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12 Beer-Producing Countries to Watch Right Now

@Dreizhen Peated porters aren't particularly unique. There's a tradition of peated beers in the British Isles (particularly Scotland) and American home brewers and the odd craft brewer have been playing with them for decades. But I'm with you, France seems to have an under represented beer culture over all.

12 Beer-Producing Countries to Watch Right Now

@sdfishtaco Because they're good?

Or for my part the vast majority of American craft breweries make few if any beers to my taste. They tend to be far too hoppy, or too strong, or otherwise unbalanced. Traditional Euro beer styles tend to be something much more to my tastes. Paradoxically it's usually far easier for me to find imported Euro beer than American made beers in the same style. More craft beers that build off that tradition are good in my book, where ever they hail from.

Or a country like, say, Ireland has a really shit economy right now. But new whiskey distilleries and breweries are opening for the first time in something like a century. Liquor and beer production have become a rare area of growth, particularly as exports to the American Market. We don't buy these products, either fewer of them exist or they cease to exist at all.

I've got a lot of family over there. When I go over there I might like to have more options on beer besides a handful of Guinness Products, the near identical ones from their 1 or 2 local competitors, and American or Euro macrobrews. Which was pretty much the state of Irish beer culture last time I was over there.

My family comes over here and they go crazy for American craft brew. A few of them frequent the handful of places that feature it in cities like Dublin. I don't see why I shouldn't do the same with their beer.

So there's a bunch of reasons I might "think about buying" these along side the "amazing" beer right in my neighborhood (its actually not so amazing), just off the top of my head. The chief one being because they're good. I'm not sure I'll ever understand the urge to be so dismissive when it comes to culture topics like food and drink. Why read Dickens? Melville is perfectly good! Its not an either or proposition. A person is generally better off consuming a variety of things created from varied perspectives.

Beef Ribs From 'Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook'

@cwsilverberg

Right so I assumed. But when those occasionally crop up around here they don't just "not look supper meaty" they barely have any meat on them at all. The handful of times I've cooked them I get like 2 mouth fulls of meat off 4-5 ribs. And that's provided you can find some that have any meat on them at all. Maybe they just don't cut them right up here.

How Spam Won Over America's Restaurants

I'd add to that list of characteristics "poverty" most of the areas listed have traditionally been pretty poor. And I've known a lot of people from dirt poor areas of the mainland US who eat a lot of spam. Including my mother's family who didn't have much and come from a janky mill town in Maine

Beef Ribs From 'Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook'

I'd actually like some info on what sort of beef ribs to buy and where to source them. Here in NY short ribs are easy enough to find, even large un-trimmed primal sections. But from what I gather these aren't the "beef ribs" typically used in Texas BBQ. The sort of beef ribs I see more infrequently are from higher up and stripped off rib eye primals when they cut boneless steaks. But they have almost no, if any, meat on them and are usually sold as stock bones. They look similar enough to the photo above, but I'm not sure they're enough meat on them to have them cook up very well. My parents have cooked them from time to time, and like them a great deal. But they have problems finding a way to make them tender enough before they dehydrate entirely, creating a jerky like texture that's kind of undesirable. So what am I looking for exactly?

Win a Copy of 'Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook'

We do a lot of grilled shellfish. Also ribs.

Giveaway: Win a Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer

I suppose steak. But I'm supposed to make some bbq pork shoulder this week.

Hey Chef, What Can I Do With Vanilla Beans?

Speaking of which anyone got a line on cheap bulk vanilla beans? I've always heard you can get a good price on "grade b" or "extract grade" beans by the pound. I've got a quart of Everclear that I really need to do something with. But I don't want to spend a lot of shoving a stupid amount of beans up in there.

The Best Way to Store Vermouth

I can spot a couple major problems with these test. In the first one you've only got one taster, yourself, which really limits the utility of that set. But more importantly you don't seem to have included any un-refrigerated samples as an additional control. So we have no way of knowing, for example, how room temperature inert gas purged bottle compares to any given refrigerated sample. Nor can you specifically say that a refrigerated purged bottle will last longer (or is "better) than a refrigerated non purged bottle.

You also haven't done any work to establish time scales. You went with one month and that's fine. But how long does an open room temperature bottle stay fresh to begin with? Or how long will each (or any of the effective ones) keep a bottle fresh. That's important to know. At what point do I have to worry about quality dips, how long do I have before it goes off if I can't refrigerate or charge with inert gas?

Like wise being identifiable as "different" isn't an exact analogue for quality. If 100% of subjects could identify the wine from a particular storage method as different from fresh, but it tasted like god damned magic you might want to know. This is minor and unlikely though.

