How long should you boil artichokes? Mine always seen to come out either under-done or mushy. How can you tell when they’re just right? Thanks Chef!
Hey Anna, thank YOU for the questions! Everyone at my house are total artichoke fiends, lol, so I cook tons of ’em. While there are a lot of ways to prepare these beauties, boiling fresh artichokes is one of the original and classic methods, and how most restaurants still do it today.
Make sure to pick ripe ones. California artichokes (buy American!) are available all year, but peak season is March through May and again in October. You want them to feel more like a softball than a baseball when you give ’em a squeeze. You can also hold the artichoke next to your ear, and squeeze its leaves with your fingers. If you hear a squeak, the artichoke is extremely fresh, and a good one to buy.
Artichokes should feel disproportionately heavy for their size. This indicates that they still have plenty of natural moisture and will be packed with flavor.
Avoid any that have a lot of dark spots, dried/cracked leaves, or if the stem feels mushy or isn’t nice and green. Never store your artichokes in the fridge, or in a plastic bag, both will hasten spoilage. Some will disagree on the fridge thing, but my rule of thumb, after many years of professional cooking, is, if it ain’t refrigerated in the store, I don’t refrigerate it at home.
And I have to say it…my Dad, regardless of what restaurant he was working in, or how far in the weeds, always shouted, “You might’a choked Artie, but you ain’t gonna choke me!” whenever he dropped them in the pot. I do the same. Call it good mojo.
I’m writing this letter to the young man who stutters, or has an acne problem, or is just smaller than everyone else. To the young lady who never seems to know what to say, or may be carrying a few extra pounds, or who’s skin is a different color than everyone else in class.
You may not believe it, but once upon a time, I was the littlest kid in class. An only child with a sick mom, a sever speech impediment, coke-bottle glasses, and a thrift-store wardrobe…in other words, I was an easy target.
You know what I’m talking about.
Bullies made my life a nightmare from the 3rd grade, through most of high-school. With no real friends or defenders, it was a frightening, lonely way to grow up, and I still carry some of those scars, on my skin and on my heart, forty years later, and I always will.
So will you.
Bullies suck, and so does being bullied.
You don’t deserve it, you didn’t ask for it, and it’s not happening because there’s anything wrong with YOU. You are amazing. You are beautiful, and there is not another living soul on earth who is like you. That makes you a treasure beyond price.
Maybe your parents don’t understand, maybe your teachers and coaches were never bullied, and can’t relate, but you’re not alone.
You are SO not alone.
Your bullies are weak, and scared, and small. So small on the inside that the only thing that makes them feel good about themselves is to make someone else feel bad.
How sad is that?
But, you know what? There’s a gift in being bullied.
That can be hard to accept, believe me, I know.
But it’s true.
It can make you strong. It can make you brave. But most importantly, it can make you…kind.
And it’s not easy (but you’re used to things not being easy, aren’t you?)
You see, when you know what it feels like, the fear, the confusion, the betrayal, the pain…you can choose to let it make you bitter, to make you as small inside as the ones who hurt you, OR you can use it to guide how you treat others, how you speak to others in pain, how you protect and defend those weaker than you. How to choose compassion and mercy, over hate.
How you be exactly the kind of hero that you lay awake longing for.
Hate is easy, any small-minded weakling can hate. But love…love and kindness are the strongest powers in the universe, and when you have that strength, you cannot be beaten.
And because you know, you have greatness in you.
You are developing a strength that many will never attain, no matter how fast, or smart, or rich, or pretty. A strength of heart, and of mind.
You will be able to see things others don’t, do things other’s can’t.
And the world needs you…desperately. They need you more and more every day, because it’s people like you…like US…that have the power to make the world a better place…because we know.
Welcome to this week’s Home Chef giveaway! To get revved up for the upcoming release of “The Home Chef’s Guide to Frugal Cooking” I’m giving away 5 copies of the book that started it all…The Home Chef:Transforming the American Kitchen!
Had a hankering for fried catfish this week…until I priced it at my local fist monger’s shop.
