Latest Comments

Better Creamy Shrimp Dip Starts With Perfectly Plump Shrimp

@badseed I just can't get behind the cream cheese and shellfish thing. It doesn't seem to be derived from anywhere where that stuff actually comes from . And worse I don't think it works too well and I keep seeing in things I know full well shouldn't have cream cheese. Like crab bisque. I don't want my clams to taste like cheese cake!

Better Creamy Shrimp Dip Starts With Perfectly Plump Shrimp

I was thinking to myself "wait is that a thing". But reading the article I see it's basically what we call shrimp salad in these parts. Along with "seafood" salad that adds crab and sometimes lobster it's basically our cheaper answer to lobster salad. We definitely serve it with chips or crackers as a dip. But often as an add on for a garden salad, and it ends up in sandwiches a lot.

Daniel I have a clam dip recipe if you're interested. It's basically a quart of baked clam filling bound with moz and baked.

How to Make Quick and Easy Thai-Style Beef With Basil and Chilies

@kriklaf I actually just finished eating it. I used Italian basil with a small amount of tarragon mixed in. While it wasn't the same as proper Thai basil, but it was close. Much closer than any of the other substitutions I've tried. Got the dish right in the ball park of what I expect it to taste like. This is actually the best tasting version of this dish I've ever had, and its my favorite Thai dish. I've had it at innumerable cheap Thai take out joints, and more than a few better regarded more "authentic" spots between NY and Philly.

How to Make Quick and Easy Thai-Style Beef With Basil and Chilies

@Kenji What's your suggestion on a substitute for the Thai Basil if it can't be found. Asian ingredients are tricky where I'm at right now. And in the middle of winter I don't have any growing, and all of my local farm stands are closed down. That'd be the only place I know I can regularly find the stuff.

Stew Science: Should You Marinate the Beef First?


Well aware. Just curious how the actual practical testing Daniel's doing might apply to making a saurbraten better. I've got a couple older German cookbooks hanging around. Both contain multiple saurbraten recipes. Some are marinated for weeks. Some are much shorter. Over night marinade at most, vinegar held back till the sauce/gravy is made. My grandfather's recipe took a minimum of a month, and he would only make it from venison. Though that recipe died with him. There's a lot of variability in there. I'm mostly trying to peak Daniel's interest to see if I can get him to look into it.

Stew Science: Should You Marinate the Beef First?

I'd be curious too see how all this applies to a dish like saurbraten. That dish if often marinated for quite a while. And it's braised in, and sauced, with a liquid that's at least as flavorful as the marinade (because it often IS the marinade).

But the marinade is really more of a kindof-cure-but-really-moreofa-pickle sort of thing. The acid, from vinegar and wine, should still make the meat mushy. But a long stay in salty liquid is still needed for curing, and wine to stain the meat a disturbing purple. Does lack of vinegar negatively effect the "i guess I'm making meat pickles" step? Does it make your sorta-curing meat more likely to spoil? Or would the dish be better off if we treated it like regular pot roast with a short marinade and some venegar in the braise?

How to Make Irish Guinness Beef Stew That Really Tastes Like Guinness

@daniel your not the first to reccomend it to me, but I've been putting off picking it up along with a few other well regarded Irish books. It's one of those things were a kind of feel like I have to buy at least 3 at a stretch and it gets cost prohibitive.

And it certainly is eaten over there plenty. My family over there cooks it regularly at home, and it seems to be considered a distinct dish from Irish stew with fewer rules. Though from familial bickering I gather that Guinness stew should be beef and proper Irish stew lamb or other form of sheep. Though my grandfather recently started talking wistfully about goat, both in stew and as a roast.

I just tend to think the seeming recent origin, and ties to the US tourist trade help explain why there are so few decent bowls in the world. If the origin is in "throw some Guinness in it, for the marketing!" Rather than some considered approach or traditional technique, or rational for cooking with beer. Then it makes perfect sense that it so often tastes like big standard stew watered down with Guinness.

So good on you for fixing that.

How to Make Irish Guinness Beef Stew That Really Tastes Like Guinness


I'd be willing to guess that's because it not so much a traditional dish of any sort. I know my grandfather doesn't remember having stew with Guinness in it at any point as a boy. I know there's a fairly deep history of cooking with beer in Northern Europe, if you poke around for Medieval recipes there's a fair bit of that going on regardless of what country your looking at. But there's also this weird habit of throwing Guinness, Jameson's, or green dye into things and calling them Irish food (and in the US even more so with labeling anything with corned beef in it as potentially Irish despite that making no sense). Mostly seems to come out of the US and the tourist trade. Frankly I don't think I've ever had a decent Guinness stew ANYWHERE, so this recipe should be nice. To the point where I tend not to order the stew if its labeled as such. It'd be interesting to see the history of the dish.

