• Location: DC Metro
  • Favorite foods: Everything except fish and okra.

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

Made this the other night - chicken pieces were perfect but we all found the sauce a bit too sweet. I added a couple additional tablespoons of vinegar and it improved considerably. I will definitely make it again, though - my kids were really happy with it!

Need input on buying a smoker

Thanks so much, everyone, for the input. Haven't made a decision but all of this info helps a lot.

Chinese-American Mashup: Silken Tofu With Spicy Sausage

Wow! I am excited about this because I just got 10 pounds of Italian sausage from my sausage guy. This will be a great way to use some of it.

Cook the Book: 'My Irish Table' by Cathal Armstrong

Kenji's bone in pork chops, colcannon, and soda bread with currants and plenty of Kerrygold butter. I'm not a corned beef lover and my Irish grandparents looked askance at it anyway.

Serious Entertaining: A True Detective Dinner Party Menu

Too funny! I can't wait to build my own devil's trap with breadsticks. Genius idea.

And agreed with all, True Detective is the best tv I have seen in a long, long time.

Unmold Cakes Easily With the Kuhn Rikon PushPan

@dbcurrie, you are killing me with these gadgets! First the cake slicer now the pan. I have no room in my tiny kitchen for anything else but I now really want this, pricey or not.

Delicious And Healthy Home-Made Salad Dressings

+1 for Spam, especially since there is nothing about this recipe that even remotely seems healthy, except maybe for the fact that it doesn't contain cyanide or anything like that...

Your Favorite Mario Batali Cookbook???

Agree with @jedd63 - cookbook preferences tend to be very personal and it doesn't hurt to check them out before spending the money. That being said, I don't really care for any of his books, and I own several, but if I had to pick one it would probably be Molto Gusto.

Chipotle Introduces New Vegan Burritos and Tacos Across the Country

I get sofritas every time I go to the Chipotle near my office outside Baltimore. My experience has been uniformly good and it makes it easy to eat vegan if you don't want to eat beans but want something a bit more substantial than lettuce and pico on your tacos.

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

I bake a lot of cakes and have a steady hand but I still lust after this kit. Seriously. I'm not big on single use items but with the addition of the knife and the lifter I can justify it. My only challenge right now is figuring out where to fit it into my kitchen when I order it but that's a tough problem to have.

Not Much Activity

@Kenji, I appreciate your response as well as @Teachertalk's. I agree that the content on the site has improved exponentially over the years, which to me is more important than Talk.

Like many, I've been a member for a long time and while I participated a lot back when I joined, I got skewered so many times for ridiculous shit (like saying that I enjoy making my own ketchup because I know what's in it - that kind of stuff) that I quit even looking at Talk until recently.

Hopefully the site will experience an upswing of readers and Talk will revive. If not, I can take comfort in the fact that the articles continue to engage me and I have not had one single dud recipe from the site. That's enough for me.

What food would you miss most as a vegan?

+1 for cheese and eggs. Your vegan cheese sauce helps a lot but I really miss eggs, especially poached.

The Food Lab: Vegan Nacho Sauce That's as Good as the Real Thing

My god, @Kenji! You have blown my mind for the 84,000th time! I made this sauce this morning and it is all you said and way, way more. I only have a little Magic Bullet blender, not a fancypants Vitamix, but I blended and blended and the resulting sauce is positively luscious. Because I can't leave well enough alone, I took about half the sauce (this recipe makes a lot) and added a can of RoTel and blended the heck out of it. Voila! Queso, which when tested on a tortilla chip completely fooled my ten year old into thinking it was made with Velveeta. I cannot wait to make the other variations but will be enjoying this one on a baked potato later.

I'm not hardcore vegan but eat that way a lot for health reasons. This sauce has made it possible for me to feed my unapologetically omnivorous family vegan food that they will eat without complaint. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Ed's Vegan Month Week 3: The Home Stretch (For Cousin Terry)

Condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your memories of your wonderful cousin.

Vegan: The Best Sweet Potato and Bean Chili

That is a damn fine looking bowl of chili, Kenji, and adding hominy is an intriguing touch. Can't wait to try it myself - hopefully this weekend.

