Win a Copy of 'Marcus Off Duty'

We feed sudden groups with tacos . . . either fish or beef, with plenty of "fixins", including the quick pickled red onions from the Big Flavors of the Hot Sun cookbook by Schlesinger and Willoughby, Rick Bayless' red rice, and some doctored up beans.

Win a Copy of 'The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook'

We have a squash casserole from DH's "MeMa" that is to die for. Summer squash, cornbread, onions, thyme, cream of something soup, butter, cracker crumbs . . . OMG, I think I might need to figure out if we have the ingredients in the house to make it RIGHT NOW . . .

Win a Copy of 'The Meat Hook Meat Book'

The most intimidating cut of meat for me is the standing rib roast of beef. Not because it is difficult to cook (I find the potato gratin with mushrooms and blue cheese that I like with it more of a pain in the keister), but because I know that if I mess it up, I will have ruined a $85 piece of meat.

As for intrigue . . . I would love to know how to prep out some sweetbreads . . .

Win a Copy of 'Mother Daughter Dishes: Reinventing Loved Classics'

Sacher torte mit schlag (whipped cream), with everything made from scratch, including the berry jam between the layers (usually from the prior summer's stash). This was my birthday cake of choice for many years . . .

Cook the Book: 'The New Southern Table' by Brys Stephens

PBLT - Pimiento cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. With a little hot sauce for good measure (and maybe a side of slaw).

An Open Letter to Serious Eaters

Please do not kill Talk. For work-related reasons, I do not Facebook or tweet and would lose the ability to participate in what has been one of my favorite on-line communities. If you want those discussions to be more available, then how about just setting them up so that they can be used with Tapatalk?

Cook the Book: 'Joy of Kosher' by Jamie Geller

My family did not (and does not) keep kosher, nor do I. When Passover rolls around, I stay Pesahdik -- no yeast, no bread, no corn, no soy -- but still do not keep kosher. Because I grew up with many Sephardic friends, this means that my house features dishes like shrimp and rice casserole with during the holiday. We also do not worry about heschers so long as the ingredient list does not have anything prohibited on it, so Passover presents an excellent opportunity to indulge in "better" ice cream and gelato or to make it at home!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: La Quercia's Secret Weapons Pork Kit

My husband . . . because he does most of the cooking!!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: The Perfect Steak Set from Double R Ranch Co.

1 3/4 inch Delmonico steak for two (medium rare) at Bern's Steak House.

New York Dining Recs Wanted

Thanks, Max! That all sounds good!

Food Halloween costumes!

Last year my son was a lobster (with pot and all) and the hubs and I were chefs.

We are planning for my son to be a hot dog this year; DH may go as a baseball player (hot dogs and baseball, get it?). I have not figured out what I will be yet.

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Doughnuts

The Donut Plant creme brulee donuts are unbelievable deliciousness. Basically dessert in portable doughnut form. I would seriously consider serving these as the last course at a dinner party. Get three -- they're small!

The Glazed & Infused raspberry bavarian is the best jelly doughnut you ever ate. Ever. The filling is so good and the doughnut is so fluffy. Go to the Fulton Market location so that you also can pick up a sandwich to go at Publican Quality Meats.

And for the old school vibe, glazed Krispy Kremes, hot off the line in Raleigh, NC at 4:00 a.m. during finals week . . .

Eat Your Way to O'Hare Airport: Where to Feast Near Chicago's Blue Line, Plus 12 Essential Bites

And don't forget -- once you get to O'Hare, Nuts on Clark has THREE locations. Their caramel corn is so good it is ri-donku-lous!

Cook the Book: 'From A Polish Country House Kitchen'

Without a doubt, the combo works best in colcannon as made by my mom's bestie, who hails from the Cork region. Delicious as eaten by me both as an occasionally picky seven year olds and an omnivorous adult!

Red Onion Jam

I saw this included as part of the Thanksgiving planning guide. Do you think it is freezable (as I do successfully with strawberry balsamic freezer jam)?

Things I Wish Existed: Shake Shack Double Double Animal Style

OMG look at those fries . . .

Why Nacho Cheese Doritos Taste Like Heaven

Nacho Cheese Doritos = MEH.

Cool Ranch Doritos = All-time favorite snack classic. Reminds me of studying for AP exams and college finals.

Lime & Chile Tostitos = Current corn chip obsession. Best with Marzetti's Southwestern Ranch Veggie Dip.

Artisan Series Chipotle Tostitos = Limited edition deliciousness. Stone ground corn results in best texture. Excellent with seven-layer or bean dip.

More chip articles, please! I would love a series on local chip preferences (Charles Chips, Wise, Old Vienna Red Hot Riplets/Pork Steak Riplets/Sour Cream & Wisconsin Cheddar, Spudmaster, Guy's etc.) I even volunteer to come along on an Old Vienna chip research expedition (the plant is about 20 minutes from my house) . . .

Las Vegas: Five Best Burgers on the Strip

On QPR, In 'n' Out still is the best burger in Vegas. Yeah, you need a cab ride to get to the one on Sahara (my preferred location), but you would need a cab to get from The Venetian to Mandalay Bay if you wanted to go to Burger Bar. And you pretty much can be guaranteed that there will be a drop off at In 'n' Out while you are there that you can catch back to the Strip.

Gadgets: Microplane Garlic Mincer

I love gadgets as much as the next gal, but we have an "alligator" garlic mincer that essentially does the same thing and cleaning it is a nightmare. I end up having to take a toothpick to the thing every time to get it to come clean. Net net, it is easier to mince by hand -- my knives come clean really easily!!

Bake the Book: 'The Sugar Cube'

My favorite food truck was the old school ice cream man that used to come down my street when I was a kid. He always had Creamsicles and Rocket Pops on his truck!

Sometimes it's the simple things in life . . .

AHT Giveaway: Case of Pat LaFrieda Burgers

Sounds like a great opportunity to get our local "Wine Therapy" group together to definitively determine the perfect wine to enjoy with the perfect burger. All in the name of science, of course!

How do you prefer whole lobster?

Steamed, with clarified butter a/k/a my annual birthday supper. I don't need fancy (or unfancy) sides or condiments (although lobster with chili hollandaise is pretty terrific), just a giant "wompster" (as I called them when I was little), newspaper on the table, some poultry shears, a hammer, and a shellfish pick.

That said, I never miss a chance to partake of the Pearl Oyster Bar lobster roll when I am in NYC. Much neater to eat . . .

Family Food Traditions

Sunday morning = Brunch at home of bagels, cream cheese, lox, onion, macaroni salad, whatever else my dad picked up at the deli. On the (very) rare occasion that Sunday brunch occurred out, it always was somewhere that smoked fish was served.

Sunday night = Chinese food. When my brother was five, the only foods he would eat were ramen noodles, Spaghettios, mac and cheese, PB&J, grilled cheese . . . and spareribs. Usually two orders.

Spending a Franklin, Would You Rather Spend It-In-House or Out?

We probably would stay in these days, because half of the Benjamin would have to go to pay for babysitting!

Cook the Book: 'My Pizza'

I have read about it and plan to try it out . . . just as soon as I figure out how to get my seven month old to sit still long enough for me to get it done!!!!!

Philly - Reading Market Area - After Hours

We are travelling to Philly and spending one night there before travelling on to see family.

We should be to our hotel near the Reading Market by about 4 p.m. and thought we would head right over there to walk around before it closes at 6:00 p.m., along with pretty much all of the establishments in it. However, coming from points west, times before 6:00 p.m. Eastern are pretty early for us for supper.

Any suggestions for eating in that area after 6:00 p.m.? We will be two adults and one moderately well-behaved (but still highchair sitting) toddler.


Keeping Green Tomatoes

A friend just gave me about 10 pounds of green tomatoes.

