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  • Seven marinades to make grilling taste better

    The universal thrill of grilling is the flame-cooked taste it gives to food. But the best secret any grill-master owns is marinades, which can give everyday chicken the hot spiciness of a Jamaican jerk or the rich complexity of tandoori chicken. Plus, the acid in marinades tenderizes tough cuts of meat (think flank steak). Best of all, while the food is soaking, you can be doing something else.

    Even though marinating is fun and easy, before you begin whisking together our multipurpose recipes, listed below, take a minute to review five basic rules that Melanie Barnard outlines in her very handy cookbook Marinades (HarperPerennial, 1997):

    Choose Your Tools
    Marinate in a nonreactive container such as glass or ceramic, or even in a sealed plastic bag (food can pick up a bad taste from aluminum or other metals).

    Cover It Up
    Use a shallow bowl so the marinade covers as much of the food as possible; turn the food at least once an hour.

    Timing Is

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  • Turn the heat down and the flavor up with these 12 no-cook recipes

    Even on summer's hottest days, eating healthily is no sweat with these tasty no-cook recipes. You needn't look any further than the season's fresh ingredients to help you prepare wholesome meals while keeping your cool. Here, our favorite soups and salads, mains and sides-with nary a flame in sight.

    Choose Seasonal Produce
    Take advantage of peak-season fruits and vegetables to add flavor to your no-cook meals. When corn and garden peas are at their sweetest, they don't need a fattening boost from butter.

    Pick Up Prepared Foods
    Avail yourself of your grocer's prepared ingredients to help keep the heat down in the kitchen. Low-fat deli meats like smoked turkey or a rotisserie chicken make perfect choices for adding quick, cool protein to your meals. Avoid such calorie bombs as stuffed, cheesy chicken breasts or fish swimming in butter and oil.

    Take It Outside
    If you do have to cook an item, prepare it on the grill, whether it's corn on the cob, a

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  • Tips for creating the perfect summer clambake

    Jasper White, the man behind Summer Shack, wrangles lobsters and adapts a beachfront clambake for the home cook.

    White has had a somewhat unorthodox career path. The CIA-trained chef rose to fame in the 1980s, introducing diners to New England cooking at his refined Boston restaurant, Jasper's. In 1991, White won a James Beard award and cemented his reputation as one of the pioneers of American regional cuisine. But 12 years later, he closed Jasper's, taking five years off to write cookbooks.

    In 2000, White burst back onto the scene with a new concept: the Summer Shacks, of which there are now two in the Boston area and one in Connecticut. These large, high-octane versions of roadside New England clam shacks serve no-frills, high-quality seafood-local steamers, plump oysters, freshly steamed lobsters. The decor is casual, the atmosphere loud and boisterous, and White is having more fun than ever. "It's about rolling up your sleeves and having a good time," he says, flashing his

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  • Five tips to organize your refrigerator

    I'd like to discuss a fundamental food issue for all fridge owners: What to put where.

    Are there any philosophical treatises on refrigerator organization? My wife and I are finally ready to remove the shrink wrap, toss the Styrofoam dividers, and add real groceries to our new Whirlpool French-door fridge. But before we begin, I need to know what goes where. Yes, some items have obvious homes: frozen foods in the freezer, produce in the crisper. Duh. But what about leftovers? Right-side door, left-side door, center shelf, or somewhere else? Do I get one side and she gets another side, or do we place all Mexican ingredients, say, on the left side?

    You know what happens if you fail to implement a system: Food chaos. Oldest stuff moves to the back as newer items get crammed in. Boxes balance precariously on top of one another. Spills happen. And you end up ordering in just to avoid the search for those veggies you bought last week.

    So, dear Epi-Log reader, what's your

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  • Get to know your mesclun mix: a visual guide to salad greens

    We've grouped these vegetables under "salad greens" because they're often served raw and can act as a bed for other salad ingredients. They also add quite a bit of texture and flavor to any dish. If you plan on cooking them, be sure to make it a quick sauté or wilting; anything else will cause the delicate greens to lose their unique characteristics. Remember also to wash them thoroughly, especially before eating them raw.

    For clarification's sake, lettuces can be generally placed in one of four categories: looseleaf, butterhead, crisphead, and romaine. A prime example of a crisphead is the iceberg lettuce: Its round head is comprised of tightly packed leaves. Butterheads are also round, but the leaves are more loose and have a smoother texture than those of their crisphead cousins. The elongated leaves of romaine and its thick white rib are its outstanding physical characteristics. As the name states, looseleaf lettuces are loosely gathered, growing as a rosette, enabling the

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  • Amateur night: sous vide at home

    Almost two weeks ago, I wrote that I was about to embark on a new culinary adventure by cooking sous vide. Inspired by Thomas Keller's demonstration, I bravely went where I'd never gone before. Thanks to everyone who left words of advice; I tried to heed them all. To find out how I got to the final result, as seen in the photo above, read on.

