Food Hacks Features

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: 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 Delicious Thai Sticky Rice Without a Steamer or Rice Cooker

If you're a fan of Thai food, I'm sure you're familiar with sticky rice. There is something so special about its chewy texture and sweet flavor. If you have a desire to make it in your own kitchen but don't have the proper tools such as a traditional bamboo basket or stackable steamer, there are several other methods that work just as well. Once you try these alternative methods, I'm sure you'll be "sticking" to them for a while. What Makes Sticky Rice So Sticky?

Velveting Meat: The Best-Kept Chinese Restaurant Secret

One of my favorite things about American Chinese food is how easy it is to eat: the pieces are bite-sized, the flavors are addictive, and the meat is always tender and easy to chew. But if you've ever tried to replicate any of your favorite takeout in the kitchen, you've likely noticed that the high heat required for most recipes thoroughly dries out the meat that you're trying to cook.

How To: Shuck an Oyster Without an Oyster Knife

There are few kitchen tools as elusive as the oyster knife. Many people—even seafood lovers—don't own one. If you do own one, it probably gets used so infrequently that it gets sent to the very back of the shelf where it proceeds to get lost. Then you accidentally find the knife once a month when you don't need it, but can't for the life of you find the sneaky little thing when you do need 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: 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.

Ingredients 101: How & Why You Should Clarify Butter

Unless you're vegan or lactose intolerant, butter is an indispensible ingredient. However, butter is no one-trick pony. It can take many forms that make it even more versatile and useful in the kitchen. Clarified butter has many advantages over regular butter—but there are certain cases where you shouldn't use it. More on that later.

How To: The Ultimate Potato Cheat Sheet: Which Potato Goes Best with What?

I've been a fan of potatoes ever since I can remember... but mainly because they weren't a big part of my daily diet (which usually consisted of rice). And because my experience with potatoes was so limited, I only knew of two varieties growing up: big, brown Russets and sinewy sweet potatoes. As for cooking with potatoes—well, I'm embarrassed to admit that the only time I cooked potatoes when I was a kid was with the instant kind.

How To: Yes, You Can Make Frosting with Jello—And It's Amazing

Frosting, for many, is the best part of the cake. There's not much to dislike about it, after all—there's a type of frosting for every person. Whipped frostings for those who like it light, dense buttercream for indulgent sugar fans, cream cheese frosting for the tangy crowd... and so on. But I'll bet you've never made or tried frosting made with Jell-O packages before! Infusing your frosting with the sweetness and bright color of Jell-O changes both its taste and appearance, and using Jell-O...

How To: Don't Have a Special Cupcake Pan? Here's How to Bake Cupcakes and Muffins Without One

Love or hate 'em, you've got to admit that cupcakes really had their moment. They started rising in popularity back in 2003 with the opening of Crumbs Bake Shop in Manhattan, and quickly became one of the most annoyingly ubiquitous food trends to date. Seriously. Type "cupcake" into Google. While I wouldn't turn it down if you put one in front of me (red velvet, please), I can't say that I was particularly disappointed to hear that the cupcake trend is coming to an end. I'm more of a cheeseca...

How To: Everything You Need to Know About Cooking with Plantains

The produce section is full of fruits, both familiar and quite strange. Depending on the season, you may see giant, bright-green bananas on display next to the normal bananas that you know and love. No, those aren't super-unripened bananas—they're plantains, and they are definitely a different fruit altogether. However, once you get to know them a little better, you'll find that they're much more fun to cook with.

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...