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Special Sauce: Tommy Tomlinson on Untangling Food, Love, and Loving Food

Special Sauce: Tommy Tomlinson on Untangling Food, Love, and Loving Food

[Photograph: Jeff Cravotta. Burger photograph: Emily and Matt Clifton.] It’s pretty rare for a Special Sauce interview to speak so directly to me that it feels like I’ve been hit in the gut. But that’s exactly what happened when I talked with Pulitzer Prize-nominated author […]

Behind the Phenomenon That Makes Your Wine Smell Like Farts

Behind the Phenomenon That Makes Your Wine Smell Like Farts

Have you ever taken a sip of, say, a nice full-bodied Shiraz and smelled something that crossed over from earthiness into just plain stinky? Did the stink kind of remind you of cooked cabbage? A coworker’s broccoli-heavy lunch? Did it perhaps smell a little…farty? You’re […]

Introducing Serious Eater: The Untold Serious Eats Origin Story

Introducing Serious Eater: The Untold Serious Eats Origin Story


If you’re reading Serious Eats now, it’s because people like you believed in Serious Eats when we first started out. You might not believe the things we had to overcome to get here, but I’ve written a book about it all. It’s called Serious Eater: A Food Lover’s Perilous Path to Pizza and Redemption. Want proof? That’s the cover right up there.

You might notice I’m on the cover. That wasn’t my idea, but somehow now I think it works.

As everything having to do with this site always has been, Serious Eater was truly a team effort. Kenji wrote a beautiful foreword, and both he and Stella contributed some original recipes to the book. Countless other Serious Eaters past and present read drafts, masterminded the launch, and provided good food and good advice.

The book’s publication date is June 11, but you can preorder it online now. Why do that? Because then you’ll get your hands on it before anyone else—along with some sweet rewards, for which you’ll just have to stay tuned. And keep your eyes peeled for more to come, especially events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and New York—including a
special event at Kenji’s Wursthall.

Why did I write the book? I wanted—I needed— to make sense of the insane 10-year-long roller-coaster ride that was founding and growing Serious Eats into an established website. (It was a terrifying ride, but one that only whetted my appetite to find the next great slice of pizza.) I wanted people to see what happens when a food journalist tries to turn his pursuit of food pleasure into a business in the go-go years of the blogosphere, when anything and everything seemed possible. It’s a helluva yarn—so unbelievable that it could only be true.

You’ll learn about my pre–Serious Eats life, including the many years I spent in the music business working with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, the B-52s, and Dr. John. You’ll read about how the original Serious Eats crew came together, including our first chief technology officer, Tumblr founder David Karp, and how we almost teamed up with the founders of Bonnaroo to go into the live food events business in a major way. You’ll hear the story of how Kenji and I fell into our incredible creative partnership and how so many Serious Eaters, past and present, have helped shape this glorious site (many beloved Serious Eaters make appearances, including Robyn Lee, Adam Kuban, and Max Falkowitz). You’ll learn the desperate, almost absurd lengths I went to keep Serious Eats alive, risking just about everything I hold dear. And finally, you’ll learn about the crucial supportive roles my wife Vicky and my late brother Mike played in the drama that was Serious Eats.

In short, you’ll learn the unvarnished truth of the whole Serious Eats saga. So if you want to read about the miracle that is Serious Eats, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. But I have to warn you: Serious Eater will make you extremely hungry.

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.



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Monte Cristo Crepes Recipe | Serious Eats

Monte Cristo Crepes Recipe | Serious Eats

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk in a generous pinch of kosher salt. Using tongs, briefly dip a crepe into egg mixture. Allow excess to drip […]

Peruvian Tiradito With Aji Amarillo and Lime Recipe

Peruvian Tiradito With Aji Amarillo and Lime Recipe

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik] Tiradito marries Japanese sashimi with Peruvian ceviche. Instead of the smaller chunks of fish found in a ceviche, tiradito features large sashimi-style slices. In place of marinating the fish as one would for ceviche, tiradito calls for finishing it with a bright […]

How to Make Tiradito (Peruvian Ceviche)

How to Make Tiradito (Peruvian Ceviche)


Salmon tiradito (a type of Peruvian ceviche)

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

One of the many joys of Peruvian cuisine is the beautiful way in which it has melded with the foods of immigrants. Nikkei cooking, for example, is Japanese-Peruvian food, the result of a 19-century influx of Japanese migrants to Peru. Peruvian food has influenced the way Japanese food is cooked there, and Japanese food has changed how Peruvians cook. The results are damn delicious.

One fun example is tiradito, which combines elements of ceviche and sashimi in a single dish. Ceviche typically involves “cooking” raw fish in an acidic marinade. One doesn’t make ceviche and serve it right away; it’s better to wait about 15 minutes until the fish has turned more opaque, and the exterior of each small piece has taken on a partially cooked consistency.

slicing salmon for tiradito (a type of Peruvian ceviche)

Compare that to Japanese sashimi. While some species like mackerel are cured or seared, many are served completely raw—no heat, no acid, no lengthy salt-curing process. And unlike ceviche’s smaller chunks of fish, sashimi is often cut into larger rectangular slices. When served, it’s adorned minimally, with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger on the side.

