27 years old and trying to find direction in NYC. I work for a real estate magazine during the day and destroy my kitchen at night.

How to Make Testaroli, the Italian Pancake Pasta

That looks an awful lot like manicotti ...

The Best Way to Cook Frozen Dumplings

OKAY SO. I bought a couple of bags of TJ's frozen veg dumplings when I gave up meat for Lent as an alternative to pasta for quick dinners. The directions on the back of the bags are nearly identical to Kenji's steam-fry directions, and yet I have yet to make them without scalding myself with splattering oil at the "add water" step. (The last time there may have been a flareup.) I swear, I'm not a total kitchen-incompetent, so what am I doing wrong? The microwave-then-fry is working in the interim, but I'd much rather learn to do it properly.

The Secret to Great Coq au Vin? Lose the Coq

I received "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" for Christmas this year, and the first thing I tried (perhaps over-ambitiously) was the coq au vin. It was HARD. There were a million steps, and honestly, no one was impressed with the outcome. I found your interpretation fascinating, because not only is it perfectly streamlined, you seem to have solved all of the problems I had, haha. I'm definitely going to have to try again!

The Vegan Experience: How to Make a Rich and Creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Kenji, are you peeking at my Instagram? ;) I was just having a conversation with my vegan cousin about how to make my mom's potato-leek soup vegan, given that it starts with butter and ends with cream. This looks amazing. I have to go share it with her right now.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Based on the response here and on Instagram, I'm in a minority of one, but I love the eggs. I think it perfectly encapsulates the scientific methodology of the Food Lab. So, everyone's various points are great, but this one future reader is fully on board with the life cycle of a boiled egg. :)

The Vegan Experience: Welcome to Year 4

@Rosewood & @timoreilly, me too! This is my fourth year. I usually end up a little more vegetarian than full vegan, but it's become one of my favorite times of the year (oops?). Actually, now that I came across this today, I might even start early this year and do the whole month, plus Lent, with Kenji.

The Food Lab: How to Make Pull-Apart Stuffing-Flavored Rolls

So, let's say I'm celebrating a smaller Thanksgiving the weekend before the actual holiday and would like to bring these ridiculous(ly delicious-looking) rolls with me. I'll be on a bus to Boston for roughly 4 hours after working a full day, meaning that the time between packing them up and getting them into a fridge or oven would be roughly 24 hours. How far in the process can/should I go? Should I complete them and try to stick the tray in the mini-fridge at work? Should I get as far as proofing them, freeze them overnight, and hope they don't defrost during the next day? (Should I suck it up and just ask my sister to stockpile the ingredients for making them at her place? ;) )

Win a Copy of 'Baked Occasions'

Oreo truffles. Kenji's ten-minute Ritz cracker key lime tart. Or, most often, royal icing decorated sugar cookies (usually themed!).

Win a Copy of 'The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook'

Passed down to me? My grandmother's tomato sauce. That I'd like to pass down? Ratatouille.

Fun With Chocolate: How to Make a Cornet (Paper Cone) for Cake Decorating

Niki, I think you just became my favorite. :)

I have the whole piping bag-coupler-tips setup going, because I decorate sugar cookies with royal icing all the time, but it can be a pest to use with melted chocolate. I've tried making parchment cones in the past, but they never seemed to hold up (although I'm pretty sure I wasn't making them correctly). This is the clearest tutorial I've seen for them yet. Can't wait to get home and try it this way!

Robyn Lee Is Leaving Serious Eats a Mere 7 1/2 Years After She Got Here

Best of luck, Robyn! I remember meeting you at a Dorie Greenspan book signing a few years ago – you were so nice to me even though I was incredibly awkward once I realized who you were, hah. We'll miss you!

Cook the Book: 'The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone' by Deborah Madison

Couscous. With anything. As long as I have couscous, I'm a happy camper.

Slice Your Cake and Stack It, Too, With the Zenker Cake Slicing Kit

@BeavisPeters, seriously, there's no need to be so nasty. I'm with @mcwolfe – I bake a lot and so far have had moderate success with a long knife or floss/thread, but I was given one of these as a gift and I am SO excited to use it. (So were the handful of aunts and cousins - and my dad! - who have already asked to borrow it.) Cutting layers in half is one thing, but cutting multiple thin layers like you can with this is something else entirely.