The poor country-boy in me just couldn’t shell out $12.50/lb for somethin’ I can catch with a cane pole and a couple of smelly chicken livers. Glancing around, I noticed that tilapia fillets were on sale $2.98/lb.
Well, there you go.
Fresh tilapia fillets can be rarer than an honest politician, in chain grocery stores, but the frozen, individual portioned version will work just fine, too. Just make sure you thaw them before soaking.
If you’re feeling brave, buy whole tilapia (usually cheaper, too) and fillet them yourself. I like my whole tilapia fillets scaled, but with the skin left on, as it adds an extra crunch and a little fat, but to each their own. My local Asian super-market has tanks of live tilapia, which they’ll net and fillet for you…doesn’t get much fresher than that!
Chef P’s Mock Fried Catfish
6 (4oz) tilapia fillets
2 cups milk
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs seasoned salt
2 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic salt
Place tilapia fillets in a single layer in a shallow dish; cover with milk, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. Cover and chill 1 hour.
Combine cornmeal, seasoned salt, pepper, and onion powder in a shallow dish, and mix well.
Remove catfish fillets from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Remove from milk, allowing excess to drip off. Sprinkle evenly with garlic salt.
Pre-heat your deep fryer, or add oil to depth of 1 1/2 inches into a large skillet; heat to 350F.
Dredge catfish fillets in cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess.
Home Chef’s Note: Dad had a trick he learned while cooking in Georgia. Place your fish fillet on top of the cornmeal mixture, mound the remaining cornmeal over the top until completely covered, then give the whole thing a firm press with an open hand. Shake off the excess and continue.
Fry fillets, in batches, about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.*
*The darker ou let them brown, within reason, the crispier the finished fillets will be.
If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!
Drain on wire racks over paper towels.
Speaking for my people, you’ll be on these like a hungry ‘gator on a French poodle!
Chef Perry MY KITCHEN Outreach Program www.joinmykitchen.com
Did you know that the average number of days a child spends in foster care is 457?
Clackamas County has 387 children in foster care. Washington County has 754 children in foster care. Multnomah County has 2,037 children in foster care.
This adds up to 3,178 children in the tri-county area. The Tri-County area alone accounts for 35% of the total number of children in the Oregon foster care system.
Rick King knows…and that’s why he foundedKings for the Kids, an Oregon Not for profit Organization started to help fund camps, likeRoyal family Kids Camps, for abused and neglected children in Oregon and Washington, almost twenty years ago.
Rick’s heart is for foster children and the monies he, his volunteers, and local fishing guides raise supports several key ministries focused on kids in the foster care system. These professional guides volunteer their time, during the height of spring fishing season, to offer an amazing fishing experiencing, as part of KFK’s salmon fishing tournament fundraiser each spring.
Later, the guides and fisher-folk gather for dinner (that’s wereMY KITCHEN Outreachcome in!) and an amazing raffle/silent auction with many donated items from local artists and merchants.
Cookin’ up a brisket and chicken BBQ feast for the hungry fisher-folk!
You can fish with your own boat or with a guide or boatsmen and have a fantastic dinner and silent auction to raise money for foster kids here in Oregon.
How You Can Help
Kings for the Kids always needs volunteers. Whether it’s administrative work or help at one of the activities, they have a spot available for any amount of time you can commit. Below are some of the specific opportunities. To offer your time, please contact volunteer@kingsForTheKids.org.
Tournament Help: Needs at the annual tourney abound! Contact KFK if you’d like to help. What they need most are bodies willing to serve where needed. Some common needs are: Greeters, Servers, Registration, Setup, Cleanup, and the list goes on! Contact Rick to sign up or get more information.
Donation Coordinator: Kings For the Kids needs assistance with coordinating donations from local and national sponsors. The donations are used for our silent auction, raffle give-a-ways, and Christmas Boxes.
More Information: For additional details about the supported ministries or Kings for The Kids, please contact Rick King, rick@KingsForTheKids.org, and be sure to follow their official page on Facebook!
MY KITCHEN Outreach is proud to support and promote Rick, and Kings for the Kids, for the amazing work they do on behalf of foster kids!
