Profile

okupin

Associate professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. Learned to cook by watching PBS in the mid-1990's (Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, Martha Stewart, Jeff Smith...). Good cook, bad baker.

  • Location: Reno, NV
  • Favorite foods: olives, peaches, cherries, fish and shellfish, any combination of butter, sugar, and nuts, preferably caramelized, croissants. Also pizza.
  • Last bite on earth: baklava

Country Captain is the Southern Icon You May Have Never Tasted

This series is so great, Robert; keep up the good work.

Microwave Rocky Road Sponge Cakes

Not that wild about sponge cakes in general and rocky road in particular; nevertheless, microwave-toasting nuts and melting chocolate in a food processor are great pro tips--thanks!

Gateway Ciders for Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Lovers

Love the poiré granit--best perry in the world. I just found Farnum Hill's Dooryard Cider; don't know how widely distributed it is beyond NH, but it's worth seeking out.

Cheese 101: The Unified Theory of Pairing Cured Meat and Cheese

Very helpful article--thanks!

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

I'm with @secondtimearound on the Joy of Cooking. I have the controversial 97 Joy (+sushi, -possum), but it taught me how to cook. The technique and glossary sections are solid.
I'm also a big fan of Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris. Bombproof, and if the aspiring cook wants to do the French classics, it's perfect for that.

How Bad Wine Led Me to Great Shrimp Scampi

Made this tonight. Didn't have any vermouth so subbed some dry cider I had on hand (Farnum Hill Dooryard) thinking, how bad could it be and...it was weirdly great. Honestly the best shrimp scampi I've made, which I admit may say more about my shrimp scampi abilities than the cider. But the funky apple notes settled right in between the sea-bottom-y-ness of the shrimp (there's one for @Ocean :) and the sunny-ness of the lemon. I wouldn't do it with a sweet cider, but would definitely go the dry cider route again.

Slow Cooker Puerto Rican Pernil With Pique Criollo

Just made this, and it came out great. I halved everything and so it only took 9 hours to finish. I would describe the heat on the pique criollo as medium. I don't think you'd want to actually blend in the peppers, though--it'd get inedibly hot.

How to Make Menemen, the Turkish-Style Scrambled Eggs That Haunt My Dreams

I totally sang that same song in Istanbul. If you're ever back there and on the Asian side, try Meşhur Menenci in the Kadıköy Market.

Should You Refrigerate Tomatoes? Further Testing Says...

@ Max I don't have an "emotional connection" to tomatoes, and I do understand the conditions you guys are publishing under. I totally get it if you don't have time to do or want help doing stats. For that reason, I think SE is better off using qualitative testing paradigms.

@Daniel FWIW, I don't need numbers from SE. I take and trust your expert opinion--and then I try your recommendations for myself to see how I like them. You're absolutely right that cooking and taste are subjective. My takeaway from this series was that instead of trusting received rumor/wisdom, cooks should try a range of techniques for themselves and see what they like best. I think that's the true spirit of SE--expanding rather than reducing ways to eat well and be happy.

Should You Refrigerate Tomatoes? Further Testing Says...

@findingmykid the column dot plot is a beautiful suggestion
@estepcha I don't agree that you can't test significance in this experimental paradigm, but that's not really the point. You missed the actual concern I was raising--which was with giving opinion the veneer of science to give it more weight. Look, I had no issue with Kenji's qualitative preference test. But I do get concerned about quantitative tests that don't actually define or measure significance but use the word anyway to persuade people to trust the results.

American Chop Suey: The Cheesy, Beefy, Misnamed Stovetop Casserole That Deserves a Comeback

Growing up, our version of "chop suey" was nothing like this and much more like the Chinese-American version you locate in the earlier half of the century. The way my mom (from rural MI) made it, it was cubes of pork with celery, bean sprouts, and soy sauce served over rice. Not delicious...but maybe that's b/c my mom left out any allium of any kind. Oh yeah, and she sprinkled those fried noodles on top that came in little pop-top cans from the grocery store--those, I liked. I think they were called "chow mein," but my memory may be failing me there.

Should You Refrigerate Tomatoes? Further Testing Says...

@Max, @Daniel: I run t-tests on a regular basis as part of my job on similar scales and with similar Ns to what you guys are doing here. In my experience, you can have statistical significance even with the differences you're calling "very little." I have found that visible differences in averages are often misleading in either direction, big or small.

