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Ask the experts on StarChefs.com

Cooking tips, food info, and shopping advice
from America’s top chefs.

Ask your favorite celebrity chefs and food experts anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about food and we’ll get the answer for you!

StarChefs will do its best to make sure every question asked is answered. However, due to the high volume of questions asked, some questions will not be able to be answered.

 

 

Submit Your Questions for the Chefs!
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    11 through 21 of 20 postings.

Q:I'm about to open my first cafe in NYC, and I would love to get my hands on ramps as soon as they're available! Can you recommend a reliable source (besides trucking to the farmers market)?

John S.,
A:Here are two features on ramps that might help:

http://www.starchefs.com/cook/features/ramps

http://www.starchefs.com/cook/events/ramp-fest-2011

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:What is the best way to clean best way to clean a jade planxa?

kyle,
A:Dear Kyle,

The first tip is to be careful not to burn yourself or cause a fire. That aside, you'll want to scrape away food with a metal spatula and then rinse with water. Take care not to use any caustic solvents, and wipe the plancha down with a thin layer of oil afterwards.

During service, you'll likely want to keep both wet and dry side towels handy to wipe down grease. The metal spatula comes in handy then, too.

Visit http://www.dvorsons.com/jade/cleaning.pdf for more instruction.

Thanks!

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:what is the best immersion blender for red mashed potatoes/dressings/all purpose?

gary,
A:Although we rely on Waring for their handy immersion blenders, most chefs would agree that the best method for mashed potatoes is by hand. Anything more heavy-duty than that will result in a gummy pile of overly-bonded starch. Dressings also work best with a nice whisk from the wrist.

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:I can't find a job because I don't have a culinary degree, just 18 years experience in the kitchen. I'm willing to start at the bottom, but I want to work in a top tier kitchen.

nelson matos,
A:Hi Nelson,

Have you visited out our JobFinder website? You definitely don't need to have a culinary degree to find a good job, especially with your experience. Good luck!

6/13/2011

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:I love to make Thai dishes, but can't always find tamarind paste in my small town stores. I can, however, find tamarind pods. How do I make tamarind paste from the pods? Also, how would I use it in Thai dishes? Would I need to dilute it first or use it full strength? Thank you.

Willoughby,
A:Hi Willoughby,


Tamarind's tart flavor profile makes this tropical fruit a versatile player in recipes the world over. In cuisine from the West Indies (where it is grown), passing through India and Thailand to Mexico and the Bahamas, it flavors drinks, sauces, marinades, candies, and stir-fries; it's deep color and complex sweet-sour flavor make it a great addition to sauces, including barbecue sauce, and marinades.



In a pinch, tamarind can be substituted with a little crushed prune with a splash of lemon juice, but if you have access to whole tamarind pods, extracting their deep, rich flavor is a matter of just a few minutes. If the pod is fresh, the hard brown skin, or shell, will break apart in your hand once pressure is applied. If the pods are older, they can be soaked in hot water for a few minutes before opening. Once open, separate the moist fruit from the pith and the seeds.



For a cup of usable tamarind, start with about 3 ounces of tamarind fruit. Soak the fruit for about 20 minutes in about 1 cup of hot water. The solids will begin to resemble a soft prune pur?e. Stir the mixture to combine, seal tightly, and store for up to one week. For use in recipes, some cooks prefer to temper the fruit's sourness with a little sugar.



Check out the following recipes to get an idea of the versatility of tamarind.



Pad Thai

Pan Roasted Halibut, Tomato Basil Salad, and Tamarind Dressing

"_blank">Indian Recipes Featuring Tamarind

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:Question:My question is How do I use saba and do you have any recipes using it? Nancy Silverton had mentioned this in a magazine.

Gloria San Angelo,
A:Hi Gloria,

In Chef Nancy Silverton's 2007 book, A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags, and Boxes, she includes a Strawberries and Ladyfingers recipe that incorporates a drizzle of saba. Powerful, fruity saba is known in Italy as mosto cotto, and translates literally to "cooked must". It has been popping up in American chefs' pantries over the past few years as a go-to condiment for an extra notch of complexity in dishes.

