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.

The Perfect Biscuits

Q. Do you have any tips for getting homemade biscuits to be light and flaky? Mine always seem to come out dense. — Levi, Neenah A. Turning out beautiful baked goods can only be achieved if the recipe has the correct ratios. For example, a cookie recipe with an incorrect ratio of fat to flour READ MORE

Panko vs Regular Breadcrumbs

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

Hosting a Clam Bake

Q. I want to host a New England-style clam bake/boil, but clams, mussels, oysters and the like mystify me. How should I go about preparing and serving them? —Herb, Kimberly A. Clam bakes, cioppino and bouillabaisse are all delicious versions of seafood stews that are lightly simmered in flavorful broth. Regional variations include other ingredients READ MORE

Creative Burger Toppings

Q. What are your favorite creative burger toppings? I’m looking for something more unique than just cheese and ketchup to impress my guests at grill-outs. — Berry, Menasha A. I like this question because most of us grew up putting ketchup on everything! I’m a big fan of relishes prepared with raw ingredients. In addition READ MORE

Ceviche

Q. What is ceviche and how is it made? Is it always made with seafood and if so, what seafood works best? — Clementine, Neenah A. Ceviche (also spelled seviche, cebiche and escabeche) is a dish prepared by “cooking” seafood in an acid marinade. To the best of my knowledge, it is only made from READ MORE

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