I'm a grad student who loves to cook (and eat).

  • Location: Boulder, CO
  • Favorite foods: tea, grapefruit, oatmeal, fresh seafood, pasta, mushrooms, dried cranberries, peaches, pears, chili, fresh bread, wings, curry, sushi, melon pan, dark chocolate, berries, and cheese
  • Last bite on earth: fresh baguette with good, unsalted butter, extra sharp cheddar cheese, summer sausage, a ripe pear

Tea taste test/brand preferences?

Another vote for Harney and Sons. I buy 1 lb bags of the East Frisian ($25 with shipping) and they last me for several months.

Steaming milk with no steamer?

@AnnieNT is right on.

I bought myself a frother. It is an inexpensive investment that's easier to clean than a full blender, and a nice indulgence for homemade tea lattes. I also use it to whisk eggs and homemade salad dressings.

I have this one, but I doubt it's much different from the Ikea version.

Do You Ever Have a Completely Random Food Craving?

About a week ago I craved a McDonald's cheeseburger. I hadn't eaten one in at least 10 years, probably longer. But I'll be damned if it wasn't super-delicious.

Blueberries and apple in a pie

America's Test Kitchen adds shredded apple to their blueberry pie to help keep the filling together. I've used the same technique with other berry pies with great success. Perhaps their recipe will provide some inspiration?

Cook the Book: 'The Chinese Takeout Cookbook'

Beef with broccoli or chow mein!

Would this work

Maybe bake them in a muffin pan, for the sake of structural integrity? And grease the pan well, in case of mess.

How do you get out of a food rut?

I'm like IndyGal, I find those moods hard to shake. I was actually in a similar rut about 6 months ago and went with Kenji's project idea. I started by going back to basics, roasting a chicken---a nice weekend meal that I wouldn't normally make---and tried a few more complicated recipes. I ended up buying the pizza stone I'd been eyeing and making a lot of pizza, and that definitely got me the rest of the way out of my funk.

I've been getting bored again, lately, so I think it's time to roast a chicken again. I've also found America's Test Kitchen magazines to good source of "project" food, so I might pick up one of those soon.

Good luck!

Denver... Where to Eat?

I love Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen, which is close-ish. Try the short rib kielbasa!

Andouille, Chicken, and Shrimp Jambalaya-Stuffed Peppers

The jambalaya filling was tasty enough, but @freem is right---way too much filling for four peppers. I got the biggest peppers I could find at my store and still had enough filling for at least 4 more, if not 6. Those who like a spicier will want to up the cajun seasoning and/or tabasco, as I ended up doing.

Additionally, the timings listed are incorrect and misleading; prep took me about half an hour, plus roughly 25 minutes of active cooking time, and then still the 35+ minutes of baking. (I'm at altitude and my peppers have been in for almost 45 minutes and still aren't "tender," but even if you add up the times listed in the recipe it's more than a total of 50 minutes).

In short: the recipe filling is tasty (if lacking heat, which may or may not be to your taste), but timings are off.

High Altitude Lasagna Help.

I'm at about 5400 and I haven't had any issues with lasagna. When I make pasta, I feel like its always done before the time on the box, more so than when I was closer to sea level, but I might be crazy.

Do You Compost Your Food Scraps?

I live in a tiny apartment, so no. I don't have anywhere to put it, or anything to do with it.

The Crisper Whisperer: Collard Greens Mineira

I make this almost every week and there are almost no leftovers every time. It's amazing, and we love it.

Cook the Book: 'Every Grain of Rice'

Soup dumplings; I know Kenji has a detailed guide but I'm just not ready to commit to the time they need.

Soap taste in tupperware....

Another vote for baking soda; that's what I use. If the soap taste is still around post-baking soda soak, try baking soda + vinegar.

What is the paddle attachment actually *for*?

I've always heard it called the "cake paddle," and used it for pretty much any batter I make. I also use it to cream butter (or shortening) and sugar.

Favorite Yogurt

I love Brown Cow's full-fat plain yogurt. I'm not as fond of their flavored yogurts; but that's mostly because I love the plain so much. You might like it, too.

