The following helpful Cooking Tips are from our featured chefs and folks who have sent in their favorite cooking tips. Do you have a cooking tip you would like to share? Send it to us and we will add it to our list.
BLANCHING - When blanching fresh produce, the water should be salty like the sea! Tip from Chef Celina Tio
SAVE YOUR VANILLA BEANS! Baking recipes always call for the use of vanilla beans … scraping the inside of the pod for use. Save the pod! Let them dry out. Using a spice grinder, grind the pods into a fine dust. This fine dust can be used for vanilla bean ice cream, baking or braising meats (think Moroccan style lamb shanks!) Tip from Chef Kahleen Nowak.
GET YOUR SALTS & OILS STRAIGHT! Extra virgin olive oil is not for cooking - try grape seed or rice oil. If you want the flavor of the olive, blend them together. Buy a nice fleur de sel for cooking. Taste everything as you add seasoning. Tip from Chef Brian Landry
Note: Brian does tastings with a salt dealer every time he prepares a new menu to be sure to pair the correct salt with the correct dish. There are many beautiful organic and artisan salts available. Brian suggests experimenting with various salts and learning what works best for your particular cooking style.
SHOP LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS, buy what is in season to experience fruits and vegetables at their peak. Tip from Chef Sean Baker
TO MAKE A PERFECT OMELET, use your broiler. You begin by cooking the eggs in an 8-inch non-stick pan on the stove with just a little clarified butter, cooking and stirring the eggs at the same time. As the egg starts to develop cooked curds, remove the pan from the heat, top with your favorite cheese, and then place the pan under the broiler, so the top (the inside) cooks while the bottom stays perfectly smooth and yellow. Remove from the broiler, add the rest of the warmed ingredients and turn over onto a plate. Voila…a perfect omelet. Tip from Chef Lisa Schroeder
KEEP YOUR DISH SIMPLE. If you start with local, organic produce, you really do not have to do much with it. When you use an abundance of ingredients, they can mask the true flavors and characteristics of what you are working with. Tip from Chefs Nick & Jan Demarest
BUY WHOLE SALMON whenever possible. You receive a better price per pound and you can use the body to make Salmon Consume.
To make Salmon Consume: After you fillet the salmon take all of the remaining body, attached excess meat, pin bones, tail, and head (if attached), cover with 2 inches of cold water in a large pot. Add, 1 bay leaf, 8 peppercorns, 4 juniper berries, 5 fennel seeds, and the stalk and fronds of one head of fennel. Place on a low heat for about 1 hour. Once the fish becomes light pink and the white protein has turned the liquid clear, pour the liquid through a cheesecloth covered chinoise. Discard the bones; season the liquid with salt and reserve. Serve hot Salmon Consume with a poached egg and steamed clams. Tip from Chef Bryan Szeliga
STORE FRESH GINGER IN FREEZER, use microplane to grate it. Tip from Pauli Halstead, author of Cuisine for Whole Health: Recipes for a Sustainable Life
COOK CORN IN MICROWAVE - Cook two ears of corn with husks on in microwave at high power for 4 minutes. Quick and easy!
STORE EGGS IN THEIR ORIGINAL CARTON. The original carton holds moisture and protects against odor absorption. It's best to store the carton at the back of the bottom shelf in the refrigerator. Do not store eggs in the egg tray on the refrigerator door, which is too warm.
MEASURING GARLIC - Have you ever wondered how much garlic a garlic clove will yield? It depends on the size of the clove. In general, a small clove = 1/2 teaspoon, a medium clove = 1 teaspoon, a large clove = 2 teaspoons and an extra large clove = 1 tablespoon.
Also, it is important to remove any green sprouts from the center of the clove; left in it will add an unpleasant bitterness to your dish.
MISE EN PLACE - a wonderful French term which means that you have all your ingredients prepped and measured out before you begin cooking the dish. It streamlines the cooking process and helps to prevent you from leaving out an ingredient.
STORING OILS - Open bottles of oil to be stored in a pantry or cupboard are: canola, corn, peanut, vegetable and olive oil. Open bottles of oil that should be stored in the refrigerator are: sesame and walnut oil. It is best to replace these oils 6 months after opening. Hint: Write on the bottle the date you opened it.
COOKING PASTA - When is pasta cooked to al dente? This is an Italian phrase meaning "to the tooth," which is when food is cooked only until it offers a slight resistance to the bite. If you are unsure, cut a piece in half. If you see a white core, the pasta needs more time.
FRESH PRODUCE - Take full advantage of the power of real foods - choose fresh produce varieties that you can simply rinse and eat. Tip from Chef Nikki Rose