I'm a beer connoisseur/homebrewer and professional chef. Focus on Latin cuisine but trained in French technique.

  • Location: Northern NJ

Orange Sweet Potato Juice

Full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Sugar, and Starch. Some parsley might go well in here, too.

How is the texture?

Throw Away Your Blade Coffee Grinder

-Fresh ground quality whole beans
-Burr grinder
-French press with appropriate execution
-Black coffee, preferred (though a small amount of sweetener is acceptable)

Follow this and you'll never go back, or even buy overpriced coffee from a shoppe. It's truly amazing how flavorful and smooth your coffee turns out.

Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero

No soda crew checking in.

Nothing but empty calories and phosphoric acid, melting away at your enamel.

There is no such thing as calorie free liquid unless you're drinking water. Artificial sweeteners contain 4 calories per gram. Good luck with your "no-calorie" soda.

Uncommon food allergies that nobody believes?

And I'm also allergic to the yellow-orange Rainier cherries, but not regular cherries. Go figure.

Uncommon food allergies that nobody believes?

For me, only certain stone fruits such as peaches, apples, plums. Peaches are the worst. I used to think it was because I was not buying organic, but that theory failed.

Also, raw almonds. Though I'm fine with the roasted almonds or any other form of almond for some reason.

What to do with pomegranate seeds

With Salad
With Dessert
Inside Champagne on New Years
Juiced with other fruits

Caramelized Vidalia Onion Mashed Potatoes

It was suprising to come across this recipe since I created a very similar idea, but my execution was a lot different.

You basically sweat the seasoned, sliced Vidalia onions until translucent, being careful not to brown/caramelize them. Afterward, pour in cream and reduce until au sec (no residual liquid in pan). Puree onions until smooth and pass through a fine mesh sieve. Use a bit of the onion puree in combination with sour cream to thin out the mashed potatoes (instead of milk). Add shredded cheddar cheese and butter. Combine and top with minced chives for garnish.

The result will be a very thick, smooth, rich, cheesy version of mashed potatoes that I like to call: Pierogi-Style Mashed Potatoes. If you've ever had a potato-onion-cheese pierogi before this tastes exactly like it.

Cornbread recipe

Sheet pan...

From memory, the best cornbread I have ever had included:

Gold Medal brand Cornmeal (very important)
Sour cream (magic ingredient)
Whole milk
Clarified butter

I haven't made it in awhile so I can't remember the quantities offhand. The last four ingredients were used very sparingly. The clarified butter was included in the batter, but also used for brushing the surface when done.

Potato Question

You have to rinse the starch off first... that's where you went wrong.

Also, use Russets. Do not peel. The skin is very nutritious.

If diced small enough, you won't need to preboil the potatoes. They will cook just fine in the oven.

If diced larger, add cold diced potatoes with skin on to a pot of cold water. Add salt and a dash of vinegar. Bring to a simmer. Turn off heat. Drain in colander. Let air dry.

Toss with bacon fat or other oil. Season generously with salt and pepper... maybe paprika. Add a few sprigs of thyme/rosemary and lightly crushed garlic clove. Roast in oven at 425 F, turning once or twice until golden brown and crispy, but not dry. Add chopped cooked bacon and shredded cheddar. Stir to combine. Garnish with chopped chive. Correct seasoning before serving since it may need more salt.

Tell me about bison

I hear that chefs around Denver pack ground bison with shaved ice so that it's not so dry when it is finally cooked to mid rare. Personally, I would infuse more fat into the mince for a better job of retaining moisture.

As far as the nutrition aspect, I wouldn't be too concerned. Eat whatever meat you want. We're all gonna make it. Mass media is great at fooling us about what is labeled healthy vs. supposedly not.

What should I do with all these persimmons?

Forgot to mention that less sugar will be needed in the recipe, since persimmons are naturally sweet.

What should I do with all these persimmons?

Scoop out the pulp of the Fuyu variety and use in place of canned pumpkin for any recipe you have on hand.

Pork Tenderloin question

I almost always do the following with Pork Tenderloin due to the presentation, tenderness, and flavor it adds:

1. Peel off silverskin & any extraneous fat. Marinate for a day (optional).
2. Rest on plastic wrap & cover with another layer of plastic wrap.
3. Pound out until 1/2 inch thin, being careful not to tear the meat. Season.
4. Stuff with a flavorful filling of pre-cooked mixed greens, garlic, sun-dried tomato, mushroom, prosciutto, fontina cheese, bacon, or anything you desire.
5. Roll into a roulade and tie with twine.
6. Season outside generously and sear in a hot pan with oil.
7. Once golden brown, cook in a very low oven (250 F) until the interior of the meat registers approx. 135 F. Serve with a rich sauce & pasta or potatoes.

