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Select & Cook Pasta



Pasta is generally made from grains. There are all types these days from brown rice to durum wheat. Durum wheat is considered the best and comes from Italy. Pasta is almost always served as a separate course in Italy, not as a side dish like we see in many eateries in the United States. Regions of Italy may call the same pasta by different names.

Pasta can be classified into two categories. Fresh, which uses eggs and is quicker to cook, and dry pasta, which doesn’t have eggs.

Pasta is easy to make. You need 2-6 quarts per pound of pasta. The reason why pasta often sticks is because most people don’t add enough water. Remember to add salt.

Bring your water to a boil; add pasta, stir, and return the cover to pot. Follow the directions of the package until done. Do not rinse your cooked pasta with cold water. You don’t want to wash off the starch. The starch will act as a glue to your sauce. Another mistake Americans often make is they over-sauce their plate. Don’t drown your pasta in sauce, that’s not right. Since pasta is all about the sauces, below is a simple chart to stir you in the right direction.

            The Shape                                           Names of Pasta                                      Sauces

STRAND PASTALong and thin Angel hair, thin spaghetti, vermicelli, capellini Great with oil-based sauces and light thin broths.
STRAND PASTALong and wide (get your mind out of the gutter) Fettuccine, spaghetti, linguine, pappardelle,  lasagna, tagliatelle Heavier sauces, cream sauces, alfredo and light tomato sauces.
SHAPED PASTAShort and girth like. Ziti, penne, fusilli, farefalla,shells (manicotti) , rigatoni, macaroni Chunky sauces, meat sauces casseroles, primaveras, cheese sauces, pasta salads,
SHAPED PASTATiny Orzo, small shells, ditali. Soups, stews, salads,





Basic Knife Cuts




No gambling here – though dicing is cutting up food into small cubes that resemble dice.  The cubes are usually between 1/8- to 1/4-inch wide, which is larger than mincing.


Julienning is cutting an item, often carrots, into thin, matchstick-sized strips, about 1/8 inch wide. The length will depend on what your recipe calls for.


Select & Cook Poultry

What to Look For….

Chicken, turkey, cornish game hens, and duck. Hormone free, free-range organic chicken is the best way to go if you can afford it. It’s better in flavor and much healthier for you. Fresh is best even when you have to get a turkey. The age of the poultry determines your cooking method.


Type                                        Age/size                                 Characteristics                 Cooking Method          

Chicken, pousin Under 6 weeks

1 lb

Very tender Broil, grill, roast, sauté,

All Cooking Methods

Chicken, rock Cornish game hen 4-5 weeks

1-1 1/2 lbs

Very tender Broil, grill, roast, sauté

All Cooking Methods

Chicken, broiler 7-9 weeks

1 1/2 lbs – 2 lbs

Very tender Broil, grill, roast, sauté

All Cooking Methods

Chicken, fryer 9-12 weeks

3-4 lbs

Very tender Broil, grill, fry, roast

All Cooking Methods

Chicken, roaster 10-20 weeks

Over 5 lbs

Very tender Braise, fry, roast, stew

All Cooking Methods

Chicken, capon

(castrated Male)

 10-18 weeks

5-8 lbs

 Very tender  Roast
Turkey, young hen or Tom 14-22 weeks

7 – 25 + lbs

Very tender Roast
Turkey, yearling Fully mature over 15 months

12-15 +

Very tender Roast
Duckling 8-16 weeks 2-6 lbs Tender Roast
Young Goose Over 6 month, 4-14 lbs Tender Roast
Pheasant 6 weeks, 2-3lbs Tender Braise, roast
Squab Under 6 weeks, under 1 pound Light, tender meat Broil, grill, roast, sauté


Cooking / Serving Temperatures



Chicken and Duck 165º to 170º F

75º to 80º C

Cook until juices run clear


NOTE: A 12-lb turkey can easily handle 60 to 90 minutes of resting. And covered with tinfoil during that time the temperature can rise 30 degrees.

165º to 170º F

75º to 80º C

Cook until juices run clear and legs move apart easily.



