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

Mad Food Science at the French Culinary Institute

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Talking about the inventiveness of the Momofuku empire, for a food writer, probably feels a bit like talking about the Mona Lisa for an art critic. Hyperbole, maybe, but seriously: What has NOT been said about David Chang's game-changing cuisine? That said, a lot of what Chang arguably started (the reinterpretation of East Asian street food for a white audience, for instance) can be found everywhere in NY, more popular than ever. So it only felt right to visit Noodle Bar on our Innovation tour (and hit up nearby Milk Bar, the dessert joint he started with pastry chef Christina Tosi afterward). READ MORE

Overheard on the Home Cooking Board

"Slow cookers are a mixed bag in summer. The soups and stews they do well don't fit in with summer fare, which is lighter. But they are great for breaking down pork shoulders and chuck roasts without heating the house (like an oven) or demanding attention (like a barbecue)." – MikeB3542

"[I]f you use a freshly opened bottle of cream sherry along with poppy seeds and (if I remember correctly) yellow cake mix, the resulting cake tastes like butterscotch. I have no idea why, but that's the flavor profile." – Cheese Boy

"[M]y favorite summer dessert consists of slicing wheels of peeled oranges, layering them in a single layer on a pretty dish, and sprinkling with a little bit of sugar and a bit of cinnamon. If left for a few minutes, it creates a delicious syrup." – egging

Copyranter Versus Ketel One

The blogger known as copyranter took on Ketel One Vodka in a recent post, going after the "Gentlemen, this is vodka" campaign with an amiable viciousness typical of his approach. From the identically dressed stubbly middle-aged dude-bros to the ad's token diversity and painstakingly staged feel, there's not much left to analyze after you've finished his essay/rant. READ MORE

Black Apricots

Black apricots, a plum-apricot cross available in the summertime, are like eating candy, says girlscookin. They're "sweet and juicy ... best thing I ever ate!!!!" she says. liu agrees—this year's are "delicious and better than I remember," says liu. You can taste the plum and it has a plum's juiciness, but it mostly tastes like an apricot. Enjoy!

Discuss: Black Apricots – Has anyone tried these?

Sushi-Making Has Never Been So Nerve-Wracking

Pull a card, make the piece of sushi pictured, and serve it oh so carefully onto the table. But if your piece is the one that makes the table pop and send all the sushi flying, you lose! And the other players get to point at you and giggle over your poor sushi-making skills. Perhaps you will have to write them a letter of apology. And then it will be put into your permanent file, and all future employers will see it and assign you the desk closest to the office microwave where everyone makes their popcorn. READ MORE

What the *&@#%!$ Should I Do with All This Summer Fruit?

My Great-Aunt Linda (Hobbit-size, witty, and balding) was unforgettable; so was her freezer. Opening it was a glimpse into her boisterous personality. Bags and bags of frozen fruits and vegetables climbed beyond the rim of the door's shelves thanks to knives and spoons she precariously positioned between the shelves and food in order to expand her freezer space.

Lately, I've been channeling Auntie Linda: During the summer, I freeze fruit to make the fleeting season last a bit longer and because when I visit a grocery store or u-pick farm, my eyes are always bigger than my stomach. READ MORE

The Test of a Great Bartender

What makes a great bartender? There are two axes here, says sku: technique and style. "Technique is just a question of have they mastered the basic techniques needed to make good drinks," says sku. "Style is more an issue of their school of bartending." As for skills, does the bartender know how to muddle mint without pulverizing it? Can he or she muddle sugar into a clear syrup? Or deal with egg whites? "Egg white should be integrated into the drink to create a nice foam with no sliminess," says sku.

Beyond that, it's a matter of style, and balance. "For me, a Vieux Carré (rye, brandy, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, bitters) is a good test, because it doesn't taste that great if it's not balanced correctly," says will47. sku thinks an Old Fashioned is a great test of a bartender. "A classic OF is sugar, water, bitters and rye with just a bit of orange rind muddled into it," says sku. "A bartender who does a 'fruit salad' version with muddled cherries and other fruit or adds soda would be someone using a less classic and more modern (or mid-century) interpretation. For me that would be a deal breaker, but, as I said, it depends what type of bartender you are looking for."

"I'll add: They have to only use fresh juices and ingredients, no mixes," says JMF. "They have to know when and how to stir versus shake. Clear cocktails are stirred. Cocktails with juice are shaken. They have to shake for at least 10-15 seconds; more is better. They have to stir for 30 seconds. For classic recipes, no shortcuts or substitutions."

Discuss: What drinks do you think best showcase a bartender's skills?

The Royal Rodent

The gibnut, or paca, is the largest rodent—12 to 25 pounds, says rworange. Despite being a giant rodent with large teeth and yellow eyes, it's widely eaten in South America. Elizabeth II was even served some gibnut when she visited Belize, says rworange. "For some they are a delicacy, others an eating challenge, and in other regions a traditional part of the diet," says itaunas.

"A Brazilian friend of mine was telling me last year that his mother had just feasted on paca at a family gathering," says racer x. "She told him that she felt kind of bad eating it because paca is endangered in that part of Brazil, but still it was absolutely delicious." Some love it, some hate it—and as to what it tastes like reports are all over the place. The most common comparison is to rabbit, says rworange. Some say sweeter, some say gamier, but it's also compared to chicken, pork, deer, and beef. No word on what wine to pair with it.

Discuss: Gibnut or paca: The royal rodent ... tastes like ham when smoked

Overheard on the General Topics Board

"The major difference (in terms of production) between the Heidsieck and the Clicquot is that, when the Clicquot was produced in the 18th century, virtually all Champagne produced was made in the 'Doux' (very sweet) style, rather than what is common today, 'Brut' (very dry)." – zin1953, on a newly discovered cache of eighteenth-century Clicquot champagne

"There is also Filipino halo-halo which often adds flan and purple yam into the mix. My preference as a kid was for creamed corn, condensed milk, evaporated milk, young coconut, and ice cream. As an adult I might throw some red beans in there, but never the garbanzos I occasionally suffered and certainly not the preserved jackfruit I still detest." – JungMann

"Currently in Shanghai and I walked into a Korean supermarket that sold a variety of salts, several being roasted sea salts. Now, I'm pretty sure this isn't the same thing as regular salt as one brand sold four different kinds of salt: seaweed salt, garlic salt, sea salt, and roasted sea salt. What is this and how is it different?" – edgarallanho, on "roasted" sea salt