When Good Kids Cook Bad Food (and what to do about it)
Excerpt from: “The Home Chef’s Guide to Cooking with Kids.” Coming Soon.
Learning to cook from a father who’s also a professional chef, isn’t always…fun.
I’m not talking about these television “stand and stir” celebrity chefs who smile, and make jokes, and have a team of cooking-college pukes doing all their mize off camera, either. I’m talkin’ about OLD SCHOOL chefs, the kind who viewed an 8oz steel ladle as a “tool of instruction”, if you know what I mean.
If you’ve ever cooked with me (and I apologize) try to imagine a guy who looks a lot like me, but with a hair-trigger temper, even less patience, and a MUCH more relaxed attitude toward profanity and volume.
Now, don’t get me wrong, my dad was a GREAT dad, he just wasn’t a very congenial teacher. I struggle with this myself (ask my wife about her one and only cooking lesson some time…) but I try to do a better job of keeping my emotions, and expectations, in check when working with my own daughter in the kitchen.
This morning was a good example…
The Pickle decided, as a celebration of the first day of summer vacation, that she was going to cook me breakfast. A lovely thing that happens more and more often these days. (Woo-Hoo!)
This morning she decided to make French-style scrambled eggs, a specialty of hers, but she got a little…exuberant…with the spices. WAY too much salt and pepper and, even on a burger roll, it was almost inedible.
Want to help me feed hungry families, teach at-risk & special-needs kids to cook for themselves and their families, and change lives?
Now, while my father would likely have just tossed the whole thing in the trash and told me to “do it right this time”, I paused, took a breath, and thought about the opportunities in the situation.
First (and it’s important that this be first) what was GOOD about the dish? Well, the eggs were cooked perfectly, exactly the light and fluffy consistency that I like. Likewise, the toast with exactly the right shade. Looking in the kitchen I could see that the ingredients had been put away, and the cookware, if not washed, had at least been moved to the sink, and the eggs were still hot when she served it.
These are all simple, but very important, elements of a finished dish, and I made sure to let her know that she’d done that right.
1. Inspiration will always produce better results than fear.
Working closely with at-risk kids, many of whom have never (literally) boiled water before, has taught me that fear and anxiety, which most of these kids are already dealing with, will do nothing but increase the likelihood of an injury or mistake. My personal philosophy is that the younger the child, the more praise and encouragement is required. Are they holding the spoon right?
Did they crack that egg without getting any (or very little) shell in it?
Do they just generally seem to have a good attitude and are willing to listen?
Basically, go watch a few episodes of Hell’s Kitchen, and do exactly the opposite!
You see, no one is born knowing how to cook, or enjoying the tasks required to do so. When we’re praised for something, the brain creates new neural pathways and releases endorphins and dopamine to the pleasure centers of the brain, increasing the likelihood that we will remember to do it THAT WAY again, because doing it THAT WAY makes us feel good.
Negative feedback also creates these pathways, but as a warning NOT to do it that way, which may seem like a good thing, but it’s not. Negative feelings (or lack of dopamine reception) triggers the human flight response, because, on an instinctive level, it’s easier to just NOT do it again (run away), than to risk doing it wrong.
This is why a lot of people don’t “like” to cook…their brain tells them it’s going to make them feel bad, and so they should avoid it.
And, before you start asking, “If YOUR dad was so tough, why do YOU love to cook?” it’s because as much as Chef Frank could rant, and rail, and slam frying pans, he also knew how to PRAISE.
When I did something right, he made a big deal out of it, he bragged to others about it in front of me. I guess you could say he made me feel good MORE than he made me feel bad, and though (at least in my case) that might sometimes work, it’s a risky way to do things.
Also, it’s important to remember that any time a child brings you something they’ve made, even a bowl of mashed bananas covered in powdered sugar, they’re offering you a part of themselves, they’re giving you a precious gift and trusting you with it, and their goofy little brains can’t always distinguish between you rejecting a SANDWICH, and you rejecting THEM.
