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

By Chef Todd

This Kitchen Gadget May be Harming Your Cooking

A Common Kitchen Gadget to Avoid

What is this common kitchen gadget, which you are probably using a lot, that may be harming your cooking? The answer is going to surprise you... But if you are using a clock to determine how long to cook items, you are probably getting worse results than you would if you were using other means.

Cooking by TIME is the best way to cook if you like inconsistency. When you cook with a clock, you relinquish all control over your cooking. If you enjoy the excitement of being unsure whether your chicken breast is raw or burned, keep cooking with a clock. But, this can lead to great frustration in the kitchen.

Inconsistency cuts away at your confidence and you become unsure when to STOP cooking.  This is the “Unconfidence Zone” when you keep cooking and cooking because you’re unsure.

 

I fully understand this. It’s a lot more embarrassing to serve an undercooked piece of chicken than it is to serve a rubbery one. So, the clock says to keep cooking and you do.

 

In reality, cooking by TIME is the WORST way to cook because it doesn’t address all the variables involved in cooking something well and this is why the clock is one kitchen gadget upon which you should never rely.

What the clock doesn’t understand is that everyone’s stove is different

...pots and pans are different, chickens are different from each other, and your desired results from cooking can be different than what the recipe wants.

 

Every semester in culinary college, a student will ask me, “chef how long should I cook this?”  The answer is always the same. I reply, “until it’s done”.

 

That’s why you’ll never cook with a clock again when you take back control of your cooking and recognize when your food is “done”.

 

The real key to empowered cooking is to be able to cook with your EYES,

to observe reactions and quantify your application of heat so you know EXACTLY when your food is done and you can stop cooking at the perfect point.

 

All food items go through 4 temperature stages as they cook. You can WITNESS each of these “road markers” in cooking and make your own decisions based on what you know to be true.

 

Proteins like a chicken breast or steak “coagulate”, they stiffen and shrink as they cook. When you know what to look for and the temperature at which this happens, you can SEE that your steak is just the way you like it.

 

Any food filled with moisture will have dramatic changes when you subject them to heat. They start to sweat, moisture pools and evaporates. This is another observable cue that a clock can’t possibly anticipate. A clock might have hands, but it doesn’t have eyes!

 

These are just two of the empowering insights I reveal in my Free Webinar Workshop, “The 5 Skills Taught In Culinary College That Are Essential In All Cooking”.

 

This online cooking webinar exposes the fact that home cooks are taught differently than tomorrow’s professionals. I’ll be sharing the inside scoop on what is being kept from you when it comes to cooking like a pro and taking control of your cooking back from that clock!

 

Discover the difference between how professionals and home cooks are taught in my next
FREE Webinar Workshop

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

By Chef Todd

Maximize Your Limited Time For Cooking And Fitness

Chef Todd Mohr and fitness instructor Donavon Israel have combined to share their tips to make the most of your limited time when it comes to food and fitness. "You can't have one without the other," says Chef Todd. "You must have a balance of exercise and nutrition to achieve your health and wellness goals."

The healthful duo appeared at 1901 South Charles Apartments in Baltimore to share insightful fitness tips and how to use a chef's knife in today's demonstration. We're all busy. We all have tremendous demands on our time. Often, what suffers is time to exercise and time to cook, resulting in the tiredness and lethargy of a sedentary lifestyle fueled by convenience and take-out foods.

However, you CAN improve your overall well-being through more efficient exercise and nutrition in 30 minutes or less. Donavon Israel of BodyByDonavon can help you maximize your workouts with these simple tips:

Donavon's "Maximize Your Workouts" Tips:

1) Set Your Workout Length - Make a concerted effort to set aside 30-60 minutes for your routine. Studies have shown that exercise much past 60 minutes isn't as impactful as the first 30 minutes. Decide to work out for at least a half hour and commit to that time.

2) Always Warm Up First - Your muscles must be stretched and warmed before a workout. Without this preparation, you risk muscle injuries and soreness that may prevent you from continuing your exercise routine.