I turn my back for five seconds..

I made a double-batch of cornbread with a large batch of chili, intending them to feed us through the weekend. We ate most of one pan in one sitting, and the husband (fiance, at the time) ate the remaining pan after I left that evening.

Mandolin couldn't cut sweet potatoes: what did I do wrong?

@Double_J: I actually had the same thoughts last night. I put a cut-proof glove on and at one point literally pushed as hard as I could, with no luck (that was when the prongs of the finger guard ripped through the potato, but the potato made no progress against the blades). Out of curiosity, I tried cutting the sweet potatoes with one of my knives and met with very little resistance.

Where to get cheap good food in Denver CBD area?

Not sure how you define cheap, but the short rib kielbasa at Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen is fantastic (menu) and you can get sausage and a side for

I hate onions. Help!

I hated onions for most of my childhood through my teenage years, and even now, if I don't eat them intentionally I find I eat around them out of habit. I still don't like them raw.

Based on what worked for me, I agree with the others, try chopping them very small. I found I didn't notice the texture as much that way. I mostly got through it because my (at the time) future MIL cooked with large pieces of onion in a few dishes and I was terrified I'd upset her, so I forced my way through several meals and found after a few, I had less trouble with them than initially. If that sounds too onerous, I suggest the "3 bite" rule. Eat 3 bites of something with onions in it, then you can eat something else after those three bites.

Good luck!

Popular updated hourly banner doesn't have standard links

Same problem here, in Chrome on Windows and a Mac. Ctrl+click doesn't seem to work in Windows.

Hungry Hunk Dinner Suggestions?

Chili and cornbread, stroganoff over noodles, America's test kitchen's oven-fried chicken, this recipe for quick collard greens cooked with bacon.

Taste Test: Asian Chocolate-filled Cookie Snacks

I'm shocked, too! I definitely prefer Koala's March to Hello Panda.

The Shape of Pasta to Come?

Definitely, though it's usually a craving for a particular kind of sauce I make for the pasta. I've got a hankering wagon wheels with cheese sauce right now (not something I've actually tried yet).

You are what you eat.

I'm bread, carrots, and oatmeal. Huh.

Mandolin couldn't cut sweet potatoes: what did I do wrong?

After years of fear of cutting off bits of my fingers, I gathered my courage and bought myself a benrinner mandolin. I tried to use it to cut sweet potatoes into fries yesterday, but had little success. I peeled them, cut them to a size that fit nicely on the mandolin, attached the finger guard and tried to push the 'tater through the blades.

The best I did was to get about halfway through a single cut, at which point the potato got stuck. I tried pushing a bit harder, and the finger guard ripped through part of the potato.

I know the blades were properly attached, and I'm fairly certain I followed the instructions correctly. It seems odd that the benrinner can't cut a sweet potato when it has such a reputation for lethal sharpness, so what did I do wrong? Is there some step the instructions left out to prep the blades?

Ode to what's left of the roof of my mouth

I have to say, I didn't know. "Homemade pizza can't be that much more awesome than what I get normally," I thought. "Why do these people burn their mouths on pizza? Why not wait?" I said.

But that was before I was asked to make pizza. I trundled over to Slice and chose Kenji's NY pizza recipe as a reasonable first attempt. I made my dough, and let it rest. I read comments and learned from Mr. Pizza how to stretch dough. DBCurrie's reviews of pizza stones let me pick out one that would work for my needs. I didn't really expect much.

And I made my first pie (cheese and basil). And I tried it. And I ate it. And I burned my mouth so badly parts of it are peeling off, but I don't care, because the slice I had was so goddamned delicious. Mr. Skythe wondered aloud, "Why do we buy pizza, again?"

I didn't know! I had no idea it could be so good! Consider me a convert, a true believer, and let me join your club of truly awesome pizza. Teach me your mystic ways, pizza Jedi, that I might also be a master.

And roof of my mouth? I'll miss you. It's been real.

How do you find motivation when you've lost it?

