Web Cooking Classes with Chef Todd MohrWeb Cooking Classes with Chef Todd Mohr

By Chef Todd

The 5 Benefits Of Simple Cooking

Simple cooking is the best cooking.

There, I said it for the 1000th time! No matter where I travel, no matter with whom I speak,
the people that know good food say the same thing.

“Simple things are good things”

In a fish market on Hawaii, the local fish monger advised me to cook my tuna very simply.
“Only scare the fish with a fry pan, it will be Ono”, he said. Ono is “delicious” in Hawaiian.

The multi-generational spice store owner in Paris told me his secret for cooking with herbs and spices.
"Simpler is better"

The grass-fed beef rancher in Nebraska I spoke with said his steaks get only salt and pepper on the grill.

The restaurant owner in Spain that I dined with didn't have complicated recipes, he bragged that it was the simple things done well that really impress his customers.

Yet, food TV shows will have you believe that elaborate meals are the only way to be considered a truly good cook.

Why would cookbooks and food TV want to make you feel as if your cooking were inadequate?

So you’ll buy more cookbooks and watch more food TV!

When you discover just a few basic cooking methods, then you can break this cycle. Imagine the benefits you would enjoy if you stopped searching for recipes and avoided the influence of celebrity chefs who make you feel unworthy of a kitchen.

What if you were empowered with this concept of simple cooking? What if you could just choose items already in your pantry and improvise a delicious, nutritious, quick and easy meal every night of the week?

You would then begin to improve your lifestyle with simple cooking. You needn’t be on TV, nor need to write a cookbook to know what type of food YOU like. No celebrity chef or recipe author can tell you what you should be eating or how you should be cooking it. Only you can decide that.

Cook simply and you’ll enjoy the following benefits:

1) Freedom – You’ll gain freedom from written recipes and vague instructions that make it impossible to cook consistently. You’ll have the freedom to eat what you want, how you want it.

2) Confidence – Once you gain your freedom from others telling you how to cook, you’ll have the confidence to create your own recipes, using the ingredients you desire.

3) Health – With confidence comes a desire to cook new ingredients, more wholesome, fresh, farmer’s market ingredients. Once you discover simple cooking, you’ll want to try it out on items you were afraid to purchase before because you couldn’t find a recipe for the item.

4) Family - You’ll reunite your family over the dinner table. When they actually look forward to your cooking, when you enjoy preparing healthy meals with confidence, you’ll spend more time together. Also, cooking is a social skill. You’ll find yourself entertaining more, making friends and meeting new people.

5) Money - When cooking in your home moves from the living room as entertainment and back into the kitchen as art, you’ll save money. You’ll order less take-out food. You’ll purchase less convenience items and make better decisions at the grocery store. You’ll stop buying cookbooks. Simple cooking will save you money.

Something else I’ve said 1000 times is that cooking is an art. There is no other art form that comes with a strict set of instructions to follow. Your cooking should come from your heart, using basic cooking methods with the ingredients you and your family desire.

Otherwise, you’re giving the responsibility of something as important as your health and nutrition to a guy on TV.

Discover how to use the freshest ingredients
in my upcoming FREE Webinar,
"Buy Fresh. Cook Simple. Eat Well"







Click HERE to reserve your spot for the FREE event.

By Chef Todd

Steak Done Perfectly - No Guessing Or Gashing Ever Again

“When is my steak done?”

People always ask me, "When is my steak done?" “When is my chicken done?” and “How do I tell when my food is done cooking?”

 

I'm confident that everyone recognizes when they START cooking, but most home cooks aren’t sure when to STOP cooking. This is the most important skill to avoiding dried out food.

My culinary college students ask me this question all the time and the answer is always the same. “How long should I cook my steak,” they'll ask. “Until it’s DONE,” is my standard response.

A better question would be, “how do I TELL steak doneness?”

Skilled cooks are using a fool proof OBSERVABLE way to SEE when to stop cooking and it doesn’t include guessing, poking or gashing the beef.

You don't believe the myths and old wives tales about how to tell when you should STOP cooking, do you?