BUT (and there’s always a big butt) as much as patience, and praise, and making it “feel good” are important, there are still absolutes in the kitchen, there are rules, and reasons for those rules, and it’s far easier to establish those from the beginning, than to try to add them in later.
We observe the safety rules: proper knife handling, bar mops in place for handling hot pans, appropriate clothing for cooking (protective of heat and splatters, not slip, foot-protecting shoes, nothing too loose or baggy that might catch fire, long hair pinned back, or under a cap, keeping our station free of clutter and dirty cookware to avoid accidents, etc.
We understand that, outside of the professional kitchen, clean-up is part of the cook’s job.
Cookware is rinsed, dishwasher is filled, and counters and stove-tops are wiped down BEFORE we eat. One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is to teach them to clean-up as they go. This is a habit that will make their whole life easier, inside and outside the kitchen.
Oh, and a modern-day tip on praise? Take pictures of your kids cooking and/or their finished dishes, and post them for your friends and family to see. To a 9y/o having another adult come up to them and say, “Wow, that omelet you made last week looked SO good!” is a really, really big deal.
2. Every mistake is a learning opportunity.
First of all, EVERYBODY makes a bad dish now and then. I’ve been cooking, personally and professionally for more than 4 decades, and I will still, on occasion, put out a stinker.
An important truth to remember is that, if you really want to master a craft, cooking or anything else, and you’re NOT making the occasional mistake…you’re not trying hard enough, and you’re not growing your skills. It’s been said, and I believe it, that “Good cooking comes from experience, and experience comes from bad cooking. Every mistake is a learning opportunity.
This morning’s eggs were an opportunity to reinforce three important cooking principles to my daughter:
a. Sometimes, less is more. Great cooking isn’t about a laundry list of spices and ingredients, it’s about knowing what to DO with them, and when. If the main ingredient is egg, you want that to be the dominate flavor, and not buried under a bunch of spices.
b. A smart chef under-seasons while cooking, and re-seasons before plating. Or, as my dad used to say, “It’s a hell of a lot easier to add more salt, than to take it back out!” Which leads to…
c. Always, always, ALWAYS taste your food as you go! First of all, it’s educational. If you’ve ever tasted a spoonful of beef bourguignon just on the heat, it’s a nasty, depressing thing.
But when you taste is again after hours of simmering and reducing, allowing the flavors to marry and the alcohol to cook off, you realize that there’s something transformative, almost magical, that you can do to raw ingredients when you understand certain techniques and when to use them.
No dish should ever be plated without a final tasting, and any adjustments required (if any) at that point.
Here are a couple of more tips:
1. Have a plan, and work the plan
Even when you’re having them start a dish from scratch, YOU, as the teacher, should already know exactly what needs to be done. Make sure you have all of the ingredients, the proper cookware, and anything else needed for the dish.
Make sure it’s something YOU know how to make, so you’re ready to step in with advice and guidance if things start to go off plan. Nothing is more discouraging to the learner than having to scrap a dish because they weren’t supplied with the right ingredients and tools. It’s like the old saying, “Never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to!”
2. Never teach in a rush, or under pressure
Trying to teach an 8y/o how to make turkey gravy when you’re cooking six other dishes and have a dozen family members showing up in two hours for Thanksgiving dinner is…bad. (And half those dishes should have been cooked days in advance…what were you thinking?”)
I kid, I kid…sorta.
Teaching, well…anything requires a calm, focused head, and getting frustrated and demonstrating that cooking is stressful and no fun, is the last thing you want to do. Teach when you have the energy, the positivity, and the TIME to do so. A smart chef knows when to order a pizza, too.
3. Then, always have a Plan B.
Speaking of pizza…what’s for dinner if that casserole catches fire, or a cup of salt is mistaken for a cup of sugar? Don’t make your child feel guilty for “ruining dinner, and NOW what are we going to eat???”
When the Pickle’s in charge of dinner, I know in advance that if the spaghetti turns into a solid ball of gluten, or the chicken gets immolated, there’s sandwich fixin’s, or omelet ingredients, or the phone number for the local delivery place, close at hand. Praise what went right, discuss what went wrong, and then laugh it off and go eat dinner.
