Don’t Forget to Remove the Bay Leaf: Cooking Tips from Shirley Corriher

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Shirley Corrinher is a well respected cook. A biochemist and author of CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, Corrinher also is the winner of a James Beard Foundation award. Here other book BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. CookWise explains how scientific principles can be applied to traditional cooking, while BakeWise applies the same theory to baking. She’s also a hoot to be around. She spoke at the IACP conference and shared some cooking tips with us.

  • Salt. Everywhere we turn nowadays we are hearing that salt is bad for us. But did you know that a small amount of salt reduces the bitterness in foods.
  • Greens. Greens contain acid. When the acid is released it changes the color of greens. So a little cooking makes the vegetables a bright green color. The longer you cook them the more acid is released. That’s why overcooking can lead to the dark green color.
  • Paella. When cooking paella, too many tomatoes can make the rice hard.
  • Asparagus. Want to make the perfect asparagus? It only takes a couple minutes – 4 to be exact. Put some grated lemon peel, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and you’ve got a delicious side dish.
  • Risotto. Want to make it extra creamy? Add an egg yolk to risotto to make it super creamy. Shh…don’t tell, keep it our secret!
  • Meat. Searing meat does not keep juices in. Cooking it a consistent temperature is the way to keep the juices in. To avoid moisture loss make sure meat is brined. Meat that has been brined will lose only 15 percent moisture. Meat that has not been brined will loss about 30 percent moisture.

It was a terrific afternoon spent hearing not only only cooking tips from Shirley, but also hearing about her experiences being a very respected author, and the fun banter between her and husband.

Rebecca Lang, Chef and Cookbook Author

Q&A with Chef and Cookbook Author, Rebecca Lang

You’ve spoken fondly of your grandmother, Tom. Is that where your inspiration to cook came from? 
Absolutely. She was the most talented cook I’ve ever known. Tom was also happy each day, just to be alive, and good to the very core of her soul. I am so blessed to have known and loved her.
Do you have any cooking traditions / recipes that you share with your children?
I keep as many family traditions alive as I can in the kitchen. Food, recipes, and cooking techniques are as much as part of tradition as browsing through old family photos. My children know where my skillets came from, the way Tom’s biscuits looked, and why sitting at the table is so important.
What is your favorite kitchen tool? 
It would be a tie between a fish spatula and a Microplane. Zest makes everything better so I use my Microplane nearly daily. A fish spatula stirs grits better than any other utensil. I just bought two more so I always have one at arm’s length.

What food is your guilty pleasure?
Cake batter. Sometimes I make a cake just for a batter fix. Needless to say, the cakes tend to turn out a bit smaller than intended.
What is your favorite food trend right now?
I’m not sure it’s a trend, since it’s such a foundation of food, but I’m thrilled that we’re moving into a realm where people are demanding food with little or no preservatives and without ingredients no one can pronounce. We must be conscious and careful of what our children eat.

I couldn’t agree more with your rules of etiquette for grocery shopping. Can you tell us what stands out about Central Market in Dallas? 
When I first walked in Central Market it took my breath away. The flowers, produce, whole spices I’d never seen, the bakery, and the cooking school were beyond top-notch. Everyone on staff was incredibly nice and welcoming. Before leaving for the airport, I ditched what I could on my carry-on and filled it Central Market’s famous homemade tortillas. The grill was ready when I got home and a feast wasn’t far behind. I just wish they’d expand in an easterly direction.
Do you have a garden? Do you buy organic foods? 
I plant a tiny garden (we have a very small yard) and love to grow tomatoes and okra. Last year I grew eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Squash and peppers are usually in the planting routine too. It’s very important to me that our children understand the full cycle of seed to plate. They are tickled pink when they can pick something and bring it into the kitchen.