Cooking Tips from Chefs and Food Experts

kitchen tips

Do you want to learn how to chop herbs, prepare a fluffy puree, or how to cook a delicious steak and get everyone to call you an expert cook?

Here’s a list with the most efficient tips and tricks when it comes to cooking, handy solutions even for beginners. Chefs from around the world contributed to this list, so you can’t go wrong.

  1. If  you want to make sure fried eggs won’t stick to the pan, preheat the spatula in the hot oil first. In addition, to prevent foods sticking, use dishes that  have a thick bottom, and always clean them with nonabrasive cleaning solutions that won’t scratch the material. Scratches on the bottom of a pan take the coating off and make sticking very easy. Never leave empty dishes on fire for too long, high temperature can bend the  metal.
  2. Prepare all your tools and ingredients before you start the actual cooking. Chop your vegetables, prepare the meat and sauces beforehand. This will save you time in front of the stove, and you’ll prevent mistakes that often arise from doing too many things at once.
  3. To squeeze more juice from fruits, press them by hand for around one minute. A better solution would be to warm them in the microwave oven for ten to fifteen seconds.
  4. Mashed potatoes represent a very popular side dish for steaks or foods with sauces. If you want them to be creamy, do the following: drain the water they’ve been boiled in, and place them back in the covered pot for five minutes. Taste can be enhanced by mixing with a bit of cream or butter.
  5. When you grill meat remove it from the fridge at least an hour before cooking, allowing it to reach room temperature.
  6. Salt the chicken an hour before cooking. Inside and outside, don’t be cheap with salt when it comes to this, it won’t alter the taste except in a good way. Before placing it in the oven wipe it with a dry towel. You’ll end up with a crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside chicken.
  7. For extra flavor keep basil at room temperature, soaked in water.
  8. If you want to spice salad, sprinkle it with coarse salt soaked in virgin olive oil. This way the salad will remain crispy for a longer time.
  9. Don’t take recipes as law! All recipes are simply guides telling you how things are done in general or worse, by personal preference. Take liberties in adapting recipes to your needs and taste, learn to improvise and you might exceed expectations. As an example, you can try using thyme as a replacement for oregano, it might suit your tastes better.
  10. Immerse vegetables in a bowl of ice after boiling them, this will help retain their lively coloring, and your dishes will look more appetizing.
  11. If you figure you need more cooking oil in the pan after you already started cooking, don’t just pour it in! Sprinkle it on the inside margin of the pan so that when it reaches the food it’s already hot.
  12. When you cut your greens spread a bit of salt on the cutting board, this will prevent them from flying all over the place.
  13. Store your food supplies and spices somewhere dark and cool, far away from the heat of the stove. Light, heat and humidity, will always remove from the flavor.
  14. If you want to get rid of the pungent smell garlic can leave on your hands, rub your palms on something metal (like the kitchen sink) for thirty seconds followed by a good rinsing.
  15. Another tip to prevent sticking is to keep the meat above the pan for a few seconds before placing it the cooking oil. You can achieve this easily with a pair of cooking tongs.
How to cook horse meat

Horse meat from the NetherlandsHorses, in many countries, became companions of man as they proved greater value for riding or working the fields than getting turned into food. Centuries later most of us even forgot horse meat can be eaten, and horse-eating became taboo. But the tradition still stands in some countries, mostly Asian, but not reserved to them. For example, the biggest horse meat producer in the world is Mexico, though they mostly export it. In Europe you can usually find horse meat in salami and sausages, with some countries eating it as a delicacy, for example Spain makes Cecina and horse meat can easily be found in supermarkets and butcher shops.

As a foodie, I believe we should not limit ourselves when it comes to food. People have been eating all kind of animals since ages, though it’s true we now have other options.

Horse meat lacks saturated fats, just like pork does. Ruminant animals like sheep and cows are almost impossible to eat because their fat is fully saturated. It increases cholesterol but the taste is also unpleasant. It’s a paradox that in some countries horse meat is considered low quality meat and even sold cheaper, since people don’t want to buy it and don’t know it has extremely high nutritional value.

If you’re new to this, the obvious question is, So how do you cook it?

I like to eat horse meat a bit raw, pink inside and juicy, like a medium raw beef stake. You’ll discover many similarities with beef stake in my advices.

First thing you need to know is horse meat should not be frozen. By freezing it the water inside its blood turns to crystals and destroys cells, which leads to loss of flavor. You can keep the meat in the fridge for several days without problems, but not in the freezer!

Second thing to know is you don’t wash meat! Studies have shown washing meat does not make it any cleaner, contrary to this belief it actually spoils it. Another thing is you don’t want to get rid of its natural juices. Once I get it out of the fridge I get right to cooking.

Third advice is don’t prick it! You’ll let all the juice out through those little holes, just use a spatula for turning, or something wooden.

