Category Archives: Cooking Tips

Checking the Doneness of Meat

Sneaking a Poke

So the president is coming over to your house for dinner, and he’s bringing his good friends Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc.  Ignoring the fact that Obama would be inviting zombies to your dinner party, you’re actually stressed over the process of properly cooking their filets.  Obama wants medium rare, Lincoln likes his still mooing, and Joan d’Arc ironically wants hers well-done.  You don’t want to cut into the steaks to check for the level of rosiness inside the beautifully charred exteriors – not only will it ruin the presentation, but the lovely juices will all leave the steak once you cut it up.  Disaster!

Actually, if your clever (Nancy Drew), you’ll employ the touch method to keep your steaks in check.  My new favorite blog and haberdashery of luxe ingredients, Marx Foods, put up a good post (and a graphic designer approved diagram) on comparing the finger feel of the steak to the feel of your hand.  A couple of notes on this touch test – assuming you aren’t feeling up the hot pan, you’re not going to burn yourself.  Also, this works on steaks, really.  For bigger items, like say a standing rib roast, use a good old meat thermometer. Continue reading Checking the Doneness of Meat

Making Better Chicken Stock

Simmer Like a Winner

There’s a time and a place for pre-made stock, but if you’ve got the ingredients on hand and would like to take your soups and risottos to the next level, try your hand at making yours from scratch.  It’s very forgiving to do so, and you can easily extend your ingredients into savable (read: freezable) stock for recipes later on. Continue reading Making Better Chicken Stock

Making Better Bolognese

Too Saucy For Your Own Good

This episode of “Making Better…” is brought to you by inspiration incarnate, the lovely and talented Isabella Mannone of La Fontanella in Phoenix.  If you are in Arizona and want a taste of majesty, you absolutely, positively need to pop into her place.  I have the sweetest of dreams about her artichokes braised in garlicky olive oil and get sad when I’m in town and they aren’t in season.  Makes me just miss them more.

Isabella did an assessment of my bolognese recipe and had the following to say.  Listen up, kids! Continue reading Making Better Bolognese

Making Better Filling for Jiao Zi

Easy Peasy Pinching and Pleating

Had a lovely chat with my friend Shaoyu today about the ins and outs of her jiao zi, and she gave me some VERY useful tips for making yours even better at home:

  • When adding the water to the meat mixture, stream it in slowly and in batches.  Stir for two to three minutes after each addition to make the filling just right.
  • For the easiest mixing of dough, use a bread machine on the dough cycle.  It does all the heavy work in mixing and kneading the dough, and you can just sit back and relax.

Shaoyu (Dr. Shaoyu Chi) is a fellow tech-wiz and uber-savvy instructional designer – I mentioned to her that I get a kick out of the fact that even in the kitchen we’re applying modern innovation to age-old processes.  We can revamp a dim sum recipe as easily as we can convert a synchronous, face-to-face course into an engaging online or hybrid option.

Hey, you’ve got to be a three-for in this tough economy – why not web designer, instructional designer and culinary tinkerer?

Thanks again, Shaoyu!