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

Cave-Man Cooking, but Chic

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Josh Skenes juxtaposes primitive and modern at Saison. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

Quorum Call

Quorum Call

When not enough people RSVP, is it OK to cancel a party? READ MORE

Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Haute macaroni and cheese with ingredients like Gorgonzola and truffle oil can be a delicious treat, but sometimes classic, creamy cheddar-rich mac 'n' cheese is what you want.

Several hounds are fans of Alton Brown's stovetop macaroni and cheese, which is made creamy with eggs and evaporated milk. Jen76 prefers to tweak CHOW's stovetop recipe by using buttermilk in place of half-and-half, and smoked paprika instead of hot sauce. "This is as easy to make as the boxed stuff," she says, "but so much better."

"I love a traditional mac 'n' cheese made with a bechamel sauce," says bear. Of Gourmet magazine's classic macaroni and cheese bear says, "If you use extra sharp cheddar, it is incredibly flavorful and cheesy even though it only has one kind of cheese." She's also a fan of this Martha Stewart recipe, in which she uses dry mustard instead of nutmeg.

Discuss: Simple and delicious mac and cheese recipe?

Grocery Store as Tourist Destination

Cutesy, perfect, so crowded that shopping there is like a contact sport, Bi-Rite would be easy to loathe if it weren't so great. A retro-50s looking grocery store in San Francisco's Mission District, Bi-Rite is the brain child of Sam Mogannam: a former downtown chef, who had the idea of putting a serious kitchen inside his father's old grocery store to create restaurant-quality prepared foods for the deli counter. The results were ambitious and good: on any given day, you'll find delicious versions of things like chicken meatballs, fava-parmesan dip, bbq ribs, and lamb stew, as well as homemade charcuterie, house-smoked salmon sliced to order, and their own bacon. READ MORE

The Depression Diet: Are You Gonna Eat That?

Apropos of nothing in particular (perhaps the looming and sort of terrifying background unemployment rate?), Consumerist asked its readers to chime in with the sickest things they've done to save money. The result is a culled-down list of 27 that should make even those of us who are experiencing fiscal lean times give a little involuntary shudder of gratitude. READ MORE

Fruit Salad in a Fancy Dress

With the bounty of summer fruits available, fruit salad is often on the menu. Perk it up by adding a dressing that complements the fruity flavor.

Simple syrup infused with spices that complement the fruit makes a nice dressing. janniecooks likes to use cardamom with citrus fruits, and mamueller steeps fresh ginger in simple syrup.

For creamy dressings, yogurt is a popular base. Sweeten it with a bit of honey or brown sugar, and flavor with citrus zest if you like. phoenikia likes a dressing of yogurt, honey, lime, and crystallized ginger. For a richer dressing, cheesymama uses crème fraîche with maple syrup.

Filipino fruit cocktail is dressed with blended condensed milk and cream cheese for a sort of cheesecake flavor, and tossed with shredded young coconut and brightly colored agar for textural contrast and color, says JungMann.

For a fruit salad with a slightly alcoholic tingle, try CHOW's Melon Salad with Sweet Wine and Lemon

Discuss: Dressing for fruit salad?

How to Get Your Clams Squeaky Clean

Clams can harbor grit that makes eating unpleasant, so it's worth the extra step to soak before cooking in order to purge them.

Many sources recommend adding cornmeal to the soaking water to help the process along. "I used to use cornmeal to purge clams," says JoanN, "until I read Rick Moonen on the subject. He says that cornmeal works just fine; the clams exchange whatever impurities they may have inside for the cornmeal. But then, when you go to cook the clams, you've got polenta." Now JoanN uses about 1/4 cup of coarse salt per quart of soaking water, for about half an hour. "Works fine," she says. "No polenta."

"Some bivalves are dirtier them others," notes MGZ. "Therefore, how long they must sit in the water will vary. Typically, I change the water now and again and look to see if there's sand in the bottom of the tub. If not, it's time to eat."

You can soak wild mussels the same way, but cultivated mussels are usually grit-free and don't need soaking.

Discuss: Grit in my clams – and what didn't work to clean it out

Overheard on the Home Cooking Board

"I always wash berries and cherries before freezing. But I also drain well and dry with dish towels. Then I put them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze—this way they don't stick to each other—when frozen solid, transfer to a bag or other container."– Junie D

"One of my easiest summer pastas is to put olive oil, chopped ripe tomatoes, fresh shredded basil with some salt and pepper in a big serving bowl. Cover it and let it sit at room temp a few hours before serving. Cook fusilli, cavatappi, or cappelletti. While that cooks toss some lemon zest and lemon juice, plus a soft cheese like ricotta or Brie into the bowl. Pour drained pasta over and mix." – hotoynoodle

"[J]uice three Granny Smith apples and add to your lemonade for a tart kick. You can reduce the sugar somewhat due to the sweet-tartness of the apples. Green apple lemonade is addictive." – CDouglas

What the *&@#%!$ Should I Do with All This Lettuce?

Why relegate lettuce to salads when you can roll it up into a fat blunt and smoke it?!

Let me explain.

When researching new ways to use lettuce in the kitchen (sick as I was of green salads as a dinner table staple), I came across quite a few wild lettuce chat boards filled with comments about the sedative and narcotic effects of the lowly plant we chomp on as an appetizer or palate cleanser. Wild lettuce is a cousin of the leaf lettuces we eat on a regular basis. Suddenly my ideas of lettuce soup and braised lettuce seemed so lame. READ MORE

The People’s Farm

The Free Farm on Gough Street in San Francisco is a radical idea. The gist: an empty lot in a sorta sketchy part of town that is being cultivated by volunteers who give all the food away for free to the community, both on site and on Saturdays in the Mission at a Free Farm stand. READ MORE