The Art of the Perfect Grilled Cheese (Plus 20 Variations to Shake Things Up)

Cook a grilled cheese in a waffle maker (I use Belgian) and it'll change your life.

st louis bbq

Ah, the Go! St. Louis Marathon :D You will actually be running past Pappy's. If you go there, I suggest to keep running after crossing the finish line and head straight there. The lines get long really fast.

Open Thread: What's at the Top of Your Pizza Wish List?

A professional pizza chef at my beck and call.

Sticky/waxy/glutinous corn on the cob

I eat it when I'm in China. It's pretty common there. Not too fond of it, though.

The Best Valentine's Day Giveaway Ever: Lobel's 4" Prime Dry-Aged Heart Shaped Steaks for Two

seasoned simply with salt and pepper, seared rare on a grill pan, and served with roasted fingerlings and asparagus

New Ways to Prepare Oatmeal

I like to mix in a 1/4 cup of egg whites to my oatmeal to add some protein. I first cook the oats in water until mostly cooked, then stir in the egg whites and cook for another minute. Then I add some cinnamon and chopped apples.

4 Foods of the Apocalypse

I'm going to be practical here. I need a source of protein, so I'm going to choose milk (and hope I don't develop an intolerance) and eggs. I need fresh foods, so I will choose apples, because I can (and do) eat them every day, and the whole sweet potato plant because I can eat the sweet potatoes and saute the greens. That's not cheating, is it?

Make Dinosaur-Shaped Cookies (or Fondant) With Dinosaur Cutters From Cake Boss

This is adorable!

Weekend in Philly and a Marathon

@Lorenzo- I had a great race and weekend in Philly! You can read about it here and here . (Not for shameless self promotion, but just to share my eats from my trip!)

I ended up mainly eating at Reading Terminal for lunch on both Saturday and Sunday. LOL I ended up eating mostly cheese steaks and roast pork sandwiches... For my post-race meal, I got the pork and broccoli rabe at DiNic's, ice cream at Basset's, and a Flying Monkey woopie pie to take home. Pre-race dinner was at La Fourno. I got the Putanesca, but my friend got the gorgonzola gnocchi and it was REALLY good! Pretty solid Italian food.

Weekend in Philly and a Marathon

@meatntaters- great race strategy! Nothing moves me faster than having to race to the bathroom

@CandiRisk- True, I CAN have alcohol after the race. I have to drive home (about 3 hours), but I could make my brother drive instead ;)

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Late-Night Snacks

My school had late night chicken n waffles starting at 10pm every day. I took advantage of that way too many times to count.

Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Fast Food Mash-Up?

@GrantK, hot churro + frozen yogurt sounds delicious! I hack the frozen yogurt by sneaking some soda from the soda fountains and making a float.

Share Your Sweets: Ice Cream Cake

Ha. I have a January birthday, but I get ice cream cake nevertheless.

Singapore Stories: How I Learned to Like Durian

Damn, now I'm really craving durian! I can only get it frozen in the States (either a whole fresh fruit, or packaged). I must visit Singapore one day during durian season! That crepe looks amazing :P

Favorite Brewery in Your State

I'm not too familiar with breweries in MD (where I now reside), but when I lived in St. Louis, man... so many breweries. Among my favorites are Schlafley, Urban Chestnut, and Boulevard.

Would You Try Water Made from Juice?

LOL! Water isn't organic. This is inorganic water that's been extracted from an organic fruits.

I would never buy this. I don't even buy bottle water (unless absolutely necessary)

Mac and Cheese..whats the secret?

I make my mac n cheese with less cheese to keep the sauce creamier. I start with a bechamel sauce, and then stir in about 1-1.5 cups of very flavorful cheese, like a sharp white cheddar. The sauce is pretty runny, but after stirring it into the pasta and baking, it's a perfect consistency.

What's Your Favorite Hot Dog Topping?

Are Medium Rare Burgers Better?

