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The Arnold Palmer

I grew up drinking this. It's easily the most refreshing summer beverage ever created.

Sweetened ice tea with about a third of the glass filled with lemonade. Use quality ingredients and serve on the rocks.

Step up your construction methods in honor of the man himself: http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/06/best-arnold-palmer-tea-lemonade-half-and-half-method.html
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Bánh mì Thịt Xá Xíu

Many dishes have a signature flavor which can't really be fudged. One such flavor is the smokiness or "char" you only really get from fire or charcoal grilling. Many Asian countries have a signature barbeque item which aren't very prevalent in the United States. One of these dishes has crossed the seas to neighboring nations and possibly even directly influenced American barbeque. That dish is Char Siu.

Char Siu (Cantonese "red pork" in many other countries -- never buy this at an American grocery store), or Chinese Barbeque, is one of those dishes that is never as good unless it's prepared precisely the way it was meant to be prepared (just like American Barbeque). Without the flavor of charred sugar and tender pork fat, you're just eating basic pork loin.

Without a proper grill (and never being satisfied with any grates I seem to find), I decided to go hood and grill the meat on our stove burners after cooking it under the broiler. This is messy, but again, without the "char" flavor, the dish fails.

As with many Asian dishes, there are numerous variations on Char Siu throughout the entire region. My favorite is the traditional Cantonese version (with rice, with noodles, in a bao, as a meat-based desert) but they are all worth eating and interesting in their own ways. For example, the Japanese version "Chashu Pork", is rolled, marinated, and braised pork belly, served with ramen.

The Vietnamese version - Xá Xíu - is closer to the Chinese recipe in that it's a marinated pork loin or shoulder (using a sugar-based marinade and hoisin sauce as the base flavor, along with five spice) which is then broiled until charred. Even then, it's not at all uncommon to find the original Cantonese style of barbeque in many Vietnamese sandwiches, bao, and noodle bowls. The Vietnamese also prepare a "red pork" which is extremely similar to the Japanese Chashu -- a rolled pork belly (you can begin to see how recipes travel and evolve); but this version is prepared more in line with the Cantonese recipe and is then chilled and served as a cold cut for sandwiches.

For this sandwich, we decided to thinly slice pork shoulder, following a pretty standard Vietnamese marinade recipe, but added ground lemongrass to our pork marinade. It's an ingredient commonly found in Vietnamese meat dishes and it gives the sauce more depth when you grill the meat. It wasn't enough to overpower everything, just a welcome addition.

A sandwich is only as good as the bread upon which it is built. In the case of bánh mì, you really do need a special kind of bread. Vietnamese baguettes are extremely unique. They are wider and softer than your typical French baguette (primarily because they are used for building large sandwiches) and - most importantly - aren't so crusty that they'll cut the roof of your mouth.

Warm the bread in the oven, but don't bake it to the point where it slices open the roof of your mouth.

Texturally, the closest bread you might be able to find is Ciabatta; but it's just not the same if you can't use the proper bread. Try to track some down or make your own from a Vietnamese recipe.

Mayonnaise is another ingredient where you should never half-ass it. For most Asian dishes, Kewpie is probably what you want to buy (a Japanese sweet mayo used just about everywhere); I prefer to make my own using two egg yolk, Grey Poupon, sugar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and sunflower seed oil (use a neutral oil without a strong flavor). Otherwise, if all you have is American brands, at least go with a decent mayo (like Hellmann's) and not the dreaded Miracle Whip.

This sandwich is typically eaten with pork liver pate. It looks, smells, and pretty much tastes like cat food, so go easy unless you really love cat food. Once it's mixed with everything else, it's just one complimentary flavor in about a dozen.

The pickled veggies are extremely simple to make and taste much better after they've had a few days in the fridge. Not unlike the spicy peppers commonly used, I am of the opinion that less is more (this does not apply to cilantro). They will keep for about three weeks or so. The daikon will smell.

So how do they compress these sandwiches after adding a huge bunch of cilantro and peppers? Sandwich vendors typically press a Vietnamese chopstick in the center and squeeze the bread like a clamshell as they pull the stick out from one of the ends. The sandwich is typically then wrapped in paper and secured with a rubber band (further compression).

If you can't find Vietnamese chopsticks, a skinny dowel rod is about the same circumference.

A proper bánh mì might sound like an unattainable chore, but it's really not that difficult to produce with a little practice. It's absolutely worth your time over any of the Sub Sandwich Shops you've probably eaten at before.

Here's a great article on the history of the sandwich with a decent recipe (also, some insight into the bread): http://www.theravenouscouple.com/2014/06/thit-mi-xa-xiu-chinese-char-siu.html
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Homemade Smashed Burgers: The Dick's Deluxe (Seattle, WA)

If you've ever eaten at Steak-N-Shake, you've had a smashed burger. You need basically three things: an impossibly hot piece of metal (cast iron or steel griddle), a sharp, extremely strong and flexible pancake flipper griddle spatula (I prefer the Dexter brand; wooden handle, flexible -- it'll last you decades), and a tolerance for radiating heat on your hand (or maybe wear a thick Kevlar glove).

This version of the smashed burger is from the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, WA. It comes from Dick's Drive-in -- a local '50s-style burger chain created in 1954; sort of like Seattle's In-N-Out.

The burger: two salty smashed beef patties, "special sauce" (mayo and relish), chopped iceberg lettuce, served on a grilled bun -- no substitutions, cash-only.

