by Elizabeth Skipper March 5th, 2014 | Ask the Chef
How I can I make a pork tenderloin moister? I took mine out of the oven at 145, per USDA guidelines, and it was dry. Help!
I can think of a few reasons why your pork tenderloin was dry, even though you feel you cooked it right. The first one you actually mention, though you may not realize it. By waiting until the thermometer reading was 145°F before removing the pork from the oven, you ensured it would cook to a higher temperature than that.
There's a phenomenon known as "carry-over" cooking. Solid foods like roasts retain heat and their temperature
by Elizabeth Skipper February 26th, 2014 | Ask the Chef
When my mom made peanut butter cookies, she always used a fork and made criss-crossed lines on the cookies. Do I need to do this? Instead of using a fork, could I just flatten the dough?
When you think of a peanut butter cookie, the image that comes to mind is a dark tan colored cookie with a grid on the top. Somehow, nothing else seems right. That doesn't mean, though, that's the way it must be.
If you've made peanut butter cookies, whether using the simplest recipe which calls for just three ingredients, or a more complex one,
by Elizabeth Skipper February 19th, 2014 | Ask the Chef
I own two balloon whisks -- one large and one smaller. I have seen other varieties of whisks, spiral and flat. Are they necessary tools for my kitchen? I’m not sure when either would be more useful but could add them to my repertoire if they have value.
Are you sure what you have are balloon whisks? I suspect what you have are French whisks, also called sauce whisks, which are used to mix ingredients without the incorporation of too much air. That's what is found in most kitchens.
Whisks come in different shapes and sizes. The handles, the number and
by Elizabeth Skipper February 12th, 2014 | Ask the Chef
I want to try making crepes as a dessert on Valentine’s Day. I am comfortable making pancakes and hope that switching to crepes is easy. Before I begin I was wondering if I need a true crepe pan or if my regular frying pan will work? Also, can I just thin my pancake recipe with extra milk, or should I use a different recipe altogether?
Crepes! Oh, I love crepes! I love demonstrating them, teaching them, making them, and of course, eating them. Crepes are versatile, suitable for any course in a meal -- not just dessert -- or great
by Elizabeth Skipper February 5th, 2014 | Ask the Chef
I read your answer about adding rice or pasta to soup. Can I use quinoa in the same manner? My family and I enjoy using it in place of rice, but I wasn’t sure how it would hold up in a broth-based soup.
Quinoa, like rice, can be prepared in different ways. It can be steamed in liquid in a two-to-one ratio, sautéed and steamed like pilaf, or boiled in a large amount of water and drained. I hadn't tried putting quinoa in soup, though it's a logical enough idea. So I went to my copy of Rebecca Wood's award-winning
by Elizabeth Skipper January 22nd, 2014 | Ask the Chef
I’ve read a decent amount of articles that encourage the use of a kitchen scale when baking. Is it a necessary purchase, or can I just be sure to measure carefully with my current set of cups?
How much baking have you been doing, how successfully, and how much baking do you anticipate doing in future? If you're happy with your results up to now, maybe you want to keep on doing what you're doing. If you'd like to improve both the ease of and the results of your baking, though, read on.
Kitchen scales have been around for centuries; digital
by Elizabeth Skipper January 15th, 2014 | Ask the Chef
During the winter I try to make soup as a meal once a week. While my husband and I both enjoy creamy soups, we are trying to eat in a more healthful manner. How can I reduce or eliminate the cream in these soups but still give it a velvety texture?
Here we go again, with this idea that fat is bad for you. It is not. All fats aren't created equal, however, and the kind of fat is important – some are good, others aren't. The ADA and the AHA and all the other institutions which have been promoting
by Elizabeth Skipper January 8th, 2014 | Ask the Chef
I have been reading about slow braised short ribs and other meats. Can I braise in a crock pot while I’m at work, or is true braising only done in the oven?
Braising, a technique which cooks large pieces of food, usually meat, in a small amount of liquid, was traditionally done with coals. The French word "braise" means smoldering coals or embers. A covered pot called a braisière was set on a bed of embers and more were put on the lid. The lid of a braisière is recessed to hold the embers in place. Stoves, with built-in ovens,
by Elizabeth Skipper January 1st, 2014 | Ask the Chef
When I tried making a chicken rice soup, I cooked the rice before adding it to the soup so that it wouldn’t absorb all of the liquid. However, the rice still seemed to bloat and reduce the amount of liquid. Should I just serve the rice on the side? Would it be the same for pasta?
How much time elapsed between the time you made the soup and when you served it? That shouldn't have been a problem if you were serving right away or soon after making the soup. However, starches like rice and pasta will continue to absorb
by Elizabeth Skipper December 25th, 2013 | Ask the Chef
What’s the easiest way to infuse a smoky flavor into foods while cooking indoors for the winter?
There are a number of ways to add a smoky flavor to what you're cooking; it depends on what you're making. As you ask about cooking indoors during the winter, I assume you want to replicate the taste a grill imparts to foods. While nothing completely duplicates the smokiness of food cooked over charcoal – no, not even food cooked over a gas or propane grill – you can make some mighty tasty meals with a few techniques.
First is to use a rub
by Elizabeth Skipper December 18th, 2013 | Ask the Chef
I’d like to try deep frying at home. Do I need to buy a deep fryer, or can I use a large pot? If I can use a pot, is there a better size, shape, etc.?
Just as with almost any other kitchen task, no, you don't need a special appliance for deep frying. In the case of deep fat frying, though, a quality electric fryer does remove one of the variables that make the process tricky. I'm speaking of temperature control. With an electric deep fryer you need only set the dial and wait until the appliance indicates it's
by Elizabeth Skipper December 11th, 2013 | Ask the Chef
How many years does it take to become a chef?
How many years does it take to become a parent? Or a musician? There's no magic number. It depends on what kind of a chef you're talking about and the person who's desiring to attain that status, but the answer in any case is, "Many." Becoming a chef is a long hard road.
To quote from the seventh edition of Professional Cooking
by Wayne Gisslen, a textbook used in many culinary programs, "One title that is often misunderstood and much abused is chef. The general public tends to refer to anyone