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Why We Should All Be Eating More Cheeks

June 24, 2014 Alison Spiegel 0

You may have found yourself at a restaurant where the waiter tries selling you on the cheek of the whole roasted fish he has just brought to your table, or at a butcher shop where the butcher tries convincing you of the merits of the beef cheek. Next time this happens, don’t be alarmed, be thankful. The cheek meat really is some of the best meat on the animal — be it halibut or a pig. An often overlooked cut, cheeks are where it’s at.

Cheek meat, the small cut of meat in the hollow of an animal’s cheek (if that wasn’t already obvious enough) is uniquely lean and tender. While most cuts can often be one or the other — lean but dry or tender but fatty — those little cuts of cheek are both. As fans of “nose-to-tail” eating here, we at HuffPost Taste are strong proponents of the cheek.

If you’re hesitant, chef, photographer and food personality Marc Matsumoto breaks down the merits of cheek meat in a recipe for Japanese Chashu, a slow-cooked pork that often appears over ramen:

Pork cheek is porcine perfection, taking the best qualities of a tasty cut like shoulder and marbling in a lattice of fat between the pink strands meat. When braised, the pieces of meat are almost imperceptibly suspended in a mesh of fat, that instantly liquefies when it enters your warm mouth.

Or you can explore cheeks for yourself in a variety of other ways, from beef cheek poutine to pork cheek ragù and Sichuan braised pork cheeks. You could try halibut cheeks with ginger-orange sauce or cod cheeks with mussels, chorizo and chickpeas. Guanciale, pork jowl or cheek, is a staple in Italian cooking, appearing in dishes like spaghetti carbonara.

If you need any more inspiration, here are 15 recipes that will convince you that it’s time to start eating more cheeks.

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3 Tricks For The Most Perfect Poached Eggs

June 24, 2014 Julie R. Thomson 0

There’s a common misconception that eggs are easy to make. Let us set the record straight: they are not. While anyone can make eggs cook in a pan, and most can do so in a matter of minutes, that does not mean they’ve mastered the art of cooking eggs. I…

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You And The Internet Will Never Forget This Gnarly Restaurant Brawl

June 23, 2014 Ron Dicker 0

Who ordered the melee?

A video of a brawl at a Greek restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, features fists-flying, chair-breaking antics that make staged saloon fights in Hollywood Westerns look tame.

The clip was posted June 22, quickly racking up ment…

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Anuson ‘Knott’ Poolsawat, Hero, Delivers Food Despite Flood Waters

June 23, 2014 Hilary Hanson 0

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A little thing like a flooded creek was not enough to keep an Alaska restaurant owner from delivering Thai ribs and fried rice to stranded customers over the weekend.

Anuson “Knott” Poolsawat, owner of Knott’s Take Out in North Pole, forded the swollen waters of Clear Creek to reach two customers stuck along the Richardson Highway, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1yFoujf) Mike Laiti and Brandon Borgens were completing a multi-day drive Saturday night up the Alaska Highway when they called in their order to the restaurant, which was near closing.

As they approached Clear Creek, they learned a sinkhole had developed from heavy rain near the creek. The state Department of Transportation closed the bridge.

Laiti called Poolsawat to cancel their order at the restaurant more than 25 miles away in North Pole.

“I called him and said, ‘Hey man, I can’t make it,’ and he said, ‘Not a problem, I’ll come cross the waters,'” Laiti said. “He called me and said, ‘Should I bring a boat?'”

Poolsawat arrived with takeout boxes containing Thai barbecue ribs and Thai fried rice. Another box held a “dinosaur egg” — a hardboiled egg that’s fried and covered in a sweet sesame sauce.

Poolsawat hiked up his shorts and waded through the creek, holding the takeout boxes over his head. The cold water was hip-deep.

Poolsawat had already done them a favor by staying open late, Laiti said. The delivery was beyond expectations.

