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New Ideas and Tips from Chefs

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I'd like this thread to be a repository for new ideas that you've learned from chefs or cookbooks, or experience.

Today with Sara Moulton, Jasper White talked about a Portuguese dish with clams, in which a bay leaf is "browned" in the oil to release its flavors. He said the Portuguese always do this. News to me, but it makes sense. He made a clam and chorizo "cataplana."

He said the shellfish dishes are called "cataplana" after the Portuguese copper hinged pot used for cooking shellfish. http://www.cookingtreasures.com/conte...

Chef White said that clams should have a silvery-gray tinge to the shells, and that after three days the shells become pure white, because of the calcium leaching up. So... whiter clamshells mean older clams.

~~~~~

From experience: Yesterday, we made "Caprese-Plus" Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad, and I put the leftover marinated tomatoes [with the basil, oregano, sliced garlic and a wee bit of rosemary, olive oil and (a little balsamic and a little red wine) vinegar] into a baggie in the fridge. I just made a tomato sandwich with the tomatoes, and it was so very, very nice and flavorful, although the tomatoes could've been firmer (next time, I'll purposefully marinate them just for the sandwich, and not overnight). Now don't freak out, but it was like a regular tomato sandwich, but with the marinated tomatoes. (Mayo on squishy white bread, yes, in fact it was!). Try it, tomato lovers, you'll like it.
~~~~~~~~~
So... please post here any new ideas on flavors, techniques, ingredients, etc.

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  1. jasper taught me that too years ago!

    when cooking with dried spices, like thyme or rosemary, cumin or ginger, i always add them to the fat first to release the oils. it makes a huge difference.

    escoffier does not recommend adding black pepper to a saute until the very end, to avoid a bitter flavor from it potentially burning.

    thomas keller does not use celery in chicken or veg stock. me neither now.

    6 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      I don't put anything in my stock. That way it's more versatile.

      1. re: c oliver

        I'm assuming you mean after the stock is made? Because I believe hotoynoodle was referring to using celery in the making of stock, not afterwards.

        1. re: schoenfelderp

          I use nothing but chicken feet and backs in my stock. It's not the most common way but that way I can go Asian or anything else without any incongruous flavors.

          1. re: c oliver

            I do the same. Up until a few batches ago I added onions and garlic, but determined that the onions weren't good for when I give leftovers to the dogs, and the garlic could easily enough be added into the dish at the time of cooking.

            1. re: c oliver

              I do use a brown onion skin, however. The brown onion skin goes far in givinig my chicken stock a nice golden brown color.

        2. re: hotoynoodle

          hotoynoodle

          although we usually add celery to our stock, I do know that celery can be overly pungent, so when in doubt leave it out

        3. From the (no longer published) CIA newsletter (not the one from Langley): when steaming vegetables, keep the top lid just slightly ajar, allowing a little steam out. This prevents possible bitterness in the steamed food.

          7 Replies
          1. re: penthouse pup

            Julia and Jacques had a moment about this issue in one of the episodes of their show together. Julia always cracked the lid of everything (she thought closing a lid made things "sour") and told Jacques so. Jacques just kind of snorted, said he'd never heard of such a thing, and blew it off. That little tempest in a stock pot is still up for grabs in my mind since I respect them both.

            1. re: morwen

              sometimes they really had little snits, didn't they? as usual, jacques would just blow by it.... hilarious! i started a thread about julia child "moments." http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/447709

              1. re: morwen

                I recently heard the same about braising pots. Can't remember where. The point was less about food getting "sour" than maintaining a low enough temp that the food wouldn't boil in a closed pot.

                I've been making sure my lid was offset a tiny bit and I really does make a difference in the tenderness of braised meats. Less "spitting" and clean up around the burner too.

                1. re: rainey

                  I'm curious about this lid thing too. If keeping the lid ajar (when is a door not a door...when it's ajar) keeps the food from getting 'sour', how can pressure cookers be explained?

                  1. re: John E.

                    Braising is a whole different thing than steaming vegetables. Vegetables: when water condenses on the lid, then falls onto the veggies being steamed, it can offset the flavor. Think of discolored broccoli. Many of the newer glass lids encourage water droplets to fall to the side, rather than on the cooking item. Tilting the lid encourages condensed water to drip to the side.

                    If you are braising, the lid should be very tight (to the point of creating pressure). An old school thing to do for braising is to make a flour paste, smearing it along the rim, making a very tight seal. There's no way that cracking the pot enhances the cooking process for braising.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Yeah, my commentcwas a reply about braising meat, but thank you.

                2. re: morwen

                  Parchment paper lids. 'nuff said.

              2. From Jacques Pepin: Hone a knife on the unglazed edge of an inverteed ceramic bowl.

                I posted this elsewhere but it's a great tip worth repeating, also from Jacques Pepin: After emptying wet ingredients from the food processor, turn it on again. Centrifugal force spins what remains to the edge of the bowl, so you don't have to risk injury trying to get it off the blade. In a similar vein, from ATK I think, spin cooked shaped pasta in a salad spinner to get ALL the water out.

                Martha Stewart: "bounce" a just-baked potato on the counter, hard. This will fluff up the inside. For a serving twist, cut cooked corn on the cob into half-inch rounds. Turns it into more manageable finger food for children and adults.

                17 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  miss grey, i can picture martha stewart whacking that potato, too! ;-).

                  ~~~~~~~
                  i run my stick blender in a coffee cup with soapy water to clean it, right after using it. rinse and *done*!

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I clean my stick blender in my coffee cup too - although often the travel mug so I can get the gunk halfway up the wand.

                    After emptying my FP I'll often add a squirt of dish soap and a little water and hit pulse to clean it out. Usually doesn't clean the lid/chute but it gets the blade and bowl(which takes up so much space in the dishwasher/sink) and removes most of the risk of slicing a digit.

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      I realize this post is a few days old, but I don't understand the need for the coffee cup to clean a stick blender. I just hold it under running water in the sink and turn it on for a few seconds and it's clean as a whistle.

                      1. re: John E.

                        It doesn't spray all over???

                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                          Just in the sink. I hold it almost upright with just enough tilt to get the water onto the blade from the side. I've never had an enormous amout of splashing. Now I'll have to go try it to see how much water does splash. I don't recall it being a problem. I only use the stick blender for soups mostly during the colder months.

                  2. re: greygarious

                    I just squeeze a baked potato in an oven mitt.

                    1. re: rainey

                      That's what I do too! Either that or gently roll on the counter. Both works!

                      1. re: boyzoma

                        That stick blender thing is brilliant!

                        Squeeze or roll the potato to accomplish what? I don't understand.

                        1. re: jvanderh

                          It fluffs up the flesh inside the skin. That makes it ready to be penetrated and lifted by a fork without having to break mouthfuls free from the large solid mass.

                          1. re: rainey

                            ah!

                      2. re: rainey

                        yes but the little "drop" on the counter is more satisfying for some reason :)

                        1. re: rainey

                          I like my *"true" baked potatoes overdone.
                          Love the skin really hard and crisp and like the inside pretty much the same way, I know, I'm weird :))

                          *not nuked but baked in an oven
                          just clarifying because now adays so many put their bakers in the nuker

                          1. re: iL Divo

                            I like my baked potatoes the same way, but I do nuke them when in a hurry. Just for me tho, wouldn't serve them to friends "nuked". There is a huge difference in flavor though.

                            1. re: iL Divo

                              I'm with you, I don't use the microwave unless I'm desperate, so rarely.
                              I have several ways to bake a potato and it depends on the potato and what I'm going to do with it. One of my favorite ways is for twice baked where you need the skin to be extra crispy to withstand handling.

                              1. re: iL Divo

                                I LOVE them with the hard crisp skin!

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  While we don't often eat baked potatoes, we microwave them first and then finish them in a hot oven. It cuts the cooking time at least in half.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    If you leave them damp and sprinkle them all over with salt, even just microwaved they seem more like real baked.

                            2. These are old ideas that a chef I know pointed out to me (hopefully new to someone else), he was my mentor for many years:

                              Best flavor on cooked vegetables is just plain old butter, salt and pepper. Taste the actual veggie flavor.

                              Iceberg lettuce is so appropriate in so many circumstances, don't be snobby about it.

                              Hard to go wrong with a squeeze of lemon and some peel added to almost anything.

                              And I'll probably think of a couple more. This chef is very upscale but likes to remember the basics too.He also taught me to be creative in the use of leftovers, a very important lesson. Never throw anything away except the packaging.

                              17 Replies
                              1. re: coll

                                Agree with the iceberg lettuce!

                                1. re: coll

                                  Totally agree with the iceberg here too; I haven't come to understand the snobbery about that one either. Maybe cafeteria style from the 60's and 70's drowning and wilting in dressing? I dunno. Iceberg has a distinctive bitter flavor, crisp with only a hint of a strong vinaigrette, LOVE it. And ditto on the lemon peel and lemon on almost everything (especially vegetables).

                                  I MUST clean raw chicken, lamb, and pork with acid of lemon juice or vinegar; honestly I don't have recollection where I got this habit from, but I feel it's necessary and I don't think it interferes with flavoring. At the very least, it helps eliminate the slime from packaging moreso than a quick rinse. Does anyone else do this? By all means, if I shouldn't be doing so please let me know. Would love to know where I picked up this habit from.

