The CHOW Blog rss

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

When (Overt) Sexism Sold

The tag line: "Now she can cook breakfast again."
The image: A happy housewife making bacon, eggs, and coffee on the stovetop.
The product: Mornidine, a drug that reduces morning sickness.
READ MORE

Is This Really a “Lobster Dinner”?

Is This Really a “Lobster Dinner”?

This week's mission: a new frozen dinner with expensive ingredients and a "complete meal" claim. READ MORE

Risotto with a Cheesy Name

Risotto with a Cheesy Name

This week's mission: flavored risotto mixes on a mission to save the planet. READ MORE

Why You Shouldn’t Microwave a Lexus Airbag

Most people have snagged a few jollies microwaving a Peep, maybe a candle or two. But lo-fi video show "Is It a Good Idea To Microwave This?" has been throwing footballs, lava lamps, iPhones, and other things into the microwave with nary a worry for consequence for eight seasons. Here's a fun one from 2009: Is It a Good Idea to Microwave an Airbag?

How to Eat Fish Heads

Fish heads can be the tastiest bites of the fish—and they figure prominently in many cuisines. They're flavorful, for one thing—often more flavorful than the rest of the fish, says hillsbilly. But it's not just a flavor thing; fish heads also offer up textural interest, from the gelatinous bits to the delicate cheek meat to the slightly crunchy eyeballs. How do you eat them? Same way you eat ribs, says ipsedixit—"Just dig in. Bibs optional." Just eat little bits at a time, advises hillsbilly, and discard the bits of skull.

ozinboz follows this method: "Starting from the jaw, I pry off each bone that I can reach. When I find a bit of flesh that looks appetizing, I suck it off the bone. Anything that looks too gelatinous for my preference, I pile along with the rest of the discarded bones."

And don't be afraid of fish eyes, while you're at it. "The eyes of a fried fish are considered prime parts in some cultures," says JungMann. "I spent years patiently satisfying my hunger on fatty, soft cheeks or the rich flesh on the foreheads of the fish whilst I awaited the honor of chowing down on the crunchy, nutty bits that normally went to my grandparents and sundry dignitaries."

"At home I dust salmon fish heads in corn flour and quickly deep-fry, then set aside while I make a sauce. I like sweet and vinegary," says hillsbilly. "My son is 7; this is our treat we eat together. Husband and other kids aren't interested. We like it like that."

Discuss: fish heads

Pressed Duck for Those Mad Men Dinner Parties

Duck à la presse, or simply "pressed duck," showed up frequently on fancy menus in the 1960s, but it's unusual to see it on menus today. For one thing, it requires somewhat elaborate equipment: namely, a duck press. "The ones I remember were all silverplate and elaborately chased," says Caroline1. "I kept asking myself, 'Who has room for one of those in their kitchen?' A little voice would answer, 'Anyone who can afford a private chef to use it and a butler to polish it, idiot!' And the little voice was right."

It is delicious, though. "Basically, pressed duck is roasted duck with a blood gravy sauce," says Caroline1. "Blood was a very common (and deliciously nutritious) thickener in sauces a couple of hundred years ago when most people still did their slaughtering at home." If you don't raise your own ducks and slaughter them yourself (enabling you to gather some fresh blood for the gravy), a duck press is the way to get at the blood remaining in a pre-slaughtered duck in order to make blood gravy. It's a huge pain, though, and not really worth the trouble, says Caroline1. "If I'm ever hit with a wild compulsion to have pressed duck again, I will look for a restaurant that deals with the mess," she says.

Discuss: Duck À La Presse –An old classic getting a revival?

Eat Your Cattails

Cattails are the next cool foraged food, writes BostonZest on Serious Eats. Picking some up from the Silverbrook Farm stand in Boston, BostonZest says they taste like cucumber crossed with zucchini, and that "The US Forest Service says this plant has been called the 'Supermarket of the Swamp'" for its versatility. READ MORE

Silver Palate Pasta Sauce

coll bought some Silver Palate pasta sauce on sale at the grocery store, thinking of using it for lazy emergencies. But it turns out to be pretty tasty even as a nonemergency food.

"They are so good that my husband, who grew up with two Italian grandmothers living in the same house, comments how good they are every time I make them," says coll. shoelace agrees. The basic marinara sauce is "out of this world." Most jarred pasta sauces have an unpleasant sweetness reminiscent of preservatives, but the Silver Palate stuff doesn't, says shoelace. "This was the first jarred marina that I've actually finished the bottle—so so yummy," says shoelace.

Discuss: Silver Palate Grocery Products, especially their jarred sauce.....a heads up!

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"'Edible alkali' probably refers to kansui, which contains sodium and potassium carbonates. It gives a characteristic texture and yellowish color to noodles; ramen noodles, in particular." – Tenorissimo

"A molded salad (also called Jell-O salad) is one of those things that people make with gelatin (or sometimes aspic) and fruits and/or vegetables. Housewives would have an arsenal of salad molds in different shapes for different occasions (see eBay!). Normally they are associated with Mormons (I know because I grew up in Utah) but in the past they were really popular everywhere. Often they would have weird stuff suspended inside them (hot dogs, pretzels, marshmallows, nuts, etc.)." – barcelonabites

"[S]everal things come to mind: smoked fruit, 'grilled cheese' dessert sandwiches, grilled pound cake slices with cream cheese frosting, grilled corn ice cream." – goodhealthgourmet, on suggestions for a "bizarre-becue"

Hooked on Flavor Crystal

Articles about the flavoring industry are like articles about cheerleaders—titillating yet comforting in their totally-not-surprising thrills. Via the Wall Street Journal comes an article that could have been written at least five years ago, about how Americans are really into intense flavors now, including Latin ones and Asian ones. READ MORE