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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.

Homemade Salad Dressing

Q. I would like to start making my own salad dressings to avoid unnecessary sugars and chemicals. Do you have any easy homemade recipes and techniques? — Pepper, Neenah Salad dressings are versatile, fun and easy to make. Basic vinaigrette is prepared with three parts oil to one part vinegar seasoned with salt and pepper. READ MORE

Pickling vs. Fermenting

Q. What is the difference between pickling and fermenting? — Brie, Appleton   A. The quick answer to this question is foods that are pickled are prepared by placing them into an acidic solution and foods that are fermented create their own acidic solution. Both pickling and fermenting are natural methods of preservation, both produce a READ MORE

Smoked Everything

Q. I really enjoy smoked meats and fish, and am wondering if other things like vegetables or liquids can be smoked with a delicious result? — Brandy, Menasha A. Almost any food can be smoked. The question is if you want to or not. It really all comes down to personal preference. Smoke is an READ MORE

Roasting Duck

Q. I’ve eaten duck at restaurants and enjoyed it, but it seems rather intimidating to make at home. Any suggestions on how to approach it? – Rosemary, Menasha A. Duck is delicious, yet seems to be enjoyed as a special occasion type entrée by most people as its overall consumption is not very high. Domesticated READ MORE

Trending Turmeric

Q. I’ve been reading about the health benefits of turmeric. Into what types of dishes can I incorporate the spice?  — Ruben, Appleton A. Turmeric is a plant grown in Southeast Asia that comes from the ginger family. It is processed by boiling the plant, after which it is dried and ground into a powder. READ MORE

Pantry Staples: Splurge vs. Steal

Q. What pantry items are worth spending a little more on than others? Which staples can you get by using generic versions? — Sherry, Greenville A. There may be some readers who will not agree with my opinion when answering this question. I hope we can still be friends! There are very few consumers that READ MORE

Brown Butter Basics

Q. What is brown butter and how can it be used? — Ginger, Appleton A. Brown butter is unsalted butter that has been melted over low heat until it separates into its two primary components of butter fat (also known as clarified butter) and milk solids. The butter fat floats and the milk solids rest READ MORE

Braising Tips

Q. What cuts of meat benefit the most from braising? Any general braising tips? — Colby, Little Chute A. Braising is a combination cooking method that utilizes both dry and moist cooking methods on tough pieces of meat. Tough cuts come from the part of animals that move a lot like shoulders and legs. The READ MORE

Homemade Marinara

Q. I’d like to make my own classic marinara sauce using my garden tomatoes to enjoy year round. Do you have a favorite recipe and jarring or storing tips? – Graham, Little Chute A. I’ve made my own marinara sauce for so many years I can recite it by heart. The proportion of ingredients is READ MORE

Kabobs!

Q. What are some helpful suggestions for preparing delicious kabobs? I want to grill them, but am unsure how to get all the ingredients cooked to the appropriate doneness? — Caesar, Kaukauna A. Kabobs are an excellent item for the grill because they are fun to make and can provide a very colorful presentation. Here READ MORE