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What is the one cooking trick


fresco
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Years ago, I came across brining in Jane Grigson's excellent The Art of Charcuterie and have since used it extensively for everything from pork and poutry to shrimp. The improvement in taste, especially for bland, dry supermarket meat, is considerable.

What's the trick or truc that has turned your cooking around?

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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This sounds too simple, I know, but what has made a great difference in my cooking/baking is preheating. A few years ago, I didn't understand that heating the pan and/or oil beforehand made a world of difference. Preheating the oven before baking also made a big difference.

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:laugh: Puppy scheduling! I love it.

Always go pee before starting to make a roux.

Ditto brining.

Anything that needs a long simmer, I now do in the oven. This is particularly convenient for things like chili that might stick on the bottom no matter how good the pot.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Not allowing anyone else to clean (with soap, probably) my cast iron frying pans. And a heat-up on the stove-top with a spray of canola afterwards.

Another one is the trick to turning salmon steaks into tenderloins with a little bit of string after extracting all the bones.

And less water in the rice cooker than the recipe calls for.

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This one's pretty basic, but when I finally learned to get all my ingredients prepped and ready (a mise en place, in other words), cooking became a much smoother and more predictable process.

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Buy the very best ingredients - and there IS a difference.

My earliest "cooking years," thought that one supermarket chicken is like all chickens; one can of tomatoes is like all cans; salt is salt is salt - that kind of thing.

But then began figuring out that is so far from the truth as to be laughable.

An expensive and inconvenient revelation from which there is no recovery.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Buy the very best ingredients - and there IS a difference.

My earliest "cooking years," thought that one supermarket chicken is like all chickens; one can of tomatoes is like all cans; salt is salt is salt - that kind of thing.

But then began figuring out that is so far from the truth as to be laughable.

An expensive and inconvenient revelation from which there is no recovery.

I completely agree. The more I learn about the ingredients I use, the better I am at understanding the effect of quality.

9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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Season to taste as you go along. Case in point: for the pot luck, I think a large part of what made the two pasta sauces a success was that I kept adding salt and pepper at certain stages. Too often people undersalt or underseason, or do it at the last minute before service.

Use as much butter or EVOO or whatever as you like, and then use some more. For elyse's cheese puff thingies, the reason why those were amazing was the amount of butter she used. If they were stunning hot out of the oven, they got even better slightly cooled or at room temperature (which is when I had them). Each of the cheese puff thingies practically oozed butter, they were soooooooooooo good. Let me go on record saying that the best pastries I've had in my life were those that used ungodly amounts of butter and more butter on top of that.

Soba

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This one's pretty basic, but when I finally learned to get all my ingredients prepped and ready (a mise en place, in other words), cooking became a much smoother and more predictable process.

Along these lines, making sure that I have all the needed ingredients before I start cooking. Once you have to run out to the store (or beg your SO to run out for you) in the middle of making something you'll never do it again. :rolleyes:

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Searing. Thanks to Alton Brown. I am the Roast Beast queen of NJ.

Microplanes. Coarse and fine. Thanks to a reference in Cooks Magazine. I'm addicted to zest and cheese and chocolate shavings.

Rice Vinegar. Thanks to Jinmyo. and Torakris. I jsut never thought of it often enough before, now I do all the time.

Ethnic markets for ingredients. Thanks to the NJ Board. It's cheap to buy most stuff, even if you mess it up the first time around. If you go often enough, they answer your questions and then some. After you experiment, you can buy the top of the line ingredients at Wegman's.

Wegman's market. Inspiring. You walk around there, and you just want to CREATE.

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eGullet. Truthfully, I've learned so many trips and techniques here that have improved my cooking, so I can't just pick one.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Cooking in rhythm with the seasons, shunning non-local produce except when unavoidable. Last weekend I cooked what I expect were the last asparagus I'll eat until May of next year. We probably have another week to go with strawberries. Fresh tomatoes are part of my repertoire for about two months a year. Living in the Great White North, I relent a bit in the dead of winter, otherwise it'd be nothing but root vegetables, cabbage and onions. And some non-local fruits and veggies survive the trip not too worse for the wear -- bananas, citrus fruit, pears, apples, cherries, mangoes, artichokes, arugula, chestnuts. But those are the exceptions, and even they are seasonal. The advantages are that the food actually tastes like it's supposed to; each season brings a unique set of joys and flavours; and it costs a whole lot less. In a way, this is a subset of Jaymes' theme (using only the best ingredients).

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A little lemon zest makes everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, more interesting.  Thank you, Microplane!!!!!

Everything? :unsure:

Even wood chips?

Probably. Good extra fiber, ya know.

Edit: damn you both, MatthewB and Tommy! You made me look. :angry: At least, at the headline.

Well, excuse me, now I've got to go do something similar -- just not mine, not severed, and not cooked. :laugh:

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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