Month: March 2019

Special Sauce: Tommy Tomlinson on Asking for Help When You Need It

Special Sauce: Tommy Tomlinson on Asking for Help When You Need It

In Part 2 of the conversation between Ed Levine and Tommy Tomlinson, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, they continue their discussion of struggling with issues related to weight and eating. Read More Source link

Saying Goodbye to the Most Exciting Ramen Restaurant in the Country

Saying Goodbye to the Most Exciting Ramen Restaurant in the Country

Ramen Shack’s shoyu ramen. [Photographs: Vicky Wasik] On March 31, Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack will serve its final customer, and the most exciting place to eat ramen in the entire country will close its doors forever. It was always an unlikely endeavor: a ramen shop […]

8 Comforting Rice Bowl Recipes for Weeknight Dinners

8 Comforting Rice Bowl Recipes for Weeknight Dinners


[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, J. Kenji López-Alt.]

When I first moved to New York City, I pretty much lived on rice bowls. It’s not just that they were easy to prepare, though that definitely didn’t hurt. These simple bowls of porridge, protein over rice, and perfectly balanced curry were just the thing when I was feeling homesick or couldn’t find the energy to produce a feast in seven courses. Now that I’m more settled into my life here, I still lean heavily on these dishes. They’re so delicious, and they allow me to pull off fantastically flavorful and comforting meals, even when I’m feeling too lazy to leave my apartment. With these eight rice bowls in rotation, you’re never too far from a home-cooked meal—even on your laziest day.

Homemade Japanese Curry Rice (Kare Raisu)

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Japanese curry (or kare, as it’s called in Japan) is one of the country’s most popular comfort foods, and for good reason. While most versions of this classic dish start from a package, we build the dish from scratch. You’ll get all the traditional flavors, plus juicy pieces of chicken, tender bits of carrot, sweet peas, and silky chunks of potato.

Homemade Japanese Curry Rice (Kare Raisu) Recipe »

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Oyakodon (Japanese Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl)

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

This chicken and egg rice bowl is one of my favorite dishes. Pieces of chicken are simmered in a soy sauce and sake mixture, and then scrambled eggs are poured directly into the simmering liquid. When the chicken is tender and the eggs are cooked and fluffy, the combination is slid onto a bowl of rice. It really doesn’t get much easier than this.

Oyakodon (Japanese Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl) Recipe »

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Gyudon (Japanese Simmered Beef and Rice Bowls)

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

If you like oyakodon, chances are you’ll love gyudon. Translucent onions are simmered with thin slices of beef in a mixture of soy sauce, dashi, and sake. The beef is finished with freshly grated ginger, and the rice bowl is topped with a poached egg.

Gyudon (Japanese Simmered Beef and Rice Bowls) Recipe »

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Bengali Rice Porridge With Lentils and Chicken

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This Bengali rice porridge is about as comforting as any food can be. Aromatic jasmine rice and hearty, earthy lentils are simmered in chicken stock with fresh turmeric, ginger, and red chili. When the fragrant grains have become tender, potatoes and chicken thighs are added to the pot. The porridge—already bursting with flavor and color—gets finished off with a bright cilantro chutney and bits of crisp fried shallots.

Bengali Rice Porridge With Lentils and Chicken Recipe »

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Easy Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon, Cucumber, and Avocado Rice Bowls

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

I hate the idea of cooking hacks. Often, those get-it-done-faster tips cut corners and ignore important steps. But keeping some homemade teriyaki sauce on hand at all times really is a cooking hack. It allows you to whip up all sorts of flavorful meals in no time. Take, for instance, this teriyaki-glazed salmon. In the time it’ll take you to steam a pot of rice, you’ll be able to sear the salmon, cut up some avocado and cucumber, slice a couple scallions, and grab that magical teriyaki from the fridge.

Easy Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon, Cucumber, and Avocado Rice Bowls Recipe »

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Ikura Don (Japanese Rice Bowl With Salmon Roe)

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This extremely simple rice bowl consists of short-grain rice topped with pearls of brilliant orange salmon roe. The already-cured roe gets quickly marinated in soy sauce and other seasonings to bump up its intensity even more before it’s loaded onto the rice and finished with a garnish of wasabi, nori strips, and a shiso leaf.

Ikura Don (Japanese Rice Bowl With Salmon Roe) Recipe »

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Katsudon (Japanese Chicken or Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl)

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

To those not familiar, simmering crisp-shelled fried chicken in flavorful broth might seem like a confusing cooking method. You’ll just have to reserve judgement until you try it for yourself. To make this katsudon, leftover chicken katsu or pork tonkatsu is simmered with eggs in a soy-dashi broth and served over rice. While the crust doesn’t remain particularly crisp, the breading soaks up tons of flavor from the cooking liquid.

