The CHOW Blog rss

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

The Unbearable Squishyness of Persimmons

Ever on the forefront of the world’s exotic edibles, this month’s Saveur exposes a nation of unprepared readers to the wonders of the hoshi
gaki
—Japanese massaged dried persimmon.

If you’re into persimmons—that’s kind of unusual, frankly—hoshi gaki are your foie gras, your filet mignon, your Beluga caviar. Hung with string from a bamboo pole, the drying persimmons are massaged by hand every other day for up to five weeks until the fruits’ fructose rises to the surface in a bloom that resembles powdered sugar.

If this kind of deeply traditional and/or nutty dedication to the perfect dried fruit appeals to you, Penryn Orchard Specialties can hook
you up
to the tune of $28 a pound.

Simple One-Pot Meals in Your Rice Cooker

Flavorful lop cheong (Chinese sausage) can be cooked along with the rice in a rice cooker, giving flavor to the rice and making a one-pot meal. You can also add a little something when the rice is just finished cooking and the heat of the rice will cook it, says yimster, such as whipped eggs seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.

According to Hungry Celeste, you can make a decent version of jambalaya in a rice cooker: Saute chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until fragrant, and add to rice cooker along with rice, peeled shrimp, thinly sliced smoked sausage, and an appropriate amount of rice and chicken or shrimp stock.

pattisue uses chicken stock instead of water and adds chopped sauteed veggies; after the rice is cooked, she mixes in chicken browned and cooked in olive oil and garlic on the stove, for a quick and tasty meal.

Board Links
Rice cooker add-in recipes

Edamame

Preparing frozen edamame (fresh soybeans) in the shell is simple. They’re pre-cooked, so all you need to do heat and season them. Simply drop the frozen edamame into a pot of salted boiling water, cook for 4-5 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water and season with sea salt. pescatarian put them in cold water and brings it to a boil; as soon as it starts boiling rapidly he drains and salts. Some microwave: place the edamame in a bowl with 3-4 Tbsp. water and cover, nuke for a minute or two, drain the water, and salt. For additional flavor, try squeezing on some lime juice before salting, or dressing your edamame in curry powder fried in oil.

Board Links
edamame

Vidalia Onions

Vidalia onions are the pride of Vidalia, Ga. They’re sweet onions–big, juicy sweet onions. For most locations, availability depends on the season, but they’re always available online, or by calling 800-447-9338.

Once you get them home, advisor_Girl says they’ll keep up to a year in a drawer in the fridge, when they’re individually wrapped. Another good storage tip: slip them into the leg of pantyhose and separate them by tying a knot between each one.

Board Links
TGIF–Thanksgiving in Florida

Apple Guide

Apple Journal is a terrific website to refer to when selecting apples. It describes the parentage, appearance, and texture of different apple varieties. It also tells you how well each type keeps.

Board Links
In search of an apple . . .

‘Tis the Season to Hate Rachael

According to The Boston Globe, Rachael Ray hatred is as much on the rise as the Loud One’s exhausting career.

The Rachael Ray Sucks Community is an outwardly innocuous space on LiveJournal where hate-minded individuals can spew anti-Ray diatribes to their hearts’ content. On any given day, you can find posts such as these:

Then she made a ‘chowDAH-mac’. ‘I have to call it chowda because I’m a New England girl teeheeheeheeheeheesnort’. I guess this is some vile mixture of crab and corn cowdAHH and macaroni and cheese. She’s calling this ‘Easy Entertaining’. I’m not kidding.

and

I just finished watching her 30MM show today on how to cook a Thanksgiving meal in one hour. I caught just the last ten minutes as was absolutely stunned. The so-called pumpkin soup looked like vomit. The apple & brandy ‘gravy’ looked like thickened transmission fluid. The muffins were an abomination…She even dumped the transmission fluid on the ‘microwaved green beans.’ If I was a guest being served this sh*t on Turkey Day, I’d walk out.

