Clarified Butter & Ghee
A quick post to tell everyone about the new article I just posted on my web site, www.reluctantgourmet.com, on clarified butter describing what it is, how to make it, how it is used in cooking and the advantages of using it.
I also talk about ghee or clarified butter that is cooked a little longer to cook off the milk butter.
And then there are some very cool cookin...
Cooking Corn On the Cob
How to Cook Corn on the Cob
The corn on the Jersey shore is the best I've ever had sweet and tender and bursting with flavor. I thought it would be nice to give you a few ideas of ways to serve corn that might be a little bit out of the box. Before we go adding all sorts of ingredients though, I should add that when your corn is wholesome and fresh, somet...
Cooking Resources Guide
Where I find my favorite gourmet products online!
Do you know where to find high quality cookware, kitchen appliances, knives & gadgets at good prices for your kitchen. Plus Lobsters, Steak, Fish, & more.
For those of you who write and ask, "Where does the Reluctant Gourmet purchase the various tools, gadgets and specialty items that I talk about on my site?...
Cooking Terms for Home Cooks
One of the reasons I started The Reluctant Gourmet was because when I first started teaching myself how to cook, the cooking magazines used terms I didn't understand. I would look up a recipe and come across words like chiffonade, panko, al dente or bard and I had no idea what they meant and had to go look them up. If I was lucky enough to find the definition, I would...
Cooking with Red Chili Peppers
Someone emailed me asking about cooking with a red chili pepper. Here's what they said, "Hi. I'm going to make the pasta in garlic oil tonight. I have a small red chili pepper that I grew in a pot on my deck that I really want to use.
I am going to take out the membrane and seeds and chop it really small. Not sure when to add it to the oil. I am thinking I should add...
Culinary Tips for the Home Cook
Here are some of my favorite cooking tips that are included with my recipes as well as those that I've picked up from cookbooks and magazines. You can find a lot more in my blog posting here.
General Cooking Tips
Prepare what you need before you start. It’s how the pros do it and it simplifies the process when you are scrambling to put it all together.
Cure for Crispy Top Layer of Lasagna
Gail W. sent me the following email:
"Please Help! I've tried everything with the final top layer of pasta for my lasagna. It always cooks too crispy and hard. I've even tried a double layer and peeled the top off to still find the second layer also crunchy and too difficult to chew around the edges. I've covered it completely with sauce to have it drip all over the ...
Do Not Press Down On The Burgers
Cooking Tip – Don’t press down on your hamburgers after you give them a flip or for that matter, at any time.
Easier said than done. I grew up watching my dad flip burgers on our round kettle barbecue grill and I can’t remember any time he DIDN’T press down on the chop meat paddies, igniting a flame from the fatty juices to our delight.
His way of cooking bu...
Eye of Round, Barding, Larding and Joe the Butcher
Today I had a pleasant experience while shopping at one of our local supermarkets. I met a retired meat cutter with over 30 years of experience who was working in a different department because of a bad hip. His name was Joe and he was a wealth of information. I hope to run into him some more to pick his brain and learn more about meat.
We talked about a whole bunch ...
Fresh Homemade Pizza Help
As I mentioned in my Bermuda Pizza blog, I was going to do some more research on making great homemade pizza. I did a little research and found Chef Ruth Gresser, owner and chef at Pizzeria Paradiso in Washington, DC.
Chef Gresser is considered by many to be one of the best pizza makers around. She gets high praises from The Washington Post and The Washington Busines...
Go Ahead, Ask for a Taste
As a home cook, one of the most frustrating things about buying new ingredients is not to be able to taste them first. Occasionally, there will be a tray with little pieces of cheese available at the grocery store, but most of us would never dream of asking for a taste of a new and interesting ingredient at the local Safeway or Ralphs, let alone some specialty g...
Either you love to grill or you hate it. There is no in between. I love to grill but I don't always follow my own guidelines so I mess up. I compare it to day trading, something I tried a few years ago to some success but failed in the end because I didn't follow the rules.
There are some simple rules to grilling that by following you have a better chance of success ...
Help - Beef Stew Tastes Doughy
Here's a quick post today in response to a question I received from Dave. He asks:
I made a lovely beef stew,removed meat and veg, made a flour/water slurry to thicken gravy. When we ate it you got a doughy taste. how to fix please.