I agree with @krose- I prefer my burger on the pink side, but only if it's high-quality, freshly ground beef. If it's questionable, I'll take it well-done, as long as it's not cooked-to-a-dry-hockey-puck done. If I had a McD's burger that was pink in the middle, I'd be frightened.

What's Your Favorite Hot Dog Topping?

Legit mustard (the spicy kind) and relish. Maybe a sprinkling of chopped op

Open Thread: Do You Eat in Bed?

I relish eating in bed with my laptop, watching TV shows and movies... in my own apartment as a college student. Now, not so much. I don't like to bring food upstairs into my bedroom. I do occasionally drink a cup of tea in bed, though.

Man I sound old, but I'm actually not -_-

What are your Essential Kitchen Items?

Haha, I like your priorities: ice cream, baked goods, and coffee.

I would have my French press, coffee grinder, basic utensils, plate and bowl, frying pan, small pot, knife, small cutting board. Maybe my Vitamix blender, cause ya know, I can't live without it.

First Look: Mixing with Maotai at Lao 18 in Chicago

My dad drank that stuff when I was a kid, and I used to sneak sips of it. We were gifted a few bottles, and I had no idea it was THAT expensive.

Using Chinese chives

For a more involved recipe, you can make jiu cai he zi, or chive "turnovers". The literal translation is "chive box".
Here's a recipe I found just googling it:韭菜盒子-jui-cai-he-zi/

Peach Recipes

omg peach shortcake! and frozen yogurt! SNICKERDOODLE COBBLER

These are great suggestions, they all sound so good. Haha I will be pretty busy in the next week or so, making tons of yummy peach goodies :)

Weekend in Philly and a Marathon

I'm going to be in Philly with my brother on 9/14-15 for the Philly Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Any suggestions for pre-race carbo-loading, snacking, and a post-race celebratory brunch/lunch place? How about must-eat foods to try?

Let's see, I have two lunches, a dinner, dessert, and numerous snacking opportunities during my trip. I'll be hungry after the half marathon, plus I can stock up of road trip food and worthy food-stuffs to bring home.

Tony Luke's cheesesteak and roast pork sandwich is already on my list. And I want to check out Reading Terminal.

My brother and I are not-too rich, 20-somethings, so we probably don't want to spend a lot of $$$ at a fancy pants restaurant. Though I heard the brunch at LaCroix is AMAZING ($69 though). Is it worth the splurge?
And unfortunately, we won't be drinking since alcohol is dehydrating.

What to do with peach BBQ sauce?

Last week, I had to process all the peaches from my peach tree before they all rotted. I ended up with 2 jars of preserves, a large mason jar of peach BBQ sauce, and 2 peach pies (one is gone and another is frozen). I didn't actually can the preserves/BBQ sauce properly, so I should probably use them up relatively quickly. I'm not so worried about the preserves, since there's more sugar to preserve it and I eat it every morning for breakfast. However, I need to use up the BBQ sauce faster. I put some on grilled pork chops, pizza, and even used it as a dip for french fries (forgot to buy ketchup).

Any other suggestions to use up the BBQ sauce? I don't like to eat a ton of meat, so non-meat recipe suggestions would also be appreciated.

Peach Recipes

It's the height of peach season, and I have a peach tree laden with peaches to use up. They are a bit bug-infested, so I don't eat them out of hand. I pick the okay-looking peaches and carefully cut out the bad parts.

Any suggestions on how to use up a bunch of cut-up peaches? I made a crisp, and am thinking of making a peach upside-down cake.

What are you eating on JULY 4TH?

I'm surprised no one has posted this yet, unless I've missed it?. So, Serious Eaters, what are you cooking up on the Fourth?

I just got back from grocery shopping. I am making a low country boil with shrimp, mussels, clams, red potatoes, corn, and andouille sausage. For sides, I'm making corn bread, grilled squash salad, and watermelon, mint, and feta salad. Dessert will be vanilla frozen custard and blueberry pie!

Sourdough- almost got it right!

