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

Stovetop Popcorn

It’s pretty easy to make popcorn the old-time way–in a covered pot on the stove. Here’s how: heat oil in your pot over high heat, then add 3 kernels popcorn and cover. When the kernels pop, reduce heat to medium, add popcorn, and cover again, leaving the lid just slightly ajar so steam can vent. Shake the pot until the popping stops. Voila–popcorn!

Many chowhounds eyeball the proportion of oil to corn,

La Cabana Rodriguez: Fried Chicken, Dominican Style, in Flatbush

Among the cheap, satisfying Dominican dishes at La Cabana Rodriguez in Flatbush is expertly fried chicken, says bigmackdaddy. “It’s crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It has a nice spicy flavor and amazingly enough is not greasy at all.” Great fried pork skin, too.

La Cabana Rodriguez [Flatbush]
1062 Flatbush Ave., between Beverley and Cortelyou Rds., Brooklyn
718-287-0248
Locater

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Best fried chicken in NYC?

Torres’s Chocolate Factory Retools for Ice Cream

Chocolate maker Jacques Torres has branched out into ice cream. It’s great stuff, says wurstle, who sampled chocolate ice cream sandwiched between two house-baked chocolate chip cookies. The ice cream is light in texture, and the chocolate flavor is reminiscent of Torres’s popular hot chocolate. The cookies are first rate, filled with big chunks, not tiny chips, of Jacques Torres chocolate. “Quite good on a hot day,” concludes wurstle, “all in all miles above a Chipwich.”

The rotating ice cream flavors also include vanilla and hazelnut. It’s available at both Torres stores, in the West Village and DUMBO.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven [West Village]
350 Hudson St., at King, Manhattan
212-414-2462
Locater

Jacques Torres [DUMBO]
66 Water St., near Dock, Brooklyn
718-875-9772
Locater

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Ice Cream at Jacques Torres & DUMBO as an ice cream destination

One Hot Delivery: the Hatch Chile Express to LA

Hatch green chile season is here, and while there’s no canned substitute for the real thing, you can get the real thing by mail order, by the sack or by the pound. El Rey Farms delivers the chiles to La Puente High School on Saturday, August 12; Saturday, August 26; Saturday, September 9; and Saturday, September 16, says Norm Man. There may be another date in late September, depending on Mother Nature. There will be vendors in the parking lot who can roast your chiles on the spot.

El Rey Farms [East LA-ish]
Jim Fabian
P O Box 5824, Whittier
562-946-8040

La Puente High School [Inland of LA]
15615 Nelson Ave., La Puente
626-934-6700
Locater

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Frozen New Mexico Green Chiles in LA?
El Rey Farms —LA area source for fresh Hatch New Mexico Green Chilis

Another Oasis in the LAX-Adjacent Desert

Truxton’s is brightening up the chow-wasteland that is Westchester, reports Mr Grub. It’s an “American bistro,” which is restaurant code for upscale comfort food. Burgers are excellent, mac and cheese very good. There’s spaghetti and meatballs, if you like. The Argentine skirt steak may not be American in the sense we were thinking, but hey, it’s great. Vietnamese avocado spring roll, on the other hand, is inexplicable and nearly inedible.

There are lots of generous salad choices, plus a well-proportioned bar and accessible wine list.

Big windows and an open floor plan give the place an airy feel, and prices are within the cost-conscious neighborhood’s comfort level.

Truxton’s American Bistro [South LA]
8611 Truxton Ave., at Manchester, Los Angeles
310-417-8789
Map

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Truxton’s report

Destination Baking

Unlike so many of the crappy bakeries in the area, which bake up frozen, prefab items, Destination Bakery bakes true, says Atomica. Destination makes every element of their baked goods from scratch, except for the little round chocolate candy topping some of their cupcakes. That one single thing they buy from one of their customers.

Sticky buns and banana cream tarts are excellent. Nectarine tarts have decent pastry, but perfect fruit. Nancy Berry’s favorite is their apple crumb tart, with great, buttery crust, and soft-but-not-mushy apples. She also likes their raspberry jam and marzipan tart, and coffeecakes, too. In fact, everything she’s tried at Destination has made her happy.

