The CHOW Blog rss

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

Tofu Tip

The life of store-bought tofu can be extended for a long time. Just store it in a brine solution of tap water and kosher salt. Do change the water occasionally (i.e., every other day or so).

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Here’s how long beancurd lasts:

Milkshake in a Bottle

Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and Fudge Brownie ice cream flavors now come in milkshake form, bottled a la Starbuck’s Frappuccino. Made with shelf-stable milk, they don’t require refrigeration (chill before drinking, though).

Dexters has tried Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey, and likes the latter the best, but calls both “decent.”

Read a review of these new products from the Free Press.

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Has anyone tried the bottled Ben and Jerry’s Milkshakes?

Best References for Fast Meals

Fresh Food Fast,” by Peter Birley: A vegetarian cookbook with plenty of appeal for omnivores, arranged by season–plus menus and shopping lists.

Seriously Simple,” by Diane Rossen Worthington: Quick, easy, and often elegant dishes that aren’t dumbed down for time’s sake…with plenty of simple variations so you won’t get bored.

Fast Food My Way,” by Jacques Pepin: Easy and sensible recipes, perfect for everyday meals.

Twenty-Minute Menus,” by Marian Burros: A no-nonsense, practical approach, emphasizing healthful recipes.

Everyday Food Magazine: tasty, quick recipes using fresh ingredients.

Warning: chowhounds have found that Rachael Ray’s “30-Minute Meals” are simply impossible to produce in 30 minutes…unless you have a prep cook.

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Fast Meals Cookbook

Wild Blueberry Cream Pie

If you’re able to get your hands on some fresh or frozen wild blueberries from the Northeast, this recipe (courtesy of Candy) is the perfect way to showcase both their intense flavor and deep color. Chock-full of tiny wild berries, when you cut into the pie, “it almost looks like caviar.” (Note: this recipe doesn’t work well with the usual big, cultivated blueberries.)

1 unbaked 9” piecrust
4 cups wild blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
4 T flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place blueberries in crust in pie plate. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over berries. Bake 35-40 minutes. Cool before slicing.

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Wild Blueberries

Holsten’s: Good Old-Fashioned Ice Cream in Bloomfield, NJ

What keeps people coming back to the venerable Holsten’s, established 1939, is ice cream of superior flavor and creamy texture. Vanilla fudge, nutty coconut, and cookies-n-cream are big favorites. Also, anything “chip”–coffee chip, mint chip, or chocolate chip, advises Felixnot: “It’s been our favorite for years, and we are fortunate that we can take a long walk to it on a summer evening.” Holsten’s wins bonus points for atmosphere. “I love the old-fashioned ice cream parlor. It reminds me of the good old days!” rhapsodizes nizza.

Other New Jersey ice cream lovers swear by Thomas Sweet in Princeton and New Brunswick (go for chocolate with a raspberry blend-in, urges fpatrick) or Applegate Farm, a mini-chain with eight stores in Bergen, Essex, Union, Morris, Monmouth, and Passaic counties.

Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionery [Essex County]
1063 Broad St., between Watchung and Johnson Aves., Bloomfield, NJ 07003
973-338-7091
Map

Thomas Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate [Mercer County]
179 Nassau St., between Vandeventer Ave. and Moore St., Princeton, NJ
609-683-8720
Locater

Thomas Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate [Middlesex County]
55 Easton Ave., between Condict and Somerset Sts., New Brunswick, NJ
732-828-3894
Locater

Applegate Farm Homemade Ice Cream [Jersey-wide]
multiple locations

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The best homemade ice cream

Cubanos from Manhattanville to Long Island City

Flor de Broadway, a bare-bones corner shop in Manhattanville, does little more than Cuban sandwiches, and they kill, says Alan Henderson.

Downtown, the Sophie’s mini-chain continues to turn out decent cheap Cubanos.

In Queens, djalexis recommends Las Vegas Restaurant, whose Cubano boasts first-rate roast pork with crispy cracklings, along with deli ham and strong Swiss cheese. But its garlic sauce is subpar, adds dj: “I love garlic, but this spread is cheap.”

La Flor de Broadway [Harlem]
3401 Broadway, at W. 138th St., Manhattan
212-926-4190
Locater

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Financial District]
73 New St., between Beaver St. and Exchange Pl., Manhattan
212-809-7755
Locater

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Civic Center]
96 Chambers St., between Church St. and Broadway, Manhattan
212-608-9900
Locater

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Murray Hill]
179 Madison Ave., between 33rd and 34th Sts., Manhattan
212-679-3500
Map

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Midtown East]
369 Lexington Ave., between 41st and 40th Sts., Manhattan
212-922-3576
Locater

Las Vegas Restaurant [Long Island City]
44-62 21st St., between 44th Dr. and 45th Ave., Long Island City, Queens
718-482-9478
Locater

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Chow in Hamilton Heights
best sandwiches in lower manhattan?
Riverdale Restaurants
Best Cuban Sandwich in NYC —What makes it authentic?

