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Notes from the Test Kitchen

How We Licked Astronaut Ice Cream

Lifting the lid on CHOW.com's Test Kitchen to reveal the process behind the recipes.

Real astronaut ice cream is a freeze-dried mixture of fat, milk solids, and sugar—NASA loaded some onto Apollo 7 in 1968, but since then, it's mostly been a crisp-textured snack for kids in science museums. In an upcoming CHOW video series, we'll explore how to re-create the process at home. To develop the recipe for said video series, we had to figure out a way to approximate the taste and texture of astronaut ice cream without actually freeze-drying it. (Freeze-drying requires complicated, expensive equipment, such as a powerful vacuum chamber.) READ MORE

How We Found the Soul of Coffee Cake

Lifting the lid on CHOW.com's Test Kitchen to reveal the process behind the recipes.

What defines a coffee cake? How is it different from a regular loaf cake or quick bread? These were the questions in the CHOW Test Kitchen as we sat down to decide what recipes to develop for an upcoming Mother's Day feature.

Unlike our experience getting to the bottom of meatloaf, defining a "classic" coffee cake seemed easy. CHOW's recipe developers—Amy Wisniewski, Christine Gallary, and Lisa Lavery—all knew it as a rich cake with lots of nuts, sugar, and cinnamon on top. We all remembered Entenmann's crumb coffee cake—how hard would it be to take that model and push it? But then things got complicated. What about yeasted types? Do they count? What shape should our cakes take? READ MORE

Share Photos of CHOW Recipes, Get Featured on CHOW!

There are few things more rewarding than hearing about readers making and loving a CHOW recipe. But we can think of one: seeing it! So we invite you to submit your best photos of CHOW recipes to mychowrecipes@cbsinteractive.com.

We'll feature them on CHOW.com and link to your blog/Pinterest/Twitter/Tumblr etc.! And make sure to include your name so we can give you all the photo credits you deserve! Happy cooking.

Image source: Flickr member lesleyk under Creative Commons

How We Rediscovered Meatloaf

Each week we lift the lid on CHOW.com's Test Kitchen to reveal the process behind the recipes.

From a distance, meatloaf appears pretty standard. Look closer and you realize: No way. As evidence, take the following conversation from the CHOW Test Kitchen as we figured out what types of recipes to develop for an upcoming slideshow. READ MORE

How We Learned to Love the Pressure Cooker

Mention pressure cookers and we think of those 1970s urban legends of scalding pasta sauce exploding all over faces and avocado-green ranges. But seeing the appliances in constant rotation on competitive cooking shows like Top Chef made us in the CHOW.com Test Kitchen reconsider: Maybe it was time to stop fearing and start testing. READ MORE

How We Made Crazy Scotch Eggs

Each week we lift the lid on CHOW.com's Test Kitchen to reveal the process behind the recipes.

Holidays are the lifeblood of food media, but they're also a curse: You gotta cover them, but every year it becomes more and more challenging to come up with an interesting take. So thinking about this year's feature for Easter, we went through the rounds. Natural egg dyeing? Not really about cooking. Unexpected deviled eggs? Did it. Crazy Scotch eggs? Now that was something we'd never tackled.

The idea for Scotch eggs—hard-cooked eggs encased in a gooey layer of sausage, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried—came from CHOW.com photographer Chris Rochelle. He's long been obsessed with them, but they also happen to be really trendy: New York CHOW Report contributor Liza de Guia spotted them at Rye by the hundreds; Bon Appétit tagged them hot for 2012; and hey, so did we! READ MORE

How We Made Classy Jell-O Shots

Each week, we lift the lid on CHOW.com's Test Kitchen to reveal what our recipe developers are working on.

The typical Jell-O shot is a blue-raspberry nightmare. Is it possible to make one that is not only pretty but actually tastes like a balanced cocktail? That's one of the things we've been working on in CHOW.com's Test Kitchen this week for an upcoming Mardi Gras feature. We started with three classic New Orleans cocktails as inspiration: the Sazerac, Hurricane, and Ramos Gin Fizz. The challenge was figuring out how to gelatinize them in a way that ended up saying dinner party, not frat-house kegger. READ MORE

How We Made Nacho Cheese Powder

We lift the lid on the CHOW.com Test Kitchen to see what our recipe developers are working on.

The CHOW.com test kitchen develops a lot of practical recipes (Easy Weeknight Vegetarian Main Dishes, for instance), but from time to time we turn our efforts to junk—as in, putting a CHOW spin on our favorite junk foods. We recently tried to create homemade versions of nacho cheese, Cool Ranch, and Creole shrimp "powders" to coat nuts with. We thought they'd be good beer-drinking snacks for March Madness. READ MORE

What the Food Editors Are Reading

Matt Bites: At long last, someone has realized that things on a stick always taste better, and wrote a cookbook about it. —Christine

Chocolate & Zucchini: For those avoiding nuts and dairy, a homemade oat milk recipe. —Christine

READ MORE

In the Test Kitchen: Kimchi’s Brewing

Making kimchi always seemed like a difficult project, especially since the idea of fermentation conjured up visions of bubbling concoctions and exploding jars. But if you can measure ingredients and chop, you can make kimchi—and you don't even need to turn on the stove. READ MORE