Cheesy Onion and Potato Gratin

@Kenji, you are killing it with these potato recipes. This is definitely on the agenda for some time in the next two weeks when I'm off work, especially since I have a bag of frozen pearl onions left from Thanksgiving. One miniscule fine point, all the parsley in the world isn't going to freshen this up - and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I might throw a bit on top for pretty, though.

I am a Xmas cookie swap freak...

I feel your pain. Nothing worse than having some kind of sticky icing from one cookie plastered to the bottom of one that tastes completely different. I'm not a big swapper, I mostly just give my cookies away, but on the few occasions when I have swapped, I took ziploc bags and put the different cookies in their own bags. I never liked the whole "pile em all up on a paper plate" thing either - somebody always turns too quickly and cookies go a flying.

The Food Lab: Hasselback Potato Gratin (These Might be the Best Potatoes Ever)

Dear lord, I think I need a cigarette after reading this. I can't even imagine how I will feel after eating it.

Holiday cookies with fresh cranberries

Fresh cranberries and cookies, other than some bar cookies, do not mix well. They are just too wet to work well in a cookie recipe like cranberry-oatmeal or the like. One thing you might try is cranberry curd (Cooking Light has a really good recipe) on shortbreads, as a cookie filling, or just slathered on toast or an English muffin. I made it last year for gifts and have already had e-mails asking if I'm going to include it in gift bags this year.

Open Thread: How are You Going to Cook Your Turkey?

Turkeys 1 and 2 are brining in Alton Brown's brine, one will be spatchcocked the other roasted whole but not stuffed. Turkey 3 has been cut up so the hostess (not me this year) can roast the breast. I got the third turkey for free and it was injected with broth, etc. so it will not go in the brine but with the breast roasting separately it should be easy for her to keep it juicy. I'm roasting the bones, wings and legs for stock but I'm keeping the thighs and oysters to roast for us - the best part of the turkey, IMO.

How do you make your Hollandaise Sauce?

I make mine in a very easy, non-traditional way. One stick of butter, two egg yolks, three tablespoons fresh lemon juice and salt to taste. Cut the butter into chunks and freeze (or at least get very cold). Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a small, heavy saucepan. Place the saucepan over low heat and add half the butter chunks. Whisk like crazy until the butter melts then add the other half of the butter. Whisk until this batch of butter is melted and the sauce thickens. Add salt.

That's it. Works perfectly every time.

Yes or No....Slow Cooker Mashies

Not sure what "doing" them in the slow cooker means exactly but if you mean keeping them warm during dinner, we thought we would do that one year and they were dried out and disgusting by the end of the meal. Maybe our slow cooker was just too hot but I would not do it again.

Cooking music

I like quiet when I cook and the family is generally pretty respectful of that. The only exception is Christmas, when I let the crew play as much Christmas music as they want. Thankfully some of it is good.

Sunday football eats

Agreed with @finsbigfan, I'd like to come to your house any time. Sounds like a blast. What time should I be there next Sunday?

For us, because we are Redskins people. we spend a lot of time drowning our sorrows. Obviously, alcohol is required but we go with the sugar/starch/fat protocol as well. The man of the house is wingmeister and does a great job with both Thai spiced and barbecue. If I'm feeling it, we might do an oven fries platter with chili, cheese and sour cream.

Open Thread: Thanksgiving Disasters!

+1 to @imwalkin - married to husband #1 at the ripe old age of 23. Roasted my first turkey and left the giblets inside. The meal was made especially memorable by my husband plunging the knife in for the first dramatic cut and a huge plume of raw turkey and giblet juices basically spraying everyone in the dining room. Yes, memorable.

Need input on buying a smoker

I am thinking of buying a smoker this summer and haven't gotten beyond the "hmmmm, that's a good idea" stage. Anything I really need to know or consider? Any brands that are good or better? I'm not anticipating smoking anything much bigger than some bacon or pork roasts so I don't need one of those huge things that the competition barbecue guys pull around behind their pickups (although we do have a pickup...). Any input, advice, or comments would be much appreciated.

Did you make a wedding cake? What went right? Wrong?

