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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Homemade Irish Cream

It’s easy to replicate the popular flavor of Bailey’s Irish Cream at home for a fraction of the cost. Susan627 uses Jameson whiskey in this recipe, which she gives as gifts:

1 cup light cream
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cups Irish whiskey
2 Tbsp. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 2 months. Shake before using.

blue room notes that it’s important to serve this very cold, as pouring it over ice makes it watery.

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Homemade Baileys

Russian Tea with Vodka and Hot Rum Cows for Cold Winter Nights

kittyfood learned this recipe from a Russian instructor several decades ago:

3 1/2 quarts water
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
12 tea bags
1 quart unsweetened orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
vodka

Place cloves in water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags; let stand until tea is strong, then remove tea bags. Add orange and lemon juices and sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Add vodka to taste, and serve hot. Better if made in advance and aged 24 hours, then reheated (add vodka just before serving).

JK Grence the Cosmic Jester says the Hot Rum Cow is “perfect for when you’re cold and wet, and all you want to do is curl up in a big thick blanket and fall asleep”: It’s an ounce of rum, a cup of milk, a couple teaspoons of sugar, and a dash or two of Angostura bitters, heated.

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Hot alcoholic beverage

Lou Malnatti’s Chicago Pizza

Lou Malnatti’s in Chicago makes the quintessential version of the deep-dish pizza. It’s a favorite of denizens of the Windy City.

OneJaneDoe has ordered the pizzas for home and while traveling. They’ve always arrived in good shape. Bake on a pizza stone, or directly on the oven rack. They’re expensive, at $38 for a 9-inch pie. If you order in quantity, it’ll bring the shipping cost down on each pie. Buy a gift card for a special pizza-loving someone, or ask for one for yourself!

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I’m thinking about ordering a Lou Malnati’s Pizza [Moved from Chains board]

Potatoes

One thing we can all agree on is that potatoes are always fairly “potato-ish”. Like rice, they’re a relatively bland starchy staple that shines as a vehicle for the flavors provided by the addition of meat drippings, butter, or seasonings.

Different varieties will have subtle differences in texture and flavor. Yukon Golds provide a sweet backdrop to a dish of mashed potatoes. Very new potatoes will have a faint metallic taste, offers GDSwamp.

Peruvian and Bolivian potatoes are available in many varieties, even in the U.S. Das Ubergeek explains that the potato is to Peruvians what rice is to the Japanese. Peru is, after all, the ancestral home of this tuber.

There are blue, red, and purple potatoes, potatoes shaped like a thumb (fingerlings), waxy types for boiling (round white or red), and mealy types for baking (Russets). Look for organic potatoes and heirloom varieties; they are so many out there.

Here’s an excellent resource, listing 547 varieties.

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The unbearable sameness of potatoes

D.C. Restaurant Declares: “Credit Only”

Oh boy—it’s the End Times, everybody! The Christian Broadcasting Network’s “news” division reports that a D.C. restaurant has stopped taking cash. Other restaurants will no doubt follow its lead. Next up: no food sales to anyone lacking the Visa/MasterCard/United Nations Mark of the Beast!

In a shocking inversion of the all-too-familiar “our earthy breakfast place is too popular/too much of a drug front to take your lousy credit card” scheme, the owner of Snap Crepes has decided to cut out the awkward fumbling-for-change part of the dining experience and go to a no-cash policy.

“I know exactly how many sales we had—and I don’t have to go to the bank,” said the eatery’s owner, who added that Kofi Annan had promised her a place by his side in the luxurious eighth layer of Pandemonium after the thwarting of the Second Coming.

Also quoth CBN’s article (in sentence-fragmenty manner):

Although she’s well aware of online bloggers, some of whom say her policy discriminates against those who can’t afford a credit or debit card.

The offline bloggers—who typically use ink and vellum, signal rockets, or Morse code to create their “posts”—are, by contrast, largely in favor of the restaurant’s decision. HoratioHornblower23 of the offline semaphore flag blog Flag It!, wrote: “Cafe. Good. Efficient.”

Either that, or he signaled that his frigate was taking on water.

Please Pass the Dijon

Please Pass the Dijon

Oregon Chardonnays find their footing with a different clone. READ MORE

The Obesity Germ

Obese people have more “super-digesting” intestinal bacteria, which are extremely good at extracting calories from food, and fewer of another kind of gut microbe than non-obese folks, say two studies released today in Nature. As the A.P. reports, the researchers aren’t sure yet whether having more of the calorie-loving germ actually makes you fat, or if people who are obese just produce more of that bacteria for some reason. Still, growing evidence (registration required) of this link between microbes and body mass has scientists excited about potential new treatments for obesity.

