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:

About Chef Todd

Chef Todd Mohr is a Certified Culinary Educator who has empowered home cooks all over the world with the reliable, dependable, repeatable METHODS behind cooking that build confidence, generate creativity and enable anyone to cook with the ingredients THEY desire.

46 Comments

Leave a Comment

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    7:22 AM - 23 January, 2012

    Hi David!
    I assume you're talking about chocolate truffles, and you'd be hard-pressed to get a creamy filling stuffed into the middle of chocolate ganache without a mold. The only way I can think of to do it would be to freeze the creamy filling into little balls, then build your truffle around it with your hands, like a meatball. As the creamy filling defrosts, it will be surrounded by chocolate.

    I've never tried it that way, but you can be the first. Tell me how it works out.

  • David
    David
    10:47 AM - 20 January, 2012

    I really want to find out how to put a CREAMY fruit filling in a truffle without buying a truffle mold!
    Anybody have any tips?

  • Pingback: Ethnic Profiling is the Key to Cooking with Spices | Chef Todd Mohr Web Cooking Classes

  • Ward Starring
    Ward Starring
    12:03 PM - 27 January, 2011

    To Jim:
    I've found that wrapping lettuce in paper towels keeps the product fresh much longer than the holey bag it comes in. As chef said, greens are, or were, a living plant and need to breathe -- the paper towel allows air movement, similar to Gore-Tex membrane, and keeps the lettuce from getting gooky (Chef Todd's word), but still maintains moisture in the plant without it getting too wet.
    Give it a try and see what you think --
    Ward

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    11:53 AM - 27 January, 2011

    Hey Jim!
    Keeping leaf lettuce and spinach fresh is a big challenge. Since their cell structure is so delicate, and they are composed of so much water, it's tough to watch them go mushy before you've had a chance to eat them.

    First, they are living plants, so they need air to breath. Wrapping leafy items in plastic bags traps too much moisture. Poke holes in the bag. It's also good to add something that will absorb moisture, like a box of baking soda, salt, dry rice, or flour in the produce drawer with your spinach.

    These things may help, but ultimately you need to eat it or process it. Most often, I'll make a creamed spinach, or puree with fresh herbs to make a pesto-like item I can use as a condiment. I'm sure you've found that spinach doesn't freeze very well.

    I'll be covering this in upcoming Spring blogs when the produce starts running.

  • Jim
    Jim
    12:11 PM - 26 January, 2011

    How should you store spinach and leaf lettuce?
    It always goes bad before I can finish it off.
    Lately I've been cooking the spinach and then freezing it, but then I can't use it in sammiches.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    9:34 AM - 26 January, 2011

    Hey Rebecca -
    You're in good company. Many people have asked for inspirations in using combinations of seasonings. While it's covered in "Burn Your Recipes" DVD series, I'll have to offer some blogs on the topic as well.

    Thanks for the kind compliments and great suggestion.

  • Rebecca Lear
    Rebecca Lear
    6:39 PM - 25 January, 2011

    I've had near panic attacks over cooking for company and wondering if it was going to "turn out right". Watching these videos has given me hope that I can cook with some consistency and confidence...at least saute! My Hawaiian chicken, made after lesson 2, turned out great..though it could have used a little more flavor. As some others have mentioned, I too have a huge problem knowing what seasonings, cheese, etc. would complement the protein. What goes with what and when and how???...some basic things that I'm a little embarrassed to admit I don't know. Would it be possible to make a worksheet listing things that would work together.... sort of to jump-start us to thinking on our own? Thanks for being available!

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    9:39 AM - 24 January, 2011

    Food pairings is a good idea, Aaron. Thanks.
    Often, pairings have more to do with the type of diet you're on than balance of the plate.
    In other words, most people would think of pasta with chicken parmesan. However, a low-carb diet could substitute cannelini beans for the pasta for more protein.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    9:37 AM - 24 January, 2011

    Hi James!
    I'm going to have an entire series on low-carb cooking coming soon.
    My best tip for reducing salt in the diet is to counter-act it with vinegar. The two senses are opposite on the palate, and can balance each other. A few drops of white vinegar on vegetables, or balsamic vinegar on meats or seafood will reduce the need for salt on you tongue.

    Todd.

  • Barry
    Barry
    6:10 AM - 23 January, 2011

    Hello Sensai:
    I am glad that I took your complete course. My main challenge at this point in my life is cooking for one. In Canada, I used to cook five or six portion meals and containerize and freeze them so I had nights off where I only had to warm up supper during the week. I cooked three or four six portion meals and froze the left overs in microwave safe containers. Here in Europe, I do not have a deep freeze in my Rented townhouse and some dishes lend themselves to a stew pot or a crock pot or a casserole dish.Have a great day!!

