Cooking Tips rss

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

Sidekicks for Rib-Eye Night

What goes well with rib-eye steak?

Sweet potato fries. Creamed baby potatoes and onions. Grilled asparagus seasoned with olive oil, pepper, and kosher salt. A crunchy salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, beets, peppers, and red onion with blue cheese dressing, or dressed with a good vinaigrette and a generous measure of blue cheese crumbled into the salad. Spinach sautéed with lemon and garlic, and seasoned with salt and pepper and a hit of hot sauce.

Dauphinoise potatoes are great. Here’s a recipe from BBC GoodFood and another from Epicurious.

Or try making blue cheese bread: Slice a baguette in half lengthwise. Lightly brush with olive oil and toast lightly. Mix equal amounts of cream cheese and good blue cheese. Pile on toasted bread and run under the broiler until cheese is bubbly.

Board Link: Some good sides for Ribeye Steak Night

Work Those Thighs!

Turkey thighs are a great value: inexpensive, flavorful, and versatile. Chowhounds braise, roast, bake, and sauce them with flavors from around the globe. Here are a couple of standout recipes:

Turkey tacos: Put several thighs in a pot with a quartered onion, 5 or 6 lightly smashed cloves of garlic, cumin, 2 bay leaves, and puréed rehydrated dried ancho chiles (plus hotter ones to your taste) or a can of chipotles in adobo. Add the juice of 2 limes, 1 orange, and water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cover until turkey is tender. Remove from liquid and let cool. Remove and discard (or purée with hand blender, minus bay leaves) other solids in the pot and turn the heat back on to medium to reduce the cooking liquid until it thickens.

When meat is cool, use your fingers to shred turkey meat. Remove cooking liquid from the pot, reserving 1/2 cup or so. Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the pot. Add shredded turkey meat and allow to brown and stick in places to the pan. Add reserved cooking liquid, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve with warmed tortillas, black beans, green or red sauce, avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, and whatever else you like. Also great with chilaquiles, in a quesadilla, or as a tamale filling with rajas.

Grilled turkey thighs: Prepare 1 turkey thigh per person. Bone turkey thighs (leave skin on), cut in half, and pound to even out the thickness. Marinate in lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and olive oil for a couple of hours or overnight. Grill until done. Serve with pipian mole.

Thanksgiving for one: Season 1 turkey thigh with salt and pepper and your choice of herbs or seasoning (crosby_p likes Williams-Sonoma turkey herbs). Roast at 375°F for 75 minutes. Serve with stuffing, creamed onions, squash, or green beans with lemon zest and crushed hazelnuts.

Hounds also suggest these great sauces for turkey thighs:

• Mole sauce (homemade is best, but there are great commercial makes out there)
• Trader Joe’s mojito sauce
• Curry sauce (homemade or commercial). Trader Joe’s makes several good curry simmer sauces
• Combination of tamari, Worcestershire sauce, and concentrated shiitake broth boosts the “beefy flavor” of the turkey dark meat

Board Link: What to do with Turkey Thighs

Korean Recipes by Mom

Korean mom recipes are often hard to duplicate because so often moms cook by feel and by memory. Sometimes the translations into English are problematic as well.

Even so, hannaone has re-created recipes for kimchee pancakes, traditional rice cakes, and pork belly with kimchee. traceybell makes an Americanized version of kalbi chim, which her mom approves of and the whole family likes. See the board link below for the full recipes.

Board Link: korean recipes

Making Lard

Want to render your own lard? A warning: The process smells. Do it with a kitchen exhaust fan on or, better yet, outdoors on the grill.

Cut up the fat coarsely, removing chunks of meat. It’s not necessary to remove every last bit of meat. Put the fat with some water (Karl S uses 1/4 cup water for 3 pounds of fat) in a deep pan, to reduce spattering, and steam over medium heat. Stir and reduce heat to medium low. The mixture will foam.

