YUMMY Chef ‘n’ Baker Tips

Welcome to our YUMMY Chef ‘n’ Baker Tips Page!

Delicious, delightful and oh so YUMMY tips, tricks and more to help you manage through your culinary masterpieces and your sweet baking creations! Check back often, we will continue to add new tips and tricks!

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Making Hand Made Artisan Crafted Bread!

Do You Bake? Offers delicious bread machine bread mixes (from the ordinary to the extraordinary).  Some prefer to bake from the hands to the pan! If you are one of these handmade bread makers, here are a few tips you should try!

Oven Proofing to Perfection

When you let your dough rise, it’s a good idea to put it into a draft free area. If you do not plan to use your oven for a while, turn it into an easy proofing box.  Turn on your oven and pre-heat it until it reaches about 100 degrees. Turn your oven off and allow it to cool slightly. The oven temperature inside should be warm, but not hot. You don’t want to kill the yeast.  Take your bowl with your dough and cover it slightly with a damp towel (to help prevent sticking).  Place your dough inside the oven and watch it rise! It helps to use a nice big bowl (2.5 times the size of the dough) to give the dough enough room to rise

Crusty Bread Tops

During the final rise phase of your bread making adventures, add a shallow pan of water to the bottom rack of your oven. Using the same proofing technique as mentioned in the “Oven Proof to Perfection” Tip, proof your bread (in the bread pan) in the oven.

When you make (bake) your bread, keep the shallow dish of water on the bottom of your oven. The steam from the water helps to create a light crusty top.

Your Water – Luke Warm Please!

When adding water to your bread ingredients, make sure its warm to the touch but not hot. Hot water will kill your yeast

Free Form it!

Not looking for a perfect loaf? Try shaping your bread into a cute ‘boule’ or oblong round.  Use a baking stone for best free form and high quality artisan looking loaves. The baking stone simulates a stone hearth in your oven. It’s a total must if you are trying to bake the crusty and delicious free form loaves.

Looking for a baking stone? Pick up one that leaves about a 2 to 3 inch gap of space on all sides in your oven. This helps to make sure the air will continue to circulate around the stone.  Never use soap when washing it off! Only water! Remember to season your stone by heating it once or twice in a 300F oven before you use it for the first time!

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Are your Eggs Fresh?

Do you know how to tell if you have fresh Eggs? Do you know that eggs do run their course and go ‘bad’? To check the freshness of your eggs, put them in a bowl of water. If your eggs sink, they are still fresh and ready to use in baking and cooking. If they float or if they stand up on end in the bowl of water… well they past their prime and its best to toss those eggs into your compost!

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Working With Garlic

Besides being YUMMY!, Garlic is a great blood pressure regulator, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial.

Here’s a tip: you can save time by chopping your garlic before you need it and saving it in oil. You can also buy freshly peeled garlic at a farmer’s market, but you’ll end up paying more for it. Instead, peel your own garlic cloves (many at a time), mince them in a food processor, and store them in a mason jar with a little of your favorite olive oil. Seal the jar and store in the refrigerator.  Great and easy way to continue to use fresh garlic without all the added and extra chopping, mincing prep! You can store your garlic for up to a week or two in a properly sealed and refrigerated jar.

Trying to get rid of the garlic smell on your hands? Try rubbing your hands along a stainless steel sink. Chemistry tells us that stainless steel with turn those garlic sulfur molecules into sulfuric acid, which will bind to the metal itself. This same trick applies to fish or onion odors. If you work with garlic often, consider buying stainless steel bars shaped like soap.

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Few Tips for Getting Bread Out of the Bread maker

You’ve smelled the delicious aroma of freshly baking bread for hours and cannot wait to serve it warm. The top is perfectly browned and the loaf beautifully formed. The challenge: how to get that loaf out of the breadmaker pan without destroying it. The do’s and don’t’s:

Do:

  • Shake while warm and tap on the pan’s sides and underside to loosen the loaf.
  • Gently bang the pan upside down on a cutting board.
  • Leave the kneading paddle encrusted after baking (i.e. don’t remove and clean it). Over time it will fuse to the pan rather than ending up in the bottom of your loaf.
  • Remove your dough after the entire kneading cycle, remove the kneading blade and reform the loaf in the pan.

