Give beans a bath

Q: Many bean recipes and the (recipe on the) bag itself require pre-soaking or boiling and draining off the first water. I've known people who ignore this. Why is it recommended? Why can't you just cook them?

A: Basically, the reason you soak dried legumes is twofold: first to shorten the overall cooking time; second to ensure even cooking (the rehydration aids in this). Peas and larger beans have an essentially waterproof outer layer; water can get in only via the small hole where the legume was attached to the stem. That's why soaking takes so much time.

The other major advantage to soaking is to counteract the possible gastric unpleasantness that can result from eating beans. Most of the properties that cause this unpleasantness are water-soluble; when you soak beans in water, those properties move from the beans to the water. Discarding the soaking-water, then, will greatly ease the digestion process.

-- Food Network Kitchens

Flay comes to Kohl's

The Food Network is expanding its partnership with department store operator Kohl's Corp. to launch a line of kitchen and entertaining products developed by celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

The Bobby Flay at Kohl's brand, which will be launched exclusively at Kohl's stores this spring, will include cookware, dinnerware, kitchen gadgets, utensils, cutlery and grilling tools.

Earlier this year, the network launched its own line of cookware and kitchen gear in partnership with Kohl's.

-- AP

Bubbling up

For even more bubbles when you're pouring sparkling wine, wipe the inside of your flute with a paper towel before filling it. The microscopic tubelike fibers left behind channel the bubbles upward, for extra-bubbly bubbly.

-- Food Network Kitchens