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

Same Great Food, Less-Divey Locale

It used to seem like you had to risk your safety for a tasty taco at Gallegos Mexican Food, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant wedged between a machine shop and a discount liquor store. But now it's moved to a better location (with parking!), and the food is just as good, says chocolatetartguy. The complex mole is always a good bet, he says, but jumbo albóndigas (meatballs) in soup make for an ultra-satisfying meal, albeit one served only on Mondays.

"Though a bit salty for my taste, the tacos were great, and it's a lovely family-run business," says escargot3.

Gallegos Mexican Food [East Bay]
2309 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley

Discuss: Gallego's Mexican Food Moves

Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe is a noodle whore's paradise!" - Bon Vivant

"Fried to order and made with pâte à choux, these golden orbs were richly eggy in flavor yet delicately constructed at the same time." - Melanie Wong, on the French-style beignets at Bistro 29

"CTM was excellent. Not as creamy and heavy as Pakwan's, it had a good hint of tamarind and was fairly spicy." - Tobias, on the chicken tikka masala at the new Curry Village

Notes from the DIY Food Revolution

By Iso Rabins

Twittering food carts, underground dinners, new kinds of under-the-radar food markets: There's a DIY food revolution happening on the quasi-legal fringes of major American cities. One of the leaders of the movement is Iso Rabins. He hosts underground dinners in San Francisco through his organization forageSF (each course focusing on wild ingredients like nettles and snails). And, in December, Rabins launched the city's first underground farmers' market, held in a friend's flat. Rabins will be guest blogging on, and this is his first post.

Frozen Corn Satisfies Winter Cravings

While freshly picked summer corn can't be beat, you can make dishes with great corn flavor using frozen corn kernels during months when it isn't in season.

cheesecake17 says roasting corn kernels "really changes the corn and adds a nice sweetness." She spreads the kernels in a single layer on a baking sheet and pats them dry with a paper towel. Use the roasted corn in salsa or salad. alkapal likes roasted corn with diced red bell pepper, black-eyed peas, lime juice, and cilantro.

Corn marries well with shellfish in corn and crab bisque and crisp chipotle shrimp with corn and scallions, which is "really great," says Val. "The colors in this dish are amazing too," she adds.

For a side dish, try spicy Indian corn with mustard seeds, or Mexican-style corn with crème fraîche, lime, and chile, suggest hounds.

AndrewK512 suggests a delicious pasta sauce made by puréeing the corn and lightly pressing it through a sieve until you have corn milk; bring to a simmer, emulsify with butter, add whole corn kernels and chives. Gild the lily with truffle oil if you wish.

Discuss: what to do with all this corn?

Tzatziki Doesn’t Have to Be Watery

Tzatziki, the Greek yogurt and cucumber spread, is too often watery and bitter, rather than creamy and flavorful. Here's how to make it right.

Start with thick Greek yogurt, or strain the whey from a natural, full-fat yogurt by putting the yogurt in a dampened paper coffee filter or cheesecloth set in a sieve for several hours, until the yogurt is thick.

Wring the grated cucumber in a towel to get rid of excess moisture; some hounds salt the cucumber to draw out moisture before wringing it out. If you are using standard American cucumbers, remove the seeds, advises danieljdwyer.

Add minced or crushed garlic and salt to taste, but keep in mind the garlic will get more pungent over time, says chowser. yamalam marinates the garlic in the juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon or two of white wine vinegar for 10 minutes to soften its bite. Some finish with a bit of olive oil, and add fresh dill or mint.

kattyeyes loves this recipe. "Try it with a lamburger," she suggests. "Mmmmmm!"

Discuss: Anyone have a good recipe for tzatziki?

Did Captain D’s Bite Mr. Spriggs’ Action?

Warning: Clicking on the following video will permanently embed the following phrases in your mind: "Baby I'm hongry, I say baby, you're hongry," and "saw-weet ... tender ... meat falls off the bone."


The Evidence Against Allergy Tests Piles Up

Testing allergic to common foods such as wheat or nuts can turn your life upside down. No longer can you casually nosh; every meal must be scrutinized for dangerous ingredients. It's time consuming and stressful, and, worst of all, for many people diagnosed with allergies it may be unnecessary.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, recent studies have cast doubt on the reliability of traditional allergy tests. Food allergies are usually diagnosed through blood tests or skin-prick tests. Blood tests measure the level of IgE antibodies the body makes for a particular food; skin-prick tests look for a reaction on the skin when a certain substance is injected there. However, just because the body has antibodies or shows a reaction to the skin-prick test, it doesn't necessarily mean the patient will have a reaction when he or she eats the foods.


Hearty Meatless Split Pea Soup

While many split pea soup recipes include smoked ham hocks for flavor, it's easy to make a vegetarian version that's just as satisfying.

Most hounds use a pretty standard base: green or yellow split peas, chopped onions, carrots, and celery, and water or vegetable broth, plus salt and pepper. Some use garlic, and herbs such as bay leaves or thyme for seasoning.

And then there's the special ingredients to deepen the soup's flavor. dmd_kc adds a spoonful of prepared mustard. "The mustard wakes up the earthiness of the split peas," he says, "and doesn't end up reading as mustardy." bear uses soy sauce at the end of cooking. If you want a bit of smoky flavor without meat, try adding smoked paprika, bacon salt, or a bit of liquid smoke.

odkaty thinks the split pea soup recipe in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is fabulous; it includes marjoram, paprika, bay leaves, thyme, and soy sauce. CindyJ's go-to recipe has parsnips, which add a nice sweetness, she says.

Discuss: Vegetarian split pea soup?

James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Announced

The James Beard Foundation announced its nominations for restaurant and chef semifinalists this morning. The list will be whittled down to finalists on March 22 and winners announced on May 3. Until then, enjoy sifting through the massive list, which includes accolades for Deanie Fox and Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu, even though recent reports indicate they're no longer working there.

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I keep all my schmaltz (fat) from chicken, roasts, hamburger, even gravy fat, and cook roast potatoes in it from time to time, then I keep that fat too and reuse. Haven't killed anybody yet!" - smartie

"I use Trader Joe's wasabi mayo to coat fish before baking on a rack in a pan. Season with S&P, allow to sit at room temp. for about an hour, then coat and bake @350° for 20-25 minutes. Pork chops and lamb chops are also good this way, with longer cooking times." - Will Owen

"It's wonderful with sour cream—better than mayonnaise, in fact. Just on its own, that's a nice dip for vegetables. Crumble some bacon and squeeze lemon into it for a better version of that nasty fake glop in the plastic tubs. This is magnificent on baked potatoes, too." - dmd_kc, on prepared horseradish