Dave, when you thicken cooking liquids with a slurry of some sort of starch and water, make sure the liquid comes back to a full boil.&...
How Do You Know When The Meat Is Done?
The Importance of Internal Cooking Temperatures
You may have seen my blog on wood burning ovens describing the oven we just installed on our patio. I have been having fun with it making pizza but also trying my hand at roasting meat and over night slow cooking using the oven's residual heat. It has been quite a learning curve but a lot of fun with some great results....
How Many Ways Can You Use A Pizza Cutter?
This may not be news to you but guess what, "A pizza cutter does more than just slice pizza"!
I was cutting some toast for one of my daughters one morning and the pizza cutter with its new homemade cardboard scabbard was still out from the night before so I decided to see how it would work on toast. To my surprise, it worked beautifully.
So then I tried it on my oth...
How To Fry Vegetables
I received an email from Glenn asking "how to coat fried breaded zucchini better".
"My father just asked how to make the breading on fried zucchini stick (better)? He just made some but the bread crumbs didn't stick to the zucchini very well. He dipped zucchini slices into egg and then bread crumbs. The bread crumbs ended up kinda burned, oiley ...
How to Make Thickened Soups
How to Make Thickened Soups
Soup is such a versatile dish, and there are literally thousands of kinds of soups. I generally tend to think of thickened soups during cold weather, but a comforting, creamy soup is really welcome any time of the year. Thickened soups are soups that have been thickened in any of a number of ways. Some thickened soups are fairly high-calor...
How To Prepare A Romantic Table Setting
Valentine's Dinner Final Touches
If you think preparing a romantic meal is tough for some guys, how about setting a romantic table? Maybe you settled on a simple cheese plate, the fish with a salad and some chocolate fondue. Maybe you've decided to go all out with cheese, soup, salad, fish, meat and dessert.
No matter what special meal you have decided to create for...
How We Taste Food
How Do We Taste What We Eat?
Taste is one of those senses that we take for granted - until we get a cold. Then, it seems that we can't taste anything. How we perceive taste is a complicated chemical process, and, it is closely linked to the sense of smell. Further complicating the issue is the idea of flavor. Taste is the information that our taste buds can tell us a...
Is Oven Rack Position Important?
How Important Is Oven Rack Position?
Someone emailed this question to me a while back: Which oven rack position do you use for different applications? For instance, baking cakes, cookies, etc; braising, breads, roasting meats, etc."¨ Thanks
I realized that I had never really given much thought to which rack to use. I usually just follow the direct...
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Mashed Potato Tips
The Two Most Frequently Asked Questions About Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes have gotten a bad rap over the years. But the fault doesn't lie with the potato, which is actually quite good for us. Rather, the fault lies in all the fatty and heavy ingredients we add to/put on top of potatoes.
The holiday season is one time when we would prefer not to worry about all of...
Meat Doneness Chart
Do You Know When Your Meat Is Medium-Rare?
It is essential you know the internal temperatures of the foods you are cooking. Trying to cook based on times given in a recipe is a mistake that I make all the time. There are so many variables that go into cooking times that it is impossible to know when a piece of meat is ready to come off the saute pan, grill or out of ...
Mushy Wontons for Wonton Soup
How do you keep the Wontons from getting mushy In Wonton Soup?
The Reluctant Gourmet receives a lot of questions via email. Some of them I can answer right away, and others I rely on the help of some of my chef friends for answers. Remember, I am by no means a professional chef. I'm called "Reluctant" for a good reason, but I promise that if I can, ...
New Year's Eve Beef Tenderloin
New Year's Eve Dinner
Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, full of great joy and wonderful meals. I'm looking forward to the New Year and all the new cooking techniques and recipes I will learn and be able to share with you. 2011 should be a fun year with some major changes to the Reluctant Gourmet website and cooking blog.
This year I...
Pan Roasted Sea Bass Recipe Update
I received an email from Kurt who made an attempt at the Pan Roasted Sea Bass recipe posted on my web site. He had a few problems and sent me some great questions describing in detail what had gone wrong. I immediately contacted my friend Chef Alan Bickel, an expert in seafood cooking, and asked him to look at the Sea Bass recipe to make sure it was correct and to hel...
