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What is one tip that you learned about cooking that was simple but made a huge difference? [old]

xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 02:32 PM

I read many years ago to mash your potatoes with nothing in them first (that way you can see how 'wet' they are), then add the butter, then add WARM milk. Probably many already knew this but this tip read probably over 10 years ago has made my mashed potatoes always fantastic!! Prior to this I would put in the butter, slosh in some cold milk and mash away-I wondered why they were always gluey and either runny or stiff.

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  1. l
    LauraGrace RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 02:46 PM

    Kosher salt, in a dish, by the stove. TASTE and season as you go.

    My cooking has never been the same since... in a good way, of course. :)

    83 Replies
    1. re: LauraGrace
      s
      southernexpat RE: LauraGrace Jan 5, 2010 08:35 PM

      I learned this one the hard way. Sounds intuitive, but I didn't know about it until I ruined a pork roast in the brining.

      Salt equivalent ratios:

      Table Salt 1 TBSP
      Morton Kosher Salt 1-1/2 TBSP
      Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt 2 TBSP

      I cribbed this from http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/sal....

      1. re: southernexpat
        c
        COOKCOOKS RE: southernexpat Jan 4, 2012 01:08 AM

        Thank you for this. I have been looking for a definitive breakdown for a while and couldn't find one.

      2. re: LauraGrace
        s
        schmoopy RE: LauraGrace Jan 5, 2010 09:00 PM

        I totally agree with you LauraGrace about the Kosher salt! I can hardly bring myself to use regular salt when we're out. We use only Kosher salt at home to cook with and to season our food when eating. It makes such a difference! The saltiness tastes "clean" as opposed to "chemical".

        1. re: schmoopy
          MandalayVA RE: schmoopy Jan 6, 2010 05:47 AM

          I switched to sea salt a few months ago and literally can't stand regular salt anymore.

          1. re: MandalayVA
            l
            LadyCook61 RE: MandalayVA Jan 14, 2010 08:48 AM

            I like sea salt too , I have several different ones .

            1. re: LadyCook61
              grnidkjun RE: LadyCook61 Jan 20, 2010 06:23 AM

              another vote for sea salt.. I keep mine in a grinder and grind what I need.

              1. re: grnidkjun
                q
                Quill RE: grnidkjun Aug 27, 2010 11:06 AM

                I agree about sea salt. I have several including truffled salt which is heaven as a finishing salt. I also use Kosher salt when I want that crustiness. But why has no one mentioned Maldon flaked sea salt? The large thin flakes give great texture without over salting.

                1. re: Quill
                  hypomyces RE: Quill Mar 15, 2011 05:25 AM

                  I love Maldon as a finishing salt. The crystals are beautiful, thin, and add wonderful texture...very addictive.

                2. re: grnidkjun
                  FoodChic RE: grnidkjun Dec 29, 2010 10:45 AM

                  I have mine in a grinder, too. I used kosher for salting water, but use sea salt to season dishes.

              2. re: MandalayVA
                vorpal RE: MandalayVA Jan 30, 2010 09:41 AM

                Absolutely. After changing to sea salt, the very idea of using regular table salt is distasteful to me. All those flowing agents, desiccants, etc. impart an unpleasant chemical taste that I was only too happy to bid farewell upon switching.

                1. re: MandalayVA
                  r
                  rosemarie365 RE: MandalayVA Dec 22, 2011 09:46 AM

                  I keep a porcelain coated 'tin' next to the stove filled with sea salt. I only use 'regular' salt to soak/rinse brassica's I harvest from the garden......and sometimes scrub pots with it.

                2. re: schmoopy
                  t
                  tonka11_99 RE: schmoopy Mar 5, 2010 12:17 PM

                  U know it is interesting.

                  America's test kitchen tested all kinds of salt and found that except for finishing salt on steaks and such at the table, they couldn't taste any difference in kosher or sea salt or table salt or even leslies iodized salt in cooking.

                  Their own chefs were surprised. Most of them were swearing that a blind taste test would reveal that kosher or sea salt would be far superior.

                  1. re: tonka11_99
                    s
                    schmoopy RE: tonka11_99 Apr 26, 2010 10:16 AM

                    Hi Tonka! Just saw your post. That IS interesting. You said that "except for finishing salt on steaks and such at the table, they couldn't taste any difference..." If I understand you correctly, you're saying that the tasters couldn't taste any difference in the salts when they're used in cooking, rather than as a finishing, right? Well, I do agree with that. I don't notice a difference when I'm cooking or baking something. But I do notice a difference when it's sprinkled on top of something that's already cooked and/or I'm just seasoning to taste at the time of eating (like freshly sliced homegrown tomatoes or a soft-boiled egg). At least, I think I do... :o)

                    1. re: tonka11_99
                      vorpal RE: tonka11_99 May 6, 2010 11:38 PM

                      THAT I find hard to believe. I doubt I could taste the difference between kosher and sea salt, but table salt with all the additives that it has? Certainly I could tell the difference. Upon realizing how much better sea salt is and having switched over, I've since found table salt with its flowing agents and what not to be a bit repulsive in flavour.

                      1. re: vorpal
                        alkapal RE: vorpal May 17, 2010 08:00 AM

                        what are "**all** the additives" of table salt? an anticaking agent and --- sometimes -- iodine?

                      2. re: tonka11_99
                        Caroline1 RE: tonka11_99 Jan 14, 2012 03:56 PM

                        hmmm... America's Test Kitchen cooks couldn't taste the difference? Did they all have head colds that day? One of the things I do with every new housekeeper who may cook something once in a while is give her a lesson in salt. First tasting: Sea salt. Mild. Second tasting: Kosher salt. A bit stronger but still mellow. Final tasting: table salt. Without fail, it ALWAYS brings a grimace and a sense of revulsion. So much for America's Test Kitchen. Don't do tastings when you have a cold! '-)

                        1. re: Caroline1
                          John E. RE: Caroline1 Jan 14, 2012 04:14 PM

                          The test of salt was in cooked food and baked goods, not tasting salt on its own.
                          They're basic point was you can use regular kosher salt to add to a kettle of pasta water and save the Fleur De Sel for sprinkling on top of finished food.

                          edit: I saw one of your other recent posts on another thread. I too welcome you back to the boards.

                    2. re: LauraGrace
                      blue room RE: LauraGrace Jan 7, 2010 09:42 AM

                      I don't get the salt-in-a-dish, salt-in-a-box on the stove thing-- seems my hand/hands are invariably either wet or have food on them when I'm cooking. I don't want to put that into a dry dish of salt and contaminate the whole dish. It's much easier to clean a shaker than throw out salt that's been moistened. Also, a shaker gives more control. It looks cool when a chef reaches over and takes an expert 5 finger pinch of salt, but I know it's then sprinkled all over the stove too, not just on the food. Am I approaching this all wrong?

                      1. re: blue room
                        c oliver RE: blue room Jan 7, 2010 09:54 AM

                        I pour a little salt from the stove-side container into my hand and then "pinch" to my heart's content. And I guess I have better control than those chefs - my stay inside the dish :)

                        1. re: c oliver
                          YourBestFriend RE: c oliver Jan 14, 2010 05:00 PM

                          Actually, there's a reason why professional chefs end up with salt all over their stove. They salt from "up high". If you've ever watch iron chef or any other show with 3-star chefs cooking, you'll notice the height at with they are salting. It's not "showboating" like the waiters who try and pour your water from above your head at TJI Chilibees...

                          When you salt from up high, the salt disperses more when it hits whatever you are salting than if you were to salt down low. Therefore you can salt once and have salted the whole dish as opposed to salting lower and sprinkling it all around the skillet.

                          Try it out sometime. Take a pinch of salt and salt the countertop the way you would normally. Then take the same amount of salt and salt the tabletop from a height a little above your head. The salt will bounce everywhere...which is gonna be annoying for the clean-up but should demonstrate my point. It's actually kinda fun.

                          That's what happens in your skillet when salting in this manner, a more even dispersing of salt. Less stirring...that sort of thing. Hopefully that makes sense and sheds some light as to why chefs have such salty stoves. :-)

                          1. re: YourBestFriend
                            c oliver RE: YourBestFriend Jan 14, 2010 07:27 PM

                            I take the salt between my fingers and kinda rub them together and get a complete distribution. Don't do it "up high." Whatever works for you.

                            1. re: YourBestFriend
                              h
                              honey2emmylace RE: YourBestFriend Feb 4, 2010 07:56 PM

                              Up high thing ... good to know.... I always do it from up high but it's just so I can see how many crystals are coming out.... either from the shaker or my pinching. I love to do the pinching thing with coarse salt, beit kosher or sea, because I feel so "food network." I really can't taste the difference. And btw... I like cracked black, but I usually put both ground and cracked in a recipe. Ground flavors the dish, cracked gives you that little something extra when you thought you'd already swallowed everything :D

                          2. re: blue room
                            monavano RE: blue room Jan 7, 2010 10:06 AM

                            You miss the pan when you pinch salt? Wow. Unless you're "showboating" like Rocco, there's no mess.
                            I really differ with your opinion that a shaker gives more control.
                            Do you use kosher salt?

                            1. re: monavano
                              alliedawn_98 RE: monavano Jan 7, 2010 10:38 AM

                              I feel that I have more control when I pinch kosher or sea salt instead of using a shaker or the box the salt came in from the store. With the shaker, it takes too long and with the box, sometimes a little comes out and sometimes a lot. I don't have near the issues of under or over seasoning using the pinches and I don't have problems of strewing it all over from dish to pot either.

                              1. re: alliedawn_98
                                kubasd RE: alliedawn_98 Jan 17, 2012 10:44 PM

                                I was given this awesome salt cellar for Christmas this past year. Yeah, it sounds like a pretty underwhelming gift, but it is so handy, and it looks cute! I can just reach in, grab a pinch of my kosher salt, and season away :)

                                 
                                1. re: kubasd
                                  EWSflash RE: kubasd Mar 7, 2012 06:37 PM

                                  That's a Le creuset salt cellar, isn't it? Always wanted one.

                                  1. re: EWSflash
                                    kubasd RE: EWSflash Mar 10, 2012 10:41 AM

                                    yup!

                              2. re: monavano
                                blue room RE: monavano Jan 7, 2010 12:49 PM

                                If I have a bunch of salt held between 2, 3, 4, or all 5 fingers it's gonna lose a few grains between saltbox and pan. If my hand is wet or oily or bloody or juicy or sticky, the salt now has stuff or moisture in it. If the salt (any kind/size, grains or flakes) is in a shaker it's clean, dry and secure. I do agree the shaker holes must be the right size. Of course this is no big deal, I just tried it (cute new salt box) and abandoned it almost immediately and thought "Huh?"

                                1. re: blue room
                                  southernitalian RE: blue room Jan 7, 2010 01:12 PM

                                  Unless you're shaking the salt into a pot of boiling water and the steam clogs the holes.

                                  1. re: southernitalian
                                    pilotgirl210 RE: southernitalian Apr 22, 2011 10:42 AM

                                    I have a *salt pig* that came with a small, porcelain spoon. No need to stick wet fingers into the holder. I use a small ramekin for coarse-ground black pepper, and in it I use a small sterling spoon I purchased long ago at an antiques shop. They were used for salt dip bowls placed at individual place settings at the dinner table around the turn of the century. I keep these, and other salts and peppers, on the countertop near my range top. Works well for me.

                                    1. re: pilotgirl210
                                      John E. RE: pilotgirl210 Apr 22, 2011 06:45 PM

                                      Your little silver spoon was for what called a 'salt cellar' which is used at the table. A salt pig is more commonly used by the cook. I found a pair of crystal salt cellars with silver spoons and gave them to my mother. She really liked stuff like that.

                                      1. re: John E.
                                        eclecticsynergy RE: John E. Nov 20, 2011 05:20 PM

                                        When I was a kid (during the 60s) dinners in our household were late and quite formal- everyone dressed for dinner, jackets & ties for the men, dresses for the ladies. At 7:45 there was the ceremonial lighting of the candles, carving began at the sideboard, wine which had been breathing was first tasted, then poured, and dinner was on the table at eight sharp. Everything in the dining room was old (except the gigantic sailfish on one wall)- tapestries, curtains, 18th century chairs. The massive main table was 400 years old and battle-scarred. Not metaphorically, literally.

                                        Anyway, my folks had some beautiful antique Austrian pewter, candelabras, platters, water pitchers, and my favorite, a set of 3-inch salt cellars in the form of Viking longships, which seemed to be sailing silently across the table, bound for distant adventures. Will never forget those.

                                        1. re: eclecticsynergy
                                          John E. RE: eclecticsynergy Nov 20, 2011 06:40 PM

                                          Holy smokes, did you grow up with old money in Europe or New England or somewhere similar? I grew up in a ranch house in a snall farming community in rural Minnesota.

                                          1. re: John E.
                                            0
                                            02putt RE: John E. Nov 20, 2011 07:14 PM

                                            You read my mind John. Our diners were always informal. Only requirement was hands and face must be washed and clean clothes. Christmas was a little more formal with table linen etc. I don' think I ever remember my father wearing a suit to the dinner table unless he was not eating because my parents were going out to a dinner dance/banquet etc. We always ate as a family and had to be asked to be excused. I have to admit unless someone had to be somewhere (work, soccer practice etc.) we still ate together. We still eat as a family, wait until everyone is finished and the kids always ask to be excused. Something that seems to have been lost over time which is shame because dinner time is when you really find out what is going on with your kids. No distractions except for the food!

                                            1. re: 02putt
                                              John E. RE: 02putt Nov 20, 2011 08:13 PM

                                              It appears we grew up in separate families together.

                                          2. re: eclecticsynergy
                                            j
                                            jvanderh RE: eclecticsynergy Nov 21, 2011 06:48 PM

                                            Wow- I thought that only happened in movies. You've painted quite a picture.

                                            1. re: eclecticsynergy
                                              roxlet RE: eclecticsynergy Jan 14, 2012 04:30 PM

                                              Wonderfull! Now I want those Viking salt cellars too!

                                  2. re: blue room
                                    thew RE: blue room Jan 7, 2010 02:22 PM

                                    i think a shaker gives far less control

                                    1. re: thew
                                      blue room RE: thew Jan 7, 2010 02:34 PM

                                      I guess I'm pretty used to my shakers, can use them deftly, but I know what you mean. And for bigger amounts, like the initial salting in a recipe, of course I use measuring spoons.

                                    2. re: blue room
                                      r
                                      RGC1982 RE: blue room Jan 8, 2010 12:55 PM

                                      I agree. I even bought a cute little bamboo salt box, and you know what? My manicure is not conducive to this. My hands are always wet, and under my nails remains wet even after drying my hands. I ended up wasting quite a bit of French gray sea salt during one meal, and found myself worrying about adding moisture to the saltbox. Nope, I use the pour spout right on the box of sea salt into the palm of my hand to eyeball it.

                                      1. re: blue room
                                        s
                                        small h RE: blue room Jan 9, 2010 11:26 AM

                                        My sea salt is in a grinder - very easy to use even with wet hands.

                                        1. re: small h
                                          ChristinaMason RE: small h Jan 11, 2010 07:57 AM

                                          This is what I do, too. But it annoys me when steam clogs up the grinder.

                                          1. re: ChristinaMason
                                            s
                                            small h RE: ChristinaMason Jan 11, 2010 08:03 AM

                                            Grind the salt into your palm, away from the pot, then throw it in.