“He’d help anybody out. He’s just a really good positive attitude, just a good guy,” said Laiti. “He’s definitely a goofball character and the food he makes is great.”

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Step One: Put the Pig in a Box

June 23, 2014 Tim Ebner 0

Take a look over your neighbor’s fence, and you might find a barbecue-obsessed cook in the backyard. In addition to the professional types who compete around D.C., there’s also a crop of barbecue enthusiasts taking new approaches to cooking and what barbecue means. The world of barbecue today resembles other craft-driven pursuits, just like home-brewing […]

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Just How Dangerous Are Energy Drinks, Anyway?

June 23, 2014 Erin Schumaker 0

After a day of sipping energy drinks on the beach in Rocky Point, Mexico, 16-year-old Lanna Hamann went into cardiac arrest and died on June 14.

While the cause of Hamann’s death is still unknown, the potential dangers of caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star have public health advocates worried — and for good reason. Energy drink-related emergency department visits have skyrocketed, nearly doubling between 2007 and 2011, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Dawn Report, which tracks the nation’s drug-related emergency department visits. (There have also been multiple fatality filings against both 5-Hour Energy and Monster Energy, according to The New York Times, although such filings do not necessarily mean that the drinks contributed to the deaths in question.)

Caffeine is popular. About 80 percent of adults in the U.S. consume the stimulant daily, and most of us are responsible about it. And what’s not to like? In low doses, caffeine is basically harmless and, according to Kathleen Miller, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, can even be beneficial to healthy adults by increasing concentration, speeding reaction times and reducing fatigue.

But what many of us forget is that our daily fix is actually a psychoactive drug. “Get high enough levels — and I’m not talking really, super high here, say 500 milligrams of caffeine, that’s the equivalent of five cups of coffee – and you run into what’s called caffeine toxicity,” Miller says. “That includes the headaches, tremors, heart palpitations and nausea. At high enough levels — and this is fairly unusual — caffeine is toxic enough that, for some people, it can cause seizures, mania, hallucinations, even strokes.”

While most people understand how drinking a cup of coffee will affect them, energy drinks are a relatively new phenomenon — and a largely misunderstood one at that. The neon-colored drinks can seem to be marketed toward active individuals and young people. Red Bull promises to give you wings. Monster and Rockstar energy drinks promote extreme sports on their websites. We could be forgiven then, for thinking that energy drinks are appropriate to consume while exercising. They are not. The diuretic effect of caffeinated energy drinks can cause the body to lose water, dehydrating you in the process. Miller explains:

The general public in many cases doesn’t really get the difference between a Red Bull or a Monster on one hand, and Gatorade on the other hand. And they are doing the exact opposite things. Gatorade or Powerade, those are designed to rehydrate and bring back electrolytes into the system. They are designed for use with exertion. The others are really, really good things to avoid under the same circumstances.

It might come as a surprise, too, that canned energy drinks don’t come with health warnings the way that alcohol and cigarettes do. Because energy drinks often contain plant and herbal extracts in addition to caffeine, they can choose to label themselves as dietary supplements rather than food, and aren’t regulated or evaluated for safety by the FDA. Energy drink companies don’t even have to reveal how much caffeine each drink can contains. And without this research, it isn’t clear what effect the combination of plant-based substances (guarana, ginkgo biloba and ginseng are common ingredients) have on the body. Many people also underestimate the power of caffeine from natural sources and aren’t aware that plant extracts like guarana have caffeine-like effects.

Public health advocates like Miller seem to agree that labeling of energy drinks is the first step toward safer consumption. (In 2013, the FDA announced that it would investigate the safety of caffeine in food products, particularly those marketed to children.)

“Let people know what they are drinking,” Miller says. Certain individuals –- those who are exercising, drinking alcohol, pregnant or nursing, anyone with a pre-existing heart conditions, or under the age of 18 — probably shouldn’t be consuming energy drinks at all. “Knowledge is power. The more you tell them, the more they can make intelligent, informed decisions.”