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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Coconut Milk Adds a Tropical Twist

Coconut milk is wonderful combined with many foods both savory and sweet.

“I use it for baking all the time,” says vorpal. “It makes a great substitute for milk, or mix it up and use 50 percent milk, 50 percent coconut milk. I’ve tried it in waffles, pancakes, muffins, and banana bread (YUM) with excellent results.” He also adds it to the custard base for ice cream.

4Snisl makes coconut-chocolate panna cotta by whisking sugar and cocoa powder into heated coconut milk to taste, along with a dash of salt and some vanilla, then adding 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatin per cup of coconut milk, bloomed in a bit of cold coconut milk, and chilling until set. cimui agrees that the richness of coconut milk works well for panna cotta.

bear loves this coconut milk sticky rice with mangoes, while LauraGrace replaces half the water for cooking jasmine rice with coconut milk for a savory side dish. She likes it with Caribbean-style black beans, Thai-style curries, lechon, or kalua pork.

Emmmily tosses chunks of butternut squash with coconut milk, salt, and pepper, and roasts at 375°F for an hour. Coconut milk is also great in smoothies and cocktails, and stirred into oatmeal, say hounds.

Coconut milk adds a twist to a classic dish in CHOW’s Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Board Link: what do do with leftover coconut milk

Garlic Bread for Perfectionists

Making garlic bread can be as simple as mixing garlic with softened butter, spreading it on bread and broiling, but hounds have developed their own special techniques for this treat.

chowser sautés chopped garlic in olive oil, adds butter until it melts, and brushes this mixture on a horizontally sliced loaf of French bread. She then covers the whole thing with aluminum foil and bakes until hot, then uncovers, adds Parmesan, and broils. Butterguy mixes crushed garlic, Italian dressing, shredded Parmesan, and clarified butter, and spreads it on bread before heating.

Some hounds add secret ingredients for extra flavor. shanagain sautés garlic in a mixture of butter and olive oil, before adding a bit of anchovy paste and some crushed red pepper flakes, and cooking it all a bit longer. sparkareno mixes a bit of mayo with softened butter, roasted garlic, Parmesan, and oregano or basil. “I like the little bit of tang the mayo gives,” he says.

Board Link: Garlic Bread recipes?

What to Do with All Those Apples

“Oh, please make Scandinavian sour cream apple pie,” implores kookiegoddess. “I made it last week and am still upset that I gave away the last two pieces. It tastes divine and needs no accompaniment except a big ole spoon.”

NYchowcook loves this apple cake. “It’s very moist,” she says. “There’s a caramel sauce that goes with it, which I think is gilding the lily. I make in a Bundt pan and just sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top and call it done.”

newfoodie loves Ina Garten’s old-fashioned apple crisp. And if you like your apples in the presence of maple flavor, check out CHOW’s Spiced Apple Cupcakes.

Board Link: went apple picking, now need a way to use them up

Wakey Wakey!

A bowl of Cerealvit Organic Coffee Flakes is a sweet wakey-wakey for coffee lovers. It’s not too sweet, actually—just sweet enough, reckons rccola, who adds that they’re “delicious,” with the clear taste of Italian coffee coating the flakes. “I like it dry. My family likes it with milk and loves the coffee-milk left when the flakes are gone.”

The only downside? You’ll probably have to order it online. rccola bought some from Amazon.

Board Link: Cereal Vit Coffee cereal

Virgin Drink Reminder

Virgin Drink Reminder

Party beverage advice for the holidays, or anytime. READ MORE

How to Wash Chile Off Your Hands

When you’ve been chopping raw hot chile peppers, hand soap alone is not going to make it safe for you to stick your fingers in your eyes (or nose, for that matter). To remove the malevolent remains of capsaicin from your skin, you want a more powerful degreasing agent, says Paulustrious. Dish soap works well, but for heavy-duty chile oil problems, you might want the special soap mechanics use for washing engine oil off of their hands.

Alcohol also works to neutralize the capsaicin, says brianl999. “Whenever I’m handling peppers, I fill a small ramekin with rubbing alcohol and soak my fingers in it when I’m done,” says brianl999. “Soap and water doesn’t cut it; it really gets in around your nails and such.”

“Citric acid works well, in my experience,” says BigE. “Whenever I make guacamole, I always reserve half a lime to squeeze over my hands to neutralize the capsaicin from the peppers.” And “immersing your hands in yoghurt or milk should stop the burning,” says luckyfatima.

Board Link: how to get pepper oil off my face and hands

Seeking Delicious Fake Blood

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This week's mission: blood capsules from Target and Living Nightmare, plus a homemade alternative. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

Pumpkins Making Whoopie

While you’re at Russo’s picking up pound after pound of cranberries, don’t forget to save room for a delicious bakery treat: pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling. “I often think Russo’s baked goods and pastries are fine, but not particularly special or anything,” says Spenbald. But the whoopie pies are different: “Good LORD these were tasty!” They’re “huge and delicious,” sighs rlh. Cheap, too: $3.29 for two, each of which can easily feed two people.

Russo’s [MetroWest]
560 Pleasant Street, Watertown
617-923-1500

Board Link: While you’re at Russo’s: Pumpkin Whoopie Pie!

Steak Done the Way You Want It

rworange shares a hilarious suggestion for how to get your steak or burger done exactly right: Carry a picture in your wallet—laminated for frequent use, perhaps—so you can show the server exactly the degree of red, pink, or sear that you prefer. You can then ask what they call that degree of doneness at that establishment. It’s like getting a haircut: Pointing to a picture is going to be a whole lot more effective than trying to describe the hairstyle you’re after.

“Even better,” says rworange, “you could load the photo onto your phone.”

Board Link: A brilliant idea for always getting restaurants to cook steaks and burgers perfectly

Living La Vida Local

thunderbug84 wants to eat more local food, and is on the hunt for some fresh local cranberries. They’re tough to find at farmstands and the like because of the complications of harvest: Most cranberry crops are harvested by flooding the fields so that the berries float and can be skimmed off. “It takes a fair amount of land and the ability to flood the fields for harvesting,” says BobB.

Nonetheless, cranberries-by-the-pound have been spotted at Verrill Farm and Russo’s, and they can be ordered online from Cranberry Hill Farm in Plymouth.

Meanwhile, cassoulady is looking for some locally made candy to hand out on Halloween. Tootsie Roll Industries acquired local confectionery company Cambridge Brands years ago, but Junior Mints, Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Daddy, Charms, and Tootsie Pops are still made in Cambridge, and Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie still makes Black Jacks molasses sticks in Salem.

Verrill Farm [MetroWest]
11 Wheeler Road, Concord
978-369-4494

Russo’s [MetroWest]
560 Pleasant Street, Watertown
617-923-1500

Cranberry Hill Farm [South Shore]
103 Haskell Road, Plymouth
508-888-9179

Cambridge Brands [Cambridge]
810 Main Street, Cambridge
617-491-2500

Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie [North Shore]
122 Derby Street, Salem
866-393-6533

Board Links: Local fresh cranberries?
Local Candy