My dear brother is finally going to marry his partner of 35 years and has asked me to make their wedding cake. I bake a lot and am feeling pretty comfortable about the actual cake; what I'm freaking out about is the decoration and logistics. Even though I went to pastry school more years ago than I care to mention, I have pretty much forgotten everything I ever knew about cake decoration. I know I will have to practice piping to get back in the groove but what about the other stuff? How do I ensure it doesn't tip over, how do I keep the frosting from sliding off, you know, all the hilarity you see in comedies where cake goes tragically wrong and the wedding gets ruined.

Are there any good books on the topic?

I know there must be plenty of Serious Eaters who have done this and can either allay my fears or tell me side-splitting stories of what went wrong with their efforts. Anything that would either limit my stress or identify things to avoid would be much appreciated.

What traditional family recipe would you never mess with?

I have a large pot of chili sauce simmering on the stove and realized, as I read the recipe this morning, that this is one of the few times that I make something almost exactly as the recipe reads. Truly the only change I have made to this sauce (which was made by my great grandmother O'Connell, dubbed "Mother Connie" by my mother when she was first learning to talk) is to add a few jalapenos. I also use a food processor to chop the peppers and onions since I don't have a kitchen staff like Mother Connie did.

So, as the holidays approach and we trot out all the family stuff, what is untouchable in your family? Stuffing/dressing? Sweet potatoes? Pie?

Has a recipe or technique ever blown your culinary mind?

I've experienced a lot of epiphanies over the years but nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever affected my cooking life like discovering Jim Lahey's no knead bread. Seriously. I've been baking for pretty much my entire life and had tried a million different ways to make artisan style bread at home but nothing really gave me the loaf I was looking for. Then I read an article by Jeffrey Steingarten in Vogue (!) about Lahey's technique. I literally took the magazine into the kitchen and mixed up a bowl of dough immediately. The subsequent bread was a revelation and I've never looked back.

Kenji's prime rib and poached egg techniques are pretty amazing but that bread - nothing will ever touch that bread.

What about you? What changed YOUR cooking life?

Is there REALLY any substitute for bacon?

A dear friend has recently become vegetarian. I support him completely but am now puzzling about Thanksgiving dinner, which he will be attending with us. A lot of my side recipes contain bacon (which he has admitted he misses) and while I know I could just leave it out, I fear the taste and texture will be quite different without. What about smoked paprika? Chipotles in adobo? A little extra good olive oil? I'd love to know how others have successfully made the substitution.

Is it wrong? Further to Dandbuilder's ranch pizza...

I just threw my family's traditional and much loved pot roast into the crock pot. This recipe, if you can dignify it with that title, calls for Lipton onion soup mix, ketchup and a can of Coke. I nearly caused a riot by trying to gussy it up using caramelized onions, etc. and have been put on notice by the other residents of my house that I shouldn't even consider messing with the pot roast again.

I've served this pot roast to some of my most hard core foodie friends and before they knew what was in it, they were in awe of its deliciousness.

So, a la the ranch dressing pizza, what is the thing that you make that strains your gourmet cred but tastes SO good you can't let it go?

Where to eat in Cheyenne, WY?

So my work is taking me to Cheyenne and I'm wondering what and where to eat there. I'll be there for a week, including over a weekend, and I'll have a car so I'm open to anything and everything that might give me the Wyoming experience. I'll also mostly be alone, although that's not a problem for me since I've traveled a lot for work and am used to the solo dining thing, but white tablecloth is less conducive to a fun time than dive bar or hole in the wall. Help me, Serious Eaters, you're my only hope.

Is there an app for that? Recipes on a smartphone

I know, I'm a late adopter but I recently got a smartphone and I'm enjoying having it in the kitchen to refer to when cooking. What I've been doing is finding recipes I like on the web then adding them to my home screen in a folder but I'm wondering if there is a better way. I mean, I don't want to make this any more complicated than it has to be but I can see it getting cumbersome as I add recipes in. Any suggestions for what works and what doesn't? Have there been threads on this in the past that I have ignored because they didn't apply to me that I should go back and read? Any input would be much appreciated and happy Easter to those SErs who celebrate, happy Sunday to those who don't.

Do you make your own hot sauce? Can you help troubleshoot mine?

I decided to make hot sauce and used Bon Appetit's technique - grind the peppers in the food processor, allow to ferment a bit, add vinegar and "cure" for 2-7 days. I'm very happy with the taste of the resulting sauce but not the texture, if you will. It is as thin as the vinegar I used and settles into layers of solids (sort of) and liquid that need to be shaken before the sauce is used.

If this is just the way things are I'm okay with that but I'd like the sauce to be slightly thicker, like Tabasco, and to not separate if possible.

I'm open to other recipes/techniques/ideas - I just started with Bon Appetit because I had turned that page down in the magazine when I read it.

Also, anyone know any good sources for bottles (other than recycled ones)?

Food trucks in and near Baltimore

I'm now working a project in Woodlawn, MD, just outside Baltimore, and except for Pioneer Pit Beef (astounding!) this is a food wasteland. My work buddies and I were wondering a) why are there no food trucks out here because there are two huge government facilities with lots of hungry people in them, and b) are there food truck pods around Baltimore we could drive to? Any info from our Baltimore Serious Eaters would be much appreciated.

How do I change my SE e-mail address?

I've been a member of SE for a while but now I have a different e-mail address. I went to my profile but I can't see anything that lets me change the address associated with my profile. I'd rather not start over again so can anyone tell me how to do this? Many thanks in advance.

Kind of OT - really tasty homemade dog biscuits

Okay, I know dogs can't talk but have any of you made homemade dog biscuits that your pets have really liked? I've googled recipes but what I'm missing is how well they went over with their canine recipients. I'm one of those Christmas cookie people and this year, as I started planning, I realized that almost everyone on my list has acquired a dog since last Christmas (myself included). I'm looking for a tried and true recipe that has been a hit so any help would be much appreciated.

Still can't get a good site view with IE9

I've tried everything that's been suggested (cleared cache, refreshed page) and at least now I can see the pictures that accompany the articles but the top banner is still empty and the drop downs don't work. My Chrome machine works great but IE9 is proving more problematic. Please don't tell me to switch browsers - due to various considerations that isn't possible. Any help, anyone?

p.s. I can't preview this post so I hope it actually posts like it should.

How would you make Mountain Dew flavored powder?

Some background - I work in IT but I bake a lot. One of my geeks did me a serious favor and indicated that sugar cookies might be a nice reward for his services. This guy (like so many of his tribe) drinks Mountain Dew constantly and I thought it might be fun to incorporate his favorite beverage into the cookies. I'm no molecular gastronomist so I don't really know where to start but I do have a dehydrator, if that's the direction I need to go. In fact, I might just put some soda in it now as an experiment but I know there must be someone in SE land who might have some ideas.

Cocktail goodies from the sixties - does anyone remember Snappie

My parents were very big on the cocktail hour - usually martinis (but sometimes other cocktails depending on the season, daiquiris or the like) always accompanied by a tray of yummy snacks that we kids would sneak handfuls of. One of their favorites was something called Snappies, which were basically some kind of fried dough rolled in a seasoning which was I'm sure was primarily salt. I'm wondering if there's anyone else who remembers these because I'd like to recreate them since they don't seem to be made any more. Am I howling at the moon here?

Any great hole in the wall joints in Dallas Park Central area?

I'm doing a trip to Dallas next week and can't take another chain restaurant with my non-foodie coworkers. Would love to try someplace local for dinner and it doesn't really matter the ethnicity. We'll have a car but time may be short so driving to Fort Worth or the like probably isn't going to happen. We're staying in a hotel that is literally at the intersection of 75 and the LBJ.

Help me, Serious Eaters. Save me from the Olive Garden and the Outback. I'll be in your debt forever.

Tomato "syrup" - need some brilliant ideas on what to do with it

So I'm about halfway through my yearly tomato can-athon. To shorten the cooking time, I pull off the juice as I cook the tomatoes down. Last year I canned this like stock and used it to make risotto and the like all winter, which was good but I ended up with way too much of it ( I can a LOT of tomatoes, believe me). This year I took two huge pots of the tomato stock, reduced it by about 90% and ended up with what I can only call tomato syrup. I made a pepper infused jelly with some of it, which turned out great, especially as a glaze brushed on grilled chicken or pork but I could use some new ideas of how else to use the syrup. I'm open to just about anything that's legal. Any suggestions?

