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It’s Thanksgiving!

Here’s what to do with all that food tomorrow.

Burning Love: Char Your Vegetables

Del Campo's Dishes (photo: Greg Powers)

Del Campo's Charred Tomato Salad + Charred Ceviche (photo: Greg Powers)

Remember when burning your vegetables was considered a bad thing? These days, though, chefs are using high heat and chars to draw out the caramel flavors of fruits and vegetables without needing extra sauces and flavoring.

At Del Campo in Washington, DC, chef Victor Albisu serves South American barbecue with a focus on burnt items, so much so that the menu reads like a market stand of grilled items – tomatoes, scallions, artichokes, squash, onions. 

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Grilling Smackdown: Best Choices for Your Next Cookout

It’s about time to kick off the unofficial start of summer with a Memorial Day cookout! And what better way to celebrate than with a nutritional smack down? Here’s a look at your favorite cookout foods with an answer to the burning question: which is healthier?

Burger vs. Hot Dog
Meat brings up lots of questions, such as where it’s from, how it was raised or how it was processed. For the sake of this smack down,  let’s assume that you’re choosing between the best possible options: a lean, local, grass-fed beef burger or a nitrate-free 100% beef hot dog. Lean burgers offer good amounts of B vitamins, zinc and protein (20 g). Keep in mind portion size: a burger should be made from 1/4 pound of ground beef. That’ll keep calories in check (178). Hot dogs are slightly lower in calories, compared to a quarter-pound burger, but not by much (169 calories in a typical dog). They also have way more sodium, while offering fewer vitamins and minerals. So unless they are your main reason for being in the summertime, stick to the beef burger. Better yet? Go for grilled salmon or a veggie burger.

The Winner: Burgers

Get our Top Burger Recipes

Potato Salad vs. Macaroni Salad

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Tips for Easy Entertaining from Chef Michelle Bernstein

Michelle Bernstein

Want to make sure your 4th of July bash goes off without a hitch? Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein, who knows a thing or two about cooking for a crowd, has four tips to make entertaining easier.

Michelle Bernstein’s Tips for Easy Entertaining:

  • Make dishes that sit well. “I want to hang out, too,” she says. “Make things in a thoughtful way beforehand, and then prepare fully the day of.” For instance, if you’re putting together a Greek salad, chop all of the cucumbers, tomatoes and seasonings the night before.
  • Let your kids join in on the fun. Give them prepared tasks like setting up the table so they feel like part of the action, too.
  • Use the freshest ingredients possible, especially for the finishing touch. If you prepare the salad a day or two ahead, add a pop of flavor with fresh cilantro and citrus. “It will taste like you made it that day,” Michelle says.
  • Taste everything before you serve it. Seriously, this one is a must. Get approval from yourself for each dish.

Michelle’s last tip? Mix up your menu.

“I like to change things up and play in the kitchen,” she says.

So skip the burgers this year and bring in some Latin flavors with Michelle’s recipe for chorizo tacos:

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Hotel Buffet 101: Everything You Need to Know

Hotel Buffet 101

The buffet is a time-honored tradition. Though known historically for its pomp and circumstance at lavish dinner parties in sixteenth-century France, today they’re more often associated with long lines and spotty service. Though every buffet offers something different — from cheap, gluttonous fare to extravagant fine dining — they can all run into the same problems. At Oyster, we’ve seen some of the best of the best (and the best of the worst) when it comes to the all-you-can-eat fest at hotels. Having learned quite a bit about when to steer clear and when to chow down, we thought we’d offer you some pointers — and let you in on some of our favorite buffets around the globe. Next time you hit the food line, make sure to ask yourself these five questions — and if all’s good, hunker down with your first (of many) dinner plates.

Rule #1: Are your servers in sight?

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25 Amazing Things to Make With Strawberries

Zoe Francois’ Beautiful No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

Shake off the winter blues and welcome in the vibrant, fresh flavors of spring! Strawberry season has commenced early this year, so celebrate with pies, smoothies and so much more. Here are 25 ideas to start enjoying everyone’s favorite berry. In no particular order…

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Neater Kernel Cutting

Cutting Corn Off the Cob

One of my favorite ingredients, Sweet Jersey corn, is starting to hit its peak, and I am trying to enjoy as much as I can, while also developing recipes for next summer. As we were tossing around ideas in the kitchen, one of our recipe developers said she refuses to cut kernels from the cob because it made such a big mess. “Half of the corn always ends up on the floor!,” she said.

I then realized that a lot of people don’t know of a simple trick I learned from an old chef years ago.

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Why I Like Using a Cleaver (More Than a Knife)

Cooking with a Cleaver

I never saw myself as a cleaver-user until Martin Yan gave me one. It was a thank-you gift for helping with a food demo. I was perfectly content with my collection of western-style knives up until then. But after several weeks, I decided to give Martin’s cleaver a chance. My life in the kitchen has not been the same since.

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Gumbo Secrets From the “Queen of Creole Cuisine”

Ben Sargent of Hook, Line & Dinner

“I went to Dooky Chase
To get me something to eat
The waitress looked at me and said

Ray, you sure look beat,

Now it’s early in the morning
And I ain’t got nothing but the blues”

—Ray Charles, “Early in the Morning Blues”

For anyone traveling to New Orleans on a food pilgrimage, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant is a must-stop. Thanks for the tip, Ray!

Leah Chase, co-owner and star chef at Dooky Chase, was just about the coolest person I have ever met.  I don’t just mean that in the sense of nice or friendly; cool is a much more suitable word.  Even better, she had moves in the kitchen and makes a mean shrimp gumbo.

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How to Host a Crawfish Boil

Crawfish Boil

It seems every part of the country has its own unique type of seafood extravaganza, whether it’s a Low Country boil in Charleston, a clambake in Maine, or a crawfish boil down in New Orleans.  I’ve been to quite a few in my day, but this year it was high time I hosted my own.

Crawfish season, which usually runs from late April through June and sometimes into July, just so happened to coincide with my boyfriend’s birthday. As if I needed another excuse to celebrate!

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