Thursday, October 21, 2010

Food Finds: Best Cooking Ingredients 2010

When you want to make great food at home, Howard County offers you way more than the standard supermarkets.  You have no Whole Foods, but there are ethnic and organic markets where you cobble together some good cooking.

I wrote a series of 2009 posts about shopping, including Asian supermarkets, ethnic markets and organic stores, and I wrote a week-long review of Steven Raichlen's grilling cookbook with explanations about where to buy his international ingredients.  Today's list is just 10 simple things:
  • Orange blossom water at one of the Middle Eastern groceries.  Buy a small bottle and make a flavored lemonade.
  • Smoked salmon at the Town Grill in Lisbon.  It's a great stop on the way to or from Larriland Farms.  Grab the house-smoked salmon and use it for pasta or other recipes.
  • Kabob skewers at Pars Market in Columbia.  Pars sells the flat skewers that work perfectly with ground-meat kabobs.  Perfect for lamb kabobs, especially now that you can buy ground lamb either at Pars or at the Nazar Market just up Snowden River Parkway.
  • Ground chuck at Laurel Meat Market.  Ideal for hamburgers, the ground chuck would also work wonderfully for meat balls or pasta sauces.  This is real meat, ground in the shop.  The only kind that I want to eat these days.
  • The scallops at Today's Catch in Columbia.  The fish market sells the scallops that haven't been injected with saline.  They're not cheap, but they infalliably sweet and need nothing more than a little butter to saute.
  • Cheese at Roots  in Clarksville and Mom's in Jessup.  When I wrote about cheese, Roots was the best selection.  Now, Mom's has expanded and added more cheese.
  • Fish and crabs at Frank's Seafood in Jessup or fish at H Mart in Catonsville.  Pick your own.  Have them cleaned and cut.  Get out of the salmon filet rut.
  • Fresh tortillas at Lily's Mexican Market in Columbia. They make them there, and you can check the shelves while you're there.  Peruvian yellow peppers.  Cactus for tacos.  A full butcher.
  • The most-local fruits and vegetables.  Pick your own at Larriland Farm in Woodbine, especially my favorite peaches and apples.  Or shop the stand at the Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel.
  • One stop trip around the world at the Super Grand in Laurel.  It's Korean-run like Lotte or the H Mart, but it is aimed at broader with entire aisles of Mexican, Indian, Jamaican, African, and Asian food.

This week, I'm posting a series of "best of" posts starting with best restaurants and best food experiences.  Then some posts about finds at stores -- the best grab and go items and the best ingredients for cooks.  You can click for all the "best of posts" going back.  

If you're looking for more, check out two prior series of posts -- a "tour of Howard County" describing restaurants and markets in specific areas or my guide to what I've learned about Howard County from "best Chinese" and "best takeout" to "best BBQ" and "best burgers."


Marcia said...

The scallops at Frank's are pretty darn good,too. They don't just have whole fish, they have a great selection of fish filets and steaks. Talking to friends who live elsewhere in MD, we are lucky to have a place like Frank's nearby! (Check their website for coupons, too)

Don't forget Boarman's in Highland for store-made potato salad and great beef.

MaybeKathy said...

OK, not HoCo, but HoCo-adjacent and more convenient for those of us on the NE side of town...

Skirt steaks from Trueth's in Oella. And you might as well stock up on their excellent ground chuck, bacon, and whatever else is on sale that day while you are there. I've never gotten anything from them that wasn't delicious.