All Posts In How-to

Sage — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, October 13th, 2011

fried sage parmesan penne pasta
It’s hard to not love an ingredient that loves fat.

And that’s exactly what sage does — it partners up perfectly with foods rich in oils and fats. So why not give it a try? It’s nearly the holidays and time to indulge.

Actually, that’s part of sage’s problem — and why it has a relatively low profile in American cooking compared to other savory herbs, such as basil and oregano.

While we think of all manner of uses for other herbs in all seasons, we tend to pigeonhole sage as a Thanksgiving herb suited mostly for stuffing and turkey.

But the richly peppery-rosemary flavor of fresh sage can more than earn its keep year round. You just need to know how to use it.

Fried Sage and Parmesan Penne »

How to Taste Wine — Outsmarting Wine

by in Drinks, How-to, October 7th, 2011

how to taste wine
“I’m not good at wine,” is the sheepishly exasperated refrain I always hear. “I just don’t get all those things — the plums, the oak, the butter — that stuff experts talk about.”

My response: You’re not alone and frankly I just don’t know how some enthusiasts detect things like tomato leaves, sweaty saddle and other exotica in their fermented grape juice. There are, however, useful descriptors that many experts use, like oaky, crisp and soft, that can help you communicate to store clerks and sommeliers what kind of wine you really like. Here are three ways to build your wine-tasting vocabulary.

Three ways to build your wine-tasting vocabulary »

How to Use Coconut Milk — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, October 7th, 2011

coconut lime chicken tacos
Who knew coconut milk could be so confusing?

It shouldn’t be. At heart, it’s a delicious liquid made from coconuts (duh!) that can effortlessly add an exotically creamy richness to so many meals.

Except that grocers sell about half a dozen different products that go by the same or very similar names. And they aren’t interchangeable.

So let’s start with what coconut milk isn’t.

Coconut water is a hip new drink that is made from the liquid inside coconuts. Drink it, but don’t cook with it.

Coconut milk beverage is a sweetened drink made from coconut milk and sugar. It’s usually sold in boxes alongside the soy milk.

Coconut-Lime Pulled Chicken Tacos »

Star Anise — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, September 29th, 2011

cinnamon star anise sugar syrup
Pretty to look at, but what do you do with it?

That about sums up how most of us feel about star anise. And that’s why it’s mostly been relegated to the backwaters of spice cabinets in the U.S.

What most people don’t realize is that star anise actually is a deliciously potent spice that can do amazing things for your cooking, especially for meat.

But first, the basics. Star anise is the fruit — yes, fruit — of an evergreen tree native to southern China (where most of it still is produced).

When dried, that fruit resembles a 1-inch, rust-colored star, usually with six to eight points. Each point contains a small, shiny seed.

Get the recipe for Cinnamon-Star Anise Sugar »

Storing Fruits and Vegetables — Fix My Dish

by in How-to, September 27th, 2011

storing fruits and vegetables
Twice a month, we’re giving readers a chance to ask Food Network Kitchens’ advice about an issue they’re having with a dish or a food item. They can’t re-formulate a recipe for you, but they’re happy to help improve it. This week’s question will help readers keep their produce longer.

Question: How can I keep fruits and veggies fresh until I use or cook them? I bought corn on the cob on Tuesday and by Friday, it had lost its moisture and taste. How do I extend the life of my produce? — Beth Patterson-Grinavic Kiessling

Find out the answer to Beth’s question »

10 Tips for Dining (or Not) With Picky Eaters

by in How-to, September 23rd, 2011

picky eaters
As a veteran mother of a picky eater who’s now five and a half, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to navigate the dinner table without either giving in to his demands or failing to nourish him properly. At certain points over the years I’ve left the table in order to take a deep breath in the other room, left the table to lie down on my bed for a moment in a quiet place where no one is saying “Yuck!” over and over and again while waving his napkin in the air, and left the table to work on the book I ended up writing about, yes, my picky eater and my own love of food and cooking. In fact, sometimes excusing yourself is the best way to deal with it. When it’s not, here’s a list of tips that I’ve discovered — through a lot of trial and error, needless to say — that make mealtime as painless as possible.

Get Melanie’s ten tips for picky eaters »

How to Select a Potluck Dish — A Great Big Meal

by in Entertaining, How-to, September 22nd, 2011

lazy lasagna potluck dish
At least once a month, my mom calls strictly to talk potlucks (we talk every couple of days, but these potluck calls are different from our regular, rambling conversations). We discuss what she has in her refrigerator, the produce that’s currently coming out of the garden and if there’s any theme for the potluck that she and my dad are scheduled to attend.

Over the years, we’ve created massive couscous salads, wintertime braises that can be made for cheap and salads constructed from shaved zucchini and mint. Though I can’t offer my potluck consulting services to everyone out there, here’s what I have in mind when dreaming up dishes with my mom.

Five must-have tips »

Mirin — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, Recipes, September 22nd, 2011

mirin short ribs
Mirin is all about getting sauced.

Because that’s where Japanese cooking wine really shines — in sauces.

But first, a misconception. The wretched American product known as “cooking wine” probably has you reluctant to try anything similar.

Relax and prepare for a delicious discovery. They are nothing alike.

Though once sipped similar to sake, today mirin is exclusively a cooking wine. The clear, viscous liquid has a clean yet intensely sweet-salty flavor.

Mirin-Marinated Short Ribs With Shiitakes and Egg Noodles »

Alex Eats: Peppers of All Kinds

by in Food Network Chef, How-to, September 20th, 2011

pepper variety
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

Sometimes I like to enjoy the full blast of a chile pepper and sometimes I want a mellower version. Hot peppers can be tamed by removing the seeds and slicing the ribs off the interior flesh. Try not to learn this lesson the hard way if you can help it: Wear gloves to protect your hands when cleaning chiles of their ribs and seeds. If you’ve ever touched the chile and then touched your eyes, you know what I’m talking about.

On one end of the heat spectrum, habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers are two of the hottest varieties. They are small and appear in various hues of green, yellow or red. Because they are so spicy, I use them sparingly in their raw form. I also love to slice and cover them with olive oil — it’s like a bottle of spice that naps in my fridge until I need it. Cooking them can also offer that tamed flavor. Sometimes I marvel at how floral spicy peppers can be underneath all that heat. A few paper-thin slices can brighten (and spice up) a light butter sauce for grilled fish or a hot marinade for other vegetables, such as eggplant, or meat.

Jalapeno, serrano, bell and wax peppers »

How to Be a Good Potluck Attendee — A Great Big Meal

by in How-to, September 15th, 2011

potluck bowl
In my early twenties, I moved from my hometown of Portland, Ore. to Philadelphia. It was a big move, made even more challenging by the fact that I only knew one person my own age in the entire city (as lovely as it was to be near my 86-year-old grandmother, eating dinner with her at 5 p.m. did not constitute a social life). I knew that my success in Philly was going to hinge in large part on finding friends as quickly as possible. So I got involved.

I hooked up with a cycling club (though my skills on two wheels were shaky at best), joined the Unitarian church down the street and started attending a book club. The reason I was most drawn to these particular gathering points? They all included regular potlucks.

Six ways to be a good potluck attendee »

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