Cooking Tips

Coated versus Non-Coated

Coated or non-coated? I use both types of pans in my kitchen. Each type is useful, but just be aware of how to use them properly.
                                                ---Cook Because You Can

The single biggest reason food sticks in uncoated pans is that too often cold food is put in a pan or skillet that is not hot enough to create steam from the surface moisture of the food. This steam creates a "lift" that prevents the proteins in food from bonding with the ions of the metal in the pan. A sufficiently hot skim of vegetable oil reacts in a volatile manner with the moisture from the food to give an assist to the "lift" but a cold piece of meat immediately cools the oil, where it is laid in the pan, below the point where it will sizzle. Note that vegetables don't stick in pans. It's because they lack the animal proteins.

Proteins stick in coated pans when the coatings have been scratched or broken down through wear. Excessive heat hastens the demise of coated skillets. They are meant for low and moderate heat cooking, and do a nice job when used exclusively at those temperature ranges. If a pot, pan or skillet feels light for its size, it will lack the mass of material needed to conduct heat evenly. Cheap cookware is never a value. Wait for bargains on the good stuff.

Roger Tappan

7 Chef Tips to Improve Your Time in the Kitchen

Forget the Clock
“Cooking times are really useless in my opinion. My oven and your oven might be off by as much as 100 degrees from one another. Your sauté’ pan might not retain heat as well as mine. When using the oven, check halfway through the published cooking time and constantly be checking after that. A good chef always uses their eyes, nose, and fingers to check food, not their timer.”

– Tom Fabbri, Professional Chef & Personal Trainer

Frugal & Fit

“If you buy more herbs than you plan to use in two to three days, make pestos or blend the herbs with a little water and freeze in ice cube trays to use in dressings, soups, or even in shakes at a later date. Pestos can also be frozen or else they must be used within one week.

Another frugal tip: Save vegetable peels and the carcass of a roasted chicken to make a ‘free” chicken broth, since you would have thrown all these scraps away anyway. By making a broth, you extract every last nutrient out of these “scraps.” The broth can be used in soups or stews or it can be frozen in canning jars, baggies, or ice cube trays for future use.”

– Elizabeth Brown, Registered Dietitian & Holistic Chef

Grow Your Own
“Eating on and from the land harks back to earlier times. It’s a reinvention of the old-fashioned block parties and village picnics that used to characterize America’s small towns and close-knit communities when every household boasted a famous pie or chicken-with-dumplings recipe. Although I love the produce we get from our garden, what I enjoy more is the way it attracts our next-door neighbors, our back-door neighbors, our across-street neighbors and our across-town neighbors. Everyone likes to gather in the garden; our family, our kids’ buddies, neighbors, dear friends, and new acquaintances. Some people help with the garden, others prepare food picked from it, and still others provide entertainment. Everyone has a good time and there’s room for everyone and what they bring to the table.”

– Michel Nischan, Sustainable food pioneer, chef & author

Secret Thickening Agent

When making hummus or muhammara (or any type of strong flavored Middle-Eastern dip), if the texture of the dip is too runny here is a solution: Either add 1/2 cup (or more depending on need) of instant oatmeal flakes that have been soaked in boiling water and drained or a couple of handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs to restore the needed texture to the hummus, baba ghannouj, muhammara, etc. The taste of the oatmeal or breadcrumbs will not be detected and the texture will be improved.

– Joumana Accad, Pastry Chef & founder of Taste of Beirut

Le Cordon Bleu Mini-Lesson
Add a splash of vinegar to eggs before you boil them for bright yellow yolks and pearl white skins.
Always let meat sit at room temperature for one hour before you cook.
Use white sea salt to finish seasoning after cooking and gray sea salt to season before cooking.
The flavor must decide what a dish will look like, never the other way around.
Be a minimalist; less is more. Let the food do all the work with its true God-given flavor; you just help it along.
Taste everything you make the entire time you are cooking.
The use of seasoning is 80-percent allowing the dish to taste great on its own.

– Ivan Flowers, Chef Owner of Fournos Restaurant & former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Scottsdale

Stay Sharp

“Invest in the highest quality knives you can afford, even if you can only afford to buy one knife at a time. Start your arsenal with a supreme paring knife. Once you make the investment, keep your knives sharp! Use a professional sharpening service or invest in the proper sharpening tools and learn how to do this yourself. There is nothing worse than a dull blade in the kitchen!”

– Christina Sleeper, Chef & Owner of Sleeper’s Gourmet

Ginger Trick
“Peel ginger with a spoon — it’s easier, safer, more efficient, and so cool.”

– Simon Sheridan, Head Chef at Exquisite Food

Five Slow Cooking Tips

1. Vegetables
Slow cooking many vegetables is as effective as steaming them. You can't overcook vegetables in a crock pot or slow cooker. The continuous low heat gradually tenderizes and brings out their full flavor. When making a recipe that calls for a combination of vegetables and other foods, arrange the vegetables evenly on the bottom and sides of the slow cooker, and then place other ingredients on top.

2. Meats
Meats are easy to prepare in a slow cooker. One rule of thumb is that lean meats tend to cook faster than those with lots of fat or that are cooked with bones. To enhance the flavor and appearance of meat prepared in a slow cooker, brown or sear it first on top of the stove in a skillet with a tablespoon of cooking oil.

3. Frozen Foods
Careful attention should be paid when preparing frozen or partially frozen foods in a slow cooker, as sudden changes in temperature could cause the slow cooker's ceramic insert to break. To keep this from happening, pour a cup of warm broth or water in the bottom of the cooker first before adding frozen food.

4. Liquids
Even on a low temperature setting, some foods can burn or dry out in a slow cooker if there is not enough liquid. Therefore, always use sufficient liquid as stated in the recipe. Even as little as a half cup of liquid can prevent scorching.

5. Herbs and Spices
Ground and dried herbs and spices work better for slow cooker recipes than fresh ones, and should be used sparingly at the beginning of the cooking cycle. Fresh herbs should be added towards the end of cooking. In any event, you will want to do a taste test once the food has been prepared. If it is not spicy enough, simply add more seasoning before serving.

About Recipes

About Recipes
Recipes are cooking instructions that should be used as guides for making a specific dish. Most recipes can be made better by using your own imagination to make the dish more closely match your individual taste.

If you like spicy and the recipe calls for one teaspoon of crushed red peppers, go ahead and put in two if you want. Just remember to taste as you go.

Some recipes should be followed precisely for safety. Specifically, any preserving or pickling recipes should be followed, as far as the proportions of vinegar, salt and water. Altering proportions in these recipes could lead to unhealthy food spoilage.

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