The Globe article reveals that the founder of this big steaming pile of sneer and loathing is Michigan resident Misty Lane (someone, I think, who will never need smack her pet’s name and street name together to determine her porn name). Lane created the site three years ago when she wanted to share her Ray-centered scorn with others.

A cooking enthusiast who enjoyed picking up tips and inspiration from ‘true chefs,’ Lane complained that Ray trafficked in culinary ‘common knowledge.’ And that she kept waving her arms.

‘She just used to drive me crazy,’ Lane says, laughing.

Having written for Television Without Pity for seven hate-filled years, I’m not surprised that hate is a powerful uniting force or that this particular Rachael Ray hate site now has over 1,000 happy members.

Isn’t there some famous quote about how you can measure success by the number of your enemies?

Go for the Gumbo

The Southern Foodways Alliance in Oxford, Mississippi, wants to know what you ate in New Orleans. Whether you were a longtime resident or a brunch-at-Brennan’s tourist, you can contribute to their ongoing oral history project by sharing a favorite gastronomic memory. (Go to their website for info on how to contribute.)

In related New Orleans food news, thanks to loads of volunteers and donations, the SFA and the Heritage Conservation Network has almost finished its restoration of Willie Mae’s Scotch House, a small, well-loved neighborhood restaurant/home that was nearly destroyed by the floods, mud, and mold of Hurricane Katrina.

More cash is still needed, but 89-year-old owner Willie Mae Seaton is planning a grand reopening in December, complete with plenty of her famous fried chicken. In an effort to get the money rolling, Restaurant Rio Mar in New Orleans will be holding a Scotch House benefit dinner on December 17. In addition to the dinner, ticket holders will receive an “I Support Fried Chicken” certificate, good for one plate of chicken at the Scotch House.

Fork on the Left, Knife on the Floor

Fork on the Left, Knife on the Floor

Designers reinvent the table setting. READ MORE

I’ll Have What He’s Having

Blogger and mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a man on a mission. His goal: to help spread the news of Repeal Day, the only holiday devoted solely and entirely to drinking.

Celebrated on December 5, Repeal Day marks the anniversary of the day the 18th Amendment (that would be Prohibition to you and me) was repealed, thereby allowing all God-fearing Americans of a certain age to drink legally again.

Morgenthaler points out that, although there may be other holidays that incorporate alcohol, all are sullied by the distracting influence of competing aspects to the day (St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc.). Repeal Day can focus exclusively on the booze. Morgenthaler has a list of compelling reasons why the day should be celebrated far and wide. Among others:

We have the Constitutional right to do so. How many forms of pleasure are guaranteed by the Constitution? None, unless you’re one of those who get an inflated sense of ego from holding a firearm or speaking in public. Me, I’m going to stick with alcohol.

It’s easy! There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green. Simply celebrate the day by stopping by your local bar, tavern, saloon, winery, distillery, or brewhouse and having a drink. Pick up a six-pack on your way home from work. Split a bottle of wine with a loved one. Buy a shot for a stranger. Just do it because you can.

Morgenthaler’s campaign is gaining momentum, with a number of drink-oriented blogs rallying to the cause. Drink This Blog, The Art of Drink, and Days That End in Y are all on board with Repeal Day, as is The Museum of the American Cocktail. While Modern Drunkard Magazine is promising an article on the holiday, and DC Drinks is planning a Repeal Day celebration at Billy Martin’s Tavern in Washington, DC, a drinking establishment that opened for business on the first Repeal Day, December 5, 1933. There is even some classic newsreel footage announcing the repeal of Prohibition that can be viewed on Morgenthaler’s site.

Time to get your drinking plans in place—Repeal Day is coming. And if you need any further convincing, consider the words of a commenter on Morgenthaler’s blog: “This is so f*ing brilliant. Plus, Canadians would be sooooo jealous.”

Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that Canada wasn’t dumb enough to ban drinking for 13 long years, but whatever. It’s almost Repeal Day—cheers!

How do you plan to celebrate Repeal Day?

10 Holiday Confections

10 Holiday Confections

Cookies, candies, and cakey things to give or be given. READ MORE