The Genius of Crispy Deep Fried Artichokes, Roman-Jewish Style

I remember a few years ago running across a similarish recipe from some site about ancient Roman food. It was like a much cruder version of this. Basically you used full sized artichokes and cut them in half (or down to the level of the choke anyway), trimmed any thorns, and cut the stems flush with the bottom (the article I pulled it from had you fry them separately to mitigate waste). Then you'd take the prepped artichoke and place it cut side down in a skillet with a cup or so of olive oil in it. The artichoke would basically steam and soften, then you would smash it down into the bottom of the pan. Theoretically the leaves were supposed to "bloom" outward as you smashed the artichoke, allowing the tender parts to be pan fried to crispness. In practice there was a lot more cracking and breaking, it was tasty in the end but didn't really work so well. So I never made it again.

It came to mind when you mentioned this dish in early artichoke posts. If it hadn't been for all the translated Latin from crazy old sources I would be thinking I'd just ran into a crap recipe for carciofi alla giudia by now.

Cooking With Olive Oil: Should You Fry and Sear in it or Not?

I've always found that the various arguments vis a vis certain cooking methods, application of heat to certain ingredients, etc it be pretty ridiculous. I've seen people arguing that you should never cook over charcoal/open flame of any kind (cumbustion = carcinogens!), you should never sear or brown anything (caramelization/maillard = carcinogens/toxins!), you shouldn't heat any oil to its smoke point, shouldn't smoke things, shouldn't cook with red wines (either sulfides or tannins being bad) and a dozen more obscure things. None of them seem to hold up when you poke them with a stick.

When these sorts of claims have any sort of connection to actual research (or reality) it tends to be a single, or small handful, of studies based on simple bench tests. The sort of thing where a researcher looks at say a seared steak. Finds a particular compound in said searing, and then either identifies it as a known carcinogen or squirts massive, massive amounts of it into cultured cell lines. In either case there's little or no regard given (in the research or subsequent buzz) to how much of said compound is in the food, whether that compound will actually make it into the body, what effect it has in vivo, what dosage has any effect in vivo, whether the compound can accumulate in the body over time, whether there is any effect population wide, etc. In other words at no point does there seem to be any attempt to tie any of these sorts of claims to practical, real world effects on the individual or populations. A test that indicates "if you extract, purify and concentrate these specific compounds that are found in steak. Then squirt them onto isolated cells in concentrations not possible in the real world, and incubate under ideal conditions. Some of those cells will go cancery" gets magnified up to "heating olive oil gives you cancer". Or even more nebulously the chemophobia and "toxins" claims crop up.

Its all a bit odd, and very disproportionate. Minute quantities of whatever substance are deeply feared while legitimate dangers go un-considered. Like I once met a smoker who refused to use canned tomatoes or eat gluten because both supposedly gave you cancer. So it doesn't surprise me you found the science to be a mess. Often there's a legitimate nugget there. Some substance that really does exist or is created, but in such small quantities that the next step in research (actually people, in number) can't really find an effect.

The Case for Loving Vintage Cookbooks

My family all work from Mary Margaret McBride's Encyclopedia of Cooking. Apparently it was published in the 50's and given out as a 12 volume set as promo items at a super market. You could redeem one volume per visit or something. There are collected single volume versions out there although they can sometimes be pricey. Excellent recipes and it covers a hell of a lot of ground.

A Traditional Menu for Your St. Patrick's Day Feast

@AmyClaire celebrating St. Patrick's day with anything other than a trip to church and a family meal is fairly non-traditional for the Irish as well. The whole shebang is a tradition from diaspora communities with its origins in the US. So corned beef and cabbage as an Irish American dish for the Irish American version of St. Patrick's day is about as traditional as it gets.

Hell even that "Irish Soda Bread" linked above bears no resemblance to soda bread as it most commonly exists in Ireland (it looks more like that brown bread, less the butter and sugar).