Show and Tell: Cookie Cutters

@theotherworldly Thanks! Reactions are always kind of mixed on them, hah. One of my sisters thinks they're thoroughly creepy and the other one loves them. I think they're hilarious.

Ask the Critic: What Are New York's Cozy Winter Hideaways?

Donovan's! I had my college graduation party there. Seriously, it's such a great place.

Show Us Your Best Cookie Cutters!

@coppertone24 I HAVE THOOOOOSEEEE :D

Now I just have to remember to send in a photo! I

@Desert Dryad – I've found that if I *really* need sugar cookies to hold their shape, I just omit the baking powder. They sometimes come out a little crunchier, but they taste the same.

Win Two Tickets to Choice Eats, March 25th

Oh, Dirt Candy, definitely. I've been dying to try it out.

Taste Test: Is Better Vanilla Extract Worth the Price?

Argh. I just paid through the nose for the real thing because I ran out just in time to start Christmas cookies and I was CONVINCED the real stuff tasted better. (Almost asked for Nielsen-Massey for Christmas, too, hah.) Like others have said, it'll be hard to not reach for real over imitation, but good to know I'm not missing out by using McCormick's.

Leftovers: Eataly's Nutella Bar, Waffle House, Turnips in Space, and More

Gawker learned who @TipsforJesus is! Or, at least, who they believe it is. The guy hasn't confirmed it himself, though. Revealed: A PayPal Mafioso Is Behind "Tips For Jesus" Giving Spree.

Bake the Book: One Bowl Baking

Behind the Coffee Drink: The Flat White

I had a little giggle at how one misplaced tag made everyone's comments in italics. More on topic, though, I've always wondered about this – now I have to try to find one near my office!

Show and Tell: Your Favorite Novelty Mug

Argh, I completely forgot to send in my photo! I love love love my TARDIS mug – heat-changing mugs are so much fun :)

Who Makes the Best Tuna Melt in NYC?

Does one on a bagel count? Because if it does, the tuna melt on a toasted everything bagel at Bagel Maven on 30th and 7th is wonderful. I was just talking myself out of getting one again today. It's so simple and classic.

Video: The Faces of Turkey

@handfulofsounds – thank God! I saw it in the list of articles in the email and had the same thought, then felt like a terrible person when I saw what it really was. Great video.

Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Boxed Mix Trick?

This is officially my favorite thread EVER.:D

Can I make a spherical cake without a special pan?

Is there any way to make a ball cake (or really, half of one) without buying a specialty cake pan? I honestly just need it this once, and really don't have the space for a(nother, oops) gimmicky pan. I've been eying a couple of my smaller Pyrex bowls, but I can't imagine that will end well. Short of carving three or four regular rounds, does anyone have any suggestions?

Creating a custom cocktail for a wedding

My best friend from college is getting married in June, and next weekeallege and I and the rest of the bridesmaids are all getting together to plan various things, including creating a custom cocktail called the Dodger, after her and her fiancé's adorable mixed-breed puppy. I've never created a cocktail from scratch before, so I don't really know what to suggest. Has anybody done anything like this? Any ideas? Dodger's a bat-eared chocolate brown mutt, big and gangly, probably with some Pitt bull in him, if that helps. (I know this is an odd Talk topic, but if I can't ask here, where? :D)

Oiling a new rolling pin - suggestions?

My sister bought me a fantastic Joseph Joseph adjustable rolling pin for my birthday, hooray! I used it last night for the first time, and when I checked the box for cleaning instructions, it said to hand wash only and "oil the wood frequently." I've never had a rolling pin that required this before and am kind of at a loss. Google has informed me that one way to do this is a small amount of canola oil on a paper towel, while others swear you have to only use oil made for the express purpose of oiling wood that comes into contact with food (and also that you should never use soap on the wood; oops). Help?

How long can I store rendered duck fat in the fridge?

I bought myself a lovely duck breast for Mardis Gras, carefully rendered all the fat .. and then gave up meat for Lent. I felt so silly when I realized it. It's been in the fridge for a week now; how long do I have before it goes rancid? Should I just suck it up and use it in something for my family?