Choosing Fats & Oils

What to look for…

Fats and oils are integral to cooking because they not only transfer heat; they add an abundance of flavor. There are two main fats, solid fats (animal fats, butter) and liquids (olive oil, etc). Vegetable oil is the most common oil used in households. It has a neutral flavor.

If you just want to add flavor to your dish, add the oil at the end of cooking. Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest choice for you. When cooked however, its nutritional value is lost. Be warned — if you allow oil to begin to smoke, its flavoring will turn rancid.

Store oils at room temperature in a dark place. Direct sunlight will kill the oil.


See the below chart(s) for smoking points and uses.


See the below chart for the fat or oil that may best suite your culinary seduction needs.

 Oil                                                                   Characteristics                                 Best Uses      

Almond Toasted almond flavor Dressings and cold deserts or on your date as an excellent massage oil!
Avocado Buttery rich, nutty flavorIt is free of trans fatty acids and cholesterol-inducing fats. High smoking point. Dressings and in sauces,  Sautés, drizzle over steamed veggies, potatoes
Butter Butter is fantastic.Use in combination with olive oil. Potatoes, bread, sauces, chips, dips, chains and whips
Canola Neutral in flavor, high smoking point, Canola has a low ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. Sautéing, frying, dressings. Good to mix with other oils such as olive oil.
Corn Mild in flavor, low smoking point. Light frying, sautéing, dressings. Good for running your bio diesel engine.
Grape seed Clean mild flavor, a little nutty, yet neutral. High smoking point Dressings, stir-fries, sautéing, fondue, frying
Hazelnut Smells like hazelnuts, rich in flavor. Dressings, cold desserts, baking
Non-Salted Butter Buttery…rich and creamy. Is often higher quality then salted butter. Light frying, great when combined with olive oil for a sauté.





Varies in flavor and color from mild to rich from pale yellow to green. When in doubt get extra virgin olive oil. It’s better quality .



I use this as my main cooking agent. Dressings, sautéing, pan frying.

Peanut This is a neutral oil. High smoking point. Deep frying, sautéing, stir-frying.
Pumpkin Strong roasted seed flavor Dressings and to finish off sauces.
Safflower Light color, mild flavor high smoking point Sautéing and frying
Sesame Very strong nutty flavor Dressings and sauces. Used to finish foods.
Soybean Mild flavor and light in color. High smoking point (common vegetable oil) Sautéing and frying.
Sunflower Light in taste and color Dressings, sautéing .
Vegetable It’s a blend of these other veggies oils. High smoking point. Good for frying.
Walnut Amber color, rich in flavor Dressings, sauces, baking



Select & Cook Fish


What to look for…

There is a lot of fish out there. Fresh fish SHOULD NOT SMELL. If it does it may have gone bad. Don’t eat it. The fish should be firm and the skin shiny. Look the fish in the eye. The eye should be bright and pop out a little from the head. Buy wild fish as opposed to farmed. It usually tastes better and has higher Omega 3 fat, which is good for you.

Fish can be either lean (cod, halibut, sole, red snapper, sea bass), which tend to be milder in flavor, or oily (salmon, trout, anchovies, tuna) which have a richer flavor. Make friends with the fish guy at the market (aka your fish monger). He or she can tell what is fresh and they can also clean and skin your fish for you.

Did you know there is no such fish called sea bass? It’s actually called a drum fish. Sea bass is a more attractive name for marketing purposes.

Below is a list of common North American fish. The cooking  / serving temperatures is after this chart.

