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

Smoked Mackerel

Mackerel is high in healthful omega-3 fatty acids, and smoked mackerel is delicious, on its own or used in recipes. It’s sold in vacuum-sealed packages, like smoked salmon, and can be found in specialty food stores, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s.

Here are some ideas for using it:

Scramble with eggs and sauteed onions.

Put in a hash with potatoes and onions (add the mackerel late, when the potatoes are almost done).

Add it to green salads with a citrus vinaigrette, or with citrus segments and a mustardy vinaigrette.

Make a smoked mackerel stew: use a recipe for Manhattan clam chowder, replacing the clams with mackerel.

Make a pate by pureeing with cream, lemon juice, and melted butter.

Combine with cream cheese, sliced green onions, and a dash of lemon juice, and eat on crackers.

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Smoked Mackerel

Stand-Ins for Panko

Panko, the Japanese breadcrumbs that make super-crispy breading, are made with special dough and an electromagnetic cooking process–not something recreatable at home. Chowhounds offer a couple of alternatives if you’re stuck panko-less and crave crispiness:

chameleonz approximates panko’s texture by trimming the crusts from good whole-loaf white bread, slicing it, letting the slices sit uncovered for an hour, and running them through the shredding disc on a food processor. Then he spreads the crumbs on a baking sheet and put in the oven with the heat off until they dry out.

shanagain gives Rice Krispies a whirl in the food processor. Seriously, she says, they do the trick.

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How can I make Panko?

Bean Soup with Bacon

Katie Nell set out to recreate her childhood favorite, Campbell’s bean with bacon soup, but better–and says it’s the best soup she’s ever made. Even better served with garlic bread!

Here’s the recipe:

1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1-2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 small red onion, in small dice
1/2 small red pepper, in small dice
1 large carrot, in small dice
3 small cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken stock

1 can white beans
Parmesan cheese

Fry the bacon in a saucepan until crispy, then drain and set aside, reserving the bacon fat in the pan. Add butter to pan and saute red onion, red pepper, and carrot until they just start to caramelize; add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add thyme; cook for 1 minute. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Add flour and cook 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add white beans and bacon, and heat until warmed through. Serve with Parmesan cheese on top.

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Ham Cooked in Coke

Basting ham in Coca Cola is an old-time southern practice. It’s still popular because it tastes great. Coke’s not the only soda you can use–7-Up and Dr Pepper are also popular, and Isabella prefers Barq’s root beer. acme took a risk with orange soda, and says it was wonderful.

wyf4lyf recently made a Coke-basted ham that she raves is “out of this world!”: Score the fat, rub allspice all over the ham, cook in 2 liters of Coke, basting every 15 minutes for the first 90 minutes. Then glaze with apricot preserves mixed with orange juice. Glaze and baste every 15 minutes until done.

chezlamere is crazy about Nigella Lawson’s version, and says it’s even better when made with pomegranate molasses.

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Nigella’s ham cooked in coke.

Supreming Citrus

To “supreme” a citrus fruit is to cut away its peel and pith, then remove its segments from between the membranes. It’s a nice technique for fruit salads and sauces; while you lose a bit of the fruit, you don’t get any white pith or fibrous membrane in your dish as you would by simply peeling and sectioning it.

Here’s how: Using a sharp knife, slice the rind off the top and bottom of your fruit, exposing the flesh. Stand the fruit on one end (it’ll now sit flat, for easy paring) and cut the peel and white pith away, going from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit. Trim away any pith still attached. Hold the fruit in your non-dominant hand, and use a paring knife to cut down one side of a segment, separating it from the membrane. When you get to the bottom, twist the knife up and around the other side of the segment, flipping it out. When you’ve taken all the segments out, squeeze the juice out of the membranes. If you don’t use it in what you’re preparing, you can drink it or save it to use in something else.

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The secret to supreming?