But other recent research and media reports have focused on food cravings and compared seriously overweight people to drug addicts. A small study
released in October found that obese people have the same brain responses to food (or even the idea of food) that junkies do to drugs. Even when the “hunger center” of their brains indicated that they were physically full, obese people had their memory and reward centers activated—the same parts of the brain that “light up” for drug addicts when they get an irrepressible craving for their next fix.

Can both theories be right? Well, sure; it’s entirely possible that, say, some people do have addict-like cravings for food that lead them to overeat, become obese, and consequently grow more super-digesting bacteria. But a look at other research into food cravings makes the drug-addict comparison look a whole lot less compelling and more sensationalized: Researchers have known for a while that food cravings activate the same brain areas as drug joneses, not just in obese people but in everyone. And since 100 percent of young women and 70 percent of young men report food cravings, it’s not just the obese who are affected.

Are there any studies of these issues that you’re more inclined to believe than others? Or is viewing obesity as a disease just an invitation for Big Pharma to develop more drugs that we don’t really need?

Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

A vinegar primer. READ MORE

European Union: Robust Gastropub Chow in East Village

European Union won the war–a long and rancorous campaign to secure its liquor license. Now the East Village gastropub is winning hearts and minds with well-chosen beers and wines and a pan-European menu of hearty, drink-friendly chow by executive chef Sara Ochs (formerly of Esca), served in a cool industrial space. “I have been consistently impressed with almost everything on the menu,” admits jonasblank, a once-skeptical neighbor.

Recommended: wild mushroom pasta, grilled bavette steak (with artichoke gratin), romaine salad with crispy shallots and lemon, fish (hake, skate, shrimp, squid) and chips, Catalan-style lamb “cassoulet” (with white beans and garlic sausage).

The don’t-miss dessert is chocolate absinthe cake, but you also won’t go wrong with linzer-filled doughnuts or cannele de Bordeaux with chamomile cream. And Jill confesses that her normally civilized circle of friends went fork to fork over goat’s milk cheesecake with honey-roasted figs.


European Union [East Village]
235 E. 4th St., between Aves. A and B, Manhattan
212-254-2900
Locater

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European Union (E.U.)–Report

Bonita Branches Out; and Other New York News

The owners of Williamsburg’s Bonita have just opened a second restaurant in Fort Greene, where most hounds are happy to have it. Pozole is a highlight, hearty and flavorful. Other early favorites include albondigas, guacamole, adobo pork (a special), tequila-soused tres leches cake, and steak tacos and chicken enchiladas with fresh house-made tortillas. The tequila lineup is deep and worth a shot. Some complain of pallid seasoning, but the kitchen still seems to be tweaking.

Meanwhile, another Brooklyn Mexican spot has closed. El Huipil in Red Hook will be missed for its moles and other homey chow from Mexico’s Guerrero state. Its owners are reportedly leaving town for North Carolina.

In Queens, the Manhattan Vietnamese restaurant Thai Son (see also ChowNews #236) has opened a second location in Elmhurst, replacing the departed Pho Binh. Early reports suggest it’s a rough shakedown for the new kitchen, but they’ve been open less than a month, so stay tuned.

Long Island City’s Lil’ Bistro 33, which has won a following with a deft blend of Asian ingredients and French technique, is temporarily closed. It’s moving to new, larger digs in Astoria.

And Cobble Hill’s similarly named Little Bistro, whose own brand of East-West fusion never quite caught on, has gone out of business.


Bonita Restaurant [Fort Greene]
formerly Cino’s
243 DeKalb Ave., between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves., Brooklyn
718-622-5300
Locater

Bonita Restaurant [Williamsburg]
338 Bedford Ave., near S. 4th St., Brooklyn
718-384-9500
Locater

El Huipil [Red Hook]
116A Sullivan St., between Van Brunt and Conover, Brooklyn
Map

Thai Son [Elmhurst]
formerly Pho Binh
40-10 74th St., near Broadway, Elmhurst, Queens
718-476-6805
Map

Thai Son [Chinatown]
89 Baxter St., between Walker and Bayard, Manhattan
212-732-2822
Locater

Lil’ Bistro 33 [Astoria]
19-33 Ditmars Blvd., near 19th St., Astoria, Queens
718-609-1367
Map

Little Bistro [Cobble Hill]
158 Court St., between Amity and Pacific, Brooklyn
Map

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Bonita in Ft. Greene
Bonita in Ft. Greene
Help! Quick meal in Redhook
Authentic Mexican at El Huipil
Thai Son Vietnamese Cuisine Jackson Heights
Little Bistro closed?