Chef-Vetted Answers to Your Cooking FAQs

    Taking the time to slow cook and season in advance can greatly enhance the taste and quality of your food, making it truly special and satisfying.

    enJune 20, 2022

    About this Episode

    In your quest to become a better home chef, you probably find yourself wondering things like: What potato should I use in this recipe? How much salt should I put in this dish? Am I even making spaghetti right? But then you forget to Google the answer to your question, or if you do, you feel overwhelmed by the number of opinions out there.

    Well, my guest will cut through that noise and answer some of your cooking FAQs once and for all. His name is Daniel Holzman and he's a chef and the co-author, along with Matt Rodbard, of Food IQ: 100 Questions, Answers, and Recipes to Raise Your Cooking Smarts. Today on the show, Daniel will offer his advice on whether the kind of onion and potato you use in a recipe matters, and whether it's okay to use frozen vegetables. He explains why you should be less worried about getting foodborne illnesses from meat, and the type of food that's more likely to make you sick. Daniel offers the lowdown on salt, including how to figure out exactly how much you need in a dish; when to use the convection bake function on your oven; his recommendations for the best frying pan and chef's knife; the secrets to making perfect spaghetti, scrambled eggs, and steak; and plenty of other tips as well.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect with Daniel Holzman

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Learn the importance of respecting everyday food and how even simple meals can be elevated with high-quality ingredients and care.
    • Cooking can be enjoyable and easy, even for beginners. The book "Food IQ" provides expert advice on ingredients and techniques, emphasizing the importance of experimentation and not stressing over small details.
    • Using a sharp knife and minimizing cell crushing when cutting onions can reduce acid release, resulting in fewer tears. Additionally, understanding the different types of potatoes and their ideal uses can elevate your cooking. Don't underestimate frozen vegetables - they can be surprisingly tasty!
    • Embrace technological advancements in food and learn how to make the most of different ingredients for delicious meals.
    • When it comes to beef, prioritize sourcing and limit consumption for better overall health. Trust your senses to determine freshness and ask the butcher about the source.
    • Trusting your senses when it comes to meat is important, but focus on cooking it to a safe temperature for maximum deliciousness. Always wash produce thoroughly before eating.
    • Salt is more about visual and textural appeal rather than flavor. Health claims regarding salt should be ignored, as the human palate cannot distinguish between different mineral claims. Consistency in salt usage is crucial, as different salt crystals vary in weight and volume, affecting taste. Under-salting can greatly impact flavor, therefore liberally salting and tasting before serving is advised. If unsure about seasoning, adding more salt is usually the solution. Ideally, using 1% by weight of salt is recommended, considering that not all the salt will reach the mouth during cooking.
    • Properly seasoning your food with salt requires using 1% of the food's weight, salting pasta water, and salting chicken overnight. Investing in a high-quality all-clad sautĂ© or frying pan is recommended for versatile cooking, but consider specific needs and preferences when choosing the right pan.
    • Choose the appropriate tools, such as cast iron pans, sharp knives, and conventional ovens, to achieve the best cooking results.
    • Understanding the difference between convection and regular baking is crucial for achieving even and gentle cooking, especially for big pieces of meat. Weighing ingredients with a kitchen scale improves accuracy and consistency for better culinary results.
    • Consistency in cooking can be achieved by using enough water, a larger pot, proper seasoning, following instructions, and attention to detail.
    • Taking the time to slow cook and season in advance can greatly enhance the taste and quality of your food, making it truly special and satisfying.
    • Resting a steak after cooking allows for temperature equalization and juice redistribution, resulting in a moist and delicious steak.

    đź“ť Podcast Summary

    This Chef's Secret to Delicious Meals? It's Simpler Than You Think.

    Cooking is not just about fancy ingredients or complicated techniques. It's about respecting everyday food and making it delicious. Daniel Holzman, a chef and author, emphasizes the importance of giving equal respect to dishes like hamburgers, fried chicken, meatballs, and pizza. He believes that even simple meals can be made with high-quality ingredients and cooked with care. Holzman's career journey reflects his passion for making affordable and wholesome food accessible to everyone. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced home chef, his book "Food IQ" provides valuable answers to common cooking questions and offers recipes to elevate your cooking smarts. So, remember, it's not always about complexity; it's about the love and attention you put into your everyday meals.

