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

Baked BBQ Pork Buns

Excellent pork buns of the baked variety are to be had at Golden Gate Bakery. They’re rworange’s favorite, with the perfect ratio of pork to bun. The bun has a touch of sweetness, and the saucy pork filling has a bit of an edge, as if there were a touch of alcohol in the sauce.

You’s is favored by CYL and roster. Yimster likes Red House Bakery for its generously filled buns–however, other hounds are concerned that the filling level is inconsistent. However, definitely check out their “old wife cake,” says Melanie Wong, with flaky pastry that tastes of lard and a tasty, complex filling of nuts and coconut.

Cafe Bakery makes a great baked barbecue pork bun, favored by many hounds. But go early–they’re usually sold out by early afternoon.

Golden Gate Bakery [Chinatown]
1029 Grant Ave., San Francisco

You’s Dim Sum [Chinatown]
675 Broadway, San Francisco

Red House Bakery [Bay Shore]
2818 San Bruno Ave., San Francisco, CA

Cafe Bakery & Restaurant [Sunset]
1365 Noriega St., San Francisco

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Baked BBQ Pork Buns in SF Chinatown?
Red House Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco for Baked BBQ Pork Buns

The Smoke Joint: Promising Barbecue in Brooklyn

The Smoke Joint is passing the taste test–and the smell test–among New York’s notoriously picky barbecue hounds. Fort Greene’s new ‘cue house has a smoker built in the South and is turning out worthy brisket, baby back ribs, and hacked chicken and pork. The owners–who have cooked at such higher-end places as Picholine, La Grenouille, and City Hall–bill their food as “real New York barbecue”–meaning they’re not going for a single regional style but instead draw on various traditions, like Texas for the brisket and Memphis for the baby backs.

“It’s damn good barbecue,” says Happygirl, “and the prices are sweeeeet!”–$7 for sandwiches or a half chicken, $9 or $10 for a half rack of ribs, $10 to $12 for brisket, hot links, or hacked beef or pork. “Smokin’ success!” declares Mike R., who endorses the brisket tips and baked beans. Among the sides, greens, macaroni and cheese, and fries (spiked with the spice mix used on some of the meats) win praise. The beer selection is small, well priced, and intriguing, including Dale’s Pale Ale from Colorado and Porkslap Farmhouse Ale from Butternuts brewery near Cooperstown (“How could you not order this at a BBQ place?” wonders gingercakes).

Some missteps: gamy spare ribs, a few dried-out meat plates, and overdressed salads. “We were less impressed,” says bobjbkln. “I don’t think R.U.B. or Dinosaur need to worry–at least not yet!”

The Smoke Joint [Fort Greene]
formerly Cambodian Cuisine
87 S. Elliott Pl., near Fulton St., Brooklyn

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Opening Night at the Smoke Joint
Smoke Joint—Ofiicially Open Yet?
Fort Greene grub

At Cendrillon, Flavors of Mexico by Way of Manila

Cendrillon, the upscale Filipino restaurant in Soho, is exploring its roots. As part of a dinner series devoted to cuisines that influenced the food of the Philippines, it’s turning to Mexico. Mexico introduced New World ingredients and techniques to the islands for two centuries, via galleons. Everybody loves galleons.

The next Mexican dinner features Yucatan dishes and takes place on Thursday, November 30. The menu includes octopus ceviche, papadzules (enchiladas with pumpkin seed sauce), longaniza de Valladolid (a spicy pork sausage), tikin-xic (snapper cooked with achiote, tomatoes, and onions), and cochinita pibil (roast pork shoulder served in a sauce of achiote, habaneros, and sour orange), among other things. It’s $60 per person and there’s just one seating, at 7 p.m. Call to reserve a spot.

The previous dinner was a seven-course Oaxacan spread earlier this month. “Best Mexican meal I’ve had in New York City in a long time, which is weird at a Philippine restaurant!” notes HD Sanders. Some highlights: a chicken tamale with black mole, molote (a sausage-stuffed fritter with a fennelly bean paste), roast pork with manchamanteles (“tablecloth stainer”) mole, and champurrado, a thick hot chocolate-corn drink.

Cendrillon [Soho]
45 Mercer St., between Grand and Broome, Manhattan

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Oaxacan prix-fixe at Cendrillon?!


It’s quince season right now. Quinces have a gorgeous, spicy fragrance, but must be cooked before they can be eaten; they’re rock hard and unpleasantly astringent when raw.

dixieday2 likes to poach them, and she says that, once poached, they have many uses both sweet and savory. Here’s her method: Halve and core them (or core after cooking, which is easier), cover halfway with water, add about 1/3 cup sugar, a cinnamon stick, and a couple of cloves and/or allspice berries. Bring to a boil on the stovetop, cover, and put in the oven at 300F for an hour or so; they should be very soft and pinkish in color. Let cool in syrup and refrigerate. Some uses: Chop or puree and mix with applesauce (excellent with pork); use as a topping for or blend into mashed sweet potato or butternut squash; serve the poached halves with greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey; use poached halves or slices as an accompaniment to fresh gingerbread.

Procrastibaker makes a sophisticated appetizer of chunks of quince cooked down with port, placed on pan-fried polenta rounds topped with blue cheese. She also bakes quince muffins using a basic muffin recipe and folding in chopped, quince saying it’s a nice alternative to apples.

cristina suggests finding recipes for ate de membrillo, quince paste, which is traditionally eaten with manchego cheese. It takes a long time to cook down, but is simple to make, she promises.

As with pomegranates and cranberries, the quince season is short, and they are available for only a limited time. They will last a month or so in the fridge, however, says Candy.