3) Choose Your Weight Or Resistance Carefully - Donavon advises to start with lighter weights and more repetitions at first and gradually increase the weight. More reps with less weight will help in body sculpting. Less reps and more weight will build more muscle.

4) Use Compound Exercises - Burn the most calories with exercises that target multiple muscle groups. "If you are doing "curls", then add a "shoulder-press" to the routine and you're accessing additional muscles," says Donavon.

5) Mix Up Your Routine - You will become bored, and your muscles will become accustomed to the exact same workout each time. Vary your exercises to keep your muscles and yourself interested and effective when you work out.

Lastly, the Certified Fitness Instructor advises, "Get motivated". Add the elements to your exercises that keeps you WANTING do do more. Listen to music, watch TV, visualize and imagine landscapes, but keep your mind involved and your body will follow.

"That's great advice," Chef Mohr adds. "You can maximize your exercise by focusing on the key elements of good fitness. Similarly, to maximize your use of fresh wholesome foods you need to know how to use a chef's knife effectively," he continued.

"Have you ever noticed that farm-fresh vegetables don't come already cut up for you? To use the freshest foods, you need knife skills. This is like a gateway drug because the more you enjoy using your knives, the more fresh foods you want to find so you can use your knife," the chef told the crowd.

The chef's knife is used with a "tip fulcrum method". The tip of the knife stays on the cutting board at all times to act as a pivot point or fulcrum for the action of cutting vegetables. This motion with the knife is like a "choo-choo train", downward and forward...upward and back. Chef Mohr equates it to dipping water from a bucket with a spoon, in a slight scooping motion.

However, the most important hand in using the chef's knife is the non-knife hand. The hand that is NOT holding the knife is in the greatest danger of being cut. The chef recommends "kung-fu grip", as he calls it. If you tuck all your fingers and thumb into your palm, you can guide the knife with the knuckle of the non-knife hand.

Then, it's the non-knife hand that dictates the increment of the cut. The correct motion has the knife descending onto a carrot, the non-knife hand moves to the desired width, the knife finds the knuckle of the guide hand, and cuts downward into the carrot.

"Consistency of cut is consistency of cook," says Chef Mohr as he shares the same phrase he repeats in culinary college classes. The idea is that items that are of the same size cook at the same rate. If you have varied sizes of carrots in a dish, some will be hard and crunchy, others soft and mushy.

Using a chefs knife with a tip fulcrum method, guided by a kung-fu grip non-knife hand where the knife is guided by the leading knuckle, improves the consistency of size and then creates better finished cooked meals.

This ONE kitchen tip will inspire you to use more fresh fruits and vegetables because using a chefs knife correctly is fun. This skill will maximize your cooking, just as Donavon's fitness tips will maximize your workouts.

Then, you will be truly "Fit and Fed".

What do you think of the team of Donavon and Chef Todd?
What tips would you add to cooking or fitness that would help people?
What do you do that keeps you motivated to live healthy?
Please share your comments and inspire someone else.

By Chef Todd

What Will Tomorrows Chefs Learn in Chef College?

Chef college is calling me…again! I’m on the same campus that inspired me to become a chef, but now I’m the one doing the teaching. Call me “Professor” if you’d like, but the correct response in this school is “Yes, Chef”! I’ve returned to my alma mater in Baltimore to help shape the minds and skills of tomorrow’s next great chefs.

Discover what tomorrow’s great chefs are learning in my classroom by subscribing to the RSS feed for my blog, or “LIKE” me on facebook and you’ll get the latest class notes. I’ll be reporting from the culinary lab each week with the actual lesson plan that my students experience.

The Chef College has entrusted me to help prepare these students for a career in the culinary arts. I think it’s the most noble of professions and worth the commitment it takes to graduate from a chef college that can make you immediately employable or entrepreneurial.

My class is “Elements of Entrée Production”. The class studies basic cooking methods as they apply to a commercial foodservice operation. This instruction runs in tandem with the class across the hall, “Elements of Hospitality Service”, which studies different service styles in restaurants and banquet halls.

My students will prepare food using one of the basic cooking methods each week. The Hospitality class will serve invited guests and the general public in a certain style of service. For example, my class will prepare a menu using the saute method and it will be served “family style”, where large platters are shared by the table.

The following week may be grilling method and we’ll design a menu of grilled items to be served in the dining room “a la carte”, like a restaurant where a waiter supplies an order to the kitchen. Then, it might be food that is braised paired with French tableside service.

I call it “welcome to the real world” because it’s not about culinary theory, it’s about actually producing quality food under the time pressures of a commercial kitchen.

The new semester is just starting, but I wanted to invite you to peek into my classroom and look forward to the coming series of videos and blog posts that will share the many professional level techniques and methods that my students are learning, so that you might bring them into your own home.

You can save the tuition of chef college and still get the benefits by subscribing to the RSS feed, or LIKE-ing me on facebook. Wait! I think the bell just rang. Don’t be late, and don’t forget your knives. “Yes, Chef”!

Discover the difference between how professionals and home cooks are taught in my next
FREE Webinar Workshop

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

By Chef Todd

How To Create a 6 Course French Dinner Without Recipes

Would you break into a sweat if you had to create a 6 course French dinner for friends? Most people would, it can be intimidating cooking for other people. What makes this cooking stress even greater is trying to follow written recipes.

Cooking is fun. Referring back-and-forth to written instructions is not.
I avoid recipe stress entirely by ignoring recipes and using the basic methods I know to be successful along with the ingredients I desire. I call it “living a no recipe lifestyle”. It makes cooking so much easier, quicker, and enjoyable.

It all starts with the dinner party menu planning at my desk. The first step in creating a menu for a special meal is to choose a theme. Food items should compliment each other and make sense on the same menu together. Your theme might be Childhood Comfort Foods, A Trip To The Beach, or A Tour of Italy. I’ve chosen a French dinner menu based on one item that has spurred my creativity.

I made Beef Bourguignon a few weeks back, and presented the rich stew in individual ramekins. I loved the idea of serving this classic French dish this way because of the eye-appeal, as well as the fact that this type of gravy laden meal can spread out on the plate, making everything else taste like beef stew. Individual servings solve this problem.

Based on the main entrée of beef, I now choose a soup, appetizer, side dishes, dessert, and add a sorbet palate-cleanser in the middle to create a 6 course French meal:

- Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Crème Fraiche
- Coquilles St. Jacques
- Salad Nicoise
- Lemon Sorbet
- Beef Bourguignon
o Haricot Vert Almondine
o Potatoes Au Gratin
- Strawberry Crepes

From the dinner party menu comes the shopping list. I’ll create a needs list, absent of the pantry items I already have, to take it to the store. However, the real skill in creating this meal will be producing EXACTLY the correct amount of food, no waste, no leftovers. This starts with estimating correct portions.

With the assumption that each adult will consume 8 ounces of total protein, I divide this by the number of items containing protein products and purchase that exact amount to prepare. Coquilles St. Jacques will call for scallops. Salad Nicoise has seared tuna. Beef Bourguignon means I need to buy beef.

If each adult will consume 8 ounces of protein, divided by these three items, I’ll estimate and purchase 2 ounces of scallops, 3 ounces tuna, and 3 ounces beef per person. Since I’m serving 4 people, I will purchase 8 ounces of scallops, 12 ounces of tuna, and 12 ounces of beef, no more.

With the dinner party menu planned, the shopping list created, I’ll return from my market and start on Roasted Red Pepper Soup, the first course of this classic 6 course French dinner for friends.

A soup made of pureed vegetables is the perfect example of a No Recipe approach to cooking because ANY vegetable can be used with the same procedure. What makes this particular soup great is the bright red color that makes it appealing to the eye, but the pronounced flavor that makes it something simple but special.

After I’ve roasted red peppers over a direct flame, I can shock them in ice water to stop the cooking and peel the charred skin from the peppers. Then, it’s a simple matter of pureeing the roasted vegetable and adding some broth or cream to finish the soup. Certainly, there’s no recipe needed for that.