If you want to send me your scores in an excel spreadsheet (raters in columns, criteria in rows, one sheet for refrig and one for non), I can run t-tests for you in R and see if you've got anything: okupin@gmail.com

Concluding anything off averages is dubious. You could have a bimodal distribution here--you know, like on Yelp when a restaurant gets half 5-star ratings and half 1-star ratings; the average is still a 3, but I doubt you'd want to roll the dice and eat there.... Same thing here--if half your testers absolutely loved the counter tomatoes and half absolutely hated them, would you really want to say that refrigeration had no significant effect? You probably wouldn't want to say anything at all about the test b/c the reactions were so polarized.... T-tests (and related stats like ANOVAs) help weed those problems with averages out.

If you're going to do quantitative taste testing, I think you should do the stats, too--especially if you have someone volunteering to do them for you ;) Otherwise, I think your only fair conclusion can be "We have no idea." Your visible results in the first test show a preference for counter-held tomaotes in every case except the yellow tomatoes. Thus, it "looks" like refrigeration may generally hurt tomatoes. If you don't do the math on the significance, yet you put the message out there that "we've each had significant enough results that no one should at this point continue to believe that the no-refrigeration rule is always true"--aren't you engaging in the same careless use of science that you don't like in the ag industry?

Please don't read me wrong: I love SE and am trying to help here. I study the public communication of science for a living and am just as concerned as you are about times when science is used to try to end public debate rather than spark it....

And a PS if you do this again: If you had held the tomatoes for two days like Kenji did, I think you would have seen a more robust effect. Given how many hours it took for those tomatoes to come down from external temp to frig temp all the way through, there was barely any time for the refrig temps to work any chemical changes, so I wouldn't expect significant differences. But only the math will tell....

Should You Refrigerate Tomatoes? Further Testing Says...

Hi Daniel--if you don't mind me asking, what tests of significance were you using to underpin the claim in the first taste test that "none of the averaged scores diverged significantly"? Or to distinguish differences in the average scores for your criteria between the refrig and non-refrig conditions? T-tests? With such a small N, that would be my first pick. If t-tests, can we see p values? Thx.

Pawpaws: America's Best Secret Fruit

I have a recipe for passionfruit souffle, and it sounds like paw paw might sub in for the passionfruit puree--do you think it would work?

The Food Lab's Emergency Cooking Kit: How to Fit All the Tools You Need in One Small Box

I just relocated for sabbatical. Kitchen was allegedly furnished, so I cut a few corners on the ol' emergency box...and immediately regretted it, as "furnished" apparently meant "furnished like a crappy summer cabin in the Yukon." I'm sorry, dull knives are not knives. At any rate, here are the things I didn't think were essential but turned out to be, at least for me (asterisks on the ones not already on someone's list above):
*kitchen scissors (herbs, chickens, lobsters, you name it)
*knife sharpener/kitchen steel (lets me cope with the "knives" in the kitchen without springing for new ones)
*slotted spoon for frying, draining, etc.
*fine-mesh strainer (don't get me started on the "colander" that came with the kitchen. It does not coland.)
whisk
*chopsticks (easy to pack and endlessly useful for stirring, flipping, poking, bracing...)
single-serve tea/coffee mesh basket
a sharp veggie peeler

The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place in Cornbread

@Kenji--regarding your flavor about tweaking the sugar content to replace losses due to modern milling: Do you think there's a detectable difference in the flavor of cane sugar (sucrose) v. corn sugar (fructose)?

How to Make the Best Tomato Sauce From Fresh Tomatoes

We've used a Roma Deluxe Foodstrainer for several years for both applesauce and tomato sauce--sturdy, easy to clean, large hopper, and it's like $65 http://www.amazon.com/Roma-Strainer-Deluxe-Sauce-Maker/dp/B000I6JUMA/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1408576825&sr=8-4&keywords=roma+strainer

Ideas in Food vs. Linguine alle Vongole: Part 2

@zorazen has made a valid, relevant, and civil critique of this recipe; she didn't outright dismiss the value of the post, and she didn't call the creators names. Insisting that everyone in this community endorse everything that's posted (or remain silent) isn't realistic, stifles civil discourse, and IMHO is more obnoxious than trolling.

Kenji's NYC Bucket List: What I'll Miss Most

@Kenji: I was out of town when you posted this, so it might be too late, but if you're passing through Reno and need (want?) to eat right off I-80, I'd recommend Burger Me at the Robb Drive exit. The burgers, chicken, and fish sandwiches are all great; fries are average; I like the onion rings a lot though they're greasy for sure; shakes are excellent. There's also a Grimaldi's right off 80 at the first exit in Sparks; Nu Yalk is better pizza but is a substantial detour down 580. If you need coffee, the Hub is the place to go; the closest location for you would be on Riverside (Keystone exit, then like 6 blocks south and a left turn on Jones to the parking lot at Washington--doesn't take 5 minutes and well worth it for a cap that stands up just fine to anything on the Left Coast including Four Barrel).

