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hoppyhoppyhippo

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Mine are relatively simple ones that I've given the most of.

First off patience is a virtue. Same idea as with Brewing. When you're cookign bacon, if you want perfect bacon cook it over a pretty low heat (30% or so) and just let the bacon fat do it's job. Unless you're sprinting out the door or running a restaurant, no need to rush it. When you do you dont' get perfectly crisp bacon. Also for bacon as well, frequent turning reduces the bubbling effect of bacon which also makes it crispy. For burgers, steaks, chicken, etc, the meat will let you know when it's time to flip it. Especially with fattier foods. You shouldn't have to fight with your burgers, when they're ready to be flipped or pulled off they'll come off with no fight.

My second is dome your cheese. I do this for burgers and grilled cheese all the time and sometimes for eggs as well. Doming is taking something large to cover your food and basically steam it. When I make grilled cheese I don't add water or anything but I cook it under a dome and no matter what kind of cheese I use it comes out melty like lava. With a burger I cook it on side one then flip, add cheese and dome, the doming melts cheese perfectly. Some places claim for burgers the doming makes it juicy, I don't buy that too much. You can also if you want add a little bit of water to steam the burger a bit, doesn't wreck the texture but melts the cheese super fast.

For fries, always do the double fry method. I know it's messier, but it's worth the results. Also cut and soak your fries for a minimum of a half hour in ice cold water. I like to if I'm making fries for dinner cut them early in the morning and soak for 8 hours or so. Helps reduce the starchiness and make a crispier fry. Another great tip for crispier fries (especially for the second fry) is to not over fill the pot. Doing that drops the oil temp faster and can result in less than desirable crispiness. Another positive to this way is say you have a few fries cooking faster than others, they're easier to watch and maintain then if you have 2 or 3 times the number of fries in the pot.

Next tip I'm tinkering with right now but I've been happy with my early results. For me this is the perfect scrambled eggs.

First - Scramble the crap out of your eggs. Feel free to add a little milk or water to lighten them but if you whip them enough they'll be light without the added liquid.

Second get a pan under medium high to high head and have a burner with no heat (just easier in case you have to put the pan down in case of emergency) melt some butter or other fat in the pan so the eggs don't stick. Put the pan under the high heat at about 10 seconds or 20 seconds or so. It's really a looking thing but if time helps it does. The whole time the eggs are on stir the pan with a rubber spatula (if you're a messy stirrer may want to use a pot) when eggs are creamy but still cooked pull them off the heat add a pat of butter and salt and pepper. Also can use heavy cream in place of butter. Butter does 2 things, first is it adds more deliciousness to the eggs, second it helps stop the eggs cookign so you don't get over cooked eggs. More important than mimicking the style I'm tinkering with, is to not salt your eggs until they're cooked through. I'm also a fan of putting cheese in when you start cooking the eggs so they get amazingly melty.

Last tip I stole from Mario Batali, when you're cooking pasta, first use a timer because the people at Barilla, etc. spent a ton of money on research into their proper cookign temps. And the second part is cook one minute under al dente, and then add the cooked pasta (plus a ladle or so of pasta water) to your sauce and let them come together.

Well what kind of tips does everyone else have? I'm sure I'll remember more down the road.
 

Goofynewfie

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when you are cooking a lobster, steam it don't boil it. also if you can do not add salt to the water,add some dulse instead, unless you are lucky enough to live next to the ocean. if so just use the ocean water

if you want to thicken a chili or a pasta sauce grate a potato in it, the potato will dissolve, leaving behind all vitamins, minerals and the starch
 

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Cast iron or better yet old cast iron is the best pan in the house. Get your cooking gear from a supply place, not a snobbyspends-a-lot store. Get good knives like Dexter or forshner and learn how to put a stone to them and touch them up with a steel. Find a real Butcher and use them for great meats. My butcher has aged steaks that are to die for. Welcome wild game into meals. Buy bigger cuts of meat and break them down your self. Cook over hard wood fires and things that were bland like whole chickens can turn into crazy good meals. Don't let your spices get to old.
 