Destination Baking Co [Glen Park]
598 Chenery St., at Castro, San Francisco
415-469-0730
Locater

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Creighton’s Bakery on Portola Drive, SF

We Will Give You All of Our Cannolis and Biscotti

Everybody who likes cannolis, biscotti, and focaccia absolutely must go to La Biscotteria, screams hhc. Cannolis are made fresh from good ingredients: mascarpone, ricotta, and a little wine. Foccacia is topped with ingredients fresh from the baker’s garden–homegrown rosemary, eggplants, potatoes, artichokes, and more. But be aware: focaccia and cannolis are only sold on Saturday, and they sell out easily, so place your order early. Call a week or two ahead of time.

Angela, the front counterperson, is one of the sweetest, friendliest people ever. She lets everybody sample as many varieties of biscotti as they wish, and will even give you some foccacia. It’s all delicious. One lb of biscottini costs $9; amaretto cookies are $5, panettone are $9 and $12, rosemary crostini are $6. They take cash and checks only.

Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 6 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday: 6 a.m.-3 p.m.. Closed Sunday and Monday.

La Biscotteria [Peninsula]
2747 El Camino Real, at Oakwood Dr., across from Ferrari Maserati, Redwood City
650-366-2747
Locater

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La Biscotteria, Redwood City report—It’s Great, everyone that likes focaccia, cannoli, biscotti must go!

You’re Going to Eat That?

Notations of “Sell by,” “Use by,” or “Expires on” protect the seller and remind the buyer when the stuff was purchased.

Common sense dictates that meat and seafood should be used quickly for best flavor and healthfulness. If you can’t use it soon after purchase, freeze it.

Dairy products may “go off” before the expiration date. It all depends on how they were handled before you get them home.

Rely on your eyes and nose. If it looks bad or smells bad, it is!

Read some good info and food safety shopping tips from The Dietitian.

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living dangerously—just how expired can it be and still be edible?

We Now Pronounce These Ingredients “Married”

Lots of preparations are even better a day or two later, after the flavors have had a chance to meld, or “marry.” Here are some classic examples:

Dishes with lots of flavor components benefit from a day’s rest, e.g., chili, stew, and mac and cheese (Dommy).

Many Indian dishes are better after a few hours, so make curry the night before. This is true of restaurant leftovers, too.

Low Country Jon notes that the flavor of “pot likker,” the liquid from cooking a pot of greens deepens when kept (store it in the fridge).

Make potato or macaroni salad and creamy cole slaw early in the day for serving for supper, says Will Owen.

Pat Hammond always makes coq au vin a day before it’s needed.

French daubes (e.g., beef stew with red wine and prunes) are traditionally reheated two or three times before serving, since only then do the flavors meld, notes Carswell.

Slacker recommends KFC Original, cold, the day after.

Here’s a list from Pescatarian:

Anything “pickled” or in a vinaigrette that needs to absorb flavors–cucumber salad, mango salad, etc.

Most dips–hummus, guacamole, etc.

Most baked pasta dishes.

Muffaletta sandwiches–they have to sit in the fridge wrapped and compressed for at least a day to meld together.

Most soups–especially cabbage borscht.

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Better the next day

Quark

Quark is a fresh cultured cheese of German origin that’s easy to find in Europe but relatively unknown in the U.S. It’s a little tangy (like buttermilk), but not sour. Consistency ranges from loose (a la sour cream) to cream cheese stiffness, and quark is lower in fat than sour cream or creme fraiche.

While quark is often eaten with cereal or spread on toast, it’s a terrific ingredient in cooking. niki rothman adds it to mac and cheese at the last minute for extra creaminess and uses it in lasagna as a substitute for ricotta. honkman suggests a spread for bread of quark mixed with chopped onion, chives, salt, and pepper; and for dessert, quark mixed with sugar and mashed strawberries. It also makes great cheesecake.

Lots of local dairies are making quark and selling it at farmers’ markets and small shops. Both Appel Farms and Vermont Butter and Cheese make highly complimented quarks with wide distribution.

Or you can make your own, with an electric quark maker and a quart of buttermilk.

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Quark–It’s not JUST a Sub-Atomic Particle!