  • James
    James
    10:29 PM - 22 January, 2011

    I'm a pretty good cook, but my 2 biggest issues are salt and carbs. I need a very low salt diet, & the love of my life needs to watch the carbs for her diabetes. While I love spicy dishes, to keep the flavors up w/out salt, she thinks of ketchup as being too strong sometimes. I use mostly fresh ingredients to avoid the added salt, and make some of my own bread & pastas, I still need to cut carbs for her. I often end up making 2 meals, but it'd be nice if I could simplify more on flavors and the carb count we both need & crave.

  • Aaron Gonzalez
    Aaron Gonzalez
    12:26 PM - 22 January, 2011

    Ideas for side dishes, that's my biggest challenge.

    Thanks to you I've learned to come up with a great dish from whatever I have at hand. I've learned to sauté, roast, broil, poach.. I can cook great dishes. Gosh, I even cooked some vegetarian lasagna one day, I brought it to the office and when my coworkers tasted it they asked me to cook some for them the next day! (It was a huge success, thank you so much for the idea)

    But... I always find myself struggling with the question of what I am going to serve my dish with.
    Could you give me a hand?

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    3:02 PM - 20 January, 2011

    Yes, Tom, your request isn't unique.
    My menu planning starts at the grocery store with very wide "themes". I'll buy chicken, beef, and pork. Then, I'll think Asian, Indian, Italian, American. I'm not planning specific meals at that time, just giving alternatives. I may also buy pasta, rice, noodles, and potatoes. So, as the week goes on, Monday might be chicken stir fry with noodles, Tuesday is Shrimp Tikka Masala, Wednesday is Pork chops in tomato sauce, Thursday becomes meatloaf and potatoes.

    I definitely need to do a series of videos on how I come up with my dinner ideas based on what I buy.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    2:58 PM - 20 January, 2011

    That seems to be the number one request so far, Fernando.
    It's that daunting task of figuring out WHAT to cook for dinner, then actually having the motivation to do it.

    I wish everyone could cook like me at home. It's fun, easy, and always different.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    2:57 PM - 20 January, 2011

    I feel for you Cyndi.
    Those with reactions to gluten have one of the most difficult challenges in eating.
    It's really not my expertise, but with all the requests I've gotten, I'll have to do some more research.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    2:56 PM - 20 January, 2011

    I love the analogy, Bill.
    I'd also add that cooking solely by written recipes is like driving with a road map, but blindfolded. You may have all the directions, but you won't be able to react to the landmarks and changes in the road.

  • Bill
    Bill
    8:53 AM - 20 January, 2011

    Compare cooking to taking a road trip. Before you leave, you pack the items you will need to complete the trip. Off you go. 50 miles from home, you have a flat tire-do you cancel the trip and go home-no. You change the tire and keep going. On down the road, you expreience a rain storm. Do you quit-no. You keep on trucking and put it behind you. When the journey is complete, the experience is awsome and worth the effort put into it. Good luck cooking
    Bill

  • Cyndi
    Cyndi
    9:44 PM - 19 January, 2011

    More guidance on gluten free cooking, especially snacks, would be great, Chef Todd. I miss the texture of baked things with gluten 🙂

  • Fernando
    Fernando
    9:13 PM - 19 January, 2011

    I think fear of failure is the biggest obstacle to trying out new dishes. Then you end up cooking the same old things over and over again..... Thus, the lack of motivation creeps in!

  • Tom
    Tom
    5:48 PM - 19 January, 2011

    Hey Chef Todd. Great videos. For me, the biggest barrier to great cooking is that fact that I've run out of energy by the end of the work day. I'm just not up to thinking about what I'd like to eat or cook by that point, even though I'd have lots of enthusiasm for it if I were rested. So for me, week day meals have to be cooked ahead of time, or I have to plan on Saturday what I'll want to cook on Wednesday, and have it bought and ready to go. Is there any way you can teach me to stock my fridge with essentials for multiple meals like you taught me to stock my spice rack, or plan work-day menus like you taught me to plan Thanksgiving dinner? Also, I know restaurants have lots of tricks for prepping ingredients or partly cooking things (like par boiling pasta) to speed up production. Is there any way I can put those tricks to use in my home kitchen for weekday cooking? Many thanks!

