What are your favorite recipes for dishes made for sharing?

Fare Exchange / Getty Images
Fare Exchange / Getty Images

Welcome to February Fare, foodie companions. Today's one request is a repeat, and it calls for many answers. "What recipes in your kitchen are your 'shareables' — some call them 'tapas,' but what I want are dishes to put out, one at a time, to share."


ADAPTABLE APPETIZER

Suzann Helber unknowingly sent the first answer, with this "tasty appetizer — good any time — perfect for Super Bowl Sunday."

And this is a most adaptable recipe. "I love flavors and textures, but I'm not a big fan of too hot or spicy. The good thing about this recipe is it's so easily adaptable. You could use medium or hot taco seasoning, salsa and add jalapeños, etc. Once you make these, you can just kind of wing it from there."

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells

1 1/4 pounds ground beef

1 (7.5-ounce) tub Philadelphia cream cheese with chives and onion

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 package dry taco seasoning

1 package jumbo pasta shells, about 18 (boiled, drained and tossed with butter while still warm to prevent them from sticking together, and set aside)

1 cup prepared taco sauce or salsa

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 1/2 cups tortilla chips, crushed up a bit

Condiments: sour cream, guacamole, diced green onion

Brown beef, and drain grease. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add to the skillet the cream cheese, salt, chili powder and taco seasoning. Mix well, and simmer about 5 minutes.

In a greased 9- by 13-inch pan, arrange shells, prepared according to directions above, and fill each with beef mixture.

Spoon sauce or salsa over each shell.

Cover with foil and bake in 350-degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Uncover, and top with cheeses and chips.

Bake, uncovered, another 15 minutes until bubbly.

Serving tip: These are yummy but can be messy to eat. We just hold a plate under our chin and use our hands.

(READ MORE: Restaurant Scene: A handful of things I'm looking forward to eating in 2024)


TRUSTED SOURCES

Here's a comprehensive suggestion, in answer to your request. What is your reliable source for recipes in general? Pat Schock answered readily. "My go-to site is America's Test Kitchen. I enjoy the science of what makes a recipe work. I have made many recipes with no failures. Also, the equipment reviews and cooking hints are great. It is a subscription service but has been well worth it."

Tim Threadgill sent his authoritative answer, voting with Ms. Schock for America's Test Kitchen, and then adding more.

He recommended some free recipe websites: Food 52, Food and Wine, Southern Living (some content is subscription only), My Recipes (contains several legacy recipes from Cooking Light, Southern Living and other publications by that company), PBS cooking sites and useful, but less reliable, Eating Well. I will occasionally use Food Network for Ina Garten recipes or other chefs I admire. Emeril Lagasse has his own site that may be accessed for free."

And then, "The only subscription site I would contemplate is Cook's/America's Test Kitchen. Some of the ATK recipes may be accessed for free through the PBS site. One feature of the site I especially enjoy is their reviews of kitchen tools and appliances. Food 52 and Food and Wine both offer recipes to help expand into regional cuisine. Most of these sites limit the endless discourse prior to the recipe, with exception of Eating Well, which also seems more overrun with pop-ups. However, Eating Well is great about grouping recipes into meal plans or themes like 'mushroom soup,' offering lots of variations. I have used and like the recipes on Bon Appetit and Epicurious, but they offer a limited number of recipes for free, then require a subscription. In their favor, they are probably the best at offering a lot of ethnic recipes in terms and spices that Americans can follow, using familiar names for ingredients. But unless you regularly obtain recipes there, probably not worth the subscription."

At this point Mr. Threadgill turned to the subject of readers' comments on recipes. "If a recipe looks interesting, it is worth reading the comments. There may be tips to help improve the flavor, presentation or how it pairs with other foods as a meal."

(He did not add, but left unspoken, the fact that sometimes the comments can challenge and confuse — as they often contradict each other.)

Finally Mr. Threadgill spoke to the question of spices, both fresh and dry, and how a seasoned cook varies the prescription in the recipe as it is given.

"Spices are typically measured in kitchens that have nice, fresh spices because of constant use. Most of us don't have that luxury. I generally note the suggested servings or volume, and if only relatively small amount of spice is called for, I double it. A lot of spicy ethnic recipes will call for a specific blend of chilies. You can look up the recipes for that blend and make it from what you have on hand, rather than have lots of jars of beriberi, harissa, etc., in your cupboard. The spice issue is one reason I think a lot of recipes call for fresh herbs, but even that varies based on when they were picked or the variety of herb. I never dreamed there were so many different types of thyme, basil or mint."

(READ MORE: Try some of these ethnic eateries in the Chattanooga area)


APPLESAUCE HACK

There is much to exchange in this weekly column, and all categories are welcome: general advice, sources to consult, memories that leave a sweet taste, easy recipes, special-occasion recipes and Just a Dash of kitchen help. If the week ahead involves some dashing around, here's a two-ingredient recipe that can go from breakfast to palate cleanser after a big meal.

It's Raspberry Applesauce. Mix unsweetened canned applesauce with frozen unsweetened raspberries, approximately 2/3 applesauce to 1/3 raspberries. Let this sit on the counter until the raspberries thaw, mix well, then taste to see if you need to add a little sugar or even a few tablespoons of raspberry preserves. Chill and serve.

I'll end this column with a wish that springs from the final words above: May you have a chill week. And may you serve with ease.


REQUEST

— Shareable dishes


TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send, and know we cannot test the recipes printed here.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

Email: chattfare@gmail.com

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