All Posts In How-to

How to Use Homemade Ricotta

by in Food Network Magazine, How-to, March 7th, 2013

Homemade Ricotta RecipeIn the March issue of Food Network Magazine, you’ll find my recipe for homemade ricotta. Traditionally, ricotta is made from the whey left over during scale cheese production, but at home it’s easy to make using fresh milk. In my version, I chose to add a little bit of heavy cream to the mixture to make it a little richer and more luxurious.

There are 101 ways to use ricotta, but when you are using homemade stuff, it’s best to do as little to it as possible. One of my favorite ways to eat it is in a simple sandwich inspired by one I love at Saltie, a Brooklyn sandwich shop:

Split a 5-inch square of focaccia through the middle and lightly toast it, then drizzle it with some good-quality olive oil. Mix about 1/3 cup of ricotta (preferably still warm) with about 2 tablespoons mixed chopped basil, tarragon and chives, a good grind of black pepper and a tiny bit of freshly grated lemon zest; spread it on 1 side of the bread. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, and add a lightly beaten egg and a pinch of salt to the pan; stir it constantly with a rubber spatula to make a very soft scrambled egg with small curds (it will take longer than you are used to). Scoop the egg onto the ricotta and top it with the other piece of bread.

How to Make Your Own Dried Herbs — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Family, How-to, February 25th, 2013

How to Make Fresh Dried HerbsI used to have a backyard bursting with bunches of basil, parsley, lemon thyme and a plethora of other herbs. Whenever a recipe called for some, I’d just go and pluck a handful. Aside from the hot, balmy New York City summers when the plants required constant care, mother nature mostly did the work — sunshine during the day and the occasional rain once a week, which supplied enough water to make up for the days I forgot to give them a sprinkle with the hose.

The apartment I live in now doesn’t have a garden, so I rely on window boxes for growing fresh herbs. Indoor plants need more attention and due diligence, especially in the water department. When I went away for the Christmas holidays this past December, I forgot to set up my self-watering globes. It was no surprise that I came home to bone-dry plants.

As with all of life’s mistakes, though, there is a lesson to be learned. Ever since I accidentally killed all my plants, I’ve been relying on the farmers’ market for fresh herbs — luckily we have a hydroponic farmer at the Union Square market during the winter months. The problem with buying herbs versus growing them is that I don’t usually finish up the bunch before it wilts. Then one day, I glanced at the old containers of dried-up plants (I swear I’m going to empty them this week), and suddenly the light bulb went off. With a little planning, I could make my own dried herbs. I use the fresh-bought herbs as I would normally, but just before any leftovers hit the wilting stage, I pluck the leaves and set them on a baking sheet.

Keep reading

Deglazing 101 — Worst Cooks in America Culinary How-To

by in How-to, Recipes, February 20th, 2013

Chicken PiccataDeglazing: you’ve surely heard the term mentioned by your favorite Food Network chefs and stars, but do you know what it means and how to do it? Chef Bobby Flay introduced the idea of deglazing to his team of recruits on last Sunday’s premiere of Worst Cooks in America as he taught them how to make a mushroom-wine sauce for steaks, but for some contestants, the lesson could have used a second explanation. If you’re in need of a refresher course as well, look no further, because we have the how-tos for tackling this can-do cooking technique, plus easy recipes to help you master the process.

To deglaze a pan is to use liquid — be it stock, wine or water — to unstick any bits of food leftover on the bottom of the pan after searing or sauteing. In the case of Chef Bobby’s recipe, he used bold red wine to deglaze the pan in which he cooked his beef tenderloin. Thanks to a quick sear, the meat had taken on a golden-brown crust full of flavor, and after flipping it, remnants of that flavor remained on the pan. With just a splash of wine and a bit of stirring, however, those crispy pieces added a new depth of taste to the sauce without much effort.

Practice deglazing at home

Make Homemade Pasta With a Paper Shredder

by in How-to, February 20th, 2013
YouTube Preview Image

Homemade pasta is great and everyone loves it, but most people don’t own a pasta machine because it’s a pricey piece of kitchen equipment.

Problem solved. Our resident kitchen-gadget hacker, Cliff, has come up with a brilliant solution. Click the play button above to watch Cliff demonstrate how to make a pasta machine out of a paper shredder. Fresh, homemade pasta has never been easier.

Just in Time for Dinner: Learn How to Eat a Lobster

by in Holidays, How-to, February 14th, 2013

How to Eat a LobsterLobster is one of the most romantic meals to eat on Valentine’s Day — whether out at a restaurant or in the confines of your own home. While it’s certainly a special treat, it can also be terrifying, especially for new couples just starting to date (it can get quite messy). How do you eat a lobster? Where do you crack it? Can you only eat the tail?

No worries. Valentine’s Day dinner is only a few short hours away, but there’s still plenty of time to learn how to eat a lobster before then. Click the play button after the jump to watch Food Network Kitchens break down a lobster and you’ll soon be a pro (and your significant other will be very impressed).

WATCH the video now

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.

Keep reading

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?

Read more

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

...789...20...