The second course, Coquilles St. Jacques sounds intimidating because of the fancy French name. There must be high-level culinary skills needed to create something that sounds so fancy. No, there’s not. However, this fancy baked scallop dish is actually quite simple when you know the methods behind the recipe.

If you can make a basic white sauce using fat and flour to create roux, and then add milk for a sauce, you can make a simple baked scallop dish and call it Coquilles St. YOU. In my No Recipe version, I also use sautéed shallots and mushrooms to add flavor.

Course number three in our French dinner is Salad Nicoise, the perfect example of something that doesn’t need a recipe. It’s a composed salad of protein and vegetables that are entirely up to my choosing.

However, I want to be a guest at my own dinner, I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen the entire evening. To accomplish this, I’ll have to do as much preparation ahead of time so that I can simply assemble the salad quickly before it is served.

The six course French dinner I’m preparing for friends is coming along nicely. Julia Child can keep her complicated beef bourguignon recipe because I know the methods behind it. It’s no different than Chicken Marsala or Beef Stroganoff.

Beef cubes are dredged in flour and sautéed in olive oil and butter. The combination of the fat and flour will create my thickening agent that is the basis for the sauce of red wine and beef broth. Then, I let it simmer for hours before portioning into individual ramekins.

Since I’m continuing with a French theme, I’ve decided on Green Beans Almondine and Potatoes Au Gratin to play supporting roles in this 6 course meal. Some recipes might tell you to sauté green beans to make the almondine dish. However, direct conductive heat will probably burn the outside of the beans before they’re soft inside.

A combination cooking method is needed so that I can be a guest at the party, and still serve perfectly cooked side dishes for dinner. Steaming and shocking the beans will allow me to later warm them in butter with toasted almonds. This will take only seconds, and allow me to return to the meal with friends.

Then, the Potatoes Au Gratin I make will also have a special twist that saves me time and wasted food. Instead of baking a large casserole of potatoes, butter, cheese and cream, I’ll again use individual pyrex baking cups, inverting the finished mini-casserole onto the plate for a golden brown and creamy plate appeal.

What 6 course French-inspired meal would be complete without the classic French crepe? Making the thin French pancake may be intimidating at first, but after the first few, you’ll be turning them out like a Parisian!

My inspiration for dessert is to add a strawberry crepe filling made from the fruit being gently simmered in brandy and sugar. Once the strawberries soften slightly they can be cooled and simply folded with fresh whipped cream as a quick and easy dessert to top our 6 course celebration of cooking without recipes.

Each of the 5 menu items I’ve created for this French dinner has a basic cooking method behind it that cookbooks and recipes always seem to leave out. Luckily, when you cook without recipes, you look at cooking as a procedure, not a list of ingredients.

The basic cooking methods used in this meal are:
1) Roasted Red Pepper Soup – Roasting and Pureeing
2) Coquilles St. Jacques – Making a basic white sauce
3) Salad Nicoise – knife skills and grilling
4) Beef Bourguignon – creating pan sauces with thickening agent
5) Strawberry Crepes – poaching fruit in liquid

I’ll ask again, would you break into a sweat if you had to create a 6 course French dinner for friends? Now I believe your answer would be “no”, because it only takes 5 basic cooking methods, not 5 long, complicated, vague and outdated written recipes.

By Chef Todd

Just a Trifle of a Homemade Mothers Day Gift

A homemade Mothers day gift is neither small, of little consequence, nor something that you’d only think about in passing. However, “Trifle” means something small, noticed in passing, of not much consequence. So, what the heck is a Trifle when it comes to Mother’s Day?

A Trifle as I’m using it is a dessert that you can create yourself. Your Mom will love it because you created it using the ingredients that are probably already in your house. She’ll especially be flattered with a gift for her special day that is an original. One that was created specifically for her by the children that love and adore her. No store-bought gift could ever replace the value of one made with their own two hands.