How about you? Any nuggets of wisdom to add, either as the learner or the teacher, for encouraging a little chef?
Chef Perry chefperryperkins.com
By the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.
Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.
Recipes that claim to be “3 Ingredients” of “5 Ingredients or Less”, but don’t count things like spices, garnishes, or butter/oil really burn my biscuits!
Not only is it deceptive advertising (as an American media sheep, you think I’d be used to that, lol) but it hurts the very people that I bust my hump to help every day.
You see, people go looking for these recipes because they’re too busy, or too intimidated to to try ones that are more complex.
If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!
They’re TRYING, they’re dipping a toe in the pool, and these sleazy posters are the piranha that make them run away screaming when they see the actual 25 item list that includes all the seasonings and “optional” ingredients.
This is like coaxing a little kid up to the t-ball stand and then hurling a 100mph curve-ball at him (or her.)
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. If you’re home, turn them a couple of times during the day, if not, don’t worry about it.
When you’re ready to start dinner, remove the chicken from the marinade and allow to rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes to take off the chill.
Fire up your grill for indirect cooking, and grill the chicken for five minutes, then dip each thigh back in the marinade, flip, and grill another 5 minutes. Repeat until the thighs get firm, then move them over the direct heat to get a little char on them.
Remove from heat and let the thighs set and cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Mix all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl, divide between four plates, and top each with an even amount of chicken.
For our 2016 Spring pledge drive, we’re initiating the MY KITCHEN Outreach Hero Circle!
This new program is in response to many of you asking for a way to make automated monthly contributions to the outreach program.
MY KITCHEN is a hands-on learning program; a series of basic nutrition, planning, shopping, and cooking classes for at-risk youth, including children recovering from abuse, and foster-care teens who are preparing to live on their own for the first time. We also cook for homeless shelters and family warming centers, and offer our cooking services for other charity’s fundraisers.
We have partnered with organizations like Impact Northwest, Amy Roloff Charity Foundation, and Sparks of Hope to offer hands on, “real food” cooking classes for the youth they work with.
These are not classes that focus on a career in the culinary arts (though, we’ll be adding those in the future), but instead cover the primary skills and techniques required to plan, shop for, and cook healthy, affordable meals at home, using basic cooking equipment that these young people are likely to have available starting out on their own.
Think of it as “Home Ec.” for kids who may have never had a stable home environment to learn these essential skills from.
We believe that the ability to cook for oneself is a basic skill needed by everyone, and that the confidence and independence that comes along with these skills will transfer into all other areas of these kids lives.
In other words, if they can cook for themselves, they learn that they can do anything they want to do!
Become a monthly giver and help us change kid’s lives by joining our Hero Program!
$30/mo ~ Thirty dollars a month will put one new student through our entire program, and provide them with a syllabus/cookbook, and vital skills in nutrition, shopping, and healthy cooking.
$50/mo ~ Fifty dollars will teach a full 10 student cooking class, every month! Basic knife skills, how to prepare healthy vegetables, how to be a savvy grocery shopper…be responsible for providing our kids with a life-skill they will never forget!
$100/mo ~ One Hundred dollars will fund an entire weekend of youth camp classes. Each student will be provided a commemorative camp cookbook, vital skills in nutrition, their own personal cooking utensils to keep, a MY Kitchen apron, and hands-on healthy cooking classes. As a special thank you, each $100.00 monthly hero will be gifted 2 Pop-Up Dinner Tickets to the upcoming event of their choice!
Customize your Donation! ~ You can set the amount you give to any amount, and change that amount at any time, on our donation page.
*All donations will be deposited into the MY KITCHEN Outreach Program’s general fund, to be used at the discretion of our board of directors for outreach expenses.
If you would like to join us in mentoring kids, you can sign up for automated donations with your credit card, here on our GoFundMe page. (See detailed instructions, below…)
If you would like receive a mailed reminder to make a monthly contribution by check, or bank payment, please contact us (below) with your name and email address and we’ll send you the information!