Blog Posts by Andrew Knowlton, BA Foodist, Bon Appetit Magazine

  • 5 Things To Do with a Can of Chickpeas

    Not all canned foods are evil or tasteless. Cans of sardines, tuna, tomatoes, and chickpeas are convenient, versatile, and, when prepared with a bit of creativity, quite delicious. As part of our ongoing series, "5 Things to do with a can of ______," (tuna was featured a few months back) we scoured this season's batch of chef cookbooks and found five inventive and easy to make chickpea recipes.

    1. Stewed Black Cabbage with Chickpeas
    from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora

    Serves 4 to 6

    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 cup minced red onion
    1/2 cup minced carrot
    1/2 cup minced celery
    kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    5 whole peeled canned tomatoes
    3 pounds black cabbage (aka dinosaur kale or cavolo nero), ribs and stems removed, leaves chopped (about 12 cups)
    21/2 cups canned chickpeas
    6 cups of soft polenta

    Heat the oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and fry, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and color,

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  • Do Kids Under Eight Years Old Belong in Restaurants?

    My recent rules for dining out with kids generated the biggest response from readers of anything I've written (other than my rules for tipping).

    Many people agreed with me and many people disagreed--especially with Rule #4, which stated that kids should be able to play with toys and electronic devices at the table (if the toys are on mute, of course).

    Most of the comments I receive come through the website or to my email. But occasionally I still get snail mail. The above is easily one of my favorite reader letters of all time. It hangs on my office wall. Thank you for your note Robert. I guess my daughter will have to dine out on pastrami sandwiches, Big Macs, or Chuck E. Cheese pizza until she's 8 years-old.

    Related:

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  • Should restaurants stop serving entrees?

    Dear BA Foodist,
    In my dining experience, appetizers always taste better than entrées. What do you think? Is there anything to this?
    Angela Lee, Torrance, California


    Dear Angela,
    The number one reason why so many people say appetizers taste better than entrées is the same reason why you should never go to the grocery store hungry: Food tends to be more appealing when you are starving. Also, because of the "protein, vegetable, starch" format--an unwritten rule of all main courses--many chefs say they feel creatively stifled. Appetizers, by contrast, know no restrictions. You can have a starter of all meat or fish or vegetables--anything you want. The rules are, there ain't no rules. Also, appetizers are a chef's opportunity to get creative and take a chance. If the chef wants to cook sweetbreads, headcheese, or beef cheek, or pair berries with chicken livers, better to present the dish in a modest portion. Also, customers are more willing to try new flavors in small amounts. This is

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  • 5 Fish You Should Never Eat

    Dear BA Foodist,
    With the buzz surrounding sustainable seafood, why do so many restaurants still serve endangered fish, and what can I do about it?
    Max Fort, Springfield, Massachusetts

    Dear Max,
    Recently I handed my neighborhood sushi chef the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch sushi guide (download it at monteraybayaquarium.org), then asked him to serve me only from the "Best Choices" column. No hamachi (a.k.a. yellowtail), bigeye and yellowfin tuna, octopus, red snapper, and freshwater eel. Wild Alaskan salmon was a Best Choice, but the farmed stuff was off-limits. And what about bluefin tuna, the holy grail of fish aficionados? Let's just say it's like eating a panda bear. So what did I have? I ordered a few farmed oysters to start, wild salmon roe, arctic char, giant clam, and tuna-domestic albacore, listed as a Best Choice. The chef was pretty frustrated at this point. Long story short, many consumers and chefs are confused about what fish to eat. I follow a few rules: Even

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  • Bon Appétit Predicts "2010: The Year of Vermouth"

    Without it, James Bond would never have had a Martini and a Manhattan would be simply whiskey and bitters. Essentially white wine fortified with a neutral grape brandy spirit and infused with herbs and spices, vermouth comes in two main styles: red, which is sweet, and white, which is dry.

    WHAT TO BUY:




    Noilly Prat Dry, $5 for 375 ml
    This bold, in-your-face white vermouth was reformulated using the original 1813 recipe. Perfect for Martinis.







    Vya Extra Dry, $13 for 375 ml
    Andrew Quady makes this citrusy white vermouth in Madera, California, using Colombard and Orange Muscat grapes.







    Martini & Rossi Rosso, $5 for 375 ml
    Where would the classic Manhattan cocktail be without this popular brand of sweet vermouth?








    Carpano Antica Formula, $32 for 1 liter
    This exceptional Italian sweet vermouth is velvety smooth with notes of dried cherries and orange.