The owner - who regrettably passed a few months ago - was always known to be a kind man who always put his employees first (currently, everyone starts at $13/hr with benefits). It's not only a piece of Americana still in Seattle -- it's part of "The American Dream" in being able to bring home a decent wage for a hard day's work.

If you're ever in Seattle, I would recommend grabbing a Deluxe from the Wallingford location; it's not just the first one, it's noticeably better.


Ingredients:
Two 2oz beef ball portions (4oz per burger)
Onion powder
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Two slices of American cheese / Kraft Singles
Chopped / shredded lettuce (romaine or iceberg works best)
A squishy white bread hamburger bun (I used Filipino pandesal)
Mayonnaise (make your own and use lemon as the acid; it's worth it)
Sweet relish


First, you'll need beef that's about 30:70 or 20:80, fat to muscle. For about a pound of beef (which makes about 9 patties), you'll want to mix in a teaspoon of onion powder, and roll the meat into balls that are just a bit bigger than a golf ball.

Before you season them with salt and pepper, ensure your pan is smoking hot (500°F or hotter). Turn off your smoke detectors, open the windows, and have a circulation plan (create a wind tunnel to filter out the kitchen smoke -- burning beef fat creates a thick, dark smoke).

The reason you don't season the meat with salt before you cook is that the salt starts to change the cell structure of the muscle fibers.

While you're waiting for the meat pan, heat another plan on medium-low and place your favorite squishy white bread buns into the pan with enough flavorless vegetable oil to properly brown the bun as it sits on the heat. I prefer to use Trader Joe's Sunflower Oil for 90% of my cooking, due to the fact that it can withstand high heats and is a neutral flavor (ideal for making mayonnaise and other things).

Mix the mayonnaise with the relish to create your "Special Burger Sauce" (this is what most places use as their secret sauce, by the way).

Once the bun is brown, place it on a plate to cool; you never want to apply mayonnaise to a hot bun because it will break and turn into oil. After it's cooled to the touch, spread a decent amount on both buns; probably a teaspoon, in total (the sauce needs to stand out -- add twice as much if you can't immediately taste it when you eat).

Now, the burger: sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper onto the side you're about to cook first, place the meatball into the hot, dry, metal pan and press down into it with your metal spatula as hard as you reasonably can. Hold that pressure for at least ten seconds. When you move your speaker, smash the meat against the surface of the pan like you're aggressively spreading peanut butter like some kind of maniac.

The whole process will take about 15-25 seconds, so don't go anywhere.

This extreme heat, pressure, and lack of cooking oil causes the burger to stick to the metal and develop a thick crust, through a process referred to as the Maillard reaction (this is what you did with your bread, earlier; it's why the crispy corners of pizza with the caramelized cheese tastes so good).

Immediately after flipping the burger, lay down your cheese of choice atop the crust side, flip the burger for another ten seconds, and remove from the heat. In the case of the Deluxe, repeat the burger steps again to create a 4 oz double. Once the patties have cooled a bit, place them onto your bottom bun, smash the whole thing down a bit with your hands, and enjoy the best burger you'll have ever made.

For more information on smashed burgers, check out Kenji's recipe, here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/03/the-food-lab-maximize-flavor-by-ultra-smashin.html
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Wonton Wrapping Methods

These are great to make in large batches for soups or to steam and eat with a dipping sauce. They also freeze well so that you can use them throughout the month.

They're also good deep-fried and served with sweet chili sauce, if you don't mind the mess.
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Making Your Own Marshmallows

They really are worth the trouble and the mess. These are infinitely better than the stuff you buy at the store, and much cheaper than the homemade ones you can buy at a decent dessert shop.

I've made them without corn syrup (using simple sugar syrup instead), and they turned out okay; just not as fluffy as they could have been. But then, I hand whipped them with a whisk, which probably had something to do with that as well.

Give them a shot!
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Descent Into Madness: The Journey for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

There aren't enough words to describe the level of ancient madness which takes hold of a man to the point where he bakes this many cookies. But the end result, I hope you'll agree, is quite awesome.

I've tried this recipe, and even with a small error on my part, the cookies were extremely delicious and some of the best I've ever made. If you're a chocolate chip cookie fan, definitely give this a read and try it out.
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Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans

This is my favorite vegetarian dish on the entire Earth. Without a proper wok flame in your kitchen, it's quite difficult to cook at home. Surprisingly, it's also quite rare for a lot of Americans to find this at Chinese restaurants; even more rare: a properly cooked version of the dish.

If you've never had it, I highly encourage you to try it.
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The Food Lab Fundraiser

J. Kenji López-Alt is one of the most important chef's you should be following. No, not another self-proclaimed "important" celebrity chef -- he's what I consider to be the active authority in terms of scientific cooking and data analysis.

He worked at America's Test Kitchen as a production / test chef for a number of years and then started The Food Lab Blog for Serious Eats, where he is now the Managing Culinary Director for the network. More importantly, to you, is the fact that his recipes are almost always the best of the bunch (thanks in part to obsessive trial-by-scientific-method).

If nothing else, you probably know him from his insane journey into madness: the guide to the perfect chocolate chip cookie (http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html)

If you can't donate, at least consider disabling ad-block for their site. Their plan is to create a full YouTube series of videos with the funds raised. Kenji also has a The Food Lab book coming out soon, which you can preorder on Amazon.

I'm a digital boy, so I'll wait on that ebook.

Please support worthy content from passionate people. Ad-block the bullshit away.
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