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

Fresh Falafel Favorites Around Queens

janie’s falafel of choice comes from Hapisgah, a kosher steakhouse whose sprawling menu also ventures into Italian and Middle Eastern territory. Always made fresh, the falafel are a bright herbaceous green on the inside and served with killer hot sauce. Also recommended: Greek-style eggplant salad, Persian-style chicken kababs, and house-made hummus (try it with mushrooms).

Naomi’s feeds the Queens College crowd with crunchy falafel–six of them in a pita for just $4. Nonstop lines, especially at lunch, guarantee that they’re fried fresh.

In Sunnyside, Turkish grill and pizzeria Mangal also turns out freshly rolled falafel to order and folds them into sandwiches with a smear of hummus. Be sure to pay the extra $1 for house-baked pide bread otherwise you’ll get only a lame pita.

Others recommend the falafel at two spots in Forest Hills: Pahal Zan, a hole-in-the-wall next to the LIRR overpass, and On the Grill.

Hapisgah [Kew Garden Hills]
147-25 Union Tpke., between 147th and 149th Sts., Kew Garden Hills, Queens

Naomi’s Kosher Pizza [Kew Garden Hills]
68-28 Main St., between 68th Rd. and 68th Dr., Kew Garden Hills, Queens

Mangal Kebab [Sunnyside]
46-20 Queens Blvd., between 46th and 47th Sts., Sunnyside, Queens

Pahal Zan [Forest Hills]
106-12 71st Ave., just north of the LIRR tracks, Forest Hills, Queens

On the Grill [Forest Hills]
98-102 Queens Blvd., between 66th Ave. and 66th Rd., Forest Hills, Queens

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Any Good Falafel in Queens ??

Noodles: The Ties That Bind

Korean-Chinese fusion is comfort food for folks on both sides of that border. In SGV, Dumpling House is popular among Chinese for jajang myun (noodles with black bean sauce) and jjam pong (noodles in spicy seafood broth), both with handmade noodles. Scallion pancakes and vegetable dumplings are good too.

In K-town, Little Dragon has the best, says koreankorean. Their tang soo yook, sweet and sour pork, has extra sticky rice in the batter for frying and it’s addictive.

olivexjina insists that Young King is the best, having been around forever with no decline in quality. House special beef is also good.

Dumpling House [San Gabriel Valley]
5612 Rosemead Blvd., Temple City

Little Dragon [Koreatown]
705 Western Ave., Los Angeles

Young King [Koreatown]
3100 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

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Where to find Korean-Chinese places

Not Just Good Old Glazed Doughnuts

The recent cold snap has had far-reaching effects–on the Donut Man’s famous strawberry doughnuts. They’ll be arriving later this year. In the meantime, if you venture out to Glendora, cross your fingers that you can get some other kind of freshly made doughnuts (try bear claws or apple fritters). That’s pretty likely, since they’re open 24 hours. Warm and gooey, this is doughnut perfection, says Dommy. But gossamered reports getting some not-so-fresh ones–proof that it pays to ask.

The unusual combo of chocolate chip-peanut butter-chunks of fresh banana can be found, in a doughnut, at Stan’s Donut Shop. When fresh, Arthur says it’s outrageously delicious.

For traditional doughnuts, Primo’s delivers. Well, they don’t actually deliver (I don’t think), but their doughnuts, including the superlative buttermilk bars, are well done indeed.

The oh-so Beverly Hills doughnut shop Fritelli offers high-concept flavors with the promise of high-quality ingredients, but gussied up in perfect icing as they are, you certainly don’t get the feeling they’re fresh from the fryer.

Donut Man [Inland of LA]
915 E. Route 66, Glendora

Stan’s Donuts [West San Fernando Valley]
658 Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks

Stan’s Corner Donut Shoppe [Westside]
10948 Weyburn Ave., Los Angeles

Primo’s Westdale Doughnuts [Westside]
2918 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles

Fritelli Doughnuts & Coffee [Beverly Hills]
350 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills

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Looking for unique donuts
Donut Man confusion

Salmon sans Regrets

Unless you have a powerful exhaust fan over your range, it’s most likely that pan-searing salmon on the stovetop will leave a lingering odor, sometimes for more than a day. The only guarantee against this is to avoid cooking salmon in an open pan over high heat. Luckily, salmon tastes great cooked several other ways; poached gently in liquid, baked, or broiled, it won’t cause a stink.

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salmon in the house–how to avoid the post p.u.

A Last Course in Molecular Gastronomy

Never thought of making stock from doughnuts for dessert? How about carbonating fruit before it becomes juice? It turns out that these exercises in sweet molecular gastronomy aren’t limited to the lab-like pro kitchens of their inventors–they’re fun projects you can undertake in your own kitchen.

Awall25 says doughnut soup is a lot of fun to make, and tastes “exactly like a doughnut, except it [is] somehow richer than a doughnut.” To accompany the doughnut soup, he made espresso foam, a neat effect achieved without high-tech or hard-to-come-by ingredients. Simply add a bit of soy lecithin, which you can buy at health food stores (get it in liquid form if you can–otherwise, you’ll need to dissolve granules in the coffee) and froth it with a stick blender. The soy lecithin helps the bubbles hold once it’s frothed.

