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

Polpette alla Napoletana

“I was about 8 years old when my mother first said to me, ‘Go wash your hands, we’re going to make meatballs,’” recalls Regina Cowles, and she’s been making them the same way ever since:

1/2 cup milk
2 cups dried bread, crust removed and cubed
1 lb. 85% lean ground beef

2/3 lb. ground pork
2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese

1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tsp. crushed red chile peppers, or more to taste
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Pour the milk over the cubed bread while you gather the remaining ingredients. Pulverize the bread mixture with your hands; drain any remaining milk and discard it. Place the bread and the remainder of ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands until they are extremely well blended. Form into meatballs approximately 2 inches in diameter. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place the meatballs in the pan, leaving enough room to turn each one without breaking them apart. Cook slowly on medium low heat, carefully turning each meatball, until well browned outside but still slightly rare inside. Remove the cooked meatballs to a covered bowl, keeping them warm while making your favorite tomato sauce to serve them with.

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Do you remember the first dish you ever cooked?

Cooking with Pumpkin Seeds

Add pumpkin seeds to chocolate chip cookies, grind them and mix into yogurt, toast and use to garnish pumpkin soup, use them to coat soft cheeses for a new wave cheeseball.

Pan roast pumpkin seeds in a hot cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil, then spread them on a plate and sprinkle with soy sauce and cumin powder; curry powder; or chipotle powder (and a bit of brown sugar if you like), and let cool. Add to salads and sandwiches, or eat out of hand.

wasabi roasts them with cubed bacon, pancetta, or guanciale and whole sage leaves and uses the mix to top pumpkin risotto; or follow wasabi’s friends’ lead and eat it by the handful–they call it “savory trail mix”!

basicfoodgroupie takes a peanut brittle recipe and substitutes pumpkin seeds for the peanuts, and sprinkles a little French sea salt on top while it’s still warm.

ballulah makes pumpkin seed-cilantro pesto using one bunch of cilantro (stems included), lots of garlic, a couple handfuls of pumpkin seeds, and a fresh chile pepper pulsed in a food processor. She uses it on pasta, sandwiches, and as a rub for chicken breasts.

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Your favorite way to use pumpkin seeds?

Lemony, Creamy, Tangy Dessert Topping (and Cannoli Filling!) with a Heart of Goat Cheese

By combining creamy goat cheese with Meyer lemon zest and heavy cream, nja came up with a delicious and silky cream with just a touch of tang and richness. With a bit of honey, it’s a great complement to cakes and pies; with more goat cheese and a pinch of nutmeg, it’s a dynamite cannoli filling.

Meyer Lemon Goat Cheese Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
2 oz. soft fresh goat cheese
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar, or more to taste

Place 1/4 cup cream, lemon zest, goat cheese, and honey in the top of a double boiler. Stir until cheese and honey melt. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Once cold, strain through a fine sieve and discard lemon zest. Whip the remaining cream and 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar in a separate bowl. Taste the whipped cream and lemon-cheese mixtures for sweetness; if you will want a sweeter product when it’s all combined, add more powdered sugar to the whipped cream (it’s hard to adjust the sweetness once it’s all mixed together). Stir about 1/4 the whipped cream into the cheese to lighten it up, then gently fold in the remaining cream in 3 equal additions. Serve immediately or keep well chilled for up to 3 days, stirring briefly before each use.

Cannoli Filling Variation

Follow the same procedure as above, but increase goat cheese to 4-5 oz. and leave out honey. Add a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg to the 1/4 cup cream with the goat cheese and lemon zest. After straining the cheese mixture, add 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar and beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until stiff and chunky. Continue as above with whipped cream and powdered sugar, and pipe into cannoli shells.

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Success: Meyer Lemon Goat Cheese Whipped Cream for pies, cakes, and cannoli

Cooking with Orange Marmalade

Orange marmalade makes a great ingredient; here are some ways to use it in cooking.

It’s a great base for a basting sauce or glaze. Thin it with orange juice to baste chicken or pork, or with Grand Marnier to glaze duck. Mix it with Dijon mustard and use it to coat chicken pieces before baking. scrapcatb melts orange marmalade in a saucepan with soy sauce, freshly grated ginger, and a bit of sesame oil, and glazes broiled salmon or scallops with the mixture.

coll likes to add orange marmalade to butternut squash soup.

scrapcatb makes fresh cranberry relish with orange marmalade: grind 12 oz. cranberries in a food processor or with a food grinder, and mix with 1/2 cup each marmalade and sugar.

For sweets, try adding marmalade to bread pudding, or mixing it with farmers cheese to use as a stuffing for blintzes or crepes. Warmed marmalade with orange segments over thick, creamy yogurt makes a delicious dessert, says huruta. Kagey recommends a simple Nigella Lawson recipe for chocolate orange cake made with marmalade.

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what to do with marmalade?

Akbar Mashti: Easy Iranian-American Ice Cream (without an Ice Cream Maker)

rose water’s mother passed on this recipe for her “semi-homemade” version of akbar mashti, an Iranian ice cream flavored with saffron and rose water. Rose water can be an acquired taste, as it reminds some of soap, but avowed rose water-haters have scarfed this up with abandon.

The recipe:

heavy cream
grated orange zest (optional)
saffron threads
hot water
1 half gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
2 tsp. rose water

fresh pistachio slivers

Pour a 1-cm. layer of cream in a small (approx. 4×4-inch) container, stirring in a pinch of orange zest if desired, and freeze until solid. When frozen, cut into 1/2-cm. squares. Grind a large pinch of saffron to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add 1/4 tsp. saffron to 1/4 cup hot water; the water should be a deep orange color. In a large mixing bowl, combine a few cups of ice cream, the rose water, the frozen cream chunks and some of the saffron water; stir until the color is uniform. Add more saffron water until the ice cream is sunflower yellow. Add more ice cream, more saffron water; stir. Continue until you’ve incorporated all the ice cream (combine more saffron powder and hot water if necessary to maintain the color of the ice cream). Scrape the mixture into a container and place in the freezer until it’s refrozen. Top servings with pistachio slivers.

