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Cooking with Gas: Where to Find Great Gas Station Food

Ah, the open road. You know you are really and truly on a road trip when you pull into your first gas station and start gorging on gross snacks. What if, however, those snacks weren’t gross? There are only so many Corn Nuts and pieces of beef jerky a person can eat, after all. Some gas stations across this great land of ours have eschewed the gross in favor of the gourmet. On tonight’s season premiere of Offbeat Eats with Jim Stacy, you’ll get to pull off the tourist-jammed highway to fuel up on some of these secret gas station restaurants.

You’ll have to tune in at 9:30pm ET to see Jim’s picks, but in the meantime, here are some of our favorite fancy-pants gas stations that serve fancy-pants grub.

The Best Gas Station Food

Tune in to Offbeat Eats with Jim Stacy at 9:30pm ET to meet the roadside rebel chefs and their quirky eateries that are off the beaten path.

Fall Fest: Eat As Much Pumpkin as Possible

Bright orange and already popping up on porches across the country, the pumpkin is the most infamous fall signifier. Beyond its decor potential, this member of the squash family is also a bit magical (just ask Cinderella or check out The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). Of all the lore, we’re partial to Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater for his diet and all it’s gourd-infused potential. Tempted to try it? Here are the five ways to start.

1. These pumpkin-packed sticky buns (pictured above) are practically guaranteed to improve any autumn morning. The gooey pastry is topped with a sweet pecan-bourbon caramel sauce for an extra indulgent coating.

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25 Ways to Use Sriracha

Fried Chicken with Sriracha
Sriracha is an addictively spicy hot sauce that has found its way into the kitchens and hearts of cooks around the globe. Although it originated in the Thai city of Sri Racha, Sriracha is now used to kick up all types of cuisines. You can use it on everything from your morning eggs to an evening cocktail. Sriracha definitely carries heat (a dot of the stuff will do the trick), but the hot sauce has a complex flavor; it’s vinegary and slightly sweet behind that red hot heat. Next time you’re craving something hot, reach for a bottle of your favorite Sriracha and get your fix with these 25 ways:

  1. Start off by making your own Sriracha-Style Hot Sauce. It’s an overnight process, but if you properly can and seal it, this homemade Sriracha lasts up to a year.
  2. Kelsey Nixon’s Asian Chicken Burger with Spicy Lemongrass Mayo and Pickled Asian Slaw is a lighter variation on the standard burger. The quick-pickled slaw adds lots of texture and flavor without a ton of calories.
  3. Pimento cheese is a traditional Southern food, made with cream cheese, pimentos and shredded Cheddar. Normally served between two sliced of white bread, try the spicy version, Matt’s Sriracha Pimento Cheese Dip with vegetables and cracker for dipping, in a sandwich or even on top of baked potatoes.

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Five Secret Cooking Oils of Sub-Saharan Africa

 

Nara Seeds

Thoughts of travel in Africa may conjure images of lions and elephants, or safaris seeking photographic trophies or even hidden treasures. True, this is all on offer, but for the culinary adventurer there are different kinds of quests to be had — especially when looking for ingredients to cook with. On a recent safari in Namibia, I “discovered” a rare oil derived from the endemic !nara plant (pronounced with a click sound followed by “na-ra”), which adds a unique, fruity and nutty flavor to meats and vegetables. It’s one of several “secret” oils found all around the continent if you look hard enough.

1. !Nara oil

!Nara is a peculiar-looking spiky melon that grows nowhere in the world but in the Kuiseb Delta, where the Kuiseb River meets the Atlantic in coastal Namibia. For decades it’s been harvested by the Topnaar tribe, who boil the insides to produce a tasty pulp, and eat its oil-rich seeds as snacks. But it wasn’t until 2008 that a German-expat chef realized their potential to be cold-pressed into oil for cooking and cosmetics. Now the chef, Volker Huemmer, and his wife press the unique seeds into small batches of oil, with permission from the Topnaar chiefs and the local government. With the consistency of olive oil, its original taste teeters between sweet and nutty. To accentuate its nutty flavor, it’s infused with coffee beans in one variety; to bring out its sweetness, it’s bottled with a vanilla bean in another variety.

2. Mongongo oil

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Fall Fest: 5 Reasons to Make Cauliflower Immediately

Always leftover on the crudité platter, cauliflower suffers a reputation as the vegetable kingdom’s bland, lifeless throwaway. But the cruciferous underdog is flexing its florets with its versatility and pleasant crispness. These five recipes are proof that cauliflower is more than broccoli’s pale cousin.

1. Adding cauliflower to classic mac ‘n’ cheese not only adds an earthy touch to the comfort food classic, it also lightens the recipe a bit. Try the three-cheese blend of Rachael’s version (pictured above).

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Burning Love: Char Your Vegetables

Del Campo's Dishes (photo: Greg Powers)

Del Campo's Charred Tomato Salad + Charred Ceviche (photo: Greg Powers)

Remember when burning your vegetables was considered a bad thing? These days, though, chefs are using high heat and chars to draw out the caramel flavors of fruits and vegetables without needing extra sauces and flavoring.

At Del Campo in Washington, DC, chef Victor Albisu serves South American barbecue with a focus on burnt items, so much so that the menu reads like a market stand of grilled items – tomatoes, scallions, artichokes, squash, onions. 

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An Indian Feast Inspired by The Hundred-Foot Journey

Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren from The Hundred-Foot Journey

 

Within minutes of the start of The Hundred-Foot Journey, regular buttered popcorn will cease to be enough. The film is a two-hour bonanza of spices, simmering curries, sauteed vegetables and roasted meats, so no ordinary concession can possibly stand a chance.

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11 Most Bizarre Food Foods in Sci-Fi

They often say truth is stranger than fiction. However, science fiction is much stranger than truth or everyday fiction. Throughout the history of the sci-fi genre, television shows and movies have often been called upon to show their characters eating — guess what? — really weird stuff. Here are some of the weirdest foods in the world of sci-fi.

Photos: Weird Food in Science Fiction

BBQ&A: Pitmaster Ed Mitchell’s Grilling Tips

When it comes to barbecue obsession, Ed Mitchell goes the whole hog — literally and figuratively.  The pitmaster of Raleigh-Durham’s The Pit and the new Ed Mitchell’s Que is revered for using farm-raised pigs and traditional cooking methods. We caught up with the legend at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party to dig into his BBQ secrets.

Cooking Channel: What’s the most common mistake people make when barbecuing at home and what is the one thing a home cook can do to take their barbecue to the next level?
Ed Mitchell: One of the mistakes people do at home is that they’re not experienced knowing how hot to get the grill. The temperature has to be right so the meat will come out perfect. It’s something that I can feel from years of doing it. To take the barbecue up a notch, you need the right selection of meat. If you’re a person who’s not knowledgeable about how to cook beef, then don’t try to cook beef. Cook what you’re very skillful at. It’s the selection of the product.

CC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever barbecued?

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The Meatiest, Smokiest Father’s Day Gift Guide Ever

Smoking Gun

Your old man deserves some shiny new toys. With only a few days to spare before Father’s Day this Sunday, you have just enough time to snag the tools (and robots) Dad really wants.

1) The man who takes pride in his meat deserves to smoke his competition. Present him with the Smoking Gun™ ($99.95; pictured above), a high-tech way to infuse his food and drink recipes with notes of hickory and applewood. Maybe load him up with a few steaks while you’re at it.

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