Cooking Tips rss

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

For Perfect Enchiladas, Treat Your Tortillas Right

Briefly frying tortillas in oil before rolling them is key to making great enchiladas, say Chowhounds. The oil brings out the corn flavor of the tortillas and keeps them from absorbing too much sauce and becoming mushy, improving the enchiladas’ texture. As an alternative to frying in a quantity of oil, you can brush the tortillas with oil and toast them on each side in a skillet, or heat them on a baking sheet in the oven.

Hone your technique by making CHOW’s Cheesy Enchiladas or Crispy Turkey Enchiladas

Board Link: Corn tortillas…soften in oil or not?

How to Cook Boneless Turkey Breast

Boneless, skinless turkey breast is so lean it dries out unless you cook it carefully. Instead of cooking it whole, you can slice it into cutlets to sauté; cut it into strips and cook quickly for fajitas, salads, or sandwiches; or grind it with apple, onion, and seasonings to make sausage patties.

Marinating overnight adds flavor and helps keep the turkey moist. Kater makes a marinade of juice, lime zest, olive oil, tequila, garlic, cilantro, red onion, chipotle chile, cumin, salt, pepper, and the juice of an orange, then grills the breast. valerie mixes 1/2 cup each warmed honey and low-sodium soy sauce with some ginger and garlic, pours that over the turkey to marinate overnight, then roasts at 375°F for about 45 minutes.

Boneless turkey breasts are also good butterflied, stuffed, and rolled; you can drape it with bacon to keep it moist and then bake or braise. The meat’s also a good candidate for the slow cooker, or you can go to the other extreme by making Spicy Turkey Jerky.

Board Link: help please. what to do with a boneless skinless turkey breast

Ethereal Gnocchi, Rich Sauce

Great gnocchi are ethereally light, but these airy pillows are at their most delicious when napped with earthy or rich sauces. Brown butter and sage is classic; try sautéing breadcrumbs and gnocchi in butter and finishing with a sprinkle of Parmesan, or pairing sage with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and pecorino. Meyer lemon gnocchi, with lemon in the gnocchi themselves and in the accompanying butter sauce, is the go-to recipe for a couple of hounds.

Others like a tomato cream sauce, Gorgonzola and walnuts, or duxelles with pancetta or prosciutto. As an alternative to potato gnocchi, some are fans of ricotta gnocchi. For a very special dish, try truffled gnocchi with peas and chanterelles, which capeanne calls “truly addictive.”

Also check out CHOW’s Chestnut Gnocchi with Robiola Cheese Sauce.

Board Link: Best Gnocchi recipe?

Desserts Perfumed with Rose

Rose water is a traditional component of many Persian sweets, but Chowhounds like to use it in a variety of desserts. gourmet wife says a touch of rose water brings out the flavor of berries; she also adds a bit to tea and drinks it hot or iced.

Others use it in baking. Try pistachio cake with chilled rose syrup or Persian Love Cake, which has rose water in the frosting. farmersdaughter adds rose water to meringues before baking, then serves them with berries and cream whipped with some more rose water. And TimCarroll says many baklava recipes include it in the filling and syrup.

Rose water works with creamy desserts, too. Infomaniac says rice and rose water pudding is “a very simple and rich dessert.” Rose water, saffron, and pistachios flavor a classic Persian ice cream; you can make a shortcut version, or make it from scratch.

Board Link: desserts with rose water?

Pasta That Tastes Like Spring

Chowhounds have flipped for penne with asparagus, sage, and peas, which is full of bright, springlike flavor. kattyeyes added about a quarter pound of pancetta and left out the butter, while maisonbistro added lemon zest.

kattyeyes has also enjoyed angel hair pasta with crab and country ham recently.

For more spring flavor, check out CHOW’s Cooking with Spring Ingredients. For more on pasta and what it pairs well with, see CHOW’s When Pasta Met Sauce.