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hoppyhoppyhippo

hoppyhoppyhippo

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I second the cast iron one. I have one cast iron I use to make everything involving meat. Also use it for shallow frying.
 

mbobhat

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Chopping an onion:

1. Cut the ends, then cut in half through where those ends were.
2. Think of the ends as North and South pole, then with the one side flat against the cutting board, slice longitude lines in it all the way around, don't go all the way through to keep it somewhat together.

3. Then rotate that bad boy 90 degrees, and chop away like normal.

Once I found this out (girlfriend does NOT cut onions) I find it saves me alot of time, and reduces an extra cutting step.
 

TyTanium

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If you have a thermapen for brewing, use it for meat. Never have overcooked meat again.

Never waste good pan drippings. Learn how to make pan sauces. Wine & butter are your friends here.

Don't shy away from fat. Fat is good.

Charcoal + hair dryer = super hot = awesome sear
 

The_Dog_42

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Don't cry when cutting an onion.
If you have a microwave above your NG stove, turn on a burner next to your counter (without a pot on it) and turn on your microwave fan. Put a cutting board next to the burner (but on the counter) and chop your onion. The flame and fan will create a convective air current that will pull the sulphur released by the onion away from you, combusting in the flame then exiting in the microwave vent. (The sulphur reacts with water in your eyes, making a potent acid, which hurts and makes you cry.)
 
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hoppyhoppyhippo

hoppyhoppyhippo

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If you have a thermapen for brewing, use it for meat. Never have overcooked meat again.

Never waste good pan drippings. Learn how to make pan sauces. Wine & butter are your friends here.

Don't shy away from fat. Fat is good.

Charcoal + hair dryer = super hot = awesome sear
Thermometer is nice. I use it for making pork all of the time. I have a different method for beef.

This is my method

LINK

Finger test is pretty accurate.

What I find the most effective as well with beef is pull it off at least 5 degrees below the desired doneness and let sit for at least 5 minutes, longer for bigger cuts of meat.

Few other ones, when I'm making a steak I always leave it out for at least 30 minutes and I always season it with salt in advance.
 

BadMrFrosty

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Garlic:

Gently crush the cloves under your knife before peeling and then the skin will just fall off.

Perfect boiled eggs:

Cover eggs with cold water, add salt (makes peeling easier) and vinegar (prevents cracking). Bring water to the boil, once boiling cover and turn off the heat. Wait 12 mins, drain and cover in cold water. Easy.
 

bobbrews

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Taste and season as you cook. The food should be perfectly seasoned when it is time to serve. There should be no need for salt & pepper shakers on the table.

Use your senses when cooking. Hear the sizzle of the pan as the food hits it, feel the tenderness/texture/quality of the food, look at your food to check for quality and gauge doneness, smell and taste your food!!

Don't get caught up with measuring things while cooking. Use common sense. Cooking is not an exact science.

Be extremely exact when baking. Level measure everything. A rounded tablespoon vs. a level tablespoon of baking soda can make or break your recipe.

Hold a knife at the pivot point where the end of the blade meets the top of the handle. This position will give you better leverage and control.

A Steel hones your blade; it does not sharpen it. You are simply bringing the slightly warped blade back to a ^ shape when using a Steel. For optimal sharpening, get yourself a 2-sided whetstone. Think of one side being like coarse sandpaper whereas the other side is for fine tuning. The japanese water-based versions are the best. Video instructionals on how to sharpen your blades using a whetstone are available online.

Invest in a couple different strainers, sieves, chinois, china cap, ricers, food mills, cheesecloth, tamis... These pieces of equipment will aid in fine straining and smoothing of sauces, soups, mashed potatoes, and other purees.

Learn how to make your own sauces. It will elevated your cooking to another level and you will impress your family and house guests.

Learn all about braising. It is one of the most simple yet flavorful methods of cooking out there.

Learn about quick-curing meats with kosher salt - http://www.steamykitchen.com/163-how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-prime-steaks.html

If you can do so safely and sanitarily, open your whole meats (chicken breast, steak, pork chops) from their original packaging and let them sit in the refrigerator on a wire rack with a tray underneath at least a day before cooking. The air exposure and airflow around the meat will help pull out the flavorless water from within the meat and intensify the natural flavor.

