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The Sporkful

Monday, June 30, 2014

  • Beating Bad Buns and Overcoming Overcondimentation
    As we head into July 4th weekend it's time to look at some of the common barriers to hot dog enjoyment, and cover the solutions. Bad buns are a dry and crumbly scourge on our great land. Even some of the fresh baked varieties are problematic, because they're so thick that they throw off the proper dog-to-bun ratio. When you do get the bun right, you still have to worry about condiments. Spread them carelessly and there is no going back. That's why I recommend dipping your dog on a per-bite basis. This allows you to regulate ratios and try different condiments (or no condiment) on different bites. If you're stuck with bad buns, don't lose hope. I've developed a variety of techniques to help. Watch the latest installment of my Cooking Channel web series You're Eating It Wrong (above) for m
  • 4 Tips for Beating Bad Buns and Overcoming Overcondimentation
    Bad hot dog buns are a dry and crumbly scourge on our great land. Even some of the fresh-baked varieties are problematic, because they're so thick that they throw off the proper dog-to-bun ratio. When you do get the bun right, you still have to worry about condiments. Spread them carelessly and there’s no going back. Here’s how to overcome overcondimentation and make bad buns better: 1. Buy better buns. The best are top-sliced buns that you griddle in butter. Next best option: potato buns. The bun and the dog, happy together.  2. Use the dog to improve the bun. If you’re stuck with a dry bun, as soon as you put the hot dog in it, press the bun down all around to smoosh it into the dog. The heat and moisture from the dog will warm and moisten the bun. Plus you’re

Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Are Hot Dogs Sandwiches?
    When it comes to the correct definition of a sandwich, I’m a strict constructionist. I believe we must look to the Earl of Sandwich’s original intent, which is why I’ve been dubbed the Scalia of Sandwiches. Even with my conservative approach to sandwichdom, I consider a hot dog to be a sandwich. That’s why I was shocked to see recently that a man I respect and admire, Judge John Hodgman, had ruled that hot dogs are not sandwiches. He writes, “Unlike any sandwich, you would NEVER cut and serve a hot dog in halves, unless under some weird duress. A half sandwich may be saved or shared, but a hot dog is a unity. Listen to the above clip from The Sporkful, in which I dismantle Judge Hodgman’s verdict piece-by-piece. Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. And check out next week’s wh

Monday, June 16, 2014

  • Inside the Mind of a Culinary Mad Scientist
    In the beginning, stuffed crust pizza was not beautiful. “I did the first prototype in the lab and it looked like a Schwinn bike tire,” says Tom Ryan, the flavor chemist who invented it. “It was ugly as hell.” But he was on to something. Years of research had shown him two things: People always like more cheese on their pizza, and most people don’t eat the crust. (He calls the leftover crust “pizza bones,” because it usually goes to the dog.) Filling the crust with a ribbon of cheese was exactly what people wanted, even if they didn’t know it. When Ryan finally presented a stuffed crust pizza to a focus group, one man looked at him and said, “My dog is going to hate you.” He knew he had a winner. He would go on to create the McDonald’s McGriddle, another one of the mo

Monday, June 2, 2014

  • Eat Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack
    Baseball season is in full swing and if someone takes you out to a ball game, you'll likely ask them to buy you some peanuts and Cracker Jack. (Not Cracker Jacks, of course, because there's no such thing). Before you place your order, listen to Dan explore the intricacies of these classic foods with three experts: Nile Brisson is a third generation peanut man and president of Peanut Processors, Inc. in North Carolina. He uses his teeth to crack the shells open and says that once you've eaten the nut, unsalted shells make a great addition to your garden soil. (He also explains how they get the salt inside the shells in the first place.  Mike Pesca looks at the history of the song "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in a classic "On The Media" piece, and tries to put a dollar value on the free ad

Friday, May 23, 2014

  • 8 Tips for Summer Food Festival Success
    Food festivals can confer great rewards, but they also come with great peril. Choices abound — but stomach space is limited. Craft a plan, execute it well, and you’ll feel like the ruler of all you survey. Go in looking for Weapons of Mass Deliciousness with too many unknown unknowns and you could easily find yourself in a quagmire. I address this issue in depth in my forthcoming book, Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious, where I warn of the bad decisions one may make when shrouded in the Food Festival Fog of War. (Hint: Look to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for guidance.) Here are some tips based on my years of research and scholarship: Brussels sprouts from Tso Fried Chicken at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. 1. Do research before you go. You’re reading this article,

Monday, May 19, 2014

  • When Belgian Waffles Came to America
    Back in 1964, Americans hadn’t set foot on the moon and Belgian waffles hadn’t set foot on our plates. Enter MariePaule Vermersch and her family, Belgian immigrants who saw an opportunity to share a piece of their culture and build a business at the same time. At the World's Fair of 1964-65, the Vermersches served Belgian waffles to eager eaters who were delighted by the taste and novelty of the hand-held waffle with the deep wells and crisp crust. "The line never ended...we had 24 machines that never stopped running," MariePaule says. At the end of the day, she explained that, "Sometimes we had fights, we had people fighting, 'one more, one more!'" But MariePaule’s father was unable to capitalize on the stand’s popularity, which remains a sore point for her family to this day. The

