Archive for April, 2010

How to make an omelet, not a mess

In theory, making an omelet is not a difficult task. Throw some eggs in a pan, flip, presto. Then again, in theory, the concept of gravity seems pretty simple, too.

Despite their presence on breakfast, lunch and dinner tables everywhere – not to mention being made rapid fire like at the end of every overpriced Sunday brunch line – the perfect omelet can be an elusive entree for the novice cook.

Though the ingredients are simple and ubiquitous – eggs, milk and fillings such as cheese – the dish itself too often turns into scrambled eggs when the attempt at flipping or even getting the thing not to stick to the pan go haywire. Yes, the perfect omelet, folded over on itself and cooked to creamy perfection, can present a challenging endeavor.

Many omelet newbies make their first mistake before they even begin. The problem? Using eggs straight from the fridge. When cold eggs meet a hot pan, that’s a recipe for disaster because the eggs will be prone to stick, not slide.

The second major faux pas is using a pan that isn’t lubricated or hot enough. Omelets should only take about 2-3 minutes to make, and to do it in that time, you need to make sure your pan has preheated on the stove.

As for pans, this is where nonstick is a major help, especially for those new to making omelets. Size also matters: For a two- to three-egg omelet you’ll want a 10-inch nonstick pan with sloped sides for easier flipping.

Do omelets still sound eggs-cruciating? If you’ll pardon my bad pun, I’ll show you how to make the perfect cheese omelet that will be a quick, nutritious meal any time of the day or night. Let’s get crackin’!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)

Go cuckoo with couscous

Pasta with raisins and nuts? The very notion may sound like that last ingredient, but trust me on this. The first step is expanding your notion of “pasta.”

Couscous, which is a traditional North African dish and the main ingredient in today’s recipe, is actually a tiny form of pasta. You may have had couscous before either warm or at room temperature and thought you were eating rice, but the soft little granules are most often made of coarsely ground semolina, the same stuff used to make spaghetti.

Couscous is great to build recipes around because it’s very versatile and can be made in about 10 minutes. As for ease of cooking, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. If you can boil water, you can make couscous.

The nutritious little spheres also act as great conveyors for a variety of flavors – even ones involving fruit. Ready to give it a go? Let’s get a little crazy with
the ‘cous.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)

Culinary word of the week: Reduction


The word “reduction” too often has a negative connotation attached to it. Reduction in workforce comes to mind, as does a reduction in salary — something too many of us have experienced these days!

In the culinary world, however, reduction is all good. That’s because with reduction comes flavor, or more appropriately, the intensification of flavor. That, in my book, is always a positive.

Here’s what reduction is all about, plus an example of how to do it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)

Glazed carrots are one sweet side

Psst! Want to know how to get your kids to eat their carrots?

Glaze ‘em.

Glazing is a process that will turn the humble orange root into a side dish that will have your family munching carrots like a bunch of bunnies.

The technique can be done in a single pan, and only takes about 20 minutes. The results are carrots bathed in a sweet glaze of liquid that might just make this side the star of the meal.

You can make this recipe a family affair by having the kids or your spouse peel the skins off the carrots, and as a bonus, you’ll even learn how to make a reduction sauce in the process. I’ve only got one word to describe the whole thing: Sweet!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (8)

Culinary word of the week: Chiffonade

Go ahead and say it aloud: “Chiffonade” (pronounced as “shiff-fe-nod”).

Doesn’t this French-derived word just sound complex? Like something a super elite chef would say and then somehow swiftly do in a gleaming commercial kitchen?

Well, it ain’t that hard.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)

Homemade marinara is marvelously easy

Few meals say “homemade” as much as spaghetti slathered in a rich tomato sauce. It’s practically a weekly staple on family dinner tables, and while the pasta portion is indeed usually homemade (i.e.: open box, pour into boiling water, stir), the complementing sauce regularly comes out of a jar.

That’s a shame, because that stuff from a jar won’t hold a candle to what you can make at home, all for less time and money than you think.

Truth is, homemade marinara sauce takes less than an hour to make from scratch, and it’s so ridiculously easy to make that you’ll wonder why you never tried it.

While there are infinite number of variations — from recipes that include wine and vodka to Kalamata olives — the recipe here shines for its simplicity. And, should you choose to experiment with more ingredients further down the road (and I hope you will!), this version of marinara provides a perfect foundation.

So grab a pot, a knife and a wooden spoon: We’re gonna make some marvelous marinara.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)

Culinary word of the week: Parboil

Par-what? You may have heard this term on the Food Network from a chef sprinkling it in sentences the same way he does salt on food, or read it in a recipe that instructed you to do it but offered little else. In the past, you may have nodded your head in affirmation of the merits of par-boiling, despite not knowing where to parse the “par” and the “boil,” while all the time wondering what golfing and hot water have to do with each other in the first place.

After reading this, you’ll be the one using the word, leaving others wondering in your vernacular wake.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Get Adobe Flash player