The CHOW Blog rss

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

The 22nd Best Ramen In Town

There’s a new upstart in the much-contested 22nd-place spot on Melanie Wong’s rankings of ramen for the Bay Area. Kumako specializes in New York-style ramen, using a lighter and spicier stock than what you might be used to. Of the many broth options, the chef recommends miso, tonkotsu (pork bone), and shoyu (soy sauce).

The tonkotsu stock is milky-colored, much lighter and less greasy than other Hakata-style stocks in the area, and guaranteed not to put you into a lard coma. It’s spiced with garlic, a healthy dose of ginger, a whiff of anise, and much less salt than most ramen. $6.90 gets you a bowl with thick cut, tasty char shu, fermented bamboo shoots, nori, and bean sprouts, and, unfortunately, softish, gummy noodles. The only optional topping is extra char siu, but the deliciously roasted pork may be the best thing about the place–“it kinda blew my mind,” says kewlio.

Kumako [South Bay]
211 E. Jackson St., San Jose
408-286-2111
Locater

Board Links
New York Style Ramen @ Kumako in San Jose

Chocolate Malted Cake

This chocolate malted cake is Divamac’s favorite–she says it tastes just like a giant Whopper!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup malted milk powder
3/4 cup (packed) cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups half and half

Chocolate Malted Frosting–recipe below

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add malted milk powder and cocoa and beat just until mixed in. Add eggs and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients and add to chocolate mixture alternately with half and half. Spread evenly in a well-greased 9×13” pan, and bake 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan completely before frosting with chocolate malted frosting.

Chocolate Malted Frosting

1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup (packed) cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Stir together half and half and malted milk powder and let stand 15 minutes to dissolve the powder. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and cocoa. Add malted milk mixture and beat well. Add powdered sugar and beat on high until fully combined.

Board Links
RECIPE: Chocolate Malt Cake

Pizza Reheating Tip

If you like your pizza crust crisp and its top gooey, then don’t reheat your slices in the even. Yes, Virginia, even if you have a pizza stone, skip the oven, says Chas. Instead, put them in a non-stick frying pan over very low heat. Cover the pan and check it every couple of minutes until the top is melted and hot. At that point, the crust should be nice and crisp.

Board Links
Best way to reheat pizza…?

Cocoa Nibs

Cocoa nibs are the very essence of chocolate. They’re shelled, roasted cocoa beans that have been ground into little bits. You can use them in baking where you’d use nuts, to add a bit of cocoa-intense crunchiness. They’re particularly wonderful in brownies.

In this recipe they’re used in a salad

They’re a fabulous addition to banana bread, says Brandon Nelson.

The Chocolate Factory carries nibs, as does Scharffen Berger.

They’ve been spotted at Williams-Sonoma, too.

Board Links
what to do with cocoa nibs

Sheer Bliss

Sheer Bliss is an ice cream company out of Florida. They make a pomegranate flavor with tiny dark chocolate chips. Every bite is a creamy, sweet mouthful, says Chiba.

Check out the store locator to try it for yourself.

Board Links
Sheer Bliss POMEGRANATE Ice Cream

They Can Have My Trans Fats When They Pry Them from My Cold Dead Fingers

A day after the news about the New York City Health Department’s proposal to ban trans fats in restaurants was first reported, the Crisco is really hitting the fan. News outlets from Beijing to Boston are weighing (heh) in on the topic.

The New York Times’ follow-up (registration required) by Thomas J. Lueck and Kim Severson hits several NY eateries that have already replaced the trans fats, a move the Health Department has been recommending for the past year.

Let me tell you, it is healthier, the product does taste better,” said Sanford Levine, 64, who owns the Carnegie Deli and has found alternatives to almost all its cooking oils and shortenings that contained high amounts of artificial trans fats. “Nobody has complained so far,” he said.

Still, more than half the restaurants in NYC still use trans fats, according to the article, and the Health Department may be in for some legal wrangling, courtesy of large fast-food purveyors.

For the most part, the reaction has been stronger on political websites than food sites. Bloggers on the right are quick to indict the “leftist busybodies.” The terms “fascism” and “nanny state” are getting a workout today, too.

Lost in the shuffle: The Health Department also wants restaurants to list the calories on its menus and menu boards. Wouldn’t a little box with a hugely high number in it look spiffy on the menus in New York’s fanciest eateries?

