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Recipe Test: Yogurt Olive Oil Loaf Cake

CHOW’s Supertaster James Norton mentioned he was making this olive oil
and yogurt loaf cake
from Serious Eats, and I was intrigued. I substituted brown sugar for white and made the loaf into muffins instead, preferring the bite-sized quality and more surface/crust area. I cooked them 10 minutes less than the recipe said, because I know you have to cook stuff less if it’s in muffin form.

Bottom line: Nice flavor but too dense. I don’t think this had anything to do with the brown sugar, but I found myself embarrassed to serve them to people, apologizing for their hockey puck-like consistency.

How to Make Meat-Infused Liquor

Bacon-infused bourbon is all the rage at fancy cocktail bars these days, and you can buy bacon-infused vodka at the market now. You may be tempted to try to make meat-infused liquor yourself. But note that you shouldn’t just put the bacon fat right in the drink, because that would make it really gross and oily. Instead, you can use a process called “fat washing,” which extracts the smoky, savory flavor, but leaves behind the oil. Simply add the fat to the liquor, let it sit for a few hours, freeze it, skim off the fat (which rises to the top during freezing), and then strain the resulting liquid to extract any remaining meat bits. Read about it on Chowhound.

However, know that the results can be pretty subtle. You may want to infuse your booze with other spices to simulate more of the cured meat flavor you’re seeking. Evan Zimmerman of Portland’s Laurelhurst Market makes a mean chorizo margarita. He first infuses tequila with the spices used to make chorizo (paprika, cinnamon, chiles, salt, pepper, and sugar) before fat washing, in this case with bacon. He also makes a foie gras–infused Armagnac.

“The result is a lot more delicate than it sounds,” says Zimmerman. “[The fat-infused booze] adds a subtle, meaty note.”

Recipe Test: Turquoise’s Chicken and Vermicelli Soup With Egg and Lemon

Turquoise is a beautiful coffee-table style Turkish cookbook I’d been meaning to cook from for a while. Most of the best-looking recipes seemed to have lamb in them, and I wasn’t feeling like eating red meat, so I went with the Chicken and Vermicelli Soup with Egg and Lemon. It’s like Greek lemon soup.

So easy: Sauté onion and chile, then add chicken broth and pasta, chopped boneless/skinless chicken breast, egg and lemon, and finally paprika and parsley. Done. Took about 40 minutes total.

A couple janky things: You have to grate and drain an onion. I’ll bet you could skip that. It called for an ounce of butter—why not a tablespoon? And I couldn’t find vermicelli, so I just used thin egg noodles.

Recipe Test: A16’s Kale with Anchovy Soffritto

Bored with simply sautéing my kale, I decided to try a recipe for braised lacinato kale with tomato and anchovy soffritto from A16: Food + Wine. As I’m never one to follow a recipe exactly (they’re just guidelines, right?), let it be known that I used only about half the called-for amount of kale and substituted the salt-packed anchovies with olive-oil-packed. The volume of the recipe-mandated two pounds of kale is enormous, even a little intimidating, and since I was only making this dish for myself (the recipe serves six), I decided to spare myself from eating leftover kale for the next two weeks and cut the amount. As such, my version of the recipe came out “saucier” than intended, but I can live with that. The anchovy swap was born from necessity: The resources section of the book lists them as being sold at A.G. Ferrari, an Italian imports grocer, but the location closest to CHOW HQ did not stock them, and neither did my local specialty market.

The recipe itself is straightforward enough, though I discovered the hard way that the soffritto needs to be stirred more often than every 10 minutes. The resulting dish isn’t much to look at, but it’s hearty and pleasantly salty, with just a hint of acidic sweetness. However, be warned that it doesn’t last long in the fridge: Mine turned to mush in two days.

Haute Stoner Treats

Is Michael Recchiuti a stoner? Well, that’s his business. But let’s just say that he has the palate of a highly gourmet one in the middle of a sensational dream binge. (You won’t want to miss one of his latest creations, called Peanut Butter Pearls.)

At a recent media gathering, he introduced his upcoming themed tasting series, where members of the public can pay about $50 to come inside the factory for a special evening of chocolaty desserts paired with unexpected things like salts, artisanal spirits, beer, or meat. His sweet-savory creations were what got me excited, some of which might land on the menu:

• Chocolate, shiitake mushroom ice cream (I tried it—it’s good)
• “Crazy-ass ’smores” made in a panini press, featuring caramel, bacon, and marshmallow on brioche
• Macaroons with spreadable salami

My mind is blown!

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Cook and Tell: Healthy Vegan Seaweed Salad

The Recipe: Domo Arigato Salad, from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine: Healing Recipes & Timeless Wisdom from Our Hearts to Yours. Arame seaweed, red bell pepper, corn, carrot, ginger, red cabbage in tahini dressing.

