Blog Posts by Victoria von Biel, Conscious Cook, Bon Appétit

  • Would You Pay $299 for a "Healthy" Deep Fryer?

    Several months ago, I received the T-Fal ActiFry to test. It's described as a low-fat "multicooker" and healthy fryer. It looks a little like those old electric skillets that everyone seemed to have in the 70s (does anyone still use those?) and takes up a fair amount of counter space. Intrigued by the idea of a fryer that can cook with only one tablespoon of oil, I gave the ActiFry a whirl.

    Using it is simple. If you want to make "french fries," you flip up the top, scatter in uniformly cut pieces of potato, sprinkle with a tablespoonful of oil, and then let it go for 30 to 35 minutes (there's a built-in timer). A central paddle keeps the food moving constantly, and circulating hot air prevents condensation, which could make the potatoes soggy. I didn't try any of the stir-fry or one-dish-dinner-type recipes that were included with the fryer, since none of them sounded particularly enticing. But I went to town frying potatoes, cubed butternut squash, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts,

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  • Quick Pineapple Chicken: A Bon Appétit Reader's Recipe

    We get a lot of email from readers, but my favorites are always the ones where they pass along their own recipes based on the dishes they see in the magazine or on the web site. I haven't tried this one yet (and we haven't tested in our test kitchens), but it looks easy enough for a tasty weeknight dinner:

    Hi!
    I was really inspired by the article on pineapples. I found them on sale, so thinking about the pineapple recipes in this month magazine I bought one. Here's what I did with it.

    Karen's Quick Pineapple Chicken
    Serves 4
    ***Note: This recipe has not been tested in the Bon Appetit test kitchen***

    Ingredients
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 large skinless chicken breasts
    2 large skinless chicken thighs
    1/4 pineapple, cut into small pieces
    1/2 onion, diced
    4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
    2 tablespoons honey
    one jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeded

    Preparation
    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer for about 35 minutes.

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  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective Grocery Shoppers

    Here's the event I'd really like to see at the Olympics: grocery shopping. The gold medalist would be the person who can buy everything on their list in the shortest amount of time (no running, no ramming other shoppers, no blocking aisles). Repeating aisles would be cause for disqualification, as would unloading everything on the conveyer belt and then telling the people behind you that you'll just be moment, but you have to go back and get some cat food and mayonaisse. The training regimen would be pretty straightforward, and it would probably look a little like this:

    1. Scope out the store.
    This may seem like overkill, but trust me, it will make your life easier in the long run. Take some time to note the organization of the stores you go to. If the aisles are numbered, jot down what is offered in each aisle. When you make your list, you will organize everything using this information.

    2. Make a list of what you already have.
    Before you even think about what you need to buy, go

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  • Bon Appétit Picks the 5 Best iPhone Apps for a Healthier You

    If you have an iPhone, chances are you have enough apps installed to run your whole life from the palm of your hand. That includes keeping your diet on track, too. Here are our favorite apps that let you take control of what you're eating and drinking. All of them are available for download at the iTunes Store.

    EatRight ($1.99)
    A super-simple interface lets you quickly check off how many servings of the main food groups you've eaten each day. If nothing else, it's a graphic reminder that you probably need to eat a lot more veggies and a lot less meat.

    True Nutrition ($0.99)
    If you've ever scarfed down an entire box of cookies, try this app. It takes the nutritional values for the typical (tiny) suggested serving size and translates them into the amount you actually consume. No more pretending that one more chip doesn't count.

    Shelf Life ($1.99)
    Once you bring all that produce home, how long will it stay fresh? This handy app tracks your perishables, letting you know how long they

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  • Can Having a Boyfriend Make You Fat?

    A recent New York Times article caught our eye. "Study Says Women with Mate Get Heavier" read the headline, and naturally, Nicholas Bakalar's article quickly snagged the elite "most emailed" status on nytimes.com. It's probably because many of us have been there-happily involved in a romantic relationship, but unhappily wondering why the jeans feel tighter.

    The study, conducted by the biostatistics department of Australia's University of Queensland, determined a significant difference in weight gain between women with partners and women without partners over a span of 10 years. Women with partners averaged a 15 pound-increase while women without partners averaged 11 pounds. Bakalar concludes that while cohabitation doesn't affect metabolic changes, it does result in "altered behavior," which consequently causes weight gain.

    In our minds, "altered behavior" is a vague scientific way of saying "sharing a large cheese pizza."

    Fact: It's way more fun to eat indulgent restaurant fare

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  • Can You Fight Breast Cancer with Pomegranates?

    A team of researchers in California just published a study suggesting that pomegranates may help prevent breast cancer.