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My Mom’s Iranian American Ice Cream

Fruit with a Kick, Mexican Style

It’s a delicious Mexican custom to serve cool fruit with a squeeze of citrus juice and a sprinkle of chile powder. Street carts selling bags of sliced fruit this way are ubiquitous in cities with large Mexican-American populations, but chilied fruits are dead easy to make in your own home. The most common fruits served this way are tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, coconut) and watermelon, along with the occasional cucumber or jicama. Jicama’s a must for refreshing the tastebuds, says Dommy, who also recommends mixing a bit of orange juice with the more common lime. Just choose your favorite fruits, squeeze a bit of lime or lime and and orange over, and sprinkle with the right kind of chile powder. There are several types and brands, easily found at Mexican markets; the label will usually say “para frutas” and have a picture of fruit. You can also order online.

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Recreating street fruit salads like the ones sold in L.A.?

Chicken Stock Safety

Conventional wisdom says it’s okay to keep chicken stock in the fridge for quite a while if you bring it to a boil every couple of days, but that’s probably not best, in terms of food safety. To keep your exposure to the bacteria that love to live in stock to a minimum, you should cool your stock quickly, either by transferring it to small containers or putting the pot in an ice bath. If you don’t use it within a day or two, freeze it. Kelli2006 brings any stock, whether it’s been refrigerated or frozen, to a rolling boil for 5 minutes before using it. And as Bostonbob3 points out, boiling a stock reduces it a bit, thereby intensifying its flavors.

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Bacteria in Chicken stock

Old Bay Beyond the Seafood Counter

Old Bay seasoning is classically used in crab cakes and for steaming shrimp, and it lends itself to lots of seafood preps, but chowhounds love it in nearly everything savory.

It’s great for seasoning hamburgers, or as a dry rub for steaks. Add it to the coating for your fried chicken. Use it in deviled eggs, and to season shrimp, chicken, or tuna salad. Sprinkle it on popcorn or french fries or edamame. Old Bay is a great seasoning for bloody Marys, too.

fiftyfootgirl shares this addictive recipe for spiced nuts with Old Bay (she likes it best with pecans):

2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
3 tsp. Old Bay
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp. hot sauce of your choice
4 cups nuts

Preheat oven to 300F. Mix all ingredients except nuts in a large bowl, then stir in nuts, coating them evenly. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Allow to cool thoroughly before serving.

As an alternative to Old Bay, yourbasicfoodgroupie likes Blue Crab Bay’s Chesapeake Bay Style Seafood Seasoning, which is similar, but has a more refined flavor, he says.

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My First Tin of Old Bay: What should I make??

Cooking Under Pressure

Pressure cookers are great for making short work of stews, but they’re good for so much more; cheryl_h uses hers to cook beans in record time, and howie makes soups, roasts, brisket, osso buco, steel cut oatmeal, and dulce de leche in his.

Miss Vickie’s Pressure Cooker Recipes is a site chock-full of information and tips on using pressure cookers, plus lots of recipes.

jdm says Alton Brown’s pressure cooker chili is great.

You can even make risotto in a pressure cooker! You don’t have as much control over the texture of the rice, but the results are only slightly different from risotto made the traditional way, says kittyfood, who offers a mushroom risotto recipe she says you can adapt with anything ingredients you’d like:

3/4 to 1 cup dried mushrooms
chicken stock
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
salt and fresh-ground pepper
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Cover dried mushrooms with boiling water and let soak for 15 minutes. Drain, straining liquid into measuring cup. Chop mushrooms. Bring chicken stock to boil in saucepan. Heat butter and oil in pressure cooker. Add onion, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat grains, about 1 minute. Add enough stock to mushroom liquid to equal 2 1/4 cups; add to rice along with wine and chopped mushrooms. Fasten pressure cooker lid and bring to full pressure. Cook for 5 minutes. Release steam and remove lid, and stir until risotto is desired consistency. Add parmesan. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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What else can I cook in a pressure cooker?

Carrot Halwa – a South Indian Mom’s Recipe

sweetTooth explains that gajar ka halva, the Indian pudding called carrot halwa in English, can differ drastically depending on where in India you are. The milky version she grew up with is the kind that’s made in Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh, whereas northern Indian versions may not incorporate milk at all. Here’s her mother’s recipe:

Scrub a couple of pounds of fresh sweet carrots thoroughly to remove dirt, then grate coarsely. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter or ghee in a wide, preferably non-stick, pan. Add the grated carrots and saute them on medium heat until they soften and wilt a little, about 5 minutes. Then add enough whole milk to completely cover the carrots, and half and half to equal 1/4 the amount of milk used. Cook, stirring the mixture often, until it reduces to a consistency slightly thinner than ricotta. Next, add sugar to taste: start with 3/4 cup, and then adjust in 1/4 cup increments until it’s as sweet as you like. After you add sugar, the consistency will get thinner. Continue cooking until it thickens and the consistency is back to what it was before you added sugar. A few minutes before the halva is done, add the seeds from 8 whole green cardamom pods, coarsely ground in a mortar or pulsed in a spice grinder with 2 tsp. sugar, and (optionally) a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.

Slivered pistashios or blanched almonds make a great garnish. Serve warm with hot puris, chilled on its own, or piping hot with a scoop of vanilla or cardamom ice cream.

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Gajar Ka Halva (Carrot Pudding) recipes?