    Discover the secrets to stress-free cooking with Food IQ!

    Cooking should be fun and less intimidating for home cooks. The authors of the book "Food IQ" aim to provide clear answers to questions that cannot be easily found on Google. With their experience as chefs and food writers, they understand that people often have specific concerns about ingredients and techniques. They emphasize that when it comes to choosing onions, for example, any variety will work just fine in most recipes. The yellow onion is a versatile option, while red onions can add a touch of color to presentations like burgers. Ultimately, the important thing is to enjoy cooking, experiment with different ingredients, and not stress about minor details.

    Stop Crying While Cutting Onions - The Secret Revealed!

    Using a sharp knife can prevent crying while cutting onions. While there are various old wives' tales and tactics to avoid tears, crushing an onion releases acid that irritates the eyes. By using a sharp knife and minimizing cell crushing, less acid is released, resulting in fewer tears. Additionally, the conversation highlights the different types of potatoes and their ideal uses. Starchy potatoes like russet or Kennebec are best for mashed potatoes, while waxy potatoes like red bliss or fingerling are better suited for roasting. However, the choice of potato ultimately depends on personal preference and all potatoes can be delicious in their own way. Lastly, the notion of frozen vegetables being inferior was challenged and it was discovered that they can be surprisingly good.

    Discover the secret behind the improved taste of frozen vegetables.

    Technological advancements have greatly improved the quality of frozen vegetables, making them a viable and delicious option. These advancements ensure that vegetables are frozen at the peak of freshness, maintaining their crispness and flavor. While fresh vegetables from a farmers market may be preferred, frozen vegetables can still be enjoyed without feeling ashamed. When it comes to picking avocados for meals, the key is to gently push on them to determine their ripeness. Additionally, removing the little nub and checking for a bright green color inside can help ensure that the avocado is just right. And when it comes to beef, while grass-fed beef may be leaner and have a different taste, it can still be enjoyable if cooked correctly. Overall, it is important to embrace technological advancements in the world of food and understand how to make the most of different ingredients.

    Is grass-fed beef really the healthiest option for you?

    When it comes to beef, it is important to be mindful of the source and quality. While grass-fed beef may have a great flavor, it may not necessarily be the healthiest option if you want to prioritize your overall health. Limiting the amount of beef consumed is advised for those who want to stay healthy. When buying beef, it is crucial to ask the butcher about the source of the meat. A knowledgeable butcher who can answer this question demonstrates that they care about their product and have a good understanding of it. It can be challenging to trace the origin of beef due to the complex nature of the industry, particularly when it comes to ground beef. However, when it comes to food-borne illnesses, cooking meat properly can eliminate harmful bacteria, making it safe to consume. Trust your senses when it comes to determining if meat has gone bad, as the smell will be unpleasant and noticeable.

    Don't ignore your instincts when it comes to food - here's why!

    Trusting your instincts when it comes to food can be beneficial. While our brains may override our instincts in many areas of life, when it comes to meat, following our senses is important. If the meat smells bad, it is best not to eat it, but if it smells fine, rinsing it off can remove any bacteria on the surface. Just like taking a shower when we smell bad, giving chicken a good rinse is acceptable. Additionally, the fear of eating rare chicken or pork is somewhat arbitrary, as cases of getting sick from Salmonella are rare. The focus should be on cooking meat to a safe temperature for maximum deliciousness. When it comes to getting sick from food, produce is a more likely culprit, so always wash it thoroughly before consumption.

    Are you using salt correctly? The truth will surprise you!

    Salt is not as flavor-driven as it is visual and textural. Health claims about salt should be disregarded because there is no flavor difference and the human palate cannot detect the different mineral claims. It is important to be consistent with using salt, as different salt crystals have different weights and volumes. People tend to under-salt their food, which greatly affects the taste. Therefore, it is advised to salt liberally and taste before bringing the food to the table. If unsure about seasoning, adding more salt is usually the solution. Ideally, 1% by weight of salt is recommended, considering that not all the salt may reach the mouth during cooking.