                                  1. re: lilgi

                                    Somebody posted here once that if iceberg lettuce were expensive, uncommon and hard to grow the best chefs would be using it and raving about it.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      i think this is right. i love it with some braunschweiger.

                                  2. re: coll

                                    "Hard to go wrong with a squeeze of lemon and some peel added to almost anything"

                                    last night the kid asked what was for dinner. I told him chicken [simply in butter and bacon fat salt and pepper] white steamer rice and green beans. he likes very plain straightforward dinners, whereas I don't, I like them all fancied up. anyway, since there are so many oranges in the kitchen, I zested a bit of orange rind over the rice with a spray of butter from my WS butter sprayer [it limits the amount that goes on food] and son said, "nice touch mom".
                                    then hubby said, "it is a nice touch, but lemon could have been good too."

                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      I'm big on citrus zest and juice as well. In most cases, if I'm using the juice I will add some zest of the same fruit. It brightens the flavors and makes them pop big time.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        Scubadoo, totally agree

                                      2. re: iL Divo

                                        I've never heard of a butter sprayer. How does the butter stay or get liquified? Looked on WS website but didn't see this.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          yes, i've never seen a butter sprayer -- not that i'd like it necessarily, though! ;-). i use my olive oil sprayer quite a lot -- and i love that. but olive oil is the most viscous thing i can ever imagine in that sprayer. "pam" does offer a butter flavor spray -- in aerosol.

                                          il divo, is this a new product from w-s? how can i get one?

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Yeah, seems like it would have to be heated somehow. I find it quite easy to melt as little as I want in the MW and then add to whatever.

                                          2. re: c oliver

                                            i'm sure you could melt butter and pour it into a sprayer...i'm betting she just meant a standard mister. AFAIK there's no such thing as a dedicated butter sprayer - didn't turn up anything on the W-S site or Google.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              butter milk fat solids would clog any kind of sprayer that i know. i don't think any "butter" sprayer exists other than the "i can't believe it's not butter" sprayer, or the like.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                I suppose it would be possible to put ghee into one of those misters. We bought one and it worked for a while (olive oil) and then instead of a spray it came out in a stream. Since that time, we have been using a squirt bottle to dispense olive oil when cooking.

                                                1. re: John E.

                                                  ghee is solid at room temp.

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Duh...just like butter. I guess I was focusing on the milk solids.

                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                      LOL, john, that's what i thought you might have been thinking -- once the milk solids were gone, then just the liquid gold! except the gold ain't liquid in them thar hills (until you heat it, of course).

                                        2. re: coll

                                          coll, I hope you mean zest rather than peel?

                                        3. Saw this on Heston Blumenthal's show. Instead of using a pizza stone when making pizza, heat a cast iron skillet until red hot, invert it, and put it in your super hot oven that also has broil on. Slide your pizza on top, and the whole thing will be done in a couple of minutes like it would be in a commercial pizza oven. I haven't tried it, but it seemed to make sense when I saw the show.

                                          1. From a chef/mentor: When making a sweet that's a vanilla dominant flavor (ice cream, pudding, etc.) layer the vanilla: steep a bean in the base, sweeten with vanilla sugar, and add in half the amount of vanilla extract called for in the recipe. Creates a deep vanilla flavor with floral overtones.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: morwen

                                              mmm. Love that. Thanks morwen. My DH does a similar thing when making chili -- he layers all different kinds of chili peppers.

                                              1. re: morwen

                                                batali suggests doing this with savory foods too. tomatoes, for example. add some to the dish in the beginning and then some towards the end for a brighter zippy flavor.

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  I do this too. Great tip!

                                              2. i learned from jacques pepin that tapenade must contain capers, because that is how the name is derived. according to clifford wright : "The word tapenade derives from the Provençal word tapéno, meaning capers" http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/re...

                                                and from a very fun etymology site: "As for tapenade, Elizabeth David is correct in asserting that it derives from Provençal tapéna "caper". Julia Child agrees that the classic tapénade is indeed a sauce, to be served with vegetables, bread, or even pasta. So if the Provençal word for "caper" is tapéna, where did English get caper? Why, from the French, of course! Their word for these edible flower buds, câpres, was different from that of their Provençal-speaking neighbors. It derived ultimately from Greek kápparis." http://www.takeourword.com/TOW133/pag...

                                                1. a guest on ming tsai made what i call a "ming-tini" with stirred gin, and spanish olives brined in a star anise-infused vermouth. intriguing.

                                                  does anyone serve snack olives that have been "pickled" in gin and vermouth?

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Alka, I do that!! And add a couple of crushed Juniper berries as well!!

                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                      what time should i be over?

                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                        neat -- martini olives!

                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                          just saw an alternative on his show (the "best-seller") -- a vodka-ginger "gimlet."

                                                        2. re: mamachef

                                                          where does one acquire juniper berries. We have some horrific juniper bushes in the front of our house that haven't produced a thing! I intend to remove them this summer then sit on the site of their demise and sip a gin martini. And I don't even like gin!

                                                          1. re: LaureltQ

                                                            Just noticed your post. Here's a older one on the juniper subject; by horrific, I take it to mean that they are badly overgrown and prickly to trim back. Be aware that not all juniper bushes provides berries that are edible:

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7563...

                                                            Probably the best thing to do is to buy dried Juniper berries; get them at a high end grocery or they had be purchased online, http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/w... or any other online herb and spice merchant.

                                                      2. todd english visited south africa on his "food trip" program. (it is a good show, by the way).

                                                        one of the appetizers the chef at their lodge made was a grilled bacon-wrapped apricot. he used a half apricot, and it was skewered with the bacon around it to grill. he served it with a chermoula sauce with coriander and red onions. http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

                                                        doesn't that sound delicious for a summer night grilling party? put out the tiki torches and remember that "In Europe, apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and were used in this context in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream[.]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apricot

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                          This sounds delicious! Two favorites! Together! They have got to be California apricots though.

                                                          1. re: wekick

                                                            i think the combo sounds wonderful, the juicy, sweet-tart apricot against the fatty, salty, smoky chewy bacon. gyaaack, i want some now! ;^D.

                                                          2. re: alkapal

                                                            the producer for the todd english food trip program, joel coblenz, is a fellow chowhound. his account of the south africa trip is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/608641#

                                                            his blog is here, fyi: http://joelcoblenz.com/blog/

                                                          3. jacques pepin makes gazpacho using bloody mary mix (i believe i identified "mr. and mrs. t's" brand); also, i don't notice him adding any vinegar.

                                                            he peeled the green peppers that he diced for garnish. he said that made them more delicate. he peeled the outside of the pepper with a regular peeler, then quartered it to get into the "wrinkles" and peel those (now exposed to an edge). (i like martin yan's version of peeling and dicing a pepper, where he rolls the whole thing out -- or is that only the deseeding?)

                                                            jacques said for any long veggie that needs peeling, you should cut off each end, then peel it by using long strokes down it as you turn the veggie cupped in your hand. this way, only one pass is needed (if you hold it like a baseball bat, then you have to waste efficiency and then peel the *other* end). the demo was a cuke.

                                                            ~~~
                                                            here is martin yan with a cuke -- great skills! (video needs patience to watch, though) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV8FPk...

                                                            ~~~~~~~~
                                                            corinne trang with sara moulton today mentioned a japanese pepper blend "togarashi" used to finish noodle and other dishes. she made a nice soba noodle and bok choy-shiitake stir fry, then added the pepper to finish.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              that togarashi is great stuff on fish too, especially scallops.

                                                            2. FABULOUS thread! I've already added several notes to my recipe database and I expect, as this goes on, I'll get lots more.

                                                              Thanks to all who are sharing great tips!

                                                              1. Thomas Keller advises using vinegar or lemon juice as a seasoning just like you use salt and pepper, albeit judiciously. Proper acid balance in food really makes the flavors pop.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: bear

                                                                  the difference between restaurant and home food is that chefs use salt and acid prodigiously, whereas home cooks often don't think about it or are afraid of using too much. lol, i suppose the same can be said about butter!

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    And don't forget heavy cream.

                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                      and butter

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        i think of heavy cream as being pretty old school. it's not something that our fine dining or cutting edge chefs use an ocean of anymore.

                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                          Here in the Hamptons, they still use boatloads of it, but maybe mostly in the clam chowder.
                                                                          And pastas. I guess that's old school.

                                                                    2. re: bear

                                                                      Use of acids, primarily in the form of vinegars, wines, and citrus juices have totally changed/elevated my cooking. It helps to cut richness in foods but still keeps them flavorful!

                                                                      1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                        The use of acid is under appreciated by many home cooks. It's often what brightens the flavor and give a dish it's "pop".

                                                                    3. A NYC bartender came up with the suggestion of using a PedEgg for grating citrus zest. How clever! It's the equivalent of a microplane grating surface with an attached container to hold the zest.

                                                                      That one happened to be on the front page of Huffington Post this morning.

                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                      1. re: rainey

                                                                        okay, I'll admit that's kindof a cool trick, but seeing it in play may give me pause... I wouldn't be able to keep my brain from going to the image of the microplaned skin being dumped out of it. It may already exist (you know I'm going to Google right now to search for this gadet), but if not, someone could probably make a pretty penny by "inventing" a microplane with a stuff-catcher-vessel that does NOT call to mind the dumping of dead foot skin.

