Jan 4 | Healthy Eating Tips, Tools, Food Safety | 0 Comments
How to Shop for a New Frying Pan
Cooking with a good frying pan can be the difference between a successfully prepared dinner and a big fat mess. You can use a frying pan to fry, steam, sauté or simmer vegetables, fruits, meats and grains with ease. A great pan should be comfortable to use, good for a variety of cooking methods, be reasonable priced and most important, last a lifetime.
Shopping for a good pan can be a costly and mind numbing task. Just walk into any housewares stores and look at all of the sizes, shapes, materials and celebrity name brands, its ridiculous. From shiny stainless steel, heavy cast iron and the countless space aged nonstick surfaces available, how is one to choose? This post will give you a good idea of what to buy when you purchase your next set of frying pan.
Nonstick pans are everywhere these days. They are easy to use and clean, lightweight, are cheap and can be found everywhere. My issue is that they cannot be used over high heat, are not oven safe and you cannot use metal tools with them. The big huge problem is that the surface scrapes off into your food and can release toxic fumes over high heat.
*Do not buy nonstick pans, they stink!!!
Stainless Steel Frying Pans
These can be a great option for cook. They look great and cook foods evenly. I like the all clad style that holds heat evenly, are solidly constucted and are oven safe. The down side is that they are not nonstick so you need to use oil, good heat control and they can be hard to clean. This is link for one of my favorite pans made by Tramontina and available at Walmart for a great price.
Link for Tramontina 12 inch stainless steel pan
Seasoned Cast Iron Pans
These heavy-duty pans have been around for over 400 years. They hold heat evenly, are non-stick, oven safe, inexpensive, easy to clean and literally last forever. Cast iron pans need to be seasoned with oil and salt before cooking food to build up the non-stick surface.
You need to be careful with cast iron because they are very heavy and smoke like crazy over high heat. When cleaning, scrub well using hot water only and lightly oil after every use. You want to keep that seasoned nonstick surface in place and soap will wash it right off. I like the Lodge brand of cast iron and it can be found in any home good store or department.
Link for Lodge cast iron pan
Carbon Steel Pan
These are commonly used in the restaurant industry and are know as "French pans". They are light, heat up very quickly, oven safe, turn non stick after several uses and are easy to use. Just like cast iron they do need to be scrubbed with hot water only, to hold the seasoned nonstick surface. I just started using these pans and really like the ease of use and cleaning.
Link for Carbon Steel Pan
Jan 2 | Healthy Eating Tips, Lunch, Food Safety | 0 Comments
Packing your own lunch can be the easiest and most tasty way to make sure your new year starts out healthy and happy! Follow these easy lunch packing tips to make sure you have a lunch that will give you the energy you need to be productive throughout the day.
Look Forward to Your Lunch Eggsperience
Make a lunch that you want to eat, not one you feel you have to eat. This will decrease the chance that you will go to convenience for your meal or trade your unacceptable menu items with your friends.
No More Soggy Sandwiches!
When making a sandwich, pack moist items like lunchmeat, tuna and chicken salad, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard separately from the dry bread. All you have to do is assemble the sandwich at your lunch table for a fresh made experience. Who wants a limp biscuit?
Keep Cold Foods Cold
How cold? Ice cold! Use a frozen juice box as an ice pack to keep lunches fresh.
Keep Hot Foods Hot
Incorporate soups, chili and casseroles into your weekly menu. If you do not have access to a microwave, invest in a small thermos to keep hot foods hot. I just got one for the holidays and could not be happier. Fiyah!
Oh Yeah! Reheat last night's dinner and throw in an easy side salad or chopped fruit for kicks and giggles.
Cook large portions of food when you have free time and separate it into containers that can be reheated. Just don't let your lame roommate or sceevy older brother get hold of your grub.
Protect Those Chips
Pack chips, pretzels, cookies, crisps and delicate items in small reusable containers. Place hard items at the bottom of the bag and soft items at the top. It's like Tetris but with food.
Replace artificial sweets and desserts with natural options like fresh fruit with honey or peanut butter, granola, dried fruits, fruit leathers, nuts, yogurt, and natural fruit juice based cookies and snacks.
Oct 5 | Fruit, Healthy Eating Tips, Food Safety | 0 Comments
What is the difference between organic and conventional food?
When you walk into the grocery store there are a lot of words that are thrown around to describe how your food is produced. Words like "all natural" and "organic" are used as sales tools to get you to buy, buy, buy. As a chef I get asked all of time about these products and if the price and quality are really worth the purchase. In this post I am going to tell you what these words actually mean so you can make an educated decision for yourself while at the grocery store.
