Cooking Tips rss

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

Broccoli Stems Take Center Stage

While it’s usually the florets of broccoli that get all the attention, a number of Chowhounds are mad about broccoli stems, which, notes scubaadoo97, are the sweetest part. The florets and stems are almost two different vegetables, says tmso. “I think I like the stalks better. When serving them, I’ve had guests ask what that wonderful vegetable was.”

scuzzo thinks broccoli stems are “gold,” and peels and eats them raw. ipsedixit juliennes raw stems and adds them to salads for a nice crunch, but notes that “99 percent of the people think that you’re serving some sort of ‘artisan’ cucumber.” And oryza and gwendolynmarie have both pickled broccoli stems.

tmso’s favorite way to serve broccoli stems is poached and tossed with brown butter. toodie jane slices peeled stems in thick chunks and sautés them quickly with celery, then serves them sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. It’s a good flavor combination, she says.

Sam Fujisaka serves cold steamed broccoli stems with a miso-lemon drizzle or dip. almccasland cuts the stems into chunks and grills them. gwendolynmarie recommends tossing broccoli stems with garlic, red chile flakes, cumin, and a bit of toasted sesame oil and then roasting them; she also says that if they’re steamed quite well and trimmed, their inner core is so soft and silky that it can be mashed to be eaten alone or made into a dip.

Board Link: Broccolli stems

Celebrating New Potatoes

Chowhounds have lots of ideas about how to cook new potatoes. They’re usually freshly dug, small, and tender. alkapal asserts that “their creamy sweetness is best in the simplest preparations.” She prefers her new potatoes steamed and dressed with sweet butter and salt and pepper, or rubbed with good olive oil and sea salt and roasted. “It is the savory simplicity that is the ‘wow!’ factor,” she says.

Passadumkeg serves them steamed with lots of butter and a little fresh dill, while berkleybabe halves them, tosses them with olive oil, and roasts them with garlic and fresh rosemary.

jackie de also pairs new potatoes with rosemary: Put them in a skillet with butter and sprigs of fresh rosemary and add chicken broth to half the depth of the potatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are almost tender and the liquid is almost gone. Remove the lid, raise the heat, and cook until the potatoes are crispy. jackie de then serves them with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Jimmy Buffet grills his new potatoes, basting them with olive oil and sprinkling them with coarse sea salt just as they finish cooking. And, finally, bw2082 sautés them in duck fat with shallots.

Board Link: Favorite way to cook red new potatoes?

Other Uses for a Food Dehydrator

You can do lots more with a food dehydrator than just dry fruit and make homemade jerky, according to amyzan. She says dehydrators produce great coconut macaroons, because the outsides of the cookies get dry and crispy while the interiors stay moist. “Somehow the contrast is greater than with those baked in an oven,” she says. “They’re different in a dehydrator, but deliciously so.”

amyzan also uses a dehydrator to maintain a steady temperature for proofing bread dough and culturing yogurt, and says it does a nice job of recrisping anything that’s gone stale.

Board Link: Food Dehydrator Ideas

Deviled Egg Innovation

There are some pretty wild places you can take deviled eggs. scoopG likes to mix shallots, minced cooked shrimp, finely chopped celery, and mayonnaise into the filling.

beejiewoman mixes the yolks with avocado, a little mayo, finely minced cilantro, fresh lime juice, and a pinch of ground coriander, then garnishes with a cilantro leaf.

Nonny uses finely grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese with a small amount of salsa and mayo.

SweetPhyl uses mayonnaise, mustard, bacon, and horseradish, while garfish uses olive brine in the filling, and tops with a dollop of tapenade.

For simple additions to traditional deviled eggs, firecooked likes finely chopped jalapeño-stuffed green olives; michelle cindy likes Old Bay Seasoning; ldkelley likes Sriracha; and Quine likes black truffle oil.

Board Link: what are your fav flavorings for deviled eggs?

Dried Cherries Go Savory

Dried cherries are fab in baked goods, but they’re also great in savory dishes. “They give a flavor burst that fresh cherries don’t give,” says sarah galvin.

cocktailhour soaks dried cherries in port, then makes a reduction for duck breasts. smile81 simmers them in port with a splash of balsamic vinegar to make a sauce for pork.

WCchopper uses dried cherries in lamb meatballs. sarah galvin adds them to fresh ingredients to make compote, which she says is great with lamb and wild game.

lcool likes them with wild rice, or as a side dish or salad made with good oil, shallots, and sweet onions. lgss recommends adding them to a quinoa pilaf.

PattiCakes combines bagged broccoli slaw, toasted pine nuts, dried cherries, and coleslaw dressing. phoenikia makes this Waldorf salad, which includes dried cherries. Janet and quazi add them to tossed salads.

