Profile

jwalz

Grad student in Comp Sci, trying to learn to enjoy and understand food instead of simply consuming it.

  • Location: Boulder, CO
  • Favorite foods: Berries and citrus fruits of most varieties, bread in all manner of assortments, cheese, chili, bratwurst, Sichuan Chinese, Japanese style curry rice, pirogies, pie, my grandma's meatloaf, and plenty of other things.
  • Last bite on earth: A hearty bowl of chili (with beans!) served with sourdough bread and shared with friends.

What Would Your Banana Say?

"I'm happy to see you"

The Cider Press: 3 Michigan Cideries You Should Know

J.K's Scrumpy. The stuff is outstanding.

Recommendations for Denver or Boulder, CO

Sounds like the traditional restaurants have been covered. I'll just add that, if you're willing to let an incredible beer overshadow a fairly average meal, Southern Sun in Boulder and Wynkoop in Denver are both seriously above-average brewpubs.

How do you save your recipes?

Google Docs here, too. I share one with ~20 friends, and while only a handful of us actually add to or edit it, everybody else appreciates having access to our recipes.

A Sandwich a Day: The Italiano from Caffè in Boulder, CO

I don't suspect the Frasca connection will hurt overmuch. Nobody expects Rick Bayless to provide the same quality of experience at Xoco as at Topolobampo, just the same attention to detail and care for ingredients. That said, I've not had cause to destroy my wallet with a trip to Frasca since moving, but I will gladly check out Caffe at my nearest convenience in order to support the ownership.

Do you like to cook or be cooked for?

I almost universally prefer to cook for two reasons:

First, taking care of people is just in my blood. I like being able to provide a service, and I know that cooking will always be appreciated. It also gives me something to do. I can only spit up so much idle banter, and extended time around the dinner table usually consumes the bulk of it. If I'm in a larger group of people, cooking helps excuse me from the pre-meal shenanigans without looking like an anti-social schmuck. The end result is that, even when I'm a guest, I'm usually trying to weasel my way into the kitchen.

Second, I'm just not good at not critiquing things. This goes for food, movies, books, music, whatever. I can't consume anything without trying to pick it apart and figure out why I responded the way I did. I don't do it out loud, but I still feel like a jerk sitting and thinking about how something somebody else made for me would be better if only they'd done x or y differently. When I'm the cook, I don't need to feel bad about it.

Cast Iron Pizza "Stone".......Maybe!

The price would have to be right, but I could totally be interested -- especially if their pre-seasoning is as thorough as Kenji's article made it seem.

Salsa Verde

Simple is best. Blend 1/2 lb tomatillos, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 jalapeno, 2 cloves garlic, salt, and a little bit of water. Stir in finely chopped white onion to desired proportions. By far my favorite salsa to serve with pork or chicken, though I'll usually roast the tomatillos and garlic if serving with chicken. Sometimes I'll just slow cook a pork roast right in it.

Have You Switched to Summer Beer?

I'm incredibly frustrated to be living in a region where Bell's doesn't distribute. First thing I'm going to do when I get back to Grand Rapids in a few weeks is pick up an Oberon.

The importance of a good knife.

Congratulations. I bought myself a nice Whustof chef's knife as a graduation present last year, and I couldn't stop smiling the first time it just slid straight through a tomato with just the slightest pressure. Oh, and congrats on the wedding, too. :)

6 chiles poblanos in my fridge

Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Behold, the world's most perfect oatmeal cookie, taken from my great grandmother's recipe (which may well have its source elsewhere).

Cream 1 cup butter with 1 cup brown sugar. Beat in 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla.

Separately combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups old-fashioned oats, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Thoroughly incorporate dry ingredients into wet in parts.

Fold in 5 tsp milk and 1 cup raisins or dark chocolate chips.

Bake in batches at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Rice in Burritos: Yea or Nay?

So, question for those of you who like neither rice nor beans: how is a burrito different from a taco in your definition? Size? Corn vs flour tortilla? Just the way it's folded?

Would You Like To Own A Restaurant?

It's certainly not something I'd undertake if I was doing on my own or if I was in a situation where failure would bankrupt me. That said, I've talked somewhat seriously with a number of friends about slowly setting aside money over the next 20-25 years and "retiring" in our mid-to-late 40's to try and open a brewpub if enough of us have the stability to do so. A low-key spot with good beer and food that's simple and affordable but slightly more interesting than normal bar fare.

Rice in Burritos: Yea or Nay?

