I listen to music. I cook. I blog about it. Mayhem ensues.

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  • Location: Arizona
  • Favorite foods: Peaches, pecans, and peanut butter.
  • Last bite on earth: Make it chocolate, please!

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Forget Totchos and Nugchos; Spamchos are The Ultimate Nacho Hybrid

"Chicken is just previously living tofu" -- I need this on a T-shirt.

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

How can I question somebody who appreciates the glory that is the Smashburger?

Well, there's always breakfast. I remain unimpressed with McDonald's biscuits. If you cannot face the blinding glory of the Whataburger jalapeno cheddar biscuit, I'd go with Carl's Jr. (Hardee's in some regions) for breakfast biscuit sandwiches.

Last time I had Burger King's onion rings, they were indistinguishable from the frozen Ore Ida kind. Arby's onion rings, on the other hand, are pub-style: huge, juicy battered rings.

Avoid the Vegan Carb Crutch by Flouting Pasta Tradition

@Shain -- Now you've sold me on the concept, as "hot pasta salad" is an excellent thing.

Avoid the Vegan Carb Crutch by Flouting Pasta Tradition

Erm... In your current headline, you are "flaunting" pasta tradition, which would mean showing off your traditional pasta. I think you mean "flouting," which would be doing something contrary to established practice.

I wouldn't pick on a minor error, but this is saying the opposite of what you mean.

Why You Shouldn't Dine Out on Valentine's Day

@MtDave -- Years ago, friends in the restaurant biz were warning me off ANY major holiday because on those days, restaurants are set up to deal with a different crowd and a different situation. If you're accustomed to the restaurant's normal menu variety and level of service, going on a jammed holiday prix-fixe occasion is a recipe for disappointment because at that moment, they are catering to a mob of diners unlike you. "Manning up" won't improve things because what foodie!you won't like is their fully manned-up effort to do a good job with the preponderance of the diners they get on that day.

I don't go to a mall when a teen idol is performing there because it is a recipe for my being cranky and dissatisfied, and I rarely and selectively go to restaurants on major holidays, for the same reason.

A Cookie a Day: Homemade Magic Middles

So if I want to reproduce the lemon-cream-filled cookies that were in the office in a tin, lemon ganache is what I want? Cool.

How to Make the Best Swedish Meatballs

Your star-studded meatballs are clearly Independence-Day-themed (or possibly Xmas-themed) porcupine meatballs.

A Cookie a Day: Rugelach

@Dromeda -- That was actually my unasked question because I was too lazy to compare recipes on my phone! Cream-cheese-based dough sure sounds fungible across cookies.

A Cookie a Day: Rugelach

There are people who roll rugelach one at a time?!?

It always seemed obvious that these are "log" cookies. But I've usually encountered them with nut filling; it's the grocery-store hamentaschen that are leathery and have sad jam.

Jack Up Your Cornbread With These Five Variations

Orange-cranberry is the one here that I'm eager to try.

I occasionally make a sweet (Mexican-style) cornbread with cinnamon and raisins, since for some reason that was widely sold by panaderias in Minneapolis but can't be found here in Phoenix.

An Easy Thanksgiving Menu for Two

The "turkey breast on top of the stuffing" method works beautifully, though I've never had to give the turkey extra oven time. I'm not sure if the reason is (a) smaller hunk of turkey; (b) lots of broth in the stuffing so it takes longer to crisp up; or (c) layer of bacon on top of the turkey breast, as the kind I've used doesn't have skin. In any case, it's a win for both flavoring and efficient use of oven space.

You can do pumpkin pie/custard/flan in a ramekin, though you will have lots of pumpkin puree left over for other projects (muffins?). You can also make a near-identical custard with orange sweet potatoes, resulting in fewer leftovers if you size your potato wisely.

The Return of Rummy Bears: Cocktail-Inspired Drunken Gummies

Now here's the important question. Once a gummy bear has been infused, will it still accept a dip in chocolate and not have the chocolate slide off as it dries?

'Cause a dark-chocolate-dipped rummy bear would probably be too perfect for our flawed universe.

(As a side note, anybody who has not made chocolate-dipped gummy bears at home should do so immediately. They're way better than the storebought ones and dead easy to do.)

Why Crème de Cassis Deserves a Revival

@findingmykid -- You have invented the grown-up, liquid version of those Cadbury fruit & nut bars that used to be exotic in the U.S. (in the days before they showed up at supermarkets)! That's a compliment -- your cocoa should taste like my memory of how good they were, not how they actually taste now.

I once persuaded a bartender to make a White Russian with creme de cassis rather than Kahlua. It was pleasing.

Turn Your Pasta Into Ramen With Baking Soda

Yeah, while trying more things would be scientifically interesting and I would READ it, once it becomes 18 steps to get the Perfect Faux Ramen Nooodle, I'm not going to actually do it, as I could take the bus to the Asian supermarket for real ramen noodles with less effort.