Katsudon (Japanese Chicken or Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl) Recipe »

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Tamago Kake Gohan (Japanese-Style Rice With Egg)

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Tamago gohan (literally “egg rice”) is the simplest of Japanese comfort food. Start with a bowl of hot rice, and break an egg into it. As the egg slowly cooks into the rice, the bowl is seasoned with a bit of soy sauce, a pinch of salt, and a light shake of Aji-no-moto, a Japanese brand of pure powdered MSG.

Tamago Kake Gohan (Japanese-Style Rice With Egg) Recipe »

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Multigrain Sandwich Bread Recipe | Serious Eats

Multigrain Sandwich Bread Recipe | Serious Eats

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] This hearty, multigrain loaf starts with a 100% whole wheat dough that’s loaded with rolled oats, chia, flax, and wheat germ. It bakes up light and chewy, not crumbly, with a nibby crunch—perfect for your morning toast or favorite sandwich. The success […]

Turn 100% Whole Wheat Bread Into a Hearty, Multigrain Loaf

Turn 100% Whole Wheat Bread Into a Hearty, Multigrain Loaf

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] While there’s no denying my love for the simplicity of a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf, I also see it as a canvas for a seedy, multigrain loaf. For many folks, myself included, the nibby pop and nutty flavor of added grains […]

Asparagus Goes Deluxe With Miso Béarnaise

Asparagus Goes Deluxe With Miso Béarnaise


Side view of miso béarnaise being spooned over charred asparagus.

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

“Could I just make this at home?” is a great question to ask when you’re dining out, whether you need to figure out where to eat, what to order, or if a dish is worthy of its price tag. Dropping a bunch of money on a meal that would’ve been cheaper and tastier if you’d just cooked it yourself is frustrating. It’s also something I’ve done plenty of times. Asking this question helps me cut out frivolous food spending, while properly valuing other expenditures. Paying 15 bucks or more for a plate of bacon and eggs at an overcrowded brunch spot is silly, and that’s not even taking into account the emotional toll of being forced to listen to the way-too-loud recap of the previous night’s drinking exploits from the college kids seated next to you.

On the other hand, I’m happy to pay top dollar for a really good croissant, pristine sashimi, or a bunch of Popeye’s chicken. There’s no such thing as “quick” or “casual” laminated pastries; I haven’t spent years apprenticing under Jiro; and I’d rather spend my weekend celebrating fried chicken perfection than greasing up my kitchen trying to outdo it. That’s money well spent.

Overhead shot of charred asparagus with a bowl of miso béarnaise.

On the other end of the restaurant value spectrum are steakhouses. Plenty of people love to wax poetic about “timeless institutions” dedicated to meat and Mad Men–era nostalgia. I certainly never complained about getting treated to a power lunch during my brief post-college cameo as a paralegal at a DC law firm. But they became a lot less appealing once I had to start footing the bill. On top of the high markup for the beef itself, steakhouses often charge a pretty penny for sides (the only ones I’ve seen handed out gratis are sides of attitude doled out by stuffy tuxedoed servers) and any sauce you might want for your steak. It’s madness! For a fraction of the cost, you can easily make a top-notch steak dinner at home.

Cooking a baller steak is dead simple, and making an accompanying side dish should be as well. With spring finally here, it’s prime season for one of the easiest vegetable sides around—pan-seared asparagus. Cooking snappy spears of asparagus takes just a few minutes; it can be done during the time that a steak is resting and in the same pan! What about a sauce, you ask? How about a foolproof miso-spiked béarnaise that pairs perfectly with both vegetables and beef? Sounds pretty good, no? Here’s how it’s done.

Béarning Down the Steakhouse

Ingredients for miso béarnaise.

Béarnaise is a classic French steak sauce and a derivative of hollandaise. Like its source material, béarnaise is a warm emulsion of butterfat, egg yolks, and a reduction of white wine and vinegar. The addition of shallots and tarragon distinguish béarnaise from its mother sauce. Traditionally, this temperamental emulsion is made by whisking the ingredients together on the stovetop over a double boiler, but a lot can go wrong: The sauce can easily break, the egg yolks can scramble, or you can end up with a thin and soupy sauce instead of a rich and glossy one.

Luckily, Kenji solved this problem when he developed his foolproof béarnaise sauce recipe, which uses a hand blender to quickly build a stable emulsion, rather than a whisk. For this version, I follow his same method, and simply add in a little miso to give the sauce an umami boost. If you don’t own one already, check out our immersion blender review for recommendations, or read more about why you might want one for your kitchen.

Wine and vinegar reduction for béarnaise.