Shocked that there are so many nay votes. I don't even consider it a burrito without rice (and beans). Balance is obviously key, but, as others have pointed out, it absorbs all of the juices and helps tie the flavors together.

Japanese Snacks: Biscuity, Chocolatey Things

Koala's March always bring me to a happy place. My aunt used to buy them from someplace when I was really little, and when I went to Japan in high school, my host family sent me back with two gigantic boxes of them.

Cook the Book: 'Serve Yourself'

Quesadillas, scrambled eggs, a simple pasta, maybe a brat or something quick off the grill if it's nice out. Stir fry if I'm feeling ambitious. Burritos if I've got leftover meat and/or beans.

college girl drinks?

If you're really worried about the guys, I'd suggest Long Island Iced Teas. To paraphrase a friend, "It's the girliest thing you can drink without looking immasculine". That said, I'd agree with seriousb. The guys aren't going to care what you're drinking, and if they're worried about it for themselves, you can always suggest they supply some beer. Irish Car Bombs (effectively a shalleleigh dropped into Guinness) are fun but dangerous.

What *is* SeriousEats?

"A Food Blog and Community" :P

How to Make Potato Gnocchi

Would these work out in soup if I added them for a couple of minutes just before serving?

Suggestions for Minn/St. Paul Twin Cities

The Pizza Luce *in* St. Louis Park, sorry about that.

Suggestions for Minn/St. Paul Twin Cities

Can't go to Minneapolis and not check out brunch spots. Sunnyside Up and The Egg and I (both on Lyndale near Uptown in Minneapolis) are family favorites, and the Pizza Luce and St. Louis Park (just outside of Minneapolis proper) has a surprisingly excellent brunch menu, too.

Unsurprisingly, Pizza Luce also serves up a solid slice at any of its locations during the day and evening, though I'd second the suggestion of Punch's if you want a traditional, Neapolitan style pie.

If you're looking for low key, I discovered over the summer that you can find the Minneapolis equivalent of street food by looking up a few stories and wandering the Skyway. Fellow SEers guided me well by steering me towards Zen Box and Turtle Bread, but I also had excellent burgers and tamales up there, I only wish I could remember the names.

The Torta Cubana I had at Taqueria Los Ocampo in the Midtown Global Market ranks among the best two sandwiches I've ever had (half hot when I ordered it, half cold the next day), and I hear that the rest of the menu is also very solid.

Have fun. You're heading out at a great time of year.

Honey-Sriracha Glazed Buffalo Wings 

How essential is the orange blossom honey, specifically? Should this work fine with standard issue honey, too?

A Sandwich A Day: Chorizo Torta at Xoco in Chicago

Things like this make me even more sad that I never seem to be in Chicago on days when Xoco is open. :(

Eyewitness Booze Investigation: Alcoholic Whipped Cream

I haven't had it myself, but the New Years party I went to was using it to top the spiked hot cocoa they were dishing up. Nobody there complained about it, but that could have been because it was the chocolate flavored variant or simply because they were too happily drunk (they were serving up a potent brew). All I know is that they were very happy to have a couple of DDs around.

Feasibility of Opening a Restaurant with Collaborators?

For the past several months, I've been seriously considering a pipe dream shared by 90% of American males: opening a bar, specifically a brewpub.

Currently, I've got four experienced brewers and two other experienced cooks talking about this as a serious option and others on the fence. The expectation is that we're at least five years out from making a go of this. That time will be used to build up savings, gain experience, and develop recipes and a business plan among other things. Before we get too far down that road, though we're trying to figure out feasibility issues before anybody gets too excited or committed.

Chief among the many obstacles is that virtually all of us want to have families (some already do), and we know that running any sort of restaurant can make that incredibly hard. The hope is that, with a relatively simple menu that several people know intimately, we could split responsibilities in a way that would allow each of us to have some semblance of a life.

Obviously, more top level partners means everybody gets a smaller share of the profits. We'd then need to stay in this arrangement longer while we work to become profitable enough to hire competent managers to take over some of the day to day.

My question to those inspiring restaurant chefs and owners among you, then, is this: In this sort of low-key setting, is the multiple executive chef model practical? If our goal (as individuals) isn't to be wealthy so much as to not be killing ourselves to make ends meet inside of two-three years of opening, is this reasonably possible? Assume, out of charity, a reasonable business plan, location, and quality of service.

South Manhattan Restaurant Recs

A good friend and his soon-to-be wife are spending the tail end if their honeymoon in NYC and trying to make plans around their hotel for the time they'll be there. Any can't-miss stops in south Manhattan? Note that these are grad students, so nothing ridiculously expensive.