Take out free cooking books from the library and read them in your spare time. NOT the type of books that simply list recipe after recipe with no commentary. You want to look more for the books that teach you technique or explain why its recipes are prepared the way they are.

Buy the book called, "The Flavor Bible". It is a good tool if you want to learn about what flavors/methods make the most sense for the particular ingredient you're researching.

Visit websites like seriouseats.com and thepassionatecook.com. Subscribe to a few cooking magazines. Watch the more technical cooking shows on tv. Even youtube is a great source... Ramsay and Blumenthal have dozens of video instructionals available.

Don't be intimidated by fancy sounding ingredients and don't limit yourself by recipes that contain ingredients which are a headache to get ahold of. If you truly want to learn about flavor, you have to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Keep the passion going.

Cooking doesn't have to be complicated. In its purest form, it is really about assembling ingredients that make sense together, and cooking them in a smart way that offers the most flavor. - For example, boiling steak and serving it with raw spinach and lemon wedges vs. grilling steak and serving it with roasted onions and mushrooms... which do you think is more sensical and flavorful?
 

TyTanium

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Thanks Bob, good tips. +1 for the quick-cure w/salt...seriously works. Braising is da bomb.
 

Xpertskir

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Oven roasting veggies is one of the easiest and most flavorful ways to prepare them--and if you put a piece of tinfoil on the tray you dont even have anything to wash.
-Oven at 375-400 cut similar sized pieces of preferred veggie, salt, pepper olive oil--into the oven. My favorites are brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, leeks, ect but it works with anything. Sometimes I'll hit them with some lemon juice and Parmesan cheese when they come out of the oven

"Frying" tomato paste is an excellent way to introduce a long cook/depth of flavor to dishes even if the main flavor is not tomato, such as beef stew. When you start a braise or a sauce, brown a tablespoon of tomato paste in oil for a minute or so prior to adding your mirepoix, trinity, sofrito, ect... Then just cook as normal and this technique will add an incredible richness and even an umami backbone to the dish, works especially well with red meat.


Invest in good salt, oil, and vinegar. Bulk sea salt such as grey salt(my everyday salt) is relatively inexpensive and well worth the cost, I also have fleur de sel or another nice finishing salt on hand for post cook applications. I use this website http://www.saltworks.us/. For oil and vinegar have two qualities of both, one for cooking and one for raw or post cooking applications.

When searing(or grilling) ALWAYS make sure the searing fodder is dry that way the energy is going into creating flavor via the maillard reaction as opposed to drying off the meat or whatever you are searing

Along with this, Searing meat on a stove top and finishing in a medium heat oven with the use of a probe thermometer, like this http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000CF5MT/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 is an idiot proof way to properly cook meat. Get your finishing temperatures from places other than the FDA and know that the temperature will increase 5-10dg once the meat is out of the oven, more increase for larger pieces of meat.


Brine your pork and chicken, its flavorful insurance against drying out lean meat.


Always buy low sodium stocks and broths, you can always add the salt back in, this gives you more control. I personally use these http://www.soupbase.com/ They are cheaper, more convenient,and IMO have better flavor

Season each ingredient as it is added, taste a long the way, and adjust at the end. Salt is particularly important to add at the start of dishes when sweating or sauteing veggies as it helps draw moisture out of them. With sauces/liquids that will reduce be wary of over seasoning. If you season at 100% volume then at 50% volume you will have twice as much seasoning as you want.
 
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hoppyhoppyhippo

hoppyhoppyhippo

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Garlic:

Gently crush the cloves under your knife before peeling and then the skin will just fall off.

Perfect boiled eggs:

Cover eggs with cold water, add salt (makes peeling easier) and vinegar (prevents cracking). Bring water to the boil, once boiling cover and turn off the heat. Wait 12 mins, drain and cover in cold water. Easy.
I can also add that if you're an Ogre like me you can peel garlic by squishing it between your fingers. I've also seen a lot of people crush it under their palms (think I saw Emiril or Guy Fieri do that) Saves me a touch of time. Though I only ever peel garlic if I'm doing a ton of it, for one or 2 cloves my press handles the skin with no muss or fuss. And yes I know pressing garlic isn't ideal or whatever, but I don't care, it's easy.
 

