I'm an avid traveler, university graduate, culinary graduate and chef who enjoys working with and learning about food.

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  • Favorite foods: My favorite style of food is Southern Mexican and Caribbean cuisine.

Crusty Juicy Steak

This guy is asking advice on how to make the perfect steak and the majority of answers are extremely obvious, i.e. use a hot pan or grill, brush with a high temperature oil (not butter btw) and let it rest. Any decent cook should know these steps. So let us not assume he is a blithering idiot.


There have been a few good tips here.

1) Patting off excess surface moisture (also obvious, but not followed by many)
2) Bringing the meat to room temperature (obvious, but not as much to some)
3) Saltcuring choice cuts (not so obvious) or buying dry-aged, prime cuts.

There is no time guideline to follow when cooking a steak since there are many variables at play. Instead, go by instinct, feel and look.

The perfect Margarita! Who has a recipe?

No one said anything about tradition. Agave nectar is all natural and super sweet, like stevia. Only small amounts are needed so I doubt you would be able to taste it in your margarita. It's not a prominent flavor like honey. Besides, tequila is made from agave... it's the main component in a margarita. So if you don't like the flavor of agave then why are you drinking a margarita?

The perfect Margarita! Who has a recipe?

There's nothing unappetizing about make-ahead margaritas. That's perfectly acceptable for certain cases. It's the ingredients that you mentioned make it unappetizing. Frozen limeade concentrate cannot and should not replace fresh squeezed lime juice. You shouldn't use just any tequila (Cuervo Gold in particular, which is 51% actual tequila). Triple sec is very sugary and chemical tasting, I'd opt for Cointreau or Patron Citronge; some people use Grand Marnier, but that's an expensive margarita. Water should never be used in a margarita, but I see why you used it here... to dilute the sugary limeade concentrate.

Stick with 100% agave tequila, light agave syrup or nectar (which can be found in most supermarkets now) and fresh lime juice. An orange liqueur other than triple sec is optional, but not necessary. So that's basically three quality ingredients. Nothing complex about it and it won't break the wallet. With a bottle of Hornitos tequila at $24, Agave syrup at $3 and fresh limes at $2, you can make all the quality make-ahead margaritas you want with some to spare.

Cuervo Gold = $15, Triple Sec = $10, Frozen Limeade Concentrate = $1

So you're saving about $3 for bad flavor and a possible hangover. Doesn't make sense to me, but do as you will.

What is Your Absolute Favorite "Ethnic" Cuisine?

Okay, Kitchenista. So you're saying that 120 comments minus the two you wrote were basically written by immature children? I think we'll continue to have fun and develop as a food community regardless if anyone posts negativity and criticisms. Thanks for the input though! I for one enjoy reading what everyone has to say.

The Burger Lab: How to Make Perfect Thin and Crisp French Fries

I mentioned blanching in water (3 step process) in your previous fry post.

I'm kind of shocked that you didn't know about this technique. Good tip on the vinegar and salt (I'll try this next time) though when I water-blanch fries, I don't experience as much sogginess as the pictures without salt and vinegar represented in your photoes. A quick blanch should get the job done for the most part (maybe with some crumbling). But if you experience too much sogginess then you are probably blanching too long.

LOST Party Outcomes

Bird brain... No one cares about your Lost philosophy. Move on.

You're the star - which food show?

Didn't realize everyone had super sensitive feelings. Maybe YOU should realize that it's my opinion. Everyone has opinions. If you don't like it, move on. No need to berate me for beleiving what I believe. I personally think food network is holding us back as a nation culinarily speaking. It's about entertaining, not increasing skill.

You're the star - which food show?

@lollie: I've been in the restaurant industry for 10+ years. I've met Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller and other prestigous chefs as well as the less prestigious cook-chefs like Flay and Sandra Lee. I think that working in the industry qualifies me for some concept of how chefs think and what chefs do. This has been a topic of conversation many of times. Practically no chef watches food network because they know it is a joke. Yes, some people watch food network for entertainment (even I watch Iron Chef sometimes) but even more people watch it to become a better cook. This is the same reason that people on members of SE. To break this down in the mind of a chef, that's like a doctor watching Grey's Anatomy to learn how to perform surgery. When you realize that the stuff portrayed on food network is suited for middle-aged housewives who only know the basics of cooking, you realize the same content is not suitable for a chef. Sorry if you were offended by my personal opinion on the matter. I have nothing against TV chefs like Pepin. But when Ray is known as the richest cook in the nation, there's a big problem with that. It's called entertainment and marketing and it's downplaying the work done by real chefs who perform their craft in ways that most people have no idea.

