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
Sep 5 | Tools | 0 Comments
How to pick a new knife for the kitchen
A sharp and comfortable knife is the most important tool for any home cook. If you are new to the kitchen, picking out a knife for the first time can be hard to do. The good thing is that there are plenty of great, inexpensive knives on the market that will give you razor sharp results.
A sharp knife is important because it makes cutting foods safe and incredible easy. Dull knives won't cut the food properly and have a greater chance of hurting you in the process.
Knives can be made out of many materials including stainless steel, ceramic and carbon steel. Stainless steel knives are made out of stamped metal, are inexpensive, and can be sharpened easily. Ceramic knives are generally white in color and are very sharp. The downside is that they are expensive and cannot be sharpened easily. The last material is carbon steel, which is very sharp but can be very costly and need to be carefully taken care of or they will rust and damage.
One Mans Trash...
Great knives can be found all over, in your home, garage sales or passed on through friends and family. You never know if you have an expensive and sharp knife hiding away in the basement or attic. If you happen to have a pile of knives sitting around the kitchen or stuffed in a drawer or box somewhere (like I did), carefully take them out and check them for rust and damage. Next find a knife that feels good in your hand. It should be comfortable with good balance and weight. Once you find a knife that is right for you, wash and dry it well. Check for rust spots, pits and cracks, which can be grinded out.
Now that you have picked your knife out it is important to have it sharpened professionally. You can get this done at your local hardware store for under $5 per knife, and it is totally worth it. A good sharpening will actually put a brand new and extremely sharp blade on your knife and should last a couple of months.
Buying a new knife can be easily done for a good price. A new cook should have a basic chefs knife that is 8 inches long. This is a great tool for all types of kitchen work and feels good when in use. I really like the OXO Good Grips 8 inch chef's knife ($12.99, pictured here) for beginning chefs. It is lightweight, very sharp and flexible and also has a soft handle for a good grip.
My next pick is the Mundial 5100 8 inch chef's knife ($29.99, pictured at the top). This knife has more overall weight and sturdiness. It feels great when slicing, dicing and chopping meats, vegetables and fruits. It will also last a long time if cared for the right way. It is my personal favorite for the house.
Both of these knives can be purchased at Amazon.com for a great price. You can also buy good knives at Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Walmart, and at local grocery stores and restaurant supply shops. Remember that the knives should be strong, balanced, have a little weight to them and feel good in your hand.
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'!
Aug 10 | Tools | 0 Comments
What do you need to get cooking today?
Well, you already have the desire, the next step to take is to get some good cookware.
You can purchase inexpensive, high quality kitchen sets and tools from most grocery and department stores. Price is not always a good way of judging quality or is the presence of a celebrity chefs name or picture on the box. I know you want to take Mario Batali and Paula Dean home with you but, don't be fooled!
What should you look for?
Your tools should be comfortable for you to use and should feel sturdy and strong. Always pick up your kitchen tools and see if they feel good in your hands. Awkward styling, loose construction, and flimsy light material are signs of bad kitchenware.
Where do I get good cookware?
You can get solid cookware a lot of places for a good price. The first stop I always make when I am looking for a new tool is the local grocery store, Walmart and Target. They always have something useful and inexpensive for the kitchen.
My next spot always surprises people; I like to check out the shelves at Marshalls and TJ Maxx. This is where you can get some really great equipment at a big discount. I love going through all of the, out of box, slightly scratched, no price tag section for the really good deals.
The best place to find a good deal on kitchen supplies is a second hand store and garage sale. You can find very expensive and often high quality stuff for pennies.
What do I need to get cooking today ?
You don't need a lot to be a great cook, but you will need...
- 1 Large (10-12in) pot for boiling pasta, vegetables and making soups and stews. Pot made out of stainless steel or aluminum are a good value for a new cook.
- 1 Medium pan (8-10 in) for sautéing vegetables, simmering sauces, frying or scrambling eggs and for searing and browning tofu, sietan and meats like chicken, fish, beef and pork.
I have found that non stick pans are ok for a new cook, but not that great. If you heat a non stick pan too much or scratch the surface of the coating, it will start to come off in your food and that is gross. If you want a good inexpensive pan that will last a lifetime, go for 8-10 inch cast iron pan. It is really heavy duty, cheap, easy to find, non stick and with a little love, will last a lifetime. No really, when the world blows up and we are just left with cockroaches and cast iron pans.
- 3 mixing bowls of different sizes that can be made out of plastic or metal.
- To cut your food you are going to need one good 8 inch chefs knife and a solid wood or plastic cutting board. Never use glass, stone or acrylic cutting boards because they will wear the blade of your knife down quickly.
- Last but not least you will need a couple of tools like a spatula, tongs, rubber scraper, ladle, whisk, mixing spoons, a colander, can opener, wet and dry measuring cups and spoons. You can find an entire set of tools for a couple of bucks at most stores.
Now you know what tools you need to get cooking today, now let's get Crackin'!