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Old 04-27-2011, 10:10 PM   #1
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Default Cooking tips I've learned being married to a chef

My better half used to work as a sous chef at a fancy Italian restaurant. I've picked up a lot of tips from cooking with her, and thought I'd share them with the world.

1) Learn how to use a knife. I've been cutting things my whole life without actually knowing how to properly use a knife. Start here:
http://youtu.be/D9Qzz8R_J1cand
http://youtu.be/YT2EHRqcO2U
2) Don't fear spices. The first time I saw her make marinara sauce, I was shocked at how much basil and oregano she used. Use fresh spices, and use a lot of them. Most mediocre cooking can be improved with more spices and more salt. If your spices are more than a year old, toss them out and get new ones.

3) Don't fear the burn. Get a cast-iron skillet and turn the heat up. Most stuff you cook in a pan would benefit from a little bit of charring. It's called "wok hei" in Chinese cooking. It's a combination of caramelization and Maillard reactions. I used to "sweat" everything, which is where your cooked veggies get limp and flaccid over medium heat. Throw the veggies into high heat and they'll get cooked but stay crispy.

4) Brown/char almost everything, especially slow-cooked meats. If you're throwing anything in the crock pot, throw it in that hot skillet for a few minutes first to get a good char on it. The skillet cooking breaks down the outer layer of the meat to allow the hot liquid to penetrate deeper, quicker, which means it will cook more thoroughly and faster. Also, if you're going to use marinades, char the meat first, then apply the marinade, and it will soak in deeper into the meat.

5) Butter is awesome. You know those awesome steaks you get at fancy steakhouses? Drenched in butter. A little bit goes a long way, so try mixing a bit in with whatever oil you're using in your skillet.

Well those are the main ones that come to mind. I'll post more if I think of anything else.

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Old 04-27-2011, 10:24 PM   #2
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+1 to butter on the steaks. It's the only way to go.

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Old 04-28-2011, 01:45 AM   #3
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Marinading after cooking works great as mentioned above. I grill vegetables and after they're finished immediately toss them in an herb vinaigrette. They absorb a ton of flavor that way.

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Old 04-28-2011, 01:46 AM   #4
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Marinading after cooking works great as mentioned above. I grill vegetables and after they're finished immediately toss them in an herb vinaigrette. They absorb a ton of flavor that way.
Recently many people are starting to believe that marinading after cooking is actually better.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:15 AM   #5
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Recently many people are starting to believe that marinading after cooking is actually better.
I would be one of the aforementioned people.
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:51 PM   #6
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What!!! Brining didn't make the top 3!!!! :P

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Old 04-28-2011, 03:01 PM   #7
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What!!! Brining didn't make the top 3!!!! :P
She's in charge of all the roasts. I don't think I've ever personally brined anything, but I know she usually does.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nateo View Post
My better half used to work as a sous chef at a fancy Italian restaurant. I've picked up a lot of tips from cooking with her, and thought I'd share them with the world.

1) Learn how to use a knife. I've been cutting things my whole life without actually knowing how to properly use a knife. Start here:
http://youtu.be/D9Qzz8R_J1c
and
http://youtu.be/YT2EHRqcO2U

2) Don't fear spices. The first time I saw her make marinara sauce, I was shocked at how much basil and oregano she used. Use fresh spices, and use a lot of them. Most mediocre cooking can be improved with more spices and more salt. If your spices are more than a year old, toss them out and get new ones.

3) Don't fear the burn. Get a cast-iron skillet and turn the heat up. Most stuff you cook in a pan would benefit from a little bit of charring. It's called "wok hei" in Chinese cooking. It's a combination of caramelization and Maillard reactions. I used to "sweat" everything, which is where your cooked veggies get limp and flaccid over medium heat. Throw the veggies into high heat and they'll get cooked but stay crispy. .
You don't need a cast iron pan to caramelize sugars.

Do you know at what temperature sugars caramelize?
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:19 PM   #9
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You don't need a cast iron pan to caramelize sugars.

Do you know at what temperature sugars caramelize?
You're right, I know you don't NEED a cast iron skillet, but thick and heavy pans hold heat better. It's much harder to get a good stir-fry, for instance, in a flimsy pan than a hot cast iron skillet.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nateo View Post
You're right, I know you don't NEED a cast iron skillet, but thick and heavy pans hold heat better. It's much harder to get a good stir-fry, for instance, in a flimsy pan than a hot cast iron skillet.
So, do you know at what temperature sugars caramelize?
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Revvy>>You shouldn't worry about ANYTHING, you didn't hurt the yeast, they know what they need to do, they want to eat all that sugar they are swimming around in. They want to pee alcohol and fart co2, it's their nature.

Bobby_M>>I flood the keg with CO2 for one minute with the lid off, rack the beer in to the bottom gently, seal it, flood it, vent it. If there's still O2 in there after that, F it.

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