                                            1. re: small h
                                              p
                                              pacheeseguy RE: small h Jan 11, 2010 12:38 PM

                                              Unless you've got a one-handed grinder, or a third arm, this is going
                                              to be hard to accomplish.

                                              1. re: pacheeseguy
                                                kattyeyes RE: pacheeseguy Jan 11, 2010 02:01 PM

                                                HA HA, yes, that's true. ;)

                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                  s
                                                  small h RE: kattyeyes Jan 11, 2010 03:30 PM

                                                  I cup my left palm under the bottom of the grinder, and grip the stem my fingers. Then I twist the top with my right hand. It is not a difficult process (if it were, I probably couldn't do it).

                                                  1. re: small h
                                                    kattyeyes RE: small h Jan 12, 2010 02:19 PM

                                                    You are correct. Sorry for being a wise@$$! It's just as easy as you say. Who knew? :)

                                                    1. re: kattyeyes
                                                      s
                                                      small h RE: kattyeyes Jan 12, 2010 06:39 PM

                                                      Awesome! So the score is now...

                                                      useful cooking tips small h has learned on Chowhound: 437 (estimated)
                                                      useful cooking tips small h has provided on Chowhound: 1 (exact)

                                                      Equilibrium approaches.

                                                      1. re: small h
                                                        c
                                                        Chadsharply RE: small h Jan 27, 2010 05:37 PM

                                                        I keep a shot glass of Kosher salt near the stove top and use a tiny spoon (~1/3 tsp.) to transfer it into my palm before pinching and sprinkling. No messy fingers in the salt box and better control than a shaker.

                                                        1. re: Chadsharply
                                                          j
                                                          joonjoon RE: Chadsharply Jan 28, 2010 07:48 AM

                                                          Why wouldn't you just grab it straight out of the shot glass?

                                                          1. re: Chadsharply
                                                            s
                                                            small h RE: Chadsharply Jan 28, 2010 07:52 AM

                                                            That sounds like a good method for someone less clumsy than me. I would knock over the shot glass at least once a day.

                                                            1. re: Chadsharply
                                                              s
                                                              Stuffed Monkey RE: Chadsharply Feb 18, 2010 08:08 AM

                                                              I use a kinda of squat (cause I made it myself) egg cup. Similar to using a shot glass.

                                            2. re: blue room
                                              v
                                              VikingKvinna RE: blue room Feb 4, 2010 08:13 AM

                                              Yes.

                                              1. re: blue room
                                                r
                                                riversuzyq RE: blue room Mar 22, 2012 03:53 PM

                                                Totally agree blue room! I never could understand contaminating a whole dish of salt either. Old fashioned me just uses a shaker.

                                                1. re: riversuzyq
                                                  John E. RE: riversuzyq Mar 22, 2012 07:11 PM

                                                  You and Blue Room have both mentioned contaminating a dish of salt. BR also mentioned it's easier to clean a shaker than to throw out contaminated salt. I think both of you may have overlooked that it is easier to wipe your hands than to either clean a shaker or throw out contaminated salt. After all, our hands are not messy during the entire cooking process are they? I look at it as the need to season food while cooking is a good excuse to clean some cooking utensils and my hands too and to then season the food.

                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                    Caroline1 RE: John E. Mar 23, 2012 12:45 AM

                                                    Not only that, but salt is an incredible "antiseptic" and your chance of "contaminating" a pig of salt by reaching in and grabbing a pinch or two is practiaclly non-existant! Which is not to say you can't stain the salt if your hands are dripping in tomato paste or whatever. As you say, John, wipe your hands! Salt is also a dessicant and a preservative, so give up hope of "contaminating" it.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                      s
                                                      sandylc RE: Caroline1 Mar 23, 2012 09:45 AM

                                                      Thanks for that info - I have been throwing away what's left of the salt in my pinch bowl after cooking...

                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                        John E. RE: sandylc Mar 23, 2012 11:05 AM

                                                        When I am going to season a big roast, chicken, turkey, anything big I take a small bowl (actually one of those small ss condiment cups) and mix the salt and pepper, sometimes including garlic granules, and use that to season the meat. That way I don't worry about cross contamination or getting meat-juicy hands on my pepper mill or the garlic powder jar. Next to our stove we have one of those salt cellars with lid that Alton Brown always used on his show.

                                              2. re: LauraGrace
                                                b
                                                BigE RE: LauraGrace Jan 8, 2010 08:48 AM

                                                Tasting as you go is the #1 thing for me too, and I realize that most home cooks don't do it. So simple, but so important.

                                                1. re: BigE
                                                  djdownie RE: BigE Jan 11, 2010 10:27 PM

                                                  Strangely I've heard marcella hazan say she doesn't taste so much as she cooks - she smells!

                                                  1. re: djdownie
                                                    steamer RE: djdownie Feb 16, 2010 05:17 AM

                                                    I wonder how she can smell if her food is salted enough;-)

                                                    1. re: steamer
                                                      buttertart RE: steamer Feb 16, 2010 05:42 AM

                                                      She says the food smells different to her after the salt is added (that she told her husband that and he scoffed at her but found out she was right). Try it, you really can. As to whether salted enough, I imagine she relies on the oldfashioned way.

                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                        alkapal RE: buttertart Feb 17, 2010 04:25 AM

                                                        i'm going to see if i can smell the salt.

                                                        (didn't i hear that hazan and her husband had a mildly svengali (?) kind of relationship -- or something that was a little odd or controlling?).

                                                        anyhow, this was interesting: """She was educated as a biochemist and spent her early career in dental research.""" http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/refe...

                                                        and it is odd to learn that she smokes, and follows her teaching dinners with jack daniels! http://www.people.com/people/archive/...

                                                        ah, here's some idea:
                                                        >>>"""""You thought literature was all that mattered," teases Hazan, who likes to spar verbally with her husband. The son of a Jewish father who left Italy before World War II to come to New York City to start a furrier business, Victor met Hazan after returning to Italy, his birthplace, in 1952. Introduced by his cousin, Victor and Hazan fell for each other immediately. "Marcella was very beautiful, very dynamic," he says. "She was very sweet," he adds, smiling, "unlike now!""""<<<

                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                          m
                                                          marimorimo RE: alkapal May 26, 2010 05:02 AM

                                                          While I cannot really 'smell' salt for practical purposes in my own cooking, I agree that it is possible to smell salt. There was one time I was going down for breakfast at my Aunt's house and could distinctly smell that the eggs being fried had a lot of salt in them. I mentioned this to my friend who was going down with me and she agreed: the eggs were too salty. My cousin who was in the kitchen at the time asked me how I knew. She couldn't smell anything.

                                                          1. re: marimorimo
                                                            alkapal RE: marimorimo May 26, 2010 06:29 AM

                                                            well, i can smell salt air at the ocean, but not on salty eggs. do you find yourself "super-smelling" other things, too?

                                                        2. re: buttertart
                                                          a
                                                          AbsoluteFoodie RE: buttertart Jan 13, 2012 02:25 PM

                                                          I agree, I can smell salt in some dishes that are cooking, as well. Smell, after all, is a very important component in our ability to taste.

                                                  2. re: LauraGrace
                                                    c
                                                    cathodetube RE: LauraGrace Jan 9, 2010 01:15 PM

                                                    What do Americans mean by Kosher salt? Do you mean sea salt crystals? How can salt be kosher?

                                                    1. re: cathodetube
                                                      thew RE: cathodetube Jan 9, 2010 01:36 PM

                                                      it's a larger crystaled salt. it's coarse texture makes it stick to meat well, so it is ideal for drawing the blood out of meat, ie for koshering. it isn;t really kosher salt , it is koshering salt

                                                      1. re: thew
                                                        j
                                                        jeffdchef RE: thew Jan 26, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                        Diamond Brand kosher salt. It is the salt used in most good kitchens. The texture is unique to that brand, you cannot substitute equal volumes of any other type of salt. Give it a try!

                                                        1. re: jeffdchef
                                                          alkapal RE: jeffdchef Feb 17, 2010 04:56 AM

                                                          is diamond brand appreciably better than morton's kosher salt?

                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                            coll RE: alkapal Feb 17, 2010 05:09 AM

                                                            Chefs do ask for it by name. Never tested side by side myself.

                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                              thew RE: alkapal Feb 17, 2010 08:10 AM

                                                              what matters is consistency - and they both have different weight to volume ratios - both are about th same quality, but one would want to use the same brand consistently so as to maintain the same flavor

                                                              1. re: thew
                                                                b
                                                                bear RE: thew Feb 17, 2010 08:41 AM

                                                                From what I understand, Diamond Crystal doesn't have any anti-caking agents in it, and Morton's does.

                                                          2. re: thew
                                                            a
                                                            aggiecat RE: thew Feb 17, 2010 01:12 PM

                                                            Well, actually, it is a kosher product as well as being used to Kasher something else too - meat. But to be "kosher salt" it has to be just salt produced in accordance with kashrut laws which, most salt already is. I've seen kosher salt with both fine and coarse crystals. Kosher salt, coars or fine will not have any addatives. iodine, and is typcially plain salt without any clumping agents, much like pickling salt but with a different grind. Pickling salt is ground extremely fine so it dissolves well in liquids of any temp. You can use either if you are making up a batch of true saline solution for medical wash purposes. Additives are painful in a saline solution.

                                                            I can't find Diamond Brand so I just use Morton's Kosher for stoveside seasoning and pure clean salt flavor, regular old table for baking, and fancy sea salts for the table or when plating a specific dish with a specific salt, I don't get too crazy about the salt varietals, the finer details are usually lost on me.

                                                            1. re: aggiecat
                                                              alkapal RE: aggiecat Feb 18, 2010 03:14 AM

                                                              so you're saying (in part) that morton's kosher does *not* have anti-caking agent (which is typically sodium aluminosilicate)?

                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                b
                                                                bear RE: alkapal Feb 18, 2010 03:22 AM

                                                                Michael Ruhlman (an Expert in Residence on Chow a few months ago) is a pretty knowledgeable guy. He buys Morton's, which has additives, because that's what's available in his local store, but would buy Diamond Crystal if it were conveniently available since it has no additives. Seems like a practical approach.

                                                                Diamond Crystal is readily available near me, so that's what I get.

                                                                http://blog.ruhlman.com/2010/02/what-...

                                                                1. re: bear
                                                                  alkapal RE: bear Feb 18, 2010 03:31 AM

                                                                  morton's anti-caking agent is yellow prussiate of soda. i just looked at the box in my cabinet.

                                                                  1. re: bear
                                                                    bushwickgirl RE: bear Feb 19, 2010 06:12 AM

                                                                    Yes, Diamond Crystal is salt and only salt and it indeed does cake after awhile, but caking is not a big issue.

                                                                  2. re: alkapal
                                                                    j
                                                                    just_M RE: alkapal Feb 18, 2010 07:51 AM

                                                                    I believe Diamond Crystal is also formed in a crystal shape, like a snow flake so it melts more readily than Morton's which is more of a cube type shape. Although all I've ever used is Morton's as thats what's available to me.

                                                              2. re: cathodetube
                                                                MMRuth RE: cathodetube Jan 9, 2010 02:10 PM

                                                                You might find this thread informative:

                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/500254

                                                                Kosher salt does not have iodine added to, unlike our "regular" table salt.

                                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                                  Scrofula RE: MMRuth Jan 10, 2010 08:03 PM

                                                                  You can get table salt with or without iodine, for about the same price. I get it with, because I'm not too keen on getting goitre. (Though I probably eat enough dairy and seafood not to have to worry about that.)

                                                                2. re: cathodetube
                                                                  c
                                                                  cinnamon girl RE: cathodetube Jan 9, 2010 07:05 PM

                                                                  It's big hollow crystals . . . doesn't stick to the fingers as much as other salts do, Cathodetube. If your recipe calls for kosher salt remember to add less of regular grained sea salt. But you probably knew that.

                                                                  I still love my various sea salts but sometimes I just need the kosher, so mine is always at the fingertips too.

                                                                3. re: LauraGrace
                                                                  MichaelBeyer RE: LauraGrace Oct 17, 2010 03:52 AM

                                                                  Yes, I learned to use kosher salt working in a restaurant and haven't looked back.

                                                                4. h
                                                                  HillJ RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 02:48 PM

                                                                  Never use a dull knife.
                                                                  Always preheat an oven.
                                                                  Al dente pasta is the only way to go.
                                                                  Use room temp eggs.
                                                                  A separate freezer is a home cooks best friend.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                    JoanN RE: HillJ Jan 6, 2010 08:27 AM

                                                                    Regarding the use of room temp eggs: because they separate more easily when cold, if they need to be separated I do that right out of the fridge, cover them, and then let them come to room temp. They also come to room temp more quickly that way.

                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                      h
                                                                      HillJ RE: JoanN Jan 6, 2010 09:12 AM

                                                                      Good tip, JoanN. This time of year in NJ I can keep fresh eggs the desired temp but placing them in a basket in the porch just off the kitchen. I'm going to try the towel method.

                                                                    2. re: HillJ
                                                                      h
                                                                      honey2emmylace RE: HillJ Feb 4, 2010 08:02 PM

                                                                      I don't get the al dente pasta thing.... who wants hard "raw" pasta sticking in their teeth? About as appetizing as under cooked rice. Or am I missing something?

                                                                      1. re: honey2emmylace
                                                                        linguafood RE: honey2emmylace Feb 5, 2010 08:23 AM

                                                                        Well, if the pasta is hard & raw, it's not al dente. Al dente means that it's still got a little bit of bite to it, and is not cooked to a slippery mush. If it tastes raw or hard, it's not done.

                                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                                          woodleyparkhound RE: linguafood Feb 25, 2010 08:27 AM

                                                                          honey2emmylace: Maybe the problem is that you are using cheap supermarket brands of pasta. In my experience, those go from "hard" and "raw" to flaccid in a millisecond. De Cecco (and Barilla to a slightly lesser extent) costs more, but you can get it to a perfect al dente condition.

                                                                          1. re: woodleyparkhound
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                                                                            Shayna129 RE: woodleyparkhound Apr 29, 2011 06:33 PM

                                                                            I would also suggest that another reason for al dente is that most pasta is then finished in a sauce and most likely in a pan and will cook to hopeful perfection. Perhaps most suggested recipes figure that "saucing" will happen......what do I know, I just like to eat. :)

                                                                    3. d
                                                                      don515 RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 02:55 PM

                                                                      Grilling steaks

                                                                      The thiner the steak the hotter the fire not the other way...

                                                                      dc

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: don515
                                                                        t
                                                                        TomDel RE: don515 Jan 26, 2010 09:15 AM

                                                                        Put a thin (3/8” to 1/2") steak in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before cooking will allow you to get a nice sear on the outside without overcooking the middle.

                                                                        1. re: honey2emmylace
                                                                          coll RE: honey2emmylace Feb 5, 2010 02:02 AM

                                                                          Works for grilling rare tuna too.

                                                                          1. re: TomDel
                                                                            a
                                                                            AnotherMother RE: TomDel Jan 17, 2012 06:30 PM

                                                                            Now that's a clever idea! Supermarket meat is cut stupidly thin here in Australia, but that might just be a way of making it edible.

                                                                        2. f
                                                                          fourunder RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 02:58 PM

                                                                          Slow roast at a low temperature for beef, pork and turkey whenever possible.