I am trying to perfect my sourdough loaf. I am going after a nice tang, open crumb, crispy crust. I have my sourdough starter, now about 3 weeks old living in my fridge and some KA bread flour. My first loaf, I tried to make it whole wheat, and it came out way too dense, and salty (my bad) without that sourdough flavor. My next loaf was a bit better in terms of flavor. I tried using steam to get a better crust. The crumb was closed though, and again too dense.

I've been doing some research, and attempted a higher hydration dough. I don't use a scale, so I don't know what % hydration it is, but I just did it by feel. I used a bit of commercial yeast this time to give it a boost. Shaping it was a b!tch, and I didn't know how to shape unwieldy doughs, so I struggled with it for a while. When I finally baked it, it had some great oven spring and developed a beautiful crust (though it sprouted a small tumor on the side, probably due to my poor shaping methods). I cut it open and revealed the desirable open crumb! Success!

But not so fast; when I took a bite through that crispy crust, I tasted the tang of sourdough, but it was flat. I forgot the salt!!! Sad face......

Lesson learned. Everything takes at least 3 tries before achieving perfection, right?

Share you're sourdough/ bread making adventures/ mishaps :)

Make-ahead Father's Day Brunch?

On Father's day, I am planning on going on a bike ride in the morning with my dad, and then coming home to a homemade brunch. I was originally thinking of doing something simple, like bagels and lox with fresh juice, but I kind of want to make something more involved/fancy. I do love to cook and want to make something impressive. My brother made some fancy lamb chops for Mother's Day, so I want to outdo him!

We'll probably be out for about 2 hours and coming back pretty hungry, so I want to make something that I can prep ahead and reheat/cook right when I get home. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance :)

Bad Food Anger

There's nothing worse than a terribly mediocre, or just plain bad, meal, especially when it's not cheap. When this happens, I actually get really mad, and it puts a damper on my mood. I think it's such a waste, not just in terms of money, but also a waste of stomach space and calories. And then I am full of regret :(

When was the last time you had a meal that was so disappointing, that you got mad?

My most recent regretful meal was eating at a food court, where I ordered a "falafel platter". It was over $5 and the falafel was microwaved greasy rocks, served with some sad leaves of iceberg lettuce and onions that got drenched in some kind of vinegar, and cardboard "pita bread" that soaked up some of that vinegar. I ate one of the falafel, some bread, and the lettuce. Worst. Meal. Ever. I wasn't expecting much, since it was a food court, but Panda Express would have been infinitely better.

Chicago: Affordable Restaurant for Birthday

I am going to be visiting my boyfriend this weekend in Chicago, and celebrating my birthday(it's Jan 19th). Any recommendations for affordable restaurants? I emphasize affordable since we are poor college/post-grad students. I am an adventurous eater; I like any kind of ethnic foods and love spicy foods.

He lives in Lakeview, so a restaurant in that vicinity would be nice. I am driving up, so driving to the restaurant could also be an option.


Marathon Training- What do you eat?

I just registered for the Rock n' Roll half marathon in October! This is my first half marathon and I'm starting now to train for it. I've never been a consistent runner, but I do run on and off.

Now I trying to run every other day on the weekdays and doing my long run on Saturday. This week's mileage is about 27 miles. I find that I have a huge appetite, even more so than usual... I've been eating a lot more carbs, especially.

Just curious about other Serious Eaters who are runners and what kind of foods you eat during your training. Any good recipes for pre-race carb loading, advice, carb to protein ratio, etc? What kinds of foods do you eat before running and for recovery?

Where is list of all past SE Columns?

There used to be a page with all the old columns (Nasty Bits, French in a Flash, Grocery Girl, Eat for Eight Bucks, etc.)
I might be blind, but I can't seem to find it. The page with all the old columns was pretty useful.

Thanksgiving Day Feast- when do you eat it?

Some people eat their Thanksgiving feast earlier in the day while others eat it at a more "normal" dinner time. Is this a regional thing, personal preference, or logistical thing (i.e. to allow time for travelling to relative/friends' houses)?

When I lived in Idaho we ate Thanksgiving dinner around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, but once we moved to the East Coast (DC 'burbs), we ate dinner in the evening. We don't have extended relatives living nearby, so dinner is usually an immediate family affair or with family friends.

