a friend remarked this week that i make cooking look easy. who knows, maybe i do. obviously i often put too much salt in things.
but yeah, i guess the simple rules i keep in mind make some cooking look easy. sauces at least!
sauces and gravies: flour into fat, cornstarch into water bases. [non fat liquids]
yep, wheat and rice flours dissolve into fats: butter, oils, lard but get lumpy in water. cornstarch gets lumpy in fat and dissolves in water.
with fat and flour you add water based liquids after you get a smooth base. with cornstarch you mix the sauce and add the cornstarch/liquid mix as you heat and stir constantly. conrstarch sauces come out clearer.
heavy cream thickens dairy based sauces and soups [cream of chicken, bearnaise] and potato starch thickens stews. [seriously, throw some instant potato flakes in your beef stew next time. mmmm]
a couple of quick cheating recipes that look difficult but are super easy:
instant cream of potato soup [i make this in the microwave at work in under three minutes]
[all ingredients in the proportions you desire, experiment with it]
instant potato flakes
vegetable base 'better than boullion'
make hot, stir, serve
i like mine topped with a little shredded cheese and some fresh ground black pepper
beef in buttered wine -
slice beef thin
preheat the pan with butter
montreal/canadian steak seasoning
add beef to pan, brown lightly
add red wine [i like a nice merlot or burgundy]
remove beef, simmer liquid for a few minutes until a little thicker
serve over rice or potatoes with extra sauce
tomato chicken -
canned or jar tomato based sauce of choice
frozen chicken breast tenderloins or half breasts
optional: cheese, olives, mushrooms, etc
place chicken in single layer in somewhat deep baking dish
add optional veggies/olives/mushrooms
pour sauce on thick enough that it covers chicken
if desired top with grated parmesan or romano or slices of SHARP provolone
put in oven at 350 for 50-60 minutes
walk away and don't mess with it until the timer goes off
cheatin' chicken pot pie
canned or leftover pre cooked chicken
any mixed frozen or canned veggies you like - peas, corn, carrots, etc.
cooked chunks of potato [i use canned]
canned cream of chicken or other cream soup of choice [mushroom, broccoli, celery, whatever you like] straight from the can, still condensed
biscuit dough - canned, defrosted pre-made or fresh made from your favorite recipe
press 2/3 of biscuit dough into and up sides of baking dish. no more than 1/2 inch thick
throw in other ingredients
crumble remainder of biscuit dough on top
bake at 350 for about 15-25 minutes depending on dough recipe instructions
equal parts soy sauce, sugar and white wine [substitute white grape juice, sprite or ginger ale for the wine and sugar if you prefer to avoid alcohol]
white wine and sugar, boil until sugar dissolves
add soy sauce
to thicken: add a tablespoon of cornstarch to the soy sauce [cold] before adding to the mix, add it slowly to the wine with constant stirring
yeah, there's a lot of guesswork. but except for adding too much boullion to the potato soup, it's nearly impossible to mess any of these up. sauce too thick? add more of whatever liquid. too salty? add potato flakes, or water or cream.