All Posts In How-to

How to Use Salt in Sweets

by in How-to, May 9th, 2012

salt
Savoring dessert carries a double meaning in my book. To fully enjoy most sweets, whether they are chocolate, fruit or candy-based, a little salt goes a long way to make the flavors pop. As the pastry chef at Miami’s top restaurant, I’m always trying to nudge guests a little bit outside their comfort zone. Sometimes the easiest way to do it is by baking some kosher salt into raw sugar-dusted sesame shortbread for a supportive boost you wouldn’t even know unless I told you. Or, better yet, go a little more obvious with a sprinkle of light and flaky Maldon sea salt on top of creamy, frozen truffle-like Milk Chocolate Cremoso. I love the raised eyebrows it provokes upon hitting the table — of course shortly followed by the, “Oh, I see, this completely makes sense,” look.

Just think about it. While it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dessert, it’s actually not that far-fetched of an idea. We’ve been baking salt into our desserts since we were kids. (Remember the Nestlé Toll House cookies package?) When baking at home, think outside the salt shaker. Try to pay attention to the types of salt you are using as there’s likely a perfect variety for each application in both the savory and the sweet kitchen.

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How to Build a Better Sandwich

by in Food Network Magazine, How-to, May 8th, 2012

mushroom and ham po'boy

Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:

Pull out the bready insides of your roll when making a super-stuffed sandwich: There will be more room for the filling, plus it will be easier to eat. We used this trick to make space for all of the fixings in Food Network Magazine‘s Mushroom and Ham Po’Boy.

How to Eliminate Fish Bones

by in Food Network Magazine, How-to, May 1st, 2012

cornmeal-crusted trout

Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:

Here’s an easy way to expose pesky bones in fish: Lay the fillet over an upside-down small bowl, then run your fingers over it to feel for bones. Pull them out with small pliers or fish tweezers, pressing down around the bone with your other hand so the fish doesn’t tear. Give it a try with this Cornmeal-Crusted Trout from Food Network Magazine.

Salt Cod — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, April 30th, 2012

salt cod with roasted potatoes
If ever a food needed a brand overhaul, it’s salt cod.

Because nothing about that name inspires cravings. It actually sounds like something you spread on an icy walkway to keep people from slipping.

But salt cod actually has a rich history, especially in Portuguese and Spanish cuisine, which treat this simple ingredient with near reverence. Read more

Turkey Tenderloin — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, April 17th, 2012

chopped smoked turkey burgers
If you think you’ve done nearly everything a cook can with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it might be time to talk turkey.

Other than the big bird at Thanksgiving and ground turkey when they’re craving a healthier burger, most people overlook turkey.

Fair enough. Ground turkey can be dry and tasteless. And who has time to roast a bird (or even a massive breast) most nights of the week?

But the turkey tenderloin — a thick strip of meat cut from between the bird’s breasts — turns out to be a convenient, delicious and healthy alternative.

Because the tenderloin doesn’t get much of a workout when the bird is alive, the meat is particularly tender.

And like chicken breasts, it is incredibly versatile, taking well to the grill, skillet or oven and working well with any flavor or marinade.

Get the recipe for Chopped Smoky Turkey Burgers

What Is Sour Trahana?

by in How-to, Shows, April 13th, 2012

sour trahanaLast Sunday night on the premiere episode of Chopped All-Stars, the Iron Chef contestants opened up their baskets to find sour trahana. I quickly found myself Googling the term, only to find out several minutes later from Ted Allen that it’s a traditional Greek pasta that is essentially flour kneaded with sour milk, buttermilk or yogurt and some salt.

 

 

I couldn’t get a good glimpse of the grain on TV, but imagine a substance similar to couscous.

According to The Food and Wine of Greece by Diane Kochilas, “Until a generation ago, sour trahana was the shepherd’s and farmer’s breakfast. It was made at the end of every summer all over Greece in preparation for the winter months.”

So what can you do with sour trahana? Try cooking it in a soup, like Cat Cora’s Chicken Soup. The longer you cook the grain, the thicker it becomes.

If you can’t find sour trahana in the international aisle of your local supermarket, try searching for it online at a Greek specialty store.

Tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c when four gourmet globetrotters — Keegan Gerhard, Marcela Valladolid, Jeffrey Saad and Aarti Sequeira — take their place on the Chopping Block.

Wild Boar — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, Recipes, April 10th, 2012

wild boar ragu
Wild boar: a tasty way to do a good deed.

It’s true — across at least 39 states there are an estimated four million feral pigs and wild boars (they are close relatives and prone to interbreeding) roaming about.

And they are laying ruin to vast acres of land. The problem with wild pigs is they are voracious eaters — shocking, I know — and destroy natural ecosystems.

There is no one solution, but eating them certainly helps. It’s what I like to call taking a bite out of swine.

Bad pig puns aside, people throughout Europe and Asia have been eating feral oinkers for years. Italians are particularly fond of them, turning them into all manner of salumi.

Now Americans are starting to catch on. Feral pig is showing up on more restaurant menus, especially in the South, the epicenter of the problem.

Get the recipe for Fettuccine With Wild Boar Ragu

All Fluff: How to Make Marshmallow Pops

by in Food Network Magazine, Holidays, How-to, April 4th, 2012

marshmallow pops
Peeps get all the glory this month (just check out this Peep Cake), but their plain-old marshmallow cousins can get dressed up for Easter, too. We found this fun trick in the new cookbook Sugarlicious ($18; Harlequin) by Meaghan Mountford: Insert lollipop sticks into marshmallows, then submerge one marshmallow at a time in water. Blot off the excess water with a paper towel, hold the marshmallow over a plate and shake sprinkles over it to coat. Prop up in a cup or foam block to dry.

(Photograph by Charles Masters)

Ricotta Cheese — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, April 3rd, 2012

ricotta crab bites
When it comes to food, “recooked” isn’t generally a term met with much affection. The dairy world, however, gives us a fine exception in ricotta cheese.

Ricotta — Italian for recooked — isn’t exactly a stranger to most Americans, who tend to love it in their lasagna and stuffed pasta shells.

But as cheeses go, its versatility is vastly underappreciated, mostly because few people realize how it’s made, or why that matters for how they use it.

So let’s start there. Ricotta got its name because it is made literally by recooking the liquid left over from making other cheese, often mozzarella. This is possible because when the mozzarella or other cheese is made, most but not all of the protein is removed from the liquid, usually cow’s milk.

That leftover protein can be recooked and coagulated using a different, acid-based process (a rennet-based method is used to make the first batch of cheese). The result is a soft, granular cheese with a texture somewhere between yogurt and cottage cheese. The taste is mild, milky, salty and slightly acidic.

Get the recipe for Ricotta-Crab Bites

How to Shop: Buying Honey

by in How-to, March 27th, 2012

types of honeyI am always seduced by the honey stand at my local green market. The beeswax candles, the pollen and the different flavors of honey — how can so much good stuff come from such small creatures?

Here are some of my guidelines for buying honey:

— When I get the chance, I buy the single variety, usually yielded from only one type of flower, from a local producer that I trust. I find color speaks louder than words. Darker honeys, like chestnut and fir varieties, are rarer and have a stronger flavor. I use those on top of pancakes or add to braised carrots or roasted squash. Lighter-colored varieties, like acacia and clover, are mellower and great in tea. They add their honey “note,” but don’t obscure the tea.

Read more of Alex’s tips

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