Pork and Shrimp Siu Mai (Steamed Chinese Dumplings)

@iamchaosthought. Fat back usually lives in with the fresh pork in the butcher dept. Though I've also seen it over with the bacon and hot dogs in other areas.

This is nice. I often find that the seafood, particularly crab and shrimp, at most of the Chinese places I run into tastes a bit... strong. Like its not particularly fresh. Making siu mai at home kind of solves that problem.

The Science of Pie: 7 Pie Crust Myths That Need to Go Away

@seth gordon

Maybe mezcal in key lime pie crust? It tend to be cheaper, more aggressive, and smokier than tequila.

The Science of Pie: 7 Pie Crust Myths That Need to Go Away


How does the butter's water content factor in? I was under the impression that the additional water from the butter was at least partially responsible for the firmer texture of all butter pie crusts. At least that's one of the rationalizations I often see for limiting the amount of butter in traditional recipes.

The Science of Pie: 7 Pie Crust Myths That Need to Go Away


Not quite. Hydrogenated fats are unsaturated fats that have had extra hydrogen atoms forced into them to give them the properties of saturated fats. The process creates a lot of Trans fats, which otherwise only exist in trace amounts in nature. The trans fats are the bad part. Hydrogenate is a verb, it refers to applies to fats that we have processed to have more hydrogen bonds, not saturated fats that have those naturally. So lard is not hydrogenated, its that way right out of the pig. The hydrogenated oils used in classic shortening and margarine on the other hand are a factory created thing. Actively hydrogenated to make them solid.

Also I believe there is a low/no trans fat version of shortening out there these days. The only complaint I've heard is that its a lot firmer/harder than the traditional stuff. Which I know most of the trans fat free margarines are. So maybe better for pie crust.

Beyond Potstickers: Around the World in Dumplings

@rachel5453 Blintzes are technically a pancake or crepe. While its common too see them wrapped around fillings, they aren't always served that way and are never cooked with the filling in place.

Khinkali are delicious, fun fact the uneaten knot of dough is known as the bellybutton.

The Le Creuset Bi-Material Spoon Is the First Plastic Spoon Worth Owning

@richtaylor @Kenji

Amazon also does this adaptive pricing thing. Whereby the prices vary based on who's looking at them. Its supposedly based on purchase and search history, as well as how well an individual item sells on the site overall. The more likely an your are to buy an item the higher the price will be, and the price tends to go up the better selling an item is. So its not uncommon for an item to have a higher price than an affiliate link states it will have for certain (or even all) users. Or a price to be different at the same time between two users, or on two different computers. There was an internet kerfuffle about it a few years back, and it doesn't seem to be as extreme or common as it used to be. Then of course if things do sell out they show you other sellers (with different pricing). So I generally take the quoted prices from affiliate links with a grain of salt, generally expecting them to be at least a few dollars more unless I'm on it in the first hour or so after it gets linked somewhere popular. It should go down again in a few days when Amazon restocks, or be cheaper elsewhere.

And Kenji in regards to the dog food. My mother has been making her own for a year or so now. In talking to her vet it was recommended she keep vegetable matter and grains low while maximizing protein. She settled on Lentils to bulk it out with cheap protein, cheap cuts of meat, and a bit of rice for fiber, and carrot and sweet potato because I don't know why (I think its just because the dog likes it). Apparently a large volume of vegetables isn't so good for dogs, counter to what we'd assume.

The Secret to Great Coq au Vin? Lose the Coq

@Daniel I dunno that it would effect this recipe (or anything you guys really post). But I would figure volume would have a big effect on that. I've made really, really, big batches of stock, dog food, and soups (we're talking 4+ gallons) and ended up with a warm drippy fridge for enough time to be dangerous.

That said I haven't ended up with any dead relatives as a result, so practically speaking I don't think it matters much. But in a covering your butts, paranoid, better safe than sorry sort of way I can see why many places/people recommend keeping hot stuff out of the fridge. For my part I use ice or frigid weather to chill things fast before I toss them in fridgitator, but only if I end up with enough to make me nervous.

