The CHOW Blog rss

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

Sweet Potato Pie

The sweet potato pie at It’s All Good Bakery is delicious, says susaninsf–perfectly spiced and smooth, not too sweet, very nice crust, pleasantly firm filling. It’s the best thing there, agrees Hunicsz, although the four-layer coconut cake is also a winner.

Think of it as a Thanksgiving alternative–but call ahead to check availability.

It’s All Good Bakery [Bushrod]
5622 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland

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It’s All Good Bakery on MLK in Oakland


Wagashi are Japanese dessert items, super-sweet and in cute little seasonal shapes. They’re most frequently made from beans, rice flour, chestnut flour, sugar, and/or gelatin, says Louise.

For those who deeply desire cute little Japanese desserts in aforementioned seasonal shapes, check out Shuei-do–they have great tasting wagashi, says muimi07. Wendy_san suggests Benkyo-do as another option. She mentions that wagashi are getting increasingly difficult to find in the Bay Area. You can find various wagashi in some local Japanese markets, but they’re usually shipped in from Los Angeles and are of varying quality

Shuei-do [South Bay]
217 Jackson St., San Jose

Benkyo-do [Japantown]
1747 Buchanan Street, at Sutter, San Francisco

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Wagashi–San Francisco ?

Citron: Mussels and More on the Upper West Side

Outstanding mussels and other well-executed bistro standards are drawing crowds at Citron, which might just break the curse of its hard-luck location on Columbus Avenue. The mussels come in huge portions done three ways–mariniere (white wine and garlic), provencale (tomato, garlic, basil), or sauteed with Pernod and cream. All are tasty and fresh, and fries are first-rate, says DaniNYC77. Also good: frisee salad with lardons and duck confit (with mushroom gratin and raspberry sauce).

Citron, open since spring, is the younger sister to Cassis a few blocks south, which does a fine job with a nearly identical bistro menu. Hound favorites at Cassis include escargots, brie on toast with roasted pear, and tender hanger steak with bordelaise.

Bistro Citron [Upper West Side]
formerly Mex & Co.
473 Columbus Ave., between W. 82nd and 83rd Sts., Manhattan

Bistro Cassis [Upper West Side]
formerly Bruculino
225 Columbus Ave., at W. 70th St., Manhattan

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best mussels and fries in Manhattan
chow ivo Amsterdam and W. 79th?
Bistro Cassis UWS

Toast One Squash Seed, Toast All Squash Seeds

Pumpkins don’t have the lock on tasty seeds for toasting and eating. All winter squashes have edible seeds, and they all have a similar flavor. Where they vary is in the ratio of husk thickness to size of seed inside. Modern jack o’ lantern pumpkins have seeds that aren’t much worth roasting, because they’re almost all husk and very little seed, notes noahbirnel. miss louella says Cinderella pumpkins not only have delicious flesh, but some have huge seeds with an excellent seed-to-husk ratio. So experiment next time you scoop out your delicatas, butternuts, sweet dumplings, or acorn squashes.

torty says that when the remains of her garden zucchini patch are the size of baseball bats, she even toasts their seeds, which have a much more tender husk. She soaks them in very salty water for 2 hours before toasting.

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toasting squash seeds…ALL squash seeds?

Ye Olde Prime Ribbe

If you’re looking for an old-fashioned English prime rib dinner, check out Beckham Grill & Crown Bar, where the old-English ambience is matched by the food: prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and roast duckling with black cherry Grand Marnier sauce, says ilikefood. A good time to try it would be Nov. 8, their anniversary, when a complete prime rib dinner is $15.95 and bagpipes will be playing all around.

At the Whale & Ale, they age their own prime rib and serve it with traditional sides, says JBC. They’re also supposed to have nice fish and chips.

The Grill on the Alley serves a classic prime rib dinner, minus the Old World atmosphere.

Beckham Grill & Crown Bar [Pasadena-ish]
77 W. Walnut St., Pasadena

Whale & Ale [South Bay]
327 W 7th St., San Pedro

Grill on the Alley [Beverly Hills]
9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills

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Old english style Prime Rib

Know Your Cheese

A glossary of cheese terms. READ MORE

Popeyes Fried Turkey

The popular Popeyes Fried Chicken franchise has a deep-friend Cajun turkey that can be ordered online. It costs about $50 for a 10-12 pound bird, fully cooked, ready to heat and eat.

Details here.

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Deep Fried Turkey

Fall-Perfect Butternut Squash Gratin

Here’s a great dish for Thanksgiving or any autumn meal, courtesy of opiniatedchef:

2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup half and half
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. ground mace
1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Slice squash in 1/4” slices. In large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the squash, cream, half and half, bay leaves, thyme, mace, 1 tsp. of salt, and 1/4 tsp. of pepper. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring lightly to distribute the liquid, until squash is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, approximately 30 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the onions 3/8” thick. Melt half the butter in large skillet and saute onions until they turn deep golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. In an oiled medium gratin dish or other shallow oven-proof dish, layer the squash mixture and onions. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and dot with the remaining butter. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbling. Serves 6-8.

You can be make this dish in advance and reheat, or keep it uncooked in the fridge and bring it to room temperature before baking. It also freezes very well after baking.

Leftovers make a great soup, pureed and thinned with chicken or veggie stock.

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Butternut Squash Gratin: Great Fall/ Thanksgiving Dish

Two Special Crabs from Two Different Coasts

Picking meat from cooked crabs can be a messy, slow process. It’s a fun meal with a group of friends, but you’ll need a lot of napkins.

The Pacific Coast boasts the big, meat-filled, Dungeness crab. To cook them, just boil up a pot of salted water, and serve them hot or chilled, with melted butter to dip the sweet meat into. The meat makes a fine crabcake, too.

The blue crab, from the Chesapeake Bay area and the Gulf coast, can be boiled or steamed, usually with the addition of Old Bay seasoning or a spice combination of your own. For a dipping sauce, some folks like cider vinegar. The meat from the blue crab makes great crabcakes.

When a blue crab molts, the new shell is paper thin. These are known as soft shell crabs. At this stage, the crab can be cooked and eaten shell and all.

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dungeness vs. blue crab

Leave the Gun, Take the Prosciutto

The Los Angeles Times reported (requires registration) this week on a deadly serious game of “hide the salami” at Mozza, Mario Batali’s much-anticipated Los Angeles pizzeria.

A thief—described as “some yuppie” clad in khakis and sporting a receding hairline—biked away from the restaurant with $700 worth of handcrafted cured meats made by Batali’s father, Armandino. The 40-pound haul included guanciale (cured hog jowl), lamb prosciutto, and culatello.

Also missing were a bar blender and a construction worker’s tool kit. Left behind, though, was a giant wheel of aged provolone cheese. ‘I’ve been telling people we’re looking for a yuppie guy on a bike who’s lactose-intolerant,’ [co-owner Nancy] Silverton says.