                                                                        1. re: CapreseStacy

                                                                          There is such a thing for nutmeg and cinnamon. http://www.amazon.com/Microplane-Grat... Nifty little tool and I keep one in my baking area with a whole nutmeg and a short stick of cinnamon in it.

                                                                          But it has a ridge that holds the plane in place AND it has a very fine grating pattern that I don't think would work well for citrus. The differences on the PedEgg design are subtle but they strike me as more effective for citrus.

                                                                          Now all of this is more gadgets for the kitchen but I, for one, can always use a new kitchen toy from time to time. Besides, you don't get a lot of zest from a lemon or lime and the idea of keeping it contained and not losing any has me sold. (tho I haven't gotten out to get one reserved for kitchen use yet)

                                                                          1. re: CapreseStacy

                                                                            I'm sure he washed it since he used it on his foot calluses. :)

                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                              One would hope...

                                                                          2. re: rainey

                                                                            "A NYC bartender came up with the suggestion of using a PedEgg for grating citrus zest. How clever! It's the equivalent of a microplane grating surface with an attached container to hold the zest."
                                                                            ______________________________________

                                                                            Just make sure the PedEgg is brand new out of the box ...

                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                              A really good way to do citrus with a plain old microplane is to flip the grater over so the underside faces up, and run it over the citrus, keeping it parallel to the floor, instead of running the citrus over the microplane. That way, all the zest sits up on the underside of the grater (which is facing up toward you), which means both that it doesn't fly around and that you can see exactly how much you've grated so far. Hope I explained that clearly enough that it makes sense.

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                good idea, plus it is more stable with the citrus on a solid surface.

                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  I find this easy because you can hold the citrus in your cupped hand, turning as necessary, rather than gripping it to run along the grater.

                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                    oh, i thought you put it on the counter or something -- but the hand makes sense, too.

                                                                                    you know, jacques peels the tougher areas of large asparagus by holding one spear down on the cutting board and -- keeping the peeler just going "down the spear" toward the base -- peeling while rotating the spear. it leaves the spear looking like a spear with a hula skirt, and you can then cut off the butt end with the skirt/peel attached. voila!

                                                                                2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                  Thank's what I do Caitlin ; )

                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                    That's what I do and it works great ; )

                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                      That's what I do.

                                                                                  2. re the trick with the bay leaf - this is what Indian cooks do with neem leaves (curry leaves). It makes a huge difference.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                      just to clarify: true neem is not the same as true curry leaves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azadirac... (neem) ""Azadirachta indica (Neem) is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae"""
                                                                                      ~~~~~~~~
                                                                                      """The curry tree (Murraya koenigii; syn. Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India. Often used in curries, the leaves go by the name "curry leaves." They also called "sweet neem leaves." The Tamil and Kannada names literally mean 'black neem', as the appearance of the leaves is similar to the bitter neem leaves. However, the curry tree is not related to the neem tree. Curry leaves are also different from bay leaves or basil leaves, which are aromatic leaves from the Mediterranean."""" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry_Tree

                                                                                      ~~~~~~
                                                                                      i've used neem soap!

                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                        Yeah, neem is what my MiL called it. You will also (well used to I guess I haven't bought it this way in years) find the dry stuff labeled "dried neem leaves".

                                                                                        Culinary neem is different from the stuff they use in ayurvedic meds, cosmetics, and soaps. I can't say which is the more "correct" common nomenclature given that I learned what to call it from an elderly woman who barely spoke any English.

                                                                                    2. Grating tomatoes as a way to easily create sauce w/o skin! Have seen this mentioned a few times, here and elsewhere. Made a NYT Recipe for Health last night of pasta with fresh tomato sauce prepared this way (with homegrown tomatoes) and it was so EASY and DELICIOUS! :-)

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: DMW

                                                                                        i've seen lidia and jose andres do the grating tomatoes trick. it is neat.

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          grate a garlic clove (in its papery husk) on a microplane grater, and the peel stays on the microplane. no fuss, no muss!

                                                                                        2. re: DMW

                                                                                          Not only can you grate tomatoes and garlic, you can grate onion and use the onion juice in recipes as well. Lovely.

                                                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                                                            I use onion juice when I want a little flavor from the onion but not a hard bite of it added to the texture. I don't grate it, I simply hold an onion over the food and scrape a sharp knife across the cut end until I've got what I want.

                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                              nice idea. i have a good "korean" spinach salad recipe that uses grated onion….this may be more refined

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                We have some recipes that include onion juice. I grate it and put it on a floursack kitchen towel and squeeze the juice out.

                                                                                              2. re: rainey

                                                                                                It also works nicely in dressings, bringing quite a wonderful addition to the party.

                                                                                                1. re: rainey

                                                                                                  I have put an onion chunk in my garlic press to get just a bit of onion juice.

                                                                                            2. marcus samuelsson introduced me to the spice blend from ethiopia, berbere. here is a link: http://www.tablefare.com/recipes/inde...

                                                                                              for ming tsai, samuelsson used it to season a chicken stew, the chicken for which stew he had marinated in rum and szechuan peppercorn! recipe: http://joelens.blogspot.com/2009/02/m...

                                                                                              for a "numbing" cocktail, ming made ice cubes with szechuan peppercorns for a rum drink with "homemade" ginger ale. he called it a "numbing" dark and stormy"?

                                                                                              """Ginger Rum with Numbing Cubes (makes 4 cocktails) | by Chef Ming Tsai, host/executive producer of public television's "Simply Ming" and chef/owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley

                                                                                              1 tbsp. toasted, super finely ground Szechwan peppercorns

                                                                                              2 tbsp. sugar

                                                                                              Juice of 1 lemon with zest, minced

                                                                                              Water for 2 trays of ice

                                                                                              8 oz. (1 cup) Gosling's Black Seal rum

                                                                                              24 oz. (3 cups) ginger ale (preferably Reed's).

                                                                                              1 lime, cut into wedges

                                                                                              ~~~~~~
                                                                                              for ice cubes: get enough water to fill your ice tray 3/4 full. then use that amount of water to mix with the ground pepper, sugar, lemon juice and zest.

                                                                                              stir it to dissolve the sugar, then freeze in the ice cube tray overnight (make sure ingredients are evenly distributed).

                                                                                              for each drink: pour 6 ounces ginger ale to 2 ounces of rum. squeeze the lime into the drink, then toss in the lime itself. add the numbing ice cubes. then...burn baby burn!! ;-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qfJyd...

                                                                                              recipe link: http://www.weeklydig.com/department-c...

                                                                                              1. I have found Harold McGee's tip on storing berries to be wonderful. I stopped throwing out blueberries, strawberries and raspberries when I rinsed them in hot water as soon as I brought them home.

                                                                                                Instead of a 24 hour life they can go almost a week with their flavor, texture and appearance intact.

                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: rainey

                                                                                                  +1.
                                                                                                  I was skeptical about this when I first read it. But ever since I started doing this w/raspberries, I've not had to throw any away.

                                                                                                  1. re: rainey

                                                                                                    rinse them...then what?

                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                      Rinse them in hot water, drain them and enjoy what you want and put the remainder in the fridge. They'll keep as long as a week.

                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                        When they're dry, put them in a glass jar; it's amazing, but they last.

                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                          Ohhh I've never heard of this!!! Sounds great, hate throwing them away so I'll give it a go.

                                                                                                      2. re: rainey

                                                                                                        i use a tip i got on CH. i store berries in glass jars. really extends the shelf life

                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                          Any scientists out there that know how this works?

                                                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                            This may help: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/651851

                                                                                                        2. re: rainey

                                                                                                          We do this w bunches of grapes - but add a tiny bit of dish detergent to the water - dip the whole bunch in , let drip dry on dish towel. Use large Pyrex measure. Removes some of the sugar and yeast on the skins, since these grapes aren't for wine -

                                                                                                          1. re: rainey

                                                                                                            But heat destroys vitamin C.

                                                                                                          2. I think i got this tip on chowhound recently, but i'm not sure.... Grind up uncooked rice in your spice grinder after you're done - it cleans it up very nicely.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                              or i've seen folks use plain white bread to do this as well.

                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                I run 1/2 a piece of bread through my meat grinder when I'm done to clear the majority of the remaining meat out. The dogs love to eat what comes out of the end.

                                                                                                            2. I use my pastry blender to mince up hamburger while browning for tacos, nacho's, etc. when I want it really fine. Works like a champ!

                                                                                                               
                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                that's really smart, boyzoma!

                                                                                                                1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                  I've used it to smash potatoes, now I'll have a new use!

                                                                                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                    Excellent tip - Thank you.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                      also great with avocados for guac, hard boiled eggs, and tofu (depending on the preparation).

                                                                                                                    2. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                      Wow! I can stop mashing up those lumps with a wooden spoon, at last. Great idea!

                                                                                                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                        That's a great use for the pastry blender, and I used it the other day. Works like a charm!

                                                                                                                        1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                          boyzoma what a great tip! I can't wait to try it out on sausage meat as well. Its such a pain breaking up the meat once you get it out of the casings. Love this tip, thanks!

                                                                                                                          1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                            Great tip! One of those tips that seems so obvious after someone mentions it!

