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What 20 dishes should I know how to make without a recipe?

Cream of pickle soup??? I've never heard of that but it sounds AWESOME.

May 04, 2012
auds in Home Cooking

Recruiting All Ideas for Cheap Homemade Dinners!

A bag of Maseca will take you far. Fresh homemade tortillas for cents a dozen. It does take a little practice but they're unbeatably good. You can also make tamales, gorditas, sopes, anything. Use leftover tortillas for chilaquiles w/eggs or fry for chips. Dried beans and a little squash or whatever, you're good to go. It is easy to make salsas out of canned tomatoes from the dollar store plus garlic salt and jalapeno, or cheap tomatillos from a Latino market. Also, making your own fresh cheese is such a good deal and easy. Whether you use it like queso fresco, ricotta, or paneer, all you need is milk and vinegar, boil together and strain through a clean cloth napkin. That's good for pizzas or on tacos, or make some dal (lentils are cheap) and paneer in tomato yogurt broth. Making yogurt is pretty easy too if milk is cheap where you are. You can even use the whey from yogurt or cheese to add protein to cooked grains. Sometimes I sub it in for buttermilk if I'm frying okra or green tomatoes. I def. second grits and if you do the artisan bread in 5 mins a day method, you can have fresh bread easily and cheaply. For me, having hot fresh bread/starch can elevate a meal when I'm feeling down about not being able to afford some of my favorite treats.

Sep 26, 2011
auds in Home Cooking

Wedding Brunch for 60-- please help me!

I think your menu sounds great! I recently helped my mom with a post-wedding brunch for my little brother, and while we were kind of stressed out about it, it went really smoothly. Some things I would say are that people ate a lot less than we'd thought. Lots of folks ate somewhere else and just dropped in to chat and/or were hung over and just nibbling on things. For empanada fillings, potato, cheese, and rajas is a pretty cheap and delish combo, though if you're worried about things being too complicated, I think just a good breakfast taco spread and a good bagel spread would work. Maybe not the most culturally stable but as a texan I can dig it. Maybe some roasted/boiled potatoes added to the taco setup (potato, egg, and cheese is my favorite bfast taco). For the bagels just some cream cheese and sliced tomato/onion/capers/whatever would be delish and easy. Or we had some cold cuts and mustard along with the bagels which ended up being very popular. Got cheap tiny bagels (that tasted fine) from Costco, along with some pre-made fruit salad. Not exactly local seasonal but cheap and easy.
I love this salsa verde:

For sweets we made and froze brownies. They defrost in a few hours and don't even really need to be reheated.
Good luck! It will be great.

Sep 04, 2011
auds in Home Cooking

Better Homes and Gardens Canning special issue

If I'm just buying a dozen or so, Fish's Eddy and Broadway Panhandler had the best prices--shipping them from anywhere made them more expensive than just paying the nyc retail prices. But when I needed a bunch (like 10 dozen) for wedding favors, I scoured the internet and found this random place: http://www.jaxmercantile.com/, which seemed to have the best combo of price and shipping. I think you can get free shipping coupons if you google, too. I know this is weird but I have been trying to find a magical solution to the NYC jar problem for a while and I thought I'd share my notes.

Jul 16, 2011
auds in Home Cooking

Need help with a casual VEGETARIAN tasting menu--need creative but "homey" ideas please!

Oh! And a family favorite is called, alluringly, rice with stuff in it. A bunch of different vegetables that are vaguely thematically related, like say some spinach with sesame, some simmered bamboo shoots, some soy simmered shiitakes, some cooked red peppers, some raw carrot strings, some quick pickled daikon, etc, etc, etc, with a big pot of rice and all the fridge's condiments. Diners can prepare their big bowl 'o' stuff as they please. Nuts and scallions and other fun stuff as topping. And I know (I know! I'm sorry!) I'm breaking the meat substitutes rule but just FYI all the meat lovers in my life go wild for quorn, especially in rice with stuff in it. I'll shut up now.