The 25 Most Influential Cocktails of the Past Century

No I am not. Influence would inspire people to order it. If very few people are ordering it, where is the influence? As far as I know, I'm one of very few people that orders these traditional and now obscure drinks in North NJ. As I said, a few hip neighborhoods in NYC and LA may have a slightly larger connoisseur cocktail fan base, but it's not what I see here.

The 25 Most Influential Cocktails of the Past Century

@Adam: Sorry.

@Ktinnyc: I didn't mean "nobody", I meant "very few". They are dying cocktails. For every 100 margaritas ordered in the US each day, 0 to 1 Moscow Mules are probably ordered. Does that make drinks like the MM enough to be one of the top influential cocktails in the world? You decide.

LOST Party Outcomes

Lol, calm down. Majority rules. It sucked. It's not the end of the world.

I wasn't referring to ice cream as having any connection to Lost. It was a completely separate thought. But I'm glad you enjoyed it for your dinner!

ISO lower alcohol white wine

11.5% is kind of average. Low would be 7 to 10%. I would look for great flavor, regardless of alcohol content.

Try Maso Canali Pinot Grigio. It's around $15-20, dry with tropical notes and isn't vapid like most Italian PG's.

If you want more crisp/citrusy flavors, explore the world of Sauvignon Blanc/Sancerre.

How to Make Risotto


I see you added the restaurant/sheet pan method to your last slide. I just wanted to clear up some confusion. This parcooking technique has no impact on the flavor of the final product. If I make risotto via the traditional way or the restaurant way, you will never tell the difference. It is entirely a matter of convenience to feed many people at once. If done properly, the risotto rice should be a little more than halfway cooked (the rice should still be very bland and too hard for risotto). No flavorings should be added until you are ready to finalize the risotto, at which point you're basically picking up where you left off. Except this time, you won't have to wait too long for the rice to reach the desired texture.

Many restaurants parcook items. Some do this for unacceptable items such as fish, where they sear the skin side and cook it halfway so the next day they can pop it in the oven and finish it in minutes. I do not condone this technique unless you are feeding hundreds of people for a wedding or a similar reception. Parcooking risotto is completely different. You're not sacrificing flavor or texture. You are simply making things more convenient. It would be an issue however if the restaurant let the same cooled sheet tray of parcooked risotto sit in the walk-in refrigerator for a week. Risotto prepared this way should be cooked in a day or two.

Avocado fat; bad?!

Cold-pressed avocado oil is one of the best all-purpose oils in the world for a variety of reasons. High smoke point (490 F +), high monounsaturated fats (good fats which prevent heart disease) and vitamin E, extremely low in saturated fats, contains no cholesterol, full of antioxidants and has cancer fighting properties, it's higher than olive oil in Omega-9 fatty acids - some say the best part of the Omega chain in fish oil supplements. The virgin variety is also high in chlorophyll and lutein.

And yes, it's pressed from the fruit, not the pit.

LOST Party Outcomes

Glad to know that one of every dozen people are satisfied with a mediocre finale that focused on character resolution and homemade dark chocolate ice cream.

You're the star - which food show?

That's not what I said. I basically said that people who sit at home and watch Food Network in awe of these TV chefs have no idea what true culinary skill is. The popular chefs/cooks on TV are mostly on there for your entertainment. Additionally, they dumb down recipes so they are easier to create for the average home cook. Now, I'm not totally bashing them. They might actually be much more talented than they show their viewers. But if they taught the average home cook the proper way, the difficult way, the technical way... then they wouldn't keep their ratings.

Easy, DIY fresh pasta recipe?

Semolina is great for intricate bite pastas like tortellini. It keeps everything from sticking to each other, including your fingers when forming. When mixed in proportion with 00 flour, it adds a certain chewiness to the pasta.

For a basic, but rich pasta dough, I would go with:

8 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1 tablespoon whole milk

Once you master this, try your hands at hand-shaped bite pastas using semolina and 00.

You're the star - which food show?

