The pandemic years have given us a lot of continued exploration of home cooking. While some of us (me) experienced serious banana bread burnout and others (me too) gave up sourdough, we kept trying new recipes, taking virtual cooking classes, and to improve our home cooking equipment. And, like every year, we continued to learn the culinary tips from the chefs.
At Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in September, we were joined by some of the biggest names in food, who demystified everything from veggie burgers to Birria.
Here are the best cooking tips we’ve learned from real chefs
Immersion blenders make great whipped cream
Who knew? Well, Paola Velez did. On an episode of Pastries with Paola where she makes Maria Cookie Icebox Cake, the pastry chef demonstrated that you can easily use an immersion blender, the same one you would use to puree soup. “You’re never going to make whipped cream any other way, because it’s just *the chef’s kiss*,” she said.
Sourdough belongs to bread pudding
We learned another cooking trick in an episode of Pastries with Paola, where Velez makes her guava and cheese bread pudding, inspired by the recipe of her husband’s 101-year-old grandmother. And the bread she uses is sourdough. “The layers of sourdough give it a spiciness.”
The best cookies have butter and shortening
Carla Hall makes her fluffy, fluffy, out-of-the-ordinary cookies using a combination of cold grated butter and vegetable shortening.
Bake your pie longer
“People are often afraid of baking their pies, cakes and pies too long,” Martha Stewart told the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. But pies in particular “should be baked until they are really a nice golden color. It may seem very long because it will definitely be worth it in the final product. It should be golden brown underneath.
Stewart shared another cooking tip and revealed that a crucial step to achieving that perfect golden brown exterior is topping your crust with sugar: “The sugar on the crust not only helps make it look pretty, but it gives it a nice crunch.”
The cilantro stems are to be kept
Claudette Zepeda was also at the Classic this year, where she demonstrated her famous Birria Recipe. Zepeda urged the public never to throw away his cilantro stems because they are packed with flavor. To top the tacos, she includes the chopped stems along with the leaves to get the most flavor from the herb.
Barista style oat milk makes a great base for sorbet
Salt & Straw co-founder (and head ice cream maker) Tyler Malek showed how to make oat milk and boysenberry sorbet, using the same type of oat milk you would use for a latte (like Oatly) for a rich creaminess.
You can use Goldfish to make an ice cream cone
Chef, activist and founder of Studio ATAO, Jenny Dorsey, whipped up banana rum ice cream in cheddar and cracker cones, and our lives will never be the same.
Garlic should go last
At Food & Wine An Aspen classic, Guy Fieri shared a life-changing cooking tip and said that when he sweats vegetables in a pan, he always puts the garlic last and advises you to do the same. “If you want to go wrong, do the garlic first. Always the onion first,” he said. “Garlic comes in last, as soon as it gets hazelnut caramel add some cash.”
The parsnip belongs to the dessert
Krystle Swenson, the pastry chef at The Social Haus in the green o in Montana, told us she loves baking cakes using shredded parsnips instead of carrots. She then tops her cake with whipped cream cheese frosting, crispy parsnip chips and fried sage toppings.
Caesar salad is best served grilled
“One of my favorite things to grill is romaine and I use it as a Caesar salad base,” chef Danny Grant told Food & Wine. “It elevates the dish, giving it a smoky, almost indulgent flavor profile, which makes it incredibly satisfying. Lightly brush the halved romaine hearts with oil and grill them cut side down for 1 to 3 minutes, until the leaves are lightly charred. Top with all your favorite Caesar salad accessories, olive oil, lemon and lots of black pepper.
Instant coffee is a game-changer in baking
This trick is not new per se, but it is new to me. Ina Garten’s Double Chocolate Cake gets much of its richness from instant coffee in the frosting and a cup of hot brewed coffee in the batter. My friend and colleague, visual editor Sarah Crowder, said she always had instant coffee on hand thanks to this Garten Cake recipe. After I make it and devour it, I will too.
Reduce wine before cooking for more flavor
At Food & Wine An Aspen classic, Ludo Lefebvre says that before making coq au vin, he likes to reduce the wine (ideally a Burgundy) first to concentrate the flavor.
Shallow poaching is the perfect way to cook salmon
Food editor Mary-Frances Heck showed how to poach shallow salmon under a cartridge, a circle of parchment paper, for tender, super-tasty fish in minutes. (The method works with any soft fish, such as flounder, redfish, or grouper.)
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