Chris Perez's Recent Articles
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8 Great International Slow Cooker Recipes
If there’s one thing cooler climates encourage us to do, it’s to take things slow. It’s an attitude adjustment we all experience, regardless of our location. Fortunately, a slow cooker is a tool versatile enough to be an answer for us all. Here are eight recipes covering a wide range of regions and flavors. Why not simmer down with one of them this weekend? Your slow cooker can do more than pot roast.
Oct 24, 2013
The $500 Lotus Rice Recipe
I try out a lot of recipes in the kitchen — some good, some bad, some worth filing into a digital locker of some sort. Like wine, I rarely try the same thing twice: there simply are too many new tastes to explore. Sometimes, though, a recipe speaks to you on an emotional level. And sometimes, making it costs you $500. How did this recipe cost me $500, you ask? The cost of the ingredients totaled no more than about $10.
Oct 17, 2013
The Best Thing I Cooked Last Week: Thai Coconut Seafood Soup
It’s officially fall. Let in the cool breeze and bring on the warm soup. Last week this surprisingly simple and quick-to-prepare soup took the crown of “best thing I cooked” so I just had to share. If you’ve got 12 minutes, you’ve got time to make this for dinner tonight. I usually take so-called “30 minute recipes” with a grain of salt, as they rarely take 30 real minutes to execute from knife to spoon.
Sep 26, 2013
Tasting Vanilla? It Might Be Beaver Butt. (And the FDA Approves.)
A popular headline resurfaced last week, and it was hard to miss. “Are you eating beaver butt?” The surprising answer is maybe if you eat any processed or pre-packaged foods. The FDA-approved food additive castoreum is a common vanilla substitute billed as a ‘natural flavoring’ on ingredient labels. Turns out it’s made from beaver butt.
Sep 19, 2013
Have You Had Coffee From a Siphon?
I enjoy a coffee, espresso, or latte every morning, and I typically get a pour-over when I go out for coffee at a popular local cafe here in Austin. But this particular day was different: I decided to order something from that gold-rimmed contraption in the photo above that looks like a prop from a Tim Burton movie. What is that? How does it work? And is it really worth all the hubbub?The so-called contraption is a siphon coffee filter.
Aug 15, 2013
What the Heck Is a Sesame?
This question, from part of a joke from late comedian Mitch Hedberg, got me really wondering. Where do sesame seeds come from, and what would they grow into if we ever gave them a chance? Turns out the mysterious ol’ sesame is more than a street and not just a way to open things.Sesame fruit are triangular-shaped pods (not too dissimilar in form to okra) that contain the famous seeds the plant is cultivated for, with India being the largest exporter.
Aug 13, 2013
10 Questions to Test Your Food IQ
Are you a trivia nerd? Foodie? Ever combined your affection with both in a food trivia contest? I recently did as part of a Slow Foods trivia bowl —  a foodie’s version of happy hour bar trivia — and thought I’d share the fun with a few select questions from the event. Test your food IQ after the break, hot shot.Answers are at the bottom of the post (no peeking!). 1. What vegetable, known as the “pie plant,” has poisonous leaves?2.
Aug 1, 2013
Paintings of Food: Inspiration from Wayne Thiebaud
A lot of us view food as art — especially the food bloggers amongst us. We appreciate the blackened outline of a meringue and the sheen of chocolate ganache dripping down the sides of a cake. Today though, I’m appreciating art that has food as its subject. Today, I’m looking through the works of Wayne Thiebaud.
Jul 30, 2013
Pizza Toppings & Heat: The Secrets to the Perfect Anti-Salad
Salad. Just saying that word is enough to make a child’s heart sink — especially if coupled with “is for dinner.” We associate the word with boring and bland. But salad, poor old salad, doesn’t have to be. It can be fun, it can be good, and it can be something you enjoy for dinner. You just have to know the secrets to making the perfect anti-salad.
Jul 16, 2013
My Travel Souvenir: Photographs
I’ve never been big on buying souvenirs, yet I quite often envy those of others. We got this painting from our trip to Thailand. We got this sculpture from our trip to China. We got this handmade molcajete from Mexico. All these individuals must be privy to some secret, because I rarely am able to find things like this on my own adventures. Instead of having a home filled with artifacts that provide connection to my experience and travels, I have a hard drive filled with photographs.
Jun 27, 2013
What’s Your Worst Food Experience While On Vacation?
Have a conversation with someone after they return home from a trip and, if they are a foodie, you’ll likely hear them rave about all the great food experiences they had. The fresh fish! The tapas! The 5-course meal! The coffee and pastries! There’s an excitement and attachment to enjoying the unexpected. Sometimes though, things are unexpectedly bad. Do you have a bad food experience while on vacation?For me, it all starts with my love for the chocolate chip cookie.
Jun 20, 2013
Why Cooking on Vacation Can Make The Trip Last a Little Longer
Do you have a travel limit — the number of days you can be on vacation before you start feeling that slight tug to return back home? My personal limit is somewhere around six or seven days. That’s about the time I start to think about how much I’ve spent, worry about how much I’ve eaten out, and generally just miss the routine of life at home. There is however, a way to extend this limit. It all starts with taking time to cook a meal while on vacation.