In its historical and traditional sense, the name “trifle” was used for a thick cream of sugar, ginger and rosewater in the first recipe published in 1596. About sixty years later milk, eggs, custard, and alcohol soaked bread where added to the formula. However, I think a dessert trifle can be anything that your mind thinks up. Who’s to say that it MUST include cake, ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate or fresh strawberries? Actually, that sounds pretty good, but you’ll have the ability to break the rules and make something that comes directly from your own imagination.

If you’re creating a homemade Mothers day gift, I don’t think you should worry about 450 year old recipes or some dictionary’s definition of what your trifle should be. I see it as an opportunity to express your love and admiration for your Mom with an original creation.

Starting with an attractive glass bowl or bar glass, you can arrange Mom’s favorite goodies in layers so the entire goodness can be seen from the side profile. You can create a dessert trifle in a martini glass, margherita glass, basic water goblet, or even disposable plastic wares.

So, what does Mom like best? Can I make some suggestions?
pound cake cubes
Oreo cookie crumbs
Ice cream sprinkles
Crushed chocolate chip cookies
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate pudding
Whipped cream
Toasted coconut
Toasted nuts
Chocolate chips
Caramel sauce
Fresh strawberries
…soaked in brandy.

You can see why this would be so much fun for children to create a homemade Mothers Day gift for their Mom. If you assemble the ingredients, the kids can play “ice cream shop” and create a layered dessert trifle that is truly one of a kind, just like Mom.
What do you think the Number 1 combination of ingredients for a dessert trifle is?
Leave your comment below:


MAKE Mom The Best Mothers Day Gift Ever With Easy And Elegant Brunch Menus

"Get 5 Mothers Day Brunch Menus CLICK HERE for FREE"

By Chef Todd

Easy Family Dinners Are Closer Than Thailand

Easy family dinners can come from your own kitchen but have the flavors of far away. I mean that you don’t need to cook like the greatest Italian Chef to make an Italian inspired meal. You don’t need to study in Thailand to use the characteristic flavors in a simple cooking method.

Basically, if it’s good to you, it’s good. I’ve had some commenters on the internet tell me that “You didn’t make the crepes in the authentic way.” Or, “real beef bourguignon isn’t made that way”. What they don’t realize, was I was just trying to make something that appealed to me.

That’s exactly what I’m trying to inspire the world to do, cook in a way that is pleasing to them. I want to transform people from frustrated recipe followers into home kitchen masters. I want people to cook for their own enjoyment, using the flavors in their head and the ingredients in their cabinets.

The biggest detriment to easy family dinners at home is the written recipe. People search for recipes. People swap recipes. Some recipes work, others don’t work. Sometimes it comes out okay, sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re ready to “Burn Your Recipes” (incidentally, the title of my cooking dvd series), and cook with fast simple methods but generate great flavor, follow this procedure today.

I just made up a recipe using the ingredients in my pantry. I call it “Peanut Coconut Shrimp Thai Fry” because it uses the flavors of Thailand, but comes from my own kitchen and creativity.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Sesame Oil
Chicken Breast, sliced
Wasabi Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Carrots, Sliced
Broccoli Florets
Coconut Milk or Soup
Peanut Butter
Soy Sauce

All the fast dinner ideas I’ve given you this week have included a stove-top sauté or stir fry. This is the quickest and easiest way to create a one-dish dinner, saving clean-up time as well.

After I test that the wok is hot with a few drops of water, the sesame oil is added to the pan as a conductor of the heat and to add the distinct sesame flavor. The sliced chicken breast is stir-fried in the sesame oil until it starts to turn white on the sides.

If the chicken sticks to the bottom of the pan, it’s no problem because that “fond” will become part of our pan sauce when we use a liquid to deglaze the pan.

So far, this easy family dinner could have any international flavor that we’d like. But, to give it a truly distinctive Pacific Island flavor, I’ll add dried Wasabi powder and red pepper flakes to combine those flavors with the chicken and sesame. I’ll add sliced carrots and broccoli florets to the stir fry, but you can choose the vegetables you like best.

From deep in my pantry, I’ve found a can of Thai Coconut Soup. It’s been in my closet for quite a while, but now becomes the liquid for my sauté. It deglazes the pan by dropping the temperature quickly and dramatically, releasing the fond from the bottom of the pan.

