A very happily married man with 2 kids. I make my own bread, I'm learning to make cheese. I can cook almost anything and I love that cooking combines science and art. I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets...

  • Location: Lizella, Ga.
  • Favorite foods: Beef, Any and all seafood, cheese, breads
  • Last bite on earth: King Crab Legs, Lobster, or Oysters.

The Food Lab: Rethinking Beef Stroganoff

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It has really been bothering me when a recipe says to brown your mushrooms in 4 minutes and I've always thought I was doing something wrong... now I know it's not me, it's them!

The Food Lab's Definitive Guide to Buying and Cooking Hams

To do anything with a country ham besides slice it and throw it in a skillet for breakfast meat seems odd to this southern boy...

Grilled Cabbage With Spicy Thai Dressing

I made this last night and HOLY CRAP was it good! I didn't even have the mint leaves and Cilantro, and the dressing was still amazing. Even my wife, who still squirms at the idea of fish sauce, loved it! The sweet, sour, spicy really worked great together. I think I'm going to marinate a pork loin in this and see how that turns out... my expectations are high.

The Food Lab: Use the Oven to Make the Best Darned Italian American Red Sauce You've Ever Tasted

Will this recipe scale well? I'm thinking of making it in my largest stockpot (at least the largest that will fit in the oven), portioning it out and freezing. I'm worried that the aromatics may become too powerful when tripled or quadrupled. What say you?

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: The Sriracha Lover's Ultimate Gift Pack

It's the bomb on an omelet!

Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Old Overholt Rye

It appears you guys don't quite get Will's genius. I would highly recommend you go back and read all of the past bottom shelfs (shelves?!) to see how it works. I would venture to say that Will's post are some of the most popular in all of SE. Hey if you still don't like it that's cool but it doesn't mean that you are superior. For God's sake he's reviewing BOTTOM SHELF booze what do you expect him to do? Try to make it serious and sophisticated? It would be like a somolier writing an in depth review of Andres Cold Duck.

Drinking the Bottom Shelf: McAfee's Benchmark No. 8 Bourbon

This has led me to risk renewing the search for my whitest booze whale: a backup bourbon for those cruel and magical occasions when I have $12 and an evening to kill but the liquor store doesn't uphold its end of the bargain by stocking Old Crow.
That doesn't mean you settle for something besides Old Crow, it means you drive to another booze supplier who has the decency to carry a REAL cheap bourbon.

Equipment: How to Buy, Season, and Maintain Cast Iron Cookware

By all means you can use a glass top. I've been using one for nearly 10 years now and use almost exclusively cast iron for my day to day cooking. The only time I have ever had any problems with electric at all was with an old school electric stove with the old metal, round burners. It heated up so fast it cracked my cast iron griddle via thermal shock... that was a sad day.

Poll: What Pizza Practices Are Unacceptable?

My pet peeve is people who think Pizza Hut makes a good pie...
Sure it's edible, but in the time it takes to have it delivered, I can make three pies from a quality dough that actually tastes good. Oh and those three pies cost half of what one Pizza Hut pie costs...
@mfrapp you're dead right about the toppings overload.

Taste Test: Bottled Iced Tea

Not to spark a political debate, but I'm curious about Rush Limbaugh's "Two if by Tea" brand. Has anyone tried it? If so, what did you think?

Has anyone built a sous vide cooker?

And I guess you noticed that I decided to build a self contained unit. It has a little submersible pump but the relay I have just won't run the heaters and the pump at the same time. So I'm using a water pump from an old rock garden/water fountain we had packed up in the garage. I don't know how long it will last at these temps but I've done two 24 hour cookings and two 72 hour beef ribs. So far so good. Total cost a little over $100 but I blew up a water pump because I hooked it to AC instead of DC while having a brain fart... oh and my 7 year old burned out one of the heaters by plugging it in while not submerged. So I could build one from scratch for ~$80

Has anyone built a sous vide cooker?

Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Rebel Yell Bourbon

Congrats on setting the date Will. Since it seems like you'll be covered in the toaster department, I'll send you some Old Crow Reserve and my personal recipe for the best whiskey sour money can buy. Oh hell here's the recipe: 7 cubes (or half moons) of ice, 2 shots of Old Crow Reserve, .75-1 shot of SE's DIY sour mix. Stir, and imbibe.

