Cooking Tips rss

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

Measuring Kosher Salt

The two most common brands of kosher salt, Morton and Diamond Crystal, are shaped differently and have different volume measures relative to standard table salt for the same amount of sodium. Diamond Crystal has—no surprise—a crystal shape, and Morton has a flake shape. One tablespoon of standard table salt has the equivalent sodium to 2 tablespoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1 1/2 tablespoons of Morton kosher salt.

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Homemade Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche, that divine Latin American caramel, isn’t hard to make; it just takes a bit of attention. Most recipes begin with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Rest assured, this is entirely authentic. There are five ways to make it: in the can, in a pressure cooker, in a saucepan, in the oven, or in a microwave.

The classic in-the-can method is simple: Place an unopened can (or do a few at once) of sweetened condensed milk in a pot, well covered with water, and bring the water to a boil. Keep at a low boil for two to three hours, making sure the water level always stays above the top of the can (if the can isn’t submerged, it may explode). The longer it cooks, the thicker the dulce de leche will be; after two hours, you’ll be able to drizzle it, and after three hours, it will be thick enough to sandwich cookies. Make sure the can is thoroughly cool before you open it.

You can use a pressure cooker for a faster variation on the in-the-can method with no worries about water level: Submerge the can completely in the water and pressure-cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

To make it in a saucepan: Pour the condensed milk in a saucepan and cook it over low heat, stirring fairly constantly until the milk achieves the consistency you want. Another option is to make Mexican goat’s milk cajeta, which has a unique tang and is made from goat’s milk and sugar.

In the oven: Pour the condensed milk in a shallow baking dish, cover with foil, and bake in a water bath at 350 degrees, stirring every 20 or 30 minutes for a couple of hours or until the consistency seems right. Whisk it when it’s done to get any lumps out.

In the microwave: Pour the condensed milk in a bowl that can hold at least twice the volume of the milk. Microwave in five-minute intervals, stirring each time, and watch carefully, as it will foam up as it cooks. Cook to desired consistency.

Board Links: How do I make Dulce De Leche out of condensed milk
Canned condensed milk morphs into Dulce de Leche

Horseradish Beyond Cocktail Sauce

If there’s a jar of prepared horseradish languishing in your fridge, try a few of these ideas:

Add to equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise to make a great sauce for beef (roasts, steaks, burgers) or poached salmon; mix with sour cream to top split pea soup.

Add to fish cakes and tuna salad; mix into mashed potatoes; mix into ground beef when making burgers; add a tablespoon or so when cooking a pot roast (the harshness cooks out and adds an almost sweet flavor, says coney with everything).

Here’s a source with more horseradish recipes than you could dream of.

If you’ve got some fresh horseradish root, fwilhelm says this German candied horseradish is wonderful with boiled beef:

Peel and julienne 120 grams (about 4 ounces) fresh horseradish root. Blanch in salt water for two to three minutes, then drain. Cook in 100 ml (about 1/2 cup) water with 75 grams (about 2 1/2 ounces) of sugar until liquid is almost evaporated. Add 50 ml (about 1/4 cup) of water and another 75 grams of sugar and continue to cook until horseradish is translucent. Add tarragon vinegar to taste.

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Who’s Your Daddy, Kohlrabi?

Kohlrabi doesn’t get much press, but it’s a delicious relative of broccoli and cabbage (all are superhealthy cruciferous veggies), with a bulb-shaped base and hardy green leaves. All parts of kohlrabi are edible, and the bulb can be eaten either raw or cooked. It’s juicy and tender in young plants and “tastes like broccoli and jicama had a baby,” says BarmyFotheringayPhipps. Julienne the bulb and toss it into a salad or use it in a slaw (try it with tart apple and red cabbage, suggests dahliachewswell); chop and add to soup; or stir-fry with some fish sauce. Chop and stir-fry the greens, or cook them as you would similar greens, like chard or mustard greens. It’s popular in Germany, where the bulb is sliced and baked in rich gratins, says dahliachewswell.

Board Link: tastes like radishes please help me define what I bought

Collards 101

Collard greens can be savored in the traditional long-stewed preparations of the South, or they can be sautéed in olive oil and garlic, Italian style. However you like your collards, be sure to wash them well, because they can harbor a lot of sandy grit. (Soaking in a basin or sinkful of water so the grit can fall to the bottom is recommended.) Cut off the stems and cut the tough ribs out of the center. Candy maintains that the best collards come after the first freeze, so if she buys them during the summer, she puts them in the freezer for a while before cooking them.

For Southern-style stewed collards, Diana likes Alton Brown’s recipe. jinet12 uses Paula Deen’s, with a smoked ham hock, and adds a bit of brown sugar and cider vinegar. Everyone agrees that the only proper accompaniments to collards cooked this way are a large square of cornbread and a generous pour of the “pot liquor” that the greens have cooked in.