When do you usually begin the feasting and why? This year I am considering starting dinner earlier in the afternoon. We'll see...

What food smell do you hate?

Inspired by the thread: What's your favortite food smell?

This time around, what food smells do you dislike or hate? I'm not talking about things that are inherently bad, like rotten eggs or something else equally putrid. Just normal scents of foods that make you gag or are unpleasant to be around.

For me, it's the smell of bacon. I don't love it, but I'll eat it if it's in something. I just hate how the smell permeates everything when it's cooking.

Help! Research Topic

I am taking a course in the anthropology of food and I have to write a research paper. It can be pretty much on anything related to food and culture.
I am having a bit of trouble coming up with an interesting research topic. I want to write about something that's exciting to me... it has to be about 20 pages. Also, I prefer the topic to be locally relevant, either in St. Louis, MO, or the US.
Are there any food and culture related questions that you want answered? Or any recent food issues and topics that need to be addressed? I just need ideas, so throw 'em at me!
Thanks :)

Autumnal Dinner Party Ideas

The changing season always make me crave comforting fall flavors: pumpkin, apples, warm spices. A few friends and I are getting together to celebrate fall. We are going to a pick-your-own farm and getting apples and possibly pumpkins. Then, we are having a FEAST.
Any ideas as to what I should make? I am helping to plan the menu, and so far, I am thinking of pumpkin soup made with a whole pumpkin (soup inside the pumpkin). Has anyone ever attempt this and make it work? I can imagine worse case scenario where the pumpkin ruptures and spills soup all over the oven.
We did stuffed acorn squash last year, but it was so good I don't mind repeating it. We had an apple and sausage stuffing.
Dessert-wise, I am thinking traditional apple and pumpkin pies. Or maybe some other kind of apple-y pastry. Or CARAMEL apple pie. hmmm...
What else... we need something vegetal (greens/salad). I'm also not a huge fan of meat, so no huge roast or anything.
Please contribute to my brainstorming if you have any ideas. Thanks a bunch!

Seasonal Beers

It's that time of the year when pumpkin-y, season-y spiced foods and drinks are becoming available. I just tried some Schlafly Pumpkin Ale for the first time. I enjoy the spices, but the syrupy mouthfeel is a bit too much for me.
I would like to try other seasonally available beers. Any recommendations? I am in the St. Louis area, btw, in case there are some other regionally available beers you can recommend me.
What are you drinking as the seasons are changing?

DAMN I cut my finger again!

I've been cooking most of my life and consider myself pretty skilled with a knife. However, sometimes I get careless and cut myself. At least I have a good, sharp knife, so the cuts are pretty clean and heal well. However, many times, the cuts are deep and bleed a lot.

Today, I was chopping herbs and got a bit too close. I snipped the tip of my thumb off, but thankfully it was mostly fingernail. It was deep enough to bleed significantly, though, and now that it's a few hours later, it's starting to throb ): Owie... I was just starting to cook dinner, too, so I had to cook thumbless, trying to keep it dry. I had to clean and devein shrimp with one thumb, which was pretty challenging. Dinner got cooked, though, and it was delicious, so all is well.

Anybody else as careless as me? It happens to everyone, but I feel like I cut myself rather often. Care to share your knife cut story?

What's cooking this weekend?

Had a delicious lunch and dinner today. I went to the farmer's market this morning and bought heirloom tomatoes, patty pan squash, and zucchini.

For lunch, I made pizza with dough that has been fermenting in the fridge for 3 days. One was topped with tomato, onion, spinach, basil and mozzarella. The other one, my favourite, was topped with caramelized onion, banana peppers, tomato, olives, and mozzarella. I also topped it with fresh arugula. It was the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and sour.

Dinner was grilled, marinated shell-on shrimp. Also grilled that patty pan squash (tried it for the first time), sweet potato, white potato, and lotus root. Another dish was stir fried lotus root with pork and jalepeno. Had a gin and tonic to drink. It was a very satisfying meal :)

What are you cooking up this weekend?

