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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.

Spicing up Taco Tuesdays

“Tuesday is taco night at my house, which I love, but I get bored with the same ground beef variations. How can I mix things up?” —Trevor, Little Chute Let’s consider several alternatives to ground beef for “Taco Tuesday” including other ground meats, whole muscle cuts, fish and other seafoods, and meatless variations. As an READ MORE

Key Lime Pie Cocktail

Posted on Apr. 4, 2022 by Grace Olson

“As someone who is sober-curious, yet still indulges in a drink now and then, do you have any recipes for a low-alcohol cocktail that still feels special?” —Sammie, Appleton Here is a relatively low-alcohol recipe I’d like to share. This Key Lime Pie Cocktail garnered First Place in a libation contest in Kingsford, Michigan several READ MORE

All About Mushrooms

“Mushrooms always seem like a missed opportunity in my cooking. They are a great canvas for flavor and offer a hearty, meat-like quality, yet I never showcase them much. Which kinds are your favorite to work with and how do you make them the star of a dish?” —Chloe, Kaukauna You are absolutely correct—mushrooms are READ MORE

Is stainless steel superior?

“I see a lot of chefs prefer stainless steel cookware. Is it really superior? How so and how do you keep it from getting those black stains on the cook surface?” —Anthony from Kaukauna The most important aspect of any cookware is the ability to transfer heat from the heat source through the cooking vessel READ MORE

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

“I am trying to achieve a thick, chewy chocolate chip cookie. Whenever I bake them, they flatten out and end up crunchier than I would like. What am I doing wrong?” —Angela from Sherwood Solving cookie challenges is fun because it forces us to consider the function of each ingredient to determine what might be READ MORE

Avoid burning with electric stoves

“Do you have any tips for cooking on an electric stove? Things seem to burn so easily, and I end up with overcooked food.” —Chrystia from Neenah In any type of stovetop cooking (other than induction) the cooking process is achieved by the conduction of heat from the heat source, through the pan and to READ MORE

Best oil to cook with

“What is the best oil to cook with?” —Omar, Appleton All cooking oils have different characteristics that contribute to the finished product. While the flavor of the cooking oil is certainly an important factor, what is probably more important is the amount of heat they will tolerate during the cooking process known as their “smoke READ MORE

“Grill-friendly” meats

Q. “What are the most ‘grill-friendly’ cuts of meat?” —Tess, Kimberly A.The most “grill-friendly” cuts of meat are the muscles that come from the mid-section of an animal carcass. These “middle meats” move significantly less than the muscles that are used by the animal for locomotion and are therefore more tender. The parts of the READ MORE

Beat vs. Fold

Q. When baking cakes, sometimes the recipes call to beat in ingredients and sometimes fold in. What is the difference and when are appropriate scenarios for each? – Luca, Appleton A. Beating is a rigorous process where two or more ingredients are forcibly combined into what becomes one smooth and relatively homogenous product. Butter and READ MORE

The Perfect Omelet

Q. I have heard that being able to cook a classic omelet is Culinary 101. I still struggle with it. What is your recipe for success? – Tony, Little Chute A. Omelets basically can be prepared one of two ways: either with the signature ingredients in with the scrambled eggs or the ingredients folded inside READ MORE