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

Paletas to Stimulate Your Palate

Mexican ice creams don’t just soothe your tongue with bland creaminess, they wake it up with flavors like spicy mango, chamoy (kind of an apricot-chili taste) or jackfruit.

On the Eastside, La Mich has an amazing range of flavors, including vanilla raisin, butter strawberry, and the spicier options above. They also serve Mexican coffee and hot chocolate.

Mateo’s may not have as much variety, but it’s staked out some turf on the Westside, scooping up leche quemada (burnt milk), guava, and chocolate.

La Mich Paleteria [Inland of LA]
1026 Huntington Drive, Duarte

Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars [Culver City-ish]
4929 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City

Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars [Midtown]
4222 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles

Board Links: Wicked cool ice cream flavors

A Sort-Of Spinoff of Sushi Gen

There’s a new sushi bar in Little Tokyo, Takumi, with an old hand behind the counter: Hiro, who worked for eight years at the crushingly popular Sushi Gen down the street.

Takumi’s fish is super fresh, tender, and moist, says chowmominLA. They have honjake salmon, higher quality than the regular kind–nicely marbled and not too fatty. Albacore is tender and moist, and yellowtail flavorful. Toro comes two ways in one order: the first piece plain and simple, the second seared in a way that transforms the fattiness without sacrificing the flavor, and sluiced with a citrusy, sweet-soyish kind of sauce.

Sushi averages $4.50 per two-piece order, with honjake salmon at $5.50 and toro at $10. There are also affordable lunch specials and bentos–sushi moriawase lunch includes eight pieces of assorted nigiri and six small pieces of tuna roll for $12.50.

The dinner menu has a lot more cooked items than at lunch. There’s an omakase option for $80 that includes sushi, sashimi and cooked dishes–according to the customer’s taste.

Decor is very light, new, and modern.

A sushi place is only as good as its chefs. Kawasaki-san, formerly of Sushi Go 55, is reportedly at Azabu in Whittier–for the time being. Meanwhile, at Go 55, the new chef is good, says Jerome. Sashimi pieces and portions are smaller than at Sushi Gen, but it’s quite fresh. While there, be sure to check out the fried oysters, which HPLsauce thinks are the best in the city, so far.

Takumi [Little Tokyo]
333 E. 2nd Street (SW entrance of Little Tokyo Village), Los Angeles

Sushi Gen [Little Tokyo]
422 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles

Sushi Go 55. [Little Tokyo]
333 S. Alameda St. Ste. 317, Los Angeles

Azabu [East LA-ish]
13119 Philadelphia St., Whittier

Board Links

Watch out, Sushi Gen
Going to Sushi Go

Huitlacoche Quesadilla at Doña Tomas

Doña Tomas is still making excellent food, says deelish–especially the terrific huitlacoche (corn smut fungus) quesadilla that one could eat at every meal, every day. Chiles rellenos are also excellent, not breaded or deep fried, just stuffed with smooth, meltingly yummy goat cheese and roasted. The masa is fresh and tastes of sweet corn. Earl Grey feels the service is sloppy, and the food is only very good, not great. And Mari likes the juicy, crispy carnitas, despite the fact that they are rubbed with Mexican oregano.

For dessert, try ice cream served with baked apples, raisins, and pecans, sprinkled with cajeta.

Restaurante Dona Tomas [Temescal]
5004 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Board Links

Doña Tomas–Recent Reviews?

Truffles and Coffee

5-Star Truffles and Coffee is a charming, unassuming place, offering excellent house-made truffles, along with espresso drinks and other beverages. The owner makes the chocolates from Cacao Barry chocolate, says larochelle a box of 20 truffles runs $7.99. Also, you get one truffle free when you purchase a beverage. Flavors include hazelnut, espresso, Earl Grey, and wine. Many flavors are quite subtle, but the caramel is unctuous and buttery. Definitely worth a visit, says Absonot.

5-Star Truffles and Coffee [Western Addition]
411 Divisadero St., San Francisco

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5-star truffles and coffee on divisadero

Pizza Outside the Box at Layla Jones

The pizza at Layla Jones defies easy categorization, but hounds aren’t letting that keep them from enjoying it. “Not what I consider your typical New York pizza,” says Nehna, who describes a pie that’s square like a Sicilian, yet also thin and crispy in an un-Sicilian way. Whatever. The crust is tasty, the sauce thick and delicious, the toppings fresh and well balanced (winning combos include sweet sausage-caramelized onion, meatball-roasted pepper, and artichoke-roasted tomato). The result, concludes BGRose, is “a definite step up from your typical neighborhood pizza joint.”

Takeout and delivery orders don’t fare well, possibly because of the thinness of the crust. BGRose brought a pie home, a trip of just a few minutes, “and even though I saw it come fresh from the oven, the whole thing was a soggy mess.”

Besides full-size pies from the oven (dubbed “Brooklyn Classic”), they make personal pizzas on a charcoal grill (no reports yet on these). And beyond pizza, look for decent pressed sandwiches–grilled chicken, goat cheese, arugula and tomato is a standout–and better-than-average pastas such as pappardelle with spicy shrimp, feta and spinach.

Layla Jones [Cobble Hill]
formerly Campobello
214 Court St., between Warren and Baltic, Brooklyn

Board Links

New pizza place on Court St–Layla Jones

Black Pearl Resurfaces; and Other News

Black Pearl, a New England-style seafood house that enjoyed a brief but promising run in 2005, is back. The difference is that in its first go-round, it shared space–somewhat uncomfortably–with an East Village bar. Now it has its very own dining room on 26th Street.