                                                                          1. chowser RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 02:59 PM

                                                                            The longer the rise for bread, the better.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: chowser
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                                                                              sonia darrow RE: chowser Jan 8, 2010 08:30 PM

                                                                              Really? I used to assume that, but recently I've read that over-proofing can adversely affect the texture.

                                                                              1. re: sonia darrow
                                                                                bushwickgirl RE: sonia darrow Jan 9, 2010 03:29 AM

                                                                                The poster may mean "the slower the rise," although with cold proofing, it does take "longer."

                                                                                1. re: sonia darrow
                                                                                  c
                                                                                  cinnamon girl RE: sonia darrow Jan 9, 2010 07:08 PM

                                                                                  Chowser doesn't mean over-proofing, Sonia. He means letting it take longer to rise the volume it's supposed to. Usually by putting it somewhere cool as Bushwickgirl alludes to. I would add to that that multiple rises make for better bread too.

                                                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                    a
                                                                                    AbsoluteFoodie RE: cinnamon girl Jan 13, 2012 02:34 PM

                                                                                    Ditto. A slower, longer rise results in a better tasting bread.

                                                                              2. nofunlatte RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:01 PM

                                                                                Don't undersalt.
                                                                                It's better with butter.

                                                                                1. v
                                                                                  Val RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:06 PM

                                                                                  I would agree with xcptnl about adding hot or warmed up milk AND butter to hot cooked potatoes before mashing...big difference!!!
                                                                                  Allowing a roast (beef, turkey, whatever) to REST 20 mins. or so before carving
                                                                                  And, always use fresh lemon juice vs. bottled.

                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Val
                                                                                    afn33282 RE: Val Jan 12, 2010 06:59 PM

                                                                                    I let a chicken rest for an hour once, per Cook's Illustrated, and Wow! Of course, in the same cooking, I rotated every 10-15 min, for the first time.

                                                                                    1. re: afn33282
                                                                                      0
                                                                                      02putt RE: afn33282 Mar 14, 2011 08:32 AM

                                                                                      Do you wrap it in foil? How do you keep it hot if it rests for one hour? I too have let my meat rest covered with foil but find by the time you carve it and get it to the table it isn't hot anymore. I can't stand lukewarm food.

                                                                                      1. re: 02putt
                                                                                        alkapal RE: 02putt Mar 15, 2011 05:06 AM

                                                                                        rest roast chicken for an hour? i've never heard of that.

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                          buttertart RE: alkapal Mar 15, 2011 06:51 AM

                                                                                          On Ramsay's Christmas show he said poultry should be rested for as long as it cooks. ???

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                                                            c
                                                                                            cathodetube RE: buttertart Mar 15, 2011 07:01 AM

                                                                                            I always let it rest for at least a half hour; never tried an hour though. You should always let beef rest as well.

                                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                                              alkapal RE: buttertart Mar 15, 2011 07:04 AM

                                                                                              hmm, i guess that i could try it...but it seems like the chick would be barely warm. which maybe isn't bad? but i love me some crispy chicken skin hot and glimmering with fat (!) out of the oven.

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                c
                                                                                                cathodetube RE: alkapal Mar 15, 2011 07:13 AM

                                                                                                You could add some hot gravy to warm up the chicken.

                                                                                                After visiting Greece many times, I noticed that they never serve their food piping hot except maybe french fries.

                                                                                                I really do prefer to eat the chicken after a meal is over by pulling bits of it off the carcass and find that it really does taste better. So there must be something in the over an hour rest time.

                                                                                                1. re: alkapal
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                                                                                                  02putt RE: alkapal Mar 15, 2011 07:15 AM

                                                                                                  I do let my meat rest covered tightly in foil but I think an hour is a bit long. I usually leave my mine 10-15 minutes. Will try though, no harm no foul. lol

                                                                                                  1. re: 02putt
                                                                                                    thew RE: 02putt Mar 15, 2011 07:17 AM

                                                                                                    the fowl might have a different opinion

                                                                                                  2. re: alkapal
                                                                                                    buttertart RE: alkapal Mar 15, 2011 07:18 AM

                                                                                                    I rest all meats (often in the microwave since Somebody I know mentioned it, I think you know who, alkapal) - I like it not piping hot but you're right, the skin does suffer.

                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                      DishDelish RE: alkapal Jan 4, 2012 01:57 AM

                                                                                                      Did you try it yet? I also love mine piping hot.

                                                                                                      1. re: DishDelish
                                                                                                        alkapal RE: DishDelish Jan 13, 2012 08:04 PM

                                                                                                        dish delish, no…. i'm craving fried chicken these days. ;-). i'll eat chcken at any temp, but i do like it hot.

                                                                                                2. re: 02putt
                                                                                                  I used to know how to cook... RE: 02putt Mar 15, 2011 07:19 AM

                                                                                                  Hi all,

                                                                                                  I don't leave chicken for an hour, maybe 15 minutes, tented with foil. A couple or three thick potholders on top will help it stay warm.

                                                                                                  Lucy

                                                                                                  1. re: I used to know how to cook...
                                                                                                    0
                                                                                                    02putt RE: I used to know how to cook... Mar 15, 2011 07:25 AM

                                                                                                    that makes total sense now.

                                                                                            2. b
                                                                                              BastedEggs RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:07 PM

                                                                                              patience

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: BastedEggs
                                                                                                nofunlatte RE: BastedEggs Jan 5, 2010 03:13 PM

                                                                                                This is a good one. And I'm still learning it (especially wrt to eating fresh-out-of-the-oven bread).

                                                                                                1. re: nofunlatte
                                                                                                  AndrewK512 RE: nofunlatte Jan 5, 2010 03:33 PM

                                                                                                  Agreed, patience is one of the most important things, and I too am still learning it. Mainly in regards to giving pans time to get to the correct heat for proper searing.

                                                                                                  A few more are to taste /everything/, and that your final dish is only as good as the quality of ingredients that goes into it.

                                                                                              2. p
                                                                                                pcdarnell RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:08 PM

                                                                                                Don't crowd food in a pan when browning, or else it will tend to steam itself, not brown.
                                                                                                Meat will release from the pan on its own when searing/browning. It knows when it's ready. No need to rip it off.
                                                                                                Finishing a sauce with butter is really nice.
                                                                                                Parchment paper works better than foil when lining roasting pans for easier cleanup. it doesn't tear, doesn't stick.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: pcdarnell
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                                                                                                  luciaannek RE: pcdarnell Jan 7, 2012 12:05 PM

                                                                                                  those first two are the ones that helped me out about 2 years ago. I wasn't patient enough to stop moving the food around, and it would never sear properly.

                                                                                                  1. re: luciaannek
                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                    sueatmo RE: luciaannek Jan 26, 2012 09:13 AM

                                                                                                    Ditto. I have always been an impatient cook.

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                                                                                                  laliz RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:22 PM

                                                                                                  trying to think of something not already posted.

                                                                                                  throwing a clove or two of garlic into the boiling pasta water

                                                                                                  using both olive oil and butter in combination to saute

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: laliz
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                                                                                                    LadyCook61 RE: laliz Jan 14, 2010 08:51 AM

                                                                                                    I haven't tried garlic in the pasta water , good idea. I have put 2 cloves in water with potatoes..

                                                                                                    1. re: LadyCook61
                                                                                                      fmcoxe6188 RE: LadyCook61 Jan 28, 2010 08:29 AM

                                                                                                      I also do this- and I put in two rough chopped cloves into the water under my steamer basket for snow peas and green beans

                                                                                                    2. re: laliz
                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                      DishDelish RE: laliz Jan 4, 2012 01:58 AM

                                                                                                      I love this new idea ... we eat pasta all the time so I will be trying this soon. Thanks!

                                                                                                    3. goodhealthgourmet RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:32 PM

                                                                                                      a few of mine have already been mentioned, so i won't repeat.

                                                                                                      a couple more of my favorites:
                                                                                                      - make the most of the typically unappreciated parts of produce...fennel fronds, celery leaves, broccoli stems...
                                                                                                      - you often get even better flavor from citrus *zest* than you do from the juice or pulp of the fruit

                                                                                                      36 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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                                                                                                        LauraGrace RE: goodhealthgourmet Jan 5, 2010 03:58 PM

                                                                                                        Oh, agreed agreed, on both!

                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                          v
                                                                                                          Val RE: goodhealthgourmet Jan 5, 2010 04:09 PM

                                                                                                          True that anything with fresh lemon juice is almost always a bit better with the fresh zest as well, good point!

                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                            Katie Nell RE: goodhealthgourmet Jan 7, 2010 02:11 PM

                                                                                                            Love celery leaves! We actually grew a celery "herb" this season... I'm not sure exactly what it was, whether it was Chinese celery or something new, but it was the leaves grown more like parsley, without large stalks.

                                                                                                            1. re: Katie Nell
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                                                                                                              rainey RE: Katie Nell Jan 7, 2010 02:59 PM

                                                                                                              Lovage.

                                                                                                              1. re: rainey
                                                                                                                carswell RE: rainey Jan 8, 2010 07:01 AM

                                                                                                                Yep. "Celery" seed is often actually lovage seed.

                                                                                                                1. re: carswell
                                                                                                                  breadchick RE: carswell Jan 31, 2010 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                  Lovage - yes. When we moved into our latest house years ago I discovered the previous owner planted so many perennial herbs - lovage is one of them. What a wonderful discovery - and I use it in my cooking.

                                                                                                                  They left us with chives, lovage, several varieties of mint, thyme (which has naturlized in our lawn, no less) oregano, sage, and rhubarb - not technically an herb, I think.

                                                                                                                  I've had a great time cooking with all of them!

                                                                                                                  1. re: breadchick
                                                                                                                    pikawicca RE: breadchick Feb 4, 2010 04:54 AM

                                                                                                                    I sincerely hope that you are not cooking with rhubarb leaves. They are toxic.

                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                      breadchick RE: pikawicca Feb 17, 2010 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                      No worries - I'm also a gardener, so I knew about the rhubarb leaves.

                                                                                                                      (I wish I knew what I could do with comfrey - we have mounds of it. Not edible, unfortunately.)

                                                                                                                      1. re: breadchick
                                                                                                                        Passadumkeg RE: breadchick Feb 24, 2010 03:40 PM

                                                                                                                        Pull out the comfrey! We had it and it will take over your garden. It took us several years to rid our garden of it, I hope.
                                                                                                                        Comfrey is used as a medicinal tea.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg
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                                                                                                                          dkennedy RE: Passadumkeg Oct 30, 2010 12:27 PM

                                                                                                                          Comfrey is great in the bathtub. Very soothing.

                                                                                                                    2. re: breadchick
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                                                                                                                      tullius RE: breadchick May 21, 2010 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                      I've grown lovage in the midwest & it got about 10 feet tall. Here in the mountains of southern Colorado there is a wild variety, much smaller, the root of which is prized by the locals for medicinal uses. It is often sold at farmers markets under its spanish name which I don't recall.

                                                                                                                      1. re: breadchick
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                                                                                                                        lovelovelies RE: breadchick Jul 30, 2011 07:39 AM

                                                                                                                        Hi Breadchick this is a personal message because I don't know how else to contact you through this website. I am interested in starting a herb garden in my apartment any easy books or websites that would give affordable plans? much appreciated l

                                                                                                                        1. re: lovelovelies
                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                          bear RE: lovelovelies Jul 30, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                                                                                          Welcome to Chowhound, lovelovelies! There is a Gardening Board and if you post a question there I bet you'll get lots of good advice.

                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/62

                                                                                                                          1. re: lovelovelies
                                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                                            DishDelish RE: lovelovelies Jan 4, 2012 02:13 AM

                                                                                                                            Fresh Food From Small Spaces is a great book.

                                                                                                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                    coll RE: goodhealthgourmet Jan 10, 2010 03:03 AM

                                                                                                                    Just bought a Microplane zester and used for the first time, life will never be the same again.

                                                                                                                    1. re: coll
                                                                                                                      bushwickgirl RE: coll Jan 10, 2010 03:27 AM

                                                                                                                      They really are wonderful, aren't they!

                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                        r
                                                                                                                        rainey RE: bushwickgirl Jan 10, 2010 08:30 AM

                                                                                                                        I still have the first rasp-type Microplane I bought but the newer more culinary ones simply DON'T stay sharp. For me, they've become a great disappointment.

                                                                                                                        1. re: rainey
                                                                                                                          bushwickgirl RE: rainey Jan 11, 2010 06:46 AM

                                                                                                                          Good to know, as I was thinking about getting some of the other varieties.
                                                                                                                          The only one I have now is the fine rasp which is very sharp.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                            r
                                                                                                                            rainey RE: bushwickgirl Jan 11, 2010 09:40 AM

                                                                                                                            They always start out really sharp!

                                                                                                                            They started out selling wood rasps for culinary use. Back then I think they used sturdier materials. Now that they've adapted them to specialized grates with broader surfaces. I wonder if they're using a finer gauge of steel that either dulls more quickly OR the profile of the flat portion is more easily pushed by the pressure of the food to flatten the space between the blades and the surface the food slides on.

                                                                                                                            Anyway, they don't hold up like the old rasp configuration does.

                                                                                                                            1. re: rainey
                                                                                                                              bushwickgirl RE: rainey Jan 11, 2010 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                              Are you talking about the Microplane types that are shorter than the rasps and have different sized holes, medium, fine, ribbon etc.? I was thinking of getting a couple, rather than dragging out my box grater everytime. Maybe I'll just stick with the box grater.

                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                r
                                                                                                                                rainey RE: bushwickgirl Jan 11, 2010 11:37 AM

                                                                                                                                Yes. Plus that adorable little one that's combined with a tiny box for storing and grating nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. I've been through 2 of them.

                                                                                                                              2. re: rainey
                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                just_M RE: rainey Jan 11, 2010 03:27 PM

                                                                                                                                Do you think buying a wood rasp vs food rasp would be a better investment? I just seem to get very little return on citrus investment from my box grater or kitchen rasp.

                                                                                                                                1. re: just_M
                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                  southern_expat RE: just_M Jan 12, 2010 05:13 AM

                                                                                                                                  Home Depot is our friend! Wood rasps are tons more sturdy and there are a lot of different types to choose from . Cutsey kitchen gadgets are great for some, give me a workhorse.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: southern_expat
                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                    just_M RE: southern_expat Jan 12, 2010 01:00 PM

                                                                                                                                    <<Home Depot is our friend!>>

                                                                                                                                    Too true! I do have needle nose pliers and a blow torch for the kitchen from the hardware store and I use to use a paintbrush with a sponge end to glaze things it cleaned up a treat but finally broke. I wonder what other hardware to kitchen items there are? I think that would be a good tip.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: just_M
                                                                                                                                      JoanN RE: just_M Jan 12, 2010 01:18 PM

                                                                                                                                      I use a fairly stiff, wide paintbrush to clean off my pizza stone. Since most of the gunk on it has carbonized by the time the oven cools down, a the brush does a surprisingly effective job. And I have another thinner paintbrush that I use to clean my coffee grinder. Used to use paintbrushes as a basting brush and for glazing pastry, but now use silicone brushes.

