Plate It or Hate It

Recent food world discoveries the ES crew is loving and hating

Plate It: Flashlight Grill Tongs

Problem: 60-degree February days means grilling season has started six months early, but it still gets dark outside at 5pm. Solution: Put a light on it! Available from homewetbar.com.

Hate It: Cup-a-Cake

Problem: You need to carry a single cupcake around with you all day, but just hate how the frosting gets all over everything in your purse. Wait, no…Really? Did this need to be invented?

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America’s Best New Sandwiches — 2012

You want sandwiches? We got sandwiches. Last year, Endless Simmer’s post on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches was our most-read story of 2011, and even helped turn The New Luther into a bit of a sell-out phenomenon. But America’s sandwich artisans haven’t stopped innovating, and we haven’t stopped salivating. So here we go, for your drooling-at-work pleasure, this year’s list of America’s top 10 craziest, loveliest, cheesiest, most creative new sandwiches.

10. The Noble Pig —  Noble Pig Sandwiches, Austin

Texas may be best known for its beef, but perhaps not for long, if chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez have anything to say about it. Their year-and-a-half-old Noble Pig serves up a namesake sandwich that somehow combines everything that is beautiful about pork products on one truly outstanding sandwich. Tender pulled pork, spicy slivers of ham, and crispy bits of bacon are all mixed together, topped with provolone cheese, and served on toasted, house-baked bread, for a porky trifecta that hits all of the spots. (Photo: Marshall Wright)

9. Pane et Panelle — Bar Stuzzichini, New York

Chickpeas may get typecast as functioning only in falafel form, but it turns out balls aren’t all they can do. Panelle is actually an old Sicilian street food snack—chickpeas and flour formed into light, airy strips and fried in olive oil. Stuzzichini‘s sandwich revives that classic and perfects it, layering crispy strips of panelle on a sesame-studded bun, in between levels of soft ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. The result is a light-but-addictive sandwich that will make you curse every overly dense falafel wrap that has crossed your lips.

8. Chicharrones Banh Mi — Ink Sack, Los Angeles

There are a million banh mis in American nowadays, but we were most swept away by this version from Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio. At his new Ink Sack sandwich shop, tender slices of pork belly and pork butt are topped with pickled vegetables, plus the kicker — crispy chicharróne fried pork rinds, creating one incredible multi-culti pork bomb.

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Throw This Party: Progressive Dinner Caravan

Ugh, I am so sick of dinner parties!

Actually, that is a complete lie, I will never be sick of dinner parties. BUT I am always looking for a way to make the traditional dinner party even more exciting. My friend Dayna was inspired by an episode of Top Chef in which the cheftestants were challenged to throw a progressive dinner party; basically, they each had to host and serve one course before moving on to a different location, where a different chef would host and cook. Well, if they can do it, why can’t we? And so the posse of progressive dinner party friends was formed.

We suggested our idea to friends who live in our neighborhood. The rules were simple: pick a dish and a drink to go with it, and prepare most of it at home ahead of time, with decor, music, etc…selected to enhance the dining experience. We would caravan from apartment to apartment, spending an hour in each kitchen while we took turns hosting and serving our creations. At first our friends were a bit hesitant about the complicated nature of this party, but we promised it would be a worthy endeavor, and it was.

How it worked, plus my dinner party veggie recipe, after the jump.

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Top Chef Recipes: Cracklin Hush Puppies

Top Recipes from the Most Recent Loser on Top Chef. More Top Chef Recipes.

We’re getting to that point in the series where the chefs have known each other long enough to start hating each other (I’m looking at you Beverly and Heather).

C’mon, I’m waiting for the cat-fight.

One shocking development: desserts are coming out on top. Gone are the days of Tom turning up his nose at chocolate tart, he’s now embracing the sugar high.

If not dessert, then which fat is being trimmed? Keep reading and find out what dish they had to offer up to ES.

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Top Chef Recipes: Chicken with Green Pipian and White Rice

Top Recipes from the Most Recent Loser on Top Chef. More Top Chef Recipes.

The cheftestants packed up and moved on last week. Texas is a big place and they’re not going to promote the whole state by staying in one place — so it was time for Dallas, but not before a little theatrics. The Quickfire involved a stop on the highway, courtesy of a burly state trooper, to cook a dish using a campfire burner with very limited ingredients, including canned tuna and chicken. Delightful. The chefs got a reward in the elimination, cooking for some of Dallas’ high society folks; it’s true, they exist.

But who packed their bags and gave ES a recipe from their personal collection?

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Top Chef Recipes: Chicken Soup Noodle

Top Recipes from the Most Recent Loser on Top Chef. More Top Chef Recipes.

With no Top Chef exit interviews you’d be forgiven for thinking that ES has given up on the show this season. Well, you’re wrong, instead of asking the chefs the same old questions we asked for a recipe. So, with Top Chef Texas well under way we’re starting off with Richie Farina of Moto Restaurant in Chicago, who was the second chef to pack his knives. Keep an eye out as each week we’ll be posting a recipe from that week’s exiting chef.

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Top Chef Just Desserts Exit Interviews: Episodes 3 and 4

We’ve got TONS of TCJD content to round out this Friday, as we chat with the three latest chefs to hit the chopping block.

Last week, the chefs were given the challenge to create the ultimate table of dessert wonderment for Lisa Vanderpump  from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star. We chatted with the chef-testant who didn’t make the cut — plus heard from this week’s loser — after the jump.

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