Philadelphia Fish House Punch

Or how to restore punch to its former glory

28th Mar 2011


Until recently, my first thought upon hearing the word "punch" was a frat party, something electric red, and indiscriminate drinking--a concoction spiked with a slew of spirits that might be laying around and then covered in Koolaid. That seems to be the reputation punch has gotten—but if cocktail writer Dave Wondrich has anything to say about it , we are all missing the point. Punch is not...

Idea Lab | Is it Possible to Make Transcendent Risotto at Home?

And: Should Risotto Spread?

17th Feb 2011

If you’re a Top Chef junkie like me then you probably remember that Tre got kicked off episode 8 this season after serving a risotto that didn’t “spread.” At least, that’s what judge Tom Colicchio said. It’s always hard to know exactly why contestants are booted off the show when you can't taste the food, but this was one of those cases where you could visibly see that his riso...

Tomato Conserva: How to Make Homemade Tomato Paste

Our solution for what to do with too many tomatoes

27th Aug 2010

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There isn't much argument that summertime is the peak season for cooking. It never gets easier than in August: the produce is top-notch, everywhere, and cheap. Locavores are finally settling down and enjoying themselves instead of passing judgement on the rest of us for buying zucchini out of season. You can make dinner by cutting up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and calling it a masterpiece....

What Should I Eat in Mexico City?

I’ll only have 36 hours in the capital to eat as much as I possibly can

30th Jul 2010

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Next Friday my wife and I will hop on the Blue Line, head north to O’Hare, and then take a plane halfway across North America to Mexico City for one of the most intense eating experiences of my life. As you may have noticed over the four years or so that I’ve been writing, I adore Mexican cuisine all out of proportion. It’s my favorite cuisine--from complex and elegant ...

Brewing with Graham Elliot at Goose Island Brewery

An afternoon learning about "Grahampagne"

29th Jul 2010

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Through a heavy, metal door with "Brewery Employees Only" slapped on the front, I was led into a warm, steamy room where Goose Island beer is made. I side-stepped hoses and puddles of water and found a capacious space filled with slanted light; up above, at the top of a skinny ladder, great tanks of beer were lined up at various stages of aging and fermentation on a platform, were Goose Island...

The Silver Fizz: The Perfect Chicago Summer Cocktail

Gin, lemon juice, and egg white make for a drink designed to cool you down

25th May 2010

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I'm not sure if the Silver Fizz was developed in Chicago, or if it was just popular for a time around 1883. But I have to believe that there is a correlation between cocktails and the cities that embrace them. Wine has a tie to the land, and cuisines are based around what's local and fresh. So it's my humble opinion that the Silver Fizz was built to cool the heads and stomachs of men without a...

Asparagus + Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Forget hollandaise: this will blow your mind

13th May 2010

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I recently stumbled on an essay called The Power of the Hot Vinaigrette in Michael Symon's new cookboo k. "Cold vinaigrettes are excellent," he writes, "but add one to the hot pan you've sauteed some shrimp in, and the blended acid and oil will pick up all the flavor of the bits of protein and sugars that have stuck to the pan." He advocates for pan sauces to be vinaigrette-based, rath...

Homemade British Bangers and the Search for Rusk

How to make better bangers

30th Mar 2010

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As I was digging into making my own British bangers for my Full English Breakfast challenge , I kept stumbling onto the same sad story which may or may not be complete bullshit: During the early 20th century thanks to two World Wars, meat was scarce in England and pork sausages were padded with some grains and extra liquid to help stretch the meat reserves. When cooked, these padded sausa...

The Best Italian Sub in Chicago: A Tour of Six Delis

Which Italian deli in Chicago makes the best subs?

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We assembled at 11 a.m., seven hungry men, at J. P. Graziano's. This unadorned storefront in the restaurant supply district of Chicago's West Loop seemed like an odd place to begin a journey to find the best Italian sub in Chicago. The shop's exterior had no tell-tale signals that it made sandwiches--just a sign stating their business as wholesale importers. The interior contained no vine...

Salad For Breakfast

Cereal isn't the option in the morning.

16th Feb 2010

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For the past few weeks I've been eating salads for breakfast. I eat huge bowls of mixed greens sprinkled with dried fruits, toasted nuts, and whatever else happens to be on hand. If there is half an avocado in the fridge I'll cut it up and toss it in, same with roasted vegetables, chickpeas, goat cheese, get the idea. I eat until I am no longer hungry. It has nothing to do with a...

Homemade Square Pizza

Focaccia becomes the base of this pizza.

4th Feb 2010

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Good pizza means good bread. For me, there's just no other way around it. Good bread is the soul of good pizza.

But baking has never been a subject I'm comfortable with. Give me a skillet, some pasta, and a well-stocked pantry and I can improvise countless meals. But if I'm supposed to bake something, I freeze. I immediately picture failure, a leaden cracker or a gummy mess. I hate the conf...

Faux Confit: Steamed Duck Legs

Can steamed duck legs tasted better than ones poached in duck fat?

14th Jan 2010

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The question about whether a steamed duck leg tastes as good duck confit has been boggling my mind for months ever since I read this article in the New York Times . Finally, last night, after spending the previous three days hacking up two ducks, rendering loads of fat, and figuring out what to do with the heads ( Jonathan Gold actually sent me some interesting options on Twitter), I f...

Year in Review: The Allure of Alcohol

Our favorite drinks of 2009.


Obviously, this site is mostly devoted to cooking, and always has been. But watchful readers may have noticed over the years the occasional post slipped in about drinking. We've thankfully improved our recipes since the very first drinking post on this site, which involved mixing dark beer from New York's oldest pub, McSorley's, and some cheap vanilla ice cream. The result was the beer shake...

Experiments with Sous-Vide Chicken

Perhaps the best way to cook chicken.

18th Nov 2009

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In my opinion, the best chicken is chicken sous-vide. Each bite is tender and succulent in a way I never thought chicken could possibly be. It's kind of changed everything for me. Even the appearance of the meat is different, instead of stringy and tough, a fork can simply cut through the meat. It's enough to make anyone convert.

So for the past few weeks I've been proselytizing about the p...

The Negroni

Perhaps the most perfect cocktail.

13th Nov 2009

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"A proper Negroni is as perfectly and tripodically balanced as, say, a water molecule. "
- Jonathan Miles

The Negroni is an incorruptible drink. While the martini can be perverted by nefarious substances like apple pucker and vodka and many places make Margaritas by simply drizzling a little tequila in a cup of sugary mix, a Negroni is a Negroni. It has three ingredients (gin, sw...

The Case for Hard Cider

Why every American should drink more cider.

22nd Oct 2009


Currently Blake and I have four gallons of apple cider fermenting in the back of his bedroom closet. The hope is that in a few days, thanks to some hungry yeast, we'll have something that might resemble hard apple cider. We're honestly nervous. We've undertaken ridiculous experiments before, but nothing that could potentially get us hammered. If it works, then we'll have made an alcoholic drin...

The Tombstone Whiskey Cocktail

Whisky and sugar combine to make an unforgettable cocktail.

2nd Oct 2009

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Recently Nick and I were in the gritty West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, after a long, pork-ridden meal at The Publican , where we fed on cracklins, rillettes, belly, shoulder, and all manner of sausages. We slipped out of the restaurant happy and stuffed into the long fluorescent shadows, in search of a good bar to aid all the oncoming digesting to be done.

We ended up at Matchbox ...

Chiles Rellenos

This Mexican classic deserves a little love.

31st Aug 2009

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Around hour five, I became terribly exhausted from what felt like continuous marathon of chopping, sautéing, blending, grinding, broiling, stuffing, whisking, dipping, and frying. It was the most complex and curious chile relleno I'd ever laid eyes on and the flavor nearly bawled me over. Every bite revealed layers of flavor, from the salsa, pork stuffing, to the batter. Nothing was an aft...

Rafa''s Restaurant, and Other Highlights from the Costa Brava

Visiting the Spanish coast.

22nd Jun 2009

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Barcelona was a wonderful city to be in, but leaving it was just as fun. Installed in a tiny stick-shift Citroen, we headed north from the city for Costa Brava, opting for the cheaper no-toll road that snakes along the coast and could take twice as long. Driving in Europe was harrowing the first time I did it, but I've since learned to embrace the speeding, reckless flow--I figure it's safe...

90 Minute, No-Soak Beans

How to make great beans in less time.

9th Jun 2009

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It seems that in the past few years there have been a few monumental revelations of the "everything you thought you knew about cooking was wrong" variety.
- Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy", Executive Director, eGullet Society

When the timer sounded, I was caught off guard.  I reached for a kitchen towel, carefully folded it around the hot handles of my dutch oven, and transfered the...

Why Do You Eat Free-Range Pork?

Does it have anything to do with hunting?