  • Poking the food with your finger and comparing against your palm or cheek is ridiculous.
  • Gashing an item open to look inside only releases all the moisture, creating dry lacerated food.
  • Cooking by TIME or how LONG to cook something doesn’t take all the variables in cooking into consideration.

The ONLY way you can precisely, accurately and QUANTIFIABLY tell chicken doneness and correctly get steak done perfectly is with a thermometer. There’s no guessing, no poking, no gashing when you have an exact temperature that can be the STOP sign so you don’t over cook.

 

You can start to quantify your cooking with measurable temperatures and you'll add consistency to your cooking as well. Your items will all be cooked to the perfect doneness without becoming tough or dried out.

That’s why you should figure out your “personal steak number”.

You should arrive at the EXACT temperature that’s perfect for YOU, and your results will be spot-on every time.

Trade in your clock for a thermometer as the authority of steak doneness, and everyone can have their own perfectly cooked piece of beef. You’ll be able to cook some steaks more rare, some medium and others well-done based on your steak number as a benchmark.

This is one of the largest differences between the way home cooks are taught and culinary college students are taught to cook. Tomorrow’s professionals are instructed in the METHODS behind cooking. They're empowered with the OBSERVABLE and QUANTIFIABLE step-by-step procedures that can be used on any combination of ingredients they desire.

I’d like to share even more culinary school tips and techniques with you in my FREE webinar, “The 5 Skills Taught In Culinary College That Are Essential In All Of Cooking”. You can register for the next online gathering by clicking HERE.

Because, when you start to THINK like a chef, you start to COOK like a professional!

Claim your FREE Spot for the next webinar session by CLICKING HERE

By Chef Todd

In The Kitchen Size DOESN'T Matter

People are always waiving knives at me!  For years, people came to my cooking school brandishing blades, gesturing wildly, and imploring me, "Is this a good knife?"

A "good knife" has little to do with the size of the blade, the color of the handle, or the brand of the knife.

To consider whether you have a "good knife" versus a "bad knife", you have to examine two items more important than the logo or manufacturer.

First, you have to consider WHAT the knife is made from. There are three types of metals that all kitchen knives are made from and they each have advantages and disadvantages as I explain in this video:

 

Once you've decided on the features of which material your knife is made from, you should examine the construction.  HOW is this knife put together?

Again, there are advantages and limitations of knife construction that will give you options while shopping for a chef's knife as I'll show you here:

 

 

When you're thinking about buying a chefs knife or shopping for other kitchen knives, consider the best materials and construction your use necessitates and your budget can withstand.

Using the right tools is an important part of cooking, but there are other decisions you can make on your way to true Cooking Freedom. My guidebook will help you make the best choices and you can get it for FREE.

 

"The 5 Forks For Freestyle Cooking" will guide you toward empowering yourself to cook the way YOU want with the foods YOU desire.

Click  to get your FREE guide to Freestyle Cooking today!

By Chef Todd

The Recipe That Will Ruin Your Cooking

There's a recipe out there that will ruin your ability to cook. It's lurking in one of those many, many, many recipe books you've been collecting. It's not camouflaged, it's there in black and white with a nice color picture but you may not see it. That's because this particular recipe is hiding in plain sight, among hundreds of typed written instructions for cooking that are supposed to tell you what's for dinner.

You don't know which recipe is the land mine in your kitchen and which could make a great meal.

The internet is clogged with written instructions for cooking, but the photos of the results tell you that the recipe has let people down. Home cooks compare their efforts to the photo in the magazine and suffer a crushing blow of confidence in the kitchen. They had visions of the accolades they'd be receiving because of their beautiful creation and delicious food. If they were cooking to impress a date, the date is now over.

They blame themselves, but it's not their fault.

It's the recipe's fault. Cooking from a book is like trying to put together Ikea furniture. Instead of the nuts and bolts, wood and plastic scattered on your floor, the recipe provides a long list of ingredients and seasonings you must array on your counter. You begin to arrange these elements by referring to the manual over and over again. When your challenge is complete, you've arrived at a piece of furniture leaning to the left and extra parts in your hand. Similarly, your meal does NOT look like the photo. This is not the type of cooking that makes you happy.

But, you had all the instructions, why didn't it come out?

