Step Aside, Old Chili Powder: How to Prepare Whole Dried Chilies for the Best Powder and Puree

Thanks Kenji, I'm not sure that I'll quit using chili powder completely but this is a good way to use up aging (but still good) dried chiles that I have laying around. Once they are gone I can buy more! I think that the hot chili powder that I get fairly often from The Spice House is pretty great though and definitely has more flavor than the stuff I used to buy from the regular grocery store.

Which Is the Best K-Cup Coffee?

@rich12072 This article was published only a few months after the patent that Green Mountain Coffee held on k-cups expired so the market didn't have as many players back then. Back then I remember that GMC was available lots of places because they made most of the k-cups. Now that the patent has expired LOTS of new k-cups have been introduced by everyone since they don't have to pay GMC for the design. Chock Full o' Nuts k-cups didn't even exist back when this article was published.

The New Anova Precision Cooker Promises to Be the Best, Most Cost-Effective Sous-Vide Solution on the Market

@pcworth Most people with the Anova Precision cookers are not making use of the Bluetooth capabilities yet because the official apps from Anova have not yet been released. There are a couple of non-free 3rd party apps that can interface with Anova but I have not personally tried either out. I doubt I’ll be making too much use of the app once it comes out though since all I really need for controls is the wheel on the front of the precision cooker to control the temperature. I think the plans for the app are to actually have recipes in it too. The app is also how temperature calibration is done if the temp isn’t 100% accurate on the precision cooker. My first unit was off by 1 degree F but the second unit (which also needs to be returned) is dead on temp as measured by my recently calibrated Thermapen.

One of the complaints people have without using the app is that when turning the timer on it also converts the temp readout from F to C or vice versa. I don’t use the timer at all really since time is less important than temperature for most sous vide applications

I don’t have any other sous vide circulators to compare to so I can’t answer to any of your questions not related to the Anova Precision cooker. The Anova Precision Cooker does display both the current water temp and the set temp all the time so it’s easy to see from across the room.

I am also a Kickstarter backer for the new WiFi Nomiku that is supposed to be ready in March 2015 and there is also some talk of a new WiFi enabled “Anova Touch” that will supposedly be built sometime in 2015.

Digging Into Chicken Fried Steak, A Texas Icon

@tankwatkins I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks that there is never enough pepper in the gravy on chicken fried steak. I always make sure to taste it before adding pepper though just in case some place accidentally uses freshly ground pepper that actually tastes more like pepper than the usual pre-ground sawdust that most places use.

The Real Deal With White Chocolate, Dessert's Delicious Underdog

I've never been a big fan of white chocolate because all I've had are cheap white chocolates really. I've always suspected that it could be good if done right but never really tried to find a well done white chocolate. I might just have to seek out the Green and Black's bar since that's the only thing above that I know is in my local grocery store.

The Food Lab: The Truth About Brining Turkey

@grumpyturnip Here's a nice food lab article about kosher salt vs sea salt:

Here is also a pretty good looking discussion from reddit on the topic as well:

The Food Lab: The Best Way to Temper Chocolate

Great job as always Kenji, now if I could just my 2nd try Anova Precision Cooker I could try it out! (It's in the FedEx truck somewhere between Texas and Illinois). I'm so happy to have bought into sous vide finally and can't wait till it becomes more than just a niche item.

The Food Lab: How to Make the Best Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

I may or may not give this recipe a try sometime. I've never been a huge fan of cilantro but I've been starting to enjoy it more somewhat recently. I may just give it a try to change things up a bit.

@Ananonnie I know it isn't a Food Lab sauce at all, but I've been quite happy with a SE red enchilada sauce recipe that was posted a couple years ago. It blows the watery canned stuff out of the water.

@zorazen You make a lot of good points in your post. To me the difference between a troll and an acceptable critical comment depends on the context of the comment. In this case soul vole just made a blanket comment about his opinion on the general content of The Food Lab posts. It doesn't add anything what so ever to the post. I think the "I'm taking my ball and going home" part of the first comment put it firmly into troll-land. If he had combined parts of his first and second posts together it would have been less troll-ish since he expressed his opinion that this was just an ordinary enchilada recipe with nothing new. As Kenji said it actually does offer a new technique that is unknown to Kenji but soul vole didn't appear to think it was anything special.

SE does however take constructive criticism as well (key word being "constructive"). Case in point on this is that someone on this post pointed out how bad of an idea it is to pour fat down the drain and Kenji updated the article itself to correct that issue. He also replied to soul voles critical comments where many websites would not even reply to a trollish comment like that. He also recently replied on another post where someone was offended about the lighthearted use of "Sophie's choice" in a post.

