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  • 22 Delicious Chocolate Recipes

    While chocolate sales hit a peak on Valentine's Day, this delicious ingredient is great any time of year-and not just as dessert. Whether you're sipping a mug of hot chocolate in the dead of winter, enjoying chocolate ice cream under the sweltering summer sun, or sitting down to a savory dinner of braised beef, chocolate knows no bounds. And if you really need another reason to consume, research has shown that dark chocolate contains antioxidants; who doesn't want to slow down the aging process, even by just a little bit? Incorporate chocolate into your cooking repertoire by using these recipes and tips to create some familiar-and unfamiliar-dishes.

    Need help melting and tempering chocolate? Watch our chocolate technique videos.

    Recipe Tips:

    Is It Really Chocolate?

    Technically, white chocolate is not chocolate since it lacks cocoa liquor, finely ground cocoa beans that give chocolate its color and intense smell and taste. If you plan to cook with white

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  • One-of-a-Kind Chocolate Gifts for Valentine's Day

    Think Outside the Heart-Shaped Box

    Thirty-six million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold every year for Valentine's Day. That's a lot of sweets. And sweet intentions. But far too many of them are cookie-cutter, generic gifts-predictably packaged culinary afterthoughts.

    Sure, there is something special about receiving a box of decadent chocolates, no matter where they're from, and pulling back the layers of tissue paper, soaking up the sweetly intoxicating smell, and taking in the visual splendor of the smooth, glossy treats inside. But Valentine's chocolate need not be dull and predictable. Or old-fashioned.

    To help you shop for your own sweetie, we've assembled a collection of quirky Valentine's Day chocolates, all of which break out of that little red box you've settled for in years past. Our collection of gift ideas features crispy dark-chocolate pearls, adorably fresh "love bugs," romantic chocolate-covered fortune cookies, and even a few alluring chocolate

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  • Guides for the Tea Lover

    The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea (The Penguin Press) by Michael Harney
    Master tea-blender Michael Harney covers 56 pure teas (as opposed to blends), that he believes every serious tea-lover ought to know and have tasted. From the delicate white teas of China to the strong (pungent to some) black teas of Darjeeling , Harney leads with descriptive and very helpful tasting notes. His chapter on how to taste teas and what to look for is extremely helpful and shouldn't be missed.

    The Tea Drinker's Handbook (Abbeville Press) by François-Xavier Delmas, Mathias Minet, and Christine Barbaste
    François-Xavier Delmas, founder of Le Palais de Thés, and Mathias Minet, taster for Le Palais de Thés, have written about what they consider to be the 50 best teas in the world, all pure teas from what I can tell. I especially appreciate the photos of each of the loose teas. The visual aspect of the entire book makes this book so valuable in my opinion. As for the chapter I find most

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  • Dieter's Diary: Eating Smart While Eating Out

    Tonight I'm going out for Thai food with two of my best friends. Both of them are incredibly beautiful and enviably slim, in addition to possessing many, many more awesome qualities completely unrelated to how they look.

    And whenever the three of us go out for dinner, which is about once a month, I can't help but notice that they seem to have, shall we say, cracked the code. That is, without making a big deal about it, they seem to know how to eat out without throwing all their good eating habits over their shoulders like so much rosemary-scented organic sea salt. Unlike myself. To 'splain...

    They don't drink like it's their last meal on Earth.
    When the wine list arrives, my slender and smartypants friends will order and enjoy a glass. I, on the other hand, tend to be the one pushing for a bottle for the table. (Liquid calories may be my biggest enemy, especially when combined with my compulsive frugality.)

    They don't order like it's their last meal on Earth.
    Even at a

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  • Around the World in 80 Dishes: Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

    In our ongoing video series Bruce Mattel, from The Culinary Institute of America, demonstrates how to make gumbo from Louisiana -a Cajun and Creole classic!

    In this episode of Around the World in 80 Dishes, you'll learn about some of the most important ingredients and techniques in Cajun and Creole cooking. (For an in-depth exploration of the cuisines, including additional recipes, a glossary of ingredients, and a timeline of events, see Taste of America: Cajun and Creole.) Our thick gumbo filled with spicy andouille sausage, shrimp, and okra is the type of hearty stew you'll find simmering in pots all over New Orleans and the Southern parishes (counties) of Louisiana .

    In this how-to video Chef Bruce Mattel, of The Culinary Institute of America, kicks things off by demonstrating how to make a Louisiana-style roux, which is used to thicken and add a rich, nutty flavor to soups and stews. A classical French roux is made with flour and butter, but this one contains vegetable

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  • Do Food Scares Change the Way You Eat?

