Maybe it’s the color, the heartlike shape, or our frost-season longing for spring, but strawberries are a Valentine’s tradition, and there’s no going back, no matter how many locavores exhort us to eat the calendar. But instead of acting as if the strawberries we’re dipping in bittersweet chocolate are ripe and sweet, we should at least acknowledge the hard truth: February strawberries are inevitably tart, firm, and white-shouldered. That’s what inspired CHOW photographer Chris Rochelle when he came up with this cold-season trio, in which he simmers the berries or otherwise takes advantage of their lemony tang. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, say hello to our new February crush, the rugged, off-ripe strawberry. –John Birdsall READ MORE
You've got a Dutch oven and a desire for tender braised meat in a deeply flavored sauce. With Chowhounds' advice on braising basics—from the best way to brown the meat to how much liquid to use and a cool trick for preventing it from cooking away—you'll be cooking up delicious, hearty dishes to get you through the winter.
Is it really worth it to spend a lot of money on fancy coffee beans? What are you actually paying for? Find out how important top-quality beans are to a great cup of coffee, compared to grind, brewing, and other factors, and get tips on how to find beans you'll really love.
If Cornish game hens look like miniature chickens, it's because that's exactly what they are—young birds of no more than a couple of pounds. You can cook them using any method you would for chicken, adjusting the cooking time, but Chowhounds' favorite approaches include deep-frying them whole and pairing them with fruit or Moroccan spices.
Hot chile paste (lajiao jiang) and hot bean paste (ladouban jiang) add fire and depth to Sichuan cooking. But what kind should you buy when you're in the Chinese market facing shelves full of different packages? Get brand recommendations, descriptions, and even pictures of hounds' favorite jars and cans—handy for adventurous chefs who can't read Chinese!
Carrots are a kitchen staple, a background player flavoring stocks and sauces and adding color to salads and stir-fries, but they're worthy of a starring role on the table. There are a world of possibilities for showcasing them, from spicy dips and salads to roasted and glazed dishes that play up carrots' natural sweetness.
Can electric stoves get a wok hot enough to stir-fry perfectly without boiling or steaming? Find out how different woks perform on electric ranges, and how to stir-fry right—and also what to do if your cooking oil turns into a ball of fire.
They're no giant squid, but the specimens with eight-inch-long bodies frequently found frozen at Asian markets offer up different possibilities than the little guys used for flash-fried calamari rings. Try stuffing them, braising them in wine, poaching them for salads, or cutting them into steaks and sautéing them.
There are almost as many kinds of mortar-and-pestle combinations as there are cuisines, from course granite to Japanese ridged ceramic to smooth laboratory glass. Which of the many mortars and pestles work best for grinding spices, garlic, and more? Learn how the different materials stack up.