 Type of Fish                                    Source                           Characteristics              Cooking Method

Anchovy Salt water Small and oily Bake, grill
Anglar(monkfish: the poor mans’ lobster) Salt water Lean Bake, braise, grill, poach, steam, stew
Fin Fish Barracuda Salt water Pacific Moderate oily, firm texture Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, steam, stew
Bass Salt water Atlantic and Pacific Moderate oily, firm, smooth textured Bake, braise, broil, grill, stew
Blue Fish Salt water Atlantic and Gulf Oily, strong Bake, braise, broil, grill, stew
Bonito Salt water Moderate oily Bake, boil, grill
Butterfish Salt water Atlantic and Pacific Oily, soft, mild Bark, broil, grill
Catfish Fresh water Moderate oily, firm and sweet Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, steam, stew
Cod Salt water Atlantic Lean, firm, mild Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, steam, stew
Drum (Sea bass) Salt water Lean, fine, white flesh Bake, broil, grill, poach, stew
Eel Fresh water and Salt water Oily Bake, braise, grill, stew
Flounder Salt water Atlantic Lean, delicate, mild Bake, broil, grill, poach, sauté, stew
Grouper Salt water Atlantic – Gulf Lean, firm, mild Bake, braise, broil, fry, grill, poach, steam, stew
Haddock Salt water Atlantic Lean, firm, mild Bake, braise, broil, fry, grill, poach, steam, stew
Hake Salt water Atlantic and North Pacific Lean, firm, mild Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, steam, stew
Halibut Salt water Atlantic and North Pacific Lean and delicate flavored Bake, broil, grill, poach, sauté, steam
Herring Salt water Atlantic and Pacific Oily, soft-textured Bake, broil, grill, pickle
Herring, Lake(Lake Trout) Fresh water northern lakes Very oily, smooth, salty taste Bake, broil, grill, poach, sauté, steam
Mackerel Salt water Florida coast and Gulf of Mexico Very oily, soft flesh. Bake, braise, broil, grill, pickle, stew
Perch Fresh water Northern Lakes and Rivers Lean, firm, sweet Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, sauté steam, stew
Pike Fresh water Northern Lakes and Rivers Lean, firm, sweet Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, sauté steam, stew
Pollock Salt water Atlantic Lean, firm mildly sweet Bake, braise, broil, grill, poach, sauté steam, stew
Pompano Salt water Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Moderate oily, firm full textured Bake, broil, grill, panfry, sauté
Red Snapper – many fish labeled Red Snapper are Rock Fish Salt water – Lean Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, sauté steam, stew
Sable Fish(Black Cod – Butterfish) Salt water – North Pacific Oily, buttery flavor Bake, braise, broil, grill, stew
Salmon, Atlantic Salt Water – Atlantic Moderate oily Bake, braise, broil, poach, sauté, smoke, steam
Salmon, Chum Salt water Pacific Moderate oily – lowest fat content of all Salmon Bake, braise, broil, poach, sauté, smoke, steam

Salmon, King


Salt water Atlantic, pacific


Oily – lovely


Bake, braise, broil, poach, sauté, smoke, steam

Shark Salt water Lean Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, sauté steam, stew
Sole Salt water Lean Bake, broil, grill, poach, sauté steam, stew
Scrod Salt water Pacific and Atlantic Lean, chewy Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, sauté steam, stew
Striped Bass Salt water Moderate oily Bake, braise, broil, grill, panfry, poach, sauté steam, stew
Swordfish Salt water Moderate oily Bake, braise, broil, grill, stew
Trout Fresh water Moderate oily Bake, broil, grill, poach, sauté, Smoke, steam
Tuna Salt water Oily Bake, braise, broil, grill, sauté, stew

Cooking Temperatures

Fish -Thin Fillets
 1/2 inch each cook very quickly watch
(Sole, catfish, basa fish, flounder, haddock) 
140º F 60ºCFlesh is opaque, flakes easily
Fish Thick Fillets
1 and 1 half inches thick. (Snapper, cod, Salmon, monkfish)
140º F 60ºCFlesh is opaque, flakes easily
Fish Steaks
 1 inch thick filleted or whole). They include tuna, salmon, swordfish, mahi mahi and shark
 125°F 50ºC cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and lose its flavor)
Whole Fish
140º F 60ºCFlesh is opaque, flakes easily




Select & Cook Lamb


What to look for…

Lamb is the meat of a sheep less than a year old. The best lamb is fresh and young. The meat of a sheep over two years old is known as mutton. Cook lamb on the same day you buy it, as it doesn’t keep very long. When choosing lamb look for moist meat that ranges in color from pink to pale red. See the below chart for more help.

