Monday, January 3, 2011

Make your New Year's Resolutions a Reality


We all made plenty of New Year's Resolutions for 2011 and it's never too early to start crossing things off the list. Many of you told us that you'd like to cook more this year. Good news: we're excited to help you out!

But, before you start trying to make a pro-style Dark Chocolate-Lime Souffle or simple & hearty dish of Italian Sausage with Red Grapes, let's get back to basics and make sure we have what we need to turn resolutions into reality. The way we see it, there are two essentials: a simple plan and good tools.

1. A Simple Plan

It's tough to complete any project when the goal is unclear, so the first thing to do is Pick a Project for 2011. Perhaps you want to master the cuisine of your favorite country, like Thailand, Italy or India. Perhaps you want to learn different ways to cook your favorite food, like Steak, Eggs or Scallops. Or maybe you want to perfect a specific dish, like Chicken Cacciatore or Pork Schnitzel.

Once you choose a plan, fire up the FoodPair search engine to find plenty of great recipes. For every search you do, the results start with the recipe with the fewest ingredients, which is always a great place to start!

2. Get Good Knives

Every good chef has a set of good, sharp knives. While there's no need to run out and spend hundreds of dollars on a set (or a single knife) you should have three key knives: a chef's knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife.

A chef's knife is a general purpose knife for chopping and slicing. There are a ton of great options available in stores and online, especially French, German and Japanese santoku knives. Check out a couple and pick the one you like best.

Serrated knives are best for cutting tomatoes and bread, basically things with a a tough exterior and soft interior. Paring knives are small with a straight blade and are best for intricate work like peeling fruit, creating a garnish, or de-veining shrimp.

3. Buy a Meat Thermometer

If you watch any food television or read any restaurant reviews, you know the key to good food is cooking things properly. Professional chefs sometimes can (and sometimes can't) tell whether a dish is done by look & feel, but the rest of us aren't as skilled. The best way to alleviate the stress of knowing whether something is done and avoid the gashes from continually cutting into meat is to use a meat thermometer. Most models are cheap and effective, with digital readouts and settings for different meats. Grab one today- you'll be happy you did.

We're confident that with the right tools and a good plan you'll be cooking like a pro in no time!

Any other favorite ingredients or dishes you'd like us to highlight? Post them in the comments section or on our Facebook page! And while you're at it, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get helpful updates in your news feed.

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