Chipped KitchenAid stand mixer part

So it turns out my parents really do love me (kidding), because they combined some Christmas presents and bought me a KitchenAid stand mixer this year. Of course, I'm an idiot and tried to open it by myself, which involved holding the box down with my foot while struggling to lift this absurdly heavy appliance out of the box. I didn't realize that the dough hook and flat paddle were on the outside of the styrofoam, and I ended up dropping the dough hook on my ceramic tile floor and chipping the edge of the top, flat part (image here for ref).

My question is, can I still use it? There's no more enamel flaking off, but there's definitely metal peeking through and I'm concerned about it rusting or eventually starting to flake again. I feel like a dope calling and getting a replacement part already, but I'd rather do that than contaminate food. Anyone else ever do this?

Help! Need a cupcake recipe that will keep.

I offered to help a friend make cupcakes for her sister's baby shower, which turned into me offering to make them before she was able to tell me when the shower was. The problem is not that I have to make them by myself (I like the repetitive detail of decorating several dozen themed cupcakes!), it's that she finally told me when the shower is, and it's a week after I leave for a Maine vacation.

I've looked at some of my favorite cupcake recipes and they're not super clear on whether or not they'll keep. In the past, most of the cupcakes I've made have gone stale after about a week. So I turn to you, Serious Eaters:

What's the best way to go about this? Bake cupcakes and freeze them for the week? If I make very moist cupcakes, can they just be refrigerated for that amount of time? And, less urgently, should I decorate them and freeze/refrigerate, or make all the components separately and let my friend assemble them the day of the party? Please feel free to offer any recipes you might have that store well, too.

PS -- this, or something similar, will be the design of the cupcakes: A Baked Creation: Owl Baby Shower Cupcakes. (Aren't they cute?)

"New Apartment Dinner" in the Village

Great news! My best friend from college is starting at the NYFA this month and just moved into an apartment in the Village this week (Horatio Street, to be specific), so we're going out to celebrate. Any particularly awesome places I should take him? I'm a little more adventurous than he is, but he's pretty easy-going and will take suggestions. Casual is better, since he's not a fancy dude and I'm just barely employed, hah.

I want to start in his nabe, so West Village suggestions are preferable for now, but he will be my excuse to try every place I want to try in the city, so don't worry about being too geographically restricted. Thanks!

Dulce de leche as cake filling

I decided to bake a cake tonight (just because -- mostly an excuse to play with fondant) and am bored with my normal layer fillings. I have some leftover ganache with hazelnuts, some delicious jam, and plain frosting. What's intriguing me, though, is a small container of dulce de leche I found in my fridge. (It's not old, it just slipped my mind.) Problem is, there's not a whole lot and it's VERY thick. I have about 6 or 7 oz. left from an 8.82-oz container. Is there anything I can thin it out with to spread on the inside, or should I just use something else? The cake is two 9-inch rounds.

Death of a Cuisinart?

I attempted to make spice cookies the other day, and I didn't look closely enough in the store and bought whole cloves instead of ground. Being resourceful (or so I thought) I whipped out my (still new) 3-cup Cuisinart food processor and tried to grind them myself. I think I may have killed the Cuisinart.

The bowl is hopelessly, hopelessly scratched. No amount of scrubbing or soaking will clear it up, and for the life of me, I CANNOT get rid of the smell. WIll it fade away eventually, or do I need a new bowl? Does Cuisinart even make replacement bowls?

Favorite or Odd Fair Food

What's your favorite fair food? Or, if you can't pick, what's the oddest thing you've ever seen?

I ask because this weekend is Spring Fair here at Hopkins, and a friend and I got to talking about what we had eaten so far and what was left. (Spring Fair is like any bazaar or fair you've ever been to, except magnified to fit on a college campus =]). As she ate her Indian combo plate, she said she couldn't understand what all the fuss was over chicken-on-a-stick, a Spring Fair institution. As I chewed on mine, I realized I couldn't really answer. After four years of making absolutely sure that I've gotten it every April, I have no idea why it's so important, haha.

So what's your staple? What's your tradition? And can you explain why?

I think I killed my hot cross buns!