Start by combining white wine, white wine vinegar, sliced shallot, a couple sprigs of tarragon, and some whole black peppercorns in a small saucepan, and then bring the mixture to a simmer on the stovetop. You’ll want to keep reducing it until the liquid has reached a syrupy consistency that coats the bottom of the saucepan.

Strained wine and vinegar reduction for béarnaise.

Next, go ahead and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the aromatics to extract all of the reduction; all told, you should have a tablespoon and a half of liquid. Let the reduction cool slightly so that it doesn’t scramble the yolks when they’re combined.

Egg yolks and miso.

While the reduction cools, simply combine two yolks and a tablespoon of white miso in a tall-sided cup that just barely fits the head of an immersion blender. A stick and a half of warm melted butter goes into a separate liquid measuring cup. Meanwhile, preheat a large cast iron pan for the asparagus over high heat on the stovetop.

Process shots of blending béarnaise sauce.

Add the strained reduction to the yolks and miso, and blend the mixture together until it’s mostly smooth. With the immersion blender running, slowly drizzle in the melted butter, occasionally lifting and then lowering the head of the blender to make sure the butter is evenly incorporated into the emulsion. Continue adding the butter in a steady stream until it has all been incorporated.

A spoonful of béarnaise sauce.

The sauce shouldn’t need much in the way of seasoning, as the miso provides plenty of salinity. Stir in some chopped tarragon and you’ll be good to go. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but thin enough that it can flow off it. Like hollandaise, béarnaise sauce needs to be kept warm so that it doesn’t tighten up into a thick goopy mess. Cover it up and set it aside near your stove while you cook the asparagus.

A Flash in the Pan

Side view of charred asparagus with a bowl of miso béarnaise.

I hate wrinkly, soft, droopy, overcooked asparagus. Unfortunately, a lot of people hammer this vegetable into soggy oblivion. There’s no need for this to happen, though: Asparagus is really easy to cook. My favorite way starts with a ripping-hot cast iron pan.

Process shots of charring asparagus in a cast iron pan.

Without using any oil, I add as many trimmed asparagus spears to the pan as can comfortably fit in a single layer. Starting the asparagus in a dry pan means less smoke, and in a well-heated cast iron pan, the asparagus chars just fine on its own. Move the spears around occasionally to cook them evenly on all sides. Thin spears will cook in four to six minutes, while thicker stalks may take longer. To test for doneness, you can hold a spear up horizontally—it should still be bright green, and just beginning to sag under its own weight. If it droops, you’ve cooked it too much.

Right before the spears finish cooking, I add a small amount of vegetable oil to the pan, toss the asparagus in the skillet to lightly coat the spears, and then season them with salt and pepper. The oil helps the salt and pepper adhere to the asparagus, while also lightly blistering the spears at the last second. This lets the asparagus pick up a smoky, grassy finish that complements the umami-rich brightness of the miso béarnaise. Plate up your better-than-a-steakhouse side dish masterpiece, and make it rain béarnaise.

Drizzling miso béarnaise over asparagus.

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Charred Asparagus With Miso Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Charred Asparagus With Miso Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

1. In a small saucepan, combine wine, vinegar, shallots, tarragon stems, and black peppercorns, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until reduced to about 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid, 10 to 12 minutes. Carefully […]

Vegan Brownies

Vegan Brownies

With aromatic cocoa butter for richness and flavor, plus a toasty, nutty hint of malt powder to help with browning in a nondairy formula, these chocolate brownies taste as good as they look. Soy milk powder keeps the batter emulsified, so these vegan brownies still […]

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Brownies

How to Make Vegan Chocolate Brownies


homemade vegan brownies

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Ever since I started making homemade brownie mix, I’ve wanted to nail a vegan variation. Not because I’m vegan myself, but because I enjoy the process. It’s only when I remove an ingredient that I can truly understand its role and how essential it is (or isn’t) for success.

That knowledge makes me a better baker and recipe developer overall, which I find to be a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself. But, on a personal level, many of my friends are vegan, lactose intolerant, or have children who can’t eat eggs. I love being able to whip up a dessert that everyone can enjoy, without qualification.

Which brings me to these chocolate brownies, which are chewy around the edges, fudgy in the middle, and glossy on top. They’re vegan brownies, to be sure, but unless you announce that fact at a party, no one would ever have to know.

a slice of vegan brownies

My original recipe starts with refined coconut oil to make a shelf-stable mix, but it’s spiked with malted milk powder to create some of the toasty, brown flavors that butter would normally provide.

I knew from experience with my vegan chocolate chip cookies that a bit of dry malt extract can play the same role in a nondairy formula, making it an easy swap. Look for DME in home brew shops or online; my favorite is Sparkling Amber from Briess.

