Cooking Tips rss

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

Sensational Salt Cod Dishes

Salt cod must be soaked in water for a day or more in order to remove much of the salt and make it pliable. Then it’s used in a variety of dishes. Here are some Chowhounds’ favorites.

Brandade—salt cod, mashed potatoes, butter, cream, and garlic, served hot as a spread with good bread—is one of TheSnowPea’s favorite appetizers. Barely set scrambled eggs with chunks of salt cod is one of the best tapas Miss Mac has ever had. tmso bakes soaked salt cod with olives, capers, onion, potatoes, and olive oil, and he says you can rinse pieces of it and let it reconstitute directly in a pot of simmering beans.

Lemon Curry recommends the Basque dish bacalao al pil-pil, salt cod in garlic sauce, which is made by slowly poaching salt cod in garlic-infused oil so its gelatin helps emulsify the oil into a sauce.

mrsleny likes the bacalhau from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, while jayt90 is a fan of the Caribbean dish ackee and saltfish, which he says justifies the high cost of ackee.

Board Link: Impulse buy- salt cod- now what?! Help!

Extra-Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

How do you get the fluffiest scrambled eggs? Chowhounds use a variety of methods. jerzzy asserts that a low burner and constant mixing are all that’s needed, but blue room adds a teaspoon or two of water for every two or three eggs. Miss Needle agrees that adding water makes fluffy scrambled eggs.

yayadave says that aerating with an immersion blender before scrambling does it, and maria lorraine whips with a hand-held mixer. tmso produced “scrambled egg clouds” by separating out half the whites, beating them to soft peaks, and folding the beaten eggs into the whites, then cooking. “Those were some seriously fluffy eggs.”

For a really unorthodox approach, Wiley adds a heaping tablespoon of creamed horseradish for every two eggs, saying the horseradish’s heat disappears as the eggs are cooked, but really fluffs them up somehow.

Board Link: Tip for fluffy scrambled eggs

Red Grapes in the Kitchen

There’s lots more to do with sweet red grapes than simply snacking on them—but, for snacking, pigtails recommends freezing them, saying they’re “very satisfying and sorbet-like straight from the freezer.”

katecm recommends roasting or sautéing them with some thin-sliced shallots, thyme, sage, and a splash of wine, and serving alongside red meat. Glencora likes to cook them with shallots and serve with grilled sausages and soft polenta.

adirao recommends CHOW’s Grape and Grappa Focaccia, and JalamaMama says pizza with grapes, rosemary, and blue cheese is great.

Finally, for a sweet treat, katecm washes and dries grapes well and chills until very cold, then drizzles them with melted bittersweet chocolate, tosses them in cocoa, and chills them again. “They’re crisp, delicious, and refreshing.”

Board Link: Ton of Grapes!

Super Short Ribs

Beef short ribs braised until fork-tender make terrific cool-weather eating. jfood starts short ribs two days ahead: First he marinates them overnight, then cooks them and chills them overnight, then reheats them on serving day.

Here are some short rib preparations Chowhounds love: MMRuth’s favorite is Balthazar’s braised beef ribs. Short ribs Provençale with crème fraîche mashed potatoes are fantastic, says kgebhard. John Besh’s Zinfandel-braised beef short ribs is jfood’s go-to recipe. Marge recommends Molly Stevens’ short ribs braised in porter ale with maple-rosemary glaze. Deenso calls these honey and vinegar–braised short ribs with spinach “absolute perfection.”

Board Link: “Wanted: World’s Best Beef Short Rib Recipe”

Just Add Prosciutto

Chowhounds have lots of great ideas for cooking with prosciutto. oldbaycupcake wraps prosciutto around chicken breasts stuffed with Boursin and cooks; waver loves asparagus wrapped with prosciutto, spread with Boursin, and grilled. cassoulady wraps it around pork chops, sears them on both sides, and finishes them in the oven. souschef seasons halved fresh figs with salt and pepper and drizzles with balsamic vinegar, wraps them with prosciutto, and grills the whole shebang. coll sautées frozen peas with prosciutto and pine nuts in butter, salt, and pepper.

pondrat says this artichoke-prosciutto gratin is so good, “people actually scrape the serving dish for scraps.” He substitutes Gruyère for Gorgonzola when making it for people who don’t like blue cheese.

