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The Secrets Behind Making Incredible Matcha

As Genki Takahashi and I drove down the Kyushu Expressway, I was reminded of Napa Valley. As in Napa, the highways are lined with fields growing the local specialty in perfectly manicured rows. But the crop here isn't grapes: it's tea. Matcha, specifically, and some of the finest in Japan. More

Cooking with Kids: Scrambled Egg Smackdown with Tyler Florence

My daughter and I eat a lot of scrambled eggs for breakfast, and I make them over medium-high heat and get them in and out of the pan as fast as possible. But according to Food Network host Tyler Florence, whose son Hayden (19 months) is also an egg aficionado, I’m doing it wrong. “My son, he loves scrambled eggs,” said Florence when I spoke to him on the phone recently. “Farm-fresh organic eggs, a little bit of whole milk, two tablespoons of butter and a nonstick pan. Cook eggs at a low temperature, because the temperature reacts with the protein in eggs and makes them very rubbery. Light, fluffy, billowy eggs, that is achieved with a low, slow cooking... More

Cooking with Kids: Funny Fortunes

©iStockphoto.com/YinYang Did you know you can commission custom fortune cookies for a gag gift or fundraiser? My friend’s son’s elementary school did it. Who do you think can write better fortunes, professional cookie scribes or a bunch of kids? If you guessed “a bunch of kids,” you’re right. Here are some actual fortunes they wrote. A big whale falls from the sky and squashed you until you’re pretty much dead. Not completely dead, but pretty much. I hate it when that happens, but it’s nothing compared to this debacle: In five minutes, you will be attacked by a pear. It will eat you because you were going to eat it. In the immortal words of Shakespeare: Exit, pursued by... More

Cooking with Kids: Toy Doner Kebab

Sadly, I noticed this too late to put it on a Christmas list, but it’s not too early to start next year’s list. Not my daughter’s list. Mine. It’s a plush doner kebab sandwich. “The fuzzy cloth pita opens up to reveal all the fixings necessary for a traditional gyro, including lamb meat, tomato slices, onion rings, lettuce, and pepperoncini. Don’t like onions in your kebab? Take ‘em out!” If there’s one thing I hate on my sandwich, it’s polyester onions. Like all toys, this one comes with a warning: “This gyro has such a delicious appearance that they should be kept away from small children, lest they mistake the play food for the real thing.” I think this is... More

Cooking With Kids: Food Pyramid for Preschoolers

What should your 2- to 5-year-old eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture? Beats me, because its website seems to have been put together by 2- to 5-year-olds, and when I tried to generate a custom pyramid for my 4-year-old daughter, all I got was “Could not download Redirect.aspx.” Maybe it will work better for you: Food Pyramid for Preschoolers I’m having a hard time understanding who this material is geared toward, other than fans of Comic Sans. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The new MyPyramid for Preschoolers is intended to help parents make better food choices for preschool children, aged 2 to 5 years—a critical time when food habits and taste preferences are established.” Really?... More

Cooking with Kids: Bacon Doughnuts

Photograph by Matthew Amster-Burton See these awesome maple-bacon doughnuts I made? I actually can’t take any credit for them. The idea came from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon, where they serve a maple bar with bacon strips on top. The idea of doing it at my house, with bacon sprinkles, came from Dana Cree, the talented pastry chef at Poppy in Seattle. The raised doughnut recipe is from Baking Illustrated, which comes from the editors at Cooks Illustrated. Making raised doughnuts at home sounds like a major undertaking, but it’s not. All you need is a lot of hungry people to eat them, because one batch of dough makes a lot of doughnuts, and you don’t want to waste... More

Cooking with Kids: Edible Cats for Halloween

Editor's Note: To continue our Halloween coverage, Matthew Amster-Burton shares this holiday cupcake idea for the kids: black cat cupcakes. "My corporate overlords at Serious Eats have demanded a Halloween post," I told my daughter, Iris, 4. "What's something we could make together to eat for Halloween?" "How about an edible cat?" she replied. "That sounds hard." "We could use cupcakes." This is her solution to everything. We wanted them to be black cats, of course, but my wife Laurie reminded me that black food coloring tastes terrible, so we decided on dark chocolate frosting. (Chocolate is my solution to everything.) For tails and whiskers, we'd use black licorice whips. For the ears, wedges of York peppermint patties. And for... More

