Cooking Tips rss

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

Brownies with a Spicy Kick

Chocolate and chile can be delicious together, and some Chowhounds like the combo in brownies. janeh soaks a small ancho or morita chile in hot water to soften it, removes the stem, veins, and seeds, and purées it with the eggs before adding them to her recipe. “Gives a nice background kick to the brownies,” she says.

tommyskitchen soaks seeded dried chipotles, purées them with water and strains the liquid to remove any solids, then uses it in place of water to prepare a boxed brownie mix. This gives “a nice, mellow warm heat with each bite,” says tommyskitchen. jadec has used garam masala with chile powder in brownies.

breadandroses thinks Aztec Gold brownies, with chipotle, cinnamon, and espresso, are amazing, but says they’re pretty spicy, so he sometimes reduces the chipotle powder.

Board Link: Spicy brownies

Rhubarb Takes a Savory Turn

There’s more to rhubarb than pie. cayjohan loves rhubarb chutney with fatty grilled meat, and thinks rhubarb’s astringent flavor combines well with mustard. doughreme makes a compote of rhubarb cooked with sugar, lemon, and grated ginger to accompany pork chops.

AmyH thinks red lentils and rhubarb with Indian spices is excellent, but recommends making it with crushed garlic and grated ginger, instead of minced.

todao makes a savory quick bread flavored with rhubarb purée, garlic powder, and cumin. And carswell makes a salad of mint, arugula, cucumber and thinly sliced raw rhubarb dressed with lemon juice.

Board Link: Savory Rhubarb Recipes?

How to Season Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks

Rib-eye steaks are so tender and flavorful they don’t need heavy seasoning or marinating before grilling, say Chowhounds. Many simply sprinkle the room-temperature meat with salt and pepper before cooking.

Several hounds advocate dry brining: Rub the steaks with kosher salt and allow them to rest uncovered on a rack above a pan in the refrigerator for a day. This lets them dry out a bit, explains Phurstluv, who says, “they will be incredibly juicy.”

“I think you get a better crust that has lots of flavor,” agrees scubadoo97. “The loss of some water helps to concentrate the flavors in the meat.”

If you’d like to add some complementary flavor to your rib-eyes, NYchowcook recommends this grilled spiced rib-eye steak recipe. The salt, cumin, and allspice rub highlights the beefy taste of steaks, she says. silverhawk rubs rib-eyes with powdered dried porcini mushrooms mixed with salt, pepper, and olive oil. “This technique keeps the meat center stage, adds a hint of welcome flavor and fills the bill as ‘special,’” he says.

For a fun way to dress your steak, check out CHOW’s Grilled Rib-Eyes with Chile-Lime-Tequila Butter.

Board Link: Rib Eye Steak Marinade

Grilled Peaches, Sweet or Savory

Lots of Chowhounds are grilled peach fans, both as savory accompaniments to grilled meats, and for dessert. Simply brush halved peaches with oil or melted butter and grill, or try some of the following ideas.

ChristianW brushes peach halves with butter and balsamic vinegar, dips them in brown sugar before grilling, and then serves with pork. wallyz grills them with sage or rosemary, and says, “Aromatics with the grilled peach make for a great experience.” yummyinmytummy fills the cavities of halved peaches with blue cheese, wraps them with prosciutto (using toothpicks to secure), and grills until the prosciutto is crunchy. Or try CHOW’s Grilled Chicken Sausages with Peach-Sage Skewers.

For dessert, nomadchowwoman melts butter with dark brown sugar, a generous dash of ground cardamom, and vanilla, then drizzles this mixture over grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream. itryalot marinates peaches in rum, honey, lemon zest, vanilla bean, and brown sugar before grilling. HillJ says grilled peaches with mascarpone and agave nectar are “to die for!” And check out CHOW’s Baklava Sundae with Grilled Peaches.

Board Link: Grilled Peaches

Non-Pizza Uses for Fresh Oregano

Fresh oregano is a must for many Greek recipes, say hounds. bite bite sprinkles chopped oregano and red pepper flakes over feta and drizzles it with olive oil. tzurriz is a fan of this Greek-style tilapia. “I’ve made it three times in the last two weeks,” he says. “It is delicious! Seriously.”

Others say the herb is a great flavoring for grilled dishes. valerie loves grilled chicken with lemon and oregano. And fresh oregano works great in an herb crust for grilled steak or lamb, says qianning: Chop and mix with a little olive oil and other fresh herbs to taste, pat thickly onto the meat, then grill over a hot fire. The meat “stays very moist, and the crust adds a subtle but not overwhelming taste,” says qianning.

CHOW’s Oregano Marinade is used to dress Grilled Greek Salad and in Oregano-Marinated Grilled Chicken with Charred Lemons.

Board Link: Fresh Oregano Suggestions?

