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

Soup to Heal What Ails You

In addition to the universal curative brothy chicken soup, Chowhounds offer a few simple go-to soup recipes that set them right when they’re feeling under the weather.

VirgoBlue likes to make lentil soup when she’s sick: Sauté a chopped onion, two chopped carrots, and a chopped green bell pepper until soft. Add 2 1-quart boxes of chicken stock and two cans of diced tomatoes, a bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, salt and pepper, and 3/4 cup green lentils. Cook for about an hour.

daily_unadventures makes tomato soup, which has, she notes, plenty of vitamin C: Sauté some diced onions in olive oil until soft; add 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then add a large can of whole tomatoes, dried oregano and basil, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, and chicken stock, and simmer for 20 minutes. If you want to make it heartier, add spinach and lemon zest at the end of cooking, and some noodles or tortellini, if you like.

Keramel’s sinus-clearing take on chicken soup for a cold is a spicy Mexican tortilla soup: Poach 2 sliced cloves of garlic and 2 chicken breasts in 8 cups chicken stock until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to a cutting board to cool, keeping the stock warm. When the chicken is cooled, shred it into small pieces with a fork. Meanwhile, blend a can of chopped tomatoes and their juices with 3 cloves of garlic and a roughly chopped small onion until smooth. Add to the chicken stock, along with cumin, chili powder, coriander, and oregano to taste, and cook for 10 minutes, adding whatever vegetables strike your fancy (chopped carrots/celery, cooked or canned black beans, corn, etc.). Near the end of cooking, add pickled jalapeño peppers and the chicken. Serve over fried tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips.

Board Links: Best Soup Recipe when you’re sick

Homemade Coke and Other Uses for Tamarind Paste

I don’t know if tamarind is part of Coca-Cola’s top-secret formula, but maria lorraine claims that mixing tamarind paste with lemon and lime juices, vanilla sugar, and sparkling water will give you a homemade version. However it stacks up against the red can, Maria’s version sounds like a winner.

Tamarind paste is a great addition to any recipe where you want a slightly sour or tangy element. It’s perfect in barbecue sauces, or anywhere you might use a bit of vinegar or lemon juice but want a little more nuance (a little goes a long way). It makes a great marinade for pork or chicken, too: Just add a dab to some water with spices of your choosing in a zip-top plastic bag, throw the meat in, and park it in the fridge.

Tamarind paste lasts pretty much indefinitely in the fridge. And should you ever tire of cooking with it, it’s excellent for cleaning and polishing brass, according to ambrose!

Board Links: Tamarind paste–what to do?

One Cake for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner … Oh, and Dessert, Too!

It’s a sour cream Bundt cake with a megadose of vanilla that’s great on its own, with fruit, or further embellished as your imagination takes you. wyf4lyf says this family recipe is known as Breakfast Cake but, “We eat it for breakfast, dessert, snacks … you name it.” And it smells heavenly while it bakes, she adds.

The recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
5 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk flour, baking powder and soda, and salt together in a bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat dry ingredients into batter. Stir in sour cream and vanilla until incorporated (batter will be thick). Spoon batter into Bundt pan and bake about 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Board Links: Need Dessert that doubleserves as Breakfast

Great Espresso on the Cheap

The best inexpensive espresso maker you can get is the decidedly low-tech stovetop espresso maker. It costs less than $20, and it makes a fine demitasse—just ask the millions of Italian families who have been using one daily for generations. Most are aluminum, though you can pay more for stainless versions.

You put water in the bottom portion, and coffee in a middle section; as the water heats, it is forced up through the grounds and filters into the top section of the pot. Stovetop espresso pots have many chowhound fans, who say that though they don’t produce the crema that a pricey machine does, they definitely make delicious, rich-tasting espresso. has illustrations and instructions for the use and care of stovetop espresso makers. At Kitchen Emporium you can find aluminum stovetop pots for reasonable prices, but they’re often available very cheaply at discount stores and Ikea’s kitchenwares department. Bialetti is the best-known brand, but there are many others that are just as well made and less expensive.

