Simple Cooking Tips:
Don’t Drink and Drive, but Do Drink and Cook, especially if you are cooking for a large group and you are nervous. There is nothing like a glass of wine or beer to help relax you and release your inhibitions about cooking.
If you want to enjoy cooking, use good knives. You really only need 3 knives: a large chef’s knife, a bread knife, and a pairing knife, buy the best that you can afford. You will be grateful daily for how little labor you have to exert when you cut with good knives.
Keep your knives sharp. Nothing makes cooking more laborious then struggling to cut your meat and vegetables. You can periodically use a home sharper and most hardware store will send your knives out (I try to do this once every 2 years) to be professionally sharpened.
Wash your hands before you handle any food. It is as good advice for home cooks as it is for restaurant cooks. Wash your hands every time you touch raw fish or meat. You don’t want to pass e coli or salmonella on to your lettuce?
Don’t use the same cutting board and knives for raw fish and meats as you do for your vegetables. I recommend using only plastic cutting boards for fish and meat because you can throw them in the dishwasher and know that they are sanitized. It is hard to be certain you killed all bad germs on a wood board.
Use a “garbage bowl”, or as I call it a “composting bowl.” As you chop your vegetables it is nice to keep a small bowl on hand to deposit any unwanted stems etc.. Your counters will stay cleaner and you will only have to make one trip to the compost bucket.
Salt as you go a long. Put a little salt on each item as you add it to the recipe, this way you'll guarantee everything has been seasoned. Salt is necessary for blending flavors while cooking, and I bet you won’t even come close to adding as much salt as what is put into processed food.
Taste as you cook. Don’t re-taste with the same spoon. But it is important to check the flavors of your cooking during the process, even if you are following a recipe exactly, you could make a mistake, and the seasoning may not be to your liking.
Use fresh good quality ingredients. They cost more. So eat less, and enjoy what you eat more. Your health and your figure will benefit.
MENU PLAN FOR THIS WEEK:
MEATLESS MONDAY: Thai Curry with Tofu and peppers.
TUESDAY: Chicken Parmesan with potatoes and green beans.
I buy Trader Joe’s frozen breaded chicken breasts, top them with red sauce and Mozzarella cheese, bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. The potatoes I roast in the oven at the same time, chopped and tossed with rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. The green beans are frozen and I boil them for 3 minutes and add olive oil and crushed garlic.
WEDNESDAY: Wonton Soup with escarole, carrots, onion, and celery.
Sauté any veggies that are wilting in your fridge with some vegetable oil at the bottom of a large sauce pan. When veggies are soft add 2 cartons of chicken stock bring to a boil. Let soup sit for hours if you can. Before you are ready to serve bring the broth to a boil and add the frozen wontons (I buy Trader Joe’s) let boil for 5 minutes. Then serve.
THURSDAY: Chili, cheddar cheese, with corn bread.
I have frozen chili that I will be thawing for this meal, but Trader Joe’s canned chili is excellent. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. The corn bread is best made from scratch or again, I recommend the Trader Joe’s mix.
FRIDAY: Ravioli's with red sauce and a side salad.
I buy good quality frozen raviolis from an Italian grocery store. We like to experiment with different cheese mixes and meats.