I'm a college junior with an insatiable desire for food knowledge and a passion for writing.

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  • Location: Atlanta
  • Favorite foods: Cheesecake, apples, all kinds of root vegetables, oatmeal, bread, manchego cheese, mangos, lemonade, garlic, risotto, tomatoes, Greek yogurt, fresh ricotta cheese
  • Last bite on earth: Start out with fresh ricotta cheese drizzled with honey and plenty of bread to dip in; either roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables or a medium rare cheeseburger; to finish a dense New York cheesecake and an apple.

Confession: I Like Coke Zero

I far prefer Coke Zero to Diet Coke, which has a metallic aftertaste to me. Even better is Cherry Coke Zero.

Succulence and weight loss/maintanence? How is it done.

Succulence and weight loss/maintanence? How is it done.

This is a great question that hasn't been asked around here for a while, but I'll be interested to see the responses from new SE'ers.

But a while back, Ed Levine actually had a weekly column, Ed Levine's Serious Diet (which then became Ed Levine's Caloric Journey). It was all about his diet-related struggles and triumphs on a week-to-week basis, and highlighted his difficulties losing and maintaining his weight when so much delicious food was around all the time. So there are some good insights there, and also in the comments to his posts.

However, his last post was over a year ago, and I've been really anxious to get any updates on where he is now.

As for myself, I make sure that if I'm going to eat the good stuff, it's really the good stuff. And save it for special occasions: birthdays, holidays, etc. I also try to get some sort of physical activity in each day, usually from walking to and from my apartment to classes on campus, which is usually around 2 miles total.

Bagels for Breakfast

A problem with which isn't really a problem

There is an SE newsletter, although I've never signed up to get it. I, too, have removed the Sweets and New York feeds from my Google reader, and feel the same way @Cary does.

navigation trouble

That's how I do it also.

For the slideshows, if I'm not mistaken if you are on the "homepage" of the article and click to view the slideshow it opens up in a new window, which you can just close when you're done looking at the photos.

Swimming in Pears

Ina Garten has a delicious roasted pear salad recipe. You halve the pears, core them, and stuff them with blue cheese, walnuts, and dried cranberries. After roasting in the oven for a bit to get the pears soft and melt the cheese/toast the nuts, the pears are served on a bed of arugula with an apple cider dressing. It's really delicious and totally adaptable. You can use brie or maybe a sharp cheddar in place of the blue cheese (really any cheese that goes well with pears), pecans or almonds instead of walnuts, and another dried fruit if you like.

Refrigerator Styles- preferences

In our house, we've had the freezer on top/fridge below model, as well as the side-by-side and now the French door with drawer freezer below. BY FAR we prefer the French door model. There's room for everything so we never need to use the garage refrigerator outside (except for beverages, really, or at the holidays). There's room to chill pans of things in both the fridge and freezer, which you lose with the side-by-side model. We never had enough room with the side-by-side.

Do you like Belgians?

I am totally not a beer drinker, but I studied abroad this summer and when we went to Brussels, we visited the famous Delirium biergarten. Everyone really enjoyed the Delirium Tremens (it was the blonde beer) and the Delirium Nocturnem (the darker beer). I'm not sure if there were banana flavors present or even if you could get them here in the US, but the more knowledgeable beer drinkers in our group seemed to really enjoy them.

Where to Seriously Eat in Rome.

I was in Rome a few weeks ago - by far the best meal I had there was at a restaurant just steps away from our hotel: Ristorante Allo Specchio. Fantastic, small family-owned place with excellent pastas.

London: 10 Must-Eat British Foods During the Olympics

I was just at the Borough Market today and that raclette is phenomenal!

White Chocolate Cake recipe?

The cake component in this recipe seems like what you're looking for:

Atlanta: A Tour of the International Produce at Buford Highway Farmers Market

DeKalb Farmers Market is a dream, but I'll have to try BHFM, too!

@klt17, I'm not sure why you couldn't find those items you were looking for. Some things are definitely hard to find - it's a bit of a maze there and there's always tons of people. My guess is that since they carry only 1 or 2 "brands" of a certain item (like granola) that you may have not seen it, but I can't imagine them being out of peppercorns or Thai basil.

European eats

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I'm definitely looking forward to the markets in Florence/Rome, London, and Paris. I'll report back in a few days on the progress of the trip (currently in Vienna).

Pictures Not Appearing

I'm having the same problem on Firefox.