I would still read it, though.

Anyway, this is very cool!

The Serious Eats Field Guide to Chinese Pastries

I have enough favorites to be in a carbohydrate haze for weeks.

Red bean rolls, I adore to such a degree that I figured out how to make a passable (not great) quickie version at home (largely because the nearest Chinese bakery is really inconvenient and its rolls, not very good).

There is a mince-meat moon pie that I've had in San Francisco from some tiny Chinatown bakery, and I can't find it elsewhere. It has roughly the density of lead and probably shouldn't be eaten in one sitting, but it's wonderful.

If anybody wants to promote the Sesame Ball & Egg Custard Pie Diet, I am so there.

Manner Matters: How to Deal With Lateness

Nothing works more than once in prodding the chronically late. They do this stuff because they're going to do it.

The best thing to try, for peace of mind, is just having stuff to do so that you don't care if Latie Bird is late. But some Latie Birds will see your lack of distress and start being even later, and the next thing you know, dinner is at 10 p.m. and the restaurant staff doesn't want to tell you about dessert.

How to Make Menemen, the Turkish-Style Scrambled Eggs That Haunt My Dreams

Oh, that looks good!

There's a similar dish served at my favorite Indian buffet that I've been meaning to reconstruct at home, so now I have a starting point. (I suspect it's mostly a difference of ghee versus olive oil and then the spice profile.)

From Scientific Cuisine to Southern Icon: The Real History of Pimento Cheese

@Mmmmmph -- The internet's certainly loaded with food bloggers claiming Velveeta is mandatory in place of half the cheddar, though how many of them are actually Southern is not something I'm up for researching.

Manner Matters: Can I Bring My Own Tonic Water?

The mark of true adulthood is having more than one go-to drink, so that when the gin-and-tonic isn't mixed to your specifications, you can shrug and order a glass of wine or a martini or whatever else suits your palate.

Also, yeah, totally what ryuthrowstuff says about being cut more slack if you're the kind of regular on slow nights who already has a "let's discuss amazing drinks!" relationship with the bartender. A major reason to have multiple default settings is that sometimes you'll be a newbie or occasional customer at a place that's swamped and noisy, and just getting a basic drink will be a feat.

Taste Test: 1 Day, 23 Pop-Tart Flavors

As a child, I regarded unfrosted brown-sugar as the epitome of Pop Tart sophistication.

I've tried the oat ones because Big Lots had them, and they're okay. I keep a large package in the office of whatever flavor looked good from Big Lots, which usually means buying rival brand Toast 'Em Pop Ups.

Know Your Tahini: The Many Sides of a Sesame Powerhouse

When I noticed a three-year-old jar of barely used tahini in my refrigerator, I made halvah. It's incredibly easy and turns out to taste much better fresh than packaged.

A Closer Look at Your Italian Bakery's Cookie Case

@SheilaC -- My thought exactly! My mom used to crank out bajillions of butter cookies, and I positively loathed them (and still do).

Rainbow cookies, now... rainbow cookies are worth trying to find. I haven't had one in years because Arizona is not big on Italian bakeries.

I'd swear that on the East Coast, even grocery stores had a larger selection of cookies than the six described, but it's been so long that I don't remember details.

Graham Cracker Bites From 'Mother Daughter Dishes'

@colonelcash -- Two options! If you're confident in melting chocolate, you can add alcohol directly and it won't seize (non-alcohol-based flavorings will cause seizing, unless you add a little milk or oil or butter to the chocolate).

Alternately, add a little bourbon to the condensed milk and then just use a tad less in relation to the crushed crackers (since you've upped the moisture) or add some food-processed unsweetened coconut or ground nuts to up the dry ratio. Put the excess bourbon-laced condensed milk in your next cup of coffee.

Bagelnomics: The Curious Pricing of New York's Bagel With Cream Cheese

@Desert -- If you have Whole Foods or a locally owned chi-chi-mart, check there for non-Philly cream cheese.

It's also very easy to make at home. You can do it with rennet and the whole nine yards, but the easy-peasy way is to take live-culture yogurt that's not full of stabilizers (probably from the same source where you could just buy the cream cheese), plop it in cheesecloth, and hang it over a bowl to drain for a few days.

The tangier your original yogurt, the tangier the resulting cheese. Sugar and flavorings will not stop it from turning to cream cheese (you get flavored cream cheese!), but you do need live cultures and not a whole lot of better-living-through-chemistry. The more fat in your yogurt, the fattier and creamier your cream cheese.

I'm Writing a Cookbook. Now What?

Oh maaaaan, that is a grueling cooking regimen if you're not a professional chef at a restaurant! I give you props for keeping up the self-discipline this long and wish you well on the journey to a completed book.


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