Cooking with Kids: Slimy, Tasty Reporting in the 'Wall Street Journal'

Photograph by jasja dekker on Flickr Did you know the Wall Street Journal has great food coverage? I didn’t, until I started obsessively following the banking crisis. After a while I got bored with Bernanke and Paulson (amazing, I know) and found that the Journal is particularly strong when it comes to food and restaurants in Asia, presumably because they cover the Asian markets and reporters get hungry. That’s how I came across this delightful story, Where the Slimy Things Are. The writer, Stephen Yoder, wrote for the Journal from Japan in the ’90s, and when his assignment ended, he told his 8- and 10-year-old sons they could choose a restaurant for their farewell dinner from any of their... More

Cooking With Kids: Different Approaches to Baby Food

Photograph from ammichaels on Flickr I was delighted this morning when I opened the New York Times and found an article entitled Momma, I’ll Have Some of Whatever You’re Having. (I was also jealous, because I didn’t write it.) Jessica had begun making meals for Gracie, our 7-month-old daughter, following the recommended pattern for carefully introducing individual puréed foods.That all changed when she called me at work one day to tell me that she’d taken the food mill to the next level: since Gracie had tried all the basic ingredients from what we’d eaten the night before—my pasta Bolognese with mint—she had milled some up and watched with delight as Gracie happily finished every bite. I had the same... More

Cooking With Kids: Amelia Bedelia Gives Advice on Baby Food

When people ask me about baby food, I always tell them the same thing: there's no such thing as baby food. With few exceptions, mashed-up adult food is perfect for babies. It's nutritious, fun, and easy, and you don't have to prepare separate meals. Sometimes I go on and on as if I invented this idea. Then something will come along to remind me that I'm about as original as a financial planner telling clients not to spend so much on lattes. This time around, it was Amelia Bedelia. The book series Amelia Bedelia, for anyone who hasn't been introduced, is for early readers and authored by Peggy Parish. The first was published in 1963. They have not aged entirely... More

In Gear: Watch Out Teapot, Behold Adagio Tea's TriniTEA Electric Maker

Sure, I live in coffee country, but as soon as I saw Adagio Teas TriniTEA—something of a cross between a coffee machine and Big Mac—I had to try it. For $100, the electronic tea kettle can make up to four cups with the ability to brew at two temperatures (212°F for black and herbal tea, 185°F for everything else) and steep between two to eight minutes. How Does It Work? Just put loose tea leaves in the steeping chamber and add water to the first of three chambers. After turning on the machine, water will reach the proper temperature, then it beeps and dispenses water into the steeping chamber. When it's done steeping, the machine beeps again and allows the... More

Cooking With Kids: Not-So-Spicy Bento

Biggie's preschooler-friendly bento box featuring kalbi and chopped kimchi. There's no cooler lunch box, I say, than a bento box. (Although my 4-year-old, who just got a new Wizard of Oz lunch box, would probably disagree.) Check out the bentos made by Biggie of Lunch in a Box. Not only does she send her kid to school with delicious-looking food, but she has tips for adapting spicy food for the preschool palate: Regular kimchi is too spicy for my preschooler as is, so I generally rinse it off before giving it to Bug (his favorite is the sour ggakdugi daikon kimchi cubes). This post walks us through two recent bentos and reports on not only the contents (Korean galbi ribs?... More

The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants?

