Blog Posts by Chow Ciao

  • Microwave Secrets: Perfect Steamed Veggies

    Microwaves aren't just for the non-cook. They're capable of so much more than reheating leftovers or a quick defrost. Give the microwave the respect it deserves with some chef's tips from Fabio!

    Tips:

    • Veggies were made to be steamed in a microwave: they retain more minerals, make less mess, and keep their vibrant colors.
    • Your vegetables will cook more evenly if they are cut about the same size.
    • Add a little baking soda to keep colors bright.

    Microwave Steamed VeggiesPerfectly Steamed Vegetables

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 4 servings

    Ingredients:

    4 oz carrots, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick rounds

    4 oz broccoli florets

    4 oz cauliflower florets

    8 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces

    ½ tsp baking soda

    ¼ cup warm water

    kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Parmesan cheese, for grating

    extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

    Method:

    Place vegetables in a large microwave-safe bowl.

    In a small bowl, whisk the baking soda into the warm water, until dissolved.

    Pour the water and soda mixture

    Read More »from Microwave Secrets: Perfect Steamed Veggies
  • Simple Kitchen Secrets: How to Store Fresh Fruit

    Fabio presents some simple tips to maximize the life of your fresh fruit.


    Tips:

    • Don't store bananas in a fruit bowl with other fruits. They release gases that cause neighboring fruit to ripen faster than they would on their own.
    • When storing vine or tree fruit, including tomatoes, store them upside down, so that the fruit sits on its stem. Why? During ripening, the fruit hangs from its stem, and the simple force of gravity concentrates the juices of the fruit at the bottom. When storing, redistribute the juices throughout the fruit by turning it upside down. The fruit will last longer, and be even more flavorful.

      Fruit

    • Citrus fruits such as limes and lemons are best stored in the refrigerator, where their precious skin oils can harden into a protective "wax" that will deter further ripening.
    • To refresh over-ripened tomatoes, refrigerate them overnight, in a bowl of ice-water with a generous pinch of salt. In the morning, they'll be rehydrated and good as new!

    BOOM!

    Read More »from Simple Kitchen Secrets: How to Store Fresh Fruit
  • The Ultimate Italian Thanksgiving

    Add an Italian twist to this holiday with Fabio's sausage mushroom stuffing. And Fabio's perfect roasted bird is easier than you think.



    Tips:

    • Secret to keep your stuffing from drying out: Cook it separately. If you avoid cooking stuffing in the bird, you help avoid food-borne illness.
    • How to perfectly roast a chicken: You can't add moisture, you can only prevent it from escaping and drying out your bird. Fabio's trick is to rub the skin with oil for maximum crispness. Start the bird with the oven extremely hot (500 degrees) to crisp the skin for 10 minutes, then take the chicken out, flip it over breast-side down (to seal in the juices), and turn the oven down to 350 degrees to finish for another 45 minutes.
    • The same technique can be used for your Thanksgiving turkey!

    Italian Roast Chicken and Stuffing

    SAUSAGE, MUSHROOM, AND CHEESE STUFFING

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 6-8 servings

    Ingredients:

    8 cups French baguette or Italian pane rustica, cut into 1" cubes

    2 tbsp unsalted butter

    1 cup diced yellow onion

    2

    Read More »from The Ultimate Italian Thanksgiving
  • Ultimate Grilled Cheese

    Fabio's decadent make-over of a classic American comfort food reveals great flavor combinations and simple tricks to amp up any boring grilled cheese.

    Tips:

    • THE BEST CHEESE FOR YOUR SAMMIE: Cheddar, American, and Swiss may be familiar cheeses, but there are so many more to choose from. Try melting triple cream Brie or Colby Jack, for example.
    • Use seasoned or cured meats to spice things up! Pepperoni releases tasty oils that the bread absorbs, uniting everything into a delicious sandwich.
    • Your bread matters! Choose flavorful loaves to take your sandwich to the next level.
    • Use a foil-wrapped brick or Panini press to flatten fluffy breads (like Challah), and trap melted cheese and every bit of flavor.

    Grilled CheesePepperoni Grilled Cheese

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 1 sandwich

    Ingredients:

    2 slices Challah bread, sliced ½ -inch thick

    1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

    1/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, sliced 1/3-inch thick (about 5-6 slices)

    6 slices of sandwich-sized pepperoni

    1 tsp Dijon

    Read More »from Ultimate Grilled Cheese
  • Pappardelle with Lazy Meatballs

    Fabio whips up easy pasta and an even easier meatball for an ultimate Italian meal that the whole family will love.

    Tips:

    • Sausage is an easy way to make a "lazy meatball," packed with flavor. Use turkey or chicken sausage for reduced fat and calories.
    • Meatballs are small, so they're perfect for kids. To make it even easier for kids, go with a short-cut pasta, like a wheel or ditalini, so they can eat with a spoon.
    • Fresh vs. dry pasta: fresh isn't necessarily better than dried; it's richer because of the addition of egg. But it's got a shorter shelf life than dried and pairs nicely with heavy meat sauces. However, dried pasta is more economical, has a longer shelf life and is believed to hold sauces better because of its starchier texture. Either can be used in this recipe!

