Cooking Tips rss

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

Sweet on Zucchini

Are you overrun with zucchini? Well, its not just for main dishes: Chowhounds have been baking with summer squash too.

Flora’s famous zucchini cake, filled with lime curd and topped with cream cheese frosting, is one of NYCkaren’s favorite cakes ever.

As an alternative to traditional zucchini bread, chowser likes this sweet potato and zucchini bread.

In a savory vein, torty substitutes roughly grated, squeezed-dry zucchini for most of the liquid in cornbread, and adds a couple handfuls of grated cheese.

Or try CHOW’s Zucchini-Pine Nut Muffins, suggests spyturtle008.

Board Link: baking with zucchini—your favorite treat

Miso Soup from Start to Finish

The secret to great miso soup, agree Chowhounds, lies in homemade dashi, the basic stock made from kombu (a seaweed) and bonito flakes. Happily, dashi is easy to make once you’ve got those ingredients.

thew explains miso soup start to finish: Put a piece of kombu in a pot with cold water and slowly heat the water; take the kombu out just before the water boils (this should take at least 10 minutes). Bring the water to a boil and add bonito flakes, then take the pot off the heat. After a minute or two, the flakes will saturate and sink. Strain out the solids. Place a little of the hot dashi in a small bowl and whisk in the miso until it is smooth. Add it back to the pot. Don’t allow the miso soup to boil.

FoodFuser likes to soak some dried shiitakes in hot water and add that to the dashi, along with a splash of fish sauce. sixelagogo recommends using both white and red miso in a 60 percent–to–40 percent ratio. FoodFuser notes that classic garnishes include half-inch cubes of soft tofu and a sprinkle of green onion.

Board Link: What is the Secret to Miso Soup?

Lentil Feta Salad

galleygirl found a lentil and feta cheese salad recipe so good she made it three times in one weekend, garnering raves from even the pickiest eaters. One of the best things about the recipe, galleygirl says, is the way it describes how to cook lentils for salad so they’re al dente. Both galleygirl and beetlebug note that the recipe makes much more dressing than you’ll need; beetlebug only used a quarter of the dressing for the full amount of salad.

Board Link: Lentil Feta Cheese Salad Recipe

Dressing Fruit Salads

Summer fruit salads are delicious au naturel, but even better well-dressed. Here are some Chowhounds’ favorite dressings for fruit.

Citrus and honey combinations are popular. gatorfoodie likes to toss melon with honey, mint, and grated ginger for a little zing, and dexters uses a little mint, lime juice, lime zest, and a modest squeeze of honey.

sugarbuzz goes for yuzu or lemon juice, sugar, and finely chopped Thai basil, while soypower uses cinnamon and lemon juice.

For stone fruit and strawberries, cyberroo likes to use mint sugar (sugar and fresh mint blended until homogeneous), saying, “The mint just makes it seem like more than just fruit in a bowl.”

Board Link: Do you ever dress a fruit salad?

Pizza on the Grill

In this season of outdoor cooking, even pizza can be cooked on the grill. Here’s the basic technique, according to flourgirl: Place the crust on the grill over medium heat and close the lid; let it cook for about 3 minutes, then remove with tongs and flip it over onto a pizza peel with the uncooked side down. Add your toppings and return the pizza to grill over indirect heat with the lid down until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is melted. todao suggests using tongs to check the bottom of the crust frequently to avoid overbrowning.

firecooked says that after you roll out your pizza dough, you can place the rounds on parchment paper (you can even stack them that way); then you can easily flip a round onto the grill upside down and peel the paper off. Cheesy Oysters finds it easier to make smaller, individual pizzas on the grill. Finally, jesoda notes that vegetables such as onions, peppers, and mushrooms should be precooked because they won’t have time to cook on the grill before the pizza is done.

Board Link: Grilled Pizza Questions and Help

Crazy for Quinoa

Chowhounds love cooking with quinoa, a tiny protein-packed grain. Some treat it simply, incorporating it into other dishes, while others use it as the base for salads and sides meant to highlight its nutty flavor.

ziggylu’s husband loves to cook quinoa in coconut milk. ipsedixit adds it to vegetable soups and minestrone to make them heartier. HillJ finds the grain makes an interesting substitute for rice in stuffed peppers.

pikawicca chops and adds whatever vegetables are available to cooked quinoa, along with vinaigrette, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives.

WendyBinCT says this Martha Stewart recipe for spicy lemon quinoa is “easy and delicious.” And oakjoan says this citrus-dressed red rice and quinoa recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi is terrific, drawing raves from guests.

newfoodie recommends a breakfast recipe of warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa, saying it’s a “satisfying and unique way of preparing quinoa.”

Board Link: Quinoa–New Jfood Favorite

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?