What You Need to Know About Cast-Iron Skillet Cooking

In an age of multi-colored and teflon-coated non-stick and stainless-steel cookware, it can be a challenge to remember the tried and true beauty of an old-fashioned cast-iron skillet.  Often a necessity in many a grandmother’s kitchen, the cast-iron skillet is a “back-to-basics” item worthy of any family cookery.

Both economical and healthy, these rustic cooking supplies are easily purchased at thrift stores, antique markets and neighborhood garage sales. Also known for releasing small amounts of iron into food, cast-iron skillets provide healthy benefits for those with iron deficiencies. Lasting for years when well cared for, skillet cast-offs or newly purchased pans require nothing more than a little loving care for capable cooking use.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about why to cook with cast-iron, how to season and clean your skillet and simple cast-iron recipes for your family table. [Read more…]

Spices 101: Common Myths Debunked (recipe: Chai-Spiced Granola)

An ‘Introduction to Spices’ would be an entire module in cooking school if I were the instructor. I think spices are that important to cooking.

Proper selection and addition of good quality spices to a dish can elevate the flavor of a dish with little effort and minimal cost; that alone is reason to learn how to use spices and incorporate them into daily cooking.

What is a spice? Any plant material that modifies the flavor of foods. A spice can be a root, bark, various seeds, dried fruits and plenty of fresh and dried herbs. All of these ingredients appeal to individuals in different ways and that is why the best spice is the one that makes your senses dance. [Read more…]

Cooking School: Know Your Knives

Now that we’ve covered safety in the kitchen, let’s get straight to the next important topic in our cooking school series: Tools, and more specifically, knives.

Simple Bites reader Alissa writes:

One question I have is about choosing the right tools during prep work.  I know my default is to select the smallest item (knife, bowl, etc) that will do the job, but it seems the chefs on television are always using huge bowls for tiny tasks, and 8-inch chef knives when I’m pulling out the paring knife.
I’d love to know what they teach about that in cooking school.

Great question, Alissa! Most people don’t realize is that using the correct knife can actually improve your cooking by:

• giving your food the appropriate texture
• accomplishing tasks more efficiently
• respectfully treating the food product
• helping you work in a safer manner

Without question, the knife is the most important tool in the kitchen and choosing the right knife for the job is an important step toward simplifying your cooking. [Read more…]

How to Prevent Kitchen Injuries

Welcome to the very first post in our Cooking School series. Here you will find tips and tricks on a wide variety of subjects from cooking techniques to basic knife skills, tool selection and tips on how to identify quality ingredients.

You don’t have to attend culinary school to be a whiz in the kitchen; however, there is a lot to be learned from the professionals. Whether you are a beginner cook or have been tending the stoves for decades, this series will both boost your confidence in the kitchen and inspire you to try new things.

Welcome! Tie on your apron and sharpen those knives–no wait! Read this post first, then reach for your knife. [Read more…]