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Ideas, advice, and what to make now from the Chowhound community and CHOW editors.

Half-Hour Dinners with Baked Fish

Baked fish fillets or steaks make easy, no-fuss meals, as using the oven is an easy way to cook dishes low in added fat.

Will Owen bakes fish in fresh salsa, such as pico de gallo, to which he adds capers and olive oil. He makes a bed of salsa, adds thick fillets or a double layer of thin fillets, covers with more salsa, and bakes at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes. pasuga bakes salmon smothered in salsa and says, "The salsa keeps the fish very moist."

millygirl bakes fish in parchment with orange juice, a touch of olive oil, sliced fennel, a few black olives, red onion, herbs, salt, and pepper. "OMG, it is wonderful," she says. "I sometimes even add some rice or very small pasta. I've even served this dish for company and everyone loves how flavourful it is."

Veracruz-style red snapper "is always a good bet for healthy, delicious baked fish," says goodhealthgourmet. She also likes black sea bass with Moroccan vegetables and chile sauce.

valerie is a fan of a halibut with capers, olives, and tomatoes. janniecooks recommends cod in fennel-tomato broth, but thinks a shot of Pernod "is necessary to bring out the fennel flavor."

Discuss: your fave baked fish recipe

Taming Rapini’s Bitterness

Rapini, also called broccoli rabe, is a green with a bitter bite that "can be toned down by making it compete for attention with other flavors: sweet, salt, sour, umami. Or with spice," says Junie D. Bitterness also varies from bunch to bunch, she adds. Many also find that briefly blanching it before further cooking can reduce bitterness.

Favorite hound takes on rapini:

• Pasta with sautéed rapini, spicy italian sausage, golden raisins, garlic, chicken broth, and pecorino.
• Rapini with anchovies, garlic, and chiles sautéed in olive oil. It can then be served as a side, used in soup, and tossed with pasta, a classic treatment. mbfant blanches the rapini in boiling water before sautéing, lifts it out, and then cooks the pasta in the same water.
• Sautéed with garlic and oil, topped with tomato sauce, and used as a sandwich filling.

Discuss: Rapini

No More Naked Steak

Salt and pepper are all many Chowhounds require on a flavorful steak. If you wish to gild the lily, though, here are some delicious ways to dress your next one.

Many hounds like to finish steak with a pat of compound butter. weezycom uses sage, stone-ground mustard, parsley, and minced shallots in butter. Perilagu Khan uses salt and pepper, lemon juice zest, and a healthy amount of fresh thyme. Also good mixed into butter: smoked paprika or wasabi.

kasden sprinkles steak with garlic salt, then pats crushed peppercorns into the meat with a little olive oil and cooks in a cast iron skillet. Remove from pan, add sliced mushrooms and onions, and sauté until they begin to brown. Add some red wine and reduce, then add a pat of butter.

almansa likes a simple pan sauce of butter and Worcestershire sauce, while hannaone sautés sliced mushrooms, onions, and peppers in drippings from the steak. bitsubeats tops steak with harissa, and says, "holy crap is that good."

For steak with a sunny feel, try topping with CHOW's Chile-Lime-Tequila Compound Butter

Discuss: How Do You Top Your Steak?

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I've fried these little guys in oil until they're brown and crunchy, then sprinkled them on top of nasi goreng and other Indonesian dishes. You'll often find them recommended in Southeast Asian cookbooks as a shortcut to making this traditional regional garnish." - heidipie, on dried minced onions

"I have lived without a microwave for most of the past decade. How I reheat something depends on what it is: lots of things, I will reheat in a bowl set in a bamboo steamer if I want them to be moist, in the toaster oven in foil if I want them to be crispy or less moist, or on the stove in a pot if they are of the right consistency (stew-like)." - lotuseedpaste

"For years I have microwaved chocolate and almond butter together, tossed in cereal, and coated the whole thing with a mix of powdered sugar and cocoa powder." - xcskier20, on microwave snacks

Eggs Make the Meal

Eggs are inexpensive, healthy, and cook quickly, making them a perfect centerpiece for lunch or dinner when combined with vegetables and other savory ingredients.

"I love making a composed salad with a poached egg on top," says smtucker. "Break the egg and it becomes part of the dressing."

sholli is a fan of asparagus topped with a poached egg and Parmesan, and says he puts poached or soft-boiled eggs "over anything—other hearty veggies (roasted Brussels sprouts, garlicky spinach or kale, etc.), homemade black beans with salsa, and even potatoes or a root veggie hash for a breakfast-as-dinner approach."

ziggylu loves French lentils braised in wine and topped with a poached egg.