The coconut flavor isn’t the only pantry item into this improvised easy family dinner. A scoop of peanut butter and some soy sauce are always in my cabinet, and they make a perfect compliment to wasabi, pepper, coconut pan sauce I’ve got going.

The most simple part of this procedure is also the most intelligent. By placing the lid on the pan we change from a direct heat method of cooking to an indirect method. With the lid off, all the heat comes from the bottom of the pan. It’s dry heat that allows moisture to evaporate. Placing the lid traps all the moisture and cooks in an indirect fashion.

It’s a simple matter to check the pieces of chicken with a thermometer, or taste for doneness. But when you place this easy family dinner onto their plates, you won’t believe how quick this process was. Whether you go all the way to Thailand, or choose Italy or China for your inspiration, at least it came from your own kitchen and your personal creativity.

By Chef Todd

What Are Some Tips for Healthy Living? Chef Todd Asks the Experts.

I really need some tips for healthy living. The New Year is in full swing, and like I said earlier this week during my 7 Tips for Healthy Cooking, I feel like crap. Perhaps it’s not JUST the food I eat. Maybe there are items in my environment that could be affecting my mood, health and wellness.

I’ve got the food and nutrition part covered, being a former Executive Chef at a large hospital, but I wonder what other tips for healthy living I can incorporate into my daily lifestyle. While I may be an expert on cooking, I’m not an expert on all the other elements that go into a healthy lifestyle.

Luckily, I have a very good friend, Ben Greenfield who IS an expert on these things. Ben is a triathlete, former body builder, and health and nutrition expert. He has taken all the skills he’s learned over many years from his training routine and brought them into the household.

Ben and Jessa are a great couple, because she has helped further simplify all the things Ben has learned into a comprehensive plan for creating a healthier life, lifestyle, and smarter children. Yes, healthier and smarter children through controlling your environment. I needed to know more.

So, I called Ben and Jessa on Skype recently to ask them for a few of their tips for healthy living that I might incorporate into my life to increase my energy level, brain power, body function, and reduce toxins in my environment.

The healthy lifestyle expert husband and wife team gave me some great suggestions during this video phone call, and even offered an opportunity to join Ben’s Inner Circle Membership to get even more information and support.

Since I’ve been feeling a bit sluggish and irritable lately, Ben’s first suggestion was to examine HOW my body is using the food that I’m supplying to it. He says I might be eating healthy foods, but not enough variety of food to supply essential vitamins that my body needs. A lack of the proper fuel can mean that my “engine” isn’t running smoothly.

Ben says that Vitamin B is essential to the way the human body metabolizes fat. It’s a cheap and simple way to boost your body’s function, as Vitamin B should cost less than $10 a month. Ben spoke about omega-3 and omega-6 elements in food and cooking oils like he was reciting his ABC’s. He really knew what he was talking about, but I had no idea what he was saying. Greater research is needed on my part, and I’ve joined his Inner Circle Membership to find out what he knows on this topic.

Jessa advised that I use coconut oil in my cooking, as this has the right type of Omega’s my body may need. Coconut oil is better metabolized by the body, and has a higher smoke-point, making it harder to burn things during sauté. That’s a great suggestion I can immediately implement.

When I told Jessa that I have air fresheners in my home, the kind that plug into the wall, she said “get rid of them!” It never dawned on me that my household environment could be contributing to my general health and energy level. “Air fresheners and scented candles can coat the nasal passages, and cause allergic reactions,” she warned.

“Clean with white vinegar instead of bleach” was another easily accomplished tip for healthy living from Jessa. White vinegar absorbs odors, is non-toxic, and has a better “clean” smell than the hospital scent of bleach. Jessa also has great recipes for home made cleaning products and disinfectants that will save your household budget and reduce toxicity levels in your home.

“The trick is making changes that are cheap, do-able, practical, and appropriate for your lifestyle”, says Ben. “You don’t need to buy expensive supplements or turn your home into an expensive iPod health-information device.”

