From the category archives:

Recipe Decoder

This week, I explain some of the most common mistakes new cooks make–and how you can fix them. It’s surprisingly easy.

 

Click to play this episode in a new window; right-click to download
Subscribe via iTunes
Subscribe via RSS

ffcoverThere are a handful of very simple-to-correct mistakes that novice cooks make. In this episode of the podcast, I discuss seven common blunders. They’re taken from a cookbook I’ve written with Tamara Reynolds, called Forking Fantastic! Put the Party Back in Dinner Party. It will be released October 6, 2009. And although the book focuses on parties–unlike Cooking in Real Time–there’s still a lot of great advice that new cooks will find helpful, as well as a lot of very accessible recipes.

One of the blunders is using the wrong knife for the job. Many new cooks are a bit scared of big knives, but they’re really the only good way to get the job done. Big knives can also be scary because they’re expensive! Victorinox, though, makes a very good starter knife that’s lightweight but sturdy, and easy to care for. It’s an easy investment in vastly improved cooking!

{ 0 comments }

This week, I talk about that magical ingredient, butter–salted vs. unsalted, various types, when to use a lot, when to use a little….

 

Click to play this episode in a new window; right-click to download
Subscribe via iTunes
Subscribe via RSS

butterButter is one of those great ingredients that makes a lot of things taste sensational, but a lot of people are unreasonably afraid of it as well. Yes, restaurants are often guilty of applying it gratuitously, for a quick-and-easy taste sensation, but at home, you can use it judiciously, and you shouldn’t skip it just because it seems like it might be bad for you.

fatTo convince you that maybe butter won’t kill you, check out Jennifer McLagan’s excellent cookbook Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient. There’s a whole chapter devoted to butter. Granted, it’s titled “Butter: Worth It,” so, yes, it implies it might be a bit of a guilty pleasure. But it also has a sensible attitude toward the use of it. I of course don’t recommend cooking everything in this book at once, but you’ll learn a lot.

{ 0 comments }

This week, I talk about three very common terms that have a particular meaning in recipes, but–because they’re so common–are rarely thoroughly explained. Listen to hear what zest, fold and deglaze mean.

 

Click to play this episode in a new window; right-click to download
Subscribe via iTunes
Subscribe via RSS

Just a quick summary: zest just means citrus peel (but listen to hear more tips on dealing with this, including the excellent Microplane); folding is a way of dealing with egg whites; and deglazing is essential for boosting the flavor of sauces, soups and stews–it’s a technique you may want to use even when recipes don’t mention it.

(If all the talk about browning in this episode has you puzzled, check out the earlier Recipe Decoder on browning, caramelizing and sauteing.)

{ 0 comments }

Episode 6: Recipe Decoder: Coconut Bread Pudding

April 19, 2009

This week, I read through a recipe a friend brought me. She had eaten the dish and gotten the recipe, but it seemed very complicated. In this episode, I go through line by line to see where shortcuts can be taken, then compare it with another bread pudding recipe to show how the techniques differ–and […]

Read the full article →

Episode 3: Recipe Decoder: Browning, Caramelizing and Sauteing

March 29, 2009

This week, I talk about the differences in three overlapping terms used frequently in recipes, and discuss what exactly you should do when a recipe says to brown, saute or caramelize something.

Read the full article →