Saba is made from the must of Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes (Trebbiano must is also used to make balsamic vinegar). The must, or freshly pressed grape juice before fermentation?including skins, seeds, and pulp?is reduced in copper kettles over an open flame, to about one third its original volume.

The resulting syrup is then aged in chestnut and oak barrels for 2 years. The result: a thick tangy syrup with notes of raisin and plum. The Spanish have their version too, with sherry notes, called arrope. It's great for pairing with dessert (even drizzled over ice cream), and also works well in marinades or with game meats.

Check out the links below for recipes:

Roasted Beet Salad with Saba Vinaigrette

http://www.starchefs.com/chefs/rising_stars/2006/boston/html/barbequed_eel_p_maffeo.shtml" target="_blank">Barbecued Eel with Saba

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:I want to try a soda bread recipe from Darina Allen. The instructions say to "Steep the oatmeal in the buttermilk overnight". How is this done?

Loretta Flaherty,
A:Hi Loretta,

By steeping, we hope to extract certain properties from liquid. Steeping is just soaking, so by placing the oats in a bowl, covering them with buttermilk, and leaving them to steep/soak overnight, the oats will soften, any residue will rise to the surface, and the flavors of the buttermilk will infuse the oats. Good luck!

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:I am hosting a party for 12. I want to pair food with cocktails. The beverages are water, beer, wine, spirits (rum, bourbon or whiskey), coffee, tea and cola. No pork or shellfish as some guests cannot partake. I prefer to not have to cook while they are here. Just a small taste with each drink is all I planned but am open to any suggestions. Thanks. Dory Brewster

Dory Brewster,
A:

Hi Dory,



We are really excited these days about beer pairings, and most recently, we had some great hor'deurves (or bar

snacks, as Old Town Social's Chef Jared Van Camp calls them) in Chicago, IL. We were particularly charmed by some

spicy duck wings paired with a Two Brothers, Domaine DuPage, a French Country-style Ale, by Old Town's beer

sommelier Chris Freeman. The hoppy finish was a nice palate cleanser after the spicy kick from each bite of saucy

wing. In Washington, D.C., we tasted with beer sommelier Greg Engert at Birch and Barley, who paired a classic party

snack, the restaurant's version of foie pat?, with L'Ultima Luna, an Italian beer from the Emiglia Romagna region.

The beer's caramel and fig flavors were great complements to the foie gras, and the hint of tannins in the beer

(imparted from its time spent in oak barrels previously used for red wine), cut into the protein's richness. Check

out the links below for more tips on beer pairings.



For good tips on pairing food with cocktails, read our feature:
href="http://www.starchefs.com/features/trends/cocktail-pairing/html/index.shtml" target="_blank">"Food and Cocktail

Pairings: A New Cocktail Frontier"
. We also have archives stuffed with http://www.starchefs.com/features/mixology/index.shtml" target="_blank">features on mixology. Our
href="http://www.starchefs.com/wine/html/index.shtml" target="_blank">wine section
is also a great place to

scour for info on wine pairings. For example, we just featured four Chicago sommeliers doing http://www.starchefs.com/cook/features/top-pairs/chicago/foie-gras" target="_blank">outside-the-box pairings

with foie gras (always great for a cocktail party!).




target="_blank">Beer Tips for the Sommelier


The New

Affordable Luxury: Pairing Beer with Your Food


Beer Pairing,

Belgian Style, at The Publican

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:I am looking to start making all of the charcuterie for our restaurant in house. Can you recommend perhaps a top 3 list of charcuterie books?