Schwarzwald- Eating Destinations in the Black Forest

I am spening a long weekend in the Black Forest in southern Germany next week. I am definitely going to try specialties of the region, like the famous Black Forest Cake.

I am looking for recommendations for foods to try, restaurants/cafes/bars/hole-in-the-walls, etc. Also, what kind of food souvenirs should I bring back? (I am going "back" to Goettingen, Germany for 4 weeks after the trip, and then to the US, so I can get food souvenirs that are illegal to bring back to the US. I'll just eat it before I go back home)

I will be in the "Suedlicher Schwarzwald", the southern portion around Freiburg, Titisee-Neuestadt, and Triberg. If you know of a great little village/town that I should visit, please mention that too!

Going to Germany! What to eat there and to bring back?

I'll be studying abroad in Goettingen, Germany for 8 weeks. I'll also be travelling around the country on the weekends. What are must eats/drinks (aka beer)? I'm open to any suggestions! I'm a very adventurous eater and I want to try as much food as possible :)

Also, of course I'll be looking to take home food souvenirs (like I would buy any other kind!). What is worth to bring back? And is it legal? If not, any smuggling tips? (I'm half-joking)

What makes a food blog successful?

I have recently gotten into this food blogging thing. You know, it's the latest craze and food blogs are popping up everywhere. Most are mediocre, some down right bad. But there are a few that become widely popular, and everyone seems to have heard about them (Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen, off the top of my head). These blogs lead to cook books, book tours, fame.
Well, I'm not that ambitious, at least not yet, since I am new to this whole thing. So I want to ask those who are more experienced: what makes a food blog successful? A clean layout, cool graphics, frequent updates, good recipes? I know some of these are obvious, but I would like some advice to I can become a better blogger.
Your help is greatly appreciated!

Green Smoothies!

I've been on a health kick lately. With the upcoming spring, I am craving fresh veggies and fruits. I make this smoothie everyday to get enough green leafy vegetables, and it tastes great! A green smoothie can be made with anything, really. Just use whatever fruits you like, and add a large bunch of some dark, leafy greens. Herbs, like basil and parsley, are also good.
In addition to fruits and veggies, I also added chia seeds to boost its protein and omega-3's. Other healthy additions are flax seeds, nuts, goji berries, etc.
Recipe from here
Have you ever had a green smoothie? And what's your favorite combination?

Meat Grinder for Christmas (Which model and recipes?)

I want to buy my mother a meat grinder for Christmas. I'm hoping to find a good one, but relatively cheap (under $100). It will probably be used infrequently. Can anyone recommend any models?
Also, my mother mainly cooks Chinese food. Other than making ground pork for wontons and stir fries, what other Asian-oriented recipes could she try with it? She doesn't make things like meatloaf, sausage, meatballs, or hamburgers, though my brother or I could make use of it for those applications. I could always teach her how to make these thing, of course. I am just trying to figure out if getting a meat grinder would be practical.

Leftover Fresh Herbs

I bought a lot of fresh herbs for my Thanksgiving recipes, and I only used a bit of each. Now, I have a lot of fresh herbs that I don't know what to do with. I have rosemary, thyme, and sage. I usually don't use these herb fresh, so I need some ideas on how to use them up.
I am also leaving home in three days, so I need recipes that call for a lot of herbs.
I could freeze them, but I don't live at home, so they won't get used until around Christmas time. Maybe they will still be good, then?

Apple Picking!

Apple picking is a fall tradition. I went every fall when I lived with my parents, and we would pick enough apples to last us through a good part of the winter. Everytime I pick apples, I eat as many apples as I can. It is pure bliss to be crunching on a sweet, fresh-from-the-tree apple on a sunny, autumn day.
Today, I finally got to go apple picking. I haven't been in two years, since I moved to St. Louis, so I've been suffering from apple-picking withdrawal. I went a little crazy today, and ended up munching 9 apples. Oh the shame, but I haven't eaten much fruit lately! I bought about 9 lbs of Suncrisps, which I will savor in the next few weeks. I like to eat apples out of hand, but I also want to make something with them.
My favourite varieties are Suncrisp, Pink Lady, and Gala. Yes, my apples must have a tartness to them. Unfortunately, the farm that I went to today only had Fuji and Suncrisp left, since it is nearing the end of the picking season.
Does anyone else have an apple-picking tradition? What are your favourite apples to pick?
Also, does anyone have suggestions for savoury recipes?