Equipment: The Le Creuset Wooden Scraping Spoon is My New Favorite Spoon

@Kajigger My Timbers I actually just got that spoon in the last week or two and I don't like it much so far but I'm not quite sure why. I know one thing is that I didn't like it's scraping ability on the sides of my cast iron skillet. The handle is nice though since it is a bit thicker as are most OXO tools.

Equipment: The Le Creuset Wooden Scraping Spoon is My New Favorite Spoon

lol @ the $25 spoon selling out on Amazon. I guess we'll have to start calling that kind of thing the "The Kenji Effect" since Kenji is like the Oprah of the cooking tools world!

The Food Lab: For the Best Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Use Science, Not Sugar

@Sousaphil I actually asked the same question of Kenji on the recipe itself and he said that no bag was required at all.

The Food Lab: How to Cook Sous-Vide Turkey Breast With Extra-Crisp Skin

Are the turkey thighs pretty much the same as the legs in that it isn't really worth it to sous vide since they are pretty forgiving? The thighs are my favorite part of the turkey! I probably will be doing a turkey breast with this method though since we never get to take home any leftovers from Thanksgiving in my family. Ya gotta have leftovers for turkey sandwiches at least!

Stocking Your Pantry for Thanksgiving? Our Simple Printable Checklist of Essentials Is Here to Help!

The link to the chicken stock taste test actually goes to the cranberry sauce taste test.

The Best Mashed Sweet Potatoes

If you want to do the extra-sweetening step of the sous vide pre-cooking, do you need to put the potatoes in a vacuum bag or do you just stick em in the water in just their skins? Basically I don't know if the skins provide enough protection to prevent the potato from becoming waterlogged or not.

The Food Lab: For the Best Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Use Science, Not Sugar

Thanks for the great way to try sweet potatoes. I'm definitely going to try this recipe out and possibly bring it to my sister's thanksgiving dinner if I like it. No doubt my brother-in-law will make his usual desert side dish of sweet potatoes with streusel on top but maybe I can convert them!

The Best Spiced Nuts From Trader Joe's

Have you done any comparisons with more widely available flavored/spiced nuts? Blue Diamond brand is what I'm thinking of more specifically. They have a series of boldly flavored almonds that have wasabi soy sauce and jalapeno smokehouse flavors along with a few others. As much as we'd like to, not all of us have Trader Joe's nearby.

Pizza Hack: Is Copper Better Than the Baking Steel?

Whew! For a minute there I thought my fairly new baking steel was going to be second best already. I knew from the get go though that I'd never want to pay the price for a baking copper though since I was pretty sure that copper is a lot more money for the raw materials. Thanks for publishing the results despite the fact copper wasn't as good.

Use Your Potato Masher To Break Up Ground Meat in the Skillet

Too bad I don't have that style of potato masher at all. Mine is the type that looks like a wire bent into waves, which now that I think about I really don't even use anymore since I got a ricer.

21 Halloween Candies We're Hoarding

@Lisa AC I've never heard of Cherry Ripe before but crikey (is that an actual aussie expression?) are they expensive on US Amazon! I might just have to treat myself to some of them one of these days though since they sound great. Maybe I can use Christmas as an excuse since I can give a bar to my father who loves Mounds and cherry cordials as much as I do. Of course I'd only have to give him a bar or two and keep the rest for me!

The Food Lab: How to Make the Best Creamy White Chili With Chicken

I think if you left the skins on after charring the skin of the peppers it would just be too much smokey/burnt flavor in the final dish. If you don't roast the peppers at all then you lose out on flavor. Plus the pepper skin can be kind of waxy and not really break down much during cooking.

21 Halloween Candies We're Hoarding

My favorite halloween candy has always been Butterfingers, but really I was pretty happy with anything chocolate. Atomic fireballs were always welcome too since I was the only one of 3 kids that liked them. I've never been a huge fan of Skittles so those got traded away.

There are a lot of the candies in the original post that I've never seen in a halloween candy form though. Toblerone? Sno-caps? never seen either in "fun-size" packaging. Sno-caps are great though since they are semi-sweet chocolate!

The New Anova Precision Cooker Promises to Be the Best, Most Cost-Effective Sous-Vide Solution on the Market

For anyone still following this thread, I received my Anova Precision Cooker from this Kickstarter campaign yesterday. Thanks to this post, I was an early backer the "Founders Club" so I appear to have been one of the earliest people to receive my Anova Precision Cooker. So far it is doing well!

