Some of My Favorite Cooking Ingredients
Gourmet refers to the most seasonal and the freshest ingredients you can find. This doesn’t mean that I expect you to go out and dig for your own vegetables or plant olive trees in your yard for local olive oil, unless that’s really what you want to do.
If you are used to cooking with convenience products, start out by making just a few substitutions: try to source your produce from your garden, local farmer’s market or CSA as opposed to buying them at the grocery.
Swap out fresh fish for frozen, or free range eggs from a neighbor or local farm for the commodity eggs in the grocery store. You’ll soon find out that the better and fresher your ingredients are, the better your food will taste.
If it were up to me, cheese would be a food group all its own. I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like, and I have always been fascinated by the wide range of cheeses that can be made from such a simple ingredient: milk. Here you’ll find a lot of information about on buying cheese as well as in depth articles about many of my favorite cheeses that I’ve either enjoyed out at restaurants or that my cheese guy has introduced me to.
Here is a round-up of articles I’ve written about different fruits. In the culinary world, fruits are sweet, juicy and bursting with flavor, and although most of us think of pies and tarts when we think of fruit, many fruits also pair really well with meats and poultry. (Cranberry sauce with your turkey, anyone?) And I can’t think of such a wide variety of any other food group that is so perfect for eating out of hand.
There are many grains and rices you may have heard of but really don’t know that much about. Are you familiar with names like Farro, Millet, Quinoa, Arborio but don’t really know where they come from or how to cook them. These rice and grains have been around for a long time but are becoming more popular in recent years. This section contains information about rice and grains, and hopefully will help you understand how to cook with them.
As the primary source of protein for most Western people, meat plays an important role in our diets. Even though all meat is muscle, different cuts require different cooking methods depending on how tough the cuts are. This section contains information about many different popular cuts of beef as well as ideas for how to cook them.
I don’t know about you, but my family loves pasta. Whether it’s fresh or dried, large shapes or small; whether simply seasoned or supporting a serious sauce, we’ll eat it. While I’ve tried to cut down some on gluten, I have found some gluten-free pastas that we all enjoy and can hardly tell a difference. Learn about cooking pasta to al dente, different fun pasta shapes and how to marry the pasta to the sauce.
When most of us, think about poultry, we leap straight to chicken. And while chicken is inexpensive and mild in flavor and can be cooked in literally hundreds of ways, we shouldn’t overlook turkey or even the occasional duck. As with red meat, different cuts respond better to some cooking methods than to others. Find information on the different cuts and cooking methods as well as how to prepare poultry for roasting.
It is almost dizzying the amount of food that we get from the sea. Not only is there standard white fish such as cod and flounder, but also shrimp, clams, crab. Even squid and octopus. And don’t forget the seafood that is almost synonymous with luxurious dining, even if you do eat it wearing a bib: lobster. In this section, find all my articles about all different kinds of seafood, how to choose them and how to cook them to perfection.
The key to really shaking up your meal plans is learning how to use seasonings effectively: what seasonings to use when you want to cook Mexican-inspired food or Thai-inspired. What seasonings work well together to brighten up a meal. What blends we can have on hand for short cut Indian or Chinese food. Learn to paint with spices and other seasonings, and your dinner plate will never be a boring canvas.
These ingredients don’t fit neatly into any other category, but they should be featured. Here you’ll find information on the kinds of “secret” chef ingredients that can take a dish from good to great. A spoonful of demi-glace can take a sauce from lackluster to luscious. A drizzle of fruity olive oil is the perfect finish for a special pasta dish. And just a few drops of aged balsamic can set off Parmesan cheese or strawberries to perfection.
In the Western kitchen, vegetables are generally considered side dishes, but in many cultures where meat is harder to come by, they take a starring role while meat is used more as a seasoning. As a side or the star of a stir-fry, here you’ll find all sorts of information on vegetables both familiar and a bit exotic, how to buy them and ways to enjoy them as part of a healthy and balanced meal.