The Secret to Great Coq au Vin? Lose the Coq

I've actually been curious how Capon would work in this. Its slightly more similar to old roosters than a roasting hen. And they are at least sometimes available at supermarkets, particularly in areas with large Jewish populations. Though the only time I ever cooked a capon it was the most inedible gamey thing I've ever put in my mouth, I suspect I may have gotten a shit Capon though. It was also crazy tough, why I've been thinking ever since a braise would have been better than roasting.

Should You Really Only Cook With Wine You'd Drink? The Truth About Cooking With Wine

In terms of cooking with spoiled wine I've often found that it doesn't matter in which way the wine is off, and there are few applications where cooking with it doesn't work. Working as a bartender it was fairly common to send any spoiled or flawed wine to the kitchen. Sometimes the dishwashers would end up drinking it, but for the most part it stood in for the kitchen's cooking wine (usually boxed or otherwise low cost). I'm sure the cooks back there had figured out if there was any degree of spoilage or cooking method that was a no go in those terms. I haven't had any really rancid wine at home, so I've never had much of an issue with slightly old or corked wine in any cooking application I've tried.

Virginia Willis on the Greatest Cookbooks and What People Get Wrong About Southern Food

I would disagree with her on what makes a good cook book. I could, ultimately care less if the recipes "work" provided a book gives me good, clear, and useful info on technique. If a book, website, show, whatever can teach me the technique that underpins a dish then I don't need the recipe. And I can apply those methods to a far broader number of ingredients, situations, and dishes than if I just follow a list of instructions.

I will back her up on the Junior League and other community cookbooks. Those things are wacky and interesting. They're often full of forgotten dishes and approaches, highly regional info and other great stuff. If you read through a lot of history based food writing you start to get an idea of how important those things are. I don't think I've ever read any sort of examinations of the origins of a dish that didn't touch on at least a few self published family cookbooks, or cook books from social clubs or something. I've got a great one printed a local Hibernian society in the 70's.

How to Make Foolproof Cheese Fondue

@katzimmer. It should work. That stuff has a bunch of stabilizers in it. Same idea with putting a bit of Velveeta in with less smooth melting cheeses for stuff like this.

Why You Shouldn't Dine Out on Valentine's Day

@MtDave Do you know many people in the service industry? Cause this is pretty much the stock advice we give ANYONE when asked about how to have the best experience. Regardless of date. And its all doubly true for holidays or big weekends. When service suffers sales (and tips) suffer. Both I and the restaurant will make more money giving a really good experience to fewer people than a crappy experience to a larger crowd. And when I'm talking to friends or family members I'm going to give the most practical advice on having a nice time. And this is pretty much it.

I've never had a particular problem with Valentines day, but then I bartend. It can get kind of swamped in terms of service bar, but its one of the holidays where people really want a table.

So to add to the advice given: 1. Choose a lower key kind of place, save your big splurgey special meal for another time where its more likely to go in your favor. 2. Lower your expectations. Holidays and 3 day weekends in many restaurants are kind of a mess. If you go in expecting an experience that's looser, perhaps a bit more fun, and all round less formal you'll enjoy yourself more. And get on with the staff better, which means probably means better service. AND 3. Consider eating at the bar. I know everyone wants a romantic quiet 2 top. But that might not be an option, and it may work out poorly in an over stressed dining room. The most I ever recall getting at a restaurant bar on days like this was a few chill regular couples, and maybe small groups of bitter singles. Or a blind date or something. If it looks clear try it. Bar service is a lot more low key in general, so in a swamped restaurant the experience can be more amenable if not snappier. On rowdier holidays though (the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, St. Pats, the day before Thanksgiving etc) avoid the bar at all costs. Also avoid bars that are mostly bars, they got a different thing going on.