1. I take the meat out of the fridge and throw plenty of kosher salt and pepper on both sides. I used to use very little salt as not to alter the taste, but that was a mistake. Salt and pepper will form a  delicious crust while the meat is cooking in the frying pan, and it makes the final product a bit crunchy. You can’t really see it in the pictures but trust me I throw in a lot of salt. You can also use some other spices, like oregano, but from what I’ve seen at other chefs it’s better to keep it simple because you don’t want to change the taste too much.

horse meat seasoning horse meat zest

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. I leave the prepared meat like this for 25 minutes to give it time to reach room temperature.

This has a few advantages. Meat might smell funny if it’s a few days old, this is perfectly normal. Leaving it out will remove the smell. Slowly warming the meat to room temperature will retain its freshness and keep the blood in. Colder meat will cook harder.

3. I warm up the frying pan. I use a ceramic one for smaller steaks, but I also have a cast iron skillet for thicker pieces. Iron warms better and maintains the heat. I don’t use cooking oil but you can grease the meat with some olive oil before cooking it if you feel like it.

4. I place the meat in the pan at medium heat. How long before you turn the steak depends on how thick you cut it and how fresh it was. I usually turn it 3 to 4 times to observe its color. You need to remember to take it off the fire a couple minutes before it looks done, because meat continues to cook a bit even afterwards.

frying pan wonder

A half an inch steak will need to be kept around two minutes on each side, maybe less. This is what I did in the image above. It’s not necessary to guess, as you can cut it and see how deep it’s cooked, but this is not recommended unless you’re a beginner and need to learn, for you lose a lot of tasty juices through that cut.

Another method is to puncture the meat, but you get the same disadvantage.

The method I use currently is to feel the meat with my fingers. This is called the finger test and it’s the best one to check for the doneness of meat. I won’t describe it here but you can check this article for a very detailed explanation with image guides. There’s a learning curve to it but you’ll get it right eventually, just like I did.

5. I take out the meat and wrap it in aluminum foil. This is called resting and allows the meat to cook further inside. By doing this it loses less moisture and keeps the flavor inside.

done steak

This one is freshly out of the foil. Not bad looking, eh? You can also cut it before resting it, this way you’ll notice the changes better.

On an ending note, here’s some tips and tricks.

I’ve seen a lot of cooks recommending iron pans for these types of steaks. I tried one recently and it has its pros. It warms slower but harder, which gets the heat deeper inside the meat before burning too much on the outside. You only need to remember to use some oil to prevent sticking to the pan.

Another trick is to use a meat thermometer. A medium rare steak is done when its center reaches 147 ºF. However, you’ll have to invest in a good thermometer, like a Lavatools Javelin.

Bon appetit!

Pisang goreng with green bananas

Pisang goreng is a snack encountered in Indonesia and Malaysia, it’s battered and deep fried banana.  Vendors that sell this on the street are as frequent as hot-dog vendors in the US. But you don’t find it only on the streets, it’s also served in restaurants.

Today I’m going to give you a variant or… maybe just a bit more complex recipe of pisang goreng with green bananas, and I hope you won’t be disappointed.

pisang goreng 1

I never would have imagined I’d be eating green bananas once again, since I’ve had my share of those in my childhood. My parents would buy green bananas and place them covered in newspaper on the cabinet, where they would wait to get nice and yellow and ripe. But I’ve never been the patient type, which lead to me eating a lot of green bananas.

Right, let’s not forget I’m here to give you a recipe! If you like good food you’ll also like this, guaranteed!

You may find it difficult to buy green bananas simply because they get ripe in storage and when stores sell them they’re already on the yellow side. In Asia you can even pick raw bananas on the side of the street from banana trees (sometimes called plantains), but they’re also available at markets, or already cooked, since they’re a delicacy in Asia and they cook very quick and easily. You can cook them inside an unsweetened dough, like I’ll teach you here, and obtain a great beer snack. Or you can add some sugar and cinnamon to obtain an amazing dessert.

You will need:

  • Deep frying pan, preferably a wok
  • Hand blender, but this is optional

 

Ingredients:

  • green bananas 3-4 cut in 4 pieces each
  • egg 1 (optional)
  • wheat flour 2 tablespoons
  • rice flour 2 tablespoons
  • salt
  • cooking oil
  • water 5 oz

 

You use the hand blender to mix the wheat flour with the rice flour, egg, salt and water, to eventually obtain a thicker pancake batter. Peel the bananas, cut each in half and then again each piece in half into relatively thick pieces. When the oil is well heated, dip the banana pieces into the batter and make sure they’re well covered on all sides. Now scoop them out and throw them in your deep frying pan or in a wok if you have one, deep fry until they get to golden brown. It’s important you use rice flour if you want to obtain a crispy crust.

pisang goreng 2Bananas can be cooked green, by the above recipe, or ripe in all kind of asian desserts, like banana meatballs. Sweet or salty, don’t forget to try them with peanut butter.

Bon Appétit!