Hot Dog of the Week: Nu-Way Weiners in Macon, Georgia

Aww if I knew you guys were coming, I would have gone downtown to meet you guys! Thanks for helping spread the good Nu-Way news. A bit of trivia: Working at Nu-Way was Little Richard's first job. He's a Maconite, and apart of the city's rich musical tradition that includes Otis Redding, Ray Charles, The Allman Bros., REM, and most recently, Luke Bryan.

Has anyone built a sous vide cooker?

I used a cooler last weekend too and the cheap strip steaks I made were absolutely perfect. Edge to edge medium rare. Doing that inspired me to build my own. And since I can build it for a quarter of the price to by one, well the decision just seemed self-evident to me...

The Pizza Lab: Awesome Pizza Without An Oven (aka Skillet Pizza)

Maybe I'm a freak but I usually use closer to 3.5% salt in my dough. After much trial and error I decided that was the best flavor.

Kenji, do you prefer this to the skillet/broiler method you've talked about before? This just seems like extra steps with all the flipping and such.

The Top of the Bottom Shelf: Best Cheap Booze 2011

Old Crow is my go to whiskey now. I don't even bother trying to find the cheapest bottle anymore. I just walk in and pick up the Biggest bottle of Old Crow reserve, then I spend my time trying to save a dollar on whatever's cheapest in the gin aisle...

Fast Food: My McRib Confession

I'm firmly in the "For" camp. Just hold the onions...

Raw Milk...yay or nay

YAY! It's worth the effort to find a good hygenic dairy. In Georgia, you can only buy raw milk if it's "intended" for pet food. I buy it for my pets named me, myself, and I. If the dairy won't let you see their operations up close, find another one. The two that I have used are both meticulously clean.

Washington Post Pilfering Will Gordon!

Will, if they get a "Research Coordinator Emily" as well, you might want to start asking some questions...

Spice Hunting: New Things to Do With Rosemary

@Marcusj42 Mine is in the ground and has stayed out year round. Granted it's just Georgia but we did have some snow (1 inch is a lot here and everything shuts down) and a few nights that were below 10 degrees F. The rosemary went through it just fine. I even continued to harvest during this time.

Still not getting email notifications from SE:Talk

ok thanks Carrie!

Boulder, Colorado: Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana

What kind of ovens do they use? Wood-fired or industrial?

Cutting Boards.

@sophiastication I saw that article recently and I must say that it left me profoundly disappointed. Not because I disagree with it, but that I have wasted so much time and money with plastic cutting boards that I really don't like... all because of faulty beliefs. Even Alton Brown let us down on this topic. I'm going to start building up my epicurean collection and throw away those accursed plastic things as I get replacements.

Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Baltika Grade 9 Extra Lager

@Will I too have a Russian friend that I want to be shady. Thus far, my wire taps and tracker beacons haven't shown anything unusual but deep down I know... Oh yes Sergei, I know...

Has anyone built a sous vide cooker?

I'm building one with an old crock pot, a PID temp controller, and thermocouple ($40 total cost). I was wondering if anyone has done this and if so, how did you like it. I'm having trouble getting the controller hooked up correctly but once I figure it out, I think I'm going to attempt building my own immersion circulator that will fit in a 40 qt. cooler.

So has anyone tried this?

Does anyone have a good General Tso's recipe?

I have tried several but I just don't like the sauce. It never comes out like the really good hole in the wall "chinese" restaurants that are sprinkled here and there. Does anyone have one they use or can you point me to one somewhere on the interwebs?

Recipes you can't screw up

Do you have a recipe you can't screw up? Not necessarily something easy like toast with butter or boiled water, but just something that you've done so much that you just don't mess it up. For me it's grilled chicken. I have it down to a science, I know how much charcoal to use, the marinade, and cooking time. It comes out flavorful, juicy, and perfectly done every time. Fortunately, its one of my wife's favorite meals so I have a foolproof way of getting lucky almost any day! ;-) Unforetunately there are many things I can screw up, although I almost never screw it up so bad that I have to throw it away and start over anymore. (Knock on wood). What's your no-miss recipe?

