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Cooking (65 posts)
State and county fairs seem to serve as laboratories for fried foods. Remember Oprah and Gayle's trip to the State Fair of Texas? Take a trip down a crispy, powdered sugar–dusted memory lane with this slide show of some of the fair's most bizarre fried foods.
Coming to my rescue is the Asian Market Shopper app I just loaded onto my iPhone. The new $3.99 app, created by Asian culinary expert and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen, categorizes 100 of the most commonly used ingredients, from miso to curry pastes to dried kelp, by region: Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia. Although many Asian ingredients are available in regular supermarkets these days, Asian markets still carry a wider variety of produce, grains, spices, noodles and condiments—and they're a fun place to explore (where else would you find chestnut rice cake mochi balls?).
Each ingredient in the Asian Market Shopper app, from annatto (the heart-shaped seeds of the evergreen annatto tree, used in Filipino and Vietnamese cooking) to yellow split peas, has a photo, its English name and its Asian name—and with the tap of an icon, Nguyen speaks the ingredient's name in both languages.
You can "favorite" certain ingredients, email them to yourself or a friend, even post them to Facebook or Twitter. The app has 25 recipes (and as you'd expect, any Asian ingredients have links to their specific pages on the app). There are instructional videos too, covering how to rig a steamer, how to clean and break down a crab and other tasks that are easier to grasp when demonstrated.
And zhenjiang xiang cu, in case you're wondering, is an inky, smoky, slightly bitter vinegar made mostly of sticky rice and malt. Besides kung pao dishes, it's also used for dipping northern Chinese dumplings. Thanks to my app, I know that Golden Plum brand is the standard bearer—and I even know to watch out for imposters.
Pay attention to what kind of alcohol you use. It should be 80 proof (things below that won't usually ignite).
Most brandy, cognac and rum fit the bill, but not Bacardi 151.
Don't heat the alcohol first. Doing so could make the liquid burst into flames before you want it to. Stick to room temperature.
Next: The importance of using a measuring cup
Yes, buying a quality cut of meat is critical, as is letting it come to room temperature before cooking. Aside from the usual recommendations, though, Lobel has one more crucial step for cooking a juicy, tender steak with an outside that's crusty and crackling, and an inside that melts in your mouth. Most cookbooks and grilling experts suggest rubbing both sides of the steak with kosher salt and pepper, and then searing it over high heat for about three minutes on each side. Lobel concurs, with one important addition.
[Next, the key to steak nirvana]
Feta cheese has long been the darling of the Greek food world, and for good reason: Its tangy flavor is key to such classics as spanakopita and Greek salads. But a new book on the country's cuisine, Food from Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros, introduces items that are just as versatile.
Kiros, the daughter of Finnish and Greek parents, begins her cookbook with a glossary of Greek staples.
On the list, amid such familiar items as feta, Greek yogurt, and phyllo, are three that we've become taken with:
To learn what they are, I talked to Jason Wulf, co-owner of Lake Effect Ice Cream in Buffalo, New York. His shop serves specialty sundaes like the Morning Commute (mocha cappuccino ice cream, chunks of doughnut bites, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and chopped nuts) and the Chocolate Smore-cupine (frozen hot-chocolate ice cream, toasted mini marshmallows, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and honey graham crackers that are baked in stick shapes).
Wulf says a good sundae has four crucial elements: ice cream, a liquid topping (such as hot fudge, hot caramel or maple syrup), whipped cream and something sprinkled or crunchy on top. Although a cherry is optional, it's good to have them handy. "For some people, it just isn't an ice cream sundae without that topper," Wulf says.
Next: Wulf's version of sundae school
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Public Service Announcement: Father's Day is this Sunday. Whether he's a sucker for gadgets or a lover of jazz, we've got 27 unique ways (in every price range) to say, "Thanks, Dad."
* "If you're a man who abhors sexism, take up the spatula.... The only way to erase [stereotypes] from our unconscious minds is to provide our minds, and the minds of our children, with images that counter the stereotypes."—Washington Post reporter Shankar Vedantam in Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families (Algonquin Books, $15.95)
* Meet Craig Dietz, who was born without limbs, and yet swam in a 4.4 mile race earlier this week. (The Stir)
* Adorable dads pose with their equally adorable children for The Sartorialist. (Racked)
* Last we checked, thoughtful relationship advice wasn't a qualification to become People's Sexiest Man Alive, but it turns out it doesn't hurt. "Relationships ending move you from who you were to who you are at a much more accelerated rate than almost anything else on earth."—Ryan Reynolds (Details)