What are some of your best cooking tips?
Start with a clean kitchen. I hate cooking when there are dishes in the sink or things left out on the counters. I need to feel somewhat organized and in control
Get out your ingredients and cooking tools before you start cooking. This makes for a smoother process.
Slice and dice all fresh produce before you start cooking. This helps me be ready to add the next ingredient at the right time rather than having something cook too long before I add the onions for instance.
Blanch* vegetables ahead of time. For meal prepping on the weekend for the work/school week, blanch* large batches of vegetables then store for easy meal prep after a long day of work. Blanching vegetables the day before hosting a dinner party is a great time-saving and stress-reducing tip. It makes for one less item for the day of the dinner.
Be careful not to burn diced garlic in olive oil. This can happen very quickly so watch it carefully, and saute on medium-low heat.
Learn how to make a basic roux**. This will allow you to thicken gravy, soups, sauces, and even help with a creamy cheesy mac n’ cheese.
When roasting chicken, pork, or beef, I save any unused au jus and freeze it for a gravy base for other meals.
Pay attention to the cooking time and temperature recommendations for meats. I have included a link to my favorite grocery store Wegmans for roasting guidelines: https://www.wegmans.com/final-cook-to-temperature-charts/
Did you attend culinary school?
I have not ever attended Culinary school. I simply love to cook and feed people! I am a “home-trained cook,” taught and inspired by my Grandmothers, both of my parents, my Mother-in-law, and other great cooks I know plus some of the bests Chef’s we all watch on various cooking networks. I am FAR from expert; rather, most of my recipes are the result of trial and error. Sometimes, many errors!!
How do you create your recipes?
Some of my favorite recipes are traditional meals I grew up on, but no one ever wrote down a single recipe in my family. So I would make several attempts, tweaking recipes here and there until I found that magic blend of the right ingredients that tasted as close to Grandma’s as possible. Recipe ideas come to me from a variety of inspirations. Sometimes, I get an idea in my head about a particular food that I may have seen a picture of, and then consider what other types of foods might pair nicely together. This is how I came up with my Spicy Fig Jam recipe (https://mysavorykitchen.com/spicy-fig-jam/). I happen to see fresh figs in the grocery store, and I decided to pair it with a Salsa Pepper I had just harvested from my garden, and voila, Spicy Fig Jam!
Because I have Celiac Disease, recipe ideas often come from meals that others order in restaurants that I cannot have because they contain Gluten. Then within the next couple of days I come up with my own spin on what I envision may have been in that dish, and only use Gluten-Free ingredients. I mention in a couple of my recipes that I have always “cooked from the hip” so to speak. I rarely measured ingredients, and I never wrote things down. As a result, having to quantify my recipes for this food blog has been a challenge, but one I have come to appreciate. I start with a list of ingredients that I want in the recipe. If I am creating a new marinade I estimate the amount of the main liquid ingredients I’ll need whether I am using olive oil, lemon, and white wine, or blending olive oil with soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic chili sauce. I use small measurements at first because I can always add more of something, but I cannot remove it! If I think something probably needs about a teaspoon of salt, for instance, I’ll start with 1/2 or 3/4 tsp then add more later if I think it needs more.
- Blanch: a quick boil for vegetables followed by a soak in an ice bath for bright, colorful, and crisp vegetables. Directions: Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil. Using a handled strainer to add raw vegetables to the boiling water. Boil 3-4 minutes for thinner veggies, and 5-7 on thicker veggies such as thick-cut carrots. Fill a bowl with ice water. Using a handled strainer, transfer veggies to the ice bath for 5-8 minutes to stop them from cooking. Season and eat them crisp, or I often blanch prior to stir-frying or sauteing vegetables to reduce cook time, and maintain the vibrancy of the color.
- **Roux: A Roux is an equal parts blend of flour and fat to smoothly thicken sauces, gravies, soups, and decadent mac n’ cheese.