                                                                                                                                      Not from the hardware store but from surgical supply (actually, I "borrowed" these from physicians in the family), I use a hemostat to pluck extraneous chicken feathers (since I buy mostly kosher chickens) and surgical scissors work better than most poultry shears I've owned for cutting up that chicken. Great for cutting lobster shells, too.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                        MandalayVA RE: JoanN Jan 13, 2010 07:53 AM

                                                                                                                                        What kind of surgical scissors do you have?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MandalayVA
                                                                                                                                          JoanN RE: MandalayVA Jan 13, 2010 09:32 AM

                                                                                                                                          The ones I use most often are bandage scissors, but I also have what I believe to be a veterinary scissor that makes speedy work of cutting the backbone out of a chicken when I want to spatchcock it.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                          just_M RE: JoanN Jan 13, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                          Those sound great. Wonder where you can get them without a medical connection. I can see me now; nurse walks in on me searching the drawers at my next Dr. visit ;-}

                                                                                                                                          1. re: just_M
                                                                                                                                            JoanN RE: just_M Jan 13, 2010 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                            Bandage scissors are available online. Even through Amazon. Just Google bandage scissors. Veterinary scissors, better at cutting through bone, although the bandage scissors do as well, you may need to buy from a surgical supply house. Lots of them online, too. We had a dentist, a surgeon, and a veterinarian in my family so we were all used to repurposing all kinds of medical equipment and supplies.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                              c oliver RE: JoanN Jan 13, 2010 07:32 PM

                                                                                                                                              We have a vet friend so I'll ask her to order for me. We have poultry shears (or whatever they're called) that belonged to my husband's late aunt. They're worthless.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                            JanePond RE: JoanN Feb 24, 2010 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                                            Hemostats are also useful for removing bones in salmon and other fish. Also slicing mushrooms using one's egg slicer is the easiest!

                                                                                                                                          3. re: just_M
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                                                                                                                                            tonka11_99 RE: just_M Mar 5, 2010 12:26 PM

                                                                                                                                            I use needle nose pliars to remove the pinbones from salmon filets but how do you remove the grease globules that the needlenose pliars deposit on the salmon? I used the same pliars i worked on the car with..... :-D

                                                                                                                                          4. re: southern_expat
                                                                                                                                            Passadumkeg RE: southern_expat Jan 12, 2010 01:41 PM

                                                                                                                                            I use a small chain saw when I dress out a deer; I put olive oil in the oiler and it cuts right through the ribs, back bone and legs, quicker than quick. Not for the screamish, though.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                                                              just_M RE: Passadumkeg Jan 13, 2010 01:07 PM

                                                                                                                                              I pass this on to the Mr. so far I can't even dress one of our chickens but I'm hoping with exposure the squeamishness will someday subside. I *really* don't want to be a vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg
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                                                                                                                                                AnotherMother RE: Passadumkeg Jan 17, 2012 06:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                Quick, yes, but what do you do about the mess of fine bone chips that gets into everything? Even a hacksaw leaves unacceptable bonemeal/fine chips behind. Much better to get patience and a sharp knife and bone it out. It takes a little practice but the finished product is much better.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: southern_expat
                                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                                helou RE: southern_expat Jan 7, 2012 07:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                Home Depot is definitely my friend. I buy rubber mallets there - perfect for pounding boneless chicken breasts, or anything else that needs a little flattening.

                                                                                                                                2. 2
                                                                                                                                  2455Bklyn RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:43 PM

                                                                                                                                  For fluffy pancakes add some butter to the mix. It's missing from the receipe on the box and on a hot grill the pancakes puff right up.

                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: 2455Bklyn
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                                                                                                                                    LadyCook61 RE: 2455Bklyn Jan 14, 2010 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                    I add seltzer water to the pancake mix for fluffiness. Also don't over mix the batter.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LadyCook61
                                                                                                                                      susancinsf RE: LadyCook61 Aug 27, 2010 12:47 PM

                                                                                                                                      seltzer water works for me also.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                                                                        janetofreno RE: susancinsf Aug 27, 2010 08:12 PM

                                                                                                                                        Yes, I was amazed at the difference from the little bit of seltzer water you put in the pancakes you made me recently.... thanks!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: janetofreno
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                                                                                                                                          stymie RE: janetofreno Jan 15, 2012 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                                          I like to sprinkle a little yeast and a little sugar, let batter rest for a bit,

                                                                                                                                      2. re: LadyCook61
                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                        helou RE: LadyCook61 Jan 17, 2012 01:53 PM

                                                                                                                                        How much seltzer? Do you substitute seltzer for most of the liquid (milk), for some liquid, or in addition to the regular amount?

                                                                                                                                      3. re: 2455Bklyn
                                                                                                                                        visciole RE: 2455Bklyn Jan 14, 2010 06:43 PM

                                                                                                                                        Separate the eggs and beat the whites; then gently fold them into the pancake batter. Heaven!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: 2455Bklyn
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                                                                                                                                          tumuppet RE: 2455Bklyn Jan 18, 2010 08:21 AM

                                                                                                                                          Let your pancake batter rest for five minutes before cooking. And don't flip the pancakes until bubbles in the middle of the pancake pop.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: tumuppet
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                                                                                                                                            jvanderh RE: tumuppet Nov 30, 2011 02:50 PM

                                                                                                                                            On the subject of pancakes, my dad told me that his grandfather taught him that when you flick water at the oiled griddle and it dances, it's the right temperature. If it just sits there, it's too cold. If it hisses and spits, it's too hot.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: jvanderh
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                                                                                                                                              sandylc RE: jvanderh Jan 3, 2012 09:22 PM

                                                                                                                                              I learned that in seventh grade home ec!

                                                                                                                                        2. Father Kitchen RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:52 PM

                                                                                                                                          Cook onions and garlic and celery in a fat or oil before adding them to soups and stews, because the flavor esthers are fat soluble, not water soluble.

                                                                                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Father Kitchen
                                                                                                                                            southernitalian RE: Father Kitchen Jan 7, 2010 09:28 AM

                                                                                                                                            I don't understand this one.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Father Kitchen
                                                                                                                                              c oliver RE: Father Kitchen Jan 7, 2010 09:56 AM

                                                                                                                                              I've always done this but never knew why. Thanks, FK.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Father Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                bushwickgirl RE: Father Kitchen Jan 8, 2010 01:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                It's called "sweating" in culinary terms. The objective in sweating vegetables is to soften them and release the moisture in them, not to brown them. Sweating assists in releasing esters and marrying the various flavors in your mirepoix (aromatic vegetables.)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                  afn33282 RE: bushwickgirl Jan 12, 2010 07:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Some flavors are water-soluble, some are fat-soluble, and some (I truly suspect) are alcohol-soluble. This is why cuisines that cook w. alcohol, IMHO, taste so different than ones that don't.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: afn33282
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                                                                                                                                                    foiegras RE: afn33282 Jan 12, 2010 08:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                    You are correct about alcohol-soluble flavors.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foiegras
                                                                                                                                                      bushwickgirl RE: foiegras Jan 13, 2010 02:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Alcohol-soluble flavor components exist, but here's a link that disputes the alcohol-soluble theory when cooking with alcohol:
                                                                                                                                                      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                                                                                                                                                      More to the point is why it's important to use a good tasting wine when cooking, that is what adds the good flavor to the dish.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl
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                                                                                                                                                        foiegras RE: bushwickgirl Jan 15, 2010 12:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Well, they can dispute it all they want, but I've tasted it ... vodka doesn't have a lot of taste on its own, but leaves a lot of unique flavor in its wake when you cook with it. I believe there's a whole section on this in Cookwise, with a vodka recipe ...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl
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                                                                                                                                                          danieljdwyer RE: bushwickgirl Jan 15, 2010 01:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I think the last paragraph of that article nicely sums up my thoughts on the idea of alcohol soluble flavor compounds:

                                                                                                                                                          "Now that I think of it, why must we extract flavor compounds from our food, anyway? If they're in there, they're in there, and we'll taste them when we chew, whether they inhabit the solids or the sauces."

                                                                                                                                                          Unless you're extracting from something you don't want to eat, like a vanilla pod, you're just moving the flavor around, not "releasing" it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: danieljdwyer
                                                                                                                                                            Striver RE: danieljdwyer Feb 1, 2010 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                            If you're making a sauce that will be strained, you won't get to the solids' flavors if they haven't been extracted into the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Striver
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                                                                                                                                                              danieljdwyer RE: Striver Feb 25, 2010 07:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Absolutely. That's the same principle as the vanilla pod. But if you're leaving the solids in, there's no logic to the claim that the alcohol is "releasing" flavor. It's either there or it isn't. Solubility is not a factor since things don't need to be dissolved in order for you to taste them. You don't need to make a broth to be able to taste the flavors in beef. The alcohol certainly alters the flavor profile, both in an additive fashion and by rearranging things, but it isn't unlocking anything.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: danieljdwyer
                                                                                                                                                                thew RE: danieljdwyer Feb 25, 2010 12:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                yes you do - you make that broth by chewing. beef flavors are water soluble....

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: thew
                                                                                                                                                                  d
                                                                                                                                                                  danieljdwyer RE: thew Feb 25, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Okay, but how is water solubility a factor? I'm not challenging the fact that it is, but no one here and none of the references to how alcohol "releases" flavors have provided even a cursory explanation of what water solubility has to do with sense of taste.
                                                                                                                                                                  I've not been able to find any literature, on the internet or in an academic database, making even brief mention of this idea. It is also quite counterintuitive, considering that not only do I know I can taste some things that are not water soluble, but nueroscientists have identified some as categories of taste reception.
                                                                                                                                                                  Pure copper and iron are not water soluble, yet each has a very distinct taste. The same is true of long chain fatty acids, and, arguably, a whole range of pure lipids.
                                                                                                                                                                  Also, if solubility is the cornerstone of taste, how does the fact that saliva is a more effective solvent than water factor in? And shouldn't that mean if my mouth is dry I can't taste anything? If that's the case, then what are all those cottonmouthed stoners doing eating bags of Cheetos?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: danieljdwyer
                                                                                                                                                                    linguafood RE: danieljdwyer Feb 25, 2010 01:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    having an awesome, cheesy time.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danieljdwyer
                                                                                                                                                                      alkapal RE: danieljdwyer Mar 5, 2010 05:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      djd, this should get you started on your research: http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/sen...

                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.silvercloudestates.com/faq...

                                                                                                                                                                      compare: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...
                                                                                                                                                                      (i disagree with his bixin experiment's methodology of color as a proxy for flavor). his statements on the creation of esters is useful.

                                                                                                                                                                      ~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                                      not on point but interesting, nonetheless, on flavor trinities and combos: http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/a...

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: danieljdwyer
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                                                                                                                                                                    jvanderh RE: danieljdwyer Nov 30, 2011 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm a little late in the game here, but, it's more than solubility. It has to be. If I eat raw onions, I stink. There's a rancid meat smell stuck to me for hours and hours. I can accurately tell whether someone else has eaten raw onions much earlier in the day, after brushing his teeth. None of this happens with well sauteed onions, even with a large quantity. I think it's a full on chemical reaction between hot oil and onion/garlic.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: danieljdwyer
                                                                                                                                                                  alkapal RE: danieljdwyer Feb 12, 2010 03:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  >>>>Unless you're extracting from something you don't want to eat, like a vanilla pod, you're just moving the flavor around, not "releasing" it.<<

                                                                                                                                                                  the "extraction" makes normally insoluble flavor compounds into soluble compounds, making them available to blend more with other soluble compounds and to get to all those cute, tiny little taste buds.

                                                                                                                                                                  it is not merely "moving flavors around."

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
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                                                                                                                                                                    aggiecat RE: alkapal May 18, 2010 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Right Alkapal and the alcohol doesn't just make those flavors soluable, it also makes them volatile and better accessible to the olfactory system, since most of taste is really about SMELL! Think inhaling as you sip wine and moving it to the back of the palate. Those alcohol soluable components are getting to make more connections with the smell receptors. That complex layer of smell will be missing if you opt to go with a non-alcohol route. Basic tastes will be there but complexisty and layers will be missing because the smell will be missing for parts. We typcially taste with both nose and mouth simultaneously so the experience really feels blended until you have a bad head cold and nothing tastes good. Those folks who permanently lose the abillity to smell often have severe weight loss problems because nothing tastes very good or interesting. Bleach, what a horribly afliction to suffer.

                                                                                                                                                                    So that's my contribution, smell matters, a lot! If you want folks to enjoy your melas, turn of whatever air freshener you think you need during the duration of a meal.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aggiecat
                                                                                                                                                                      alkapal RE: aggiecat May 19, 2010 02:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      hi aggiecat, thanks for the further explanation.

                                                                                                                                                                      the "tasting" is "(part) smeling" fact is why aromatic floral arrangements for the table are frowned upon for dinner parties.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Father Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                                          jvanderh RE: Father Kitchen Jan 14, 2010 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                          AMEN!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Father Kitchen
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                                                                                                                                                            rosemarie365 RE: Father Kitchen Dec 22, 2011 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                            I have always done this but now I know why. Thank you so much for the information.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Ruth Lafler RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Don't drain fried foods on paper towels: unless you are going to serve it in seconds, the steam trapped between the food and the paper will make it soggy. Instead, drain fried foods in a single layer on a rack *over* a paper towel, so there's no steam build-up. You can keep fried foods on a rack on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet in a warm oven long enough to fry a second batch without getting soggy.

                                                                                                                                                            Let meat rest. It really does make a difference.

                                                                                                                                                            Salt your pasta water, and more than just a sprinkle (I usually use about a tsp per quart of water, and it could probably be more)

                                                                                                                                                            24 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
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                                                                                                                                                              Rasam RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 5, 2010 04:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Lots of interesting things I didn't know, especially about not draining fried things on a paper towel - does the oil really drain off on a rack? I thought the paper towel sucked the surface oil off the fried things.

                                                                                                                                                              My cooking tip, related to patience, is WAIT till the pan and the oil get hot. Then start to cook.
                                                                                                                                                              Never start with a coolish pan and/or oil, and hope that the heat will compensate later ....

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                                                                Ruth Lafler RE: Rasam Jan 5, 2010 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                You can blot with a paper towel if you want, but really, if you fried it properly it shouldn't have gobs of oil on it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                                                                  djdownie RE: Rasam Jan 11, 2010 10:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I've noticed Marcella Hazan often starts with a cold pan, cold oil, and the onion or garlic or whatnot (or even the meat) sitting in with it heating with the oil. I heard in one interview she shrugged and said, "Eventually it all gets hot".

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler
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                                                                                                                                                                  cinnamon girl RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 5, 2010 06:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Hear hear to those three things. But sometimes you have to be in the closet with the first fry tip depending on who's around (groan). My pasta became immensely better when I started salting the water properly back in the 90s. Have never looked back regarding salt with anything, for example:

                                                                                                                                                                  Always put salt in baked goods regardless of what the recipe says. Beware of recipes calling for unsalted butter where salt isn't included as a separate ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                  I would add: take the time to really brown meat before proceeding to the next step. Brown it until it's seconds away from being burnt and your stews, braises, soups, etc. will have a flavourful base.

                                                                                                                                                                  Capture all the bits of flavour: deglaze that pan (even if it's just the onion pan), pour the juice from the rested (well-browned), meat into the sauce, scrape the bowl, use all the bits that often get thrown out.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                    shaogo RE: cinnamon girl Jan 6, 2010 06:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Judicious use of salt is very important to get that "restaurant" flavor -- that indescribable combination of flavor, salt and umami. I've had cooking at the homes of friends that's just as good as mine but the difference is they were afraid to salt their food.