The Tea Cup and the Dragon: Secrets of China's Favorite Green Tea

I agree--fantastic article. @AMHA: That's not a comma splice. You can quibble about style if you like, with the comma occurring as is does in the midst of a compound predicate nominative, but a comma splice only occurs between two independent clauses.

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

tom kha gai (and bonus Sticky Rice with Mango)

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

I agree--fun and relevant since June is nigh...just a wee typo with Ron Ben-Israel's name in the first sub-head.

Snapshots From Turkey: Kenji's Best Bites From Istanbul

Just glanced back and saw my html fails: I meant to type Kadıköy Market and Tahinli Çörek.

Snapshots From Turkey: Kenji's Best Bites From Istanbul

This almost made me cry I want to get back to Istanbul so badly. We were there at the end of October (also during anchovy season, lucky us; I think I ate my weight in those little dudes). Did you get to spend much time on the Asian side, Kenji? The kadaköy market is a foodie paradise from start to finish (all-natural Turkish delight, menemen, 1,000 kinds of urfa biber, pomegranate molasses, pickled pinecones!) and so much less touristy than the spice market on the Euro side. To your most excellent list I would add only Tahinli Çörek (a rolled bun with sweet tahini--buy it hot from the oven at 11 a.m. from Eyfel Pastanesi on the Asian side and eat it with a cup of tea at Moda çay bahçesi, which has stunning views across the Bosphorus) and Akdeniz Hatay Sofrası (in Fatih on the Euro side; make sure to order ahead on busy nights to secure a serving of lamb in flaming salt dome). I second the motion to drink as much fresh pomegranate juice as you can; I was coming down with a cold when we got to Istanbul, drank one powerful cup of the stuff, and the next morning, I was cured....

An Open Letter to Serious Eaters

Please don't get rid of Talk. I always search it when I want to know how to solve some cooking problem or where to eat in a new city. Plus I've gotten really great advice. Not on social media and never will be....

Birthday cookies for shipping--help!

I need to make cookies for a friend's grandma's 100th birthday party. (I know!) I will be delivering them to said friend a day or two before the party, and she will be carrying them on the plane. So, I need a recipe that a) is festive b) is relatively traditional (Grandma is 100% style, 0% fad) c) is travel-worthy and d) won't go stale right away. Making cookies Thurs. a.m.... Thanks in advance for the help, SEaters!

Calling all food nerds! Technique question about carbonation

I have a seltzer maker, and the company says to carbonate chilled water. I was thinking warmer (like tap temperature) water might accommodate more CO2, resulting in bubblier water, but then when it chills in the frig, would the CO2 be forced out of solution, making it flatter? For that reason, am I better off carbonating already-chilled water because the carbonation will be more stable? Or does it not matter either way because water at X temperature will hold Y amount of gas, end of story? I should have paid better attention in high school chemistry....

Help: curry leaves substitution

Hi all--I'm making Potato Salad with Yoghurt for dinner from Neelam Batra's 1,000 Indian Recipes, and I don't have any curry leaves. I have lemon basil and thai basil: would either be an acceptable substitute? I know I'm going to have to break down and mail-order some curry leaves, but since they won't get here by dinner time...any suggestions appreciated. Thanks!

A brief history of the one-word restaurant name

Anyone know when/where/why the trend of single-word restaurant names started? I don't mean names necessarily, but food or food-related words--you know, like Porchetta, Jar, Crush, Tilth, Toast, Lark, Dovetail, Pear, Crave, Pastis, Picholine, Aquavit, Chestnut, Alchemy, Applewood, Meze, Olea. I'd especially like to hear your theories as to *why*--what food philosophy or cultural movement or advertising scheme is this trend capitalizing on?
Bonus question: Same thing for two-word compounds such as Sitka & Spruce, Flour & Water....

The definitive beignet: Pate a choux or yeast dough?

Happy Sunday, all. In your opinion, what's the definitive beignet dough/batter--a risen yeast dough or a pate a choux? I just made the pate a choux version out of the 1997 Joy of Cooking, and I thought they were too light and eggy compared to my memories of eating them in New Orleans at Cafe Du Monde (those seemed more rich and cakey to me). But the Internet was no help: I found both kinds of recipes in equal representation. A little help from any NOLA folks out there would be much appreciated.