That chubby guy, from the thing. Yeah. I'm the one who used to work in the frozen pizza factory, remember?

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite foods: Everything from asparagus to a rare ribeye to a chili-cheeseburger. I have far more of a weakness for salty and savory than for sweet. Bring me a steak and a baked potato, and skip the dessert.
  • Last bite on earth: I plan to never have a last bite, as I have no intention of dying.

The Japanese Way to Make Potato Salad

Dang. I wish I'd had this recipe yesterday, when I made potato salad. Ah well - next time!

Easy Mixed Cheese Quiche

I should note that I have made it like that (with a roquefort and leek filling) and it was absolutely amazing.

Easy Mixed Cheese Quiche

In Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook, he has you scald the milk and cream, then put it in a blender and blend the hell out of it with the eggs. As I recall, the proportions are the same as given here. It might be worth a try!

12 Grilling Mistakes You Don't Have to Make (But Probably Do)

@jameycookzlawl Well, at least you bothered to type up an actual comment and hide the ad in it, instead of just pasting in some boilerplate.

12 Grilling Mistakes You Don't Have to Make (But Probably Do)

I have to say, my heart dropped a little when I saw the title of this article. I was sure there was something I was doing wrong. So you can imagine how pleased I was to get to the end of it and be able to say that I have never done *any* of these things (well, okay, I don't bother with a 2-level fire when I'm grilling burgers). Huzzah!

Pretzel Bao With Sweet Sesame-Hot Mustard Pork

I made these last weekend, and they were good. Really good. The pretzel buns are amazingly tender.

One step that isn't on here, though, that I would strongly suggest anyone making this recipe should do: In Step 5, after you've mixed the pork and sauce, make sure you season to taste.

I should have thought of doing that, and I wish I had, because my only complaint with the recipe was that the filling was a little bland (which was surprising, considering all the flavorful ingredients in the sauce). Salt and pepper would've helped, and it's a bit hard to add once the filling is baked into the bao.

Still, 5 stars for the method. You could fill these with all kinds of stuff. I'm contemplating a sausage and potato filling.

The Good Bagel Manifesto

@kenji: So... what's your feeling on using leftover bagels to make a sandwich? I say this because at my local bagelry it's cheaper to get half a dozen, but my little family only consists of three people, and one is enough for breakfast.

Is it acceptable to then use the leftover bagels (toasted or not) to make a sandwich with, say, sliced deli meat and cheese?

(I'm gonna keep doing it anyway, of course. But I am curious as to the official policy.)

All About Geoduck: The Life of a (Delicious) Oversized Mollusk

Never have I been so glad to be allergic to shellfish. Sure, maybe this is technically a mollusc but OH WELL.

Boldly Go Where No Caprese Salad Has Gone Before: Fried Caprese Bombs

I love fried things. I love cheese, including fried cheese. But this seems like a thing that didn't need to exist. Caprese is great because you get bright, fresh flavors, while at the same time getting the richness of the mozzarella. If you insist on having fried cheese and tomatoes, get some fried mozzarella sticks and serve it with a tomato dipping sauce. And leave the Caprese alone!

A 5-Stop Eating Tour of LA's San Gabriel Valley for Under $40

As a lifelong LA resident (who has worked in Pasadena for the past 10 years), I... must shamefully confess that apart from the occasional bahn mi, I have not made as much use of this amazing resource as I should have. I will endeavor to rectify that, though, and this list seems like a good place to start.

Switch Up Your Chips With Loaded Naan Nachos

So if I understand it correctly, the "cho" hierarchy is now:

1. Naanchos
2. Steakchos
3. Spamchos
4. Nugchos/Totchos
5. Nachos

Taste Test: The Best Supermarket Bacon

I think Farmer John's is pretty good, but I'm pretty sure they're So Cal only, so it clearly doesn't belong on a national list.

Kenji's Best Fast Food Awards (A Totally Biased, Completely Incomplete List)

Kenji, I have learned not to argue with you about food. I am willing to take most of your pronouncements as nearly law, but with the small grain of salt needed because I like salty things. (That's not exactly true, but I hope you see what I am getting at.)

That said... I am worried about you. I am concerned that you are eating the fried tacos from Jack in the Box. It troubles me that you are doing so because the things that they are selling you as fried tacos are, in fact, garbage. Actual garbage that they should have thrown away but unaccountably didn't. They're made of the shit that the employees swept up and management was all "no way is that going to waste, put it into the tacos to be fried." And the employees said "oh wow no, man, that stuff has been ground into the floor, it's terrible" and the manager was all "I DON'T CARE."

That's probably not true, I guess. What a silly fantasy. In fact, the stuff that goes into the fried tacos at Jack in the Box is MUCH MUCH WORSE. Except on Tuesdays. On Tuesdays, they use garbage, and call it "Deluxe Tacos."

