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berzerkeley

Lessons from my mom:
Food is an expression of love, so it must be healthful, healing, and shared. Food brings us together. It unites us across time and distance. Love. Ambition. Family. Food. It's all the same, really!

  • Favorite foods: Honestly? GOOD salads make me incredibly happy. Also, whatever-I-had-as-a-kid-that-can-never-be-replicated-except-by-my-mom.

Great food/travel writers or books?

Also, the very fact that you assume I'm not an American citizen because of my "ethnic" experience? HA! Cultural hegemony at its best. Point proven.

Great food/travel writers or books?

@Zinnia1
Thank you for ASSuming erroneous conclusions. Now, allow me to make my own assumptions based on your naive notion of America as a bucolic "melting pot": You obviously have never felt castigated, segregated, or humiliated by feeling like you do not belong in a Westernized culture. You obviously have never felt the embarrassment of having parents incapable of speaking English and desperately wishing that you could be "like everyone else". You were never that child bringing "stinky ethnic food" to elementary school and wishing desperately that your mom would just give you some dang Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup instead. You were never internally shameful of your own inherited culture. You do not know what it is like to grow up with the identity of your parents while trying to assimilate into the "American melting pot". You want to know what the "American" melting pot is? Try living in a rural area, as I am now even though I grew up in a woefully segregated metropolitan city, and open your eyes. There is rampant cultural segregation (ever wonder why all the ethnic families congregate with one another?), rampant hegemonic practices (gee, I wonder which culture is dominant here?), and rampant insidious unconscious isolation of people who are not quintessentially American (I dare you to walk around rural America with a hijab and not feel isolated or uncomfortable).

Pairings Pictured: Wines to Drink With Chinese Food

What about hot pot? When it comes to wintry celebrations, the hot pot is usually the preferred celebration meal of choice here. Wonder what would be best for such a meal full of variety (but, still, all boiled)? Also, truly curious. What's the meaning behind your name?

Snapshots from Hong Kong: My 14 Favorite Sweets

In my heart, I just jumped around like a little girl and squealed like a pig.

Silky smooth velvet-y "ji ma wu" (the sesame paste) is the stuff of my dreams. I've tried to make it before, but you need some kind of industrial grinder to get the rice and sesame into that fine of a powder. Or, maybe, people just start with powder... Also, I'm so anti-shortbread for egg custard tarts. I was always taught that a perfect flaky/phyllo-type base is the only appropriate base, so I guess that makes me a bit of a traditionalist. Anyways, major nostalgia here.

Great food/travel writers or books?

My personal pet peeve: don't call anything "authentic", and please please please write with a bit of cultural sensitivity. We are human beings. In my opinion, it's not about being PC; it's about having a profound respect for the humanity that lies in people unlike yourself. That ethnic market in which you love to feel unique was my only childhood understanding of where food comes from. Conventional supermarkets were as foreign to me as 'ethnic markets' are to you. The smell of fresh seafood may horrify some Westerners, but, you know what? The smell of aged cheese made my mother want to vomit. It's all relative. We're all human beings, and there's only so much to which we were all socialized. So, please consider what you're writing about and please do it respectfully. With that said, Anthony Bourdain is a great writer precisely because he is so frank, honest, and respectful about different people/cuisines of different backgrounds. He does it well.

Start with a graham cracker pie crust....

Banana cream pie! + bourbon, if necessary. How is that even a question?!

The Food Lab: The Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, by this article's definition, are shortbread cookies considered ultra "tender"? That's odd. I've never heard of that term used for something like shortbread, but that's what Cookie Fact #1 suggests. Or am I interpreting this incorrectly?

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

Secrets? Tips? Your best Garlic Bread

When it comes to good bread, good olive oil is the best accompaniment.
I mince some garlic, heat it up in a bit of medium quality oil, and then smother it all in some high quality fruity + peppery extra virgin olive oil. A little bit of salt and pepper helps, too. Supply lots of bread for dipping.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: High Road Ice Cream 6-Pack

Food habits

A big pile of Chinese vegetables (choy) at dinner. I feel incredibly guilty if I skip it. It's my mom's doing.

Four Hours for Barbecue: the Psychology of Waiting in Line for Food

You forgot the confirmation bias that is likely happening here!! Along with all the other cognitive biases other folks have already brought up. So glad to be around such a great group of skeptics (no, seriously!).

Dominique Ansel is Now Making Breakfast Cereal

This is a decadent dessert, not breakfast. But, still, it sounds amazing.

Would You Try Breathing a Cocktail?

