Cooking Tips rss

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

Recipes for Mint-Lovers

If you adore fresh mint, hounds have lots of recipe ideas for you.

Chocolatechipkt loves this grilled zucchini and bell pepper fattoush, in which mint is a key ingredient. nomadchowwoman purées mint with olive oil and whisks this into mayonnaise, which she says is great on lamb sandwiches.

Harters makes a tasty mint relish: Simmer 15 ounces cider vinegar with 1 pound sugar and 2 teaspoons dry mustard until the sugar dissolves, leave to cool slightly, then combine with 1 pound chopped tart apples, 2 chopped onions, 8 ounces mint leaves, and some raisins.

Crushed mint added to simple syrup at the end of cooking is good with fruit salad, ice cream, lemonade, and iced tea, and says DebL. Meanwhile, jencounter takes the easier iced tea route by simply adding a huge handful of mint when she brews it.

CHOW’s Braised Lamb Shanks with Mint-Parsley Pesto is a contemporary spin on roasted lamb with mint sauce or jelly.

Board Link: Mint

Time-Saving Iced Tea Concentrate

You can have iced tea at the ready anytime by making some homemade concentrate, suggests opinionatedchef. She steeps eight tea bags in four cups of hot water (or around 1/3 cup loose leaves in two to four cups of water) long enough to get a strong brew, then stores the concentrate in the fridge. Diluted, this concentrate will make several pitchers of iced tea. opinionatedchef also takes small containers of the concentrate when traveling and adds water and sweetener while on the road.

Board Link: 9/09: ICED TEA Your Beverage of Choice? Space and Time Saving Technique

Do Right By Pork Ribs

Country-style pork ribs can be cooked using a variety of methods. While they take a long time to cook, once they’re done, they will be super tender.

Uncle Bob massages the ribs with a dry rub and bakes them at 225°F on a rack over a pan until he can pinch off a piece easily. Add sauce and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or serve sauce on the side. gourdeaux agrees, saying, “There is enough fat in these things that they can simply be baked and will come out tender as all get out.”

meowzebub says the large amount of fat on ribs calls for braising. “Slow moist cooking melts much of the fat and the meat becomes luscious,” meowzebub says. He likes a braising liquid strong on citrus.

blue room cooks them on a bed of sauerkraut, apple, onion, and brown sugar. MARISKANY does them in a slow cooker with sliced onions, barbecue sauce, and crushed tomatoes.

Board Link: Pork shoulder country rib style (bone in)--how to make them delectable?

Perfect Panzanella

Panzanella, the Tuscan salad of stale bread, tomatoes, and herbs dressed with oil and vinegar, is ideal for the waning tomato season and a good platform for improvisation.

free sample addict aka Tracy L uses this Joanne Weir recipe, with the addition of 2 tablespoons of capers and 2 cloves of garlic.

rainey likes to use stale ciabatta, which soaks up the tomato juices and vinaigrette well. She adds thinly sliced fennel, chopped fennel greens, and red or yellow bell peppers, and lets it rest 6 to 8 hours, so the flavors really blend and mellow. chowser makes a caprese version with bocconcini, grape tomatoes, and basil. And CHOW’s panzanella recipe has cucumbers and a lemon vinaigrette.

Board Link: Your favorite panzanella recipe (tuscan bread salad)?

One Thousand Bread Pudding Ideas

You can use just about any kind of bread or cake as the base for bread pudding, say hounds. A combination of breads is good, too, according to gourdeaux.

Challah, brioche, and supermarket French bread are all good, neutral choices. Many hounds love croissant bread pudding. Cakes and sweet breakfast breads work well, too, but it’s a good idea to reduce the sugar in the custard mixture to avoid ending up with too much sweetness. Chowhounds have successfully made bread pudding with pumpkin bread, gingerbread, pound cake, unglazed cinnamon rolls, fruit Danishes, raised or cake doughnuts, and at the holidays, Italian panettone.

Try CHOW’s Croissant and Armagnac Bread Pudding

Board Link: Ultimate Bread Pudding Medium..