    This is the kit that was given out to the attendees. Contents: one vacuum packed lamb saddle from Elysian Fields Farm that was already trussed, one small pack of herbs and a clove of garlic, one packet of sel gris, and one packet of lamb stock.

    Temperature regulation is essential to sous vide. Several of the commenters said they used equipment that did it for them like a crock pot, pressure cooker, rice cooker, and even a fryer. Since I don't own any of those, I needed to purchase a thermometer. I found one at Williams-Sonoma. In the photo, I'm calibrating the thermometer.

    The recipe called for a water temperature of 61.5°C which

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  • How to make ginger ale at home for 61 cents

    A couple months ago, I wrote up something on how I make homemade root beer nowadays. A reader comment encouraged me to try out a few other recipes, partly with the idea of seeing if there were a practical way for people to save a couple bucks here and there while not scrimping on their gustatory experiences.

    I've been experimenting with a variety of flavors, the results of which I may get to in a later post, but I've discovered an early winner that's ultra-cheap. What's more, you can probably make with the stuff you have in your kitchen already: homemade ginger ale. The cost: 61 cents.

    OK, so you won't be saving enough for your kids' college with this, but with the cost of everything going up, every little bit counts, right? And, when you're paying, say, $1.69 for a 2-liter bottle of ginger ale at the supermarket, that $1.08 you save with each trip to the store can really start to add up if you're a ginger-ale addict, or if someone's got a long-lasting tummy ache.

    I already

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  • 17 showstopper salads

    Salads have come a long way. Once upon a time, they were merely appetizers-a combination of iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, carrot slices, and maybe a few croutons, all doused with a salad dressing, like a creamy French, Russian, Thousand Island, or oily Italian. Today, salads are much more colorful, tasty, and substantial, often served as entrées unto themselves. With different salad greens such as mâche, mizuna, and escarole gaining mainstream acceptance, today's salads show great diversity and depth of flavors. You can fruits, nuts, and edible flowers to the greens, or those popular staples potato, tuna, chicken, and fruit.

    For some more information on different salad greens, check out our visual guide to salad greens. And to learn how to make a vinaigrette, watch our technique video .

    Recipe Tips:

    Crisp Greens
    Salad greens taste best soon after purchase, but sometimes they just have to wait-ideally, store them in their original packaging in the

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  • The better BBQ guest: Obama or McCain?

    It's probably the least important issue facing America today, but the people have nevertheless spoken. Given a choice between inviting Barack Obama and John McCain to a barbecue, Americans choose the Democratic senator from Illinois over the Republican senator from Arizona by 52 percent to 45 percent, according to a new Associated Press-Yahoo! News poll out yesterday.

    "Having Obama to a barbecue would be like a relaxed family gathering, while inviting McCain ' would be more like a retirement party than something fun,' " the Associated Press quoted 38-year-old Washington, D.C., systems engineer Wesley Welbourne as saying.

    Lest you think it's a throwaway statistic, consider that many people think George W. Bush won re-election in 2004 partly because 57 percent of Americans decided that he was the kind of guy they'd rather have a beer with than John Kerry.

    Here are some other figures the AP-Yahoo poll (1,759 adult respondents, sampling error of plus/minus 2.3 percentage points) came up

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  • Baking campfire pies

    "People think you can't bake over a campfire," says Melissa Mullins. "You have to be a little creative." She must be right: Yesterday Mullins bested four other finalists from around the U.S. competing in New York City 's Riverside Park to be named America 's Best Campfire Chef in the third annual Campfire Classic cooking competition (sponsored by Redwood Creek Winery). Mullins, from New York , New York , claimed the $10,000 top prize and a donation of $5,000 to Appalachian National Scenic Trail to be made on her behalf. Her Blackberry Hand Pies with Jar-Whipped Lavender Cream trounced savory competitors, including Celebrate Life Zip Packs (made with walleye fish), Campfire Pizza, Elk Tenderloin Medallions, and Swordfish a Roux Turtle Packs (which won the people's choice award, voted for on Redwood Creek's Web site).

    Mullins's empanada-like pies are baked over the campfire in mini-foil "ovens" that allow the air to circulate, helping the crust get crispy. She says shortening works

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