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

Korean Walnut Treats at Woodside’s Man Mi

At Man Mi bakery, a contraption that could have come from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” bangs out fresh, hot Korean-style walnut cakes. Known as hodo kwaja, they’re like less greasy doughnut holes filled with red bean paste and walnuts, Dave G reports.

These are not hard to find around New York–Korean supermarkets and chain bakeries sell them at room temperature, swaddled in plastic wrap. But for the best specimens, advises surly, you need to find a specialty shop that makes only a few items–like Man Mi–and score a batch hot off the griddle. “There aren’t too many of these specialists around anymore,” he adds. “It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a hot, fresh version of these cakes at a larger, more comfortable Korean bakery like, say, Koryodang.”

Man Mi cranks up the hodo kwaja machine on an irregular schedule during the week, but it’s always up and running on Saturdays from around 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. A fresh bag of 10 costs $2.

Man Mi [Woodside]
54-08 Roosevelt Ave., between 54th and 55th Sts., Woodside, Queens

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Korean Walnut Cake in Woodside

Not Feeling the Heat at Chichen Itza

After giving the new, real-restaurant incarnation of Chichen Itza a few weeks to get the kinks out, silverlake bodhisatva tried it out for dinner.

The verdict: Tasty stuff, but on the mild-to-bland side. Now, Yucatecan food isn’t necessarily spicy, but the sour-orange marinade for the cochinita pibil, for example, doesn’t really come through.

Their technique is on, says Dommy, a Yucatan native who thinks that Flor de Yucatan has more soul. Cochinita, kibis, and panuchos–check it.

Chichen Itza [Macarthur Park]
2501 W. 6th St., Los Angeles

La Flor de Yucatan [Downtown]
1800 S. Hoover St, Los Angeles

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BYO Habanero at Chichen Itza

Chinese Vegetarian Confusion

The best-known Chinese vegetarian restaurant, Happy Family, is multiplying fruitfully indeed.

The Monterey Park branch just moved farther south on Atlantic, explains will47. You can get all-you-can-eat here. Meanwhile, the Rowland Heights branch, which used to serve meat-eaters downstairs and vegetarians upstairs, has shunned the carnivores altogether. Only the upstairs vegetarian restaurant remains, but it’s supposedly better than the Monterey Park branch.

Jerome loves the lily flower-enoki mushroom soup and the pricey “monkey-head” mushroom soup.

Actually, the best vegetarian Chinese spot right now is Fine Garden, says ladelfa. It used to be Vege Table, but the owners changed about a year ago–to the people who had run Purple Bamboo in Rowland Heights–and the dining area and menu were totally overhauled. Chicken with lily bulbs and gingko nuts gets a thumbs-up, and so does duck with taro.

Happy Family [San Gabriel Valley]
111 N. Atlantic Blvd. #351, Monterey Park

Happy Family [San Gabriel Valley]
18425 E. Colima Rd., Rowland Heights

Fine Garden [San Gabriel Valley]
841 W. Las Tunas, San Gabriel

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Are all Happy Families alike?

Storage of Premium Chocolate

Don’t keep high-quality chocolate in the refrigerator–the moisture is terrible for chocolate, says msbo78. Store them in a cool place for up to a week, but freeze any you don’t plan to eat within that time frame, says JudiAU. An airtight container is a must, says AnneInMpls. Ideally, just store them in your belly.

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Where to keep decadent chocolates?

Fresh Herbs

Even if your local climate is not ideal, you can still grow your own fresh herbs indoors, says soupkitten. Many herbs will grow indoors if you give them a west- or south-facing window. Herbs like rosemary and thyme like to be watered sparingly; basil is tough to grow indoors, but folks in temperate climates can grow it in big pots outdoors, and then bring them inside and pick off the remaining leaves until they give up sometime in December or January. Growing your own herbs is rewarding and economical–and they’re so much fresher than buying them at the store.