First things first, the USDA refers to the word "organic" as food that is grown or produced with no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, irradiation, solvents or additives. The soil that the food is grown in actually needs to be free from those chemicals as well for a 7 year period. Organic meat is produced by feeding the animals organic food throughout its life.
Pesticides and herbicides are treated on crops to help eliminate insects that tend to harm the food, but the pesticides can be harmful to humans. The concern is that our food chain of plants, animals, humans and mother earth will absorb harmful chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. As these chemicals build up in our bodies they can potentially create havoc on our health and immune system. These chemicals can also build up in the soil and leach into the water system. How great does that sound?
The term "All Natural" means that the food does not have any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, antibiotics or growth hormones. These products can include many packaged and frozen products as well as meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.
"Conventional" foods can contain artificial ingredients, pesticides, herbicides and pretty much any other weird and nasty stuff a company wants to throw in (like pink slime and hydrogenated fats). Most of the food in the grocery store that is not specifically marked "organic" or "all natural" is considered to be a conventional product.
The fact is that foods marked "organic" and "all natural" generally are going to cost more at the register. The big reason for the increased cost to you is because it takes more labor, resources, facilities and quality ingredients to produce these products.
Should I buy these foods? Factors like budget, proximity to quality grocers and lifestyle can make it easier or harder to try these new foods. Luckily larger grocers, big box stores like Walmart and Target as well as local natural food markets and farmers markets are making it easier to find and purchase these types of foods.
Is the cost worth it? Now that you know the difference, it's all up to you my friends.
Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg
Sep 1 | Vegetables, Fruit, Chicken, Healthy Eating Tips, Food Safety, Beef | 0 Comments
Chef Egg's Top 5 BBQ Tips
I love BBQ, next to Tacos it is my all time favorite food. BBQ is an American staple with influences from all over the world. From Brazillian churrasco, slowly roasted Thai suckling pig and Middle Eastern kabob to the many regional styles in the states, BBQ is one of the greatest and most delicious culinary feats ever!
Roasting, smoking and slow cooking cuts of meat over long periods of time comes from our ancestors need to utilize tough inexpensive cuts to feed large families. This cooking process leaves you with the most tender and mouth watering meats dishes.
Follow these simple tips below to make sure your grilling experience is easy, fun and successful.
1. Clean your grill well before cooking to reduce carbon build up, sticking foods and to get great grill marks. Start with a wire brush or a ball of tin foil. Next, heat the grill; clean the hot grates with a wet rag and tongs. When the grill is clean and hot, rub the grates with oil to season.
2. Do not marinade meats in marinades and sauces with sugar. This will cause the sugars to burn on the meat before it cooks through. Cook meats thoroughly before slathering with BBQ sauce. Once the sauce is on then you can char it over high heat before serving.
3. Start thick cuts of meat over medium/ high heat to create a seared crust that seals in flavor and juices. Once the crust has formed, place the cut of meat over medium low heat to cook through.
4. You can use the grill to cook fruits and vegetables. Keep these foods in large pieces when you place them on the grill so they don't fall through. Skinny veggies like asparagus and carrots can be placed across the grates to prevent them from falling though to the fire below.
5. KISS – Keep It Simple Stoopid! There are a million sauces, seasonings and marinades on the market and they will all give you vastly different results. Remember to keep it simple! A little olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and lemon will take you a long way with most grilled foods. This classic combination tastes great on grilled fish, seafood, meats, veggies, fruit and even baked good.
*Remember to be safe when grilling. Keep the grill set away from the house, awnings or anything that can catch fire. Most importantly, keep all kids, pets and drunk people away from hot grills when you are cooking a coolling the grill.
Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg
Mar 6 | Sanitation, Tools, Food Safety | 1 Comments
Cutting Boards 101
Picking a good cutting board is different for every cook. Cutting boards come in different design, sizes, colors, shapes and materials. The key is to find one that feels right to you and is suitable for what your needs are.
Good cutting boards are made from plastic, bamboo or wood. These options are easy to clean and will give you good blade control. Your board should also be strong and have good weight. Thin, wimpy cutting board are not safe to chop on because they can slip around.
Bad cutting boards are made out of materials like stone, glass and acrylic. Personally I can't believe they still sell these types of boards. If you have one I suggest you use it as a serving platter and call it a day. Not only will they dull your knives, but they are slippery and can cause your knife to slip on the blade as you cut.
