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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cooking Tips

I was organizing recipes for the new cook book (which at this point may take a while!) and ran across some good ideas that I want to share.

Melting chocolate – There are many ways to do this.  I have used all of them at one time or another.  My favorite is over simmering water.  However, you must not let the water boil or touch the bottom of the bowl or pan that holds the chocolate.  If you do - game over!  Likewise if you use a microwave you HAVE to watch very closely or you WILL burn the chocolate.  If you want to use a microwave then use this method.  Make sure the chocolate is in a glass container and that you have a way to remove it safely.  DO NOT use full power – I use 70% power for short bursts.  No more than 20 seconds.  Stir after every cycle.  It is far better to remove the chocolate and stir it as it melts than end up with scorched and nasty chocolate!

Knives – a sharp knife is safer than a dull one.  Learn how to use steel and hone your knives EVERY day.  If you do not have a sharpener – get a good one and learn how to use it.  Or take your knives to be professional sharpened.

Spices have expiration dates!  They may not be listed but as a general rule of thumb two years is average.  If you have spices that are more than three years old they most likely are not as potent as you want.  Toss them out and get new ones.

Oils – Olive Oil is best when kept in a dark bottle or stainless steel container that keeps light and air out.  It will go rancid. Other oils react to light too as does butter.  Better storage = better results.

Flour – to avoid issues such as bugs and other nasty outcomes I keep my bulk flour in the freezer.  I only keep a small amount on the counter for quick use.  I also keep my instant yeast in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

When you bake bread – if you want a crisp crust spray the bread in the pan and the oven with water. Steam makes for a great crust!

These are just a few of the great things I have learned over the years  - I hope at least one helps you!


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