In that second test I'm assuming you've stuck with one month, but you don't specify (unless I missed it). There's no refrigerated examples as a control, so again you can't make comparisons as to which is better in any given case (you go with the assumption that fridge is better at a one month time scale). I also think your "negative control" is an improper one. To test this accurately you'd want an open, partially used, room temp bottle that sat for exactly as long as the other test bottles sat opened in their particular conditions. Instead you went and aerated the bottles far more than they'd ever be aerated during regular use. So they're no longer a suitable analogue for the presumed base condition of vermouth. Open and at room temp for use. Even if you could establish the exact extent to which that aeration equated to a still but open room temp bottle and at which time scale, you'd still need an open room temp bottle aged the same length as the others in the test. If it was an attempt to mimic a bottle that's actively used, you don't need that as non of the other bottles are getting active use.

Also I think this provides a good guess as to why the small bottles gave such a poor showing. When you pour from a bottle a certain about of aeration happens in the liquid that stays in the bottle from added head space, and turbulence within the bottle as you pour. But the liquid that's poured out of the bottle is going to get a lot more aeration from turbulence while traveling through air, and when hitting/moving around what ever you're pouring into. So you aren't simply removing head space. You're highly aerating the vermouth and then storing it. You'll get a lot more oxidation, and introduce a lot more yeasts/bacteria etc. You'd need to use a syringe, or a siphon system (like we do with home brew), or something similar to minimize oxidation. Otherwise the damage is done, any storage conditions afterwards can only mitigate.

Ideas in Food vs. Linguine alle Vongole: Part 1

@Scaramoche

Right its a pretty standard trick. I have a neighbor who does it in food saver bags to make it easier to do large amounts in single layers at home. It can be done even quicker than the 6 hours you cite. I typically freeze clams for an hour or so. Granted you still need to shuck them afterwards, but its ridiculously easy when the clams are partially frozen. They either hold very loosely or open very slightly. And they'll defrost in minutes once opened.

@Ananonnie "steamers" typically refers to softshell clams.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft-shell_clam

Which are very easy to shuck, as the shell is soft, only weakly closed, and never seals completely. The difficulty is in cleaning them of sand, and removing the indigestible membrane over the siphon. The membrane bit can be tough with over cooked or raw clams. And when un-cooked they're really delicate, so you can mangle them even easier than oysers.

More and more often I've been hearing "steamer" used improperly to refer to any clam (and sometimes mussels, or even oysters in one case) that's been steamed. Most often by tourists from non-coastal or non-steamer eatin' areas. I've never been sure if that's the colloquial usage in some bit of New England they picked up. I think I've seen Kenji, or some other writer with roots in Mass, use "steamers" to refer very specifically to soft clams that have been steamed. As if "steamers" were a dish composed of soft clams that have been steamed. But a large number of my family have been clammers, and we have people in various parts of the North East. I'm from Eastern Long Island, there's people scattered through various parts of New England and New Jersey, lots in Maine, and my mother's family originates in Prince Edward Island. The whole stretch "steamer clam" is just the common name for a soft shell clam (or piss clam when you want a giggle), as noted in the wiki article.

The clams in question here are hard clams. Usually just referred to as "clams" or more specifically quahogs in the North East. They can be difficult to open if you don't know what you're doing. And "chowders" which just refers to the largest size can be a pain no matter what. I usually freeze chowders for at least an hour or two before shucking. Or breach the hinge to get my knife in (but that's kind of an advanced maneuver as you can cut your hand or break the knife easily).

The Easiest Way to Cook Fish: Roast it Whole

@Daniel Yeah I'm reasonable sure they're the same genus, or family at least. So pretty close. As are anything referred to as "Sea Bream". I could be wrong but I think Red and Black Snapper are part of the same group. Certainly look very similar.

Bagelnomics: The Curious Pricing of New York's Bagel With Cream Cheese

Oddly enough the 1 bagel with cream chease + 1 plain bagel thing was a huge thing in my elementary and high school cafeteria with kids teaming up days in advance to make it happen.

But am I the only one who prefers their bagels with butter? One of few excuses I had to eat a quarter inch block of the stuff. Though I suppose that has a firmer connection to the NY buttered roll thing.

The Easiest Way to Cook Fish: Roast it Whole

For oily or "strong" fish like blue fish, soaking in salted milk or butter milk can tone it down a bit. Although its better to properly bleed fish of that sort when its caught, you can't really make that happen unless you catch it yourself.

Also I'm a huge fan of Porgy (otherwise known as Scup) cooked whole. Fairly traditional in the Northeast. And a good sustainable catch from what I understand. Its always surprised me how many people turn their nose up to it when its not too different from pricier European fish like Dorade. Its one of a handful of fish that's *always* best when cooked on the bone.