Do You Cook Like a Bree or a Susan?

With the show’s third season already skimming away the scum that was a rather unpalatable second season and leaving us with a beautiful consommé more akin to the first season, could the timing be more perfect that Desperate Housewives is now releasing a companion cookbook, The Desperate Housewives Cookbook: Juicy Dishes and Saucy Bits?

If that title hasn’t already made you queasy, then you will likely enjoy what this cookbook, divided into sections representing each housewife, has to offer. You can choose to cook like time-challenged Lynette (and hope that a recipe for Ritalin Rillettes isn’t included) or brain-challenged Susan (just don’t go borrow a cup of arson from the friendly neighborhood trollop). Personally, I would be geared more toward Bree’s opulent and time-consuming dishes, like saltimbocca and braised duck, or Edie’s champagne-and-cream-poached oysters and Pasta Puttanesca (talk about type-cooking). Finally, though it may be difficult to conceive where Gabby stashes food of any sort on her tiny frame, her character’s calorie-conscious dishes range from shrimp with chorizo to the predictable smoothie.

In related news, the ABC Network and Desperate Houswives are partnering up with Share Our Strength, a national organization dedicated to fighting childhood hunger, in the “Desperate for Dinner National Cook-Off” promotion.

As part of its launch of The Desperate Housewives Cookbook: Juicy Dishes and Saucy Bits, ABC and Desperate Housewives will search for the best dinner recipe in America by holding online recipe contests through participating affiliates. The promotion will help raise money for Share Our Strength’s fight to end childhood hunger.

The recipe contest, which started on September 11, will continue until October 13. On November 13, the finalists will compete on Good Morning America for all sorts of culinary prizes, which include cast-signed copies of The Desperate Housewives Cookbook. The big winner gets her dish cooked on an ep of Desperate Housewives. We suggest whipping up something that goes well with soap-flavored melodrama.

Pizza Party

The blog world has officially gone pizza-crazy. As Stephanie reported here on The Grinder, last week Jeff Varasano posted what is possibly the most incredible reverse-engineered recipe ever (not to mention the best piece of service journalism I’ve ever seen). In the days immediately thereafter, so many people scrambled to view the recipe—the result of Varasano’s six-year quest to reproduce NYC pizzeria Patsy’s pie—that his site couldn’t handle all the hits and had to shut down for a couple of days. The brave pizza chroniclers at Slice volunteered to mirror it on their site, risking traffic-overload themselves so that the world would not be deprived.

Oddly enough, while much of the recent pizza-centric blog talk is understandably in response to this one recipe—like Heidi’s great pie-focused post at 101 Cookbooks last week—there’s also quite a bit of seemingly independent discussion of the doughy dish. Chubby Hubby shows off his incredible-looking truffle pizza today; a Chowhounder solicited advice last week on getting a good rise out of his dough; and clear over in South Africa, Cooksister ponders pimped-out pies (with an instructive photo essay on how to top your ‘za with Mickey D’s cheeseburgers and fries).

Is there something in the air that’s making everyone think about pizza at the same time? The fact that World Bread Day is just around the corner could have something to do with it…

Should Red Wine Be Served at Room Temperature?

Should Red Wine Be Served at Room Temperature?

Serving wines slightly cool allows more flavor to come through. READ MORE

In Martha Mathers

In a future segment that could prove to be even more uncomfortable than when Sean Puff-Diddly-Daddy Combes taught her how to rap, Martha wants Eminem. No, not in her cookies. On her show. As a guest.

According to Forbes.com, Martha said, “I would really love to have Eminem on the show … I don’t think he knows that my demographic audience is so involved in Eminem music.”

I really do want to give Martha the benefit of the doubt here, but I can’t help but think this is an extreme reaction to Rachael Ray’s stellar daytime ratings. God, once she gets Eminem on, what on earth will she do with him? Maybe she could show him how to trim his wife-beaters with hand-ruched white leather, or whip up some handmade Marshmallow Mathers, or maybe even show him how to fold his wife-beaters. Just … no more rapping, PLEASE! (It is, admittedly, very sad that the most I know about Eminem centers on his wife-beaters, but hey, I never pretended to be Martha’s audience.)

I deleted Martha from my TiVo last year, but if Eminem really comes on the show, I’m so TiVoing it. I’ll just have to make sure I vacuum under my couch, since I’ll likely be cringing under there in sympathetic embarrassment.