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  • Try these cooking tips from the experts

  • While I was flipping through the current issue of "Cook's Illustrated," it occurred to me that the world of cooking is growing by leaps and bounds. Every form of media serves up a mind-boggling array of culinary guidance and entertainment.
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  • While I was flipping through the current issue of "Cook's Illustrated," it occurred to me that the world of cooking is growing by leaps and bounds. Every form of media serves up a mind-boggling array of culinary guidance and entertainment.
    Need to cook a roast, poach an egg, pick a wine or track down an obscure ingredient? Well there's an app for that. Or a website. Or a blog. Or Food Network and NPR programming that will set you straight.
    Of course, what we really need is an app designed to vet all the other apps, websites, blogs and programs because there's as much misinformation being passed around as there is sound knowledge. But don't get me started.
    Mostly, I'm just pleased that the audience I'm writing for, as a whole, is made up of curious and enthusiastic cooks. Some with years and years of experience in the kitchen are looking for exciting new twists; others are still pondering such basics as: "How many different spices are in a bottle of allspice, anyway?"
    What you all bring to the table is a level of passion for food and cooking that makes the whole process of sharing MY passion for food and cooking so much more fun and interesting. But this is hardly a new phenomenon. In the late James Beard's "Delights and Prejudices," he shared his passion for food with readers, and his enthusiasm was always, well, delightful.
    Take hamburgers, for example. When Beard tackled the subject, the making of this meaty sandwich became high theater: "Even the lowly hamburger," he observed, "can be a delicate morsel if the beef is good, contains an appropriate amount of fat and is cooked properly so that it retains its juices."
    Beard felt most hamburgers are grilled over excessively high heat, leaving the meat charred and tough on the outside, dry and flavorless on the inside. Beyond that simple tip for cooking the meat properly, he shared his mother's approach, which was to season the meat with generous amounts of fresh garlic, coarsely grated cheddar cheese, shallots, Worcestershire, mustard and Maggi Seasoning. Then he'd saute it in butter and serve it on a good bun with a tasty relish.
    Those extra steps, mindfully taken, are what boosts an ordinary creation up into the realm of extraordinary. And it's the kind of information many of us are primed to consider these days. So if you really do want to do more than "cookbook" your way through a recipe, consider these tips that Food Network Magazine mined from other top chefs. For all 100 tips, go to www.foodnetwork.com/chefs/articles/100-greatest-cooking-tips-of-all-time.html.
    100 Greatest Cooking Tips
    • Anita Lo (Annisa, New York City) — If you find you need more oil in the pan when sauteing, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredients being cooked, it will be heated.
    • Didier Elena (New York City) — After making eggs sunny-side up, deglaze the pan with sherry vinegar, then drizzle the sauce on the eggs to add another dimension to the dish.
    • Michael Psilakis (Fish Tag and Kefi, New York City) — When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the oil. Hold it just below the oil's surface for five seconds before releasing it. This will seal the exterior and stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food.
    • Naomi Pomeroy (Beast, Portland) — To get nice, crispy caramelization on roasted vegetables, simulate the intense heat of an industrial oven: Bring your oven up as hot as it goes, then put an empty roasting or sheet pan inside for 10 to 15 minutes. Toss the vegetables — try carrots or Brussels sprouts — with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on the hot pan. This method will give you the high heat you need to caramelize the sugars in the vegetables quickly.
    • Roy Choi (Kogi BBQ and A-Frame, Los Angeles) — To make a great sandwich, spread the mayonnaise from corner to corner on the bread. People rush this step and just do a swoosh down the middle. Every bite should be flavorful. Now that's a sandwich!
    • David Burke (David Burke Townhouse, New York City) — For an easy weeknight meal, save and freeze leftover sauces from previous meals in ice-cube trays. The cubes can be reheated in a saute pan when you need a quick sauce.
    • Isaac Becker (112 Eatery, Minneapolis) — When making meatballs or meatloaf, you need to know how the mixture tastes before you cook it. Make a little patty and fry it in a pan like a miniature hamburger. Then you can taste it and adjust the seasoning.
    • Donald Link (Cochon and Herbsaint, New Orleans) — Instead of placing a chicken on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, then place the chicken on top. The onion will absorb the chicken juices. After roasting, let the chicken rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or water to the pan and cooking it for about 3 minutes on high heat.
    • Chris Cosentino (co-host Food Network's "Chefs vs. City") — To cut pancetta or bacon into lardons, put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. This will firm up the meat and make it easier to cut.
    • Shaun Hergatt (Juni, New York City) — For perfect vegetable soup, start with diced carrots, onions, peppers and tomatoes sauteed in oil or butter before you add any liquid. This brings out the taste and caramelizes the sugars.
    • Wolfgang Puck (Spago, Los Angeles) — When making mashed potatoes, after you drain the potatoes, return them to the hot pan, cover tightly and let steam for 5 minutes. This allows the potatoes to dry out so they'll mash to a beautiful texture and soak up the butter and cream more easily.
    Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit" and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at janrd@proaxis.com or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.
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