Little Potato Bites

These little baked potato bites make a great appetizer (or baked in standard-size muffin cups, a good side dish), especially with a dollop of sour cream, says Candy:

2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 small onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 lbs. baking potatoes

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 36 mini-muffin cups. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, flour, salt, baking powder, black pepper, and nutmeg. Grate the onion on the large holes of a grater and whisk it and the garlic into the egg mixture. Peel and quarter the potatoes and chop finely in a food processor, using the steel blade. Add the potatoes to the batter and stir well to combine. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of the potato mixture into each prepared mini-muffin cup. Sprinkle with paprika and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

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I want to share a recipe

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons, commonly used in Moroccan cooking, are simple to make at home and keep for a long time. Several recommend this Paula Wolfort recipe. Be sure to use clean utensils–not your hands–to pack and remove your preserved lemons from their jars, to avoid the growth of mold.

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want to hear from anyone who’s ever made Moroccan preserved lemons
Preserved lemons?

Preserving Fresh Herbs for the Long Haul

It’s possible to freeze some fresh herbs and maintain good flavor, when you have an overabundance of such green glory. Plan on using frozen herbs for cooking; you won’t be able to use them in applications that call for raw fresh herbs. Thyme, rosemary, and sage can be rinsed, dried well, and stored in zipper-top freezer bags as is. It’s a snap to strip the leaves from the still-frozen stems, says MakingSense. Parsley leaves can be washed, dried, chopped, and frozen loose in freezer bags. Just grab the amount you need to throw into your dish.
There’s no satisfactory way to freeze whole basil leaves, but they can be minced finely, mixed with a little bit of olive oil and frozen in ice cube trays. Pop the cubes into a freezer bag and add them directly to sauces, etc., as they cook.

SeaSide Tomato makes herbed salts with end-of-season herbs, which can be enjoyed year ‘round and make great gifts. Wash, dry, and tear the leaves of fresh herbs in small pieces, and combine with kosher or sea salt in a ratio of 2/3 salt to 1/3 herbs or half and half. Use a combination of herbs or a single type, depending on your preference. The salt can be stored in tightly sealed bags for months (it will be damp at first, from the fresh herbs, but will dry out over time). Transfer the salt to pretty jars for gift giving or to keep in your spice rack.

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Freezing herbs —which ones work?

Different Takes on Baked Ziti

JaneRI finds that sharp cheddar cheese nicely offsets the sweetness of roasted butternut squash and onions. She combines the roasted vegetables with 1 lb. cooked ziti, a drained can of diced tomatoes, and plenty of grated sharp cheddar. If the mixture doesn’t seem moist enough, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup cream. Turn into a baking dish, top with breadcrumbs, and bake until bubbly and heated through.

greenstate’s baked ziti with chicken is easy and comforting: Saute 1 lb. cubed boneless, skinless, chicken in olive oil. Add a chopped onion, a can of roasted tomatoes, and two cups of tomato sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and basil. Toss with a pound of cooked ziti and a mixture of fresh mozzarella, fontina, and Parmesan cheeses. Top with a generous layer of mozzarella and bake for 45 minutes at 375F.

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Give me your best baked ziti recipe—no meat, please.

Keeping the Heat in Your Meat

Many recipes instruct you to remove meat from a pan and “keep it warm” while you deglaze the pan to make a sauce, or take other steps and add the meat back to the dish in progress. And when you roast or grill meat or poultry, you want to keep it warm while it rests before serving. The best way to keep meats warm without allowing them to overcook depends on the size of the cut and the way it’s cooked. If you’ll be adding meat back to a pan or plating within a few minutes, keeping it on a plate on top of the stove–which will be nice and warm from your cooking–will often do the job. Many tent meat with foil to help keep the heat in: drape foil loosely over the meat, don’t wrap it tightly. If you need to keep meat warm for longer than 10 minutes or so, put it an oven at the lowest possible setting (“keep warm” or at most 200F). The one case where you should not tent meat is when you’ve cooked something whose texture you want to keep crisp, such as skin-on roast chicken. Tenting will create a bit of steam and you’ll lose that delectable crispiness.

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How do you ‘keep meat warm’?