Cooking Tips rss

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

Don’t Boil Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are terrific simply roasted, or in more complex preparations. To roast, halve the sprouts (or quarter, if large) and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400°F for around 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Dress with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or melted butter mixed with maple syrup.

Shredding Brussels sprouts gives them a whole different texture. Sauté shredded sprouts in olive oil or with bacon, or try CHOW’s Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Fried Capers.
avgolemona likes pasta with hashed Brussels sprouts and pine nuts. And jen kalb loves a salad of raw slivered sprouts with lemon, walnuts, Parmesan, and olive oil, saying, “It has a very fresh flavor.”

kchurchill5 makes a layered casserole of sliced sprouts, fennel, potatoes, and sweet potatoes with a mixture of vegetable broth, salt and pepper, and rosemary poured over, and a topping of walnuts and bread crumbs.

Board Link: Brussels Sprouts recipe?

White Truffle Oil Adds Instant Luxe

A drizzle of white truffle oil is an easy way to add a bit of luxury and lots of rich flavor to all kinds of dishes. High heat saps its power, so use it to dress finished dishes. Use it judidiciously, as a little goes a long way and too much can impart a harsh taste. Store it in the fridge to keep the flavor strong.

Here are some of Chowhounds’ favorite uses for white truffle oil:

• Drizzle over pasta, gnocchi, or risotto
• Top scrambled eggs, Swiss cheese omelet, or cheese soufflé
• Drizzle on mushroom soup or sautéed mushrooms
• Combine with melted butter and toss with popcorn
• Add to mashed potatoes (like these Truffled Fingerling Smashed Potatoes)
• Dress a simple green salad with oilve oil, white truffle oil, and salt and pepper

coll uses it on tomato and mozzarella salad during the summer, saying it “makes it taste peppery in a way that pepper can’t.” And AnglophileLV mixes a bit with honey and drizzles over Granny Smith apple slices, brie, and candied walnuts.

Board Link: How do you use white truffle oil?

Winning Ways with Cauliflower

Chowhounds love cauliflower prepared lots of ways, but especially roasted. Toss or brush cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast until they start to brown. Try roasting them with different spices, or brush with mustard, or substitute walnut oil for olive oil. fourunder likes CHOW’s Pepper-Roasted Cauliflower, but HillJ replaces the sugar with lemon juice. amyzan says the freshly toasted and ground spices in this roasted curried cauliflower recipe “make all the difference in flavor that really wows.”

Others steam cauliflower and purée it with a bit of broth or cooking liquid and butter or cream, making a satisfying mash that’s surprising close to potatoes.

Hounds are also fond of pasta paired with cauliflower, like spaghetti with roasted cauliflower, tomato sauce, and olives and
cheese-covered baked penne with cauliflower. LulusMom combines cauliflower with small shells, hot pepper, anchovies, and garlic.

Cauliflower also stars in comforting, rich casseroles like this soufflé-style puffed cauliflower cheese or this
cauliflower and horseradish gratin, which LulusMom calls “really wonderful.”

Board Link: Cauliflower? Ummm… Yummmm!

What to Do with Wheat Berries

Wheat berries are healthful whole grains that, once cooked, can be used like barley or rice in soups, salads, and pilafs.

Tom P uses wheat berries in salads with diced raw vegetables, fresh herbs, vinaigrette, and feta or goat cheese. CathleenH likes hers with chopped dried fruit and a maple-mustard-sherry vinegar dressing. c oliver recommends this warm wheat berry salad, and karykat likes
wheat berry Waldorf salad, which adds wheat berries and mint to the classic ingredients.

ourhomeworks uses wheat berries to start her day with a wheat berry breakfast bowl full of fruit and nuts.

Board Link: Wheat berries

Ravenous for Rutabagas

Rutabagas, called swedes in Britain, are a root vegetable related to the turnip with a sharp-sweet flavor. Peel away their waxy skin before cooking. happybellynh says they can be used anywhere you’d use other root vegetables: in soups, stews, roasts, pot pies, and casseroles.

Rutabagas can be prepared like mashed potatoes: cubed and boiled, then mashed with milk and butter. Candy likes them roasted, covered, with a bit of stock until tender, then puréed with butter and sherry. soupkitten mashes them together with potatoes. Harters likes them mashed with carrots, and grated/steamed rutabagas, carrots, and leeks.

