• Location: Durham, NC
  • Favorite foods: sushi, noodles, mac n cheese, cookies, honeycrisp apples

The Food Lab: This Creamy, Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Gratin Just Might Be the Side Dish of Your Dreams

If I wanted to make this a vegetarian dish what would be the best substitute for the bacon - mushrooms? Or just leave it out and do up the brussel sprouts in all their creamy buttery glory?

Crunchy Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are super-duper easy! I added some toasted slivered almonds for extra almondy-ness. Mine didn't turn out like the picture, they were much poofier and not so flat. I also only refrigerated the dough for about 15 minutes, and it probably didn't even need that much time. I think this recipe would be great with any nut butter, especially cashew or pecan butter :)

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies

These cookies are SOOOOO GOOOOD. And so easy with using just the one bowl! When I made the dough I thought it seemed a little wet so I added a bit of extra flour, but that was probably unnecessary. I also made them smaller (2 tbsp. instead of 1/4 cup) and as a result needed a little more brown sugar to roll them in. They also needed quite a bit longer than 9-11 minutes in the oven. But other than that this recipe is perfect. I think adding some nuts or maybe toffee to these would be fantastic too.

Kenji's Top 10 Vegan Bites in Manhattan

I'm wondering how a Southeast Asian restaurant substitutes fish sauce in its dishes? I feel like that would be something that is difficult to imitate.

Pineapple Duck Curry From 'Everyday Thai Cooking'

I made this recipe tonight and it was fantastic, but it's hard to go wrong with coconut curry :) The sweet pineapple and acidic tomatoes went really nicely with the creamy coconut. I went with chicken instead of duck, because duck is expensive and not readily available where I live. I also used lower-fat coconut milk to lighten it up, and added the chicken 5-10 minutes after adding the eggplant as per the note above. I served it with rice noodles. And I had friend over for dinner, she loved it too!

The Food Lab: This is How Hot and Sour Soup Should Taste

Does the fact that this soup supposedly loses its aroma and kick so quickly mean that it won't be good for leftovers? I'm all about making a big batch of soup and eating it all week.

Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

I made this recipe yesterday and it was DELICIOUS! But they aren't kidding when they say it's decadent. I agree with CakeGirl, unless you want an insulin explosion I would decrease the sugar. I cut the sugar in the apple mixture down to less than a 1/2 cup, and in the crust/topping I reduced it to about 2/3 cup. It was still plenty sweet. There was also extra caramel (not complaining about that, because it was the bomb) and my pan overflowed a little while baking.

Flourless Orange-Saffron Cake

A citrusy, gluten-free (and possibly dairy-free if you replace the butter) cake??! Love.

Make-Ahead Curried Coconut Quinoa with Shrimp and Basil

I'm not a big fan of curry powder - think this would work with Thai curry paste instead?

Pumpkin Spice Cake

This looks amazing! But what is mild molasses? Is it different from regular molasses? I feel like I've only ever seen one type of molasses at the store...

Staff Picks: What Do You Eat When Nobody's Looking?

Nutella and peanut butter doesn't sound disgusting, it sounds like a g**damn match made in heaven!

Hot Dog Cookies

I made these last night, and while they were delicious and ADORABLE, I ended up needing considerably more red food coloring than 6-7 drops - I think I used almost a teaspoon. I also ended up baking them for about 18 minutes. And, I think it's worth noting that the dough warms up pretty quickly, so when shaping the dogs and buns you should try to work quickly and/or keep some of it in the fridge.

Cakespy: Hot Dog Cookies

These are so kyooooot!! Love the addition of coconut as saurkraut :D

Lorraine Wallace's Skewers of Sage Chicken with Sweet Italian Sausage

Seems weird to make all that garlic-rosemary oil when you only need 1/2 a cup... but whatever, garlic-rosemary oil is delicious.

Chocolate Dirt Pudding Pots

These are soooo cute! What a classy take on a childhood favorite. Can't wait to try them :9

The Food Lab's Asparagus Week, Day 1: Asparagus and Ramp Soup with Yogurt

Welcome to a week of funny-smelling pee! :)

Crème Brûlée Pie

You could try it under the broiler but you want to make sure to protect the crust first. I tried bruleeing a tart just yesterday under the broiler, and it burned the crust pretty bad.

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

There's no flour in these cookies?