Early reports praise seafood chowder, deftly cooked clams and fries, and a terrific wild blueberry crumble. Lobster rolls, as before, are unorthodox–just lightly seasoned and buttered chunks of lobster with little or no mayonnaise. The menu–longer than the 2005 version–also includes salads; a raw bar; lobster pot pie; fried, steamed, or roasted seafood; and clam, shrimp, or oyster rolls.

In other news, two neighborhood landmarks have called it a day. La Rosita in Morningside Heights, a Cuban hangout beloved for lechon (roast pig), hearty breakfast plates, and cafe con leche, closed at the end of December when its chef-owner retired. And Jade Mountain, an old-school Chinese joint that had dished up chow mein, egg foo young, and other Cantonese American classics to generations of East Villagers since 1931, shut its doors in mid-January. “End of an era,” laments mshpook. “It was like stepping back in time.”

In Nolita, casual Cantonese spot Jazzi Wok has changed hands and re-emerged as Funky Thai Cafe. No reports yet on the chow.

Black Pearl [Chelsea]
37 W. 26th St., between Broadway and 6th Ave., Manhattan

La Rosita [Upper West Side]
2809 Broadway, between W. 108th and 109th Sts., Manhattan

Jade Mountain Restaurant [East Village]
197 2nd Ave., between E. 12th and 13th Sts., Manhattan

Funky Thai Cafe [Lower East Side]
formerly Jazzi Wok
176 Mott St., at Broome, Manhattan

Board Links

Looking for Update on The Black Pearl
The Black Pearl
Cheap eats in SoHo
Central American Food–Where’s Breakfast?
Please help me introduce my girlfriend to NYC style Chinese food!

Savory Cooking with Apples

Apples are nice in grilled cheddar sandwiches, briefly sauteed and layered in turkey sandwiches, and raw in chicken or tuna salad.

They can be sauteed with red cabbage and sweet onions; season with caraway if you like. Cook them with a root vegetable to add sweetness. Add them to pureed winter squash soups and to curries.

fmogul swears that an unorthodox guacamole including finely chopped crisp, tart apples–a technique learned from a Navajo family–is really good.

Cook chicken pieces with onions, apples, and cider (add a little cream if you want)–saucy and great over noodles, says alaughingdog. E.Kolliopoulos adds apples to the mix when making chicken liver pate.

Apples work well in rice pilafs and salads, says piccola. Cook a blend of brown and wild rice, mix with chopped apples tossed in lemon juice, toasted walnuts, celery, fresh herbs, and the dressing of your choice. Eat warm or cold.

piccola also uses bread dough or puff pastry to make flatbread topped with apple slices, some strong cheese (sharp cheddar, fontina, gongozola, etc.), and rosemary, and baked until golden and toasty.

Board Links

Apples Recipes

Arroz Con Pollo Remade

Will Owen says he’s finally created an arroz con pollo recipe that’s part of his permanent comfort food repertoire. It’s a slight departure from the classic; he uses brown rice, chiles, and smoked Spanish paprika for his earthy and somewhat spicy variation:

4-lb. chicken, cut into serving pieces

1/2 cup olive oi
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh Italian sausages, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 fresh pasilla peppers, seeded, deveined and chopped
1 cup brown rice
1 Tbsp. Spanish smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. saffron, ground fine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

In a large bowl, whisk olive oil with a large pinch of salt and a good bit of pepper, and toss the chicken in the oil. Allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Heat a Dutch oven and add the chicken and oil; brown the chicken on all sides and remove it to a plate (if the pot is too crowded, brown it in batches). Add the sausage to the pot; brown and remove it. Then put in the onions and pepper, reduce the heat a bit, and cook until they begin to soften. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains begin to look parched. Stir in the paprika until well blended, then add the saffron to the broth, whisk to blend, and pour into the pot. Lay the chicken pieces over the top, tuck the sausage into the gaps between them, put the lid on and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 1 hour.

Board Links

Arroz Con Pollo!

Serious Dairy

What’s the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream? The major difference, says C. Hamster, is the fat content. The USDA requires that “heavy cream” contain at least 36% milk fat, whereas the product called “light whipping cream” must have between 30% and 36% milk fat. Another difference, say many hounds, is that products labeled “whipping cream” are much more likely than plain old “heavy cream” to contain additives like carageenan. lunchbox says it’s fine to substitute heavy cream and whipping cream for each other at will–it’s unlikely that a small variation in fat content will make much of a difference in your finished product.

One final bit of advice on buying all kinds of cream: ultrapasteurization damages the flavor and consistency of cream, so non-ultrapasteurized cream is preferable, if you can find it. Organic brands are usually a better bet than mass-market dairy brands, says FlavoursGal.

Board Links

Heavy Cream vs Whipping Cream?

Storing Olive Oil

Storing olive oil so that it remains fresh, retains flavor, and doesn’t go rancid is important, especially with special and expensive oils that are used only occasionally. Everyday olive oil is used up fast enough that that it’s usually not a problem.

The question is whether to refrigerate or keep in a kitchen cabinet. Harold McGee, renowned food scientist, says in it makes no difference; olive oil spoils at the same rate in or out of the fridge.

See what he has to say about it: Harold McGee speaks.

Your experience may be different, if you live in a hot climate or your kitchen stays warm. Olive oil likes to be cool and in a dark place. The fridge will accomplish both. If the bottle hasn’t been opened to admit air, either choice could be OK. Olive oil should be brought to room temperature before using, however.

Board Links

storing olive oil, not in the fridge!