Rutabagas make good creamy soups. dkenworthy likes CHOW’s Smoked Paprika and Rutabaga Bisque, saying: “The sweet, smoky flavor of the paprika really complemented the sharpness of the rutabaga.” greedygirl recommends Gordon Ramsay’s caramelized swede soup.

And check out CHOW’s Rutabaga with Mustard and Scallions.

Board Link: Rutabagas -- educate me, please.

Simple, Scrumptious Salad Dressings

If you’re tired of plain oil and vinegar, Chowhounds suggest trying these easy, flavorful dressings to add interest to salads:

• Soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, wasabi, and sesame oil. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors marry.

• Honey mustard dressing: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons each Dijon mustard and honey, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. It’s particularly good on grilled chicken salad.

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon each hazelnut oil and sherry vinegar, 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix it up an hour ahead so the cheese starts to dissolve. This makes enough dressing for four servings of salad.

• Olive oil with sherry vinegar, mashed anchovies, minced shallots, thyme, a little Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Tahini vinaigrette.

Penzeys salad dressing seasonings. The French vinaigrette, Parmesan peppercorn, and green goddess flavors are hound-approved for salads, as well as other dishes that need flavoring, like mashed potatoes.

Board Link: Got a good salad dressing recipe?

How to Cook Venison

Venison steaks and chops are delicious when correctly cooked. The meat tends to be very lean, says HaagenDazs, so be careful not to overcook it; treat it like beef but stop when it gets to the rare stage.

Marge says this venison with Madeira and green peppercorn sauce is delicious. Kaya_n_Austin cooks venison chops as she would chicken-fried steak. TNExplorer marinates venison steaks in red wine, crushed juniper berries, garlic, rosemary, and black pepper. Sear in a cast iron skillet, turn down heat to finish cooking, then remove steaks and add marinade to pan. Reduce, scraping pan, to make a sauce.

Board Link: How should I prepare Venison steaks and chops?

How to Make Perfect Roasted Potatoes

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to roasting potatoes: to parboil, or not to parboil. dolores parboils. “Toss them after parboiling with olive oil and spices, spread in a glass casserole dish, pop in the oven, and you’re good to go,” she says. Nyleve warns against tossing too gently: “Roughing them up a bit will give a nice crunchy texture when you roast them.” And themags feels the key is tossing the hot parboiled potatoes in hot fat (he preheats the oil in the roasting pan).

kchurchill5 doesn’t parboil. She quarters red potatoes, tosses them with olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, and rosemary, and roasts them at 400°F to 425°F for 30 to 40 minutes: “They are simple and perfect every time.” Others counsel turning the potatoes while in the oven so each side is exposed to the pan’s bottom, as well as soaking potatoes in salted water for about 15 minutes, then draining, patting dry, tossing with oil, and roasting. This technique reportedly works especially well with small potatoes roasted whole.

CHOW’s Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Potatoes are roasted at a very high temperature for a really crisp crust.

Board Link: Secret to great roasted potatoes

Hearty Risotto with Winter Greens

Tom P has combined two of his favorite things, risotto and sautéed greens, to create a terrific dish. He makes a simple risotto flavored with onions and cooked with white wine and chicken broth. Meanwhile, he sautés greens torn in bite-size pieces in olive oil and garlic, adding wine or chicken broth, plus balsamic vinegar to taste as they cook down. (Tom P likes to use a combination of chard, kale, and mustard and dandelion greens.) When the risotto is almost done, add butter, Parmesan cheese, and the greens, cover, and let sit a few minutes before serving.

Board Link: Risotto with Winter Greens ‐ so good.

Is That Oil Hot Enough to Fry In?

If you don’t have a thermometer, here are a couple of tricks for determining when your oil is hot enough to fry in. jfood describes the old-time method of dipping the handle of a wooden spoon or a wooden chopstick into the oil, and several hounds confirm that this does indeed work. When the oil is hot enough, it will bubble rapidly around the wood.

And Channa shares this simple method for checking oil temperature: Put a popcorn kernel in the oil as it heats. The popcorn will pop when the oil is between 350°F and 365°F, the perfect temperature for deep frying.

Board Link: Testing if oil is hot enough