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Fresh herbs

Neat Trick for Slow Cooker Stewing

Slow cookers can be real time savers, and coming home to the smell of a delicious stew simmering away is always comforting–problem is, any vegetables other than onions that you throw in are liable to be way overcooked after 6 to 8 hours of bubbling away. jono37 has worked out a great solution that allows for truly appetizing one-pot meals from the slow cooker: wrap any vegetables in a foil “hobo pack,” set it on top of your meats and liquid, and cover. The vegetables steam in the foil instead of soaking up liquid and resting near the heating element. Unwrap the foil packet and mix in the veggies at the end of cooking, before you serve.

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Crockpots: The Good and The Bad

Finally: All the Pro Forma Joy of Disney in a Cereal Bowl

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that, thanks to the selfless exertions of General Mills, you can now enjoy a whole new confluence of sugary cereal and content-free entertainment for young people.

Princess Fairytale Flakes are both pink and sugar-sweetened. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Berry Crunch contains no actual berries. And Little Einstein Fruity Stars, like most sweetened cereals, are likely to actually measurably drag down the IQ of children who make the mistake of consuming them.

The new Disney-tied cereals are a mere $1.99 a box, a suspiciously low price that suggests that Disney is subsidizing the consumption of “lightly sweetened” whole-grain corn cereals in order to capture the attention of kids with their moribund creative properties (when’s the last time Mickey Mouse made you laugh? And who’s actually psyched to see a straight-to-DVD re-remake of public-domain fairy tale Cinderella?)

Just to be absolutely clear that no fun will actually be had by anyone involved in the cereal-making and -consumption process, Snow White and Cinderella are referred to by General Mills as “strong equities that need no introduction.”

Sounds like a trip to the Magic Kingdom in a bowl. Wheee!

How I Learned to Stop Worry and Love the Can

jimzk initially suffered from feelings of shock and betrayal upon discovering that the luscious, perfectly-spiced baba ganoush at Haig’s Deli comes out of a can–at least, the foundation of eggplant puree does. That may be part of what gives the baba ganoush its unquestionable authenticity–the cans do come from Lebanon, and are of a very good brand. And, of course, the kitchen at Haig’s dresses up the canned base with their own spices. rworange notes that people love the clam chowder at Swan’s, even though it comes out of a can–it’s all about how the restaurant doctors it up. “There’s stuff lovingly made from scratch that is tasteless,” she says.

Haig’s Delicacies [Richmond]
642 Clement St., San Francisco

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The inconvenient truth about Haig’s Deli

Do Women Drink for Free?

Is it true that women never pay for their own drinks in bars—having their tabs picked up instead by obliging men? This is the latest question at Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Ask Your Bartender column on his blog.

“I was hoping you could settle a debate that has begun in my office,” writes reader Amy. “The men say that most women drink for free (men buy their drinks) and expect to drink free. The women (myself included) believe this is an old wives tale as we have not the experience of walking into a bar and having random men pick up our tabs.”

The reader response is mixed, falling—not surprisingly—mostly along gender lines. Can you guess the gender of the following commenters?

Today it’s an exception. When my generation was in their 20’s, men would send unsolicited drinks to trigger that ‘nice girl’ response we were all brainwashed with as children.

I would have to agree that most women do drink for free when they go to a bar. Most men are willing to pay for them … for some odd reason.

I have always tried to be conscientious when drinking at the bar. If someone buys me a round I return the favor. If I were to run up an expensive bar tab I would feel guilty if I allowed a stranger to pick up the tab.

What does the Bartender have to say on the topic?

I’ve tended bar in all sorts of places, from college partyhouses and over-the-tracks dive bars to upscale restaurants and lounges…. Sure, there’s the occasional woman who doesn’t pay for a thing (I fail to see how this is vastly different from prostitution), but it’s not the rule, it’s an exception.

What is your experience? Are women willing to pay for their own drinks, or do they expect to be paid for?

Fresh Duck Livers

Just a heads-up–G&G Supermarket sells fresh duck livers (and gizzards) at the reasonable price of $1.19 per pound. They only have them on Wednesdays, and they only have a small amount, says brocante, but they are of good quality.

Manila Market also carries duck livers at a reasonable price, says Zeldog.

G&G Supermarket [Sonoma County]
1211 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa

Manila Meat Market [Mission District]
987 Mission St., San Francisco

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Fresh Duck Livers @ G&G Market