Times Top 5: Global Fast Food and Sweet Tea with Vodka

From the NY Times Dining Section 02.11.09

When New York's immigrants come home from a long day at work, they don't microwave a Lean Cuisine. They cook quick, Americanized versions of their native dishes. Writer Leslie Kaufman ate dinner with several families, and the article is a fascinating comparison of what's considered fast and comforting in different cultures. Oh, there's also an alcoholic sweet tea from South Carolina...

1. Scallion pancakes, fried plantains, and goulash. We were inspired by the Liberian mother whose quick, easy meal is a fried, whole red snapper. Or the Hungarian woman who found a source for hand-ground paprika. It's also fun to read about ways immigrants have adapted traditional, hours-long processes into fast weeknight meals.

2. Sweet tea and vodka! It's called Firefly, and we'll personally vouch for this bottled sweet tea with vodka, which is made in South Carolina. It's sugary, yes, but really good if you love sweet tea. And vodka. We also love the tip to mix it with lemonade for a John Daly, the alcoholic version of an Arnold Palmer.

3. The secret ingredient in non-dairy hot chocolate. Melissa Clark perfects a rich, creamy Valentine's Day hot chocolate for her husband, who can't have dairy. The key? Coconut milk.

4. (Barely) breaking the $10 barrier with wine. How many times do we see articles about wines under $10? This piece makes the case for spending just a few dollars more, noting some really great Italian finds between $10 and $15.

5. Don't fear the chocolate soufflé. We can sense how bored Bittman is, writing this article, but he's giving the people what they want... Readers of his blog wanted chocolate soufflé, so here it is: uncomplicated and stress-free.

What are you reading in today's Times dining section?

Last Week's Top 5: DIY Cheez-Its?

(Images: Gabrile Stabile for The New York Times)