Gelato from the Old Country’s Old School

If you like real gelato, run, don’t walk to Bulgarini, hidden away in the courtyard of the Pacific Asia Museum, says revets2. Recently raved about in LA Weekly, these guys studied with some of the best gelato makers (I’m sure there’s a particular Italian word for such people) and churn it up in the old style.

Hazelnut gelato is made with Oregon nuts, and the complexity and texture are just unreal.

Pistachio uses northern Italian nuts, ground to a paste; it’s incredibly intense and not too sweet.

Mango is pure fresh fruitiness. Might bring you to tears.

Limited availability, though: Open Friday-Sunday only, 11 a.m.-6 p.m..

Bulgarini Gelato [Pasadena-ish]
in Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena
626-441-2319
Map

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Bulgarini Gelato–The Best

Filipino Finds

The super-friendly, family-owned Filipino restaurant Alejandro’s has a great crew in the kitchen, says grc, including chefs from the well-regarded, now defunct Barrio Fiesta. Alejandro’s, which has been open about six months, is a good place to get a range of Filipino specialties.

A West Valley secret, says Veggietales, is Nipa Hut, a fast-food joint with amazing garlic fried chicken. Give your craving a day of rest, though–they’re closed on Sundays.

At Davao Tuna Grill, you can get healthy Filipino food without all the typical grease, says Silent Android. Who knew it was possible?

Salo Salo Grill may have the most consensus as a good all-around Filipino restaurant right now. Of course, their specialty is grilled dishes, but you’ll do well with their other dishes. Veggietales warns, though, that the pancit is disappointing.

Some are happy with Max’s of Manila, for the famed fried chicken–crispy yet juicy, says Danimal n Hustler–and crispy pata. But Silent Android insists, “If you’re Filipino, you will hate Max’s in Glendale with a passion.”

Many reasons are given, but to read them all you’ll have to…

Alejandro’s [Eagle Rock]
4126 Verdugo Rd., at York, Los Angeles
323-550-1063
Locater

Nipa Hut [West San Fernando Valley]
22122 Sherman Way, at Topanga, Canoga Park
818-347-9068
Locater

Davao Tuna Grill [East San Fernando Valley]
730 S. Central Ave, Glendale
818-662-0990
Locater

Salo-Salo Grill [East San Fernando Valley]
130 North Maryland Ave, Glendale
818-241-0880
Map

Salo Salo [Artesia-ish]
18300 Gridley Rd. # A, Artesia
562-809-6277
Locater

Salo Salo Grill [Inland of LA]
2530 E Amar Rd., West Covina
626-964-4095
Locater

Salo-Salo Grill [Inland of LA]
12625 Frederick St. Suite K6, Moreno Valley
951-653-5555
Map

Max’s Of Manila [East San Fernando Valley]
313 W. Broadway, Glendale
818-637-7751
Locater

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Max’s Philipino Resturaunt in Glendale

New Salvadoran

Platano is a brand new Salvadoran place. The space is partially unfinished, but their kitchen is already up and running and producing excellent food, reports maus1.

Yucca cocido is great, with a good portion of wonderfully crispy pork, and a nice side of cabbage. An order of tamales de sal consists of two wonderful masa tamales steamed in a banana leaf. Albondigas–meatball soup–tastes excellent, with a home-style light tomato sauce. The minty meatballs are a little dry, though. Carne guisada is very soft, with string beans, potato, and carrots–just the sort of thing a Salvadoran grandmother would cook if she really loved you.

Cafe Platano [East Bay]
Formerly Thai Garlic
2042 University Ave., Berkeley
Map

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New! Platano Salvadorean in Berkeley

Fishy Eggs

Ikura is salmon roe, those glistening orange globes you see on “gunkan,” the seaweed wrapped cylinders of rice topped with roe. If you’re buy salmon roe, look for sugiko, where the eggs are enclosed in the egg sac. They’ve been salted and/or brined in soy sauce. Applehome finds that the flavor is superior when the roe is purchased this way.

Other roe products that are worth investigating are Kazunoko (herring roe) and all forms of cod/pollock roe.

Uni is the roe of sea urchins. Some are put off by the texture of the tiny egg sacs; it’s soft and melts on the tongue. The best, and some say the only, way to experience uni is fresh from the spiny shell of the urchin. An experienced server will neatly open the shell to expose the roe. Try it on a slice of French bread.

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Uni is the nectar of the gods. (Ikura on the other hand…)