Video: How to Kill and Eat an Iguana

Man this is crazy that this video was posted! A couple years ago my (now ex) boyfriend told me that for Valentine's Day, he wanted to buy an iguana from a pet store to kill and eat it - presumably in my kitchen. I reacted with an emphatic negative, not because I am opposed to slaughtering and butchering my own food, but because I had no idea how to do it and could imagine it going badly. If only I'd seen this video before then...

Popeye Tso's Chicken (General Tso's Chicken Made with Popeye's Chicken Nuggets)

I just made this and it's so awesome it might make my head explode. I used Popcorn Chicken from Sonic and it worked perfectly. I might need to make more tomorrow, especially since Sonic is right across the street!

Momofuku's Ginger-Scallion Noodles with Tofu

Momofuku's ginger scallion sauce is the bee's knees. It is good on just about everything :9

Book Giveaway: Pastry Paris, Because Everything in Paris Looks Like Dessert

cheese danishes - i love that creamy filling ;)

Do You Have a Breadmaker You Use and Like?

My friend bought this breadmaker because she doesn't have an oven in her apartment (weird I know). She loves it! It makes very tasty loaves with a nice texture. She's also used it to make dough for things like cinnamon buns, which she then bakes in someone else's oven. For her, lacking something as essential as an oven, I think it was an excellent buy.

Dinner Tonight: BLT, Animal-Style

Pickles on a BLT?? Blasphemy! ;)

The Pizza Lab: The Complete Updated Guide To Grilled Pizza

Ooooh, I'm glad you made this guide! Gives me some more ideas for grilled pizza toppings :) I've been making grilled pizza for my friends the past couple of weekends, and they can't get enough! Also for some reason everyone was shocked that I was grilling the pizzas themselves and not just the toppings. They were all like, "You're grilling pizza? Really? ... You can do that with pizza??"

What should I eat while I'm in China?

So in a couple days I'm going on vacation to China for 2.5 weeks! :) I'll be spending most of my time in Shanghai, with about five days in Beijing. What should I make sure to try while I'm over there? Shanghai soup dumplings (xiaolongbao) and Peking duck are already on the list. Suggestions for both types of food and specific restaurants are welcome! I have not dietary restrictions and I love strange exotic food - the weirder, the better! :D

Best websites to buy exotic or hard-to-find food?

I live in a mid-size city with a number of foreign/exotic grocery stores, but I still have trouble finding some food items. For example I've been all over town and have yet to discover a place that sells gochujang, and I really need some homemade bulgogi in my life. I'll also occasionally think I've found what I need, but not be quite sure because the package is in another language and no one in the store speaks (coherent) English. I figure there must be someplace I can order this stuff online, and maybe even save some dough in the process.

Does anyone else order exotic food items online? Which sites do you use?

What is the best way to keep cake fresh?

I am baking a cake for a birthday party that is scheduled for this Friday. Due to some scheduling difficulty on my part, the only time I have available to make it is Wednesday evening. I know this is not ideal, since the cake will lose some of its freshness by Friday. The recipe I have makes a very moist and rich cake, so I'm sure that even without stringent protective measures, my gracious and easy-to-please friends will still find it delicious. But I'd like to keep as MUCH deliciousness as I can. What is the best way for me to ensure that the cake stays as fresh as possible? Should I wrap the layers in plastic wrap? Aluminum foil? Both? Or maybe keep them in their pans?

what's so great about wooden cutting boards?

forgive me if this is a dumb question, but it seems that a lot of professional/highly skilled amateur chefs prefer to use wooden cutting boards. other than aesthetic appeal, how are they better than other materials? i've always used plastic ones because you can put them in the dishwasher.

what to store above the oven?

this weekend i am planning on installing a shelf in my kitchen to store my spices, so that i can move them from above the oven. the cabinet they were in is above the fume hood, so it doesn't get super warm, but i didn't want to take any chances. my question is, what are some heat-stable things i can put up there without worrying about their taste or composition being altered? i was thinking maybe vinegars, alcohol, and some flours - any other suggestions.

wall-mounted spice storage?

for a while i have been storing most of my spices in a cupboard above the stove, but i recently realized that was a bad idea because the heat can affect their flavor. so i would like to either build or buy a set of wall-mounted spice racks. i have pretty limited room, so ideally i want something that is small but make efficient use of space.

does anyone have any recommendations for wall-mounted spice racks that are lightweight, well-designed, and attractive? (Kenji, if you're reading this, i really like the ones shown in your kitchen slideshow - where'd you get em?) or better yet, can anyone provide instructions on how to build one? i built and mounted a pegboard potrack that i am very proud of, so i am more than up to the task :)

mixing bread dough without a stand mixer?