Around the World in Booze: 8 Favorites to Seek Out

As it was explained to me (by people who make such things quietly while noone's looking) Pálinka, Rakia, Cha Cha, slivovitz and all the other related hooches from across Central and Eastern Europe aren't really properly classified as brandy. They're a lot more similar to pomace brandies (like Grappa), and share a lot of similarities in terms of alcohol content and a certain base flavor. Essentially they aren't made from the the juice extracted from whatever fruit their made of as with brandy. The fruits are either fermented whole (stone fruits get seeds removed because cyanide) or pulped and fermented as is. That whole mess of broken down fruit and juice is distilled together. Some varieties (like Cha Cha from Georgia) are even traditionally made from wine pomace.

In terms of Poitín, its kind of hard to make descriptive statements about it as you do. Its Poitín by virtue of being illicit, not by virtue of what its made from. Though these days potatoes, and sometimes mixed potatoes and grain, are the most common substrate; that wasn't always (and isn't always the case). Before the advent of potatoes it would have been made from wheat, or barley, or a mix of the two, or any grain available. It can be made of sugar alone (sugar hooch is awful), cabbages, pretty much anything that will ferment. People near when my family lives over there seem to think a mixture of potatoes and wheat makes for the best hooch.

But that brings up a problem with these two entries. While there are nice bottled/legal products under both labels those are basically just marketing gimmicks. Both the Eastern/Central European hooches and Poitín are fundamentally home distilled, often illicit products. So much so that the terms as used often simple mean/refer to home distilled or illegally produced booze. Aside from rough guidelines, or particular production methods neither is particularly well defined in terms of what they're made from or what they should taste like (allthough the Eastern block stuff tends to have a specific variety name for each fruit base, then a catchall of some sort for more general use). Commercially produced Poitín, for example, is usually nothing more than high proof, low cost potato vodka. Or more often the Irish regional equivalent of Everclear. Nearly pure ethanol.

I don't think there's anything wrong with recommending specific, quality brands that choose to label themselves this way. Its probably unwise to recommend them as categories to look out for in liquor store. And random bottle of Poitín you pick up is likely to be horrible. And the Pálinka I've picked up on a whim has been nearly as bad most of the time. Beyond that you aren't really experiencing, trying, or exploring either one by picking up a refined version in a legit shop. The Pálinka that most of Hungary drinks regularly is made by some one's uncle, and doesn't closely resemble what you can buy outside the country. Same with Poitín or any regional rot gut. The Poitín you reccomend sounds nothing like what my grandfather snuck through customs in holy water bottles, and nipped at under the table at weddings from Tullamore Dew crocks.

@thesteveroll +1 for water bottles. The good stuff is always in water bottles. I have a friend from Budapest who's father makes it. I know he didn't use the plums, but I can't remember specifically. Maybe Mulberries? Some of the best rot gut I've ever had. I was taught to drink it very, very cold. Provided we weren't on a train, or a bus, or hiding it in the back of a bar, or in the park. Which was seldom.

The Best Pizza by the Slice in San Francisco

AAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNDDDD I just made one of your tortilla pizzas. With meatloaf on it.

The Best Pizza by the Slice in San Francisco

@Kenji My yard stick is having grown up on Long Island at precisely the time the style was being created/spread. Its kind of everywhere out here, and its become my default pizza since it started getting big in the 90's. I really haven't seen too many places using fresh moz out here. And even then its seems to be a really recent development, and labeled by a different name. Usually Margarita, Grandpa pie has no mozzarella, there are a few other variations including one with sliced fresh tomato and basil. The sauce shouldn't be a cooked sauce. But straight crushed canned tomatoes. Preferably canned whole tomatoes that have been literally crushed. And the crust is usually fairly comparable to the crust on regular round pies in terms of thickness/structure. From what my local pizza guy tells me its the same type and volume of dough, its just shape and cooking method that change. As for the Parmesan a lot (but not all) places seem to put a pretty heavy dusting off the stuff over the top of the pie. Usually just after it comes out of the oven.

