Cooking Tips rss

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

Baklava Tips for First-Timers

Sticky, sweet baklava—spiced nuts layered with phyllo dough and drenched with syrup—is a favored dessert in Greece and all over the Middle East. Depending on the region, walnuts or pistachios may be the filling of choice, but Chowhounds use all kinds of nuts, alone or in combination. See their favorite baklava fillings, along with suggestions for flavoring the syrup and tips on assembly.

Make Your Own Smoked Sriracha!

What’s even better than barrel-aging Sriracha? Smoking it. This is my sixth attempt at a smoked Sriracha in the style of Huy Fong Foods’ rooster sauce. This time, I was trying to make a sauce with a little less sugar and a bit more natural sweetness (I used a small amount of dark brown sugar and a cooked carrot). I’ve been playing around with my stovetop hot smoker—it’s such an easy way to make all kinds of things taste more interesting, with greater depth to the flavor. The maple chips I used added a smoky-sweet taste perfect for this sauce. READ MORE

Butter Plus Soy Equals Obsession

Who knew? Two pantry fixtures—salty, umami-rich soy sauce and creamy butter—marry to make a condiment Chowhounds just can't resist. Whether simply dressing a bowl of steamed rice, livening up popcorn or steamed vegetables, or used as a baste for roasted chicken, fish, or steak, this easy combination is much more than the sum of its parts.

Rice-Cooker Rice Without the Crunch

The crunchy crust that forms as rice cooks is highly desired in some cuisines, but not everyone is a fan. If you just want uniform, uncrusted white rice from your rice cooker, get recommendations for rice cookers at all price points that will turn out perfect rice without the crust. Great for sushi!

The Best Grinder for Indian Spices

It’s easy: Buying whole and grinding as needed is the best way to get the most flavor out of your spices. Not so easy: Finding the right grinder. Popular solutions include a blade-type electric coffee grinder and an old-fashioned mortar and pestle like my Indian aunts still use. I wanted to find the best, most efficient grinder—especially for Indian cooking, lush with spices—so I put these two types to the test along with a third, an electric grinder designed specifically for spices. Which would hold up to the daily grind of my kitchen? READ MORE

What to Cook in Cast Iron

You've gone through all the hassle and troubleshooting involved in seasoning your cast iron—now what should you cook in it that will really shine? Find out the tastiest things you can make in cast-iron cookware, from clam cakes to soda bread. READ MORE

Is Smoked Brisket Technically Pastrami?

What distinguishes pastrami from corned beef? It's all about smoke. Both deli favorites begin with brining brisket with spices and curing salt, but while corned beef is then simmered or roasted, pastrami is soaked, given a spice rub, and smoked. Corned beef is good, Chowhound FoodFire says, but "the smoke adds a ton of flavor" to pastrami. Hounds have tips to share on efficient brining, using the right curing salts, and which woods in the smoker help deliver perfect pastrami.

Sous Vide for Beginners

Sous-vide cooking at home is now more accessible than ever, thanks to less expensive, temperature-controlled immersion circulators designed for use in your own kitchen vessels—but there's still a bit of a learning curve. Get tips on which cooking times and temperatures yield the best texture for various cuts of meat and vegetables, plus compare the most popular entry-level immersion circulators.

Slow-Cure Corned Beef with Kitchen Coach Aaron Rocchino

It’s hard to imagine a meat purveyor more locally rooted than Aaron and Monica Rocchino's The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, California. A longtime cook a block away at Chez Panisse (which now buys its meats here), Aaron sources whole, pasture-raised animals from ranches within 150 miles of Berkeley. He and his staff are fierce advocates for whole-animal cooking. Not only are they turning bones and trim and fat into stocks, sausages, and terrines (even cookies made with leaf lard), they also counsel customers about how to cook the cuts they won’t find shrink-wrapped at the supermarket. When we went looking for a Kitchen Coach to guide us through corned beef, we didn’t have to look hard. READ MORE

Great Dashi, Great Japanese Cooking

Dashi, the Japanese stock made from kombu (seaweed) and bonito flakes (fish), is a backbone of Japanese cuisine, like chicken stock in French cuisine. Find out how to make dashi easily—and where to get decent instant dashi if you're not inclined to make it from scratch.