Apr 05, 2011
auds in Home Cooking

Need help with a casual VEGETARIAN tasting menu--need creative but "homey" ideas please!

A sort of Americanized Thai red or green curry would be good--crack coconut milk with store bought curry paste, add in whatever vegetables suit your fancy. Would be good with a green papaya salad or something.

Fried rice, even though it has "fried" in the name, is really not so bad for you. Stir fry? Broccoli with ginger sauce? Egg rolls are good vegetarian. I make dumplings and bao vegetarian with fake meat but would be good without, too. This vegetarian hot and sour soup is very good (with veg stock, obvs):

Hominy grits with mushroom sauce are delicious, and don't really need much doctoring up with cheese as long as you salt and hot sauce them appropriately. Ditto polenta with mushrooms.

This potato/poblano/corn taco filling is delish, and you can cut back the crema if need be:

Epi has a good vegetarian-able tortilla soup:

Baked empanadas with some mushrooms or sweet potatoes and rajas and queso fresco. David Chang's scallion ginger noodles seriously rock:

and go great with his steamed buns filled with pickled shiitakes (scroll):

A stromboli/calzone with either spinach and cheese or broccoli and cheese can be pretty healthy as long as you keep the veg to cheese ratio in balance.

Bibimbap, minus the egg since your folks don't like it. Maybe with kimchee rice to up the flavor?

Have you ever made parm broth? Just simmer parm rinds in water until they disappear. INCREDIBLY delicious and makes soups taste very hearty. I like to toss in some spinach tortellini and garlic and eat it with bread.

Apr 05, 2011
auds in Home Cooking

Hot "pantry" dinners that aren't pasta...

For quinoa-with-whatever-is-lying-around meals, I find that simple tahini dressing,--tahini plus salt plus water plus lemon plus garlic buzzed with the immersion blender--is really more than the sum of its parts. Something about the nutty quinoa flavor or something. Also, I know lots of people aren't into meat substitutes, but I LOVE quorn, a processed mycoprotein thing found in the freezer section of like whole foods or wherever. It's weirdly delicious and takes 2 minutes to microwave. I always dump some in with any beans'n'grains'n'stuff meal and it's really heaven. And no, I'm not a vegetarian, just love the stuff.

Jan 22, 2011
auds in Home Cooking

Using up Evaporated Milk

Seconded! Specifically, this Alton Brown stovetop mac and cheese. It is socks-removing:

Dec 01, 2010
auds in Home Cooking

Coconut Oil - A Great Alternative to Butter and Shortening for Pie Crusts

I've tried that stuff. I happened to be in WF when I needed shortening. I don't use it in much but the things I've made with it tasted pretty good--empandadas and faux oreo filling. Don't really know much about the health benefits/detriments though. I'm more of an "everything in moderation" kind of gal.

Oct 26, 2010
auds in Home Cooking

what are you canning this year?

This tomato bourbon jam is KILLER! I love it with cheese and on grilled cheese and if you are a carnivore, lots of roasted meat possibilities. The best part is that it cooks down so much that you can use up lots of tomatoes. Make sure to add salt--dunno why the recipe omits it. Also you're a pro so probably have an even better method, but I prefer the quarter/cook/food mill method for big tomato projects over the blanch/skin/chop/cook method. Lots of time saved.


Sep 05, 2010
auds in Home Cooking

what are you canning this year?

I just made this zucchini jam--it's more like a marmalade, but interesting nonetheless. The color is a really striking green/yellow. I used my food processor to shred the squash and slice the lemons:

Sep 05, 2010
auds in Home Cooking

Planning DIY-catered wedding 150-200 people need advice

It's not really spring-y, but short ribs are a cheap cut that you could do a long braise for beforehand, even freeze I think, then just reheat in the braising liquid. They're also "portions," sort of. Could go with polenta, which is cheap and reheatable, plus some pickled onion or something? I think there was a similar dish from the Lucques cookbook, with a horseradish sauce.