Cut of Lamb                                                                         Cooking Method

Rack Roast, grill, broil, panfry
Breast Roast, grill, broil, panfry
Ribs, Denver Style Braised, simmer, broil, panfry
Loins Roast, grill, broil, panfry, sauté
Legs Roast, braise, grill, broil, pan-broil, panfry. Sauté
Leg, boneless Roast
Lamb for stewing Roast, broil, simmer
Lamb for kebobs Roast, broil, grill
Ground Lamb Roast, panfry
Sirloin Panfry, sauté


Cooking / serving temperatures


                                       Rare                     Medium-Rare         Medium          Medium-Well    Well-Done

RED MEATS          




120° to 125°F

45º to 50º C

Center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion

130° to 135°F

55º to 60º  C

Center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion

140° to 145°F

60º to 65º C

Center is light pink, outer portion is brown

150° to 155°F

65º to 70º C

Not pink anywhere

160°F and above

70º and above

Steak is uniformly brown throughout

Ground  * * * * 160° to 165°F

No longer pink, uniformly brown throughout




Select & Cook Shellfish


What to look for…

Shellfish can be broken down into 3 basic categories:

  • Crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, lobster, crayfish)
  • Mollusks (mussels, clams, abalone, scallops, oysters)
  • Cephalops (octopus and squid)

Flavors, textures and varieties vary widely.  Shellfish do not have a long fresh shelf life so eat ‘em up fast. See the chart below for some info.

How do you know when they are cooked?

Shrimp cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and loose its flavor.  When Lobster and crabmeat turns red and opaque in center when cut.  Clams, mussels and oysters point at which their shells open – throw away any that do not open.

Type                                             Source                Characteristics            Cooking Method       

Clams, Butter Puget Sound Lean rubbery, sweet Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Quahog East Coast Large hard shell Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Littleneck East and West Coast Small, usually eaten on the half shell Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Razor West Coast Soft shelled Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Clams, Soft East and West Coast Soft shelled Bake, steam, stew, sauté
Conch Southern Florida, Gulf, Caribbean Tough…you need to beat it to tenderize it Bake, braise, broil, stew
Crab, Blue Atlantic and Gulf Sweet, succulent meat All
Crabs, Blue soft Atlantic and Gulf Sweet, succulent meat, they have shed their shells Pan fried and grilled are best, sautéed, bakes
Crabs, Rock Atlantic North Carolina to Texas Sweet, succulent meat All
Crabs, Dungeness Pacific Sweet, succulent meat All
Crabs, King North Pacific Atlantic Ya only eat the legs with these bad boys Steam, bake



Tropics, Australia, South Pacific


Firm meat not as sweet as Maine Lobster


Steam, boil love

Lobsters, Spiny (crayfish) Tropics, Australia, South Pacific Eat the tails only. All methods…Steam, grill etc.


Mussels Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean Slightly tough and sweet Steam and love em
Oysters, Easter Atlantic Range from bland to salty to firm to tender, better than the pacific oyster Steam, bake, Raw
Oysters, Pacific Pacific Range from bland to salty to firm to tender Steam, bake, Raw
Oysters, Olympia Puget Sound Range from bland to salty to firm to tender  
Scallops, Bay East Coast Small and sweet meat, sweeter than Sea Scallops All
Scallops, Sea   Larger Sweet and moist, less tender and more chewy than bay  



Extra Jumbo


Extra Large


Medium     Large


Extra Small

Fresh and Salt water All over the world Sweet and lovely All cooking methods
Squid Salt water, moderate climate throughout the world Light extremely firm flesh  
Snails California Dense, chewy  




Cooking Methods

Cooking Methods


Baking can be as simple as putting some food in your oven and turning the dial to anything other than broil. If you put in some cake dough or muffin mix, you’re baking. If you stick in a hunk of beef, you’re roasting. The cooking method is the same. Inside your oven, dry heat circulates around your food causing chemical reactions to occur. These are what turn a pan of unappetizing, gloppy batter into a delicious pastry your date will want to sink her teeth into. (Had you worried — you thought there’d be a chemistry lesson, didn’t you?)

