All Posts In How-to

The Versatile Cast-Iron Skillet — The Product Puree

by in How-to, February 7th, 2013

Cast-Iron SkilletCast-iron skillets can be used everywhere, from the stovetop (to make the best pancakes you’ve ever had) to the oven (for my family’s favorite Chicken With Caramelized Lemons Olives and Tomatoes) to the grill (for those warm summer nights when nothing sounds better than grilled corn on the cob, burgers and sweet baked beans).

When a cast-iron skillet is seasoned well, it can develop an almost non-stick surface perfect for cooking omelets and other foods using less oil for cooking. An added benefit is cast iron’s ability to leach small amounts of iron into food.

A cast-iron skillet is one of the least expensive kitchen tools you’ll ever purchase and it’s the type of kitchenware that tends to get passed down through the generations. So if you didn’t inherit granny’s cast-iron skillet that always made her famous cornbread, then get one for yourself and start the tradition in your family.

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Salted vs. Unsalted Butter and Self-Rising Flours — Your Baking Questions Answered (Part 1)

by in How-to, January 15th, 2013

Baking 101Home bakers often ask, “Why can’t I use salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted butter, especially when salt is listed as a separate ingredient?” Right? I totally get the question. Why wouldn’t you just use salted butter and call it a day?

First, let me say that I never use salted butter. Not to bake with, on my toast in the morning or for any recipe that calls for butter.

Call me a control freak; however, the reason is that the salt added to salted butter varies depending on the brand you buy. All salted butters are not created equal. So why take your chances when baking? Just buy unsalted butter and start with a clean slate.

This leads me to the next most-asked question:

“Why can’t I use self-rising flour for all baking?” I totally comprehend this question too. It sure would eliminate buying a variety of flours, right?

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All About Spices: When to Toss, When to Keep and How To Maximize Flavor

by in How-to, January 4th, 2013

bottled spicesIf you’re wondering why your chili doesn’t taste as good as you remember, it might be the chili powder that’s off. You might not have realized it, but spices can actually lose their freshness and flavor over time. That’s why it’s a good idea to check them periodically to see if they’re still any good. What better time to do so than New Year’s? You might as well check it off your to-do list right after you change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Spices are some of the most important ingredients when it comes to flavoring food. Just imagine an apple pie without cinnamon or an Indian curry without curry powder. Those recipes wouldn’t be the same without those spices. It’s easy to take spices for granted when you use them so often, but they need some attention, especially when it comes to storing them.

Ground vs. whole spices

New Year’s Resolution: Making Over Your Kitchen for a Healthy New You

by in How-to, January 3rd, 2013

Kitchen OrganizationWhen it comes to New Year’s, most people will be making resolutions, whether it’s giving up a bad habit, eating healthier, losing weight or simply making a vow to get to the gym more often. But when it comes to resolutions, the hardest part is starting them. So before you set your goals, survey your surroundings. The way to succeed at any resolution is by first making positive changes at home — it starts in the kitchen.

There’s no reason to wait until spring to clean your pantry or your cupboards. Take the time now when it means the most for your well-being. Getting your kitchen in shape before you begin your new diet or health regimen is the first step in getting your resolutions off the ground. FN Dish has five important tips to help get you started.

Get the Kitchen Resolution tips

Baking Ahead to 2013

by in How-to, January 1st, 2013

Red Velvet TwinkiesThis has been a magical year for me. I wrote my first cookbook, Baking Out Loud, received a James Beard award nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef, created seasonal recipes for the Cooking Channel, was featured on Season 3 of Unique Sweets, appeared on the TODAY show and most importantly, experienced having the love and support of so many people I’ve met along the way.

Some of my favorite FN Dish blog posts of 2012 included Baking in Jars and Food Tastes Better on a Stick. Both of these articles were inspired by my real-life job as Executive Pastry Chef for Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. The restaurant is always busy, so necessity has been the mother of invention; and putting pies in jars allowed me to be creative and eliminate storage issues, while dessert on sticks helps keep people on the go.

