Chef's Notes Plus

Keep it Simple with Pumpkin Purée

Despite the abundance of pumpkin-flavored foods at every turn, we spend surprisingly little time handling actual pumpkins. After all, as proponents of “homemade is best,” an apple pie starts with apples, a cherry pie starts with cherries. But a pumpkin pie starts with…a can of pumpkin purée? Using prepared pumpkin […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Using Dried Pasta

A box of pasta in the pantry means you always have something to cook. Be sure to seek out high-quality pasta and remember to cook it properly. It should be al dente (meaning that it has a pleasant “chew” but not undercooked). There aren’t very many tricks to cooking pasta, […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Cooking “en Papillote”

Cooking food in pouches can seem gimmicky, but it’s actually a great method for preparing quick and easy meals for one person or a party for ten! Cooking in pouches, known in French as en papillote, or “in paper,” is a method of steaming foods with their own juices, with […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Stuffed Peppers Without a Recipe

There are tons of stuffed pepper recipes in the world, but you don’t need a recipe to make a hearty make-ahead dinner with all the ingredients your family likes best. There are four primary components of a basic stuffed pepper: the pepper, the substance, the flavor, and the sauce. The […]

Chef's Notes Plus

What Makes a Wine a “Meritage?”

If a winemaker wants to produce a red wine that emulates a Bordeaux blend—say 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 45 percent Merlot, and 5 percent Cabernet Franc—what is he or she going to call it? Since it’s not 75 percent of any particular grape variety, the wine can’t be called by […]

Chef's Notes Plus

How to Make a Basic Braise—Just in Time for Autumn

Braising, barbecuing, and slow-roasting are all long, low cooking methods that utilize less tender, fattier cuts of meats with a lot of connective tissue. But braising stands apart in that it includes liquid in the cooking process. It is also a combination cooking method—one that uses both dry and moist […]

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All About Chocolate

Bewildering arrays of cocoa and chocolate products exist and vary widely in quality and availability. The first step in properly selecting these products is to understand the makeup of each and their uses. Bittersweet/semisweet chocolate Often simply called dark chocolate, the FDA regulates that this type of chocolate must contain […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Learn More About Wheat

As you become a more proficient as a baker, you are able to pay less attention to your recipe and more attention to your ingredients. Understanding the forms and functions of an ingredient gives you the information you need to experiment, and even small swaps can make a huge impact. […]

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Using Leftover Parmesan Rinds

If you are regularly splurging on beautiful craggy pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano (or, it’s more local cousin Parmesan), you should enjoy every last bit. That includes the rind! As a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano ages, it develops a natural protective layer that, over time, becomes dry and hard. That layer is full […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Turkey Burgers Without a Recipe

Turkey burgers have a reputation as the bland, virtuous cousin of the beef hamburger. And some can be, since ground turkey doesn’t bring much to the flavor table as an ingredient. But a turkey burger doesn’t have to be a boring substitute for something you would rather eat—it can be […]

Chef's Notes Plus

Ingredient Spotlight: Chicken Thighs

If you’re talking about white meat versus dark meat, it is probably either Thanksgiving or you are ordering fried chicken. In most other instances, chicken doesn’t demand a lot of conversation. For years, we’ve lived in a white meat society, using the boneless, skinless breast in nearly every application, from […]