Insalata caprese, an Italian classic, becomes an instant halloween classic as well.
The traditional ingredients for this delicate salad are fresh mozzarella, basil, plum tomatoes and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. Our version goes only slightly further, adding a thin slice of olive as the garnish. And, a clever trick produces perfectly round pupils every time.
Cooking hot dogs (and similarly shaped things) on the backyard grill is one of those classic American summer traditions. One of the weaker parts of this scheme is preparing the hot dog buns. I happen to like mine toasty and warm and crunchy, and without the hinges broken! Not everyone likes grilled buns, but for those of us who do, this is a legitimate concern. Folding buns wide or flat to grill them seems to universally weaken the hinges to the point that they are prone to break upon introduction of a sausage, particularly if there are condiments involved.
So, here’s our quick DIY Hot Dog Bun Grilling Jig, which holds your bun open at the perfect angle while it warms on the grill, forming a sturdy toasted structure with potentially good hinge integrity. Bonus: by grabbing the jig, you can use tongs to set down and pick up your bun without fear of a squished bun.
One cantaloupe, a knife, and five minutes. Your very own (and very tasty) planet-killing superweapon.
Hint 1: Center the “crater” around where the stem was connected so that the darker fibers under the skin point towards the center of it.
Hint 2: Stretch a string around the melon to help guide your equatorial trench.
(Also: you don’t really need that exhaust port. It’s a weakness.)
We first discovered Cubyrop via flickr and were smitten, so we put them in an Amazon wishlist. But after more than a year, we happened to just come across a bag of them at Nijiya(a Japanese supermarket) and were thrilled!
The verdict? Cubyrop are intensely charming — even better in person than they look in the photos. They are hard candy, intensely fruit flavored as only Japanese candies can be. While the name would imply that they are perfect cubes, they are indeed perfect but are not always cubes– the sides vary from 11-13 mm. They come wrapped two to a package, which is just the right amount of sweet and flavor.
They are color coded:
- Orange = Mango
- Yellow = Lemon
- Orange = Orange
- Dark Pink = Grape
- Super Light Pink = Litchi
- Green = Melon
- Light Pink = Peach
- Medium Pink = Strawberry
Mango and orange are difficult to tell apart visually, but they definitely taste different. Cubyrop also come in a (slightly larger) gummy variety, which also have intense flavoring but are jiggly with a dusting of sour powder. (Note: Some of you who grew up in the same era as us may also have an innate fear of gelatinous cubes.) There is also a variety labeled as throat drops, with some sort of cough-drop powder in the center of the cubes. They taste vaguely medicinal, but are still significantly better than most cough drops.
As with so many Japanese products, presentation is everything. The product shape carries over into the font, and the square color coding for the flavors is listed both in English on the front and in Japanese on the back. Charming, andtasty! What more could you want?
Nelumbo Nucifera, also known as the Sacred Lotus (amongst other names) is a magnificent oddity of a plant. It roots in the mud of shallow lakes and ponds, growing leaves that float on the surface as
lily pads lily pads or rise up above the water on hard stalks. The lotus flower itself is the model of a classic and gracefulwater lily flower, where both the flower and resulting seed pod have a characteristic pattern of holes.
The hole patterns continue throughout the plant, showing up in in the stalks and underground stems (rhizomes) of the lotus plant. The rhizomes, usually just referred to as “lotus root” are prepared as vegetable in many types of asian cuisine. Typically you’ll find them served as thin slices through the root (a couple of inches in diameter), showing the distinctive pattern and prepared in many different ways– I’m partial to tempura. (If you haven’t had them, the taste is a bit like a more substantial and nutty version of a water chestnut.)
Another way that you can sometimes find lotus root prepared is as pickled lotus rootlets, which are immature and more tender lotus roots in brine (pictured here). You might find these in a salad or Vietnamese sandwich– they are tasty like their bigger friends.
Appearances aside, the first bizarre thing about the Sacred Lotus is that it’s one of only a handful of known plants that displays “warm-blooded” behaviour: It actively regulates the temperature of its flower to be at a near-constant temperature, even as the ambient temperature varies by a much larger amount. (
The second thing, which I haven’t seen written about anywhere, has led me to ask: how can a lotus root be like a spider?
A few months ago we showed you how to make beautiful fractals in polymer clay.
Take that idea, run with it, and where do you end up? In the kitchen, making Sierpinski cookies! These cookies, made from contrasting colors of butter cookie dough, are a tasty realization of the Sierpinski carpet, producing lovely, edible fractals.
As with our earlier project involving clay, you can make these by using a simple iterative algorithmic process of stretching out the dough and folding it over onto itself in a specific pattern.
Last year as Valentine’s day approached we suggested writing new messages on your conversation hearts and loading up your trebuchet. We still advocate catapults for Valentine candy distribution and disposal, but we’ve upgraded the presentation a bit. With a rubber stamp kit and a food-safe pen, you can stamp your messages so they look nearly authentic, but have much more appropriate messages.
After more than a year of painstaking directed research by our Experimental Foods Division, we have finally achieved one of our most important longstanding goals: the production of edible googly eyes. Like many other great inventions, it seems almost simple in retrospect, but in this write up we walk through the process and show you how to make your own.
We are crazy about Thanskgiving, both for being the only real food-centric American holiday and for giving us an excuse to make all kinds of things that we don’t make the rest of the year. One of the few downsides is that we usually end up eating the same leftovers for days on end afterwards. These can be amongst the best leftovers that you get, however even your favorite dish can start to wear on after having it reheated for the fourth meal in a row.
The solution? Food hacking– a tasty form of recycling! Incorporate your leftovers into new recipes to bring them back to life. While reworking leftovers certainly isn’t a new process (Bubble and Squeak, anyone?), it is one that benefits from a fresh approach from time to time. After the jump, a few of our favorite out-of-the-box approaches to eating well on Black Friday.