Cooking Tips rss

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

Savory Quick Breads to Spice Up Meals

Savory quick breads are a perfect accompaniment to fall’s soups and stews. Here, Chowhounds share their favorite recipes.

kmr finds Charlisa’s extra-good sesame drop biscuit muffins addictive. He says they’re “quick, colorful and very, very good.” katecm recommends this savory breakfast bread, and mpjmph loves this whole-wheat beer bread.

roxlet makes hoe cakes, saying, “Nothing is simpler to make, and they’re delicious with a little butter on them.” Here’s how: Mix equal amounts cornmeal and boiling water, add salt and green onions if you like their taste, and cook like pancakes on a hot pan or griddle.

Board Link: Your favorite savory quick bread?

Baked Goodies with Sweet, Crunchy Crusts

Try buttering pans for muffins, quick breads, and brownies, then dusting the pans with sugar to create a browned, crunchy crust. “I love the sweet crustiness it gives a slice of quick bread,” says fern, who adds that cinnamon sugar also works well when it complements the flavor of your recipe; she likes it with banana bread. heypielady likes the textural contrast between the crust and the cakey interior of breads, and says the sugar doesn’t burn or make the baked goods too sweet.

Board Link: “Flouring” cake pans with sugar

Serve Soups and Sauces Without a Drip

Here’s a neat trick for ladling out stock or soup neatly (or just spooning your own soup) without drips: “Lift the liquid-filled ladle or spoon out of the liquid, then dip it back in, most of the way, before lifting it out to pour or eat,”
instructs greygarious. “Something about surface tension draws the liquid from the bottom of the ladle/spoon away, so no drips.” This works better with thin to medium-bodied soups or sauces than with very thick ones.

Board Link: “To ladle or eat those soups and stocks without dripping…”

Easy as Apple Pie

Chowhounds have good tips for handling the apples in your apple pie. greygarious tested dozens of varieties of apple for pie, and her favorites are Empire, Northern Spy, and Macoun. She also likes to use a mixture of Macintosh and Honeycrisp. heypielady favors Northern Spies as well, but also recommends Cortlands as an easy-to-find alternative.

roxlet slices her apples very thinly with a mandoline. She finds they pack into the pie shell well, leaving very few gaps, and when the pie is baked, there’s no pocket between the apples and the top crust.

greygarious recommends a rotary apple peeler, corer, and slicer if you bake a lot of pies. This gadget does all those tasks at once, and produces a spiral-cut apple that’s easy to break into flat crescents, which neatly fill the pan with virtually no gaps.

TrishUntrapped recommends microwaving sliced hard apples briefly to par-cook, to ensure they cook through when you bake your pie.

Board Link: Apple Pie: Cutting up the apple, preferences?

Ultimate Cream of Mushroom Soup

If fall means mushroom soup to you, Chowhounds have advice and recipes for savory stews.

Spices can make a difference: gordeaux prefers to season with marjoram, while smartie favors tarragon or chervil. Diane in Bexley’s mushroom soup secret is a touch of nutmeg. steinpilz uses sherry and thyme, and grinds dried mushrooms to a powder before adding them to boost mushroom flavor and thicken soups.

There are also many different recipes to try. mlukan says Ina Garten’s cream of wild mushroom soup is “by far the best I’ve ever made.” gmm agrees it’s “rich and delicious.” SSqwerty’s favorite is creamy roasted mushroom soup, and says it’s easy, because you can roast the mushrooms a day in advance.

Other favorites: MMRuth calls this wild mushroom soup with sherry “wonderful.” shivani recommends Ruth Reichl’s recipe from her memoir Comfort Me with Apples.

Board Link: the best cream of mushroom soup — please

Creative Stuffed Jalapeños

Jalapeños stuffed with cheese and fried are classic, but there are many other creative fillings.

Several Chowhounds recommend grilling stuffed jalapeños instead of deep-frying. RPMcMurphy suggests poking a hole in the bottom of cheese-stuffed chiles when grilling, so the oil can drain.