DH and I moved to a new apartment this summer, and it came with a downgraded kitchen (no dishwasher, limited storage, limited counter space, stove that turns the whole kitchen into a furnace). The combination of the downgraded kitchen and the loss of energy from moving made it easy just to go out for dinner for several weeks.

Now I'm trying to cook again, but I find I just don't care about it the way I used to. The thought of cooking when I get home, the effort to plan meals, to shop--I just find the whole thing an exhausting process. This never used to be true, and I want my cooking mojo back!

I've arranged to take a slightly shorter lunch break, so I can leave work a bit earlier and get home in time to actually make food before 7pm, which was part of the problem. So, now that I'll have more time (to make up for the loss of space), how do I reignite my passion for cooking?

Help me invent potato-pops!

Motives: Regularly scheduled game night needs snacks; this week's host likes potatoes and nachos

Idea: Make potato pops! Like cake pops, but with potatoes instead of cake, cheese instead of frosting. Incorporate other things key to nachos, so the cheese should be gooey/stretchy, not crispy, if that makes sense.

Problem: I don't know how to execute this idea. I've initially conceived of these as perhaps a small skewer spearing a tater tot, baked with cheese on top, but I think I/we can do better.

Thoughts? Ideas?

Lasagna without Ricotta

I've got a hankering to make lasagna, but a husband who prefers it without ricotta. Anyone got a good recipe? I know there are recipes out there that use a bechamel sauce, but most of those I've found so far still add ricotta.

Points in Dough

So, this is an odd topic. I'm working on a project for a class that involves tracking the progress of a particular point in space as dough is kneaded. (Long story.) I had initially thought to use sprinkles to represent those points, but I won't be able to find (and thus, track) a point if it's surrounded by several inches of dough. Does anyone have any ideas to make points more track-able? Should I use big sprinkles, like those found here? Maybe use a small amount of dough?

If I can, I'd like to do the same thing for croissants (assuming I can manage it with bread dough). Would adding sprinkles (large or small) destroy the croissant dough structure?

Any thoughts you have are welcome!

Creme fraiche texture?

I made creme fraiche according the recipe/trick Kenji shared a few days ago. His looks pretty smooth in the picture--mine is kind of lumpy. I've never had real creme fraiche to work with; is it supposed to be this way?

Caesar dressing without anchovies

I want to make a caesar salad to take to a group gathering tomorrow evening. The problem is that my go-to dressings all have anchovies in them, and one person attending can't eat meat. I want to make sure the salad is an option for him, since others will likely be bringing things he can't eat. Can anyone recommend a caesar dressing (recipe or store-bought) for me?

Double, double, toil and trouble -- my bread pans runneth over!

A few days ago I asked for help with Wheat Bread for Sandwiches, and got it. I wanted to know how I could use a recipe to get a bigger loaf of bread. Most suggested doubling the recipe and baking in a larger pan, and that's what I did. The dough rose about 3x as fast, and I couldn't/didn't get in the oven fast enough, so it flowed over the pan . . . my bread looks more than a bit odd.

The bread was much, much more crumbly this time, too, so I think I must have mis-doubled something. I just wanted to check that I am supposed to exactly double everything when I double a bread dough recipe before I make another attempt.

Wheat Bread for Sandwiches

One of my goals this year is to bake more bread. Since my husband and I both take sandwiches in lunch every day, whole wheat sandwich bread seems like a good place to start. I made dbcurrie's Seedy Wheat Bread this week, baking it in a loaf pan instead of free-formed. We both enjoyed it, but the loaf I made was smaller than the one's we usually get at the store, so DH reported feeling a bit under-full.

Can anyone recommend a recipe that will produce slightly larger loaves? (Alternatively, @dbcurrie, can you recommend a way to tweak the "seedy" recipe to produce a bit more dough?)

An open letter to the pie crust recipe I attempted last night

Dear Pie Crust Recipe,

Hello, it's me again. I'm not sure where we went wrong last night. Why did you turn on me at the last second? I gave you lovely, chilled butter and shortening. I had cool water for you, and I chilled the bowl I used. I sifted my flour oh-so-carefully, just for you. I measured every ingredient as precisely as I could. I even let you rest for two hours in the fridge, carefully wrapped in wax paper.