Premier Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Hounds agree the best oatmeal raisin cookies are moist, with plump raisins. Several hounds are fans of Quaker’s Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. rainey recommends using old-fashioned rolled oats rather than quick oats and plumping your raisins in juice or rum first.

ChesterhillGirl is a fan of Paula Deen’s Loaded Oatmeal Cookies. “Do try the brown butter glaze,” she recommends; “the cookies are good without the icing, but outstanding with it.” Antilope likes Cook’s Illustrated’s chewy oatmeal raisin cookies.

For variety, some hounds prefer to use dried cranberries or chocolate chips in place of raisins. And chowser adds ground ginger. “It makes a big difference for a small change,” she says. “You can’t taste it but can tell it’s different.”

Board Link: Killer Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe

Giving Eggs Benedict a Twist

Chowhounds have some great twists on classic eggs Benedict. In place of Canadian bacon, they use a variety of meats and vegetables, and a variety of toasted bread stands in for the English muffins.

Full tummy recommends this blender hollandaise, which he calls “blow-your-mind easy.” jmullen1251 folds chopped roasted poblano chiles into hollandaise and pours it over poached eggs or sweet potato pancakes. middydd likes lobster eggs Benedict for a splurge. And topbanana thinks the addition of minced fresh dill to hollandaise is divine.

Here are some other ideas: In place of Canadian bacon use smoked salmon and steamed asparagus; tomato, mashed avocado, and jumbo lump crabmeat; or tomato, avocado, and fresh spinach.

Board Link: EGGs Benedict

Showing Off Imported Canned Tuna

Imported oil-packed tuna is higher in quality, and tastes better, than domestic canned tuna, so it merits preparations where its flavor can shine. Here are some of hounds’ favorite ways to use it:

Try it in a salad with cannellini beans, sliced red onions, capers, fresh basil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, suggests critter101. “Serve on top of nice greens with great bread, and you have a wonderful meal,” he says. salsailsa likes niçoise salad: tuna in oil, cooked potatoes and green beans, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, onion, and olives with vinaigrette. Or try this Tuna, Olive, Avocado, and Green Bean Salad from CHOW.

wasabi uses oil-packed tuna to make a simple sauce for pasta: In a serving bowl rubbed with a cut garlic clove, mix the tuna and some of its oil with the zest and juice of a lemon, capers, and lots of chopped parsley, plus a pinch of chile flakes if you like. Add hot cooked pasta and a bit of its cooking water and toss.

And check out CHOW’s Pan Bagnat.

Board Link: Bought Italian Tuna packed in oil–now what?

Flame-Grilled Avocados

It may sound like a weird idea to throw avocados on the grill, but they’re great prepared this way, say Chowhounds. “A-m-a-z-i-n-g,” raves jmullen1251, who calls grilled avocado an “item of wonder.”

Start with very slightly underripe avocados, recommends Sam Fujisaka. “Ready when firm, slightly charred on the outside and hot and almost cooked in the inside,” he says. Cut the avocado in half or in quarters, leave the skin on, and grill cut-side down.

Hounds eat grilled avocados on their own, as a side dish, or use them in salads and salsas. You can brush them with oil and balsamic vinegar or mango juice and rum before grilling, or honey and lime juice after. Claudette grills avocados, peaches, shrimp, and halved heads of romaine to make a great smoky salad. (Use very light dressings so as not to overwhelm the smokiness, she recommends.) Old Spice loves kabobs of chunks of chicken and avocado with grape tomatoes and a lime-cumin vinaigrette.

Board Link: Grilled Avocado?

What to Do with Farro

Farro is a relative of wheat that is common in Italy. It’s usually sold in a semi-pearled form, says Zeldog, in which its husk is mostly but not fully milled away, so it cooks more quickly but retains some of the nuttiness of the whole grain. Chowhounds use farro in soups and salads as they would barley, wheat berries, or rice. EvZE thinks it’s very versatile. “Think of it like pasta,” he says. “You can have it hot, cold, in a salad, in soup, with beans, meat, side dish, main dish, etc.”

Hounds love farro salads. EvZE mixes farro with rice (cooked separately), chopped tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, and a vinaigrette dressing made from 3 parts olive oil to 1 part sherry vinegar, plus salt and pepper. Stuffed Monkey likes farro with dried cranberries, pecans, and a simple red wine vinegar and oil dressing containing a touch of Boyajian orange oil. Other favorite recipes include warm farro salad with roasted vegetables and fontina cheese and farro salad in grilled portobellos.

Another popular preparation is farotto, which is farro cooked risotto-style. Just substitute farro for the rice in your favorite risotto recipe, recommends C. Hamster. MSK is a fan of Farro Risotto with Asparagus and Fava Beans.

For breakfast, try CHOW’s Coconut Farro Porridge with Mango.

Board Link: Great Farro ideas?