this is mostly a question for dbcurrie: i loooove your bread recipes! but unfortunately i am not blessed enough to own a stand mixer (yet), and most of your recipes specify using one to mix and knead the dough. what is the best way to convert a stand mixer recipe to one i can do by hand? i usually mix the wet ingredients with a hand mixer, adding the flour gradually, until it gets too stiff to mix. then i add the rest of the flour with a wooden spoon, and knead it by hand on the countertop for 7-10 minutes. this tends to feel really awkward though, especially the wooden spoon part. and i feel like the dough is always really sticky when i'm done adding flour - almost too sticky to knead by hand. any advice (from anyone, not just dbcurrie)?

best way to season a wok?

i have a carbon steel wok with wooden handles that has rusted and that i need to re-season. i know the general guidelines of how to season pans, but i'm wondering if i can season this wok in the oven. i'm mostly concerned whether or not the wooden handles can withstand the heat. i can of course just season it on the stove, but it's so much easier to just oil it up, stick it in the oven, and forget about it for half an hour. also, i have an electric stove, so it's hard to distribute heat anywhere on the wok except for the bottom of it.

any suggestions?

pudding/custard cake filling?

for some reason the Safeway grocery store in Ft. Collins has the most bitchin bakery ever. when i was in high school my family always bought bread and cakes there. you could have cakes made to order for special occasions, with whatever filling and frosting and decorations you wanted. my favorite (which we ordered for several birthdays and my graduation) was a white cake with whipped cream frosting and some sort of pudding-y filling. i plan on recreating this cake for my own birthday (yes, i am making my own birthday cake). i know how to make the cake and the frosting, but i am unsure of exactly how the filling was made. it had the consistency of very thick pudding or custard, but most of the recipes for pudding and custard that i know are of a runnier variety, or have to be baked and set. does anyone know of a recipe for a thick pudding or custard-like cake filling that does not require baking? could i use a regular custard/pudding recipe and just adjust it to make it super thick (and if so, how do i do that)?

i just had my first Smashburger!

a Smashburger recently opened here in Lexington, Ky, and my friend and i decided to go there for dinner today. perhaps it was because i ran this morning, or because i didn't have enough to eat for lunch, but i was STARVING by the time we got there. and perhaps it was only because i was so famished, but that was one of the best damn burgers i've ever had! i bit into it and grease literally gushed out onto my hands. the burger was perfectly cooked and loaded with bacon and deep-fried banana pepper rings. it came on a tasty egg bun and with garlic rosemary fries.

if you live within a reasonable drive of a Smashburger, i highly recommend that you visit one! go when you're starving and it'll be even better :D

the best place to let kneaded bread rise?

aaaand another question about bread! where is the best place in your average home/apartment to allow kneaded bread to rise? is room temperature (between 68 and 74 degrees) warm enough to cause adequate rising after a few hours, or does it need to be warmer? i've experimented with using a barely-warmed oven with mixed results - it usually ends up feel much too warm, even hot. i feel like a sunbeam would be ideal, but all the windows in my apartment face north, so they only get direct sunlight for a few hours in the morning.

when to freeze bread dough?

i'm back with another bread baking question! when should i freeze prepared bread/pizza/other dough - after first mixing it, or after one of the risings? i love baking my own bread but since i live alone, it's difficult for me to finish a whole loaf before it goes stale. i figure it would be easiest for me to freeze half the dough and bake smaller loaves.

also, i don't know if this has happened to anyone else, but since i started baking my own bread, i have become completely addicted to it. this weekend i literally had to hold myself back from baking another loaf, because i knew i had other cooking planned and wouldn't be able to eat it all before it went stale. it's just so satisfying to pull a hot crusty loaf out of the oven and watch it steam when you cut it open. and it makes my whole apartment smell awesome! :)

there's a hole in my bread!

