Repertoire | The Dinner Party

Rules for success, including porchetta

25th Oct 2011

Ed. note: This is the third post in a "Repertoire" series on the interplay of food and style, with our friends The Midwestyle . We're helping their readers learn a few recipes, and they're teaching us a few things about doing it in style.

To say you’re an accomplished person is putting it lightly. That time you summited Kilimanjaro during a snow storm. The month you took a vow of silen...

Repertoire | The Working Lunch

An Argument for Grains and Vegetables

13th Oct 2011

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I’ve worked enough days in my life, from my desk at home to mind-numbing office temp gigs, to have developed some theories on lunch. To me, the working lunch is a series of balances: it should be fast, yet not fast-food; it should be a break from work, but not so indulgent you can’t get moving again; it should be fulfilling, but not a cause of sluggishness. Lunch should work for you, but so...

Department of Basics | The Fruit Crisp

One dessert it doesn't hurt to have in the repertoire

5th Sep 2011

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It's probably become clear to most readers that this is not a food blog where you read about desserts, and for that matter, about baking at all. There's a good reason. We're no good at it.

Cupcakes and chocolate cakes and other frivolous foods are the specialty of other writers.  Besides a post or two about bread (we're pretty proud of our olive-and-herb-studded foccacia and the lengths...

How to Throw a Baja Fish Taco Party

A Chicago Backyard and Many Happy People

24th Jun 2011

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Mexican food is made for parties. The construction of tortillas, fillings, salsas, and toppings; the spicy, rich flavors; and above all, the fact that it tastes so darn good. This was our guiding principle on a recent Saturday when, with the help of a handful of talented friends, we threw a Baja Fish Taco party under warm string lights in a Chicago backyard.

We were celebrating one of the e...

Homemade Ginger Beer and the Dark ''n'' Stormy

Ginger, Lemon, Sugar, Yeast...and 24 hours.

8th Jun 2011

Ginger Beer

File this one under projects that seem a lot harder than they actually are.

A week or two ago, my wife tore out a couple pages in the New York Times Style magazine about a shop in Melbourne, Australia that combines style, bespoke fashion, and great food under one roof called Captains of Industry ( here it is as an interactive online feature ).  Besides all the cool ideas and wavelengths...

Building the Best Ramen: The Noodle Question

Leaving the packaged noodles behind...

4th Apr 2011

Ramen is Japan’s ultimate comfort food, the equivalent of a cheeseburger, fried chicken, and deep-dish pizza into one.
- Takashi Yagihashi from Takashi’s Noodles

I may live in Chicago, but I’ll admit that I'd probably pick ramen before those other foods when I'm in need of something truly comforting. Those big bowls of noodles and broth seem especially perfect at warding off a brutal...

Engineering the Perfect Risotto

From Bone Marrow to Saffron

28th Feb 2011

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Learning how to make risotto at home was one of the more liberating experiences of my early culinary career. The idea that I could create a perfectly legitimate risotto by just buying arborio rice and stirring like mad, was enough to make me wonder what else I couldn’t cook. I’m not going to say it single-handedly helped launch this blog and my writing career, but it was crucial. It was...

We Are Proud to Present Appetites for iPad

Cooking step-by-step with "the cookbook reimagined"

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Late last year our Paupered Chef inbox dinged with slightly cryptic e-mail about a "new top-secret project" from LA's Clear-Media. We called them up and they shared with us their idea: a step-by-step cooking app built for the iPad. They were gathering up the coolest food bloggers on the planet, and wanted us along. We said yes. The result is Appetites , which has just been released at the Ap...

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...

My Top 10 Chinese Recipes of the Year

The Chinese New Year is the perfect time to look back on a spicy year.

3rd Feb 2011

Greetings from bitterly cold and blustery Chicago. Currently the city is buried under two feet of snow, and battling some of the coldest temperatures in years. Though it seems like everyone is putting a post about where to eat Chinese food tonight in honor of the Chinese New Year, I decided to take the time and talk about what it has been like to cook Chinese dishes at home. I fell hard for this...

Three More Interesting Ways to Cook Kale

Raw, Baked, and Coconut-Grilled

1st Feb 2011

Kale sounds like a boring health food, but if you cook it well it's delicious. It's just that most recipes are too predictable: greens + fat + aromatics + acid.  Kale is a lot more versatile than people give it credit for.

