Spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg have been used for centuries in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cooking to bring out rich, meaty flavors in savory dishes. Try adding a pinch or two of your favorite baking spice to a rub for meat, or drop a cinnamon stick into simmering tomato sauce. Just remember: A little goes a long way.
Don’t be fooled by the label “Grade A” on a bottle of maple syrup: It’s no better than Grade B. Grade B syrup is darker and has a stronger maple flavor; Grade A is milder. We prefer Grade B for cooking (we used it in a Kale-Sesame Chicken Salad for Food Network Magazine). Both grades are more expensive than the imitation stuff (“pancake syrup”), but real maple syrup is worth the splurge.
(Photograph by Lara Robby/Studio D.)
by Leila Clifford, Food Network Kitchens Intern
Every season, Food Network looks forward to a new crop of cookbooks and passing our favorites around the office; these are the ones that keep disappearing from people’s desks this fall.
Edward Lee’s new cookbook, Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen, is an almost-universal favorite for its innovative flavors and new takes on American cuisine. Rob Bleifer, Food Network Kitchens’ executive chef, said of Edward’s book: “Lee’s approach to ingredients often surprises me. Sorghum, for example — sorghum in everything. It’s cool.”
We’re also big fans of Fuchsia Dunlop’s newest book, Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking. “The recipes are very doable and fast, and your pantry doesn’t need to be jam-packed to execute Fuchsia’s dishes,” said Jonathan Milder, culinary research librarian. “She doesn’t dumb it down — she makes you realize how simple Chinese home cooking really is. Give me steamed whole fish any day and chili bean paste on everything.”
Bakers often use coffee in brownies and cakes to bring out the chocolate flavor. But coffee works just as well in savory recipes — especially slow-cooked dishes like Food Network Magazine‘s Slow-Cooker Chili. Try adding a shot to tomato sauce, gravy or stew, and if you don’t have brewed coffee, just dilute a little instant espresso.
by Heather Ramsdell and Rupa Bhattacharya
While we were working on the waffle project, we got really into waffling. We were waffling foods left and right to see what waffling’s magical crispifying effect improved (and what it didn’t). Here are some of their stories:
When you’re chopping garlic, onion or other vegetables in a food processor, keep the motor running and drop the ingredients through the feed tube. The food will bounce around and won’t get stuck in the blade or along the edge of the bowl, so you’ll end up with nice, even pieces.
(Photograph by Ben Goldstein/Studio D.)
Next time you make a stir-fry, use chicken thighs instead of the usual breasts. Thighs are juicier and more flavorful, and because they have a little more fat (they’re dark meat), they don’t dry out as easily. Another bonus: Thighs usually cost less per pound.
Try It: Chicken-Broccoli Stir-Fry
Many recipes tell you to test fish for doneness with a fork: If it flakes easily, it’s ready. But sometimes that’s too late. Instead, watch the fish carefully and pull it from the heat just when it changes from translucent to opaque, or even a moment before, as we did for Food Network Magazine‘s Thai Fish Curry. The fish will continue cooking after you take it off the heat.
Ground spices lose flavor after about six months, but you probably won’t use a full jar of nutmeg that quickly. Buy whole nutmeg instead (it stays potent for two years) and grate just the amount you need each time. Use a fine grater and add the nutmeg sparingly — it will taste stronger than the pre-grated kind.
When frying eggs, crack them one at a time into a cup or small bowl — not directly into the pan. If the yolk breaks, you can save that egg for another dish. We pre-crack eggs for cookies and cakes, too, so we can pick out any bits of shell before they end up in the batter.