With all of that said, here are some things I’m most excited about for 2013:

• Baking with olive oil
• Pickling fruits
• Smoking honeys, nuts and flours
• Continuing to develop portable baked goods

Learn how to make a cake-in-a-box

Holiday Baking Disaster Recovery: What Happens When a Cake Flops?

by in Holidays, How-to, December 20th, 2012

Holiday Bake Disaster RecoveryBy Ron Ben-Israel

I once made a few cakes for dessert — some coffee cakes. The recipe that I tried was not accurate; it said butter the pan, but should have said butter then flour the pan. Half the cake came out and half of it didn’t, and it had a big crack on the side.

So if a cake flops, what can you do to save it? If the cake is supposed to be frosted, then don’t worry about it. Just cover it with frosting. It will still be delicious. If it’s like a coffee cake, which doesn’t get frosted, preslice and serve it plated with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and berries.

Always remember this rule of thumb

VIDEO: How to Eat a Chicken Wing

by in How-to, November 23rd, 2012

YouTube Preview Image

Thanksgiving is over, but the football games are just starting. If you’re tired of eating Thanksgiving leftovers (impossible, we know), dive into a pile of chicken wings. But before you start eating them, ask yourself this question: Am I eating this chicken wing the right way? Yes, there’s actually a right way to eat a chicken wing, and I promise it will make your entire perspective on eating wings a whole lot different.

So sit back, relax and watch. Once you’re done, find your favorite wing recipes to make so you can try it out yourself.

Every month I’ll be showing you the proper and easy way to eat something, so what would you like to see next? Tell me in the comments below.

Food Tastes Better on a Stick

by in How-to, October 25th, 2012

chocolate peanut butter popsI love eating food on a stick. Just the thought of overly salted, grease-saturated and often way-beyond-sweet treats attached to a stick for portable feasting makes me do the happy dance.

Rewind to summer car trips when I was a kid: My parents would load us into a tight compact car (some summers without air conditioning) and drive hundreds of miles seeking state fairs, the mecca of foods on a stick. Growing up in a city as I did, we rarely had an opportunity to indulge in “fair food.” So we would drive and drive with my mom as co-pilot in search of all things yummy. Armed with pockets full of dollar bills, we would hit the fairgrounds running, following the scent of fried anything.

Today, I love making “icles”: fudgesicles, creamsicles and Popsicles (like my Frozen Peanut Butter Pie Pops above). These are the most popular in terms of portable food in my sweet world, but have you ever tried to insert a stick into a piece of pie, then dip it into rich chocolate and roll it into nuts or coconut? Well, here you go:

Living in South Florida, we are all about Key lime pie, which is my favorite. First, make my fast and easy Key lime pie recipe featured here: Key Lime Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches.

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Beyond the Normal Duty of Kitchen Shears — The Product Puree

by in How-to, October 22nd, 2012

kitchen shearsIn this new column twice a month, Catherine McCord will be sharing a blend of kid-tested, mom-approved products and secrets to keeping sanity in the kitchen.

I am sure that it comes as no surprise that the room in my house in which I spend the most time is the kitchen. As a result, finding reliable kitchen tools which can perform double and triple duty is essential.

While some kids got cars, when I was 18 my mother gave me my first set of kitchen shears. And I was thrilled. Not just regular old scissors, kitchen shears are a cook’s best friend. Once you use a pair, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them.

Here are just a few kitchen chores that become a breeze by using them:

  • Trimming fat off chicken and meat
  • Cutting the spine off shrimp to easily peel and devein them
  • Cutting the ends off green beans
  • Chopping herbs (especially chives) into tiny pieces
  • Cutting open food packaging

Read more for kitchen chores that become a breeze

Take a Seasoning Shortcut

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

spice grinder
Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:

You don’t need your measuring spoons every time a recipe calls for a specific amount of salt or pepper. Just count how many turns of your pepper mill make ¼ or ½ teaspoon and use that as your guide whenever you’re cooking. Do the same for salt: Count how many of your own pinches add up to each measurement. None of this has to be exact — you can always season to taste at the end.

(Photograph by Lara Robby/Studio D)

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