And yet, you spurned me! When I tried to roll you out for the bottom of my pie, you perversely stuck to my counter. I used my offset spatula to get you off, but serious reconstruction was needed. I put the rest of you back in the fridge, then tried again for my top crust a bit later, and still, you did not care. You crumbled as soon as I tried to lift you on to my pie. Why, pie crust? Why do you elude me so? Is it that you just don't like the altitude here in Colorado?

Anyway, I'm not giving up on you. I hope you're free in a week or so, when I'll be making another attempt.

Your baker,

P.S. I'm going to ask my friends at Serious Eats if they have any tips for our relationship. I'm hoping they'll be able to tell me where I went wrong last night, or at least that they'll be amused by this letter.

Apple Chip Failure

I was inspired by the apple chip article earlier this fall to make apple chips this afternoon. Or rather, to make apple-things. I followed the recipe here, as I happened to have Galas on hand. I sliced the apples to ~4mm thick (slightly more than recommended) with my food processor, as I don't own a mandoline. I had the apple slices in the oven 1.5x the time listed, and still don't have crispy apples. What I do have is slightly wet things that are vaguely reminiscent of dried apples.

What did I do wrong? I live near Denver, so should I have adjusted for altitude somehow? Is the recipe just bad?


How can I keep my pizza dough from sticking to the pan?

I've tried making pizza from scratch several times, and no matter what I do, I end up prying it off of the pan (or once, scrapping it off of my old roommate's pizza stone). I know there are several of you who make your own pizza -- can you give me any hints or tips to avoid this problem? Are some doughs better than others? I'm making pizza for a group this weekend, and I really, really would like to avoid the shame of more pre-made, store-bought crusts!

(Note: I think there was a topic about this at one point, but I couldn't find it, so if you know where that is -- assuming I'm not imagining it -- just point me in its direction.)

Frosting Challenge Pt 3: Final Report!

I made my attempt at the cake yesterday morning. (See previous posts: here and here.)

I made a 3-layer devils' food chocolate cake (each layer was 6x6x2in). It was supposed to have a delicious, homemade buttercream frosting, but I managed to create butter-egg-sugar soup instead. Not sure what I did wrong there. Instead, I just used store-bought buttercream (not nearly as good) because I was almost out of time.

I also had my first experience with fondant -- which went better than I expected -- in creating the decorations.

As promised, you can find a picture of the cake here.

Frosting Challenge: Companion Cube Cake

My fiance has requested a cake that looks like this for his birthday:

I've got a strategy to make the cake (cutting squares out of a sheet cake), but is there anything I should know about frosting it/tools I should acquire?

Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers

My fiance is hosting the weekly game night he and his coworkers have for the next two weeks (I am also a regular attendee). I want some appetizers that will really blow people out of the water to serve, especially since the usual snack is chips with store-bought salsa. One coworker is a vegetarian for medical reasons, one is a self-proclaimed "meat-atarian", and I am lactose intolerant, but can eat a little bit of cheese.

Basically, I want a set of 3 appetizers per night (6 total) that everyone can enjoy. So far, on the list:
- Egg and artichoke squares (bad name, delicious snack)
- Stuffed mushrooms (though my recipe is boring, and if anyone has a really good one I'd love to see it)

As you can see, I'm a bit at a loss for what else to make. Help?

Chips in the Enamel of my Le Creuset

Last night I filled my Le Creuset dutch oven with delicious Mexican beef stew to take to a friend's house. When we were leaving, the steps were quite a bit icier than we realized, and my fiance slid down more than half of them. Despite his valiant efforts, the oven slid from his hands and bounced the rest of the way down the stairs. He's okay, thank goodness, but the Le Creuset has a few chips on the outer enamel. Is it still okay to use the pot in the oven, or I stick to stovetop from now on? It looks like the chips only penetrate the color layer -- all that shows is a beige surface, similar to the coating on the inside of the pan.

Vegetable Quest: Beets!