San Francisco Bay Area Alert: Chowing with the Hounds Picnic, October 3

Join fellow Chowhounds for the ninth Chowing with the Hounds Picnic October 3, 2009, in Berkeley’s Tilden Park. Come share delicious home-cooked goodies with fellow hounds and enjoy a tasting of 20 kinds of fruit. See the following link for details and registration information.

Chill Out with Icebox Pies

Icebox pies, with fillings that are chilled instead of baked, are perfect for warm weather.

amy_wong makes mango cream pie by combining whipped cream, softened cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mango purée, pouring this mixture into a crumb crust coated with a thin layer of white chocolate, then chilling; she gets the best results by using Alphonso mango pulp from an Indian grocery store.

jsaimd says this lime mousse cake in a gingersnap crust is a big hit, and alkapal thinks this lemon icebox pie is just right for late summer.

amy_wong also likes the chocolate peanut butter mousse tart from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, which she says “is easy to make and delicious at the same time.”

And check out CHOW’s Banoconut Cream Pie.

Board Link: Need ideas for icebox pies

Seared Tuna Steak Masterclass

Tuna steaks are great seared in a hot pan or grilled, and take well to Asian and Mediterranean flavors.

Hounds like tuna steaks seared with Japanese flavorings. CDouglas presses nori fumi furikake (a mixture of sesame seeds, salt, sugar, and seaweed) onto tuna steaks and sears them, then serves with a dipping sauce of shoyu and fresh wasabi. DMW coats the steaks generously with salt, pepper, and sesame seeds, then sears and serves with a wasabi and rice wine dressing.

toveggiegirl likes tuna with tomato-basil sauce, and says these tuna kebabs with ginger-chile marinade are “pretty amazing.”

KiltedCook brushes his tuna steaks with a lime-mayo mix and pats on panko before searing, and hotoynoodle likes them with citrus aioli or black olive tapenade.

Board Link: Treatments for tuna steaks

Fresh Dips for Veggies

Fresh-tasting, creamy dips are always good paired with vegetables for dunking. Amuse Bouches makes an avocado dip by whirring avocado, plain yogurt, salt, and either lime juice and cilantro or lemon juice and basil in a food processor until smooth. lrostron suggests classic green goddess dressing.

atomic mixes a cup of sour cream with a small jar of roasted red peppers and a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and basil to taste; quelle4 likes this easy sun-dried tomato cream cheese herb spread.

Megiac thinks Ina Garten’s smoked salmon spread is great with veggies, and LaLa suggests Martha Stewart’s buttermilk dip.

For something different, try CHOW’s Cobb Salad Dip with celery sticks or romaine leaves.

Board Link: Unique Dip for Veggies/Crudite

More Fig Seduction

The mania for late-summer figs continues, with Chowhounds offering more ideas for sweet and savory ways to use these versatile fruits.

Fresh figs are especially delicious paired with salty fresh cheeses like goat, Gorgonzola, and feta, and with cured pork. Many hounds like them halved, topped with goat cheese, and drizzled with honey or wrapped in prosciutto and briefly grilled. JasmineG tops pizza with figs and feta, and adds prosciutto as soon as it comes out of the oven. Basilette serves warm figs with feta and basil for a sweet-savory dessert.

“Fig tarts are the food of gods,” enthuses carswell. Quartered figs are amazing in this brown butter custard tart, says ginqueen (just substitute figs for the apples in the recipe). amazinc makes a “scrumptious” fig upside-down cake by substituting figs for pineapple in a standard recipe, and mnosyne loves fig-honey gelato.

Fresh figs are “great in certain sandwiches when you want to add an element of sweetness,” says Miss Needle. rworange is a fan of adding figs to grilled cheese sandwiches, especially when they’re made with a smoked cheese, which lends a bacon-y note.

And check out CHOW’s Chicken with Goat Cheese and Figs.

Board Links: Fresh Fig recipes
what to do w/fresh figs besides gobbling?