Sure, you can plug in different combinations (kale, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice is pretty common) and a pinch of red chile flakes is also welcome. Sherry vinegar is es...

The Paupered Chef 2.0

Welcome to our redesign!

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We would like to welcome you, at long last, to the newly designed home of The Paupered Chef. Let us all breathe a sigh of collective relief. We’re back.

Well, things look a lot different. The pictures everywhere on the site are bigger, and we've laid out the homepage so that the articles we write get some prime real estate on the site. We've also instituted a Tumblr-style blog below, where we...

Two Cocktails to Celebrate New Years Eve in Style

With one secret ingredient

31st Dec 2010
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For the third year in a row, Nick and I will be spending our New Years Eve with friends eating tacos and drinking cocktails. It's become something of a tradition, fondly known as Cocktails and Carnitas , and I can hardly wait.

It's a given that the food is good. But we also believe in drinking very, very good cocktails. Cocktail. Rather than conjuring up images of sugary vodka-laced conco...

Guide to the River Cottage: Why Hugh Fearnley-Whittingtsall Should Be Your Food Celebrity

The British television star that has inspired us time and again

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The River Cottage TV show begins with a ridiculously cheesy cartoon showing a curly haired driver fleeing a polluted city for an idyllic paradise, complete with jumping fish, smiling cows, and some friendly pigs. During the course of three seasons of River Cottage and the many years of spinoffs, host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall manages to kill and eat every single one of those creature...

Gorgefest | Los Angeles Edition

A mad dash for LA's best food in one afternoon.

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We had four hours to eat in L.A., a period of time which all of us agreed wasn't long enough. While most people would have simply given up and spent the time driving around Hollywood or lounging on the beach, we plowed ahead, sure we could catch a plane and sample some of the best food in the city along way. So our afternoon in L.A. was spent cruising the endless sprawl of concrete and zig zag...

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....

The Five Best Things I Ate in Oaxaca, Mexico

These are the five things I can't stop thinking about

25th Aug 2010

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I went to Mexico to eat, and I handpicked the region of Oaxaca specifically because I figured I could eat there best. It’s a place where chiles, chocolate, and tomatoes have been growing for thousands of years, and where the holy trinity of corn, beans, and squash make up the local diet. Forget Italy, France, or Spain. Oaxaca is where my favorite food in the world comes from.

I spent two we...

How to Make Homemade Vinegar (It Couldn''t Be Easier)

A pineapple and a few weeks is all you need

19th Aug 2010

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When I think of Mexican cuisine, I think of balance. Mexicans love acidity in their cooking, and that's what makes it so appealing to eat. Though it's a function of living in a warm climate--the same reason Thai cuisine is also fond of citrus, it's a necessary form of preservation--the culinary benefit has outlasted the necessity.

When you have something rich and heavy in your taco--like, s...

My Chicago: Cafe Spiaggia

Chicago's famed restaurant revamps their cafe

11th Aug 2010

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Spiaggia isn’t the sort of restaurant you waltz into on a whim--you have to wear a jacket to eat there, its gorgeous dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows, they have a cheese cave, and, oh, it’s really, really expensive. But the secret is that Spiaggia also has a cafe . It’s casual, intimate, and the food is superb. The attention to detail that is expected of a high-end restaurant...

Romesco Sauce, Meet the Summertime Grill

A blend of bread, nuts, olive oil, tomato, and peppers

15th Jul 2010

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My fridge lately has been so full of food I can hardly see what’s inside of it. Since joining a CSA , I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of food I have, and how to cook it all quickly enough. The other day I realized that I had, like, 2 or 3 pounds of green onions--and not wispy little ones, big, fat ones, the white roots thick and juicy, the green shoots long and vibrant. I’d b...

You Could Pickle Anything in This And It Would Taste Marvelous

A delicious formula for making homemade pickles

7th Jul 2010

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Pickling vegetables is something that I’ve yet to get real excited about. Of all the "DIY" food movements, it’s one of the last to catch on. Why, I don’t know. Probably because a slab of homemade bacon is a lot more exciting than a jar of tangy vegetables. Which is no mark against the vegetables. Most anything next to a slab of bacon is bound to lose terribly.

