Cooking Tips rss

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

Dad’s Cooking

Chowhounds remember the stuff their noncooking dads made—with lots of love, and not much skill. There was the canned soup (watery, burned) and a “clean the fridge” soup using jam, olives, leftovers, veggies, and you-get-to-guess-the-ingredients.

Fried bologna sandwiches with Miracle Whip or mayo are burned into the collective unconscious.

Charred wrecks of grilled protein also litter memory lane. One hound sums it up, “I always knew dinner was ready when I heard, ‘sh&t, I burnt the f*%g _’ and he filled in the blank with the name of the meat/poultry.”

And then there were the “healing” beverages: several references to guggle muggles (a.k.a. guggala muggalas), a concoction of warm milk, honey, and raw egg, whiskey optional, that loomed as a cold remedy.

squid kun summed it up for all the lame noncooking dads: “What he brought to the kitchen was attention and love.”

Board Link: Things Your Non-cooking Dad Made

On Matsutake Mushrooms

These aromatic mushrooms retain their piney, musky, cinnamony scent better when grilled rather than sautéed. Slice the caps and stalks, roast or grill until they turn a light brown, then eat with oil and salt.

Or you can try bulavinaka’s method, steaming them in a rice cooker with soy sauce, sake, and a little grilled diced onion or deep-fried tofu skin.

They work well in a simple soup: a basic dashi with matsutakes, sliced daikon, and carrots.

HLing offers another preparation: Steam the mushrooms in a chawanmushi cup (an egg-custard dish, one with a lid) for five minutes. Drink the nectar that forms, then slice the mushroom and eat with ginger soy sauce or wasabi.

kobetobiko prepares them as tempura. They’re ethereal, crunchy outside and juicy and flavorful inside.

Board Link: Matsutake Tokusen–best way to prepare?

Keep the Bacon Fat

There are tons of uses for saved bacon fat. cayjohan uses it in a vinaigrette for beet salad, while dinner belle puts some in her cheese grits and adds a bit to a pot of white beans. chocchipcookie uses bacon fat in her Caesar salad dressing. fearlessemily adds a tablespoon to a pound of burger meat with some milk-soaked bread and grills. You won’t taste bacon in the burger, but it is just luscious.

With all this good advice, chef chicklet got creative and used it to sauté up garlic, onions, and zucchini—the “best tasting zucchini” ever.

Board Link: Bacon Fat–do you use it? How?

Candied Ginger Purée

How do you use candied ginger purée?

leanneabe says spread it as a layer underneath pears in a crostata or tart.

Jyg08 says, “Take a log of chevre. Coat with the ginger puree. Stand back so you don’t get trampled.”

Querencia uses the purée to rub on chicken and pork before cooking it, and places a big spoonful in the center of acorn squash before baking.

Budino makes a fast ginger tea by dissolving a big tablespoon of the purée in a cup of hot water; with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of cayenne, it helps with a sore throat.

Board Link: Any great recipes using Candied Ginger Puree?

Pancake Toppings

NAtiveNewYorker suggests a topping of macerated strawberries, adding in blueberries to the batter, or topping with bananas sautéed in butter and sugar. KingsKetz cuts up the pancakes and dips the pieces in a mixture of fresh fruit salad and yogurt. reannd goes the savory route and mixes green onions or chives into cornmeal pancakes and sometimes tops them with queso fresco. erns53 shares, “If it’s the kind of day where I don’t have to move too much,” she tops the ’cake with chèvre and a sunny-side-up egg. Now that’s breakfast!

Board Link: How do I dress up pancakes?

We Love Yellow Onions

Which are the best onions to use in onion soup? Chowhounds actually have thought about this question a lot, and the consensus is: plain old yellow cooking onions.

The key to great onion soup is not using expensive, specialty onions. The requirements are a long, low, slow caramelization of the onions and a good stock. chazzerking says specialty onions like Walla Wallas and Vidalias lose their sweetness differential after caramelizing. cmkdvs tried sweet onions and found them to be much too sweet after caramelizing.

Karl S caramelizes in a rectangular nonstick electric skillet for best temperature control and no scorching.

Large onions are preferable to small ones, just because they’re easier to slice.

Board Link: Best onions for onion soup?

The Best Cake Ever, Thanks to Elvis

krissywats has had an out-of-body experience: the best cake ever.

It’s banana cake with chocolate chips, peanut butter frosting, and chocolate shavings on top. Some people call it the Elvis Cake.

Use cake flour, butter, and regular chocolate chips in the cake and then Scharffen Berger 62 percent cocoa shavings on the outside. Also add an extra 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter to the frosting to make it more peanut buttery. Oh, and use buttermilk to add tang.

What you get is totally crazy. It stays moist for four days without refrigeration, and it’s impossible to eat without milk. It’s a classic.

krissywats says don’t add the cayenne to the frosting, but halene says to try it. It’s “surprisingly yummy.”

Board Link: With out question–the best cake I’ve had

Artichoke Dipping Sauces

katecm needs some brilliant artichoke dipping sauces that are easy to make.

mud says to mix mayo with curry powder. Very tasty. Gio combines peanut butter, brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar and soy sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil, and a pinch of ground ginger. Megiac offers sour cream with a bit of Dijon mustard and some chopped dill.

Board Link: Artichoke dipping sauce?

Sprout Farming at Home

WendyBinCT says growing sprouts is easy and fun! Use a three-layered, clear plastic sprouting dish to sprout more than one batch at a time.

Alfalfa, curly cress, and radish sprouts are faves; they add a peppery zest to salads, sandwiches, and stir-fries. Other hounds have sprouted beets, radishes, black beans, and lentils of many varieties. Check out Burpee for sprouts and growers.

Board Link: Growing Sprouts at home????

Best Rib-Eye Technique

Many consider rib-eye steaks the most flavorful beef cut. Here are tips for producing the most tender and tasty grilled rib-eyes.

Always, always, always buy the best quality you can. Choice beef is good, Prime is better. A butcher shop rather than a supermarket is more likely to have the quality beef you want, though some recommend Costco’s. Ask your butcher to cut the steaks at least one inch thick. A one-and-a-half- to two-inch cut is better. Look for well-marbled steaks without thick veins of fat. Dry-aged steaks will have the best flavor, but the texture will be a bit tougher. alanbarnes has a technique for dry-aging at home.

Before cooking, bring the steaks to room temperature. Season simply with salt and pepper. More complex rubs might include garlic, powdered mustard, chili powder, cinnamon, dried oregano, cumin, or brown sugar.

Sear the steaks on high heat for a minute or so on each side, then finish them over lower heat. bulavinaka uses two grills to maintain two temperatures. This also can be done by searing in a cast iron pan on the stove and finishing in the oven. If you can’t reliably discern doneness by touch, use a thermometer.

Board Link: how do you get your rib-eye so tender?