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Mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs)- This technique is IMPORTANT and a habit that is hard to create. It's a French term for having all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before starting to cook. That means everything is cleaned, peeled, chopped, diced, measured out, whatever's necessary to get the ingredients ready prior to preparing your dish. Literally translates into “everything in its place”. Many of us, me included, start cooking and prepping at the same time. Getting in the habit of preparing your mise en place before beginning to cook will make cooking a lot more pleasurable, I guarantee it. You will also be able to make sure that you have of the ingredients that you will need.

Knives- I find that quite a few of the people that I have spoken to about their knives put little or no thought into the purchase, maintenance and use of what I consider one of the most important tools in the kitchen. If you have a high quality, sharp knife, your cutting jobs go more quickly and safely. A very sharp knife can be scary to use, but when using a dull knife, you are required to use more pressure to cut and a resulting cut will be deeper and less clean that from a very sharp knife.

TT- to taste- measure to your own taste. 

Vegetable peelers- No real fancy or expensive investment, money wise, but, family wise, I would consider it a huge investment. Let me tell you why. When Zac, my oldest, was 2 yrs old, I started to work with him in the kitchen. I provided him with a small apron, a step stool and a very inexpensive vegetable peeler…boy, did we eat a lot of carrots, yet now, at 15 he is capable of handling most kitchen tasks. We spent time together, got our meals done and both of my sons are willing to eat vegetables and try new foods. I attribute this fact to us having cooked together in the kitchen since they were capable of even the smallest kitchen tasks.

        1.don’t start testing the food as soon as you put it on the grill. Give the food a chance to cook, allowing it to sear on the bottom so that it will naturally pull away from the grate and not stick
        2. don’t cut into the food to see if it is done. This allows some of the natural juices to come out and the food dries out more
        3. (chef’s tip) the best way to test most food is by pressing on it with your finger. If you do this every time you grill, you will quickly learn what a perfectly cooked piece of meat or fish fillet feels like.- you can poke your food with your fingers as many times as you want, and it won’t dry out the cooking food, but again, if you cut into it, the food will dry out more quickly.-this is why you should use a pair of tongs or a spatula to flip the meat or fish
        4. as meat, poultry and fatty fish like salmon and tuna cook, they become firmer and firmer to the touch. A rare steak/tune fillet feels squishy, medium feels springier and well-done feels taut. White fish is different because is becomes flaky when done.
        5. let your meat and poultry rest before cutting and serving.
                -remember that most cuts of meat and poultry continue to cook once taken off of the grill. The larger the cut, the longer the interior heat continues to cook the meat. I suggest removing the meat and covering it with foil for up to 10 minutes.
                - resting also allows the meat to draw the natural juices back into itself, so that more of the juices stay in the meat when cutting instead of on your cutting board.
                - serve boneless poultry and fish immediately since they lose their heat quickly
        6. it is better to under cook than over cook. You can always put the food back on the grill

Chocolate can be melted using one of the methods shown below: 

  • Double boiler: place the chocolate in the top pot of the double boiler and heat. Keep the water in the bottom pot hot but not boiling.  Stir occasionally through out the melting time. Keep a close eye on the water because it can boil quickly, even over low heat.  A metal bowl over a bottom pot can be used instead if you don’t have a double boiler.  Just remember to dry the bottom of the pan/bowl as soon as removed from the bottom pan to avoid moisture coming into contact with the chocolate
  • Microwave: a simple, quick method.  Place chocolate into a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup.  Use the melt/soften feature or, if these features are not available, use the defrost feature.  The key is to slowly melt the chocolate so that it doesn’t over heat and crystallize or break.  Stir the chopped chocolate every 2 minutes.  Eight oz. of chocolate may take up to 5 minutes to melt.  The chocolate may hold its shape but once it is stirred you will be able to tell if additional time is required. If not completely melted, microwave for 20 to 30 additional seconds and check again.
  • In a saucepan on top of the stove: use this method only if melting chocolate with butter or heavy cream to prevent scorching.  Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted.




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