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

How Do Laser Thermometers Work Without Touching the Food?

How Do Laser Thermometers Work Without Touching the Food?

Clue: The light is only there for show. READ MORE

Home-Style Jamaican Cookin’

Formerly a branch of the meat-patty bakery Golden Krust, Jamaica Cafe offers straightforward, unpretentious Jamaican fare that tastes like it came straight from an auntie’s kitchen, says SoCalMuncher.

Curry goat is flavorful and tender, more than a match for the strong, high-masala West Indian curry. In true island style, though, you’ll have to use your fingers to get all the meat–there’s a lot of bone in there.

On the side, deep-fried plantains, red beans and rice, and yams are good, but nothing spectacular.

Meat patties are good enough for the West Coast, but could use some real, good pepper sauce for kick. They have chicken and vegetable patties, too.

Jamaica Cafe [South Bay]
formerly Golden Krust
321 E. Willow St, Long Beach

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Props to Jamaica Cafe

Northern Delights at Spicy BBQ

Spicy BBQ has a minor specialty in northern Thai dishes (think Chiang Mai), with about a dozen on their menu. Khao soi is well worth it, says cant talk…eating.

It’s a dark curry-coconut milk broth with chicken thigh or beef, thin, flat noodles and spicy preserved greens, plus a garnish of cilantro, red onion and lime. The broth has really complex flavor, but be warned: this dish doesn’t really travel well. Eat in.

Spicy BBQ Restaurant/Khun Nong [Thai Town]
5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles

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Khao soi at Spicy BBQ

Fab Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

These unorthodox, super-peanutty peanut butter cookies, made without butter or flour, are perfect for those who must avoid dairy or wheat. But they’re great for for dairy-and-wheat eaters, too; these cookies are terrific by any standard (and even better with the addition of chocolate chips). Dizzied notes that they hold together better if you use standard-issue peanut butter rather than all-natural. The recipe is easily doubled.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder

1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together well and chill dough. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll dough into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Use a sugared fork to press a criss-cross pattern into the dough; bake for 9-11 minutes. Let rest on sheet for a few minutes to let firm up, then very carefully remove to rack (they are very delicate until completely cool).

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Twin treats–one flourless, one not

It Didn’t Used To Be That Way

Foods have changed. Take, for instance, the humble Twinkie. It used to be made from actual sponge cake, but now it’s a rubbery, inedible mess, says Cheese Boy. McDonald’s french fries used to be pretty good–maybe because they used to be fried in beef tallow, says Karl S (in Canada, they still are). From fake chocolate in packaged chocolate chip cookies to fake vanilla in Girl Scout cookies to high fructose corn syrup in practically everything, packaged treats these days bear less and less resemblance to actual food.

Food tastes different because it’s made differently. Excessive processing, meat from the feedlot and the factory, vegetables optimized for ease in shipping, trans fats and chemicals–“if we can discern changes in tastes, imagine what all that artificial chemical gunk is doing to our bodies,” says Seaside Tomato. All this underscores the importance of buying locally produced food. “Even that organic stuff that’s out of season at a chain supermarket was bred for shipping capability,” says MakingSense. As support for local food grows, more local sources will become available–and the less dependent we will be on HandiSnacks and Campbell’s Tomato Bisque Soup to meet our nutritional and aesthetic needs.

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What Food Products Have Changed?

Barley Tea

Barley tea is supremely refreshing alongside Korean bibimbap or Japanese sushi. And you can make your own at home. Buy bags of roasted barley (or, alternatively, a mixture of roasted corn and barley) at an Asian market, and boil it on the stovetop until the roasty flavors infuse the water. (Just steeping it in boiled water will not release the flavor.) If you’re the DIY type, you can roast barley yourself–just toast it in a shallow pan on the stove, and don’t forget to stir, says Kater.

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barley tea [Moved from Home Cooking]

Favorite Ways with Turkey Cutlets

Diane in Bexley pounds turkey cutlets very thin, dips in beaten egg, dredges in a mixture of dry bread crumbs, grated Romano cheese, flour, and parsley, sautees in olive oil and keeps warm; she then sautees minced shallots and sliced mushrooms in the same pan, deglazes with chicken broth and the liquid from a small jar of marinated artichoke hearts, adds the artichoke hearts, and serves this sauce over the cutlets.