Tiradito marries the two traditions. Like sashimi, the fish is cut into large slices and spends no time curing before being served. But like ceviche, it’s served with a tart, spicy citrus-chili marinade known as leche de tigre (tiger’s milk . . . you know, because it’s got enough attitude to make you go RAWR).

Spooning sauce onto salmon tiradito (a type of Peruvian ceviche)

Some tiradito recipes call for infusing the leche de tigre with pieces of fish and then straining them out and discarding them. This brings it closer to the sauce that comes with a ceviche, in which fish juices have mingled with the marinade. I did not do this for my tiradito recipe, though, since it requires sacrificing some of your (likely pricey) fish to the marinade for what amounts to a nice, but nonessential, step. If you want to do this, though, you can; just soak some fish pieces in the lime juice for 15 or 20 minutes before straining them out and continuing with the recipe (you can, of course, eat those fish pieces in the kitchen, so that they’re not totally wasted). If you’re working with a whole fish and filleting it yourself, this infusion step becomes much easier since you’ll definitely have scraps.

Tiradito sauces come in many flavors, but the most classic features lime juice and a purée made from Peruvian aji amarillo peppers, which have an incredible floral aroma and a decently spicy kick. It varies from pepper to pepper, but it tends to be hotter than your average jalapeño but not nearly as hot as a habanero.

Frozen and canned Peruvian aji amarillo peppers (whole and in paste form, respectively)

There are a couple ways to get aji amarillo paste in locales where the fresh peppers aren’t available. Easiest is to buy a jar of the purée at a market that sells Peruvian ingredients. Better is to make it yourself from frozen whole aji amarillo peppers. The from-frozen stuff has a more complex flavor that captures more of the pepper’s natural floral and fruity notes; the jarred option is good, but some of aji amarillo’s charms are snuffed out in the canning process. Making your own with frozen peppers is as easy as boiling the peppers for 10 minutes, removing their stems and seeds (and, if you want to be more finicky about it, their skins, too), and then liquifying the flesh in a blender with just enough water to get it moving.

Adding aju amarillo paste to lime juice for tiradito (a type of Peruvian ceviche)

Beyond that, the leche de tigre for tiradito goes like this: Blend fresh lime juice with garlic and some fresh ginger, mix in enough of the aji amarillo paste to give the sauce a punch of chili heat and enough viscosity that it doesn’t just flow like water on the plate. Some freshly minced cilantro can go in at the end.

In Peru, the fish is typically white-fleshed, something along the lines of corvina or fluke. Pictured here, though, are salmon and yellowtail (hamachi in Japanese), which are common substitutes, at least here in North America. The important thing is to get fish that you can serve as sashimi; your selection will depend heavily on where you live.

On the side, you might add some choclo (a type of large, white Peruvian corn) or some thick rounds of cooked sweet potato, both of which are traditional tiradito accompaniments. Neither is necessary, though: Tiradito is, at its heart, a dish open to interpretation. It was born of cultures colliding and being flexible enough to embrace each other. Setting its presentation in stone cuts against that spirit.

close up of hamachi tiradito (a type of Peruvian ceviche)

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Strawberry Frosting (Swiss Buttercream)

Strawberry Frosting (Swiss Buttercream)

This light and silky buttercream is none too sweet and beautifully stable at room temperature. The finished product can be customized with a splash of extract, a drizzle of melted chocolate, concentrated fruit purées, or just about whatever you crave. Get Recipe! Source link

Creamy Banana Frosting (Italian Buttercream) Recipe

Creamy Banana Frosting (Italian Buttercream) Recipe

6. Troubleshooting: The ideal working temperature of Italian buttercream is approximately 70°F (21°C). At this temperature, it should be creamy, smooth, and light and should weigh about 6 ounces (170g) per cup. If too cold, it will be denser, potentially with a greasy, curdled, or […]

How to Make Vibrant, Flavorful Fruit Frostings

How to Make Vibrant, Flavorful Fruit Frostings


cake with strawberry frosting

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

This may sound counterintuitive, but when it comes to fruit-flavored buttercream, stay the heck away from fresh fruit. It’s hard to resist those baskets of glistening strawberries at the farmers market or a quart of blueberries from the local u-pick, but they’re better served in various crisps, cobblers, pies, and galettes—applications where fresh fruit can really shine.

What else do those desserts have in common? Starch and boiling hot temperatures, a one-two punch for managing the water content of fresh fruit in dessert.

Dump a few cups of fresh fruit purée into a basic buttercream, and what you’ll have is soup. There’s just nothing there to keep all that water in check. Try using less and the fruit’s flavor simply won’t come through. That’s because fresh fruit is mostly water. It doesn’t taste like “mostly water” when you’re eating a fat, ripe strawberry, but when it’s diluted by all the butter and sugar that go into a frosting, that flavor gets lost.