How to Make Light and Tender Potato Gnocchi

@Daniel Gritzer: I just did a Google search on "gnocche". After viewing the results - particularly the image results - I think I get the idea. Mamma mia indeed.

How to Make Light and Tender Potato Gnocchi

The main thing I learned today is that the singular of gnocchi is gnocco, which Google Translate says means "dumpling." Interestingly, it has no translation for gnocchi, though it does say gnochhe means "chicks." So, uh, I have no idea what's going on with that, but I'm still pleased to have learned what to call each individual delicious unit of potato-y goodness.

Bagna Cauda: The Buttery Italian Vegetable Dip That Deserves a Place on Your Steak

I used to have my doubts about anchovies, but having tasted what they can do in a number of recipes, I am no longer skeptical. I still don't want any on my pizza, though.

The Makings of Beecher's Amazing Flagship Cheese

Personally I think Beecher's recipe (made with their Flagship and Just Jack) is hands down the best homemade mac recipe I've ever had. You can give it a bit more zip with more chipotle powder. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I never really liked most mac and cheese recipes as much as I liked the Kraft blue box, until I had Beecher's. I think the reason is not so much about the technique, but about the cheese itself. Most m&c recipes are basically the same - you make a bechamel, stir in some cheese, throw in the pasta, and bake. Buttered panko on the top before baking optional.

Sorry, New York; Why Los Angeles is the Best Pastrami City in America

@SilviaC: I was wondering about that too, and you gave me the motivation to google it. Turns out it's Yiddish for "to snack or eat, either very often or in very large quantities."

So basically, it's a way to describe those huge New York deli-style sandwiches that come with ridiculously huge piles of meat.

Which reminds me of great Mitch Hedberg bit about there being too much meat on those sandwiches:
It's like a cow with a cracker on either side. Walk in, order a pastrami sandwich. "Alright, anything else?" "Yeah, a loaf of bread and some other people!"

Sorry, New York; Why Los Angeles is the Best Pastrami City in America

@johncarl: I can see that nothing gets past your keen observation. It's true - Los Angeles has very few immigrants, and those few that we do get never open restaurants.

The Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches in the Midwest

Holy moly, these look delicious. I'm not *too* jealous - we've got pretty good food options here in Southern California - but I sure wish we had these as an option too!

The Food Lab: Introducing Lasagna Napoletana, the Meatball and Cheese-Packed Lasagna of Your Dreams

@Kenji: I made this on Sunday. I ended up having to put it in the fridge and cook it Monday night, and I don't think it suffered any ill effects. It was darn delicious, although I think I would skip the smoked mozz next time. Just didn't work for me.

I do have a question, though! Do you think it would work to make smallish patties instead of meatballs? Maybe about the diameter of your palm, and about 1/4" thick? Seems like it would be easier to get better browning (I had the devil of a time getting all sides of my meatballs browned without smooshing them). Also they'd be thinner and easier to layer in to the lasagna. Since the meat's already braised, it's not like hamburger where you want a looser mix before cooking, so no worries about packing the meat too tightly, right? I know it'd probably take a bit longer to form than a meatball, but you're using more meat each time, so maybe it'd balance out. I dunno, just a thought.

I was also wondering about the sausages - instead of braising and then slicing, what about slicing and then browning the slices in a sautee pan? That's what we usually do around here for sausages going into pasta sauce. The browning definitely adds flavor.

Just wondering what you think.

The Best Gin to Buy on a Budget

I may have to try that New Amsterdam. Sounds good. The trouble is that I'm a big fan of Hendrick's - I really like the cucumbery notes in there - but it's pretty damn expensive. If I could find a good cheap gin (Seagram's is a bit rough for me) I would probably drink it more often, but for now I'll probably stick with Evan Williams.

The Food Lab: Introducing Lasagna Napoletana, the Meatball and Cheese-Packed Lasagna of Your Dreams

Well. Now I know what's for dinner on Sunday.

In Defense of St. Louis-Style Pizza

Well, I'm from L.A., but I'm no pizza maven, so I'm game to try something new. How bad could it be?

But unfortunately, there appears to be no St. Louis style pizza anywhere around here. There was a restaurant in the Valley some time in the late 90s, but it doesn't seem to exist any more.

Imo's will ship, but the shipping is outrageous. 62 bucks to send two pizzas to California. I've gotten frozen pizzas from Malnati's in Chicago and it's nowhere near that pricy.

Anyway, so, the upshot is: Does anybody have any other suggestions that don't involve flying to Saint Louis? Or, Kenji, perhaps there will be a Pizza Lab forthcoming?

8 Great Hangover-Busting Dishes Around the Country

@PommeDG: I totally get you. Their LA coverage has always been spotty. In fact, their coverage of pretty much everywhere that isn't New York or Chicago is spotty. But they *used to* have two LA correspondents.

Can freezing a meatloaf make it better?

We make meatloaf about once a month or so. We usually use the Cook's Illustrated method (yes, the one with the gelatin, and I beg of you not to yell at me about authenticity) with a few minor modifications (details upon request but I don't think they're too terribly important in terms of this question.) However as with many recipes it makes far too much for our little family to eat in one night, so we usually take the finished mix and form it into two loaves - one to bake for that night's dinner, one to freeze and bake for another night.

So tonight I made one of the frozen ones, as my wife was called away at the last minute. I didn't even have time to defrost it, I just quickly made a pierced-foil-on-a-rack-in-a-rimmed-baking-sheet cooking platform and chucked it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. A probe showed it was still incredibly cold in the center so I put it back in for another 35, and then the center showed 150 - good enough.

The thing is... it had an *amazing* crust. Not just some browning like you get on most meatloaves, but a serious deep brown crust that took a bit of cutting to get through. And *yes* that crust was extremely delicious.

So after all that, I guess the question is... could it be possible that freezing a meatloaf could make a better meatloaf by giving it more time to brown on the outside before the insides get cooked?

London rioters defeated by kitchen staff

This story just came out today: a couple from Los Angeles were out for a fancy dinner in London recently, when rioters burst into the restaurant and attempted to mug them. Kitchen staff, armed with rolling pins and other "dangerous kitchen items" defended the couple and scared off the rioters.

Have you ever made your own flour tortillas?

Inspired by the recent post about making your own frozen burritos (I can't seem to find the link, but it was in the past few days), I'm considering making a batch of my own.

I also thought this might be a good time to make my own flour tortillas. One of the reasons I haven't before is that I'm not very good at rolling out dough, and so this seems like it'd be a huge pain for something my family probably wouldn't use up fast enough before they went bad. But if I'm making a batch of frozen burritos, spoilage shouldn't be a problem and the effort might be worth it.

So the questions are: Have you made your own? How much of a pain was it? Were they really tastier than store bought? And if you've got a recipe you really like, I'm all ears! (I gather purists say you must use lard, I'm totally okay with that.)

Potato Nails - do they work?

I've heard about people who put nails through the center of a potato they're going to bake. Does this really work? People say it does, but they give different reasons for what it actually accomplishes - does it speed cooking, or does it make the potato more evenly cooked?

I've always gotten quite good results by poking, oiling, and salting my potatoes, then baking them at 350 until they're done. No foil, no nothing, just right on the middle rack. It takes a while, but with a little planning that's not a big deal, and at least I don't have to do anything while they're cooking. As far as I can tell they're quite evenly cooked. If I used nails, would I really notice a difference in either cooking times or the quality of the final product?

Visiting New York

I'm taking my girl to NYC for our 10th anniversary. We're getting in the evening of the 28th, leaving late afternoon of the 2nd.

I should tell you that we've already got dinner plans for New Years Eve (which also just happens to be the day of our wedding anniversary): Restaurant Daniel. It's going to cost a mint, but what the heck, I expect to only have one 10th anniversary, so why not live it up?

Other than that, though, our gustatory options are open, and I'm soliciting suggestions for eats! Note: We've got theater plans for the 29th and 30th, so any dinner suggestions would have to be a place that has either early or late dining.

Also, fancy-pants is welcome, but certainly not necessary. How about a great place to get a slice? Is it worth standing in line at Shake Shack? Etc, etc. My only request is to go easy on the seafood places, since I'm deathly allergic to shellfish and not fond of regular fish.

I'm sure this isn't the first time this question has been asked, but if you don't mind answering again (and tailoring your suggestions for cold weather and my non-fishiness), I'd appreciate it!

Your childhood favorites: Are they still guilty pleasures?

Lately I've been overwhelmed with a desire to get some Strawberry Quik. Yes. The powdered stuff you mix into milk. and yes, I know: Blech.

But I can't shake the feeling that it will taste like my lost childhood, because man I loved that stuff. I can still almost conjure up the taste in my memory now. Still, we grow up and move on, and it must have been 20 years since I had any.

Besides, part of what I loved about it was the ritual. Back then it came in metal cannisters with a big round cap that you had to pry up with a spoon. You'd pour the milk, pop the cap, dip in the spoon, watch the crystals fall to the bottom of the glass, then stir and... drink.

These days they sell it in plastic jugs (yes, I've gone so far as to find it in the store. I know, flirting with disaster.) Not as good. Not at all.

So do you have any childhood favorites that you know are bad or bad for you, but that you can't help indulging from time to time?

A Sandwich a Day: Breakfast Sandwich at Market Café in Los Angeles

Market Café's breakfast sandwich ($6.75) breaks expectations even as it tows on the side of convention. The usual cast is all there, just in upgraded versions with better accessories. Eggs are scrambled in a thin layer, then folded and topped by aged cheddar cheese. A choice of turkey, baked ham, or bacon comes next. There is an ostensibly odd appearance of arugula leaves and sliced tomatoes, but any doubts tamp down upon bite. More