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Quince ideas!

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken fried steak is a glorious thing of meat, juice, and crunchy energy. A cut of round steak is perfect for this Texas favorite.

The meat is well floured and seasoned; the flour gets embedded in the beef as you tenderize it with a mallet, or, as Will Owen recalls, the edge of a sturdy plate. The flour will almost disappear into the meat.

It’s then fried up in some fat. The flour gives it a nice crunchy crust. A cream gravy is made in the same pan with the meat drippings. The addition of cracked pepper is a must, adds Candy.

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Chicken Fried Steak–Closet eater

Chicken Cracklings

These chicken cracklings are not just bits of chicken skin crisped in rendered chicken fat. It’s actually the name of delicious Dominican dish of deep-fried chicken that’s been marinated in a combo of lemon, soy, and ginger. opinionatedchef shares the recipe:

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce, pref. Kikkoman
1-2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, skin-on, sliced into coins, flattened with side of knife
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
whole wheat flour
salt and pepper
sweet paprika
vegetable oil for frying

Marinate chicken in lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger, and kosher salt for at least 2 hours. Drain, reserving ginger with chicken. Season flour to taste with salt, pepper, and paprika, and place in a ziplock bag or plastic container with tight-fitting lid. Place chicken and ginger in flour two handfuls at a time and shake to coat (adding any more will cause the chicken to get too moist and prevent the coating from adhering properly). Heat 1-2 inches of vegetable oil to very hot but not smoking (about 365 degrees). Fry chicken, turning once, for only a few minutes, or it will overcook.

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Rubee: EasyEasy : Chicken Adobo and Chicken Cracklings


Plantains, a.k.a. “the cooking banana,” are a savory tropical treat. They’re starchy and only mildly sweet when they’re fully ripe. A properly ripe plantain will look ready for the trash, because it’ll be completely black.

Unlike bananas, plantains can be used from the greenest green to fully ripe. Green plantain chips are delicious, sliced thin and fried. Puerto Rican tostones green plantain slices slices that are mashed and then fried twice, like a good french fry. They’re wonderful served with breakfast, as a starchy side dish, or just on their own, with a sprinkling of salt.

You don’t have to like bananas to enjoy plantains.

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Why do I despise bananas, but love plantains??

The Opposite of Tampopo

If you’re still digesting your Thanksgiving leftovers and vowing never to feast again, check out the list of anti-gourmand documentaries on the cinema blog Cinematical. Some are as familiar as the Golden Arches (Hi, Mr. Spurlock). Others are more obscure, like the doc on Calvin Trillin’s beloved Shopsin’s, I Like Killing Flies, or the world’s first eating-contest documentary, Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating.

Dim the lights and bring on the Pepto!


Word on the street (OK, on eGullet) has it that the Food Network is readying a new show to be rolled out in January 24, 2007. The new outing is a kind of Iron Chef/Survivor mashup, with chefs dropped off in remote or ill-equipped locations and asked to prepare fancy-schmancy meals, stat.

One ep was filmed on teensy Little Cranberry Island, Maine, where star Robert Irvine (I’ve never heard of the dude, but he’s got a wicked widow’s peak and used to cook for Dubya, the British royal fam, and Donald Trump) had a tall order:

Though it was not yet over, Saturday already had been a long day for Irvine and his two sous chefs, George Gatali and George Krelle, who until that morning had never heard of Little Cranberry Island or of the local village of Islesford. When they met up with [Dinner Impossible’s executive producer Marc] Summers at 7 a.m. at the town pier in Northeast Harbor to find out where they were headed, all they had was their chef’s knives and $3,500 to spend on food.

They had no idea what food they would prepare, where they would get their ingredients, how many people they would be cooking for, what kind of pots and pans would be at their disposal, or what kind of cooking facilities they would have access to. And, with the help of a handful of local residents the Food Network had lined up ahead of time, they had only 12 hours to figure it all out and make it happen.

My first thought is: $3,500? That’s $17.50 a person! If these guys can’t whip out some four-star plates on that budget, they’re not worth their clogs. Of course, not having a kitchen is a tougher hurdle. Reportedly, in the Little Cranberry outing, Irvine and company bought out all the poultry in the small supermarket and scrounged lettuces from a gardener.

Rumor has it that another episode was filmed at Colonial Williamsburg. Rabbit soup and mead, anyone?

Stay Trendy in 2006

Rainforest-juice swillers? Hale-and-hearty boomers? Products tweaked to tempt teens into brand loyalty? Consumer research group Mintel predicts all this and more in a roundup of product previews summarized by Slashfood.

It looks like sustainability isn’t going to be as hot an issue as the local food movement would like it to be—not yet, anyway. It will still gain ground with mainstream consumers, but by and large the focus is not yet on production. People are more focused on personal wellness, getting more specific than last year’s general interest in ‘superfoods.’ Mintel predicts that Amazonian foods—including açaí and other rainforest botanicals that promise over-the-top health benefits—will really hit the mainstream through companies that are known for healthy products, like Odwalla. Other trends that they are forecasting for food processing and sales include an increased targeting of baby boomers and teens; revitalizing interest in traditional, quality (not on-the-go) breakfast foods; more Web-based marketing, including more contests and giveaways; and a simplification of marketing slogans and packaging.

The Mintel report specifically mentions only one product as a forerunner of those to come: Glade PlugIns Scented Oil Light Show, directed toward teens who want a psychedelic light show and for their rooms to reek of spring garden or apples ‘n’ cinnamon. But I’m going to keep an eye out for açaí juice; that doesn’t sound half bad.