"New Englanders learn quickly to dismiss the chowder where tomato ruins its gorgeous broth, where references to New York tarnish its name...However, few know how such distinctions came about in the first place, what processes were involved that resulted in one person's disgust of another's beloved creation, and why, to this day, do we stand by such convictions?" The New England Chowder Compendium
, from the McIntosh Cookery Collection
at the UMass Amherst library. [more inside]
posted by Miko
on Dec 4, 2012 -
Hanukkah draws nigh and that means latkes
. [The oil in which the potato pancake is cooked symbolizes the miraculously long-burning fuel that lit the Second Temple.] Bubala Please
shows you how to keep it real. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Dec 2, 2012 -
For the past two years, in a loft apartment in downtown Los Angeles, Craig Thornton has been conducting an experiment in the conventions of high-end American dining. Several nights a week, a group of sixteen strangers gather around his dining-room table to eat delicacies he has handpicked and prepared for them, from a meticulously considered menu over which they have no say.
posted by Egg Shen
on Dec 1, 2012 -
Sara White, Canadian blogger who recently moved to Rome, shares some thoughts
about old world food cultures versus the American approach to cooking. One of the most interesting things to me about her post is the discussion about how having no limitations (many Americans can just waltz into a large supermarket and get almost anything from almost anywhere) can negatively impact culinary creativity.
posted by hansbrough
on Oct 16, 2012 -
"Cooking isn't creative, and it isn't easy."
A NYT Magazine piece on Christopher Kimball, Cook's Illustrated
, and his franchise (America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country, et al.). "At the core of C.I.’s M.O. are two intrepid observations Kimball has made about the innermost psychology of home cooks. Namely that they 1) are haunted by a fear of humiliation, and 2) will not follow a recipe to the letter, believing that slavishly following directions is an implicit admission that you cannot cook... What the magazine essentially offers its readers is a bargain: if they agree to follow the recipes as written, their cooking will succeed and they will be recognized by family and friends as competent or even expert in the kitchen... The bargain further holds that the peppercorn-crusted filet of beef or butterscotch-cream pie will turn out not only in C.I.’s professional kitchen, with its All-Clad pans and DCS ranges, but also on a lowly electric four-top, using a dull knife and a $20 nonstick skillet." [more inside]
posted by flex
on Oct 14, 2012 -
The broth is just chicken and onions, with a confetti of vegetables added at the end where their flavor remains bright. The noodles are wide and winding... But, for me, the real triumph was giving the chicken parts and onion a saute... before adding water to make the soup. This deepened flavor base makes for magical soup, with a bronzed color, more robust flavor and significantly reduced prep time. ... With all of the blustery, cold days to go this winter, everyone... deserves to have a homemade, from-scratch chicken noodle soup that can be pulled off in just about an hour in their back pocket. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Oct 10, 2012 -
Food writing’s shameful secret, wrote John Thorne his seminal essay, “Cuisine Mécanique”,
is its intellectual poverty. John himself is a notable exception. He is one of those rare authors who have the gift of transporting us into a world of their own creation which we are happy to occupy for a while in preference to any other. They are Virgils to our Dante, showing us around the territory and introducing us to the natives. In these magic realms, strangers speak to us immediately as old friends; arriving unexpectedly at dinner time, we find a place already set for us. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Aug 11, 2012 -
Undoubtedly, at some point in your life, a recipe has told you to brown or caramelize some onions for 5-10 minutes. As many frustrated cooks have found through experience, this step of the recipe is a damned lie
. In fact, the now-ubiquitous suggestion of 5-10 minutes isn't even a remote approximation of the amount of time it takes to brown an onion; Alton Brown
and Julia Child
weigh in on the matter, suggesting that the task can take anywhere from 45 minute to an hour. [more inside]
posted by schmod
on May 7, 2012 -
Each bite brought a delicate balance between pleasure and pain—deliciously peppery flavor, bought at the price of having your mouth feel like you’d swallowed fire. But the pain was a good pain, somehow. It forced you to slow down and experience each bite, and that’s a rare experience these days. No one mindlessly gobbles Sichuan hot pot, simply because it’s physically impossible to do so without powerful anesthetic.
posted by Trurl
on Apr 13, 2012 -
The Pressure Cooker Makes A Comeback.
"Pressure cookers are exploding—in a good way—into home and restaurant kitchens. I discovered the joys of pressure cooking last year while reviewing Modernist Cuisine, the 2,348-page encyclopedia of avant-garde cuisine by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold. He argues that pressure cookers are the perfect vessel for making stock, and he's right. Pressure cooking extracts more flavors from the primary materials and keeps them in the pot, where they condense back into a rich, full-bodied liquid. I was blown away by the chicken stock I made the first time I used a pressure cooker. But I didn't stop there. I followed a few of Myhrvold's other suggestions and soon discovered that pressure cookers make superior, stir-free risotto—cooked through, but with a pleasant hint of resistance—after just five-and-a-half minutes at pressure. Braised short ribs are similarly sublime, fork tender without being mushy, and bathed in a broth with an intense, concentrated beef flavor. They went from being a Sunday afternoon project to a supper I could prepare after work on weeknights. Emboldened by success, I even went so far as to pressure cook a surprisingly moist lemon-mascarpone cheesecake." [more inside]
posted by storybored
on Apr 8, 2012 -
Fresh tofu in Japan is far better than it is anywhere else, and the tofu in Kyoto is generally held to be the best in the country. This is generally attributed to the skill, refined court and/or temple-influenced culture and the quality of the local water. ... During my week in Kyoto, I was able to pursue one family business’s vision of what tofu should be from beginning to end. [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Mar 22, 2012 -
In [the USA], buying a good over-the-counter nasal decongestant requires picking a card from an empty spot on the shelf, taking it to the pharmacist, handing over your driver's license, and getting it from behind the counter. Only the larger drug stores bother. Meth, on the other hand, is apparently easier to come by. So here (PDF)
, from the the wonderfully named Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry, is a paper on how to make Sudafed® from Meth.
posted by TheNewWazoo
on Feb 28, 2012 -