“You can take charge and make your body and your home a healthier place to be, you just have to know where to start,” was the final and perhaps best advice Ben Greenfield gave me during the call. He made me feel better by knowing I have the power to change these things and help myself to feel better. He and Jessa will be there for me because I can access their member’s forum, since I’m a member of their Inner Circle.

As our time came to an end, I felt guilty because I “stole” so many great tips for healthy living from Ben and Jessa. This is what they do for a living. They help thousands of people all over the world to be healthier, more vibrant, get sick less, and improve the lives of their children as well. They are not “hippies”, they’re just like you and me. However, they’ve been living a healthy lifestyle for many years and will share their approach with you.

They have four comprehensive videos that are FREE for you to watch. And, when you see the way these two live a healthy lifestyle, you may be compelled to join their Inner Circle Membership and get even more great tips for healthy living from this day forward.


Watch the FREE "Healthy Living Tips" videos by clicking here

By Chef Todd

Your Food Questions Answered

It's my mission to make the world a better place to eat. I feel this is accomplished by answering all food questions from everywhere on the planet. No, I don't think I can get this done in one night. I'm not the Santa Claus of cooking. I'll solve the world's cooking problems one at a time, and it starts with the question you leave in the comment box below.

My hero, Michael Pollan, says "learn to cook and you gain power over your food choices". I certainly agree, but as a professional Chef, I can't advise you to NEVER go to a restaurant. A great restaurant is definitely one of the world's best places to eat, but they control the food, you don't.

Restaurant and take-out meals take more of your food budget than effective grocery shopping does. Meals prepared by someone else are designed for your enjoyment, often at the expense of good nutrition. You might say that take-out is faster than cooking at home, but once you consider the time spent traveling and unpacking your food, a home cooked meal could actually be faster.

I don't want to take you away from enjoyment of restaurant food, I want to increase your sense of pride in preparing a restaurant quality meal at home. You can cook like your favorite restaurant chef by discovering just a few of the techniques they use.

However, you may not KNOW that you need these techniques. You can't miss something you never had. What most people tell me is they DO know they're having a recurring problem or frustration in the kitchen. It's these food questions that lead to a search for answers.

While I've taught thousands of people all over the world through my online cooking classes and cooking DVDs, I know I haven't reached everyone. There are still cooking frustrations that repeat themselves every night for home cooks. Those are the issues I want to solve, solve them now, and solve them permanently.

Please leave your food questions in the comment box below. It's your opportunity to steer the direction of future blog posts, videos, webcasts, articles, and live events that will be coming in the next months.

Please be specific. Yes, we all want to "just cook better". I get it. But, what SPECIFICALLY will help you cook better?

I'm really excited to get out of my commercial kitchen, stop talking professional Chef language, and take a peek into your home kitchen to solve the biggest obstacle to you becoming a better cook, or cooking more often to give you power over your food choices.

Leave your most pressing food questions below:

By Chef Todd

Members Only Post: Chiffon Cake Method

I’m proud to bring you another Members-Only blog post, and this one comes just in time to make a fancy cake for the holidays.

Chiffon Method is an advanced mixing method and one not used often in the home kitchen. But, with the method I’m about to reveal, you’ll be bringing the lightest, most flavorful, softest cake to the potluck party this year.

The great thing about chiffon cake is that it combines the best attributes of Angel Food cake with sponge cake. Angel food cake is made with egg-white foam. Sponge cake is made with egg yolk foam. The chiffon cake uses a batter of yolks, oil, and water folded into an egg white foam to give all the best characteristics of each.

Orange Chiffon Cake
8 oz cake flour, sifted
12 oz sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 oz vegetable oil
6 egg yolks
2 oz water, cool
4 oz orange juice
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 Tbsp vanilla
8 oz egg whites

1) Sift together the flour, ½ the sugar, baking powder and salt.
2) In a separate bowl, mix the oil, yolks, water, juice, zest and vanilla
3) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry
4) In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar until stiff, not dry
5) Stir 1/3 of the egg whites in the batter to lighten it.
6) Fold in the remaining egg whites
7) Pour the batter into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan.
8) Bake 325 until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour

Discover a simple 5 step plan to save time, save money, explode your confidence and conquer the holiday kitchen this year with my FREE Holiday Cooking Success Class.