Savory Irish Oatcakes

Yes, the name says "savory", but a sprinkling of sugar sweetens these hearty rounds. Plus, their oaty, wheaty dough makes them all the more amenable to spreading with jam or dipping in honey. They also meld well with a piping hot cuppa. More

Carolina Gold Rice Salad from 'Around the Southern Table'

This salad of white rice, raisins, pine nuts, and scallions from Rebecca Lang's Around the Southern Table may look a bit one-dimensional at first, but Lang's version is more than just a simple grain salad. The potent mixture of a lemon's zest and its juice whisked together with a touch of orange juice and a drizzle of sweet and tangy white balsamic soaks effortlessly into the hot rice, plumps the raisins, and tempers the bite of the scallions. More

Lowcountry Boil from 'Around the Southern Table'

A lowcountry boil is the southeastern coast's equivalent to a New England clambake. Take the fresh shellfish catch of the day, and dump it in a giant pot with some vegetables and sausage, and you're more than halfway to a giant feast for you and your friends. The boils I attended growing up were usually full of shrimp, potatoes, and corn, but there can be quite a bit of variance in the pot. In Rebecca Lang's Around the Southern Table, the lowcountry boil includes crawfish along with the requisite shrimp, but crab would be just as welcome. More

Kaffir Lime and Gin Ice Cream

Kaffir lime leaves are somewhat hard to come by but well worth the effort. You can find them in Southeast Asian markets, either refrigerated or frozen. This ice cream is just begging to crown a warm, toasty fruit cobbler in need of a perfumed, citrus element. More

Fuchsia Dunlop's Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce (Liang Ban Ji)

Spicy dishes often come with chiles atop to prepare diners of the fire lurking within. There are no extra peppers above Fuchsia Dunlop's Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce from Every Grain of Rice, but the deep fiery red of the chilli oil should read as a warning sign to those weary of spice. But this chicken dish is not only about searing heat--the cold poached chicken, with its slippery skin and succulent meat, is beyond tender and moist; the bright spring onions and brown rice vinegar enliven the rich oil-slicked sauce; and the roasted grown Sichuan pepper is the final electrifying touch to the plate, giving the dish its signature ma la. More

French 75

According to Ted Haigh (aka Dr. Cocktail), the French 75 is one of two cocktails named after the French 75-mm field gun, which was commonly used in World War I. "One barman in 1947," reports Haigh, "called it a Tom Collins with champagne instead of club soda. Vive la difference!" Here's Haigh's version of the recipe, from his wonderful book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. More

Time for a Drink: Milk Punch

Think of it as an easy, no-egg eggnog. Or think of it as a classic Southern tipple, with an alluring blend of sweetness and richness, and a deep-flavored kick. However you approach the milk punch, just be sure to think of it sometime during the holiday season. More

Ramos Fizz

In the ranks of New Orleans-born coolers, the Ramos Fizz (aka Ramos Gin Fizz) is royalty. Created in 1888 by bar owner Henry C. Ramos, the fizz that bears his name takes the already appealing Silver Fizz--a mixture of gin, lemon, sugar and seltzer, with an egg white to add foam and body--and advances it several steps along the decadence line, adding cream, lime juice and a few drops of aromatic orange-flower water (no, not orange juice--the perfume-like stuff usually sold in small blue bottles). More

Peaches n' Cream Mousse Pie

Wintertime can wear out its welcome right about now, still months away from the growing season for berries and stone fruit. When I pine for the flavors of warmer months, I turn to frozen fruit to satisfy my cravings. The light, airy peach mousse in this pie utilizes frozen peaches for flavor that's summery, any time of year. More