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quarter twist!

Bacon, Cheese, and Scallion Waffles

Italian sausage and cherry peppers, maybe with an italian hard cheese I can't decide.

Where Do You Eat Alone in New York?

Han Dynasty. I like to order a mapo dofu and a dan dan noodles, eat half of them, and take home the rest.

Win Tickets to the Joy of Sake Event in NYC

Well Tanoshi of course! BYO.

Holiday Giveaway: The Amazing Thermapen Thermometer

The syrup for a liqueur I was making!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Korin Knife

Cilantro! I don't even care how late it is I'm about to do it anyway.

Ever Made Anything "Healthier" That Was Actually Good?

I too (apparently I inspired this thread, go me!) use greek yogurt when making tuna salad and I think it is excellent. Sometimes you really want to taste fat and therefore full fat mayo is the way to go, but if it's a lighter experience you seek then lite mayo mixed with greek yogurt is the bomb.com.

Best Cooler for Sous Vide

Thermos Nissan 48 oz. Wide Mouth Thermos, a little under 30 dollars on Amazon at any given time. You can fit a lot of stuff in there so if I'm cooking for just one or two people I can usually get away with just using that. You will of course have to bend the steak a little to get it in and you need to be a little careful when vacuum sealing things to make sure they end up in a shape that can get in there, but overall it's how I've done my best sous vide cooking.

Best Cooler for Sous Vide

When I cook just a single steak or something I use a wide mouth thermos. Naturally the thermos holds its temperature better than just about any cooler. For bigger cuts of meat though, and also burgers because they need to hold their shape, I want more room but I favor a smaller cooler just because it's easier to store and not as big a pain to fill up with the right temperature water.

Photo of the Day: RAMPS!!!

How well do you think they'd hold up if I vacuum sealed them and froze them? I want a freaking million of them to enjoy all year.

It's Time to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee!

I was just talking to someone about cold-brew an hour ago. I was wondering if there were any virtues to brewing the coffee at a slightly higher temperature, like 100-110 degrees, and keeping it that way in a thermos overnight. You could keep the grounds suspended in a cheesecloth by putting the top through the grooves of the thermos cap and screwing it in, which would inhibit heat retention a little but this is 'cold' brewing after all. I figure that temperature would have some of the virtues of cold brew like the lower acidity, but might get a little more flavor out of the beans. Raw food vegans usually consider their food still raw until somewhere in the 110s, so if it's still raw, is it still cold?

It's Time to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee!

I was just talking to someone about cold-brew an hour ago. I was wondering if there were any virtues to brewing the coffee at a slightly higher temperature, like 100-110 degrees, and keeping it that way in a thermos overnight. You could keep the grounds suspended in a cheesecloth by putting the top through the grooves of the thermos cap and screwing it in, which would inhibit heat retention a little but this is 'cold' brewing after all. I figure that temperature would have some of the virtues of cold brew like the lower acidity, but might get a little more flavor out of the beans. Raw food vegans usually consider their food still raw until somewhere in the 110s, so if it's still raw, is it still cold?

What's Your Hangover Cure?

Fried dumplings. The grease, the salt, the carbs... good for what ails you.

Gimme Your Burger Lab Requests!

I accidentally posted before my second idea: I recently had the Craigie burger and it was like the best thing that has ever happened to me. How about a DIY version with all equipment the ordinary cook would have? Seems tricky given all the awesome gear they use to cook that burger but if anyone can do it I feel you can.

Gimme Your Burger Lab Requests!

Two ideas:

I have an outrageous request. Before I started reading your columns, I used to work a lot of stuff into the meat of my burgers. I'd fold salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, even a little grated onion into the meat, totally overworking the meat in the process. Thanks to you I now know better, and I'm really really grateful, but occasionally I miss burgers that have all that stuff in them. However, I'm unwilling to go back to the bad old days on meat texture because, really, burgers are about beef. So I want you to do the impossible and break one of your own rules: How to work foreign ingredients evenly into the meat without overworking it and making it dense and puck-like. An additional restriction: Without a meat grinder cause I ain't got one. If you say this is impossible I will take your word for it, because when it comes to burgers I basically regard you as the Supreme Court, so I humbly request you make like the Supreme Court, and interpret the constitution!

The Food Lab: How to Make Tonkotsu Ramen Broth at Home

Yo Kenji! I have a pressure cooker question: Why not just do both? I had a couple chicken carcasses a couple weeks ago and I did them up in the pressure cooker (with some other stuff one would want to make a western broth with) and it turned the chicken carcasses into toothpicks. After about an hour I took them out of the cooker and simmered them in a stockpot for eight hours, skimming and straining. It was the best broth I ever made!

How do we feel about turkey bacon?

Well let me put it this way: Could you enjoy it as a food if you weren't comparing it directly to bacon? No one disputes that real bacon is way better, but as someone here pointed out, turkey bacon is called bacon somewhat erroneously. Turkey bacon is of course processed dark turkey meat, pressed into bacon-shaped slices. There is something inherently gross about this and it does look sort of like a dog treat, but I would argue that it's not actually a bad tasting food, and it has a good texture if you fry it and then give it a little time in the oven.

So how about this: As a bacon substitute, not so good. As a sandwich meat or topping, not too bad?

