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

What Makes a Food Stick-Worthy?

With the introduction of Irish stew on a stick at this year's Wisconsin State Fair, surely vendor Slim McGinn's has ushered in an exciting new era of food on a stick.


Not-Too-Fancy Scotch

What do you drink if you're interested in Scotch but not well-heeled enough to support a single malt habit? "The best deal in blended Scotch is Famous Grouse, which is right about $25 for a 1.75L," says sku. "They usually have it in 1Ls at Trader Joe's for less than $20. Between Chivas, Cutty, and J&B, it's definitely more similar to Chivas, though it's richer and I much prefer it to Chivas."

"The only two low-priced Scotch blends I have bought that I will buy again are White Horse and Teacher's Highland Cream, both about $16 for a 750 here in NC," says ncyankee101. Teacher's is an everyday type of scotch, says ncyankee101, "when I just feel like having some but not necessarily hitting a $50 bottle of Ardbeg 10 or Highland Park 12." "I also rather like the McClelland's Islay for $23 here in NC," says ncyankee101. "I have heard it is a five-year-old Bowmore, and though it does taste like a watered-down 'real' Islay, it does have some smoke, peat, and brine to it, probably the most interesting 'cheap' single malt I have had."

And it's not just about blends, even in this price range. "You might want to swing by a Trader Joe's and look for Glen Moray single-malt at $20 or Finlaggan single-malt around $18," says DavidT. "In theory, they are a step up from the blends. The Glen Moray is a Speyside whisky, rather smooth and 'sweet.' The Finlaggan is from the Isle of Islay and is smoky/peaty. Both will give you some sense of the characteristics of the regions they come from."

Discuss: Lower end Scotch tastes

Elective Bagel Surgery

Is your bagel too giant, chewy, bready, and full of carbohydrates? Do you just want the crispy toasted "skin" of the bagel and not much more? Some folks, like Real Housewife and Skinnygirl Bethenny Frankel, make a practice of scooping out the inside of the bagel and throwing out the insides to focus on the crust. The practice of scooping "makes perfect sense to me," says nooyawka. "I've never been a fan/connoisseur of bagels precisely because I don't enjoy the chewy, bready, doughy texture. I like to toast it to give it crunch. A LOT of New Yorkers apparently love precisely the chewy/doughy characteristic and are almost violently against scooping."

"Before the emergence of the H&H big puffy oversized bagel, there was no need to scoop a regular NYC boiled bagel," says ospreycove. "Now with the 'creatures' that are called bagels, i.e. chocolate chip, french toast, sun-dried tomato, apple cinnamon, ham & cheese, blueberry, etc. etc. I would think one would want to get as much of that dreck-laden dough out of the middle [as possible]. Call me a traditionalist, but give me a poppy seed or fresh, hours out of the oven plain bagel any day." "I think all the flavor is in the crust and flavorings, so I think scoopers are turning bagels into a better calorie bargain and avoiding hundreds of worthless calories and carbs," says mcf. "I'd scoop even if I weren't diabetic."

Discuss: To scoop or not?

Make Your Own Ice Cream Treats

Make Your Own Ice Cream Treats

Hot weather calls for extreme frozen action. READ MORE

Best Jamaican, Hold the Jerk

A recent Boston Globe article on weekly Jamaican buffet dinners at a local farm got hounds salivating. But while the dinners sound terrific, Jamaican Matt H complains that the jerk isn't authentic-sounding enough for his taste: "You ideally need to cook with pimento wood or leaves, not just the allspice seasoning (which is standard)." Most restaurants, says Matt H, cheat by using a rub made with allspice (the berry of the pimento tree), and cooking over charcoal.

So where to get authentic Jamaican jerk? No place in Boston, says Matt H. "Fortunately, as you know Jamaican food extends so much further than jerk and to give Boston credit there are places that make certain dishes that are prepared exceptionally and traditionally." His well-curated favorites:

• Brown stew chicken, curried goat, and escoveitch fish (it's like ceviche) at Flames.

• Tripe and bean stew, tough to find stateside, is best ordered at Pepper Pot Restaurant & Catering.

• Only One Jamaican Restaurant does the finest oxtail in town.

• And Lenny's Tropical Bakery is the "best (and probably only) Jamaican bakery in the area."