I also knew that I could trade the coconut oil in that recipe for aromatic cocoa butter, an ingredient that’s readily available these days in health food stores and supermarkets like Whole Foods. Aside from giving my vegan brownies a head start in the flavor department, cocoa butter is quite firm at room temperature, providing more structure to the eggless brownies.

Eggs play a wide variety of roles in baked goods. In some recipes, like chocolate chip cookies, they serve primarily to bind and hydrate the dough. In others, like an angel food cake, eggs provide the batter with volume and loft. In other recipes, like carrot cake, they offer structural support. And sometimes, as in my original brownie recipe, eggs do all of the above, while also emulsifying the rich batter.

Emulsification is, in short, joining two dissimilar substances (generally oil and water) into a smooth, homogenous mix. Eggs do this so well because they contain a lot of lecithin, a substance that’s attracted to both oil and water. Without that unifying force, a pan of my brownie batter would turn into a bubbling cauldron of water and oil in the oven.

Rather than using high-moisture products like fresh soy milk and tofu, or something with the fibrous quality of a soybean purée, I use powdered soy milk as an emulsifier for a shelf-stable, vegan brownie mix. Most any brand will do; I use one called Now Foods the most, but I like Druids Grove as well.

vegan brownie ingredients

Aside from the cocoa butter, dry malt extract, and soy milk powder, the rest of the brownie mix looks exactly like my original recipe: organic powdered sugar, high-fat Dutch cocoa, dark chocolate, flour, and salt, with a pinch of espresso powder for depth. The vegan recipe also includes a tiny bit of baking powder to make up for the gentle puff eggs would normally provide.

The technique itself is even simpler than the original, since there’s no coconut oil that you have to handle with care. Everything goes into a food processor, where the mix is ground until powdery and fine, with no discernible lumps of chocolate or cocoa butter.

fine and powdery brownie mix

Because it’s so important that the chocolate and cocoa butter are ground as fine as the flour, a food processor is essential for this recipe (we’ve reviewed our favorites here).

Technically, the chocolate could be grated with a Microplane, but cocoa butter is typically sold in chips or chunks rather than bars. What’s more, cocoa butter is extremely hard at room temperature, making it difficult to grate, even if it came in a conveniently sized chunk. For that reason, it’s virtually impossible to powderize cocoa butter without a food processor.

homemade brownie mix on the pantry shelf

As with my original brownie mix, the prepared vegan brownie mix can be transferred to an airtight container. It will keep on a shelf at room temperature up until the date stamped on the package of cocoa butter itself. Even better, the high melting point of cocoa butter also makes the mix more stable when room temperature edges into the upper 80s.

Whether you want to make brownies the moment the mix is prepared or stash it in the pantry for a while, the process couldn’t be simpler: Stir in boiling water and a splash of vanilla extract.

vegan brownie batter

If the brownie mix is freshly made, this can be done right in the food processor, but it will come together just as easily by hand. Just keep at it until no lumps of dry mix remain. Once the mix is relatively smooth, scrape it into an eight-inch square cake pan lined with parchment.

pouring brownie batter into a pan

The batter will seem thinner when made in a food processor and thicker when stirred together by hand, but these textural differences won’t affect the brownies. In either case, spread the batter into an even layer.

brownie batter in a pan

Bake at 350°F until the brownies are puffed, glossy, and firm around the edges. In an accurate oven, this will take about 35 minutes in an 8- by 8-inch aluminum pan.

vegan brownies

The structure of the vegan brownies will continue to develop as they cool, so try to let them hit room temperature before cutting or at least hold off until they’re no warmer than 80°F. Prior to that, they may seem gummy and wet, but with time, they’ll set into a vegan brownie that’s chewy, fudgy, and firm.

glossy vegan brownie

Whether you’re baking for yourself or for a friend with specific dietary concerns, this is a recipe that will satisfy everyone’s craving for chocolate brownies without any caveats or disclaimers. It’s more than a good vegan brownie, or a good eggless brownie, or a good nondairy option.

bite of vegan brownie

It’s a good brownie, period, with a complex chocolate flavor from a combination of Dutch cocoa and dark chocolate, bolstered by the aroma of cocoa butter and vanilla, with the sort of delicate, papery crust that sets brownies apart from cake.

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These Dried Worms Make Pho Taste Great

These Dried Worms Make Pho Taste Great

[Photograph: Vivian Kong] A couple months ago, I received an email from a chef named Cyrus Phan, who described himself as a “recreational importer” of specialty foods. He offered to send over a bag of dried peanut worms—called sa sung in Vietnamese—for me to experiment […]