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HOW TO COOK

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How to Throw a Quick and Easy Cook- Off Themed Party

The Key to Having a Simple Cooking Party

Top Chef, Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Iron chef and Throwdown. What do these all have in common? They are all some sort of cooking competition between chefs, cooks and the occasional average Joe. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a party like this? Well here are a few ideas as to how you can achieve it.

First off the key to throwing a successful cook-off party is to keep it simple. We all love to entertain but with our busy hectic lives keeping it simple is best. You have to decide how big of a party it will be. Will it just be one on one, or one group against another? Once you have decided the size it’s time to move on to the theme. The easiest theme to do for a cook-off party will be to do one like that of Top Chef. Where there are a select number of cooks cooking similar if not the same dish. And they are judged not only on what they cooked but how they made it. Most of the cooking shows we see on television are set in gourmet kitchens with all the latest and greatest. But if you are like me then you’ll probably have to settle with cooking off site and bringing the finished project to be judged. You can choose to have a cook-off of just one certain type of vegetable or meat, or giving three ingredients that must be incorporated in one dish. For example a group of my family and friends did a rib cook-off. There were six people who made their ribs at home and then brought them to my place to be judged by five judges who did not cook. Here’s how it went.

There were six people who cooked ribs, some smoked them some baked them and a few just put them on the grill. Everyone made sides. Macaroni and cheese, baked beans, corn on the cob, pasta salad and a few desserts. Once the cooks where chosen, then they could decide on their own rib recipes. On the day of the party, I did my decorating. Simplicity is the key. Don’t go overboard with balloons and streamers. All you need is a sign, some cool printed out score sheets for the judges and a few games for the kids. You can even go as far as getting an award for the winner and a ribbon for the runner-up. The reason behind keeping it simple is so that the featured food will be the star. You can use a big platter to display rolls. Or get a big pitcher and fill it with water and sliced lemons and limes to be used as a palate cleanser. Use décor that serves double duty, it’s pretty and edible. Make sure that wherever you are having the cook-off, the judges are set up in another room. It’s best to do a blind taste testing then like they do on Chopped. Because this way no one can say the judges were being biased. While the judges are in the other room the cooks sliced there ribs and put them on marked plates. Each judge sampled each rib and scored them on taste, texture and appearance. Once the scores were tallied the winner was announced and dinner was served. And it was an easy quick and fun cook-off party.

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How to Cook a Good Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms on the Side

Cooking Steak in a Saute Pan Made Simple

You will need:

1 steak (sirloin or better)

1 cup mushrooms (sliced)

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs butter

1 tbs corn starch

Garlic (strongly suggested)

Salt

Pepper

1 pan

1 pair of tongs (optional)

1 spatula

Cooking steak in a pan is a very simple process. Do not be scared about cooking steak on the big night. If you follow these simple steps, the process will be extremely easy.

First, make sure your steak is at room temperature. If your steak is cold from the fridge, it will take longer to cook, and it will also cook unevenly. You don’t want your steak to be burnt on the outside and cold in the center!

Peal your garlic and chop it up during this time. I strongly suggest using garlic in almost everything you cook, as garlic simply takes food to another dimension when you use it, especially in sauté recipes.

Let your pan get nice and hot. If there is no heat in the pan, there will be no color on your steak, and if there’s no color there will be no flavor! I like to use a nice, thick, non-stick sauté pan, which makes cooking anything from omelets to salmon so much more efficient.

Put in your olive oil and your optional garlic. When the oil just starts to smoke, lay your steaks right on down and listen to the sizzle. If your steak is not sizzling, the oil is still not heated enough. Add the mushrooms in with the steak and cook them together.

Cook the steak for at least 3 minutes on each side for a good medium rare. It is really important that you do not touch the steak, turn the steak, or cut into the steak during these minutes. Leave your steak alone when one side is cooking! Once one side of the steak is done, flip it over with tongs or a spatula, and cook it for another 3 minutes. After that time, remove your steak and let it rest on a plate for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Make sure to leave your mushrooms and garlic in the pan. While your steak is resting, you will be adding the finishing touches to your mushrooms and sauce. Use a spatula, and get the mushrooms nicely coated with the meat bits, oil, and garlic in the pan. Mix the corn starch into your pan, and stir it around until the sauce begins to thicken. Add butter and let it melt. Cook the combined mixture for 2 minutes and serve it over the steak right away. Enjoy!