Ideas, advice, and what to make now from the Chowhound community and CHOW editors.
If you're not wild about the taste of commercial veggie burgers, or would prefer to avoid the heavily processed soy that's often their main ingredient, there's good news: It's pretty simple to make your own using whole foods like beans, grains, and nuts—and the seasoning options are almost endless. Try these seven recipes loved by users of Chowhound's Vegetarian and Vegan discussion board:
1. The "amazing" vegetable-heavy vegan burgurs from Serious Eats are "a little involved, but totally worth it." –CulinaryColleen
2. These Indian-spiced red lentil burgers are seasoned with plenty cumin, garam masala, onion, and cilantro. Serve them with naan with a dollop of yogurt. –jules127
3. Vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskovitz's beet burgers, which are bulked up with brown rice and lentils, freeze very well. –ljamunds
4. This black bean-based recipe also has beets. It's even better with chipotle chile added. –MplsM ary
5. Almonds and sunflower seeds join the Southwestern flavors of chile powder, cumin, and oregano in this recipe. –Jetgirly
6. Black beans and cornmeal are the base for Chloe Coscarelli's Mexicali sliders. –noya
7. Mark Bittman's nut burger recipe is a flexible set of guidelines that makes it easy to play with different flavor combinations. –GilaB
Discuss: Best Homemade Veggie Burger Recipe
Photo of CHOW's Black-Eyed Pea Vegan Burgers by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com
The difference between baby back ribs and so-called St. Louis ribs is not in the method of preparation, but in the cut of meet, hill food says. St. Louis ribs are spareribs that have been trimmed down to remove the "rib tips," mike0989 says; spare ribs are located near the belly of the pig, where the flavorful bacon comes from. (Rib tips themselves are beloved by Chowhounds like lemons and hill food, who consider them a delicious treat.)
Baby back ribs, on the other hand, come from the back side of the pig, near the loin, mike0989 says. mike0989 prefers St. Louis ribs, as they are more substantial; either baby back or St. Louis ribs can be interchanged in recipes, adjusting the cooking times as needed. But baby backs won't stand up to long smoking and actually do better with less cooking, 9lives says, which may be why they are more common at chain restaurants.
Discuss: St. Louis vs. baby back ribs
Photo by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com
Unlike regular scissors, which only have two blades, herb shears have six or even ten blades spaced evenly apart, and can quickly snip even segments of herbs. But are they a useful tool you'll reach for again and again, or should you just stick with knives and scissors?
While they're not at all necessary, some cooks who lack confidence in their knife work might find these unitaskers useful, kaleokahu says. They effortlessly create unerringly fine cuts at perfectly uniform dimensions, if that's important to you—well, effortlessly if you don't count the cleaning, kaleokahu says. mbCrispyBits, however, finds they make the process of snipping up herbs less messy than using a cutting board.
A few drawbacks: if the herbs are wet from washing, they will stick to the shears, HillJ says. A few turns in a salad spinner and some time on dry paper towels can help with this, but even herbs that are dry on the outside will stick to the many blades of the herb shears if they release moisture during the cutting, HillJ says. Ultimately, HillJ finds them to be a big waste of time and money.
Most Chowhounds opt to use a cutting board and a sharp knife to chop herbs—and some, like Isolda, use a pair of single-bladed scissors to snip chives and other herbs. Tinkerbell likes the effectiveness of an ulu (a curved-bladed knife with a curved bowl to chop in) for quickly chopping herbs with a rocking-back-and-forth motion.
Discuss: Are Herb Scissors Necessary?
Photo of herb shears and freshly snipped herbs by Flickr user mkreul under Creative Commons
Heads up, lovers of baked goods and reality-TV junkies. The new reality series The American Baking Competition premieres Wednesday, May 29, at 8 ET / 9PT on CBS.
The American Baking Competition is based on a hit show in the UK, The Great British Bake Off. The host for the American series is comedian Jeff Foxworthy (pictured, right). Judges are Chef Marcela Valladolid and baker Paul Hollywood (he’s also a judge on the British series). READ MORE
The pleasures of a sharp knife have motivated lots of home cooks to learn how to use a sharpening stone. Chowhound ukjason uses a well-soaked 1,000-grit water stone, carefully holding the knife at a 15-degree angle while honing. Still, even with a stone, ukjason can't get the blades as sharp as those on new knives fresh out of the box. Is it possible to achieve factory-level sharpness at home?
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with ukjason's sharpening method, tanuki soup says on Chowhound. But with practice and a few tweaks, anyone should be able to become a honing master. READ MORE
Black and white peppercorns are both the fruit of the pepper plant, but they are processed differently. Black peppercorns are picked when almost ripe and sun-dried, turning the outer layer black. To produce white peppercorns, this outer layer is removed before or after drying, leaving only the inner seed. READ MORE
Great fried chicken is properly cooked so that it's crisp but greaseless outside and moist and juicy inside, with lots of flavor. Newly minted fried chicken cook lsmutko has the texture down, but appealed to Chowhounds for help in pumping up the flavor.
Most recipes call for seasoning the flour used to coat the chicken with dried spices like garlic powder and cayenne, as well as salt and pepper. However, wyogal thinks it's more important to heavily season the chicken itself, or its marinade if you use one. READ MORE
There are several berries of the genus Rhus that lend their tart flavor to culinary use, JungMann says, and all are commonly called sumac. The dark red sumac you might buy ground from a Middle Eastern grocery store is probably Rhus coriaria, JungMann says. Commonly known as Sicilian sumac, it grows wild all around the Middle East. It is harvested during periods of low rainfall, which improves the flavor, JungMann says. The tart citrus flavor adds brightness to roast chicken, and is welcome sprinkled liberally on tzatziki or cucumber salads, Caitlin McGrath says. It's a condiment that deserves to be used like salt and pepper, JungMann says: sprinkled on roasted potatoes or vegetables, dusted over hummus, added to lamb kebabs or meat pies, or mixed with olive oil and slathered on bread. READ MORE
Ground pork is a versatile ingredient that anchors a globe-spanning array of dishes. Try these seven recipes that Chowhounds love:
1. Aromatic flavors pack these pork meatball banh mi with all the trimmings. –suburban_mom
2. For a simpler dish, eat these Vietnamese grilled pork meatballs on their own or in lettuce wraps. –tcamp READ MORE
Knife storage is a perennial problem: How to keep knives accessible without damaging them, while avoiding injury to household members? A countertop knife block is a common solution. But what about a drawer insert to hold knives? That's what kengk has used for 15 years without problems; in his case, counter space is more valuable than drawer space. And that's the crux of the trade-off, hill food says: Are you more pressed for storage space or surface space?
DuffyH used a wooden drawer insert designed to hold individual knives, and found the drawbacks outweighed the benefits. Losing a drawer is a pain, but so is having to open a drawer to access your knives. Then there's the dulling issue. "Every time I pulled a knife from its slot, I could feel some drag," DuffyH says. "I'd rather dull my knives on food than wood."
There's an elegant solution to this dulling problem, however, as long as everyone with access to the drawer is diligent about safety: Store the knives sharp-side up, seattle_lee says.
Discuss: In-Drawer Knife Racks
Photo by Flickr member chadmagiera under Creative Commons