But actually, pickling is...

Pork Larb and the Search for Toasted Rice Powder

A Thai salad meaty and acidic, packed with cilantro and mint, served with crisp cabbage

2nd Jul 2010

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The only time in the past two years that my wife and I have ordered takeout was this New Years, when, after cleaning up our place from our annual carnitas feast and trying to kick a massive hangover, we basically camped out in the living room on a trundle bed and ate Thai food in our pajamas. Surely, this is why takeout was invented. The idea of doing anything but drinking loads of water and w...

Baba Ganoush and a Fear of Eggplant

Hummus' neglected cousin

30th Jun 2010

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When it comes to Middle Eastern dips, hummus hogs most of the love and attention. (The New York Times recently reported that hummus is "catching on" in America, where it dominates the $325 million-a-year refrigerated flavored spreads category). You see tubs of it everywhere, and for good reason: it's a great snack to have around.

But there's another beige spread (now doesn't that so...

Authentic Caesar Salad From a Windowsill Garden

Urban gardening in Chicago

25th Jun 2010

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I've started an experiment this year: how easy is it, really, to grow vegetables and herbs in a windowsill?

When I moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan three years ago, I was rather taken with the idea of urban agriculture, romanticizing the rustic life of the small producer who grows his own vegetables, raises his own livestock, and scavenges the seas for the rest. (This fantasy was fueled rat...

Thai Salads for the Summer

The Thai salad is bracingly good, a dish to banish all memory of bad takeout

22nd Jun 2010

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Joe said we should meet for dinner at Thai Aree . You may all remember Joe for his helpful advice on J. P. Graziano's , but I still wasn't sure whether I trusted him completely. l rattled off a few alternatives, slyly attempting to change his mind, but he insisted. "The food is wonderful and the prices are great too." Fine, whatever. I didn't really have the courage to admit that I did...

How to Store Lettuce in the Fridge

Many a leafy vegetable has turned to sludge under my watch. No Longer.

17th Jun 2010

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Even though it's been around for a few years now, I am still incredibly excited to have joined a CSA this year.  A few years ago, "CSA" was the big new food acronym, standing for Community Supported Agriculture, the rather wonderful setup where cooks and eaters pay in advance for the season and in return get a box  delivered to their neighborhood every week or two, effectively a farmer's mar...

How to Fall in Love With Sichuan Food: Mapo Doufu

A mixture of tofu, ground meat, and chile bean paste suspended in a bright red and dangerously spicy sauce

11th Jun 2010

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Had you put a gun to my head a few years ago and asked me what my least favorite kind of food was, I'd have A) asked you why wanted to shoot me, and then B) probably said Chinese. Bad broccoli and beef, greasy fried rice, those strange orange packets of sauce--these were my impressions of the entirety of Chinese cuisine and what a billion people ate for dinner. Though I probably knew better, I...

Discovering White Gazpacho

Almonds, garlic, and bread are the magic ingredients in this alternative to tomato gazpacho

27th May 2010

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I heard a lot of complaining this month about Chicago weather, mostly about how cold and rainy it was, and I added my fair share to the chorus. "It's May, already, where's the warm weather?" was a common conversation starter, as weather always is. Apparently, somebody upstairs was listening. This week we have been thrust into what feels like the height of summer: it has climbed repeatedly abov...

A Rooftop Grows in Chicago

The SIP method of urban gardening

20th May 2010

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I've long been drawn to the idea of urban farming. When I lived in Brooklyn, I had two plots in two community gardens , in addition to three massive tomato plants on the back deck. Planting seeds and growing vegetables was an unlikely pleasure. For me it was connected to good eating: I loved to cook and eat the freshest vegetables I could find. Getting to the source is something we often e...

Better Homemade Biscuits and Gravy

It's my opinion that the secret to great biscuits and gravy is that there is no secret

19th May 2010

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I know that biscuits and gravy together don't make sense. It's meat, thickened with flour and milk, ladled atop a starchy biscuit. There is no balance, no acid, and no spice. Compared to the dynamic Szechuan food I've been making lately, it can seem safe and boring. But that's not how I think of it. Perhaps it's something that needs to be injected to your blood as a child, because I have a fon...

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 Gnudi from The Spotted Pig

Make these ethereal little bites at home.

