Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

I don’t really do resolutions like “running” or “clean eating,” but I do enjoy the “take charge of your life!” energy that each January brings. Instead of harnessing that energy to start a diet, consider making a few resolutions that aim to improve your kitchen and kitchen-related skills.

Though there’s nothing wrong with starting a diet per se, I prefer to focus on changes that make me more excited to cook at home, rather than focusing on calories or “cleanliness.” The better a cook I become, the more likely I am to make meals for myself, which will be healthier and cheaper than eating out. Here are seven ways you can better your cooking in 2016 and, unlike some resolutions, these are likely to last the whole year.

Source: Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

Try to cook four dishes, from a different country …each month.  Maybe a tad less if your INR is fluctuating though.  I know of a circle of friends who theme a potluck for a challenge while not having to cook everything themselves.

How to Choose Between a Gas, Induction, or Electric Cooktop

A stove is a combination of a cooktop, and an oven.

Remodeling a kitchen means lots of decisions, but few are as important to your cooking as what type of cooktop (or range) you want. Here’s a primer on the three options to help you choose the one that suits you best.

For years the choice was always between gas or electric, and if you didn’t have a gas line to the kitchen, the choice was made for you. Induction cooktops, which have been popular in Europe for years, are now gaining a foothold in America and have become an attractive third option.

Source: How to Choose Between a Gas, Induction, or Electric Cooktop

I don’t agree with the claim that a gas provides “instant heat”.  You can provide all the heat you want, the pan/pot/skillet/etc needs to heat up.  …and I might have managed to turn the gas on, but not ignite the gas in the past. 😉

Be aware that it is still possible to burn yourself on induction cooktops.  The induction warms/heats the cookware, which will heat the surface of the cooktop.

The article doesn’t mention what you can use to cook on the cooktop.  The flat top cooktop (induction or electric) doesn’t do well with cast iron.  The flat top will be fine, if you don’t move the skillet/frying pan.  Depending on temperature, you could try using a silicon sheet (like the Silpat) but there’s still a chance at high temps that you could melt the silicon pad onto your cooktop.

Having lived with old-school electrical cooktops, I do not miss them.  I don’t miss putting aluminum foil in the bottoms, mainly to make cleaning easier.

Cleaning a flat top is very easy, especially when you get the tool.  It’s basically an old-school razor blade in a plastic housing.  Mine is about the size of a business or credit card.  It works like an Exacto knife – it’s retraced until you move it out, and you only so far to extend it.  How long it lasts depends on how you cook.  But a flat top always looks dirty to me, even if it isn’t – similar to the smear you see on touchscreens (tablets, smartphones, etc).

Want to Toast Nuts? Use the Microwave

The oven takes a long time to preheat—even in the toaster oven getting your nuts from the pantry to perfectly roasted can take 15 minutes or more. In a real oven, that time jumps up even higher. A skillet is faster, but it also requires much more attention, with near-constant stirring and tossing if you want to avoid having nuts that look like the ones above: raw in spots and almost black in others.

The microwave, on the other hand, heats quickly, efficiently, and evenly from all directions, and with small items like nuts, can actually cook them from the outside and the inside at basically the same rate.

Source: Toasting Nuts? The Microwave is Your Best Friend

The articles goes on to mention that the flavour isn’t quite as desired, but adding a half teaspoon of neutral oil (vegetable, canola) can help.  But if your recipe calls for cooking food along with the nuts in a skillet – follow the recipe.

Related reading:

Steak: 10 Rubs and Marinades

Youtube, 6:07 minutes.  The video is pretty, but doesn’t give portioning or summarize – details are on the web page.

Once again, we’ve asked our friend Chef Frank Deloach to help us think of 10 exceptional ways to season steak to add flavor without adding fat. Directions? Combine ingredients, rub all over your gorgeously marbled beef slabs (think Ribeye, Strip and Sirloin) and pop it in the fridge (two hours max) to soak up all those beautiful flavors. Cook in cast-iron skillet to desired doneness. Easy peasy. Tip: For the juiciest steak possible, salt your beef after you’ve cooked it.

Source: 10 Fancy Steak Rubs and Marinades That Go Beyond Salt and Pepper

  • Tex Mex
  • Kalbi
  • Spanish
  • Kung Pao
  • Brazil
  • Montreal
  • North Africa
  • English Pub
  • Carne Asada
  • Malaysian

Cast iron and an oven to finish is the goal.  Most real chefs use a salamander, but will use a skillet/oven combo if they don’t have that particular piece of equipment.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with a grill.

Watch a Cast Iron Skillet Get Made

Here’s a link to the video (vimeo, 3:33).  It is an advertisement for Finex rather than a documentary, sadly.  The voiceover talks about the history of the cast iron cookware, and the current effort to bring back the quality of the old Griswold.  Still, a reasonable (and quick) watch…

I grew up cooking on cast iron, to the point that I destroyed the family’s new non-stick pan.  For whatever reason, I decided to cut whatever I was cooking in the pan.  I was just a kid…  But I don’t remember the family ever seasoning the cast iron either.

Seasoning the pan is very important, just like sharpening if not honing the knives, putting air in your tires, and so on.  Recently, some suggested seasoning with flax oil but it would seem the temperature (500 F) is more important.  Whatever oil you choose, be aware of the relative smoke point or your smoke detector might remind you…

And while you can use cast iron on induction heating, no one recommends you move the cast iron for fear of scratching the surface.  The Lodge stuff I looked at recently made a such statement on the label.