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What ingredient would you like to use more of this year?

I thought this was an interesting question posed over at TheKitchn http://www.thekitchn.com/what-ingredi.... I'm still pondering my answer. What say you?

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  1. I guess I'd like to be a bit more adventuresome with Asian flavors. I have containers of garam masala, cardamom, black sesame seeds, star anise and a dozen others in my freezer (where I keep all of my herbs and spices) that I rarely use. I'll have to get out the Charmaine Solomon book and get inspired.

    1. Fresh fish. Veggie side dishes. Anything healthy. And organic whenever possible and affordable.

      1. I'd definitely like to start cooking more fish - DH hasn't been a huge fan in the past, so I've never wanted to spend the money on it. He seems to be warming up to certain fish, though (things like cod and salmon, NOT shellfish!), so I'll start there and hopefully branch out.

        1. Schmaltz! We just got Michael Ruhlman's book on it and now we have the fever.

          1. Vanilla beans. I was recently given a pound of them and I'd hate to lose them.

            10 Replies
            1. re: mike0989

              A pound? Lucky you!

              Put a few in a Mason jar of sugar for vanilla infused sugar. Also a couple in white wine vinegar for an interesting salad dressing base and a few in frozen vodka. Keep the rest vacuum-sealed in your deep freeze until you figure out what else..

              1. re: mike0989

                Mike, you know you can freeze them, triple wrapped in plastic and then foil and in a freezer bag,

                Make vanilla sugar by cutting a bean in half and length-wise . One bean can scent a large amount of white sugar, like 2 pounds or more. Just shake the jar around occasionally. Great for baking, in coffee, custards, little packets for gifting to friends.

                Make your own vanilla extract. Google a recipe. Rum or vodka, your choice.

                1. re: nemo

                  Thanks for the freezer tip. I'll defiantely try that.

                  I'm also looking for savory ideas. I was at a Wine Maker diner once that was done by Jimmy Schmidt. The first course was lobster with a vaniila bean sauce that tasted like it had a million calories. He let on afterwards that despite the richeness, he used no dairy. I wish I knew how he did it.

                  1. re: mike0989


                    Just one of many Google recipes. Find one that might replicate your memory.



                    Okay, some butter in this link, which is dairy, but I expect you could sub with olive or coconut oil.

                2. re: mike0989

                  Za'atar and sumac. Bought on a whim, used each on chicken and oiled flatbread, but now I'm stumped. Anyone have an idea of how to use in a savory bread perhaps?

                  May try in lentil soup or a stuffing for zucchini, but each has a distinctive flavor so I'm treading softly. Help.

                  1. re: nemo

                    I love sumac and have just been introduced to zataar. Persian food uses lots of sumac. I just made a great turkey and zucchini burger with a yogurt sauce containing sumac. Look at the cookbooks Spice by Ana Sortun and any by Yotam Ottolenghi for other ideas.

                    1. re: nemo

                      Sumac I use when roasting vegetables, in pasta or rice salads. Also for pickling cukes.

                      1. re: nemo

                        Thanks, melpy and jadec

                        Will check out Sortun and Ottolenghi. Also, duh, roasted vegetables! Love this site!

                        1. re: nemo

                          Lots of their recipes are available online.

                      2. Veggies. I just "discovered" some excellent frozen veggie mixtures (Green Giant for vision, antioxident, weight, etc.) that are far more interesting than our usual. Taking notes on the combos and herbs and plan to be more adventuresome this year.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                          I like to get a California Blend (Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc.) and when I am making rice in my rice cooker, I'll put in the top dish and steam them while the rice cooks. So good that way.

                            1. re: pinehurst

                              My other favorite is the Mixed Petite Veggies with peas, whole baby carrots, green beans and corn. I steam those as well and then toss with a pat of butter. Yummy.

                        2. Dark Leafy Greens. I already eat them almost daily, just need to up that ten fold.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Gastronomos

                            Gastro, do you eat oats? There's an Overnight Oats recipe called Green Monster Oats wherein you use either spinach or kale and I ASSURE you, you will really not taste the greens when you eat the oats for breakfast but it's a FUN way to incorporate more greens in your day, especially at breakfast if you're game. (the recipe uses rolled oats, not steel cut by the way)

                            1. re: Val

                              I'd love to make it for breakfast. Care to share the exact recipe? Alton Browns recipe with steel cut and dried fruits is excellent, but needs over a cup more liquid to do it correctly overnight.
                              As for the taste of the greens, well, I must be some kind of anomaly as I adore the taste and bitter greens are a favorite of mine. Too bad many try to remove the bitterness and also the health benefits I understand.