The two important things to remember about baking are: 1) If the recipe says pre-heat your oven – do it! 2) Use an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature inside your oven matches what it says on the dial. (If you have a new oven, it may already have one built in, in which case you don’t need to do this.) But if you think you’re baking at 300° and your oven’s actually at 375°, you’re gonna end up with burnt brownies. If you have a gas oven, often your gas company will calibrate it for you for free. Can’t beat that.

The terms ‘barbecuing’ and ‘grilling’ are often used interchangeably, but they are two very different techniques. Barbecuing slow cooks a tough cut of meat over low heat with lots of smoke to both flavor and tenderize it. By contrast, grilling uses high heat and the food is cooked quickly. However barbecuing is done on a grill, and that’s probably how the confusion originated.

Basting is to drizzle or pour liquids over your food while it’s cooking. This helps prevent a roasting chicken or ribs on the bbq grill from drying out. To baste, you can use that phallic- looking bulb baster, a spoon or even a brush. At Thanksgiving, roasting turkeys are often basted. Contrary to popular belief, basting juices don’t penetrate to the inside of a roast, but they will keep the surface moist. Don’t baste if you want a crispy skin.

Blanching sounds like some sort of whipping fetish, doesn’t it? However, blanching is actually a cooking process where foods (usually fruits and veggies) are plunged into boiling water for a few seconds, then dunked into ice water to halt the cooking process. It’s kinda like jumping from the hot tub into the pool. Why would you subject the poor veggies to this temperature shock? Well, it helps enhance their flavor, without depleting their nutritional value. It also loosens the skins on items like tomatoes, nectarines, peaches and almonds, making them easier for the chef (that’s you) to remove. Blanching also helps green veggies retain their color, flavor and some nutrients, which is pretty sexy.

Fill a pot with water and set it on a hot burner. When the water bubbles rapidly (it’s hit 212° F), you’re boiling. Guys, it doesn’t get any easier than this. In medieval times when knights were running around, they ate tons of boiled meats at their round tables. Boiling also means to cook foods in a pot of bubbling liquid, such as pasta, potatoes, carrots and lots of other veggies.

See also Parboil

Braising is cooking with moist heat, just the way I like it! The main item, usually meat, is browned in hot fat, then simmered in liquid inside a covered pot for a long time at a low temperature. This combination of moisture, heat and slow-cookin’ turns tough meat tender by breaking down collagen, a protein found in connective tissues. Instead of roasting a tougher cut, such as a chuck roast, why not braise it to make it nice and juicy? When you’re done, you can use the left-over liquid as gravy or further reduce it to become the base of a sauce. Don’t braise expensive, tender cuts of meat – they have less collagen and will dry out.

Broiling means cooking foods directly under a radiant heat source. (It’s the upside-down version of grilling, which is cooking directly over a heat source.) Broiling is a great method to use when you want your food to have a crispy, flavorful exterior and a moist, juicy interior. Broiling is a quick and wonderful method for cooking fish. Some gas ovens have a special drawer underneath the gas jets for broiling. If you have this kind of stove, make sure your food goes into the drawer and not the main oven, or you’ll end up roasting, not broiling. Remember: broiling = food under flame.

Deep Fry
The type of frying where food is completely immersed in hot oil. It’s commonly used for French fries, chicken and doughnuts, not exactly the kind of foods you’ll want to serve your date if she says she’s eating healthy. Deep frying can be dangerous, because if the oil reaches its smoking point it can catch on fire. Don’t attempt if you are a kitchen novice.

You know those yummy bits of brown meat or fish that stick to the pan when you’re done cooking? (Well, once you start cooking you will.) Don’t let them go to waste! After you’ve remove the meat from the pan, add some liquid like wine or stock. Scrape up the tasty bits and stir to make a great gravy or the base for a reduction sauce. This process is called deglazing.

