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.

Restaurant Slang

Q. When I worked in restaurants as a server, busy chefs were said to be “in the weeds.” What other chef slang might civilians not be familiar with? – Robert, Appleton A. Most vocations have their own unique jargon that is common to their industry, but may not necessarily be understood by the public. The READ MORE

No Knead to Worry: Bread Tips

I’d love to start baking my own bread, but the whole kneading process seems intimidating. Do you have any bread-making tips for me? – Lex, Appleton The secret to great bread is the texture, which is developed through both leavening and structure. In bread baking, yeast is the primary leavening agent used and works by READ MORE

Working from Home Lunches

Q. Now that I’m working from home, I’m looking for some easy weekday lunch ideas. Ideally they would be things I can make the night before and to help streamline the next day. Any ideas? – Peter, Kaukauna A. As a recent empty-nester still trying to adjust to cooking for two, my knee-jerk response is READ MORE

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