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    5:12 PM - 19 January, 2011

    That's a great suggestion, Spike. I often plan my meals a week in advance. That's not to say I write out a menu, but I think in my head about the different ways to use one ingredient. So, a whole chicken on Sunday may be soup, chicken parmesan, chicken pot pie, and diced on a lunch salad.

    That's the type of thing I want to show everyone. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    5:10 PM - 19 January, 2011

    A great violinist can play with the smallest violin. A great golfer can play with bad clubs. You can make great things from that tiny kitchen of yours, Ward. I know you can. I'll assure that it happens.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    5:09 PM - 19 January, 2011

    Your daughter will know from working in a chain restaurant that everything needs to be consistent from day to day and restaurant to restaurant. This is not only so that you get what you expect from the name-brand, but also so they can figure their profit margins with the same ingredients that go into their food.

    Chain restaurants taste the same because it's part of their sales strategy, not a health and nutrition strategy.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    5:08 PM - 19 January, 2011

    You are so right, Bill. I think it's one of the main fears that keep people from cooking. It's the fear of failure, the fear the the recipe won't come out, the fear of wasted food, and the fear of embarrassment.

    It's only cooking, it should be fun, not fearful. How do I get that across?

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    5:06 PM - 19 January, 2011

    Hey Steven!
    Often, combinations of spices are a personal like or dislike thing. However, the combinations of seasonings that accent certain foods would be a great topic to explore.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    5:05 PM - 19 January, 2011

    You've hit right at the heart of the matter, Fernando. Cooking is a chore for most people. I'm trying to find the best ways to show people how I cook every night. It's easy, it's fun, it's healthy, and I actually look forward to cooking. Now, how do I get that into your knowledge-base?

  • Fernando
    Fernando
    11:01 AM - 19 January, 2011

    Motivation to cook at home rather just go grab something out.

  • steven
    steven
    8:43 AM - 19 January, 2011

    yes i think it would be great if we learned more about spice like using white pepper instead of black pepper in omelet looks better but combining different spices to get a certain flavor knowing that would be really great

  • William Bruning
    William Bruning
    8:15 AM - 19 January, 2011

    Good video. I like the relaxed mood that you create so maybe it will create a relaxed attitude in your students to have fun and enjoy cooking. After all, its only one dish if you make a boo boo.
    Bill

  • Ward Starring
    Ward Starring
    7:12 PM - 18 January, 2011

    Chef, thanks for the info. I'm not much into deep-frying either but I've always wondered why everything that comes "pre-made" or in restaurants tastes the same. (Yeah, I indulge now and then but it's more the exception rather than the rule.) Just a curiosity more than anything. And here's a hint: my daughter-in-law works at one of those chain restaurants (not fast-food). Nuff said.

  • Ward Starring
    Ward Starring
    7:06 PM - 18 January, 2011

    This is to Amy --
    I have what would be considered a galley kitchen (as in a boat). It's quite small and frankly, I have too much stuff. I have an electric range, a fridge, and too many pots and pans. My workable counter space is two feet, two and a half if I move my knife block... that's it. I do have a Kitchenaid but it's "over there" next to the family room. So here's what I've done in order to create my working world: above the stove I installed one of those overhead racks for hanging pots and pans. The pots and pans I use most are right above my head and in easy reach. I also have a few in the stove drawer, along with some lids. The lid that goes with a pot, I have hanging from the pot handle (it slips over the pot's handle) and everything hangs from the rack -- that way whichever pot I need, the lid comes down with it... pretty handy. I have a small container (the kind used for flour or sugar) next to the stove with various utensils that are always used. My Kitchenaid sits on a roll-around table that I'm using as a kind of room divider so when I need to use it, I just roll it next to the sink and plug it in. By the way, that totally obstructs the doorway into the living room but so what?! Baking sheets are underneath as well as parchment paper, cheese cloth, and some larger bowls.
    My working triangle, diagonally, is seven feet (about two meters)... that's it. It's not uncommon for me to cook a dish or two, then place it in a low oven while I cook other items.
    It's frustrating once in a while but I'm in my element while in the kitchen so I overlook the small stuff! And I've cooked for a house-full with everything being served hot and perfectly cooked.
    I hope some of these ideas have helped; don't give up, just get creative and do what you really enjoy doing... cooking.

