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TIP OF THE DAY: A Perfect Fish Dinner

We’re big fans of one-pan dinners: protein and veggies baked together in a 13” x 8” sheet pan*.

Sheet pan dinners mean you don’t have to worry about coordinating the cooking of sides and main: They all bake together. For people who are timid about cooking fish, baking is as sure-fire as it gets.

Here’s an easy recipe from Good Eggs.

Dinner is ready in 15-20 minutes. And the fish comes out perfectly moist and tender, every time.

Pick a fish and two vegetables, and a seasoning of choice. Vary the elements and you can use the recipe template over and over again.

Good Eggs recommends a milder white fish like cod or halibut with this recipe. It will take on the flavors of what you cook the condiment.

Varieties that are widely available include

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Seabass
  • Sole
  • Snapper
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  •  
    Although it’s pink, we’d add Arctic char to this group. The flavor is mild enough for the recipe.

    We subscribe to the axiom that the best fish is the freshest fish. Plan to cook the fish the night or night after you buy it.

    Pick a peak-season vegetable that doesn’t take too long to roast: broccolini or leafy greens like chard, collards, kale, mustard greens. Make one veg green, and add another vegetable if you like.

    If you want root vegetables, cut them into thin slices, or roast thicker slices for an extra 10 minutes before putting the fish in the pan. You can also mix the vegetables.
     
     
    RECIPE: ONE-PAN DINNER WITH BAKED FISH FILLETS

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 4 to 6 ounces fish fillets
  • Salt
  • 6+ ounces vegetable(s)
  • Condiment of choice: Dijon mustard, mayonnaise (plain or flavored*), teriyaki sauce – or-
  • Lemon, lime or orange slices to cover the tops of the fish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F, Coat a sheet pan or baking dish with some oil. Sprinkle the fillets with a pinch of salt on both sides, and arrange on the baking sheet.

    2. ARRANGE the vegetables around the fish fillets, drizzle with a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    3. SPREAD the condiment or citrus over the fillets and place the pan in the oven.

    4. BAKE 8–10 minutes, or until the fish is tender, and breaks easily when you flake with a fork. If the fish finishes before the vegetables, transfer the fish to a plate until the vegetables are done.
     
    TIP: You don’t need to rinse fish, chicken or any other protein before cooking. Not only does does rising fail to get rid of all the bacteria; it spreads bacteria into the sink. The heat of cooking kills the bacteria.

     

    Raw Cod Fillets Sheet Pan Dinner
    [1] Ready to bake: a one-pan cod dinner with carrots and chard (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    One Pan Baked Salmon Dinner
    [2] For salmon lovers: salmon teriyaki with green beans and carrots. Here’s the recipe from Damn Delicious.

    One Pan Baked Chicken Dinner
    [3] Prefer chicken? Try this rosemary chicken recipe with green beans and potatoes, from Eat Yourself Skinny .

     
    Just be sure to thoroughly wash the cutting board and utensils that come into contact with the raw protein.
    ________________

    *You can make your own flavored mayonnaise, simply by adding a spoonful (to taste) of whatever you like: chipotle, curry, garlic, horseradish, tomato paste, etc.
    ________________
     
     
    ABOUT SHEET PANS

    A sheet pan, also called a baking sheet or baking tray, is a flat, rectangular metal baking pan. It is usually aluminum or stainless steel.

    It is typically used for baking rolls, pastries and flat baked goods such as cookies, sheet cakes, swiss rolls (jelly rolls) and pizzas.

    Sheet pans comprise a group of baking pans with a variety of edge styles—curled rim (lip), rimless and professional variations like open bead and wire in rim. Professional chefs can further choose from non-perforated, fully perforated and partially perforated, which help make the baked good doughy or crispy.

    Some sheet pans have handles to aid in placing the pan in the oven and removing it.

  • A full-sheet pan is 18”x26”
  • A half-sheet pan is 18” x 13”
  • A quarter-sheet pan is 13” x 9.5”
  • Am eighth-sheet pan is 9.5” x 6.5”
  •  
    Rims are 1″ high.

    The half sheet is the pan most commonly available in supermarkets. There is also a two-thirds sheet or home ovens that is 16” x 22” or 15” X 21”.

    While rimless pans are fine for cookies, pizza and rolls, a rim is needed for recipes like the one above, so that juices from the food don’t drip into the oven.