Its a shame though, there are traditional Irish dishes and foods out there. Even beyond the handful of classics people think of. But most of it goes unmentioned and poorly recorded. I've managed to bodge together a few recipes based on family memories of what my great grandmother cooked, and I know there's a small but concerted effort over there to find, promote, and record this stuff. But if you go looking around for Irish food on this side of the pond you'll run into the same handful of traditional dishes, and a bunch of weird Americanized or mislabeled things.

I Don't Know From Goose: A Jewish Christmas Story

@StephanieL & @Niki

It actually goes a bit further than that. From what I understand goose was the primary source of schmaltz/cooking fat for a large portion of the worlds Jews for a very long time. Essentially after Jews began migrating out of the Levant into areas where olives couldn't grow (and where they were unwelcome and so had to keep moving) they needed a mobile, kosher, source of animal fat. Geese do that better than anything else so they became the go to source for schmatz and the primary poultry raised in Jewish communities. Foie Gras was apparently even introduced to Europe by the Jews. The force feeding initial intended to increase fat production, and the fatty liver being a happy accident. I've even heard it argued that the English tradition of a goose at holidays (and Christmas specifically) was an exchange from Jewish communities in English cities. Effectively a goose from the Jewish butcher down the road was more affordable than one of those newfangled turkeys at just around the same time as the modern Christmas was coalescing. If you look at A Christmas Carol the Cratchits have a (rather small and pathetic) goose for Christmas. After his change of heart Scrooge sends them a Turkey.

So your Christmas goose might be just as Jewish as it is Christian. Though I will agree with Niki that in most American Jewish communities, particularly North East urban ones Goose seems to have gone out a long time ago. The only people I know who eat goose somewhat regularly are Hunters/Farmers or live in Ireland. From what I can tell Capon seems to have replaced it as the go to ethnically specific, kosher roast of choice.

The Best Prosecco to Drink This New Year's Eve

I used to work for a guy who was from The Veneto not far from Prosecco itself. He was in charge of the wine lists at our restaurant and several other, so while he and his wife were visiting family there they would go to as many wineries as they were welcome at to to figure out which Proseccos available in the US were the best. They pegged Prosecco Nino Franco Rustico as the best nationally available, high quality, and crowd please Prosecco for most wine lists. Sort of a if you can have only one on there Nino Franco is the best fit thing. Its pretty damn good, and not terribly expensive.

So I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for any of these when I go looking for bubbly (I almost always prefer good Prosecco over Champagne). But if anyone is having trouble finding these options near them the Nino Franco should be available somewhere near you and its a nice step up from the more common brands.

Why You Don't Need an Expensive Roasting Pan

The best roasting pan I've ever used is a second hand stainless steal hotel pan my grandfather picked up somewhere. It was cheap (free I think), heavy enough to avoid warping or wandering around on a burner, and plenty roomy for doing large roasts or lots of smaller items. And in the restaurants I've worked in, when a sheet pan isn't (or can't) be used a hotel pan is what everyone reaches for.

I'd tell everyone to run out and get one. But unfortunately I haven't really seen one of the same quality in a long while. Its stainless, where most hotel pans I find these days are thin aluminium. And its much thicker gauge steel than even most of the stainless ones I run across. So I'd say don't run out and grab any hotel pan. If you come across a heavy gauge stainless steel one though, snap it up.

Bake Better Bread With the Fourneau Oven


The AGA originally came out back in the days of coal stoves and before central heating. So at the time the concept made tons of sense. Rather than burning lots of fuel to maintain a hot fire to heat your home and do your cooking you could perpetually burn a small fire and use the heat built up in all that cast iron to do the job. Now a days it seems to be mostly nostalgia and aspirational life style marketing. AGA was the expensive luxary brand of coal stove in the past, so it retains connotations of wealth and class, and there's a certain level of nostalgia for "grandmas stove" in a lot of places (though primarily Europe) along with nostalgia for "simple" or "country" life styles of the past.

Frankly I don't really see the point beyond that. Apparently they're very good for low temp cooking and some kinds of baking, but difficult to use for high heat applications. And crazy inefficient. People claim otherwise by pointing out they can provide heating as well as cooking, the numbers don't really seem to work though. They burn a hell of a lot of fuel, constantly, to give you not very much in return. They still seem to have some following in off the grid or or isolated living situations. As they can be run off pretty much anything. Coal, diesel, kerosene. But from what I can tell most of the interest seems to be in Europe, especially Britain. Usually wealthy people looking to present an image of classic Britishness and high social class. Or Americans seeking to be seen as cosmopolitan, wealthy etc. Which makes sense to me. You have an expensive but wildly impractical kind of stove, that looks real pretty.

