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By Chef Todd

Melting Chocolate for Valentines Day

Rather than buying Valentines Day candy, how about melting chocolate and making your own Valentines Day candy this year?

The key to melting chocolate for Valentines Day, Easter candy, chocolate lollipops, or any homemade chocolates is melting chocolate to a precise temperature, called chocolate tempering.

Real chocolate should have four basic ingredients: Cocoa, Cocoa butter, Sugar, and Vanilla. Any chocolate bar that lists things like vegetable oil or palm kernel oil cannot call themselves chocolate. Chocolate for Valentine's day candy may also have soy lecithin as an emulsifier, and milk.

Chocolate starts out in the seeds of the yellow fruit of the cacao (Ka-Kow) tree. There are about 40 almond-sized beans in each of the cacao fruits. The beans are harvested and treated a lot like coffee. Cacao beans are left in the sun to dry and ferment. They are then crusted, revealing the valuable "cocoa nib"

Cocoa nib is further processed into "chocolate liquor" (has no alcohol), or "chocolate mass". This the resulting fat or butter from the processing of the nib. This is what gives real chocolate it's wonder mouth-feel.

Melting chocolate isn't as simple as just applying heat and watching it melt. If you'd like to create your own valentines day candy, then the chocolate needs to be "tempered" so it will return to it's solid, crisp, shiny state after melting.

Tempering chocolate is not difficult, but you must contain a lot of caution in melting chocolate this way. There is a slight 10 degree Fahrenheit range to which you must melt the chocolate gently, and then "seed" the melted chocolate with cold pieces so that the warm sugar may assume the crystal structure of the cold sugar in the chocolates.

It's more fun, and a lot less expensive to make your own Valentines Day Chocolates by learning the correct method to melting chocolate to create your own Valentine's Day Candies.

By Chef Todd

Worst Cooks in America Ep 5

Finally! "Cook-fidence"!

Worst Cooks in America was back with their penultimate episode last night, leaving me conflicted. It’s a lousy show. Bringing family members to the cloistered can’t-cooks is a divisive tear-inducing tactic, but I’m still compelled to watch.

Why do I keep watching this Food Network show? It’s because I’m chuckling under my breath at the irony of Worst Cooks in America. Among all their celebrity chefs, new catch-phrases, and cross-promotion for product placement, the network is actually teaching someone to cook! I don’t think they expected THAT to happen.

While the MTV of Food has been focused on the juicy “reality show” clips of crying when cooking
for the past 4 weeks, something has happened. With the audience having been excluded, the 4 remaining contestants suddenly know all kinds of culinary terms and techniques.

What could possibly be the difference that turned off all the waterworks? It’s sudden cooking confidence. I’ll coin it “Cook-fidence”!

Cook-fidence is what the contestants of Worst Cooks in America suddenly have. It’s not because they’ve learned EVERYTHING about cooking. They’ve learned enough to leave the written recipe behind. It’s liberating! Tears of joy and accomplishment replace tears of frustration.

Just a small amount of knowledge, just a pinch of basic cooking methods, and the permission to create things on their own has inspired them with great confidence. They don’t possess every cooking secret, they’ve learned a simple few that then allows their creativity to take over.

Cook-fidence has taken the place of written recipes and all the results are better on Worst Cooks in America. It can happen in your home when you learn to cook with basic methods over cooking recipes.

Previous Posts about Worst Cooks in America:
The Flavors in Jennifer Cross' Head Saved her Butt
Cooking is About Crying and Salt
Worst Cooking Instructors in America
Are You the Worst Cook in America?

Burn Your Recipes!
Cook with Basic Cooking Methods over written recipes!

Get the complete 3-DVD series HERE!

By Chef Todd

Cooking Fish, A Rum Recipe from Hawaii

To be a great fish cook, and make up your own recipe for fish using rum, start with a visit to the Koloa Rum Company in Hawaii.

It’s easy to create your own recipe for fish without a recipe book when you’re armed with basic cooking methods. I've got a piece of “Monchung” fish in the refrigerator, a fish I've never heard of before. Even though I've never worked with Monchung fish before, I'm already decided on a sauté procedure for dinner tonight, using this new Hawaiian fish and some local rum to deglaze the pan and add flavor to the pan sauce.