Jackie,
A:Hi Jackie,

For great tips on charcuterie, be sure to check out our
charcuterie series. It features seasoned chefs from around the country sharing charcuterie recipes, techniques, and ideas, complete with video demonstrations. As for books on the subject, we definitely recommend Fritz Sonnenschmidt's Charcuterie: Sausage/Pates/Accompaniments for an all-purpose reference on preparing cured meats. Author Michael Ruhlman has also published an instant classic, his tome on Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. The Art of Charcuterie by John Kowalski of the Culinary Insitute of America is another solid choice for those interested in the subject. If you're interested in expanding your repertoire of kitchen techniques, be sure to have a look at our techniques archive and take advantage of video demonstrations and how-to guides, featuring innovative chefs from around the world.

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:Question: Hi chef, I was wondering, what do I need to do to make a fresh tuna taste like tuna from a can? I want to

make a healthy tuna spread but I don't want to use canned tuna. I want to use fresh tuna as the main ingredient and

I want to make a healthy sandwich spread. Problem is, canned tuna is tastier when you mix it with ingredients to

make a sandwich compared to fresh tuna. How do I make fresh tuna delicious as well? Thank you.

ken,
A:Hi Ken,

In order to make fresh tuna taste like tuna from a can, what you're looking for is a recipe for oil-poached tuna. This is fairly easy and quick to prepare. Season fresh tuna with salt and pepper, and add to a saucepan with a little chopped garlic and just enough oil to cover the fish. Poach the fish over medium-low heat at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, or until it is opaque. Remove the tuna from heat, and add any aromatic herbs that you feel will pair well with the flavor profile you have chosen for your dish. Allow the tuna to return to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Before using, allow the tuna to return again to room temperature?and voil?,
spreadable tuna!

--by StarChefs Editors
--

[ BACK 10 postings ] [ NEXT 10 postings ]

EMERIL LAGASSE’S
FAVORITE FARE
Knowing that you have a Portuguese background, I am wondering what your favorite Portuguese dish is. – Dale Brown, Springfield MO

Kale soup, I use lots of fresh kale, chorizo or andouille sausage, potatoes and chicken stock. My mom (who is Portuguese) used to make it. Mom ran the house so we grew up eating Portuguese food. – Emeril

TACO ADVICE
FROM BOBBY FLAY
I have a basic question: I cannot seem to get the right taste for my beef taco filling. I like a really spicy flavor, but nothing overpowering. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance! – Charlotte Stevens, Santa Barbara CA

Start with onions and garlic. Then add ground cumin, ground coriander, ancho chile powder, jalapeno or Serrano peppers, and chopped tomatoes. At the very end, add some chopped fresh cilantro. You can also experiment with some other dried chile powders such as pasilla, cascabel or chipotle. – Bobby

NORMAN VAN AKEN’S FLAVOR COMBINATIONS
What are your favorite food combinations?

Peanut butter and Jelly still works for me! Especially on a Ritz cracker… I’m only kidding – a little. Plantains and pork is another great one. It is in the contrast of combinations that I am most consistently drawn to. I love limejuice, sugar and fish sauce. I love passion fruit, honey and sesame oil. I love roasted beef and lamb with caramelized onions and root vegetables. My dessert interests are chocolate and mandarin orange, as well as curry and pineapple – Norman

A PAINT BRUSH FOR
MARCUS SAMUELSSON
What are staple ingredients in your kitchen?

It’s not ingredients, it’s a brush. It’s something I’ve had forever, since I was a kid. I paint on plates, for example. Anything is a vehicle for me to serve food on. I use tiles or glass bricks. I don’t buy the most expensive china, I design my own and use stuff [that exists] in everyday culture and I put it in my restaurant. –Marcus

SHOPPING
WITH ALICE WATERS
What tips can you give on the best way to shop in farmer’s markets for someone who’s only shopped in supermarkets. – Harry Gaulke, Pensacola FL

Most vendors at farmer’s markets will let you taste their produce. Tasting the food is a great part of the market. Also buy small amounts of lots of different things. This way you can see how to cook with them and work with a variety of foods, instead of getting a lot of one thing. I would go to the market without any expectations about what I want to eat and cook that day. See what is ripe and best and buy that. Then go back and look in cookbooks to see what you can do with it. - Alice

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