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Recipe inspiration, tips, and kitchen hacks from the Chowhound editors.

Boudin Blanc

gordon wing recommends the delicious boudin blanc sausage from Taylor’s Sausage. The traditional New Orleans-style boudin blanc is stuffed with pork and lots of rice; this version is very savory and juicy, not at all greasy. It comes in hot and mild versions, so take your pick. It’s a snack available all over New Orleans–you peel back the casings, squeeze out the filling, and enjoy. (The casing is rather chewy, so most folks don’t eat it.)

Taylor’s Sausage [Downtown]
907 Washington St., Oakland

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Boudin Blanc–Taylor’s Sausage
boudin blanc!

It’s Craaaaabulous

Residents of parts north (of Orange County) no longer have to venture down there for the Cajun-style seafood boil that’s become popular in Little Saigon, says fishybear10.

Crabulous has fresh crawfish, Dungeness crab, blue crab and shrimp in a garlicky butter sauce that’s kicked up a notch (did I get that right, Emeril?) with Cajun spices. The sauce isn’t quite as thick as Boiling Crab’s, but it’s just as tasty. “rameniac”: concurs, saying there’s no reason to drive down to Westminster/Garden Grove anymore.

Crabulous [San Gabriel Valley]
8966 Garvey Ave., Rosemead

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Cajun-style seafood comes to the San Gabriel Valley

Substitutes for Wine in Cooking

When you have to forego all alcohol in your cooking, is there any way to replace the flavor pickup that wine gives a dish? While you can’t recreate wine-heavy dishes like coq au vin without wine, there are some substitutions that do work well. Katie Nell has found that Perrier works as a white wine substitute in things where a lemony background is fine. lunchbox uses combinations of fruit juice and vinegar to mimic different kinds of wine for cooking:

Apple juice and sherry vinegar with a dollop of honey substitutes well for marsala.

Apple juice diluted with 1/4 water, plus a squirt of lemon juice substitutes for chardonnay, chablis, and some other medium-bodied whites.

Red grape juice (not Concord), if you can find it, with a splash of red wine vinegar for cabernet.

Rice wine vinegar with a dollop of honey to cut the acid, for mirin.

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Any good substitutes for alcohol (wine) in cooking?


Sopapillas are a New Mexico specialty of deep-fried dough puffs eaten hot and spread with honey (or stuffed with your favorite taco fillings). And they’re easy to make. What’s not not to love? michele_corum says you can use any typical biscuit recipe, allow the dough to sit for at least 30 minutes, roll 1/8-inch think, and cut into long thin rectangles to fry. As an alternative, lilygirl offers this quick recipe for flour tortilla dough, which doubles well for sopapillas:

4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil or melted lard

1 1/2 cups hot water
vegetable oil for frying

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, vegetable oil or lard, and hot water together using your hands to form dough. If dough is too dry, add a little oil to your hands during kneading. Roll out thin rounds as for tortillas, and prick holes evenly across each with a fork. Cut each round into 4 or 6 wedges. Fry the wedges in hot oil, turning when their undersides are golden brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if you like.

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Mint Mojito Gum

Lots of chowhounds dig Orbit gum. Their new Mint Mojito flavor is the best yet, says JK Grence the Cosmic Jester. It’s a great balance of spearmint and lime flavors. The flavors really bring out the best in each other.

Not so great is their new Raspberry Mint flavor, which is just sort of an average fruit gum flavor.

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Yum Gum: Orbit Mint Mojito

Ground Bean Sauce and Brown Bean Sauce

Confused by the abundance of bean sauces at your local Asian grocery? Know this: ground bean sauce and brown bean sauce are essentially identical. They consist of soy beans, salt, and a thickener like wheat flour.

Frequently, stuff labeled “ground bean sauce” is ground consistently fine, where “brown bean sauce” is may or may not have some larger chunks of bean. But this standard is not consistently held by all the sauce manufacturers.

klieglight2 likes Koon Chun brand. He gets their plain old “bean sauce”, which still has unground bean bits in it; it has a wonderfully deep, earthy flavor.