    Buy a light-colored pan with a dull finish: It will absorb and conduct heat evenly. Dark metal pans (with coating) or glass pans necessitate reducing the oven temperature by 25° and checking for doneness early.

    If you’re tempted to buy a dark pan for its nonstick surface and easy clean-up, use parchment paper on a light pan instead.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cast-Iron Cooking & Beef Bacon Hash

    Beef & Bacon Hash Recipe
    [1] Beef and bacon hash for brunch (photo courtesy Lodge Manufacturing).

    My Lodge Cast Iron Cooking
    [2] One of Lodge Manufacturing’s three cookbooks devoted to cast-iron cooking (photo courtesy Lodge Manufacturing).

    Lodge Cast Iron Cookware

    [3] A kitchen’s worth of Lodge cast-iron cookware. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    One of our family’s favorite Sunday brunch recipes was corned beef hash with poached eggs. Mom always made her hash in a large cast-iron skillet (and the corned beef in a pressure cooker).

    We never heard the words “beef hash,” much less “beef-bacon hash.”

    So when we received the recipe below from Lodge Manufacturing, a Tennessee-based producer of cast-iron cookware, we pulled the skillet out of the cupboard.
     
     
    THE BENEFITS OF CAST-IRON COOKING

  • A well-seasoned cast-iron pan is as effective as a nonstick pan, and avoids the chemicals used to coat nonstick pans.
  • While nonstick coatings can leach harmful chemicals into your food, cast-iron cookware leaches beneficial iron!
  • Cast iron heats completely evenly (not so with other metals, except copper), which is why professional chefs use them.
  • The pots and pans go from stovetop to oven or broiler.
  • You don’t have to scrub them. Once the pan is seasoned, just wipe it clean.
  • Here’s more information from Eating Well.
  •  
    If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, put it on your wish list and use it to give a great crust to:

  • Bibimbap
  • Cornbread
  • Dutch pancakes (Dutch baby)
  • Frittata
  • Panini
  • Pan pizza
  • Steak
  •  
    You’ll also enjoy using it to for:

  • Fried chicken
  • Skillet chocolate chip cookie
  • Toasting spices and grains
  • Just about anything
  •  
    Lodge has issued three books on cast-iron cooking. This recipe comes from My Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: 101 Popular & Delicious Cast Iron Skillet Recipes.
     
     
    RECIPE: BEEF-BACON HASH

    This is a delicious way to use leftover beef or other meat. Use a cast-iron skillet preferably 10 inches in diameter or larger.

     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 slices bacon
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups new potatoes, cut into ½ -inch cubes and parboiled 5 minutes
  • 1 cup cubed (1/2-inch) leftover cooked beef or other meat
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (or more) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  •  
    Plus

  • Eggs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FRY the bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel, and pour off all but a thin layer of fat. Save the bacon fat in a jar for cooking eggs, potatoes, etc. (25+ uses for bacon fat).

    2. ADD the onion to the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring. Turn the heat up under the skillet and add the potatoes in a single layer. You might need to brown the potatoes in two batches, depending on the size of the skillet.

    3. COOK until the potatoes are browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and lower the heat slightly. Add the garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper to taste, mix well, and heat thoroughly.

    4. REMOVE the pan from the heat and add the parsley. Crumble the bacon (or cut it into small pieces) and add to the hash. Mix well, and serve hot or at room temperature.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Julienne Or Shave Those Veggies!

    Give a new perspective to everyday foods with some creative slicing.

    In these dishes, Chef Jennifer Day of Upper Story By Charlie Palmer in New York City, juliennes the vegetables and serves them either cooked, as with roasted halibut in photo #1; or raw, as with the grilled chicken salad in photo #2.

    The vegetables, cut in julienne slices, are an attractive change from coins and other vegetable cuts.

    Julienne slices are often called matchsticks in the U.S.; although the French word for matchstick is allumette, there is no single word translation for “julienne” (which means “to cut into thin ”).

    While the classic julienne cut is 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 inches, we actually prefer a 3- or 4-inch version. There’s no name for such a cut; we call it as a “long julienne.”

    And, truth to tell, we usually cut the slices into julienne’s big brother, the batonnet, which measures approximately 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch x 2-2.5 inches. And yes, we cut a “long batonnet” ((the word means “little stick”). It’s a personal thing.

