Cocktail Tools: What to Buy After You Have the Basics

Don't use bar mops/hand towels for polishing glassware. They don't do a particularly good job and they shed lint everywhere. Hand towels are for cleaning, cloth napkins or something similarly lint free are for polishing. Whether its a bar top, glassware or anything else.

Weekend Baking Project: Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb really needs to be combined with something sweet to set it off right. Strawberry, peach, or blueberry. Depending on where your at and what the precise season is.

What's in Your NYC Care Package?

We're regularly charged with bringing NY stuff down to family in North Carolina. 7-11 buttered rolls. Sabrett Onions in Sauce. Drakes Coffee Cakes. Decent bagels. Black and Whites.

How to Descale Your Automatic Coffeemaker, and Why You Should

@zorazen. We used to use baking soda on glass coffee decanters in restaurants. Toss a couple table spoons and a few cups of water in the thing, bring it to a boil and let it sit for a while. Swirl it about and maybe hit it with a bottle brush. Same should work for the french press. Dunno how well it'll work on serious scale, its more a regular cleaning to prevent scale in the first place.

How to Descale Your Automatic Coffeemaker, and Why You Should

@jbout Hard water is just water that has a problematically high level of dissolved minerals. Soft water is basically the opposite, low levels of dissolved minerals excepting sodium/salt. Aside from extreme cases any effect on brewing coffee is in my experience extremely subtle to unnoticeable. The bigger problem is in the residue that builds up if you don't regularly clean your equipment.

Water chemistry has some noticable effects on baking. And its incredibly important to brewing beer. Certain styles are impossible to brew with a given water profile.

Amy's Bread Now Makes One of New York's Best Black and White Cookies

@Slow Food Joe

Most of the better black and whites I've had over the past few years have come from outside the city. Either Up State New York or Nassau County on Long Island.

Amy's Bread Now Makes One of New York's Best Black and White Cookies

They frosted the wrong side!

Need input on buying a smoker

I do well enough with a Weber kettle with a smokenator for bbq. And I use a little chief brand electric smoker for cold smoking, fish jerky, bacon and hams etc. Anything suitable for bbq is likely to run too hot for the preserving kind of smoking.And to be perfectly honest the little chief runs a bit too hot for traditional cold smoking.

My grandfather always used a hollowed out fridge fitted with a hot plate, stove pipe, and oven racks for cold smoking fish , hams and bacon. I've been meaning to build one myself, but apparently you need an old metal lined fridge.

Philly - Reading Market Area - After Hours

Since you'll be staying near the market at some point I'd recommend checking out the Mennonite rib stand in the market at some point. The rib sandwiches are rad. I haven't regularly been in Philly for years so I wouldn't know what else is still there to direct you to.

How Do You Make Crispy Bacon?

I do mine in the oven. 350 to 400 f depending on how closely I want to watch it in case it burns. Put the bacon on a rimmed baking dish, no rack bacon renders and crisps better in its own fat. Start it in a cold oven too, or pan if your frying it. Takes a good 30 mins plus, but the results are far better and more consistent then in a pan. Also be aware the bacon will keep cooking for a bit after you take it out. So take it out before it's totally crisp.

Weekend Baking Project: Irish Brown Bread

This is your authentic authentic Irish soda bread, the white soda bread is comparatively rare over there.

As far as a sub for the Irish flour goes. I've done relatively well with course ground whole wheat flour of any kind. But in general Irish flours have very little protein, so I've had success using a mixture of whole wheat and pastry flour. It's also worth noting that the flour traditionally used isn't necessarily "special" it's just the coasest grind of a pretty common product. Odlums is the brand of Irish flour icm most familiar with. You cand find it online, and it's common in expat shops. And you even find it in certain supermarkets this time of year.

