Cooking Tips rss

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

Lemonade Secrets

Chowhounds have lots of tips for improving fresh lemonade. For example, instead of using granulated sugar to sweeten your lemonade, use a boiled Rich Simple Syrup, which will dissolve cleanly in cold liquid and keeps well, say hounds. Kagey makes hers from two parts water and one part sugar.

Additions can enhance the flavor of lemonade. Suggestions include maraschino cherry juice, grenadine, fruit purée (e.g., strawberry, raspberry, blackberry), fresh ginger, or a dash of orange blossom water. You can also try infusing herbs such as mint, rosemary, or thyme in your simple syrup or the lemonade itself. MikeG feels that using lemon zest gives lemonade a more complex flavor, so he infuses his simple syrup with zest for a day or two.

Instead of ice, punkin712 recommends using chunks of frozen fruit to cool your lemonade, which won’t dilute the drink and add their own flavor. HillJ notes that lemonade ice cubes are handy for adding to recipes and cocktails.

Board Link: Make your own lemonade

The Dark Side of Pork

Far from looking for another white meat, many Chowhounds prefer the “dark” cuts of pork, which have more fat and more flavor. Especially recommended are shoulder roasts (also called Boston butt), as well as sirloin roasts and chops. mommycook points to the National Pork Board’s guide to pork cuts for more info. Dmnkly suggests seeking out heritage pork for superior flavor.

Board Link: Pork “dark meat”–what cut??

Spicy, Sweet, Versatile Hot Pepper Jelly

Hot pepper jelly is a great ingredient in appetizers and snacks. jmax uses it over goat cheese on crackers. nemo makes cheddar thumbprint cookies filled with pepper jelly. Janet from Richmond likes it on a bagel with cream cheese, and LulusMom likes it with peanut butter.

Several hounds point out that hot pepper jelly works nicely on its own as a condiment for grilled meats and burgers, fried oysters, and fried coconut shrimp. AGM_Cape_Cod uses hot pepper jelly in her recipe for Cajun mustard shrimp.

drbbaldwin whisks melted pepper jelly into Italian dressing to give it a sweet and tangy kick.

Board Link: Uses for Hot Pepper Jelly

Inspirational Food Porn Website

TasteSpotting is a site full of fabulous food porn, collating gorgeous photos from blogs and other Internet sources from all over the world. Several hounds use it as inspiration for their own cooking. Just click on a photo, and it will take you to the story where it was originally posted, explains farmersdaughter. It might include a recipe, or be a write-up of a restaurant meal or shopping trip.

“I like that it stays right on top of trends—if not ahead of them since its reach is global,” says MakingSense. “Always very, very fresh and energetic. ... Covers a lot of territory. From the simple to the sublime.”

Board Link: Tastespotting Recipe Website

In Pursuit of Tender Octopus

scubadoo97 cooked up some tender, flavorful octopus using Harold McGee’s unusual oven method. Following his instructions, she blanched the octopus in salted water for 30 seconds, then cooked it in a tightly covered dry pan at 200ºF for four hours, then let it cool in its juices. She reduced the juices to make a sauce, and briefly grilled the octopus over wood chips to add a little smoke flavor, then served it on the sauce with some very good extra-virgin olive oil.

Board Link: Octopus success a’ la Harold McGee

Flourless Cake Recipes

Dense, rich, and dark are all good descriptors for these hounds’ favorite flourless chocolate cake recipes. La Bete Noire is very easy to make, according to eatmyfood, and im_nomad adds that it’s “like eating a slice of truffle.” JoanN makes this chocolate oblivion truffle torte often, and usually serves it with spiked raspberry purée. And leanneabe says that this chocolate cloud cake is heavenly.

Board Link: Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipes:

Granola Tips

Homemade granola is forgiving and flexible, and can easily be adapted to your own tastes. Hounds have some helpful tips, too. Which nuts, seeds, or dried fruits you use is a matter of personal taste, but the bulk of your mixture should be old-fashioned rolled oats. Most recommend adding dried fruit after you bake your granola to avoid drying it out.

For those worried about adding oil, amela replaces the oil in her granola recipe with applesauce, and says it works fine. Meanwhile, Mandy likes Mark Bittman’s recipe, which uses no oil.

janniecooks suggests experimenting with proportions of dry to wet/sweet/fat ingredients. She uses 4 cups of oats and 1 cup each sunflower seed kernels, coconut, and sliced almonds tossed with 1/4 cup each of butter and honey melted together.

gordeaux offers a hint for getting dense, clumpy granola: Once it’s out of the oven, press it very firmly between two pans before it cools.

Board Link: Homemade Granola Q

Saucing Artichokes

Chowhounds have been sharing some of their favorite sauces for artichoke dunking:

• Melted butter: plain, with lemon, or with lemon and shallots
• Mayonnaise: flavored with curry, chipotle, or roasted garlic
• Dijon mustard thinned with cream
• Yogurt with crushed garlic and lemon juice
• Tartar sauce

For cold artichokes, Sharuf lets hollandaise sauce cool to room temperature, then stirs in half as much sour cream and seasons to taste with mustard. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate it, as it won’t harden up when chilled like plain hollandaise.

Board Link: Sauce for artichokes

Toasty Chickpeas Spiced Your Way

Chickpeas, roasted until they’re crisp and cooled to crunchiness, are a great, guiltless snack food. Rinse canned chickpeas and blot them dry, then toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and roast.

SweetPea914 bakes them at 350°F to 400°F for about 45 minutes. Along with the salt, add whatever spices you like. Chowhounds have tried red pepper flakes; sage and black pepper; curry powder; and cumin and cayenne. earthling has even made a sweet version by coating the chickpeas in honey or maple syrup, then in unsweetened flaked coconut, before roasting.

Board Link: Chickpea Snack Ideas Needed

Real-Deal Mai Tai

The mai tai, a sweet, rum-based drink, was invented at tiki-themed Trader Vic’s. Here’s the history of the mai tai, along with the evolution of the Trader Vic’s recipe. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester, a bartender at Trader Vic’s, says using the original component ingredients instead of the two premixes currently in use makes for a more complex and delicious drink; he also shares his own mai tai recipe.

Board Link: Mai Tai - how to?