Cooking Tips rss

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

Coconutty Cocktails

Like coconut? Like cocktails? Try these babies:

BBCs: banana, Baileys, coconut milk, and rum, whipped up in the blender with a little ice, offers peppermint pate.

Bushwackers: coconut, creme de cacao, rum, kahlua, a little milk or cream, and ice in a blender. Very sweet and dessert-like, but slips down dangerously easy, warns Hungry Celeste.

Texas Toast says this concoction, adapted from a drink recipe from Peninsula Grill in Charleston, S.C., based on their famous coconut cake, indeed tastes like cake in a glass>

1 cup dry Marsala
1 oz. white chocolate liqueur
1 oz. coconut rum
1/2 oz. hazelnut liqueur
1/2 oz. vanilla vodka

Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full of ice and add all of the ingredients. Shake for approximately 15 seconds and strain into chilled cocktail glasses.

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Any ideas for coconut cocktails?

Romanesco Cauliflower

The Romanesco cauliflower is a freakishly beautiful variety of cauliflower. It’s a lime green color, and each floret is a little spiraling pyramid. It’s said to have been first described by the Italians in the 16th century. They’re all over the place in the markets of Tuscany.

Here’s a good picture and more info.

Cook it as you would any cauliflower. A whole steamed Romanesco makes a beautiful presentation, or you can hack it into bits and roast it. Individual florets make for interesting crudites.

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Romanesco cauliflower

Muffins: Prepare at Night, Bake in the Morning

Say you crave muffins hot from the oven at 9 a.m., but can only make it out of bed at 8 a.m.? Don’t mix the batter up the night before; the baking powder or soda will lose its leavening power and you will have flat, dense muffins. Instead, ready the components at night; it’ll only take a minute in the morning to mix the batter together. Here’s how: The night before, stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and leave covered on the contertop. Whisk wet ingredients in an another bowl, cover, and refrigerate. In the morning, rewhisk the wet ingredients, mix into the dry ingredients just until combined, and bake. Caveat: if you plan to add berries, fold them in in the morning rather than mix with wet ingredients, or your muffins will end up pink, purple, or even a weird blueberry blue-gray.

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cranberry muffins

Simple One-Pot Meals in Your Rice Cooker

Flavorful lop cheong (Chinese sausage) can be cooked along with the rice in a rice cooker, giving flavor to the rice and making a one-pot meal. You can also add a little something when the rice is just finished cooking and the heat of the rice will cook it, says yimster, such as whipped eggs seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.

According to Hungry Celeste, you can make a decent version of jambalaya in a rice cooker: Saute chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until fragrant, and add to rice cooker along with rice, peeled shrimp, thinly sliced smoked sausage, and an appropriate amount of rice and chicken or shrimp stock.

pattisue uses chicken stock instead of water and adds chopped sauteed veggies; after the rice is cooked, she mixes in chicken browned and cooked in olive oil and garlic on the stove, for a quick and tasty meal.

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Rice cooker add-in recipes


Preparing frozen edamame (fresh soybeans) in the shell is simple. They’re pre-cooked, so all you need to do heat and season them. Simply drop the frozen edamame into a pot of salted boiling water, cook for 4-5 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water and season with sea salt. pescatarian put them in cold water and brings it to a boil; as soon as it starts boiling rapidly he drains and salts. Some microwave: place the edamame in a bowl with 3-4 Tbsp. water and cover, nuke for a minute or two, drain the water, and salt. For additional flavor, try squeezing on some lime juice before salting, or dressing your edamame in curry powder fried in oil.

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Vidalia Onions

Vidalia onions are the pride of Vidalia, Ga. They’re sweet onions–big, juicy sweet onions. For most locations, availability depends on the season, but they’re always available online, or by calling 800-447-9338.

Once you get them home, advisor_Girl says they’ll keep up to a year in a drawer in the fridge, when they’re individually wrapped. Another good storage tip: slip them into the leg of pantyhose and separate them by tying a knot between each one.

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TGIF–Thanksgiving in Florida

Making Your Own Smoked Salt

Smoked sea salt is a delicious condiment, and it’s super-easy to make your own if you have a smoker. When you’re firing up your smoker for a long session, just pour sea salt into a foil pan and put it on a high rack, above any meat you’re smoking. You definitely don’t want any meat drippage in your salt. The longer you smoke it, the better, says ricepad. Six hours at minimum; ten hours is even better.

Here’s a money-saving tip from Pei: Korean markets sell 2.5-lb. bags of sea salt for just a few bucks, and it tastes just as good as pricier stuff.

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Smoked Sea Salt

Ideas for Using Preserved Lemons

Chowhounds share some novel ideas for using Moroccan-style preserved lemons:

Add preserved lemons to ceviche and similar seafood dishes. Mince and add to aioli. Add a little to hummus. Or, stuff large olives with a strip of preserved lemon peel each–this is particularly fabulous as a Martini garnish.

Mince preserved lemons with parsley and oil-cured black olives and sprinkle on anything fried (potatoes, fish, shrimp, etc.). Combine chopped preserved lemons, chopped red onion, and mayonnaise, and use to top fish.

La Dolce Vita makes preserved lemon relish that’s good with roast chicken, grilled fish, and vegetables: Finely chop the equivalent of one whole preserved lemon; add about 1/3 cup total of finely chopped parsley, cilantro, dill, and green onion in whatever proportion you prefer. Add 1-2 Tbs. of good olive oil and 1/4 tsp. each of sweet paprika and toasted ground cumin. Let sit for about 15 minutes to give the flavors a chance to blend before using.

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Creative used for Preserved Lemons?

Giving Edamame a Kick

Boiled, salted edamame are a terrific snack. But chowhounds have a few tricks to make them truly irresistible:

Grind lapsang souchong tea leaves with a little salt, and sprinkle the mixture over the edamame for a nice smoky snack. Smoked salt achieves a similar effect. Curry-infused oil and citrus zest is an inspired combination for edamame. Also try grinding chili peppers, star anise, and garlic together for the topping.

In a different vein, Old Bay seasoning is great on edamame, says ClaireLiz.

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edamame tip

Homemade Gummy Bears

Who knew? A lot of gelatin, a little water, and you can make homemade gummy bears! Or gummy anythings, really–for their shapes are limited only by your imagination. And by the molds you can create. As for flavor, that depends on what you find in gelatin mixes; S_K recommends looking in Asian groceries, where she finds flavors like passion fruit and blackcurrant. This recipe calls for a sugar-free gelatin mix, but any kind will work fine, S_K notes.

For the simplest of shapes, pour the mix in a thin layer onto the bottom of mini muffin tins. You’ll get little gummy coins. Or, use regular muffin tins for fatter, sassier gummy medals. You can also use any ice cube trays–the trays with decorative shapes work particularly great. The above recipe also provides instructions for making gummi worms.

For more ambitious projects, with fancy shapes, check out these sources for candy molds:

Sugarcraft has kits especially for making gummy candies in fun shapes like feet and bugs.

Candyland Crafts has candy molds in any and every shape you could imagine.

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Homemade Gummy Bears?