Ed Levine on Food Network Star

Speaking of Ed on food television, I thought it might have been Ed Levine week on Iron Chef America this week since he was the judge on two episodes this week - battle Fennel and battle Pizza Dough (I think).

Chain Reaction: Sonic

I used to LOVE their corndogs, tots, and cherry limeade! I remember childhood summer days at the pool spent eating this treat.

Kitchen Apprentice: K.I.S.S.

I don't mean to sound rude, but a few questions have been nagging at me the past few times I've read your column.

First, if you can't cook--as you write above--why are you apprenticing in a restaurant? Also, your self-deprecating tone was charming to me at first, but now I have to wonder how you have not improved in the months you've been working at the restaurant. If you have truly reached the point of a "final exam" in your apprenticeship, shouldn't you be more confident in your ability to come up with a creative family meal to serve to the rest of the staff without fear of burning it or screwing it up. I don't mean to put you down and I know you usually only work on pastas/prep, but you must have had some prior cooking experience and knowledge to even know that you wanted to try working at a restaurant in the first place, right (you seem to have a pretty expansive food vocabulary from the depth and detail in your writing)?

Soy/Almond/Rice Milk Ice Cream

Here's a David Lebovitz recipe for vegan strawberry ice cream using rice milk. He also explains other non-dairy milks that he tried and the results.

And here's a Vegan Ice cream round-up from The Kitchn:

Baking Inspiration

With all the summer produce coming up, what about hand pies (you already said regular pies) highlighting fresh berries, peaches, nectarines, etc.?

Homemade "pop tarts" are also pretty popular and can be filled with non-fruit fillings like chocolate (you could do a s'mores flavor). Speaking of s'mores, what about marshmallows. There are tons of variations you can do - you can swirl them, add mix-ins, etc. There was a Marshmallow Madness feature back in March that may be of further inspiration.

What about crumble bars? Filled with jam or even fresh fruit fillings.

Individual cheesecakes? Muffins?

We're Cooking Up a New Serious Eats

After spending a bit more time navigating the new site:

I think the narrowness is only a problem on the main page. Perhaps it wouldn't seem so narrow if the opening "blurbs" weren't as long as they are now.

I like the header fonts used, but wish a more readable font like Arial (or whatever you're using now) was used for the body.

I actually love how slideshows are utilized currently; I was really happy when you made the switch from the old format - that is, I love that it opens up in a new window, and that you can navigate back to the main article or close the slideshow window, too. I just wish you could see more than 5 comments total on the slideshow posts (minor qualm, though).

I also love the user profile pages. They look really nice!

We're Cooking Up a New Serious Eats

I agree with those comments about the narrowness and fonts. It's not that they're hard to read but I guess I've just grown used to Arial.

I may be in the minority here but I wish that the content displayed on the homepage would stay as it is now. I subscribe in an RSS reader to SE:NY and Sweets because I don't want to miss any posts on those particular sites but I really have no interest in seeing every post from Slice, AHT, Drinks, and Chicago. I think you all have struck a nice balance of featuring posts from the family of sites on the main page, mostly the reviews and round-ups, which I love. Having every post on the main page seems a bit much, though.

What's your secret snacking obsession?

Yogurt and salsa straight from the container (though not together).

Baking Challenge

I second Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies - they are what chocolate chip cookies should taste like.

I think chocolate chip, some sort of bar cookie, a shortbread, and maybe a spice cookie would be wonderful. People love peanut butter, too, so what about a peanut butter brownie?

Shortbread is great because you can make a bunch of logs, freeze them, and then you have your own homemade "slice and bake" cookies. You may even want to flavor some of the batch with a fresh herb (lemon zest and thyme or rosemary). You can even make jam sandwiches with them.

I think using some fresh fruit would also be wonderful. You could do a crumble bar with a layer of a summer berry jam.

Your next food project

@BF: I, too, was intimidated by yeast until I tried the famous no-knead bread recipe. I thought I was messing it up the entire time, but I really think it's one of a few foolproof bread recipes out there and the results were AMAZING. The original recipe says to use 1 5/8 cups water, but I think 1.5 is more like it - we used 1 5/8, and the results were stellar but the bread was kind of a big blob while it was rising and being shaped.

I'd love to tackle canning or preserving in some way. That intimidates me more than baking with yeast ever did.

European eats

I know this question gets asked around here a lot, but I thought I'd see if anyone had any new thoughts to add. I'll be traveling throughout Europe during the next 9 weeks and would love to get some feedback regarding affordable (I am a student studying abroad) options in the following cities:

Brussels, Bruges

Thanks for any help!