StonesBally

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The first and best lesson is that there is no recipe that will come out perfect every time. Only a cook who knows his tools, equipment, methods and appliances can make a recipe turn out the same every time. It is the same with brewing. You can use someone else's recipes, but when it comes to it, if you don't know your system or methods very well, it will not turn out the same. I get really annoyed when someone asks me for the recipe for the food I just made. If I gave them the recipe, which usually only exists in my head theoretically, they will never make it the same as me. Cooking well takes learning the basics. Good books for learning the basics are Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here For the Food," and Michael Ruhlman's, "Ruhlman's Twenty." These books do a good job of explaining the basics. Once you know the fundamental cooking methods, then you can hope to have a recipe turn out as it should.

Here's a few good tips I've picked up over the years:

Have a plan before starting cooking, including a general recipe, prepped ingredients, containers, and cooking vessels.

Salt in advance. The larger the item the farther in advance. Small pieces of meat a day, medium 2, large at least three. This always helps meat come out well seasoned throughout and not just on the surface.

Never use table salt, it is a despicable ingredient perpetrated on the population much like margarine. Kosher or sea salt please.

Make homemade stock. This more than most tips will help your food taste great, unlike most other homecooks. I have beef glaze, veal stock, chicken stock, veal demi glace, pork broth, shellfish broth, and fish broth all in the freezer. Having these on hand not only makes your food taste better, but it puts finished dinner on the table in mere minutes.

Another one is avoid commercial spice mixes/blends, and make your own toasted and ground spices for each dish you make. This also makes a huge difference in flavor. Find a nice bulk spice store, and buy only what you need. Buy an extra coffee grinder and use that for your spices. In fact I have two extra grinders, one for spices, and one for grinding dried chiles mostly for Mexican food.

These are just a few tips. Hope they are useful.
 

Airplanedoc

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I grow a bunch of my own herbs and green onions. They are cheap/easy to grow even in a small pot in a window winter. They are also much more flavorful. I jsut snip off what I want when I want.

I also like to shop at the international grocery for spices, and other stuff. Many times they are much much cheaper that the spice isle in the american grocery store
 

Subsailor

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I grow a bunch of my own herbs and green onions. They are cheap/easy to grow even in a small pot in a window winter. They are also much more flavorful. I jsut snip off what I want when I want.

I also like to shop at the international grocery for spices, and other stuff. Many times they are much much cheaper that the spice isle in the american grocery store
I always have herbs growing, even here in Alaska in the winter, we just move many of them indoors under lights. Fresh herbs are wonderful! we grow just about any herb and I have to pots with two different ginger roots that keep alive and fresh.
 

Rob_B

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2 cloves of garlic per person per meal, just crush don't chop.

Lemon zest and juice, especially on fresh veggies.
 

Airplanedoc

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Use better Cheese.

Making Cheese soup, cut back on the kraft/sargento/walmart/store cheese/ (hopefully I wont get struck down... Velveta) and use some good aged Chedder. Your soup will taste much better. Best part, it really doesn't take much to make a big difference.

Pastrami and Swiss, Get the better imported Swiss, instead of using 2 slices on my sandwich, I use 1 usually bigger slice, so the cost comes out the same, but you get as much or more flavor.
 

Rob_B

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I'll second the use of good cheese. Throw some smoked Gouda into you scrambled eggs for a mind blowing experience!
 
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hoppyhoppyhippo

hoppyhoppyhippo

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I love good cheese but we just flat out use too much for everyday use. Cabot is our go to we stock up when it goes on sale sometimes buying 8-12 blocks. But when we run out, we just buy whatever is cheap.
 

BadMrFrosty

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I love good cheese and always pick it up cheap. Why 5 year matured Cheddar or a smelly moldy blue cheese like Stilton has a "use by" date is beyond me. However that means stores are forced to sell it off for next to nothing when said date looms or dump it in the trash.
 