 Don’t:

  • Coat the pan with oil, butter, or lubricant. This will only get kneaded into the dough.
  • Use a metal utensil to pry out the loaf. If you must use force, use plastic to preserve the pan’s non stick coating.

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Maintaining Your Veggie Colors

 

You prepared a new recipe only to notice that the fresh vegetables you purchased have lost their color over the course of cooking.  A correctly cooked vegetable should maintain a brilliant color, which is indicative of it nutritiousness. The brighter the color, the more nutrients are retained.

General Tips

Cooking vegetables should require minimal effort: cook them in the least amount of liquid and time necessary. Nutrients are contained within skins, so whenever possible, cook with skins on.

Green

Green vegetables can easily retain their color, as seen in a standard can of green beans. A correctly cooked green vegetable should resemble the color of spring grass; it should not turn a drab, olive-green color. Acidic additives such as lemon juice or vinegar may hasten the process of reducing chlorophyll and nutrients, so avoid using these too cook your veggies. Gently steam your green veggies in a veggie steamer. Make sure the water underneath the steaming basket or tray does not come into contact with your vegetables. Steam until the vegetable is still slightly crunchy and vibrant green.

Orange and Yellow

These colors are more stable than green colored vegetables and thus retain their color even if you overcook them slightly. Orange may fade a bit into yellow, but little nutritional change occurs. Steaming works great, roasting or sauteing your brights are also fabulous cooking methods to use. Again, make sure you avoid over- cooking your brights!

White

You might be thinking: if color indicates nutrition, do white vegetables have any value? The answer is yes: and actually, cauliflower comes in colors besides white such as green, purple, and orange. Cauliflower’s white color can be preserved by washing with milk after steaming. This will actually help prevent the yummy veggie from turning an ash grey during cooking and steaming.

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Best Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes

Although turkey gets most of the attention at the Thanksgiving table, delectable side dishes are the icing on the cake! They add a little extra taste bud tantalizing delight to any holiday meal

The type of mashers you end up with starts with the potatoes you buy. Russets will yield light and fluffy mashers, while Yukon Golds and Yellow Finns have a richer, buttery favor. Avoid red or waxy potatoes.

Contrary to most recipes, don’t cut your potatoes before boiling them: boil them whole (skins on or off, your preference). This may take more time, but if you choose potatoes that are about the same size, they should all be done around the same time.

When mashing, it’s best to use an actual masher if you don’t mind a few lumps. If you want an exceptionally smooth mashed potato, use a potato ricer or food mill.

Only stir in as much milk/cream as you need, as you don’t want the potatoes to be soupy. They should be served right away and can feed plenty of hungry relatives. Don’t forget about the seasonings! Try adding in Garlic, oregano, parsley and other taste-bud YUMMs!

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Crock Pot & Slow Cooking Meals Made Even Easier

Crock Pot and Slow cooking meals are a fan favorite. They are widely used and extremely popular. Just throw in ingredients, turn on, and come home to a freshly cooked meal. But did you know you can arrange an entire week’s worth of meals in advance with little effort? This tip is especially efficient because you can use the same ingredients in multiple meals, which helps to cut down on those hectic, last-minute shopping trips.

Spend a few hours over the weekend putting entire meals into large freezer storage bags (or vacuum-sealed bags) for later use. Don’t forget to label your bag with the date and contents. Include meat, seafood, vegetables, cheese, rice, and spices/bouillon cubes for flavor. You can even add liquids such as water or soup.  Start with a mix or create your own!

When you wake up, grab one pre-made bag out of the freezer and let it slightly thaw in the sink. Before leaving for the day, empty the contents into the Crock Pot (it’s okay if it’s not fully thawed). Remember that frozen foods take longer to cook, so experiment with the Low and High Settings on your Crock Pot to find the perfect cook time.

You now have hearty, pre-made meals for an entire week!