15th Apr 2010

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I'm pretty sure the word "gnudi" wasn't on anyone's radar until they were served at The Spotted Pig in New York, which was when they became a food dork household name. In Italian, "gnudi" means what it sounds like in English: naked. It refers to little pasta-like dumplings that are "naked" of their pasta wrapper, raviolis without anything to enclose them. Gnudi are a bit like gnocchi, but...

Idea Lab: Full English Breakfast from Scratch

Can you replicate the best English breakfast at home?

16th Mar 2010

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To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.
- W. Somerset Maugham

I survived my half a year in England on a diet of boiled potatoes, canned peas, Heinz beans, and 99p egg and cress sandwiches I purchased from a convenient store. The dollar was nearly worthless next to the mighty pound at that time, and I hoarded what little cash I could for bus passes and the od...

I Hate the Mac Snack Wrap: A Rant

The Big Mac will always be better.

2nd Mar 2010

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I should apologize in advance for this fast food rant. I've never indulged in such a tirade before, but I simply couldn't resist this one. Regularly scheduled content will return later this week, I promise.

The Mac Snack wrap is the stupidest, most idiotic, dumbest fast food creation I've ever seen. It purports to be a Big Mac in flour tortilla, except it betrays logic and any culinary...

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, carrots...you get the idea. I eat until I am no longer hungry. It has nothing to do with a...

Can You Make Hot Sauce at Home?

How to take 60 arbol chiles and make hot sauce.

11th Feb 2010

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Can you make hot sauce at home that's better than stuff from the store? For years I've considered hot sauce to be something you just had to buy in those little glass bottles. I have a half-dozen of them to prove it. Open up my fridge door, and they clank around for a good 15 seconds, announcing that they are ready to be used. And you know what? I like them all. Franks, Tabasco, El Yucateco, L...

A Gastrique Primer, or How to Improve Your Next Tomato Sauce

Vinegar and sugar can spruce up any sauce.

9th Feb 2010

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Once we had blanched and peeled the tomatoes we chopped them, strained the seeds, and simmered it for twenty minutes into a simple sauce. Then I made my gastrique , which involved no measuring -- maybe 1/4 cup of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sugar -- and a quick boil into something thick and syrupy.

I tasted the sauce before adding it, which was fine, clean and simple.  And then I tast...

Idea Lab: What To Do With An Unwanted Bottle of Vodka?

Other uses for the unloved spirit.

2nd Feb 2010

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I have this large bottle of vodka and I don't know what to do with it. It was lugged over by a friend (Blake) during a party as some kind of gift for the festivities, but I could see through his evil plan. He was trying to pawn this half finished bottle off on me because he didn't want to drink it. Sure enough, while the whiskey and gin were manhandled during the party, stirred and shaken into...

My Chicago: Caputo Cheese Market, and a Search for Bottarga

This fishy roe is a meal in itself.

26th Jan 2010

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My Chicago is about life as a cooks and eaters in our home city. Markets, restaurants, secret finds, really tasty bites--or just a great story. We're lucky to live here.

Bottarga would handily win the award for "foodstuff with least correlation between attractiveness and deliciousness," if such a thing existed.  It is a brown, firm lobe, and, poor thing, really quite ugly. A cured, pres...

Idea Lab: Focaccia Pizza

Can great pizza be made at home quickly?

12th Jan 2010

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Idea Lab is where we explore topics before we head into the kitchen. We welcome your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, so please leave them in the comments!

Though I once praised the virtues of the broiling pizza on Serious Eats, I'm now over it. I'm tired of broiler antics and pre-heating cast iron pans to make approximations of Neopolitan-style pizza at home (I've already ruined one ba...

Year in Review: An Obsession with Beef

Best of the beef.

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When Blake and I sat back and looked at what food obsessed us in 2009, we noticed an unusual interest in beef. Pork is still the hippest meat around, and praise for beef sometimes seems limited to talk about steaks or short ribs. We wrote about both of those cuts this year, but we did it our way.  We also managed to dress up mounds of round, tenderize brisket, turn chuck into the tender found...

Red-Braised Pork Belly, and a Sichuan Cooking Primer

Where to start your Sichuan obsession.

