Spring Vegetable Risotto-can I freeze the leftovers?

Question: I mad the Spring Vegetable Risotto, and it was good!  Can I freeze the leftovers?

Chef Lisa:  I would not recommend freezing the leftovers.  The tender-crisp texture of the vegetables will change to soft, and the creaminess of the dish will be lost.  A better plan is to make half the recipe, or invite friends over to share! 

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Kiss my grits! Oh, and how do I make them, anyway?

Cheesy Baked Grits

Cheesy Baked Grits

Donna sent in this question about grits:

Am curious about grits. Have never eaten them. Southern everyday item. Would be interested in technique and a recipe medium loaded with calories.
Grits are a Southern staple in the United States, but are eaten by people everywhere under various labels.  I remember my mother preparing "mush" for our breakfast; cornmeal cooked and served with sugar and milk.  Then, she poured the leftover mush into a loaf-shaped container and the next day she sliced it and fried it in bacon drippings and served it up with maple syrup and butter with our eggs. (I did not like either at all as a child, believe it or not!)  Eat grits in Italy and call it polenta.
Whatever you call it, there are myriad ways to prepare it, and today I am sharing a recipe that has loads of flavor and the richness you requested! When I first made these Cheesy Baked Grits (they have garlic, too) my first thought after tasting them was that they needed something meaty and saucy served with them.  An Italian-style meat sauce would work, but I liked the idea of a rich, brown sauce better. Check out the recipe for Crock Pot Beef Ragout with Onions (coming in the November Edition), created to be the perfect entree to serve with this! This combination is now one of Barry's favorites!  Enjoy, and be sure to share your experiences with the recipes in the comments below! 

Cheesy Baked Grits

This makes enough to serve 8, but you can easily halve the recipe.

6 cups water

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups yellow grits (not instant, I used Bob's Red Mill)

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons chopped garlic

1/2 pound Cheddar cheese; coarsely grated, about 2 cups

3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees, and put the rack in the center position.

Bring the water and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 4-quart heavy pot.  Add the grits to the pot slowly, streaming them in while stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently at first to prevent sticking, until they are very thick and dry, about 30 minutes.  (They will spit and pop, and you may feel that they are cooked, but let them cook the entire 30 minutes-it is amazing how thick they become!)

When the time is up, remove from the heat and add the butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, garlic, and cheese, stirring until the butter and cheese have melted.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs, and the milk and mix well.  Stir into the grits and mix until very well combined.  Pour into an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish that is about 2 inches deep, sprinkle with the black pepper, and bake until set and lightly browned, about an hour.  Serve immediately!

Note:  I had leftovers, so in the spirit of my mother's breakfasts, I tried frying slices in a half butter-half oil mixture.  It worked great!  I cut the slices about an inch thick and cooked them on both sides over medium heat until they were golden (they pop and spit, so I covered them with a spatter screen!) and served them with some reheated left-over Beef Ragout.  Amazing!

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Can you give me some ideas for using kale?

"Dinosaur" Kale

"Dinosaur" Kale

This request comes from member, Laura-
I could use some kale recipes!

Laura, there is good news!  In the next few months I have already planned on sharing some delicious recipes that include kale as a main ingredient. Kale is a very healthy dark green vegetable that has become a rock star in the nutrition world the past few years.  So stay tuned, there is plenty of kale ahead! (Note: the Healthy Veggie Salad posted this month contains kale.)

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Can I tenderize steak by salting it?

Click on the picture to get answers regarding salting steaks to tenderize!

June 1, 2017 Update
This video has been viewed over 6,400 views on YouTube!  I have gotten quite a few comments, too.  Some viewers adamantly insist that this method works, we just "did it wrong".  I am sticking to my guns on this one!  You cannot tenderize meat from the outside in!  There is no science that supports this notion, and even the food-guru Alton Brown asserts this fact.  If you want a tender, juicy steak, then buy a good one!  The marbling of fat and the location of the muscle determine tenderness.  So use the tougher cuts of meat for braising and stewing, and spend some $$$ when buying steaks to grill or broil!
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What kind of knife did I just buy?

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What kind of butter should I use for baking?

What kind of butter should I use for baking?

Which butter is best for baking, salted or unsalted?

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How to avoid transferring flavors and odors on a wooden cutting board

"I enjoyed the cutting tutorials.  My question is that after cutting garlic and switching to strawberries how do you clean the cutting board so that the strawberries don't taste like garlic?  Or switching between food types in general.  Meats, veggies, etc."     Donna

That is a great question!  First, a well-maintained hardwood cutting board will not absorb odors or stains if it is used properly. To maintain, every month (more if it is used heavily) the board needs to be rubbed down with food-grade mineral oil, or a special oil made specifically for cutting boards.  Put a good coat on the board, (including the ends), let it sit overnight, then wipe dry in the morning.  Flip over and do the other side the next evening.  This will keep the board from drying out, making it more susceptible to odors and stains.  During and after each use the board should be scraped with a stainless steel bench scraper to remove liquid and any bits of food.  Wash it with very mild dish detergent and water, then dry thoroughly. If you feel the need to sanitize, Quaternary ammonium is the best choice for wood, just don't leave it sitting on the board for very long.  Wipe the sanitizer (properly diluted, of course) over the board, let it sit for a minute, the wipe away and dry. 

Some no-no's:  Do not let liquids sit on the board, they will soak in and cause the wood fibers to swell, weakening the board. Don't wait to clean the board, do it immediately.  Don't cut in one spot all the time.  Turn it around and flip it over frequently to avoid uneven wear.  

I do not cut raw meats, poultry or fish directly on my wooden cutting board.  I use a polypropylene board.  That way I can thoroughly wash and sanitize it in the sink and avoid potential cross-contamination to other foods I prep on my wooden board.  Theoretically, raw proteins can be prepped on a wooden cutting board if it is properly maintained.  I just choose to be ultra-safe and use a poly board.

Hope this helps!


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Gas or Electric Oven?

Hi Lisa,
I love cooking on a gas cook top....But the oven not so much....I find the food comes out differently. What is your opinion of cooking with gas or electric?  Primarily ovens.
Thanks- I love what you are doing. Your recipes are fabulous and tasty!

Great question, Toni! 

There are many pros and cons to electric and gas cooking.  I am going to address the oven differences, since that seemed to be your main question. 

Gas:  It heats quickly, and the temperature is quickly adjustable.  Also, you can operate a gas oven during a power outage!  Gas ovens tend to be more expensive to purchase and install, but a little bit less costly to operate than electric ovens.  However, I find the food in a gas oven has to be rotated more because there tend to be hot and cool areas inside the oven.  Also, gas burns at a hotter temperature (which may result in a hotter kitchen), and because of that moisture is released.  That isn’t good for roasting and most baking.  I have even noticed steam forming on the inside of an oven door while it is preheating due to this.  This is probably what you are noticing, and that is my primary “con” for gas ovens.

Electric:  They tend to heat slowly, and cook slower than their gas counterpart.  The heat in an electric oven is definitely dryer, and the oven heat tends to be more even.  I definitely prefer an electric oven for baking and roasting.

It is notable that the design and quality of any appliance dramatically effects performance.  In my dream kitchen I would have an electric, gas, and convection oven so that the perfect piece of equipment would be available for any given project.  Oh well, a girl can dream!

Thanks, Toni!

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