                                                                                                                                                                    What really rang with me, cinnamon girl, is that my cooking got infinitely better when I wrapped my head around the technique of caramelization, browning and the like in cooking.

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                                                                                                                                                                      basildip RE: shaogo Jan 9, 2010 03:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      You are right wrt caramelization. Once I learned that, I realized what was missing from my food. I give Mario Batali the credit for stressing this cooking technique.
                                                                                                                                                                      Once I started caramelizing, my confidence grew as did the good taste of my food.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: shaogo
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                                                                                                                                                                        mandycat RE: shaogo Jan 10, 2010 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Browning to the point of caramelization is something I'm still working on. I'm always so worried about burning things that I tend to take them off the fire much too soon. Thanks to pcdarnell for the tip about food releasing from the pan when it's ready to turn. That helps a lot.

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                                                                                                                                                                          dmd_kc RE: mandycat Jan 10, 2010 07:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          mandycat, it's certainly not just you. Finding that temperature on your stove that's hot enough to caramelize but not too hot to burn is really difficult. I'm still working on it with my new range.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: shaogo
                                                                                                                                                                          groover808 RE: shaogo Jan 24, 2010 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Hallelujah on the carmelization! I made chicken adobo for the first time awhile ago and decided to carmelize the chicken legs before simmering in the sauce and everyone raved about it. It was my first time, and I'm not familiar with Filipino food at all, I think the browning made all the difference.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                          MartiniGenie RE: cinnamon girl Feb 21, 2010 12:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Yuppers to the FRONs. Always get the bits. If you are not using for the sauce (think whats left in the pan you did the bacon in), then deglaze with a small bit of liquid and store in freezer. The bacon juice is a great addition to bean or lentil soups...

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                                                                                                                                                                            stegosauri RE: cinnamon girl Jan 7, 2012 10:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Browning (the Maillard reaction) is so very important and underappreciated. That's my food resolution for the year: to find out more about the science of food.
                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks to alkapal for his interesting links above.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: stegosauri
                                                                                                                                                                              kubasd23 RE: stegosauri Jan 7, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              *her :) I actually was talking about the Maillard reaction the other day, while watching someone take a raw pork loin and just throw it in the over.... they wondered why it didn't taste quite as good as the one I'd made for them, haha

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: stegosauri
                                                                                                                                                                                alkapal RE: stegosauri Jan 13, 2012 08:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                stegosauri -- hey, nice to know! thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                              c oliver RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 7, 2010 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              I drain fried foods on paper groceries bags. My mother did and I do and it seems to work. Probably less porous than a paper towel?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver
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                                                                                                                                                                                fourunder RE: c oliver Jan 7, 2010 05:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                co,

                                                                                                                                                                                Same here.....especially for cutlets and french fries.....the paper doesn't break down and stick to food. I even stick the paper in the oven when I am keeping the cutlets warm.

                                                                                                                                                                                The next time you reheat those NYC Bagels in California, run your hand under the faucet to get your hand wet, palm over your bagel(or sprinkle), place the bagels in a bag and reheat in your oven.....after you defrost or bring close to room temperature of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                This is also how I reheat Italian Breads ....traditional loaves and any meat/cheese varieties.

                                                                                                                                                                                Take them out of the bag to finish if you want a little chewier or crusty outside.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fourunder
                                                                                                                                                                                  Passadumkeg RE: fourunder Jan 7, 2010 05:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Be careful, fire retardant has been added to help control fires at supermarkets. Paper bags may be toxic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    fourunder RE: Passadumkeg Jan 7, 2010 05:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    supermarkets have paper bags?....
                                                                                                                                                                                    : )

                                                                                                                                                                                    The bags I use are from bakeries or for small packages which I rip open... but your information is duly noted and appreciated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      rosemarie365 RE: Passadumkeg Dec 22, 2011 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I never heard this but will no longer use supermarket paper bags to degrease.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: fourunder
                                                                                                                                                                                      c oliver RE: fourunder Jan 7, 2010 05:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I definitely put it in a warming oven. It's especially helpful when you have to cook in batches or if I'm doing fish and chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I like my bagels toasted but I really like your idea as a first step. Sometimes the texture leaves a bit to be desired and I think your techniques could address that. Thanks, f. (almost wrote "fu" but resisted!)

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: c oliver
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                                                                                                                                                                                      rosemarie365 RE: c oliver Dec 22, 2011 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I use brown paper bags because I learned that when hot oil or grease comes in contact with white (bleached) paper products (paper towels, or plates) the paper releases dioxins. I don't want that on my food or in the nearby air.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                        TroyTempest RE: c oliver Jan 6, 2012 07:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        On an Alton Brown tip, lately i have been draining fried food on a cookie cooling tray screen thing (words escape me at the moment) with paper towels underneath. It seems to work a lot better keeping the grease off food.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TroyTempest
                                                                                                                                                                                          alkapal RE: TroyTempest Jan 13, 2012 08:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          that is the best way!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver
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                                                                                                                                                                                          dianne0712 RE: c oliver Apr 25, 2012 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          I use brown paper to put my cookies on when they come out of the oven as my mother did.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                          chef chicklet RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 9, 2010 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a tip I've put to use lately. It works nicely, especially with fried chicken and retaining that "crunch". No soggy undersides anymore! I made some really good chicken strips last week, and I've figured out why I didn't care for them before. These were moist and perfectly crunchy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        4. xcptnl RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 04:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          I am replying to my own post. Fresh herbs. As a novice cook I rarely used fresh herbs but once I figured that out -what difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: xcptnl
                                                                                                                                                                                            goodhealthgourmet RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 04:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            ...and add those fresh herbs closer to the *end* of the cooking process.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              dmd_kc RE: goodhealthgourmet Jan 7, 2010 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Which leads me to one of my important-but-simple tip: In a great number of dishes, add the GARLIC near the end of cooking as well, especially in dishes that you want to have that bright, clear, pungent garlic kick.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I love garlicky tomato sauce, and never understood why mine didn't sing like my favorite restaurants', especially in quick-cook recipes. Now I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dmd_kc
                                                                                                                                                                                                Passadumkeg RE: dmd_kc Jan 7, 2010 07:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Saute tomato paste as well.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rhee RE: Passadumkeg Jan 7, 2010 11:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  What do you mean by "sautee tomato paste?" How do you do that? What is the benefit?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks,

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rhee

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rhee
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Caitlin McGrath RE: Rhee Jan 7, 2010 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You saute it in some oil at the beginning of cooking, as you would with other aromatics. It darkens a bit, caramelizes a bit, and has a deeper flavor than if you simply add it with the liquids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
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                                                                                                                                                                                                      chowbunny RE: Caitlin McGrath Jan 7, 2011 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Very true. It works even better if you push your aromatics to the side of the pan and give the tomato paste it's own space. Let it sit a bit before stirring, and then stir it in it's own space for a bit. When it starts to turn an orange-y color, then you're ready to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: dmd_kc
                                                                                                                                                                                                  c oliver RE: dmd_kc Jan 7, 2010 10:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And if you saute garlic, add it well after the onions and other things so it doesn't burn.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: xcptnl
                                                                                                                                                                                                petit oiseau RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Agreed! Adding fresh herbs to dishes makes a big difference. Fresh cilantro in a simple homemade salsa really wakes it up, rosemary roasted along with pork loin is just terrific, or even just putting chopped fresh basil leaves on a pizza once it comes out of the oven brings it up a notch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: xcptnl
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                                                                                                                                                                                                  basildip RE: xcptnl Jan 9, 2010 03:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I used to hate to cook. Then because of the Foodnetwork, I tried some fresh thyme on
                                                                                                                                                                                                  pan seared tuna steak. It was so delicious. Now I have discovered many fresh herbs that
                                                                                                                                                                                                  make cooking a delight. Sure beats the Lawry's Seasoned salt and Gordon's Frozen Fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sticks I grew up on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Chinon00 RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 - When making a sauce add cold liquid to hot ingridients for the sauce to be lump free and smooth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 - Pull your pasta when it's pre-al dente and finish cooking your pasta in the sauce it's to be dressed in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 - When making chicken liver pate don't overcooked the livers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. eight_inch_pestle RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry, couldn't limit myself to just one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Trust yourself
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Think
                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Ignore the "& black pepper" half of the ubiquitous "salt & black pepper to taste"---black pepper does not belong in everything you cook
                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. Lard
                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. Buttermilk
                                                                                                                                                                                                    6. Browning meat and poultry will let you know when it's ready to turn
                                                                                                                                                                                                    7. Scrambled eggs go super slow
                                                                                                                                                                                                    8. Grow your own herbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                    9. Peel celery
                                                                                                                                                                                                    10. Keep a ham hock in the icebox
                                                                                                                                                                                                    11. 90% of the time, simple fish is the best fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                    12. Bacon belongs in a 350-degree oven for 28-30 minutes (your stove-top, walls, and microwave interior will thank you)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    13. Keep homemade curry paste in the fridge
                                                                                                                                                                                                    14. Only use sharp cookie cutters for biscuits
                                                                                                                                                                                                    15. It is nearly impossible to over-season a roast

                                                                                                                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: eight_inch_pestle
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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Auriana RE: eight_inch_pestle Jan 8, 2010 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Baking bacon is one of the best tips I've learned too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Auriana
                                                                                                                                                                                                        meatn3 RE: Auriana Jan 8, 2010 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree. I first came across this method in a restaurant I worked at - they had crispy bacon which melted in your mouth. I've cooked it this way ever since!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Auriana
                                                                                                                                                                                                          chef chicklet RE: Auriana Jan 9, 2010 08:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I started baking bacon years ago out of shear laziness, I hated the stove top mess.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I now bakie it in on the gas grill outside. I have a specail baking sheet just for the bbq, and use it with foil. Oh and another thing, don't forget to heavily season the bacon with large cracked black pepper and let it sit on the bacon for about 30 mins before cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet
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                                                                                                                                                                                                            cinnamon girl RE: chef chicklet Jan 9, 2010 07:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Brilliant! I never thought of peppering the bacon. So you're sort of marinating it then? Like a dry rub marinade? You don't brush it off I take it? Hmmm you could mix the pepper with a favourite spice then, ya?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Quill RE: cinnamon girl Aug 27, 2010 11:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sprinkle brown sugar and black pepper on the bacon before baking. Tasty adult "bacon candy."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: eight_inch_pestle
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                                                                                                                                                                                                          basildip RE: eight_inch_pestle Jan 9, 2010 03:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Could you give specific details on cooking bacon in the oven. Sounds great. I never heard of that. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: basildip
                                                                                                                                                                                                            bushwickgirl RE: basildip Jan 9, 2010 04:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Easy, preheat oven to 400*. Lay out bacon on foil lined sheet pan or on rack over sheet pan (I don't bother with the rack.) Bake 10-15 minutes, or until the bacon is a crispy as you like. The bacon will not curl as does fried bacon. Keep an eye on it, as it can go from perfect to burnt very quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is an old restaurant trick that seems to have become popular with home cooks. Bacon for food service is packed "lay-out sliced" on parchment and the bacon is transferred to a sheet pan via the paper. I don't think I ever fried bacon while I worked professionally, although I did cook it on a flat griddle.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                              fmcoxe6188 RE: bushwickgirl Jan 28, 2010 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is an awesome trick -I like to paint my bacon with just a little bit of maple syrup before baking- mmmm