Great Gifts for Aspiring Sous Vide Chefs

I had an Anova One go bad. Some sort of short in the electrical plug, still worked after but made me nervous to use it again. It was a pretty early production run (from the first batch after the kick-starter was shipped). It lasted more than 2 years before it there was an issue. Early runs of new gadgets tend to fail a little more often than later runs so I would imagine the Precision Cooker is in a similar place right now. They replaced it no questions asked, shipped out a replacement BEFORE I had even shipped the old one back (and they paid the shipping to do so). I've not really had a better experience dealing with customer service. They were quick about getting back to me and actually helpful.

I bought another Anova One as a gift for some one like a week later. I don't see a point in trading up to the Precision Cooker myself. But I'll certainly be snapping either model up when they hit sales as gifts for weddings I've got coming up. So clearly my confidence isn't shaken.

Oyster Stew: A Comforting Winter Soup in Just 20 Minutes

Most fish mongers will shuck you fresh oysters (or sell take out containers of shucked in house) for a small additional charge. Where I go I think its something like 50 cents or a dollar a dozen. I'm not a fan of the pop top oysters as they tend to be gulf oysters. And I'm not a fan of gulf oysters, particularly when I'm in a place where phenomenal local oysters are commonly available.

The Food Lab: Here's What I'm Eating on Thanksgiving

I'm gonna throw some slight pedantry at you. If there's no vermouth involved your father is not drinking a martini. He's drinking vodka straight up (probably with olives). No vermouth, no martini. I only mention is because as a bartender I actually have a lot of confusion with customers on this subject. You get people ordering a martini only to complain about the presence of vermouth after they receive it, or ordering a martini with a server and specifying no vermouth with that instruction not making it to me, or even servers who don't know the details telling a customer "so its a martini!" and sending the wrong info up the bar. People don't know the correct terminology so they have difficulty communicating what they want to the bartender. Unless I can ask a few questions, which isn't always possible when you're not right in front of me or we're busy. "Vodka, straight up, with olives" will get you what want a lot more clearly and with fewer chances of mistakes than either ordering a martini then wondering why there's vermouth in it or ordering a martini and specifying no vermouth. Its a bit like ordering a vodka cranberry with no cranberry.

For that matter I've had a recent plague of customers ordering scotch "straight up". It always brings me up short, and I get really confused looks when I ask "wait so you want it chilled and strained into a stem glass?". What they really mean is "neat" no additions no ice. "Straight"on its own can be used a synonym for that, though it doesn't necessarily dictate anything about ice (you could order something "straight, on the rocks" to indicate no additions on ice, but its a bit redundant and clumsy). But add "up" and your saying chilled on ice, then strained.

Ounces and Grams: Why Mass Is Not the Best Way to List Ingredients

I think there might be a bit more going on than just a clash with precision fetishists and readers from metric countries. There's a certain kind of cook out there that absolutely must follow a printed, step by step recipe in order to cook. And follow that recipe to the letter with absolutely no variation. Now some of those people are just sticklers who otherwise know what they're doing. But a fair lot of them are people who simple don't understand what they're doing from a mechanical or technique basis. For that sort of cook any amount of vagary in their printed list of instructions (whether its in the ingredients or the actual descriptions and instruction) is a frustrating disaster. Exactly how brown is browned? If is says "chop coarsely" precisely what size is that supposed to be? It says to stir with a wooden spoon, but I don't have a wooden spoon. Shit I can't stir it. OH MY GOD HOW DO I DEGLAZE! It doesn't tell me how to deglaze! (These are actual conversations I have had, multiple times with friends and family members.) Lacking any understanding of what they're actually doing these people rely on that printed list of instructions to make things "right" for them, they don't taste their food, and they won't make adjustments even when they know something is wrong. And as a result (in my experience) their food is uniformly awful, though they may not realize this.

A fair bit of what people like Keni, Alton Brown and others in the technique heavy science for food thing are trying to do is teach and impart that technical and mechanical knowledge of how cooking works. Its more about the why's than the hows. As such the recipe itself is almost besides the point, its all the other information that's really important. Not so much how much onion are you adding. But why you're doing this specific thing to that onion, what's happening to your onion, and what that onion is doing to your food. So I don't think it really makes sense to focus on rigid, nominally 100% precise, measurements. Nor does it make sense to list recipe steps in a way that covers all minutia in incredible detail second to second for every recipe. If you're looking for more than a list of simple steps for better burgers then you've already learned enough about the subject at hand to work with and around the inherent variance involved in cooking. Of your that sort of person who can't or wont do more than exactly what's printed on the page? You're gonna freak out a little about the alleged inaccuracies.