    But before we rush to the grocery store or buy stock in POM, let's take a closer look.

    Pomegranates are rich with ellagitannins, a group of chemical compounds that the study discovered can block an enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme helps produce estrogen, which feeds breast cancer cell growth and tumors. In fact, anti-breast cancer medications called "aromatase inhibitors" (like Arimidex, Aromasin, and Femara) work in the same way as ellagitannins--by stopping the production of estrogen.

    But keep in mind that the study was done in a lab and the researchers used large amounts of ellagitannins. Experts warn that ellagitannins in food are difficult for the body to absorb; we don't know if the eating pomegranates will provide enough to be effective.

    So can you fight breast cancer with delicious juicy fruit? We're still not sure. But this is not a news story that

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  • Bon Appétit's 10 Best Gadgets to Transform Your Kitchen for the New Year

    I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for kitchen tools. Granted, an awful lot of them are completely and totally useless, but every year a few things come out that I find I can't cook without. Here are my 10 favorites from the past year.

    1. Cuisinart Elite Collection 4-Cup Chopper Grinder

    This mini processor is powerful, easy to clean, and great for everything from grinding nuts to chopping onions.

    2. The FoodPod

    This funny looking silicone bag is remarkably useful. I use it to make boiled eggs and to blanche vegetables.

    3. Adjustable Rolling Pin

    Removable rings and inch/centimeter markings mean that you can roll pie, pizza, or cookie dough to the right thickness and width every time.

    4. Measuring Flour Sifter


    I'd more or less given up on sifters until I found this product. The attached cup means there's no mess, and you can measure your dry ingredients before and after you sift.

    5. Zip and Dry Apron


    With a removable terry-cloth towel zipped to the bottom of this apron, you always have a

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  • Bon Appétit's Best of Food in 2009

    It's been an interesting year. Hot dogs nudged out burgers as the cookout meal of choice, budget-conscious workers started brown-bagging their lunches, and bacon kept appearing in places it probably never should have--cupcakes, chocolate bars, cookies, and ice cream, to name just a few.

    For this year's Best of the Year issue, on newsstands now, we've named our top trends of 2009, the ones we think are going to be really big in 2010. Our big-picture predictions for the year ahead? Satisfying, rib-sticking mains and desserts; the growth of the "flexitarian" (semi-vegetarian) lifestyle; and a growing interest in Korean food.

    Drumroll, please: Here are our picks for Best of the Year:

    Top Dish: Meatballs

    For Bon Appétit's meatball slideshow, click here.


    Cuisine of the Year: Austrian

    For Bon Appétit's Austrian menu, click here.


    Ingredient of the Year: Sriracha Hot Sauce

    For more information on sriracha hot sauce and 4 sriracha recipes, click here.

    Party of the Year: Vegetarian Feast

    For

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  • 10 Holiday Foods Worth the Calories

    It's the most wonderful (and fattening!) time of the year. These 10 dishes taste so incredible, they're worth every single calorie. Tell us your favorite holiday indulgence in the comments section.

    1. Bread Pudding
    If there were a Christmas carol that repeated the phrase "bring us some fruity sorbet," we'd have a craving for something light and refreshing following a December meal. Luckily, there are calls for pudding and wassail ringing in the air--calls that must be heeded. Have yourself a holly, jolly Christmas with a modern-day favorite, our luscious Rum, Caramel, and Banana Bread Pudding.

    For the recipe, click here.

    2. Chocolate Cake
    Second only to the gingerbread house in ornate visual appeal but unsurpassed in rich flavor, the fancy layered cake (like our beautiful Peppermint Meringue Cake with Chocolate Buttercream on the cover of this month's Bon Appétit) is the ultimate holiday dessert. Reward yourself for the patience required to wait until your host cuts you a slice.

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  • Christmas dinner in under an hour

    I love Christmas dinner--sitting around the table over a lavish meal, drinking Champagne, reading the lame jokes in the Christmas crackers. What I'm not so crazy about is trying to fit in the prep for the meal along with decorating, shopping, baking cookies, going to parties, and everything else that comes with the season.

    There are ways to cope, though, without driving yourself crazy or appearing Scroogelike. My goal is to keep the prep to one hour (or less, if possible), so I can enjoy the party, too. Here are a few suggestions:

    Time-saving tips:

    1. Choose dishes that can be done ahead--if not the whole thing, than at least a good part of it. You want to avoid any last-minute fussing: A glazed ham is perfect, particularly if you're feeding a crowd. A roast with a simple pan sauce works, too. As for sides, you'd be surprised how many things can be made ahead and reheated, including mashed potatoes. Do-ahead directions are usually included at the end of a recipe.

    This Bourbon Glazed

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