I have no problem turning them into green tomato chutney, but I will not have the time to do it until the weekend (the recipe I have takes about three hours to cook, plus the time to hot process and I simply do not have four-plus free hours any day during this week).

How do I make the tomatoes stay green until the weekend? My current thought is either to set them out in a single layer in on a towel on the bottom of our wine unit (where it should be a nice consistent 55 degrees) or to put them on the floor in the back bedroom of our finished basement (where it should be in the mid-60s most of this week if I close the door).


New York Dining Recs Wanted

The hubs has a conference in NYC starting Thursday afternoon and running through Friday night; we are going to stay in the City until mid-morning Sunday. We are staying near Times Square (Yes, we will get some snacks at the Theater District Shake Shack!).

DH has conference stuff Thursday afternoon and evening and until Friday evening. Friday night, we will be going to dinner with people from the conference, so that probably means steak somewhere (maybe Maloney & Porcelli) or Blue Ribbon with this crowd.

Saturday afternoon we are going to catch a show, grab early dinner at Pok-Pok, go to cabaret show, and then late supper somewhere.

Sunday morning we plan to get up pretty early and hit our favorite Lower East Side joints (Donut Plant, Kossar's, Yonah Schimmel, Russ & Daughters) before getting the plane.

I have Thursday after about 3 p.m. and all day Friday until cocktail hour to myself and I need to figure out where to eat that will be comfortable for me alone. Also, the hubs and I would like some suggestions for Friday dinner (in case we can get away on our own), and Saturday brekkie, lunch and late night.

DH and I have been to a number of the faves here on prior trips (e.g. Eleven Madison Park, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Esca, Delmonico, Pearl Oyster, The Breslin, Ippudo).

Suggestions? We are open to eating high or low and grazing (i.e. hitting a couple spots in one night) and flexible on location, although we would prefer not to spend all of our time trekking around.

St. Louis Serious Eats Day - February 18

Yes, we know we are doing this ahead of most of the rest of the world, but tomorrow was the preferred day for those who could commit. I prefer to think of it as the gala kickoff to a festive week!

The info:

Date and Time: Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 12:00 noon

Place: Milagro Modern Mexican, 20 Allen Avenue #130, Webster Groves, MO 63119

Who: All Serious Eaters who live, work, or happen to be hanging out in or near "the Lou" and their spouses, significant others, children, acquaintances, or other random people who like talking about food and eating tasty stuff!

Probability of churros = 100%

See you there!

Gel mats

DH cooked over the weekend and now is complaining that his back hurts. He already has kitchen clogs, but when he is in the kitchen for hours at a time (like over the holidays), they just do not get the job done. He claims that the kitchen rugs that recently bit the dust only partially mitigated the problem and now wants to buy the fancy Gelpro mats for the kitchen.

Now, those mats are spendy, to say the least. Before we go dropping a couple bills on them (because we need one large rectangle for the stove/island intersection and one runner for the sink/dishwasher/second workstation area in our kitchen), can anyone who has had experience with these give reviews?

Are they worth it? Do they stand up to hard use? Are they ugly? Will I ruin the mats walking across them in heels? It really would help to know these things about any of the available brands/products and alternatives.

Thanks in advance!


This was one of my favorite features on AHT but there have not been any recent additions to it. What's the deal? Won't someone step in and ask, say, Warren Buffet or Meryl Streep about their burger preferences? Enquiring minds want to know.

What's Serious Eats in Vegas now?

DH and I are heading to Vegas next week for the (more or less semi-annual) trip. We are planning on a total of seven to ten meals (lunches, dinners, breakfast/brunch, late night, snacks). We will of course be hitting our faves (Lotus of Siam, Raku late night, L'Atelier for a tasting menu, some Bouchon Bakery pastries), but want to mix it up a bit. We were thinking about dining at some or all of the following:

Hot and Juicy Crawfish
Mozen (for their sunday brunch)

Any thoughts from those of you out in Vegas or who have been recently? Note that we have been to most of the established spots in Vegas over the years and are looking for different and tasty options.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Questions on pickling garlic scapes

The scapes arrived at my local farmer's market this weekend. We picked up three bunches that had a dozen scapes to a bunch. The plan is to use one bunch for garlic scape pesto and two bunches for pickling tomorrow afternoon.