@Pintchow: I was referring to the blown-out of proportion, popular TV chefs/cooks like Flay, Ray, Batali, DeLaurentis, Lee, etc.

A lot of people think they are God's and if they ever studied other real life chefs then they would truly know what talent really is. Jacques Pepin is on TV and he is a great chef, but he also doesn't have his own talkshow, or pretentious attitude, or short-cuts that defy his principles. So to answer the question, I'll go with JP.

You're the star - which food show?

Most TV chefs aren't nearly as talented as those who practice their craft out of the spotlight. Six TV chefs off the top of my head don't equate to the skill of one Keller.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Lemonade?

Haha, master cleanse lemonade is not at all similar to the taste of real lemonade. It's cayenne, maple syrup, water and lemon juice. How did you feel after that program? Renewed or indifferent?

How to Make Risotto

@Jeanne-Marie & Wunami: You only stir when it's ready for another ladleful of liquid or just enough for it not to burn. You're not actively stirring for 20 minutes straight.

@Wunami: That's precisely what I was saying. Restaurants don't spend the time to make it from scratch for each order either. Instead, they parcook it beforehand and when an order comes in, the cook will finalize the risotto within a couple minutes. So if you're a home cook who really loves risotto and you want to have it more than once a week, then I suggest parcooking the rice using part of Kumiko's instructional and then finally turning it into risotto when you want to eat it.

Chicken Fat - What for?

The same way duck fat can be used. Although it's no comparison. Buy duck fat and you'll rarely use any other fat for savory cooking again.

What to Make With my Beef?

How to Make Risotto

@bobbob: A pressure cooker takes 10 minutes according to lawofmurphy. I don't think 10 minutes more via the traditional method is too much time spent on cooking, do you? I think it's very worth it, especially since the flavor and texture are increased tenfold with this method.

If saving time minutes before dinner is the problem, then you can always parcook the risotto without adding the cheese, butter and other flavorings and add them at that time. That's how we do it at the restaurant. The parcooked rice is lined on sheet trays. When we get an order in, the rice is turned into risotto in a couple minutes.

How to Make Risotto

Kumiko, nice risotto!

@lawofmurphy, there are shortcuts for everything. Some good, some not so good. Risotto made in a pressure cooker won't be the same (flavor and texture wise) as risotto made via the traditional method. If you're not convinced, have your wife follow Kimiko's recipe as well as her pressure cooker recipe and do a side-by-side comparison. Make sure your wife doesn't tell you which is which before you eat them both!

LOST Party Outcomes

So I assume a few of you hosted "LOST" parties last night. What did you serve your guests? What did you think of the finale? Other than the terrible explanation for it all, and the 7 minutes of airtime/4 minutes of commercial format, was the food tasty? Did anyone find those Dharma Initiative beer cans?

Your Go-To Pasta Dough Recipe

Do you make fresh pasta at home? I prefer a rich, eggy pasta such as this, which can be cut in half:

16 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk

I always season the cooking water, not the pasta. What's your go-to recipe? Do you add fresh herbs or perhaps squid ink on occassion? What do you use to form the pasta sheets? Good old-fashioned elbow grease and a rolling pin or the maybe the KitchenAid attachment?

Adding salt and/or sugar to coffee grinds = Tastier Coffee?

Some people say to add salt, others swear by sugar and there are others who add both. Is there any truth to this? Have you compared results? It makes sense since you're balancing the bitterness, but I think it also has to do with the amount of coffee grinds added. A lot of people tend to add too much.

Sweet Fruit in Savory Dishes

Utilizing sweet fruits in savory ways is a debatable subject that is based on personal preference. For some people, sweet has no place as a flavor component in a dinner entrée. For others, the incorporation of sweetness is essential for many dishes.

For example:

Pineapples on Pizza
Cherries on Ham
Cranberries with Turkey
Orange with Duck
Apples in Stuffing

What are some ways that you incorporate/enjoy sweet fruits in savory dishes?

What are other ways that fruit should generally not be mixed with savory elements?

Caipirinhas vs. Mojitos

I don't understand Mojitos. The Mojito basically a shot of clear, cheapo rum, such as Bacardi mixed with muddled mint, sugar and lime and then watered down with club soda.

