Steve Sando, bean impresario behind Rancho Gordo, outlines the steps from beans in a bag to glorious pot o’ beans. Dried beans may not be fresh, per se, but the ones you're using shouldn’t be more than two years old. Soak them first, and then use the soaking water to cook them. A quick, hard boil followed by a long, slow simmer will get them cooked up right. (Click here for Steve's bean-cooking recipe.)
Justin Chapple, Food & Wine Deputy Test Kitchen Editor, is back this week with another killer Mad Genius Tip—an ice cream cake made of store-bought ice cream sandwiches, that requires just minutes of prep time.