11th Dec 2009

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For awhile now, I've been looking for a way into Chinese cooking. The whole business of it feels impenetrable. Strange flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques, and no ability to rely on what I've already learned about Western cooking and improvise. Then there's the problem that you can't accurately call anything "Chinese cooking," because China is made up of provinces with different recip...

Happy Thanksgiving, With a Little Help from Time Out Chicago

A little holiday help

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We're signing off for the week, ready to see family, drink some of our homemade hard apple cider , and fatten ourselves on turkey.  We hope you're off to do the same!  But before you do, please direct your attention to this week's Time Out Chicago , were you will discover a cheesy picture of your humble correspondents (above).

A month ago we met up with the dashing food folks over a...

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 Kimchi Contest Results

And the best kimchi award goes to...

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After a tasting of both kimchi projects, the results are in. We have a winner!

It wasn't easy to decide: there were things about Nick's kimchi that were better, and things about Blake's Kimchi that were better. We went back and forth about who should take the title. We tasted, waited, tasted again.

First, the recipes. Though our recipes were similar, there were some crucial diffe...

The Search: Cabbage Kimchi

What is your kimchi secret?

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Vinegary, spicy, crunchy, and addictive. These are just some of the words we use to describe Korean dish kimchi. We could go on, but the idea is this: Kimchi fascinates us. We put it into stews , mix it with noodles and sesame oil , chop it up with fried rice , and side it up with Korean barbecue . We've been known to eat it straight out of the jar when we need a fix.

There...

The Maxwell Street Market, Chicago

We take a walk around the legendary market.

22nd Sep 2009

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Nick and I arrived at the Maxwell Street Market to a line of colorful tents stretching out into the distance along Desplaines Street longer than we could see: men playing blues on the sidewalk, piles of tchotkes and used power tools, used DVDs, discount bras and panties, and endless stands full of tube socks. In fact, it wasn't immediately clear what we were doing there. If it weren't for th...

Pajeon, the Korean Scallion Pancake

Not like most pancakes...

15th Sep 2009

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I recently experienced Korean Barbecue for the first time, and I'm not sure I'll ever be quite the same. For days afterwards, I could taste the spicy, sweet, marinated short ribs between my teeth. The heady scent of kimchi haunted me; I'd walk around corners and swear I could smell it. Korean barbecue is soul food. It's comforting, the flavors are deep, and it's all based around communal eatin...

Pork Rillettes

The best kind of wedding appetizers.

7th Sep 2009

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A pure expression of the pig: nothing extraneous, nothing wasted.  Pork, salt, and a little bit of time: that's all you need to make rillettes.  It was a beautiful idea which had led me to the kitchen, where I had 25 pounds of pork (a ball of lard, huge hunks of shoulder, and a bag of spare ribs larger than a medium-sized dog) and where I realized I was in over my head.

C onfiture de coch...

How to Make a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

A step-by-step guide to every condiment and step in making the perfect, authentic Chicago-style hot dog.

22nd Jul 2009

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The Chicago Hot Dog is, perhaps, one of the most improbable food combinations in the world. We do know this: it shouldn't work. A towering, precipitous bundle, loaded up with so many condiments that it's twice the volume of the dog itself. It threatens to fall apart, to be so absurd it forgets its provenance as a hot dog. It's misguided, it's madness. Yet it's mad enough to succeed brilliantly...

A Weekend of Beans and Brats

Insight into perfecting 90 minute, no-soak beans and homemade bratwursts.

24th Jun 2009

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It's been a delicious week.  I've been doling out my homemade bratwurst to close friends and making batches of 90 Minute, No-Soak beans just because I can.  I know some people had some questions about both of these posts, and this week has given me a few more insights to both processes which hopefully will answer some of them.  Also, Michael Ruhlman wanted to see my amateurish sp...

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...

Highlights from Barcelona on the Cheap

How to save money in the stylish Spanish city.

16th Jun 2009

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While Nick has been saving the world with quick no-soak-beans and investigating the roots of Wisconsin bratwurst (part of my family is from Wisconsin and I hope to weigh in with strong opinions on the subject sooner than later), I've been on the run, away from a kitchen, squeezing every trip out of Europe I can afford.  Which isn't much at the moment.  But a lack of cash didn't deter...

Auberge de la Loube, Buoux, France

Blake eats the best of France.

