Ongoing cooking/baking advice and tips thread

I love to cook, and I’m almost entirely self-taught. I’m addicted to cookbooks and cooking magazines, having amassed a large collection, and I challenge myself to make something new a couple of times a week. If there’s a technique I’m unfamiliar with, I can usually find a YouTube tutorial, and other questions I can usually Google. But oftentimes I could still use some expert advice.

I know there are cooking message boards, but I’ve long wished for a one-stop shop on the SDMB where our own cooks - both hobbyist and professional - can share their wisdom (and maybe even recipes, though I understand that posting full recipes might be a no-no because of copyright issues? Perhaps we could PM each other).

I’ll start with a question.

I have a special edition magazine dedicated to vegetables and side dishes. I want to make Fresh Herb & Bulgur Pilaf. Elsewhere in that same issue it explains what bulgur is and how to prepare it: Pour 1 and 1/2 cups boiling water or broth over 1 cup bulgur and let stand until light and fluffy. What’s not clear in the pilaf recipe itself is whether you’re supposed to do that beforehand, or if it will attain the desired state as part of the process. I can provide additional details if needed.

Aye, details may help. What happens in the pilaf? Presumably you add liquid at some point in it? Those instructions for what to do with bulgur and broth are pretty much the long and short of what it needs (though I have known it to need simmering sometimes, to soften it adequately), so the soaking and standing may be redundant if the recipe has that covered.

You start by cooking onion and garlic in oil for several minutes. Then you add 1.5 cups bulgur, two cups broth, and several other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over medium-low heat until all the broth is absorbed and there are “eyes” or indentations in the bulgur, about 15 minutes.

My guess is you’re supposed to add the bulgur dry; I imagine if it’s pre-soaked it won’t absorb the broth. But like I said, it’s not clear, and I’ve never worked with it before so I wanted to make sure.

I believe your instinct is right. I believe the other instructions you saw should be titled “To serve bulgur plain as a side dish:”

There was a former poster by the name of Zenster who had at least one cooking compilation thread. You might try to find that one, but a new one is good, too.

Thank you for beginning the thread, Ectomorph.

I lost a recipe, supposedly Japanese, created by an American woman. It had breaded chicken bites. The sauce or garnish contained diced radishes; I cannot recall what else.

You’re quite right: cook it from dry. Just the same as you wouldn’t use pre-cooked rice in a pilaf. Well worth checking though: I had a tabbouleh recipe which resulted in a pan of what purported to be bulgur but actually appeared to be wet gravel.

Bulgur cooks hella fast. I’ve always added it dry to boiling salted (or seasoned) water, covered it and turned off the heat completely.

By the time everything else is ready, the grain is fully cooked and fluffy.

So I made the bulgur pilaf, and it turned out perfect! Thanks for the input, folks.

It’s a damn tasty recipe - very Fall-y and Thanksgiving-y. Lotta work, though. I served it alongside Chili Turkey Loaf.

Brilliant. Chilli Turkey Loaf sounds intriguing…

As an aside: Licentious Ectomorph has more than just a whiff of a Googlewhack about it…

I don’t understand sausage. How do you know when you’re supposed to remove the casing and when you’re not?

This step should be included in the instructions (at least in a good recipe). There are, of course, certain types of sausage that don’t come in casings in the first place, but again the type of sausage should be specified in the recipe.

The only possibly confusing type that I can think of would be chorizo - the Mexican type is fresh and usually (though not always) sold uncased, while the Spanish type is dried and cured. The Mexican kind needs to be cooked - the Spanish type can be eaten out of hand, but is often meant to be sliced and added to other dishes as flavoring meat.

I just go by my instincts. For Italian, if it’s going to be a sandwich, then I leave the skins on. If I’m making pasta sauce, then they come off (or I buy bulk). For a soup, it just depends on what you prefer. The casing can become unpleasantly tough, though. I love to make a one pan dish with fried sausage, onions, potatoes and garlic; since I usually use a smoked sausage, the skin stays on.