Cook for two to three hours until the foaming is very fine. Strain the cracklings out and cool the mixture. Add 1/2 cup water, emulsify, and refrigerate. When lard is firm, pour off the water and remove any solids that have collected at the bottom.

Remelt the lard in another pot and pour into sterilized jars. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a month or freeze.

Board link: What do I need to know about rendering my own lard from pork fat?

So This Baker Walks into a Bar

kindofabigdeal is looking for impressive bars that he can bake and bring to work in hopes of wooing his co-workers (they’re nurses). Hounds gave him lots of ideas.

Pumpkin Bars
Perfect for fall, yummy, and simple!

Mix well together:
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
16 ounces canned pumpkin
1 cup oil

Mix dry ingredients together:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to the wet ones. Spread in an ungreased jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting (1/2 cup butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 8 ounces cream cheese, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar). Refrigerate.

Figgy Raspberry Bars
These bars combine the best of fall fruits (if you can’t find figs, buy some fig jam and mix it with raspberry jam—it will be close enough):

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups figs, cut up
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Cook filling ingredients over medium heat until fruit is completely broken down and creamy thick, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

For the bars:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups oats
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup very finely chopped pecans (for topping and/or filling; optional)

Cream brown sugar with butter until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Split mixture in half.

In a well-greased and shallow 8-by-12-inch baking dish, line half the flour mix, then add filling, evenly distributing the fruit mix. Top with remaining flour mix and pecans, if using.

Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool and serve. Makes 12 big bars or 24 small ones.

Key Lime Blueberry Bars
Here’s a bar for citrus-lovers, combining Key lime and blueberries.

For the crust:
5 ounces animal crackers (or graham crackers, if you prefer)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)
Pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the filling:
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lime zest, minced
Pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (Key lime or regular)
Zest from the juiced limes (add to taste, 1 to 2 tablespoons)
1 cup fresh blueberries (you can leave out if you wish, given the season)

For the garnish (optional):
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted until golden and crisp

Heat oven to 325°F. Place foil in and up the sides of an 8-inch square cake pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the crust:
Pulse animal crackers in the bowl of a food processor until crumbs are evenly fine. Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine. Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

To make the filling:
Stir cream cheese, zest, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain. Whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly). Mix in lime zest.

To assemble and bake:
Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Drizzle blueberries evenly right onto the filling. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

Loosen edges with a paring knife and lift bars from the baking pan using foil extensions. Cut bars into 16 squares, sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve.

Finally, for a layered bar with a chocolate base, try these Nanaimo bars, a (delicious) Canadian specialty.

Board Link: looking for great “bar” recipes (lemon bar, seven layer bar… etc.)

Appetizers for Autumn

pomme de terre was looking for an elegant small bite with autumnal tastes to serve friends who are heading south to escape the cold weather.

kobetobiko suggests pumpkin bisque served in shot glasses, garnished with a dollop of crème fraîche and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Dates also make an appearance: stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon, and baked for 15 minutes; filled with foie gras; or filled with blue cheese. In a similar mode, stuff figs with blue cheese and a pecan and bake until warm.

mrbunsrocks shares his Asian-style turkey dumplings with cranberry-soy dipping sauce. Thanksgiving in one bite!

Turkey Dumplings with Cranberry-Soy Dip

For the dumplings:
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vegetable oil
1/4 pound (125 g) lean ground turkey
1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded carrot
3/4 cup (175 mL) shredded savoy or napa cabbage
1/4 cup (50 mL) green onion
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) minced ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) each salt and pepper
32 round dumpling or square wonton wrappers
Cornstarch for dusting

For the sauce:
1 cup (250 mL) cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons (30 mL) reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) minced ginger
2 tablespoons (30 mL) thinly sliced green onion

Heat 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Crumble in turkey and brown well. Add carrot, cabbage, green onion, ginger, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until cabbage is wilted. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Moisten 2 edges of each wonton wrapper with a little water. Place a rounded spoonful of the filling in the center of each; fold to enclose, pressing to seal.