I don't know that I've ever had a grandma in NYC that bore more than a passing resemblance to what we have on the Island. Whether when I was living there, or since moving back East. I've had some good pizza by that name in the 5 boroughs, but its not the same kind of pizza. But then I kind of stopped looking, its not like I had to fly across the country to find the real thing.

The Best Pizza by the Slice in San Francisco

If you'll allow me to be a pedant for a minute that grandma slice from The Presidio Pizza Company doesn't sound anything like an actual grandma slice. Don't get me wrong it looks and sounds good, but that's just not a grandma pie. "Focaccia-like" crust? Fresh Moz? Tomatoes layered (apparently both over and under) the cheese? Pesto? All of these things are resolutely not features of Long Island grandma pie. An it lacks the fairly standard assloads of grated Parmesan. Sounds like the only things they got right was the crispy fried bottom and the use of smashed tomatoes over sauce.

How to Make the Best French Onion Soup

@SundayCooking I've not had a problem with it. With lower temps (mostly set to 'warm') over night I've tended to get soft, sticky, blonde colored caramelized onions like my grandmother makes to top steak. I get darker more traditional onions cooking at higher heat settings, but at the 'high' mark it tends to require a bit of watching to avoid burning. Typically I'll run on 'warm' over night then run it hotter with the lid off to cook off moisture and darken.

How old is your slow cooker? The older ones apparently run at much lower temps than the new ones. Which is great for most things you do with a slow cooker, but might throw things off here. And supposedly manufacturers changed to line up with food safety requirements. I've not tried it with my mom's 30 year old slow cooker, but it worked fine in both newer models I've used. One was 5-6 years old, and the other basically brand new.

The Bird That Bites Back: How Nashville Hot Chicken is Made

@sundancekidd85 I don't think your necessarily taking it far enough. Buffalo wings should never, ever be breaded. Your not entirely off base on heat level, but if your Buffalo wings aren't hot at all I suggest you find better wings. They should be spicy, noticeably spicy. BUT a really good wing isn't hot enough that you feel it the minute you bite into the first wing. The whole point of the things is to eat a lot of them. So you want a manageable, balanced heat that builds over time. So you've got a nice lingering burn going after 6-12 wings, but it shouldn't ever get unpleasant. And yeah tangy vinegar flavor from the hot sauce is very much the key flavor.

Hot chicken from what I understand is intended to be about the flavor and the heat of the spice all at once and up front. So its hot, and you know its hot. Buffalo wings on the other hand, should sneak up on you.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

@Amandarama The only negative thing I've heard about french presses with tea is that if you squeeze the tea excessively when you push the plunger down you can cause some off flavors and bitterness. Apparently you can just avoid pushing it down all the way and solve the problem. I have a Boddam Assam tea pot that sequesters the leaves into a little pocket a the bottom of the pot without squeezing them too much. Works quite well, but I can't drink a whole pot myself, and there usually aren't any other tea drinkers around.

Why Diners Are More Important Than Ever

@StephanieL that sounds moderately shiny. Not the sort of place particularly worth avoiding, but likely (if you didn't already know better) to be less good than a place with a brown exterior and subdued sign. But the shiny diner rule is to be disregarded when you get a specific recommendation.

Why Diners Are More Important Than Ever

@StephanieL Well as I noted it doesn't always hold true. There are scattered shiny diners that are damned good, and its fairly common to find shiny diners with decent food. But if your in an area with say 5 diners, or driving along the high way and want to decide which diner to stop at the vast majority of the time the drab diner has the best food.

Also from your description its hard to tell if The Somerset Diner would qualify as truly shiny. It mostly just sounds well lit. For the shiny diner rule we're talking stuff like chrome exterior (and lots of it), neon lights, colored panels, excess signage, lots of sparkles and (horror of horrors) themed chotchkies on the walls or servers in costume. The more it looks like some idealized, parody or theme "diner" the more you should beware.

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