                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                Here's the link...I don't use chia seeds but ground flax instead just a personal preference...now these are SOAKED overnight oats, not cooked overnight oats, so they come out cool & creamy vs. warm & sticky:

                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                  This link has several "blended salad" recipes that are really delicious, in the winter i just heat up as a simple soup for breakfast or lunch. Don't forget a pinch of salt.

                            2. For me, I am trying to incorporate more fresh turmeric on a daily basis...so far, I've come up with shredding it into dark leafy salad and of course, into soups/stews. Anyone here use it often?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Val

                                Since fresh is just mildly sweeter than fresh ginger I sort of follow the ginger lead using turmeric instead. In soup, in smoothies, roasted with potatoes, juiced with carrots, tea.

                                I know the medicinal properties are discussed in magazines. I find it cures mild indigestion and they say hangovers :)

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Supposedly a super duper anti-inflammatory, too!

                                    1. re: Val

                                      My pleasure. It's nice to find fresh in the market more frequently now. CH has a few threads on the use of fresh, here's one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831529

                                2. Another one with the veggies, here. Dark leafy greens, cruciferous, you name it.

                                  Also gonna try to get H to wrap his tastebuds around more fatty fish....he's Vit D deficient and there are so many tasty uses for it.

                                  1. I have been on a licorice kick. I have salt to sweet jarred licorice syrups and powder. I plan to work both into some baking ideas I've been reading about. Once baked the flavor is so different than what you associate with chewy candy bits or even anise. Really interesting in waffle batter.

                                    1. I would like to use more lobster and prime rib but will probably end up using more chicken and tuna :)

                                      I would like to use a bigger variety of grains - I buy them but always end up preparing rice or pasta, sometimes quinoa because I just know how to use them but would like to expand.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Chipotles in adobo. I recently started pureeing and adding them to mac & cheese - insanely delicious!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BobB

                                          Oh man, I remember when I first discovered these in Baja about 20 years ago. It was like a whole new world of possibilites opened up for me.

                                        2. Oranges and ginger. I have two orange trees with plenty of fruit on them so I want to attempt the candied orange peel rolled in sugar then dipping the ends in dark chocolate. I also want to try candied ginger.

                                          1. Shrimp powder, shrimp paste and dried shrimps. I cook a lot of Asian cuisines but want to use these in others as well as getting more seafood flavors into dishes without using actual seafood.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: sedimental

                                              I should use them too I have them in my pantry I need to use it.

                                              1. re: ecclescake

                                                What does pumpkin pie spice contain? I don't buy it because I figure I have all the components and can make my own

                                                1. re: melpy

                                                  It's basically a combo of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, mace. Sometimes all spice.

                                                  I have all those things on hand too but I usually have small container of pumpkin pie spice on hand too. It's great to sprinkle in coffee, added to pancakes and waffles. My son likes it mixed with sugar on toast.

                                                  A friend turned me on to it and for my birthday last year gave me the Penzeys blend. Having the blend makes it fast since I grate my nutmeg and cinnamon as needed.

                                                  Now I want a pumpkin spice coffee!

                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                    I've only made my own as well. also in my spice cabinet apple pie spice also concocted at home. kinda like 5 spice, why not make your own.

                                                2. lake

                                                  but I gotta learn to like it first

                                                  1. Chia seeds- I'm trying not to skip breakfast all the time.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: PinkLynx

                                                      I just started eating them, and love them! They sit on the counter now. My favorite use is to add to yogurt.

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        they're little tidbits of crunchiness right? like poppy seeds

                                                    2. Chili black bean sauce. I bought a jar last week for some unknown reason and now have no idea what to do with it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Not an ingredient per se but I want to get better about finding new ways to use up the less popular items in my CSA. Cabbage almost always becomes slaw, kale becomes soup or chips, kohlrabi in salads…

                                                        All winter I have made a point of bookmarking intriguing recipes so when it starts up again I will be ready!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                          I find I get cabbage a lot when it is not slaw weather.
                                                          I saute with apples and butter and eat with pork. Sometimes I use pierogies in place of apples or with them. Onions can also end up in there.