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Cooking Techniques

There are many ways to cut, chop, or dice an onion. Here is one way taught  by a professional chef...
 

 What makes this technique... a better one...

  • less risk of cutting yourself

  • more efficient

  • easier to the way I had been doing it

Just try it...

  1. Using a chef's knife, cut the stem end almost off but leave a little to grab so you can start peeling. Peel all the outside skin off.

  2. Place the onion on the cut end with the root end facing up. If there are any excess roots sticking out, pinch them off with your fingers. Now slice the onion in half long ways. By leaving the root attached, it will help keep the onion together while slicing.

  3. Take each half of the onion and lay it down flat on your cutting board. Make multiple cuts long ways from top to bottom but not through the root at the end.

  4. Depending on on the fineness you want your dice will determine how many cuts you will make. The more cuts, the finer the dice.

  5. Turn the onion 90 degrees and make multiple cuts across the onion being sure to keep your fingers curled under so you don't cut them. How many slices will again depend on how fine a dice you are looking for.
     

 

Making good pasta is easy, but to make great pasta......

  1. Figure about 4 ounces of dry pasta per person in other words a 1 pound package should yield 4 servings.

  2. Use plenty of water (at least 4 quarts per pound) so that it doesn’t stick together.

  3. Add approx. 1 tablespoon of sea salt per pound of pasta. This will bring out the flavor of the pasta. When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta.

  4. Don’t break the pasta to fit the pot, use a spoon (wooden) to bend it as it cooks.

  5. Stir the pasta often to prevent sticking.

  6. DON’T Over Cook the Pasta!

  7. One pound of spaghetti takes approx. 8 to 10 minutes to cook but check it frequently until it’s "al dente" (firm to the bite).

  8. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it in a colander.

  9. Saucing – depending on the recipe, sometimes I plate the pasta and top it with sauce or I will combine the sauce and pasta in a bowl, mix well, and then serve. For this dish, I combine the two immediately.

  10. DON’T over sauce the pasta! Let the flavor of the pasta stand out.

  11. Adding cheese – if the recipe calls for grated cheese (this one doesn’t), add some before tossing and have some extra at the table.

Braising

Braising is a cooking method where meat or vegetables are first browned in a little fat, then slowly cooked in a tightly covered pot with a little liquid over low heat for a long period of time. This method of cooking is great for tough cuts of meat since the long slow cooking tenderizes the meat by breaking down the sinewy connective tissues without breaking down the muscle fibers while adding flavor at the same time.

Here's how it works. Muscle fibers consist mainly of water. When muscle fibers are heated, they contract and squeeze out the water causing shrinking and drying out. Connective tissues consist mainly of collagen and when heated also contract and squeeze out water. However, when the collagen in the connective tissues reach a certain temperature it melts into a rich flavorful gelatin. The dry muscle fibers then absorb this flavorful gelatinous liquid and braising is complete. Braising can be done on top of your stove or in the oven.

Make sure to use a tight fitting lid on your pot to prevent the liquids from evaporating.
 

 

 

Stir-fry

The technique is to quickly fry the ingredients in a large pan over high heat while constantly stirring to preserve flavor, color and texture of the food and keep the vegetables crisp. Easy enough.

Typically one uses a wok; a large deep bowl made of thin metal with gentle curved sides. The heat concentrates at the bottom of the pan and the curved sides allow you to push the ingredients to cooler areas. You can use a typical frying pan, but it won’t cook as fast thus keeping your vegetables as crisp as you would want. Other than a few specialty ingredients, you can use whatever you have on hand to make a stir-fry. It’s a great way to clean out the vegetable drawer. Because you’ll be cooking at very high heat, you want to use a high smoking point oil like peanut, safflower, corn, or canola. Some of the specialty ingredients that you should be able to find at your local supermarket are soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili sauce. Short or medium grained rice is best for accompanying your stir-fry.

You start by prepping the meat or chicken. Cut the meat into thin bite-size slices and marinate to protect it from overcooking. The marinade can be made with a variety of liquids depending on the flavor you are trying to obtain. Typical marinade ingredients include chicken or beef stock, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili sauce, corn starch, brown sugar, rice wine or dry sherry. Marinate for a least one hour, longer is better.

Prepare an aromatic mixture consisting of finely chopped herbs and spices that will add flavor and aroma to the stir-fry. Typical aromatics include garlic, scallions, red pepper flakes, shallots, and chili peppers to name a few. Next prepare your vegetables by cutting them into small pieces and separating according to their cooking times. Slower cooking vegetables like asparagus and green beans will be added before faster cooking vegetables like pea pods and tomatoes. Now you’re ready to stir-fry.

 

 



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