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In the Kitchen: You can eat tea and smoke cheese

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

Fellow kitchen citizens,

In this week’s newsletter we tackle a rich stew of topics, or maybe it’s more of a tossed salad. That’s what reaching for culinary metaphors will do to you. Learn about cooking with tea, bone up on your grilling and smoking, get the inside scoop on one of your favorite cookware stores, and get reacquainted with rhubarb, your grandma’s favorite fruit.

And be on the lookout for Saturday's Counter Intelligence newsletter, with stories about the dining scene and Jonathan Gold's restaurant reviews. 

— Russ Parsons


Tea for the cookerman

Have you ever lingered over a hot cup of tea, enjoying the aroma more than the actual flavor itself? Smoky hojicha, grassy genmaicha, malty rich assam. Tea is a fantastic culinary ingredient, Food editor Amy Scattergood says, adding depth and complexity to food without adding fat or dairy or other animal products. Tea-crusted salmon, anyone? Udon in a tea broth? How about hojicha cookies?

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

Thinking about meat and fire

As you might expect from his background, Tim Hollingsworth has thought very deeply about meat and fire. After all, the former French Laundry chef now runs Barrel & Ashes, one of the hottest live-fire restaurants in Los Angeles. So when he tells you the secrets to a great tri-tip, you ought to listen. 

Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times

Cool smoke!

The summer smell of woodsmoke isn’t just for meats, though. As Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter explains, cold-smoking — separating the food from the fire — can be used on lots of different foods, including cheese. And a grilled cheese sandwich made with smoked provolone and marinated tomatoes? Perfect. 

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

Surfas is moving

If you’re like me, your wife (and your wallet) shudders whenever you get within a couple of blocks of Surfas, Culver City’s repository of all good cooking things (I once dreamed of buying one of their 2-pound bags of dried porcini mushrooms to use as a pillow). Rumors have been circulating for a while that it would be closing due to nearby Metro construction. It is, but just to move to another location. And it’s not happening for a while. Whew.

Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Nonstick precauations

The coating that makes pots and pans nonstick contains a chemical that has been found to be a serious health hazard. But that probably doesn’t mean you need to toss them all in the trash. A few common sense steps should keep you and your family plenty safe. 

Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb

If there were any fruit due for a rediscovery, I'd put my money on rhubarb. It’s like the tart-tongued best friend that makes everything better. And here’s a bonus for you serious botany geeks — while we commonly use true fruits as vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, squash), rhubarb is one of the few vegetables that’s considered a fruit. How cool is that?

Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Feedback?

We’d love hear from you. Email us at food@latimes.com


Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

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