The F-Word: Food

Don’t Throw Out Pasta Water!

If you drain your pasta water through a colander and down the sink, you’re throwing away an invaluable asset that cooks call “liquid gold.”

(The term “liquid gold” has also been used to refer to wood cleaner, hair products and of course, urine. For the love of God, please don’t confuse pasta water with any of these.)

Because pasta is made of flour, it releases starch into the cooking water as it boils, creating a white, cloudy liquid that we often deem “dirty” and then dump down the sink.

Big mistake. That’s the liquid gold we’re talking about.

Why would you want to keep that cloudy liquid, you may ask?

Details here.

Instagram Pie Porn

A growing number of Instagrammers have mastered pie art, each acting as architect, baker, stylist, photographer, social media manager and justice defender of every pie they post. In their world, design is everything and the actual content of the pie plays a more ancillary role. Details.

Are Expensive Margaritas Better?

America doesn’t give the margarita the respect it deserves.

Most margaritas served in the States are treacly, salty, gooey abominations: 24 ounce swamps of half-melted ice sweetened with corn syrup and tinted bright green with food coloring. As a result, most Americans think of margaritas as harbingers of hangovers, love handles and ill-advised hookups. A guilty pleasure at best.

Yet the margarita is fundamentally a great cocktail. Though it seems to have been invented as recently as 1948, its name, Spanish for “daisy,” points to its kinship with the venerable branch of cocktails just as old as the martini or the Manhattan. More importantly, properly-made margaritas taste great: tart, crisp, drinkable and complex. The perfect platform for tequila and the perfect cocktail for a summer afternoon. And, of course, Cinco de Mayo.

We at HuffPost do respect margaritas. But we normally make them using cheap ingredients. We’ve always heard that you shouldn’t splurge on expensive ingredients for cocktails, because they don’t really affect the taste once they’re all mixed together and shaken. We were dubious though. Everyone agrees that you can tell the difference between cheap and expensive spirits when you sip them alone. Why should cocktails be any different?


Why’s It’s Called Margherita Pizza

Have you ever ordered a pizza Margherita and wondered why it’s even called that?

Before you even question its name, it’s possible that, if you’re American, you don’t even know what pizza Margherita is in the first place. (If you do, we apologize for the condescension and hope you forgive us.) There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between cheese pizza, plain pizza and Margherita pizza.

According to the book Pizzapedia by Dan Bransfield, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana recognizes three types of genuine Neapolitan pizzas, one being pizza Margherita. It’s defined as being “made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil.” It’s a pared-down, more flavorful version of what Americans think of as cheese pizza, and it looks like this.

St. Pat’s Day: Shepherd’s Pie

Here’s the thing with shepherd’s pie: we don’t eat it nearly enough. Shepherd’s pie is basically the excuse we’ve all been looking for to eat more mashed potatoes. It’s just a layer of savory ingredients blanketed in our favorite spuds.

Considering how great mashed potatoes are, we would all benefit from more shepherd’s pie in our lives. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to make shepherd’s pie. There’s the classic recipe with ground meat, veggies and a layer of mashed potatoes on top. There are vegetarian versions with lentils, and very clever ones with sweet mashed potatoes. There are even shepherd’s pie recipes baked right into a portobello mushroom. It’s time we try them all.

Recipes here.

Are There Bugs In Your Paprika?

Don’t bug out, but you really should give your paprika a closer look before you toss it into your next recipe. It could be totally fine, but it could also be a cozy home to a colony of insects.

There are all sorts of pantry pests that can invade your kitchen. You may have heard about flour beetles that eat their way out of bags of flour and multiply by the hundreds. (I once returned from Thanksgiving vacation to find this delightful surprise in my kitchen.) You’ll also find insects in spices, and among the most susceptible to insect manifestation are pepper-based spices like paprika, cayenne and chili powder.

Many cooks know the horror of opening a jar of paprika to find it moving. Sometimes the culprits are tiny bugs, while other times it’s little worms (more on that below). Often you won’t even notice them if you’re not looking closely, and then BAM, you’ve unknowingly sprinkled them into your food.

How do these creepy crawlers get into our spices, and what we can do to prevent them from getting there? And why are spices like paprika and cayenne more susceptible than others? We’ve got the answers here.

Why Brown Eggs Are Expensive

If you ever find yourself in a confused stupor at your grocery store egg case, first of all, snap out of it. But you’re not alone, because there are a million confusing labels on egg cartons these days, and many of them mean nothing.

Despite that, there’s one constant: brown eggs are almost always more expensive than white eggs. Surely, this means they’re organic, more nutritious, superiorly delicious and blessed by golden angels, right?

Not necessarily. Everything you thought you knew about white eggs and brown eggs is about to get scrambled.

We talked to egg experts who addressed a number of canards about brown and white eggs, including the theory that eggshell color is based on the color of a chicken’s feathers (turns out that’s not entirely true), the nutritional difference between brown and white eggs, and how a chicken’s earlobes can determine the price of your eggs. Seriously.

There’s a lot more to the incredible egg than you may have realized. Let’s get cracking, and address some of the folk wisdom.

Explanations here.