Thursday, November 22, 2007

What have I learned from...

I am a cooking show addict - not for the recipes, but for tips and tricks that make things go faster, make clean up easier, or just make me think, "Wow that's interesting."

The most useful trick of them all has come from Rachael Ray. She always has a large bowl to put the cut off bits and pieces, the trash (wrapping, cans, etc.) right there on the counter. So as she is doing the prep work, she has a quick and easy place to toss the scraps. If I were cooking in sufficient volume, I would have multiple bins - one for meat bits, one for vege bits and one for general trash. After all, I should make stock from the meat and vege bits, but usually don't.

From Alton Brown, the use of different chopping boards for raw meat, veges, etc. This took some getting used to, but now it is a matter of routine. One fewer risk to have to deal with. Also from Alton Brown the brining and cooking of turkeys.

From Jacques Pepin? There is so much. His technique is immaculate. In the recent TV series, 2 things stand out. The first was making kalamata olives look like rabbits for garnish. The second was in making a parchment paper base so I can bake a pie crust blind.

From the America's Test Kitchen cooks - again so much. The importance of the size of the ingredients perhaps most of all. There will be a future posting called "size matters" where I talk about that more. Their whole approach to freeing yourself from the tyranny of recipes and allowing some free form thinking has proven inspirational

From Emeril Lagasse - safety while frying a turkey. I have no desire to fry a turkey, but Emeril's attention to the safety details have made me look critically at my own practices.

From Giada de Laurentiis how to roast vegetables.

From Shirley Corriher - all about flour.

It isn't about recipes for me. There are thousands of recipes out there. It is about becoming more competent and confident in the kitchen

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