inline_5_ September 26th, 2011

Thank you to those who attended the September 26th, 2011 real food cooking demonstration. Chef Marshall O’Brien demonstrated how to make Sweet & Sour Brown Rice Turkey Meatballs as well as a stream of content generated from audience feedback. Initial topics which were in the handout can be downloaded here.

Attendee insights and resources:

Here are topics that came up during our presentation.

Using grains – Consider cooking grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley, bulgar, etc, per instructions then portion and freeze. Label and date, use for a later time. This works great for soups, loafs, pancakes, salads, or simply side dishes. Here’s two of my favorite quinoa dishes – &

Amaranth – a gluten-free ancient grain that is starting to get popular again Learn more about Amaranth click here.

Microplanes are fantastic for zesting, fine shaving, and shaving/grating very hard items. A definite must tool in the kitchen.

Ginger – fresh ginger can be a great sore throat reliever when combined with fresh lemon and hot water. Also it’s great for relieving nausea, simply chew or suck on it. Galanga root is similar to ginger, but even more woody and fiberous.

One attendee mentioned that she puts slices of fresh ginger in a jar with sherry and uses it to cook with – nice suggestion!

Another person asked about ginger substitutes – I suggested trying a blend of fresh squeezed orange juice and minced garlic. I’m not sure what ginger substitutes, If you have a suggestion, let me know.

Pots & Pans – there are all sort of pots and pans on the market, and depending on how much you cook and how much you want to invest, there will be something for everyone. My suggestion is to make the investment, whatever that means to you dollar wise. Bottom line, your pots/pans should be quality made, relatively heavy and not be prone to heat spots. The less quality the pan, the more likely it will not last long.  Click here to learn the pro’s and cons of the various materials used, thanks to Real Simple.

Fish –  I love cooking fish, and I hope you enjoy cooking it as much as I do. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to prepare:

Garlic Peeler – another way to peel the skin off garlic, a rubber tube. The garlic is inside the tube and when rolled, the friction from the tube and pulls the garlic skin off. Or just whack it with the face/side of the knive.

Stove tops – What’s the difference between electric, gas and induction? I tried googling this and most of the search results were from stove comapnies – Thermadore, LG, Kenmore, etc.  So here’s my thoughts on the subject. First of all I think that Induction is in a league of it’s own, primarilly playing in Europe so for sake of conversation I’ll stick with Electric vs Gas. Both types are not very energy efficient. But with gas you can have way more heat control. Of course the fancier the stove top, but better the technology and capabilities it will have. At the end of the day I think it comes down to what you’re most comfortable using, and enjoy cooking with the most.

Dressings/Vinaigrettes – I like to keep these really simple, just using the dressing to complement whatever it is I’m eating, not cover the flavors. To make a simple vinaigrette classically it’s a 3 oil to 1 vinegar ratio, but I like a 2 to 1 or even a 1 to 1 ratio. Here’s a basic delicious vinaigrette.

1/2Colive oil    1/4Cfresh lemon juice   1Tfresh basil minced  1 light squeeze honey as needed

Take a small container with an airtight lid (glass or plastic is fine) about a cup or two size.
Place ingredients and shake vigourously until well mixed. Taste and season as needed. This will last about a month.
Also try out one of my favorite salads
Oils –  There is a lot of information out there and frankly depending on what you read, it can be confusing. I use Spectrum brand oils so here’s a link with a wealth of knowledgeon the various types and purposes for using oils. As I mentioned during the presentation, we use extra virgin olive oil on our salads, raw veggies and for finishing. We use a regular olive oil for cooking. Sesame is good too, but it’s a strong flavor. We use a good quality coconut oil for skin moisturizing and it’s also good for frying because of its high smoke point.

Sodium – As for flavoring foods, use fresh citrus – lemons, limes, oranges. Fresh lemon goes a long way. Also, use fresh or dried herbs.

This is obviously a really big deal. Because there’s so much unneeded salt in processed foods, it’s even more crucial that people make efforts to cook from scratch. I firmly believe if we cook a meal from scratch, regardless of if it’s inherently “healthy” meal or not, that it would actually be considerably healthier because we’d be controlling the sodium plus more! So the moral of the story is do not eat processed foods.

Cooking with Wine – general rule of thumb, use a wine that you’d want drink. Super market cooking wines are loaded with salt. It’s worth spending a couple dollars more and buy a bottle. Your meal will taste that much better!

MSG – Monosodium Glutamate – a good explanation from the May clinic  

Wikipedia has a thorough explanation about MSG. Since it’s a freely edited website,  you may want to take it with a grain of salt, no pun intended.

Vinegar – here’s a great article about vinegar click here.

Portion Sizes – Someone asked about tricks to getting portion sizes memorized. I think seeing the quantity, feeling the quantity and just practicing that definitely helps. WebMD has a great interactive webpage for seeing the visuals on portion sizes, click here.  Otherwise if anyone has suggestions, let me know!

Turkey vs Beef – Someone asked about differences between the two. Besides the basic protein, fat, cholesterol, sodium, I’ve had some difficulty finding striking differences. Any insights, please let me know.

Staple Food items –  here’s a simple list I put together.

Videocast of the Presentation