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

Fiddlehead Ferns: A Rite of Spring

Fiddlehead ferns are a late-spring crop with a delicate flavor. They must be cooked before they're eaten or they can cause stomach discomfort. They must also be cleaned thoroughly, as they harbor lots of dirt. JoanN recently followed instructions to blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes to get rid of dirt and bacteria. "Not sure I'd done that before," she says, "but I will from now on. Was shocked at how much dirt and gunk was in the bottom of the pot. Even after rinsing and trimming."

downtownfoodie likes to treat fiddleheads very simply, to highlight their fresh flavor. He steams them over salted water for a few minutes, until not quite cooked, then sautés for another minute in butter, and finishes with a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt. GoodGravy gilds steamed and sautéed fiddleheads with cream seasoned with anchovies: Grind an anchovy or two with garlic in a mortar and pestle, reduce some cream, and stir in the anchovy-garlic mixture.

JoanN thinks fiddleheads and asparagus sautéed together in olive oil with slivered garlic make a lovely combination; squeeze lemon juice over all. And Passadumkeg notes that many asparagus recipes will work with fiddleheads. Cat123's favorite recipe is this fiddlehead chowder.

Discuss: ISO: Fiddlehead recipes

Blue Ribbon’s Comfort Food with Good Technique

The saying that you should only eat in a Chinese restaurant where Chinese people are eating is a cliché. But it's hard to dispute that a restaurant filled with great chefs is going to be top-notch. When Eric and Bruce Bromberg opened Blue Ribbon Brasserie in SoHo almost 18 years ago, the brothers kept the restaurant open late. Soon Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten were dropping by after work. They came for the bistro-style food, like the now-famous and much-copied marrow bones served with toast. Next the Brombergs opened Blue Ribbon Sushi, then Blue Ribbon Bakery and a handful of other New York restaurants. Now they have written the Blue Ribbon Cookbook: Better Home Cooking, filled with unpretentious dishes like fried chicken and steak and eggs. (Try out some of the recipes they gave us: Garlic Dill Pickles, Sautéed Calamari with Parsley and Garlic, Doughnut Muffins, and New York Strip Steak with Caramelized Shallots.) We talked with them about how they got here.

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Beans for Your Barbecue

Unlike New England–style baked beans, many recipes for the type served as a side to barbecued and grilled meats begin with canned beans, which are then doctored with other flavorings: bacon, garlic, onions, and beyond. Witness CHOW's Root Beer BBQ Beans. "I'd suggest making the beans at least a day or three ahead of time to let the flavors develop in the fridge," says porker.

nomadchowwoman begins with a can each of kidney, white, black, and baked beans, and seasons them with onions and garlic cooked in bacon fat, crumbled cooked bacon, mustard, cider vinegar, and brown sugar, baking it all together.

skippy66 calls these hot-and-smoky baked beans, made with chipotle chiles, "very good and very easy." Babs says Sue and Gloria's baked beans, which include crushed pineapple and barbecue sauce, are nice alongside pulled pork sandwiches.

Discuss: ISO – Barbeque or baked bean recipe

Hey, the First Ingredient Is “Beef Lips!”

Once you start peering at fruits for organic labels and checking food labels for high-fructose corn syrup, it gets a lot harder to just throw a bag of Whiskas in your grocery cart without thinking about it. Just what's in that bag of food you pour into a bowl each morning?

Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat, by Marion Nestle (What to Eat) and Malden Nesheim, peers into the pet food industry and advises the ethical animal owner. Nestle and Nesheim are in the middle of a book-reading tour (which includes a stop at the incomparable Omnivore Books in San Francisco on Saturday), but Nestle was able to take the time to answer some questions for CHOW by email.

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You Got Hazelnut Latte in My Oatmeal!

You Got Hazelnut Latte in My Oatmeal!

This week's mission: instant oatmeal, served haute. READ MORE

A Dandelion Patch in Your Kitchen

Dandelion greens can be eaten raw in salad if young and tender enough, or cooked like other bitter greens.

Gio grew up eating dandelion salad. "My mother used to say, 'Bitter in the mouth, sweet in the stomach,'" she says. "I suppose that made her feel better about serving the very homely greens to us. But, truth to tell, I loved the salad then and I still do. Just the greens—especially the tiny leaves from the center and the little unopened sweet buds, well washed, seasoned with salt and pepper, very good olive oil, and red wine vinegar."

corneygirl blanches dandelion greens, dresses them with red wine vinegar, and adds them to pizza with caramelized onions and blue cheese. Other hounds sauté them as they would other tender greens: with bacon and cider vinegar, or with anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Have dandelion greens for breakfast with CHOW's Wilted Greens with Balsamic Fried Eggs.

Discuss: Anybody else eating dandelion greens for dinner tonight?

Drug Booze

Drug Booze

This week's mission: Coca liqueur grabs your attention, but does it make a good drink? READ MORE

A Check on Rude Behavior

A Check on Rude Behavior

"Forgetting" cash and other questionable moves. READ MORE

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I love strawberries in salad. My favorite is spring mix with sliced strawberries, toasted sliced almonds, shredded poached chicken, and poppy seed dressing." – Yamalam

"I made brownies in my mini-muffin tin and they came out crusty and chewy—perfect!" – Ruth Lafler

"The yummiest burger I have made had the following: slow-roasted tomatoes with herbs, [salt and pepper], meat stuffed with blue or Gorgonzola, arugula, and a Dijon mustard." – JEN10

Checking Yelp’s Work

Frequent diners bitch a lot about user-generated reviews. Almost as much, in fact, as they complain about the reviews written by professional food writers. But few people do anything about it, which is what makes this Yelp semi-takedown by Tim Carman such an interesting read.

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