24th May 2009

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After we spent our Saturday morning at the sprawling market in Apt, sampling cheese and charcuterie, the only task ahead of us was to find a tiny hillside town called Buoux by lunchtime.  Exploring a mountainous countryside of hamlets and hairpin turns was all that awaited us. By the time we'd arrived a few hours later, the sun was falling lazily on a descent toward dusk; the air was fragrant...

Restaurants We Weren''t Looking For: Provence

Blake finds hidden gems in France.

21st May 2009

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Our goal for eating in France, as our budget was limited, was to find simple and unpretentious food.  And though we hit the ground running with a list of online recommendations culled from a number of sources--an article in Travel + Leisure , searches on Chowhound and eGullet, guidebooks galore--some of our best and most memorable meals came from eclectic little spots that nobody had writt...

Corned Beef

How to pickle brisket.

13th May 2009

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I was standing in the meat section of my local Korean grocery store (the excellent Joong Boo Market ) with fellow food blogger Brian, from the Daily Ikura .  He was talking me through his favorite Korean dishes and ingredients, and I was loving it.  We were discussing uses of red bean paste, which ramen was worth its price, and whether some brands of soy sauce were really so good you...

A Visit to Hellenurme Watermill, Valga County, Estonia

Blake visits a famed watermill in Estonia.

6th May 2009

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I knew next to nothing about watermills before heading down to see one in southern Estonia, so I had an open mind.  The website promised a tour, a glass of milk and fresh warm bread.  So when the offer of a ride down came up, I had little reason to turn it down.

When we arrived, we found an idle lake reflecting the brilliant blue sky, clouds tossing across the sky, and a brick building...

Benedictine Spread and a Mint Julep or Two

Nick throws a perfect Derby party.

30th Apr 2009

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The authentic Julep is a drink from the Heroic Age of American Tippling, and as such is not for novices. That's perhaps the chief reason it's fallen out of favor in these weak-livered times.
- David Wondrich

I'll get to the julep soon enough.  But first I want to talk about the Kentucky Derby.  Though I grew up on the Indiana side of the Ohio River, I don't care much about the Indy 5...

A Story About Eggy Bread

What if French toast could be improved by the Brits?

27th Apr 2009

Eggy bread, a slice of white loaf dipped in egg whisked with milk and fried in butter, is simply French toast without the sweetness.  It is a food I've consumed in countless American diners, and on countless Sunday mornings as a kid.  But that morning I found eggy bread unrecognizable without its sheen of maple syrup and its fragrant nutmeg and cinnamon spices.  Still, there it was, plain and o...

Easter Dinner and My Mysteriously Cheap Lamb Chops

Cooking Easter dinner with no oven.

14th Apr 2009

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Easter dinner has always been a giant-baked-ham affair for me.  Glazed with a sticky concoction loaded to its saturation point with brown sugar and splashed with bourbon, studded with cloves, and baked until warm and tender--ah, it's hard to beat.

Living here in a country full of pork , I figured reproducing this wouldn't be too hard to pull off.  But two problems presented themselves:...

Authentic Carnitas and Three Pounds of Lard

Lard is the secret to this Mexican classic.

5th Jan 2009

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By the time I fished the three pounds of pork hunks from the lard and stacked them on the cutting board,far more guests had arrived than I had originally planned.  It was a New Year's Eve party, but I thought dinner would just be an intimate gathering of 5 or so, and then we'd meet up with more friends later in the night.  But apparently my calls for meeting up later meant that they should c...

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

How to make a better burger at home.

21st Feb 2008

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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...

Gorgefest Saturday

Manhattan. 1 day. 9 Restaurants.

26th Nov 2007

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I hadn’t been to New York since my exodus in July and I returned with a plan.  I wasn’t going to waste any moment visiting attractions, or seeing a Broadway play.  I lived there for two years, so it felt right to walk back in and get to what I spent most of my time doing: eating.  And with the Paupered Chefs reunited for the first time in half a year, it really wasn't that hard for ou...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 3, Carnitas on the Run

Killer tacos and no-corn-syrup Mexican Coke

17th Nov 2007

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With the time change and a long flight ahead of us, we have to leave by 4pm just to arrive home in New York at midnight (Correction: arrive in Newark.  I'm never doing that again).  With a morning left and having had scarce time to explore Olympia itself, we asked Scott exactly what to do with the remaining hours.  “Well, there’s this Mexican taco truck,” he said casually.  And it wa...

