Have you ever been puzzled with a step on one of your recipe cards? Wonder no more as Jordana Rebner, Culinary Director at Goodfood, helps us understand the importance of some of those crucial culinary steps you’ll often encounter on your kitchen adventures!
Why season with salt & pepper throughout the cooking process?
Those ubiquitous shakers and grinders aren’t just for the dinner table. In fact, if you season your food while cooking, you’ll find that you may not need them on the table at all! While cooking, it’s extremely important to taste your food at every step of the way. Not only will this make you an overall better cook by showing you how specific flavours come together, but it also allows you to refine the flavour as you go.
This is especially true for salt which brightens flavours and helps them meld together. By adding a bit of salt at a time in layers, your dish will be seasoned more uniformly and will keep you from dumping mounds of it on top to overcompensate when eating. Jordana recommends kosher salt (which is lower in sodium by volume) and grabbing tiny pinches of it with your fingers so that you can actually feel how much you’re using. With time you’ll get a feel for how much to use. When it comes to black pepper, freshly ground is always best and using it while cooking gives it a chance to impart its flavour and give that ‘pop’ to the food you’re cooking. If you’ve been skipping this seasoning step in your day-to-day, give it a try on your next Goodfood recipe and taste the difference!
Why should we use olive oil at times and vegetable oil at others?
Not all oils are alike. That fancy (and pricy) olive oil you bought in little Italy is best saved for specific purposes. Let us explain; some oils are better suited to higher temperatures, for example, your standard vegetable oils. These have a higher smoke point, meaning they have a higher threshold for heat and won’t burn at higher temperatures, when oil is needed as an anti-adhesive to cook or fry certain foods. These oils are typically flavourless and are much less expensive which means you can use them more liberally. Canola, sunflower and avocado oils are all great options!
Olive oil however, while healthier overall, is not well suited to high temperatures and is usually only used for cooking at low to medium temperatures. Its subtle flavour is also best enjoyed on fresh foods like in vinaigrettes for salads, sauces like gremolata and drizzled on pizzas and Mediterranean dishes. Jordana recommends cold-pressed extra virgin as a pantry staple.
Why should we pat our meat and fish dry before frying?
This is a step that our members ask about often. Why on earth would you pat your meat dry before cooking it? After all, shouldn’t you be the one getting a pat on the back for cooking so wonderfully? There is in fact a good reason and it comes down to moisture. When searing a steak for example, the surface should be dry so that no water between the meat and pan is able to steam and interfere with the browning. When searing, the meat undergoes a chemical change called the Maillard reaction that results in a roasted or meaty aroma and flavour similar to what happens when caramelizing onions. This aroma gives a better overall taste and colour as well as providing you with a fond for sauces!
Bonus tip from Jordana: After searing and cooking, it’s important to always let your meat rest a few minutes before cutting into it, since it allows the residual heat to finish cooking (often referred to as carry-over cooking) and to let those sumptuous juices within redistribute more evenly!
We hope these tips help you on your path to kitchen mastery, so please feel free to share them!
See this week’s recipes for more opportunities to try them out!