Even though I'm a writer, I do agree that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. I can cook pretty much anything if I have a good recipe to follow. But it's tips and techniques like the ones offered via live demonstrations at the Taste of Home Cooking School that I find most useful, interesting and entertaining.
I really like the visuals at the cooking shows and, while I haven't actually made any of the recipes demonstrated during the shows I've attended in the past four years, I have incorporated some of the tips and techniques shared during the shows in my own kitchen.
In fact, I acquired my favorite kitchen gadget after the Taste of Home Cooking School a couple years ago when Chef Dawn Tyson-Silvera told us about the lettuce knife.
The plastic gadget sort of looks like the bagel slicer that came with my toaster, which I use to "dig" the bagel out of the toaster more than I use to slice it. As soon as I saw Chef Dawn use the lettuce knife and explain that the plastic blade avoids contact with metal on the lettuce and keeps the edges from turning brown, I knew I needed it in my kitchen. It wasn't long after the show that I found myself in a kitchen gadget store at the Hershey Outlets and saw a big bin of green lettuce knives. I bought one and just love it. I use it several times a week. Even though it's thick and plastic, it cuts the lettuce in slivers, just right for stuffing into taco shells.
A couple other tips offered by Chef Dawn stuck with me over the years:
During last week's Taste of Home Cooking School, I happily jotted down some of the tips and techniques demonstrated by Chef Michael Barna and those broadcast from the Taste of Home test kitchens via videos shown on the overhead screen between the preparation of the showcased recipes.
The chef mentioned that the powers that be at Taste of Home are considering reducing the number of recipes prepared onstage to add a tips and techniques segment during future cooking schools. I think that would be a great idea, and the possibility was met with positive reaction from the 800-plus people in the audience that night as well.
For anyone who wasn't able to attend the show, or for those who didn't take notes, here are a few of my favorite tips and techniques learned at cooking school last week, as well as some of the recipes he prepared onstage. Here is where a picture is worth a thousand words -the techniques were easy to follow when watching the chef on the big screen; I'm sorry I can't describe them as well.
Tips, techniques and
Here are some of the recipes made by Chef Michael on stage last week, with a few extra tips not found in the printed cookbook.
Berry Puff Pancake
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/3 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
Place the butter in a 9-inch pie plate; place in a 400-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until melted.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. In another small bowl, combine the flour and salt.
At this point, the recipe says to whisk in egg mixture until smooth. But, Chef Michael cautioned that the batter should not be overmixed. In fact, "You want an ugly batter with blobs of flour," he said. Just stir the batter with a wooden spoon enough to make it pliable.
Pour into prepared pie plate. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until sides are crisp and golden brown.
In a large bowl, gently combine the berries and the marmalade. Sprinkle pancake with confectioner's sugar; fill with berry mixture. Serve immediately.
5 cups uncooked egg noodles
2 cans (14-oz. each) sauerkraut (the recipe called for the sauerkraut to be rinsed and well drained, but Chef Michael advises not to rinse it because it weakens the flavor)
2 cans (10 3/4-oz. each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
3/4 pound sliced deli corned beef, chopped
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 slices day-old light rye bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Cook noodles according to package directions. As a time-saving measure, Chef Michael says you can make the noodles in the morning, put them in a zipped plastic bag with a little oil, place them in the refrigerator, then take them out in the evening when you're ready to use them in
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the sauerkraut, soup, milk, onion and mustard.
Drain noodles; stir into sauerkraut mixture. Transfer to a greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with corned beef and cheese.
Place bread in a food processor; cover and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Toss crumbs with butter; sprinkle over top.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly.
Chef Michael prefers to layer the casserole a little differently than called for in the recipe. He layered one half of the noodle and sauerkraut mixture, then one half of the corned beef and half of the cheese, then repeated the layering before topping with the bread crumbs.