The Food Lab: Slow-Smoked, 40-Ounce, Dry-Aged Porterhouse Steaks

@Adam, oddly enough most of the "smoke guns" you see are modified marijuana vaporizers. A few chef friends of mine still buy cheaper vaporizers at head shops and fiddle with them to up the voltage instead of buying smoke guns.

Most times I've seen them used you want to pump the smoke into a small space around the product to be cooked (often the sous vide bag) and hold it there a while before cooking. So presumably you'd bag your meat, add smoke, seal, rest for a time, open the bag, then vac and seal the bag before cooking. I've had some really nice bacon made this way.

You're talking about a different kind of smoking though. The steaks in the above article are more on the line of hot smoked, like bbq etc. Where cooking is taking place. Where as the smoke guns aren't actually producing enough heat to cause any cooking. So their more similar to a classic, preservation minded cold smoking. Apparently when combustion levels are much lower so the characteristics of the smoke are different. As I understand it you lose out on the preservation aspects of cold smoking (because the exposure is much lower), but you get more leeway with what you can smoke with. More aromatic characteristics, and volatile flavors make it into the end product, and noticeable smoke flavor takes less actual smoke. I know a guy who uses a smoke gun to smoke with things like sugar, frankincense, hay, vanilla bean, that wouldn't really work the same with another approach.

The Elements of Barbecue: Why Wood Matters

I actually really like maple for smoking. I mostly started using it because most of the downed trees we get for firewood are maple so we ended up with a few cords worth of it. But I found I liked it a lot better than most of the chips and wood I could get at the store. And it was a lot more convenient to just pull some off the pile a chunk it up than to try and find something specific at the store.

The Food Lab: Slow-Smoked, 40-Ounce, Dry-Aged Porterhouse Steaks

I'm not so sure that typical lump charcoal does burn hotter than briquettes. I definitely didn't get that result the few times I've tried it, and I've seen a number of publications actually test it and come back with a nope. I've also had a number of other problems with the stuff. Meathead has a good run down on it.

http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/zen_of_charcoal.html

Essentially the stuff is terribly inconsistent. So it might potentially burn hotter than briquettes, some times. But you've got no way of controlling or telling how an individual bag, or chimney full is going to turn out. Maybe it does burn hotter, but maybe it ends up burning cooler. I've also had huge problems getting an even fire out of the stuff. Seemingly random hot spots and big dead zones. I've also found a lot of nails and plastic material in the few bags I've bought. And a good lot of the stuff looks to have been made from wood that bears a disturbing resemblance to standard, pressure treated 2x4s. Frankly I don't trust the product, and it makes it more difficult to control the fire, and it burns so quickly that its a bit impractical to cook with in most circumstance. If the benefit is that it might burn a bit hotter, sometimes, if I hope really hard then I'll stick with briquettes. Its easy enough to find quality briquettes with minimal and safe binders these days anyway.

Novelty Ice Cream Week: How to Beat Mister Softee at His Own Soft-Serve Game

The "specialised equipment" in question is a pastry bag with a star tip. Messy and probably not worth it though.

Manner Manners: Splitting Up the Tip

Just the Tip might consider explaining to the tip obsessed friend that telling the server/bartender how much you tipped, discussing loudly with others how much you tipped, or discussing the intimate details of the tip in the presence of service staff is a huge faux pas. Most of us consider it awkward at best, insulting at worst. Its something usually pulled by pathetic/arrogant types who are more concerned that everyone else knows how much money they have (or how well they tip) than about the actual well being of service staff or level of service they receive. Whether he actually falls into this camp or not, the staff will assume he does and respond accordingly.

I once had a guy tip me $100 dollars (after acting like an ass to the other bartender). He then walked around the room saying to anyone who would listen "Look at this kid. He can't believe it "I JUST TIPPED HIM A HUNDRED DOLLARS". The other bartender refused to include that money in the split at the end of the night, she didn't want the money as she found the whole thing dehumanizing. I offered it to the busser who worked the bar section, and likewise refused it in disgust. Next time the guy came in everyone tried to avoid serving him, and he ended up getting shit service. Never saw him again.

That's what runs through my head whenever some one says "I tipped you an extra 10" or "Don't worry I'll take care of you".

Taste Test: Should I Use Filtered or Bottled Water for Tea?

@FlavorCountry Basic preliminary tests. Like squirting chemicals into petri dishes. It's not going to give you any sort of definitive, practical answers. But with something like making tea it might give you some rules of thumb to try out. Try pH as a marker for good water. Check out whats in that Eternal stuff mineral wise (looks like they print it on the label actually) and match that. Try different bottled mineral/spring waters etc. See what tastes good. Also if you want to (or can) do some more intense testing this sort of thing gives you some nice directions to check out.