I goofed again! I'm really having a bad week. In putting together the dough tonight for my hot cross buns, I picked up the pot (quite proud of myself) to move it to another counter, only to see behind it the two packets of yeast that I completely forgot to put in. I quickly uncovered the pot and mixed in the yeast with my hands to get it as incorporated as possible, but I just don't know. Is the dough hopeless, or will it be okay? Is there anything else I should do?

Panna Cotta

I've been researching various methods for making panna cotta, and I absolutely cannot find one that doesn't use gelatin or agar. (In my area, I've never ever seen either one, and I'm not too thrilled about ordering odd ingredients online for just one or two dishes. Stinks to be a poor college student, haha.) Is this a futile search, a question not even worthy of an answer? Am I going to have to resign myself to a panna-cotta-less life until I can get home and search NYC specialty stores?

Oops ... save my sprouts!

I seem to do this more often than I'd like: I was prepping some dinner for myself the other night and decided to roast some brussels sprouts along with my eggs benedict. I washed, cleaned, and halved the sprouts, put them aside on the counter while I got to work on the eggs, and .. forgot about them. (It was my first hollandaise!) They've sat out on the counter now for about a day and a half. They look okay to me -- a little wilted and pale, but not mushy or "bad." Can I still cook them? Is there any way that will save them, or should I just use them as if they were still fresh?

Sour Cream Substitution

I wanted to try my uncle's secret cheesecake recipe tonight, but it turns out my roommate used the requisite sour cream for onion dip. I have the right amount of Fage 2% plain yogurt -- can I use that as a substitute or will it affect the texture/flavor?

Canteloupe seeds!

The other day, someone here mentioned prosciutto-wrapped melon, which got me jonesing. So today on my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a melon and some prosciutto to go with dinner.

After cleaning and cutting the melon, though, I'm wondering if there's anything I can do with the seeds. Can I clean them and roast them like pumpkin seeds, or should I just toss them?

Spending a night out

This weekend I went out to eat with some friends for a very casual, impromptu dinner. It was very much a hole in the wall, but the food was good and inexpensive and we had a great time. One thing I noticed when the bill came, though, was that, as usual, everyone had chosen the cheapest version of what they wanted, as opposed to what might have been the best. I ordered one entree and a drink, but still spent almost twice as much as the others.

Is this unusual, or par for the course, SEaters? When you go out with people who aren't "foodies," do you order based on what you want or what you can afford, and what about your dining companions? I don't want to sound whiny, because as I said, I love going out with these people, but I hate looking like a lush when we're all college students struggling on a budget.

Help! Coffee withdrawal

For some masochistic reason, I've decided to give up coffee for Lent. (All the milk and sugar prob isn't too healthy, plus I shouldn't be so addicted to caffeine at only 21, etc. etc.) Problem is, I'm actually going through withdrawal from the caffeine. I don't want to switch over to soda, because I cut that out of my diet a couple of years ago and really don't want to go back to it. I also don't want to be popping Advil for the next week while I get it out of my system (yes, I drink so much that I get crazy caffeine headaches when I don't get enough coffee -- I'm in bad shape!).

I'm not a huge tea drinker (I just don't like most of them), but I suppose I'm willing to try anything while I wean myself off the caffeine bean. Does anybody have any suggestions -- both tea and non-tea? Or do I just have to suck it up?

Tahini vs. Peanut Butter?

In another thread, a poster mentioned a tahini sauce to go with a middle-eastern themed meal. Curious, I googled a recipe, then the ingredient itself.

A paste made from ground sesame seeds, the major ingredient used in hummus. Most used in the Middle East. Tahini may be purchased in cans, jars, fresh or dehydrated. Tahini comes in two varieties; hulled and Unhulled. Unhulled tahini is very bitter. Tahini is sometimes used to replace peanut butter on bread. In the Middle East tahini is used in a variety of dishes, and is often mixed with lemon juice, salt and garlic. May be thinned out to make a sauce. It is a main ingredient in soups. You can make your own tahini by using a blender and mixing white sesame seeds with peanut oil until creamy.

Substitutions: sesame butter OR 3 parts creamy peanut butter and 1 part sesame oil, OR toasted sesame seeds (for hummus) , OR toasted sesame oil (for hummus) OR peanut butter (for sauces).