Flames Restaurant II [Jamaica Plain]
746 Huntington Avenue, Boston

Pepper Pot Restaurant & Catering [Roxbury]
208 Dudley Street, Boston

Only One Jamaican Restaurant [Dorchester]
160 Norfolk Street, Boston

Lenny's Tropical Bakery [Dorchester]
1195 Blue Hill Avenue, Boston

Discuss: Jamaican buffet – Weekly! On a farm!

Overheard on the General Topics Board

"White truffle butter, duck foie gras, black truffles, ketchup (gasp!), Vidalia onions, and black truffle Dijon mustard?!! Is there a frankfurter in there? I call this a witness protection hot dog. The frank is hidden and/or buried under all that garbage." – hotdoglover, on the phenomenon of the "haute dog"

"In fact, only partly being silly, there is a plausible argument to be made for caloric limits to any given restaurant dish. 'No entrée shall exceed 75% the RDA of calories.' Or better, in the vein of Dramshop laws, it could be made illegal to serve the visibly obese foods that are too sugary or fatty. 'Whatta ya in for, Mac?' 'I was framed. I served the fat guy a double chocolate shake and some chili cheese fries. I shoulda known he was FDA.'" – MGZ

"Canned collards are like canned spinach. If you're going to cook the life out of ’em anyway, they don't suffer too much by comparison. But why not aspire to something better?" – alanbarnes

A Shawarma Surprise at Chubby Chickpea

Perusing the menu of the Chubby Chickpea, a brand-new takeout and fast food place in Canton, may not get you all hot and bothered. It's full of the usual Mediterranean suspects: falafel, shawarma, and the like. The difference here is in the execution: "The food here was fantastic. So simple with a great flavor and price," raves Hyperchick41. "VERY good," nods Girl Friday approvingly.

Chubby Chickpea uses housemade bread for the large sandwiches: "The bread stole the show!" says Girl Friday. Sharwarma, falafel, and hummus are good, too. One last tip from Girl Friday: "Don't come if you're in a big hurry, though, because there is a tiny staff (for a tiny kitchen), and everything is made to order. When we got there, there was one other order in front of ours that was pretty big, and by the time we left, there was a line almost to the door!"

The Chubby Chickpea [South Shore]
588 Washington Street, Canton

Discuss: Chubby Chickpea in Canton

Heartbreaking Soups at Loretta

Whilst traipsing about on a trip to Newburyport that sounds really quite delightful ("charming shops and restaurants," burbles C2A), C2A was lucky enough to stumble upon the even more charming Loretta. Only open for six months, Loretta has settled comfortably into its spot and gives off a soothing vibe for the tourists and locals who eat there. C2A was particularly taken by the bar, which featured a jar of pineapple slices steeping in vodka. The pineapple martini takes that emerge from said jar are "UNBELIEVABLE." Have one with guacamole, Vietnamese rolls, or the Caprese salad, says C2A.

Next, a soup dish is in order, as soups and chowders are the house specialties. C2A calls the lobster bisque "terrific." A scallop special with "amazing" mashed potatoes was only $9.95; C2A also recommends the grilled pizza with portobellos and chèvre, and burgers with "crispy rustic fries." Prices are on the shockingly reasonable side: A side of fries is $3.50; a cup of soup just $2.95.

Turns out that the chef at Loretta was once the chef for a late, lamented restaurant named Raspberries in Andover. "[B]roke my heart when it closed," sighs corduroy.

Loretta [Merrimack Valley]
27 State Street, Newburyport

Discuss: Loretta — new find in Newburyport, MA

Overheard on the Boston Board

"I like the beefcake at Pops as well, braised short rib coated with panko and fried. Served with a housemade ketchupy sauce." – kimfair1

"I bought some frozen sweet rice cakes today at H-Mart. They are the Korean-style ones ... WONDERFUL. The brand name is Nuri Food, $2.99 for twelve one-inch cakes (pumpkin, black sweet rice, and pine nut flavors)." – gimlis1mum

"Antico Forno's lamb and red pepper sandwich is really amazing." – nsenada

The Painted Fields of Inakadate

“We have no sea and no mountains, but what we do have plenty of is rice,” said [Mayor Koyu] Suzuki, 70. “We have to create a tourism industry using our own ingenuity.” READ MORE