@Cycorider, where on earth did you get your basic biology, anatomy, physiology training? Wherever it was, I think you should ask for a refund.
"You're sending alcohol directly into the bloodstream and brain, with no pitstop in the liver. That's why it's so potent, but it's also going to make it very easy to get alcohol poisoning. And you won't be able to throw it up either, which is how your body normally handles too much alcohol to metabolize, since it's not in your stomach."
The liver receives most of its blood from the gastrointestinal system through venous return and a small portion of it from hepatic arteries. If the alcohol molecules enter through the nasal passage and into the blood, it will probably return back to the heart first before being returned back to the body, at which point it will necessarily encounter the liver. Your liver is there to metabolize things no matter what, no matter what entry, as long as it is blood-borne. If this were not true, we could not prescribe IM/IV/nasal drip drugs. Also, there is a difference between reaction rates and reaction intensity. I think your insinuation that the effects will be more potent is wrong. The effects may occur FASTER, but that is not the same as a more intense effect.

Your gross assumptions about "any irritation" eventually causing cancer is highly misleading. There are an incredible number of cellular changes that must occur to subvert the cell's normal signaling, transduction, gene expression, etc. pathways. It is not as easy or simple as "irritant = metaplasia = dysplasia", the latter claim of which is really just dubious. Where did you get your medical training, Dr. Wikipedia?

Something similar to Sriracha, but hotter?

Huy Fong makes a "Chili garlic" sauce that is spicier and a bit more pungent than Sriracha. It's chunkier, too.

New Recommendations in San Fran

Don't call it San Fran. That sounds like nails on chalkboards. Just FYI so people can't pick you out and pick you apart (because they will... or they should).

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Those cookies have a brownie crust! What's the technical name for that weird meringue layer?

Where can I find Hokkaido Squash?

I had to Google what Hokkaido squash was, and I still have no idea what it is or what it tastes like. BUT it looks shockingly similar and sounds eerily close to Kabocha. Kabocha has nutty flavors with a creamy, low-moisture texture. Would that work? You must have Kabocha pumpkins floating around somewhere in NYC. Any larger supermarket should have it. I even get them in upstate NY!

Moose Roast

It's arguable that wild game, when killed swiftly and as painlessly as possible, are more humane sources of meat than ANYTHING we raise.

Wild Side: From Head to Foot at Ba Le in Uptown

Also, I don't know if this counts as "dessert", but I prefer to end all of my Vietnamese themed meals with "che ba mau" or 3 color drink. But no substituting the red water chestnuts with red beans! That's my pet peeve.

Wild Side: From Head to Foot at Ba Le in Uptown

Wait what? I've always gotten my pickled chicken feet from vendors in Chinatown (albeit, in California). It's an especially popular dim sum dish and is often served with jellyfish and pickled daikon/carrots. I've never seen them sold at Vietnamese vendors. Weird.

Favorite eats in Hong Kong

Egg puffs/Eggette. When done right (or even half-right), they taste like HEAVEN.

If you aren't vegetarian, ask for the best roast goose restaurant in Hong Kong. Roast duck = "siew ngoh" in Cantonese. It is roasted by a very famous and well-known restaurant in HK, but I can't recall the name of it right now. I think it's somewhere near Kowloon.. maybe. Maybe not. Someone will know. Just ask.

Dimsum is totally a Cantonese affair. Go and find the best dimsum places. Eat until your heart wants to give out.

If you're into herby stuff, try the Guilingao. It's herby jelly. I personally love it.

Eat all the tropical fruit you can possible get your hands on. Thank me later.

Tomatoes

Whoops, sorry. Read the article too fast. The 50ng/kg recommendation is from the European Food Safety Authority and the US EPA.

Tomatoes

BPA is definitely a real issue, and the amount found in can linings can range from almost nil to a SCARY amount. Current recommendations are to minimize contact between food and BPA products as much as possible. A quick search of the literature reveals numerous studies that quantify how much BPA is actually present within the food itself - and it's enough to garner concern and precautionary action. For example, the FDA recommends

Differnt take with Breadcrumbs

Dutch Crunch is sort of like this. (And Dutch Crunch is the bread of gods)

Tell me about bison

Let me preface by saying that I've never eaten bison, although it's on my list.

Obviously, there are big Bison banners all over SE because the council probably pays lots of $$ for the ad space. BUT I was thinking about it and I thought.. Why not? Isn't bison technically much more ecologically sound because, unlike cows, they actually evolved to live in the Midwest and, as a result, are better suited to the weather and to the natural feed? (And where are most bison raised/bred/how are they raised/bred?) I've also heard, though I can't verify, that the meat itself is more nutritionally sound, that it's often more lean than cattle. Now, if all this is true, why aren't we eating more bison? Why isn't it trendy? Or maybe it is? I'm really pretty curious.

Where's the paw paw love?

