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

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

“Meat is not a homogeneous mass. Depending where on the animal it came from and what its function in life was, the flavor will vary tremendously.”
-KaimukiMan

“In honour of Big Bird & the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street (today according to Google), what are some of your favourite dishes and recipes from the show. And especially for Big Bird. What are some of your favourite poultry recipes or dishes?”

-bigfellow

“If you like the fried cheese edges of pizza, you can just fry some other cheeses in a fry pan until crispy and eat.”
-scuzzo

Mussels for the Novice

In flavor, mussels are comparable to other bivalves (clams, oysters), “but maybe taste a little more of the sea,” says dmd_kc. thew agrees: Mussels are “soft, briny, creamier in flavor than other bivalves, and perhaps slightly fishier.” Unlike other bivalves, mussels are pretty much always served cooked, says gordeaux. One thing about mussels: Freezing completely ruins them, says gordeaux. “They are one bivalve that turn into garbage once frozen. I can spot a frozen mussel after one bite. They get really firm, almost rigid. I just can’t do frozen mussels. Not worth it in my book,” he says.

How to try them? The classic preparation is the exquisitely simple moules marinière, mussels steamed or simmered in white wine and garlic. Using a simple marinara sauce for a simmer will work well—especially “with a good french bread to sop up the yummy sauce with,” says gordeaux. And “if you want to drift away from all these tomato/wine sauce advocates, if you want to run at the edge of the pack, then lightly batter, coat with a few bread crumbs and deep fry,” suggests Paulustrious. “Drizzle with a little garlic butter. The sea washes all the calories away.”

Board Link: What are mussels like?

10 Mail-Order Gifts for 2009

10 Mail-Order Gifts for 2009

Send a boozy, chocolaty, or meaty present this holiday season. READ MORE

What Makes Great Seaweed Salad

Eating prepared seaweed salad is, unfortunately, “so often like eating sweetened strands of plastic,” says tatamagouche. What makes seaweed salad great? It’s a balance of flavors, and the right texture. “It’s gotta be just the right balance of sour (rice vinegar), sweet (sugar) and salty (dashi),” says soypower. “To me, it has to have a good mix of different kinds of seaweed, plenty of sesame seeds, the bite of chili pepper, and that great saltiness you get with good seaweed,” says kubasd. “And it must be tender.”

“Good seaweed salad needs to have sweet and savory, and have a nice smokiness from the sesame oil and seeds,” says ipsedixit. “And the seaweed needs to be a bit chewy, but soft and never rubbery.” ipsedixit’s recipe includes garlic, chile flakes, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. The seaweed is marinated overnight and garnished with toasted sesame seeds just before eating.

Board Link: Define really good seaweed salad.

Don’t Drink Bad Eggnog

Eggnog’s not local. It’s not organic. It has high-fructose corn syrup, carrageenan, and guar gum in it. “Maybe it’s bad, but it tastes OH SO GOOD,” says kattyeyes.

Hood is the best brand, says foodsnob14. “Thankfully we cannot get it year round, I would be 20 lbs heavier!” alkapal particularly appreciates Hood’s pumpkin eggnog: “This stuff is phenomenal. Just the right amount of pumpkin-y goodness, and only a hint of spices.” And it makes killer French toast, says HillJ. Just dip and pan-fry. It’s also delicious processed through an ice cream maker. Cherylptw likes cooking with eggnog; “think crème brûlée, cheesecake, bread pudding, ice cream, pancakes, etc.,” she says.

For Chowhounds in the Los Angeles area, Broguiere’s eggnog is the stuff, says monku. It’s the one that comes in old-fashioned glass bottles. Truly divine, says latindancer.

Of course, dedicated hounds can always make their own.

Board Link: What brand of eggnog is your favorite?

The Last Good Job in Food Media

We’ve got a plum proposition for one very specific food journalist: Come and work for CHOW.com. We’ve got a food editor position open. Old media is crumbling around us, have you heard? And while you’re cleaning your hands of that sticky paste-up goo and worrying about filling the front of the book, or whatever it is print editors do these days, we’re entertaining readers and teaching people how to cook. Which is why you got into food media in the first place, right?

