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

Jewish Dairy Restaurants

Traditional Jewish laws of kosher require the separation of meat and dairy, so there is a tradition of kosher households having all-dairy meals, with no meat or meat products–just delicious things like cheese blintzes, cold borsht, and cottage cheese pancakes. Naturally developing out of this tradition are Jewish dairy restaurants, serving traditional foods like blintzes, matzoh brei, hearty vegetable soups, sour cream, and pickled herring (fish doesn’t count as meat). Not all Jewish dairy restaurants are kosher, says Arthur–many serve dishes with cheese made with rennet, for example, so eater beware.

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Jewish ‘Dairy Restaurant?’

Spanish Wine Primer

Spanish Wine Primer

From Albariño to Ribera, better and better wines are arriving from Spain. READ MORE

Secret Society

Do you know where to get a White Gummy Bear? Can you acquire animal-style french fries? How about a Bull’s Eye Barbecue Burger?

These exotic items all come from the “secret” menus of chain resturants, like Jamba Juice, In-N-Out, and Burger King. If you’re a secret-menu savant, Consumerist needs you. The site is compiling the ultimate secret-menu collection and needs fast-food fanciers, former employees, and other sleuths to share their esoteric knowledge.

Maybe it’s because people get a kick out of seeming savvier than the average Joe, but the popularity of trading tips about secret menus and modifications at chains seems to be growing exponentially. I wouldn’t be surprised if lots more “secret menus” started popping up. Unlike some clumsy efforts at viral marketing, secret menus are an elegant way to get folks talking about your food. Customers think they’re “getting one over” on the establishment and eagerly pass along their knowledge, creating an ever-bigger buzz.

Do you go off the menu when you hit the chains?

Film Feast

Film Feast

The nominees for best food scene in a movie are ... READ MORE

Wine Online

Wine Online

Where to buy vino while surfing the Web. READ MORE

Those Bland Midwestern Tastebuds

Is it true that all discerning and sophisticated palates reside on the coasts? Is the Midwest really filled with folks who wouldn’t appreciate unusual or exotic dining? Midwestern-born Michael Bauer seems to think so.

The San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic was taken to task recently in a letter from a reader who took issue with a recent review in which Bauer described a dish as being “bland enough to appeal to the Midwestern tourist.”

I think it is extremely arrogant to think people in the Midwest would not enjoy a meal that is ‘different or exotic.’ You do not have to live in San Francisco or New York to have a sophisticated appreciation of food from different countries.

Bauer brings up the issue on his blog, Between Meals, in a post titled “Defending the Midwestern Palate.”

Stereotypes are terrible things, but at times they have a basis in truth. I am from the Midwest, and I go back to Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri at least once a year. Having dined extensively on both coasts and in the Midwest, I can tell you firsthand there is a difference…. There are some individuals with very sophisticated palates, but there isn’t a critical mass to sustain chefs and restaurateurs who have a focused, unique style… I think it still holds true that most trends start on either coast and move to the ‘flyover states.’

Not unexpectedly, his post provoked a lot of comments. Some of the points are well worth considering:

• It’s more of a big city/small town issue than coastal or landlocked; people in big cities are exposed to more and become more adventurous eaters (witness Chicago).

• San Francisco has a high population of singles and childless couples who eat out more often and thus can sustain a wide variety of dining options.

• How adventurous and sophisticated is San Francisco’s palate anyway, when the perennial favorite dish is Zuni’s roast chicken?

What do you think? Are midwestern palates lacking in adventurousness, even in this day and age? Is daring dining only for the coasts? And how sophisticated can San Francisco be when—in the words of one New York commenter—”Everyone wears jeans and sneakers!”

Kitchen Couples Clash

Forget sex on the kitchen floor, couples in the kitchen these days are more likely to be cooking together. But the question remains: Who is on top?

In an interesting article titled “He Cooks. She Stews. It’s Love.” (registration required), The New York Times looks at couples cooking together. It’s a new age—men can be responsible for dinner just as much as women. But despite equality, it’s not always smooth sailing in the kitchen.

It was a nice fantasy while it lasted … the modern couple would share the work. Husbands would take an interest in casseroles. Wives would slap slabs of meat on the grill. They would read cookbooks and watch the Food Network together. The kitchen would be a peaceful domain equally ruled by two people…. Instead, wedged there in the kitchen together, they fell into a power dynamic just as unequal and emotionally fraught…. Instead of a partnership, some couples say that their relationship in the kitchen more closely resembles a tiny dictatorship.

They’re called Kitchen Alphas—those who, rather than sharing the kitchen, prefer to rule it. Derek LaVallee, wine columnist for The Hill, is one such Alpha to his wife’s Kitchen Beta.

‘I can’t watch her cook,’ Mr. LaVallee said. ‘I’d say things like, “I can’t believe you’re julienning the carrots that way!” And then I’d think, “Did that really just come out of your mouth?”’

Even the professionals are weighing in on this one. “If there’s a power struggle, it will come out in cooking together,” said Dr. Marion F. Solomon, a couples therapist in Los Angeles.

Not even professional cooks can avoid this problem, because ordering around your sous-chef is not exactly the same as ordering around your husband.

Rebecca Charles, the chef and owner of Pearl Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village and an admitted alpha, said: ‘Giving orders is fine in a professional environment, but at home it’s a little inappropriate. I can be a little bossy. Resentment can build, and before you know it you have a pot flying at your head and you don’t know why. Couples cooking together is probably the second leading cause of divorce next to home renovations.’

What do you think? Are you a Kitchen Alpha or Beta—or has your household found true kitchen harmony? (and does it include takeout?)

Wood’s Poor Cousin

Wood’s Poor Cousin

CHOW reviews the best plastic cutting boards. READ MORE


Looks like the rumors were true: Ben & Jerry’s was planning a Colbert-themed ice cream. The company unveiled Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream yesterday, which means you can have “the sweet taste of liberty in your mouth” as soon as it’s shipped out to your local supermarket.

What does this liberty taste like, you may ask? Basically like vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl. But it’s also so much more. Colbert issued a statement in character (the politically left-leaning comedian dons a faux conservative persona for his show) explaining that the way he sees it,

Dessert has a well-known liberal agenda. What I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case.

He also plans to donate his portion of the proceeds to various charities (personally, I’m hoping he doesn’t stay in character when he chooses those … but maybe that’s just me). What other celebs would you like to see immortalized in ice cream?

Salted Coffee, You Say?

Who in their right mind would put salt in a cup of coffee? Someone stuck with a seriously substandard cup of coffee, that’s who. “I will never suffer through another bad cup of coffee at a fast food joint, restaurant, gas station, etc., as long as I have salt to add to the cup,” says rworange.

A very judicious sprinkle of salt (just a few grains, really) indeed takes the edge off a bad cup of coffee, taking away the sharp bite and making it mellow and smoother. It won’t become great coffee, but it will be decent. However, adding salt to decent, non-bitter coffee can make it worse, making the subtle defects more obvious. (No word on salt’s effect on really good coffee.)

Some additional findings from rworange: Less is more–you don’t want salty-tasting coffee. Add only the tiniest bit and taste; when it has mellowed the brew, stop. And it makes no difference in flavor whether salt is added to coffee grounds before brewing (1/8 tsp. is plenty for a 10-cup drip coffee maker) or to a finished cup.

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Coffee with Salt