Parents magazine has released its list of ten best family restaurants (warning: extremely naggy, ad-ridden website). At the number one spot: Legal Sea Foods. Not bad. “The greatest thing about Legal’s kids’ menu: Even if your child insists on ordering the chicken fingers or grilled cheese, they arrive with grapes and corn on the cob,” they write. My first thought was, “Even in February? What kind of lesson does that teach?” but possibly I’m outside the target audience. The rest of the Parents list (not necessarily in order): Chili’s, Mimi’s, Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes, Red Robin, Old Spaghetti Factory, Claim Jumper, P. F. Chang’s, Denny’s, and Uno. (Plus many runners-up.)... More

Kids' Restaurant Week in Chicago

The good news is, someone in my family is eligible to enjoy a prix fixe menu at Chicago's Frontera Grill, Osteria di Tramonto, One Sixtyblue, or Coco Pazzo Cafe for $4. The bad news is, I have to pay $20, and we don't live in Chicago. If we did, however, I'd be all over Kids' Restaurant Week in Chicago, which runs June 21-28. Nineteen of Chicago's top restaurants are participating. The rules are: (1) come in between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; (2) kids under 12 pay their age; and (3) adults and older kids pay $20.08. The web site doesn't say anything about the menus, so I called a couple of the restaurants to find out what kids should... More

Cooking With Kids: School Lunch Revolution

“I am not a big fan of salad,” one student said. “I don’t really like them. But the Chinese chicken salad they had here, it had good dressing, it had crunchy noodles, it had good chicken in it and carrots, and it was just an overall pleasant experience.” This sounds better than my average lunch. More

Cooking With Kids: Eat Your Veggies

For vegetable fans and foes alike, there was a fun column in Tuesday’s New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope, the health reporter who ends up on the most-emailed list so often it makes me jealous, even though I don’t write for the New York Times. In the column, Parker-Pope looked at which cooking methods cause vegetables to retain the most nutrients. First of all, she noted, “raw and plain vegetables are not always best.” This is unlikely to be news to Serious Eaters. Personally, I can’t resist crunching a few bites of raw carrot every time I’m using one to cook with, but I would not want to be sentenced to eating raw broccoli. As the Cooking With Kids guy,... More

Cooking with Kids: Baby Food Blender

If you're into gadgets and looking to make your own baby purees, Williams-Sonoma is now selling the Beaba Babycook. Pronounced "Bay-OBB-uh," the device has been popular for several years in Europe and is now available in the US. There's a video on the Williams-Sonoma site showing how it works. It's basically a mini-chopper than can steam food before you puree it. The industrial design is tops—with chubby curves and lime-green trim, it looks like a dollhouse accessory, albeit with a sharp blade.... More

Cooking with Kids: Fine Dining Boot Camp

When I heard the Georgian Room, Seattle's fanciest hotel restaurant, would be holding an etiquette class for 8- to 13-year-olds, I had one question for instructor (and Georgian Room maitre d') Tony D'Agostino: are any kids going to come to the class on their own accord? Not likely, he admitted. "How many kids go, 'Mom, I want to go learn etiquette?'" D'Agostino said. "It's right up with the adult classes, though. You go around the table and ask, 'Why are you here?' The husbands go, 'My wife is bringing me.'" So how do you keep a captive and potentially unruly audience entertained? In a word, snacks. And not those cucumber sandwiches, either. The tiered tea trays will hold scones and... More

Cooking with Kids: Now You're Speaking My Lengua

What is it about taco trucks? Does anybody not love them, aside from competing Mexican restaurant owners? Do four-year-olds love taco trucks? I decided to find out. I took my four-year-old daughter, Iris, to Tacos El Asadero this week, and I think it's fair to say Tacos El Asadero is now her favorite place in the entire world. More

Cooking with Kids: There Will Be Fish Blood

My daughter Iris, 4, always used to be interested in helping out with cooking, but lately she's gotten bored. Maybe I told her one too many times to measure the sugar, not eat it. But I think I have a new ploy. Iris loves fish, and mackerel is her favorite. We typically buy frozen mackerel fillets at the Asian supermarket. Last time, however, Iris pointed out that they sell whole mackerel and suggested we buy that instead. I obliged. When we got home, I flipped through Mark Bittman's Fish, trying to figure out how to clean and cook a whole mackerel. "Hey Iris," I called. She was in the living room watching TV. "I'm going to clean this fish. Want... More

A Dispatch from the Old School

What's the best culinary dictionary? Sharon Tyler Herbst's Food Lover's Companion? Alan Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food? Michael Ruhlman's Elements of Cooking?