Pasta Tip - Don't Add Oil
I get a lot of emails from visitors who have read my pasta tips page with the suggestion of adding a little oil to the pot of boiling water to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
I did this for years until my friend and professional chef Ricco Deluca told me this is a bad idea. A real no-no.
Why you may be asking yourself since this is one of your favorite pas...
Learn the secrets to some of the most popular restaurant dishes from The Cheesecake Factory, KFC, Red Lobster, The Olive Garden, Hard Rock Cafe plus many, many more!
With two young children under the age of 10, we often go out to many of the restaurants mentioned in this book and I'm sure I have eaten many of the recipes you will find in it.
At first, I thought all ...
Reusing Used Breadcrumbs?
As part of my Ask A Chef feature, I just received this email from Ellen who is in a debate with her friends about reusing used breadcrumbs. She writes,
Debating with friends whether you can reuse breadcrumbs that egg battered fish were dipped in if I froze it immediately and will cook with it immediately. Everyone says "no" but I don't understand why when you c...
Salad Dressing Tip
What Type of Oil To Use?
There is no reason to use good olive oil when making a mustard vinaigrette. Why?
The mustard overpowers the taste of the olive oil. You might as well use vegetable oil or canola oil. You do however want to use decent French mustard with lots of flavor. I typically use a Dijon mustard. If you do insist on using olive oil, be careful not to ov...
Sautéing Chicken Breasts - How to Keep From Burning
I received an email from Jason who tried my recipe for Sautéed Chicken with Garlic and Shallots and was having some problems.
He said, "the chicken breasts are taking nearly twice as long to cook through! I'm following the recipe exactly, using a fairly thick pan and pre-heating it well in advance.
The outside ends up charring pretty badly. Could it be the type of ...
Saving Scorched Chili
With all the emails I receive asking various cooking questions, I thought it would be fun to post some of the responses in a new section to my web site called Ask A Chef. Many times when I get a question from you, I send it to one of my chef friends for their advice. Between their answer and my own thoughts on a subject, I respond. This way you get advise...
Secret to Mashed Potatoes
Is There A Secret to Great Mashed Potatoes?
After reading this email from Master Chef Kuntze, I realized how much there is I can learn about cooking. I have my own Perfect Mashed Potatoes recipe that I've been using for years, but now I have a better understanding of the basics. As Chef Hartmut says in my Novice to Pro Interview, "Learn methods instead of recipes. Pe...
Stinky Kitchen Sponge - Sterilize It
I read in the paper today that you can sterilize your kitchen sponge in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I know after a couple of days our sponges start to stink of grease and whatever we were cooking. You think if they smell that bad, they must have some funky germs on them that you are transmitting from the sponge to the plate or pan you are cleaning.
Top Steak Buying Tips
A lot of visitors ask me about buying steaks so I thought I would start putting together some tips on buying steaks, describing various cuts and what to look for when purchasing a good steak. I'll start with some basics and add to this page as I learn more from my resources. You may also be interested in How to Grill a Good Steak? and where to buy steaks online and wh...
What Do You Want Me To Write About?
Back in 1997, over 14 years ago, I created The Reluctant Gourmet website as a way to teach myself how to cook. I was newly married, enjoyed good food and wanted to learn how to make it myself. I had to eat so why not learn to cook and eat well!
I was fortunate at the time to know some very good home cooks who were willing to teach me a few tricks in the kitch...
When Recipes Don't Work Out
I don't know about you, but sometimes no matter how hard I try, a recipe that looks promising just doesn't work out like I wanted it to. This has happened to me recently with opposite results, one good and one not so good. Let's start with the bad results.
How Not to Braise Pork Chops
I had purchased some fresh pork chops on the bone at the farmers market and wante...
Why Flour Meat Before Browning
Flouring Meat Before Browning - What Does It Do?
Just the other day, I decided to braise some lamb shanks. Most recipes that I see call for the meat to be dredged in flour before browning, so I began to wonder why. Is it really necessary at all?
As with most cooking questions, there is a lot of conflicting information, both in cookbooks and out on the Internet. I ...