By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Minh T Truong
By Molly Dunn
By Brooke Viggiano
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Molly Dunn
By Molly Dunn
By Eating Our Words
Do: Impart flavor. Include flavored oils, fresh herbs and spices.
Don't: Use too much salt. It draws out moisture, causing meat to dry out and preventing it from absorbing flavor. Add more salt later if needed.
Do: Use about 1/2 cup of marinade per pound of meat.
Don't: Pour excess marinade directly onto cooked meats and poultry. Discard your marinade after use or make sure to heat it up safely. It needs to be kept in the fridge and brought to the proper temperature before use to prevent growth of harmful bacteria.
Do: Use tongs to remove items from marinade. Draining the items of excess oil prevents burning.
Don't: Place cooked items back into the original containers with the marinade.
Do: Use thicker, sweeter sauces for basting only. Sauces containing honey, molasses, sugar or ketchup can burn easily.
Don't: Brush them on until the last 15 minutes of cooking. This will prevent charring.
Do: Know which cuts of beef and pork to marinate. Marinating tough cuts of steak like flank, skirt, sirloin, round and hanger before grilling will tenderize the cuts and add flavor.
Don't: Ruin the quality of better cuts. High-quality cuts like porterhouse, filet mignon or rib eye can be destroyed by over-marinating.
Do: Pay attention to your fish. Marinate tuna steaks and firmer cuts of fish for a bit longer than you would tender fillets or shellfish.
Don't: Over-marinate it. Fish is naturally tender, so it can become mushy if marinated for longer than one hour.
Do: Try removing skins from chicken or cutting slices into tough meats to allow the marinade to further penetrate.
Don't: Think marinades will penetrate everything. Sometimes the best way to ensure juiciness and flavor is with a salt-heavy brine.
Do: Experiment. Natural tenderizers like pineapple, mango, beer and ginger can add unexpected depth to your dishes.
Don't: Be afraid to have fun with it. Especially with your trusty BFF, the Internet, by your side.
Speculoos Cookie Butter Scarcity
Trader Joe's limits one jar per person.
Last week during my semimonthly run to Trader Joe's for baked jalapeño cheese curls, I witnessed the following conversation between two employees:
Employee #1: Quick question — Speculoos? Are we still limiting them to just one?
Employee #2: Yup, one jar per person.
Speculoos Cookie Butter, in case you didn't know, is perhaps the world's second most amazing sweet spread (with Nutella claiming top prize). Its taste is gingerbread, snowy nights and Christmas all rolled into one with a texture so comforting and smooth one is tempted to affix it to every carbohydrate in sight.
I wasn't terribly shocked to learn that Trader Joe's was running low on this terrific product. Indeed, its popularity prompted a shortage earlier this spring. I was surprised, however, that this problem persisted. Why not, I thought, just send the stores more supply to meet the demand? Alas, not so simple, it seems.
I approached one employee at the West Alabama location to inquire about this issue, and he (in true Trader Joe's form) was remarkably friendly and open. It was his understanding that production and supply-chain issues were complicating adequate and equal distribution of Speculoos between stores. He, too, was surprised TJ's hadn't been able to successfully resolve these challenges and that the shortage had continued. "We still get about 20 calls a day from people asking about the availability of Speculoos Cookie Butter," he added.
Of course, scarcity and restriction easily feed desire, so perhaps TJ's is creating its own shortage issues (or intentionally not resolving them) as a means of prolonging Speculoos's extreme popularity. I admit that although I was uninterested in purchasing Speculoos during that particular visit to TJ's, the oppositional streak in me was activated when I heard of this one-jar-one-person allotment, and suddenly I really wanted to try to get TWO jars. Yes, I know, I'm such a rebel.
It turns out, however, that people like me who want to purchase two or even three jars at a time aren't really the problem. Another employee told me the limit was put in place when it became apparent that many people were trying to "stockpile" the butter, buying ten, 20 or even 30 jars at a time.
Wow, those people are serious about their cookie butter. I need to befriend them so I can continue to enjoy my Speculoos and jelly sandwiches during the apocalypse.
Readers and/or patrons of other TJ's locations: Have you noticed Speculoos flying off the shelves? And if we all stopped caring (or at least pretended to), would this shortage miraculously disappear? Easier recommended than done, 'cause that's some damn good butter.
Openings and Closings
Houston will run on Dunkin'.
The past week has been full of openings with few closings. So let's just get the bad news over with.
Houston Avenue Bar, a.k.a. Re:Hab Houston, informed the public that its lease is up and it will be closing the first week of July. The Houston Chronicle reported that management already has a new location, though, which will be opening in August, so it won't be gone for too long.