Monday, May 5, 2014

  • Kelis: The Sporkful Interview
    Music superstar Kelis sang in 2003 that her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, but today she uses dairy products for more than just innuendos. In fact, the Harlem-born singer/songwriter holds a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu and is as influenced by her mother (a caterer) as her father (a musician). Kelis's new album, "Food," marries her two creative passions, bringing a retro-soul feel to songs like "Jerk Ribs," "Cobbler," "Biscuits and Gravy," and "Hooch." In cooperation with WNYC's Soundcheck, Dan sat down with Kelis to discuss her new album, the difference between making a meal and making a record, and why -- of all the tools in the kitchen -- she most identifies with the cast iron skillet. Listen to Kelis' in studio performance in its entirety on Soundcheck.

Monday, April 21, 2014

  • SF182: Pizza Legends Patsy and Carol Grimaldi
    In the wake of the passing of Carol Grimaldi, Dan replays this classic Sporkful interview with a pair of New York pizza legends. 81-year-old Patsy Grimaldi may be the last person making pizza today who trained under someone who trained at Lombardi's--the first pizzeria in American history. Dan and the Grimaldi's discuss slice folding technique, the art and science of using a coal oven, what she taught him about pizza, and several trends Patsy deems "ridiculous."
  • Pizza Legends Patsy and Carol Grimaldi: The Sporkful Interview
    In honor of the passing of Carol Grimaldi we're replaying this classic Sporkful episode, which covers slice folding technique, the art of using a coal oven, and what Mrs. Grimaldi taught her husband about pizza. 81-year-old Patsy Grimaldi may be the last person making pizza today who trained under someone who trained at Lombardi's--the first pizzeria in American history. Dan sits down with Patsy and his wife Carol to discuss slice folding technique, the art and science of using a coal oven, what she taught him about pizza, and the scourge of pineapple pizza, along with several other trends Patsy deems "ridiculous." Carol explains that Patsy knows where in the coal oven to place the pizza based on the color of the coals at any moment, a pretty amazing thing to consider. Dan also pitches the

Monday, April 7, 2014

  • SF181: Matzoh
    Dan talks to a Southern Baptist matzoh expert about the science of matzoh making, and to a rabbi about the rules that govern the process. Between the two they cover why matzoh has so many holes, how much charring is the right amount, and whether an open-faced matzoh sandwich is a sandwich. This episode is for all cracker lovers.
  • The Science and Religion of Matzoh
    Matzoh isn't just for Jews, and it isn't just for Passover. It's a delicious, plain cracker that's ideal for all people all year round! In a quest to better understand and appreciate matzoh, Dan travels to the Manischewitz factory in Newark, NJ, to interview a Southern Baptist matzoh expert named Randall Copeland and Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, who is an expert on kosher law. Dan talks to Randall about the science of matzoh, including:   Manufacturing matzoh crunch (including how different cooking processes change crunch levels) The role that the little holes in matzoh play in determining a cracker's texture The reason why Tam Tams and matzoh crackers are hexagonal   Then Dan asks the rabbi some tough theological questions, including: - Some matzoh isn't kosher for Passover. If it isn't, shou

Monday, March 24, 2014

  • SF180: Broccoli
    Think broccoli is boring? Chef Tyler Kord makes a broccoli sub, broccoli tacos, and fried broccoli, and they're all amazing. He and Dan discuss the magic of broccoli, taco construction, and something called The Brocco-Leg. Watch the video of Tyler making his broccoli sub and get the recipe here.
  • Broccoli Sub, Broccoli Tacos, and More with Chef Tyler Kord of No. 7
    Think broccoli is boring? Chef Tyler Kord makes a broccoli sub, double-decker broccoli tacos, and fried broccoli, and they're all amazing. He says a ham and cheese sandwich isn't complete without broccoli. He even wrote a whole cookbook that's all about broccoli. Tyler discusses with Dan the magic of broccoli, whether you're really "overcooking" it if it still tastes delicious, and something called The Brocco-Leg. They also get into a ridiculous amount of detail on taco construction and bite consistency vs. bite variety in the aforementioned broccoli tacos. Tyler is the chef at No. 7 Restaurant and No. 7 Sub.

Monday, March 10, 2014

  • SF179: Fish and Chips
    Is it better to have one big piece of fish or several smaller ones? What's the ideal batter-to-fish ratio? And is even the fish better when eaten with your hands? Slate's June Thomas joins Dan to answer these questions, and to reminisce about the magical pan of lard that was so integral to her childhood in northern England. Follow The Sporkful on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
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