FlavoursGal makes a homemade version of turkey shwarma using turkey cutlets cut into thin strips: toss the turkey with a combination of salt, pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, dried thyme, and ground mustard. Stir-fry in a bit of oil until cooked through.

wyf4lyf offers an orange-sauced recipe:

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. oil
8 2-oz. turkey cutlets
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Melt butter and oil in large skillet over low heat. While butter melts, sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Place flour in shallow pan and dredge turkey in flour. Shake off excess. Increase heat to medium-high; heat 2 minutes until butter turns golden brown. Add cutlets to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove and keep warm. Add juice, mustard, and cranberries or cherries to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to boil; cook until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Serve sauce over cutlets.

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Recipes for boneless, skinless turkey cutlets

One for the Reading List

Just when you thought the World Wide Web would unravel under the weight of another food blog, along comes Tim Riley. A smart, angry recent CIA grad in his mid-’20s, Riley posted his first public kvetch last year in his blog, Out of the Frying Pan (no, not this one; Riley’s is part of the Smith Magazine Diaries Project). He’s currently helping to launch an upscale-ish Asian-fusion and sushi restaurant in a middle-class Delaware college town, and though he has written only three sporadic posts since his launch, so far this Out of the Frying Pan is one of the most enjoyable food blogs I’ve read lately.

Of course, don’t let him catch me calling it a food blog—he’s adamant that it isn’t:

When it comes to food, blogs are the domain of the fanatical restaurant groupies, the gourmet jetsetters, the gastronomic literati and the occasional Julia Child obsessed secretary. Blogs are home to boring recipes, long debates about overpriced cookware, and gossip about whether Rachael Ray looks chubby in her most recent episodes or not. Professional cooks don’t write blogs. We write powerful vignettes about the rigor and stress of our jobs. We write how-to guides so the people who write blogs can better emulate our mastery. Sometimes, if we’re feeling introspective, we even write autobiographical accounts of our outrageous personal lives.

Well, he’s kinda right—there is a lot of dross out there in blogland. So what does he do differently? Complain about his jobs, past and present, in a humorous and also somehow moving way. As he describes his first day on the job at the upstate New York hotel that he recently left:

I set to work that morning on what was perhaps the most absurd, most out of place, most poorly thought-out dish I have ever been a part of. In the middle of a cold winter in the depths of upstate New York I was putting all of the knowledge and skills that had been developed in me at the C.I.A. into making tomato tartare…. There I was—a devotee of Alice Waters, a young cook thoroughly awash in the dogma of seasonal cooking—cutting shameful January tomatoes into neat piles of brunoise (1/16 of an inch squares). My tomatoes were combined with awkwardly cut zucchini and squash, then showered with low-grade, fake balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar colored with caramel, I presume), and cheaply plated in ring molds. The tartare was topped with some cheerless arugula and the whole plate then doused with so much second-rate truffle oil the whole kitchen was enveloped with its painfully noxious aroma. In a moment of pitiful melodrama, I began to picture myself on a World War I battlefield gasping for air amid clouds of vaguely truffle smelling mustard gas.

I’m hooked for now, and looking forward to reading more.

Restaurant Roulette

Whether you’re an office drone, a slack-at-home freelancer, or a hotshot business traveler, it’s the age-old dilemma: Where am I going to eat lunch today?

You could use a Ouija board to decide, but the answers you get are often ambiguous at best.

Jim of KrazyDad has invented a nifty little Web tool to help the indecisive restaurant-goer.

The Wheel of Food has you input your zip code and a query (vegetarian, bar, steak, food). Up pops a wheel that your mouse spins for you, and voilà, you know where you’re dining today.

One caveat: It’s powered by Yahoo! Local, so the more active folks in your zip code are on Yahoo!, the more helpful it’s going to be. And KrazyDad has also helpfully included a warning:

Legal Disclaimer: Ignore the advice of the wheel at your own peril. Do not taunt the wheel. The wheel knows where you live.

Love Your Heart on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about lobster and cream. Eating light feels just right to prepare for a night of strenuous “cuddling.” Over at FatFree Vegan Kitchen, Susan challenged her readers to come up with sensuous vegan savories for Valentine’s Day. The recipes had to be low in fat, be vegan, and use more than one vegetable. The outcome is mouthwatering, and contains many alliterative possibilities: Vegan, Vegetables, Valentine’s Day.

The Vegetable Love Round-Up features beautiful recipes like Vegalicious’s Hearty Ravioli, whimsical recipes like Jugalbandi’s Bouquets for My Valentine, and just plain elegant recipes like Where’s the Revolution?’s vegan (!) ceviche.

Be sure to save room for dessert: Susan may have broken her own rules for her Valentine’s Day treats, but Chocolate Cookies Two Ways sound delectable. They get a boost of flavor from a secret ingredient: balsamic vinegar.