Board Link: Penne with Asparagus, Sage and Peas (April Food & Wine)

Sunny Side Up Perfection

A perfect sunny side up egg with nicely set, tender whites and a runny yolk, is a beautiful thing. It can be maddeningly difficult to achieve, however. alanbarnes has discoved one way to do it: He poured a fairly deep puddle of bacon fat (you can also use normal oil) into a skillet over low heat and broke the eggs in so that the fat came up over the whites, and the yolk sat above it. “Quite a bit of oil needed to be drained off before the eggs were served,” says alanbarnes, “but that’s why God put slots in spatulas, right?” Karl S says that this is how fried eggs are done in Europe, and adds that you should allow the eggs to float in the oil.

Chowhounds have other strategies for setting the egg whites without overcooking the yolks. You can baste the whites with hot oil from the pan to promote even cooking, says KTinNYC. Once the whites begin to firm up, JalamaMama adds a couple of teaspoons of water to the pan and puts a lid on it. “Maybe 3–4 minutes later I have a perfect egg—runny yolk yet firm whites,” she says. Joebob pokes slits in the whites with a spatula so the uncooked white can hit the pan and cook.

Board Link: The pefect fried egg (why did it take me 30 years to figure this out?)

What to Do with Purple Potatoes

Purple potatoes are a nice change from white and yellow varieties. They’re a medium-starch potato that many Chowhounds like best roasted. janeh roasts them with Yukon gold potatoes and yams for a variety of colors and flavors. She also mashes them unpeeled, and says, “the color is pretty spectacular.” Purple potatoes cook more quickly than other kinds when boiled, so watch carefully, warns scubadoo97.

kchurchill5 makes a red, white, and blue potato salad with purple, red-skinned, and white potatoes dressed with a light vinaigrette. ziggylu uses purple fingerlings to make a salad with either blanched snow peas or green beans. Toss with a bit of olive oil, some lemon juice, your favorite herbs, and salt and pepper.

Purple potatoes are also part of CHOW’s Lentil Hummus Wrap with Pomegranate Molasses.

Board Link: How should I prepare purple potatoes?

Go Ape for Monkey Bread

Monkey bread is a fun concept. Balls of bread dough are dipped in melted butter; once baked, you pull apart chunks to eat. Most versions are sweet, and involve rolling the butter-dipped dough in sugar or cinnamon sugar. Many recipes use frozen rolls and pudding mix, but there are great from-scratch recipes.

This monkey bread recipe has classic sweet roll flavors; it’s “fun and delicious to eat,” says sugarNspice. hummingbird makes this savory herbed monkey bread.

Board Link: Monkey Bread - Do you have a favourite recipe?

Winning Ways with Saffron

Saffron adds exotic flavor and an attractive color to both savory and sweet dishes. To get the most flavor and color, crumble saffron threads and dissolve them in a bit of water before adding to a recipe.

Saffron matches well with dairy. arifa grinds a few threads and blooms in a little water or milk, then mixes this with yogurt and sugar. Procrastibaker adds a pinch to the custard for honey-vanilla ice cream. relizabeth greases a baking dish with olive oil and sprinkles with salt, pepper, and a pinch of saffron, then tops with high-quality ricotta and more salt and pepper and bakes at 350°F for 25 minutes. Serve with salad, bread, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Saffron is also a natural with seafood: Try it in a seafood soup with fennel. JennyHunter steams mussels in a mixture of white wine, cream, shallots, garlic, and saffron, then adds a handful of fresh spinach. “Make sure you have a nice bread to soak up all of the sauce,” she advises.

More ideas: Add saffron to a basic risotto, couscous, plain basmati rice, garlic soup, or scrambled eggs; or try sautéed fennel with almonds, raisins, and saffron

Board Link: Saffron - I need your best recipe!

Bliss in a Bowl

Soup is a comfort food that changes with the seasons, but certain ones are bliss in a bowl. One key to great soup is using homemade stock, which salsailsa says “makes a huge difference in the final product.”

Here are some soups that make hounds swoon:

Cream of asparagus soup or crema di asparagi allo zafferano (asparagus soup with saffron)
• Quick avgolemono, orzo, and chicken soup
Pasta e fagioli
Corn and crab bisque
• Roasted curried butternut squash, or butternut squash and Fuji apple
• Chicken with dill and mashed potatoes whisked in (to thicken the soup)

Board Link: SOUP, SOUP, SOUP