you haven't seen it yet, meet 93-year-old Clara, who cooks up meals from the Depression. In the one here (after the jump) she cooks "Poorman's Meal"—a hash of potatoes, hot dogs, onion, etc.—for her appreciative grandson and his friends.... More

Russian Food Styling

Русиан фуд стылинь ат итз финест. This gallery of Russian meat-product styling is pretty amazing. I don't know if it's a joke or not, but the backgrounds, embellishments, and props that accompany the sausages and such are really baffling. [via Fine Furious Life] Update: It looks like it's genuine. Here's the official site for the meat products.... More

Baoguette: Great Vietnamese Sandwiches in Murray Hill, Possibly the Best Banh Mi in NYC

A banh mi (the word itself means baguette in Vietnamese) is essentially an Asian hero sandwich. The classic is filled with pâté, slices of what can only be described as pork loaf, pickled vegetables, fresh coriander, jalapeño slices. It's dressed with fish sauce, mayo, and hot sauce (usually Sriracha) and served on a warmed baguette. Could the chef-driven banh mi shop be a rising trend? More

Sweet Potato Fries at Fredhots and Fries in Chicago

Contrary to popular belief, not all weird game meat tastes like chicken. Sometime it tastes like cow. Exhibit A: the reindeer sausage at Chicago’s wacky suburban sausage emporium Fredhots and Fries. A couple of years ago, owner Fred Markoff introduced an Alaskan reindeer sausage topped with grilled onion and mustard, Maxwell polish-style (a polish sausage in lieu of the reindeer makes it a classic Maxwell). As with most extreme food related ideas, say Kobayashi throwing down 40 pounds of encased animal parts at the Nathan’s Famous dog contest, burning folks' tastebuds off with the hottest wings ever, or deep-frying Twinkies, the media stumbled over themselves to cover the moment. There was a whole spate of twisted fathers scarring their... More