Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Four Simple Chef Secrets for Cooking Up Success

A Toast for Flavor
Chefs know that gently toasting nuts and spices gives them a rich, complex flavor. Try toasting pine nuts before blending into pesto to intensify the flavor; when making whipped cream, toast 2 tablespoons of cinnamon until just fragrant and add it to the cream before whipping for a lovely jolt of flavor.

Give it a Rest
Give meat and poultry a chance to develop their flavors by giving it a rest after cooking. A good rule of thumb is to let the meat sit, loosely tented with foil, for 1/2 to 3/4 of the time it took to cook. This will give the juices time to absorb back into the meat and give you superior taste.

A Perfect Serve
It's easy to dress up boring plates and platters. I like to use a pastry brush to add a fun design -- just dip the brush into mustard or another cold sauce and draw a wide stripe across the plate. Another way to add a wow to your presentation is by rolling out a bunch of chives into a single layer on the plate -- it looks like a fresh, inviting grass mat.

Breaking Point
Many people know that the easiest way to remove the tough, woody base of asparagus is to snap the stalk in half with your hands. But did you know that rather than tossing them out, you can put those discarded ends to use in a rich, flavorful vegetable stock? Just simmer them with carrots, celery, onions, and a bay leaf for a light and fresh alternative to chicken stock.

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