The 10 Dishes That Will Make You Fall in Love With Georgian Food

4 is a really paltry number of restaurants. Particularly in NY were it's pretty common to find dozens of restaurants serving whatever nations food you'd like. And there are plenty of areas of the US other than NY with eastern block ethnic communities. Do some searching you'll likely find something bearish you or somewhere your likely to be sometime soon. The Georgian friend I mentioned above used to go to Georgian restaurants either in Georgia, or rural Pennsylvania for example.

It's not a Particularly common thing in this country, even in NY. But there are apparently Georgian communities scattered all over, or mixed in with other eastern European neighborhoods.

The 10 Dishes That Will Make You Fall in Love With Georgian Food

I have a very good friend from Tbilisi so I've tried a fair few of these. The thing that keeps surprising me about Georgian food is that the pallet is never what you may expect. Assuming its eastern block and slavic you would expect something like Russian food. Heavyness, sour cream, dill. But all the dishes are shockingly light, cold salads are the norm, and tarragon is the default herb. Looking at that khinkali you think asian, soup dumpling, soy, ginger etc. But even though its clearly has the same origin is significantly different. The skin is thick enough to make the top knot (refered to as the belly button apparently) inedible. There is far less broth involved, and the major flavoring is black pepper. But even that's weirdly at odds with your expectations for black pepper. Its this intense floral black pepper flavor, with little or none of the heat you expect. I don't think I've had a single Georgian dish that didn't significantly surprise me in some way.

Final word of warning. The first time I ate an entirely Georgian meal: My friend who had brought us casually mentioned as we were heading home on the subway that the first couple times she ate in Georgia after many years away she had some serious... digestive issues, but that you get used to it after awhile.. We all responded with a sort of joking "oh yeah now you tell us". Until about 15 minutes later. Every last one of us (save the Georgian in question) suddenly had a problem. Apparently this is fairly common. I can't really be sure what causes it, but there's typically an awful lot of tarragon in a Georgian meal. And I've since read some things about large volumes of that herb causing digestive problems of various sorts. And you do indeed get used to it pretty rapidly.

Clams Casino Has Every Reason to Be a Great Dish. Now It Is.

"absolutely must purge them before cooking them"

I don't necessarily think its absolutely necessary. Most decent distributors and fishmongers will purge the clams, either deliberately or as a side effect of holding them for market, before they get sold. And honestly even freshly dug clams often don't need it. I pretty much never purge my clams and, outside of occasional batches of clams I've dug myself from sandy beds, I haven't run into sandy clams in years. That said I don't necessarily trust the average non-coastal supermarket fish counter to be selling quality product. I wouldn't expect any of them to know to purge their clams, and whatever distributors they're working with may or may not be holding the clams in water tanks before delivery. So if you don't know the clams from wherever you're buying them are sand free then its probably a good idea. You also might want to be more specific on the purging. Storing clams in fresh (rather than salt) water can kill them, as can it not being salty enough, or too salty. We tend to just use bay water, something most people don't have access too. I'm also not sure a couple of 30 minute soaks is enough to really clear the gut of a really sandy clam. Most of the sand you're encountering is on the exterior of the shells, and can be removed with a good rinse. There may some some sand on the interior of the clam (but not in its gut) but that can be gotten rid of by straining or decanting the liquor. If the clams gut is actually full of sand 30 minutes to a couple hours may not be enough to clear them out. I was taught to do a purge over night (clams need to be raised above the bottom of the container, so they don't just re-consume the sand).

I also don't like cooking a whole clam twice they can get dry and chewy. It shouldn't be an issue here since you're really just warming and crisping them. Everything involved here is already cooked. But if you want to avoid over cooking the clams you can still follow this recipe. Just shuck the clams, strain and reserve the juices. Then you just add the clam juice to the pan where you'd be adding the whole clams, cook for a bit and move on.

At $65, The Misen Chef's Knife is the Holy Grail of Knives

@MahaaFoodie as a just home cook I can tell you that a knife that gives you a callus under heavy, frequent use is a knife that gives you painful blisters under moderate to infrequent use.