                                                                                                                            1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                              i actually use a potato masher to break up meat (works particularly well for sausage).... i promise the meat doesn't get squished

                                                                                                                            2. here are some useful knife-cutting techniques from martin yan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT9lKA...

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                I would give up my first-born (if I had one) to have Martin Yan's knife skills.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                  Well, I wouldn't give up my first or second born because I love them too dearly (and I wouldn't be a BoyzOma if I had), but I have a few resident spiders, etc. that I would trade.

                                                                                                                                  On another hand, I am learning some really great tips on this thread. Thanks, CH's!!!!!

                                                                                                                              2. to roll out pizza dough, rub the surface of the countertop or board with oil. it "holds" the dough better. courtesy of sara moulton.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                  her other pizza tip -- for a very crispy crust: pre-bake crust (as you would blind bake a pie crust) for five minutes, then cool. once cooled, add the toppings and bake till done.

                                                                                                                                2. When you buy lettuce intact, such as a head of romaine or iceberg- anything as a head- cut a thin sliver off the bottom end and set it in a bowl of water for a few hours. You'll likely be amazed at the way it soaks up water and gets all fluffy and crispy again. Like putting mildly wilted carnations in water after trimming the ends. I've been blown away by the transformation many times.

                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                    Ditto for celery. It takes me a long while to get through a large head so once it's partially-used and starting to get limp, I slice it to fit into tall covered containers/jars, with a little water in the bottom, changing that every few days. This works better than the damp paper towel or tin foil wrap methods.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                      Also works for parsley, dill, cilantro. I trim the stems, then put them in a tall glass with an inch or so of water. Put a plastic bag (I use a large ziploc) over the whole thing to keep even longer.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                        I'm not sure where I read it but I started wrapping my celery very tightly in aluminum foil and then in the crisper. It last quite awhile. When it gets droopy, it's time for the stockpot.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                          also celery can easily be refreshed by slicing the end off and putting it in water

                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                            carrots and celery i have rejuvenated with putting the whole stalks in cold water for a little while....

                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                              It does wonders. I've had celery that looked like it came out of the stock pot. Put it in ice cold water and then into the fridge. Next day it is firm and crunch.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                Ditto for asparagus. I can hold this perfectly for over a week treating it like a bunch of cut flowers. Just re-cut the stems ever couple of days and stand them in a glass of water, covered with a plastic bag.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                                                                  My homegrown lettuce tends to be a wee bit limp by the evening when I am ready to collect it. If I cut and prep it first, then soak it in either the sink or a large bowl of cool water while I prepare dinner, then spin it last, it crisps up beautifully.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                                                                    i use the cold water bath to crisp up (or significantly freshen the texture of) celery, carrots, green onions, parsley, cilantro, lettuce….

                                                                                                                                                    it is effective.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                                                                      That's a good one. Zucchini too. I'll pour refrigerated water onto it and leave it in the fridge for a day, then drain to avoid spoilage.

                                                                                                                                      2. Slicing mushrooms: Make your first chop and then lay the mushroom flat on that chop. Stabilizes the mushroom while you hack away.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: paperfingers

                                                                                                                                          I use an egg slicer to slice mushrooms and also strawberries! I actually found a mushroom shaped slicer and use it all the time!

                                                                                                                                        2. french fries by joel robuchon via america's test kitchen:

                                                                                                                                          2 pounds of 1/4 " planks of yukon gold potatoes, put into
                                                                                                                                          room temp dutch oven, pour in
                                                                                                                                          1 quart peanut oil (plus 1/4 C bacon grease -- or duck fat)
                                                                                                                                          heat to rolling boil (around 300 degrees) and do not disturb at all for 15 minutes.
                                                                                                                                          after 15 minutes, gently dislodge any fries stuck on bottom.
                                                                                                                                          let cook for 20 more minutes (i think it was 20).

                                                                                                                                          remove, drain on towel, salt. munch a bunch.

                                                                                                                                          ~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                          science guy says they absorb less fat at 300 than cooking at 375, because of the role of water displacement. the higher the temp, the more water is displaced in the taters, the more oil goes into the taters. this is not really time dependent. cool, huh?

                                                                                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                            That's a great recipe for French fries, it works perfectly, as counterintuitive as it seems. They are not at all greasy and the oil level barely drops in the pan. If my freaking smoke alarms (5, count 'em, 5) would allow me to deep fry I'd be using this technique more that I should by rights.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              smoke issues? i have a very sensitive (centrally-monotored-therfore-hugely proactive) alarm system. wassup?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                My smoke alarms go off even if I put shower caps on them if anything the slightest bit smoky happens on or in the stove (sautéing over high heat, using my very well-seasoned wok, making the high-heat no-knead bread). Open window, fan, covering alarms, cooking directly under exhaust fan, it doesn't matter. Once they're set off they sound even if you take the batteries out! Any brainwaves on how to get around this?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                  uh...no...not really... just take some drugs and blow it off?

                                                                                                                                                  sorry, tartalicious, i'm in a bad mood from stupid chow threads!
                                                                                                                                                  ~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                  take out the battery for the regular alarms and call the alarm co. to "disregard" fire alarms for a set period.

                                                                                                                                                  also: get big fans, blow out the smoke through the back door.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                    It would have to be a horse tranquilizer to get to a point at which you could ignore it.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                      no... do the "disconnect / disregard," and THEN take the horse tranquilizer. yeah?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        We just had a problem recently where they would go off, in the middle of the night, for no reason. Scared the heck out of me two nights in a row, like nothing else. Luckily it doesn't alert anyone else, so didn't have to deal with that. I researched and turns out they get dirty, and spiders like to nest in there, so you have to blow them out with..why don't I know the name...the stuff that you blow on keyboards and electronics to get rid of dust. They work by a light sensor and it gets blocked. Might not help your problem but you never know. Anyway you're supposed to do it once a year or so.

                                                                                                                                                        We used to have a supersensitive CO2 alarm, it was yanked out of the wall one night by my husband, when we had company that smoked (cigarettes, not BBQ). That settled that problem.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                          My husband is loath to disconnect them for fear if anything did happen and they were not working the insurance would be void. I'd do it in a heartbeat.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                            He's probably right, my husband acts very impulsively at times. Never thought about the insurance angle.

                                                                                                                                                            Try cleaning it anyway, if you haven't recently, even if it doesn't help now... believe me, it's better than being woken up at 2 in the morning and seeing your life flash before you. And maybe it'll do something, could be causing extra sensitivity if partially blocked.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                              Dust inside, huh? Thanks, coll! Ours go off for no reason at 2 am as well, and they're all interconnected so if one goes off, all three floors go off and you have to track down the one that originally set them all off in order to turn off the system. Ours are hardwired so yanking batteries does nothing, nor is there a main switch to handle them all. Now...where's my canned air....

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: morwen

                                                                                                                                                                That's the weird thing, that it's that time of night for everyone: everything I read said they go off at that ungodly hour because the air gets very still then, with the whole house asleep. I didn't believe it but since we blew them out, it stopped. They really should publicize this more. Ours are all interwired too, and the one that started it blinks, that's all my husband knew and here we are running around with our eyes half open looking where the fire might be, and wondering if we should abandon ship. He flipped the circuits finally but how do you go back to sleep after that? After two nights in a row, I made it a priority to figure it out. I'm not Suzy Homemaker, but this will be on my annual maintenance list for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                  gosh, what a horrible adrenaline rush! after that, you need a shot of jack.
                                                                                                                                                                  ~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                                  thanks for the tips!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                    We'll try this but they're only a couple of years old.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        Ours are the opposite. I know they work because I've tested them, but we've burned stuff in the oven that required doors and windows to be opened and fans blowing the smoke out of the kitchen and the smoke alarms never did go off. They are located just outside the bedroom doors so I guess they would do their job, but it is a bit curious. (I don't howver wish them to go off when a piece of toast is burned).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                          A kitchen designer told me that starting the vent hood fan 20 - 30 minutes before you start cooking, gets the air in your kitchen/house circulating out faster. Not really sure if this works because my vent sounds like, and has about as much power as a wheezing old man.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: stayathomesommelier

                                                                                                                                                            Hmm, that's an idea - my fan is not super strong either but the air circulation makes sense.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                            Humidity sets ours off. A humid day or too many people showering in a row will set it off.

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                        I saw the show today, and wrote down the directions as they went. 2.5# of potatoes, 6c peanut oil, and only 5-7 minutes to finish browning them after loosening the stuck ones. It appeared to be about a 6qt dutchie, I thought. I don't think the size was mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                        It sure looks good. If and when I ever do this, I wouldn't make more than half the potatoes in the recipe but I have a feeling you still need almost as much oil. Anyone know for sure? Also, I would think that spreading a tbsp of oil on the bottom of the dutchie before putting in the potatoes would reduce the sticking problem a little.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                          The first time I saw the Robuchon method it stated that you had to do them in a single layer. The CI show seemed to dispel that as they did a whole pot full and they came out beautifully.

                                                                                                                                                          I've used this cold oil method for a couple of years now and won't go back to the old way anytime soon. No splatter or mess except having to deal with the oil for reuse but you would have to do that anyway.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                            scuba, do you reuse the oil? If so, how do you store it?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bear

                                                                                                                                                              I'll use oil a couple of times as long as it doesn't smell rancid or has been at too high a temp. I store oil in jars in the pantry. $15 worth of peanut oil to make a batch of french fries is not getting tossed.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                Especially peanut oil. Besides peanut oil has a smoke point of what around 450 degrees F. Deep frying at 360 degrees is not going to degrade it instantly. I filter mine through cheesecloth (don't have the patience for a coffee filter) and store it in the pantry.