Place on a baking sheet dusted with cornstarch to keep wontons from sticking. Cover with a damp towel.

Heat 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add a single layer of wontons. Cook, without turning, for 2 minutes or until just golden on the bottom. Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) of water to the skillet. Cover and steam for 6 minutes or until all water is evaporated and dumplings are tender throughout. Repeat with remaining dumplings, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Meanwhile, whisk cranberry sauce with soy sauce in a small saucepan; set over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce comes to a boil and is smooth and glossy. Cool slightly; stir in the ginger and green onion.

Makes 32 wontons.

Board Link: cold, autumnal appetizer

Perfecting the Pot Pie

With temperatures dropping in much of the country, warm comfort foods are on Chowhounds’ minds. Variations on the simple chicken pot pie abound. Here are some suggestions:

Crust: If using frozen puff pastry, be sure to thaw it and brush with an egg-white wash before cooking. Some hounds make a pie crust from scratch.

Vegetables: Sauté onions, celery, and carrots (garlic is optional) in butter. Potatoes and turnips should be diced and parboiled. Add frozen peas just before baking—there’s no need to cook them beforehand.

Stock: Use fresh, canned, or made from bouillon.

Seasonings: Chowhounds have used salt and pepper, thyme, bay leaf (simmered with the stock), rosemary, and herbes de Provence (not all at once!).

Thickener variations: Cornstarch added to hot stock works. Also try a flour roux made with the sauté (cook to “blond”) or a flour–cold water slurry added to the stock.

Assembly: Add the stock with thickener to the sauté, add parboiled vegetables, and then add the chicken and frozen peas last. Stir and thicken. Pour into the baking vessel, top with pastry, brush with egg-white wash, and cook for about 45 minutes at 350°F.

Board Link: Chicken Pot Pie help

Scrumptious “Waffled” Eggplant

In a truly inspired fit of creative cookery, scuzzo found a simple way to make eggplant that’s crispy-crunchy on the outside and soft and well cooked inside, without using lots of oil: He made it in his waffle iron! Slice eggplant about 1/3 inch thick, dip in beaten egg, and dredge in finely grated Parmesan tossed with minced fresh herbs of your choosing. Cook in a waffle iron brushed with olive oil. Hounds report that the technique also works well with zucchini and parboiled sweet potatoes, and using a panini press.

Board Link: Eggplant on the wafflebaker! Try it.

Effortless Chicken Stock in Your Slow Cooker

Clear, intensely chickeny chicken stock can be made in a slow cooker. It simmers away while you slumber, with no skimming and no adjusting the heat, and has marvelous flavor even when made from a roast chicken carcass and no supplemental raw parts. It tastes so good after 12 hours in the slow cooker, it needs no further reduction. Add the usual stock vegetables and aromatics (e.g., carrot, celery, onion, peppercorns, bay leaf) but no salt, and cook on the low setting for up to 12 hours. Add salt later, when you use the stock. So easy, you’ll be making homemade chicken stock all the time (and putting those takeout rotisserie chicken carcasses to work for you!).

Board Link: Finally tried it: stock in the slow cooker

Perfectly Creamy Homemade Ice Cream

Diana is as thrilled with her tropical-theme ice cream’s perfect, creamy consistency as she is with its standout flavor, saying it scoops like a dream with no iciness two days after it’s made—rare for homemade ice cream. Here’s the recipe:

4 bananas
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup good-quality gold rum
1/2 cup crushed macadamias
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Blend bananas and condensed milk in a blender or food processor until bananas are puréed. Whisk cream until it’s frothy, and mix it and rum into banana mixture. Chill until cold, then process in an ice cream maker; in the last few minutes of processing, add macadamias and chocolate. Scrape ice cream into a container and freeze until solid.

Board Link: banana Rum macadamia Chocolate chunk Ice Cream