Sanitation - You should always clean your board after every use and dry it well. This will help stop odors and bacterial growth (Ooooh yuck, I know). You can easily wash your boards with soap and hot water. A squeeze of lemon will also keep your boards smelling fresh. When you are cutting raw or cooked meats a good scrub with diluted vinegar or bleach will do the trick at killing germs.
To avoid cross contamination, use a separate board for vegetables and fruit and another for raw and cooked meats. When you are cooking, always prep and store veggie type foods before breaking out raw meat. This will cut out any chances of cross contamination in your kitchen.
Storage - Cutting boards should be cleaned and air dried completely before storing. If you store a wet cutting board there is a a good chance that germs and bacteria will start to grow and that's just nasty!
Safety - When you are using your cutting board, make sure to place a wet rag underneath. This will keep it from slipping around while you cut.
A quality cutting board will give you a good surface to make your slices and dices while keeping your knives sharp and safe.
Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg
Mar 4 | Tools, Food Safety | 0 Comments
Why do you need good knife skills?
As a cooking teacher people always ask me, what is the most important thing you need to know to be good cook? I respond the same way every time – learn good knife skills! Knife skills are the basis of cooking, leading a healthy lifestyle and earning your culinary independence. Here are the top 3 reasons you and your family need to learn good knife skills.
1. Safety First- Using the right knife skills in the kitchen will keep you from cutting yourself when you prepare food. It will also help you from using knives the wrong way and getting cramps in your hands and arms.
2. Even Cooking- Making all of your cuts are the same size, will ensure all of your food cooks at the same time. That goes for vegetables, meat, seafood and fruit.
3. What's Cooking, Good Looking – Food should taste good, but it should also look good too (Like me). Learning knife skills will allow you to make precise cuts so your meals look like 4 star masterpieces even with 2 star prices.
Now get crackin'!
Sep 11 | Food Safety | 0 Comments
Who Is F-A-T-T-O-M?
It's not a who, but a what.
As a new cook you want to be safe in the kitchen. This couldn't be more important when starting to make snacks and meals for your friends, family and yourself.
Stories of other people getting food poisoning are never fun. But, if you get caught on the wrong end of your great aunt Doreen's famous egg salad, it is definitely something you will never forget. When you mess with F-A-T-T-O-M,it will really ruin your day!
What is F-A-T-T-O-M?
F-A-T-T-O-M is an acronym for the conditions bacteria and gross stuff need to thrive and grow.
Food - The type of food you have will let you know how risky you food choices can be. Foods like fish, milk, eggs, and cooked grains are all have a high risk of contamination.
Acid - The level of acidity will let you know if it's a good environment for bacteria to grow. Bacteria like slightly acidic environments and foods like tomatoes, and vinegar.
Time and Temperature - The more time food is in the "Temperature Danger Zone" (40 F- 140 F, see below) the better chance that bacteria can spread. They love warm temps, which is the perfect environment for them to reproduce - Oh yeah that's business time for little microscopic organisms, and they can go all night long!
Don't drive on through the "Temperature Danger Zone". Keep hot food hot (above 140° F), like soups, meat and casseroles and cold foods cold (below 40° F), like salads, dairy and eggs. This will keep those little buggers from getting busy and making your life miserable.Foods kept in the danger zone for more than 3 hours should be thrown away.
Oxygen – Just like you most of bacteria need oxygen to grow. That's why we wrap our food in plastic and seal containers tight. No air, no bacteria!
Moisture – Bacteria also need certain amount of moisture to live and produce. Foods that are low in moisture like pasta, dried grains and nuts have less of a chance for bacteria to grow than meat, vegetables and cooked grains.
Tips for keeping food fresh!
-Coolers are not just for keeping drinks cold. They can also be used to keep the heat in hot foods. Coolers or cooler bags are a great way to keep your hot food hot and cold food cold.
-Keep dry foods dry by keeping them wrapped up tightly or in zip lock bags. Dried grains and rice and get moldy and attract rodents and bugs if they get wet.
-Don't let your groceries sit in the car after you buy them. Get your grub in the fridge ASAP so it doesn't spoil.
-Brown paper shopping bags will keep cold foods colder than a plastic shopping bag.
-Keep a "Sharpie" marker and masking tape by the fridge. Any food you put in the freezer should be tagged and labeled. I hate finding freezer burned mystery meat in the deep freeze when I'm looking to for something to cook.
- Crock pots are a great way to keep hot dips, wings and meatballs hot at the fiesta.
Think about FAT TOM the next time you bring dishes to a potluck, cookout, camping or to a sweet music festival. When I go to a party(and I do like to get down), I like to make sure everyone stays safe and has a great time!
Now get Crackin'! Chef Egg