Smartypantz, taking it one day at a time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quick Food Fixes

You don't have to braise, poach, or glaze food to make it tasty. But even simple meals can be screwed up. Six tips from Alton Brown, host, writer, and director of Good Eats and author of Gear for Your Kitchen.
Edited by: Matt Bean

PASTA
Use at least a gallon of water to let the noodles shake off starch. Salt the water--at least1 tablespoon per gallon--for seasoning. Once it's boiling, add 1 teaspoon of oil to increase surface tension and keep the pot from boiling over.

NOT-HARD-BOILED EGGS
Put them in a steamer; it's gentler and faster than boiling--12 minutes for as many as six eggs. When they're done, put them in ice-cold water and shell them as soon as possible. The result is a delicate white and a yolk that's set but not racquetball-hard.

PANCAKES
Prepare the dry and liquid ingredients separately. Stir with a spatula 10 times, no more: Overbeating forms gluten, which makes pancakes tough and keeps them from rising.

GRILLED CHEESE
Grate the cheese for fast melting. Heat two cast-iron skillets on high (medium for clad) for 3 minutes, then remove. Butter the outsides of the sandwich and put it between the pans for 5 minutes. The pressure compresses the bread, while the heat gives it a golden crust.

FISH
Broiling minimizes fish funk, and some spices act as deodorizers. Go with salmon, brush it with olive oil, and sprinkle on cumin, chili powder, and coriander--no pepper; pepper burns. Put it 4 inches under the broiler for 5 minutes. Forget flipping. Feel it to see if it's done--firm with a little bounce. Variation throughout the fish is fine, but if the grain separates, order a pizza; it's overdone.

GUACAMOLE
Add lemon or lime juice to prevent the avocado from turning brown, and use a potato masher to keep it chunky.


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