The Verdict: Excellent. Lots of fresh flavor, meaty consistency from the seaweed, and the recipe shows how to (easily) make your own pickled ginger, which is fun and cool.

Cook and Tell: We’re not monogamous. We’ve got a bit of a roving eye. We like to party. So here’s our little black book of recipes. Some of them we’ll see again; some of them were just one-night stands. We cook and tell.

Perfect Rhubarb Jelly

I am an absolute freak for rhubarb. If I see those gleaming red stalks in a grocery store or someone’s garden, if I spy a piece of rhubarb pie in a bakery display case, if I even see the word “rhubarb” on a printed page, I start drooling as helplessly as one of Pavlov’s mutts.

As you might imagine, I also collect rhubarb recipes: CHOW’s Rhubarb-Almond Bars and rhubarb-laced Knockout Punch are in my regular rotation. But it’s tough to find a good recipe for one of my rhubarb staples: rhubarb jelly. Commercially made rhubarb jelly is all but nonexistent; if a jelly company uses rhubarb at all, it’s always combined with strawberry. I’m happy to make my own, but most rhubarb jelly recipes also invite in the insidious strawberry.

The rhubarb jelly recipe from the ’wichcraft cookbook, however, is just about perfect. Lots of rhubarb. Lots of sugar. Just a little bit of lemon. The recipe is for refrigerator jelly, meaning you have to use it all up or it goes bad in a couple of weeks, but I don’t see why you couldn’t can it to have it around during the no-rhubarb months.

The only downside is the time the recipes takes, since the rhubarb has to macerate overnight with the sugar and lemon. Funny that, since the recipe is part of a larger recipe on making a PBJ. Do you know many people who want to take two days to make a PBJ? Yeah, me neither.

By the way, if you too are a rhubarb freak, just about anything you’d want to know about the vegetable (yes!), from growing to cooking to medicinal uses, can be found at the Rhubarb Compendium.

Michael Ruhlman on Cooking by Numbers

This morning Michael Ruhlman discussed some of the theories behind his new book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking on the CBS Early Show. It seemed a little rushed (I wanted to see the savory quick bread come out of the oven), but it was still a nice peek at what the book has to offer. More details can be found in the text portion of the story.


Watch CBS Videos Online

Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook

If you’re a New Orleans junkie like me, you’ll want to get your hands on the new Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook by Poppy Tooker. It’s got great pictures and profiles of local farmers and producers, along with interesting recipes from regulars at the market and local chefs.

New Orleans–style food can be very rich, at times complicated, and, if Cajun, can involve things like frog legs, duck fat, and game birds you might not have at your local Safeway. The thing I like about this one, besides the fact that you can almost smell the city in the quirky descriptions and beautiful photos of its residents, is that there are lots of “I can make this right now, and I want to” recipes. Like a simple vegetarian red beans recipe (yeah, you read that right: vegetarian), shrimp with Cognac and local legumes, and hakurei turnip and pork fricassee over hot cooked rice.

Author Poppy Tooker is the head of the Crescent City’s chapter of Slow Foods and, when it comes to that city’s past and present food scene, she’s one of the smartest people around. So you’ll find some good historic stuff in there, like how to make real Creole cream cheese (a vanishing classic), as well as a portion of the book’s recipes representing the relative newcomers to New Orleans: Indian, West Indian, and Mexican immigrants.

Man + Toast = Love

Late last year, the Internet was abuzz over the Toaster Museum, an exhaustive online compendium (started by a German designer) of historical toasters from all over the world. If you haven’t seen it, you can waste a whole bunch of delicious minutes ogling hundreds of toasters, like a four-slice carousellike rotating version from 1930s Germany.

After that, I thought we could all go back to accepting toasters as a necessary but unglamorous part of our routine. But last week, toasters popped up again, this time in the form of futuristic toaster design concepts. The list includes two that burn text into the toast so you can read the morning news while eating, and an electric knife that when wiped over the bread magically turns it into toast.

Are toasters really worth putting this much thought into? The toaster has some history, predating the kitchen appliance boom of the ’50s (according to Wikipedia the first commercially successful toaster arrived in 1909). But unless it’s a toaster oven, all it does is crisp bread. I’ll admit I like to stand in front of my toaster in the morning (mostly to keep warm in my wind tunnel of a Victorian flat) and watch the orange glow transform my sourdough, but there are more remarkable appliances out there.

I can see the allure in its simplicity: The mechanics are basic and straightforward, and all it demands from the user is to plug it in and drop some bread inside. Or maybe it has just been a part of everyone’s daily life for so many years that over time it has warmed our hearts.

Perhaps in a hundred years there will be a George Foreman Grill Museum, though I’m not keeping my fingers crossed. Either way, this connection between man and toaster doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon, but if there was ever any conflict in my kitchen, my food processor knows I’ve got its back.

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