No gambling here – though dicing is cutting up food into small cubes that resemble dice. The cubes are usually between 1/8- to 1/4-inch wide, which is larger than mincing.

Frying is cooking foods in oil or fat over high heat.

See also Pan fry, Deep fry, Stir fry

There’s nothing quite like the smoky aroma of juicy steaks grilling over hot coals. Grilling is simple to define; it’s cooking food quickly over high heat. It’s the hottest and oldest of all the cooking methods. You can grill practically anywhere – in the woods over a campfire, in your backyard on a gas grill, in your dorm room, even in the dead of winter in your kitchen, using a specially ridged stovetop grilling pan.

Grilling, like roasting, is dry cooking. It’s so popular because the high heat causes all sorts of wonderful chemical reactions to occur, which caramelize the outside of your food, giving it a delectably crispy coating. The trick to successful grilling is learning the right time to remove your food from the heat, before it begins to dry out. Don’t use your tongue the lick clean this rack. Always clean the grilling rack of your gas or charcoal grill with a wire brush as soon as you’re done. Once it cools, the cooked-on food won’t come off without a fight.

Surprise, even though the words are often used interchangeably, grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing.

See also Grilling – Two Stage

Grilling – Two Stage
This is a technique where half a charcoal grill is filled with the normal amount of charcoal briquettes and the other half gets only a single layer. This way, you can begin grilling over high heat, then move your food to the cooler side to finish cooking. Meats cooked this way have a crispy exterior and a fully cooked, moist interior. Two stage grilling can be done on a gas grill by turning one burner to high, and the other to low or off.

To marinate is to soak food in flavorful liquids (called a marinade) before cooking. This is a simple way to add flavor to your meat, poultry and fish, but contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make them more tender.

An easy way to marinate is to place your meat and marinade into a resealable plastic bag and keep it in the fridge for as long as the recipe specifies (usually 4 hours to overnight.)
Dispose of the baggie and uncooked liquid as soon as you take the food out. Never use the uncooked marinade on your finished meat because it can harbor dangerous bacteria. (It was touching your raw meat for all those hours…)

Pan fry
Pan frying is cooking food in a pan (duh) in a small amount of oil or fat, over high heat. If you’re pan frying a breaded chicken cutlet, you’ll have to flip it at least once to make sure both sides are cooked. Proper pan frying shouldn’t dry your food out and can give your entrée a crispy, crunchy exterior. The words ‘pan frying’ and ‘sautéing’ are often used interchangeably, but pan frying is the term typically applied to cooking larger food items, such as a chicken cutlet, while sautéing usually refers to smaller foods, such as chopped onions.

See also Stir-fry

Parboiling is similar to boiling, except the food is removed from the liquid before it’s fully cooked. It’s then finished off using another technique such as sautéing.

Poaching is cooking foods such as eggs, fish or fruit in a simmering liquid. Water is typically used, however you can also poach in stock or wine. To simmer liquid, heat it to just below its boiling point. You’ll see tiny bubbles rising softly up to the surface. The words poaching and simmering are often used interchangeably. When poaching, make sure your liquid doesn’t run out or you’ll end up with burnt fish and a pot that needs scrubbing!

No, reducing isn’t a trendy new diet. It’s boiling a liquid and waiting for a portion of it to evaporate. You’re done when you’re left with the amount of liquid the recipe calls for. This is done to create a thicker consistency and more intense flavors. Don’t be tempted to stir while reducing – it lowers the temperature and makes things take longer.

The process of roasting is as simple as putting food in your oven and setting it to a specific temperature. Roasting is the word we use when cooking savory foods such as meats, poultry and vegetables, instead of breads and sweets. If you’ve got buns in the oven, you’re baking. Roasting is typically done at higher temperatures than baking. It uses dry, indirect heat to cook your food, which allows the skin of a chicken to get nice and crispy while the inside cooks slower and stays moist and juicy. Some foods like coffee beans and cocoa (chocolate) are always roasted.