The CHOW Blog rss

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

BPA: It’s Not BP, But Still Bad

However much we’d all prefer to whip up delectable meals each day using local ingredients and wash them down with fresh water gurgling from a natural brook nearby, sometimes it's easier to grab a can of soup off the shelf, a bottle of water from the fridge, and call it dinner. But that soup can and water bottle are riddled with bisphenol A, a.k.a. BPA. It's the main compound in epoxy resin linings, present in plastics and canned goods, has been found in studies to lead to cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and is especially harmful to babies and children. The FDA, after years of proclaiming BPA's harmlessness, is now on the bandwagon along with fearful consumers and researchers, committing $30 million in federal stimulus funds to investigate the consequences of consuming BPA; it will release a report at the end of next year. READ MORE

Where Good Food, Drink, and Soccer Collide

Game one: South Africa vs. Mexico. Kickoff is bright and early Friday morning (if you're on the West Coast, at least). Decisions must be made, but don't get your broekie in a bunch. You want to slurp down some dop and have some lags with your chommas, sure, but you know you'll be too gesuip to work after unless you can eat some boerewors while watching the South Africa vs. Mexico game. We've got you covered on the breakfast front. (Translation for those of you not hip to South African slang: panties, beers, laughs, friends, plastered, sausage.)



Consult our list of locations that feature soccer plus food and drink. READ MORE

A Krinkle in Time

A Krinkle in Time

This week's mission: Finally, Burger King fries you can microwave at home. But will you want to? READ MORE

Where Old Packaging Goes to Die

It seems such a shame to just throw away those gorgeously colored food packages. Why, that picture on the label is practically a still life. Isn't there something useful that can be done with them?

Etsy seller clickit says yes, filling her Etsy storefront with notebooks made from recycled packaging. What parent wouldn't be proud to send his or her child to school with a Natural Light legal-size notebook? I kid. I would of course use it to look sophisticated at work meetings.

Recycled Notebooks, $4 to $7

World Tour, Starring Shrimp

Shrimp are almost universally popular, cook quickly, and are used in the cuisines of many nations.

JoanN loves shrimp and mushrooms in spicy black bean oyster sauce. "I always used to order this in restaurants," she says, "but this recipe surpasses anything I've ever had." Chinese-style shrimp with scrambled eggs is a weeknight favorite of mc22, who says it's "so easy and good and comforting!"

BeefeaterRocks is a fan of New Orleans–style barbecue shrimp, which he serves with cheese grits, while MrsCheese likes this grilled New Orleans–style shrimp with rice.

"Never would have put rosemary with shrimp until this recipe," MrsCheese says of these grilled rosemary-garlic shrimp, "but it's wonderful." Also wonderful are these
lemongrass-ginger grilled shrimp, says goodeatsgal.

For a "stupid easy and fast" recipe, according to corneygirl, peel shrimp; mix yogurt, curry powder or harissa to taste, and a bit of sugar, and add shrimp; broil until done. LaLa calls these black pepper shrimp "super easy, super good."

And a couple of hounds recommend Ina Garten's baked shrimp scampi.

Discuss: Favorite shrimp recipes please

Using the Cool Crunch of Jicama

Jicama is slightly sweet and adds appealing crunch to salads and other recipes.

Becca Porter likes jicama cut into thick matchsticks, sliced Granny Smith apple, two or three supremed oranges and their juice, a couple of limes worth of juice, cilantro, and a pinch of salt. ajcraig makes a slaw of shredded jicama and Granny Smith apples, and also likes jicama with mango, chile, and lime.

ipsedixit makes a salad of julienned jicama, daikon, celery, and carrots, dressed with rice wine vinegar, grated ginger, diced garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.

mandycat likes this New Mexico chopped salad with grilled steak or chicken, and faddyarbuckle eats mango, jicama, and black bean salsa as a salad.

Recipes for cooked jicama are not common, but BeefeaterRocks uses it in stir-fry recipes in place of water chestnuts, and bushwickgirl likes jicama and yucca grated, made into little cakes, and fried.

Discuss: Jicama – how do you use it?

Contrast and Conquer

Contrast and Conquer

This week's mission: A salty snack marries its sweetie. READ MORE

One Simple Trick Makes Perfect Cheesecake

There are several techniques that will ensure cheesecake success, but bozoyoyo has discovered a simple trick that results in a superior cheesecake: Use cold water for the water bath the cake bakes in. "My cheesecake was more evenly baked with the cold water," he says.

todao explains, "Baked goods prepared in cake pans cook from the outside rim to the center, meaning that the outside of the preparation cooks faster than the center. Using a water bath helps to equalize the distribution of heat." Using hot water accelerates the heat gain at the rim, so it will still bake more quickly than the center; cold water "retards the heat rise in the cheesecake, allowing it to more evenly absorb the heat," todao says.

There is a way to get a creamy, nonbrowned cheesecake with no cracks without a water bath, says chowser: Bake it overnight at a low temperature, as in this recipe.

Discuss: cheesecake, cold water bath

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"Here's an Italian idea to use blossoms without frying: Chop blossoms into thin strips crossways. Sauté quickly in [extra virgin olive] oil with a small amount of finely chopped garlic. If you add too much garlic you will not taste the blossoms. Cool and mix with fresh ricotta and some grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and serve as a dip with crusty bread or spread on crostini." – madonnadelpiatto, on squash blossoms

"Wash them, cut 'x's on them, toss them in olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Now, toss them in a HOT cast iron skillet (already heated in a 400-degree oven) and bake till they are tender and 'exploded.' Fantastic." – Beckyleach, on freshly dug potatoes

"In all, how much pasta you use is entirely up to you. There is no correct answer. It depends on what place you give it in the rest of the meal. Is it only for lunch? Or as a first course in an elaborate evening menu? Then you will probably use less pasta than if you're planning to eat it as a single course for dinner. It also depends on what other ingredients you will use. If you use a heavy meat sauce you will probably need less pasta than if you use fresh clams." – damiano

Denny’s Is Japanese for Awesome

If you've never seen the Dadaist science fiction masterpiece known as Demolition Man, a) you're missing out, and b) you won't be familiar with the movie's thought experiment that in the future, every restaurant—even the fanciest purveyor of haute cuisine—will be Taco Bell, a result of that chain's triumph in the fast food wars of the present day.

Pause for video clip: