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

Stuffed: The Search for a Great Burrito in Pasadena

If you’re looking for a new burrito joint in the Pasadena area, the chile verde at Tonny’s has been getting raves lately. Chile verde burrito has huge chunks of tender, luscious pork (you can’t go wrong with pork here, says yoyomama). Birria is great too, the red sauce complex and not just spicy. Carnitas and chile relleno are also excellent–the only thing that’s consistently subpar here is the al pastor, says Oro3030.

For bean and cheese burritos, J&S (home of the pastrami quesadilla) has the best, says SoCal Foodie–the beans and cheese are blended together for a silky texture. Chorizo burrito is also big and cheap.

Get a bean and cheese burrito at La Bodeguita; the beans aren’t refried, but whole boiled beans in broth, says WildSwede. It’s a very good burrito. Al pastor is just about irresistible, and they make a damn good carnitas burrito too.

ipsedixit recommends Rosarito for carnitas, but the best in Pasadena, says condiment, is the modest Mi Casa. These are Michoacan-style–not very crisp, but intensely porky, with enough crunchy edges to keep you going. They have birria on the weekends, too.

Birrieria La Barca does great birria, of course–probably excellent in a burrito, says Clare K.

Rick’s has an awesome vegetarian burrito, says ciaobella.

Tonny’s Restaurant [Pasadena-ish]
843 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

J&S [Pasadena-ish]
887 N. Garfield Ave, Montebello

La Bodeguita Mini Market [Pasadena-ish]
1135 N. Summit Ave., Pasadena

Rosarito [Pasadena-ish]
2120 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

Mi Casa Mexican Fast Food [Pasadena-ish]
812 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

Birrieria La Barca Jalisco [Pasadena-ish]
10817 Valley Mall, El Monte

Rick’s Drive-In [Pasadena-ish]
680 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

Board Links

Trying out Tonny’s
Chile verde heaven
What to get at Tonny’s?
Where to get a burrito in Pasadena

Supreming Citrus

To “supreme” a citrus fruit is to cut away its peel and pith, then remove its segments from between the membranes. It’s a nice technique for fruit salads and sauces; while you lose a bit of the fruit, you don’t get any white pith or fibrous membrane in your dish as you would by simply peeling and sectioning it.

Here’s how: Using a sharp knife, slice the rind off the top and bottom of your fruit, exposing the flesh. Stand the fruit on one end (it’ll now sit flat, for easy paring) and cut the peel and white pith away, going from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit. Trim away any pith still attached. Hold the fruit in your non-dominant hand, and use a paring knife to cut down one side of a segment, separating it from the membrane. When you get to the bottom, twist the knife up and around the other side of the segment, flipping it out. When you’ve taken all the segments out, squeeze the juice out of the membranes. If you don’t use it in what you’re preparing, you can drink it or save it to use in something else.

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The secret to supreming?

Solid Honey

Unprocessed (i.e., raw) honey can become solid and need liquefying before you can use it easily. Rexmo says that all honey will solidify with time; the exception is Tupelo honey. The speed at which honey goes solid depends on what sort of flowers the honey came from. Stirring honey incorporates air, and that will lead it to solidify, too.

To return solid honey to a liquid state, gently heat it in a water bath. Jcannuck says that heating in the microwave will break down the healthful goodies that are found in unprocessed honey.

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raw honey question

Fage Yogurt

Fage “Total” yogurt is a Greek strained yogurt, thick and tangy. The full fat version is creamy thick, and can stand in for sour cream. It’s perfect when you require decadence, and for the special sauce, tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, dill, garlic and spices).

It’s available, too, as light, 2% and 0%. Zero percent, with no fat, is lower in calories but higher in protein than the others. Liu recommends starting at 0% and working your way up, to decide which reduced-fat version tastes best to you. All of the reduced-fat versions have enthusiasts.

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Fage 2% vs. Fage Light

Truffle Seasons

White truffles are on the market from early fall through December. They can be extravagantly expensive, especially when fresh. They have a delicate, intoxicating fragrance. Don’t cook with them, for heaven’s sake! Just use the shavings raw or add them to a dish at the last minute.

Black truffles are also known as winter truffles, and are available fresh now, into the very early Spring. They’re more strongly flavored than the white variety, and work well in risottos and omelets. If you peel the dark bumpy outer layer away, save those expensive parings to flavor sauces or soupy dishes.

Use truffles soon after purchase, and if you can’t, store them in a container containing uncooked rice, cover tightly and refrigerate. The rice will absorb the flavor and taste wonderful. Use the truffles within three days.

Urbani truffles is a recommended source:

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Truffles black/white -

Doggies Dine Dallas

The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to allow dogs on outdoor restaurant patios, joining several cities and states—including Florida; Austin, Texas; and Alexandria, Virginia—with similar ordinances.

The law states that restaurants can let pooches dine al fresco with their parents as long as the eatery provides a separate entrance for the outdoor patio, installs curtains to shield diners inside from glimpses of the four-legged guests, and keeps dogs from clambering on furniture or touching servers.

