Back with more tips from the world of professional kitchens!
Blanching/Shocking: Blanching is the process of briefly submerging food in boiling water then removing it and dumping it in an ice bath so that it instantly stops the cooking process. Blanching is often done to prepare vegetables for freezing (or pickling). Enzymes and unwanted bacteria that cause vegetables to decompose even while frozen are destroyed by a quick blanch. It’s also a great way to prepare green vegetables for eating right away. Blanched vegetables have the palatable taste of being cooked while at the same time retaining the crunch of their raw form. It also actually improves the green color of the vegetable. A chef friend of mine theorizes that this might be because the other pigments in the green vegetables such as carotene are destroyed by a quick boil while the bright green chlorophyll remains, the opposite of what happens when leaves turn orange in the fall. One of my go to sides is to blanch green beans or okra then saute onions with olive oil in a separate pan, then adding tomatoes til they break down a bit. Turn off the the heat and add the okra, some balsamic vinegar or lemon, salt and pepper and whatever other seasoning you want. Other vegetables to blanch include collards or asparagus.
Blended Oil: Everyone knows olive oil is great. It’s healthy, tastes great and can be used both to cook and in vinaigrettes for salad. However, it has one achilles heel: a very low smoke point. All oils have a smoke point, extra virgin olive oil (which isn’t really supposed to be for cooking generally) has a very low smoke point of 320 degrees fahrenheit, compared to something like peanut oil which is 450 degrees. Once a oil reaches its smoke point it starts to break down in flavor and imparts this on the food you’re cooking with it. If you are trying to saute a salmon filet, the oil is going to start smoking way before it is hot enough to effectively cook the salmon. Luckily, there is a workaround for this. When olive oil is combined with an oil with a higher smoking point (generally canola), it can be cooked with at a much higher temperature while retaining it’s flavor. The oils are generally combined at a ratio of between 25-20% olive oil to 75%-80% of the hardier oil. You see jugs of this stuff all over kitchens but not as often in the grocery store (have noticed Pompeiian started making it though) but of course making your own would be very simple.
Salting Water: Salting water doesn’t actually make it boil faster (it actually raises the boiling point thus making it come to a boil slower) but it does make the food you cook it in taste a lot better. I like the water that I cook potatoes in to taste like seawater and a little less than that for pasta.