Ask Chef Jeff

Cornstarch Versus Flour

Q. Which is better for thickening: cornstarch or flour? Are they almost always interchangeable? —Ann, Neenah A. Both cornstarch and flour work essentially the same way. When heated, the starch molecules of each swell up and provide thickening, which is a very desirable texture needed for many preparations. Neither cornstarch or flour is better or READ MORE

Cracking an Egg

A. “Any tips on how to crack an egg without breaking the yolk?” —Lisa, Appleton Q. Because many applications require us to have an unbroken egg yolk, this is an important question. The first step is to make sure your eggs are cold, as warm egg yolks tend to break significantly easier than cold egg READ MORE

Brunch Cocktails

Q. I love mimosas, my boyfriend loves bloody marys. Are there other “brunch cocktails” that are easy to make at home? —Shelley, Little Chute A. While brunch cocktails have been around for years, it seems they have accelerated in popularity in recent years. When considering a suitable cocktail to accompany your brunch, which most consider READ MORE

Tips for Picky Eaters

Q. My son is a picky eater. I’m trying to help him open his mind to new foods. Any tips from a chef? —Henry from Kaukauna A. As an adult who grew up under the “take it or leave it” generation, the picky eater conundrum seems to be a recent trend. To open someone’s palate READ MORE

Leeks, Shallots, Green Onions

Q. “What’s the difference between leeks, shallots and green onions? When do you use them?” —Joyce, Appleton A. Let’s start off by differentiating leeks, shallots and green onions. All of them are related as part of the lily family. Leeks look like large, overgrown green onions with a white end by the root and broad READ MORE

Reverse-Searing Steaks

Q. I’ve heard a lot about reverse-seared steaks and that they’re fool proof. Is that true? How should I go about trying it? —Matt, Grand Chute A. Reverse-searing steaks is an excellent method to produce a perfectly cooked steak to both your desired internal doneness that also has a beautifully seared exterior. The former method READ MORE

Soggy Crust Begone

Q. “I love making quiche, but lately it has been hit or miss. Sometimes the crust is soggy, and the filling seeps through to the pie plate. Should I pre-bake the crust? Poke holes in the bottom?” —Tom, Kimberly A. Quiche is a great preparation and can be prepared with a variety of ingredients. Quiche READ MORE

Holiday Cookies!

Q. “What is your favorite holiday cookie recipe? I love trying new ones and have friends at an annual cookie swapping party to impress!” —Kassie, Appleton A. I have especially fond memories of the holiday cookies I had growing up as my mom would make several batches of different kinds of traditional favorites. The two READ MORE

Seasoning Cast Iron

Q. “What does it mean to ‘season’ your cast iron skillet? Does it happen naturally, or do I have to do something to the pan?” —Jason, Little Chute A. Seasoning a cast iron skillet is sealing the pores of the cast iron to make a frictionless, nonstick surface for cooking. When seasoned effectively and cared READ MORE

After School Snacks

Q.“I would love to give my kids homemade after school snacks, but I need to prepare them in advance to make it less stressful. Do you have any tried-and-true freezable snack ideas?” – Clare, Oshkosh A. Some frozen snacks that your kids might enjoy include frozen fruit and yogurt cups that you could make yourself. READ MORE