Need cooking advice? Search Internet for live-action videos

By Erica Marcus

Newsday (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, April 24 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

The deal: Epicurious, one of the Web's most authoritative culinary destinations, is home to hundreds of well-produced videos. Although there is no dedicated video search function, you can easily browse the 12 "channels," the most helpful of which are "80 global recipes," techniques, holidays, entertaining, wine guide and cocktails. Each of the "80 global dishes" is demonstrated by a chef-instructor from the Culinary Institute of America and comes with a printable recipe. The technique videos are arranged under 17 general headings (such as coffee, eggs, napkin folding, sauces and stocks), and many of them feature noted experts. In the 12 coffee videos, for example, Mike Phillips found as this, please doubleck/pb, of the esteemed roaster-retailer Intelligentsia Coffee, explains how to chose a coffee grinder, make an espresso, use a Chemex brewer, among other skills.

The site: amieshomecookingskills.com

The price: Free

The deal: British chef-polemicist Jamie Oliver developed this ambitious site to help adolescents learn basic cooking skills. There's information here not only for kids but also for their teachers and parents, as well as fact sheets on such diverse topics as shopping for beef and handling food safely. The printable recipes are of limited usefulness since they only give metric measurements, but the 40-odd video skills, from carving a chicken to cutting a mango to my favorite, "the all-important rubbish bowl," are wonderful. This site is a great one for kids.

The site: chow.com

The price: Free

The deal: CHOW.com" TARGET="_blank">CHOW.com, best known for being the home of the chowhound message boards, is also a great source of video cooking instruction. The site: has a number of video "collections," but my favorites are "Chow tips" and "You're doing it all wrong." Chow tips are very brief, bare-bones instructional videos on subjects as diverse as how to clean your blender, how to tell the age of an egg, how to store foie gras, how to cut the perfect slice of cake, how to make "supereasy" tart dough. Most of these clock in at under 45 seconds. The comparatively rambling "You're doing it all wrong" videos (between two and three minutes long) explain, often hilariously, why you should not use chopsticks to eat sushi, why you should not poach your matzo balls in chicken broth, why you should not stir-fry in a nonstick pan.

The site: cooksillustrated.com

The price: $34.95/year

The deal: Since it was founded in 1980, Cook's Illustrated, the exhaustively researched cooking magazine, has spawned a television show, "America's Test Kitchen," dozens of books and a sister magazine, Cook's Country (with its own TV show). Features from all of these media make the website, cooksillustrated.com, unusually rich. There are hundreds of hardworking recipe and skill videos, but also the eye-opening blind taste tests and equipment explainers that Cook's Illustrated is famous for. Here is where to find a video guide to buying frozen shrimp, seasoning cast-iron pans, choosing baking apples, a new technique for making French omelets. An annual subscription to the website costs $34.95, but that also grants access to the equipment and product reviews, which I always read before making a major kitchen purchase.

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