Jams aren’t much better. Ounce for ounce, you’re spooning more sugar than fruit into the mix, throwing off the flavor and structure of the frosting. Sugar-free fruit reductions aren’t as bad, but their flavor is cooked, not fresh.

That’s where freeze-dried fruit comes in.

It’s pure fruit, minus the water, with no added sugar and a manufacturing process that avoids heat altogether, keeping its flavor fresh and bright. Unlike leathery dried fruit, freeze-dried can be ground into a fine, dry powder that dissolves readily in liquids. Because it contains no water or added sugar, it won’t wreck the buttercream’s consistency or sweetness.

Brick-and-mortar supermarkets like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and even Kroger produce their own house brands, while many other groceries sell freeze-dried fruit from companies like Karen’s Naturals and Natierra.

Hop online and you’ll find freeze-dried versions of all the supermarket basics (berries, banana, apple, mango, tangerine, cantaloupe) as well as specialty fruit flavors like dragon fruit, pomegranate, goji, black raspberry, and even durian.

Which is to say, choosing freeze-dried fruit over fresh isn’t going to limit your options when it comes to buttercream. The method is super-simple: Start with freeze-dried fruit and grind it in a food processor until powdery and fine. With seedy fruits like raspberry, you may want to sift the powder before use.

freeze-dried bananas, before and after grinding

I find that meringue-based styles such as Swiss or Italian work best with freeze-dried fruit.

before and after grinding freeze dried strawberries
The sugar in a Swiss buttercream can be swapped out for flavors that complement the fruit (such as caramely toasted sugar for freeze-dried apples or palm sugar for freeze-dried mangoes), while the liquid sugar in an Italian buttercream can do the same (think honey with freeze-dried banana or agave syrup with freeze-dried pineapple). And on those occasions when you want the focus to be fruit and fruit alone, plain white sugar for Swiss and corn syrup for Italian will keep the canvas neutral.

Technically, French buttercream works equally well, but its pronounced custard flavor can be a distraction from the fruity brightness. Likewise, the strong dairy notes of a German buttercream can subdue the vibrancy of fruit, although this can be used to strategic effect for flavors like Creamsicle or peaches ‘n’ cream.

properly whipped buttercream

Whatever you choose, prepare the buttercream according to the recipe, including any textural or temperature-based adjustments at the end (e.g., if the buttercream is too stiff and cold, it should be warmed and re-whipped before adding the freeze-dried fruit).

Freeze-dried fruit should only be added to a buttercream that’s smooth, glossy, and light. If it’s too cold or dense, it will be difficult to evaluate the freeze-dried fruit’s effects on its flavor and consistency.

Once the buttercream has been prepared, whip in the freeze-dried fruit powder to taste, bearing in mind that its flavor will intensify a little over time as the freeze-dried fruit hydrates and dissolves into the frosting.

adding freeze-dried banana powder to buttercream

Most buttercream recipes can handle up to 2.5 ounces of freeze-dried fruit; it may not sound like much, but this is the equivalent of adding roughly 25 ounces of fresh strawberry purée. Freeze-dried fruit is potent stuff!

adding freeze-dried strawberry powder to buttercream

So potent, in fact, that it will thicken and stabilize most frostings to a degree that will allow the inclusion of added liquids, such as flavorful liqueurs, strongly brewed coffee, or tea (brought to room temperature, of course).

adding rum to buttercream

For example, a splash of rum pairs nicely with the tropical notes of banana, while floral options such as St. Germain can work wonders with aromatic fruit flavors, like raspberry or apricot. Green tea can highlight the grassy flavor of a peach, and rose water works a particular sort of magic with strawberry.

Let your own cravings and intuition be your guide (if it sounds tasty, it probably is), or consult a book like The Flavor Thesaurus for ideas*.

*More on my love affair with this compendium here.

adding rosewater to strawberry buttercream

Once the buttercream has been doctored with freeze-dried fruit (and any added liquids), scrape the bowl and whisk attachment and re-whip a minute more to ensure the frosting is well-homogenized and light.

whipped strawberry frosting

These fruit-flavored frostings are a brilliant way to brighten up familiar cakes, giving bakers a chance to exercise their creativity. The combinations of buttercream styles, freeze-dried fruit powder, and cake layers are near endless, so don’t limit yourself to the specific recipes attached to this post.

If anything, let them be templates for your own experiments with fruity frosting—whether that’s a maple-banana buttercream to pair with devil’s food cake or a strawberry layer cake smothered in strawberry frosting, or something even more off the wall. The only limit is your imagination.

devil's food cake with banana frosting, peanuts, and cocoa nibs

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.



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Unlocking the Secret to the Bright Green Flavors in This Spring Pasta

Unlocking the Secret to the Bright Green Flavors in This Spring Pasta

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] More Eggs Buying tips, techniques, and recipes, no matter how you like them. Supermarket grocery shopping is not my strong suit. I get easily overwhelmed in the packed, sprawling aisles. And unless I’m shopping for work-related recipe development projects, I rarely walk […]