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Old 10-27-2011, 03:16 PM   #11
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I have saved excess herbs by chopping fine and placing in a small bottle or jar with some olive oil. Most of what I want herbs for will be fine with a little olive oil going in with them.

Fresh v. dried? Depends on the herb. With highly aromatic herbs, the dried form is often disappointing. Basil and lavender are examples where only the fresh will really do. Oregano not so much. The flavor is more subtle and seems to come through okay when dried. With others, the dried version is good but considerably changed. Not worse, just different. More important, when using dried, remember that a LOT of fresh product dries down to a small volume. Don't over do it, but, here too, you have to judge according to how much of the savor survives drying. It's kind of an experience thing, but just don't make the mistake of overdoing it by using the same amount of dry as you would fresh.

Best of all is start a small culinary garden or just some pots on the kitchen window sill where you can pick you most common herbs fresh. And, of course, study the use of the herbs, so you create more occasions to use them.

There are a number of instructional videos on YouTube. There are really to things here. One is basic technique, which is mostly safety, how to keep your fingertips out of the chop and how to move the knife. The other is how to best chop particular vegetables. For instance, onions - how to chop them efficiently. Search YouTube for HOW TO CHOP ONIONS (or whatever).

If you haven't used a stone before, I suggest you use a foolproof patent sharpener. A favorite, without spending a lot, is the Chef's Choice Multi-Edge Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener. Amazon has it. It will do regular and serrated blades. Read the instructions. Sharpen often. Dull knives are dangerous knives. For get the metal honer.

What would I want to have bbbn told early on? I guess it would be the need for heat. Proper preparation of so many things requires considerable heat, often all you can get out of a home range/oven, and even that may be barely enough or not quite. But I suppose the number one thing is with browning in which the rules are:

Use a high-heat oil.
Add oil to an already very hot pan.
Heat oil until it begins to smoke.
Don't try to brown too much at one time. It cools the oil too much.
Once the meat or whatever hits the pan, leave it ALONE. If you fiddle with it,
you will (1) leave some of it stuck to the pan and (2) induce it to expel more water, with will heave it boiled, not browned. It will release wen it's brown and ready to turn. (NO Teflon needed. All good cookware is non-stick when you use it properly and don't scratch it up too much.)

And learn to make a good omelet. Get the right pan. Learn to crank out a lovely omelet every 30 seconds. You then are never short of time for a decent dish and will impress guests.

There are a couple of powerhouse cooking texts. One is: Professional Cooking by Wayne Gisslen. The 2006 edition is under $4 from Half.com . Another is titled On Cooking, but it's new and very expensive, and you don't need it that badly. You can learn a LOT just by watching shows like Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen, Hubert Keller Chef Hubert Keller Official Site, etc. on PBS Create and others on specialty channels.

Oh, and that frozen pizza... Try the homemade scratch version. You can throw together the dough in a couple of minutes, and it will be ready to roll out and the oven hot in about 40 minutes while you relax. Top it with sauce, mozzarella, and basil or basil pesto, and into a 450-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, and it's fabulous.

Sorry. This got long. You're starting on a wonderful journey.
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:21 PM   #12
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Very nice post, GLC!

Welcome to DC!
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