Jun 18, 2013
What’s the Deal with Butter in Coffee?
While foraging for lunch last week, I stumbled into a quaint gluten-free, grain-free, worry-free restaurant, built from a repurposed storage container. Looking over the menu, and debating whether I should order the quinoa or arugula salad, I noticed a peculiar offering simply called ‘butter coffee.’ What is that all about? I just had to know.The practice of putting a pat of butter in your morning drink isn’t a completely new concept.
Jun 13, 2013
6 Fruit Facts I Learned While Visiting Driscoll’s Berry Farms
Traveling can always be filed under the category “learning experience.” For a moment’s time, you’re set outside your bubble and thrust into the unknown with unfamiliar cultures, traditions, and thoughts. Those elements are why so many people become enamored of travel — it’s fuel for an open mind. Though not as cultural as a trip abroad, perhaps, my most recent trip took me to the fields of Driscoll’s berry farms on the coast of northern California.
Jun 11, 2013
Grilling This Memorial Day? Why You Should Throw On Some Cauliflower.
Memorial Day is this weekend! Break out the grill and kick-off the unofficial beginning of the grilling season with some cauliflower. It just may be the best cauliflower you’ve ever had.The Austin Food & Wine Festival is a great place to learn new and surprising techniques from some of the world’s best chefs. I had so much fun at last year’s grilling demo with Chef Tim Love that I just had to see what he would be cooking up this year.
May 23, 2013
A Work Week Menu Plan That You Can Do
Planning meals for an entire week is a tedious task. It’s difficult to plan one that gives you variety yet simplicity in your weekly labors of love. Cooking for a week is even harder — it’s tough to stay motivated and energetic through all the outside stresses we encounter in the work week. On that note, I present a full menu for a household of two that gets you through the week. This is a work week menu plan you can do!
May 21, 2013
Reining in Ambition: 3 Tips for a Successful Dinner Party
Being able to consistently cook successful meals at home can provide a lot of confidence — the kind of confidence that makes us think we can manage a dinner party event, no sweat. The kind of confidence that challenges us to try a whole new recipe for the occasion. The kind of confidence that makes us think ” Oh, that? That’ll just take 10 minutes to prepare.
Apr 4, 2013
Chris’s Playlist: My Mood-Setting Indie-Rock Playlist
Even before I lived in the music capital of the world, I loved music. It has a way of quickly elevating a particular mood or emotion, and it can do the same thing for your dinner party (and party prep)! Here’s a peek at what I’m grooving to as the meal and evening all comes together. I turn on my dinner party playlist when I begin the final preparations before guests arrive — so that I don’t forget to turn on the music if someone pops in early.
Apr 2, 2013
Have You Ever Tried a “Freshly Cracked” Wheel of Cheese?
Whole Foods event As it turns out, you don’t simply just crack a wheel open. It’s actually a skilled practice requiring an assortment of tools to get that just-so crumbly texture we all know and love — and you thought cracking open a coconut was hard! Once opened, the first thing I noticed was the aroma. That unmistakable salty air of Parmigiano that you can seemingly taste.
Mar 26, 2013
Why I Love to Cook
Cooking a meal is one of the most personal and intimate things you can do for someone. You’re literally providing plated nourishment made with your own hands and creativity — even if you’re following a recipe, you picked the recipe and planned the meal, didn’t you? As human beings eating is essential, a common bond that connects all races, nationalities, and backgrounds.
Mar 21, 2013
My Morning Delight: A French Press Cold Brew
If you live up north, you may not be craving a cold brew this time of year. Down south in Texas, though, I’ll tell you that things are quite different. Temperatures are already hitting 80 degrees! But when I want to hang onto that January cool for just a bit longer, I make a French pressed cold brew coffee with a little sea salt and caramel.
Feb 7, 2013
Why Do We Eat More in The Winter?
The past few weeks have been pretty rough for me and my cat. We both seem to have an insatiable appetite, wanting another snack or bite to eat just minutes after the last. What’s going on? Is it the cold winter? Is it the gray skies? Or is it an expanded stomach that has got too accustomed to gingerbread and fudge? I had to find out.“Meow.” That’s my cat again, begging for another treat when usually her normal eating routine will do.
Jan 17, 2013
Kitchen Countertops: 11 Material Choices
Surfaces. They play the biggest role in establishing the mood of our home decor. Hardwood flooring, subway tile, natural stone—each and every one of those items sets the home in a particular time and place and on track towards a particular interior style. Surfaces are especially important in the kitchen. They not only give the heart of our homes mood and emotion, they dictate how we function in and around them.
Jan 15, 2013
Beer and Cheese: A Few Suggested Pairings
During my last Maker Tour, one of the co-founders of Jester King told me his favorite thing to eat with beer was cheese. I have to admit that I was a little surprised by that. I’ve certainly done cheese and wine pairings, but cheese and beer was something I hadn’t yet tried. I just had to see what I was missing.Cheese and beer – both natural foods whose origins date back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Rome.
