Grand Opera House

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.

Dried Beans

Q. Is there a faster way to soften dried beans other than just soaking them overnight? – Martha, Kaukauna A. Soaking beans overnight to soften them is recommended, but it is not required. Soaking beans softens the starches in the beans which allow them to cook more quickly, but if beans are not pre-soaked it READ MORE

Flour Power

Q. I see so many different types of flours on the market – rice flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, oat flour. What are the differences and are they interchangeable? –Clark, Menasha A. The many different types of flours on the market seem to be a directly proportionate response to the increased demand by consumers to READ MORE

Smoking Meats

Q. I received a meat smoker as a gift and would love to use it, but am not sure where to start. What do you recommend? – Lois, Little Chute A. The desired outcome of smoke cooking is a product that is both flavorful and tender. Great flavor starts with buying a high quality piece READ MORE

Nibblin’ Food

Q. How can I make a beautiful charcuterie board like I see on Pinterest?  What types of items should I include and in what quantities?  – Chloe, Neenah A. In my opinion, the four primary components of a perfect charcuterie board include cured meats, specialty cheeses, marinated vegetables and artisan crackers. Cured meats should be READ MORE

Cooking for a Group

Q. I will be cooking (alone) for about 15 people and would love some simple recipe suggestions that will be easy to execute, but also delicious. Main dishes, side dishes and dessert. – Lana, Greenville A. This is a common challenge when entertaining in order to serve a nice dinner, but still be part of READ MORE

A Quick Dinner Tip

Q. What are some creative uses or serving suggestions for a rotisserie chicken that I pick up from the grocery store? – Marriette, Greenville A. We are very blessed to have a number of retail outlets that prepare high quality “grab and go” items for us to purchase and consume. Yes, on occasion even chefs READ MORE

Panko vs. Bread Crumbs

Q. What is the difference between Panko and regular bread crumbs? Is one better than the other and can they be used interchangeably?  –Hannah, Appleton A. Panko crumbs are bread crumbs that are larger and coarser than standard bread crumbs which tend to be finer. Panko crumbs are prepared using only the inside white part READ MORE

Potluck Stars

Q. I have lots of outdoor picnics and potlucks planned this summer. What’s your go-to potluck dish that keeps well outdoors?  –Thomas, Neenah A. If at all possible, I try to bring items that can be prepared on-site and eaten immediately or maintained at the appropriate temperature, hot or cold, for the duration of the READ MORE

Back to Basics

Q. My son is graduating from high school this year and will be living in his first apartment this fall. What dishes should every young person learn to make before living on their own? I’m looking for easy, yet nutritious ideas to share with him.  –Martha, Appleton A. Here are the top five things that READ MORE

Chile Pepper 101

Q. What are the differences in heat levels of various chili peppers like jalapeño, habanero, poblano and serrano? Which are the hottest and least hot? — John, Kaukauna A. Chile peppers are all rated by the pungency (heat intensity) of their capsaicin with a measurement called Scoville heat units and are then ranked on the READ MORE