The Proper Way to Cook a Hot Dog?

A nice technique for cooking hot dogs at home.

26th Oct 2007

By Blake Royer I hardly ever cook hot dogs at...

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I hardly ever cook hot dogs at home--it's the kind of food that I buy on a street corner in a rush.  On the way to a concert. When I don’t have more than 5 minutes for lunch. When it’s three days before my paycheck and rent's due.  Two bucks on a street corner, less than that if I'm lucky to be near a Papaya King (or Gray's Papaya ),...

Eating Tacos All Over San Antonio

If that means eating 5 lunches in one day, so be it.

11th Dec 2006

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Honestly, there's a real need for these signs.  When we were venturing around the mercado square in San Antonio, a land of slightly schlocky and catchpenny Mexican crafts, every third vendor warned against this practice, where gringo , giggling tourists pretended to experience Mexican culture by putting on outrageous hats and saying " Arriba, Arriba " like Speedy Gonzalez. How to a...

Is Broiling a Steak as Good as Grilling One?

29th Nov 2006

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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...

Baja Fish Tacos

The best fried fish tacos we've ever had.

9th Jun 2006

Our own version culled from a few different recipes, an emulation of the classic recipe of homemade tortillas, lightly fried tempura-style fish, a dairy-based white sauce, and fresh, crunchy, gently spicy cabbage.

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Real Baja fish tacos are nothing like what you're used to eating when it comes to Mexican food.  In fact, true Mexican cuisine might be our biggest missed chance.  Satisfied...

Burgers & Cupcakes

Two things people like to wait in line for. Again.

25th May 2006

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Burgers and Cupcakes
458 9th Ave, at 36th st.
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.94 miles
Travel Time: 27 minutes

of People in Line: 9

Burgers and Cupcakes is humorous only to New Yorkers, who can't help but smile at the gall of building a restaurant that caters solely to the big apple's idiocy to stand in line for the most obscenely simple things.  I was spurred to undertake the odysse...

Shake Shack Alternatives Day 3: A Day for the Lazy

23rd May 2006

Most of the places we've reviewed for our Alternatives to...

dayforthelazy

Most of the places we've reviewed for our Alternatives to Shake Shack extravaganza of grease have been within a short walking distance of the Shack.  But few would allow you to order your food, receive your food, and still leave you enough time to walk back to Madison Square Park to enjoy the grub the real way.

Fortunately,...

Jacques Pepin''s Corn Chowder

Possibly the easiest corn chowder recipe on the planet

4th Apr 2006

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A warm comfort food that, in this case, is remarkably easy to make. Generally chowder is thick and hearty with bacon and potatoes and thick creamy base, but this version instead goes for elegant. It’s almost (but not) too thin, almost silky, surprisingly tasty considering the lack of any complicated seasoning.
By Blake Royer

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On a Sunday afternoon, corn chowder is the idea.  A soup bot...

Egg Mayonnaise and Cress Sandwich

Recreating a fond memory from being poor in London

14th Feb 2006

Though egg mayonnaise is essentially the same thing as American egg salad, it doesn't taste like your average pitch-in.   The mayonnaise was creamy but it had a lightness to it, which probably has something to do with the proportion of ingredients.  Instead of deli-style New York sandwiches where a literal pound of meat is thrown on each sandwich--"It's like a cow with a cracker on either side,...

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...

"Wit What?"

An exploration of Philadelphia's quintessential greasy delicacy...the cheesesteak

1st Feb 2006

With Blake off for the weekend, Nick blew the whole...

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With Blake off for the weekend, Nick blew the whole Paupered Chef budget on a $20 Chinatown Bus ticket to Philadelphia in search of the city's quintessential greasy delicacy...the cheesesteak.  Armed with locals with serious appetites, he checked out some of their favorite institutions in search of the real thing...Wait, with cheez w...

Pasta Carbonara

This recipe loses the cream altogether, replacing it with white wine.

15th Jan 2006

Pasta Carbonara

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 thin slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • 4 egg yolks
  • small handful chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Cucina Rustica

pasta carbonara2

Get a huge pot of salted water boiling...