lately i've been baking a lot of bread at home (ever since i figured out how easy it was to bake homemade bread, i've been a little obsessed with it). last night i made a sandwich loaf using a recipe for a richer bread, made with eggs and milk. the dough came together very nicely and rose well, but when i pulled it out of the oven and cut off a slice i discovered a MASSIVE hole in the middle of it. we're not talking a small air pocket here, we're talking a gianormous cavern that tunnels through the majority of the loaf. you could fit a sandworm in this thing. while it's very tasty bread, it's not much good as a sandwich loaf if there's a ruddy big hole in the middle of it. how could this have happened, and more importantly, how do i prevent it in the future? i'm thinking maybe it rose unevenly, or i didn't seal the seams well enough when i fitted it into the loaf pan. while i know my way around the kitchen, i'm still a fairly novice baker, so don't hesitate to suggest something that you think is super obvious. thanks!

cast iron and tomatoes?

i recently bought a big cast iron skillet, and tonight i was planning on making chana masala, which features chickpeas and canned tomatoes. i had heard that cooking tomatoes and other acidic things in cast iron can darken the color of the dish, and damage the seasoning if left in the pan for too long. i already know how to season and properly care for cast iron; my question is, how long is "too long?" i wasn't planning on storing any food in the pan, but what if i want to cook something with tomatoes that calls to simmer the dish for 30 minutes, or longer?

help me enjoy asparagus!

i am a big fan of taking things (usually vegetables) that i hated and refused to eat as a child, and cooking them in ways that make me decide that they are now delicious. i have already conquered brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. since asparagus is coming into season, i think i should tackle that next. do you guys know of any really excellent, cravable recipes that feature asparagus?

sprouted onions?

i have a bag of red onions that i've been keeping in a covered basket in my kitchen. one of them has sprouted some green shoots from one end. can i still use this onion like a regular one, or it will it taste different? can i just chop the sprouted part off? i hate to throw it away since the rest of it looks perfectly okay.

does coconut milk freeze well?

the other day i made a crap load of Thai coconut curry with vegetables and tofu. since it is DELICIOUS, i'm certain i can eat all of it before it goes bad, but in the future i think i'd like to freeze some for later. do things made with coconut milk freeze well? or does it separate out like whole milk does when frozen? i would hate to freeze a bunch of curry and later find out that the texture is off.

spice mill?

I have a pepper mill, but I'd like to get a spice mill so that I can start toasting and grinding my own whole spices. I don't really know what kind of spice mill I should get. Should I get an electric one, or hand-operated? Will just another pepper mill work? Can I use a coffee grinder instead? Should I get a mortar and pestle as well?

Any suggestions for a nice spice mill would be appreciated; bonus points if your suggestion is also dishwasher-safe :)

growing your own herbs?

last summer i started my own indoor herb garden because i wanted to have fresh herbs on hand for my cooking, but now i'm wondering if it's worth the effort. at the moment i only have thai basil and chives; my parsley plant seems to be on its last legs, and my sweet basil and cilantro plants have long since kicked the bucket. i think that may be partly due to the quality of the plants i bought (i purchased them late in the season), but i'm also wondering if i'm doing something that is preventing them from flourishing. since there aren't a lot of leaves, i can't use them very often. it sometimes seems like a lot of effort to water and prune them when i don't use them much. the main reason i tried to start my own herb garden was because i hated going out to buy a bunch of expensive herbs, and then ending up using only a tiny bit before they went bad. but i'm wondering if i should just scrap my herb garden since it has not bloomed like i thought it would.

does anyone else here grow their own herbs? do you think it's worth it? what kind of plants do you have, and what do you do to encourage robust growth?

(for the record, i keep my herbs inside and they have a fluorescent grow lamp.)

Date Walnut Muffins

Muffins, shrunk down from gigantic bakery proportions, make a simple, quick breakfast. Sweet and nutty date muffins from Mad Hungry Cravings are good enough to enjoy throughout the day. More

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny marries both British and Indian ingredients to form a soup that is a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and very satisfying. There are many versions of this popular soup - some contain rice, some coconut milk, others are vegetarian while some include meat. The important elements are spice, sweetness, and in my opinion lentils. 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

Charles Phan's Lemongrass Beef Stew

Braised short ribs are one of those no-brainer wintertime comfort foods. Easy to prep, slow to cook, and luscious to eat, the well-marbled cut of beef tastes great simmered in just about anything--from tomato-based Italian broths to beer and beef broth. In Charles Phan's Vietnamese Home Cooking, Phan presents a French-influenced stew laced with lemongrass, ginger, star anise, and Thai chiles. Alongside the short ribs, he braises (not-surprising) carrots and (more curious) daikon radish to add sweetness and texture to the beef. And a bonus? The brothy, rich sauce is wonderful on its own should you "accidentally" eat all of the beef out of the stew first More