Techniques

How to Cheat the Half & Half System

Does your recipe call for Half & Half but you finished your carton on this morning’s coffee?

Easy fix!  If you have milk and cornstarch laying about, you can create the illusion of creaminess by mixing these two ingredients.  Just be sure to add the cornstarch a little (about half a teaspoon) at a time so you don’t over-thicken.

Heck, if you do over-thicken, you can always add more milk.  It’s almost fool-proof!

How to Tell How Your Steak is Cooked

One of the biggest no-no’s in cooking is cutting into a piece of steak (or hamburger or any red meat) to see if it is cooked to your liking. Doing so releases all of the delicious juices you just worked so hard to seer into the darn thing!

There are different tricks to use to determine how your steak is cooked.  I use this method:

Poke the steak gently with your tongs (or if you’re cooking for people you know, I don’t mind using my little finger!)

  • If it feels like your chin, then it’s rare
  • If it feels like your nose, then it’s medium
  • If it feels like your forehead, then it’s well done

Try feeling your face right now and trying it out.  Don’t worry, it takes a long time to master the “steak touch.”  Just keep practicing.  Feel your steak with your finger, take a guess and then read your steak with a meat thermometer to see how you did.

What method do you use?

How to Cut a Pineapple

Tis the season (for pineapples!) Here are some handy tricks to help you shop and cut fresh pineapple!

Note: This is a very juicy process, make sure you’re working on a stick-friendly area.

1. Firstly, you want to buy a pineapple that has firm, golden brown skin. The leaves should be green and not wilted or brown. Also a ripe pineapple will have a fresh pineapple smell.
2. Cut off the leaves and the bottom of the pineapple (about 1/2 inch from the edge). I tend to lean towards serrated knives whilst doing this step. It makes life a little easier.
3. Next, set your fruit upright. You’ll notice brown dots along the top of the fruit. Cut downward along these dot paths and begin skinning the fruit. Follow the curve of the pineapple to maximize yummy fruit action!
4. Cut off the rest of the pineapple skin in the same manner. Just be careful not too cut too much of the fruit off.
5. Once you have completely skinned the fruit, remove any remaining spots with a paring knife.
6. From here you may decide if you want pineapple rings or chunks. If you want rings, slice the pineapple into rings but be sure to remove the inner core with a paring knife. Nobody likes eating that stuff…
7. If you prefer chunks, cut the pineapple into four, long sections (cutting straight through the core).
8. Place the fruit section, core side up and carefully cut the core off of the fruit. You can tell what part is the core because it will be tougher in nature and lighter than the rest of the fruit. Repeat this step with the rest of the quarters.
9. Once you have removed the core, you can cut the remaining fruit into chunks.
10. Make sure you refrigerate your fruit!

How to Boil an Incredibly Edibly Egg

This is a tip I picked up from Monsieur Jacques Pepin.

Simply prick a hole in the shell at the wide end of the egg (through the small air pocket).  You can do this with a sewing needle or pushpin (and if you’re really careful, a single prong of a fork).  Pricking the shell allows the pressure the equalize and gases to escape during the cooking process.  No more greenish eggs!

Place your egg in a saucepan and cover completely with cold water.  Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat down to low.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of the egg and how you like it cooked.  If you have a large egg and you like your hard-boiled eggs with hard yolks, then simmer your egg a little longer (6 or 7 minutes).  Pour the water out and violently shake the egg in the pot, allowing it to bang against the sides to help crack the shell.  Submerge the egg in cold water.  Once cool, peel the egg under running water.

Voilà!  A perfect hard-boiled egg.

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