Heinz-like Ketchup

First note - I came up with this recipe for my kids so it is as close to supermarket ketchup as you can get and still be homemade. They eat ketchup on a lot of stuff because it is a great way to get them to eat things they might otherwise shun. The hubs and I eat it occasionally on burgers but not much of anything else so this is a kid friendly recipe. As I mentioned in the other thread, nobody I've ever served it to has realized until I told them that it isn't Heinz. The reason I make it myself is so that I know what goes into it.

Second note, I have on more than one occasion made my own tomato paste but in this version I use commercially canned organic tomato paste. Again, this was developed for my kids and the homemade tomato paste turns a darker color that adults don't mind at all but kids find suspicious.

Also, the recipe doubles, triples, quadruples easily. If I get to Costco and can buy large quantities of agave, I make a big old vat of this and store it in my basement fridge or boiling water bath can it for 20 minutes for shelf storage.

Has the whole chef-advertising thing finally gone too far?

Okay, I have no problem with chefs making some extra money advertising things (my hubs cooks professionally and I know first hand that it is generally a low pay job unless you're Emeril or Mario Batali). So if Thomas Keller wants to appear in ads for Napa Valley tourism, I'm fine with that. Morimoto wants to hawk Fiji Water, good for him. I can even sort of see the connection between a creepily airbrushed Richard Blais and Lincoln (if you buy the concept that a craftsman is a craftsman whether they're making food or cars - like I said, sort of...).

But Homaro Cantu selling Reach dental floss? DENTAL FLOSS?????

Has the world gone completely @#$%^% mad?

You MUST try this recipe from SE - Chicken Karaange

I'm a southern girl and I can fry me some chicken but when I saw this recipe on SE I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't let it marinate for the full 24 hours (more like about five) but even with that this chicken kicks @ss and takes names. It is un-freaking-believable. You owe it to yourself to try this even if you are one of those people who is scared to fry chicken lest you set the house on fire. Seriously. Go, right now, and start your chicken marinating for tomorrow. If it is even close to what I made tonight you will be thanking me and Erin and Robyn for sending you to this recipe.


Oh, and I know there's a way to make the link smaller but I'm too lazy to figure it out right now. I have to eat some chicken.

Heresy I know, but how to prebake pizza crust?

I'm sure a number of Slicers will show up on my doorstep with pitchforks and flaming torches but here's my dilemma. I'm having a crowd for dinner and would like to do a make your own pizza thing. I'm thinking with prebaked crusts I could limit the in oven time and move things along more quickly. I have Mario Batali's latest book where he describes making the pizza on a griddle sort of thing then finishing in the oven but was wondering if any SEers had any good ideas for me. Thanks in advance.

Need suggestions for learning to cool real Italian food

I cook a lot but have spent the last few years focusing on Asian food or else going back to my Southern roots. I've never had a whole lot of interest in Italian but realize I'm giving short shrift to a major cuisine and I could use a culinary challenge. I've watched a fair amount of Molto Mario (because I just love Mario Batali, bless his little orange shoes) so I know there's way more to it than pasta and red sauce but I'd like some suggestions for books, video, etc. to learn more about real Italian food. What have you got for me, Serious Eaters?

A little Saturday fun - are there subgenres of foodies?

Yes, it is a gloomy Saturday and I'm a little bored...

So if someone who loves food is a foodie (and yes, before the snarkmeisters come out, I am well aware that foodie is a love it or hate it term), is someone who loves bread a breadie? Is a fish lover a fishie? Sweets a sweetie? What do you call the subgroups?

This is meant to be a FUN topic so please, use your verbal prowess for good, not evil.

How to make a deep fried hotdog that isn't a corn dog?

This is the kind of question no Serious Eater thinks they will ever ask - and then they have children. So... my 11 year old wants a deep fried hotdog on a stick but had a bad corn dog experience (haven't we all?) so I can't make a corn meal batter. What do you guys think? Tempura batter? Pancake batter? Flour/buttermilk/flour like I do with fried chicken? I'm kind of at a loss but am on the hook to deliver this tonight so I don't have time for a lot of experimentation.

Help me, Serious Eaters, you're my only hope.

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