Tuesday, January 24, 2006

For Christmas, we recieved some cookbooks from my sister. They're really unique books (one of which is a Czechoslovak cookbook, which I'm dying to make something from), but one, in particular, suprised me as I flipped through it. The book is based on TBS' series "Dinner & a Movie", where they play a movie and, during the breaks, provide some recipes loosely based on the film they're showing. It's a cute and fun book, but, in the back, it contains a list of tips that I think should be in every cookbook. It's a well explained handful of suggestions for making your dinners even better. This is stuff I paid a good chunk of money to learn and I thought I'd reprint them (not verbatim, of course) here for everyone, as they are good things to know.

* Use seasonal produce whenever possible! It's cheaper and will always taste better.

* Always rest your meat after cooking. If you cut into it right after it's cooked, you're losing all those good juices. They need time to redistribute after being heated through the cooking process.

* Taste a dish constantly, as you're cooking.

* Don't be afraid of salt! Things with salt do not tasty salty (unless over-salted), they taste more like what they are. They just taste better. But, do not salt things (like sauces) that will be reduced, until they are finished. Because, along with flavors, reduction will intensify the saltiness, as well.

* Clean as you work.

* Calibrate your oven. Nobody's oven is perfect and the right temp can make a good amount of difference, especially when it comes to baking.

* Buy whole spices and grind them yourself. A coffee grinder works well for this.

* Warm your plates before serving. This is a very common restaurant trick. Warm food should be served on warm plates and cold on cold.