I'm an avid world traveler but sadly inexperienced in the ways of the eastern Coast. Anyways, I just moved here and recently tried some paw paw fruits ...and OMG!!! Why don't people make a bigger deal out of these fruits? For all the trouble that people go through trying to bring in tropical fruits like guanabana/soursops, mangosteens, jackfruits, durians, etc., why don't we just distribute more paw paws around this great country??? It has the same kind of texture with a beautiful and delicate floral smell. I had no idea that we grew such an amazing fruit here in the States, and I can't help but wonder why we don't use or publicize it more. I know the Southeast Asian community would have 1 million and more ideas for its use. Or, of course, maybe I'm just blissfully ignorant of paw paws' pre-existing popularity? Enlighten me please!

Bad wine club

Forgive me OH Wise Ones. I am a wine newbie and thought it'd be smart of me to join an inexpensive wine club to dip my toes into the water.

The last two months were good and fairly reliable. Given the cheapo price tag, this was about what I expected. This month, though, was truly just bad. The red reeks of isopropyl alcohol and the white tastes "off", like the bad kind of bitter/sour. Not pleasant at all.

It makes me sad to see two full bottles of wine that I basically want to pour down the drain. I feel like I could spend my money much more wisely on ONE bottle that I choose myself and that I'd enjoy. So, I guess this was a learning experience, but... are wine clubs generally just a bad idea? How else does one systematically expand the palate?

Favorite ways to cook w/ alcohol

At any point in time, I've got an abundance of 1/2 cups of red + white wine that I've no idea what to do with. Friends also bring over beer during get-togethers, but I hate beer. Absolutely can't drink it, so I'd rather find a way to cook with it.
I've exhausted the soup and basic tomato marinara ideas. Help!

That elusive crumb...

There are two foods right now that I've fallen in love with but can't figure out:
1) Some type of corn muffin. On a whim, I picked up a "muffin" from a local cafe and fell deeply in love with it. It had this wonderful tender, moist, chewy crumb and it smelled deeply of corn. It didn't fall apart like cornbread. It was a deep molasses color and borrowed much of its sweetness from the cornmeal. I tried looking for recipes. Nothing seemed to match the description. I also went back to the cafe and tried, I swear, all the muffins and I don't think they carry it anymore. I still buy a muffin every now and then hoping I've stumbled onto that elusive one...
2) GOOD red velvet cupcakes. Until now, I've never understood the popularity of red velvet because the ones I tried were always light on flavor, too airy, crumbly, etc. But the texture on this one particular red velvet cupcake was sublime - rich, fudgey without that gross "wet" texture, yet MUCH more airy than traditional butter cakes. It was just a beautiful balance of rich and moist but not cloyingly dense.

I do have the book "Bakewise", and I'm sure I could piece together an answer. But I think tapping into the collective SE wisdom would be a much more efficient route. So hit me with your best thoughts!

Simple food = best meals

In the midst of trying to create menus to blow the pants off some guests, I dug into my lunch - a giant heirloom tomato and some fresh mozz. No basil or anything. Just salt and pepper. And, in between bites of creamy mozz and juicy, sweet, aromatic tomato, it dawned on me. Honestly, the simplest food is somehow the best and most complex (without trying to be).

What other simple pairings (or singletons) do you think make the best meals? I'm also madly in love with beets and blue cheese. Ya know, maybe I'm just in love with cheese...

Kabocha squash

I loooove kabocha squash. Its rich, creamy texture and ability to take on sweet-salty flavors makes my heart sing. Unfortunately, I'm a little low on creative ways to eat it. Usually, I'll toss it in a wok to brown it with garlic and let it simmer with sweetened soy sauce (favorite method). Or I'll bake it with a little sugar and salt/pepper, but I don't really like baked or roasted veggies.

I'm turning some of it into a soup with tomato puree. But I still have half of a squash left, and I'd like to do something more creative. Preferably savory, but sweet is okay, too. Or better, yet, sweet and savory! Bread ideas could be awesome, too. What's your favorite way to eat kabocha?

Embarrassing childhood foods

I was reading someone blog about how her kid loved to eat tamarind fruit at home. But, when she packed some in her son's school lunch, she saw that he returned with it totally untouched. (In case you're wondering why, tamarind fruit looks a whole lot like... poop.)

When I read this, my stomach did a little flip, and I got a pang of nostalgia. When I was a kid, my mom would send me to school with fresh banh mi. Yes, glorious banh mi with its deliciously soft and crusty bread, beautifully pickled carrots+daikon, and perfectly grilled lemongrass chicken. But I went to school with a bunch of Caucasian kids who ate Smuckers and Campbell's soup for lunch. So, every lunch, I threw away my entire banh mi sandwich and waited to go home to eat dinner. Once, a teacher called me out and asked the entire class who the ungrateful kid was who threw away an entire sandwich. The sting of that embarrassment has always stuck with me. Little did I know that banh mi would become the "cool" thing 2 decades later. *Shrug* Anybody else got any embarrassing childhood food memories? I can't be the only one!

