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

Ghosts of Piroshkis Past

At the Golden Orb in San Rafael, the family of a beloved piroshki maker is using her recipe to make delicious piroshki in five flavors: beef spiked with dill and chopped egg, Italian sausage with mushrooms and peppers, chicken pot pie, spinach Parmesan, and cabbage vermicelli, says Cynsa.

The piroshki progenitor is Caroline, of the now-closed Moosetta’s Russian Piroshki in Sonoma. (“Moosetta’s had the only piroshki that I considered even close to the quality of the long-closed House of Piroshki in SF,” says Mick Ruthven.) Caroline’s son, his daughter, and the daughter’s fiancé are collaborating on Golden Orb; it’s a real family business.

Golden Orb [Marin County]
811 Fourth Street, San Rafael

Board Link: Piroshki at the Golden Orb in San Rafael?

Gilding a Gold Rush Classic

The Gold Rush–era dish hangtown fry is taken to another level at Serpentine, says SteveG. Perfectly browned diced pancetta, briny Hama Hama oysters, and tender scrambled eggs contribute to the intense, balanced flavors. The home fries stand up too: crisp on the outside and fluffy and delicate inside. Hangtown fry is on the weekend brunch menu.

Serpentine [Dogpatch]
2495 Third Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Amazing Hangtown Fry at Serpentine, San Francisco

As Seen on TV!

As Seen on TV!

Roxanne Webber's Thanksgiving tips on timing out your dinner, what to do with the leftovers, and more. READ MORE

Why Can’t I Find My Favorite Wine?

Consumers tend to imagine wine being produced at a bucolic Napa vineyard by a guy in an apron, but that’s not necessarily so, says the Hungry Beast in “How Wine Became Like Fast Food.” Wine and spirits stores like Total Wine and BevMo! are making and marketing their own private-label wines now. “Such brands are highly lucrative,” writes Keith Wallace, “with profit margins often 20% higher than comparable wines.”

The trend isn’t limited to dedicated booze stores: “Trader Joe’s has its ‘Two Buck Chuck,’ Wal-Mart has its Alcott Ridge, and 7-Eleven has its Thousand Oaks Vineyards.” Retail chains love the private-label wines because Joe Glug-a-bottle starts to associate this wonderful grape beverage with the company that introduced him to it—and is tempted to stop by more often to get more.

Why Does Pumpkin Pie Weep?

Why Does Pumpkin Pie Weep?

Because it's sad that you're overcooking it. READ MORE

More Fake Diet Chocolate

More Fake Diet Chocolate

This week's mission: an aerated candy bar. READ MORE

Positively Degenerate Flourless Chocolate Cake

When it comes to flourless chocolate cake, there are two main types: dense and intensely chocolaty versus lighter-textured and -flavored. The dense type is made with whole eggs, while the lighter type calls for separated eggs, with the whites whipped and folded in. “I guess it comes down to whether you want a truffle-like experience, in which case you’d go with the whole egg recipe, or something a little more subtle like the ones with beaten whites,” says bear.

Among the rich and dense types, bear is a fan of David Lebovitz’s “lusciously smooth” chocolate idiot cake. “It’s incredibly easy,” she says. BobB loves Lora Brody’s bête noir, which is also easy (it’s made in a food processor) and “so rich that a one-inch slice is plenty.”

fern makes a different dense flourless chocolate cake, also called la bête noir. Lynndsey Rigberg tried it, and says it was almost too intense: “The Beast is indeed, the Beast. It had a wondrously smooth texture…it was almost like a chocolate pot de creme.”

Lynndsey Rigberg prefers the texture that comes from incorporating beaten egg whites. Martha Stewart’s recipe has “a light, but surprisingly chocolaty and rich texture,” she says. Nigella Lawson’s chocolate cloud cake is also fabulous, says bear.

Board Link: best flourless chocolate cake recipe?

Don’t Toss Your Fennel Tops

Don’t throw out fennel fronds and stalks once you’ve trimmed them from the bulb. Fennel fronds can be used like an herb to add a punch of fresh flavor to salads, or to finish dishes. “I sprinkled the chopped fronds over a sweet potato bisque and it made a huge difference in flavor,” says danna.

coll uses fennel stalks and fronds to stuff chicken or turkey cavities before roasting, and suggests adding an orange or lemon, too. ChristinaMason uses fennel trimmings to stuff whole fish before roasting, or lays them under fillets before cooking. goodhealthgourmet adds the stalks to the liquid when poaching fish.

Board Link: How do you use fresh fennel trimmings? Or do you?

A No-Strings Celery Romance

Raw celery can be tough and stringy, but there’s an easy fix. Many hounds peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler or paring knife before eating the celery raw. Or simply pull off the strings: alkapal breaks off the bottom end of a stalk, leaving the strings attached, then pulls the broken-off end upward, leaving the stalk “de-stringed in one fell swoop.” If you’re going to cut the celery in several pieces for stuffing or crudités, don’t cut quite all the way through, recommends RGC1982. “Bend the celery back for a final crack while peeling the toughest, longest strings from the outside layer of the celery.”

Favorite fillings for stuffed celery are cheese spreads like pimento cheese, and tuna, egg, and chicken salads.

Board Link: Cheese/spread in celery ribs: celery’s too tough, too large; what to do?

Whither the Pawpaw

Ari Weinzweig, cofounder of Zingerman’s (home of great food affordable enough for kings and queens), shares some information on the marvelous pawpaw, a native American fruit that was recorded as George Washington’s favorite dessert. Passion fruit–esque in flavor and often puréed into custard or pie, the pawpaw has a profound novelty factor, and is worth a bit of meditation. And, hey! For a mere $75, you can have 12 ounces of your own Zingerman’s pawpaw gelato by mail, along with five other flavors of frozen Thanksgiving-compliant yumminess.

Image source: Flickr member sarahemcc under Creative Commons