In an interview and in his new book, Pierre Franey offers this advice on food and how to prepare it.
Garlic: Don't use a garlic press; the oil is squeezed out first and burns in the pan. Mince it with a knife instead.
Butter: If you want to cut down on it, avoid it altogether as a spread, but incorporate it wherever its flavor is required for the success of a dish. Mixing butter and olive oil can be effective in some cases. If you can wait to the very end of preparation to add the butter, it ups the flavor.
Microwave ovens: "I'm not against microwaves. It's OK to throw something in," says Franey: "My advice is don't do my recipes in it."
Honey: Generally, the darker the honey, the stronger the flavor. Honey is 25 percent sweeter than table sugar. "Honey is one of the great secret ingredients in American cooking," writes Franey. "We have it in ready supply in this country and the quality is often extremely good. It's endlessly useful, in sauces, syrups, and baking, and should be kept on hand, like mustard. Don't worry about honey spoiling; it virtually can't, refrigerated or not."
Artichokes: In choosing artichokes, hold them in your hand and pick the ones that feel heavy for their size. They should have a consistent green color, though in fall and winter they tend to be darker or "bronze tipped."
To store, sprinkle with water and place in an airtight plastic bag in refrigerator. They should stay fresh for at least a week.
Shopping: Buy fresh products; shop smart. "I never know what I'm going to buy.... I'm inspired by what I see," Franey says. Sometimes he chooses meat and figures out what vegetables to prepare with it. Sometimes, it's the other way around. "I love savoy cabbage," he adds. "Right away I think of things to go with it." Other days, "I could be inspired by herbs."
Potatoes: Don't worry about eyes, unless they have begun to sprout (more than 1/4 of inch of sprout means the potato is "over the hill"). Bruises should be avoided if possible. They won't harm you, but do affect the potato's taste.
Hamburgers: "How I love hamburgers! I've cooked them countless ways.... These days I almost always choose lean meat (but it can't be so lean that it won't hold its shape). Too many people, when they're forming the patties, handle the meat too much, causing it to lose its texture."
Okra: "I like to cook it between five and seven minutes, to keep it tender, not mushy, and retain its taste and green color. When buying okra, be sure it's fresh, not dried out, blotchy, or flabby. The best way to store it - it does not keep long - is to put it in a paper bag in the bottom section of your refrigerator."
Chicken: When roasting a chicken, it should be trussed; that way, it holds its shape and holds the moisture in. "It's a must," says Franey. He bastes it often, and always cooks it at a high temperature - 425 degrees F.
"I have a fight with the chicken people," he adds: "They leave too much fat on chicken. You're paying for unwanted fat."
Turkey: "A big problem in roasting a whole turkey is in getting all the parts to finish properly - that is, the legs and thighs fully cooked without drying out the breast at the same time," Franey writes. "A perfect way to avoid that problem is to do the breast alone."