The piece of furniture wasn't assembled correctly because you're not a furniture builder. You don't know the methods behind putting stuff together even though you have a piece of paper that's meant to teach you immediately. The same danger exists for cooking by recipe. With a list of ingredients and stringent steps but no background in HOW to assemble the food, recipes can ruin your cooking. However, if you had the 7 skills of the kitchen, you could cook anything.

Recipes Set You Up For Failure -

The simple act of comparing your creation to a photo in a book makes you feel badly. That photo took hours of work from food stylists and food photographers using tricks to make it look best. Your dish was made in 30 minutes, there can be no comparison. When YOU create a meal without a recipe, there's NO comparison to anything else. If it's good to you...it's good.

Recipes Command You To Spend Money -
What's the first thing in a recipe? It's a list of food you need to go buy. Instead of shopping for the recipe, how about CREATING a recipe from the ingredients you have on hand? When you become a more confident cook, you can rummage through your pantry and make up dinners every night. Skip the recipes and you'll save on food like never before.

Recipes Make You Re-Learn Cooking Every Night -
When you cook blindly, going from line to line of the cookbook, you don't witness the changes in food that you can hope to repeat the next night. One recipe is cooked on the stove top, another in the oven, a third over simmering liquid, yet none tell you HOW to cook in this fashion. It's a treadmill of frustration.
Recipes Have Inherent Variables -
I don't think it's possible to duplicate a recipe exactly any more than it's possible to play a Beatles song JUST like the Beatles did. In music, there are variations in the WAY the instrument is played. In cooking, there are variables in the size and flavor of foods, the intensity of heat, and the interpretation of the cook. This is one of the three secrets to making your cooking a winner every single time.

Recipes Keep You From Really Cooking -
The more you depend on following someone else's opinion of what you should be eating, the less you're gaining the skills and confidence to create your own meals. When you concentrate on learning HOW to cook, you can use any combination of ingredients you want and cook it HOW you want to. The meal that YOU make is worth a thousand words.
I've seen the dramatic life changes people make when they start using the basic methods behind cooking and use recipes as a guideline. The students in my online cooking classes become confident, free-thinking cooks who can use the ingredients they already have on hand to create impressive meals every night of the week. This is because they use a repeatable process in cooking and just change the ingredients for a new flavor.

This one change in thought creates great home cooks.

FREE Online Cooking Class Makes Confident Cooks

By Chef Todd

The Creamiest Cheese Sauce Starts With Bechamel

I'm asked a LOT of cooking questions, many of them about failed cheese sauce. Every day I'm reminded of the confusion that abounds about cooking when I open my email, chat with my WebCookingClasses members, go to my Facebook page, or contribute to a forum. Many people are baffled about WHY things happen the way they do in their kitchens.

There's never a stupid question and I never blame the questioner for asking. Most people are not taught HOW food cooks, they're just told to follow a set of written instructions. I have a compassion for people that send me their cooking challenges like they were trying to assemble a piece of Scandinavian furniture from the box. I know how frustrating trying to follow someone else's written directions can be, that's why I often say "Recipes Don't Work"!

One of the queries I get most often is about making white sauces. Home cooks often want to know how to make a cheese sauce for Macaroni and Cheese or an Alfredo Sauce for pasta. Their question often begins with, "the recipe said to ......"

Before anyone else spends their valuable time looking for a cheese sauce recipe or an Alfredo sauce recipe and trying to follow confusing instructions, I'd like to make it simple for you by demonstrating what professional chefs know. If you can make a Bechamel sauce, you can make ANY and EVERY homemade sauce like the pros.

Bechamel sauce is one of the 5 Mother Sauces I teach in culinary college, but it's not difficult nor complicated, and anyone can master the few simple steps. It's most simply defined as milk thickened with roux.

Basic White Sauce calls for equal amounts of butter and flour to create a roux. Then, milk is added to the hot roux in small increments to observe the thickening power of the roux. This is a No-Recipe method to making all great sauces that start with roux. I don't measure the roux, I don't measure the milk, but I DO watch closely for the changes in my sauce.

