For a super fast dinner, pound your meat before grilling or sauteing it: Thinner pieces cook quickly (check out Food Network Magazine‘s Pork Scallopini Salad). Pounding also breaks up the connective tissue in tougher cuts, making them more tender. Place the meat between pieces of plastic wrap, and pound to an even thickness with the flat side of a meat mallet, a rolling pinor a small heavy skillet.
Giada, your daughter, Jade, has such a mature palate. As the mother of an 8-month-old, I wonder if you have any advice to ensure my child will like different cuisines and not just kid stuff. Ann Kording from Woodbridge, Va.
You can’t feed her kid stuff. As soon as she starts eating solids, you need to make her real food. Eight months is a little young because there are a lot of things she can’t eat yet, but as soon as possible she needs to eat what you eat. I grew up eating adult food with my parents, and Jade eats what we eat, too.
—Giada De Laurentiis
If you’re making a sauce, soup or stew with meat, a layer of fat will probably appear on the surface. To remove it, position your pot halfway off the burner: The fat will migrate to the cooler side. Then gently lower a ladle onto the surface of the fat (try not to disturb the surface too much or you’ll stir the fat back in). Better yet, if you have time, chill the dish: The fat will congeal and you can scoop it off.
Pop quiz: How many boxes of cereal are in your pantry? Assuming that you’re sitting on a surplus like most families, we have just the recipe for you: cereal brittle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with vegetable oil. In a saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until amber, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup cereal (we used a mix of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Kix and Cheerios); pour onto the prepared baking sheet and spread with a rubber spatula. Let cool completely, then break into pieces.
When you’re making burgers, meatballs or other ground-meat dishes, combine equal parts of beef or pork with a leaner meat like turkey or chicken. You’ll save on fat and calories without sacrificing flavor and texture. We mixed ground beef with ground turkey for Food Network Magazine‘s Light Shepherd’s Pie — if you go all-turkey, you lose that great beefy taste.
We thought we had seen it all in the fake-food world, but crafters are cranking out something new and totally irresistible: crocheted snacks. Inspired by the popular Japanese art of amigurumi (crocheting small dolls and toys), American knitters have been dreaming up all sorts of fun meals, like this burger, dog and fries ($12/hot dog, $22/burger and fries; etsy.com). You can find free patterns online, or better yet, learn from the pros: This month, three big knitting stores — ImagiKnit in San Francisco (imagiknit.com), Purl Soho in New York City (purlsoho.com) and The Little Knittery in Los Angeles (thelittleknittery.com) — will launch food-design crochet classes.