Board Links: I love espresso, and I’m poor

Homemade Frozen Yogurt

Really tasty frozen yogurt is a lot harder to make at home than it seems like it should be, but hounds highly recommend a couple of recipes:

This lime-vanilla frozen yogurt gets high marks from sugarbuzz.

And dukegirl is really happy with this recipe for chocolate frozen yogurt, with the caveat that she drains her yogurt for a few hours before adding it, and feels the added step makes for a better texture.

Board Links: Frozen Yogurt

Fabulous Buttermilk Pancakes

This recipe’s called The Best Buttermilk Pancakes for a reason, according to ginqueen. They’re the best pancakes she’s ever eaten. They’ve got great flavor, and are light and fluffy, with a pillowy texture that holds up to keeping them warm in the oven as you cook up the the whole batch.

Board Links: FABULOUS buttermilk pancake recipe

Dry Aging Your Own Beef

Dry-aged beef is the ultimate expression of beef flavor. This is the concentrated, pure beef flavor of those high-end steak houses. It can be had for home cooking for a premium price from high-end butchers, who age their beef in special climate-controlled facilities. But can you dry age your own beef and even hope to approximate that flavor? To a point, yes. But it’s complicated.

Be prepared to lose volume from your meat; it shrinks while aging. As Spot explains, “the trick is to lose moisture and let the enzymes get their thing going. Do you lose some? Yup, but what’s left is so much better.” If you want try it, read up at Ask the Meatman

Board Links: Aging Beef at Home?

Tuna Tartare

Any tuna tartare begins with sushi-grade tuna, cut carefully in small dice. Where the fun lies is in how you choose to dress your tartare. Kitchen Queen likes hers dressed with chile oil, soy sauce, and a little mayo, and topped with avocado and slivered cucumber. harryharry looks to Southeast Asia, and uses coconut milk, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and fish sauce. JoLi goes in a different direction, using raspberry vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, and a little olive oil.

Jenblossom shares her recipe:

1 Tbsp. tamari
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp. wasabi paste
1/2 tsp. sriracha (or other hot sauce)
Juice and zest of half a lemon

4-6 oz. sushi-grade tuna, diced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
Rice crackers

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Gently toss the tuna with the dressing and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes so the flavors can meld. Mound the tartare onto a serving dish, sprinkle with chives and serve with rice crackers.

Board Links: your favorite Tuna Tartare recipe?

Pine Nut Primer

Pine nuts are little packets of beauty. They’re versatile, too; they’re a key ingredient in classic pesto Genovese, and they’re also great in salads, with sauteed vegetables (especially spinach, chard, and green beans), in couscous and rice pilafs, and in hot pastas and pasta salads. Toasting pine nuts until they are light golden brown before adding to a cooked dish brings out their flavor. Toast by stirring in a dry skillet over medium heat, or in a toaster oven at about 300F; watch carefully, as pine nuts burn very easily. They are high in oil and turn rancid very quickly if kept at room temperature, so it’s best to store them tightly sealed in the freezer. Take out only the amount you need; they will thaw quickly.

Board Links: New to pine nuts–how to use, store?

Fennel Fronds

Fennel greens echo the subtle anise-like flavor of the bulbs. The stalks are often tough and fibrous, but lend good flavor when used as a bed for roasting fish. The tender wispy green fronds can be chopped finely and used in dishes (try adding them to a green salad). They keep well in the crisper drawer of the fridge.

Use finely chopped fronds in potato salad with finely diced onion and a dressing of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice, recommends Cristina. Diana tosses chopped fronds with potatoes before roasting; she also tosses 1-inch sections of the stalks with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasts until tender.

venera smashes the fronds in a mortar and pestle with garlic, salt, and olive oil to make a pesto that’s delicious smeared on salmon.

You can infuse olive oil with fennel fronds (plus any combination of lemon peel, black pepper, onion, and fennel seed); heat the olive oil over very low heat, “and keep it looooooow,” explains pitu. Then use it to make a dish of roasted fish on a bed of onions and sliced fennel bulb, painting some oil on each layer.

Board Links: Fennel Fronds