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A wonderful quote from the legendary actor Orson Wells. Academy Award Winning actor for “Citizen Kane”, Orson Welles was also quite the food connoisseur and a wonderful humorist. Here he does a different take on the Kennedy quote of “ask not what your country can do for you”, turning into a priceless food quote. This is only one example, there are countless others, for example…”My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four…unless there are three other people”. If you are not familiar with Orson Welles…look him up, by all means, watch his movies ( they’re brilliant!), and check out his other quotes. As I said, he was quite a humorist.

This is more of a pet peeve than a tip. The point to remember is that everyone wants to enjoy the dishes that are made and served, so it’s important to keep the portion sizes appropriate… not to mention it is also much healthier. I absolutely hate going to restaurants, ordering something that looks great on the menu, then have this mega-gigantic portion served to me that could feed two armies. It’s a total waste of food, not to mention it seems to promote obesity, even if subliminally, which is absolutely not healthy! in fact, there is a bit of an epidemic of obesity in this country that needs to be seriously addressed. In my opinion, restaurants that serve these outrageous portions are being extremely irresponsible… from both the health and food waste standpoints.

This video discusses some tips to consider when going to a restaurant, particularly those that would be considered ” fine dining”. Among them are: try something different, that you would not or could not cook at home, pay attention to the combination of foods and flavors on the dish and apply those that you like in your own kitchen, and finally pay attention to the cooking methods employed and adapt those to your own style and creativity. By following these tips, you will enhance your restaurant experiences. Also apply these tips when traveling and experiencing local/regional cuisines. I think they will add to your enjoyment, and you will probably learn something you can apply in your own kitchen as well.

Here’s a tip on making the best sauces. By using a double boiler, you pretty much guarantee that you will not burn or overcook a sauce. It’s great insurance for your wonderful culinary creations. Sauces are generally pretty easy to execute; however making them does require attention, particularly to level of heat that is used. The biggest cardinal sin in making a sauce is to have the heat too high and end up burning or partially burning it; particularly if the sauce has either butter and/or eggs involved… and many sauces do. By using a double boiler, you have removed the sauce from the direct heat; it is cooked by the heat/steam generated from the boiling water in the lower portion of the double boiler, giving you far more control.This why using a double boiler really helps to control the heat and prevent ruining your sauce by overcooking it.

A discussion what I call hybrid spices…these are the spices you buy that contain multiple ingredients. For example, these include some like “Italian Blend” or “Herbs de Provence”. Some of these hybrids are quite useful, while others not so much… you have to read the combination of spices used in each blend to decide whether they are to your own liking. If the exact spices used are not listed on the jar, or only listed as “spices”, then avoid. Realize that while they may include a particular spice you are not keen on, it is a blend… so that a single spice typically does not overpower the others…so feel adventurous.. give it a try, you may discover some that you really like.

Here’s a video on making a great guacamole, a favourite dish everybody loves. This is a perfect dish year round, whether it be for a special occasion, holiday, or just because you want to. This is a classic Mexican dish that done right can have excellent flavour, with a kick to it. It’s also a dish that can be extremely bland if done poorly. Essential ingredients are avocados, jalapeños, tomatoes, onion, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cilantro is an optional ingredient, but be careful as it is a strong flavour, and not everyone likes it, in fact, I have a very good friend that is highly allergic to it. Tomatillos are also a nice optional ingredient.

Guacamole

Avocado
Tomatillo
Jalapeño
Tomato
Onion
Garlic
Sea Salt
Pepper
Lemon Juice ( and/or lime juice )
Cilantro ( optional )

Dice the avocado, tomatillo, jalapeño, tomato, and onion. Combine all the diced ingredients in a mixing bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste. Top off with some minced garlic and the juice from one lemon and/or lime. Using a potato masher,
mixed all the ingredients until well blended and the guacamole has a relatively smooth texture. Add the large seed from the avocado to preserve freshness. Put the guacamole in the refrigerator to chill. Before serving, garnish with fresh tostadas.

Guacamole has a variety of uses; an excellent appetizer or dip, a topping for burgers, in a salad, even as a side for other dishes. Enjoy!

Here are a few tips on pan grilling ( using a grill pan on your stovetop, see picture below ) and searing. The fundamentals are really pretty simple, achieving an equilibrium between heat and time. You start with high heat for a short time frame to start, then reverse the order to finish. Of course, the total time depends on how you like your meat ( i.e. rare, medium, medium well, etc.).

Grill pans come in two basic materials, cast iron and anodized aluminium, each with its own pros and cons. Cast iron grill pans are the more common, they’ve been around for ages and are great. They can get very hot, and hold the heat quite well, making cooking steaks a breeze. On the con side, they are heavy and have to be hand washed to really get them clean.

On the other hand, anodized aluminium grill pans are considerably lighter ( 2 lbs. versus 8-10 lbs. for cast iron ), and also much easier to clean. On the con side, they won’t get as hot as cast iron, however, they will distribute the heat pretty well. This is an advantage for cooking fish on a grill pan, as the high heat of cast iron can destroy a delicate fish. As for dishwasher compatibility, each pan is a bit different as is the non-stick coating some use, so it’s necessary to check the manufacturer’s instructions on each.

 

No matter how you like your meat, the basics are the same, a short time at higher heat, then turn the heat down until you achieve your own desired degree of wellness. This will help you get most from grilling and avoid the mistakes that could ruin your dish.