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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Refuse Dessert Politely

Refuse Dessert Politely

Don't resort to the Windex diet. READ MORE

Roger Ebert’s Rice Cooker Cookbook

Roger Ebert, famed movie critic, wrote an epic blog post in November of 2008, entitled "The Pot and How to Use It." No, it wasn't about putting crappy moves in the right place. It was an ode to the rice cooker. The blog post begat a book, entitled The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker, to be released in September. The product description explains how this "charming, practical guide ... contains numerous and surprisingly varied recipes for electric rice cookers." What it fails to mention is that, after thyroid cancer surgery four years ago, Ebert can no longer speak or eat. He uses a feeding tube. READ MORE

Grilled Corn Your Way

Grilled corn on the cob is delicious, any way you make it. There's a variety of methods for whole ears; use whichever suits your personal taste.

Some hounds soak the ears in their husks in water before grilling, removing the silk or not. This forestalls the possibility of the husks catching fire. Davwud removes the loose ends of the husk and cuts the silk down to the top of the ear before soaking. Grilled in the soaked husk, the corn "takes on a very nice grassy taste," he says.

Others grill the corn in the husk without soaking or removing the silk first. "I just put the unopened ears over moderate heat," says alanbarnes, "and while the husks get plenty black, the corn itself is perfect, with small caramelized areas." jfood uses an oven mitt to strip off the husk after cooking. alanbarnes keeps a squirt bottle of water handy in case a husk catches fire.

gordeaux removes the silk before grilling, then slathers the corn with cold butter and ground chile before pulling the husk back over the corn.

Others grill corn after it has been husked. "You have to keep an eye on them and turn frequently," says spb, "but nothing beats a well browned ear of corn. All that sugar is caramelizing, producing tons of complex flavors and the smell of hot buttered popcorn."

Discuss: grilled corn question?

The Big Oreo Shocker

The Big Oreo Shocker

This week's mission: sugar-free sandwich cookies. READ MORE

Controversial Lunchables Strike Again

Controversial Lunchables Strike Again

This week's mission: The new Chicken + American Sub Sandwich. READ MORE

The Simple Goodness of Fresh Black-Eyed Peas

Fresh black-eyed peas star in a simple Southern preparation. shanagain cooks them in salted water with bacon, a whole garlic clove, and some diced onion, seasoning to taste as they cook. "If you have to shell them," she says, "leave some 'snaps'—about 1 1/2-inch long pea pods—in the mix." She also suggests using the cooked peas to make fried patties: Mash the peas a bit, season with minced garlic and onion and shallot, add just enough flour to bind the mixture, form into patties, and fry in bacon fat.

snix makes a slightly more complex dish, which he serves with rice: Sauté chopped onion, garlic, and celery in some bacon fat; add the peas, a ham hock, a bay leaf, and salt and pepper, and cover with stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook 45 minutes to an hour.

For a meatless alternative, try CHOW's Simmered Black-Eyed Peas with Tomatoes.

Discuss: Black eyed peas

Overheard on the Home Cooking Board

"If you can get them, I highly recommend water-cooked bamboo shoots packed in plastic. The product I buy, unlike tinned bamboo, is not cut, and consists of a large, soft bamboo shoot. I cut it myself into my desired size and add it to my dish while cooking, and the taste and texture are excellent." – vorpal

"In cooking, as in many things in life, consistency is everything. That chicken might look, smell, feel, and seem done, but there's no way of knowing until you check it with a thermometer." – jefskil

"Cook's Illustrated pie crust [uses] vodka. Never fails. Will make you look and taste like a culinary savant." – ipsedixit, on his favorite pie crust recipe

The World’s Greatest KC BBQ Video

Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne's got great flow, much love for his hometown, and an appreciation for barbecue that is ironclad and awe-inspiring. Below, in a video for "O.G.," he raps prolifically about 'cue, focusing on the food of local legend Ollie Gates: "I'm hella fine like the food at Ollie Gates / Strawberry baked bean mixed plate." Calvin Trillin, eat your heart out. READ MORE

Paper Wine List, Meet iPad Wine List

A few days ago a friend and I sat down to dinner at Barbacco, a San Francisco restaurant that happens to be known for its wine list. Our server came over to greet us, and pointed out the menu (this we knew how to use) and handed us a $500 piece of equipment (this we didn't know how to use). It was an iPad, and it was also the wine list.


Repeat After Me: Very, Very, Hot

Have you been gringoed? Do you order your food super spicy but end up being served food that barely makes you sniffle? There's a perception that "foreigners" don't really like spicy food, says PeterL. So if you're not the same race as the proprietors of the restaurant, you might have a hard time getting your spice fix satisfied.

"What you need to do is establish a relationship with your favorite restaurant. Once they get to know you and your taste, they'll get over that perception," says PeterL. therealdoctorlew uses this phrase: "I want it the way you make it in your country. I want it too hot for an American to eat." ipsedixit offers a tip that worked quite well and spawned a life-long friendship: "I ask the owner/chef if he (or she) enjoys spicy foods," says ipsedixit. "If the answer is 'yes' then I offer to buy him his favorite spicy dish on the menu—made exactly the way he likes it. My only request as part of this offer is that I get the same exact dish for me."

"I would reiterate the importance of becoming a 'regular' at a resto or two. If they know you, they'll come to know your tastes," says Perilagu Khan. "I would also encourage making direct eye contact with your waiter or waitress when asking for the heat, using a forceful tone of voice and even using your hands to stress the high level of heat you want."

Discuss: Spicy Etiquette