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Highlights from the General Topics and Cookware boards. Food trends, food products, and burning questions.

Collier’s Powerful: The Best Welsh Cheddar?

Buttery, sharp-tasting Collier's Powerful Welsh Cheddar is the best cheddar cheese jhopp217 has ever tried.

Harters likes it too, but when it comes to cheddar made with milk from North Wales, Snowdonia's Little Black Bomber has the edge. Still, Harters notes, both are factory cheddars, which have nothing on farmhouse cheeses from the West Country.

Discuss: Collier's Powerful Welsh Cheddar

Crisp, Addictive Deep-Fried Capers

Salty, sharp-tasting capers are superb fried, chefathome says. Salt-packed capers can be fried as is, while brined ones should be drained and thoroughly dried first. "The flower unfolds and they become crispy and are incredibly addictive," says chefathome, who likes them with fish. "I simply place them in the oil without anything on them at all and they fry up to be crispy and so delicious."

Discuss: What do you like in bottled capers?

A Sweet Fix for Stevia’s Bitterness

Fresh stevia leaves taste sweet, meatn3 says, but processed stevia has a bitter aftertaste reminiscent of diet sodas. sedimental grows stevia plants and agrees: The leaves have a pleasant licorice taste, but processed stevia extract is weird. And not all extracts are the same, sedimental points out: "In my opinion, NuNaturals is the best, cleanest tasting stevia product."

westsidegal has a solution for bitter stevia extracts: Combine them with another sugar substitute, erythritol.

Discuss: Stevia

Stevia plant image from Shutterstock

Know Your Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are "the thin flowering heads sent up by hard neck garlic varieties," meadandale says. When cooked, they have a mild garlic flavor.

Garlic scapes are occasionally available at farmers' markets, but kengk grows them at home simply by planting garlic bulbs from the market; begin harvesting when they're about six inches tall. Use scapes in place of green onions, kengk says, though the taste is a bit stronger. "Great for stir fries or steeping in milk for a garlic custard," Novelli adds.

Discuss: What the heck is a "garlic slip?"

Photograph of garlic scapes by steelykal

Woody Parsnips? Reach for the Food Mill

It's a shame when the sweet taste and creamy texture of parsnips is ruined by stringy fibers. To avoid this problem, choose thin, young parsnips, rather than the thicker, older parsnips that are likely to have a woody center, Bacardi1 says. If older parsnips are all you have and you don't mind serving puréed parsnips (as in this parsnip and cauliflower recipe), consider running your cooked parsnips through a food mill, greygarious says. Puréeing has drawbacks, though; Robin Joy notes that there's nothing quite like the "slightly caramelized, chewy, browned fingers of parsnip from around a roast chicken/piece of meat."

Discuss: Parsnips

Photograph of CHOW's Potato and Parsnip Mash by Chris Rochelle /

Any Good Garlic Powders Out There?

Garlic powder tastes totally unlike fresh garlic, but that doesn't mean it can't be a great addition to recipes like dry rubs. Which garlic powders are good? ipsedixit thinks the gourmet garlic powder from Lindon Garlic Farm is good enough to give as a gift. coney with everything and beachmouse are among the hounds who like Penzeys garlic powder (also their dried minced garlic).

Discuss: Any Such Thing As Gourmet Garlic Powder?

The Best Canned Hash?

"I LOVE canned corned beef hash!" says Bacardi1, who has yet to meet a brand that disappointed. Hormel (sometimes labeled Mary Kitchen) is very good. John E. agrees: "I still [prefer] homemade ... but Mary Kitchen is the go to if canned hash is going to be consumed." greygarious likes Chef-Mate (available at Costco and BJ's), when it's fried long enough to get crusty.

Discuss: Corned Beef hash...from a can. Preferred brands?

Corned beef hash image from Shutterstock

Big Love for Shrimp and Grits

Chowhounds go crazy for the classic Southern combo of shrimp and grits. jmcarthur8 loves it when the shrimp are poached in butter and the stone-ground grits are slow-cooked (extra points for adding Vidalia onions cooked in bacon fat). READ MORE

Is Colatura the Same as Asian Fish Sauce?

Colatura is Italy's version of fish sauce, which katzzz describes as "liquid essence of anchovy." It's more expensive than Asian fish sauces, but does it differ in other ways?

According to ipsedixit, the main difference is that Italian fish sauce is much more concentrated—when Asian fish sauce is bottled, it's diluted to about 20 percent, which helps explain the price difference. Colatura also has a lower salt content than Asian fish sauces, roxlet points out, so if you want to substitute one for the other you'll need to adjust the amount of both the sauce plus any other salt the recipe calls for.

Discuss: Colatura and Asian Fish Sauce: what's the dif?

The Pros and Cons of Brunch

Does anyone really need brunch, or is it just an excuse to drink in the morning, as Samalicious quips? Skeptics like ttoommyy wonder if anyone actually craves brunch's "fancied-up" egg dishes, or if we all just tolerate brunch as an excuse to socialize.

Some Chowhounds love the brunch experience, even if its appeal is largely unrelated to the food. "It's an ability to enjoy food leisurely with good company, knowing that the rest of your day is, well, going to be spent mostly in leisure," ipsedixit says. "If all of those things are in alignment, I could be eating expired beef jerky and sipping lukewarm coffee and still be a happy pup."

Others love particular brunch dishes. punkin712 loves to make tuna omelets and homemade waffles; Bacardi1 makes a mean crab cake Benedict. chowser loves brunch's mix of sweet and savory flavors, while MGZ loves, well, everything about it: "Make me a spicy Bloody Mary, offer some clever reinvention of eggs Benedict, play some old Ry Cooder cd in the background, and bring me a rare ribeye with two poached eggs on top. How can that be bad?"

Discuss: Who likes brunch?