Ideas, advice, and what to make now from the Chowhound community and CHOW editors.
oolah loves pignoli cookies from Italian bakeries—almond macaroons rolled in pine nuts—and craved a gelato to match their flavor. When she couldn’t find a recipe, she came up with her own, which she says tastes like a less sweet pignoli cookie (but is extra special when served with pignoli cookies!):
3/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
5 egg yolks
Put pine nuts in a pie pan and roast them at 350°F until fragrant; cool. Put roasted pine nuts and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and process until you get a paste with a texture similar to peanut butter. Combine this with whole milk in a saucepan. Add almond extract. Bring to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. While the milk is heating, whisk egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Once milk mixture boils, slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Pour back into saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly (do not allow to boil). Remove from heat once custard is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Chill for at least 3 hours. Process in your ice cream maker, and freeze overnight before serving.
Board Links: Pignoli (pine nut) ice cream or gelato
Banh chuoi is a Vietnamese cake literally full of bananas—and they provide all of its sweetness. It’s so simple, yet so amazing, marvels Candy. It’s a dense cake that would be great with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.
1 1/2 pounds very ripe bananas
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper. Choose the firmest of your bananas, and set aside half for the top of the cake. Cut the remainder in 1/8-inch slices and place in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the egg, milk, melted butter, and flour. Gently mix this batter into the sliced bananas and pour into the prepared pan. Slice the remaining bananas 1/16-inch thick, arrange the slices decoratively over the top of the cake batter, and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake 1 1/2 hours, until golden. The cake will puff up in the oven, and fall as it cools.
Board Links: Too Many Overripe Bananas?
Chowhounds have found at least four ways to cook crispy bacon that keeps splattering fat off their stovetops.
Oven: Some use a rack over a rimmed sheet pan, some don’t bother; some turn the bacon, some don’t bother. All agree that your bacon strips will stay nice and flat in the oven. Takes about 20 minutes to crisp up at 350°F.
Broiler: nicoleberry83 flips the bacon when it begins to curl up a little. The broiler’s fast, and all the fat drains away in the broiler pan.
Microwave: Line a plate with several paper towels, a single layer of bacon, and a few more paper towels. Cook at high power 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the amount of bacon, your microwave, and your taste. The paper towels soak up a ton of grease.
Grill: Veggo swears by bacon on the grill, saying it gives extra flavor, fat drains away without causing flareups, and the bacon even stays flat.
Board Links: Alternatives to pan frying bacon
This is a dish that’s much more than the sum of its parts: spaghetti with pecorino and black pepper. It’s an old Roman preparation known as pasta cacio e pepe, and traditionally it’s nothing more than hot, freshly drained spaghetti tossed with grated Pecorino Romano, coarsely crushed black pepper, and a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. At its best, it’s a lovely marriage of simple ingredients, with cheese coating each strand of spaghetti, forming an even, almost silky coating.
Some keys to doing it well: Use a mortar and pestle or a heavy frying pan to coarsely crush a generous amount of black peppercorns. Use high-quality cheese, and don’t grate it too finely or it will clump. Toss everything together quickly, with plenty of pepper. If you must gild the lily, the addition of a couple of ounces of diced pancetta, sautéed, per pound of pasta is a terrific addition, insists Old Spice; use a short, tubular pasta to catch those bits of pancetta.
Board Links: pasta with pecorino and pepper
“Potato” and “fudge” aren’t two words you’d expect to see side by side, but this old-fashioned, thrifty homemade candy is, indeed, made from cooked potato. With its peanut butter filling, it reminds meltedcheese of a softer Abba-Zaba.
sarahbeth knew this treat as “Flitch” growing up. Here’s her recipe:
1 small baking potato
1 pound powdered sugar
Vanilla extract (optional)
Boil potato until tender and peel. In a bowl, mash potato smooth with a fork. Begin mixing in powdered sugar, and continue adding sugar and mixing until the mixture is the consistency of dough. If desired, add a few drops of vanilla.
