Best of the Forum: Sausage-Making, Chicken Wings, and the Organic Food Fight

Prolific forum member Cheryl—spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine's candies.

Prolific forum member Cheryl spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine’s candies.

Watching the sausage getting made, and liking it.

Debunking a popular expression, Cheryl takes us inside her process for making homemade sausage. Dig that foot-long on a bun, meat lovers.

Whatever the question, the right answer is “wings.”

We are unabashed fried chicken lovers at ChefSteps, so if you’re going to put a picture of really pretty wings on the forum, we’re going to pay attention. Check out these Buffalo-style beauties from James—then quell the inevitable craving with our recipe for crispy-tender wings. Ugh, so hungry now.

Uh-oh, someone mentioned the “O” word.

Ever notice how the word “organic” tends to bring out the fight among foodies? Our community kept it civil this week when a Question of the Day focused on the issue. Care to weigh in? The forum would love to have you.

Join ChefSteps today for access to hundreds of recipes, techniques, and comprehensive classes.

Cooking and Recipe Ideas: 5 Ways to Get Inspired

 

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Not spending a lot of time in the kitchen? Don’t beat yourself up there buddy; it happens to the best of us. The antidote to that epicurean ennui? Re-inspire yourself with novel techniques and tools, a chatty community of fellow food enthusiasts, or a new look at old classics. Here, we’ve got a bunch of ideas that involve all those things. Let’s get cooking.

Treat yo’self to a new tool

Sous vide can help you create the tenderest meats and vegetables, sure, but did you know it’s also an awesome way to make no-fail Crème Brûlée? You can get started with sous vide using nothing more than a pot and a thermometer, but investing in an immersion circulator is the fastest way to master this convenient, highly predictable method. The good news is, they’re pretty cheap now. And once you’ve got yours, you can embark on an epic journey into the surprisingly wide world of this remarkable cooking technique.

Creme-Brulee

Remember a forgotten tool

You know that pressure cooker gathering dust in your pantry? Bust that out, clean it off, and start exploring amazing recipes and techniques like our Kung Pao Carnitas. And if you’ve got an immersion blender in need of work, put it to use making Green Pea Mash to go with Sous Vide Salmon—a complete dish that’s delicious, healthy, and ridiculously easy to prepare.

KungPao

Play with powders

Go modern with these five powders—all integral to creating novel textures and flavors in the kitchen. A good start: our Mayo No.4.

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Make some friends

Getting to know an online community of enthusiastic cooks is a great way to stay inspired. The ChefSteps forum, for instance, is full of recipe ideas—like the Breakfast Pizza pictured below, from Erin Z—beautiful images, and hard-to-find advice for ambitious food folk who want to take their skills to the next level.

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Rethink a classic

Maybe you’ve made many soufflés, maybe you’ve never attempted that airy, always-impressive dessert. Either way, follow in the footsteps of all the happy cooks who’ve found success with our foolproof Molten Chocolate Soufflé recipe.

Not into sugar? Then learn the art of restaurant-level meatwiches with our house specialty, the Au Jus Burger.

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Feeling fired up? Join ChefSteps today for hundreds of recipes, techniques, tips, and tricks. 

 

You’ve Got New Year’s Resolutions. We Can Help.

Jess Voelker Preparing Staff Meal

Feeling a little doughy and broke? You’re not alone. After a long, indulgent holiday, a lot of us are inspired to tighten up a bit in the New Year—exercise more, drink and spend less, step away from those leftover Christmas cookies. But don’t close down the kitchen just yet. Preparing your own food is one of the best ways to ensure you stick to a healthy eating plan, the sort of plan that you can maintain all year until next holiday season, when—don’t worry—you can resume the nog chugging and snickerdoodle snarfing once more. Whatever your food goals are, we want to inspire you to keep cooking (and learning!) in 2015. Check out our suggestions for delicious ideas on how to do just that.

Resolution 1: Follow the Paleo Diet

Devotees of this massively popular eating plan eschew dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugar. The premise is that these foods weren’t readily available during the Paleolithic era, when the human body evolved nutritional needs in line with the foods they could access. By following a diet closer to what our prehistoric ancestors ate, Paleo people eat in a manner befitting the way their bodies developed, or so the logic goes. Whether or not you swallow all that is your business, but sticking to this protein-and-vegetable focused regime is one way to cut down on those empty calories that come from (glorious) carbs and (delectable) sweets. How to do it: Investing in a sous vide water bath or circulator can prove crucial in sticking to a protein-centric diet, as it allows you to cook delicious meats with little fuss. To test the method without having to invest in any equipment, consult our Sous Vide 101 class, which includes recipes for amazing salmon, pork chops, and steak, along with instructions on how to create a water bath with a pot on the stove and a digital thermometer.

Coffee Butter Steak with Spinach

Resolution 2: Eat more vegetables

We all know we need them. With vital nutrients that help keep away chronic diseases, vegetables are a crucial part of any healthy diet. Focusing on eating more plant foods—rather than trying to stay away from stuff you love (we’re looking at you, Paleo)—can be a great recipe for success. The key to sticking with it is to make those vegetables taste delicious, and that’s where we come in. How to do it: Easy to make and surprisingly satisfying, our Microwaved Radicchio Salad is anchored by warm, slightly wilted chicory leaves; an awesome source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. We dress them with rich buttermilk, verdant chive oil, funky blue cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. Speaking of the microwave, you can also use it to quickly cook up some mixed vegetables, then top those healthy fellas with some Bagna Càuda Foam.

Microwaved Radicchio  Salad

And at the risk of sounding repetitive, we should also point out the benefits of preparing veggies sous vide. You can achieve optimal chickpea texture (firmer for salads, softer for hummus) and maintain the vibrant crunch of kale. Carrots keep their color and signature sweetness, and tart red cabbage can be converted into a super-smooth purée that makes a great accompaniment to our pastrami.

Sous Vide Kale

Resolution 3: Eat breakfast everyday

Good one. Skipping breakfast is an easy way to wind up ravenous by the time that 11 AM meeting rolls around. Also, a morning meal sets a civilized tone for the day. How to do it: Learning to make awesome soft-poached eggs should inspire you to keep up the breakfast habit. Use our egg calculator to determine, then create, your perfect egg. And if you’re resolved to up your coffee game in 2015, be sure to consult our extensive Espresso class.

Egg White Hollandaise

Resolution 4: Spend less on food (but still eat well)

Look, we know how it is. Just like you, we’re constantly enticed by new restaurants, craft cocktail bars, and specialty shops stocked with the best ingredients. Trouble is, that stuff gets expensive. Is there a way to maintain your delicious-food lifestyle while spending a little less? Indeed. The trick is to find little ways to cut back so you can splurge on truly epic meals, tools, and culinary classes. How to do it: Pretty little microgreens are a super-impressive garnish for dinner-party dishes, and growing your own means you can afford to work them into weekday-morning smoothies or a salad to bring to work for lunch. Allow us to show you how—for free.

Microgreens

When you’re short on time, it’s tempting to order takeout for dinner—which adds up fast, and frankly often sucks. This is why we love having a pressure cooker handy. Flavor-packed braises and stews come out great in a fraction of the time they would take with other methods, and taste far better than most things that arrive at your door in a clamshell. Plus, you can use the cheapest cuts to create these comfort foods, as nothing transforms the tough stuff into succulent, velvety deliciousness as fast as a pressure cooker.

Chocolate and Mustard Stew

Ready to get cooking? Join ChefSteps today for one-of-a-kind recipes, tested techniques, and access to our lively forum.