Paula Deen's Diabetes Reveal

It was mentioned the other day in the Food Policy article, but this morning on the Today show Paula Deen revealed that she is a Type 2 diabetic. She's also now the spokeswoman for Novo Nordisk, a company that manufactures diabetes medications. She found out she had diabetes 3 years ago.

Just wondering what everyone thinks about this... Many are taking the stance that, as Paula has often said, "she's a cook, not a doctor," and she's never forced her cooking style and food on others. Still others have taken the same stance as Anthony Bourdain, who said, "When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you've been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you've got type 2 diabetes... It's in bad taste if nothing else."

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. What do you think?

Here's the link to the interview:

Help! Brown butter tarts...

There is a bakery near my home that makes the best brown butter tarts. They serve individual ones - about 4.5 inches in diameter, I'd say. Anyway, I emailed the pastry chef there asking for the recipe, hoping to make them for Thanksgiving, and was delighted that she would share them with me.

The only problem? The proportions in the recipe are on a commercial scale! Not to mention that the instructions are more than a little vague. I like to think I'm an experienced baker, but tweaking with this recipe (for the first time!) and the possibility of messing them up for Thanksgiving is not something I'm willing to risk.

That said, I'd still like to attempt to make them, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to appropriately scale the recipe down.

Here's the recipe the pastry chef sent:

4 vanilla beans
4# 4oz butter
16 eggs
5 1/3 c sugar
3 c flour
1T + 1t kosher salt
Brown butter with vanilla beans. Whisk eggs & sugar then whisk four & salt. Stir in brown butter and pour into shells. Sprinkle with sugar & bake for 30 minutes @ 350 or until brown & set.


2c cream
1 egg yolks
23 c flour
2c sugar
2t kosher salt
4# butter
Mix flour, salt & butter to pea size. Mix yolk with sugar & cream.

I think maybe 1/12 or 1/10 the recipe would work, but then what do you do about the single egg yolk in the tart dough? Do you think the tart should be blind-baked before adding the filling? I'm hoping to make a larger 9" tart with this.

Here's a photo of the tarts, too, if that helps (yes, I had them as my birthday "cake" this year):

Italian desserts

Over Thanksgiving, my family is having a 50th anniversary party for my grandparents. We're doing an Italian menu, and I've volunteered to make a dessert.

Someone already has Tiramisu/chocolate covered, so I thought I'd do a fruit-based Italian dessert. The party is the day after Thanksgiving, so I don't want to do something too "Thanksgiving-y" like apple tart, since in my mind it's a bit too similar to apple pie.

What fruit-based Italian-inspired dessert would you make? Only restrictions are no cranberries, and it needs to be easy enough to make the day after Thanksgiving and serve ~12-15 people.

Your Best Pound Cake Recipe

I'm looking for the best pound cake recipe out there - one that is moist and not too sweet, and also not too dense.

I've seen lots of recipes, but many who've made the recipe have complained of dryness or weird textures. So, SE'ers, what's your best pound cake recipe?

Secret recipes: yay or nay?

There was an interesting post today about secret recipes over on the Kitchn. I found the comments very interesting and thought I would ask some of the same questions over here. (I actually thought that a similar topic had been discussed here before but couldn't find anything specificially about people's opinions on the matter.)

It seemed that there was some correlation between age and those who supported or were against secret recipes. One poster also pointed out there was a distinct difference between sharing a secret recipe with close friends and family members and coworkers or mere acquaintances.

So... do you have a "secret recipe"? Do you plan on keeping it secret forever, sharing it with only one person, or passing it down through your family? Would you ever withhold an ingredient from a recipe you were sharing so that it wasn't "just like yours"? Do you even believe in "secret recipes"?

I'm only 19 and growing up there was no concept of keeping recipes "secret" that were in our immediate family. We have no problem sharing recipes within our family and with friends -- that's actually where a lot of our most favorite recipes come from! On the same note, I understand the hesitation to give away a treasured family recipe to a neighbor at a party. It might make it less special. On no occasion, though, would I alter the recipe I gave to someone. I'd rather just not share it at all. I think food is meant to be shared - it's as simple as that.

What do you think?

Chocolate mousse throwdown

My grandfather recently underwent jaw surgery and has since been unable to chew. The one thing he's really craving is chocolate mousse. Our family thought it would be a fun idea to have a chocolate mousse "throwdown" at our family reunion over Memorial Day weekend and have him choose his favorite.