  • Spike Page
    Spike Page
    6:29 PM - 18 January, 2011

    For my husband and me, the biggest challenge we face is what to do with leftovers. I know you've shown some ideas of how to use scraps from one meal to flavor another (cooking with stock, making stews and soforth), but for many, knowing how to store and reheat various food items without losing the flavor or sacrificing texture is a challenge.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    6:13 PM - 18 January, 2011

    Ahhh, yes. Presentation and garnishing is a great suggestion for topic. Thanks.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    6:13 PM - 18 January, 2011

    I'm not a fan of frying. I'm especially against deep frying in the home. But, the taste you're missing is probably the type of oil and a very hot deep fryer that keeps its temperature. Home deep fryers lose most of their temperature when you put the food item in and take so long to recover that the item marinates in oil.

    I'll do a video on my oven-baking routine using Panko breadcrumbs and a VERY hot baking pan. Thanks, Ward.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    6:11 PM - 18 January, 2011

    That's a good one, Amy. Small kitchens can still produce big meals if you use the space correctly.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    6:10 PM - 18 January, 2011

    Hey Richard!
    Thanks for your comment. Firefighting in the kitchen is a good safety topic.

    Gelatin has soooooo many uses in the bake shop, many in cold food preparation, but few in cooking. I'll have to do a bit of research on that one before I proceed. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    6:08 PM - 18 January, 2011

    I'll have to give some greater thought to a simpler way to explain how I use seasonings. Basically, it's come with practice and trial. Associating seasonings with different styles is the first step. Knowing your personal palate is the second. Putting those two together is the biggest challenge for home cooks.

    "More herbs and spices episodes" is what I'm getting from this comment.

  • cheftodd
    cheftodd
    6:06 PM - 18 January, 2011

    How to use seasonings is a pressing issue for many people. While WebCookingClasses has two full weeks on the topic, I'll have to re-introduce it to the blog audience.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Carol
    Carol
    5:57 PM - 18 January, 2011

    Mixing spices.
    Sometimes I add one too many and the whole meal is ruined.

    Taste is a mystery to me. That is why I need a guidance in joining tastes.

    My favorite discovery is mixing vegetables in salads or drinks.
    The most obvious in my kitchen is: adding some fresh celery to a fresh cucumber salad - it tastes more fresh ... eh! mniam
    Otherwise I am lost!

  • Dan Bear
    Dan Bear
    5:33 PM - 18 January, 2011

    By the way - FUNNY VIDEO!!

  • Dan Bear
    Dan Bear
    5:29 PM - 18 January, 2011

    For me, my biggest frustration is developing my "virtual taste." On your DVD, the chapter about tastes, salt, sour, sweet, bitter and umami, was a great step forward, and a comment you made about using your nose to decide on which spice to use was very helpful. But I sure wish I had some routine or process or practice I could follow that would help me really develop my imagination for tastes and taste combinations.

  • Richard
    Richard
    12:52 PM - 18 January, 2011

    1.i think the worst thing that could happen in a kitchen is a fire and not knowing how to put it out or not having the equipment to do so. at the beginning of all your videos you start a fire in a pan and its cool...unless you didnt want to do it and it burnt you or something. I'd like to know how to do what you do (all the various ways if any) and mostly how not to do it by accident or when not expecting it- how to avoid it.also, what to do if you have a fire and the proper equipment to have on hand (extingishers, chemicals to put on it and the damage the chemicals may cause to stove, etc. put a lid on it...you get it.
    2. what can you do with gelatin as a thickener...besides boring jello.

  • Amy Lane
    Amy Lane
    11:04 AM - 18 January, 2011

    I have a small outdated kitchen that is difficult to organize. Storage space is hopelessly inadequate. It's so frustrating, I don't want to cook. Remodeling is out of the question right now. Could you suggest some simple inexpensive storage products and solutions? Thank you!

  • Ward
    Ward
    10:58 AM - 18 January, 2011

    I have tried flour, flour and cornmeal, just cornmeal, and who knows what else to try and get the "commercial" flavor of coated, deep-fried foods (chicken, jalapenos, fish, etc.)... what is it that flavors the commercial type foods that I just cannot achieve? (I also have tried egg-wash, double-dipped, "naked skin" and skin-on chicken, in most combinations I can think of, all to no avail.) Primarily, I use AP flour, garlic powder, salt/pepper, and paprika. Is there an additive that I'm missing? Additionally, I don't use my pressure cooker as a fry cooker because of the cautions set forth in the instructions.
    What gives?

  • dgca
    dgca
    10:24 AM - 18 January, 2011

    I'd like to learn how to plate the good food I am cooking...the WOW factor!

Leave a Comment