Authentic Bolognese

The truth is usually so simple. Most of these great recipes that stood the test of time originated as rural peasant dishes. So "very traditionally" speaking, Bolognese was probably a one pot meal of mostly vegetable ragu with a short cooking time and minimal meat added. A very farm to table type of dish. It was likely later altered to primarily be a meat-based sauce with several additional ingredients.

But, Google is your friend:

"The earliest documented recipe for a meat-based sauce (ragù) served with pasta comes from late 18th century Imola, near Bologna.

The sauce called for predominantly lean veal filet along with pancetta, butter, onion, and carrot. The meats and vegetables were to be finely minced, cooked with butter until the meats browned, then covered and cooked with broth. Artusi commented that the taste could be made even more pleasant by adding small pieces of dried mushroom, a few slices of truffle, or chicken liver cooked with the meat and diced. As a final touch, he also suggested adding half a glass of cream to the sauce when it was completely done to make it taste even smoother.

Artusi recommended serving this sauce with a medium size pasta ("horse teeth") made from durum wheat. The pasta was to be made fresh, cooked until it was firm, and then flavored with the sauce and Parmigiano cheese.

Seasoning is limited to salt, pepper and the occasional pinch of nutmeg."

Later added/altered in the past 150 years:

Fresh Tagliatelle

"Some have suggested the recipe registered by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina in 1982 as the "most authentic". The academy's recipe confines the ingredients to beef cut from the plate section (cartella di manzo), fresh unsmoked pancetta (pancetta di maiale distesa), onions, carrot, celery, passata (or tomato purée), meat broth, dry wine (red or white, not sparkling), milk, salt and pepper. The option of adding a small amount of cream at the end of the preparation is recommended."

Personally, I don't mind this recipe:

It's done in 30 minutes, and while not authentic, it tastes great.

Splenda/sugar substitutes in cocktails

Regular sugar, or turbinado sugar works just fine... that's what they use in Brazil and the Islands. No need to use fine sugar. It's all about the process. You just need to put 10 more seconds into the assembly of your cocktail and the sugar will dissolve just fine.

Flavors for infusing gin

Cucumber and Rose Petals...

Hendrick's baby!

The best gin for gimlets?

Familiar examples everyone should know... From worst to best flavor/character:

Tier 4: Seagrams
Tier 3: Bombay
Tier 2: Beefeater
Tier 1: Hendricks

When you get to the likes of Hendricks, keep it simple. I love it stirred with ice shards, a small squeeze of lime, and garnished with cucumber and/or watermelon balls (use your melon baller). It's amazing how something so simple can taste so great and refreshing. Plus, the cucumber compliments the recipe Hendrick's gin is distilled from. A splash of Rose water would also be an interesting option.

Premium White Rum

"One that I would definitely avoid is a Brazilian rum called Pitu. It has a really odd grassy verdant smell to it, and its strangely bitter. I could barely finish the bottle."

Pitu is not rum. It's cachaca. And it's the worst cachaca available on the market, yet everyone seems to carry it. Leblon will change your mind about cachaca... If you can't find it, look for the Cachaca 51 brand.

Premium White Rum

I would never buy a premium white rum... instead I'd buy Cachaca, which is quite similar, albeit better and made from sugar cane.

I'd make Caipirinhas all day. Leblon is a great brand.

How to make or where to buy Horchata in Chicago?

Oh man, I had a great recipe for this but cannot locate it.

I know that it contained ground almonds, cinnamon, turbinado sugar, scraped vanilla bean, washed long-grain rice, and water or better yet... Blue Diamond Breeze Almond-Coconut milk blend (which you can find unrefrigerated in most supermarkets).

Chile Infused Tequila

Jalapenos are too vegetal for this application IMO...

Habaneros are inherently fruity/tropical, but not over the top with sugar like a pineapple would be.

Chile Infused Tequila

Make a shallow incision into the sides of 3 to 5 orange habanero chiles while leaving them whole.

"Float" the chiles in a liter of tequila overnight in a dark, room temperature spot. Drink the next evening. You can leave the chiles in the tequila for a couple weeks, up to a month. The flavor will become slightly spicer and more complex.

This idea is great for a spicy margarita with additions of fresh lime juice, light agave nectar, ice shards, and a splash of water. No salt or orange liqueur since it's more refreshing and traditional without those ingredients.

Flat steaks - flank, flat iron, flap, hanger?

Hanger steak is amazing. You'll want to start with a room temperature steak, patted dry to rid excess surface moisture. Lightly brush both sides with a high heat cooking oil and generously season with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

In a screaming hot black steel or cast iron pan, get that amazing sear on both sides first. Then while the meat is still rare, add 2 cloves of lightly smashed garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, and a knob of butter. Tilt the pan and baste with the melted butter mixture until mid rare. Cooking past this point will yield a very gamey taste and tough meat.

Skirt steak is also a viable option. Both steaks have a flavor akin to the organ meat they surround in the cow, which may sound gross to some, but is actually quite complex when some of that natural flavor infuses into the steak.

I like to serve them with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe tossed with minced shallots and a red wine Demi to tame the bitterness.

Bourbon Renewal

I second the Evan Williams suggestion. The character of more expensive bourbon than this will get lost among all of the other competing flavors.

I respect Morgenthaler as a bartender. He makes a unique "Sangrita" with pomegranate juice in place of tomato, which is a traditional shooter accompaniment to tequila.

This particular drink is fruity for my tastes. If I were to go a similar route, I'd opt for Midnight Moon Blueberry Moonshine instead. You wouldn't even need to mix it with anything.

Japanese-Style (Kewpie) Mayo

You could try using soy sauce for umami and saltiness... in place of the kosher salt and MSG.

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

Help me devise a recipe using pumpkin puree, whole wheat pastry flour, and vanilla protein powder. Those three ingredients are pretty much a must. Along with some baking powder, baking soda, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark brown sugar, salt, rolled oats, and buttermilk perhaps?

I'm worried about them turning out too tough with the extra protein powder, so I was only considering using 1/4-1/2 cup in the recipe.

I have searched the web and the best base recipe I've come across is here:

Pairing Shrimp with Red Wine

I just picked up 30 jumbo shrimp and I haven't decided what to make yet for tomorrow's dinner. However, I know that red wine will be involved (Italian Pepe Nero) and we will not be cooking with the wine.

Any suggestions how to successfully pair shrimp with red wine for drinking? It's a low acid wine, not too sweet, not too oaky.

My only limitation is not to make spicy food. Spicy seafood and red wine don't go very well together.

Cheese and Wine (or Beer) Advice Needed

I really enjoy cheese with red wine or some good craft beer.

The following cheeses are among my recent favorites and I was wondering if anyone could suggest other similar options flavorwise (I tend to prefer semi-hard cheeses):

Open to cow, goat, and sheep cheeses.

I love subtle complexity with nutty, brown-buttery, earthy-sweet notes. I don't mind gameyness, but I'm not a fan of stinky, washed rind cheeses, overly rich triple cremes, or metallic blues.

In closing, please tell me what you would pair it with and why.

Any Fancy Purple Potato Recipe Ideas?

"Use in place of starchy potatoes in soups, gratins, salads or traditional tortillas. Pair with other red, yellow or white-fleshed potatoes, eggs, cream, fresh herbs and cheeses, root vegetables, bacon or peppers. Traditionally used in Latin and South American cuisines, the purple potato features in numerous Peruvian dishes."

I'm looking for ideas that are upscale and featured in an entree or side. I would like the idea to showcase the purple potato's flavor and character...and not just its attractive appearance so try to be unique. Everyone has already done a simple mash, chips, or dual color potato salad.

I was thinking about mini roasted Autumn vegetable gratins, layered in ramekins with puff pastry on the bottom. Perhaps purple potato with butternut squash, mushroom, beet, and sweet potato or carrot all bound by double cream, caramelized onion, herbs, and bits of bacon. So if you want to improve on this idea, or pose a completely new/original idea, I would appreciate it either way!

Which wine to buy...

Over the past 5 years or so, I've been into low budget, yet quality wine. I usually spend $12 to $20 per bottle and have used as both a guide and wine diary.

I'm confident in buying wines that I enjoy, but tonight I'm having company and she only likes very fruity, cheap, easy-drinking, semi-sweet reds with low oak. I cannot drink this stuff and we're looking to settle on one bottle. Any advice?

I was thinking of a New Zealand Pinot Noir like Te Tera or a Californian Zinfandel like 7 Deadly Zins.

Lychees in Season

Do you eat them fresh or do you have a neat preparation for them? I'm more interested in the latter, so please share.

I bought a half pound of these yesterday at $4.99/lb. When I was at the register, the cashier had no clue what they were or how to price them so she gave them to me for $1 even under "grocery". The lady behind me said "Oh hells yessss!!" and ran to the produce isle to get a bunch for herself. Haha :)

Favorite Obsure Ethnic Cuisine

I like learning about different sub-cuisines that are not exactly mainstream, e.g. Cajun, Yucatecan, and Corsican instead of French, Mexican, and Italian.

What are some are your favorite cuisines that are somewhat vague and not comfortably understood by many? Why do you like the food?

Cold Stone Creamery

I received a gift card for Cold Stone Creamery today. I have only been there once and ordered Lemon Poppy Seed and French Vanilla Ice Creams, which were folded into each other. It was very simple, but actually really good as a combo. What are your favorite ice cream combos to order there? Do you have any other favorite menu items?

Mopping Sauce vs. BBQ Sauce

When you barbecue, do you use a mopping sauce AND a last minute finishing bbq sauce? I find that some people are unaware of the advantages of a mopping sauce and instead use BBQ sauce to baste their barbecue, which can caramelize and burn rather quickly because of the higher sugar content. Your thoughts, recipes...?

Kenji - This is a great topic for your next column with Summertime nearing and all :)

Secret to a good smoothie?

I had a tasty smoothie at Red Mango last week (Tropical Mango Smoothie). I tried recreating it, but it comes out too bland or too thin. Help me make a winning smoothie out of some or all of these ingredients:

Pineapple (fresh)
Mango (fresh)
Banana (fresh)
Ice cubes
Plain Dannon Yogurt
Protein powder
Orange Juice
Lime Juice

Healthy, but not Bland/Boring Dinner Ideas

What is your go-to dinner for when you want to avoid unnecessary carbs, white breads, dairy, fats and sugars? I'm looking for flavorful suggestions for a friend who is on a lean protein and fresh vegetable diet. We're NOT looking for ideas like sauteed chicken breast with steamed veggies and a side of plain quinoa.

Quick Bites near Greenwich Village & Midtown East

What's a good place to grab a quick bite under $10 on a Friday night near the following locations?

1) West 3rd St., Greenwich Village

2) East 51st St., Midtown East

The cuisine style does not matter just as long as it's tasty and affordable.

Mexican Albondigas Soup

I wanted to make my own Mexican Albondigas Soup soon and was curious if anyone here has ever made it before, or tasted it? It's kind of like Matzoh Soup, but corn tortillas or masa are used instead as well as cumin, cilantro, chipotle, egg, onion, garlic, tomatoes, maybe some corn, etc. for the meatballs.

What I'm stuck on is the meat. This is not your typical beef+veal+pork meatball. When I had this in Mexico a couple years ago, there was definitely turkey in there. I'm not sure if it was 100% or a mix. I'm shying away from all beef and all pork because of the oilyness. Plus, you don't saute the meatballs to develop a crust; rather, you steam them in the broth. I was thinking of a combo of turkey and pork, though I've never seen or heard this done before. Would it be gross? I was hoping the pork would add some moisture and smooth out the texture a bit while the turkey adds that gamey flavor I want.

Butter in Risotto

I have this great risotto recipe. The taste is out of this world and you can build upon it by adding butternut squash, pancetta, spinach, etc. but I think the amount of butter is just way too high...

90 grams unsalted butter
3 tablespoons minced onion
100 grams arborio rice
60 ml white wine
1/2 liter warm chicken stock
15 grams grated parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley

Sweat the onion in 2 tbsp. of the butter. Add the rice and toast gently for 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates. Rehydrate with a ladle of chicken stock until it evaporates and the rice is bite tender, but not overcooked. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the butter and the cheese. Stir to combine and garnish with chopped parsley.

How do I get the same flavor with less fat? How much fat is needed? Will replacing butter with olive oil work, or should I just cut back on the amount of butter?

Perfect Roasted Potatoes

How do you make perfect roasted potatoes that are deep golden brown and crispy on the outside while fluffy on the inside?

I used Russets: cleaned - dried - evenly quartered - tossed with oil and seasoning. I did not preboil them or peel them.

I preheated the oven to 400 F. Lined the potatoes on a sheet tray in one layer and left undisturbed until halfway done then tossed them around for additional color on all sides.

The potatoes were fully cooked after about 30-40 minutes. The problem was that the potato sticked to the sheet tray when tossed which caused them to crumble a little bit. I want them to be deep-golden brown on all sides and retain their shape. Any tips?

Jersey does Boston - Restaurants, Bars, Events?

I'm planning a trip to Boston on October 15-17 with three friends. We're all male, ages 23-27, who appreciate good music, food and beer. It's still early, but we might go to the House of Blues to see Jimmy Eat World and to The Kinsale to hang out and listen to live bands. We're still looking for restaurants, events and other attractions that mid-aged 20 year old guys might be into. Let us know if you can help guide us with some good places to visit.

4 NYC Restaurants - Your Thoughts?

I was hoping to read a few experiences from people who have dined at any of the following NYC restaurants. The more you tell, the better. I'll be making a decision to visit one of them on Sunday.


Chipotle Menu Suggestions

My girlfriend and I are going to Chipotle tonight. We've never been there before but she wants to go because she has two $15 gift certificates. We are not fans of Tex-Mex; we much rather prefer real Mexican cuisine, which I make all the time. I understand that a place like Chipotle will probably be like a better Taco Bell. What should we get in this case? Any suggestions?

Perceived Food Passion vs. Actual Food Passion

Over the years, I've noticed inconsitencies with people's perceived passion and their actual passion concerning food.

You have the people who blog about food and watch Food Network all day long. They give recipes and suggestions to everyone they know, but they rarely ever cook at home themselves.

Some claim to have a superior palate than most and then you catch them say something truly stupid such as, "This tomato sauce is out of this world." ... when it's actually red pepper coulis.

Others will boast how cooking is the thing they do the best, yet they rely on jarred sauces and microwave their vegetables and blame it all on convenience. There's nothing wrong with convenience as long as you don't claim to be the best cook you know.

You'll have those people who try to tell you that you're preparing or cooking something the wrong way, but they are the first one's to clear their plates at the end of the night.

There are even restaurateurs out there that name their restaurant something like, "The Fresh Grill" while the majority of their food is frozen, thawed in a microwave and cooked in the oven.

The problem in all of these situations is there are people out there who actually believe they are amazing cooks. Nothing you do or say will make them realize that maybe they need to brush up on their skills, their knowledge, or be more passionate because cooking is a personal thing. People will always think their way is best.

Now I'm not expecting everyone to be a Michelin-rated chef, but the hypocrisy I've noticed with some is really quite astonishing. How passionate are you about food? Does your perceived passion align with your actual passion? Do you know anyone, perhaps a mother-in-law :), who claims to be a great cook, but actually sucks big time?

Food Haikus

5 syllables
7 syllables
5 syllabes

...with an obvious grammatical break.

Tamales steaming
Masa, chicken and fresh herbs
Chilled margarita

The Food Lab's Apple Pie, Part 1: What Are the Best Apples for Pie?

Like burgers and pizza, I believe pie to be one of the truly perfect foods. A culinary endpoint that can be improved incrementally, but not fundamentally. The true beauty of a pie comes from that magical interaction between crust and filling. One sweet, tart, and fruity, the other buttery and rich, they complement each other in flavor and texture and create a dish that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. As such, each part deserves respect. What are the best apples for the job? More

Homebrewing: How to Brew American IPA

For homebrewers, the American IPA is the perfect style for exploring the flavors of different varieties of hops. Ever wondered what new hops like Citra or Nelson Sauvin taste like? Or what flavors would come through when combining Sorachi Ace and Simcoe hops? Making an IPA that showcases just one or two varieties of hops will really give you a feel for their different nuances. More

Snapshots from Malaysia: What Is Malaysian Cuisine?

America gets a lot of credit as a melting pot. But it's got nothing on Malaysia. Walk down a street in Penang and you'll pass an Indian man pulling tissue-thin dough for roti canai next to Chinese women tossing noodles in pork lard. You can eat dim sum for breakfast and mutton curry for lunch. You'll dip coriander-turmeric fried chicken in a Worcestershire-based sauce. Chinese, Malay, Indian, Thai; it's how these culinary traditions alternately merge and remain distinct that makes Malaysian cookery so fascinating—and so hard to summarize concisely, a Venn diagram of flavor whose every overlapping sliver is its own compelling story. More

Riesling Report: Stein Blauschiefer Riesling Trocken 2009

Importer Dan Melia showed up at SEHQ with an open bottle of this lovely wine. But this is a bottle that says drink me now even if the cork isn't yet popped. Blauschiefer means blue slate, and this is one of those wines that's equal parts gossamer oyster-shell minerality and zingy tart fruit—it's all about the acidity, but the wine is still somehow soft and calm. More

More Snapshots from Philly Beer Week 2011

Having just concluded my first official Philly Beer Week as a resident of the city, I'd like to propose that next year Beer Week should be considered a city-wide holiday. With a festival of this caliber, it seems silly to have to go to work when you can (and should) honor America's best beer drinking city by, well, drinking beer. (After all, this isn't just any beer, it's once-a-year and sometimes once-in-a-lifetime beer.) More