Cooking Tips rss

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

Watermelon Goes Beyond the Wedge

Summer is when watermelon really tastes great, but there’s only so much you can eat in one go. Chowhounds have some creative ways to use up the rest.

Watermelon purée makes tasty beverages. karykat recommends this recipe for Mexican watermelon and lime agua fresca, and DiningDiva suggests adding some rum to create “an interesting and drinkable cocktail.” twodales cuts watermelon into chunks and freezes it. Then, whenever he feels like it, he purées some in a blender, with or without rum, for a refreshing drink.

sugarbuzz makes watermelon ice pops by puréeing melon with sugar and lime juice, then straining and freezing the mixture in molds. HillJ simply pushes sticks into fat slices of watermelon and freezes these for a cool snack.

Watermelon works well in savory dishes, too. Nigella Lawson’s watermelon, feta, and black olive salad is a big hit with livetocook, while andrewm rates this Indian watermelon curry. And Emme recommends watermelon gazpacho, either with tomatoes or with cucumbers.

Here are some CHOW watermelon recipes as well.

Board Links: Lots of Watermelon
Too much watermelon!

Jerk Your Own Chicken

Authentic jerk chicken, the spicy Jamaican street food, contains habanero peppers, allspice, scallions, and thyme, says Val.

9lives makes a “lazy man’s” jerk chicken, saying, “I don’t pretend that this is authentic, but it’s easy and good.” He makes a paste in a food processor with habaneros, red onion, scallions, ginger, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, allspice, cilantro, and fresh thyme, adjusting the amounts to taste. (9lives warns that it’s important to take special care when handling extra-hot habaneros, and especially to avoid touching your eyes.) Rub some of the paste on the chicken, refrigerate for 24 hours, then grill, basting with the remaining paste.

diva360 recommends this recipe for jerk chicken, and alkapal says Steven Raichlen’s jerk seasoning and sauce will “light your fire, it’s that wonderful.”

Board Link: Lazy Man’s Jerked Chicken

Great Grain Salads

With summer here at last, Chowhounds have been discussing their favorite grain salads to stash in the fridge and either use as sides when grilling or as light meals all on their own.

hollyd makes a brown and wild rice salad with almonds, cranberries, red pepper, and scallions. The dressing is mango chutney puréed in the food processor and thinned with a little rice wine vinegar, water, and oil.

Sherri likes cooked wheat berries, feta cheese, cucumber chunks, red onions (or scallions), kalamata olives, red bell peppers, lemon vinaigrette, and herbs. kmills9408 makes a similar salad with quinoa.

And Missyme recommends this black bean and tomato quinoa recipe, saying its lime dressing is “so light and refreshing.”

Board Link: ISO your best “grains” salads–scorching hot

Cooking with Pineapple Juice

Chowhounds do much more with pineapple juice than just drink it; they also cook with it, in dishes both savory and sweet.

pamd uses pineapple juice mixed with fresh fruit to make frozen fruit pops, and nakedzombieforce loves floats made with pineapple juice and pineapple ice cream “plus a mini-umbrella and cherry.”

laliz makes a dressing for fruit salad by mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 3/4 cup pineapple juice in a saucepan until smooth. Bring it to a boil, cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened, then cool.

Miss Needle makes a marinade with pineapple juice, soy, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and scallions, which lynnlato uses with pork or flank steak.

tochipotle makes mango chutney by mixing pineapple juice with chopped mango, orange pepper, red onion, a little garlic, cilantro, and jalapeño, and says it’s a “really great fresh, flavorful addition to fish or pork.”

Board Link: what to do w/ pineapple juice?

Online Cookbook Treasure Trove

At Feeding America, the online repository of Michigan State University’s special collection of historic cookbooks, you can read the full texts of 75 cookbooks published between 1798 and 1922, reports rworange.

Nancy Berry’s favorite books in the collection are “Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book from 1889, which she describes as a “very good” Jewish cookbook with lots of traditional recipes, and the Chinese-Japanese Cook Book, published in 1914, which contains “some surprisingly good recipes.”