Making Quick Breads at Altitude

I've been in Colorado for about three weeks now. Most of my cooking hasn't needed much adaptation for the altitude, but I know that baking is a completely different monster. I've got a tried and true banana bread recipe that I want to make for a gathering tomorrow and was wondering what changes/precautions I should take for baking up here.

Ceramic Knife Brands?

Earlier in the summer, I picked up a Wusthof Grand Prix II chef's knife when I spotted a great deal on Amazon Marketplace. I've been exceedingly happy with it, but after giving away the cheap, hand-me-down, Wal-Mart block knives I was using before, it is also the only knife I own.

I've decided that, at the very least, I need a new paring knife, and I'm thinking of going ceramic. The sharper edge seems like it would be ideal for the sorts of precise work I use a paring knife for, and it appears that the price is generally more reasonable than steel knives.

My immediate thought was Kyocera, and it looks like I could pick up a 3" paring knife for about $25. This is certainly within my price range, but I also noted a Shenzhen knife for $15, and every $10 counts. The brand as a whole appears well rated on Amazon, but I know how little that can mean. Does anybody have experience with Shenzhen knives or have another recommendation to make?

Indoor Fruiting Plants?

So, I'm moving to Colorado in about a week, and since I've been told constantly how much sun Boulder gets, I'd like to have some plants around. I'd especially like plants that will grow things that I can make use of. I thought I'd see if any of you Serious Eaters have had success in this area.

My first thought was a dwarf lime tree. I know a few people who have grown dwarf orange trees successfully, and brief reading makes it sound like this shouldn't be too much different. I know they like it humid, though, so is the altitude going to cause problems?

I'm also thinking that I'd like a serano pepper plant but haven't had as much success finding information about growing these potted.

Really, though, I'd love to hear about any fruiting plants that do well indoors.

Minneapolis Skyway Eats?

So, I'm on jury duty in grand old Hennepin County for two weeks starting today. During the lunch break, I was about to head out downtown, until I realized I'd never really explored the Skyway before. I never expected that virtually every major building in downtown seems to rent half its second floor to restaurant space! Pizza by the slice, gyros, taquerias, Chinese, Indian, sandwich shops, and hardly a chain in sight. No wonder we don't really have street food in town, we've got sky food!

With so many little local shops, I figure there have got to be at least a couple of local treasures up there. I wound up stopping at a solid little burger place that I don't think even had a name today (definitely improved by what had to be a house-made pickle); but I thought I'd see if there were any locals who had a favorite.

High concept recipes?

I've been thinking for awhile about substituting crumbled matzo into meatballs in place of bread or other cracker crumbs. When I was at the store today and saw that ground pork was on sale, and I was immediately amused to an unreasonable degree by the idea of combining something as traditionally Jewish as matzo with something as definitively non-kosher as pork and decided that I needed to try and make some "ironic" meatballs. At that point, I started deciding what else would need to go in to make it edible. I wound up using onion, garlic, marjoram, and tarragon along with the pork, matzo, and egg. The meatballs were okay if not quite what I was hoping for, but I'm still so in love with the larger idea that I know I'll keep trying flavors and ratios until I come up with something I really like.

So, I was just wondering if anybody else has ever had an experience like this. Where a larger idea has driven you to keep on coming back to a basic concept to work it to perfection.

How do *you* prep meat for burritos?

Cooking for an apartment of four guys, I make burritos probably every couple of weeks. They're tasty, cheap, easy to toy around with, and one of the few things I can make and count on having leftovers for lunches. But I feel like I'm falling into a bit of a rut in terms of creativity. I've concocted a braised pork recipe that I like enough that I haven't felt like trying to invent anything new, considering the first couple of attempts are almost guaranteed to not be as good as the tried and true. So, I'm reaching out to all of you to help re-broaden my horizons: what's your favorite way to prepare burrito filling?

For the record, my current stand-by is:
2 dried guajillo peppers, stemmed, seeded, and toasted
3 cloves garlic, pan roasted
2 canned chipotles en adobo, rinsed of the adobo sauce
1 tsp adobo sauce
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

Toss ingredients in the blender and let it do its thing. Use as braising liquid for pork shoulder (1-1.5 lbs). Cook pork until easily shredded and serve with normal burrito fixins (guac, salsa, rice, onions, black/pinto beans, cheese, whatever).

Don't_Eat_That?

Seems like there's a new user who has taken it upon him or herself to declare what people do here a pathetic waste of time. Profile here. Five comments in half an hour none of which contribute to discussion and all of which are insulting the membership? Smells like troll to me. Not sure what the regs on this are, but I thought it was worth bringing up.

