Ingredient Explainers and Swaps
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5 Quick Tips for Choosing Winter Squash
The arrival of winter squash, in all of its many shapes, sizes, and colors, signals not only a change of seasons, but also a desire for heartier food. Since winter squash is consistently on our shopping lists these days, it’s useful to know just exactly what to look for at the farmers market or grocery store to ensure we buy the best butternut or acorn or spaghetti squash possible. Here are five tips to always keep in mind. Pick up that squash and feel the weight of it in your hands.
Oct 10, 2017
What’s the Deal with Air-Chilled Chicken?
You've probably noticed air-chilled chicken in the meat case. Here's what it is.
Sep 13, 2017
Here’s How to Pick the Best Carton of Strawberries
There isn’t really anything sweeter than the arrival of strawberry season. For me, it not only marks the arrival of fresh fruit after a long, cold winter of imported citrus and cellared apples, but it’s also the kickoff to all the berries and stone fruit that’s soon to arrive. Now’s the time to binge on cartons of strawberries until your fingers are stained and your belly is stuffed. Here’s how to buy the best of the best, because the season is too short not to.
Jun 17, 2017
3 Ways to Use Dates as a Substitute for White Sugar
Dates are a powerhouse sweetener. Not only are they naturally high in sugar and fiber, but their sweetness also has distinct caramel-like flavor that just cannot be replicated. However, when it comes to replacing dates for white sugar in cooking and baking, a simple one-for-one swap isn’t always possible. But dates can be manipulated into a few baking-friendly forms and replace white sugar in everything from salad dressing to cookies.
Jun 13, 2017
4 Ways to Make Bland Strawberries a Lot Sweeter
Even when you know just what to look for when picking out a carton of strawberries, there is no true guarantee for that sweet, juicy flavor you expect from prime summer berries. If you’re faced with bland berries, fear not — there is still hope. Here are four easy ways to make bland strawberries a whole lot sweeter. The quickest, easiest path to sweeter strawberries is tossing them with a spoonful of sugar (or sugar substitute, if you prefer).
Jun 6, 2017
7 Ways to Add More Vegetables to Your Stew & Chili
When it comes to hearty winter stews and braises, meat tends to be the main ingredient of this warming meal, but that doesn’t mean you should discount vegetables. Not only do they complement and balance the meatiness of stews and chilis, but it’s a wonderful way to pack more (and more!) vegetables into your comfort food. Whether the recipe calls for it or not, every stew can use another serving of veggies. Here are seven vegetables you should be adding to stews and braises right now.
Jan 12, 2017
8 Small Ingredients That Changed the Way We Cook in 2016
It’s an exciting thing for a passionate cook to discover a new ingredient. Just when we think we’ve seen it all, a new fruit or fat comes our way. Or maybe a new way of understanding a familiar ingredient is uncovered. Here are eight of those ingredients that either woke up our senses or taught us something new in 2016. Could we write this roundup without mentioning aquafaba, the craziest egg substitute that changed vegans’ lives forever? No!
Dec 26, 2016
The Difference Between Green, Napa, Red, and Savoy Cabbage
Go to the store with a “head of cabbage” on your list and you’ll see your choices are abundant. Gone are the days when a big orb of green cabbage was your only option. Now there are a whole slew of varieties readily available, all with great potential in the kitchen. So which one to choose? Here are the four most common types of cabbage out there and how to best use each. This is likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cabbage.
Nov 7, 2016
5 Ways to Use Grainy Mustard to Make Any Dish Pop
When it comes to mustard, the Germans have it right — keep several different types handy, and use it often. One of our favorites to always have at the ready is a jar of grainy mustard. Yes, it’s lovely spread on sandwiches and a must-have for sausage, but this tangy condiment can be the surprise addition that can bring almost any dish to life. A swipe of grainy mustard is the finishing touch you might not have realized your egg sandwich was craving.
Oct 21, 2016
The Best Oils for Roasting
Fat, specifically oil, is an essential component when roasting foods. Without it, you wouldn’t get that lovely crisp, brown caramelization that makes roasted veggies so amazing. There are so many different varieties, and the selection at stores only seems to be growing — so, which oil should you be using for roasting for both safety and flavor? From a safety standpoint, it’s important to understand the basics of an oil’s smoke point.
Oct 19, 2016
Why Is Pickled Ginger Served with Sushi?