If you luck into some dry ice, or have a handy local source, you can carbonate fruit. When dry ice melts, it turns directly into carbon dioxide, the stuff of carbonation, and with the proper set-up, you can put the bubbles inside your berries. jsaimd tried it with apple slices and said it was like having Martinelli’s sparkling cider in whole-fruit form!

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Need Help with ‘Molecular’ Desert

Corked Wine

In any wine that has been stopped with natural cork, a small percentage of bottles will be “corked”–tainted by chemicals that naturally occur in the cork, resulting in a bitter, acrid taste. In a restaurant, of course, you’d send the bottle back after tasting it. But what to do when you buy a bottle from a merchant and later discover cork taint?

In general, you should return it, say hounds. The seller will probably gladly replace your tainted bottle–as long as you haven’t drunk half of it! The exception is if you have bought an old, rare bottle. The rule with these bottles is understood to be “buyer beware,” says WineTravel. Old wines are always a bit of a crapshoot, and if you buy, you must keep in mind the possibility that you may end up pouring tainted wine down the drain.

When returning tainted wine, keep in mind that most states have “open container” laws–drive with the wine in the trunk.

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can you return corked wine?

In Defense of the Trifle

Trifle–known somewhat pejoratively in Italian cuisine as “zuppa inglese”–belongs squarely in the category of comfort food. Some of your best friends are trifle–like tiramisu. A trifle is basically a cake soaked in booze, layered with whatever fruit, custard, or other fillings you desire. It’s a great use for a delicious cake that broke in half when you unmolded it, and–like the humble casserole–it’s a versatile form within which to express one’s culinary creativity. Sherry, jam, Grand Marnier, vanilla-specked sweetened cream, farmers’ market strawberries, and lemon curd are all welcome (though not necessarily in the same trifle). Jell-O is viewed with extreme suspicion when used as a trifle layer. And leave out the bananas–their flavor is much too strong.

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Trifle? [split from Trifle on the LA board]

Put Some Free Meat on Those Bones

The lure of a free meal is hard for lots of us to resist, but what if you’re a skinny model with an excess of disposable income? As is reported by Reuters in the article “Restaurant Offers Skinny Models Free Meals,” one London restaurant is now offering gratis eats to the most waifish of models, in an apparent effort to combat anorexia in the fashion world. Apparently, models who visit Bumpkin, an English country-style eatery in Notting Hill, can claim their prize simply by showing a “modeling card” stating they’re a size zero.

Bumpkin is reportedly “popular with celebrities and fashionistas in the British capital” and hawks hearty fare like fish pies, lamb burgers, and seafood. The strange publicity stunt coincides with London Fashion Week.

Since two anorexic Latin American models died last year, the fashion community has finally started taking eating disorders and excessive thinness more seriously, banning the skinniest ladies from the catwalk during Madrid’s fashion week. But is Bumpkin’s offer another, funnier way of drawing attention to this issue? Or is it a cruel way of mocking people with real problems? I don’t know Bumpkin from bupkis or hang out with any size-zero models, but for some reason I doubt the restaurant will get many takers on its freebie deal.

Space Madness

OK, first of all, I didn’t even know that Valentine’s Day was celebrated in China. Now I find out that not only is it celebrated, but marketers in Shanghai are pushing a new food fad for couples to eat on the most romantic day of the year: space potatoes.

The BBC features a piece titled “Lift-Off for Chinese Space Potato,” in which it describes how the seeds of a purple variety of sweet potato accompanied Chinese astronauts on China’s second manned space mission, Shenzhou VI.

Experiments exposed seeds to radiation, different pressures and weightlessness.

After returning to earth, the seeds were later grown on terra firma.

Promoters say that exposing the seeds to space makes for a more hardy and nutritious plant. Ohhh kayyyy. Connoisseurs say there is little difference in flavor between the space potatoes and their earthbound counterparts, although the texture is reported to be a tad more “glutinous.”

Here’s to the lovers of Shanghai, who may be waking up on Valentine’s Day to a piping hot bowl of space potato congee and a glass of the most famous space drink of all.

Pop-Up Love

Take a break from all the roses and talking teddy bears tomorrow at one of Altoids’ temporary Anti-Valentine’s Day pop-up shops. Offering samples of the company’s new chocolate-dipped mints (plus lots of free swag, including free lattes and cupcakes from hipster-approved local bakeries), the shops are, of course, a big marketing gimmick, but the cynics among us (yes, you, and you too) appreciate the whole love-stinks angle as an antidote to the whole red-plush commercialization of Feb. 14, also known as “Buy Stuff or You Won’t Get Laid.”

The shops, which will be open through Valentine’s Day, can be found in Chicago (and here’s some feedback from Apartment Therapy and Chicagoist), New York City, and Miami.

A free latte and, even better, a free cupcake (plus a handful of mints) sounds swell. Now, if only Charmin were still running that much-appreciated, monthlong Times Square toilet installation. Because even more than a cupcake, nothing says “I love you” like a clean place to pee.