Board Links: Need ideas for left over Prosciutto
Need ideas for leftover Prosciutto

Cooking With Hominy

Hominy, lye-treated corn with the hull removed, is sold in cans. It is used in posole, a Mexican pork stew. Here, Chowhounds share other uses for it.

KiltedCook makes a Southwestern succotash by simmering together one can each hominy with its liquid, diced green chiles, and drained and rinsed black beans, one tablespoon ground cumin, and one teaspoon chile powder until heated through. Serve with tortillas.

sadiefox recommends frying drained hominy in butter with your choice of seasonings and eating with eggs for breakfast. Will Owen likes to sauté it in butter with chopped onions and poblano chile, add eggs, and scramble all together.

Slurpy says this chicken posole is yummy and easy. soupkitten recommends a vegetarian posole, and says hominy makes a good addition to any hearty vegetable soup, especially Southwestern and South American-style ones.

Board Link: “What to do with a can of hominy?”

Savory Quick Breads to Spice Up Meals

Savory quick breads are a perfect accompaniment to fall’s soups and stews. Here, Chowhounds share their favorite recipes.

kmr finds Charlisa’s extra-good sesame drop biscuit muffins addictive. He says they’re “quick, colorful and very, very good.” katecm recommends this savory breakfast bread, and mpjmph loves this whole-wheat beer bread.

roxlet makes hoe cakes, saying, “Nothing is simpler to make, and they’re delicious with a little butter on them.” Here’s how: Mix equal amounts cornmeal and boiling water, add salt and green onions if you like their taste, and cook like pancakes on a hot pan or griddle.

Board Link: Your favorite savory quick bread?

Baked Goodies with Sweet, Crunchy Crusts

Try buttering pans for muffins, quick breads, and brownies, then dusting the pans with sugar to create a browned, crunchy crust. “I love the sweet crustiness it gives a slice of quick bread,” says fern, who adds that cinnamon sugar also works well when it complements the flavor of your recipe; she likes it with banana bread. heypielady likes the textural contrast between the crust and the cakey interior of breads, and says the sugar doesn’t burn or make the baked goods too sweet.

Board Link: “Flouring” cake pans with sugar

Serve Soups and Sauces Without a Drip

Here’s a neat trick for ladling out stock or soup neatly (or just spooning your own soup) without drips: “Lift the liquid-filled ladle or spoon out of the liquid, then dip it back in, most of the way, before lifting it out to pour or eat,”
instructs greygarious. “Something about surface tension draws the liquid from the bottom of the ladle/spoon away, so no drips.” This works better with thin to medium-bodied soups or sauces than with very thick ones.

Board Link: “To ladle or eat those soups and stocks without dripping…”

Easy as Apple Pie

Chowhounds have good tips for handling the apples in your apple pie. greygarious tested dozens of varieties of apple for pie, and her favorites are Empire, Northern Spy, and Macoun. She also likes to use a mixture of Macintosh and Honeycrisp. heypielady favors Northern Spies as well, but also recommends Cortlands as an easy-to-find alternative.

roxlet slices her apples very thinly with a mandoline. She finds they pack into the pie shell well, leaving very few gaps, and when the pie is baked, there’s no pocket between the apples and the top crust.

greygarious recommends a rotary apple peeler, corer, and slicer if you bake a lot of pies. This gadget does all those tasks at once, and produces a spiral-cut apple that’s easy to break into flat crescents, which neatly fill the pan with virtually no gaps.

TrishUntrapped recommends microwaving sliced hard apples briefly to par-cook, to ensure they cook through when you bake your pie.

Board Link: Apple Pie: Cutting up the apple, preferences?