A Very Unofficial Snack Cake Field Guide

From 1991 till the recent collapse Drake's was owned by Hostess. That's why the branding was so similar. Anyone claiming a given Drake's product was better than its Hostess equivalent is fooling themselves. Outside of a handful signature items (coffe cake, twinkies) they were essentially putting the same product in two different boxes for the last 20 years.

Before that though Drakes was the much better of the two.

Does Mission Cantina Make the Best Burritos in NYC?

@monopod I would say that any randomly selected burrito in NYC is likely to be worse than Chipotle. But it isn't difficult to find burritos that are as good or a bit better, you just have to be more deliberate about finding them. But even the best you run into in NYC tend to have serious structural problems or obvious flaws. Often shitty tortillas, dry meat, and rice used as a filler. I like rice in a burrito, but I don't like that most places my burrito is mostly with maybe an ounce or so of meat and a few squirts of condiments.

Oyster Mythbusting: Debunking 5 Common Misconceptions


Marketing and availability. Oysters as "fine" food and an expensive delicacy is rather recent, and directly tied to the crash in oyster stocks in the 20th century. Improvements in water quality and a broader push for aquaculture in coastal communities have brought oysters back to places where they were once a rarity. So there are more oysters available now, and an industry that's more capable of marketing based on appellations and brand names.

Oyster Mythbusting: Debunking 5 Common Misconceptions

@drewstarr I'd assume 3-6 depending on size. If I'm remembering correctly the usual number given is that a dozen oysters is less than 120 calories.

#3 is actually a bit more complicated than that. For one thing before refrigeration oysters were more likely to spoil in the warmer non-R months. And in terms of poisoning from bacteria/viruses and algae the likelihood of contamination is directly tied to water temperature. So the further South you go the bigger the risk, this a much bigger problem in the warm summer months. I've often seen it recommended that you avoid any oysters from South of the Chesapeake during the summer.

But as you note the major reason why oysters are out of season in the late spring in summer has to do with their spawning season. But spawning oysters aren't unpalatable, they just less palatable. Shellfish in the spawning season tend to be noticeably chalky in flavor. Beyond that most people say there's a connection between colder water temperature and higher quality shellfish. Meaning the seasonality mostly holds because oysters just taste better in fall and winter.

Triploid oysters (as the sterile hybrids are called) are way less common than you'd think. And are effectively less good for the environment. They'll reef up, and filter water. But since they do not breed they do nothing to replenish natural stocks, and their utility in restoring damaged ecosystems is thereby heavily reduced. They seem to be heavily discouraged in a lot of the newer aquaculture pushes.

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

@Adam. That was the article I referenced. Had mis-remembered it as being in The New York Times (or potentially conflated it with a similar Times article). The link on the old Slice post is dead, because Newsday is stupid here's a new one for anyone who's curious:

As for the screen name sure why not. Its both more complicated and less interesting than that though.

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

@Adam I think you're in the right area for Grandmas popping up in the city itself. If I recall the Times article on the style it only really dates to the 70's. And it really didn't start proliferating outside Nassau county until the 90's. I remember it being this wildly awesome new kind of pizza we thought you could only get at Scibelli's in the Ronkonkoma train station. By the late 90's early 00's it was pretty much a default option at most pizzerias in the region. Maybe part of the problem with the style in NYC is that grandmas had really only spread to the far reaches of Queens by the 00's when the style started to get a lot of press and online attention. It seemed like its adoption in the city was really quick and driven by that attention, rather than distribution of info on how to actually make the thing.

How to Find and Order Great Pizza in New York

@ Adam Juba, Kenji & Bobbob

Proper grandma pies have a much thinner crust than Sicilian, often times as thin or thinner than a round pie. Its baked first in an oiled pan, then removed and re-baked without the pan. The sauce shouldn't really be sauce at all just crushed canned tomatoes (preferably canned whole peeled tomatoes that have been physically crushed). The cheese is in direct contact with the crust, and is placed *around* the sauce/tomatoes but not over it. Chopped fresh garlic is added on top of the tomatoes, but not usually the cheese. And the whole thing gets coated in grated parm, and some times fresh basil, after baking.