Forget those upstarts. Only Jessup Whitehead's book will tell you what ox-gall is used for. More

Cooking with Kids: Real Corny

©iStockphoto.com/hidesy Iris and I were walking home from school the other day and I suggested we watch a movie in the afternoon. "We should get some popcorn," Iris said. I agreed. We stopped at the drugstore, where I looked for the familiar bag of Jolly Time. No dice—it was all microwave bags. I managed to find one "natural" brand containing no artificial butter flavor, and it was good enough to get me through Duck Tales: The Movie. But the next day, I bought a bag of the old-fashioned stuff and popped it on the stove. Iris hung out by the edge of the kitchen, afraid of flying kernels and the clatter of the pot lid. When it was ready,... More

The Nut-Free Sandwich Solution

My daughter Iris's preschool is, like so many these days, a nut-free zone. Often Iris will come home and, after a morning of nut deprivation, eat a big bowl of toasted pecans. Before she started preschool, her standard lunch was the same as every other non-nut-allergic kid's: peanut butter and jelly. I did my best to choose a good quality jam and bread (the Innkeeper's brand multigrain bread from Costco is delicious), but it was your basic PB&J. This wouldn't fly under preschool rules. So I've fumbled with various leftovers and other sandwiches, and fallen back on deli ham more often than I'd like to admit. (I've tasted "soynut butter," recommended in the preschool handbook, and could not in good... More

Why Great Tea Doesn't Come Cheap: Digging Into the High Mountain Economy

This is a great piece, although I'd argue that the takeaway is (as you implied) great tea DOES come cheap. You have to go crazy high-end with tea before the cost per serving exceeds a can of PBR.

The Secrets Behind Making Incredible Matcha

Thanks very much, niks1973. I also prefer to make matcha with the chasen, and I keep several on hand—but one of them is reserved for making hot cocoa. :)

The Secrets Behind Making Incredible Matcha

Hey, fsutrill! You can pulverize your own tencha at home and pass it through a very fine mesh strainer, but you're really better off buying it already ground. I just went to a cool tea shop in Vancouver BC called O5 where they let you grind your own tencha in a real stone grinder. A gimmick, but a pretty awesome one.

Matcha is made with just tea and water. You certainly can make a matcha latte with milk and sugar, and it'll be tasty, but don't waste good matcha on that--cheap "culinary" matcha is fine.

The Secrets Behind Making Incredible Matcha

Shaking isn't going to produce as nice a thin, creamy layer of foam as you'll get from one of the other methods, but it'll be fine. Are you in Portland? They definitely sell matcha gear at Uwajimaya.

The Secrets Behind Making Incredible Matcha

Modab, that's great! Couple of things:

1. If you have a Daiso store in your area, you can get incredibly cheap, decent-quality matcha whisks and bowls there. (Like a $4 whisk and $1.50 bowls.) You can also whisk your matcha with an Aerolatte or similar electric milk frother, and it works great. You can also shake it in a well-sealed container, like a mason jar or thermos.

2. As for water temperature, you can just boil water, pour it into an intermediate container (like a Pyrex measuring cup), and let it cool for one minute or so. That should do it.

Enjoy your matcha!

The Secrets Behind Making Incredible Matcha

Thanks so much, Niko. Glad you enjoyed it.

5 Rules of Hong Kong Dining That You Should Know Before You Go

Yeah, Beast, I figured a lot of this extended far beyond Hong Kong, but I don't have the firsthand experience to back it up.

propermake, we have the Orca card in Seattle. It's good on bus, streetcar, ferry, and our one train line. Not accepted on funicular or aerial tram, because they don't exist.

Thanks very much for the kind comments, folks.

5 Rules of Hong Kong Dining That You Should Know Before You Go

Oh, good question, lhg. Tipping at Hong Kong cafes is uncommon, and most include a 10% service charge already. I should have mentioned that. Thanks!

Eating Soup Dumplings in Shanghai? Xiao Long Bao Are Only Half the Story

SJB are very popular in Yokohama's Chinatown and are fairly readily available in Tokyo, if that helps anyone.

