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

In the East Village, Middle Eastern Like Mama Used to Make

Mom's in the kitchen at Au Za'atar, and owner Tarik Fallous couldn't be happier. Fallous's mother is cooking the Lebanese food he grew up with, as well as a pan-regional menu of dishes from around the Middle East and North Africa. Grilled baby lamb chops seasoned with za'atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend that gives the month-old restaurant its name, are a highlight, Pookipichu writes on Chowhound, as is Tunisian-style Couscous Royal with lamb, chicken, and well-seasoned, nicely charred house-made merguez. (One misfire, she reports, is unbalanced, "relentlessly smoky" baba ghanoush.) READ MORE

Is It OK to Store Bread in the Fridge?

It happens all the time: You buy a loaf of sliced bread, set it on your counter or in the cupboard, and after a several days it’s stale and starting to mold. It’s a problem older than the commercial bread-slicing machine itself, whose inventor in 1928, Otto Rohwedder, used hat pins to keep the slices pushed together so they’d stay fresh longer, but probably required a lot of Band-Aids. READ MORE

Telepan Local: Keeping It Casual in Tribeca

Eight years after taking his market-centered cooking to the Upper West Side, Chef Bill Telepan has introduced a less dressy version downtown at three-month-old Telepan Local. In contrast with the Michelin-starred Telepan uptown, his new place offers simpler, smaller dishes—American tapas, he calls them. READ MORE

7 Sweet Ideas for Passover Desserts

The annual confluence of spring and Passover is pretty sweet—you want to celebrate with desserts to mark the occasion. These delicious ideas from the Chowhound Home Cooking board will have you and your Seder guests saying happy Pesach. READ MORE

What Kind of Food Has Meaning?

My grandma was a really terrible cook, but she could bake. She made angel food cake with chocolate glaze that tasted the way playground bark smells, only sweet. And she made lemon cookies that were tangy and had white icing that dripped a little off the edges and while it was thick it also looked gauzy. I asked her for the recipe and she wrote it out for me on the white pad she kept near the phone. READ MORE

How to Make Hefty Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Why would someone do this to lasagna, giving it the pigs-in-a-blanket treatment? Are individual rolled lasagnas better than the normal noodle stack you bake in a dish? These are questions I asked myself as I saw lasagna roll-up recipe after lasagna roll-up recipe on various food blogs. Were they a gimmick? I decided to find out. READ MORE

7 Quietly Awesome Ways to Use Cream Cheese

For most of us, cream cheese means bagels or cheesecake, but the dedicated and resourceful community on the Chowhound Home Cooking board sees far beyond schmears. Check out these seven recipes ideas that regard cream cheese as an essential ingredient for more cooking creativity. READ MORE

Great Matzo Ball Soup in New York City

As Passover draws near, many of us think about making our own matzo ball soup. Then we think again. Who needs the tsuris? There are so many ways to screw it up, like overhandling or undercooking the matzos. And there's the knotty question of knaidel density: Which is superior, the floater or the sinker? In the end, it's often best to leave these things to the pros—as savvy (or perhaps lazy) New York Chowhounds do at these five reliable favorites. READ MORE

Where to Buy Amazing Flour Online

It’s a brave new world for the home baker. In the now-distant past (as late as a year ago, actually), if you were serious about making bread at home the only decision about flour you had to make was which unbleached white flour gave the best lift and the chewiest crumb. But a revolution in grains, driven by a revival of heirloom grain production and stone milling, has made the options way more interesting. Where to score this amazing bounty online? Read on: READ MORE

Kosher Soul: Michael W. Twitty on Freedom, Diversity, and the Passover Table

Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrating a journey of emancipation, symbolized by food on the Seder plate. That’s fertile ground for a culinary historian who also happens to teach Judaic Studies. Talking with writer, historian, and chef Michael W. Twitty is to pivot around several simultaneous conversations: Judaism, blackness, history, activism. Twitty susses these things out on his food blog, Afroculinaria. The site is dedicated to preserving and reconstructing the diaspora cooking traditions of the antebellum South, and looks into identity matters of being both black and Jewish (or what he calls “Kosher/Soul”). Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover, translates as “mouth speak.” We thought it was the perfect moment to ask Twitty to mouth-speak his own thoughts on his favorite holiday, and what he plans to cook for Passover this year. READ MORE