Its a Long Island thing so its hard to define if you use the Five Boroughs as your reference point. Pretty much every grandma pie I've had in the city limits (even the good ones) got it wrong in at least one way. Tomatoes too smoothly crushed, fresh mozz, bake the crust wrong, crust too thick, sauce instead of tomatoes, cheese over sauce, sauce over cheese, no parm etc. If I had to guess I'd say the confusion is down to the fact that it only very recently arrived in the city, and it has yet to be adapted accurately or develop into its own coherent thing. Most places seem to treat it just as a square version of Margherita.

American Classics: Classic Egg Creams

@steamcorners Yoohoo is to chocolate milk as orange drink is to orange juice. There might be some dairy and chocolate in there somewhere, but one generally expects it to taste more like "Yoohoo" than anything else.

An egg cream is more similar to a chocolate soda with a bit of milk added.

The Best Valentine's Day Giveaway Ever: Lobel's 4" Prime Dry-Aged Heart Shaped Steaks for Two

I got an Anova for xmas, I've also got possession of some 100 year old, well seasoned griswolds cast iron (thanks great grandma!) and a quart sized jar of bacon fat. When these things have been combined with meat as of late, minds have been blown.

Poll: Frozen Mini Burgers: Way or No Way?

Only when I'm wallowing self loathing and want to wallop my body with fatty, salty, self hate.

4 Cidermakers to Watch in 2014

Glad to see Wolfer get some press. One of the only decent wineries on Long Island's South Fork, and they've been doing good work for years. Tried the rose cider this summer and it was damned good. Brewing has been getting bigger on the Island the last few years, and the cider thing seems to be just kicking up. Makes sense given the history as an apple growing region.

What is Your Pretzel Preference?

These guys:

Seem to making the more tradition hand made style of Philly Pretzel. In terms of the more common factory made street pretzels I've seen them (along with tasty kakes) at one of the better cheese steak places in the city. I think it was 99 Miles to Philly.

Super Bowl Party Giveaway: 17th Street BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Pulled Pork

We decided to cook a smallish pig, but were un-able to line up any sort of cooker to cook it with. We already had the pig, and not much time to spare. So my brother drove down to the local beach and hijacked the 55 gallon drum they had for a trash can down there. We burned out the motors on two sawzalls cutting the damn thing in half. But afterwards we were able prop the two (lopsided) with sticks and rocks to provide a fire pit, and do the same with an oversized (borrowed) bbq rack. Cooked the pig good.

Serious Entertaining: Game Day Finger Food

Oysters. But then my dad was a commercial oysterman for a number of years so maybe that has some bearing on the way I associate oysters with any and all events.

Roasting a Pig

My brother an I will be doing a hog this coming Saturday 40-50lb range. We've done this 3 times before, and he's done several pigs and a few lambs on his own. We'll be butterflying the pig and cooking it on what's basically a catering style grill. Shallow fire tray with adjustable grill height and a massive barrel style cover, with an off set fire and some water pans it does pretty well for this sort of thing.

We've got a nice handle on how we're going about it. ~225F, skin down protected by foil initially, basting with apple juice/vinger and lard on the meat side. Depending when we pick up the hog we'll either inject or let it take a long sit with a heavy rub. No sugar outside the juice. Expecting 6-8 hours not including rest but planning for longer. Maintaining a consistent temp can be tough in this grill. Using charcoal and a bit of hardwood for smoke.

Anyone have additional tips or advice?

Thanksgiving: What's Your Stuffing Approach?

It can be a very personal question. Do you use a boxed mix? Stovetop? Semi-homemade? Totally from scratch? Dry out the bread overnight first? And where do you fall in the dressing vs. stuffing debate? To clarify, "stuffing" is when it actually cooks in the bird's cavity while "dressing" bakes in a separate pan. Please discuss. More