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

Meat Sauce

Tucked away in a surprisingly unpretentious neighborhood is Sociale. Bettey thinks that chef Tia Harrison makes a real mean meat sauce–lasagna bolognese is absolutely delicious, though it’s clearly intended for those with a strong palate for salt. If you’re not into salt, steer yourself to more appropriate dishes. Sociale also offers really tasty wine at a variety of price points.

Sociale [Laurel Heights]
3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco

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Meat sauce

Middle Eastern Flatbreads Bursting with Flavor

Word has it that the best, most flavorful lahmajoun–a ground-lamb-topped Middle Eastern flatbread–are at Partamian’s bakery. Partamian’s also sells bourek (turnovers) and manti (meat-filled ravioli).

The mom-and-pop vibe at Arax is part of its appeal–and so are their herbaceous maenesh, boureks (the bready type, not the filo-like crispy type) and lahmajoun, says modernist.

Arax has the edge in lahmajoun, but Sasoun has better bourek, says Normal Garciaparra.

Koko’s Bakery is a solid place for lahmajoun.

And modernist got a mysterious tip that a place in St. Vincent Court downtown has amazing lahmajoun.

Abraham Partamian Armenian Bakery [South LA]
5410 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles

Arax Bakery [East Hollywood]
4871 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles

Sasoun Bakery [East Hollywood]
5114 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles

Sasoun Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
625 E. Colorado Blvd., Glendale

Koko’s Bakery [Pasadena-ish]
1674 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

St. Vincent Court [Downtown]
Alley between Broadway and Hill, and 6th and 7th Sts., Los Angeles

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Where to get lahmajoun?
Where to get Syrian pizza?

Severino’s Community Butcher

The Mountain View farmers’ market has a lot going for it–great prices, huge selection, good hours. And now, they’ve got a real butcher’s stand, selling all sorts of pig products, says thejulia. Country pate is incredible–very garlicky but still clean-tasting, and totally addictive. “I started eating it without the bread,” says thejulia.

zartemis is familiar with the butcher’s work, and likes what he did with the two pasture-raised pigs she bought from TLC Ranch. She particularly recommends the rilettes he makes from TLC chickens.

TLC Ranch and Severino’s Community Butcher
at the Mountain View Farmers’ Market [Peninsula]
600 West Evelyn, between Hope and View Streets, Mountain View

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Severino’s Community Butcher-SERIOUSLY GOOD- Mt View Farmer’s Mkt.

Cubano Find at Long Island City’s New Thompson Diner

jaw2 clues us in to an excellent Cuban sandwich in Long Island City. At New Thompson Diner, they carve a heap of fresh-roasted pork before your eyes after you order. Along with the customary ham and pickle–and a Tampa-style slice of salami–it’s tucked into a long roll and pressed to perfect crispness.

New Thompson Diner [Long Island City]
32-44 Queens Blvd., between 32nd and 33rd Sts., Long Island City, Queens

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Best Cuban sandwich in NYC?

In the East Village, Zabb Thai Hits Its Stride

Zabb City, the newish Manhattan outpost of a Thai favorite in Queens, has been on probation. When it opened last summer, hounds looked forward to more of the robust Isaan chow they’d swooned over at the Jackson Heights original. They were often disappointed. The menu offered few Isaan dishes, and the restaurant seemed little changed from the run-of-the-mill Thai eatery it replaced.

Happily, things are looking up. A recent meal was excellent, reports veteran Thai hand Simon. Highlights: superior laab moo (ground pork salad) and som tam (papaya salad) with admirable texture and just the right amount of sweetness. “I’m delighted,” Simon adds. “The quality of life in my neighborhood just got a lot better.”