Another approach is to parboil and sauté. Parboil the leaves, cut into strips, and squeeze dry, then sauté in toasted sesame oil for an Asian flavor, or in bacon fat for a terrific side for pork or duck. Or cut into even smaller pieces and skip the parboiling—simply sauté the collards in olive oil with the aromatics of your choice (many people like minced garlic and hot pepper flakes); add a little stock and cover for a few minutes if you want extra tenderness.

Board Link: I want to try Collards

Cooking with Kimchee

Kimchee is more than just a condiment—it’s a great ingredient, in traditional Korean dishes and all sorts of other things. As your kimchee gets older and sourer, it might also be more palatable cooked in a dish than eaten on its own.

Try adding kimchee to omelets, fried rice, or ramen. Kimchee quesadillas are surprisingly addictive, says chocabot, who finds Brie and kimchee especially complementary, in a crazy-but-it-works kind of way. hannaone sticks with pepper jack.

Honey Bee makes a dish of Brussels sprouts with bacon and kimchee. She cooks diced bacon and removes it from the pan, then sautés roasted Brussels sprouts in the bacon fat, and finally adds chopped kimchee and its juice, the reserved bacon, and chopped fresh mint.

hannaone offers this recipe for traditional kimchee stew, noting that you can simply leave out the meat for a vegetarian version, and replacing the water with any stock or broth will result in a richer flavor.

1 cup kimchee
4 ounces pork, chicken, or beef, cut in small pieces
2 cups water
5 ounces medium or firm tofu, in 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon finely ground red chile pepper
1 green onion, cut on diagonal in 1/2-inch lengths

Place kimchee, meat, and water in a medium pot over high heat and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes. Skim any oil or foam from the top. Add tofu, garlic, and chile, return to a full boil, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add green onion just prior to serving. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Board Link: Some Things to do With Kimchi

Gooey Sweet Candylike Yummies

Do you crave a confection with the chocolate, caramel, and peanut flavors of a Baby Ruth candy bar, but with extra gooeyness? Here are a couple of ways to achieve it.

For a quick-and-dirty fix, place minipretzels on a baking sheet and put a Rolo candy in the center of each. Heat in the oven just until the Rolo softens and begins to droop over the pretzel, then press nuts into the top of the candy and let cool. edugas76 says these “are by no means high end but boy are they yummy!”

Nigella Lawson’s chocolate peanut squares are more sophisticated, yet with layers of shortbread, rich peanut-filled caramel, and dark chocolate, they taste very much like a candy bar, says tweetie.

Board Link: Something chocolatey, caramely, and peanutty…

Seriously Crabby Crab Cakes

Crab cakes that are all about the crab are a very fine thing indeed. Instead of a mountain of breadcrumbs, all a pound of crabmeat needs is a few tablespoons of crushed crackers or panko, plus a bit of binder (usually in the form of mayonnaise), and gentle handling to keep the pieces of crab intact and the cake one piece. Mustard (dry or prepared) and Old Bay Seasoning are traditional, but best kept light, so the flavor of the crab shines through. Chowhounds have strong preferences when it comes to using lump, back fin, or claw meat—go with whatever part of the crab is tastiest to you. Chilling the formed cakes for an hour before cooking helps them hold together better. Pan-frying works best, as crab cakes without a lot of binder often fall apart under the broiler.

QueenB loves this recipe, passed down from a “true Maryland lady”:

6 saltine crackers, crushed
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 pound crabmeat, picked over and shells removed

Mix all ingredients together, shape into cakes, and sauté in a combination of olive oil and butter.

Board Link: Filler-minimal crabcake recipe?

Crème of the Crop Cocktails

Crème de cassis, black currant liqueur, is an elegant, sweet cordial that imparts a beautiful purple hue to drinks. It’s best known as the key player in the apéritifs Kir (dry white wine with crème de cassis) and Kir Royale (Champagne with crème de cassis), but here are some other cocktails that feature it.

fafner suggests the El Diablo:

2 ounces silver tequila

1 ounce spicy ginger beer

3/4 ounce lime or lemon juice

3/4 ounce crème de cassis

Shake, serve in a rocks glass.

Mamaafc calls this Wednesday’s Lemon Drop:

Shake Ketel One Citroen and fresh lemon juice to taste; strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar, and add about 10 drops of crème de cassis; it will look like a jewel floating on top.

kenito799 created the Canton de Quebec:

1 1/2 ounces white rum

1/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1/4 ounce Cointreau

Dash of crème de cassis

Shake, strain, and serve up.

Board Link: Cocktails with Cassis?

Divine Duxelles

If you’re ever confronted with a surfeit of supermarket-variety white button mushrooms and need to preserve them, as janetofreno recently did, or if you simply wish to have a bit of sublime mushroom essence in your freezer to add to omelets or scrambled eggs and sauces, to use as a soup or risotto base, or as an instant lasagne or strudel filling, then duxelles will be the new ace up your sleeve. Plain mushrooms become a rubbery mess when frozen, but duxelles—a paste of mushrooms slowly cooked down in lots of butter—freezes beautifully. You can freeze it in ice cube trays, wrap the cubes in plastic wrap, and store them in a freezer bag, or store larger portions in freezer containers.

grampart likes James Beard’s duxelles recipe.

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