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

Truffle Salt

Truffle salt is a combination of ground truffles and sea salt. It doesn’t have the intensity of truffle oil, but the essence of truffle is definitely there.

Sprinkle it on almost any savory dish; the stuff works particularly well on scrambled eggs, croutons, roasted asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, crispy-skinned chicken and roasted meat.

For very special fries and popcorn, give them a hit of truffle salt.

Amazon sells several truffle salts.

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Truffle Salt

Corn Off the Cob

It’s hard to imagine overdosing on corn on the cob, but if you do, cut the kernels off your end-of-summer corn, and use it in one of these recipes.

Saute the kernels with minced jalapenos to taste; once off the heat, stir in goat cheese for a creamy, spicy side–or add sauteed or grilled shrimp for a main dish.

Saute the kernels and add to pasta with some oven-dried cherry tomatoes, basil, shrimp, and a bit of white wine and olive oil.

Saute with onion and garlic and add soy sauce for a sweet and salty combo (also good with mushrooms).

gorboduc shares his recipe for corn pudding: preheat oven to 350F. Cut the kernels off of 5 ears of sweet corn. Scrape the cobs down to get the remaining corn and corn juice. Sprinkle the corn with 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp salt, and fresh ground pepper. Stir to coat. Add 2 well-beaten eggs, 2 cups whole milk, and 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Stir to combine. Pour into a greased casserole and bake for about 1 hour, until the pudding is set on the edges, but still jiggles a bit in the center.

AlliantK recommends this recipe for fresh corn quiche.

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End of Summer Corn-something new?

Give That Steak a Rest

Most home cooks know that large roasts should rest before being carved, so their juices can reabsorb. The same is true of the simple steak. But how to keep such a small piece of meat from cooling off while it rests? Here’s what happens: during the resting period, the internal temperature of a piece of meat will actually increase from the residual heat, explains Norm Man. This is called the carryover cooking effect. In his experience, the internal temperature of a steak will rise around 5-7 degrees.

So, to rest a steak: place your cooked steak on a warmed plate. Crease a piece of foil to form a tent shape, and drape the foil over the plate so it doesn’t touch the steak. This’ll keep all the heat in without compromising the steak’s crust. Finally, you only need to rest a steak around five minutes before digging in. If it’s an inch thick, it still won’t want more than ten minutes.

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Preserving the heat: Steak serving temperature

Snackie Cakes

Snackie Cakes

Our own versions of cellophane-wrapped classics allow you to make your own old-fashioned treats. READ MORE

The Weak in Review: Least Essential Food Writing for Sept. 4-8

It’s two, two, two sucky stories to wind up the week.

In the October issue of Food & Wine, Christopher Russell, general manager at New York’s Union Square Café, reveals his bohemian sense of hospitality: “[A customer] had a bacon-cheddar burger and a bottle of the 1982 Cheval Blanc; a $13 burger and a $1,400 bottle of wine. I thanked him and invited him to come back the next day.” Incredible! A customer spends $1,400 on wine… and he’s invited back! Stay tuned for November’s edition, wherein a customer mishandles the blini while eating an $800 plate of caviar and is not summarily whapped across the face with a vodka bottle.

The email newsletter of aphrodisiac-obsessed food writer Amy Reiley is similarly uninspired this week, with a not-very-detailed essay on why the tomato is this month’s sexy featured ingredient. She writes:

Renamed pomme d’amore, or love apple, by the French in the 16th Century, the tomato is thought by many historians to be the original forbidden fruit.

Google would reply by saying: Name one historian making that case. Islamic historians thought it was the banana, which makes a certain amount of low-comedy sense. Jewish tradition suggests the pomegranate, among other possibilities. Figs, mushrooms, apples, pears, and quinces have also been mentioned as reasonable candidates, but the truth is that no one really has a clue. One thing’s for sure: the tomato, as a New World plant, is fairly far down the ladder of speculation.

A Crush-Worthy Candidate

There’s a new food blogger in town, and he happens to be the most adorable candidate for Agriculture Commissioner of South Carolina this writer has ever seen. Probably also the most adorable candidate for Agriculture Commissioner anywhere.

Emile DeFelice, the aforementioned adorable candidate, raises pigs for a living and lets his animals roam free on a certified organic farm. He helps direct a farm stewardship association and has supercute kids and a wife who makes her own wine. And as a central part of his campaign, he’s drawing attention to the local-food movement: The whole family has been eating nothing but locally-produced food since July 4th and plans to continue through election day. He’s making rather good use of the camera and the blog medium in documenting their eat-local challenge, too; those pork chops in particular look mighty chompable.

Sure, he’s not a perfect candidate. As Fesser at The Gurgling Cod points out (Fesser is the one who introduced me, btw), Emile does have a penchant for silly puns —the whole “put your state on your plate,” “put my pork on your fork” thing could get a little old. And Emile also seems inordinately worried that people will mispronounce his name.

