Cooking Tips rss

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

Granola Tips

Homemade granola is forgiving and flexible, and can easily be adapted to your own tastes. Hounds have some helpful tips, too. Which nuts, seeds, or dried fruits you use is a matter of personal taste, but the bulk of your mixture should be old-fashioned rolled oats. Most recommend adding dried fruit after you bake your granola to avoid drying it out.

For those worried about adding oil, amela replaces the oil in her granola recipe with applesauce, and says it works fine. Meanwhile, Mandy likes Mark Bittman’s recipe, which uses no oil.

janniecooks suggests experimenting with proportions of dry to wet/sweet/fat ingredients. She uses 4 cups of oats and 1 cup each sunflower seed kernels, coconut, and sliced almonds tossed with 1/4 cup each of butter and honey melted together.

gordeaux offers a hint for getting dense, clumpy granola: Once it’s out of the oven, press it very firmly between two pans before it cools.

Board Link: Homemade Granola Q

Saucing Artichokes

Chowhounds have been sharing some of their favorite sauces for artichoke dunking:

• Melted butter: plain, with lemon, or with lemon and shallots
• Mayonnaise: flavored with curry, chipotle, or roasted garlic
• Dijon mustard thinned with cream
• Yogurt with crushed garlic and lemon juice
• Tartar sauce

For cold artichokes, Sharuf lets hollandaise sauce cool to room temperature, then stirs in half as much sour cream and seasons to taste with mustard. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate it, as it won’t harden up when chilled like plain hollandaise.

Board Link: Sauce for artichokes

Toasty Chickpeas Spiced Your Way

Chickpeas, roasted until they’re crisp and cooled to crunchiness, are a great, guiltless snack food. Rinse canned chickpeas and blot them dry, then toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and roast.

SweetPea914 bakes them at 350°F to 400°F for about 45 minutes. Along with the salt, add whatever spices you like. Chowhounds have tried red pepper flakes; sage and black pepper; curry powder; and cumin and cayenne. earthling has even made a sweet version by coating the chickpeas in honey or maple syrup, then in unsweetened flaked coconut, before roasting.

Board Link: Chickpea Snack Ideas Needed

Real-Deal Mai Tai

The mai tai, a sweet, rum-based drink, was invented at tiki-themed Trader Vic’s. Here’s the history of the mai tai, along with the evolution of the Trader Vic’s recipe. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester, a bartender at Trader Vic’s, says using the original component ingredients instead of the two premixes currently in use makes for a more complex and delicious drink; he also shares his own mai tai recipe.

Board Link: Mai Tai - how to?

Baked, Not Stirred

They’re unorthodox, but delicious recipes do exist for baked risottos whose texture isn’t entirely off the mark—even if they don’t quite achieve the heights of the attentively stirred classic, say hounds with experience.

“[I]t’s a different dish to the stovetop version. It’s the constant stirring that gives risotto its creaminess,” says greedygirl, who nonetheless finds this oven-baked wild mushroom risotto very tasty. Also recommended: baked chicken, lemon, and pea risotto and baked risotto with asparagus, spinach, and Parmesan.

Board Link: Baked Risotto?

Wonderfully Light and Lemony Cake

Chowhounds are swooning over Barefoot Contessa’s lemon yogurt cake. bigfatbroad calls it “divine,” and sblagrave describes it as “wonderfully light and just the perfect lemon flavor.” shpitzlefan thinks it tastes better than the original, more fattening version.

Board Link: Barefoot Contessa Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lentil Love

barefootpris needed ways to use a surfeit of lentils, and hounds came through with plenty of ideas.

Euonymous likes lentils with kielbasa, as a soup or a heftier bean dish. orangewasabi bakes green lentils and brown rice together in equal quantities, and uses this is a base for a stir-fry. It is “a lot heartier than just rice with a nice nutty taste.”

One of renz’s favorite lentil dishes is mujadarrah, which is lentils with rice and caramelized crispy onions. Val loves this lentil salad with balsamic vinaigrette. She replaces the radicchio with crispy romaine lettuce, and tops it with a few dabs of goat cheese.

Kagey likes this “very simple and forgiving” recipe for Italian lentil soup (see sixth paragraph).

Board Link: Tons of Lentils

Sushi Rice Is Risotto Rice

Deftly crossing the globe, the short-grain rice used for sushi also makes excellent risotto. Sam Fujisaka explains that sushi rice and Arborio are very similar. The California-developed Calrose rice can also be used for risotto, says Antilope, who adds that this variety makes a really creamy rice pudding too.

Board Link: Can I make risotto with sushi rice?

Savory Ways with Buttermilk

When you’ve had enough cornbread, pancakes, and even devil’s food cake, it’s time for some savory cooking with buttermilk.

Sharuf uses one cup buttermilk mixed with one tablespoon cornstarch or two tablespoons Wondra as her standard gravy base. Pour it into the pan you’ve used to pan-fry chops or other meat and you’ve got a pan gravy with a sour cream flavor, but without the calories.

A buttermilk soak is traditional for fried chicken, and also works for fried fish. If you don’t want to fry, Val recommends spicy oven-fried chicken.

Diane in Bexley shares her buttermilk-rich recipe for ranch dressing: “So good with iceberg lettuce wedges, cucumbers and tomatoes.” And MeffaBabe advises mixing buttermilk with “sour cream, mayo and a touch of lemon juice, add blue cheese and you now have the absolute best blue cheese dressing!”

Board Links: Uses for leftover buttermilk?
What to do with too much buttermilk?

Head Tuna

If you’re lucky enough to score the head of a nice, fatty fish like a tuna, Chowhounds offer advice on preparing it so as not to miss out on what some say are the tastiest bits of the whole fish: the collar and cheeks.

The collar is the curved section that braces the head and brackets the gill opening, explains Sam Fujisaka. Feel the bone structure around the gill opening, and cut all of it out. “Broiled with a bit of salt, it’s the best fish dish in the world,” he says. “Rich, oily delicious meat!”

You can broil the rest of the head separately and pick out the cheeks and other meaty bits (the collar cooks more quickly, so it will overcook if not done separately, Sam notes). Or you can put it in a soup. wearybashful suggests rolling the whole head, collar intact, in melted butter, then roasting it at 450°F.

Leucadian recommends making fish head curry, a fusion favorite in Singapore.

Board Link: Someone gave me a fish head