Napoletana Pizza dough recipe

I have a pretty good dough recipe that makes a better than average pie. The ingredients are as follows:

500g bread flour (I haven't gotten 00 flour yet, it's on my wishlist)
10g kosher salt
3g yeast
325g water

I autolyse 400g of the flour with the water for half an hour then add the remaining 100g of flour. I knead it for 5 minutes or so in my KA with the dough hook. I allow it to rise for 2.5 hours. Then I divide it in thirds and make my pies. It makes a very pretty pie with the skillet broiler method.

Do any of you slicers have a better recipe or method? I saw Kenji's grilled pizza dough recipe and thought I would try refrigerating it overnight next. I feel like the dough is good but not great and I really want to kick it up a notch.

Oh and Kenji, feel free to do a Food Lab on Napoletana style dough. I'll be happy to come over and help you eat the pies!

Anniversary restaurant in Orlando or St. Augustine

We're going on vacation next week in Orlando and St. Augustine. Since our anniversary is right around the corner (Aug. 1), we thought we'd go out for a nice meal while we're there. Timing is pretty flexible which is why I can't narrow it to a single city. I'd like for it to a nice restaurant with a classy atmospere, but not too pricey. $100 for the two of us is the ballpark. Any one got anything?

Salt: Not only does it make things taste good, it's good for you

For years now I've tried to tell people that salt gets a bad rap. Not only is it not bad for the average person, as you all know, you can't cook well without a fair amount of it. From Scientific American we get this article that shows some of the piss poor "science" behind the whole salt is bad for you schtick.

Maybe we can slowly start to open people's eyes (I'm looking right at my mother who won't put salt in rice or pasta water because it's "bad for you") and help them make tastier meals. Can I get an Amen from the Salt corner? (boos are accepted too though not appreciated).

Woohoo! Cheap fraps that won't separate

An easy and simple way to make frappuccino that tastes like everyones favorite over-priced coffee joint, can be found here

I think I'll try the pectin first since I have some already.

I've made similar drinks in the past but didn't like having to down them before they could separate and thus give myself brain-freeze.

Recipe testers for ATK

I recently got my first recipe to try from America's Test Kitchen. Let's just say I was less than impressed with the results. I pretty much wasted a whole bottle of wine to cook spaghetti with...

The dish was flavorful, and while not necessarily bad, I wouldn't make it again. I'm hoping for better recipes in the future.

Does anyone here have experience as a recipe tester for ATK? If so, how often do they send recipes out, and we're your opinions favorable towards the recipe or do they get testers to do the crap they really don't want to try?

Low country boil

I'm doing a low country boil for a bunch of friends tonight and I know how to make it but I got to looking at other recipes online and everything I've found doesn't add salt. I've always added at least a cup and probably a fair amount more for my boils. I always do large batches at least 10 lbs or more of shrimp + the fixings with it. So am I the only person who adds salt? I've never thought of it as salty and it seems like the potatoes need the salt. Do you add salt to your boils?

Your best pizza cooking time

While I'm drooling over wood-fired pizza ovens to build at home, I've tried to really take my indoor pizza making seriously. I've gotten down a really good dough and I've realized that a bigger pie isn't necessarily better. Yesterday I made the best pizza to date. Pepperoni, kalamata olives, and green pepper. Not that the toppings are what's truly important, I'm going more for technique. My crust was crisp yet chewy with some reasonable char. (the char was the one area I would change by cooking about 30 seconds more). I figured out how to get into my oven's calibration settings and upped the max temp by 35 degrees. I'm no where near 700 degrees (or the 900 ideal in woodfired brick ovens), but I know I'm somewhere above 600 as that is where my oven thermometer tops out and the needle is maxed out. All that being said, yesterdays pie was 7.5 minutes but should have been 8 minutes.

On a sad note, my pizza stone cracked from what I can only assume was thermal shock after putting the pie on it. (It was a cheap stone and I should be able to use it till I get a better one). What's your best time for a pizza at home? Any idea what temp you're able to get in your oven? What tricks do you use to get there?

To head or not to head...

This week's bottom shelf got me thinking (don't worry about the reasoning behind this, its long, rambling, and very stream of conscious-y). So the question is: Do you like a head on your beer or no? I don't drink beer as much as I used to, as I prefer cocktails now; but when I do drink beer, I get a 24 oz. can and put it in a frozen beer stein that just barely holds the can... if there's no head on it. Even if space is not a factor, I don't enjoy it when I order a beer and it comes with a 2 inch head. I just don't enjoy drinking a foam. What say you?