    READY TO JULIENNE?

    There are different options to create your vegetable slices.

    1. Use A Knife

    This is how chefs do it, and it’s a good opportunity to work on your knife skills. Check out the video below, an Americanized version of the French technique. Just be sure your knives are sharp (otherwise, they can slip and cut you).

    2. Use A Food Mandoline

    If you own one and never use it, here’s an opportunity to put it to work!

    3. Use A Food Processor

    The slicing disk of a food processor is designed to produce slices around a quarter-inch thick. Don’t use the shredding disk or you’ll end up with slaw!

    4. Use A Vegetable Peeler

    You won’t get the same cut as with the prior options, but you might like the result.

    Hold one end with your non-dominant hand and peel using even, heavy pressure. Once one side is finished, rest the flat surface that remains on a cutting board. This technique works for long vegetables with thin skins.

    There are also julienne peelers, with teeth (photo #5).

    This one (photo #5) got rave reviews from someone we know. We tried it, but it wasn’t an instant success for us (we needed to practice, practice, practice). Here’s how to use it.

    If your peeler blade is dull, you’ll most likely need to buy a new one since they can’t be sharpened.

    Spend a bit more, and get a Kyocera Perfect Peeler, which has a ceramic blade that will stay incredibly sharp for 20 years or so.

    5. Use A Spiralizer

    The visual effect is different from a julienne, but just as tasty!
     
     
    WHAT VEGETABLES CAN BE TURNED INTO MATCHSTICKS

    The following are easiest to cut into short or longer matchsticks.

  • Asparagus
  • Beet
  • Bell Pepper
  • Broccoli stalk
  • Celeriac (celery root)
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Green beans, long beans, wax beans
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Long chile peppers (anaheim, banana, poblano)
  • Potato/sweet potato
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Salsify
  • Snow Peas
  • Summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini)
  • Winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.)
  • Turnip
  •  

    Roast Halibut
    [1] Roast halibut on cooked (al dente), julienned carrots and green beans.

    Chicken With Julienned Vegetables
    [2] Sliced grilled chicken on a mound of salad with julienned vegetables (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Upper Story By Charlie Palmer | NYC.

    Julienned Vegetables
    [3] If you don’t like to julienne with a knife, there are two other options (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma).

    Kyocera Perfect Peeler
    [4] This Kyocera Perfect Peeler has a ceramic blade that will stay sharp for 20 years or more.

    The World's Greatest Julienne Peeler

    [5] The World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler, Julienne Slicer, Serrated Soft Skin Fruit Peeler and Straight Blade Vegetable Peeler—possibly the longest-named product we’ve ever seen, from Harold Import Company.

     
     

     
    Julienned Vegetables
    Video from iVillage |YouTube. Photo of julienned vegetables courtesy JuliennePeeler.info.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sansaire Sous Vide Machine

    Sansaire Sous Vide Machine

    Sansaire Sous Vide

    Sous Vide Filet Mignon

    Sous Vide Filet Mignon

    Sous Vide Filet Mignon

    Sous Vide Machine

    [1] The Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator. [2] The back and side of the Sansaire, showing the clip that attaches to any pot. Step 1: Attach Sansaire to pot filled with water (photos 1 and 2 courtesy Sansaire. [3] Step 2: Season your food and place it in a cooking bag. [4] Place the bag in the water and set the time and temperature (photos 3 and 4 courtesy Williams-Sonoma). [5] Voilà: Cooked to your exact wishes. (Photo courtesy Frankie Celenza, Frankie Cooks | You Tube. Watch the video to see him cook the meat). [6] Before Sansaire, a sous vide machine was this big (photo courtesy Sous Vide Supreme).

     

    COOKING SOUS VIDE WITH SANSAIRE

    You’ve no doubt heard about sous vide (soo VEED) cooking. You may even have heard other home cooks say it produces the moistest, tenderest, most succulent and flavorful food, cooked to perfection.

    So why haven’t you tried it?

    Maybe it’s the lack of counter space for a sous vide machine (photo #5, about 14″ x 11″ footprint); or maybe it’s the price tag (up to $400, even $800)?

    Now, you can spend less than $200 and cook sous vide with pots you already have, with Sansaire’s Sous Vide Immersion Circulator.