This will be my first time pickling scapes. I have seen a number of recipes on-line, but I have some questions.

1. Some recipes say to use only the straight part of the scape, but some recipes say you can use the whole scape. Any opinions? Experiences?

2. A number of the hot process recipes I have found call for 45 minutes of processing, which seems like an awfully long time. (They all seem to come from one source.) I just pickled asparagus two weeks ago and those processed for only ten minutes; the pickled scape recipes in the books I have around the house (Canning for a New Generation and Put 'Em Up) call for 15 minutes of processing. Can I safely change the recipe to process for 15 minutes?

3. Some foods do better as refrigerator pickles and some do better in a hot water bath. What are your views on refrigerator pickling of the scapes versus hot water processing?

4. One of the recipes that appeals calls for fresh basil leaves in each jar. I have used an assortment of fresh peppers and dried herbs in pickling, but never fresh basil. Will it turn an unappetizing color?

As always, thanks in advance for your help on this!!

Freezer strawberry jam

After a long winter, it finally is strawberry season! Tomorrow DH and I will be going to buy a flat or two of early berries to turn into sorbet, frozen berry bits of goodness (whole frozen berries) and strawberry freezer jam.

Last year I made freezer jam using the recipe on the back of the Sure-Jell freezer pectin bag (amped up with a little creme de mur). It turned out great! However, I would appreciate any other recipes, ideas, or tips.

I do have one specific question. We make a lot of jam and I would like to have some variety. I have some great vanilla balsamic from Oakville Grocery and cannot help thinking it really would be a great addition. Can I successfully add balsamic vinegar to the fruit mixture without impacting the jelling?

As always, many thanks to the SE community for your insight on this!

Emergency road trip help needed

DH and I are on a two day whirlwind road trip down through Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and into Florida down to Broward county. (Long story, don't ask.) However, we figure we are entitled to at least eat a couple good meals on the way.

We are taking Highway 24 through Nashville and Chattanooga, then 75 through Altanta down to the Florida Pike south until we hit Broward.

Any eating suggestions relatively close to the highway? Informal and not a lengthy meal (but tasty) would be best.

Note that we will hit Nashville in about three hours, so speed counts. Thanks in advance!!

Spicy refrigerator pickle recipe help needed!

Last summer, DH and I made our first foray into refridgerator pickling. We made pickled spicy okra with a great recipe from Lisa at Homesick Texan and did great pickled jalapenos from David Lebovitz. The results were delicious and a big hit as host/ess gifts at barbecues. We even had a "pickle plate" as part of our Thanksgiving meal!

Pickling season has rolled around again and this year we want to try cucumber pickles. I adore bread and butter pickles and plan to give the Alton Brown recipe a try.

However, DH is accusing me of "pickle discrimination" because he likes his pickles spicy. Can anyone recommend a refrigerator pickle recipe that will yield crispy and spicy cucmber pickles that will keep the "pickle peace" in our home?

Thanks in advance!

Chicago's Maxwell Street Market - Guidance Requested

DH and I are going on the annual Memorial Day eating tour of Chicago this weekend. Just to change things up, we are going to go bright and early on Sunday morning to the Maxwell Street Market to view and partake.

Any suggestions on vendors and/or delicacies not to be missed? Tips on vendor location and parking also would be appreciated!

Transporting Food in Carry On Luggage

So DH and I are flying to NYC for our anniversary in February. We have not flown to the City since December 2001. Back then, it was not a problem to have Zabar's pack us a cooler bag to travel with caviar, whitefish salad, chubs, etc. and a Cool-Pak and to carry it on with us. However, we now live in the "no liquid or gel" age and I expect that TSA has a narrow view about what chilling apparatus can be brought on board.