                                                                                                                                                        2. i just came across this handy link for charts showing how much you "need to buy" of various foods to attain certain numbers of servings (like how many 3 oz. meat servings will be yielded by type of cut) or physical amounts (e.g., how many eggs = how many ounces): http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tip...
                                                                                                                                                          pasta, eggs, rice, meat..... very useful!

                                                                                                                                                          1. I am mortified to admit having watched Phantom Gourmet today, but the recipe segment had a tip I'll try next time I'm making something with bananas. Instead of trying to break the peel open at the stem end, pinch the bottom with both hands and pull, taking off the peel in two easy pieces.

                                                                                                                                                            1. this isn't "new," but i've observed that most professional chefs stir their foods a LOT LESS OFTEN than i do. they swirl the pan, or shake it.

                                                                                                                                                              i was reminded of this watching jacques make turkey cutlets with a beautiful morel sauce.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                This is true, it takes more time to pick up (or even locate) the spoon to stir than to swirl, shake or flip, in an environment where chefs are always pressed for time and seconds count. Plus then you have the other hand free for doing something else at the same time. Talk about multi tasking.

                                                                                                                                                              2. burgers in a cast iron skillet (so they don't stick):

                                                                                                                                                                julia: scatters a little salt in the skillet so you don't need to use oil when cooking the burger

                                                                                                                                                                jacques: rubs olive oil on the burger....

                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                  I do that with the salt. I also do that if I am pan searing some beef filet...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                    I learned that from my mom, I never put oil in the pan to sear meat.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I want to play --
                                                                                                                                                                  -If you want your deviled eggs to be perfect, stir the pot a few times in the first moments they are beginning to simmer. Yolks will be perfectly centered.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Fill a sink or basin with soapy water before you start cooking. It will help keep batters, eggs, etc. from turning to cement while you're otherwise engaged. If you're doing a meat dish, you can wash your hands without contaminating the faucet handles with meat juices.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Cook with your ears. Listen for that certain sizzle before you try to turn meat. In fact, cook with all your senses. Your nose will tell you first when nuts are toasted, for example. Your fingers will know when the meat is done if you practice. And, of course, your eyes will tell you when the edges of foods have browned just right. The trick is to practice using your senses.
                                                                                                                                                                  -ER docs will tell you to slow down and be careful with those knives. Admire a chef's knife skills and then ask him if he's ever cut himself. The myth that only dull knives are dangerous is just that - myth. Ask an ER doc.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Clean a syrupy or sugary pan by simply filling it with cold water and setting it aside. No need to boil.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Clean burned on food by covering the burned on food with vinegar. Let it sit a while and then it will usually lift right off. If it doesn't work, try it with baking soda (some foods are acidic, some alkaline).
                                                                                                                                                                  -Live long enough and your way of doing things will come back into fashion. Loved it when Alice Waters minced garlic just like my mom, or when Mario Batali cut onions right into the pot, like my aunts. Even ATK eventually decided that tomato paste as an ingredient wasn't anathema.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Cut the stick of butter into 1 Tbsp chunks when you first open it. (Not for everyone, but....)
                                                                                                                                                                  -Freeze ripe bananas in their skins. No need to mash and put in containers. The bananas will defrost into sad, black softness, but the banana inside the black skin will be silky and perfect to cook with.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Buy some good thick aluminum half-sheet pans. They will last forever.
                                                                                                                                                                  -When pouring food out of a pan that you're going to put back onto heat, or even oil out of a measuring cup, turn the pan or cup 360 degrees. That's right, keep turning and nothing will drip onto the outside of the pan to burn, or onto the outside of the measuring cup to mess up the countertop.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Use white kitchen towels; get 'em, use 'em and you'll see why. Buy lots of them, and wash them often.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Clean filters from vents over the stove and sink drains by stashing them in the dishwasher. The vent filters are fire hazards if they are dirty, and our sinks are the germiest things in our homes. Always put one or the other in the dishwasher and, once you're in the habit, you'll never forget.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Wash organic vegetables. It's important. They are fertilized with organic composted manures, after all. One mistake in the composting can result in bacteria that you do not want to ingest.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Even the chefs disagree, so cook to your liking. Jacques Pepin likes to peel the skins from his red peppers, while Alton Brown prefers to remove the inner surface. Go figure.
                                                                                                                                                                  -Feast. Feast while you are young and can eat anything. Eat moderately day-to-day, but on occasion, feast.

                                                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                                                    When did ATK ever consider the use of tomato paste an anathema?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe I'm confused. It seems to me that the first couple of times I saw them use it in anything, they sounded apologetic. Also acted like they were the first ones to get the idea of cooking it with the oil (and sometimes sauteed veg) until it begins to turn a deeper color. If I have disparaged ATK unfairly, I apologize, but for years I heard TV chefs/cooks tout their sauce recipes for "fresh" garden flavor. Fresh, maybe, but no depth of flavor. ATK seemed to fall in line with that. Again, I could be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                                                        I have watched their show from the beginning. I just don't remember that part about tomato paste. What i find interesting is that they recommend the tomato paste in a tube. We just use the little can and then put the rest into a ziplock sandwhich bag, flatten it and put it on the freezer door. The next time a tablespoon is needed, just break off a hunk.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                          I do something like that, too. Tablespoons in Press n Seal wrap.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm going to try that egg tip right away. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                      But why slice butter into 1 T chunks when you open?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                        As I said, it's not for everybody. But if you're cooking for one or two, and use butter frequently, as I do, it's a convenient thing to do. Most of my recipes call for butter in tablespoon increments. Even if you're melting an entire stick of butter, it melts much faster if it's in chunks. Not a big deal, just a preference.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                                                        "The myth that only dull knives are dangerous is just that - myth."

                                                                                                                                                                        Well, you can absolutely cut yourself quite badly with a sharp or dull knife, they're all potentially dangerous, but the deal is that dull knives are more inclined to slip off something, rather than bite into, in the manner a good sharp knife will, hence the expression. Not a more or less severe cut, they can all be bad, just a higher possibility of having it happen if the knife is dull.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                          That's why I said "only" dull knives. Sharp or dull, be careful y'all.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                                                            Paula?? Is that you?? :-P

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                                              Uh - if you mean me (sancan), then nope, not Paula. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                                                                Just a little Paula Deen joke :-)

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                                                          I always freeze bananas when they come to the end of their peak for eating out of hand. But I peel them first and freeze them in heavy ziplock bags. They can be very difficult to peel once frozen and thawed -- that skin gets awfully thin and fragile -- but peeled first they are ready to go into baking or smoothies.

                                                                                                                                                                          If you've got kids, cut them into 1" slices and dunk them into a little melted chocolate to coat before stashing them in the ziplock. They'll love 'em and not even notice that they don't have the sugar or fat of ice cream. You could roll them in nuts or coconut too if you want to but it's not really necessary. They're plenty good without.

                                                                                                                                                                          If ice cream is what you want, this Alton Brown recipe makes great banana ice cream out of your frozen bananas: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                            frozen bananas are a nice low fat treat..and very versatile, as you've pointed out.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                              Just freeze the bananas in their skins, and when you need the puree, thaw for a bit and then cut off one end of the peel and squeeze out the banana goo like toothpaste! No peeling required!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. from mary ann esposito ("ciao italia"):

                                                                                                                                                                            when dressing a salad, put your salt into a large spoon, then add the vinegar to the spoon and stir with another spoon so that the salt dissolves in the first spoon. now, when you add the salty vinegar to the greens, the salt is evenly dispersed throughout the salad.

                                                                                                                                                                            by the way, she used the dressed greens to put on top of a cooked pizza. i love that combination, too.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. From "Goodfellas", Ray Liotta narrates that Paulie's method for slicing garlic is the greatest; he uses a razor blade to get it soooo thin that "the garlic liquefies in the pan".

                                                                                                                                                                              I must admit, I've never been so inclined to try this since it seems very time consuming, and when they were cooking, they were doing time. Seems worth trying out, especially in a dish that requires a ton of garlic.

                                                                                                                                                                              I know this is not from a chef, but still seems like a great idea in theory.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Not sure if this has been mentioned elsewhere, but it's a nice quick tip from Chow's Aida Mollenkamp from her show "Ask Aida".

                                                                                                                                                                                To quickly cut cherry or grape tomatoes, put them between the covers of two deli containers and press lightly, then slice through with a sharp knife. Super quick and neat.

                                                                                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bear

                                                                                                                                                                                  bear, one is "cracking" the tomatoes first?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                    No, alka, just using enough pressure so they don't slide around as you cut them.

                                                                                                                                                                                    If you scroll down here, it sort of shows what to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.dishinanddishes.com/2010/0...