The science behind thickening liquids with a flour and fat mixture is called Gelatinization of Starches. At 150F (65C), starches absorb liquids and swell. This process turns milk or any other liquid into a thickened sauce that will stick to food. It's the best way to make a high quality sauce quickly.

However, it's the PROCESS that's most important in making a basic white sauce. You cannot combine flour and liquid because starch molecules will gelatinize on the outside of a group of them stuck together. That's how Grandma got her lumpy gravy.

Starch molecules must be separated with the introduction of fat. That's why the ability to make a good roux is important. The roux is the thickening agent for the milk, and a weak thickener will mean a weak sauce.

Adding milk in small increments not only allows for the starches to absorb the liquid, but it doesn't overwhelm the starch nor drop the temperature of the roux so quickly that the whole thing turns to mush. The most important part of slowly adding milk is your ability to WATCH the changes going on in the pan. When you rely on a recipe, you spend time looking at the clock because they teach you to cook by TIME.

Cook with your EYES instead, armed with confidence in the basic methods behind cooking and you'll be able to make dozens of improvised sauces because you know the secrets behind making a great bechamel sauce like I teach in culinary school.

 

By Chef Todd

You'll Have Barbeque Sauce All Summer With Home Canning

I’ve been making my own barbeque sauce since I was a kid, it's a really easy sauce to make, but it caused conflict in my household before I knew about home canning.

I’d make gallons of my “New York Attitude” Barbeque Sauce and portion it into used plastic Wonton Soup containers. The shear number of containers would fill my Mom’s refrigerator.

I had to find a better way to preserve my sauce without taking up the whole fridge. “People have been preserving food for generations,” I thought to myself. “They didn’t have refrigerators or Chinese take-out containers, how did they do it?”

At the time, I probably had to go to the library and look through the encyclopedias. That seems laughable now, but even as a child, I knew there was a better way waiting for me. I found it with a 125 year old device, the two-part lid canning jar.

The inventors of these jars are really the creators of home canning from that day forth. The idea is simple. Their jars consist of a flat lid with a rubber washer to seal the jar. A band fits over the lid, securing it to the jar but also allowing air to escape.

Under boiling water, air leaves the jar between the two parts of the lid. When it’s cooled, it creates a vacuum, sealing the jar in an anaerobic environment. This not only preserves the sauce, but keeps it safe from bacterial growth as well.

Hot water home canning is meant for highly acidic products like tomato sauce, marinades, and perfect for my barbeque sauce. At sea level, water boils at 212F or 100C. This is certainly hot enough to let the two piece lid do its job, and the acid content of the sauce will keep it safe.

If you try to eat locally and in-season, knowing how to store the freshest ingredients is one of the key elements in my FREE webinar, "How To Cook Fresh In 5 Simple Steps".

The Precise Canning Steps:
1 ) Inspect all jars, lids, and bands for defects.
2 ) Wash all jars, lids, bands, and any other equipment that will come in contact with the sauce.
3 ) Place a round cake cooling rack in the bottom of a very large stock pot and fill with water.
4 ) Bring the water to a full, rolling boil.
5 ) Place the empty jars in the boiling water to sanitize them.
6 ) In a small saucepan or bowl, remove some boiling water and place the flat lids in the hot water.
7 ) Prepare your barbeque sauce and keep it very hot.
8 ) Remove the jars from the water bath, one at a time, and fill with barbeque sauce
9 ) Be sure to leave 1-2 inches of “head room” between the sauce and the lid.
10 ) Wipe the rim clean of any spilled sauce
11 ) Stir the jarred sauce with a wooden stick to drive out excess air
12 ) Remove the flat lid from the warm water and place it on top of the jar.
13 ) Secure the lid with a band and hand-tighten only.
14 ) Place the filled jar, standing up, into the boiling water canner.
15 ) Wait 15 minutes and remove the jar to cool.
(Add 5 minutes for every 3000 feet above sea level)

As the barbeque sauce cools, you’ll hear the vacuum created as the jar lids are sucked toward the interior of the jar. Soft “ping”, “ping”, a symphony of suction is created and the jars are now safe for storage. Any jar lid that still yields to pressure when pressed with a finger has not sealed correctly. It should be refrigerated and not stored at room temperature.

