Profile

mcwolfe

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

The Key to Great Baked Ziti: Drop the Ricotta (and Add Parmesan Cream Instead)

@Daniel, I made this for dinner last night at it really was exceptional. The Parmesan cream was genius and really was the element that took it from just baked pasta to something amazing. Definitely keeping this one in the roster, although I cut the recipe in half for my family of four and we still had a ton left over (not a problem, the kids took it for lunch and from what my husband tells me are having it for an after school snack right now). So happy you are at SE and providing such terrific recipes.

What Cookbook Would You Buy For a First-Time Cook?

+1 for The Way to Cook. I have given that book or recommended to so many people and they have all really loved it. Bittman is also good. Not a fan of the Joy of Cooking. In my experience, those of us who learned to cook, ahem, a few years ago are either Joy, BH&G or Betty Crocker people. I still have a 1956 Betty Crocker that belonged to my mom and refer to it regularly.

The Best Chicken Parmesan

I made this last night for dinner and it was absolutely delicious but REALLY rich. Like, knowing my family, I cut the chicken breasts in half before I made them into cutlets and I still could only eat half of a half! My kids really liked it and the man of the house plowed through two pieces but yowza!

That being said, I will definitely use the buttermilk brine again. I've always used a salt/sugar/water brine for my fried chicken and the flavor of this soak was far superior. Thanks, Kenji - yet again you have blown my mind.

How I Built a Barbecue Restaurant in Brooklyn: Standing Before the Community Board

This series should be required reading for anyone who fantasizes about opening a restaurant of any kind. Oh, what am I saying? It should just be required reading! I'm really enjoying not just the content but your writing, Tyson. I hope there is a book in your future.

Hard Water's Fried Chicken From 'Fried & True'

@Morkai, the sriracha butter may have a flavor profile similar to buffalo sauce but if you emulsify it properly, it has a really luscious texture - sort of fluffy, like a really great hollandaise. I honestly can't encourage you enough to try it. You will become a fan, I guarantee.

Hard Water's Fried Chicken From 'Fried & True'

++++++++++1 on the sriracha butter. I actually got the recipe from a magazine a few months ago (can't remember which one) and it is beyond awesome. Honestly, it has become a must have in my house - like when we get towards the bottom of the container, my husband starts agitating for me to make more so we don't run out. I put it on everything from poached eggs to hamburgers to crostini to my breakfast egg white sandwiches. It is DELICIOUS!

Win a Copy of 'Fried & True'

Salt and sugar brine, seasoned flour, buttermilk then back to the flour. Fry in oil in a very deep pot to keep the whole kitchen from getting splattered. Serve with hot sauce (me and the hubs) or ranch dressing (the kids). For the record, my mother never fried chicken even once in her life - I learned the art from my sister-in-law's mother, who could not cook one thing except this exceptional chicken.

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

My mom's cold tomato soup - not really a gazpacho but a creamy soup made with tomatoes, cucumber and buttermilk whirled in the blender then served with (don't scream - its really delicious) cottage cheese and tomato chunks. Incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day.

Manner Matters: How to Make a Graceful Exit

The easiest way is to establish up front with the ostensible host that you can't stay longer than x time. As in, "I'm happy to come to the cocktail reception for alumni tonight but I have another commitment so I'll have to leave at 7:30." The other commitment could well be with your bed but if you've already set the stage for leaving early, you can slip out and nobody will think you are shirking your duties. Agreed with @akay1 as well, don't make a big deal about leaving - a quiet goodbye to the host or senior person then out the door.

Extra Veggies = Extra Flavor: Stir-Fried Lo Mein With Charred Cabbage, Shiitake, and Chives

The rice wine I use does indeed contain salt but the percentage seems low and all my Chinese friends use the same brand (yeah, I know, if all my Chinese friends jumped off a cliff would I do that too? My mother used that argument regularly...) I would think if you really are averse to salt, maybe sake would be the best substitute although a really posh liquor store might carry Shaoxing wine that would be drinkable.

Extra Veggies = Extra Flavor: Stir-Fried Lo Mein With Charred Cabbage, Shiitake, and Chives

@aisuru113 - not sure where you are in the DC area but I buy Shaoxing rice wine in the Grand Mart in Gaithersbug. I know they are a chain so there are some in VA as well. Also, Wegman's has it (again, I go to the Wegman's in Frederick but I expect they stock it at all their stores). And you are right, sherry has a completely different taste.

Manner Matters: Should You Tattle on Kids Sneaking Food?

Do any of the commenters who advocate saying something actually have children? I can tell you that there are VERY few (maybe two) people from whom I would accept input like that suggested and then only if I had asked them in advance to let me know if they saw something that I should be concerned about. If an acquaintance made a comment, I would be hard pressed not to tell that person to go f*** him/herself. My kids are my business and nobody else's.

Now, if one of them was brandishing a loaded handgun or about to shove a baby onto the subway tracks, that's a different story but to make a comment over a piece of pizza is just ridiculous.

How 3 of New York's Top Pastry Chefs Helped Me Make a Wedding Cake: Part Four

Beautiful! I have really enjoyed this series from beginning to (happy) end.

Win a Serious Eats Edition KettlePizza Baking Steel Combo for Father's Day!

The dad in my house goes for bacon, sausage and pepperoni. He will eat caramelized onions if I force him but generally he is a "gimme meat and lots of it on my pizza" kind of guy.

Manner Matters: Should You Tattle on Kids Sneaking Food?

+1 to keeping your mouth shut. Seriously, this is a matter for only the parents and believe me, they are well aware of what is happening. Frankly, at risk of sounding completely crusty, this whole question sounds a result of the LW's issues with food and weight, which is for her to work on privately without involving her friends and their children.

Cook the Book: 'The Homesick Texan's Family Table' by Lisa Fain

Lone Star cooking = beef, most likely brisket

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

Best of luck, Robyn. SE and all of us out here will miss you greatly.

Cook the Book: 'The VB6 Cookbook' by Mark Bittman

Vegan tacos made with Kenji's incredible "cheese" sauce (although I add a can of RoTel to it).

Meet Your New Potluck Dessert: Texas Sheet Cake

I lost a chocolate contest to a Texas sheet cake a few years ago and was aghast until I tried it. Not at all what I expected and very good. Will definitely try this recipe.

Cook the Book: 'Simple Thai Food' by Leela Punyaratabandhu

Tom kha gai! The first bowl of it I ever tasted changed my life. Seriously.

Cook the Book: 'Afro-Vegan' by Bryant Terry

I grew up Irish-American in the suburbs of DC in the 50s and 60s. My siblings and I say the only food holiday we celebrate is the day they invented Velveeta. My mother's favorite spaghetti sauce was equal parts ketchup and beer, simmered until she believed you couldn't taste the alcohol any more. It is a wonder any of us survived.

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.

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.

Really.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/05/thai-chicken-karaage-east-side-kings-recipe.html

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.

mcwolfe hasn't favorited a post yet.