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fmcoxe6188
                                                                                                                                                                                                                bushwickgirl RE: fmcoxe6188 Jan 29, 2010 03:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Absolutely, and sprinkle with a bit of cayenne or black pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fmcoxe6188
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  MissusLisa RE: fmcoxe6188 Dec 28, 2010 07:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Interesting. I am going to try this soon. :-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    southernbelly RE: MissusLisa Feb 3, 2011 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you are feeling really fancy, you can skewer the strips in ripples on bamboo skewers before you put them on the rack and they will hold the shape when you pull out the skewer! It takes forever but its really pretty!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: eight_inch_pestle
                                                                                                                                                                                                              kattyeyes RE: eight_inch_pestle Jan 9, 2010 05:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lucky number 7--yes! And don't forget the cheddar cheese, please. And Penzey's Sunny Paris is a very nice addition.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              While we're baking bacon (another great tip I picked up on this site), don't forget the candied version: dredge with brown sugar and follow bushwickgirl's instructions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tip: DO NOT transfer candied bacon to a paper towel when it comes out of the oven (it sticks!!!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having real knives in the kitchen makes all the difference in prepwork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reading CH regularly ups your game in the kitchen--and I thank you all for the education!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                rainey RE: kattyeyes Jan 9, 2010 06:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                LOVE Sunny Paris or Fox Point (Sunny Paris + salt)! I use them for a little more flavor in everything.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  pfps823 RE: kattyeyes Jan 11, 2010 07:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  lightly coating bacon with maple syrup is also worth trying when baking....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pfps823
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Passadumkeg RE: pfps823 Jan 12, 2010 01:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    lightly coating bacon w/ red chile powder is also worth trying when baking....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      kattyeyes RE: Passadumkeg Jan 12, 2010 03:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Speaking of, have you ever tried jalapeno bacon? They serve it at our (yours and mine and everyone else's) favorite diner. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: eight_inch_pestle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  CreativeFoodie42 RE: eight_inch_pestle Jan 29, 2010 06:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Whenever I have a large group over for breakfast, they think I am so strange to bake bacon but it gets extra crispy and it one less thing that I have to worry about when cooking a large breakfast. Although you do have to keep an eye on it. I do a higher temperature but for a shorter time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Querencia RE: CreativeFoodie42 Feb 28, 2011 07:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Even without company I bake the whole pan of bacon in a big bun pan---until it is almost done but not quite. Then mop off as much fat as you can. Refrigerate in plastic bag. When you want some, microwave it for 30 seconds wrapped in a paper towel. It keeps fine for a week or ten days. Is the paper towel toxic? No, don't tell me.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  therealdoctorlew RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 06:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chicken soup tips:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Leaving the brown skin on the onion makes chicken soup golden yellow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cooking a whole garlic clove in the chicken soup makes it taste better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So does a whole clove.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Put the dill sprigs fresh in the soup bowl and then add the hot soup. Both the color and the flavor will be better.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: therealdoctorlew
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    02putt RE: therealdoctorlew Apr 12, 2011 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To take it a bit further any celery, carrot, onion or any peelings from veggies and skins of onions I put in a large zip lock and freeze. Then when I want to make broth I use the bag. Taken from a chef I cannot recall at the moment.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      rosemarie365 RE: 02putt Dec 22, 2011 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I used to do this; called it 'garbage soup'. It made a great broth/stock.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        dianne0712 RE: 02putt Apr 25, 2012 05:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I learned it from my mother, child of the Depression.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. soypower RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 07:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's better to fry a sunny-side up egg on med/med-low than on high. The edges don't get as crispy, but the whites get more evenly-cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        TomDel RE: soypower Jan 28, 2010 02:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A tip I picked up from watching a Jacques Pépin show for doing sunny side up eggs is to add a teaspoon or two of water to the pan after the egg starts to cook and then put a lid on the pan. The steam from the water cooks the top of the egg without overcooking the bottom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TomDel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oakjoan RE: TomDel Feb 6, 2010 09:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a wonderful tip TomDel! I always get my eggs over easy because I don't like the sliminess that I find on eggs at restaurants. Over easying eggs is problematic because of how quickly they overcook. Thanks Tom and Jacques!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            coffeebean79 RE: TomDel Feb 10, 2010 10:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i just throw an ice cube in and then put the cover on, which steams it well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TomDel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              decolady RE: TomDel Mar 6, 2010 12:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My grandmother always cooked eggs that way, so I have, too. It was something I thought everyone did, till some years ago when I heard people raving about this new egg cooking technique from Jacques. It really is a great way to cook sunny side up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: decolady
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                alkapal RE: decolady Mar 7, 2010 02:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                dl, i'm surprised that you don't use the bacon fat hot from the skillet to baste the top of the egg to perfection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  decolady RE: alkapal Apr 17, 2010 03:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, I have been known to do that, too, but we prefer how the eggs turn out with the other method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Vetter RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 07:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chocolate needs salt. Always! And not that crappy iodized salt, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't slack off on taking ingredients out of the fridge early. It does matter. Let that meat/butter/egg warm up. It's worth it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Procrastibaker RE: Vetter Jan 7, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Or put your cold eggs in a bowl of very warm tap water for a minute or two-- a good shortcut for those of us who always forget this step!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Procrastibaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Katie Nell RE: Procrastibaker Jan 7, 2010 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Or walking around with it in your pocket for a little bit... read that one on here and have used it several times.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              weem RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 07:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Read the recipe the whole way through and make sure you have everything on hand and ready to go before you start cooking. (And yes, I've learned that lesson the hard way. More than once.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: weem
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c oliver RE: weem Jan 7, 2010 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh yeah. How many times have I juiced that lemon and then realized I needed zest also. MUCH harder then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  weem RE: c oliver Jan 7, 2010 01:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed. I make lemon squares for a monthly potluck, and it's much easier to zest the lemons before juicing them. But the juice comes before the zest in the ingredients list. You'd think I'd learn after the first time, but no.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The other day I was mixing together some batter for gingerbread and realized I didn't have any ginger!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    cinnamon girl RE: weem Jan 9, 2010 07:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Do any of you freeze lemon juice? I haven't but I always find myself with an abundance of citrus fruit or nada - which is frustrating when I just want a bit. It seems like a regular ice cube would be too much. To partially fill them would just give room for more ice crystals to form. If they still made those little ice cube trays . . . would you even be able to get the juice out of them properly? I'd welcome any suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      JoanN RE: cinnamon girl Jan 10, 2010 03:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I freeze lemon and lime juice whenever I have an overabundance of either fruit and I'm afraid it may go bad before I get a chance to use it. Citrus can be horrendously expensive here in the northeast and I hate to see it go to waste. Although I do have those trays that make small, square ice cubes, I usually just put the juice in a regular ice cube tray. I only leave them in the tray long enough to harden before putting them in a zipper bag or, preferably, sealing them in an air-tight bag. Ice crystals haven't been all that much of a problem. The citrus juice doesn't get as hard as water, so sometimes when I remove the cubes from the tray there's a bit left in each compartment. But all in all, it's better than wasting that expensive juice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cinnamon girl RE: JoanN Jan 14, 2010 07:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you Joan and Coll . . . I'll get to work on freezing my current bumper crop tomorrow. It's good to know it doesn't freeze as hard as water. You can probably just hack a piece off a larger cube then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          coll RE: cinnamon girl Jan 15, 2010 02:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Peppers definitely don't freeze as hard as water, I freeze bell peppers when I get them on sale and then break off frozen hunks and chop when I want to add to a dish. The only reason I freeze the really hot peppers in the little ice cube trays is so I don't use too much at a time!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            rosemarie365 RE: coll Dec 22, 2011 11:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I cut green peppers in half, clean out seeds and freeze. Then when I want to make stuffed peppers, I prepare the stuffing, take any number of half peppers out of the freezer, fill the peppers and bake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        coll RE: cinnamon girl Jan 10, 2010 03:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have those tiny ice cube trays, got them at a dollar store. Probably 2 or 3 for a dollar. Too small for ice really, but I freeze scotch bonnets, herbs and that type of thing in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          JoanN RE: coll Jan 10, 2010 03:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think I bought mine someplace similar. I bought them specifically to make ice cubes for my cocktail shaker. I don't have an Ice crusher (or even a decent blender, for that matter) and find the tiny cubes a pretty adequate substitute for crushed ice when making cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When you say you freeze scotch bonnets or herbs in them, do you pulverize them first? Do you add water? I usually just freeze herbs and chiles whole, then use them without thawing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            coll RE: JoanN Jan 10, 2010 04:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The hot peppers I like to roast a little first, then they sort of fall apart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually when I said herbs, I meant pesto type concoctions: regular herbs I either dry if they're from my garden at the end of the season, or if leftover from the grocery store, I freeze the whole leaves in ziploc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: cinnamon girl
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          JanRan RE: cinnamon girl Jan 24, 2010 06:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I freeze whole lemons and limes...and just defrost and squeeze when I need juice. The skin can't be used for peel, but I think it's easier than squeezing first then freezing...if you have the room in your freezer. The left over pulp can be used for lemon tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. ipsedixit RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 08:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Use good, fresh ingredients.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      bizkat RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 08:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To get a nice crust, dry meats well before grilling or pan-frying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also let them come to room temperature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        southernexpat RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 08:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One more I remembered from Graham Kerr. "Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          cheereeo RE: southernexpat Jan 6, 2010 06:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was going to write in the same one, but I heard it years ago from The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith, RIP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rainey
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            monavano RE: rainey Jan 7, 2010 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I want to know this too. What about heating the oil until it shimmers/gives a slight wift of smoke?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          FullPalate RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 08:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steal the secrets of the grandmothers of all nations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            isadorasmama RE: FullPalate Jan 6, 2010 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd like to hang that one framed in my kitchen

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              nofunlatte RE: isadorasmama Jan 6, 2010 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Might have to be GREAT-grandmothers these days--lots of today's grandmothers are of the canned/packaged generation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ETA: like my mom, who is a grandmother (though via a child other than me)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            shaebones RE: xcptnl Jan 5, 2010 10:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How to cut a fresh peach. Cut around the perimeter than twist in separate directions. Voila!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shaebones
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              goodhealthgourmet RE: shaebones Jan 6, 2010 09:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i'm sure you know this already, but just in case you didn't...use the same method for other stone fruits (e.g. apricots, plums, nectarines, avocado).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                enbell RE: goodhealthgourmet Jan 7, 2010 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Any tips for mangoes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: enbell
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  monavano RE: enbell Jan 7, 2010 10:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  get a mango slicer?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.google.com/products?client...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: enbell
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    dmd_kc RE: enbell Jan 7, 2010 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Easier and less wasteful than a slicer:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Place it on the cutting board with the fatter of the two long pointed edges down. In other words, it should be in the position it won't sit at naturally, with the seed's tapered edges vertical.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Slice down slightly to the side of the seed on one half all the way through. Repeat on the other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Score through the flesh in whatever size cubes you like in your two almost-halves. Turn the peel inside out and scoop them off with a knife or even a spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You'll then have a thin band of skin and flesh still attached. I usually peel the skin off then just eat the extra fruit off the stone as the cook's reward. It gets stuck in your teeth, but is totally worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dmd_kc
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DigitalVelvet RE: dmd_kc Jan 7, 2010 11:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sorry, dmd, but I have to disagree. The OXO mango splitter is a God-send. Mangoes are now my friends. The tool is very efficient with little waste... but I do take a couple swipes at the pit with my knife to recover what might otherwise be lost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It beats, by far, the fustration and risk of injury (plus waste) of trying to render a mango with just a knife. The things are so darn slippery, there is always a risk of a slip and possible injury. The Mango Splitter virtually eliminates the risk and the headache.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even though it is a "uni-tasker" (nod to AB), it has justified its place in my kitchen. Guy Fieri's Mango Chipotle chicken is a regular request from my daughter... and I have also used the same recipe to make some awesome grilled wings. I wouldn't deal with the mangoes nearly as often without my trusty splitter!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DigitalVelvet
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        HillJ RE: DigitalVelvet Jan 7, 2010 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I returned the OXO mango slicer after three attempts to use it. The blade was not sharp enough to slice the mango properly but sharp enough to hurt my hand. I returned it for a refund and learned the proper way to slice a mango with a small knife. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6dPnL...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          herring RE: HillJ Jan 7, 2010 12:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm with DigitalVelvet -- I *love* my oxo mango slicer. It's less wasteful (not to mention less dangerous) than my own attempts w/a knife ... and since it peforms the exact same strategy as described by dmd only in one motion, it's much quicker and easier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: herring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            HillJ RE: herring Jan 7, 2010 12:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So interesting, I found the OXO exactly the opposite. My biggest complaint was that mangoes are not a one size fits all fruit and the stone is not in the same spot all the time. The OXO seems to assume the stone is in a fixed spot. So, to each their own, I found it an awful and unnecessary gadget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            walker RE: HillJ Jan 7, 2010 04:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm with you, I had to return one, too. I just use a little serrated knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: walker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              HillJ RE: walker Jan 7, 2010 04:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              walker, good point about a serrated knife, it cuts the fiberous skin much easier than a straight edge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              oakjoan RE: HillJ Feb 6, 2010 09:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am so happy that I learned to deal with mangoes a few years ago by using the method set out by dmd kc. It's so easy to slice off those scored pieces so that the mango squares drop into a bowl. You can also eat them easily when they're scored that way...just push on the middle and all the pieces separate and offer themselves up for chomping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: dmd_kc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            enbell RE: dmd_kc Jan 7, 2010 12:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yep, that's how I do it now - but I always tell myself, "...there has to be a better way!" Maybe there's not, at least I am not alone :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              soypower RE: dmd_kc Jan 7, 2010 03:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I used to do it this way...Then I tried slicing the bottom off to give it some stability while I peeled it with a potato peeler. Works for me. YMMV.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dmd_kc
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DigitalVelvet RE: dmd_kc Jan 19, 2010 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I may know why there is a gap between those who love the OXO Mango Splitter (like me) and those who don't. I'm a 6'3" guy... 230ish lbs. After cutting a stable base on the "fat end" of the mango, I jam the splitter down on it in "one fell swoop." There is nothing gentle or delicate about it... kind of like splitting wood. One move, and put your weight into it if you have to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The two blades part to allow the pit to pass (hugging the pit to minimize waste), and adapt to any strange pit size, shape or angle. You can't "ease" the splitter down the pit... it will offer too much resistance. The convenient handles on the side of the splitter will help keep fingers and other body parts out of the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  slopfrog RE: dmd_kc Jan 15, 2011 09:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just stick a really sharp serving fork in the mango. This holds it in place with one hand while I use a sharp knife to slice off the skin, and then the fruit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: enbell
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Diane B. RE: enbell Jan 19, 2010 09:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I always wonder why no one mentions the technique I always use (maybe I thought it up and don't remember?).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anyway, it's a quick and easy way to de-flesh mangos, and I do it with kiwis too (as well as avocados, of course).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I cut the cheeks off in the traditional way (but bow my knife a little around the pit), but THEN I scoop out the flesh from each half with a soup spoon (the elongated-bowl one, not "round"). The flesh hunk comes out in one large piece with almost no flesh remaining on the skin, and is then simple to chop up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do try to use the "thinnest" soup spoon I have in the drawer since the edges of it will be thinner and "cut" easier though.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just press side of spoon near its top between the skin and flesh of the mango, then push it down a bit and scoop all the way around the edge, moving the mango when necessary to reach all sides. There's usually a small amt of flesh clinging to the very bottom of the hunk, but one good swipe deeper and that breaks off too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (I hold the cheek in my left hand face up, and usually start my cut at about 1 or 2 o'clock on the cheek as I remember, but that's prob. not important.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't like the "cube" right in the skin version because the cubes still have to be cut from the flesh which is an extra step and i's a bit fiddly to get all the cubes completely, and it's also a little fiddly to cut exactly down to the skin for each of the grid cuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The only time I might not use this mango-cutting technique is if the mango is not very ripe and still a bit hard because then the spoon might slip since it wouldn't be cutting through easily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (just signed up... am enjoying this thread!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Diane B.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: enbell
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Querencia RE: enbell Feb 28, 2011 07:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I learned mango technique from the cook at a hotel where we stayed in Haiti. Wash mango. With sharp knife, cut lengthwise around the entire fruit, against the seed (she used a machete but I use a serrated paring knife). Hold over the sink. Twist the two halves to separate them. Loosen seed with point of knife. Serve fruit on the half-shell (like an avocado) with a serrated grapefruit spoon. Minimizes the mango mess but for gnawing on the seed it's best to get naked first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      walker RE: Querencia Feb 28, 2011 08:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ha Ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I always say the only way to eat a burrito is naked in the bathtub.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: enbell
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LePetitChefCanadien RE: enbell Nov 21, 2011 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just peel it with a good vegetable peeler, then slice all the flesh off. Use a good knife. And be careful it it's a really juicy mango because it can get pretty slippery without the skin on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Harters RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 05:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One tip learned?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That Mum's way was not best way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Gio RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 05:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mise en place, in order of use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      janeh RE: Gio Jan 6, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, Gio - that's mine too. It eliminates the frantic scramble for ingredients (which you might not have on hand!). I make mole with 20+ ingredients and setting everything out in an orderly manner makes it such a relaxing, meditative pleasure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c oliver RE: Gio Jan 7, 2010 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Especially "in order of use." That makes me less crazy. I don't have a huge amount of counter space by the stove so lining up everything is a little tranquilizer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. MVNYC RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Something recipes never tell you, the difference different levels of caremlization have on the finished product. I have found the slightest variation in onion, garlic or other vegetable browning really changes the end dish and different dishes require different levels. Related to this is the timing of when to add salt so as to release vegetable juices and halt the browning process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          isadorasmama RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 07:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree -- It's amazing how a little (ok, sometimes a lot) kosher salt can make all the difference between a mediocre dish and a fantastic one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Le Creuset makes everything taste better
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The best scrambled eggs are made with bacon grease and a VERY hot pan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Comfort food never goes out of style
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Animal fat is healthy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: isadorasmama
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Harters RE: isadorasmama Jan 6, 2010 07:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "The best scrambled eggs are made.......a VERY hot pan"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think I've ever seen that before. Conventional wisdom always says low heat and cook long and slow. I have been known to cook them in a bain marie but it does take a comparitively long time, which I don't usually have if they're for breakfast. But you do get incredibly soft creamy eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              isadorasmama RE: Harters Jan 6, 2010 09:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When my pan isn't hot enough my scrambled eggs steam and separate into unattractive bits. When I let it heat up properly they come out fluffy and ethereal. Almost like omelets but I chop chop with my wooden spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: isadorasmama
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LauraGrace RE: isadorasmama Jan 6, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A matter of taste, I guess! I used to like my eggs fluffy like that, but now I prefer creamy and unctuous! So it's low heat for me from now on, even though it takes MUCH longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: isadorasmama
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DigitalVelvet RE: isadorasmama Jan 6, 2010 10:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry to point this out, but there is a significant different between scrambled eggs and chopped eggs... it is a texture thing. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DigitalVelvet
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    isadorasmama RE: DigitalVelvet Jan 6, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Valid point.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I still think if I were to be on top of it and fold the whispy egg pieces down and in from the sides they'd be more scrambled than chopped -- and far superior in my hot pan vs and lukewarm one. That said, I'm generally not on top of my eggs because I'm trying to corral my kids to the table and/or sizzle up some breakfast meat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I should also add that I go against tradition and prefer my eggs slightly on the well done side as opposed to merely warmed through when scrambled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DigitalVelvet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      c oliver RE: DigitalVelvet Jan 7, 2010 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I learned "low and slow" on scrambled eggs from CH a year or more ago. Also only gently stirred not beaten hard prior to cooking. It's made a HUGE difference in scrambled eggs vs. a "broken omelette" as someone (Karl S?) described.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        chef chicklet RE: c oliver Jan 9, 2010 08:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You are correcto, and one does not need cream or milk or water. My dh always says the same thing when I make scrambled eggs for the family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "do you add milk to your eggs when you make them?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "uh. uh."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          egbluesuede RE: chef chicklet Jan 14, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I start with a pat of butter in the pan first, and let the fat bind to the protein molecules. That helps get that smooth creamy scrambled egg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          cinnamon girl RE: c oliver Jan 9, 2010 07:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes - and you shouldn't beat the heck out of them or add dairy to the omelettes either. The milk or cream can separate and make them exude that nasty watery stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have jacked it up to medium heat tho', in recent years with good results. It still requires constant stirring to get a soft creamy curd and a splash of cream and chives AT THE END to keep them cooking too much longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Scrapironchef RE: cinnamon girl Jan 10, 2010 02:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Overcooking causes the water to separate from the eggs as the proteins contract. If they're fully cooked in the pan they'll be overdone by the time they get to the table. Overdone scrambled eggs are easily recognized by the pool of water they're sitting in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c oliver RE: Scrapironchef Jan 10, 2010 03:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I actually move the pan off the heat right at the end so I have more control.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Caitlin McGrath RE: c oliver Jan 10, 2010 03:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I do that, too - off heat at the end, before they're fully done, but keep stirring so they finish cooking from the residual heat in the pan but don't overcook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Scrapironchef
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cinnamon girl RE: Scrapironchef Jan 14, 2010 07:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That explains it - I used to try cooking omelets on a high heat. Never scrambled eggs tho. I tend to put the pot off and on the flame when scrambling to keep it getting too hot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. petit oiseau RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 08:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I learned to use the broiler to finish omelets so they would come out fluffy (like I like them).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I start on the stovetop as usual. I pour the whipped egg in the heated pan, add the ingredients, and let the egg set up just a bit. Then, I lift the edge of the cooked egg layer slightly with a spatula, pick up the pan, and rock it down gently toward the lifted edge so the remaining egg mixture runs toward it. Next--still holding the egg layer up--I rock it back so the egg mixture runs underneath it. I do this once or twice more, lifting at different spots, resulting in very little "runny" egg left on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last, I put the pan under the hot broiler for a few minutes. (This step also melts the cheese nicely.) When it comes out, it's fluffy, and I fold it over and serve. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: petit oiseau
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      gastronomy RE: petit oiseau Jan 6, 2010 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some of my favorites already mentioned (especially meat resting, paitence and small dish of salt). All make huge differences :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I did not have time to read through all the posts (I will come back to it after work when I can take the time) so I apologise if this was already mentioned:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Never salt your mushrooms while they are beginning to saute- Wait until they get cripsy and then add salt- They are so much better that way!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Keep a small bowl for garbage/scraps on the counter while you cook- saves lots of time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gastronomy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ChristinaMason RE: gastronomy Jan 7, 2010 02:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Related to this, put mushrooms in a hot pan with little or no oil. Stir and let them release their water BEFORE adding butter, oil, or salt. That way they get nice and brown, and you don't use cups of fat cooking them. Raw mushrooms are like oil sponges! (I wonder if this works for eggplant, another notorious oil hog?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mariacarmen RE: ChristinaMason Jan 7, 2010 10:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i never thought of this - what a great idea! i always add oil to the pan first and tho i do achieve the nice browning and crispness, i always end up adding and re-adding oil/butter to my shrooms because they've sucked it all up. thanks for this!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            monavano RE: mariacarmen Jan 7, 2010 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I learned that this year too! I add my mushrooms to a dry pan and let them cook for a while before adding anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ChristinaMason
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Joebob RE: ChristinaMason Jan 7, 2010 04:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have given up trying to satisfy eggplants thirst for oil. Now I just cut them up, don't bother with the whole salt-and-let-stand thing, dry-fry the slices or chunks in a non-stick pan, and they are done when brown. Saves a lot on calories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Joebob
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sam Fujisaka RE: Joebob Jan 7, 2010 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tip: start your eggplant pieces sauteeing in a bit of oil; once the oil has been sucked up, add a bit of water (and then a bit more) you get sauteed eggplant in a bit using a lot less oil!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Joebob
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                dmd_kc RE: Joebob Jan 8, 2010 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's why many recipes tell you to salt it first. Has nothing to do with bitterness, which salt doesn't even help with. You salt, let sit, then wipe the salt off, and the result is that the outer cell walls burst, and are no longer able to absorb oil -- or so I've read.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  bushwickgirl RE: dmd_kc Jan 8, 2010 12:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The process of salting an eggplant before cooking is called "degorging" or "purging;" the salt removes some moisture but more importantly it collapses the air pockets in the eggplant's spongy flesh, preventing the absorption of oil while frying. The bitterness has to do with the type (Globe as opposed to Asian types) and age of the eggplant, and bitterness is more pronounced around the seeds of an older eggplant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pre-salting makes a hell of a lot of difference for oil absorption when frying. It's really worth taking that extra step.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't even rinse off the purging salt anymore, I find it ultimately seasons the eggplant nicely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    junescook RE: bushwickgirl Jan 8, 2010 01:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good info, bwg. I don't rinse but I do blot the moisture that the salt draws out with a paper towel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      meatn3 RE: bushwickgirl Jan 8, 2010 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you! I don't find eggplant as bitter as it was years ago, so I sometimes skip that step. I didn't realize the benefit regarding oil absorption. I often brown my eggplant in the oven to reduce the absorption - depending on what the end result is going to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cinnamon girl RE: bushwickgirl Jan 9, 2010 07:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks BG. That's good to know. I find that there isn't a lot of bitterness anymore, as most varieties have had it bred out of them. Hence, my salting is hit or miss. No, I never rinse when I salt either; just wipe off and adjust the salt accordingly in the rest of the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Joebob
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      betsydiver RE: Joebob Jul 2, 2010 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      or roast them with a light covering of oil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      jvanderh RE: ChristinaMason Jan 14, 2010 09:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting. Does it need to be nonstick?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        tonka11_99 RE: ChristinaMason Mar 5, 2010 05:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I put mushrooms in a bowl with plastic wrap on top and microwave them on high for 4-5 minutes. Most of the water will be in the bottom of the bowl and it will take less sauteing time to cook them. Learned this from cook's Illustrated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. re: petit oiseau
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PrimadonnaEatz RE: petit oiseau Jan 8, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Petit,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      what temp do you cook the eggs on when they are on top of the stove? Once you put them in the broiler, that doesn't cause them to brown at the bottom? I am horrible w/ egg cookery and need to get better! My eggs always have that brown gross film at the bottom :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PrimadonnaEatz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        bushwickgirl RE: PrimadonnaEatz Jan 8, 2010 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lower the flame, eggs are delicate and should be cooked (fried) at no more than med low.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Except for omelets or scrambled, which I cook very quickly at fairly high heat. Putting the omelet under the broiler "finishes" the omelet, melts the cheese or heats up the fillings. The heat of the broiler causes the eggs to rise, fluffing up the eggs like a souffle. You do it quickly, you don't want to brown the top. You can actually see the eggs rising.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          petit oiseau RE: bushwickgirl Jan 28, 2010 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yep, that's right on, bushwickgirl. I cook the omelet on top of stove at fairly high heat, and then after lifting the edges and letting the runny egg roll under, I put it in the broiler. Also, a tip that helps me is to turn on the broiler about 10 min. before I start making the omelet, so that the broiler cavity reaches its optimal temp. A few times I turned on the broiler too late, and my omelet cooked in there but didn't fluff up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: petit oiseau
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        karykat RE: petit oiseau Jan 11, 2010 05:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That was the secret trick of a place here that was famed for its omelets. Not in business anymore, but the omelets were incredible. And they were fluffy and light. They didn't put them under the broiler but did put in a small cast iron gratin pan and then into a very hot oven for a few minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        bex109 RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Almost any veggie can benefit from being roasted. Most veggies that are in season at the same time complement each other, and can be roasted together in a little olive oil and tossed with pasta for a quick, easy meal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kandqueen RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pasta into the sauce not sauce on to the pasta