Now, since I had no idea what it was to begin with, maybe this is a dumb question, but is there really not a significant difference between tahini and peanut butter? Maybe I'm just reading the above quote wrong, but when I think "hummus," I definitely don't think "peanut butter."

Bacon-wrapped scallops

Okay, so a good friend of mine is hosting a potluck dinner tonight, and being the only one in our group who actively cooks for fun, I offered an appetizer -- bacon-wrapped scallops. Unfortunately, I'm also the world's worst organizer. I forgot that I had to work today from 1-5, and the dinner is at 6.

So I decided to make the scallops before I went to work; they're done and cooling on the stovetop. Now, the question is, how do I revive them tonight? The only thing I can do while at work is leave them well-wrapped in the fridge. Tonight when I get home, should I nuke them in the microwave as my mother suggested (doubtful)? Or put them back in the oven, very low, and risk overcooking them? Help!

Chocolate-Covered Star Cookies

Okay. Last Christmas, I thought I was going nuts. No one in my dorm had ever heard of star cookies. I had to bring a box back with me to Baltimore in January to show them, and still, blank stares.

Are these really a regional thing? And by regional, I mean New York -- not even my Jersey roommate has had these. I'm talking about small, star-shaped cookies (possibly graham crackers or similar), covered in chocolate and white sprinkles. I tried Googling them to find a national company, but the closest I found was these; still, the box is wrong and I'm pretty sure the company is as well.

However (rambling almost over, promise), that is what they look like. Anyone else know of these?

Vanilla Sugar

As something of a follow-up to my vanilla extract post (which is maturing quite nicely in the pantry), I took half of one of the beans and put it in a tupperware with about a cup of sugar, to see how long it would take to flavor it and whether I could do something with that.

The problem is, a day and a half later (and now a few days later), it's one solid lump. I guess it was the moisture in the bean, but something made it all clump together. It tastes fine so far (tried it in my coffee), but the results were disappointing. I can't very well give it away if it's clumping like old sugar. Did I do something wrong?

Homemade Extracts

I'm getting more ambitious every year -- last year I put together little baked goods packages for Christmas presents, and this year I'm thinking about doing sets of homemade extracts/liquors. I already have a coffee liquor brewing in my pantry, but what I really want to make is vanilla extract.

I've finally picked the recipe from The Traveler's Lunchbox for simple vanilla extract, but the one thing I've noticed in all homemade extract recipes is that they all seem to call for a glass container. I live in an urban college town, but I can't say that I've seen canning jars or anything of the sort anywhere around here. I suppose I could order some online, but I'd rather wait and spend the money on pretty glass containers for the gifts themselves.

Is there a specific reason why I can't use a plastic bottle or container? Or do I really have to start hunting down some mason jars?

Unique Tuna/Chicken Salad

Related to Chelley's "half-assed junk food creations" thread, what's the strangest thing you put in your tuna or chicken salad? I don't think it's that out there, but I usually put a good dollop of dijon or honey mustard into mine; sometimes I'll add some nuts or different cheeses. Not too extraordinary, but I'm always curious about the more creative Serious Eaters. =)

Chef Christopher Lee + Swanson?

I just saw the Swanson Broth commercial with Christopher Lee. I know how most Serious Eaters feel about prepackaged broth in general, so I thought I'd start the outraged thread. Can someone please explain to me why a James Beard Award-winner is shilling for Swanson Broth??

Video: Turkey, Stuffing, and Gravy Tips from Anthony Bourdain

This holiday episode of No Reservations from 2007 is one of the show's few glimpses of Anthony Bourdain actually cooking in a kitchen. The key to moist turkey, according to Bourdain, is removing its legs ("dismembering a turkey is much like dismembering a human, actually...") and cooking them in a separate roasting pan from the breast. For health reasons, he also supports cooking the stuffing outside of the bird ("you got bacterias going at it like your parents did at Woodstock"). His last tip: do not get garlic anywhere near the turkey. Unless you want to ruin everything. Watch the video after the jump.... More

Essentials: Hummus

© Sometimes I recall that I grew up without hummus and am amazed. It seems like such a natural kid-food, but it just wasn’t around in Houston then (now it is—my childhood, we’re talking decades ago now, people). I discovered... More