Got a Question for The Food Lab? Kenji Will Answer Everything

A lot of Indian recipes want me to put spices in the cooking oil to 'bring out the flavor.' But hold up! Aren't the particles that flavor these spices super volatile? By tossing them in at the very beginning of the cooking process won't I have severely diminished or destroyed their flavor by the time I serve? Or is this only the case for ground spices, and whole spices can take way more punishment? I gotta know!

In Which I Overcook a Steak But it is Good Anyway

Kenji has taught me many great things about preparing meat, but that I should salt the meat and then wait a goodly while is apparently one of the most important. Here is why: I had two nice NY strips to make, and I was planning to pan fry them. I salted them generously and then left them in the fridge for about two hours. When it came time to cook them, I salted again (salt is great) and peppered, got a stainless steel pan smoking hot, and then pan fried. I don't know exactly how I miscalculated, I think I failed to take into account how very, very thin the steaks were, but I overcooked the hell out of them. They had just the faintest bit of pink inside, and I thought: I have created dog food. I have betrayed my girlfriend who was counting on me to make good steaks, and I have disgraced the cow who gave her life so I could have this meal.

But wait! When the steaks were cut and plated amongst their vegetables, we bit into them and they were really really juicy! As juicy as a steak cooked by someone much smarter than I! While this may just be some kind of beef miracle, I believe it is a result of the salting, the waiting, and then giving both steaks a reasonable rest after cooking. Though they were overcooked, they still had the power to retain moisture, and tasted great. Furthermore they had a great crust from having the hell fried out of them, so it was actually a great steak experience overall. The lesson is this: The pre-salting and waiting is important not just because it will make a properly cooked steak better. It is also important because it may save a steak you screw up.

Best Cooler for Sous Vide

I was trying to find a really good beer cooler in which to do sous vide. I did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews, most of which did center around temperature retention, but naturally they focused on the power of the cooler to keep things cold. I ended up going with a cooler that was in my price range, just about exactly the right size, and with some excellent consumer reviews of its ability to keep things cold. The cooler, nevertheless, kinda sucks for sous vide. It loses about 3.15 degree farenheit per hour if it starts at 140 degrees, and what's worse, during my first cooking project water evaporated through the plug in the lid's vacuum seal and got inside the lid, so probably it's a little ruined since now there is air and water in the lid. I'm disappointed (it's the Igloo Ice Cube 14-can capacity cooler). I think I'm going to be able to return it since I think the lid thing is a big defect, but can anyone recommend a superior cooler? All the fanciest and best ones are just too huge.

Sous Vide Black Garlic

I was looking at today's article on unorthodox pizza toppings and one of them was black garlic. I've never had the stuff but I love garlic and I tend to love fermented things. I live in NYC so it would be no great challenge to go to chinatown and buy some, but I looked up ordering it just for the hell of it and noticed that it is, of course, really expensive. I then looked up how to make it, and the methods I saw mostly consisted of keeping it at 130-140 in an airtight container for 40 days, citing such methods as put them in an off-oven (where the pilot light will keep them warm) or a rice cooker on the 'warm' setting. But when I hear low temperature for a long time and air-tight, I think sous vide. Is there any reason I couldn't do this via the beer-cooler sous vide method, provided I kept the water updated? Is there some scientific or practical reason why this wouldn't work?

Up Drinks

My girlfriend and I were discussing our favorite cocktail, the Boulevardier. It's easy to make and you should all try it, 1 part bourbon, one part campari and one part red vermouth. Shake with ice and serve up, and I usually add a dash of water to the shaker just because it's my preference. My girlfriend commented that it was the first drink she ever liked that was all liquor.

Cocktail fans: Do you remember the first cocktail you liked that was entirely liquor? Does it remain unique in your heart, or did it open you up to others?

New York Penn Station

Two questions for the community:

1) If you had to eat someplace INSIDE New York Penn Station, where would you eat and why?

2) Where is your favorite place to eat very near New York Penn Station? I'll let individual responders decide how near is 'very near.'

Ever ruined something by trying to turn it healthy?

Have you ever ruined a recipe by trying to make it a little healthier? It's embarrassing but I'll bet it's happened to a lot of us: You look at something you want to make and then you're blown away by how much butter it has. In an effort to avert a coronary, you cut it back a little bit-- only to discover that all that butter is what made it good. Any stories of trying to cut back or substitute a delicious but unhealthy ingredient, only to find that the result was bad food?

How do we feel about turkey bacon?

Among those of us who dig on swine, there is a general consensus that bacon is delicious and versatile. It goes on almost everything, it's cheap, and it has a place in almost every tier of cuisine. The problem is that bacon, as the Bacon (nee Cookie) Monster would say, is only a sometimes food. It's much too rich to realistically eat every day: Turkey bacon, on the other hand, you can eat regularly without having to lie to your doctor about it.

Here's the thing: Is it worth it? Is turkey bacon just a sad bacon facsimile, or is it a food with its own identity? Do we eat turkey bacon only when we'd rather be eating bacon? Is there anyone who actually prefers turkey bacon, and not just for health reasons? Bacon has a special place in all of our hearts (left ventricle) but is there room for its less sumptuous cousin?

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