Subsailor

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Food Rant:

2 things I don't keep much of in my house: Ketchup and Ranch Dressing.

I spend all the time preparing a beautiful roast, or goose, or whatever. The kids come in and say "that smells delicious" and load their plates. Then instead of a small pinch of salt or dash of pepper, they drown it in ketchup and or ranch dressing.
Now the part that gets me spinning- Dad, this is soooo goood!
My answer - how would you know - you can't taste it for all of the crap you dumped on there!

Fortunately, they are grown and the last moves out at the end of April.

End of rant.
 

kman6234

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This is turning out to be an awesome thread. Here are a couple of my tips that I can think of...

Make sure the pan is properly preheated before adding the food you want to cook. (Especially meats). Preheating the pan and then adding the oil or butter then the food will help prevent sticking and sear foods better than throwing it in a cold pan.

Always clean as you cook. Nothing worse than cooking a great meal and then having to stare at a pile of dishes in the sink.

When I think of some more I'll post again
 

The_Dog_42

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Preheating is a great idea for most things. If it mentions sautee or sear or brown, preheat is essential and means to heat the pan until the oil is "shimmering." If you move it slightly after it is preheated and it looks odd, I call that a shimmer. Also if you see very thin wisps of smoke, you're preheated. I find the smoke easiest to see when I use the light above my microwave.

If on the other hand, the recipe calls for softening onions or softening something, but not browning it, I like to start in a cold pan because I am less likely to develop the caramelization or maillard reactions.
 

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Learn where the joints are in a chicken, which makes for easy carving. Remove the wishbone before cooking - also makes for easier carving.

When it's done, cut through the skin around the thighs, put one tine of the carving fork on one side of the thigh bone and the other tine on the other side, and twist. The leg will pop right off.

Lay the flat of a thin carving knife on the breast with the back against the keel bone and then stand it up and cut. Same thing on the other side. You then have two identically-sized breast pieces and one perfectly symmetrical piece from the center of the breast.
 

gratus fermentatio

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I have to pots with two different ginger roots that keep alive and fresh.
Subsailor, do you heat those pots to grow your ginger? I have a hard time keeping the soil warm enough fo growing ginger. What's your technique?
Regards, GF.
 

thataintchicken

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Quick little tip.

Purchase some smoked salt and smoked peppercorns. Place in a cheap Peppermill.
Instant smoke flavor that works well for any place you'd use salt and pepper.
Salad dressings, sauces and Bloody Marys being examples.
 

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  • Don't peel garlic if you've got a lot - break the cloves apart and put them in a metal mixing bowl, unpeeled. Then put another bowl over the first so the rims touch. Shake like crazy for about sixty seconds. Your garlic will be peeled, and anyone else in the house will wonder what all the noise is.
  • Saute your onions for 15-30 seconds before adding garlic. You'll sweat some moisture out of the onions that will keep your garlic from burning.
  • A little hot sauce can add an interesting flavor to burgers, meat loaf, etc. that will be appreciated by even people who don't like chili heat. Be careful not to overdo. Also keep in mind that Tabasco is largely vinegar, which may not always be a flavor you want.
  • If you're cooking something that involves a saute step, you can add whatever spices (not herbs) you're using into the saute. This is common in Indian cooking and really brings out the flavor of the spices.
  • Dried herbs go in early, fresh herbs go in late.
  • Quick soak dried beans by boiling for two minutes, turning off the heat, and letting them sit for an hour. Try to plan ahead and avoid canned beans if at all possible.
  • Dull knives are a terrible thing. Home sharpeners can help, but eventually you'll need to take them someplace that can do a better job. My local grocery store sharpens them for free at their meat counter.
  • Don't use water for cooking if you can find something more interesting, like wine, beer, or stock.
  • Tomatoes and peppers can be roasted directly on a gas stovetop.
  • Take advantage of whatever drippings or fat you get from meat. Use them for sauce or to fry something else.
  • Don't confuse the stuff in the green can with parmesan cheese. Grate all cheese fresh.
 