    There’s no bulky countertop machine, but a far smaller device that stores and travels easily.

    Sous vide cooking uses precise temperature control to achieve perfect, consistent results, portion after portion, time after time.

    Foods are cooked evenly from edge to edge, to exactly the doneness you want. Temperature control keeps water within one degree of its ideal setting—a process that can’t be replicated by any other cooking method.

    You don’t have to be a gourmet cook.

    Sous vide cooking is an easy way to prepare any everyday dish as well as fancier ones. One of our editors even cooks his scrambled eggs sous vide to his desired consistency. (It also poaches and makes hard-boiled eggs.)

    The sous vide technique was developed in France to easily cook fine meals on trains, many portions at a time. Sous vide guarantees, for example, that a steak or piece of fish will turn out exactly as the client wishes.

    The quality of the food it produced attracted fine French chefs and caterers. Sous vide machines quickly appeared in some of the world’s best restaurants.

    It took a number of years for a home version to appear (photo #5), and just a couple of years after that for Sansaire’s conveniently small model that simply clips on to your pots.

    It’s not just for dedicated home cooks: It’s for those who don’t cook more often because they don’t have the time to cook and clean.

    Treat yourself to a Sansaire sous vide for $168, on Amazon.

    Give one as a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or graduation gift.

    You can also give it as a new baby gift! It heat milk or formula to precisely 98.6°F for worry-free feeding.

    Is sous vide cooking an adjustment to your process? Yes, but a very small one, like switching to an induction cooktop. You get the hang of it in very short order.
     
     
    THE BENEFITS OF SOUS VIDE COOKING

    We love sous vide: consistency, perfection, precise, predictable results. Plus no pots, pans, grills or ovens to clean. The only thing your pots contain are water, and sealed bags containing individual portions.

    Sous vide tenderizes tough cuts, keeps poultry juicy (no dry white meat!), cooks fish to perfection, retains the nutrients of vegetables, and uses less fat without sacrificing flavor. It makes perfectly poached eggs (or other style) every time.

    You can turn out perfect filet mignon and duck confit, but also everyday dishes from breakfast eggs, grain dishes, vegetables, sides, fish tostadas, chicken tikka masala, to dulce de leche.

    You can pasteurize raw eggs for mousse, Caesar salad, steak tartare and other recipes.

    There’s no cooking food to check and re-check. The machine keeps the water at a specific temperature for a specific time, at the end of which your food is ready to eat.

    More blessings of sous vide cooking:

  • Save time: Make whole meals in the one pot with no cookware to clean afterwards.
  • Foolproof results: Temperature control keeps water within one degree of its ideal setting.
  • No watching the pot. Sous vide enables unattended cooking, so you can spend more time with your guests or family.
  • No meal prep stress: One less pot to watch while turning out a meal.
  • Dinner is ready when you are: Foods won’t overcook while they hang out in the water bath.
  • No unwanted cooking aromas. You may enjoy the scent of meat and garlic from conventional cooking for a while. But unless you have a great ventilation set-up, you may not enjoy them hanging around the next day or the next.
  •  

  • Try different recipes at the same time, in the same pot: Individual bags allow for individual flavors. Try sweet and sour chicken in one bag, teriyaki chicken in the other.
  • Please everyone: If someone doesn’t like cilantro, use another herb or seasoning in his/her pouch.
  • Use less fat: Cooking foods in a sealed environment allows you to coat proteins and vegetables with a fraction of the amount of oil or butter. Plus, vegetables retain all their nutrients in the sealed bag.
  • Gentle cooking: especially with meat, it means that the juices stay in the muscle and don’t run out when cut.
  • No plastic, no landfill option: Reusable silicone bags are available to enable green and plastic-free cooking*.
  • Small footprint: Roughly the size of a bottle of wine.
  • Better than slow cooker cooking: There’s never anything overcooked.
  • Portable: It’s easy to take the unit to another home to cook your dish.
  • Saves money over the original sous vide technique. The original Sous Vide Water Oven was $499 and required a vacuum sealing system to contain each serving, for another $80 plus plastic refill rolls at about $16 to $30 (depending on size).
  •  
     
    ADD-ONS

    To ease yourself into sous vide cooking, consider:

  • Sous Vide At Home Cookbook (photo #7): It’s the bible to start you off with confidence, showing times and temperatures to cook just about anything. On Amazon.
  • Reusable Bags (photo #2): If you’re not down with disposable plastic bags, these are the solution.On Amazon.
  • Sansaire Searing Kit: Put a perfect sear on a sous-vide steak. Blisters chiles, crisp chicken skin, add a char to anything. Designed specifically for home kitchen use, the kit includes a torch, a stainless steel rack and an enameled drip tray. On Amazon.
  • Steak Aging Sauce gives any steak the complex flavor of dry aging. Just add a spoonful to each pouch of meat before cooking. Se how lesser cuts taste like the expensive, aged cuts from steakhouses. On Amazon.
  •  
    For a large number of portions, consider:

  • Polycarbonate Tub. On Amazon.
  • Cooking Rack. On Amazon.
  •  

    Enjoy the era of sous vide cooking. Who knows what the next better-faster technique will be…but it sure won’t be for a while.
    ________________

    *Standard ziplock bags are fine and contain no BPA. S.C. Johnson, the company that makes both Ziploc brand bags and Saran Wrap, states on its website that it does NOT use BPA in the manufacture of these products.

     

    Sous Vide Cookbook

    Reusable Sous Vide Bags

    Sous Vide Cooking

    [7] Start with the Sous Vide At Home cookbook (photo courtesy Ten Speed Press). [8] Consider reusable plastic pouches (photo courtesy TopsHome). [9] Sous vide salmon (from the Sous Vide At Home cookbook).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eggs In A Nest & Dark Vs. Light Baking Pans

    Baked Eggs In Nests

    Easter Bunny Rabbit Rolls

    [1] Eggs in nests for breakfast (photo courtesy Cooking Light). [2] Bunny rabbit rolls (photo courtesy Artisan Bread In Five).

     

    What’s on tap for Easter breakfast? How about eggs in crispy hash brown nests (photo #1).

    If you want to make the adorable bunny rabbit rolls to serve with them, bake them first. You can make the dough the night before, and bring to room temperature before baking.

    EASTER EGG NESTS FOR BREAKFAST

    We adapted this recipe from one in Cooking Light. Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    You can also place a bacon or ham surprise on the bottom of the basket.

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1/4 cup refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes*)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded carrot (substitute beet or zucchini)
  • li>Optional: 1 tablespoon diced onion

  • Optional: 2 tablespoons crumbled crisp bacon or diced ham
  • 1 large egg
  • Crunchy salt (kosher or coarse or flaky sea salt)
  • Garnish: 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chives and/or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  •  
    Plus

  • Light-colored muffin pan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Combine the shredded potato, carrot and optional onion, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

    2. MAKE the nests: Coat the muffin cups with cooking spray. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the cup, to above the rim. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Once baked…

     

    3. ADD the optional meat to the bottom of the nest. Crack 1 large egg into each nest. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes for runny eggs, or 12 to 15 minutes for set eggs.

    4. SPRINKLE the top with a dash of salt and garnish the egg and the plate with the chopped herbs.

    WHEN TO USE LIGHT VS. DARK COLOR BAKING PANS

    Depending on your age, all of your mother’s and grandmother’s baking pans were aluminum, a metal that absorbs and conducts heat evenly and is not reactive or corrosive.

    Then, test kitchens discovered that food browns better (e.g., the bottom of a baking sheet and the bottom and sides of a cake pan). This is because dark pans absorb more heat and thus, more heat radiates off the surface.

    For foods you want to brown (pizza, pie crusts, potato wedges, roasted vegetables), darker metal baking pans, sheets, and pie plates give you an edge.

    For recipes where you don’t want the extra browning on the bottom (breads, cakes, some cookies, muffins), use a light-colored pan, which absorbs less heat.

    That being said, we don’t know why Cooking Light specified a light muffin pan. There is no comments section on the page so we couldn’t ask; but we wouldn’t mind a browner potato nest (as opposed to a browner blueberry muffin).

    You don’t have to get rid of your pans. According to Cooking Light, if you bake in either dark metal pans or glass dishes, reduce the oven temperature by 25° and check for doneness early.

    Here’s an interesting article on the history of cookware and bakeware.

    ________________

    *1 package (19.7 ounces, 560 grams) yields 6 egg nests.

     
      

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