What to do with cottage cheese?

Problem: Haven't eaten cottage cheese in at least 10 years. Decided to give it another try. Maybe it's just me, but the kind I bought is the "natural" kind and REALLY tart. Tart cheese curds....?? This is not what I remembered 10 years ago, and I didn't even like the non-tart stuff back then. What do I do? What can I make? I tried to turn myself into a cottage cheese lover, but it's not looking bright.

Bonus points: Recipes that are light on sugar and white flour. I'm not afraid of baked goods, but I have my limits and the kitchen has been a little too full w/ baked goods lately.

Quick! Need unique and delicious birthday cake ideas!

The title says it all. Give me a fantastic idea within 24 hours or I'm throwing my hands up and settling for a store-bought cake. Before the inevitable, though, I'd like to give a homemade option a try.

Some pointers:
- "Birthday cake" doesn't have to be a cake. It can be a pie, a tart, a galette, whatever.
- We have lots of juicy oranges, overripe bananas, and red delicious apples ready for use.
- No dietary restrictions.
- Coffee is a favorite flavor...but not necessary.

Please inspire me!

How often do you eat meat? And what type?

This poll went up on Runner's World a little while ago, and the results were pretty interesting. Many people ate meat infrequently. Many others were vegetarian. Since then, I've been sort of steeped in this notion that people don't really eat meat that much or that often.

However, I've noticed that a lot of SE-Talk recipe recommendations and answers to "What-are-you-cooking-today?" posts seem to be skewed towards the omnivorous end. So, I'm curious!

Considering that there are ~21 meals in a week, how often do you eat meat?
- 1-4 meals/week (for simplicity's sake: ~ 1-2 days/week)
- 5-9 meals/week (~ 3 days/week)
- 10-14 meals/week (~ 4 days/week)
- 15-21 meals/week (~ 5-7 days/week)

And, usually, what type? Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, etc.

Vegetarians, I already know your answer, so, sorry, this doesn't apply!

Reconstruct this!

I once went to a Mediterranean-style buffet that offered grilled zucchini. At first, I thought it'd be the most bland thing on my plate, but it was surprisingly, almost hauntingly, flavorful. It had this wonderful syrup-like coating that was perfectly counterbalanced with enough salt and pepper (of various types?) all grilled to a crisp, yet tender, perfection. It was soooo good, but I didn't get a good look at what exactly was in the marinade. I've been craving that delicious grilled zucchini since then, but I honestly have no idea how to reconstruct it.

Does this grilled veggie recipe sound familiar to anyone? I would just experiment around, but I honestly don't even know where or how to start. I only remember: sweet + crisp "syrup"-like coating, savory, and red/black pepper(?). I feel like there was garlic, but, then again, I pretend there's garlic in everything... It had a very intense flavor, so I'm not sure if it was your run-of-the-mill-salad-dressing-marinated zucchini. Help!

Greek Yogurt Cake

Like pound cake, but lighter, Greek yogurt cake from Mad Hungry Cravings gets its moistness from its namesake and floral sweetness from honey. Make this the night before a big breakfast. More

Cook the Book: Yucatan-Style Slow-Roasted Pork

Once your pork is roasted, it can be portioned out and incorporated into all sorts of easy weeknight meals. It makes a killer pulled pork sandwich (even better when topped with some slaw), incredible tacos (especially with some quickly pickled onions), or on its own with rice and beans. You could even make a "faux-lognese" sauce, by cooking it down with carrots, celery, shallots, white wine, and crushed tomatoes. More

The Food Lab: How to Make Parisian Gnocchi

We've all met gnocchi before. Those potato-based pasta pillows that at their best are light and bouncy, though more often then not come off as leaden and heavy. Well, those gnocchi are another story for another time. Today we're hear to talk about their even pillowier, and—most importantly—far easier-to-make cousins, gnocchi à la Parisienne. If you ask me, they're tastier, as well. More

Gourmet slow cooker recipes

Due to recent developments in my life, I won't be getting home until late, and I thought the slow cooker would be a perfect way to still get a delicious meal on the table for our family to share. The... More

Chickpea Stew with Eggplants, Tomatoes, and Peppers

My original plan was ratatouille, one of my absolute favorite seasonal meals. I picked up eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and set about finding a recipe. The problem is, I'm already quite fond of this one and couldn't find another that excited me in the same way. Luckily, I came across a recipe that uses all of the above vegetables, then adds some chickpeas and bell peppers. How could that be bad? More