Lessons in Technique


A proper sear will give you a nicely browned appearance and hold the juices inside the meat so that it will be ever-so moist on the inside. Following are the steps.

1) Pat meat pieces dry with paper towel before seasoning and adding to the pan
2) Pre-heat the skillet before adding the oil at about medium heat (but not for too long or the oil will immediately smoke)
3) Pre-heat the oil at about medium-high (but not for too long or you will immediately burn what enters the oil)
4) You should hear a romantic sizzle when the meat hits the pan, if you have an electric stove-top you may need to turn the heat down towards medium if the pan starts to get to hot
5) Don't crowd the pan or you will steam your items instead of sear them
6) Don't stir to often or to early, when it's time to turn, the piece of meat should release easily from the pan, if it doesn't, it needs more time
7) Browning should take just a good couple minutes on each side, the purpose is to form a crust to hold the juices in, not cook the piece of meat completely through

Just ask Troy, I have a lot of rules, but I find these ones very important. Now that I've put them down on paper, next time he tells me "you sure have a lot of rules", I can say "no, honey-bunch, there are only seven". He'll appreciate that.


When beginning to prepare the pastry, fill a glass with ice and add water, use this water for the pastry. It takes cold water to make a flaky crust.

When rolling pastry, from the point you've flattened the dough into a disk through continuation of rolling, give the dough a quarter turn occasionally to ensure that it's not sticking to the surface.

Always roll from the center out. Be sure to push on the rolling pin just enough to push the dough out, but not so much pressure that you're pulling on the dough. Enable it to grow, not force it. A great ponderable for life all together.

Fold the dough softly into quarters and transfer to the pie plate. Unfold gently. A bench scraper is a great tool to assist in lifting the pastry from the surface and folding the pastry into quarters. It is a kitchen essential. If you don't have one, you'll find lots of uses for it once you do have one. They're also great for cutting bar style cookies.

Treat pastry tenderly and do not over work to achieve a tender crust.

For a little flair, add 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg to the flour and salt mixture.

If only baking 1 single-crust pie with a double-crust recipe, tightly wrap the remaining half and freeze until another day. Then thaw in the refrigerator for a day before using and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling out.