Interesting fillings abound: RosemaryHoney uses a mix of fresh corn, breadcrumbs, and a bit of cheese to hold everything together. KiltedCook sticks to andouille sausage and pepperjack cheese; tmso suggests garlicky mashed potatoes or walnuts and currants; and MazDee likes a mix of cheddar and cream cheese with a bit of pimiento. Finally, the over-the-top peppers from Grillncook are stuffed with cream cheese, jalapeños, and chorizo, and wrapped with bacon before grilling.

Board Link: Stuffed Jalapeno’s

Cooking with Blue Cheese

Chowhounds love blue cheese. green56 thinks the best way to eat it is all by itself, but here are some great ways to cook with it, too.

Glencora makes a pasta sauce with diced pears tossed with lemon juice, green onion, crumbled blue cheese, and a bit of hot broth (to melt the cheese a little), all topped with toasted pine nuts. pepperqueen cooks 8 ounces of linguine very al dente, then heats a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil and adds 1/2 cup walnut pieces to cook for a few minutes, until toasted. Add the drained linguine and 4 ounces of blue cheese. Stir and serve.

Rubee loves this blue cheese and caramelized shallot dip. She recommends using a good-quality cheese, such as Saint Agur. southernitalian makes a dip for veggies or crackers by mixing sour cream with lots of crumbled Gorgonzola, a touch of garlic powder, and lots of ground black pepper. It’s also good as a sandwich spread.

Grillncook makes blue cheese burgers by forming ground sirloin into a ball, making a hollow in the center and stuffing it with blue cheese, then forming the meat around it into a patty and grilling.

IndyGirl likes to coat grapes in a mixture of blue and cream cheeses then roll them in pistachios, for a terrific appetizer or snack. And pondrat softens blue cheese in the microwave and then pipes it into large, pitted green olives.

Board Link: Best use of Gorgonzola/Blue Cheese

Glorious Grits

Here are some tips for cooking up great grits, whether you use quick grits that cook in five minutes, or the stone-ground types that take an hour of slow stirring. (Hounds recommend skipping instant grits.)

Morganna uses stock instead of water for a richer flavor. Mellicita likes to use milk, or even a dollop of cream for a special dish, and says some butter and salt really add a lot of flavor, too.

steakman55 recommends making cheese grits: add plenty of shredded sharp cheddar, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a couple of drops of Tabasco, “and you are in grits heaven.” lrostron adds cooked sausage, sautéed onion, and roasted green chiles to cheese grits for a brunch dish.

Board Link: How do you make great grits?

Wrap Your Celery in Foil

Celery wrapped in aluminum foil will stay fresh for at least a month, says rworange. This storage method keeps it “nice and crisp,” adds BamiaWruz. Wrapping in foil helps English cucumbers keep longer, too, according to janniecooks.

Board Link: Tin Foil Wearing Celery

Creative Uses for Won Ton Skins

Won ton skins are very versatile, according to Chowhounds. greenstate uses them to make delicious crackers for dips, soft cheeses, or eating on their own: Cut them diagonally, lay them on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground red pepper, and bake at 400°F for about seven minutes.

amanda3571 cuts the rind off Brie, wraps chunks in won ton skins and seals well, fries them in peanut oil until golden (30 to 60 seconds), and serves them with a dipping sauce of melted raspberry jam.

DanaB recommends this recipe for Alaskan king crab “nachos,” which are served in shells made from won ton skins, and says the shells can be used for a variety of fillings.

hannaone makes cheese pockets with cheddar or Jack, minced onion, and jalapeño; fold the won ton skin diagonally and use some water to seal the edges, then cook on a hot grill or in a skillet.

pamalamb says they’re great in place of no-boil noodles in lasagne. Make sure no ends are left uncovered before baking, or they won’t cook.

MeffaBabe fries the skins plain and tosses them in powdered sugar. These are a big hit at parties, she says. janeh thinks they’re “ridiculously decadent” filled with Nutella and fried until crispy.

Board Link: Interesting Uses For Won Ton Wrappers