It's a bastardized version of the refreshingly delicious Caipirinha, which contains Brazilian Cachaça with no mint and club soda. The Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil whereas the Mojito, most likely spawned by Spring Breakers, was invented in Miami. Cachaça, also known as Firewater, is distilled from sugar cane whereas rum is distilled from Molasses. It has a more tropical flavor with less of that harsh sweetness.

The next time you're at a bar and you want a Mojito, ask for a Caipirinha. They can be flavored with other fresh fruits such as pineapple, berries, etc. if desired, but most enjoy them au naturale.

Horchata de Arroz

Has anyone ever made Horchata? It's a rice milk drink from Southern Mexico, a type of Aguas Fresca. It usually consists of the following ingredients:

1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/4 cup raw almonds
1 cup evaporated milk or water
1 cup white sugar or cane sugar (panela)
a couple pieces of cinnamon bark (canela)
1 vanilla bean, scraped

What ingredients do you use, and how to do you prepare it?

Your Favorite Local Breweries on the East Coast

I like local craft beers. They're made with more love than the larger U.S. breweries like Budweiser and Miller. They're also fresher. I'd rather drink a beer that was made 3 months ago in a brewery an hour away from my house than one that's been sitting on the shelf for a year and shipped from a foreign country.

A lot has been said on SE regarding West Coast beers, but what are your favorite local breweries on the East Coast? What style of beer do you prefer? Where do you like to go for a beer?

Here are a few East Coast Breweries:

New York - Blue Point, Brooklyn, Saranac
New Jersey - Riverhorse, Cricket Hill, Flying Fish
Delaware - Dogfish Head, Iron Hill
Massachusetts - Harpoon, Wachusett
Maryland - Flying Dog

Professional Kitchen Clogs

I'm in the market for some new kitchen clogs/shoes. I remember reading awhile ago that Michael Ruhlman swore by a specific pair but I can't find the link. If you could post the link, it would be appreciated. Other suggestions welcome, but I'm not interested in Crocs :)

Shrimp is the fruit of the sea...

...You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich...

How do you like to prepare shrimp?

I like to grill it and then brush on a glaze, consisting of reduced orange juice (2 cups very slowly simmered to 1/3 cup) with 2 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter and a dash of soy sauce mixed in just before glazing. Serve it with some Caribbean-inspired jasmine rice pilaf (cilantro, lime zest, orange bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno, onion, salt, oil) and you have quite the tropical dish.

Do you Believe in the Power of Culinary Aphrodisiacs?

Share your thoughts and stories. Do you believe there are certain foods which increase sexual desire? Have you ever tried to seduce someone with food? What about herbs like gingeng and yohimbe? Alcohol has a pretty obvious effect so let's leave that out of the conversation.

A few foods said to have an effect on the libido:

Oysters - Dark Chocolate - Ginger - Basil - Arugula - Honey - Vanilla - Nuts - Anise - Truffles - Avocado - Coffee

New to Whiskey - Help me enjoy it!

From what I have read/heard about Scotch, Bourbon, Blended Whiskey, Single Malt, Irish Whiskey, etc. - it seems that I would enjoy Irish Whiskey the best (though I've never had it). I dislike the heavy woody taste in Johnny Walker Red and Jack Daniels Black is a little to sweet and vapid for me. Jim Beam bourbon is a sweet mess. Glenfiddich Scotch is almost unpalatable for me. Other than that, I haven't tried much. I know that there has got to be a way to enjoy this fine spirit. In the past, I despised tequila and now I love it!

I would like to see a detailed taste/aroma comparison about the many types of whiskey. Thanks!

Connoisseurs and Aficionados

Does anyone here consider themselves to be a true connoisseur for any particular food, drink or ethnic cuisine?

Examples: Traveling to Italy and learning how to make Pizza from the experts, Distilling your own Whiskey for the past 10 years, or having true knowledge and passion for traditional Malaysian Cuisine.

Share some stories about how you are distinguished when compared to the popular majority.

Calling All Bartenders

I have a couple ingredients at home that I want to use to make a few mixed drinks for my guests this weekend. Nothing too simple like serving it straight-up, or popular like Cosmos. I'm also trying to avoid making martinis, which I find to be too strong for most people.

For me, making the perfect mixed drink is more difficult than the most challenging meal. So, I would love if you could provide some tips, quantities, procedures for making mixed vodka-based cocktails. It would be great if you can work with what I have, but it's fine if I need to run to the store to buy a couple additional ingredients.

