Cooking Tips rss

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

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?

Baked, Not Stirred

They’re unorthodox, but delicious recipes do exist for baked risottos whose texture isn’t entirely off the mark—even if they don’t quite achieve the heights of the attentively stirred classic, say hounds with experience.

“[I]t’s a different dish to the stovetop version. It’s the constant stirring that gives risotto its creaminess,” says greedygirl, who nonetheless finds this oven-baked wild mushroom risotto very tasty. Also recommended: baked chicken, lemon, and pea risotto and baked risotto with asparagus, spinach, and Parmesan.

Board Link: Baked Risotto?

Wonderfully Light and Lemony Cake

Chowhounds are swooning over Barefoot Contessa’s lemon yogurt cake. bigfatbroad calls it “divine,” and sblagrave describes it as “wonderfully light and just the perfect lemon flavor.” shpitzlefan thinks it tastes better than the original, more fattening version.

Board Link: Barefoot Contessa Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lentil Love

barefootpris needed ways to use a surfeit of lentils, and hounds came through with plenty of ideas.

Euonymous likes lentils with kielbasa, as a soup or a heftier bean dish. orangewasabi bakes green lentils and brown rice together in equal quantities, and uses this is a base for a stir-fry. It is “a lot heartier than just rice with a nice nutty taste.”

One of renz’s favorite lentil dishes is mujadarrah, which is lentils with rice and caramelized crispy onions. Val loves this lentil salad with balsamic vinaigrette. She replaces the radicchio with crispy romaine lettuce, and tops it with a few dabs of goat cheese.

Kagey likes this “very simple and forgiving” recipe for Italian lentil soup (see sixth paragraph).

Board Link: Tons of Lentils

Sushi Rice Is Risotto Rice

Deftly crossing the globe, the short-grain rice used for sushi also makes excellent risotto. Sam Fujisaka explains that sushi rice and Arborio are very similar. The California-developed Calrose rice can also be used for risotto, says Antilope, who adds that this variety makes a really creamy rice pudding too.

Board Link: Can I make risotto with sushi rice?