In terms of the steel? I've got 1 vg10 knife. Loved it at first, 5 years in I hate it. Its far too brittle, like I have serious concerns about its potential for longevity brittle. No matter how careful I am it always seems to get damaged. Supposedly a not insignificant portion of that is down to problems on the maker's part (over hardening, flaws in certain batches of the steel used for that particular product line). But the experience has had me looking for something softer and more forgiving, so I'm willing to give this a show. Its one of the reasons I opted not to pick up a Tojiro a few months back.

At $65, The Misen Chef's Knife is the Holy Grail of Knives

@daniel hertlein I kind of like the blue. But it does seem odd that black would be the stretch goal and not the blue and grey. I'm going to assume it's a branding decision. Especially given how the blue features in all their product photos. Let you know from across the room it's a misen. But from what little I know about plastics certain colors can effect cost and durability.

The Food Lab: How to Make the Best Carne Asada

Some of the best carne asada I've ever had was cooked by a Finish American sous chef who was raised in Seatle of all people. He worked with 5 Mexican line cooks, all of whom insisted he make asada if it was going to be tacos for shift meal. They'd all contribute, making tortillas and their mother's or father's recipes for various things like beans and salsa. But the sous had to handle the meat. I don't remember exactly how he made it. But I remember it being based in lime juice, salt, pepper, lots of garlic, and olive oil blended to high hell and marinaded for about an hour or so. And then basically whatever he felt like playing with. Tequila, sugar, chilis. He'd park it in our wood burning oven for a bit to give it some smoke, then slap it on a screaming hot flat top till it was crispy. Then chop it rather than slicing it and toss it with the exuded juices and a bit of extra lime (this step was apparently down to the buffet style shift meal). Shift meal with those guys was always great, especially Sunday brunch. It was a smaller crew on those shifts, and we had more time to make a big production with the meal. The guys would make (or buy sometimes) menudo for everyone. And our Sous chef would make amazing waffles (he actually brought in his own waffle iron for the purpose) or banana pancakes and shit tons of bacon. The whole staff would sit down at one big, set for the purpose, table together and wash down their pancakes with tripe soup and top quality bacon. It took 10 years for me to end up working with a cook who cared that much about taking care of his staff again.

Carne asada has been my go too taco filling when I make them at home since then. So I'll definitely find an excuse to make this before it gets too cold to cook outside.

How to Buy and Prepare Anchovies

@Daniel Gritzer & chorkpop

Do fresh uncured achovies have many cooked applications? I know I've seen them in larger sizes analogous to fresh sardines. In that case the same techniques could be used as any small oily fish. Fresh sardines seem to be getting more common. Both of the better fish markets near me seem to have had them consistently the last two summers. And I've been using locally caught butterfish in the same dishes for a few years. Its usually considered fish bait/trash fish, but the little bastards are tasty. That sort of info, rather than curing info, would probably be pretty useful.

How to Season and Maintain a Wooden Cutting Board

An easy way to find food safe mineral oil on the cheap is to look in your local drug store for mineral oil labeled as a laxative. Its safe for human consumption (as your supposed to consume it), and no different than other "food safe" grade mineral oils. I think I pay less than 2 bucks for it, its actually the only mineral oil my local hardware stocks.

And if anyone is worried about the "laxative" part bear in mind that any other mineral oil you might use is just as much a laxative it just isn't labeled and sold as one.

Charcoal Versus Gas Grills: The Definitive Guide

@roumain from what I understand you want to use lump in a komado. The small charcoal area, and tight vents are the issue here. Apparently all the extra ash from the brickettes wont just bring the heat down, it can physically clog the bottom vent. Basically putting your fire out completely. The excess ash is apparently a factor of the binder used to make brickettes. There are brickettes with low or no binders, but they aren't too common to run into and it can be difficult to tell whats up. The only ones I tend to run into are the Kingsford Competition Brickettes. They burn hotter with less ash than regular brickettes, but I imagine they'd still be an issue in most komados.

As for the rest of it. This has always been the answer. How much money do you want to spend? If it's "not much" go charcoal. Inside of $150 you can get yourself a top shelf cooker. If you're willing to spend more? Then the answer is both. If you're can spend ~$500 you can get a decent quality propane grill, and then toss some extra money out and get that same excellent charcoal grill you'd be getting if money was short. You'd probably be spending more on bullshit accessories and feature upgrades you'll never use (I've used a side burner TWICE).

I don't care how much you love charcoal, how much of a partisan you are. If you pick yourself up a propane grill, you WILL use it more often than the charcoal. Its not just convenience, its ease of control and consistency. Its just nicer to use for casual use. And more importantly its not just that is more convenient than your charcoal grill. Weather dependent its more convenient than your stove.