    Dolin Rouge, $14 for 750 ml
    A top choice of serious bartenders, this red vermouth from France was recently made available in the United

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  • Andrew Knowlton's Picks of 2009's Best Restaurant Dishes Under $10

    Dear BA Foodist,

    What was the best budget restaurant dish you ate in 2009? Like you, I keep up with the latest hot spots and trends in dining out. But unlike you, I'm not paid to eat, so can you keep it under $10?
    Regina Carbonell, Queens, New York


    Dear Regina,

    It's tough to pick just one.There's so much delicious restaurant food out there, and--lucky for diners--so much of it is affordable. With that in mind, here are the 10 best value dishes I ate this year--priced at or under $10.

    The Foodist's Top Restaurant Dishes for $10 or Less

    1/ Tristar strawberry salad with mozzarella, balsamic, mint, and gray salt; $9; Roberta's, Brooklyn

    2/ Cathead (house-made buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken and a slice of cheddar); $6; Big Bad Breakfast, Oxford, Mississippi

    3/ Arista sandwich (roasted suckling pig with broccoli rabe, Italian long hots, sharp provolone, and natural jus); $8; Paesano's, Philadelphia

    4/ Enchilada Salvadoreña with tongue; $8; Tu Casa, Portland, Maine

    5/ Spicy

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  • Pimento Cheese (aka Southern Pâté): The Ultimate Holiday Party Crowd-Pleaser

    Dear BA Foodist,

    A lot of the hosts of holiday parties I've been invited to this year are requesting I bring a dish. I don't want to take anything fancy or expensive. Any suggestions?

    Alison Breyer, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

    Dear Alison,

    You want a crowd-pleaser that's simple and economical. May I introduce you to my childhood friend, pimento cheese (a.k.a. southern pâté)? De rigueur at any southern social gathering, pimento cheese (say it like a southerner--pimenocheese) is a mixture of cheese (the sharper the better), mayo, and pimento peppers, which you can buy in little jars. Some folks doctor it up by adding everything from pickle juice to bacon. I'm a purist and so was my grandma, who used to make pimento cheese with a hand-crank grater at the kitchen table. I've included her straightforward recipe here. Trust me, it'll be the hit of your next party.

    GRANDMA KNOWLTON'S PIMENTO CHEESE
    MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS

    1 1/2 cups (packed) finely grated extra-sharp yellow cheddar

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  • Bon Appétit's 5 Best Holiday Cocktails

    Ask yourself this: do you really want to spend all the time (and effort) it takes to mix a fancy cocktail for each of your guests. Do that, and you'll miss the party. Trust me, I know--at a recent party my cocktail ambitions got the best of me and I spent the entire party muddling and shaking. Instead, make punch. It's festive, it's best made in advance, and nothing says "Let's Party!" like a big bowl of the stuff. I've listed five of my favorite potent punches that were stars of past holiday parties. Just don't blame me if you end up enjoying the punch a little too much.



    Related: Bon Appétit's 31 Favorite Winter Cocktails



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  • Why You Shouldn't Always Cook With Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

    Dear BA Foodist,
    Is extra-virgin olive oil the only oil I need?
    Rinella Whitman, Jersey City, NJ

    Related: Everything You Need to Know About Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

    Dear Rinella,
    Extra-virgin olive oil is a staple, but it's not always the best choice for high-heat sautéing and pan-frying. First of all, it can be expensive. Plus, it has a relatively low smoke point, which, according to food scientist Harold McGee, is the "temperature at which a fat breaks down into visible gaseous products." That breakdown can ruin the taste of foods. So stock a couple of oils: a mild, inexpensive one with a higher smoke point, such as grapeseed oil, and a boutique extra-virgin olive oil for finishing touches.

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  • 5 tips for dining out with kids



    Dear BA Foodist,
    My wife and I like to try new restaurants, but we're also new parents. I've seen what can happen when children behave badly while dining out, and we dread fellow patrons' death stares. Any tips?
    Chuck La Vallee, Los Angeles

    Bon Appétit's 31 Best Holiday Cookies


    Dear Chuck,
    Cookbook author and food god Craig Claiborne opined, "I cannot estimate how many meals are spoiled by fractious, overtired children aching to be home, and their parents are doing no one a favor by permitting such disruptive behavior." I'd guess most folks agree with Mr. Claiborne, judging by the stink eye many waiters and fellow diners show parents eating with kids. It's a shame, really. True, a restaurant is not a playground, but it's not a church either. Some parents won't go near a restaurant with their children in tow, for fear of being ostracized. It's not like this in many other countries, where kids are welcomed to the table and where, not by accident, the food culture is strong. A few

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