COOKING BASICS: HOW TO COOK PERFECT EGGS
WATCH & LEARN
HOW TO PAN COOK CHICKEN BREAST & OIL 101
We Olive Oil & EVO
Spices: Ground Chipotle Chili, dried oregano, chili flakes and cumin
Roasted Red Peppers
Beans: dried or canned cannellini, chickpea, black, black eyed, pinto, Great Northern beans
Pasta - all kinds
Rice: White, brown and Arborio (for risotto)
Beef, Chicken and Vegetable Broth
Sriracha chili sauce
Gochujang paste (Korean red chili condiment)
Sambal Oelek chili paste
black bean sauce
Capers & Olives
Olives: Black and green
Anchovies (yes, just get em)
green onions – my #1
fresh herbs: cilantro and basil
large shrimp (in general 16/20 is a good size or 31/40 )
SURVIVAL PANTRY & INSPIRATION
Beans – dried & canned
Of course a great source of good protein, but also super flexible. They go in a lot of things – but don’t forget they can stand-alone as a great side or main dish. Plus there are a jillion types: cannellini, chickpea, black, black eyed, pinto, Great Northern, etc. Just know that the dried beans need soaking overnight – so if you’re pressed for time, canned would be the way to go.
White, brown, Arborio (for risotto) – they’re all essential. Perfect for all kinds of things: a stir-fry, salads, a side, in a casserole – the list goes on. But make your life easy and get a rice cooker, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll also be glad you didn’t buy ‘instant rice’ – so don’t.
Dried pasta is cheap, stores well and becomes a meal in minutes. Just get a good variety of shapes, and don’t forget both types of cous cous. If you can, go to a good Italian market cuz they’ll have some stuff you’ve never seen. And while you’re there, get the canned tomatoes.
Canned tomatoes: whole, diced, crushed…whatever
What can’t tomatoes go in? Sauces, soups, stews and braises all benefit from any kind of tomato. And since I’ve sent you to a good Italian market for your pasta, get all your tomatoes there too. And don’t forget the whole San Marzano tomatoes – they are stupid good.
Beef, Chicken, Vegetable Broth
You’re not really wondering what to do with this uber important item are you? If you are, just know the base of most every soup starts with one of these. Need more help? Just go to my website and type the word ‘broth’ into the recipe search box and see what happens…
Any Asian sauces
The list can be long, but should definitely: Hoisin, teriyaki, chili sauce & paste, black bean sauce, sesame oil and soy. A simple stir fry or even a plain piece of fish will be wonderfully elevated by pretty much any one of these.
Pre-cooked Polenta (in a tube)
Slice a piece, season with kosher salt, pepper and then add some kind of seasoning like oregano or rosemary. Then just grill or pan fry with a little olive oil until lightly browned and crispy.
Clearly this is not just for dipping your fingers into and licking. Wait – did I say that out loud? And if you mix it with some soy, Asian chili paste and some chicken broth to thin it a bit – you’ll end up with a super simple and delicious sauce for noodles, chicken etc.
They need hydrating, but are fantastic. On top of fish, asparagus, mixed into rice – it’s all good.
Capers & Olives
Whether added to a pasta sauce, pizza or turned into an appetizer – you gotta have ‘em.
For appetizers, pizza or alone as an appetizer.
Freeze liquids in useable portions
Use ice cubes trays or small tupperware to freeze things like broths – so you don’t have to use an ax pick to get the small amount you need.
Freeze as flat as possible
Freeze things flat and stack them – use large ziplock bags, remove as much air as possible and lay them flat – you’ll get much more in this way.
Use squeeze bottles
For anything like olive oils, salad dressings, vinegars, citrus juices – whatever. They’re super handy and super inexpensive. Find them at any chef store.
Defrost meat on aluminum
Save time defrosting meat on any kind of aluminum sheet tray or skillet. Aluminum is a great conductor of heat and will thaw frozen meat much faster than a wooden cutting board or wood or stone countertop.
No need to peel potatoes before boiling them
The skin will just slide off once they’re cooked.
Combine salt & pepper
Since you often need salt & pepper together, make a combo In a small bowl and keep it handy
It'll make it easier to slice for stir-fries and stews.
Mis en place – to put in place
Do all of your cutting of vegetables and meat and make your sauces before you start cooking. It’ll take away the last minute rushing and make everything better.
All parts of a dish should be seasoned
If it’s salmon on top of sautéed spinach, or chicken on mashed potatoes – don’t forget to season what’s on the bottom. Eating them together is one thing, but there’s nothing worse than a bite of an unseasoned component.
Use your hand to roll hard citrus on the counter to break up the membranes inside and get more juice out of it.
Don’t overcrowd the pan
All ingredients should fit comfortably in one layer, so use a pan that’s big enough for the job, and cook in batches if necessary. If you’re trying to sear food, overcrowding ends up steaming it and that’s no bueno.
Take meat out of the fridge before cooking
Whenever grilling, searing, or sautéing meat, always take meat out of the fridge at least a half hour before so that it comes to room temperature, ensuring a perfectly cooked piece of meat every time.
Let meat rest
If you slice into your meat right after it comes off the grill, the juices, still circulating with residual heat, will leak out onto your plate. So let the meat rest covered with foil. Wait 5 minutes before biting into burgers or grilled chicken, 7 minutes before cutting into steaks, and at least 15 minutes before carving a turkey or a larger roast.
Cook Pasta Less
Whatever the package says, cook pasta about 1 minute less than the instructions – and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce.
Get your knives sharpened – everything will be better.
Season meat and fish evenly
Sprinkle salt and pepper as though it’s “snowing.” This will keep it from clumping up or ending up with too much seasoning in some areas and none in others.
Clean as you go
Make your own vinaigrette
Bottled dressings are a waste of money and calories. Make your own vinaigrette by whisking together three parts oil (olive, canola etc) with one part vinegar (balsamic, red-wine, or rice), plus salt and pepper. Then add garlic, Dijon mustard, minced shallot, fresh herbs, or honey or whatever. You’ll be glad you did.
For dressings, a jar’s your best friend
Don’t be put off making your dressing because chefs say you must use fancy technique – just put the ingredients in a mason jar, shut the lid and shake like crazy.
Cushion your cutting board
Put a damp kitchen towel under your cutting board to keep it from rocking or slipping while you’re cutting or chopping.
Prepare plates beforehand
Warm plates in the micro for about a minutes or put salad plates in the freezer for 2 or 3 before serving.
Pat meat and fish dry
Pat meat and fish dry before cooking. Surface moisture creates steam when it hits a hot pan or grill. Your searing will be much.
Taste as you cook
The best tool in your kitchen is your mouth. Taste a dish at least a couple times during the cooking process, adjusting the seasoning as you go.
Blend butter and olive oil
Try cooking with a 50:50 combo of butter and olive oil. Butter adds flavor and the oil keeps the butter from burning.
KIDS OFF TO COLLEGE?
If you need some peace of mind that your kids will be eating ok at college, here's my DORM FOOD SURVIVAL LIST to give them plenty of ideas.
IF YOU STILL NEED SOME POINTERS, DROP ME A NOTE (IN THE FOOTER, SCROLL ALLLLL THE WAY DOWN)