We make the mistakes in the kitchen, so that you don't have to.

3 Fun Food Hacks for Pizza, Bananas, and Jam

Pizza, bananas, and jam are some of our favorite things, so we couldn’t resist sharing these quick tips. Just don’t feel compelled to use them all at the same time—but who knows?

Bananas: Even More Magical Than You Thought

Did you know that you can use a banana peel to polish tarnished silverware? After you enjoy a banana, rub the inside of the peel along the silver and you’ll see the magic happen. Just wipe it off with a clean cloth afterward to have sparkling silverware again. It doesn’t work with really dark spots, but this trick works great with lightly tarnished utensils.

Best Way to Reheat Pizza

Microwaving cold pizza makes the crust soggy, and reheating it in the oven takes almost 30 minutes. The best way to reheat cold pizza is to put a few slices in a cold skillet, cover it, and turn the burner to low. About 8 minutes in the pan gives the cheese time to melt while the bottom crisps perfectly. No more soggy slices.

DIY Salad Dressing with Leftover Jam

To savor every last morsel of homemade or storebought jam, add olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and herbs/spices when the jam jar is nearly empty, screw the lid on, and shake away. In seconds you’ll have delicious fruity salad dressing, and nothing is wasted from the precious jams.

All of these quick tips are from the newest issue (August/September 2014) of Cook’s Country (learn more about print and iPad editions).

Do You Know the Right Way to Use a Whisk? [VIDEO]

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Everyone knows the correct way to use a whisk, right? Wrong.

We’ve noticed that different cooks seem to favor different motions when using a whisk. Some prefer side-to-side strokes, others use circular stirring, and others like the looping action of beating that takes the whisk up and out of the bowl. That got us wondering: Is any one of these motions more effective than the others?

The results may surprise you. Watch below to discover what we learned.

This science experiment hails from the newest issue (July/August 2014) of Cook’s Illustrated (learn more about print and iPad editions).

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3 Tasty Tips for Your Next Summer Party (or Any Day, Really)

We’ve got the coolest food tricks for hot days. Summer, bring it on.

Guacamole: It’s Easy Being Green

Here’s a nifty trick to help keep guacamole looking fresh longer. Before storing the dip, pour an inch of water over the top. When you’re ready to serve, just pour off the water; the guacamole is dense enough that it doesn’t absorb the water. You’ll have guacamole that looks like you just made it.

Keeping Summer Berries Fresh

To extend the life of blueberries and strawberries, wash them in a light white vinegar solution: 1 cup vinegar to 3 cups water. Then dry them in a salad spinner (our favorite model is the OXO Good Grips) and store them in a container with the lid slightly open to allow moisture to escape. The vinegar kills bacteria without imparting flavor. Your berries will stay fresher for longer.

Sip Easy with a Better Way to Clean Straws

Brightly colored plastic straws are perfect for sipping summer coolers, but we’ve found that a dishwasher does a lousy job of cleaning them. Secret trick: Use denture cleaner tablets (really!) to help get them clean. Fill a big glass with the directed amount of water, drop a denture cleaner tablet in, and add the straws (flipping them over after a few minutes so both ends get clean). The straws are as fresh as new in no time.

All of these quick tips are from the newest issue (June/July 2014) of Cook’s Country (learn more about print and iPad editions).

Today, on National Burger Day, we’re celebrating burgers of all kinds—Pimento Cheese-Stuffed, Portobello, Grilled, Pub-Style, and so many more… GET THE RECIPES. 

Today, on National Burger Day, we’re celebrating burgers of all kinds—Pimento Cheese-Stuffed, Portobello, Grilled, Pub-Style, and so many more… GET THE RECIPES. 

Perfect Grilled Steaks with These 3 Must-Do Tricks

Our technique for perfect grilled steaks is unique in a couple of ways. Our goal is to create a deeply caramelized, well-formed crust that translates to bold, savory flavor. Our recipe employs 3 effective kitchen tricks.

Trick #1: Pat Steaks Dry

Straight out of the wrapper, steaks are often moist with natural juices. Patting the steaks dry with paper towels removes surface moisture, which would otherwise interfere with browning—and with deeper browning comes better flavor.

Trick #2: Rub Steaks with Cornstarch

As odd as it sounds, don’t skip the cornstarch. The cornstarch absorbs additional moisture from the surface of the steaks. Drier exteriors mean even darker, more intense browning, which translates to bigger, more complex flavor.

Trick #3: Freeze Steaks Briefly

Put the steaks in the freezer before you fire up the grill, and let them chill for about 30 minutes. This time in the freezer brings down the internal temperature of the steaks so that they take longer to cook—a longer cooking time means that the exteriors of the steaks have even more opportunity to form nice brown crusts. If you don’t chill the steaks in the freezer before putting them onto the grill and you follow the recipe’s cooking times, the steaks will wind up overcooked.

Who’s ready for summer?

Perfect Grilled Steaks

Why This Recipe Works: We chose well-marbled strip steak for our charcoal-grilled steak recipe because of its beefy flavor and moist interior. For the essential wood-smoke flavor, we nestled a few pieces of unsoaked wood chunks along the perimeter of the fire and grilled the steaks covered for the first few minutes to help trap smoke flavor. For the grilled steaks’ requisite deep-brown char, we needed to get the exterior bone-dry. To do this, we sprinkled the steaks with salt and cornstarch (which helped dry out the exterior) and then left them uncovered in the freezer.

Serves 6 to 8

Our preferred steak for this recipe is strip steak, also known as New York strip. A less expensive alternative is a boneless shell sirloin steak (or top sirloin steak). We prefer oak, but other types of wood chunks can be used. Flipping 3 times during cooking allows for even cooking and limits flare-ups. To substitute table salt for kosher salt, halve the amounts listed in the recipe.

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons kosher salt 
4 boneless strip steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 pound each) 
4 (2-inch) unsoaked wood chunks 
Ground black pepper

1. Combine cornstarch and salt in small bowl. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Rub entire surface of steaks with cornstarch mixture and place steaks, uncovered, in freezer until very firm, about 30 minutes.

2. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Arrange coals in single layer over entire surface of grill and, using tongs, place wood chunks directly on top of coals, spacing them evenly around perimeter of grill. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean with grill brush. Grill is ready when coals are hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above grate for 2 seconds).

3. Season steaks with pepper. Place steaks on grill, cover, and cook until steaks begin to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover grill, flip steaks, and cook on second side until beginning to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip again and cook first side until well charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip 1 last time and continue to cook until second side is well charred and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of steak registers 115 degrees for rare, about 2 minutes, or 120 degrees for medium-rare, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large plate and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Watch now: See how we tested charcoal grills to find the best bang for your buck.