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bear

                                                                                                                                                                                      aha, i see! wow, that could get tricky, huh? i'll give that technique a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, I haven't tried it yet, but Aida did a bunch of tomatoes in less than thirty seconds. May well be more work than it appears, who knows.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bear

                                                                                                                                                                                          I've found cherry tomatoes cut easiest if you cut them in half staring your cut through the middle of the stem portion of the tomatoe.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: bear

                                                                                                                                                                                    that seems like so much more work, and i'm not sure i see the benefit of it at all

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                      Me too, sort of. I use a paring knife for slicing between my thumb and forefinger, which are holding the cherry tomato. I'm sure my chef instrutors at culinary school would have had a bird seeing that technique, but it gets the job done and I haven't poked or sliced myself myself yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                        its good if you have a large number of cherry tomatoes to cut... instead of individually doing each one... just have to slide the knife between the containers once instead of setting up and slicing each one!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mattstolz

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, I'm not visualizing how you get to quickly arrange multiple cherry tomatoes stacked up between two plastic deli container lids. I understand the technique of doing it; maybe I need more coffee, but it seems that that in itself would be just as much work setting them up between the lids as cutting them one at a time? Am I missing something?

                                                                                                                                                                                          Edit: Spoke too soon, just looked at the linked video. You lay the lids down with the tomatoes in a sandwich, cool. Told you I needed more coffee. But I still think you're not going to get every one with that angle of cut. Oh well, I'll give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mattstolz

                                                                                                                                                                                            You guys just reminded me of the Jacques Pepin trick of "creating" cherry tomatoes. Here's what he did (when good tomatoes just weren't available): Peeled and seeded small tomatoes that had been cut in half, and then wrapped one half in a clean kitchen towel. He then gathered up the kitchen towel around the tomato and began to twist and squeeze the tomato. He ended up with a ball of pure tomato about the size of a cherry tomato. I've done it and it does result in a more edible tomato, when the tomatoes I've bought turned out to be flavorless. About this time of year I do so long for the summer and really good tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. i haven't tried this, but anne burrell claims that roasted oyster mushroom chips taste like bacon on her salads.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                          They do have a somewhat meaty taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. was making veal milanese with little one [she's 6] over the weekend.
                                                                                                                                                                                          wanted to do something special so she'd feel very proud of her accomplishment.
                                                                                                                                                                                          although she did the entire batch I knew the dredging bowl had to be very flavorful for the best taste in the end.
                                                                                                                                                                                          after she'd put all the ingredients in I'd given her, she stirred to combine it all. I asked her how she knew it was a good batch of drege for the outside coating of the pounded thin veal. "I don't know" she said. "Well honey, smell it, get your nose right down next to the flour mix and smell it. if you can't smell all those flavors you just put in the flour, it won't taste like much flavor either."

                                                                                                                                                                                          Smelling your dredging mixture is helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                            haha. i was waiting for a punch line.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "......and then she sneezed!"

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. from lidia: thoroughly mix white wine into bulk sausage with your hands to keep the meat from clumping in a sauteed meat sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                            she used about 3/4 cup for what looked like about a pound and a half of ground sausage meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. eric ripert -- recommends poaching fish -- this time halibut -- in a velouté flavored with lemon and orange juice and vermouth. he says he learned the tip from another mentor chef, who learned it from the chinese (cooking in the flour-enriched broth to create a glossy finish on the finished product, and to help maintain the juiciness of the fish).

                                                                                                                                                                                              he served it with a beautiful "classic" vinaigrette (3 to 1 ratio oil to vinegar -- using evoo + canola) made starting with mustard, then adding fresh chopped chervil, tarragon, chives and parsley right before serving.

                                                                                                                                                                                              the halibut was a gorgeous snow-white plank, and you just knew how delicious the sauce was because of the fresh herbs.

                                                                                                                                                                                              the mantra of "le bernardin" is "the fish is the star of the plate" and his personal philosophy is treating the best product simply, to let that product shine through in its own unique goodness.

                                                                                                                                                                                              earlier in the show he had been charmed by watching crabs molt, then joined a former colleague who fried in a cast iron skillet on an outdoor flame some freshly molted soft shells in clarified butter and canola -- with no salt, no pepper, and just a simple squeeze of lemon at the end. i'm not a soft shell fan but those looked really delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                I've never heard of such a method in Chinese cooking (this by no means means it doesn't exist, the subject is so enormous and constantly evolving) but velveting fish (coating in starch, tapioca, water chestnut, lotus root, etc - not wheat flour) before cooking (usually in oil) certainly does and makes the fish lovely, juicy and tender (as in the terrific dish of fish fillets with pickled chilis and tofu we had at the Szechuan Gourmet 39th St this Saturday, pic here). The Ripert dish sounds great too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The soft shell thing makes me want some right now, I love them (am a fairly recent convert to their unique wonderfulness).

                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                  yes, i think it is a version of velveting....i guess ripert's mentor chef had "adapted" a chinese technique -- using a "western" starch instead of the ones used in china. if i recall correctly, he added the flour to cold water, stirred to a slurry, then poured into boiling hot water; he was diligent to keep whisking it to keep the flour from settling and burning ... and to release the gluten.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                                                                  OT, but while we're here. do you know when and how cornstarch was introduced into china?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                    hey, i found the ripert recipe with a photo, to boot. http://aveceric.com/wp/recipes/season...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    i love that show!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    EDIT: holy smoke, there is the whole episode there (look down below the recipe). you can get a gander at the crabs molting, and the out-of-doors soft shell crab frying (and *eating*)...and then him making his wonderful halibut in fines herb vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think I have his shows on DVR, will look.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      With chervil, I suppose. My favorite herb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've really never heard or read of that being done, just the foodstuff itself being coated and then cooked in clear oil or water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'll ask you-know-who about the cornstarch - all of that Columbian exchange stuff corn, chiles etc seems to have gotten established quite quickly in China, but the potato has never been a particularly favored item.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                        oh, the velveting is just a starch coating, then oil-poached (generally)?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        hmm. then the ripert technique is really a BIG adaptation. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's what I was thinkin'. Other than rice congee and other porridge-y, potage-y soups (gao in Chinese, of ancient origin as can be imagined) I don't know of opaque liquids in Chinese cookery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                            i hope chef ripert can clarify what he meant by "chinese technique"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            maybe he was referring to "ancient chinese secret"! LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I Learned from my mother to thicken turkey stock with a roux to make gravy at Thanksgiving. (She didn't ever use cornstarch. She said she would save that for strawberry pie or a stir fry). And to think that for all those years she was making a velouté and did nit know it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. alkapal: I love this thread! How did I miss it last August? Taking notes....

                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bayoucook

                                                                                                                                                                                                      hey bayoucook, it is a "sleeper thread," only activating when i see something new and post. ;-)). now you know and can start weighing in with your ideas.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                      isn't it softshell crab season now?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes it is Alkapal, right around Mother's Day is the time to start looking out for them, and they start to harden towards the end of the season. I used to long for this time of year and these brought such happiness, until a relative who had tried them for the first time said that he felt like he was crunching on..well, use your imagination. I'll eat them but no longer do I have the thrill. The power of suggestion -_-

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                          lilgi, you'd like to watch the episode of "avec eric" that i link (see below the recipe). http://aveceric.com/wp/recipes/season... it has some nice "crab" information -- eric was really charmed by how the molting crab is so much larger than the shell it molts..... he even "assists" in a crab losing its shell. ;-). the crab fry-up made me hungry. these were *just* molted, so i don't think they'd have much "crunch."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks I'll take a look. I became fascinated with these when I first tried them at a tiny restaurant in Brooklyn (Buttertart, you may have been familiar with this place but I cannot for the life of me remember the name; years ago in Brooklyn heights very close to the bridge).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think they offered 4 preparations and I had the one with sorrel; I was in heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Had some lovely softshells this weekend in Chinatown, very meaty. I had to get over the chitin aversion too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, it is. It seems like we haven't had abundant crops of them since Katrina (and the oil spill). I remember when the shallows were alight with people soft-shelling; now you rarely see anyone out there. They're almost always available, even if frozen. I *love* those things, gotta get some soon!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bayoucook

