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Top Chefs’ Tips to Maximize Flavors in Food

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Want to cook like a world-renowned chef? One essential tip is to extract all the flavor possible from foods. Doing so comes with an important bonus: You’ll also minimize waste.

Wasting food has become a huge problem. The average American household ends up throwing out about $1,500 worth of the food it buys each year! That’s not something professional chefs can afford to do if they want their restaurants to be profitable. Besides culinary skills, they learn how to make the most of every ingredient to get the maximum amount of flavor and limit food waste. Waste Not, the cookbook from James Beard Foundation, shows just how easy it is for the home cook to use chefs’ techniques. Here are seven of their delicious (and money-saving) tips, plus two rich, good-for-you dessert recipes…

Use the whole food. Rather than peeling carrots, cucumbers and other vegetables and fruits, just give them a good scrub to remove any dirt. The tops of root vegetables such as carrots, turnips and radishes are wonderful when cooked as a side dish or in a soup.

There is no need to chop off spring onion roots—they can be beautiful as an element in the dish and remind everyone that vegetables come from the earth. Alternatively, save them as well as asparagus bottoms, mushroom stems and other vegetable parts in freezer bags or containers for the next time you make a stock, soup or sauce to add deep flavor.

Freeze herbs you’re not going to use before they turn. Purée them with a little oil and store in the freezer—in ice cube trays or other containers—to grab in the dead of winter.

Cook salad greens that have started to wilt. Sauté them with some olive oil and garlic for a side dish.

Freeze ripe bananas. To save them for future use, place them on a sheet pan (skins intact) and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F until the skins are a deep black. Once cool, peel the roasted bananas and freeze in a resealable plastic bag. They won’t darken, and they’ll be perfect for smoothies and banana bread.

Freeze leftover berries. Before they have turned, lay them out in a single layer on a small sheet pan or plate. Freeze uncovered overnight, then put them in a resealable plastic bag and return to the freezer. This method lets you take out a few at a time—put them in the bottom of your bowl before topping with hot oatmeal or add to a smoothie for more texture.

Roast leftover meat bones. After you cook any meat on the bone, roast the bones and use them to richly flavor stocks for sauces and soups.

Give the bones of whole fish a going-over. After removing the fillets from whole fish, scrape the bones with a teaspoon—you’ll produce piles of delicious meat that can be used for salads, sausages, soups, risottos and more, and then use the bones to make stock.

WHOLE ORANGE ALMOND CAKE

Legendary chef James Beard hated seeing good food go to waste. His flourless orange and almond cake uses every bit of the citrus fruit, puréeing the oranges whole to extract all the flavor and oils from the peels. A tip from Beard himself: The cake will not rise very much, and you may wonder if it will ever bake firm. Don’t worry, it will.

 

Yield: 8 Servings

2 large oranges (preferably seedless navels)
6 large eggs
1-½ cup ground almonds
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Optional garnish: Thin slices of peeled orange or fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter and flour a deep nine-inch cake pan. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wash the oranges and place them in the boiling water and cover the pot. Boil until very soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool and cut the oranges into quarters, removing any seeds. Process the oranges to a fairly fine purée in a blender or food processor or put them through a meat grinder.

Beat the eggs in a bowl until thick, then add the ground almonds, salt, sugar, baking powder and orange purée. Mix well.

Pour into the cake pan and bake for one hour, or until the cake is firm to the touch when pressed with the tip of your finger.

Remove the pan to a rack and allow the cake to cool. Turn it out of the pan into a serving dish. Garnish as desired before serving.

CHOCOLATE-AVOCADO PUDDING

There’s nothing worse than seeing beloved “butter fruit” over-ripened until it’s bruised and browned. But don’t say adios to those avocados yet! Chef Jamie Simpson, executive chef liaison at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, transforms guacamole rejects into a decadent, creamy yet also dairy-free and healthier version of the pudding snack packs of our youth.

Yield: 4 Servings

2 bruised avocados, cored and diced
½ cup agave nectar or to taste (preferably organic blue agave)
3 Tablespoons high-quality cocoa powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Optional garnish: Sliced strawberries, toasted and chopped pistachios or hazelnuts, and extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle

In a blender, combine the pudding ingredients until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender and repeat. Taste and add a little more agave if you’d like it sweeter. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for two to three hours.

To serve, scoop the chilled pudding into serving bowls or cups. Garnish as desired before serving.

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Source: Excerpted with permission from © Waste Not by the James Beard Foundation with photography ©by Keirnan Monaghan and Theo Vamvounakis and published by Rizzoli New York (2018). JamesBeard.org. Date: November 7, 2018 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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