Alton Brown among us?

Clearly Alton Brown is a fan of SE as seen here:

So here's my question, does he partake in SE: Talk and if so who is he? Obviously, he couldn't use his real name so what handle does he use? I would say Saucy Johnny but I've seen his real Facebook page, so I'm sort of at a loss. Who do you think it is?

Ideas for beef shanks

I found some on sale at my local store. They are sliced about an inch thick on the cross-section. I'm thinking of some sort of braise as I'm sure there's lots of connective tissue. Any suggestions? I've never used beef shanks only lamb shanks which I use whole, not sliced.

Can't wait for Gumbo!

I just found a sassafras sapling in my yard yesterday! This means I'll have homemade Filé powder. Now I just wait for football season to get here so I can cook some for Tailgaiting/pregame meals. No one else I know was really excited, so I thought you guys might be happy for me. If not, then I'll just go back to my hidey hole.

Kitchen Rebels

I'm pretty sure that I'm rebellious by nature. Conflict doesn't bother me. Cooking can be an area that seems to be all about rules and the "best" way to do things. Sure there are hard and fast rules when it comes cooking, but not as many as some would suppose. I'm constantly being told on shows or books that the "right" way to crack an egg is on a flat surface. I REFUSE!!! Whenever I have cracked an egg on a flat surface, it gets egg on the counter... Is it really so hard to crack it on the side of the bowl it's going in (which will have to be washed anyway)? I don't know when the last time was that I pushed a shard of shell into the egg that I had to take out of the bowl. So I say "Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of silly persons!"

Is anybody with me? What rules do you flaunt? Or are one of the people who feels that rules were made to be followed?

Ode to Adam Kuban

"New York City Flat-Top Stove"

In a little cafe in the Astoria border town,
Sat a boy and his kitchen stove, and the people came from all around.
And all the girls from there to Jersey,
Were slippin' away from home and puttin' jewelery in hock.
To take the trip, to go and dine-in,
To the little scruffy-bearded man who played the New York City flat top stove.

And he would filet: [Instrumental]

Well, he couldn't ride or wrangle, and he never cared to make a dime.
But give him his kitchen stove, and he'd be happy all the time.
And all the girls from nine to ninety,
Were ordering wine, eating much, and begging him: "Don't stop sautéing."
And hypnotized and fascinated,
By the little scruffy-bearded man who played the New York City flat top stove.

And he would filet: [Instrumental]

Then one day he was gone, and no one ever saw him 'round,
He'd vanished like the breeze, they forgot him in the little town.
But all the girls still dreamed about his food.
And hung around the cafe until the doors were locked.
And then one day on the Zagat's Hit Parade,
Was a little scruffy-bearded man who played the New York City flat top stove.

And he would filet: [Instrumental]

The one dish you would teach everyone to cook

If you could get everyone to love cooking and food the way you do, which dish would you use to teach them? Even though this is my post, I have a hard time narrowing it down. Mine is a toss up between fried chicken, or a fresh baked Rosemary flatbread. What's your's?

Soft Shell Crab season is almost upon us

We're about 2 weeks away from the May full moon which means that soft shell crabs will soon be available from the 2011 season. (I know some are already available but I like the ones that come from a little farther north.) I think I'm going to have to buy some frozen as money is a little tight right now, and I can't swing a trip to the coast to get them fresh. Has anyone bought them frozen before from an online retailer? Are they comparable to what you could find at a good fishmonger near the ocean? I'm kind of sad that I won't be able to make it over to the coast this year...

The Force will be with you... Always

I finally had some southern style biscuits turn out! I used 2 cups of the self-rising flour and 3/4 cup of buttermilk. I brushed a little melted butter on them and they turned out light and fluffy. So now I'm probably 1 for 20ish on biscuits and it's time to start a new streak! I think next time I'll turn the temp up about 10-15 degrees so the tops brown better. But they tasted good!