The_Dog_42

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[*] Don't peel garlic...
Some good stuff there.

In the same vain, even with just a alittle garlic, if you're looking to get a rough chop or even a mince from your garlic, SMASH it. Alton taught me the technique and uses a marble block, a pan, the flat of a knife (watch the sharp edge).

The one thing he doesn't use, which I do religiously is my meat tenderizer. It's flat on the bottom and the handle makes it very easy, just smash and scrape.
 

EyePeeA

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If on the other hand, the recipe calls for softening onions or softening something, but not browning it, I like to start in a cold pan because I am less likely to develop the caramelization or maillard reactions.
Cold fat soaks into the onions more quickly, leaving them soggy with oil. I recommend pre-heating your pan for everything except really fatty items, like duck breast, where it is common to start fat side down in a cold pan with no extra oil.

To prevent caramelization, you have to keep stirring. If you find that this is not working, lower your heat or add some more water/stock. The pan should be hot enough where you drip a couple drop of water and it quickly evaporates. It should not however be smoking hot where the onions burn immediately when tossing them in the pan.

Typical process for pre-heating a pan:

1- Heat pan over medium low heat
2- Increase heat and add oil
3- Wait a minute or less for the oil to warm up
4- Add your raw, seasoned food
 

DougK

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If your recipe calls for beer or wine, ALWAYS use a beer or wine that you would be willing to drink. Don't get the cheap wine or worse yet the so called cooking wine which had a ton of salt added to it.
 

EyePeeA

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Asparagus Francaise with Shaved Parmesan

Assuming you made some form of chicken to go along with it (not chicken francaise though... that would be too similar)...

Use the saute pan containing the cooked crispy chicken brown bits, drain off any oil, add butter and brown it (brown butter). Deglaze pan with a dry white wine (use a cheap French Languedoc Pinet). After you have scraped up the brown bits and deglazed, add fresh lemon juice & unsalted chicken stock (not broth) to taste. Reduce to sauce consistency, season with kosher salt, turn off heat, mount with a tbsp. or so of fresh butter.

Upfront, the sauce should be acidic & lemony with just enough (but not too much) butter fat to sort of balance the acidity. Just add enough salt for taste, but don't go overboard. The fatty salty parm will do the rest of the job as it pertains to balance. It will also add texture.

Sauce the roasted asparagus. Sprinkle fresh chopped parsley, finely shaved lemon zest for brightness, cracked black peppercorn for heat, and large yet really thin shavings of aged parm.

-------------

**Roast the asparagus before you add the sauce (recipe above). The asparagus is simple:

Preheat a sheet tray and oven to 450 F. Season the asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add asparagus to piping hot sheet tray and cook til al dente. You have to taste your food to know when it's cooked... can't go by eye alone or common sense. Coat asparagus with the francaise sauce and add the lemon zest, shaved parm, and chopped parsley on top.

Never has a side dish been so sexy.
 

DougK

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What is this 'recipe' you speak of? ;-)
They are rough outlines of how to produce a certain food when you have never made it before.

Most everything that I make has no recipe and varies a little reach time I make it.

How about this:

Never cook with beer or wine you wouldn't be willing to drink. Avoid cooking wines as they are loaded with salt to discourage people from drinking them.
 

Subsailor

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Subsailor, do you heat those pots to grow your ginger? I have a hard time keeping the soil warm enough fo growing ginger. What's your technique?
Regards, GF.
No, no heating of the pots, they are in my plant room upstairs. We keep the house at 68F during the winter and I use flourescent lights on a timer. I keep the top of the pot about 18" to 20" from the lights. I use T8 bulbs in 4ft cheap shop fixtures from Lowes. I keep the soil damp to dry and end up with stalks about 4ft tall. I trim back the stalks. When we want some fresh ginger, I pull up a root, cut off what I want and put it back in the pot, barely covered with soil. We haven't purchased ginger from the store in about 5 years.

I have let them go totally dry and later remembered to water them and they came back with no problems. I have found them to be low maintenance.
 
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hoppyhoppyhippo

hoppyhoppyhippo

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Few other ones I've thought of.