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love hearing the enthusiasm about these little babies; maybe someday I'll enjoy the pleasure I had in these once again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Has anyone mentioned waxed paper? My favorite use for it is for grating cheese onto it. Doesn't stick like it does with some other things. It's also what I generally use for covering something to MW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I also use wax paper, but place it on the food scale instead of a bowl (for solid items, natch)--saves cleaning another bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I do this too. Wax paper or foil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I have a very odd shaped TFal skillet. It's very shallow and oval, prob 12" side to side. Great pan but has no lid and for doing a fry on the scrapple or whatever, I've often needed a lid, there isn't one. Again about the lid thing, this Le Creuset grill that I have is a perfect cover for it, closes off the whole thing from any steam escaping and is better [for me anyway] than foil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                              What you have sounds like a perfect pan to saute fish, which generally does not require a cover. But what is the tip from a chef?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Having recently run out of waxed paper I remembered to buy it last week. In same area on that aisle was parchment paper on sale, I bought it. In my kitchen store/pantry there is a hanging unit for all things on rolls together. There are 5 rungs, waxed, cling, paper towel, foil and ? whatever more cling/saran or whatever. I put the waxed in there and the parchment, then couldn't tell the difference. Didn't remember which one I put on which rung, bought another roll of parchment yesterday, came home, felt both rolls and instantly knew which was the parchment and placed a small piece of it on the side of the wooden dowel.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Waxed is wonderful for certain things as is parchment but not always interchangeable.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you remove the box it came in, make note to self, they feel quite similar although one is typically more waxy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The waxed paper I buy neither looks nor feels like parchment paper. Odd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Same here. Not at all the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. In cooking rice a few drops of lemon juice added to the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                water will keep the grains separated and prevent lumps.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                                                                                To give rice subtle herbal flavor, add a few sprigs of hearty fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, or a bay leaf, to the pot when cooking. Remove the sprigs before serving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. eric ripert was skimming the scum from some simmering meat & its broth; he moved the pan to half off the burner, and with the pan thus situated, the bubbles in the pan "pushed" the scum over to the "off burner" side for easy skimming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (tongue twister: skimming the scum from a simmering broth) ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  another tip from mary ann esposito for skimming fat off a sauce in a pot is just taking it off heat for five minutes, which allows the fat to come to the top….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Not long ago - pretty sure this was on Jacques and Julia (which is 20+ yrs old) - they said that the old rule about only turning a steak once is wrong, and that if you don't flip it a few times it will be overdone on one side. After both sides have seared, they said it should be turned at intervals until done as desired.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here's a tip from Heston Blumenthal for clarifying stocks without using the traditional "raft" method(I've only tried it with mushroom stock but I'm sure It'll work for chicken or veg).Make your stock,let cool then portion it out into smaller containers that you can freeze(1/2 ltr 1ltr).Defrost the stock in a China cap or colander lined with cheese cloth,in the fridge.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All the impurities stick to the cheese cloth leaving you with a crystal clear stock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        hmmm, i like it! if only i had room in my fridge for a china cap! ;-). actually, a small sieve would do nicely. thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I know,it sounds like more hassle than it's worth but the end product,especially if you're making a consume' or brodo are worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i'm sure it is worth the effort. the space is an issue for me…but that is a given for just about anything in my kitchen. ;-(.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Same method as gelatin clarification, except without the gelatin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            been doing this for quite some time now, and I'm very satisfied with the way the stock turns out. I've tried several ways, this is best for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Recently saw Alton Brown grate fresh ginger on a ginger grater, covered first with a bit of plastic wrap. Seemed to work pretty well, easy to gather up the ginger afterwards, plastic didn't shred, and no washing of grater when done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Chef Lawrence Chu has a great dressing technique for his famous chicken salad -- drizzling the liquid/paste around the sides of the bowl, where tossing the greens around can pick up the dressing evenly. The recipe and video are here. http://www.nickstellino.com/recipes_d...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reminds me of this - Put your finished dressing/vinaigrette in the bottom of a large, wide bowl. Place your washed/dried greens on top and throw into the fridge. When dinner time arrives, just toss with large tongs and the salad will be nicely dressed. Any overage stays in the bottom of the bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Speaking of the estimable Jasper White, whose restaurant Jasper's was one of the best I was ever in, I saw him use a rolling pin to get the meat in the legs of a lobster out (on the toothpaste-tube principle) - I didn't know the legs were worthwhile eating - now I use my teeth the same way to get every last bit. It's very nice meat, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, that's right, he just rolled the pin down the little legs and the meat pops out. Good tip, really no easier way to do it. Or the teeth thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cool, eh? I love the man.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Me too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. de-grease the top of your soup or stew using a ladle filled with ice cubes, and draw the BOTTOM of the ladle over the very top of the soup -- and the fat clings to the cold ladle bottom. (i'm assuming that stainless steel would be the best…or silver…as opposed to plastic).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  T.H.A.T sounds not only useful but *magical*. Can't wait to have a soup to try it on. What fun! Wish I still had a preschool class to do it with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i found it in "real simple" magazine this month -- with other wonderful "ice cube" tricks. one was rubbing a cube across pulse points to cool down… i got them beat: i use a chill pack from the freezer. ;). now i need to get the "chillow" pillow for the night time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i'm pretty sure my face ice cubes tricks weren't listed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I finally got to try this on fatty short ribs. It wasn't instant but, man!, was it ever effective! No wasted lean sauce but the fat is almost *completely* removed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BEST cooking tip I may *ever* have run across.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      great!!! short ribs *are* a tough de-greasing job, aren't they? ;-)).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yup! But these were soooo worth it. ...especially with your genius tip. ;>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/an...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          not my genius tip -- i'm just the messenger. ;-). i'm so glad that it worked well. i too love short ribs, and it IS hard to get the fat off without sacrificing the delicious braising sauce. i guess the only yucky part is scraping off the ladle bottom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I used paper towel for 3 or 4 passes and then dumped the ice cubes, rinsed off the ladle with hot water and continued with new ice cubes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Didn't take too long. Did a *most* efficient job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am a *believer* in the gospel of the stainless steel ladle! ;> And even if you didn't originate it, I'm grateful that you shared it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              that is good to know; i appreciate your kind words.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i also appreciate chowhound for the opportunity to learn and share with plenty of nice people!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another variation on this technique is to use a leaf or two of cold iceberg lettuce. Works well. I've been told that the traditional way is with ice cubes in cheesecloth, but the ladle trick sounds simpler and more convenient. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. evenly diced zucchini - -- chef ming tsai says treat like an onion dice….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      which means…run your knife up toward the stem end in layers, then slice down across those strips to make nice little evenly spaced diced zucchini cubes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. rachael ray added a dollop of dijon mustard to the bechamel she was making for her "crabcake mac n' cheese" dish. i think i recall a great gratin recipe from craig claiborne that did the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recip... i'd say it was a heaping tablespoon….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. dave lieberman today mentioned a fact about paprika that made me think twice: he used it to sprinkle a little on some trout he was going to saute, noting that the paprika had lots of natural sugar that would help with color and flavor from caramelization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          good point, dave!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I am avidly watching Essential Pepin. Since his knife skills are legendary, I pay close attention. Though he did not point out what he was doing, in skinning fish he slid the knife under the skin an inch or so from the tail, then slid it toward the tail and out. This gave him a nice big flap to grasp onto and lift.as he then slid the knife up toward the head to do the main part of the skinning. I's never thought to do it that way and assume he did not call attention to it since it's completely second nature for him. This technique applies as well to removing silverskins and fat caps from meat, or skin from poultry breasts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yup, best for a side of salmon, other large fish filets, beef tenderloin or fat caps; grab the bit of released skin with a towel and slide your knife upwards, rocking your knife if necessary. The towel will give you the finger traction needed to grip the slippery skin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For chicken breasts, I just rip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The point I was trying to make is that starting away from and toward the end gives you more of a flap than working from the very tip, without a purchase, to start the cut. Till now, I had always done the latter, which can be tricky and a little dangerous until you loosen a big enough flap to get traction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I understood that, I'm with ya, and it is a much better technique than trying to start a cut without a purchase, as you say, very apt expression, of a very small tail area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However one does it, I still find that a towel to grab the skin is a better deal than just grabbing with fingers; more traction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My daddy used to do just that (make the flap and then skin). Another dab hand with a knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. bought DD#1 a melon baller and used it on the watermelon to scoop out for kids, not brilliant, but easy and right size bites for their little mouths.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              made a long cooking steak dinner the other night and for the onion portion that I knew the little ones wouldn't enjoy if they saw onions in the gravy, used the box grater I'd bought DS#1for pulping the onion and it disappeared in the gravy they never knew it was there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                grated onion is a key in my "korean spinach salad dressing"; it gives it some texture, and obviously the savory flavor but not the "bite" of diced onion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  completely agree alka, and yes it worked in my meal as well, the kiddies didn't even know nor did our son.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  would love the spinach salad dressing recipe. mind sharing?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  in the frig is a large plastic supermarket box of baby spinach.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  TIA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    iL, here it is (or similar…nowadays i do it by taste and experience): http://www.food.com/recipe/korean-spi...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i tweak with some additional dried mustard, sub some soy for the worcestershire (or just add some soy -- to taste), and add a good little splash of sesame oil. that, and i like to grate the onions, as i said. of course, use FRESH bean sprouts. and def. use the mushies. you can add some toasted sesame seeds over the top, as well. i like using the apple cider vinegar for the dressing's "vinegar". you may want extra bacon bits -- just sayin'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    adjust the quantities to taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the dressing lasts for a while in the fridge, and you will find yourself getting addicted to this salad. it's good even when the spinach is wilted in the bottom of the bowl! ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    this would be good with some thinly julienned fruit like an asian pear, too -- come to think of it. actually, it is pretty versatile. jicama could be used in addition to or instead of water chestnuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and don't ask me why it is called "korean" -- because i don't have any idea (other than maybe the *exotic* ingredients like bean sprouts and water chestnuts….and…ketchup! LOL). it has been around for many years in "community" type cookbooks (and my sister, who gave me her recipe, probably got it from something like southern living).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the cherry tomato slicing tip! That is such a time saver! I like to use red seedless grapes in grilled cheese sandwiches. Make a grilled cheese sandwich using my sturdy crackly, crunchy and buttered bread, my favorite cheese, fontina, slide in some cold sliced red seedless grapes. The pop and the sweetness of that lava like cheese is great with the grapes, heaven! I enjoy not only the sweet, sour etc., but the textural differences in foods, it's something I crave. Thanks AP!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        hi chef c, interesting combo! i like grapes with a savory combo -- like the chicken curry salad recipe (the one with curry powder plus mayo and soy sauce, almonds, shredded chicken, grapes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i like fontina too! of course there aren't many cheeses i don't like, for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cheese and tomato -- the rich cheesy creaminess with the acid pop of the tomato is indeed satisfying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. this is the coolest trick for slicing grape or cherry tomatoes! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aTHJl...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. ming tsai on lemongrass:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  whack the heck out of the bottom of the stem with the flat side of your chef's knife till the "pith" gets knocked out -- then it will be much more tender and easier to cut and finely mince.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  when he demonstrated, you could see the little section come flying out on the cutting board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I'm not sure which chef I was watching but this is an amazing tip...put your brown sugar in the freezer. When you need to use it, take it out, scoop out what you need, seal it back up and store it back in the freezer! I swear it doesn't freeze hard as a brick! I have been doing this ever since and I no longer have to buy brown sugar every time I want to try a recipe!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maydaycolorado