Put the dough between two sheets of waxed paper sprinkled with powdered sugar and roll 1/4 inch thick. Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper, and spread peanut butter over the rolled-out dough. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, peeling off the bottom sheet of waxed paper as you roll. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into slices and serve.
Board Links: potato fudge
xena is not a big fan of banana bread, but she can’t resist these muffins, which she splits open while warm and drizzles with honey. They make your house smell heavenly as they bake, according to 4chowpups, who says they’re light and delicious.
Maple-Pecan Banana Muffins
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, divided
1 cup pecans, chopped, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/2 cup pecans for topping, and set aside. Combine bananas, 1/3 cup maple syrup, and 1/2 cup pecans, and set aside. Stir together eggs, oil, and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Make a well in the center, pour in egg mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Gently fold in banana mixture, then cut in with a knife until evenly incorporated. Spoon into greased muffin cups, and divide topping evenly among them. Bake for 20 minutes. Makes 15 large muffins.
Board Links: Banana Muffin recipe please!
Trader Joe’s has a handy product: frozen packets of brown rice that you reheat quickly in the microwave. But you can save pennies on the dollar by making and freezing your own, Chowhounds say. Cook up a pot of rice, then spread it out on a baking sheet to cool quickly. Put it in a large zip-top freezer bag and press it flat on your countertop so the package is around 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick, making sure to expel any excess air. When you want to reheat some, take the bag from the freezer, whack it on the counter to loosen up some rice, and remove the quantity you need (don’t worry if some of it is in clumps). Place the rice in a bowl and zap it for a minute or two in the microwave, depending on the amount. Or, you can package individual servings in smaller bags or wrapped in plastic wrap and flattened, then stored in a freezer bag.
Board Links: Freezing cooked brown rice in imitation of Trader Joe’s product
Grilled quesadillas taste better than pan-cooked ones, with a nice smoky flavor, according to ESNY. Here are some Chowhounds’ favorite techniques:
Fold them into regular quesadillas. HillJ lines the grill grate with foil to avoid fallout of filling when folding warm tortillas.
Or make quesadillas sincronazas—two quesadillas sandwiched with cheese and other fillings of your choice. Heat two tortillas for a minute on one side. Then arrange them into a little sandwich with your filling. Be sure to put the prewarmed sides of the tortillas on the inner, filled side. Char the outside to your liking. Veggo bastes two tortillas with melted butter and grills butter side down before adding the filling and flipping. “Smoked butter’s great,” agrees hannaone.
Board Links: Grilling Quesadillas
boozemonkey blends Tokyo Fog for summer barbecues. To make this delicious beverage, combine equal parts vanilla ice cream, coffee, and bourbon. Stir the blend into hot coffee, and add bourbon; then toss it in the freezer overnight. The bourbon will keep it from refreezing, and it will take on a milk shake consistency. Drink this one carefully—it pretty much tastes like a coffee shake with little hint of the bourbon, and goes down real easy.
Papa Kip Chee enjoys this one, but doesn’t have a name for it:
2 parts brandy or Cognac
1 part orange juice
1 part pomegranate juice
1/2 part amaretto
2 dashes orange bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass or serve on ice in a tall glass.
Board Links: Blended/Frozen Drink Recipes
Favorite Summer Drink? (Alcoholic)
Lemon buttermilk ice cream is dead easy, and quite delicious: Just mix buttermilk with some sugar, lemon rind, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Make sure you chill it thoroughly before you freeze it in your ice cream freezer. “That’s all! Not much of a recipe, but you can suit it to your needs,” says katecm. It’s terrific topped with strawberries macerated in sugar, or Pei’s favorite topping, balsamic strawberries.
To make balsamic strawberries, marinate diced strawberries in a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a squirt of simple syrup per cup of strawberries. “No one ever knows why the berries taste so good. I actually had one friend start arguing with me that there was no way something sour (vinegar) could make strawberries taste sweeter than they already were,” she says.
Board Links: Buttermilk Ice Cream Recipe?