Whether it’s the pink pickled ginger tucked next the plastic green grass in the sushi you pick up from the grocery store, or the pale, thin slices served at your favorite sushi joint, chances are you’re always going to find ginger of some sort next to your order. Ever wonder why? Us, too. So we did some digging for an answer. Traditionally, pickled ginger (or gari) is served as a palate cleanser during a meal made up of several courses of sushi.
Feb 12, 2016
Why Does Spinach Leave a Weird Film on Your Teeth?
I’m a spinach fan and love that it cooks quickly so I can stir it into eggs, pasta, stews, soups, or just about anything I choose. What I don’t love, however, is that strange film it leaves on my teeth. You know what I’m talking about — that unpleasant coating that’s both dry and chalky. “Spinach teeth” is such a weird phenomenon; where does it come from, and is there anything that can be done to minimize or prevent it?
Sep 28, 2015
A Visual Guide to the 7 Major Types of Canned Tomatoes
A lot of recipes rely on canned tomatoes for flavor, acidity, richness, liquid, and so much more. Canned tomatoes are definitely a pantry staple we can’t live without, especially when it’s the middle of winter and there aren’t any good fresh tomatoes to be found. The canned tomato aisle at the grocery store is pretty impressive, with so many varieties and brands competing for your attention. How is each kind made, and how is it best used?
Sep 24, 2015
How Is Skim Milk Made?
Sometimes my fridge contains too many varieties of milk — whole milk for my toddler, 2% low-fat milk for the other kids who hang out here, and skim milk for my husband. Seeing the lineup got me thinking recently: How exactly do you get all the fat out of skim milk, and is that the only difference between it and the other kinds of milk? Skim milk goes by “skimmed milk” in the United Kingdom and Canada. It is also sometimes referred to as nonfat or fat-free milk.
Feb 10, 2015
What’s the Deal With Baobab?
I’d like to introduce you to baobab (bay-o-bab). Have you tried this unusual fruit yet? Here’s what it tastes like, and what you can do with it. Baobab is a native fruit from an upside-down looking “tree of life”in Africa. The revered tree can live for hundreds, even thousands of years. It never burns and can store water in its trunk, which can be tapped for release in times of drought.
Sep 30, 2014
Everything You Need to Know About Pluots
So, just what is this speckled fruit that looks like a plum and bears a similar, yet funny name? Pluots are a member of the (delicious!) stone fruit family. They are a hybrid fruit developed in the late 80s that are 75% plum and 25% apricot. They resemble plums with smooth skin, and a similar shape and texture. If you’ve never tasted a pluot you’re in for a treat! The flavor is intense, and I say that in the best way possible!
Jul 25, 2014
Love Scallops? Lucky You. They’re a Great Sustainable Seafood Choice.
Tell me if you’ve ever had this experience. You’re standing in front of the seafood case at the grocery store with a hankering for a quick and delicious dinner, but you are troubled by concerns about sustainability. Is any of this OK to eat? What about seasonality? Maybe chicken would just be a better choice? Don’t give up so easily! There are many smart choices in seafood, including one of my own favorite foods: scallops. Scallops are one of my favorite foods.
May 13, 2014
What’s the Difference Between Boxed, Canned, and Powdered Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is a pantry staple for us — there are so many delicious ways to cook with it! You can even make your own coconut milk at home. But if you’re buying it at the store, should you get the kind in a can or a box? What about BPA? And did you know it also comes in powdered and concentrated forms? We’ve sorted out the pros and cons of each.
May 1, 2014
10 Ways to Use Almost Any Spice Mix
When I asked you what ingredients you’d like to use more often this year, many of you said that you’d like to use new spices more frequently, and to branch out into spice mixes like curry and dukkah. But it also seemed like spices stumped you — how do you use them beyond a specific recipe? As silverylotus said: “I went out a bought a whole bunch of spices to make Indian curry, garam masala, cardamom, coriander seeds, turmeric. Now they are just sitting on my spice rack.
Feb 27, 2014
Solving a Mystery: Why Do Maple Syrup Containers Have Tiny Handles?
We’ve all seen them — those tiny handles on maple syrup jars. They’re too small to be functional, so what are they doing there? I know, I know … this question has been keeping you up at night, so I am about to put your mind to rest!
Jun 25, 2012