    When a salmonella contamination of peanuts processed at a Georgia plant came to light, did you check the labels on your peanut butter and toss suspicious jars of it out?

    Chances are, you didn't.

    "People might make the connection for the short term," a market-research expert told the Washington Post. "But your taste buds are very, very difficult to change."

    According to the article, there may be a couple reasons why people get scared but don't act when it comes to food safety.

    People Feel Helpless: With the food system so big, complicated and monolithic, many people feel like any changes they make in their diets won't actually make a difference.

    Processed Foods Are "Safe":Processed foods still have an aura of being antiseptic, and having been vetted by a huge corporation.

    Eating Healthier Is a Time Commitment: Let's face it, a lot of the foods that are bad for you are also very convenient. Many people's most precious commodity is time, and they're faced every day

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  • Condiment from Costa Rica: Salsa Lizano

    Every culture has a condiment:

    Soy sauce has been a popular seasoning and marinade for over 2,500 years in China .

    Sriracha Chili Sauce has long been used in everything from seafood to soups in Thailand .

    Mustard is served alongside a profusion of meats and sausages in Germany .

    Worcestershire Sauce has been a favorite for marinading meats since 1873 in England .

    Marie Sharp's add some heat to the ubiquitous rice and beans in Belize .

    And Heinz Ketchup has been the ever-present accompaniment for hamburgers and hot dogs in the U.S.

    Having just returned from warm, sunny shores of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica , I'm sold on a new condiment: Salsa Lizano, which I poured generously over eggs, fried rice, and tamales at almost every meal.

    Known in English as "Lizano Sauce," the deep brown condiment was a fixture of local cafes, eco-lodges, and homes everywhere I went. But I'm not complaining: I went so far as to check a bag on my way back

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  • Dieter's Diary: The Perfect Healthy Food for a Perfectly Lazy Person

    I have discovered that I might just be the world's laziest dieter. I don't have the time or discipline to count calories, I neglect my food log for days at a stretch (although I do update my notes eventually), and even my best efforts at getting into a gym routine result in my going four times a week, max.

    Fortunately, there is a perfect food for people like myself: Soup. Just a few of the benefits of stews and soups for the lazy dieter:

    1. Soup is a diabolically easy way to consume massive amounts of vegetables.

    2. It's February. You're cold. A big warm bowl of somethin' tasty is pretty much all you want to eat right now anyway.

    3. Could there be an easier, more time-efficient way to cook healthy? Spend ten minutes chopping, leave the pot simmering for twenty to thirty minutes, and shamwow, you have dinner, plus a healthy lunch for three days.

    4. The three magical Fs for anyone trying to lose weight: Filling, flavorful, fiber-rich.

    5. My favorite soups

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  • Eating for Heart Health

    Advice on a heart-healthy diet from the renowned Doctor Michael F. Roizen, plus tasty low-cholesterol recipes from Epicurious

    Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, is the number-one cause of death in the United States and a leading killer worldwide. Scary statistics aside, there are a number of steps we can all take to help protect our hearts, including making sound dietary choices. For advice on heart-healthy eating and living, we consulted Michael F. Roizen, M.D., the coauthor with Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., of the best-selling YOU series, including YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: On a Diet. Roizen is also the coauthor of The RealAge Diet and contributes to

    One way to increase your heart's health is through diet, choosing foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat-for information on how to do this, check out our favorite heart-healthy recipes to the right and see below for Roizen's advice.

    Heart Healthy-Eating Tips:

    Five Foods to

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  • Taste Test: Pre-Made Chicken Noodle Soup

    After sampling 18 versions, we found a true favorite

    What comes to mind when you hear the words "chicken noodle soup"? How about "mom's"? But getting mothers to make soup doesn't always come so easily. That's where the can or cup-o-noodles comes in.

    We purchased 18 different chicken noodles soups-both canned and dried-in major supermarkets. The soups included those marketed as traditional/old-fashioned, low-fat, and lower-sodium. Our goal: to discover for once and for all if any packaged chicken noodle soups can pass for homemade.

    Methodology: In a blind taste test, six judges compared the flavor, consistency (of the chicken, noodles, and veggies), and appearance of the chicken noodle soups one at a time (all soups were heated according to directions on packaging). We then ranked them according to the standard Epicurious four-fork rating system. One Epi Top Pick emerged from the group, getting a three-fork rating (meaning, it qualified as "delicious.") Four others merited

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