In the last three decades, food shows have flooded the airwaves, inspiring more and more of us to cook at home. Anyone can master the most basic and important techniques that guarantee consistent success. Find out why garlic should be the first thing you should chop, how to cook the perfect steak with the perfect side of pasta and more. Most importantly, you will find out how to eat a cupcake without getting a frosting facial. These simple cook’s tips will have you cooking like a champ in no time.
Picking the best avocado out of the bunch can be something of a challenge. Cradle one in your hand and give it a very gentle squeeze. If it gives a bit, it’s likely ripe enough for eating. Also, remove the cap from where the branch was attached and make sure the flesh underneath is bright green. If it’s blackish, put it back.
There are times when you are craving guacamole and make a mad rush to the supermarket, but all the avocados are hard like shoe-leather. Well, this one’s for you. Wrap the avocado in foil and pop into a 200*F oven for 10 minutes. Your avocado will be gently ripened and ready for the party. Thanks, Shawn, for this great trick!
How to Eat a Cupcake
1. Remove the wrapper
2. Gently split the cupcake in half
3. Place the bottom over the frosting
4. Eat your neat, little cupcake sandwich.
Your life will be better forever.
Garlic is one of those super-foods. The ordinary, often overlooked plant is actually quite extraordinary.
Not only is it essential to adding beautiful flavor to any savory dish, it also contains heart-healthy, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer properties, prevents food poisoning and fights off vampires.
The potency of the beneficial compounds is destroyed by the heat of cooking. So, the first thing that goes onto my chopping board is always the garlic. I take 2-3 cloves of garlic and give them a good bashing with the flat of my cooking knife. Then I mince and smoosh the garlic against the cutting board. Finally, I collect the minced garlic in a little bowl where it must rest at least 10 minutes.
This is sufficient time for the precious allicin compound to develop. As Dad explains, allicin is crucial to the heart-healthy, anti-cancer, antibacterial qualities of garlic that would otherwise be destroyed by the heat of the cooking process. So, while my garlic rests in that little bowl, I move on to the rest of the ingredients. If you are worried about stinky breath, just drink a cup of black tea after dinner. No one will ever suspect you ate any garlic.
There are those who believe buttermilk imparts a very special delicate texture to your pancakes. While that may be true, you will probably never catch me reaching for the carton at the supermarket. It is one more less-often used ingredient that will soon turn into a science experiment in the fridge. So, when I need it, I make my own.
1 cup milk
4 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
The recipe calls for cake flour, but you don’t have any? No problem. Use all-purpose.
Most of us do not stock-pile what I call specialty ingredients. Cake flour is one of them. It is basically all-purpose flour without the gluten. In the old days, I used to spend a pretty penny on a small of box of precious cake flour.
Nowadays, I just get 5-pounders of the regular stuff and use it for everything, including fluffy sponge cake. It turns out perfectly every time. The trick is to not overwork the batter. Vigorous mixing causes the gluten to develop and results in tough, chewy baked goods. Once the flour is added to the bowl, just mix gently just until the flour disappears. Then, your cookies and cakes will turn out beautifully every time. And, because cake flour wasn’t enough, there is also another fancy flour. Self-raising, Self-rising, whatever it’s called. If that recipe calls for cake flour or self-rising flour, don’t chuck it. Just make your own. Here’s how:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tb cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Hens all over the world would be grateful if we just stopped stealing their eggs, but vegan baking is challenging and limiting. Not everything can be made well without the traditional addition of eggs. Case in point, sponge cake. I should like to see someone successfully make a vegan sponge cake that is both delicious and airy. So, I use eggs, but I don’t buy just any eggs – They must be free-range, free-roaming, because I want the girls to have a chance to stretch their legs and breath fresh air. And I handle them with care.
Cooking eggs seems like the easiest, most basic thing anyone can do in the kitchen, but it can actually be a bit challenging. Between Jacques Pépin and my coworker friend Danny who is an egg connoisseur, I learned the secret to cooking eggs perfectly every time.
Crack eggs against a clean, flat surface.
Breaking them against the rim of the mixing bowl or frying pan can introduce bacteria and break the yolk.
Before cooking, puncture a tiny hole into the rounder end of the egg. This releases the pressure from air pocket inside the shell and prevents cracking.
Take eggs out of fridge, cold.
