Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cooking Tips #n

Horno de Micro-Ondas

I haven't any problem with using a microwave to steam vegetables. Matter of fact, it is an incredibly energy efficient machine, if you are considering energy consumption to operate (now how many Chinese rivers were polluted to make the darn thing I can't answer.) So, to cut back prep time and maybe if you forgot the green vegetable for dinner, throw the veggies in a safe dish, add a tiny bit of water, just enough to thoroughly cover the bottom of the dish, a little salt, pepp, lemon, and a tiny bit of garlic powder or even crushed garlic, then cover with plastic wrap (I know- kind of wasteful but it works so well!) Thow' it in the zapper, shut the door, and nuke on high for about 2 or 3 minutes, depending on thickness of the vegetables. If you have a tiny dorm-size microwave, this could take all night (forget it and go with a friend to the corner Chinese buffet for $3.95.) Once it has gone through the motions, do not disturb; let it sit covered, in the micro, until you are just about to serve- that way it will be steamy hot. Hot tip: open micro door when timer beeps so that you see the door ajar and the light on- that way you won't remember your asparagus was left in there when serving dessert 2 hours later!

Sartén de Teflón

Non-stick non-stick pans. Some people have a real aversion to non-stick pans. However, nothing gets me worked up more than food sticking to a metal pan. I've thrown more ruined food, along with the pan, off the porch that way. Some tips; hand wash the non-stick pans ONLY. Dishwashers are notorious for tearing up “The Don” [read teflon] from the surface of the pan. Ever wonder what happens to those little bits that are flaking off old abused pans? That's right, your appendix is probably hoarding a collection right now (if you still have an apdx.) Next, if you are REALLY on the ball, place a soft cloth between the non-stick surface and any other pans or dishes that you stack on top when storing. That way the surface won't get scored. AND Just like mom or grandma said, NEVER USE METAL UTENSILS. Wood, wood, wood. Plastic is okay, but food always sticks and I feel like the plastic melts into the hot food on a molecular level.

With that out of the way, here is a non-stick non-stick way to cook tempeh. Heat the pan to med-or med high (gas stoves require less.) Once the surface is warm, spray with canola oil; this primes the surface for the next step; we want a boundary layer between the non-stick surface and the food, and we want a high delta-T between the two in order to prevent lamination. We want de-lamination to be ever-present! When the food and the pan are exactly the same temperature, they tend to laminate together causing sticking. That's why we stir-stir-stir, to introduce the cooling effect of air between the food and the boundary layer, preventing such calamities... (with a wooden spoon.)

When I am going to cook tempeh, I like to pre-coat the tempeh with a thin layer of oil to be even more confident about cooking success. To a medium sized bowl: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon Texas Pete; stir, then add sliced tempeh & coat all slices. Let sit for a few minutes- the tempeh will absorb some of the oil. Then add to your well-prepared pan:

At this point, be meticulous about exposing the tempeh's surface to the heat in order to reach an even cooking condition. Cook until your desired level of “crispiness” is reached. If the pan dries up, it doesn't matter. If you followed the above directions, it will stay so slippery that it wants to jump out of the pan when you stir.


Potatoes: if you are stressed on time and need to whip up some 'taters fast, be unafraid of dicing into small pieces. The cooking time may surprise you! Maintain steady heat and stir like crazy; if things get sticky, add a bit of water; that should loosen things up quickly.

The magic Indian spice mix; great for potatoes:

Grated Ginger

Woa! Now add a some coconut milk, and simmer for a few more minutes.

Frescos y Locales

And the most important tip; buy fresh & local:


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