View all posts filed under 'Cool Cooking Techniques'

A Crust That’s Flaky In More Ways than One

Friday, 16. December 2011 5:25

A perfect holiday dessert with the perfect -- and crazy -- crust.

We’ve all learned that to make the perfect, flaky crust, you need cold butter, cool hands and a resulting dough that must be chilled before it’s baked.

Now, take those techniques that you’ve labored to master all these years — and throw them out the window.

Because here’s a supremely flaky crust that breaks all those rules.

It’s made with boiling hot butter that’s mixed with flour to form a dough that you press — while still warm — into your pan before baking.

How crazy is that?

It’s almost embarrassingly easy and pretty fool-proof. And it produces a crust that would rival any at a fancy patisserie.

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Category:Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Great Finds, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (21) | Author:

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Inventive Take on Butternut Squash

Monday, 21. November 2011 5:25

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar makes magic in this butternut squash dish.

Cutting up a hard winter squash like butternut can be a rather cumbersome chore.

But leave it to esteemed New York Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to devise a dish that does away with that unwieldy step.

Vongerichten’s “Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs” is made by cooking a whole butternut squash in a big pot of boiling water until tender, about 45 minutes.

In this recipe from his newest cookbook, “Home Cooking with Jean-Georges” (Clarkson Potter), of which I recently received a review copy, he jokes that he came up with this surefire method one night when he was cooking at home, but wanted to watch a movie with his kids uninterrupted.

After all, Vongerichten’s flagship Jean Georges restaurant may be only one of six in the country to garner three Michelin stars, but this is also a chef who likes to cook and entertain at home. The book includes 100 recipes of family favorites that he likes to make at his country home in Waccabuc, New York. Think everything from “Portobello Parmesan Sandwiches with Rosemary Mayonnaise” to “Pork Chops with Cherry Mustard” to “Apricot Frangipane Tart.”

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Category:Chefs, Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (16) | Author:

Stewing About Weather

Monday, 31. May 2010 5:25

OK, it’s nearly summer and I’m still making stew.

What gives?

Hey, I wasn’t the one that ordered up last week’s crazy, uncharacteristic rainstorm in the Bay Area. Is it global warming? A freak occurrence that doesn’t mean anything? Or?

I like to think of it as Mother Nature’s way of telling me there’s still a little time left to enjoy one of my favorite methods of cooking — braising hearty vegetables with a tough, economical cut of meat in  one big ol’ pot on the stove or in the oven until they all turn tender and irresistible.

When I get the hankering for great stew, I often turn to “Braises and Stews” (Chronicle Books) by San Francisco food writer Tori Ritchie. It’s loaded with comforting dishes that are simple to prepare. Best yet, Ritchie’s renditions often take a little less time than other, standard versions found elsewhere.

Her “Harvest Pork Stew with Pumpkin” is a fall dish, to be sure. I changed it up to “Pork Stew with Kabocha” because I love the sweet, nutty, starchy Japanese squash enough to eat it practically year-round. You probably do, too, as it’s a standard in restaurant tempura.

By the way, a great tip to make cutting up a hard kabocha a little easier? Microwave the whole squash for a minute or so until the nearly impenetrable exterior softens enough so that you can get a cleaver or tip of a sharp, heavy-duty chef’s knife into it without much trouble.

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Category:Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (20) | Author:

Cheater’s Baos

Tuesday, 30. March 2010 5:25

Would you scoff if I told you those fluffy, steamed Asian buns above were made with Pillsbury refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough?

Yup, the stuff in the tube.

Believe it.

When my buddy, Andrea Nguyen wrote her first cookbook, “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen” (Ten Speed Press) in 2006, there was many a recipe that caught my eye. But none made my jaw drop like this one for “Shortcut Plain Steamed Buns.”

Years ago, Andrea learned this trick from her Chinese-American friend, Victor Fong, who, of course, learned it from his mother.

Crack open a tube of biscuit dough, then separate the rounds of dough. Pat each one into a flattened circle.  Then, fold each circle in half  to create half-moon shapes.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Great Finds, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (52) | Author:

Microwave Potato Chips — Really!

Wednesday, 13. January 2010 5:22

I made these in the microwave. Really!

I like to think of myself as a glass-half-full kind of gal.

I tend to have a sunny demeanor. I try to accentuate the positive even in the most grave of situations. And I’m optimistic that one can do anything one sets one’s mind to — or at the very least get darn close to it.

But when I stumbled upon a recipe early last year in Eating Well magazine for making potato chips in the microwave, I balked. I was a disbeliever. I was convinced this was beyond impossible.

I was wrong.

As part of the Reheat Anything Generation, I knew full well from experience that foods heated or cooked in the microwave most often turned out soft and limp, not crunchy.

So how could thinly sliced potatoes end up crackling crisp? Seriously?

They not only do, but they also possess a purity of flavor — of real, fresh potatoes. Unlike so many store-bought bags of potato chips with their long list of ingredients, there are just three in these: potatoes, olive oil and salt.

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Category:Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (179) | Author: