COOKING VS. BAKING
I am a cook, not a baker.
Cooking doesn’t really require exact measurements. This is why all of my recipes are “a dash of” this and “a bit of” that. Go with your instincts, be creative. I love pepper in my food and you may love salt – taste your dish as you go and remember—you can always add garlic, but you can’t take it out!
If you don’t get it 100 percent right the first time you make it—there is always next time. Let cooking be an adventure!
PARVE VS. TREIF
Throughout my blog, each recipe will have options in making the dish kosher or non-kosher. My father is strictly parve, while my mom secretly loves bacon cheeseburgers. I guess it’s not a secret anymore.
There is no right or wrong, it’s just how you eat.
I mention him often because he is the reason I wrote this. I really didn’t know how to cook much before meeting him. Whether it’s because I love him greatly (or just to stop his kvetching about spending money on sushi every night), I had to figure out a way to keep us home for dinner.
This really meant I had to put on the apron and get to work.
KOSHER AND ORGANIC MEATS
Almost all the meats I refer to are kosher. The reason I stopped buying regular non-kosher chicken is because of all the added hormones in the meat to make the chickens grow larger. Kosher meats are hormone-free and often cost less than “organic” brands. If you can spend the extra dough, go for the schmaltzy stuff!
Don’t be fooled—I still made Chicken Parmesan with my kosher chicken last night.
How do you know when the chicken is done? Good question.
My friends who don’t know how to cook ask me this all the time. Here are the rules of thumb for cooking salmonella-free meat: When baking chicken with a marinade-- as the sauce begins to bubble and burn around your cutlets, this is a sure-fire sign the chicken is cooked.
If you are cooking your chicken in a pan, as a beginner, it is always best to pound your chicken. Put your raw cutlets in a plastic bag and pound them with a hammer or empty bottle of wine (now you have an excuse to drink that bottle of red!) to thin the meat.
When you cook meat like this, it takes less time to cook through and there is less room for error. And if you still aren’t sure, feel free to cut one piece in half as you cook to check it out yourself. Make sure you always wash your hands after touching raw meat!
WHAT TO KEEP ON HAND – THE VERY BASICS
I am not a fan of clutter, but there are some things I ALWAYS keep in the kitchen for a quick meal I can drum up!
Salt and Pepper (duh)
Nutmeg and Cinnamon
Ketchup—delicious with fries and also helps fight cancer.
Lemons—they have higher vitamin C than oranges, and are great in everything from tea and diet soda to marinades and dressings.
Frozen spinach, squash, peas and corn—easy and simple sides for any meal.
A GUIDE TO PLATING
As a proper Jewish Princess, I have spent much time in upscale restaurants. There is something about 4 star dining that can make MAC N CHEESE become couture.
The answer is plating. And with plating, less is always more. Get some nice rectangular crisp white plates and follow these rules:
Stack your items. Start with the veggies on the bottom and protein on top. Layer the dish in the center of the plate. Dribble some sauce all over! Salads can be messy. It's not very easy to make them look schmaltzy. If you put less on the plate, it will always look more exquisite.
Plating requires portion control—which means you will eat less… and ultimately look even more fabulous! Be creative and have fun with it.
I use a lot of Yiddish. Especially when I cook, often yelling “Drek!” All of the terms I use will be located in a glossary I will post shortly.
**Here is my first glossary entry—