I sadly don't think the SE team has the time or resources to follow up with something as involved as I'd really like to see. But some one else could, and even a slightly more complex test would be fun to see. And its at least as interesting for the questions it raises as anything else.

Taste Test: Should I Use Filtered or Bottled Water for Tea?

@max
I can't seem to find any legit info about the iWater. Just breathless reviews and a few take downs of the bs structured water/vibrations thing it seems to be based on but not specifically tied to whatever iWater specifically does. My assumption would be it's doing nothing at all (usually the case with such devices) but there's also scattered references to it being an "ion replacement filter". That could mean that its removing existing dissolved minerals and replacing them with something else. Kind of like a water softener.

If you guys do end up testing various other waters to narrow down what actually causes the differences it'd be interesting to see a water analysis of you're tap water before it goes in, then the same analysis of the water when it comes out of the iWater. See what it actually does to the water.

Sweet Cultured Butter and True Buttermilk From 'The Nourished Kitchen'

@Good point on the culture source.

And making butter is certainly worth trying, and a lot of fun to do. Its just that the expense and difficulty of doing so make me reticent to use it as anything else but table butter for special occasions. Unless I had a dairy animal, I probably wouldn't go baking or cooking with it. The quality might not be up the par, and what characteristics it does have to separate itself are kind of going to disappear. We actually tend to spread it on crackers and bread as an Hors d'oeuvre along with the cheese plate we put out for family dinners. The defining factor of this stuff is freshness and novelty. And if you can score really fresh local cream it brings something to the table too.

Taste Test: Should I Use Filtered or Bottled Water for Tea?

@Max I'm just not sure that you can take away "bottled water is usually better" either. Without attempting to quantify what about the various waters is different, and where those waters properties correlate with quality, what you've really shown is these two brands of bottled water are usually better than NYC tap water. And that filtered water is a bad idea. But many bottled waters are filtered. And there are more than a few brands that are just NYC tap (or the same source) that's been bottled.

So there's (just thinking as I go here) 2 major factors that seem significant about the brands you chose and would be interesting to check out. The one is pH, both bottled waters are slightly alkaline. Evian (according to Wikipedia) has a pH of 7.2 and the Eternal that performed consistently the best sits at (according to the manufacturer) 7.8-8.2. NYC water (according to the water reports I've used for brewing) ranges from ~6.8 to over 9 when tested at the source. Practically speaking it seemed to sit at the 6.8-7 range at the tap last time I tested it myself (a while back admittedly and in Brooklyn not Manhattan).

The other factor would be that both bottled waters are mineral waters, so they're marketing based on a high mineral content. And whatever particular minerals are disolved in the bottled waters could be what's better for making tea. But as I understand it its those dissolved minerals and their concentration that determines the pH so pH could be a good potential marker for the sorts of minerals you want to brew the best Tea.

Either way if I'm going to take anything away from this test its that I should use water that is the most similar to the Eternal (if not Eternal itself). That would be (preferably bottled mineral water with a pH ~8. Although I do kind of want to go dip a pH strip in my uncle's artesian pond right now.

Taste Test: Should I Use Filtered or Bottled Water for Tea?

@Max did you only test those two brands of bottled water? I'd be curious to see how different types and brands of water stack up, and it seems rather important to know *why* a particular water does well. The Eternal is branded as "naturally alkaline" so I'd assume its a PH thing. Although with home brew specific dissolved minerals can have a huge effect on how various malts break down and ferment.

At this point if I was going to brew with bottled water I'd be looking for the cheapest bottle with a higher pH. Eternal claims on their site a pH of 7.8 - 8.2 so that'd be a good target. Or I might test my tap to see if where it sits.

Sweet Cultured Butter and True Buttermilk From 'The Nourished Kitchen'

I've done this a few times. The results are quite good, but aren't necessarily better than just buying a good quality cultured butter. It also tends to be more expensive than doing that. Especially if you use anything other than standard supermarket cream. And if you'd like it to last like store bought, and keep the water content low enough to get the right texture, the washing processes is messy and time consuming. I'd recommend only making it occasionally, as salted table butter for special occasions. Also you can use almost any cultured milk product to start. Yogurt or buttermilk is easy to find, you just have to use a product that contains active/live cultures. And not all of them do. Its also possible to do it the more traditional way. Leave your cream out at room temp, covered with a cloth, until it sours naturally.

I'm also a bit confused as how she hit on this name for the recipe. Sweet and sweet cream butter are the terms for butter made from uncultured/soured cream.

Taste Test: The Best Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

@AndroidUser I've always disliked chicken nuggets, particularly the McDonald's ones but it wouldn't surprise me. Presumably the original formula involved some dark meat, as well as white and mechanically separated. In most thing dark meat is way better than white.

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