10 Easy Stir-in Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese Variations

My mother, who loves using "convenience" foods, used to make a green bean casserole version of mac and cheese. It was pretty much how it sounds. Blue box Kraft Mac & Cheese mixed with canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and of course French's fried onions. Just mixing in some Pastorelli's canned pizza sauce is actually pretty good too, I totally need to try adding more pizza toppings though!

Use Your Cast Iron Pan and a Tortilla to Make World Class Bar-Style Pizza in Under 12 Minutes

Maybe if the tortillas in the recipe were swapped out for "yeastless pre-made pizza crusts which are sold in packs of 8 to 12 crusts in the Mexican food or dairy aisle of the grocery" store it would be more acceptable. Throw in some tortillas made with 100% organic and GMO free ingredients or maybe make it gluten free and it'll be perfectly fine for people like Will then. The rest of us don't mind using a premade tortilla so much since it is quick, easy, and sounds like it makes a pretty decent quick pizza-like food.

Easy Creamy Cauliflower Soup With Bacon

So many great recipes to try and so little time! I always forget how much I love cauliflower since there is usually a big gap between when I have it.

Pinterest button question/suggestion

I'll admit it, I do use pinterest. I pretty much only use it as a dumping ground for recipes that sound good and I want to try sometimes. Is there a way to get the Pinterest button on SE to automatically retrieve the title of the article/recipe your attempting to pin? Other websites I've used will automatically put text (usually the recipe title) into the description of the pin box, but SE has never done that. On SE I usually just end up doing a copy/paste of the recipe title, but it'd be handier to not have to do that.

(Firefox 18 on Windows 7 if that matters)

New to Whole Foods

I saw a talk thread a couple weeks ago asking the same question about Trader Joe's, so I figured I'd start one about Whole Foods. There is finally a Whole Foods market opening up in the southern suburbs of Chicago (Orland Park IL to be precise) in a couple weeks. I know the nickname is "Whole Paycheck" and all that, but without worrying a whole lot about money what are the items that Whole Foods excels at? and what sort of stuff should be avoided?

I won't be going there every week or anything since it still a decent drive to get there, but it will be a much more reasonable drive than any other Whole Foods that has existed in the Chicago area before now.

Pizza Steel instead of Pizza Stone?

Has anyone ever tried using steel in place of stone for oven pizza cooking? I just noticed this kickstarter linked below that claims steel makes for great pizza. I would think that steel would lose its heat faster than stone but I suppose that might be a good thing if that heat is going into the pizza faster. It just seems to me that stone vs steel for pizza baking would be like the difference between cast iron and aluminum for a frying pan. Both can get very hot, but the second options wouldn't be able to build up as much heat as the first.

Pizza Steel Kickstarter
(disclaimer, I am no way associated with this kickstarter at all, not even a backer as of right now)

Best brand of Vanilla?

Seeing as how the Christmas holidays are coming up and everyone seems to bake a lot more this time of year, I think this question could help a lot of people.

My mom has always used the standard McCormick pure vanilla extract from the grocery store baking aisle. She did at least use pure extract instead of imitation. A while back I tried a different brand, Wilton I think, and was surprised that there was a noticeable difference.

I have used the Wilton bottle up now and can't find any more in the store where I got it before. I would like to know what your favorite brand of Vanilla is so I can buy some. I was looking at the King Arthur Flour site and noticed that their vanilla is rated well by their viewers, but I don't know if there is something better out there.

Emailing an article not working?

Over the last week or two I have tried emailing a couple of posts to someone using the email button at the top of the article, but it doesn't seem to be working because the recipient hasn't gotten anything. I tried emailing myself an article with the same method an hour or so tonight and I still haven't received it either. Has anyone else successfully used the email feature lately at all?