When cooking meat, always add a healthy amount of salt to the meat. The difference often between a restaurant steak/burger/bolognese/etc. and a home one is often the amount of salt. I also say the same aboutmy tomato sauces and cheese sauces. People look at me like I have 2 heads when I add a full tablespoon of salt to my cheese sauce, but when that salt makes the cheese sauce go from good to best thing at the party, they realize there's a method to my madness.

Also if by some chance you over salt a sauce, there is a remedy. Slice up a peeled potato and let it sit for about 15 minutes in it. And you should have a slightly less salty (though more starchy) sauce. Not the ideal fix, but it's a fix.

Now the tricky one is if you overseason beef or potatoes. What I've found that helps with that is citrus, don't know why exactly but it does.

Another favorite thing I do is save all that delicious bacon fat when you're frying bacon. That's perfect for some fried potatoes. Also great for adding to lower fat ground beef to make a richer burger. Another one I've played with but I haven't seen the results pay off enough to say it's a great tip is before you fry something in oil, fry some bacon in it first, that way you add some bacon flavor to your cooking oil (in theory)
 

gratus fermentatio

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No, no heating of the pots, they are in my plant room upstairs. We keep the house at 68F during the winter and I use flourescent lights on a timer. I keep the top of the pot about 18" to 20" from the lights. I use T8 bulbs in 4ft cheap shop fixtures from Lowes. I keep the soil damp to dry and end up with stalks about 4ft tall. I trim back the stalks. When we want some fresh ginger, I pull up a root, cut off what I want and put it back in the pot, barely covered with soil. We haven't purchased ginger from the store in about 5 years.

I have let them go totally dry and later remembered to water them and they came back with no problems. I have found them to be low maintenance.
Thanks for the tips, I'll give it another shot when things warm a bit.
Regards, GF.
 
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hoppyhoppyhippo

hoppyhoppyhippo

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Ok bumping with a few more.

I am a sucker for just ground beef tacos. Something about them is comforting. It's also the only form of meet SWMBO eats so I can't do anything but ground beef, chicken or turkey tacos. Anyway, unlike burgers, the fatness of the beef doesn't matter for tacos since you wind up dumping the excess anyway so it's a great use for lean burgers (we use 93%) anyway just make tacos (we make so much we just bought a big jar of McCormick taco seasoning from BJs) in large batches and fridge the remainder. There's 2 things I make with this for quick and easy meals that I love.

First up is microwave nachos. Just nice and simple. For me I make them a very specific way and it turns out great every time.First you heat the meat and the chips for 30 seconds on high. Then add anything you want warmed, which for me is only cheese. Heat until cheese melts. Then add your cool stuff. Since I eat like a 5 year old and hate vegetables, for me that usually consists of lime, cilantro and hot sauce. Sometimes I mix it up to keep things interesting.

Second is burritos. I have in my fridge at all times burrito sized tortillas. Now for me I make my burritos using these steps and it works without fail. First heat the tortilla and meat (and I usually do rice as well at this time) for 25 seconds in the microwave. Then add everything else you want inside. First and more important thing to remember with burritos, never over fill them. Trickiest part is rolling them. What I do and I like is to fill on one half, then fold the sides in, tuck the back and then roll tight and fast. After it's rolled you need to heat it and I've used 3 methods. First the microwave which is my least favorite. Second is a toaster oven which rocks cause it bakes and toasts, third is in a pan to sear.

This place explains the rolling better (and I should give thme credit since I adapted their method)

LINK

My last tip is a walkthrough on how I make cheesesauces. I started making these years ago for adding to nachos and love it.

This is the step by step with explanations. I'll go more into my methods later

In a saucepan melt 2 table spoons of butter. Once melted add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a roux and let it cook for at least aminute. The idea here is that you're making a thickening agent and you're also cooking out the flour taste replacing it with a nutty taste. For me I don't let this get darker, I'm not making Gumbo.

While you're making the roux (or before if you're not a multitasker) heat 1 cup of milk until it's warm. Basically you don't want ot add cold milk to a hot pan or it will take forever to make your cheese sauce.