Zabb City [East Village]
formerly Chaa Chaa Teahouse
244 E. 13th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves., Manhattan

Zabb Queens Restaurant [Jackson Heights]
71-28 Roosevelt Ave., between 70th and 72nd Sts., Jackson Heights, Queens

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Zabb City
Excellent Thai in LES —Ama ya

Catch of the Day: Scallops Fresh from the Bay at Cor-J

Peconic Bay scallops are back in season, and there’s no better place to score some than Cor-J out in Hampton Bays. Fresh from local baymen, they’re sweet and scrumptious and don’t even have to be cooked, swears skeetereats. Cor-J, right near the Ponquogue Bridge, also offers the area’s best selection of local fish and shellfish, plus a boatload of small-town charm.

So far it’s shaping up as another lean season for Peconic Bays, so call ahead. If Cor-J’s is out, skeetereats suggests trying Stuart’s in Amagansett, which works with different baymen.

Cor-J Seafood Corp. [Suffolk County]
36 Lighthouse Rd., Hampton Bays, NY

Stuart’s Seafood Market [Suffolk County]
41 Oak Ln., between Schellinger Rd. and Montauk Hwy., Amagansett, NY

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Bay Scallops?


Celeriac, or celery root, is at its peak in wintertime. This heavy, knobbly root tastes kind of like a cross between celery and parsley, according to Candy; it can be eaten raw or cooked.

To serve celeriac raw in salads, julienne finely or shred, and toss with lemon juice or hold in acidulated water to keep it from browning. rabaja notes that using ice water makes it extra crunchy. She likes it with a light grainy mustard vinaigrette.

Celeriac can be cooked in many ways. It’s good mashed with potatoes or on its own; in gratins; braised with stock; in soups, either pureed or brothy; and tossed with olive oil and roasted, alone or in combination with other root vegetables. Adding a squirt of lemon juice a few minutes before you take roasted celeriac out of the oven adds a nice depth of flavor, says JenMarie66.

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Wimpy Jalapenos

Don’t think that just because you’ve got some jalapenos, that you’re guaranteed some heat. You can actually buy a bunch of them at the same time, only to find some will have no more zip than a bell pepper.

Newer varieties have been developed that are not only milder, but also resistant to disease. They seem to have penetrated the market, according to broncosaurus. The peppers that are the brightest green are often of that new variety called TAMs (after the developer, Texas A&M). JMF has found that the hotter peppers have black or purple striations near the stem end. Leave the interior ribs and seeds in for more heat.

They’re a hot weather plant, so look for them at farmers’ markets in August and September. When you find some to your liking, buy up a lot and freeze, advises MakingSense.

They’re easy to grow, if you live in a climate with long, warm days. They’re ornamental, as well.

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Where to find jalapenos that are actually hot

Dry Vermouth: Pantry Staple

Need a splash of white wine for your recipe, but don’t want to crack a whole bottle? Dry vermouth makes an excellent stand-in. Dry vermouth is a fortified white wine flavored with herbs. It has a distinctive flavor, but one that marries well with the foods in most dishes that call for white wine. It’s easy to keep on hand; it’ll last a long time in a cool, dark cupboard or in the fridge. Use it where a modest quantity of white wine is called for; if a recipe calls for a cup of wine or more, you’re better off buying an inexpensive bottle of white (you can freeze extra wine for use in cooking later on). Chowhounds agree that Noilly Prat is the best brand of dry vermouth for cooking.

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Vermouth vs. Wine

Tail-On Shrimp

It’s not unusual, even in a sauteed dish, to see shrimp served with the last bit of shell remaining on the tail segment. Most frozen shrimp just come this way and almost all shrimp available have been frozen. The little tail shell makes a good handle to pick the shrimp up.

Rather than pawing through a saucy dish to pick up the shrimp to remove tails, lots of folks just chew the tails. You can also move them a bit to the side, pin them down with a fork, and slice that part off, before eating.

The tail shells of fried shrimp are crunchy and they taste good. They do contain a nice morsel of meat. If you buy shrimp to shell for yourself, you can always remove the tail, leaving the meat intact.

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Tail-on shrimp.