Brando says: "Going through the recipe's ingredient list is substantial to your culinary success."
Q. How do you make the perfect pie crust?
A. Patience is key here. Read your recipe thoroughly, gather all of your ingredients and roll your sleeves up. I prefer the old school by-hand method but I’m certain a stand mixer will do just fine. On a clean hard surface, take the cold butter cubes and smash the butter flat into the flour repeatedly. The idea is to soften the butter not necessarily the pea sized shapes most recipes suggest. The kicker comes when you’re ready to add your liquid. Traditionally you’d use ice water to bind the flour and butter mixture but recently I’ve utilized the help of a tablespoon or 2 of apple cider vinegar, it imparts very little flavor and helps tenderize the gluten in the pie crust. I also add a table spoon or 2 of sugar to help balance the acidity from the vinegar.
Q. Hi Chef, I would like to make an Israeli tabbouleh salad. Should I use couscous or
bulgur? Thank you
A. Tabbouleh is one of those dishes that has many variations. Traditionally, made the Lebanese way, it would include bulgar. An Israeli tabbouleh can absolutely be made using Israeli couscous, however the tabbouleh would no longer be gluten free. I’ve seen tabbouleh made with red quinoa for a little kick of protein and fiber. Feel free to substitute your favorite grain and experiment with the tabbouleh.
Q. How do you make a crispy French toast?
A.I love French toast! For breakfast, for dessert, any choice is hip! Some key and ultra necessary ingredients are a good thick cut day old piece of bread, you want to dry out the bread preferably overnight so that it may soak up all the custard and still retain its shape. A great bread for this would be an egg based, buttery loaf of bread like brioche. When cooking your French toast make sure the pan is preheated to a medium heat with a mixture of butter and neutral oil added to the pan, a light sizzle should be heard when the custard soaked bread hits the pan. You want to make sure and slowly caramelize the outside of the bread but fully cook the custard in the middle. Ensuring your custard is fully cooked will help maintain the structural integrity of the bread and prevent you from eating uncooked eggs.
"Reading the baking instructions are important to know whether the recipe calls for chilled or room temperature butter."
Q. Some baking recipes call for salted butter, others unsalted, and some do not specify. What's the difference and what do I do when it doesn't specify?
A. A general rule of thumb, when in doubt, is to go the unsalted route. Unsalted butter is considered more fresh as it lacks the preservatives that salted butter does, therefore, it allows the flavor of the butter to really shine through the final product. It’s most notable in baked goods such as puff pastry or a loaf of brioche. Salt is later added to butter both to impart flavor as well as help preserve it for a longer shelf life. I typically have 3-4 types of butter between my countertop, refrigerator and freezer. Never know when you’ll need that emergency stick of butter.
Q. What's the difference between a cast iron and a nonstick pan? Which foods do you cook in which pan?
A. A cast iron pan can be considered nonstick if it is cared for and seasoned properly. Foods best cooked in cast irons are those that require a hard sear on the outside provided by the high heat retaining qualities of the iron. The natural iron coating of cast irons allows the pan to retain the heat conducted by the heating element, be it a stovetop burner or oven, more efficiently than its counterparts. Foods to avoid cooking in cast iron are high acidic foods such as any form of tomatoes, any use of citrus or vinegars as they may damage the seasoning of the pan. Nonstick pans have a synthetic coating commonly known as Teflon, that ensures the cooking of any ingredient with absolutely no risk of sticking to the pans surface. These pans have their place in every kitchen but aren’t always bulletproof so do your research and invest in a high quality non stick pan for your morning eggs, evening fish filets and other high risk sticky foods.