What is different from all of the above is “sweet soybean sauce”, which is as sweet as hoisin sauce. Don’t get the sweet stuff unless the recipe specifically calls for it.

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ground bean sauce v. brown bean sauce

The Unbearable Whiteness of Professionalism

The National Culinary Review leads its new issue with one of those entertaining, perplexing, annoying, and ultimately sympathetic Grumpy Old Man tirades that often grace the pages of highfalutin journals such as Cook’s Illustrated and The Art of Eating.

American Culinary Federation president John Kinsella has a very important message for his readers: If you’re a professional chef, you’d better be wearing a properly starched, toque-bedecked, clean, and above all white uniform … or else!

In the process of making his point, he tees off on chefs who wear black in 120-degree kitchens, chefs who cook in blue jeans, and chefs who keep less-than-spotless work environments. On one hand, the hippy-trippy American outlook suggests that as long as the food’s good, chefs should be able to wear whatever crazy get-ups they want—it’s a free country. And black will, with the exception of the white-linen Mark Twain–style suits, always be cooler than white.

On the other hand, Kinsella kind of makes a good point, by invoking military dress codes: Discipline and consistency are driven from the ground up, by the details and by the composition of an overall A-game through lining up a hundred different molecules of excellence and deliberate order. A crisp, simple white uniform shows humility before the food and the diners, and the first step to becoming a master is being humbled by the enormousness of the task that lies before you.

The New New Fast Food

The Los Angeles Times brings the fun, reporting on a wave of new fast-food offerings that include spinach-laden McMuffin-shaped breakfast panini, mango flan, and red-bean-stuffed pastry items.

The Times explores chains such as Santouka, Pinkberry, and Pollo Campero, embracing the good (eel hand rolls), cataloguing the weird (footlong PB&J huarache), and ripping the ugly (cardboard-tasting chicken-salad wraps) in the process.

California chains such as In-N-Out helped to put high-quality fast food on the map; Pinkberry and Pollo Campero may just bring it to the next level.

On the Chopping Block

On the Chopping Block

CHOW reviews the best wood cutting boards. READ MORE

Owners vs. Reviewers

Is a restaurant review opinion or fact? Some of both, most readers would assume; they trust the reviewer to know the cuisine in question and be able to judge a well-cooked dish from a sloppy one. Along with being well-informed in brain and palate, though, restaurant reviewers get paid to be opinionated in a smart, thoughtful, and entertaining way.

As a former restaurant critic, I’ve received my share of angry letters from restauranteurs and diners who disagreed with my opinions; one restaurant owner went so far as to flyer all the cars within a three-block radius from the newspaper with a ten-point list of rebuttals after what he read as a negative review.

Snark can be fun to write (and even more fun to read), but any professional writer paid for her opinions learns fast that reviews impact business, and that a snappy comment always needs to be based in knowledge and fact. It’s tricky, because nothing is as subjective as taste; as Ruth Reichl once exclaimed when told to be “less personal” in her New York Times reviews, “But it’s about what goes on in my mouth!”

Michael Bauer, the longtime lead critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, broached the isse of free speech in restaurant criticism in his blog recently, after the BBC News reported on a Irish jury awarding a Belfast restauranteur 25,000 pounds in damages after a “hatchet job” review in a local paper. (Among other faults, the critic cited a “flat Coke” served at the restaurant; as one waggish commenter pointed out, what was a critic doing ordering a Coke with her meal, anyway?)

And as reported in Eater, vitriolic New York City restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow attacked the credentials of the Times’ critics after his latest multi-million dollar venture got a dreaded no-star review, claimed that the paper’s critics were pursuing a personal vendetta against him and his establishments, and vowed to start “reviewing the reviewers” in a personal blog on one of his restaurant’s websites. Still, the Times had the last laugh: Chodorow expressed his vehement opinions in a full-page ad in Wednesday’s food section, which must have boosted the paper’s ad coffers by at least five figures, if not more.