Overnight Oatmeal for Grab-and-Go Breakfasts

Even if you lack the time or inclination to cook in the morning, you can have a hearty and healthful oatmeal breakfast ready to go with minimal labor the night before.

Hot old-fashioned rolled oats will cook overnight in an insulated beverage container, rworange has found. "Using Quaker rolled oats (not quick), I put 2/3 cups boiling water in a thermos and add 1/3 cup rolled oats," she says. "The next morning I open it and ... hot oatmeal." Sometimes she adds dried fruit and cinnamon when she sets it up. This works best with a stainless steel thermos, rworange notes.


Luscious Olive Oil Gelato

What does olive oil lend to the sweet treat that is gelato? rainey thinks it gives a "hard-to-define fruity quality" that's quite delicious. HillJ says, "The back flavor is olive oil essence and the mouthfeel much smoother with the inclusion of olive oil."

This recipe is the most delicious that HillJ has tried; she makes it with an extra-light olive oil. markabauman uses a similar recipe, but infuses the milk with basil. rainey makes this Meyer lemon olive oil ice cream with lemon olive oil and limoncello.

Discuss: Olive Oil Gelato

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"The other day I tried a recipe for white bean gratin which was absolutely fantastic. I couldn't believe how tasty it was despite its simplicity. It had an amazing depth of flavour without containing stock, and it was incredibly creamy without containing any dairy." - NickMontreal

"Just miso paste and hot water isn't bad if you're in a hurry and want something hot, but I think miso soup made with dashi is a whole lot more flavorful/complex/etc. and only takes about 5–8 minutes longer." - kilercow

"I like it on roast chicken, with roast pork or in a seasoning mix with cracked coriander for beef. It imparts a spiciness to food and tends to numb the tongue. You can put it on green vegetables, as well." - bushwickgirl, on Sichuan peppercorns

Beef Stew with Soul

The correct cooking techniques and ingredients rich in umami will take a basic beef stew from simply hearty to deeply flavorful.

"The biggest key for me is browning the meat well," says alanbarnes. "Not just cooking it until it loses its reddish color, but subjecting it to very high heat (skillet, broiler, gas grill, blowtorch, whatever) until it has a really good mahogany-colored crust on the outside."

Seasoning is also vital. "Don't underestimate the role of salt in your stew," advises TorontoJo. "Salt and pepper the meat before browning it. Salt the stew while it's cooking, taste it after the salt has had a chance to blend in, add more salt if you think it needs it. I also like to use soy sauce to add saltiness and an extra boost of umami."

Richly flavored braising liquid helps. Hounds like to use good beef stock, especially in combination with fruity red wine or a stout or ale. "Guinness is a magical ingredient paired with beef," says kattyeyes, while joonjoon likes Chimay in stew.

Beef stew's flavor can be punched up with umami-rich ingredients. Try minced rehydrated dried mushrooms or powdered dried mushrooms, tomato paste, or Worcestershire sauce. "A few minced anchovies sautéed with the onions after browning the meat give a nice added dimension," says King of Northern Blvd.

For a different spin on the dish, Val recommends this recipe for mahogany beef stew with red wine and hoisin sauce, which she says is "utterly awesome with horseradish mashed potatoes." karykat says the hoisin "adds a sweet-sour-spicy note that is good." Both reduce the hoisin a bit to avoid making the dish too sweet.

Discuss: How to give beef stew more punch?

Crazy for Eggplant

Eggplant is great as the base for a dip or spread. "Eggplant roasted into submission, minced garlic, mayo, salt, pepper" is the_MU's simple recipe. "That's it," says the_MU. "Serve with warm pita, or eat with spoon." eight_inch_pestle purées roasted eggplant with Parmesan, minced parsley, and garlic, and stirs in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Baba Ghanoush is karianne's favorite, "hands down."

Jetgirly likes eggplant-heavy Thai-style roasted vegetables (she uses yellow curry paste).
cheesemaestro loves a Northern Burmese recipe from the cookbook Hot Sour Salty Sweet titled the best eggplant dish ever (scroll down).

fearlessemily recommends Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce. gourmet wife dresses steamed eggplant with a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, chile sauce or oil, vinegar, and cilantro.

Many hounds love eggplant Parmesan, either made the traditional way with fried eggplant, or with roasted or grilled eggplant, and fearlessemily likes Ina Garten's rich eggplant and tomato gratin.

TorontoJo is a fan of scuzzo's method of cooking eggplant on a waffle iron.

Discuss: Your favorite recipe for eggplant