Better Black Bean Burger Binding?

I enjoy making and eating black bean burgers from time to time, but it seems to be really difficult to get them to stay together in patty form. Any suggestions?

My current thoughts are either to increase the black bean : stuff ratio from what the recipes I've used call for or possible to beat an egg into the mixture. Will either of these work? Are there other brilliant strategies I should be aware of?

Mashed Potato "Chips"

This is an idea I had ages ago. I tried it out a couple of times last year to moderate success, and I was wondering if anybody else had ever done it or something similar.

The basic idea is this:
Make mashed potatoes however you like, but keep them fairly smooth.
Preheat the oven to 450.
Grease a heavy duty baking pan well and dot it with mashed potatoes with ample space in between.
Smoosh the potato dollops flat ( Bake ~8-10 minutes on each side so they develop a slightly crispy crust.
Let cool and eat.

It was an interesting, if somewhat putzy, experiment that I've been meaning to try again for quite awhile. The method lends itself easily to all sorts of classic flavor combinations, and they're startlingly tasty even at room temperature.

Thoughts?

Uses for Radishes?

Bunches of radishes were pretty cheap at the store the other day; so I decided I'd pick some up. I've got a few uses for the greens, but I realized that I've never really had a radish any way but raw before. Problem is, I'm not a huge person for raw veggies, and while I don't have a ton of radishes, there are too many for me to eat that way.

If I don't come up with any other use, I'll probably just slice them into a veggie stir fry (w/ broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, green onion, and snow peas), but I thought I'd ask all of you Serious Eaters if you've got any favorite ways of cooking radishes first.

Best Places for Pizza Delivery in Chicago?

Electrical problems caused me to miss a train connection, so I'm stuck in Chicago overnight. I haven't had a *real* Chicago style pizza in 10 years (when I was 12) and figure now's as good a chance as I'm going to get to fix that. Don't really feel like traveling around much tonight (I'm stressed enough and have work to do), so is there anywhere especially excellent I can order from?

Chili Verde

I've had and made all sorts of chili recipes in my life. Most of these have been standard "red" chilis of all shapes and sizes (with beans, without beans, served with cornbread, served over spaghetti, thick as gruel, thin as soup). A handful of these have been white chilis with chicken or pork. However, before yesterday, had never had a green chili.

Looking around now, I see that it's not an entirely original idea, but I improvised a recipe while at the store that I, and my roommates, were incredibly happy with and that doesn't look quite like anything else I've seen. So, I thought I'd share:

1/2 lb Tomatillos (6-8 depending on size)
2 Jalapeno peppers
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Poblano Pepper
1 Small-Medium Red or Yellow Onion
1 15 oz Can Black Beans
1 15 oz Can Pinto Beans
1 lb Mexican Chorizo
1 Ripe Avocado
1 14 oz Can Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Oil

Husk and rinse tomatillos. Set aside 2 of the larger ones and chop remaining tomatillos to ~1/3-1/2". Chop red belle pepper, poblano pepper, and onion to roughly the same size.

Remove stems from jalapenos, remove seeds from one, and place in blender with reserved tomatillos and chicken broth. Pulse until mostly liquified.

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and cook peppers and onions at medium heat until onions begin to change color. Then, make room at the center of the skillet and brown the chorizo.

Mix the tomatillos into the other ingredients and let cook while you open, drain, and rinse beans and mash the avocado. Add the beans and avocado and stir well (the avocado should mostly disappear into the other ingredients) and add the blended liquid from earlier (pulse lightly in blender if tomatillo and jalapeno residue has separated to the top).

Let the whole thing simmer lightly for 15-20 minutes and serve w/ crushed tortilla chips and cheese.

Serves 4 easily.

Healthy? Not at all. Easy? Surprisingly so. Tasty? Yes, but I'm very open to improvements (I'll probably never make it exactly this way again, anyway).

"Nerdy" recipe ideas?

As a fifth year student, I want to pull my weight and bring some dishes to the Computer Science department picnic at my school this year. Because I'm a huge dork, I would like to bring something mildly clever and/or punny. So far, the best idea I've had is to prepare a couple varieties of Mandelbrot, but I feel like there need to be better ideas out there.

Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas, and Ricotta

If you've never played around with the possibilities of dry-cooking chickpeas (which is to say, not stewing or pureeing them), I would highly recommend it. Unlike other legumes like beans that don't stand up to high heat, chickpeas have an amazing tendency to turn nutty and crisp in a skillet or when roasted. As it happens, so does cauliflower, which also turns super caramelized and almost meaty. This wonderful intersection is where this recipe is born. More

Chile Chicken Wings

Just when I thought I had the Wing Week, line-up all figured out, I was thrown for a loop when Erin sent me this recipe for chile hot wings from the new cookbook Michael's Genuine Food. I read the ingredient list and was immediately captivated—Thai sweet chile sauce mixed with tahini. The traditionalist in me couldn't fathom what this clash of cultures would taste like. I needed to know. More

Oven-Fried Old Bay Wings

That taste of the Maryland shore did wonders for the wings, which had only passing resemblance to hot wings. These are their own thing. The Worcestershire and Old Bay dominated, and it's a stellar combo. As I watched a Maryland native going from one wing to the next, with a finale of finger licking, I knew I had a winning recipe on my hands. More

Oven-Fried Chicken Wings al Pastor

Al pastor on its own is pretty awesome, but on chicken wings—now that's something special. Guajillo and chipotle chiles give the baked wings an earthy heat, while pineapple, cilantro, and lime add freshness to create a combination that's hard to beat. This also marks our first post of Wing Week! Every day this week we'll be sharing a different non-Buffalo wing recipe for your Super Bowl parties next week. More

Dinner Tonight: Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

Here's the idea: grab some produce, seasoning, and perhaps some protein, throw it on a sheet tray and roast until golden and tender, then mash it up into a rustic, warming soup. Roasting adds a depth of flavor to this Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup that simmering will never provide, and it also makes for a low-fuss dinner that tastes like it took a lot more effort than it did. More

Uzbek Beer Can Chicken

The recipe begins by grinding a warm spice rub of ginger, paprika, coriander, turmeric, and cumin, then rubbing it into the chicken and letting it sit and soak for a few hours. Even before the chicken is grilled, it takes on a lovely burnished tone. After the spice rub has had enough time to work its way into the flesh, it's time to crack open a beer! Taking a few sips is part of the recipe. More

Dinner Tonight: Crema De Chile Poblano (Roasted Chile Poblano Soup)

This unique, full flavored soup is another winning recipe from Susana Trilling's Seasons of My Heart. Her Oaxacan recipes use humble and simple ingredients, yet create incredibly complex and refined dishes. The roasted poblanos add some heat to this soup, but also a gorgeous smokiness to every bite. Requesón, a delicate fresh cheese, calms the spiciness. A good ricotta can stand in for the requesón. More

How to Make a Spanish Tortilla

I've come to believe that if there were an "If You Learn To Make Only One Dish This Ought To Be It" Award, the Spanish tortilla would make a very good candidate. Made with potatoes, onions, and eggs, the tortilla española is the go-to dish in Spain for a quick snack, a meal for an unexpected guest, or a late night tapas. See how easy it is to prepare and it might become a staple of yours, too. More

Dinner Tonight: Tlacoyo Masa Pockets

Tlacoyos are Mexican cornmeal dough pockets similar to Salvadorian pupusas. (Doesn't every culture in the world have some kind of edible pocket stuffed with filling? Calzones? Pork buns?) Working with masa is quick, and so is the filling: a can of beans mashed up with sauteed onion and garlic, and Oaxaca cheese, which is basically a Mexican version of string cheese. More

Cook the Book: Szechuan Beans

This recipe for quick-pickled Szechuan Beans from Sherri Brooks Vinton's Put 'em Up! takes the green bean's snappy nature and pairs it with the numbing heat of Szechuan peppercorns for a jar of beans that won't last long in the fridge. They're infused with a perfect balance of the five primary taste sensations. The sweetness comes from the sugar; the acidity from cider vinegar; the salt by way of soy sauce; a slight vegetal bitterness from the barely blanched beans; and heat from the Szechuan peppercorns, garlic, and ginger. More

Coffee Fest Comes To New Jersey

People from all over the East Coast flocked to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey last weekend to experience a taste of the specialty coffee tradeshow Coffee Fest, held from March 5 to 7. This gathering of coffee enthusiasts originated back in 1992 in Seattle as a way to connect specialty coffee producers with its growing fan base. Here's a look back at the festival. More

Cakespy: Homemade Thin Mints

Smug, smug little Girl Scouts. Those sweet-looking sugar-pushers can be found all over this time of year, lurking outside drugstores and markets with their addictive little missives of sweet cookies. Oh, they seem so friendly and accommodating now. But what happens in a month or so, when they're gone and you've got a serious jonesing for some Samoas or Thin Mints? You make your own, that's what you do. More