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gastronomy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ChristinaMason RE: gastronomy Jan 7, 2010 02:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            adding a little butter to red sauce (e.g., marinara) makes it delectable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            don't toss pasta with oil or butter before adding the sauce; the sauce will have trouble coating the strands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c oliver RE: ChristinaMason Jan 7, 2010 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And that's why the pasta water shouldn't have oil in it also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                coll RE: ChristinaMason Jan 10, 2010 03:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also a dash of vodka towards the end really improves your sauce for some scientific reason. You don't taste it, but it makes the tomatoes taste better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  foiegras RE: coll Jan 10, 2010 07:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's because some flavors are only alcohol-soluble.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DigitalVelvet RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 10:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After marinating meat, dry it before placing on the hot grill. It will brown/char/sear much more effectively. I always thought the excess marinade clinging to the meat would dry and make a nice crust, but it just prevents proper grilling char.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DigitalVelvet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Parigi RE: DigitalVelvet Jan 7, 2010 03:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This reminds me:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Always pad the meat very dry before browning, to get the, well, nice brown.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - When cooking fish with skin, at the end poor hot oil on skin; makes it crispy out and soft in.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - For a second, layer a paper towel on top of chick broth, to remove the top layer of fat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - (A French dame du monde taught me this:) The most important thing about food is not food but the company. All the dishes and wines are not an end to itself but should go into making the soirée a great one. Therefore light your scented candle, smooth and arrange your curtains and cushions, check your table setting. They all count. And the comfort of your guests is more important than any etiquette blabla.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Parigi
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  just_M RE: Parigi Jan 8, 2010 01:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <- For a second, layer a paper towel on top of chick broth, to remove the top layer of fat.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Brilliant! I've never thought of that, although if I have cheese cloth I'll probably use that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <Therefore light your scented candle,>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here I disagree, at least anywhere near the dining area. It seems to me the scents of the candles throw off the palate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    iheartcooking RE: Parigi Jan 13, 2012 09:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I always skim off the fat and freeze it- great for sauteeing if you run out of EVOO

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  amazinc RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 11:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cooked for forty years, but never got this tip until this year.....make the mashed potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  first thing then keep warm is the buttered insert of your slow cooker...might also add that I didn't have a slow cooker until this year! One poster's tip to keep a small bowl on the counter for scraps/garbage is right on...THEN...add those vegetable scraps to your compost pile or feed them to the hungry deer outhside my fence! Great topic, xcptnl!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. bushwickgirl RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wash the dishes and clean up as you go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mmck RE: bushwickgirl Jan 6, 2010 12:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I always try to have the kitchen as clean at the end of preparing a meal as when I started. Makesw fro a much more pleasant meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mmck
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        steve h. RE: mmck Jan 6, 2010 12:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I subscribe to this practice. It lends a certain order and dignity to the whole process. bushwickgirl is spot on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. steve h. RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 11:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Taste it before serving is about as important as it gets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: steve h.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        bushwickgirl RE: steve h. Jan 6, 2010 11:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        +1, you'd be amazed at how often this part is overlooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ChristinaMason RE: bushwickgirl Jan 7, 2010 02:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          lol, also taste it before salting. i'm a notorious offender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            bushwickgirl RE: ChristinaMason Jan 7, 2010 02:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Speaking of salt, how was your soup?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Even some of the most experienced chefs I worked with had a tendency to not taste before seasoning or serving, relying rather on a falsly perceived ability to eyeball a dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: steve h.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          just_M RE: steve h. Jan 8, 2010 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I get someone else to taste before serving as I'm one of those who gets overwhelmed by the scent. It's been positive as the dish turns out better and the Mr. and kids are learning to think about and articulate taste and texture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. C. Hamster RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 12:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SALT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          and season early