Although I've never made chocolate mousse before, I am very familiar and comfortable with the technique. Normally I would go to Cook's Illustrated if I was in search of a "best" recipe, but I think my grandfather would actually prefer a less bold chocolate flavor so I'm looking for a milk chocolate recipe. Does anyone have one they can recommend? Any other tips or tricks to perfect chocolate mousse?

What can I make with hot chocolate mix...

...besides hot chocolate, of course.

We were gifted a Williams-Sonoma hot chocolate mix. The ingredients are "bittersweet Guittard chocolate, soy lethicin (an emulsifier), and pure vanilla." Basically, it looks like a package of chocolate curls.

I thought that I could use the chocolate just as I would use bittersweet chocolate in a recipe, but I'm worried about the soy lethicin. Does anyone know what the effect would be on the finished product? Is it worth trying out using the chocolate in place of regular bittersweet chocolate in a recipe?

Do you "fast" before Thanksgiving?

In recent years I have so eagerly anticipated Thanksgiving dinner that I hardly had anything to eat before the meal. Maybe an apple or a bowl of oatmeal, but that's it until later in the day when the food starts to roll out.

However, I know many people who have a special Thanksgiving breakfast; others don't eat anything for 24 hours leading up to dinner. What about you? Are you a "faster" or is Thanksgiving a day of one special meal after the next?

Do chocolate and Thanksgiving go together?

I'm thinking about the different desserts I'll be making for Thanksgiving this year. I've browsed through tons of recipe collections online and there are lots of chocolate recipes. Usually our spread includes something with pumpkin, something with apple, and something with pears and/or cranberries. I don't think we've ever made a chocolate dessert for Thanksgiving.

Perhaps it's just our family, but I think the reason why is because chocolate just doesn't feel like a fall, harvest ingredient suited for Thanksgiving. What do you all think? Do you serve a chocolate dessert at Thanksgiving or stick with apple and pumpkin treats? If you do, what's your favorite chocolate recipe?

Thoughts on Cheesecake

I just finished baking a cheesecake, so I've got cheesecake on my mind. It seems I am on a life-long quest to find the ultimate homemade cheesecake. My favorite kind of cheesecake to indulge in is a rich, dense New York-style cheesecake. I particularly love the one from Carnegie Deli in New York.

That said, when I make cheesecakes at home I tend to go toward more traditional recipes. I've tried all manner of recipes, from chocolate to pumpkin to cranberry. The one I made last night was Dorie Greenspan's Tall and Creamy Cheesecake - plain and simple, but I'm hoping it will be a standby recipe.

What are your thoughts about cheesecake? What's your favorite recipe? Do you like light and fluffy and dense and creamy? What do you think of different flavors? Do you even like cheesecake (I've come across many people who just can't get behind this awesome dessert)?

Suggestions for lunch and dessert out

I will be in the city in two weeks and am in need of a spot for lunch and one just for dessert/drinks. The location for the lunch is not that important, but one of my dining companions does not eat meat (only fish), so the menu needs to be vegetarian-friendly. We are leaning in the direction of a prix-fixe deal at one of the more upscale restaurants in town but are not particularly attached to this idea.

Also, I am looking for a spot, preferably close to Columbus Circle or uptown, that serves a great dessert menu and has a nice wine list. Thanks

Affordable solo dining

I'm coming to New York the first week in April and will be dining out solo on a few occassions. I've been to the city before but this is the first time I'll be eating out (and really the first time I'll be eating out in restaurants alone at all). What are some of your favorite places to go eat where you feel comfortable dining alone, preferably that don't cost a fortune?

Also, does anyone know of food events going on in the city during that time (April 3-11)?

Easy, authentic Russian cuisine

I'm doing a presentation in school about Russia's Government. As part of the project, our group can bring in various Russian foods for the class to taste. I was wondering if anyone had any authentic but also relatively easy Russian foods/recipes. I've taken on the role of baker in my group, so any dessert recipes would be great. Thanks!

Sunday Brunch: Fresh Tomato Juice

Although I love to cook and bake and in general spend much more time preparing meals than is probably practical in today's world, there are a few things that I think of always and only as store-bought. I don't churn my own butter, grind my own flour, roast my own coffee beans, or squeeze my own juice. So when I discovered fresh tomato juice in Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book, it seemed rather novel and exciting. More