DH and I hope to acquire some of our favorite delicacies, including bialys, knishes, a assortment of products from Murray's Cheeses, and the aforementioned whitefish salad to carry home. Checking perishables is not my favorite option because it risks both lost luggage and spillage.

Has anyone had any experiences bringing what I would call "semi-solid" food like whitefish salad and softer cheeses on a flight? Can you get them through security? And how did you keep them cold? Will TSA allow a Cool-Pak or similar to be carried on?

Thanks in advance!

Chicago Lunches

I am spending Memorial Day weekend in Chicago with DH and our friends . . . let's call them Mr. and Mrs. Reservation. Mr. Reservation travels and entertains a lot for his job and appears to have eaten at pretty much everywhere worth eating. He always knows about the hottest new places almost before they open (we ate at Alinea within six weeks of its opening and L2O within a month of its opening) and is the king of scoring the tough reservation.

As you might expect, dining with Mr. and Mrs. Reservation involves very serious eating, both of the fine and roadfood varieties. We already have reservations at Schwa, Takashi and Perennial for dinners. I expect that we will be bringing wine to Perennial and far too much wine to Schwa. (Travelling with Mr. and Mrs. Rez often involves bringing a lot of ibuprofen and having cab fare.) We will, of course, hit Hot Doug's for dogs and duck fat fries. I am adamant that we get to Double Li for what someone on this site accurately dubbed "chicken crack".

That leaves us with two lunches/brunches left to fill. I would love to get Mr. Rez to a place he has not heard of or that is really new for midday meals that are particularly tasty. One key element is a menu that will allow us to taste a wide variety of items, but will not kill us with portion size (as I anticipate that there will be far too much food and wine at dinner each night).

Serious Eaters, our lunches are in your hands. What do you suggest?

On the Hunt for Cocoa Peeps

Let me say up front that I am a big fan of Peeps regardless of the time of year or theme. Yes, I know they are a bit tacky, but to me it is not spring without consuming a few packages.

However, last year I found the most delicious Peeps ever . . . COCOA PEEPS BUNNIES! Yes, all that marshmallowy, sugary, Peepy goodness, but in a lovely warm cocoa brown shade and with a tasty light cocoa chocolatey and sugar outside coating.

I could not get enough of them and consumed several packages last spring. I have been eagerly looking forward to their seasonal return.

The problem is that I cannot locate these anticipated delicacies anywhere. I purchased them at Target last year and none are to be found there. (There is not even a space where they used to be as evidence of their continued existence.) Nor can they be located at Walmart, Walgreens, my local grocery stores (I have looked in about half a dozen of them so far) or any of an assortment of area vendors with large holiday candy displays.

I am discouraged by the thought of spring without the cocoa bunny Peeps. Has anyone seen them anywhere? Does anyone have advice on obtaining them?

And finally, I have seen "orange cream" Peeps eggs in the stores this season. I tried the Peeps peppermint stars last winter around Christmas and found them inedible. Has anyone test-driven the new flavor? Is it worth trying or will I be happier sticking to the classic chick Peeps this season?

What to eat the night before Thanksgiving?

My inlaws will hit ground around mid-afternoon the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and then will proceed to be "in the house" (both literally and figuratively) as we put together the holiday meal.

We do not like to go out to supper the night before Thanksgiving because we have too much work to do on the festive meal. I also would like to avoid cooking something different entirely when I am struggling to keep enough measuring implements, bowls and pans clean for cooking as DH and I use them.

I would love to find something that could be cooked and assembled the weekend before Thanksgiving and then frozen and either reheated or baked on Wednesday afternoon. Quick and easy would be a bonus. I am not averse to throwing a side salad together to accompany, but do not want to do much more actual cooking than that so DH and I can concentrate on the preparations for the festivities.

Any suggestions? Recipes?

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