    Pappardelle with Lazy MeatballsPappardelle with Lazy Meatballs

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 4 servings

    Ingredients:

    6 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed

    2 cups Fabio's Marinara Sauce

    1 cup chicken stock

    extra virgin olive oil

    1 lb

    Read More »from Pappardelle with Lazy Meatballs
  • Fabio's Not-So-Sloppy Joes

    Fabio reveals the secret to make perfectly textured Sloppy Joes that not only melt in your mouth, they stay on the bun! His one-pot, easy family dinner is a sure-fire crowd pleaser that's destined to become a regular player at your house. Before trick or treating this Halloween, fuel up first with a good meal.

    Tips:

    • Texture and flavor secrets! Be sure to use a small dice on your peppers in order to make even-sized bites for your sandwiches. Using thin slices of steak instead of ground beef helps keeps the sandwich together without sacrificing any flavors.
    • Sloppy Joes, or any messy sandwich, don't necessarily have to be a sloppy headache for parents. Wrap the sandwiches in parchment and make it portable. This also helps to keep the good, sloppy, stuff inside rather than on your kids' clothes or on the floor.
    • Grill your buns for added flavor, and to help your sandwich from sogging out.
    Not-so-sloppy joes

    FABIO'S NOT-SO-SLOPPY JOES

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 4 large or 6 small sandwiches

    Ingredients:

    Read More »from Fabio's Not-So-Sloppy Joes
  • Easy Secrets to Cooking Eggs: Fabio's Eggs Benedict

    Eggs are made easy in Fabio's simple cooking primer, where he gives easy instruction on how to pick and poach 'em. He goes on to make an easy homemade Hollandaise sauce for the ultimate Eggs Benedict. This breakfast, spoil yourself.

    Tips:

    • Secrets to poaching: Cook eggs at a low boil, not a rolling one, to avoid breakage.
    • Easy, fail-safe way to poach an egg: using the handle of a wooden or metal spoon, create a whirlpool in your pot of simmering water. Gently drop the cracked egg into the vortex (or very middle) of the whirlpool. The "current" will automatically wrap the egg whites around the egg, keeping the egg compact.
    • Hollandaise tricks: If your sauce "breaks," you can save it! Whisk an egg yolk with a tablespoon of cold water or heavy cream, then slowly beat the "broken" sauce into it. It won't be perfect, but it will still be delicious. This technique can also be used to reconstitute leftover Hollandaise sauce with similar results.

    Eggs BenedictEGGS BENEDICT

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 2

    Read More »from Easy Secrets to Cooking Eggs: Fabio's Eggs Benedict
  • From his own restaurant, Fabio shows off professional techniques to help the home cook. One great trick to get you ahead of schedule is to batch-cook, which Fabio proves with his easy Italian pudding -- a delicious and classic panna cotta.

    Tips:

    • Pre-cook any sauces or components that can stand up to a reheat.
    • Chop, dice, grate, or otherwise prepare every ingredient before you start assembling the plate. You can prep and store veggies for later use.
    • Batch cook ahead. Cold desserts are great for this. Easy puddings can be prepared in the same dish you serve them in for maximum efficiency.

    Panna Cotta


    Easy Italian Pudding (Panna Cotta)

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 6 servings

    Ingredients:

    1 ½ cups whole milk

    3 cups heavy cream

    1 cup granulated sugar

    zest of 1 lemon

    1 vanilla bean, split in half, with seeds scraped and pod reserved

    4 teaspoons unflavored, powdered gelatin

    12 strawberries, quartered

    Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

    Method:

    In a large saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar,

    Read More »from Secrets of Top Chefs: How to Run Your Kitchen Like a Restaurant (Plus, Panna Cotta!)
  • The Best Pork Chop You Ever Made

    Our Top Chef reveals all! Looking at the menu in his own restaurant, Fabio presents tips and tricks to creating a restaurant-quality meal in your own kitchen.

    TIPS:

    • Simple food done well is the goal. The trick is to have quality ingredients.
    • Presentation is the difference to turn an ordinary $3 pork chop into $15 meal. An easy way to achieve this at home is to pick the right garnish for your plate (grilled citrus is easy), then slice your meats and arrange them with edible herbs.
    • Brining (placing meats in a simply flavored salt bath) is a great way to bring restaurant quality to your home table, because you really can infuse your meat with astounding flavor. Just because they do it faster in restaurants, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste.
    • For the serious home chef, a vacuum-sealed water cooking bath is available, but by making a simple adjustment in method to allow more time to brine (about 4 hours) and then searing off in cast iron and finishing in the oven, you'll get great
    Read More »from The Best Pork Chop You Ever Made
  • Secrets of Signature Steakhouses

    Fabio visits a Beverly Hills Steakhouse to learn about dry-aged beef and their world famous steak sauce with tips about how to make similar preparations at home… you really can fake it!

    Tips:

    • Secrets to aging without aging: Loosely wrap a thick marbled steak in cheesecloth and place it on a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Leave it on the back shelf of the fridge for 4 days and it will approximate the steakhouse taste. Even air flow really helps the process, so if possible minimize the amount of time you open and shut your fridge!
    • Secrets to perfect pink: Sear the crust at a very high heat, preferably in a cast iron skillet. Remember to get a nice seared crust on both sides. Finish the steak off (skillet and all) in the oven. If you use steaks that are 1.5" to 2" thick, it will take 8 minutes or so at a very high heat for a perfectly red/pink center.
    • Secrets to using oil and butter: These are great flavor additions that keep your steak from sticking to the surfaces used to cook it.
    Read More »from Secrets of Signature Steakhouses

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