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rhee RE: C. Hamster Jan 6, 2010 03:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Have fun in the kitchen. Be fearless. Share your cooking with others. Try new dishes when you do. Most will compliment your cooking no matter how it turns out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Think about pretty colors, textures and presentation when you cook. Leave yourself some time to make your food look appealing. Consider plating meals in the kitchen instead of serving family style. Enjoy some drama in plating food and setting the table. I serve sauces, etc. in egg cups, votive holders and other devices to add some elevation to the plate. I bring leaves, branches, berries from outside to use as decorations. When you are in a restaurant, wedding, etc. notice what they do to make food look special.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would rather serve food hot and fresh than wash dishes and clean the kitchen while the food cools and gets soggy and guests wait around. Dishes are later when I'm relaxed and guests are gone and I'm no longer hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rhee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              bushwickgirl RE: Rhee Jan 7, 2010 01:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I clean as I cook, as things are sauteing, I'm washing and wiping up. I keep moving. I prefer to work in an organized kitchen, it's a integral part of mis-en-place, IMO. So when the dinner is ready, I have space and a clean enviornment from which to plate and serve. No one waits for dinner, when it's ready so am I, and no terrifically large mess for after.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ChristinaMason RE: bushwickgirl Jan 7, 2010 02:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree. I have to clean as I go, otherwise, I stress myself out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although I will add that often I no sooner clean the entire kitchen than decide I want to start a new cooking project. In that case, it probably would have made more sense to wait on scrubbing the stove and counters. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  just_M RE: bushwickgirl Jan 8, 2010 02:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I too clean as I go, however I'm usually left with several dirty pans etc after plating. My not so secret wish is a hidden commercial sink and dishwasher tucked out of sight so I can deal with the rest later and not look at it or know its sitting and waiting for me as I play hostess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Masonville RE: C. Hamster Jan 11, 2010 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I haven't read the entire thread, but I don't think anyone actually replied to you. If I understand what you're saying, I totally agree. It's dismaying to see television cooking programs in which some or other chef/expert tells you to salt meat seconds/minutes before cooking. If what follows is high heat pan cooking, you're simply going to end up with an ugly salt crust, with virtually no penetration of the salt taste in the meat. What actually works is to salt the meat at least an hour in advance of cooking. This gives the meat time to absorb the salt. This makes a huge difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Masonville
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  weewah RE: Masonville Feb 3, 2010 09:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Keep in mind, that coating meat in salt will very effectively draw the moisture from out of the meat. That is a standard step before smoking meat, and the result can be undesirable in a fresh preparation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I LOVE the effect on FAT though, and heavily salt the fat rind of steaks, chops etc. Makes for crispy brown goodness : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: weewah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    pikawicca RE: weewah Feb 4, 2010 04:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But if you let the meat stand long enough (in the fridge), the moisture will be re-absorbed, along with the slat, resulting in very tasty, moist meat. this is known as "dry brining."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: weewah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      KTinNYC RE: weewah Feb 4, 2010 09:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Salting meat in advance is advocated by Judy Rogers, Michael Ruhlman, and Bill Niman. I've done it with great results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. whs RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 04:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A little soy sauce, nam pla or a bit of anchovy adds a lot of depth to a braised meat dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. w
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Whats_For_Dinner RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 06:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hot stock only into a risotto!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The first... embarrassingly many times I made risotto, I skimped on this because I didn't have another convenient-sized saucepan to heat the stock -- so I took the lazy way out and heated it up in the microwave. Naturally, it was cool again by the time I got to about the second or third addition, and I wondered why my risottos were always a little mushy no matter which brand of rice I tried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hot stock = no more mush. I couldn't believe I hadn't made the miniscule extra effort all those times before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What else? Gotta echo the previously mentioned:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PATIENCE.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and its corollary, Don't screw around with things before they're done. No need to poke at that chicken breast every thirty seconds that it's browning. Leave it alone until it's browned. I'm so very guilty of that kind of impatience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Don't undersalt!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Taste before serving, but the key is to *stop* tasting when you know that it's good. ;)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Patience. Patience. Patience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    OH! Can't forget:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nothing is as annoying, or as much of a slowdown, as a too-small cutting board.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A tablespoon of butter to finish something often makes a world of difference and is almost always worth the calories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Whats_For_Dinner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ChristinaMason RE: Whats_For_Dinner Jan 7, 2010 02:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes! A huge cutting board and several smaller ones are things I never want to be without.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh! And....glass cutting boards deserve a special place in hell and no place (EVER) in my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Passadumkeg RE: ChristinaMason Jan 7, 2010 02:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Plastic cutting boards belong in Teflon hell as well, give me pure rock maple cellulose to keep me regular, not plastic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          MazDee RE: Passadumkeg Jan 7, 2010 09:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, I don't agree! Flexible plastic (or whatever it is) cutting boards are a new thing to me. Wonderful! Chop, bend, and dump into the pan or pot. I have a bunch of them now. My big awkward cutting boards get used for pounding things, but for the veggies that I cook, the flexible ones are great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            just_M RE: Passadumkeg Jan 8, 2010 02:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had my doi moment a couple of years ago when I noticed there were holes in the plastic and thought "Fab! I've been feeding my family plastic, gack!" I do still use one plastic mat for transporting flour and the like to the mixer but no more chopping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          decolady RE: ChristinaMason Mar 6, 2010 12:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have two glass cutting boards that I use when canning. While the jars are in the canner, I spread a dish towel on each of the glass boards. Then when I remove the jars from the canner they go there to cool and seal. I like that the feet on the boards raise them just a bit of the counter. Guess they should be called sealing or canning boards as that it their place in my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quill RE: ChristinaMason Aug 27, 2010 12:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I hate fa glass cutting board! Who thought up that oxymoron?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Quill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              eclecticsynergy RE: Quill Oct 16, 2010 01:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              re:glass cutting boards- see fine print in this photo...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. visciole RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 06:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Warm cold plates or bowls before putting the food on or in them. Warm oven or hot water will do the trick quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: visciole
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Scrapironchef RE: visciole Jan 10, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is so overlooked, it's about the only thing I use my microwave for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Passadumkeg RE: Scrapironchef Jan 10, 2010 03:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Why??? Micro is great for steaming and parboiling veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Scrapironchef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                bushwickgirl RE: Scrapironchef Jan 11, 2010 06:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                How do you warm an empty plate in the microwave?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  linguafood RE: bushwickgirl Jan 11, 2010 07:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just as you would a plate with something on it. Put it in, hit nuke -- et voilá.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    JoanN RE: linguafood Jan 11, 2010 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Don't know if it's true or not, but I've read you should never put a dry plate (or plates) in the microwave as they may crack. Whenever I warm plates in the microwave I put a cup of water in there with them to prevent this from happening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      linguafood RE: JoanN Jan 11, 2010 08:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hmm. I do it all the time, and nothing's ever cracked. Maybe I've been lucky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        JoanN RE: linguafood Jan 11, 2010 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Probably depends on the composition of the plate. I've just never wanted to chance it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          linguafood RE: JoanN Jan 11, 2010 08:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most plates I used on a daily basis are cheapo IKEA porcelain plates. They chip pretty easily, but haven't cracked in the MW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            bushwickgirl RE: linguafood Jan 11, 2010 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a new one for me. Live and learn. I always thought it was necessary for the presence of water molecules in a product to vibrate and generate heat in the MV, although I know containers that are used to heat things in the MV get quite hot but I thought that was transference or residual heat. So I just now put a plate in, cheap but heavy china, and it was warm after 30 seconds.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Warm enough for serving and keeping food warm on, no cracking. New trick, yay!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Scrapironchef RE: bushwickgirl Jan 11, 2010 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have one of the over the stove microwaves, handy for serving on hot plates, pretty much a pain in the a$$ for anything else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've got quite an assortment of dishes and I've never had a problem with cracking. The only thing to watch out for is foil or metal decorations like gold banding, these will spark and spit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Scrapironchef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                bushwickgirl RE: Scrapironchef Jan 11, 2010 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "The only thing to watch out for is foil or metal decorations like gold banding, these will spark and spit."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now this I know from experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Scrapironchef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  maplesugar RE: Scrapironchef Jan 11, 2010 10:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have china that has a platinum ring around it(a choice that 10 years later I'm starting to regret)... I've never been able to use the mic to heat plates so my usual MO is to heat them after I've pulled the main out to rest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had the same ots microwave in our last house and I hated it. Invariably there was one of us at the stove and the other needed the mic for something so you were ducking and dodging... now the mic is to the left of the stove and while there are some kinks to work out in the new kitchen, the mic is not one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c oliver RE: linguafood Jan 11, 2010 03:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I do it all the time also. With all sorts of plates. The lowest my oven will go is 170 and I think that's too warm to handle. So MW and never a problem. But I only go about 30-40 seconds. Just to take the chill off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          tonka11_99 RE: linguafood Mar 5, 2010 05:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I drizzle just a little water on the plate and then put in in the microwave for 30 seconds or so but you don't want to do it with platinum or gold rims...otherwise you get to see sparks dancing across the platinum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          decolady RE: bushwickgirl Mar 6, 2010 12:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          from howeverythingworks.org:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.howeverythingworks.org/pag...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. re: Scrapironchef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          foodaliscious RE: Scrapironchef Feb 5, 2010 12:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was just about to say this! Warm your plates, especially in the winter. Cold plates can ruin a nice hot meal .... and so many people don't think of this very important step.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Several people have mentioned this already, FRESH GRATED NUTMEG, grated with a microplane. I use it sparingly on lots of things and it's yummy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I love the tips on sweating mushrooms and eggplant!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. soypower RE: xcptnl Jan 6, 2010 09:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A gem I remembered from Biba's Italian Kitchen...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "You can always add, but you can never take away.." Usually in reference to adding water to pasta dough. So the point is to add water, seasoning, fat, etc. in very small amounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soypower
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          scunge RE: soypower Jan 7, 2010 03:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          From boil to simmer,from stove top to oven and using the slow braise .....as well as removing too much liquid from roasting meats( that may have not been defrosted long enough) oh yea patience,prep, and planning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Passadumkeg RE: xcptnl Jan 7, 2010 01:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Whole chile pods make better chile than chile powder.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A taco is a shell for various meats, not a salad; top w/ onion & celantro.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The pressure cooker is my friend.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hand dicing is better than food processor.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save vegetable water for stock.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The dog cleans the kitchen floor better than I do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Seafood eaten within hours of being caught. tastes sweet.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Garden veggies put the grocery store ones to shame.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cook for someone you love and you become a better cook.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Carpe chow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            just_M RE: Passadumkeg Jan 8, 2010 02:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wish the pressure cooker was my friend but he scares me. I know, I know he has a much more stable attitude these days but still...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My dog must be defective, although he's a pound puppy he's still suspicious of anything not served in his bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You are so right cooking for love is the best motivator.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Sam Fujisaka RE: xcptnl Jan 7, 2010 04:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cookware makes no difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Parigi RE: Sam Fujisaka Jan 7, 2010 05:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fujisaka-san,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If I respect you more than I already do, I'd be doing cartwheels.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But how o how can you say that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Parigi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sam Fujisaka RE: Parigi Jan 7, 2010 07:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you, Parigi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Actually I was being only half serious. I have pretty nice and functional cookware (albeit too many expensive knives that I don't use and that I got years ago when I really got cooking - literally and figuratively).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On the other hand, I've seen, gotten to know, and learned from so many home cooks in developing countries - women in remote rural areas around the globe - who cook up a delicious storm day after day for their families and, in some/many cases for customers of their often no-name (sometimes dirt floor) restaurants. Usually no cutting boards (cut stuff up holding in hands instead), comical knives that have been sharpened into funny shapes, crooked and blackened beater pots and pans, and wood fired stoves. Delicious delicious food!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                of course, counter to my statement above is that many such women may have a single key piece of cookware - a heavy and perfect stone mortar and pestel or a metate and mano - to ensure their success.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Passadumkeg RE: Sam Fujisaka Jan 7, 2010 07:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sam, I whole heartedly agree. When I first moved to Norway, I cooked a lot of excellent meals w/ our backpacking cook kit. Every summer, as a registered kayak guide, I cook, what I feel, are excellent meals for up to eight tourists for 3-5 days on the Maine Island Trail, using a 2 burner Coleman stove and camping cookware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Parigi RE: Passadumkeg Jan 7, 2010 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with these precisions and I agree that much of today's fancy cookery is mostly marketing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The best roast chicken I made in my life was done not in a gleaming sexy Starck-designed yuppie rotisserie but in a crappy oven in a spartan rental in Roquebrune. As you all know a good roast chicken sounds simple but is transcendental. I take none of the credit. I think I chanced upon an especially fresh chicken and garlic so fresh it felt moist even outside its coat, and that day the timing fairy decided to jerk my chain. The crappy flimsy oven did not hurt at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    coll RE: Parigi Jan 10, 2010 03:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't have a yuppie rotisserie, just a Popeil, but husband really loves it. However, I had a chicken the other day that was so big it wouldn't fit, so I made this recipe, he had three helpings and I don't think I'll ever use the machine again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Parigi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3sisterspassedby RE: Parigi Jun 10, 2010 10:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree that great meals can be cooked with almost anything. The secret of experienced cooks is in knowing to make due with what is available. If one is adept with a cast iron skillet, that one can cook great meals with it. Others will swear by some other kind of skillet because those others only know how to use those other skillets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    danieljdwyer RE: Sam Fujisaka Jan 7, 2010 10:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Right on. I mean, good cookware helps a lot. But you don't need it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I finally broke down last week and bought some non-stick frying pans. I made some omelettes yesterday, and it sure was a lot easier than it has been in the past. But it wasn't a better omelette, and part of me feels like this is cheating and will erode my cooking skills.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A smaller variety of cookware is a challenge, as is less advanced cookware, or lower quality cookware. But so is having to use every part of of an animal, or the economy cuts, or using vegetables in season, or preserving the harvest, or any other limitations that lead to having to use what's on hand. This is what all of the world's great cuisines were born from.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And, on your cutting board comment below, I've been around old ladies who can sit there with a sack of potatoes or onions or whatever other vegetables, a small, sort of dull knife, and cut everything into a paper bag between their knees. They do a much better, and faster, job than I do with my well sharpened German chef's knife and nice cutting board - even faster and better than I was when I was a prep chef spending 40+ hours a week chopping things up.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sure it's more challending to not have the best stuff, but challenges build skill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danieljdwyer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      weewah RE: danieljdwyer Feb 3, 2010 10:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      danieljdwyer,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The women in my family were like those you describe; you never sat down in the daytime unless you're hulling walnuts or snapping beans!Rather a bygone era in these parts, unfortunately.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      However, no-one needs to buy (what is essentially a diposable) nonstick pan when you have access to cast iron. Seriously. Those teflon pans always eventually flake their way out of usefulness, and God knows what you're ingesting. I use a cast iron skillet that is at least 60 years old. (It was my Grandma Maude's and she died at 96, several years ago) I have 5 more of varying sizes and shapes and find several benefits to their use: Believe it or not, the iron actually contributes to your diet. Cast iron heats more evenly and retains heat better. Cast iron - when cared for properly - is non-stick!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Caring for cast iron is simple. It cleans with hot water & a soft rag. Don't use soap, the flavor will linger in the finish of the pan. Set the pan on a still warm (not heating!)burner to ensure that all moisture is evaporated and smear w/ a paper towel that has some shortening on it. If you use it to simply fry and egg in butter, you needn't immerse the pan at all. Just wipe it 'dry' with a paper towel.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Any pan you buy will have directions on how to season it, and I do it twice for good measure : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: weewah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        dmd_kc RE: weewah Feb 4, 2010 02:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For its weight and lack of maneuverability, there are many dishes where cast iron is problematic. I couldn't live without mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: weewah
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          danieljdwyer RE: weewah Feb 25, 2010 07:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I use a cast iron skillet for just about everything. Not eggs though. No matter how well seasoned cast iron is, it's not ever going to be non-stick. It takes a lot of added fat to get eggs to not stick, and for omelettes you even need to get the sides greased. I can cook an egg in my new non-stick without adding any fat at all. I've been making omelettes for years in my cast iron skillet. It takes about three times as much butter as I want to use, and still isn't as easy as my new cast iron. And I wouldn't call these new pans disposable. My mother has had the same ones for ten years now and they're still in perfect shape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: danieljdwyer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            decolady RE: danieljdwyer Mar 6, 2010 12:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I respectfully disagree. My cast iron was my great-grandmother's and is 100+ years old. I do not have to add very much butter at all (really just barely coat the bottom of the skillet) and my eggs do not stick. And I've never had to grease the sides of the skillet when making omelettes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. ChristinaMason RE: xcptnl Jan 7, 2010 06:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, another one: baking things on a rack allows them to get crisper (pork chops, whole chicken, etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        rainey RE: xcptnl Jan 7, 2010 07:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The ones that were most difficult for me (I'm stubborn!) but made the most difference were:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • braising is the most wonderful thing you can do to meat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • only thoroughly dry meat browns properly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • everything tastes better if it can be caramelized first or roasted
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • don't crowd the pan for meat or mushrooms
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • don't leave anything in the pan that you can manage to get in the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That last one was *really* hard. My mother grew up during the Depression and her attitude about it was so negative and desperate. Understandable but also very difficult to live with and invite into your own life. When I learned that it was *flavor* I was trying to retrieve, deglazing every browned bit became a different and important thing that improved my cooking greatly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In baking it was:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • buy the damned scale and bake by weight
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • never start bread without a pre-ferment or old dough
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • it's better to push the rise than to ever shortchange it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • brown sugar has more flavor than granulated; buttermilk has more flavor than milk (but be sure to add soda to neutralize where leavening is a question) and browned butter has more flavor than butter from the fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For chocolate it was:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • *real* chocolate is the ONLY chocolate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • home cooks can learn to temper

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rainey
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          coll RE: rainey Jan 10, 2010 03:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Got a digital scale a few years back and it's one of the most used things in my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            rainey RE: coll Jan 10, 2010 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A digital scale and one of those universal liquid measurement beakers and you can bake anything from anywhere without making a single conversion -- except temp. I hope you know what I'm referring to. They have columns of indicators for metric and a variety of US volume units from cups to teaspoons. They're cheap and TERRIFIC!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also as useful for scaling conventional American recipes as they are for preparing European recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. bayoucook RE: xcptnl Jan 7, 2010 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After draining the pasta and returning it to the pan, add a little of the sauce to keep it from sticking together.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i