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

Cooking with Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek is an essential curry spice, says JungMann, who "balance[s] its bitterness and pungency by incorporating it into a spice blend." In small quantities, it adds richness and complexity to curries, says pippimac, with a warning: Eat too much, and the smell oozes from your pores. Fenugreek seeds are an essential aromatic in Indian pickles like green mango and lime, says tastesgoodwhatisit.

If you want to experience the pure flavor of fenugreek, says JungMann, "you can make hilbeh, a traditional Yemeni condiment made from soaked and whipped fenugreek seeds. The airy dip is much milder than you would expect if you bit into a fenugreek seed."

Discuss: What to do with fenugreek seeds?

Fenugreek seeds image from Shutterstock

Homemade Refried Beans: Worth the Effort?

It takes time and effort to make refried beans from scratch. Are they enough of an improvement over canned ones to be worth it?

Will Owen makes them from scratch sometimes. "To me it's a lot like making a pot of chili just for chili dogs, when good canned chili works better," he says. "Refried beans around here are more often a component of some dish than a dish all their own: bean burritos, bean dip, whatever. The canned ones, sometimes with a little spicing up, are perfect for this kind of thing." READ MORE

How Cold Should You Serve Salads?

Should fresh salad greens be served cold or room temperature? emglow101 likes them cold, just out of the fridge, but has friends who like greens with the chill removed.

"Room temp about-to-wilt greens? No thanks," says Bacardi1, who strongly prefers cold greens. fourunder thinks iceberg and romaine lettuce should be cold and crisp, but other types are fine either cool or at room temperature. escondido123 takes a similar view: "If it is baby greens I like them cold because they wilt so quickly. But arugula or frisée I'm fine if they're not so cold, I think it tempers their flavor nicely."

Discuss: Salad greens, room temp, or cold.

Photograph of green salad by inaplasticcup

Napoleons Without the Mess

Leaves of delicate puff pastry support layers of pastry cream in the French dessert called a napoleon (also mille-feuille and millefoglie). It's beautiful, but how do you eat it (or even cut it for serving) without reducing it to a sad pile of custard-smeared crumbs? Ordinary knife pressure makes the cream smush out all over the place, says KaimukiMan. And deconstructing layer by layer isn't exactly what the chef intended. READ MORE

Sunflower Seeds That Taste Like Dill Pickles?

Unbeknownst to some hounds, seasoned sunflower seeds are available in many flavors. The ones that taste like dill pickles might be the ultimate salty, high-fat snack for road trips, though kubasd recommends bringing along lots of water and gum: "They're delicious and very addictive."

As for other flavored sunflower seeds, 2roadsdiverge recommends barbecue, ranch, and garlic.

Discuss: Your favorite 'road trip' food

Vegetable Tempura from the Freezer

Can you coat vegetables in tempura batter and freeze them for frying later? waholi had trouble: The vegetables turned out rubbery and/or freezer-burned. will47 suggests slicing, battering, and frying the vegetables until three-quarters of the way done, then draining and freezing, leaving the final cooking until just before serving. So you don't have to chip off pieces from a giant hunk of frozen vegetables, freeze the pieces individually on trays, says babette feasts. Then consolidate them after they're frozen.

Discuss: How do you make battered frozen vegetables? So you can deep fry later?

Photograph of tempura by qianning

Can You Taste Annatto in American Cheese?

Annatto, the seeds of the achiote plant, is used in American cheese as a natural source of orange dye, says Delucacheesemonger. Annatto seeds have a subtle flavor, too subtle to notice in the small quantities used for coloring cheese.

"There are some southern Mexican (Yucatan) dishes where achiote is used in large enough quantity to affect taste," says paulj. "But people usually buy it in a flavored paste form, since the whole seeds are hard and difficult to grind." There are many regional Mexican and Filipino dishes that rely on the seeds for their grassy, earthy flavor, says JungMann.

Discuss: annatto seeds

Adorable Thai Pea Eggplants

At a Thai market, lottobear came across an unfamiliar vegetable: tiny green spheres, each about the size of a raspberry. After consulting with Chowhounds, lottobear found out what they are: pea eggplants. "Thai eggplants are delicious in all sorts of dishes but I especially enjoy them in curry or pickled," says HillJ.

Discuss: small green things, what thai ingredient is this?

Pea eggplant image from Shutterstock

Making Ceviche from Cooked Shrimp

If it's cooked, does it still technically count as ceviche? If you're using shrimp, then the answer is yes—it's completely authentic and appropriate to parboil the shrimp before soaking in lime juice. Njchicaa was tipped off by a clerk at the grocery store to steam shrimp halfway before adding lime juice. "It is delicious!" Njchicaa says. The reason for cooking: By the time raw shrimp would fully cure in lime juice, they'd have an unpleasantly flaccid, rubbery texture, says ipsedixit. bulavinaka confirms that soaking shrimp in lime juice for hours is not advisable. "I ended up with ick," says bulavinaka. "And don't get fancy by mixing in pineapple or papaya. The enzymes will ick your seafood as well." READ MORE

The Right Way to Add Anchovies to Pizza?

Do you love anchovies on pizza, but hate when they're reduced to "little skidmarks of salt" (as hazelhurst describes it)? Baking can change the delicate texture and complex flavor of anchovies, a fact that causes hazelhurst to ask for them on the side in order to scatter them—uncooked—onto a freshly baked pizza.

Another method of preserving the anchovies, suggests MGZ, is to bake the pizza most of the way without them, then add them for the last minute or two in the oven. "That way, they heat up and are slightly integrated into the pie without having been obliterated," says MGZ. MonMauler agrees: A short time in the oven, plus hanging out on the hot pizza once it's out of the oven, allows the anchovy flavor to disperse without causing the fish to disintegrate.

Of course, there's no wrong way to add anchovies as long as you like the result—bmorecupcake sometimes loves long-cooked, "obliterated" anchovies. It's not wrong if it tastes good!

Discuss: To anchovy or NOT to

Photograph by Chris Rochelle /