The CHOW Blog rss

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

Why Must You Add Only One Egg at a Time When Baking?

Why Must You Add Only One Egg at a Time When Baking?

Emulsification is the goal. READ MORE

Peppery Pungent Paradise

Grains of paradise is an unusual spice with a pungent flavor. Sometimes it's called alligator pepper or melegueta pepper, but it's not a pepper at all—it's related to cardamom. The flavor has lots of depth, says sinjawns. It "starts peppery, goes to lavender, then to heat," he says. "You can use it in lieu of pepper, but I would say to use it as a finisher rather than a cooking ingredient, and in smaller quantities."

How do you use it? In spice blends, to make a "pepper crust" for fish, to flavor beer, and even to amp up a Bloody Mary, says carswell. sinjawns says he has used it in, or on, "all manner of savory items (soups, casseroles, chicken, fish) and also in a very dense brownie."

Discuss: Grains of Paradise

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"You could decide not to care what people think of your food choices. I've been pretty successful with this method. But if you can't, and you're worried that people will think you're too cool, try wearing unfashionable outfits to balance things out. I've been pretty successful with this method, too."
-small h

"When I asked one of the girls I know about her feast, she said it was great. When I asked her what she ate, she said, 'Meat!’”

"In my house my grandmothers gave all the babies chicken bones (cleaned off) to gnaw on when they were teething ... the first time I did this with one of my children I thought my mother in law would pass out!"

Picking a Good Olive Oil

So, the first reason to go to Hungry Beast's front page today is to see a picture of Jamie Oliver looking really old. Wow! He's all grown up.

The other reason to visit is for a concise guide to picking a good olive oil. Here's a boil-down: color, cut, clarity. Oh, wait, no: it's location, location, location. Or perhaps writer Jill Donenfeld and her cast of experts advise you to pay for the good stuff (preferably Spanish or Italian), to not use it to high-heat roast, and to keep it in the dark away from the stove.

Oh, and don't buy fake olive oil.

Image source: Flickr member fdecomite under Creative Commons

How to Form a Tamale

How to Form a Tamale

Masa plus filling plus corn husks equals deliciousness. READ MORE

Red-Sauce Italian Done Right

Cambridge's Basta Pasta has a new Quincy location that's been open for about six weeks—long enough to gather some intelligence about what's good and what's not on the menu of pasta, risotto, pizza, and panini. So, what's good?

• Fusilli, which is housemade and has great texture
• Arancini rice balls filled with fontina
• Sautéed calamari with garlic, capers, olives, and tomato sauce
• Housemade butternut squash ravioli with sage butter sauce
• Frutti di mare, with the aforementioned fusilli
• Chicken Parmesan
• Paninis, served on ciabatta instead of greasy focaccia

And not so good?

• The desserts—cannoli and tiramisu—are both average; walk elsewhere in the neighborhood
• Aglio olio is "way too garlicky, even for someone who loves tons of garlic," says winq
• There's no takeout after 5 p.m.

Basta Pasta [South Shore]
150 Hancock Street, Quincy

Discuss: Basta Pasta Quincy Is Open

Tamales for the Holidays

Tamales for the Holidays

Start your own family tradition. READ MORE

Lord Hobo: Worth the Wait?

Lord Hobo, the Cambridge place that was in the works for so long that it spawned its own prank domain, is open at last. The hounds have duly visited and spoken.

The drinks are the main things making them drool. The beer list is a wonderland of hard-to-find Belgians and IPAs, with 40 beers on draft, priced between $6 and $10. Waiters are ready to guide your selection, but the menu could use more description, as only beer geeks will be able to identify some of the brands. Samples are freely offered, however. Cocktails are, as jajjguy puts it, "very good and possibly excellent": try the Wall St. (wheat whiskey, Lillet Rouge, and orange bitters) or the Rambler (rye, vermouth, amaro, and maraschino).

On the food side, the fries have won many a convert; they come in curried and truffled versions. The charcuterie plate and the deviled eggs (three on a plate with avocado, truffle, or chile fillings), are also worthy beer companions.

Mains include lobster mac ’n' cheese and shepherd's pie, and are expensive ($17 to $26), good, but heavy. Even the salads—one with duck confit, the other with lardons and cheese—aren't exactly light, zebedee points out. Kind of a gut-bomb of a selection, really. But the lines out the door speak loudly of a target hit.

Lord Hobo [Cambridge]
92 Hampshire Street, Cambridge

Discuss: Lord Hobo
What is going on with the Lord Hobo?

Regal Beagle a Hit with Hounds

It's a good week for whimsically named new restaurants. The Regal Beagle is open in Coolidge Corner, and word is it's already turning out solid American food. Mac ’n' cheese ($12) was "cheesy crumbly goodness with lots of flavor," says Mr Bigglesworth, and the half roasted chicken with chard, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and polenta ($18) was "lovely."

Other high points: the herb butter brought out first thing you're seated, with sourdough bread and very thin with black and white sesame seeds; the burger ($13) is big and served on brioche with bread-and-butter pickles; and the pistachio-crusted scallops with butternut squash risotto and cherry glaze ($19) were the big hit of BobB's meal. In fact, no complaints have surfaced yet on the mains, all seem to be a hit.

The setting is much darker than the space's previous occupant. BobB's wife called the red flocked wallpaper "bordello," but the bar is cozy and servers are friendly enough to keep it from creeping customers out.

The Regal Beagle [South Shore]
308 Harvard Street, Brookline

Discuss: The Regal Beagle
The Regal Beagle - opening night

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"You can sign up on their website and they email you on Thursdays with what the fresh beef, veggie, and seafood (all local) deliveries are."

"Hmm, looks like ginger beer, smells like ginger beer ... It is! It is ginger beer! Delicious."

"I have a few gray hairs, which is not uncommon at my age. I think of them as proof that I am experienced. Little scratches in my roasting pans prove that I have been using them."