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i started doing this maybe 2 years ago? no longer am i ever faced with an unbreakable brick of brown sugar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why would freezing the brown sugar make any difference? The reason the brown sugar gets hard in your cupboard is because it dries out. It will do the same thing in your freezer. It all depends on the brown sugar being sealed tightly. It does not matter at what temperature is is stored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          my experience proves 100% otherwise. no matter how much air i sucked out of the ziploc the sugar turned stone hard in the pantry. i suspect it has to do with the humidity level in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Depending on where you live the humidity level in your freezer is likely to be lower than the humidity level in your kitchen. I think it's more likely that you are more careful in sealing up the bag going into the freezer than you are when it goes into the cupboard. We don't even use a ziplock bag, just the bag the brown sugar comes in with a twisty-tie sealing it. If it gets hard put a slice of bread in the bag with the dried sugar and by the next day the bread will be hard and the sugar will be soft.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              lol, you can disagree all you like, but this has been a boon for me. brown sugar got so hard more often than not there was no rescuing it -- not with any bread, apples or microwaving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              perhaps you use up yours more quickly than i do?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know why it works, but I have been doing this for several years now and my brown sugar is always soft when I take it out of the freezer. It sure beats having to buy new all the time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: maydaycolorado

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I just store mine in a glass jar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i believe that a friend just stored hers with an apple, iirc, and it kept the sugar "soft." (now WHY didn't that apple go wonky?). was it in the fridge? maybe i'm not recalling correctly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. When I need to spray a pan with oil, I either go outside to do it, or place the pan on the door of the dishwasher and then spray. This way, if the oil misses the pan, there won't be any mess to clean up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Donna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Chef Michael Smith from The Three Chimneys on Scotland's Isle of Skye -- on cooking fish:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Make sure that the fish is at room temperature,…. if the center is cold, then it won’t cook evenly. With room-temperature fish, get a pan really hot, add a little butter/oil and salt and put the fish in it. Sear it quickly on one side so it gets a little crust then immediately remove from the heat, flip the fish over, leaving it in the pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The heat from the pan will permeate through to cook the fish from the bottom up, while the side that was initially on the heat will also continue to cook the fish from the top down — this way you will never have to worry about overcooking it. ... (this also works with other seafood like scallops). About taking the fish off the heat and letting it sit, he says, “You let meat rest, so why not do the same with fish?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Read more: http://www.thedailymeal.com/chef-s-se...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Well, this one was new to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I thought of this thread as I was making the 'pan to oven pork chops with garlic' from The River Cottage Meat Book. Ridiculously simple and delicious - here's the thing: The author wants you to leave the skins on the cloves, and you need about 2 heads mind you, or one huge one. This was foreign to me but it made sense, it's a way to keep the garlic from browning too much and maximize on the flavor. You're supposed to "whack" them with the flat end of the knife to sort of open up the shells a bit; many of mine simply came off. For the ones that did I used the mortar and pestle and crushed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm wondering if anyone else has tried this, the shells didn't last but a few minutes in the pan, so most of the cloves were bare by the time they hit the casserole dish and into the oven. I wanted this to work, may have whacked them a bit much, I thought I was in a fairly good mood though ;)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i've seen french recipes/techniques where garlic was unpeeled and retrieved from a dish after a brief dunk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i think there are many garlic techniques that i haven;'t really explored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After I posted I looked up other attempts through a few blogs; I definitely cracked the shell a bit much. Will definitely try this more often since I dislike the taste of browned garlic and this technique requires lots of it. In any case the results were fantastic; pork seems to caramelize much better in a pan than anything else (don't know why); definitely a low maintenance dish that delivers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. From Ming Tsai: When using the stovetop sear/oven finish style of pan roasting, put the pan in the oven to preheat along with it. This saves on utility costs - how much depends on what kind of stovetop you are using. You just need to remember to keep the pan's handle covered when you are searing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. here is that eric ripert recipe for poaching halibut in a velouté sauce. http://www.aveceric.com/2011/05/12/po...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. josé andres says to use parsley in the water to keep raw, cut artichokes from turning color. he says lemon juice in the water will make the artichoke bitter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting..What's the science behind this I wonder? Perhaps the chlorophyll in the parsley?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        it puzzled me, too -- because i'd never heard it before. he gave no explanation, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        edit: googling "parsley as antioxidant" rendered many affirmative reports.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. A friend in Wellfleet Mass. taught me that oysters are plumpest and tastiest when they've been out of the water for two weeks. They can survive for up to a month, but two weeks and they are peek. They absorb the liquid in their shell and get really plump. Just keep them on ice in a cooler for two weeks. The attrition rate is nil to none if you keep an eye on them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I posted this yesterday, but don't see it. Using this method makes it quicker and easier to mash up avocado

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once you have halved the avocado, before scooping out meat, cut through meat with knife both horizontally and vertically several times making "cubes." Scoop out the meat already in "chunks."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          yes, and best to use a blunt ended knife for this (like a dinner knife), so you don't get cut-through.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. josé andrés: for potatoes to release more starch into a stew or soup, don't cut them, but pry out chunks with a knife.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I learned this many years ago. Makes for a more ragged edge so more surface area

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              interesting…also, maybe the knife has a "sealing effect" as it slices?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. from Paula Wolfert -- cutting onions tip…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            for Chicken Smothered in Sweet Onion Cream with Country Ham

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you think slicing up two pounds of onions will result in a lot of eye watering, try this method I learned in southwest France: sprinkle the chopping board with a few drops of vinegar. If that doesn't help, sprinkle a few more drops of vinegar directly on the onions as you slice them. When all the onions are sliced, simply rinse them under running water to remove the vinegar. Washing won't spoil their flavor. In fact, the onions should be wet for this dish so they won't burn but will slowly wilt as they cook. The addition of a little water softens them up before the sugars are released. Once soft, they will naturally turn golden.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't have a problem with my eyes tearing up when cutting onions because I have a small fan on the ledge above the sink. (We have a pass-through from the kitchen to the dinining room). The fan keeps the onion vapors moving and away from my eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I saw something I thought was kind of cool on a cooking show the other night. I have no idea who the chef was, but he made cannolis nacho-style, by frying up store-bought wonton skins and topping them with with the ricotta cheese filling, chopped pistachios and mini chocolate chips. Doing a google search, apparently it's been thought of by others, but I haven't seen it before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. to cook sausage chunks easily and evenly from sausage in casings:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                split casing down length of sausage. remove sausage meat and discard the casing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                put whole sausages in the skillet, side by side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                take a square tipped silicone spatula and make deep indentations along the length of the sausages and leave in place. don't break apart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                brown the sausages on medium without breaking them apart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                when browned fully on side one, then flip the whole sausages (with the help of the spatula and another spoon, or the like) to brown on side two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                once nearly fully brown, then you can finally "break" at the deep indentations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i did this yesterday with spicy italian sausages in about one inch chunks. it was so easy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Today on PBS Create, I watched one of Claus Meyer's old Perfect Day episodes. He said several interesting things:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - When putting raw meat into water to cook, if you want the flavor to stay in the meat, the water should first be hot. If, as in making stock, you want the flavor to be in the liquid, put the meat into cold water.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - If you want salt and pepper to be absorbed into meat, apply them when the meat is hot.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - If using apples in a marinade, include the peel and core because that is where most of the pectin is, and the pectin will make the marinade cling to the flesh better.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - For a raw rutabaga slaw, he mashed raw apple together with vinegar, ramson (an allium similar to garlic greens), and oil in a mortar, as the dressing for the shredded swede.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The recipe layout here is rather jumbled but here it is: http://www.newscancook.com/recipes-by...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    very interesting. thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Aha! Regarding the first tip, I read this years ago and even posed the question here on CH. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/971689
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I need to make a note of this and try it once cool weather makes me yearn for that elusive beef stew with very flavorful meat. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. On a recent episode of Sara Moulton’s Weeknight Meals (dedicated to Julia Child) she shared the following tips:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The reaction of egg whites beaten in a copper bowl cause them to stay stiff longer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Separate eggs when they are cold, but beat eggs when they are room temperature
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Use wine in cooking because it’s a conductor of flavor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Colder eggs are easier to separate because the yolk stays together
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Beat egg whites at a slow speed to start and you will get more volume

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is one of the most useful threads on Home Cooking. Thanks, Alkapal!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        thanks for playing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i need to re-read through it. there are many good ideas here!