As we say in the job posting, the best candidate for this job will make us laugh. He or she will manage a kitchen, lead a team, and want to perform in front of the camera but not clown around or be superearnest. The food editor will, above all, convey information clearly and directly. He or she will think creatively about food and online media and techniques. Will love to eat and love to learn about food, yet will be skeptical about the old ways of doing things. The food editor will have ideas about bok choy and user engagement and online communities. But won’t use words like decadent and yummy.

We have other criteria; see the job listing on mediabistro.com or CBS Interactive.

Better Than a Supermarket Bird

Oh man! Is it almost Thanksgiving already? FinnFPM is new in town and looking for a source for organic/local turkey. Here are the hound-approved purveyors of such turkeys, as well as heritage breeds:

• Stillman’s is top of the list for its superior birds. The farm still has some turkeys left; you can get them in small (10 to 15 pounds, $65), medium (16 to 20 pounds, $80), and large (21 to 25 pounds, $100). The heritage turkeys are sold out for 2009; on the website Stillman’s offers to put customers on a mailing list for 2010. Kind of cold comfort.

• Owens Poultry Farm has birds that have “fantastic flavor” but are “rather expensive” at $8.50 a pound, according to Luther.

• Misty Knoll Farms, best known for its delightful chickens, also sells turkeys that are almost local (is Vermont local?). If you order one of Misty Knoll’s turkeys through Brown Boar Farm, Brown Boar will drop it off at Holly Hill Farm on November 21.

• Several hounds have had good luck ordering from Russo’s. The store sources from a farm in Vermont, says Spenbald, and at $2.98 a pound, the turkeys are quite a bargain. They’re all-natural, though “not quite as pampered and responsible as some other choices in the area.”

Stillman’s Farm [MetroWest]
1205 Barre Road, New Braintree
508-867-7193

Owens Poultry Farm [MetroWest]
585 Central Avenue, Needham
781-444-1861

Misty Knoll Turkey Pickup at Holly Hill Farm [South Shore]
236 Jerusalem Road, Cohasset
781-383-1455

Russo’s [MetroWest]
560 Pleasant Street, Watertown
617-923-1500

Board Link: Where’s everyone buying their Thanksgiving turkey?

A Reason to Pay $30 a Pound for Scallops

Hovering around $30 a pound, Nantucket bay scallops are a rarefied treat that just roared into season. They’re tiny (about the size of a dime) and usually served raw, as in a ceviche, or just barely cooked. Seems a little wacky to pay that price when sea scallops can be had for $8 to $20 a pound, but hounds swear by the Nantuckets: “Nantucket bay scallops are a unique enjoyment—sweet, tender, super small, and perfect raw. While perhaps unsuitable as an everyday-replacement to your usual scallops, Nantucket’s are a wonderful treat,” says rlove.

If you’re a DIY cook, the Nantucket scallops are available at Mercato del Mare and James Hook. The scallops are also starting to show up on local menus as specials. They’ve been spotted at Neptune and Garden at the Cellar.

Mercato del Mare [North End]
99 Salem Street, Boston
857-362-7477

James Hook & Co. [The Waterfront]
15 Northern Avenue, Boston
617-423-5500

Neptune Oyster [North End]
63 Salem Street, Suite 1, Boston
617-742-3474

Garden at the Cellar [Cambridge]
991 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
617-230-6880

Board Link: First Nantucket Bay Scallops of the Season

Hyderabadi Joy

“Other Indian restaurants in Boston pale by comparison,” says StriperGuy of Kabab & Tandoor. He breaks it down for us: “excellent” chapati, “superb” dal, “mindblowingly good” apricot custard dessert. The meats are good, especially goat and chicken, and the haleem, a sort of meat pudding with crispy onions atop, is choice.

Trumpetguy has a thing for the curried whole eggplants in peanut/sesame sauce and the potatoes cooked with chiles, garlic, and tomato. The place doesn’t get the crowds it deserves, so make with the group dinners and lunches.

Kabab & Tandoor [North of Boston]
699 Main Street, Waltham
781-899-0022

Board Link: Kebab and Tandoor Waltham, Best Indian Inside 128

Overheard on the Boston Boards

“Oh the joy of sticking my face over that pizza and having all those aromas wafting up! I was practically delirious while eating it.”
-heypielady

“What is with the bread sticks?? They bring them on a nice plate and dump them onto the table. This is new. Very weird.”
-emilief

“How many fast food counters can say they give an amuse-bouche?”
-Parsnipity