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Avoid These Lasagna Common Mistakes

There is nothing like a good pan of lasagna. Gooey, cheesy, packed with carbs—this just might be the perfect comfort food. But screw it up, and we’re talking mushy noodles, soupy sauce, and congealed cheese. You deserve better than that, and so does this casserole. Avoid these common mistakes and make a perfect pan of lasagna—every time.

1. Overcooking the Noodles
“First, you have to decide what type of dish you want to make,” says Chris Morocco, senior food editor. “If you’re using no-boil noodles—which I sometimes do—it’s just not a real lasagna. It’s a baked pasta dish.” Hey, we get it—when you’re strapped for time, no-boil noodles can be a lifesaver. Just be sure to bump up the flavor and bring in the big guns with your sauce, cheese, and seasoning (nobody could accuse no-boil noods of being texturally great or overly flavorful).

That said, if you’re going big with traditionally-boiled noodles, err on the side of undercooking them. “Four to five minutes will do it,” says Rick Martinez, associate food editor. Remember that you’ll be cooking them again, by baking them in a hot

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Perfect Batch of Homemade Nachos

loaded-bbq-chicken-nachos-64839v0When it comes to homemade versions of our favorite bar food, nachos are pretty easy to whip up. But there’s a world of difference between gooey-cheesy-spicy-crunchy-salty-awesome nachos…and soggy nachos. Don’t make soggy nachos. Don’t make these common mistakes.

1. Choose Your Chips Wisely
A thick, sturdy restaurant-style tortilla chip is your one, your only when it comes to homemade nachos according to Dawn Perry, BA digital food editor. Perry, who tested a lot of nacho recipes in the search for the three best we’ve ever had, explains: “A thin chip may be crunchy and crisp, but it can’t take the weight of all of the toppings.” Whether you choose a big name chip or an artisanal, small-batch brand, be sure that it’s hearty and heavy: “Those kinds will have the greatest structural integrity,” says Perry. And just in case you think we’re being overly fussy, consider the tragedy of a chip that crumbles under pressure and falls apart halfway to your mouth. You should never have to know such sadness.

2. Pick the Perfect Combination of Cheeses
Forget about buying the best quality, most expensive sharp cheddar you can

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Make the Mac and Cheese of Your Dreams by Avoiding These Common Mistakes

exps148495_TH2379807C10_31_3bBoxed macaroni and cheese is easy. But so is whipping up a pan of the homemade version—and it tastes about 1,000 times better. But before you preheat that oven, hear us out: There are a few common mistakes many people make on their way to cheesy nirvana. We spoke with the Bon Appétit test kitchen to get the scoop on what missteps to avoid to make the macaroni and cheese of your dreams.

1. Nobody Likes Crunchy Pasta
When cooking pasta for a quick weeknight dinner, it’s conventional wisdom to remove it from the heat and drain it once it becomes toothsome but well-cooked, or al dente. For macaroni and cheese, however, it’s good practice to drain the pot a little before that point. Remember that the pasta is cooked twice: first in boiling water, and then later in the oven. Good macaroni and cheese should be a little soft in the middle, assistant food editor Claire Saffitz says. But that doesn’t mean you should let totally limp, mushy noodles get a passing grade.

2. Elbows Are My One, My Only
Elbows are a classic, but there are plenty of

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Even Lazy People Can Make This Fancy Edible Gift

Step into any specialty food shop and you’ll encounter shelves of fancy vinegars and flavored oils. While the sleek packaging (such pretty bottles!) and infinite flavor combinations make them tempting purchases, it’s far less expensive to make your own—and almost as easy as plunking down a credit card. Not only do they make excellent host/hostess gifts, we’re seeing them in fine dining settings, too—AL’s Place in San Francisco infuses oil with kuri squash peels and kale stems, and at a recent pop-up dinner in anticipation of his new restaurant, chef Bo Bech served an oil infused with pine needles taken from a tree in the lobby of the NoMad Hotel—that’s right, Christmas tree oil. Here’s how to make your own.

First, you need some oil
Your infused oil should be used exclusively for drizzling over soups, as a dip for good bread, and in vinaigrettes. You’re not cooking with it, so skip the neutral, high-smoke point oils, like canola, vegetable, and grapeseed. Instead, use an olive oil that has a buttery, sweet flavor profile. Avoid olive oils that are grassy, herbaceous, and bitter—while those are great on their own, they don’t combine with infused flavors well. Not sure what oils are

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The One Thing Standing Between You and Perfect Pork Belly

Under Pressure
Pressure cookers are great tools. We use them to speed up the cooking time for beans, some grains, and tougher cuts of meat. In these cookers, the elevated pressure actually increases the boiling point of water, making it possible to cook food in boiling water, except at a much higher temperature. What I mean is: Water boils at 212°F at sea level. If you’re cooking food in boiling water, the maximum temperature that your food will be exposed to will be 212°F. In a pressure cooker, depending on the model and the level of pressure in the pot, the temperature of the boiling water can reach as high as 250°F. The higher temperature means your food will cook faster—in some cases, four times as fast.

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Related: The 3 Best Pressure Cookers

Low and Slow
However, there are certain things, like pork belly, that are better cooked at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. Meats containing higher fat and collagen are supremely delicious and succulent but require more time to render the fat and melt the collagen. The amount of fat in a pork belly can vary widely.

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Your First Slice of Pie Deserves Better

Why is it so hard to make the first slice of pie look nice? No matter how cleanly you cut it, no matter how slowly and carefully you lift it from the pan, it always turns into a crumbly, sloppy mess. While all of your guests are eating perfectly tidy triangular slices, you’re left with a lumpy pie blob. It’s time to stop being a martyr and start enjoying the pie you deserve. Here are three fool-proof techniques that will set you up for success.

Let It Cool Fully
Yes, a pie cooling on the windowsill looks darling, but there’s a more practical reason for letting it come to room temperature before cutting into it: The filling will continue to congeal and firm up as it cools. Custards become thicker and fruit fillings become less runny—this all adds up to pie that holds its shape on the brief-but-perilous ride from the pan to the plate.

Use the Right Tools
Yes, the pie server matters. “You need one that’s offset quite a bit, so you actually get underneath the bottom crust—which the first piece is usually missing,” says Claire Saffitz, senior associate food editor. A heavy metal server will perform better than a

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How to Make a Pastry Bag in a Pinch

Like turning potatoes or making a béarnaise sauce by hand, forming a cornet—essentially a DIY pastry bag—from parchment paper feels like one of those things culinary students do once or twice and then never again. But unlike the first two, making a cornet is one technique I actually find myself using whenever I want to pipe something—royal icing or chocolate, for example—in a very precise way. It’s the tool you want to use for decorating holiday cookies or writing messages on cakes.

All you need to make a cornet is a sheet of parchment paper. The technique is simple: Take a square of parchment and cut it into two triangles, then fold the triangle onto itself to form a small cone. Cornets are small and fit easily into your hand, which gives you a lot of control. Just follow these steps and pipe on.

Start with a square of parchment paper; press opposite corners together and press edge, then cut along edge to form 2 triangles.

Orient one triangle so the longest side is at the bottom; mark the centerline from the top corner to the longest side.

Fold in the right corner so it forms a 45° angle between the longest side and

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