Click HERE to hold your spot!

By Chef Todd

Mixing is More Important Than Baking in Christmas Cake Recipes

Have you ever taken the results of your family’s Christmas cake recipe out of the oven and been disappointed? How can the same recipe created year after year always come out differently? “Why didn’t my cake BAKE correctly?”

Have you ever taken the results of your family’s Christmas cake recipe out of the oven and been disappointed? How can the same recipe created year after year always come out differently? “Why didn’t my cake BAKE correctly?”


I’m here to tell you that the problem with most home baking mistakes isn’t in the BAKING, it’s in the MIXING of your cakes that most mistakes are made.

There are three goals in cake mixing, whether it’s a Christmas cake recipe, or any other baked good at any time of the year.

The first goal in cake mixing is to combine all the ingredients into a uniform batter. This may seem obvious, but when you don’t scrape the mixing bowl during the process you can have streaks of dry flour in your batter. If you haven’t incorporated eggs in the precise way to get the best emulsification, then how you BAKE the item really won’t matter.

The second goal is to trap as much air as possible. This is most often overlooked by the home cake baker. When creaming fat and sugar together, or whipping egg whites, the idea is to gather as much trapped air to give the cake a light texture and even crumb. This is accomplished through concerted MIXING, not BAKING.

Lastly, ingredients for your birthday cake or Christmas cake recipe are mixed properly to develop the structure of the cake. How wet and dry ingredients are added during mixing are the building blocks of a cake that is either sunken or bursting from the pan.

With those universal cake mixing goals in mind, now you can have ultimate power over any written cake instructions. However, while all mixing methods have the same goal, they have different procedures depending on the ratio of ingredients. This yields five basic types of cake.

All cakes are defined by their mixing methods, and broken into two categories; high-fat cakes and low-fat cakes.

High fat cakes are almost always mixed using the “creaming method”. The best cookies made from scratch are also made with a creaming method. This is the procedure where butter and sugar are creamed together to incorporate air. Remember? Trap Air? Here’s where it happens, and why it’s important to use room-temperature ingredients.

A “Two-Stage Method” cake uses egg whites that have been whipped to soft peaks. If you notice how the volume of egg whites increases dramatically when you whip them, you’re witnessing the incorporation of AIR into your batter. A batter of egg yolks, oil, water, and seasonings are added to the whites, along with two stages of alternating flour and liquid, thus the two-stage method.

Low-Fat cakes most often use an egg foam for structure and texture of the cakes. The first type of low-fat cake mixing method is a Sponge Cake. Whipped yolks and whites give solid structure and flavor to a sponge cake, again proving that the mixing methods are most important if you want your Christmas cake recipe to be the best it can be.

Angel food cakes are absolutely fat-free because they’re made entirely of egg whites, sugar, flour, and flavorings. But again, HOW you whip the egg whites for an angel food method will mean the difference between a dense, chewy cake, or light, fluffy Angel Food cake.

Chiffon Cakes are lower fat cakes that use the same method as angel food, but also include some egg yolks to give better structure, and use chemical leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda for extra rise.

Grandma’s Christmas cake recipe might make a comeback this year when you apply the basic mixing methods outlined here. Once you identify HOW Grandma was mixing her cakes, you can assure that you’re meeting the general goals of cake mixing; combine ingredients, trap air, and develop structure.

Stop blaming your oven for those cakes not BAKING correctly. You have no control over what happens to the cake once you shut the oven door. However, you have a tremendous amount of control over the MIXING of your cakes, and it is the most important skill to have when creating your own Christmas cake recipe.

Do you have a family baking tradition for the holidays? Please leave your comment below:

Discover a simple 5 step plan to save time, save money, explode your confidence and conquer the holiday kitchen this year with my FREE Holiday Cooking Success Class.

 

Turn Holiday Cooking Stress into Holiday Cooking Success this year.

 

1 2 3 6