Still, this guy is inspiring—he even has a whip-smart energy policy that recognizes the inherent limitations of corn ethanol and soybean-based biofuels and instead emphasizes solar and wind power!! Head and shoulders above my state’s ag commissioner, who’s actually pretty cool. If any of y’all are contemplating a move to South Carolina before November, I say do it, and vote DeFelice. And if you already live there, well, lucky you (for many reasons). Anyone know of other cool food-forward politicians?

On the Hook

Could Red Hook get any more hyped? With the opening of fancypants grocery store Fairway Market earlier this summer, and a giant IKEA in the works, hardly a week goes by without some trend piece naming it the next Williamsburg/Dumbo/Hell’s Kitchen/East Village. And now, a wine bar!

Already, there’s a lot to eat-and drink-down by the waterfront. Recent spreads in Edible Brooklyn and The New York Times (requires registration) revealed local foodies’ secret: the cheap, excellent Mexican and Central American street food cooked up by local vendors alongside the ballfields on summer weekends. Bourbon lovers make the trek to LeNell’s quirky liquor boutique for its superior small-batch sourmash selection; drag-karaoke enthusiasts go to hipster diner Hope & Anchor; cupcake cravers hit Baked; and steak and kimchee fans head to The Good Fork.

But as if we needed any more evidence that the nabe going from Mickey’s to merlot, the Hook’s got a brand-new wine bar, Tini, run by Monica Byrne (who worked the kitchen of the nearby Liberty Tap Room, back when they served more than just deep-fried mozzarella sticks). The menu sounds like a stripped-down version of Cobble Hill’s new Bocca Lupo: Italian salumi, nifty cheese plates, olives, salads from local asphalt-farm Added Value along other salty, snacky small plates meant to keep you drinking.

Still, for all the ink the ‘hood’s getting, it’s still pretty scruffy (although it certainly wasn’t hit as hard with the aluminum-siding ugly stick as Williamsburg and Greenpoint). And there’s no public transit, besides a couple of bus lines. So sure, go raise a glass at Tini if you’re already living in Brooklyn. But Manhattanites? You people have enough bars. Stay home.

It’s Crumbelievable!

Stephen Colbert has found a metaphor for the state of America’s pop culture in the wonderfully absurd advertising campaign for Kraft Crumbles.

Kraft’s television commercial for the processed cheese bits re-work EMF’s 1991 hit “Unbelievable” into the slogan “crumbelievable.” The cheesy ad–part of a trend in marketing towards targeting Gen Xers with revamped 80s and 90s pop songs –has been derided by ad critics and called the “worst, worst-worst-worst commercial sellout” by one blogger.

But, mock pundit Colbert has upped the absurdity factor one step further by seizing upon the ad as a rallying cry on The Colbert Report:

“Folks, that’s not just a commercial for cheese that hits the spot when shredded cheese is just too shredded and a block of cheese is just too blocky, it’s also perfect metaphor for the state of our popular culture —crumbled into little pieces.”

Thanks to YouTube, the original “America’s Pop Culture: It’s Crumbelievable” segment is available for your viewing pleasure, as is a second report hilariously decrying the negative impact of cable TV on American families.

Some Like it Very, Very, Very Hot

Jalapeno curry from India Sweets & Spices, in this case, the SF Valley branch, may be one of the hottest dishes in the city, says yclops. It’s very, very manly–this stuff’ll put as much hair on your chest as Chewbacca.

It’s a beautiful dark orange-yellow stew, loaded with long-cooked jalapenos. At first you might not think it’s so hot. You might think, hey, this curry has a nice tang. And then…”After a few minutes I felt like I was going to have a baby. The raita cooled my mouth somewhat, but didn’t do much for the fire down below. Still, I finished every last bit, and smiled at the counterman to let him know that I’d won.” The burn continued all afternoon. “I’ll skip the rest of the details, but suffice it to say that it burned going in, it burned coming out and burned all the while in between; it had some serious staying power. Either that was one spicy dish, or I’m not 21 anymore.” Still, it’s very tasty, and if you want a good long burn, it’s highly recommended.

India Sweets & Spices [West San Fernando Valley]
22009 Sherman Way # 11, at Topanga Canyon, Canoga Park
818-887-1417
Locater

India Sweets & Spices [Los Feliz]
3126 Los Feliz Blvd., at Edenhurst, Los Angeles
323-345-0360
Locater

India Sweets & Spices [Culver City-ish]
9409 Venice Blvd., Culver City
310-837-5286
Locater

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Jalapeno curry at India’s Sweet & Spice

You Got Some BBQ Handy?

Lured by the siren scent of smoke, bodie ventured into Handi Market in search of ‘cue. The tri-tip is tender, flavorful, and just salty enough, leaving a smoky aftertaste. It’s kind of in the Santa Maria model of BBQ, if not the best-quality example of it.

Turkey leg is also tender and tasty, and chicken just falls off the bone.

Chicken, turkey, and pork run about $3/pound, and tri-tip is about $7/pound.

Handi Market [East San Fernando Valley]
2514 W. Magnolia Blvd., at Buena Vista, Burbank
818-848-2500
Locater

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Handy Market BBQ