The home canning instructions are different for low acid products, because there’s greater risk of bacterial growth. Items like vegetables or protein-based soups must be canned in a high-pressure canner because the boiling water bath does not get hot enough to assure the safety of the food.

As a child, I simply wanted to preserve refrigerator space. What I discovered is a process that’s been around for more than a century. Home canning saves money, preserves fresh ingredients, and is a fun and easy hobby when you know the canning how to steps.

By Chef Todd

Sticky Grilled Fish Change The Method Not The Food

Because white fish filets are so delicate and your barbeque is so intense, when the two meet the result is burned, dry fish that is destroyed when it sticks to the grill. However, changing your grill’s heat is the key to discovering how to grill fish without sticking to the grates and achieving great grilling success.

The cause of delicate products sticking to the grill is the same thing that gives you attractive marks when you grill hamburgers or steak, the coagulation of proteins and caramelization of sugars. Not being aware of these changes is one of the 3 big mistakes most people make when grilling.

Coagulation is the stiffening and shrinking of proteins. That’s why your grilled hamburger is considerably smaller than the raw burger you started with. Caramelization occurs when sugars reach 320F / 160C and turn brown.

However, fish is much more delicate than steaks for grilling, and need to be treated differently. Technically, fish proteins will coagulate before sugars caramelize, stiffening and shrinking around the grill grates, holding on tightly.

By the time you’ve achieved the grill marks and caramelization of sugars that will release the fish from the grill’s grasp, it’s too late. Your fish is burned.

How to grill fish without sticking lies in changing the way your grill is delivering heat during the cooking process. By turning one side of the grill’s heat off, and placing a pan of water on the opposite side, and closing the lid, you can create a moist, indirect conductive cooking method to delicately cook the fragile fish.

When you place the fish on the indirect-heat side of the grill, you can cook with the confidence that you’re not subjecting the soft proteins to the intense dry heat of the barbeque. With this method, you’ll know how to grill fish confidently without leaving most of your dinner stuck to the grill.

Beside fish, what other delicate products might you apply this method to? I’d love to hear your inspirations with a comment below:

By Chef Todd

The 3 Grill Issues That Could Ruin Your Cooking This Summer

A clean grill means that dirt and debris aren’t stealing heat from your food. For the most efficient and successful outdoor cooking this summer, start with these basic maintenance tips. And once you've taken care of basic maintenance, you want to get ready for cooking, and make sure you are not making the 5 Biggest Grilling Mistakes that almost everyone makes!

Your poor, poor barbeque grill, it took some abuse this winter. It had snow piled on top of it, freezing temperatures, spiders, dust, and carbonized pieces of last year’s hamburger spend an intimate winter with it.

However, now is the time for your grill to shine, so treat it well and your rewards will continue all summer long. There are three basic areas that you’ll want to inspect, clean and repair before you start cooking outdoors this year.

1) The Gas - Liquid Propane (LP) gas grills are potentially dangerous because of the flammable nature of the LP.
a. Inspect the LP canister for leaks or breaks. With some soapy water and a soft-bristled paintbrush, brush the water on the areas where the tank and gas lead are coupled. Also brush valve stem and valve of the tank. Bubbles indicate gas leaks and should be repaired immediately.
b. Be sure you have enough gas. Unless you have a pressure gauge on the tank, the only see how much gas you have is by weight. The average canister weighs 18 pounds empty.

2) The Grates - Clean and inspect the cooking grates for wear, rust, or remnants of last July 4th. This includes the lava rocks that are suspended above the burner. Vacuum the grates, rocks and bottom of the grill to remove debris

3) The Burner – The most important part of your grilling often goes neglected. Remove the I-shaped or H-shaped burner from the grill and inspect the propane holes for wear. If it has deteriorated such that the holes have joined together, making a large hole, this is potentially dangerous and the burner should be replaced.

With a clean grill, you’ll enjoy the cooking season more fully because your equipment will allow your true outdoor cooking talent to shine through. You can make those beautiful grill marks on your chicken or beef, so it has great eye-appeal. Also, don't forget that a grilling rub adds flavor for even the worst cooks, so get your spice rack ready too!


