All Posts In How-to

Asparagus All the Time

by in How-to, In Season, May 30th, 2012

asparagus bundle
When shopping for asparagus, look for firm, clean and straight stalks. Wobbly stalks and discolored ends are telltale signs not to buy. Use a sharp knife to trim only the very bottom from the stalk; breaking it off causes more of the bottom to go to waste. With “pencil” asparagus, I find the stalks too thin to peel. For larger asparagus, I peel them (because the outer skin can be tough once cooked) and leave the top two inches intact. Not planning to use them right away? Fresh asparagus should be kept refrigerated. Placing the stalks upright in a little bit of water (as you would a bouquet of flowers, for example) can extend its shelf life.

I like asparagus al dente, a.k.a slightly crunchy. A six-ounce serving of asparagus will cook al dente in boiling water in about 2-3 minutes; add enough salt after the water begins to boil until it tastes like mild seawater. Once cooked, transfer the stalks to a bowl of cold water with ice to stop them from cooking further, dry them off and serve them whole drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. When I serve them chilled, I let them sit in the fridge in the dressing for a few minutes before serving. For something even richer, try a dressing with two parts hazelnut oil, a handful of chopped, toasted hazelnuts and one part lemon juice. Drain the asparagus, dry stalks of excess water and toss them, warm, into the bowl with the dressing. When I serve them warm, I have the dressing ready; I toss and eat right away.

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5 Burger Don’ts From Meat Master Pat LaFrieda, Jr.

by in Holidays, How-to, May 26th, 2012

perfect burger
Last year, we polled FN Dish readers: Burgers or hot dogs for Memorial Day weekend? While 44 percent said they would be indulging in both, 35 percent said they were all about the burger. To ensure you cook up tender and juicy burgers this upcoming long weekend, we asked the “Magician of Meat” Pat LaFrieda, Jr. to offer up some tips.

5 Things to Avoid Doing to Your Burger

Never place your burger on a grill that is not preheated. Always make sure your grill is hot enough and ready to cook on before placing the burger down. Too often people turn on the grill and immediately place the meat down to start cooking — and the end result is never pretty. If the grill is preheated to the right temperature, you’ll notice the difference.

Don’t do these four things to your burger

The Afterlife of a Vanilla Bean

by in How-to, May 23rd, 2012

vanilla beans
Every year in the restaurant and out in the field, I use a truckload of vanilla beans. To me, they are as important as flour, sugar, butter and eggs. I consider the vanilla bean the fifth essential ingredient.

So imagine gallons of ice cream flecked with pounds of vanilla beans. Yummers! And how about custards by the kilo with an equal amount of this decadent vanilla sprinkled through every last bite?

So what do you do with pods that served their duty, sometimes even double duty? I could throw them away, but that wouldn’t be prudent. They are extremely expensive and too special to sit in a landfill somewhere in Florida, never really enjoying the fruits of their labor.

A flashbulb went off in my brain. No, not the same magical 60 watt summoning to life the Easy-Bake Oven of my childhood, but a bigger and brighter new fangled one. I realized if I washed the used pods and dried them slowly in the oven on very low heat, I could grind them in a spice or coffee grinder and have the most wonderful vanilla dust.

Get Hedy’s Vanilla Dust recipe

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