Cooking Tips rss

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

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?

Stock-Making Tips and Tricks

Making stock is a basic kitchen technique; hounds offer a lot of sound advice on how to do it.

How long should stock simmer? Until it tastes good. popcorn_denver says, “Stock, to me, is always ready to use, but never ‘done’.” Most agree that the right time is somewhere between one and four hours. (Except fish stock, of course, which can be finished in 15 to 30 minutes.)

Skimming the scum that rises to the top is essential, but not much fun. A folding of high-quality paper towels can mop up the scum. When finished, straining the stock through cheesecloth will clarify it nicely.

If you make a big batch of stock to keep around for various uses, try leaving it unseasoned. That way you can add different flavorings for each use.

Reducing the stock to a jellylike consistency makes it easy to cube and freeze for later use.

Here are more little things you can do to crank up your stock quality: If you want a deep-flavored brown stock, roast your bones. Crack chicken bones so the marrow will flavor the stock. Add chicken feet for flavor and high gelatin content.

Most important, relax. If the stock is clear, tasty, and of a consistency you can use, it’s good.

Board Link: I would like to discuss stock.

Too Many Pears?

Have too many pears? DanaB comes to the rescue with a classic recipe first posted here by galleygirl in 2004.

Laurie’s Pear Tart
3 or 4 ripe juicy pears …
Peel, core, and cut into sixths or eighths

Cream
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla …

Add
2 eggs, one at a time …

Combine
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt …

Add to butter mixture.

Spray an 8-inch (important) springform pan with Pam. Spread the batter in it. Now, in a pinwheel pattern, press the slices of pear, peeled side up, into the batter. Cram in as many as you can; since the batter rises and covers the pears, there are no points given for style here. The more pears, the moister the cake will be.

Bake at 350°F until a skewer comes out clean, about an hour. If you have any doubts, underbake. This is a whole different animal if it dries out.

Board Links: Pearfect Pears–just too many
A plethora of pears- any recipes?

Beer and Brats

jdf is doing brats in beer on the grill for the first time and wants to do it right. What’s the correct brew?

pikawicca votes for Samuel Adams—nothing heavier than a lager—and always adds sliced onions.

tdmmcarthy21 gives us the recipe: Grill the brats over indirect heat for at least 20 to 25 minutes; they won’t burst and will have great grill marks. After they’re done, throw them in a pot with a couple of beers, maybe some water, lots of onion, fresh chopped garlic, some black peppercorns, and some mustard seeds. Let simmer 15 minutes to an hour. Perfect football Sunday chow.

CHEFBUCK insists that German brats need a German beer like St. Pauli Girl. Start a cabbage braise with vinegar, coriander, and beer. When half done, put your brats in and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Take the brats out and quickly grill them on high heat to get grill marks.

Board Link: Bratwursts in beer-What beer?

Green Peppercorns

Being less pungent than the black variety, green peppercorns have plenty of uses. Simply combine with black ones for grinding or use for a steak au poivre. MMRuth found a recipe for a green peppercorn vinaigrette on the Food Network’s website. mitchell25418 is going to try a blue cheese burger with green peppercorns from a recipe on Epicurious. Keramel says steak with mustard and green peppercorns was lovely using this recipe, also from Epicurious.

Board Link: Peppercorns

Rib Cooking Tips

jboeke is on a mission to eliminate rib heartbreak. Good intentions, plenty of good advice on technique, and still his ribs are nearly inedible and inevitably trashed.

Chowhound answers are diametrically opposed in the classic standoff: to boil or not to boil.

maisonbistro is on the boil ’em side, claiming these ribs are a hit every time. After boiling for five minutes, slather with barbecue sauce and let stand in the fridge for a day. Cook in a foil package, and turn the heat up at the very end for crispy outsides. “Do that, and then come and tell me they were crap.”

woodburner takes the low and slow route: Boiling ribs “is a high crime against swine.” Dry-rub the ribs, then cook low and slow at least two and a half to three hours. Wood chips that create smoke (in a foil pouch on a gas grill) are essential to penetrate the meat. Fuser agrees—no boiling; long and slow over indirect heat is absolutely the only way to get great ribs.

GastronautMN offers an ingenious détente: Cook the ribs over coals, wrap in foil, and throw in a cooler. The insulation will keep hot stuff hot, so the ribs will continue to cook to total tenderness. Great for cooking corn in the husk, too. You can finish on the grill for some char marks. Now that’s easy.

The debate rages on … you pick.

Board Link: Need EASY Rib Cooking Tips

On Conch

How do you prepare conch, besides in conch fritters?

phneale offers conch salad, cracked conch (pounded to tenderize it), and a classic tomato-based conch chowder. Recipes can be found here and here.

Board Link: Conch