By Chef Todd

What It Means to "Burn" Your Recipes

Since I began teaching basic cooking methods to the masses over 6 years ago, thousands of students have followed my rallying call to "Burn your recipes and really cook." But what exactly do I mean by this? And more importantly, what does cooking by method mean for you? This quick video explains the madness behind the method 🙂 - the madness behind my method of cooking instruction that is! Watch now and see if maybe you see a little of yourself in these stories and if you too can simplify your cooking for the better with basic cooking methods:

Get Burn Your Recipes Volumes 1-3

(OR any of my best-selling DVDs)

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By Chef Todd

Falling Off The FatCal Cliff

Which is worst to pass onto your grandchildren, fiscal irresponsibility or fat and calorie irresponsibility?
Which would burden them more?

Are we racking up financial debt or fat debt for future generations based on the decisions we make today?
Which is worse?

Yes, money is important and times are tough everywhere. But remember, you can’t take it with you. Sick and rich isn’t rich at all. I’d even say that poor and healthy is a greater wealth. Either way, food and money are inextricably connected. Wealthy people have access to the widest variety of foods. People of less means are spiraling downward, falling more quickly because of fast foods, processed foods, and fake foods that they consume because of the low cost and convenience.

I witnessed this very sad phenomenom when an inner-city High School class visited my lab last year. I first tried to convince them to look at Food as Fuel. "What you put into your body has a direct effect on your brain, your nails, your hair, your attention span", I told them. They shrugged.

Then, I tried to take it a step further and show them how Your Chicken McNuggets Can Be Better Than Fast Food, when I compared the processed chicken disks from the drive-thru with wholesome chicken breast. Which did they eventually choose? The result SHOCKED me. Our children can't even identify what a real chicken is!

This year, you can avoid the fat/cal cliff by beginning some new traditions in your home.
You don’t need to eat like a rabbit to be healthy. The common misconception is that healthy eating means carrot sticks and kale. It’s simply not true.

Healthy eating just means making a few SMALL changes in your overall diet on a daily basis, that when combined over months become the new normal for you and your children.

They should never know about that whole stick of butter.

Whether at Stratford University, within WebCookingClasses.com, or at my own cooking school, students often recall how their Mother, Grandmother, Grandfather or other relative long ago introduced them to cooking. With each item they prepare, they remember the smells and tastes that person added to their consciousness. The impression lasts a lifetime. It’s a powerful gift to give someone.

If you have favorite family recipes from long ago, be thankful. Then, honor your family heritage by updating them with new cooking knowledge and the world of healthy ingredients now available.

Grandma’s entire stick of butter to saute a chicken breast CAN be changed to a tablespoon of olive oil. The blue box of chemicals called Mac and Cheese you’ve been eating, and now serving your children, can be made with real milk and cheese in the new year once you know how. Even Nana’s Apple Pie filling can be thickened with cornstarch, omitting some of the butter that past generations spackled on the lattice.

Replace the sodium-soaked “Steak-ums” with an actual steak from the farmers market this year. You’ll find that the real flavor of wholesome ingredients will have your children eating LESS of something that is actually giving them MORE.

Pitch the processed pizza rolls and spend 30 minutes in the kitchen with your children, teach them how to make English muffin pizzas with real tomatoes and whole mozzarella. Don’t let your food heritage be a microwaved egg-puck biscuit for breakfast when it’s incredibly easy to fry an egg and toast whole wheat bread.

You can take the old, make small incremental changes, and start to incorporate them into your weekly menus and snacks. Updating these foods will have an impact on your family for decades, far more than any tax break ever will.

The greatest gift you can give your family is learning to cook their own food.

To start the new year, I challenge you to find an old favorite recipe and update it with new ingredients, new procedures, or new seasonings. Strive to use some of the nutritional information and worldwide items available to us since 1970, and create a new family heirloom recipe. Your children and their children will benefit from never knowing how to use an entire stick of butter to sauté chicken or even what a TV dinner is.

You can worry, fret, and chew your nails over the dollar taxes that you fear are lost while you are inflicting a taxation of much greater consequence to your kids, and their kids…a legacy of unhealthy eating that will make you poor quicker than any taxes will.

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