But some councilmembers said those rules were unenforceable and that the law was akin to creating dog parks all over the city. In the measured words of one:

We don’t have the staff to check this. We don’t know if the restaurants are going to clean up every 30 minutes. I don’t want to go to a restaurant and see a dog going to the bathroom there.

But that’s exactly what’s been happening at the first official “doggie dining” joint in St. Petersburg, Florida, which became overrun with canines after publicizing its new policy. The same day that Dallas announced its ordinance, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the Moon Under Water restaurant had received complaints from customers and the city that “tables weren’t properly sanitized and dogs weren’t confined to their leashes,” among other things. Rather than put additional staff on poop detail, the owner decided to disallow dogs.

As a restaurant-goer, how do you feel about doggie dining—should dogs be allowed inside eateries (as they apparently are in Europe), relegated to the patio, or banned altogether? Had any bad experiences, or is it comforting and fun to see dogs in the dining room?

Have You Seen This Farmer?

Say what you will about the pleasures of the farm (fresh air! lovable singing pigs!), all that wide-open countryside can get mighty lonely. That’s why a group of Welsh farmers are seeking their mates by posting personal ads on milk cartons, reports the Associated Press.

The ads—each of which features an oval photograph of a farmer under the heading “Fancy a Farmer?”—provide an address for a dating website where the lovelorn bovine wranglers can be contacted.

“Got milk? Got a date?” mocks the Associated Press’s London bureau. Oh, it’s just so easy to be ironic when you’ve got a city full of pubs stuffed with drunken women of uncertain virtue, isn’t it? These farmers are frickin’ lonely, as the article goes on to point out:

The ads are also a way of highlighting the low points of a dairy farmer’s hard-scrabble existence in Welsh communities like Carmarthenshire, where the cooperative is based 220 miles from London.

Farmers say they often feel isolated among the verdant rolling hills dotted with medieval castles.

‘It’s a beautiful environment, but in terms of actually trying to meet somebody it’s not particularly easy—especially when you have to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to milk cows,’ said the cooperative’s director Richard Kerr, who is happily married and not pictured in the ads.

Oh great! Sucker us in with a funny headline and then get us all depressed, why don’t you? It’s enough to put you off your milk.

The Jet Set

Whether I’m driving 30 miles to a nearby small town for amazing Mexican fare or flying over an ocean to get the world’s best cheese, bread, and chocolate, food is both the best reason and the best fringe benefit of travel.

I was musing on this as I clicked over to a Forbes magazine article tantalizingly titled “Top Ten Gourmet Getaways.” I envisioned a richly photographed story that chronicled the markets and restaurants of the world. How would they choose just ten?

Instead, the article rhapsodizes on hotels and resorts around the world that offer lots of cooking classes or meet-and-greet tasting opportunities with their star chef. The photos are mostly PR shots of people standing around a cooking class. Hardly food porn.

These high-end properties have seen the foodie writing on the wall and installed “culinary arts centers” complete with Viking ranges and high-end cookware, all the better to lure today’s affluent vacationer, who, like the army, apparently travels on his stomach.

It also describes “the first-ever private jet culinary tour,” in which guests will eat their way through Thailand, Burma, India, Bhutan, and China with Gael Green and Simon Winchester for two weeks. “The cost: A mere $49,950 per person.”

All this is well and good, but I feel more kindred spirit with people who make their own culinary travel adventures.

Life Ain’t Nothing but Cupcakes and Tofu

Is it just the lack of Angelina Jolie this time around at the World Economic Forum at Davos (requires registration), or does the average Gray Lady reader really have a thing for vegan cupcakes made by sassy punk rockers?

Whatever the reason, the recent food section article “Strict Vegan Ethics, Frosted with Hedonism” has risen—and stuck—to the coveted top slot of the New York Times’ most-emailed list.

No matter what you feel about vegan eating (or the taste value of cake filling made from confectioner’s sugar and margarine), Julia Moskin’s article about punk bakers Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is a fun and lively read. And we’d rather knock back a glass of soy milk and vinegar (“the hideous curdled face of vegan baking,” according to Moskowitz) than swallow another of the Times’s typical rich-bitch lifestyle pieces. Like, for instance, “Ordeal by Appliance” (requires registration), in which there is whining galore about how difficult it is to find a decent serviceperson to fix the Viking range and Miele dishwasher in one’s six-bedroom vacation house.

The exposure should definitely boost the fan base for Moskowitz and Romero, coauthors of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and stars of the cable-access vegan-cooking show The Post Punk Kitchen, which is known for its distinctly urban, un-hippie attitude and bouncy theme song.

As an outspoken Brooklyn native, Moskowitz is no stranger to the blogosphere; check out this snappy interview done on Cupcakes Take the Cake, way back in ‘05. Cupcake lovers, rock on!

French-Fried Nirvana

French-Fried Nirvana

CHOW reviews two great pieces of deep-frying equipment for the home chef. READ MORE