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5-star cooking tips

scooterdawgscooterdawg Posts: 1,890 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

I love to cook and have mentioned that I'm working on a cooking blog. While I'd love to pour myself a pumpkin spice latte and tell you how my SO and kiddos say these are THE BEST COOKIES EVER!!! that's not the type of blog I'm going for nor the ones I frequent. I've been a fan of learning the techniques AND science of cooking since I ran across Alton Brown, the America's Test Kitchen PBS show, and some early food network shows. I've given away some here and there but I've probably owned 50+ cookbooks in my life plus my grandmother was a professional wedding caterer for a number of years and I learned some from her/have her recipes.

Now with the internet, there's blogs like Serious Eats and you can find the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Banana Pudding, a click away from a recipe for vegan ice cream, a click away from Julia Child's Coq Au Vin recipe. With Amazon and places like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or even most decent sized grocery stores, access to ingredients is unquestionably better than in ANY time in history. Think about that, there are still a few things that can be arguably be done best in a restaurant like deep frying on a large scale or the high heat output of professional appliances, but the average person with a little bit of disposable income and some knowledge can cook and eat things that the best chefs cooking and the richest people eating from the Roman emperors to Queen Victoria.....just couldn't.

Anyway, I want to know your tips: anything from grilling, to boiling an egg, to how to keep a souffle from dropping(not that I've ever made one but I've heard that is a problem). If you want to explain the science go for it but I'm also looking for tips like "my grandmother always added a drop of X to Y because she said it did this" or "I just stumbled into this one day and it tasted good/worked!".

Here's one recent one for me: I've heard for years and years that I should have an instant read thermometer, particularly for grilling meats. I've had them before but they were either uber cheap and so inaccurate/didn't last long or were kind of half assed ones built into a grill fork or such. I've also been grilling on average at least once a week with both gas and charcoal for a good part of my life so mostly I know from look/feel when something's done and don't NEED one.

But I'm a believer now, with caveats. Spend at least $20 bucks on one, from Amazon or a cooking supply place/site. Thermapen is a brand that I've heard a lot of chefs mention. Digital obviously, waterproof(you'd be surprised), and not overly flimsy.

Why it's worth it: I've found that less fatty cuts like beef tenderloin and most bigger pieces of lean pork and bone in chicken are very picky and have a very small sweet spot temp wise. I know a few who differ but to me a filet cooked even 10 degrees over can ruin it. Want your chicken to be done but not dry as a bone? I'm finding that precise temp can be huge and that I can get a perfectly medium rare, thick filet by watching the temp closely and paying attention to how much it goes up during resting.

Another quick grilling related one: For less boring BBQ chicken: marinate it in a Korean bulgogi marinade. You can make one easily but can probably find one in the asian or BBQ sauce/marinade section at the grocery store. Goes well with regular BBQ sauce brushed on at the end. I haven't been there but I hear good things about Heirloom BBQ which is a Korean/Southern BBQ place so maybe it makes sense?

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Comments

  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    "Here's one recent one for me: I've heard for years and years that I should have an instant read thermometer, particularly for grilling meats. I've had them before but they were either uber cheap and so inaccurate/didn't last long or were kind of half assed ones built into a grill fork or such. I've also been grilling on average at least once a week with both gas and charcoal for a good part of my life so mostly I know from look/feel when something's done and don't NEED one.

    But I'm a believer now, with caveats. Spend at least $20 bucks on one, from Amazon or a cooking supply place/site. Thermapen is a brand that I've heard a lot of chefs mention. Digital obviously, waterproof(you'd be surprised), and not overly flimsy."


    if I were to make a list of essential, quality, cooking gear a digital thermo would be at the top. If kept sharp then one can get by with a cheap knife. You can use cheap pots, cheap cutting board, etc. But most people over or undercook their meat. Pork chops, sausages, steak, wings, burgers, etc. Ask someone to do it 10 times by feel and 10 times using a thermo and you'll see a much higher success rate for hitting that target temp


    there are two worth buying. the aforementioned thermapen and the thermopop. both are made by the same company and they are at different price points. your final results will become a lot more consistent with a proper thermo

  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    also, 100% agree about cooking sites such as serious eats

    I have a couple I frequent but I don't care about how grandpa did it, what grandma says, etc. I want to know whe "why" behind the directions. sites that do scientific tests to find the best way. I always want to improve. we are spoiled with so many sound resources available.

  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    that is another site I highly recommend to go along with serious eats

    if you are into bbq I love Aaron Franklin's book and Meathead's book. I reference both regularly when grilling or smoking

  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    another good site. the mad max smoked turkey is maybe the best smoked turkey and gravy recipe on the internet

  • KaseyKasey Posts: 10,179 mod
    I would love affordable knife suggestions
  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    define affordable? and are you looking for the staples like chef, paring, and bread? or something specific beyond that?

  • KaseyKasey Posts: 10,179 mod
    Probably a chef’s knife under $200
  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    good budget for a chef's knife. if going to own one knife that is the one. 98% of my knife use is my gyuto, which is a style of chef's knife


    you can probably get a custom one of that, which is all I have and all I'll ever get going forward. without a doubt there has never been a better time for a custom made American knife. that scene is full of really talented guys using modern metallurgy and techniques.


    I have ordered 9 so far from a guy out of PA so I recommend him but really there are a lot of good options


  • FirePlugDawgFirePlugDawg Posts: 4,342 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited June 12

    OP here is one for you - not that you need it. Too often I find posers who quite obviously never prepared a partucularndish, giving detailed instructions on preparing same (also applies to ways to do things - like boning a chicken for example). Even on "good sites". Have no idea of the $$ involved for making a post/linking to it, etc., but if you say something, make it something you actually did. If you only heard of it, but think it may be worthwhile, say that as a preface. And ask for feedback. You'll likely stand out for being this way.

    Here's another. Regardless of cuisine, unless the topic dictates otherwise (is clear), then give the "authentic" recipe/technique first. Then list your trick/variation on it. And if possible and you are clearly giving your take on something, say what it is that is the big change that you made from the original/authentic. Good luck with this.

  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    @Kasey who I use. I can get you his email if interested. but at $200 you can get a badass custom knife with more attention to detail and better heat treatment. you can go much higher with certain handles but your budget allows for you get a knife you';; be very happy with

  • scooterdawgscooterdawg Posts: 1,890 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    So Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen is a cooking magazine/PBS show/website/cookbook producer. Kenji Lopez-Alt, one of the main guys behind Serious Eats, worked there for awhile. Anyway, they do a ton of equipment tests and for years have recommended

    one chef's knife in particular. The review is behind a paywall

    but you should be able to see the model.

    I think that's it. I haven't tested it myself as I have a set of old trusty Wustoffs but they tested all the high dollar brands.

  • FirePlugDawgFirePlugDawg Posts: 4,342 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    I have a set of Wusthof knives. Strongly suggest getting a wooden holder for them. Not overly pricey.

    I found a Portuguese made knife at Marshall's that is very nice.

    Knives make an excellent wedding gift - but may not be appreciated at the nuptials.

    Knife care should be impacted to the youngsters. Separate in storage (wood holder) and in cleaning; clean and dry immediately; minimal contact with soap and water. Use a ceramic sharpener for longest life.

  • mattmd2mattmd2 Posts: 1,166 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited June 12
    Have you experimented with Sous Vide cooking yet?

    Seemed a bit unusual at first but now I’m cooking perfect mid-rare steaks, every time, with minimal effort. Set it up, let it go, pull the meat whenever you’re ready, and sear on high heat for just a minute (grill, pan, or broiler.)

    Also makes timing a meal super easy because you have a lot of flexibility with cook time.  You have to try hard to overcook anything.

    I use it to cook steak, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetables and haven’t had a single problem with how anything turns out. 

    A true game-changer!
  • TeddyTeddy Posts: 4,488 mod

    @Kasey This is all you need. Have been using the same set for probably a decade, work great, and can get a 3 piece set for about $150.


  • scooterdawgscooterdawg Posts: 1,890 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Good calls. Another thing that annoys me about cooking sites and shows is when they oversell how quick and/or easy something is.

    For instance: I've now perfected a from scratch Mac and Cheese recipe that is pretty easy as far as making something from scratch goes in ingredients/measurements. Now, if I were like most cookbook writers/bloggers I'd say "This recipe is SO easy you'll never reached for the boxed stuff again!".

    My "easy" recipe still involves grating a block of cheese, measuring out all the ingredients, boiling the pasta, making a simple roux to a cheese sauce, and baking it all for 20 minutes. So yes, if I started with a preheated oven, already boiled pasta, pregrated cheese, already measured ingredients etc, I probably could do it in not that much more time than a box of Kraft.

    It's not a hard recipe at all but to compare it to being as fast and easy as boxed is just the type of thing that's liable to discourage a new cook.

  • KaseyKasey Posts: 10,179 mod

    Thanks for all the knife tips

  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    I own two sous vide machines, love them and highly recommend them

  • scooterdawgscooterdawg Posts: 1,890 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Sous vide is definitely on my list of things to try. I've looked at them a couple of times but not sure where to jump in. Actually not even getting into the machine itself, it seems like the times I've seen it done on TV the food was vacuum sealed, do you need a vac sealer too?

    I was looking at a few around the $75-90 mark because I don't want to spend a ton to start and I'm short on kitchen space so definitely one of the stick looking ones.

  • Bulldawg90Bulldawg90 Posts: 243 ✭✭✭ Junior
    I put a pinch of coffee grounds in my chili, and lemon pepper is great on corn on the cob
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