Some of you may remember a previous post I made about turnips. I am again questing, if you will, to learn about new vegetables. This time I have fresh beets, with the tops attached. I have some ideas for the beet roots, but can I do anything with the tops? Can I do something besides bake or boil the beets?

Viewing Older Favorites

I went to look at my favorites earlier (I thought I remembered adding an interesting recipe a few months back) and I can't see all of them. I can only view the most recent additions. Is there a way to view my older favorites that I just haven't noticed?

Non-dairy Buttermilk Substitute in Baking

I know I can add a bit of vinegar to regular milk and turn it into a buttermilk substitute, but can I do that with soy milk? I really want to make a batch of muffins, but the recipe calls for buttermilk. My lactose intolerance has been getting worse lately, and I've cut almost all dairy from my diet, so just using buttermilk or any other dairy-based product is out of the question.

Baking Bread

I'm seriously considering baking more of my own bread, but I have a few problems. I know some of you bake your own, so I'm hoping you can advise me.

1. How do you slice it relatively evenly? I take a sandwich as part of my lunch almost every day, more often than not PBJ or something like it -- I want to be able to slice bread thinly -- no bigger than the width of my thumb or so -- and consistently, so I don't have a piece that's noticeably thicker than another in a sandwich.

2. How do you slice homemade bread neatly? My slices seem to come out a bit ragged, which is fine if I'm snacking, but not so good if I want to spread something like butter on it.

3. Are some recipes for bread better than others for to address problems 1 and 2?

Thanks for any advice you can give me!

Bread Loaves without Bread Pans: Can it be done?

I've got my first-ever snow day today (in grad school, no less) and I really want to bake bread. I even have a recipe in mind. The problem is that the recipe makes two loaves, and one step involves letting the unbaked loaves rise in the pans. Since I moved, my bread pans have been MIA. Can I still make bread, or should I pick something else?

What do turnips go with?

I have never tried turnips. I feel like I should. My current plan is to roast some with other as-yet unnamed root vegetables.

Is this a good idea? What do turnips taste like? What do they go with? (And while we're at it, what about parsnips?)

Dinner Tonight: Roasted Tomato Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella

As tomatoes disappear from the market, they start to get cheap. Last weekend I picked up four pounds of heirlooms for $4 and I immediately thought of an old recipe that's made an appearance in this column before: The River Cottage's roasted tomato sauce. It's a concentrated puree (roasted and strained) that's fantastic with pasta, but it's also the perfect balance to risotto's richness. More

Short Rib and Barley Stew

Short rib and barley stew is fantastic because it: a) is dumb easy to do b) is made with pantry and fridge staples (aside from the short rib) c) lasts for days and gets better with time d) soothes the soul or warms the cockles of your heart, or if you're really lucky, both at the same time, and e) tastes really, really good. More

Sauced: Vodka Cream Sauce

The main concept behind the sauce is the addition of vodka brings out flavors in the tomatoes that are alcohol soluble, and with vodka being a rather neutral liquor, it cooks off somewhat flavorless and leaves behind a changed tomato sauce. This spicy, acidic sauce is then tempered with heavy cream to create a rich, vibrant flavor in the end. More

Cook the Book: Sachertorte

The Sachertorte is basically a dense chocolate cake layered with apricot jam and finished with a chocolate glaze. The Viennese generally consider the cake to be too dry to eat on its own so it is typically served with a dollop of schlag, or sweetened whipped cream, but if you ask me, I think it's just an excuse to enjoy a little more whipped cream. More

Kale, Apple, and Pancetta Salad

With slightly bitter kale and radicchio, crispy-salty pancetta, tart apples and sweet maple syrup, this hearty winter salad hits all the right taste buttons. It's also just a beautiful salad. Be sure your apples aren't too sour, especially if using Granny Smith—you'll need a little sweetness to balance out the tartness of the vinaigrette. More

Cheesy Chili Mac

Here's a really important question: why doesn't chili-mac always come with extra cheesy-goo? It's easy to do. Just make a simple ground beef chili (you can take or leave the canned beans as you see fit), add it to a simple stovetop mac and cheese (evaporated milk makes that really easy), then bake the whole thing off with extra cheese. More