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

Pulitzers, Hexane-Laced Veggie Burgers, and Whining About Free Beers at Lunch

Sam Adams' Fauxtisanal Campaign: Sam Adams tries to make itself seem puny in new advertisements, because it’s cool now to be a craft brewery. Then some stats came out showing it’s in the top five breweries behind D.G. Yuengling and Pabst. Whoops. via Slate's The Big Money

Draft Wine Goes Big: A number of San Francisco and LA restaurants, and at least one (DBGB) in New York, are offering wine on tap, as a greener alternative to bottles. via Ethicurean

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London’s Renegade ABC-Gum Artist

Ben Wilson has been making mini masterpieces on London sidewalks for several years by painting old globs of gum. Each tiny painting tells a site-specific story: here's where someone was kissed for the first time; here's where he was knocked down and hurt. Wilson has had many encounters with the police, but since there's no law against defacing litter he always skates by, free to paint another day. Here's a good repository of images of his work, and here's an even larger Ben Wilson gallery.

Image source: Flickr member judepics under Creative Commons

via Metafilter

Ballad of The Last Sardine

After 135 years, the last U.S. sardine cannery is shutting down in Maine. Why, since few Americans eat sardines at this point, does it matter that Stinson Seafood of Prospect Harbor is closing down?

1. Sardines are damned healthy. The last sputtering end of their heyday (production peaked at 384 million cans in 1950 according to the ABC News story) is a sad footnote to the fatass book of ways modern Americans eat too much bad food.

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An Unsavory Take on Ritz

An Unsavory Take on Ritz

This week's mission: a sweet incarnation of an old American cracker favorite. READ MORE

Perfect Seared Scallops

Searing scallops is a simple matter that requires only a few techniques; after they're done perfectly, you can get creative with sauces.

Before you sear scallops, make sure they are very dry by patting off any moisture with paper towels. "Obviously, dry-packed scallops are the best," says LindaWhit, but if using injected or thawed scallops, "I've found that using lots of paper towels and letting the scallops sit to allow the moisture to leach out as well as it can also works."

Season the scallops with salt and pepper, or dredge lightly in seasoned flour. Heat a pan well, and sear in oil or clarified butter over medium-high heat until they're nicely browned, then turn. It's important not to overcook them or they will become rubbery; they only need a few minutes on each side and should be just opaque in the middle.

bushwickgirl offers a formula for a rich and tasty pan sauce that can "be altered to suit your taste; spicy, tangy, tart, whatever you like. Scallops are very flavor-friendly and go with many things." Here's how: After searing, remove scallops from pan, add wine or liquor of choice (she likes Pernod), a splash of heavy cream, herbs, a little spritz of citrus juice, and cold butter; reduce for a few minutes; serve. For a variation, CHOW's Seared Scallops with Lemon and Vodka ditches the Pernod in favor of vodka.

normalheightsfoodie reduces a combination of one cup each orange juice and pomegranate juice, a bit of sugar, and a bit of balsamic vinegar to a syrup. She places seared scallops atop wilted spinach and drizzles it on.

Discuss: Suggestions for Pan Searing Scallops?

Delicious Dunking for Artichokes

Melted butter is the classic dip for artichoke leaves, and some like straight mayonnaise or mayo mixed with Dijon mustard. But spend just a minute or two more, and you can add lots of new flavors. Try adding lemon juice or garlic to either melted butter or mayo, suggest hounds.

"My favorite is a gribiche sauce," says Boswell, "like a mayonnaise made with the yolks of hard-boiled eggs pushed through a sieve, then mixed with the diced egg whites, capers, and dill." sparkareno mixes mayo with roasted garlic, orange zest, orange juice, and some chipotle in adobo sauce. "People flip out—it is so good," she says.

More ideas: Lemon vinaigrette; Greek yogurt with minced garlic or shallot and salt and pepper; a dressing of blue cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil; remoulade; or tartar sauce.

For the cooking part, use CHOW's tutorial on steaming artichokes.

Discuss: What do you eat with artichokes?

All Convenience, No Flavor

All Convenience, No Flavor

This week's mission: Can Nestlé pull off refrigerated, stuffed cookie dough? READ MORE

What’s the Difference Between a Macaroon and a Macaron?

What’s the Difference Between a Macaroon and a Macaron?

That one o makes a big difference. READ MORE

Seaweed Bacteria Meet Tummy Bacteria and Decide to Get Along

Eating sushi has made the Japanese more capable of... digesting sushi. The journal Nature has just published a study that found Japanese people carry a gene that allows them to digest carbohydrates specific to nori. All other non-acclimated guts just ignore the extra potential energy while focusing on ingesting all that mercury. READ MORE

Peanuttiest Peanut Butter Cookies

There are many kinds of peanut butter cookie, including a flourless one popular with hounds. They also like other styles that pack extra peanut oomph.

gmm's favorite is Cook's Illustrated's recipe, which uses crunchy peanut butter and ground peanuts. ChefJune says her "hands-down favorite recipe" is the unusual Peanut Minus Cookies, made with maple syrup and brown rice flour but without eggs or butter. "Best peanut butter cookies I've ever made or eaten," she says.

bushwickgirl is a big fan of CHOW's Triple-Peanut Peanut Butter Cookies, which include roasted peanuts and peanut butter chips. "Notice the word 'triple' in the recipe title," she says, "peanut upon peanut upon peanut butter."

Discuss: Favorite peanut butter cookie?