13th Apr 2009
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On Thursday the New York Times published an op-ed piece written by a Texas historian named James E. McWilliams called "Free-Range Trichinosis," which argues that the public's perception of free-range pork has been misguided.   On the contrary to our idyllic view of healthy, happy animals, the "free-range option can pose a heightened health threat to consumers."  Citing a study which claime...

The Smash Technique and Skinny Burger Perfection

How to make the best burger at home.

11th Dec 2008


You know the burger obsession is going off the deep end when semi-serious discussion takes place over the burger making skills of a cartoon .  Please stick with me.  This cartoon happened feature J. Wellington Wimpy, the burger-loving sidekick of Popeye.  Hamburger America author George Motz found this clip and was there to comment on Wimpy's burger making skills: "Notice how even in...

Ragù alla Bolognese

Because fresh pasta deserves a sauce this good.

20th Nov 2008


Once I figured out how to make fresh pasta , I waited all of 12 hours before I set out to create my own Ragù alla Bolognese.  It was a goal of mine ever since watching an episode of Heston Blumenthal's TV series In Search of Perfection .  The premise of the show is for the acclaimed chef to reexamine some stodgy British classics by going back to the roots of the original dish.  His f...

Blend Your Salsa: A Tale of Two Salsas

Moving beyond pico de gallo into real authentic territory

21st May 2008


I thought I knew everything there was to know about salsa.  Tomatoes, garlic, onions, jalapenos, lime juice, salt.  Chop, mix, serve.  It’s an enormous pain, but the alternative (jarred salsa) just doesn’t compare.  Taking the time to chop is a noble pursuit.

That was until Blake visited last weekend.  What he threw together in a matter of minutes turned blood red and clung to every chip l...

Guanciale, Or How to Hang a Pig Jowl in Your Living Room

The other Italian bacon.

14th May 2008

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It took me almost a month and calls to half the butchers in New York before I could get my hands on a pair of pig jowls.  Here’s the problem: they want you to order the whole head.  And while I had a wonderful time watching pot-roasted pig heads go ferrying by my table at the Spotted Pig , when it was under the tutelage of British chef Fergus Henderson , the thought of lugging a 40...

They Came, I Ground, We Ate: Which Cuts Make for the Best Burger?

How to make a better burger at home.

21st Feb 2008


Grinding meat may seem like an exercise for those with too much time on their hands, or those overly devoted to doing things from scratch--which I am.  But I'm here to argue that there are more compelling and more logical reasons for doing so: for one, the meat will taste better.  You'll also know where it omes from, unlike with a styrofoam tray from the grocery store, which is likely the su...

Is Broiling a Steak as Good as Grilling One?

29th Nov 2006


There is "no doubt early man cooked his meats using dry heat," claims Madeleine Kamman, author of the esteemed Making of a Cook and a very friendly-looking lady who I sometimes wish was my grandmother.  She speculates that he might have discovered this gastronomic feat in the instance of two different accidents, producing two enduring ways of cooking meat.  The first, a discovery...

A Day in Helsinki, Mostly Eating Pastries

Searching for the perfect Voisilmäpulla, I encountered beautiful design and large tufts of dill

13th Jul 2006


When I arrived into Helsinki Airport, the Finnish sun had been out for close to five hours: it was 8:02 in the morning.  My bag came out of flappy rubber slats onto the belt and I sailed through customs, exiting the terminal onto a pristine pavement platform, a group of bus lanes. Everything was strangely silent.  There were four other people waiting for buses, each squinting gently at the w...

The Paupered Chefs Attend an Art Brut Concert at Bowery Ballroom and Make Beer Shakes and Gourmet Cheeseburgers Before the Show

Yes, you read right: beer shakes

9th Apr 2006

We asked Schnack what the beer shake recipe was, and they said they use 3 oz. of ice cream mixed with 3 oz. of dark beer.  We went with the cheapest vanilla we could find and a six pack of McSorley's ale, which is pretty cheap and basically tasty.  On second thought, a dark stout might have been the better choice--Guiness is practically a milkshake anyway.  The carbonation in our version made i...

The Great Potato Contest

A bag of potatoes and a quest for the cheapest dinner possible

With minds planted firmly in the dirt, we probed the...

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With minds planted firmly in the dirt, we probed the starchy tuber for secrets buried within, all in search of the perfect cooked potato.   Armed with a bag of $2.99 Idahos, we set aflame preconcieved notions, sexed things up, and tried to find the courage (and stomachs) to eat nothing but potatoes like our poor brethren of the 19t...