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Ask Chef Jeff

Chef Jeffrey Igel is the chair of the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Department at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. Here, “Chef Jeff” answers your cooking & cuisine queries and shares his recipes.

Reducing Food Waste


Q. I’m trying to reduce food waste in my kitchen. Do you have any recommendations on how to do so? – Kim, Appleton A. My wife and I just had this discussion recently. While it might sound obvious, the key to reducing food waste is to monitor over-purchasing and over-producing on the front end and READ MORE

To the Point


Q. What is the best way to sharpen my knives? — Louis, Kaukauna A. At one time, the best way to sharpen knives was to use a whetstone. A whetstone typically has three distinct stones of differing grit or coarseness, and by going from the coarsest to the finest with the appropriate amount of pressure at READ MORE

Smoked Turkey


Q. For Thanksgiving I would like to offer my guests a smoked turkey as well as the traditional roasted one. Would it be better to marinate the turkey or use a dry rub for smoking? — Tom, Little Chute A. Without question, my preference is to brine my turkey before smoking it rather than dry rubbing READ MORE

Perfect Pie Crust


Q. How do you achieve a flaky pie crust? Mine always end up too dense. — Richard, Appleton A. Flakiness in a pie crust is achieved when the solid fat (sometimes referred to as lard if animal-based or shortening if vegetable-based) is distributed into the dough in very thin layers.  This is achieved by keeping the READ MORE

Broiled or Baked


Q. I want to start eating more fish. I would prefer to bake or broil it to reduce the use of fat, but I don’t want to under or overcook it. What is the proper timing for cooking fish in the oven? — Grace, Appleton A. When using an oven to broil fish, excellent results READ MORE

Grilled Greens


Q. I recently had a caesar salad at a local restaurant that used a wedge of grilled romaine lettuce. I loved the char on it and would love to recreate it at home. Any tips? — Missy, Menasha A. Well Missy, what a timely question for the middle of both the grilling and growing seasons. The first READ MORE

Broil, Grill or Barbecue


Q. What is the difference between broiling, grilling and barbecuing? — “Tex,” Little Chute A. This is a very frequent question among many of those who use a grill. Broiling by definition is “a dry-heat cooking method in which foods are cooked by heat radiating from a source located above the cooking surface.” The definition of READ MORE

Quick to Rise


Q. What makes a quick bread quick? — Oscar, Appleton A. Quick breads are what most people would consider dessert breads or muffins, and also can include such items as biscuits, cakes, brownies, scones, pancakes, cornbread and even cookies. Quick breads are typically made either into loaves or muffins that are leavened by either chemical leaveners READ MORE

Perfecting rice


Q. I’ve always had trouble making perfect rice. Can you help me? — Dale, Darboy A. Well Dale, the proper rice selection and the amount of liquid used when cooking the rice play a significant role to get the perfect rice we are looking for. Sometimes, we want a rice that is light and fluffy like READ MORE

Sneaky servings


Q. My kids don’t eat enough vegetables. Are there any kid-approved dishes that are easy to sneak in an extra serving — Ashley, Greenville A. Ashley, this question has been around since I was a kid (which has suddenly become a long time ago). I can remember seeing advertisements on television (although my mother never bought READ MORE