It’s very difficult, and a bit silly to bring your cookbooks with you on vacation. Yes, you can find recipes on the computer, but why spend vacation time surfing indoors when you can do real surfing outdoors?

The best way to learn to cook by method is to start with a basic sauté. There are four elements to consider when writing your own sauté recipe.

1. Protein Product – In this case, it’s the Monchung fish
2. Vegetables/Aromatics – Garlic, Onions, Peppers, Mushrooms
3. Deglazing liquid – Koloa Rum Company Rum
4. Type of Fat – Olive Oil

Now, the steps are always the same, regardless of the protein, aromatics, liquid and fat that you choose, follow the sauté method that I'll demonstrate today.

If you want to create a rum recipe to cook fish, or become a great fish cook
, just remember the four elements of basic sauté. You’ll be able to create a recipe for fish that you’ve never heard of before, using the ingredients you desire, even rum from Hawaii.

Previous posts from Hawaii:
Cutting a Pineapple
Koloa Sunshine Farmers Market
Cook Shrimp in Hawaii
Fish Market on Hawaii
Goat Farm on Hawaii
How to Open a Coconut in Maui

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By Chef Todd

The Worst Cooking Instructors in America

The Worst Cooks in America continued on the Food Network last night. Last week’s premier episode had such promise, and I'm still anticipating the cutting edge of culinary instruction from the MTV of Food. The point was to teach the contestants to cook, right?

Accurate and safe knife skills are always the start to any cooking instruction, and Worst Cooks in America starts off correctly this week. “Hooray for the Food Network!” I thought. They’re going to teach by building on basic cooking methods, not recipes! My excitement didn’t last until the next commercial break. Perhaps it’s the editing of a one hour show, but the criticism and crying took the place of teaching very quickly.

Instead of instruction on Worst Cooks in America, the contestants are just told to “do it”, placed under time constraints, and criticized as if they were already professional chefs. It’s obvious that they haven’t been taught any actual cooking methods from their reaction to the chefs erasing the blackboard recipe in the middle of their challenge, total chaos.

The contestants were taken to a Japanese restaurant
and told to cook scallops and steak on a flat-top grill that Chef Beau said was “like 800 degrees”. This is like taking someone that doesn’t know how to drive, putting them on a NASCAR track, and yelling at them for not going fast enough.

“Actors practice lines, chefs practice recipes,” Chef Beau scolded the contestants. I don’t agree. Actors practice acting method, then interpret their lines. Chefs practice imparting heat to food, then interpret with ingredients.

So, it’s time for me to take over. In my online cooking classes, as well as my DVD series, the focus is on basic cooking methods, not recipes. The essence of cooking is how you control the transfer of heat to food. This should be the second step, knowing the difference between direct conductive heat, and indirect convective heat.

Rather than giving the contestants delicate and difficult products like scallops and duck breast, I would start with a simple sauté of a chicken breast. Saute’ method is the best start for anyone learning to cook. Here, you can watch all that happens as you transfer heat to food. You can combine flavors quickly, drop the temperature of the pan with a cold liquid, and make a sauce. The best way to learn anything is to start with simple procedures and expand upon them.

The chefs on this show have missed the opportunity to start at the beginning with explanations of what actually happens when we cook food. This would empower the contestants with skills and knowledge that will help them over the next 4 episodes. Maybe this is another piece of entertainment about chefs who make people cry. If that’s it, they’re doing a great job.

Previously about Worst Cooks in America

I promise, I won't yell at you or make you cry.

By Chef Todd

Fish Market on Hawaii

No matter what basic cooking method you use to cook fish, getting the freshest fish to cook will improve your final result. When Chef Todd Mohr is in Hawaii, he wants to cook fish, fresh fish. Today, he'll explore how to cook fresh fish from the Koloa Fish Market on Kauai, Hawaii.

Previously from Hawaii:
How to Open a Coconut
Surfing Goat Farm

Cook like a chef at home in 16 weeks, guaranteed with my online cooking classes.

Get a FREE 14 day trial in WebCookingClasses.com