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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hell's Kitchen - Contestant Cooking Tips

Elsie Ramos
If the bottom of your pot or pan begins to burn, peel and cut an onion in half and place the cut side down deep into your dish so your food is not left with the burn smell.

Wendy Liu
Save the bones from store-bought rotisserie chicken for stock. You can make about two quarts of stock from one chicken.

Keep masking tape and a permanent marker in the kitchen to label leftovers with a brief description and date (CHX STOCK 10/6). You can also label items, such as spices, with the date they were opened.

When heating or re-heating items in the oven, line the sheet tray with loosely crumpled aluminum foil for a crispier bottom. The crumpled foil allows for better air circulation and drains off excess oil or juices.

Maribel Miller
When searing meat or fish, always make sure your pan is super hot!

Always allow your meat to rest before cutting it.

Polly Holladay
Make sure to smell asparagus before purchasing. The tops should be firm and have no odor.

When shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store where the bulk of "real food" is found.

Bonnie Appetit
Keep citrus fruit separate from other fruits. Citrus causes other fruits to ripen very quickly. But if you want to speed up the ripening process, throw an orange or lemon into your fruit bowl.

Need buttermilk? Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir it and voila!

Don't keep your tomatoes in the fridge! It ruins the flesh!

Brad Miller
Start with great fresh ingredients and the rest is simple.

Eddie Langley
Let your steaks and meat rest before cutting.

Julia Williams
Always check expiration dates.

Always use thermometers for chicken.

Melissa Firpo
When using corn starch as a thickening agent, always mix it with cold water, never hot water.

If you want a perfect hard-boiled egg with a bright yellow yolk, drop it in boiling water for exactly fourteen minutes. Any longer and you will have a gray or green yolk!

Rock Harper
Invest in a classic cast iron skillet. With the even distribution and holding of heat, they are the best metal to cook with. They're inexpensive too!

Sick of dry chicken? Brine it and be done with paper-like poultry forever. Brining is an awesome technique that is simple and so rewarding for many cuts of meat, especially those that tend to dry out easily. Trust me, brining will make you a star this holiday season.

Vincent Fama
Tomato sauce should not be cooked or prepared in aluminum pans. The tomato reacts with the metal and you get an acid taste. If this happens, add a head of celery to the sauce while you stew it and the celery will filter out the acid.

If you make a sauce, salsa, or remoulade that's too spicy, add white sugar in a small amount. This will numb the heat.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie "well sort of"

With a busy day in store, I am thinking about how I will manage dinner. I will not be home until 6:45 and to start dinner at that time would be quite tiring. Not to mention, the family will be famished. Making dinner day after day can certainly become a challenge to anyone. I haven't been to the grocery store for a few days, and there isn't much in the house. So, I head to the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for a quick inventory....frozen chicken breast, some veggies, crescent rolls,.......OK. Pot pie?? While not your traditional pot pie, this one turned out delicious. For you protein, use what you have on hand. Turkey, chicken, beef, or go for a meatless version. For vegetables, go with what is in the freezer. Do you have opened vegetables in the freezer? Do you have any cream of ANYTHING soup? Chicken, beef or vegetable broth or stock? No crescent rolls? How about biscuits? Or, one quick stop on your way home, you could just pick up a loaf of bread. Either way, a slow cooker can make most ingredients into a one pot wonder dinner!


1- 1 1/2 pounds chicken, beef, turkey, or go meatless diced
2 cups or more of veggies (frozen peas, corn, carrots, beans, etc.)
1 cup of fresh veggies (diced potatoes, celery, and carrots)
1 onion diced
1 TBSP. of paprika
1 Tsp. of parsley
3 garlic cloves minced
2 can of cream of mushroom soup (or any "cream of")
1 cup of chicken stock or broth (or beef, vegetable). None available, use water.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and mix well. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with bread & grated parmesan cheese.

Cooking Tips


■Prepare for Success – Before you begin cooking a dish, have all your ingredients prepared and ready to use.
■Patience Is A Virtue – When cooking a steak, be patient and make sure the pan is sizzling hot before adding the meat. This ensures a perfectly seared meat.
■The Spice of Life – Always keep garlic ready to use in the freezer. Blitz a few cloves in the blender and freeze them in an ice cube tray. They’re perfect for use in sauces and stews.
■Don’t Be Wasteful – After cooking chicken, fish or beef, don’t toss the leftover bones – they are key to making perfectly flavored stock! Simmer the bones in water with a carrot, an onion, several peppercorns and a bay leaf for one to two hours.
■Keep It Hot, Hot, Hot! – Never open the oven when baking. The cold air will sink your cake.!/notes/hells-kitchen/chef-gordon-ramsay-celebrates-the-milestone-100th-episode-of-hells-kitchen-by-sh/443463986477

Friday, October 8, 2010

French Onion Soup

I love french onions soup. Although, many restaurants have failed to impress with with their culinary preparation of what seems to be quite an easy dish to master. I have found amazing french onion soup at the Bistrot Zinc in Chicago, Zucco Le French Diner in New York City, and surprisingly Max and Erma's right here in Pittsburgh. No, I did not pursue a culinary journey to find the country's best french onion soup. I merely was the fortunate one to stumble across some of the best in my travels.
So, i decided, why not. Let's give it a whirl. But which recipe to try. I checked out Julia Childs recipe. Seemed pretty easy. Than I saw Emeril Lagasse. He uses Gruyere cheese. One of my favorites! So, Emeril's it is. I must say, his recipe did not disappoint. From the ease of the recipe, to the flavor, and lastly the much needed presentation. Yes, this was a winner. Yummo!

French onion soup is an onion and beef broth or a beef stock based soup traditionally served with croutons and cheese as toppings. Although ancient in origin, this dish underwent a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s in the United States due to an increased popularity for French cooking. Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. They were, throughout history, seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originates in France in the 18th century, made from beef broth, and caramelized onions. It is often finished by being placed under a broiler in a ramekin traditionally with croutons and gruyère melted on top. The crouton on top is reminiscent of ancient soups (see History of Soup).

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup cognac
8 cups beef stock or broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied into a bundle with kitchen string
1/2 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 pound Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 cup Port wine (optional)
Finely chopped parsley, garnish

In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cognac. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Be careful as the cognac may ignite.

Add the beef stock and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the soup for 45 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, toast the bread slices until light golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Preheat the broiler.

When the soup is ready, divide 1/2 of the toasted bread slices between 6 individual ovenproof serving bowls or crocks and top with 1/2 of the grated cheese. Ladle some of the soup among the bowls and top with the remaining toasts. Ladle the remaining soup among the bowls and top with the remaining cheese. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted, golden brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Garnish the top with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Roasted Tomatoes

My father is a great gardener. He grows an abundance of vegetables. One of them is the versatile tomato. Which, in theory, is a fruit.

The tomato is a savory, typically red, edible fruit, as well as the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) which bears it. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates.

Well, there were so many tomatoes this year, I made quarts and quarts of tomato sauce. I froze the sauce and will have many fuss free italian dinners this winter. Than, my dad gave my a bushel more. OK, I pondered, what will I do with these? Roasted tomatoes! Yes, I can freeze this well! If you’ve never made slow-roasted tomatoes before, prepare to have your mind blown with an amazing flavor!

Tomatoes sliced
4 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper over the tomatoes. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize. Serve at room temperature or cool and place in freezer bags for later enjoyment!