Food Hacks Features

Polenta vs Grits: Why Grits Wins (Even When a Recipe Calls for Polenta)

Polenta can cause risotto-like anxiety for the most experienced cook. First of all, making polenta is time-consuming—it can often take upwards of 45 minutes (unless you use this shortcut). And in the midst of this long cooking time, you're constantly stirring to keep the polenta from becoming lumpy. Even after taking the utmost of care, the polenta can still turn out too loose, too firm, or too grainy.

How To: Why You Should Always Save Parmesan Rinds

There are certain ingredients that chefs regularly use to elevate their food beyond the status of what us mere mortals can create. Shallots are one. Good, real Parmesan cheese is another. And the rind of that real Parmesan cheese just so happens to be one of the culinary world's biggest kept secrets.

Decoding Produce Stickers: The Hidden Meaning Behind Fruit & Vegetable Labels

Like Costco's price codes or the tags on your bread, the numerical codes printed on those sticky little fruit and vegetable labels can reveal a lot of information to us consumers. Once you understand the codes, you can look at that little label (also known as PLU, or "price look up" label) and know whether the produce you're about to buy or eat was treated with pesticides, genetically modified, both, or neither. Before we go any further with deciphering the codes on these labels, let's take a...

How To: Skip the Oven—Microwave Your Fish

Fish are delicate, flaky, and can be damn tricky to cook; more often than not, you end up with a hard, dry block of flesh that makes your taste buds sad. And the best ways to cook fish that you know of—c'mon, who doesn't love a fried fish—take way too much effort for you to bother with on a weeknight. Or maybe you're looking for a healthier way to enjoy fish that doesn't require batter or frying at all.

How To: Ripen an Avocado in 10 Minutes or Less

Summer cookouts and barbecues come with a lot of delicious foods, but to me, there's nothing better than dishes heaped with avocados. From guacamole to simply eating an avocado right out of its skin, I devour this fruit constantly—but it's one that can be tricky to find perfectly ripe.

How To: The Ultimate Guide to Making a Kickass Meat & Cheese Plate

Whether it's college football, the NFL, basketball, soccer, or baseball, sporting events are prime opportunities to entertain. No matter what the sport, food that's easy to eat is a must. Your guests should be able to mingle, eat, and talk trash... all at the same time! So a meat and cheese plate—also known as a characuterie board— is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

How To: Make Cheese Fondue Without a Fondue Pot

Fall is the time for comfort foods—and what is more comforting than crusty bread slathered in melted cheese? Owning a fondue pot is both convenient and wonderful, but not all of us have the luxury of space for nonessential kitchen appliances. However, there are plenty of ways to make an absolutely delicious, lump-free fondue without the traditional equipment.

How To: Make Homemade Jerky Without a Dehydrator

Jerky is one of the tastiest snacks in existence. It's packed with richness, saltiness, and spiciness, and it's one of those things that you can't stop eating once you start. It's also fairly expensive, unless you're opting for the gas station variety which is… er… jerky in the same way that Folgers is coffee.

Ingredients 101: How to Salt Your Food Like the Pros

In order to make your food taste good, your favorite restaurant is most likely using way more salt than you think they are (among other pro secrets). Which is why when you ask just about any professional cook what the biggest problem with most home-cooked meals are, they almost always answer that they're "undersalted" or "underseasoned." (In cooking lingo, to "season" food means to salt it.)

How To: Make Garlic-Infused Olive Oil & Vinegar at Home

Garlic—it stinks so good! It's one of nature's most wondrous foods, being both delicious and incredibly healthy. What's not to love? Well, it is kind of a pain to prep, whether you're peeling a couple of cloves for a sauce or a whole head and trying to mince it finely. One way to get around the whole peeling and mincing issue every time you want garlic in a dish is by buying pre-made garlic-infused olive oil, except that stuff is pretty pricey. Learn to make it at home and you'll get all the ...

How To: Make Copycat Trader Joe's Spices at Home

The spice selection at Trader Joe's is both inexpensive and truly top-notch. According to their site, they deal with some of the highest-quality spice manufacturers in the world and, in working with them directly, they eliminate hidden costs spent on promotions, brand-building, and advertising. This allows the customer to experiment with new flavors and build up their spice rack—without the usual limiting factor of high cost. If you don't have access to a Trader's in your culinary neck of the...