Tips and Techniques for Cooking Like a Chef Part 5-Fruits and Vegetables

58.Quick and easy corn on the cob. The simplest way to cook perfect corn on
the cob is to toss an ear into the microwave for three minutes. Then, remove
the husks, add some salt and butter and enjoy.

59.Blanching vegetables. Blanching vegetables means to boil them for five or
six minutes prior to using them in a recipe. This is particularly helpful for
harder vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower that take longer to
cook. Otherwise you end up with vegetables that are too crunchy.

60.Plump up limp vegetables. Give limp vegetables a second chance by
soaking them in ice water to make them crisp after prolonged refrigeration.
This is a great technique for lettuce and celery, which seem to go limp fastest.
This trick also works for limp herbs.

61. Stir-frying vegetables. Stir-fried vegetables are a quick and easy side dish
option. Or serve them over noodles or rice for a delicious meal. The secret to
stir-frying is to have the pan or wok very hot and the vegetables cut into
similar sized pieces so they cook evenly. Great choices are peppers,
mushrooms, onions, carrots, snow peas and beans. Avoid starchy vegetables
such as potatoes and yams. Stir-fried vegetables should be flavored near the
end of the cooking time for the best results.

62.Stop white vegetables from yellowing. When cooking white vegetables,
use a light colored pot and add a pinch of sugar to keep the white color and
avoid yellowing.

63.Measure vegetables and fruits properly for recipes. When using a
recipe that asks you to include a specified amount of a fruit or vegetable, it can
be confusing sometimes to know just how much they mean. The general rule
of thumb is that if the recipe states “1 cup of diced carrots” then you dice them
first and then measure out 1 cup. If it calls for “1 carrot, diced” then it wants
you to dice up one carrot. Most recipes are pretty forgiving though; so don’t
stress too much over getting the prefect amount.

64.Roasting vegetables. There are lots of vegetables that can be carrots,
potatoes, onions, peppers and squashes. For the best results, coat the
vegetables evenly in oil and add seasonings before putting them in a non-stick
roasting pan. A great way to ensure they don’t stick (and to make cleanup
easy) is to line your pan with parchment paper. Ensure that the vegetables are
evenly distributed and not overlapping one another.

65.Ripen tomatoes overnight. Putting green tomatoes in a brown paper bag
with an overripe banana can quickly ripen them. By the morning your green
tomatoes will be red and ready to eat!

66.Perfectly steam vegetables every time. Steaming is an easy way to cook
vegetables and is a great way to retain their water-soluble vitamins. Almost all
vegetables can be steamed except for starchy ones like potatoes. When
steaming, make sure that vegetables are cut into equal-sized pieces so they
cook evenly. To steam them, place them in a bamboo or metal steams, place
the lid on the steamer and put it over a saucepan of boiling water. Always
steam your vegetables with the highest possible heat to avoid sogginess and
get them cooked faster.

67.Make sautéed onions even sweeter. For tastier sautéed onions, add a few
drops of honey to the pan after heating the oil or butter and before adding the
onions. Or if you don’t have any honey, add some sugar on top of the onions
once they start to soften. This is especially tasty if you’ll be using the onions on
a pizza, steak or hamburger.

68.Easily peel peaches and tomatoes. Whenever you have to peel peaches or
tomatoes, the easiest way is to first immerse them in boiling water for 30
seconds. Then use a sharp paring knife to remove the peel.

69.Make delicious salads. If you’ve only ever used iceberg lettuce to make
salads, now is the time to branch out and try something new. Red and green
leaf lettuces make an excellent – and healthier – alternative. To make the
perfect salad be sure to get yourself an inexpensive salad spinner. Nothing is
more unappetizing than soggy lettuce leaves. And the extra water will dilute
the flavor of your dressing.

70.Steam vegetables without a steamer. Don’t have a steamer? Make
enough small aluminum foil balls to cover the bottom of your pan and fill
with water to half the height of the foil balls. Boil the water, and once it is
boiling, add whatever you are cooking. Expect it to be finished in about 10-15
minutes.

71. Use pureed vegetables. Pureed vegetables make an excellent thickener for
sauces and stews. Consider pureeing your leftovers and freezing them in small
plastic bags. Just be sure to heat thoroughly before adding to a hot sauce.

72. Roast red peppers. Wash and place whole red peppers on the barbecue
grill. Grill them on HIGH to char the skin all around. This takes 15-20
minutes. You’ll know they’re done when their skin is black and lifting away
from the flesh in places. Then cool them in a paper bag to loosen the
blackened skin. Simply peel them and remove the seeds. Roasted red peppers
make an excellent topping for pizzas, hamburgers and quesadillas or are
delicious all on their own!

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