Board Link: Feeding America–75 online cookbooks published between 1798 and 1922

Fig Business

Fresh figs are like nectar to many Chowhounds; they just can’t get enough. Here are some of their favorite ways to use them.

Several hounds like to stuff halved figs with goat or blue cheese, wrap them in prosciutto, and eat them raw, grilled, or broiled. Figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey make an excellent appetizer, says lattelover.

JasmineG makes a “supereasy” pizza topped with thinly sliced figs and crumbled feta cheese, to which she adds prosciutto at the last minute.

mlgb thinks fresh figs are good in salad, while Emme recommends drizzling figs with balsamic vinegar and oil, then roasting and cooling them, before adding them to chicken salad.

MeffaBabe splits figs in half, lightly warms them in a mixture of butter and sugar, and then eats them with vanilla ice cream.

Finally, ScarletB says this recipe for fig-sesame jam is great and “incredibly easy.”

Board Link: what to do w/fresh figs besides gobbling?

Zucchini Ribbons

Ribbons of zucchini are versatile both cooked and raw, according to Chowhounds. You can cut zucchini into ribbons using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, and you should use only the firm outer sections of big zucchinis and not the core, advises Karen_Schaffer.

Sherri tops cooked zucchini and carrot ribbons with white clam sauce, or bakes them with a Parmesan cheese sauce.

Karen_Schaffer likes to sauté the ribbons in a dry nonstick pan with just a little salt to bring out the natural juices. It lets the sugars caramelize a bit, she says, compared with sautéing them in oil. She then likes to top the ribbons with pesto or blue cheese sauce.

chicgail suggests dressing raw zucchini ribbons with olive oil, and making them into salads with lemon zest, feta cheese, and mint, or lemon juice, avocado, pistachios, and thyme.

Board Link: Zucchini Ribbons

Spicy Street-Style Korean Chicken

Twice-cooked spicy chicken is a street food hannaone enjoyed many years ago in Korea, and he re-created the dish for a restaurant he owned. Chicken thighs are marinated, then grilled, sliced, and stir-fried with some of the marinade. The marinade contains lots of hot Korean chili powder (kochugaru) or chile flakes, but hannaone says you can substitute milder fresh peppers if you want a less spicy dish.

andrewm tried the recipe and says it is fabulous. He cut back the chile a bit, and says: “It wasn’t super fiery, just delicious.”

Board Link: Time for Korean Grilling

Arugula Is Hot, Hot, Hot

Chowhounds love arugula in much more than just salads.

JungMann likes it sautéed with garlic, butter, and tomatoes and plenty of Parmesan as a quick condiment for pasta, while cassoulady melts Gorgonzola with butter and tosses this with pasta and arugula. And several hounds recommend making arugula pesto—here’s a CHOW recipe for Pasta with Arugula Pesto.

It’s also popular on various pizzas, fresh out of the oven: westaust tops thin-crust pizza with arugula and a drizzle of hot pepper or herbed oil, and LNG212 dresses arugula with lemon and olive oil to top a wild mushroom and Gruyère pizza.

Analisas mom uses arugula in cream soup, soufflé, risotto, quiche, and stuffed mushrooms.

Finally, roxlet dresses it with lemon juice and olive oil and then puts charcoal-grilled steak on top: “The juices from the meat mix with the lemony dressing and then you sop up the whole delicious mess with a nice piece of crusty bread.”

Board Link: too much arugula

New Ideas for Old Bay Seasoning

Old Bay Seasoning is popular with seafood, but Chowhounds love it with lots of other foods, too.

Hal Laurent likes it on corn on the cob instead of salt and pepper. meatn3 says it’s great in tomato-based vegetable soups. dct adds a teaspoon or so to chicken hash to round out the flavors and add some zip. And amethiste makes a cocktail sauce with ketchup, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, and Old Bay.

greygarious likes it in egg salad, and uses it in place of salt and pepper in flour for dredging. It’s also one of the things she reaches for when cooking a stew or soup that seems to need a little more complexity.

And Val loves CHOW’s recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole, which is seasoned with Old Bay.

Board Link: Baltimore Old Bay Uses