No, frying fish is not the same as frying SPAM

fried-butterflied-mudfish

Why is there a separate “how to cook” section? Because that, for me, is more important than recipes. I can almost see you pausing and wondering what the heck that means. Isn’t a recipe essentially a how to cook guide? No, it isn’t. A recipe is a list of ingredients and a procedure. A recipe is something you follow. A recipe does not teach you to let your imagination soar so you can be creative enough to cook without a recipe. That is something you learn by understanding what cooking is about and why the kitchen is a playground with no boundaries.

I know that a lot of readers appreciate the “how to cook” section. I just have to look at the number of times that a post is shared in social media networks and, well, that should speak for itself. It may not be of equal interest to those who are already adept with cooking basics but I cannot presume that all the people who browse the web for cooking lessons and land on my blog are more in the “intermediate” level rather than the “newbie” level.

So, came this comment from a reader. »

How to toast nuts (and why you should)

nuts

When a recipe calls for nuts, it usually says toasted nuts. It's not just in baking but nuts for toppings, for salads and even for snacking. Why? Does it really make a lot of difference whether the nuts are toasted or not? Oh, yes, it does. And the difference lie in the texture, the aroma and the flavor. When nuts are … »

Are mushroom stems edible?

mushrooms

Generally, yes, mushroom stems are edible. Not that I've had the pleasure of trying all edible mushrooms but, among those that I've tried including the ubiquitous button mushrooms (white and brown), oyster mushrooms, bunashimeji, portobello, straw mushrooms, Eryngii, abalone and Enoki, the stems are as succulent as the … »

How to make bread bowl soup

bread-cup-soup

Strictly speaking, you don't cook bread bowl soup. You cook soup and serve it in a bread bowl. The bread bowl is any crusty round bread that had been hollowed out. The soup can be any soup although I find that the thick ones make a better filling for bread bowls.So, let's make a bread bowl soup. What do I mean by … »

Perfect fried empanadas

fried-empanadas6

I really can't decide which I like better -- baked or fried empanadas. The part of me that hates frying because of the inevitable oil splatters and the clean-up that follows says baked empanadas are better. But there's also that part of me that adores the puffy, flaky, ultra crisp crust that is only possible with deep … »

How to make mustard (yellow sauce)

homemade-prepared-mustard

We call the yellow sauce that we often slather on our hotdogs mustard. But there's really a lot more than mustard in the sauce. And mustard isn't always yellow. The plain mustard sauce isn't yellow because of the mustard even if yellow mustard seeds are used. Turmeric is added to add the tint. And if you use brown, red or … »

Plain cream cheese: endless possibilities

onion-garlic-cream-cheese-sandwich-spread

How do you make a sandwich? I grew up with mayonnaise. Spread mayo on a slice of bread, top with a slice of cold meat (ham, most of the time), cover with another slice of bread and that was it. Even eggs were paired with mayo. You know, egg salad? Mash hard-boiled eggs, season with salt and pepper, mix in mayo... Even … »

Does dumpling meat filling have to be raw before wrapping?

fried-tripe-wonton

To make the dumpling filling stick to the wrapper, it has to be sticky. That's really the main reason why the meat is minced and a little flour or starch is optionally added as a binder. If the filling is wet (i.e., watery) rather than sticky, as is the case with already cooked meat, the filling will pull away from the … »

What is a crêpe? Is it really different from a pancake?

crepe

A crêpe is a thin pancake. A very thin pancake. Almost as thin as spring roll wrappers. A crêpe, like the thicker breakfast pancake, is made of flour, eggs, milk -- and sugar for sweet (but not savory) crêpes.Some cooks say that crêpe batter is different from regular pancake batter because it is richer usually made so … »