F-Words of Wisdom from Pizzaiolo Chris Bianco

Couldn't agree more, Ed.

Just to be clear, I don't think there was anything remotely unusual about the interviews I did with Bianco. This is just the way he talks, and I think it's charming and funny, so I wanted to highlight it. And yes, I made it absolutely clear that I was a writer for Gourmet. The thing that struck me when I first met him last year is that aside from being a great pizza maker, this guy is a world-class character, and I'd never seen that highlighted. Which is weird, because most reporters love pizza, love eccentric characters, and curse a lot.

This was not a "David Chang move" for Bianco. It's just Bianco. He's not going to swear at people who come to his restaurant; he's just going to make them life-changing pizza.

Cooking with Kids: Toy Doner Kebab

lagomorph, you raise a good point, and I am not qualified to say whether this is a doner kebab or a gyro, since I have not tasted it.

Cooking With Kids: Food Pyramid for Preschoolers

Yeah, a lot of stuff on the site is reasonable. Not the part about low-fat cheese, though.

Cooking With Kids: Food Pyramid for Preschoolers

"Anyway, Matthew, I do agree with them that it's an important time for establishing food habits--it sounds like you do yourself, because you're reinforcing the habit that food is something to be enjoyed."

That's not what they mean, Wendy. They mean that taste preferences harden during this time like yesterday's Play-Doh. It's absurd.

delilah, I know a lot of adventurous eaters who grew up eating crap. That doesn't make your argument wrong, since you did say "usually," but I'm skeptical.

Cooking with Kids: Bacon Doughnuts

mcmvoices, I use lard for all sorts of things. Pie and Cornish pasty crusts, flour tortillas, refried beans, stir-frying. It really does make the flakiest crusts, although beef suet is also great.

Cooking with Kids: Bacon Doughnuts

Thanks, folks. I buy organic pork leaf fat from Skagit River Ranch at my local farmers market, and I render it at home. If you have an organic pork producer in your area (you probably do), they should be able to supply you with lard. Alternatively, if you don't insist on organic, check at an Asian or Latin American grocery; both should carry fresh lard or pork fat which will be much, much better than shelf-stable lard in a box.

Cooking with Kids: Edible Cats for Halloween

Our friend Chris brings us salted licorice from Denmark. Iris hates it. I love it.

Cooking with Kids: Slimy, Tasty Reporting in the 'Wall Street Journal'

Does anyone else find that natto tastes like coffee to them? I do.

Cooking With Kids: Different Approaches to Baby Food

Cassaendra, most people in the world would be very surprised to hear that there's anything wrong with feeding babies table food. It's a cultural issue, not a health and safety issue.

Cooking With Kids: Different Approaches to Baby Food

Maureen, I'm with CharJTF. There are many good reasons to share your food with a baby, but preventing picky eating isn't one of them. I have the 4-year-old evidence right here.

In Gear: Watch Out Teapot, Behold Adagio Tea's TriniTEA Electric Maker

Ironcheff, it depends. A lot of green teas do just fine at that temperature. It's only the delicate Japanese greens that I like that have a problem with it; they get really astringent.

In Gear: Watch Out Teapot, Behold Adagio Tea's TriniTEA Electric Maker

Yeah, I think it would be perfect for that setting.

Cooking With Kids: Not-So-Spicy Bento

Regrettable, the Oz lunchbox is huge! You win.

Family Meals: Good for Everyone, Not Just Kids

Not only did I once write something on this topic, it had the same stock photo, no less!


It's time to get organized!

Consider using a free online wiki such as PBwiki. The freeform organization, tagging, and searching makes it very easy to add and retrieve recipes (much easier than any desktop software I've tried, and I've tried many), and because it's online, you can pull up your favorite recipe at a friend's house, on vacation, on your phone, etc.

The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants?

annien, I tried not to be too negative about the chains. The original Red Robin is in my neighborhood, and every time I've been to Red Robin I've enjoyed it.

Red Lobster, though, I went a couple years ago and found the menu and atmosphere extremely unappealing.

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