Now that your roux is cooked and your milk is warm add the milk to your pan in a stream while furiously whisking. Whisking here will seperate a clumpy sauce from a smooth sauce. If you want to take it more carefully you can also add your milk in batches like say a third at a time. Continue to whisk until it thickens. Usually takes 3-5 minutes, you can test if it's thick by coating the back of a spoon and dragging your finger across it and see if it still runs. Personally I've done it so much that I can see when it's done by how it looks.

Ok now comes the fun and customizable part. Always add a healthy amount of salt. then add whatever spices you like. What I almost always add (since my cheese sauces are for Nachos I almost always make them spicy) is salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, and some dry red chili flake. Once you're seasoned up remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cheese. I don't use premeasured amounts because sometimes I want more of a cheese flavor than others. But a good guess is you'll use at least 2 ounces of cheese for this amount of sauce. Once the cheese is added you can be done. But I never am this is where I add my finishing touches, such as hot sauce, or peppers, or ground beef, anything to make it a little more special.

Only thing that really matters through the whole process is to continually taste the cheese sauce. It's hard to over season something if you keep tasting it. Also a tip as well if your aim is to make a spicy cheese sauce not a cheese sauce with a spicy hint. You're gonna add more than what you may think. I've added 30 dashes of Tabasco to a sauce just to get it to the right heat.

Now if your cheese sauce is too thick or too thin, there are remedies for both. If it's too thin it's a tougher fix, you have to basically add more fat and flour, you can do it as either another roux to make sure your flavor stays together, or you can use another thickener, Or you can just add the butter and flour if you're lazy. If it's too thick add more milk in a splash at a time.
 

Wolfbayte

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Cooking Meat, especially Beef. Get that meat to room temperature before cooking it. Makes it more tender. If you are browning cubed meat for chili or stew, not only bring it to room temperature first, but also brown it under a low low low heat. It will be more tender.

Pancakes: Add a little more water than the box calls for. I'm usually 1/2 c. of mix to 1/2c of water. Do not use cold water. Do not mix until your pan is hot. Batter will thicken (clot) as you wait for the pan to heat up and you will need to add more room temperature water. This is also true if you are making more than one pancake, you will likely need to add water as you go.

A hotter grill makes a better tasting pancake. Most non-stick cookware cannot handle extreme heat. Cast iron is best. For non-stick pans, use 7-8/10 heat level and be patient letting it heat up. For electric griddles, crank it to 11. Use light oil and don't let it burn before the pour.

Pour a nice sized (5-7 inches) pancake in the center of your pre-heated and lightly oiled pan. After the pour, keep an eye on it. When its bubbly all over the top, but before the top gets dry, you want to flip it over. Before you flip it over, go over the entire edge with the corner of your nylon flipper. This will ensure it won't stick when you go to flip, and also allows you to check the color. Too light yellow, it's not done yet. Too dark brown/black, the outside is done. Too thick, the middle might not cook. Then flip it quick, making sure your flipper went all the way across. It is now pretty side up. If you missed the center on the flip, adjust the pan to center the pancake over the heat source so it cooks evenly. I lower the heat a few notches to cook the second side. Do not recook the first side. You flip it once and only once on the griddle.

When it's done, flip it onto a plate with ugly, hard side down. The steam will soften that side in a minute or so. Then serve it pretty side up. This side absorbs syrup better than the roof shingle side which at least is no longer crunchy.

Want to add fruit? Add small pieces of fruit (blueberry) to the uncooked pancake right after you pour it on the pan. Otherwise, they sink to the bottom of your pitcher and it doesn't work as well. Do not crush the fruit, or mash a banana, the sugars will caramelize from the heat. It may burn and/or stick to your pan. For strawberries, you are well advised to quarter them and put them on a pancake after its cooked.

Want to add chocolate? Insert chips to the pancake right after take it off the grill. this way they do not burn. Add a bit of baking cocoa to the mix if you must; this works better than powdered chocolate milk mix or syrup which may cause burning and/or sticking.

For best results, serve with bacon.
 
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