Nov 1, 2012
Recipe: Roasted Grape Granita & Red Wine
One of my favorite simple snacks to make is roasted grapes. The roasting process really brings out all the natural sweetness and the warmth and tenderness of the red orbs just melt in your mouth. I usually set them out with a charcuterie or a cheese plate, but this time around I decided to do something else with them. What if I made a granita with this roasted goodness? What if I enjoyed that granita with a bottle of red wine?
Oct 25, 2012
Two or More Helpers in the Kitchen? Try the Sous Chef Technique
What do you do when you find yourself with two or more helpers in the kitchen? Do you get distracted? Do you panic about assigning them the task of whipping the eggs to soft peaks? Take a cue from food television chefs and try the sous chef technique to take control of the situation.My wife and I cook meals together in the kitchen.
Oct 23, 2012
Regional Mirepoix: Flavoring Tips For Italian, Chinese, Thai, and Indian Cooking
You’ve no doubt heard about mirepoix through your culinary adventures or food TV watching. (Confession: I actually always thought it was pronounced meer-a-qua.) It’s a common blend of aromatics often added to stews or soups in the same way salt and pepper are added to give a familiar blend of palatable tastes. But did you know there are other types of mirepoix? A Thai version or a Chinese version, for instance?
Oct 18, 2012
Putting Your Personal Touch on The Wedding Meal: Some Thoughts and Advice
My wife and I celebrated our two year anniversary this week, an occasion that of course brought to mind that huge fun and emotion-filled day. We planned and coordinated just about everything ourselves, handing over the reigns of our big project to the venue organizer only on the day of the event. Since it is fall and wedding planning may be in the cards for some readers, I thought it’d be a good time to share some tips for putting your own personal touch on the wedding meal.
Sep 27, 2012
Games After Dinner: What Do You Play?
Dinner parties are versatile and unique. You can make formal invitations and invite twenty people, or keep things small and intimate with your closest friends. Dinner itself can be a no-frills laid-back barbecue or a more gourmet three or four course meal. All these details tell a lot about the type of host you are (or want to be). For some of us (including me) it’s fun to put our personal touches through the organization of it all.
Sep 20, 2012
Favorite Food Memories: An Egg in Spain
When I heard this week would be Egg Week on The Kitchn, I closed my eyes and thought for a minute what I might write about. What immediately came to mind was an egg I enjoyed at a quaint restaurant overlooking the shores of San Sebastian.There I was, with my wife, enjoying wine as inexpensive as water. It was our honeymoon and we were relaxed, free, and feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
Sep 6, 2012
How To Make a Chalkboard Menu Board
My wife and I usually meal plan for the week on Sunday mornings. We get a stack of magazines, I pull up a recipe planning site on my iPad, and we pick items that are simple and drool-worthy. With our selections made we go grocery shopping, often returning home with a pile of fresh produce. About midweek, though, we’d forget some of our recipe decisions and leave our veggies to veg-out beyond edibility. We needed a more prominent visual reminder. We needed a chalkboard meal plan menu!
Aug 30, 2012
Injera: Ethiopia’s Traditional Bread in Pictures and Words
If pictures aren’t enough to get me excited about trying a new food, then a good story certainly is. That’s the situation right now with injera, a crepe-thin bread that is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine. The book Cutting for Stone describes it like this: “The mark of a native is that your fingers are never stained by the curry; you use the injera as your tongs, as a barrier, while you pick up a piece of chicken or beef sopped in the sauce.” Mmmm.
Aug 23, 2012
Entertaining Idea: An International Potluck for the Olympics
The Olympics’ Opening Ceremony is this Friday! Sounds like a good reason to celebrate. Why not have a potluck with food themed around some of the participating countries? We round up a good mix of recipes that should make for an excellent spread.To be honest, the Olympics snuck up on me this year. I didn’t realize the opening ceremony was this week until friends of mine invited me over their place to watch them. “Good idea,” I thought.
Jul 26, 2012
Confituras Jams in Austin, Texas: Enjoying the Essence of Fruits
While trying to decide on an artisan product to review, the first thing that came to mind is jam. Maybe it’s because I enjoyed homemade biscuits last week, or maybe it’s because the art of jam making brings to mind memories of our grandmothers—cooking down the puree over the stove, canning the preserves in an all-day affair. The maker of Confituras jam in Austin makes everything to order in small batches, all mixed in a large copper pot.
Jul 19, 2012
Dinner with Perfect Strangers: Topics and Techniques to Break the Ice
We’ve all experienced that moment (usually at a wedding, or other formal event) when you find yourself seated at a table for a multi-course dinner surrounded by complete strangers. You may stumble into this situation unexpectedly, but how one chooses to react can make or break the night. What do you do? What do you talk about? How do the heck do you get out of there alive?
Jun 27, 2012
Expert Grilling Tips from the Austin Food & Wine Festival
We’re feeling the grill love on The Kitchn this week, and what better way to toast to the season than with some tips we gathered from Tim Love’s cooking demo at the Austin Food & Wine Festival this year, featuring a record-breaking 200 charcoal grills! We drank some tequila, cooked directly on the charcoals, and learned which wood is best for particular types of meat.Ahh, the mouth-watering smell of smoked wood.
Jun 14, 2012