Monday, May 3, 2010

Be A Better Cook (I'll Help) (Cooking)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: In this blog I encourage home cooks to break out of tired cooking routines. I share information about cooking techniques, ingredients and kitchen tools that will help you improve your skills and experience new flavor combinations.

My cooking philosophy is based on:

- Using fresh, high quality ingredients
- Using a few, reliable sources for great recipes
- Having the right tools on hand and being organized while cooking
- Using sound fundamental techniques to make your cooking more reliable and faster

Each week you'll get advice from an expert level home cook. There is an essay about some aspect of home cooking, along with one or more recipes that (almost) cannot fail.

When recipes come from major magazines, TV and popular cookbooks, I make and test them in my home kitchen. Then I share modifications to make them work best for you. Rarely does the mainstream media provide a truly reliable and high quality recipe. I'll help on this part! Often, I share my tried and true recipes - so you're getting the secrets from an experienced cook with a well-known reputation.

Published weekly on Wednesday or Thursday, I write this blog to help you Become A Better Cook.

MY REVIEW: This is an excellent blog, published once a week. (Indeed, that's its only could be published more often. However, quality above quantity!)

If you're an enthusiastic home chef - or want to become one, this could be the blog for you. The author writes clearly and well, and not only loves his subject but is knowledgeable in it.

Check it out.

A sample post:
There's No Tool Better Than a GOOD Tool
One of the most important aspects of doing any job well is to have the right tool for the job. The tool doesn’t always have to be of the utmost highest quality, but poor quality tools will hinder you for sure in several ways: speed, safety and results.

This is especially true for good home cooking.

I’ve learned this by cooking in foreign kitchens, despite frequently bringing my own chef’s knife and a specialty tool or so. Vacation homes, my mother-in-law’s kitchen, even my own mom’s kitchen (sorry Mom, you know I still love you) are all harder to cook in due to the differences in a few key kitchen tools.

For example, my dear mother-in-law Eleanor had an inset glass cutting board in her 1970’s-built countertop. The glass surface was very difficult to cut on because a knife can’t “grip” into the cutting surface below the product. Picture the little slices that end up in a plastic or wood cutting board. Not only that, a knife could easily slip sideways. So all three areas I mentioned above held true: speed, safety and results were compromised.

Some people confuse the phrase “right tool for the job” with having “every tool you could ever use for the job”. I’ll admit that over the years I’ve collected a few extra tools that now reside in shoe boxes in the pantry. Yet those these tools all have one of the following in common:

Poor quality – large Williams Sonoma roasting pan, now warped ($100 vs. $200+ for All-Clad or similar)
Bought on a whim - hand carved salad tongs from the Broadmoor Resort
Single purpose tool – a cherry pitter that I used once, and for the past decade have been unable to find the one time a year I need it.
Many cook books contain lists of what you must or should have in your kitchen. I’m resisting that temptation. Instead, here are my 10 Most Important Cooking Tools. You should have each of these tools on hand, and each should be of pretty darn good quality. If you can’t have them all at first (for example, as with my nephew Peter who is restocking a kitchen after being in the Marines), then this should be an important checklist for you.

I’ll simply list the top ten items here, then separately post a few comments about each. Also, I’ve selected my favorite model of each, which you can find on my a-store at

Chef’s Knife – 8” (for very small hands, some manufacturers make 7” models
Cutting Board – plastic or wood, avoid glass and marble
Peeler....the Kyocera Perfect Peeler – a true innovation
Non-stick Saute Pans - 10” and 12”
8 Quart Stock Pot
Largish Sauce Pan – 3.5 or 4.5 quarts
Paring Knife
Strainer / Colander
Martini or Wine Glasses
Microplane Grater
Dutch Oven – hey, the glasses don’t REALLY count as a pick, do they?
I’m sure serious and non-serious cooks could debate this list extensively over martinis or Chardonnay. The logic behind this list is that when these items are poor quality, like the ones in the beach house in South Carolina we’ll be visiting again this summer, the cooking gets quite a bit slower and harder. You can count on me bringing more kitchen equipment than last year, much of it on “the list”.

Also, this is a good starting point for a beginner, especially to focus on high quality versions of each of these tools.

“I’m too poor to buy cheap” - My Aunt Mary from Long Island
Oh - one more thing. Even in the case of simple utentsils like wooden spoons, spatulas and turners, paying a few bucks more upfront for a high quality tool will mean you may never have to replace a cheaper version.

--Mango and Avocado Salad
--Formatting on Kindle
--Kitchen Tools You Can't Live Without - revised
--There's No Tool Better Than a GOOD Tool
--Pasta with Chicken and Light Gorgonzola Sauce
--My Friend Jennifer Wouldn't Eat This Dish
--Fancy Marinated Olives
--Orange Fennel Marinated Olives
--You Won't See Me on TV

Ms. Cairo writes three blogs of her own:
Topical Murder and Dated Death
Winged Victory: Women in Aviation
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters

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