Your extravagant dream kitchen

As I'm only anbout 25 years from retirement, I am starting to plan my dream kitchen for when I retire ;-) I'm thinking it will need at least 700 sq ft and the focal point will be a cooking island with a top of the line La Cornue range. Of course it will require custom cabinetry with plenty of room to put all my appliances without them being out in the open. At least 2 prep sinks with disposals in addition to the main sink for doing dishes will be required as well. I would like a small bar section as well with plenty of selection for entertaining purposes. Of course a large pantry and at least 2 refrigerators should be there as well.

Extravagant, bordering on gluttonous? Yes, but a guy has to have a target right?

What's in your dream kitchen?

Shrimp, Andouille and Okra Gumbo

Some may be tempted to skip the somewhat tedious step of making a dark roux; I advise against this. The time and energy spent lovingly stirring the flour/oil mixture is essential to gumbo, and in my mind is part of the magic that can turn a rough morning around. More

Vegan: Bok Choy with Chives, Black Bean Sauce, and Chow Fun

Instead of noodles, the base of the dish is stir-fried bok choy (cooked in a super-heated cast iron wok to get some nice, smoky wok hei into it) along with flowering chives, Chinese chives, and leeks in a savory fermented black bean and soy-based sauce. The noodles are still great—perfect for adding a bit of textural and flavor contrast—but now their ratio is more akin to the marshmallows in the Rice Krispies. More

DIY Coffee Liqueur

DIY coffee liqueur tastes like like a fresh cup of coffee with added depth from rum and just enough sugar to make it great for sipping or mixing—or baking and dessert garnishing. The quick steeping time means no patience is required. More

Piri Piri Shrimp

It can be difficult to find piri piri peppers in certain parts of the world, but if you're craving this vibrant sauce and can't find the real thing, you can get pretty close with this recipe. Red peppers mimic the lively color, and a habanero will give it some heat. More

Classic French Croissants

Croissants, with their golden brown, crisp exterior and creamy, buttery interior, are always a welcome treat. To make them, you create a yeasted dough, into which you secure a sheet of butter. The flaky layers in the end product are the result of folding the dough many times, a process called lamination. From mixing and proofing, to laminating and resting and shaping, croissants are certainly not a quickie project, but with practice, the results can be amazing. More

The Food Lab: The Road To Better Risotto

At this late stage in the game is there anyone in the world beside hard-line Italians who doesn't know that you can make a perfect bowl luscious, al dente, perfectly mantecato risotto without preheating your broth or stirring constantly? That said, I've still got a ton of risotto questions left unanswered, so this week I decided to test just about every aspect of risotto I could think of to separate fact from fiction. Which type of rice is best? How much do you really need to stir? Is toasting necessary? And what about mounting with cream? 6.6 pounds of risotto later, I've got a few answers. More


The Boulevardier takes the same Negroni formula--a good dose of gin brushed up with equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth--and gives it a twist by substituting whiskey for the gin. More

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is one of the most venerable of cocktails, predating not only the motor car but the presidency of Abe Lincoln. Properly made, it's strong, but not too much, and sweet, but not too much; most important, it's dead simple to make, and absolutely delicious. More

Grilling: Pocket Pitas

"I took a ten-minute break to wallow in my failure then returned to the grill—but those ten minutes made all the puffy difference." [Photographs: Joshua Bousel] Given my rough relationship with bread-making, I had little hope that grilling pita pockets... More

Seriously Meatless: Tahina

Note: Michael Natkin of the vegetarian blog Herbivoracious drops by every Wednesday to share a delicious recipe to expand our vegetarian repertoire. [Photograph: Michael Natkin] If you just looked at the picture and didn't read the title, you probably just... More

Garlic Dill Pickles

These garlic dills will forever change the way you approach pickles. If you've never canned before, you can make it easier on yourself and make them as refrigerator pickles. However, for those of us who love stashing away a little bit of summer for later in the year, canning instructions are also included. More


I like tzatziki alone or spread on pita, alongside fish or with an assortment of vegetables. Cucumber makes it light and refreshing, while garlic adds bite and olive oil imparts just a hint of fruity richness. More

Cook the Book: Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

My New Orleans by John Besh includes no fewer than five recipes for gumbo, which isn't really all that shocking considering gumbo is the epitome of Louisiana cooking. This Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo starts with a roux made up of equal parts fat and flour that gets slowly cooked until the mix changes from a light tan to a deep, rich brown. More