The Food Lab: The Hard Truth About Boiled Eggs

The secret to peeling hard boiled eggs? Well "secret" might be a bit of an exaggeration. Here's the truth: there is no 100% fool-proof method I've found, and I do believe I've tried them all, many, many times over. That said, a bit of the old scientific method has helped to greatly increase my success rate. I can now pretty routinely produce perfectly boiled eggs with clean-peeling shells, and you can too! More

The Best General Tso's Chicken

If the British can proudly call Chicken Tikka Masala their national dish, then surely it's time that General Tso got his chicken in our national spotlight. Everybody knows the candy-sweet take-out joint version, but I firmly believe that it has the potential to be so much more than that. How great would a homemade version of General Tso's be, with a flavor that shows some real complexity and a texture that takes that crisp-crust-juicy-center balance to the extreme? Our version does just that. More

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

If the British can proudly call Chicken Tikka Masala their national dish, then surely it's time that General Tso got his chicken in our national spotlight. Everybody knows the candy-sweet take-out joint version, but I firmly believe that it has the potential to be so much more than that. How great would a homemade version of General Tso's be, with a flavor that shows some real complexity and a texture that takes that crisp-crust-juicy-center balance to the extreme? More

The Serious Eats Guide to Whole Grains

Grains have been a staple of the human diet for the last, oh, 10,000 years. And if you think about it properly—by which I mean with a few debatable leaps of logic and some generous omissions—grains are also basically responsible for all the best things: beer, adorable pets, beds, cheesy popcorn, and, yes, internet. In that fertile crescent-agricultural revolution-cradle of civilization sense, that is.

But have you ever listened to someone wax rhapsodic about the delights of whole grains and thought to yourself, meh? Welcome to the club that I totally just quit.


The Food Lab: How to Make Jerk Chicken at Home

Spicy, sweet, camphorous, and a little woodsy, jerk chicken is a wholly unique experience. The skin should be a burnished mahogany, crisp and redolent of warm spices like nutmeg and allspice, laced with thyme and ginger. I set out to find a way to bring jerk chicken to my own backyard. Turns out it's easier said than done. See our step-by-step directions in the slideshow. More

The Burger Lab: How To Make Oklahoma Onion Burgers

Onions and beef go together like baths and bubbles, like Wallace and Gromit, like hitchhikers and towels, get the picture. They belong together, long for each other's company. A burger without onions is still a burger, but tuck a few slices of raw sweet onion underneath or spread a pile of deeply browned caramelized onions on top and you've got yourself something that is suddenly more than a sum of its parts. Nowhere is this fact more well-known than in Oklahoma, home of the Onion Burger, a burger that is nearly as much onion as it is meat. Today we're gonna talk about how to make your own at home. More

The Serious Eats Pizza-Making Guide

Welcome to our brand new pizza index! Over the years, our staff and readers have worked to build a treasure trove of pizza recipes and techniques, ranging from regional classics to home kitchen adaptations and twists. Have we covered it all? Absolutely not—that would take all the fun out it! One of pizza's greatest qualities, at least in our humble opinion, is how difficult it is to pin down or define. Ideally, this list will continue to grow and evolve indefinitely. In the meantime, we've done our best to organize our existing pizza resources to make things a little easier for all the home cooks and aspiring pizzaoli out there. Have at it, Slice'rs! More

City Grit Chef Sarah Simmons's Creamy Parmesan Grits

I grew up with grits. Whether they were instant with extra salt, slow-cooked with chunks of cheddar, or tented with a Kraft Single and a puddle of Tabasco (a la Waffle House), I'd eat them every which way. And I'd still eat them every morning if I didn't have to mail-order a good bag. Even though menus today are replete with Southern-inflected versions of the Bible Belt breakfast staple, it is still surprisingly difficult to find a bag of white ground corn labeled "grits" above the Mason-Dixon line. It's a good thing Sarah Simmons's recipe for Creamy Parmesan Grits from Food and Wine's new book America's Greatest New Cooks still works with "polenta." More

The Pizza Lab: Foolproof Pan Pizza

I've got a confession to make: I love pan pizza. I'm not talking deep-dish Chicago-style with its crisp crust and rivers of cheese and sauce, I'm talking thick-crusted, fried-on-the-bottom, puffy, cheesy, focaccia-esque pan pizza, dripping with strings of mozzarella and robust sauce. If only pizza that good were also easy to make at home. Well here's the good news: It is. This is the easiest pizza you will ever make. Seriously. All it takes is a few basic kitchen essentials, some simple ingredients, and a bit of patience. More

Maple Baked Beans

As with many recipes, the secret ingredient to world-changing baked beans is pork. Good quality, salty, cured, fatty pork will make you look down on the ketchupy, mushy baked beans of your past and look forward to years of tinkering with this recipe until you finally reach your own bean nirvanna. More

Provençal White Bean Dip

While in Napa recently, I found and loved a white bean dip at Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Yountville, which came served with pain epi. It was creamy, mild, and mellow, but not bland at all. And it had a distinct advantage over butter—I could slather on as much as I wanted without guilt. More