Cooking Tips rss

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

Poached Pears in Formalwear

Fall is pear season, and poached pears make a wonderful dessert. They can be virtuous or decadent, depending on the recipe and what you serve it with.

“Simply add cognac, and a star anise to simple syrup—poach away,” recommends epabella, who notes that “adding a bit of unsalted butter at the very end is also good.” Chefpaulo poaches pears in ginger ale, stuffs them with a mixture of gorgonzola, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and chopped walnuts, then chills. To serve, bring to room temperature and drizzle with sherry.

Pears poached with red wine are popular. normalheightsfoodie poaches peeled, cored pears in sweet red wine and cinnamon. “The whole pear should turn red,” he says. “You can fill the middle with mascarpone.” jeniyo says this recipe for scarlet poached pears “looks festive and yummy indeed!!”

phoenikia likes poached pears with ginger and port, while CHOW’s recipe for Port Poached Pears uses cinnamon and allspice.

My favorite is poached pears with chocolate-pear sauce, served with raspberry sorbet.

Board Link: poached pear recipes?

Bake the Perfect Brownie

Your choice of brownie recipe depends partly on what type of brownies you want to end up with. Some are fudgy, some are cakey, some are chewy, and some are downright decadent.

buttertart’s go-to recipe is Nick Malgieri’s “supernatural” brownies, to which she adds 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, a few drops of almond extract, and walnuts or pecans, baking them only until solid in the center. These brownies must rest overnight before cutting to attain maximum fudginess. “They are completely different and nondescript if you don’t let them rest,” says buttertart. “It IS supernatural what happens to them.”

chowser likes the Malgieri recipe when she wants something chewy, but says that these man-catcher brownies are chocolaty, thick, and decadent, while CHOW’s Intense Brownies have a more adult flavor. When she wants to gild the lily, she makes Dorie Greenspan’s chipster-topped brownies, which are topped with a layer of chocolate-chip cookie dough.

Or you could always take the easy way out.

Board Link: Nick Malgieri’s Supernatural Brownies - is there really a better recipe? I think not.

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