Or if you don't mind going homier you could do bbq ribs and pulled pork, both reheatable and both cheap. Goes with the slaw. I know the comfort food thing's a bit done to death but I've yet to see anyone turn down mac and cheese, which reheats well in sheet pans.

Or carnitas and chicken tinga tacos, with beans and some sort of encurtido/crema/whatever. All quite cheap, though not so much with the portioning. Not classic wedding food or particularly foncy, but great for a crowd and do-ahead. I have had people go nertz for carnitas. Could work depending on the feel you're going for.

Another thought is the zuni mock porchetta, presliced, though I don't know how that scales up to 200. Roasted potatoes reheat okay, I think. What's your set up like? A full restaurant kitchen? I've never attempted that many portions at once so maybe my suggestions are no good, but just in case it's helpful.

Feb 26, 2010
auds in Home Cooking

Lemon Curd: Conversions to Other recipes

Not super original, but a great filling for white/yellow layer cakes, especially when paired with other fruits or jams (raspberry, strawberry)--frozen is good this time of year. Also, I have made lavender-flavored cupcakes and filled them with curd. Just cut a plug out of the top, scoop in curd, replace plug, frost to cover scars. Lastly, this blog post has instructions for water bath canning lemon curd, if you like. Won't last as long as some other things, but certainly longer than in the refrigerator:
Nothing groundbreaking in terms of curd usage, I suppose, but tasty stuff anyway.

Jan 29, 2010
auds in Home Cooking

Adding peppers to a citrus jam?

I made this habanero peach jam this summer and it turned out great. I think the technique of grinding up the pepper and the citrus rind to add pectin worked really well, and could easily be added into a citrus jam recipe, I'd think:

Jan 23, 2010
auds in Home Cooking

Sweet Treats For Holiday Gift Giving? Need help with ideas...

I just bought a bunch of bottles for a homemade vermouth project online--if you google you can find places that are selling bottles for like .30 a piece, and even with shipping they're pretty reasonable. FYI.

Oct 18, 2007
auds in Home Cooking

Simple Yet Impressive Hors D'oeuvres?

I've had a couple parties lately where I've had to have mostly everything made in advance and served cold. I couple things that went over really well were tortilla espanola bites with toothpicks, which are vegetarian so that's nice. Also these (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) caramelized onion tartlets. Totally make ahead-able and if you put some chive pieces on top, are pretty. Oh and maybe kind of goofy but tasty and pretty are these caprese edible centerpieces (http://www.slashfood.com/2007/07/18/e... got a week or two on the tomatoes, I think. Lastly, and again, maybe this is sorta dorky, but I did a bunch of wee tiny items for one thing and people went nuts for deviled quail eggs.

Oct 18, 2007
auds in Home Cooking

Best sandwich I ever invented

I was so happy the day I invented this sandwich: peanut butter and chutney. Any fruit chutney, a little spicy is good. Oh man. If you like PB&J, just try it.

Oct 18, 2007
auds in Home Cooking

Babbo Late Night--Yea or Nay?

Hi 'hounds--thanks in advance for your help, and sorry if this has been covered before. Every year for my birthday, my parents foot the bill for a restaurant I otherwise couldn't afford for my boyfriend and me. I've tried a bunch of cool places this way--last year we went to Eleven Madison Park--and because it only comes once a year, I really like it to be special. So anyway, this year I wanted to back to Babbo, an old favorite, but I could only get an 11:15 reservation (this is on a Friday.)
I don't mind eating that late, but I went a year or so ago on a Sunday at 10:30 (I think the latest reserve on that day, or near to it) and it was not so good. Everyone clearly wanted to go home, the food wasn't as good as it had been on previous trips, the service was terrible. Which, fair enough, I'm sure they had a long weekend and just wanted to rest. But so I don't know if things will be any better on a Friday. Anyone have any experience with Babbo toward the end of the night on a weekend? I'd really like to go back for my birthday but not if it's going to be sub-par. Thanks for your advice.

Sep 07, 2007
auds in Manhattan