    Are You Salting Your Food Correctly? Find Out Now!

    When salting food, such as pasta or chicken, it is important to use the right amount. While salt added to the boiling water for pasta may not all get consumed, using 1% of the food's weight in salt will properly season it. Also, when salting a chicken, it is advisable to salt it overnight for optimum seasoning. In terms of kitchen tools, investing in a high-quality 10-inch all-clad sauté pan or frying pan is recommended. Despite the higher price, it is a durable and versatile piece of equipment that can be used for a variety of dishes. Additionally, while there are different types of pans available, a stainless steel all-clad pan will generally work for most cooking needs. Cast iron pans, on the other hand, hold more heat due to their weight but require more care to prevent rusting. Therefore, considering the specific needs and preferences, choosing the right pan is essential for achieving desired cooking results.

    Discover the secret tools and techniques for cooking perfection!

    In cooking, using the right tools and techniques can greatly influence the outcome of your dishes. When it comes to pans, cast iron pans are versatile and can handle different temperature adjustments, while nonstick pans are convenient but may not last forever. In terms of knives, the sharpness of the blade is crucial, so it's important to regularly sharpen or maintain them for optimal performance. While branded knives like Wustof are known for their quality, even a well-sharpened inexpensive knife can do the job. Finally, convection ovens offer the advantage of faster browning and crisping, but for certain recipes like chocolate chip cookies, it's best to avoid using the convection function. Ultimately, it's about finding the right tools that work for you and enhance your cooking experience.

    Discover the secret to perfect cooking with convection vs regular baking!

    When it comes to cooking different foods, understanding the difference between convection and regular baking can greatly impact the outcome. While convection baking may be faster and add more energy to food, it can also lead to uneven cooking and potential burning on the outside before the inside is fully cooked. Therefore, for big pieces of meat like prime rib or Thanksgiving turkey, it is advisable to use regular baking for a more even and gentle cooking process. Additionally, the conversation highlights the benefits of weighing ingredients instead of relying on measuring spoons and cups. Weighing ingredients provides a more accurate and consistent measurement, leading to better results, especially in baking. So, investing in a kitchen scale can help elevate one's culinary skills and achieve greater precision in cooking.

    The Mistake You're Making with Onions in Your Spaghetti

    Maintaining consistency in cooking can be challenging, especially with ingredients like onions that come in various sizes. When it comes to spaghetti, people often make the mistake of not using enough water or not keeping it at a rapid boil. Using a larger pot and adding plenty of water can prevent the pasta from becoming gummy. It's also important to season the water with salt to properly season the pasta. Overcooking the pasta is another common mistake, so following the instructions on the package and finishing it in the sauce can help achieve the perfect texture. Similarly, scrambled eggs can be tricky because the simplicity of the recipe means that any flaws in technique are easily noticeable. So attention to detail is crucial when working with fewer ingredients and steps.

    Discover the secret to truly delicious and satisfying meals!

    Taking a little extra time and care can greatly enhance the taste and quality of your food. Whether it's scrambled eggs or a juicy steak, the process of slow cooking or seasoning in advance can make a world of difference. Scrambled eggs, for example, can be a quick and easy meal, but investing a few extra minutes in slow cooking with ample butter can elevate them to something truly special. Similarly, seasoning a thick steak well in advance allows the flavors to infuse and ensures a more consistent cook. It's important to be conscious of temperature control and the impact it can have on cooking time and the final result. So, whether it's eggs or steak, giving a little more time and attention to your food can lead to a truly delicious and satisfying experience.

    The one thing you're forgetting after cooking steak!

    Resting a steak after it's cooked is just as important as the cooking time. When you cut into a steak and see the juice bleeding out onto the cutting board, it means the steak was not rested long enough. Resting allows the temperature to equalize between the center and the outside, and the juices to redistribute and reabsorb, making the steak moist and delicious. For a steak that's half an inch to one inch thick, rest it for five to ten minutes, depending on the thickness. By organizing your meal prep and considering the rest time, you can ensure a perfectly cooked and flavorful steak. So, give it the time to rest after cooking, and you'll be rewarded with a tasty meal.

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