Board Link: Uses for dried Cherries (not just baked goods)

Getting Creative with Lingonberry Preserves

Lingonberry preserves are best known as an accompaniment to Swedish meatballs, but Chowhounds use them in many ways.

clepro suggests mixing lingonberry preserves with sour cream to fill blintzes; using them to top pound cake; or simply spreading them on toast. gudpal mixes them with plain yogurt, and Night Owl thinks they make a great filling for thumbprint cookies.

pengcast uses lingonberry preserves thinned with a bit of brandy or Cointreau to glaze roasted pork. DiveFan serves them with roasted turkey or chicken in place of cranberry sauce.

azhotdish makes this mustard-roasted salmon with lingonberry sauce regularly, and says it’s “supereasy.”

Board Link: Lingonberry Preserves

Perfect Corn on the Cob

There are many ways to cook corn to showcase its flavor. Many Chowhounds like to grill it. jfood simply throws ears of corn in their husks on the grill for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every 4 to 5 minutes. swsidejim soaks the corn in its husks in ice water for a couple of hours, then cooks it on a hot grill for about 25 minutes.

ESNY husks his corn, “lubes it up” with olive oil and salt, and then grills it until charred; Craterellus notes that with this method a really hot grill is key to getting some “caramelized color and flavor” without drying the naked corn too much.

C. Hamster puts corn in salted boiling water, covers, and turns off the heat: “Lift the lid after 2 minutes. If it smells like corn, it’s done.” But fershore argues that salting the water will toughen the corn.

JoanN thinks her microwave does a “spectacular job” of cooking corn, and says the silk slips off like a dream afterward. She cooks it in the husk, 2 to 3 minutes for one ear, 3 to 4 minutes for two, 5 to 6 minutes for four, 7 to 8 minutes for six. “I’d never cook corn any other way,” she says.

Board Link: Tips and Tricks for Cooking Corn on the Cob?

Making the Most of Cucumber

Chowhounds have many favorite ways of preparing cucumbers, especially during the summer months.

Jennalynn likes this cucumber-mint raita, and says it tastes great with fish. janetofreno makes a similar raita, but uses jalapeños and cilantro instead of cayenne and mint.

chowmel makes cucumbers in sour cream: Salt thinly sliced cucumbers and onions and let them sit for a few hours. Rinse (you should still taste some salt), and squeeze out the liquid. Add pepper and sour cream, then set it aside for a few more hours before eating.

valerie loves this sweet-and-sour cucumber salad with fresh dill, to which she adds red onion.

torty recommends making a quick pickle: Halve the cucumbers, seed if necessary, and slice them between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Add sliced onions to taste, salt lightly, sugar generously, top with the vinegar of your choice, and let sit for a few days in the fridge before eating.

Chowhounds also enjoy cooked cucumbers. Sherri makes a quick sauté of chopped and peeled cucumber pieces and scallions tossed with fresh dill.

Megiac quarters them lengthwise, removes the seeds, and cuts them into 1/2- to 1-inch-thick slices, tosses them in flour, then sautés them in olive oil until crisp-tender, before finishing with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

chowmel stuffs larger cucumbers with a filling similar to that used in pot stickers: minced shrimp, ground pork, garlic, and ginger. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, fill with the stuffing, and steam until cooked through.

Board Link: bumper crop of cucumbers- any suggestions?

Spirited Desserts

Introducing a bit of alcohol to the dessert course in the form of a flavorful spirit or liqueur adds sophistication and complexity even to something as simple as fresh fruit.

Grand Marnier is chef chicklet’s favorite, over mixed berries, in a soufflé, or in chocolate mousse. phan1 is a fan of Kirsch (clear cherry brandy) in creams and custards. Vetter loves the hazelnut-flavored liqueur Frangelico with chocolate or in pear butter. She also marinates pineapple and peaches in dark rum, brown sugar, and vanilla bean, then grills the fruit. And both crosby_p and lcool like green Chartreuse herbal liqueur on vanilla ice cream. crosby_p says, “The alcohol content is so high it actually bubbles in your mouth.”

Meanwhile, Gooseberry says that the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook offers recipes for a range of alcohol-based desserts.

Board Link: Your favorite alcohols in desserts!

Fresh, Fast Okra

Cooked okra has a reputation for unpleasant sliminess, but it needn’t be so. “The shorter and younger the okra, the more tender; the faster cooked, the less gelatinous,” explains drmimi.

chowmel tosses whole okra with oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and Aleppo pepper and then roasts it at 450°F for about 10 to 15 minutes. “Delicious, tender, soft, and crispy!” she raves. joshlane4 uses a similar preparation but grills the pods in a basket over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

ESNY’s favorite prep is to slice the okra into 1/2-inch-thick wheels, dust them with cornmeal (shaking off the excess so they are only lightly coated), and pan-fry them with a little oil in a cast iron skillet for a few minutes per side. Sprinkle them with salt and cayenne pepper, and let rest until cool enough to eat.

weezycom makes a Middle Eastern–style okra dish using very small pods: Sauté them in oil with a generous amount of garlic, then add tomato sauce, fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper, then serve with rice or couscous.

Board Link: Roasted Okra