Collect them in a shallow pan in a single layer and cover with enough water to cover the eggs.
Add a pinch of baking soda. This will make the shell slide right off.
Once the water just starts to bubble, wait 8-10 seconds,
then take the pot off of the heat, put the lid on.
Let the eggs rest in the hot water
*6-7-minutes for a soft yolk
*10-12 minutes for hardboiled.
Remove, peel and enjoy!
How to Cook Pasta
It sounds quite ridiculous for someone to have to tell you how to cook pasta. How hard could it be?
You boil some water, add some olive oil, toss the pasta in and Bob’s your uncle. Well, that is what I thought, until I heard what I heard on the radio one morning on my way to the office. That’s when I realized I had been doing it wrong all along. Anyone can do it right with a few tricks to guarantee properly cooked pasta.
Knowing when to take the pasta out of the hot water is the secret. Al dente is Italian for to the tooth and marks the point at which the pasta should be drained. It will continue to cook from its own residual heat and that of the sauce to perfect consistency. Overcooking pasta will give you nothing more than a bowl of mush.
The pros recommend 5 quarts of water for every pound of pasta. That’s 1 gallon + 4 cups or 20 cups of water. That may seem like a lot. 5 cups should be enough plenty.
Add 1/4 cup of salt to the water and put the lid on.
Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir gently. This helps keep the pasta from sticking. Do not add olive oil to the cooking water.
Different shapes of pasta cook differently. Refer to the package instructions for cooking time.
Most will achieve al-dente consistency in 5-7 minutes.
Scoop a cup of the starchy pasta water and save it to add to your sauce as needed.
Drain the pasta, but do not rinse it.
Serve in bowls to help keep the pasta warm longer.
The secret to fancy steakhouse food is simple: Good quality meat, a thermometer and a bit of patience. Look for the best quality of meat you can afford. Homegrown Cow offers a variety of meats from humanely treated livestock delivered right to your door.
The most delicious food takes time to prepare and this is one of those techniques you will want to master. Fude House shows you how to cook a steak like a rockstar. Who knew science could be so sexy? Traditionally, steaks are seared first, then finished in the oven. We are going to turn the tables and bake first, on low.
The magical numbers are 275*F for the oven and 125*F for the inside of the steak, regardless of the size and thickness of the meat.
Preheat oven to 275*F.
Season steak on all sides. Snider’s Prime Rib dry rub is all you need.
Place steak onto wire rack over baking tray and transfer to warm oven.
Bake until the internal temperature is 125*F.
For a 2-inch thick, 1-pound piece of steak, it will take close to 1 hour to get the internal temperature up to target. After the steak is taken out of the oven, it will continue cooking. Once the internal temp reaches 135*F, a quick sear in a cast iron pan, 1 minute on each side crisps the outside with a beautiful thin crust and the inside to a perfectly even medium-rare. You can also grill it, which is what we prefer. Then, slice and serve!
Shortening can be stored at room temperature for 1,500 years and won’t ever spoil. (A slight exaggeration, of course.) Its consistency stays creamy and makes pastry beautifully crumbly. But, I’m a butter girl through and through. My best friend is a cardiologist and confirmed butter is better for your arteries than shortening. So, there you go.
I keep my butter in the fridge, which is fine unless the recipe calls for soft butter. Then I have to plan ahead, put a couple a sticks on the counter for a bit while. When there isn’t enough time to wait for it to warm up to room temp, I fast-forward to the future by nuking it in the microwave or heating it on the stove.
These both sound like great ideas, but you end up with bubbling hot liquid and a big chunk of solid butter in the center, not exactly the creamy, soft consistency we were going for. So, go low-tech and grate the butter like it’s cheese. This works perfectly. Not only do I pump up my biceps, the shredding exposes more of the surface area to the elements and brings the butter to room temperature quickly with perfect consistency.
What’s better than regular sugar? Superfine sugar, of course. Superfine sugar is granulated sugar that has been ground to a fine consistency. This is not to be confused with powdered or confectioner’s sugar which contains some amount of cornstarch.
Superfine sugar is the trick to keeping meringue from cracking and always makes for a more creamy frosting and delicate cake. This stuff is hard to find, though, and, when you do find it, it’s sold in small quantifies at big prices. So, make your own. All you need is some white granulated sugar and a food processor.