Ideas, advice, and what to make now from the Chowhound community and CHOW editors.
Sopapillas are a New Mexico specialty of deep-fried dough puffs eaten hot and spread with honey (or stuffed with your favorite taco fillings). And they’re easy to make. What’s not not to love? michele_corum says you can use any typical biscuit recipe, allow the dough to sit for at least 30 minutes, roll 1/8-inch think, and cut into long thin rectangles to fry. As an alternative, lilygirl offers this quick recipe for flour tortilla dough, which doubles well for sopapillas:
4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil or melted lard
1 1/2 cups hot water
vegetable oil for frying
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, vegetable oil or lard, and hot water together using your hands to form dough. If dough is too dry, add a little oil to your hands during kneading. Roll out thin rounds as for tortillas, and prick holes evenly across each with a fork. Cut each round into 4 or 6 wedges. Fry the wedges in hot oil, turning when their undersides are golden brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if you like.
The only limitations to what goes on top of your popcorn are your imagination and what actually tastes good. Chowhounds have done lots of legwork already. Garlic butter is a favorite topping, and tossing popcorn with grated Parmesan is equally popular. Either or both are often used with favorite spices and spice combinations:
Ground coriander, salt, cayenne, and sumac
curry powder or chili powder
Old Bay seasoning
Celery salt and black pepper
Dill weed and sea salt
Ranch or Italian dressing mix
Tabasco (especially with garlic butter)
Here are some more ideas to try:
Make “pizza” popcorn: Saute minced garlic in butter; add dried oregano and paprika, mix with the popped corn, then toss with Parmesan.
Go the luxe route, like lunchbox: pop your corn in duck fat (dash of chili oil optional), and season with truffle butter and Parmesan.
La Dolce Vita tosses popped corn with kosher salt, pours on maple syrup, and sprinkles with smoked ancho chile powder, saying the smoky/spicy/salty/maple-y flavor combo is intriguing.
Flavoured Stovetop Popcorn
Chowhounds add a variety of things to their basic hummus recipes to change up the flavors. Some popular blend-ins are roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, green onions, parsley, and hot peppers. (Not all at once, of course!)
HillJ likes a really lemony hummus (she uses 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup zest to 2 cups garbanzos) with a bit of parsley pureed in, and a dash of paprika and a handful of toasted pinenuts sprinkled on top.
2m8ohed makes hummus using edamame in place of garbanzos.
What hummus flavors do you create?
This recipe makes some serious brownies. There are 3 sticks of butter and 6 eggs in a 9×13-inch panful. They’re the thickest brownies chowser has ever made. They’re a wonderful cross between fudgy and chewy, says wyf4lyf. Many chowhounds call them flat-out amazing, despite initial skepticism about about brownies made with cocoa rather than solid chocolate. orangewasabi sums it up: “They are truly over the top chocolaty denseness. Incredible…Must.get.more.milk.” They’re better the day after baking–if you can wait.
Which dried green herbs are worth using? Very few. Only oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary have decent flavor in dried form. You’ll find dried versions of just about every herb out there, both in supermarkets and from high-quality spice merchants, but except for these few, they’re pretty much tasteless–“like faded grass,” says xnyorkr.
How to get anything out of dried herbs?
niki rothman shares a method for a sort-of cheater’s cassoulet made with the trimmings from a leftover roast duck: Put the duck, including all skin, fat, and bones, in a pot with water and bay leaves, and let simmer a while to make a stock. Then take the duck out and add dry white beans, such as flageolet or canellini, to the stock to cook. Meanwhile, discard all but the meat from the duck, and set meat aside. When the beans are halfway cooked, add some red wine, the duck meat, and a mirepoix of chopped onions, carrots, celery with leaves, and garlic. Half an hour before the beans are fully cooked, throw in some chopped garlicky sausage. When the cassoulet is done cooking, add chopped flat leaf parsley, spread breadcrumbs over the top, and pop it in the oven until they brown. If you use leftover Chinese roast duck, be sure it’s not too heavy on five-spice flavor. You can use the same method with leftover roast goose.
‘Instant’ Cassoulet–Perfect Use for Roast Duck Trimmings
Passion fruit works well in panna cotta and creme brulee. It’s also delicious in drinks: puree the pulp and stir into iced tea, or stir a couple ounces with some white rum over ice and top with seltzer.
Try frozen treats with passion fruit. orangewasabi freezes the pulp in ice cube trays and eats the resulting treats like little ice pops. For an arresting presentation, Sam Fujisaka suggests cutting the fruit in half, making sorbet from the pulp and seeds, scooping it into the empty shells, and freezing.
ciaolette says adding about 1/3 cup fresh passion fruit puree and the scrapings from 2 inches of vanilla bean to your favorite cheesecake recipe gives a mysterious and amazing flavor that does not scream passion fruit–and every time she does it, people say it’s the best cheesecake they’ve ever had.
Will Owen shares a recipe for passion fruit curd, perfect as a filling for a tart or pie:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened passion fruit concentrate
juice of 1/2 a lemon
4 ounces butter
6 egg yolks
Mix the sugar, passion fruit concentrate, butter, and lemon juice in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then turn then take the pot off the heat. Whip the egg yolks in a bowl, then gradually whisk in part of the hot liquid. Pour this into the pot with the rest of the passion fruit mixture. Return to a simmer, whisking constantly, only until edges start to bubble (do not allow to boil). Strain and chill.
passion fruit recipes
Who in their right mind would put salt in a cup of coffee? Someone stuck with a seriously substandard cup of coffee, that’s who. “I will never suffer through another bad cup of coffee at a fast food joint, restaurant, gas station, etc., as long as I have salt to add to the cup,” says rworange.
A very judicious sprinkle of salt (just a few grains, really) indeed takes the edge off a bad cup of coffee, taking away the sharp bite and making it mellow and smoother. It won’t become great coffee, but it will be decent. However, adding salt to decent, non-bitter coffee can make it worse, making the subtle defects more obvious. (No word on salt’s effect on really good coffee.)
Some additional findings from rworange: Less is more–you don’t want salty-tasting coffee. Add only the tiniest bit and taste; when it has mellowed the brew, stop. And it makes no difference in flavor whether salt is added to coffee grounds before brewing (1/8 tsp. is plenty for a 10-cup drip coffee maker) or to a finished cup.
Coffee with Salt
Slow cookers can be real time savers, and coming home to the smell of a delicious stew simmering away is always comforting–problem is, any vegetables other than onions that you throw in are liable to be way overcooked after 6 to 8 hours of bubbling away. jono37 has worked out a great solution that allows for truly appetizing one-pot meals from the slow cooker: wrap any vegetables in a foil “hobo pack,” set it on top of your meats and liquid, and cover. The vegetables steam in the foil instead of soaking up liquid and resting near the heating element. Unwrap the foil packet and mix in the veggies at the end of cooking, before you serve.
Crockpots: The Good and The Bad
These unorthodox, super-peanutty peanut butter cookies, made without butter or flour, are perfect for those who must avoid dairy or wheat. But they’re great for for dairy-and-wheat eaters, too; these cookies are terrific by any standard (and even better with the addition of chocolate chips). Dizzied notes that they hold together better if you use standard-issue peanut butter rather than all-natural. The recipe is easily doubled.
Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together well and chill dough. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll dough into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Use a sugared fork to press a criss-cross pattern into the dough; bake for 9-11 minutes. Let rest on sheet for a few minutes to let firm up, then very carefully remove to rack (they are very delicate until completely cool).
Twin treats–one flourless, one not