Here's what I have:

Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka
Tito's Handmade Vodka
Grand Marnier
Ginger-Black Peppercorn Simple Syrup
Agave Nectar
Club Soda
Ocean Spray Cranberry-Raspberry Juice
Ocean Spray Blueberry Juice
Pure Pomegranate Juice (which I could turn into Grenadine)
Fresh Limes and Lemons
Crushed Ice
A variety of fresh herbs and spices

Cooking & Preparation Methods

Are there any cooking/preparation methods that confuse you or anyone you know to the point where there's refusal to make the dish which utilizes that method? I've noticed that some people have minimal use for their oven and stove. Instead, they frequently resort to using the microwave and toaster oven for the majority of their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Here are some cooking/preparation methods, feel free to add more:



Do you make a great sangria? What are your ingredients and how do you make it?

I almost exclusively make red sangria and I never use carbonated water because I believe it waters down the sangria and unless you're drinking it right away, it obviously doesn't stay carbonated.

Here is my mix:

2, 750-ml bottles decent Rioja or Tempranillo ($8-$14 per bottle)
1/2 cup or to taste, Kirschwasser Cherry Brandy
1/4 cup or to taste, Orange Liqueur such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 can Goya Strawberry Nectar (secret ingredient)
A mix of apples, strawberries, pineapple, orange and mango

Put the ingredients in a pitcher and wait 24 hours before drinking for the best flavor. After 48 hours, the flavor will begin to deteriorate. If the nectar doesn't sweeten the sangria enough, add a little bit of simple syrup to adjust the flavor.

A Great French Video Recipe Website

Check it out...

Click VIDEO on the banner and browse through the recipes. Each Chef features an Appetizer, Entree and Dessert. If you can read French, it's a plus but not a requirement.

Have fun!

Tequila Bars in North NJ

Are there any good tequila bars worth visiting in Northern NJ? I don't want to take a trip to the city for this, so if anyone can recommend somewhere to go in Morris/Union/Somerset counties, I would appreciate it.


Is great guacamole made by simply tossing together a few fresh ingredients in a bowl or is there a method to achieving optimum flavor? I believe in the latter. So often, I see lazy guacamole recipes that claim to be the best just because they outshine store-bought versions or incorporate unnecessary cumin or garlic in the mix. Great guacamole is very simple. It's vegetable-focused, not spice-focused. The trick to optimum flavor is in both the method and the preparation of the ingredients. Before I explain how I make it, what's your method? How do you serve it? The more detail, the better.

I believe the best guacamole is made from the following ingredients:

Hass Avocados - The creamy texture of this variety is perfect for guacamole.
White Onion - Less harsh than red onion, yet less sweet and more complex than yellow onion. White onion is the most commonly used onion in Mexico.
Lime Juice - Freshly squeezed lime juice adds freshness and flavor that other acids lack. It also helps to deter oxidation of the avocados.
Fine Sea Salt - Not as salty and harsh on the palate as table salt and incorporates better than kosher salt.
Cilantro - Fresh cilantro leaves add to the complexity of guacamole while helping to tame some of the capsaicin in the chile.
Chiles, i.e. Jalapeno/Serrano/Habanero - If minced extremely fine and added in small amounts, you can optimize the heat level in guacamole by using virtually any fresh, spicy chile. I use orange habanero because it adds a level of fruitiness. Despite what people think, a small amount of finely minced habanero in guacamole is not unbearable for even those who are very sensitive to heat.
Plum Tomato - Plum tomatoes have less water content and more flesh relative to their size when compared to most tomatoes. Because chopped tomato is usually added in small amounts, a large one is not needed.

Which is your Favorite/Least Favorite Culinary Herb?

I wish I could create a poll for this topic. Anyway, in regard to the basic, fresh and readily available herbs (not lemon thyme or Thai basil), choose one favorite and one least favorite and explain why you chose these.


Cilantro is my favorite, and probably the most unique of all fresh herbs. Half the world loves it while the other half hates it. In my opinion, it's fresh, clean, citrusy and peppery with an intoxicating aroma. Cilantro is a multiethnic herb that is used in everything from delicate Asian spring rolls to substantial Mexican dishes and salsas.

Dill is my least favorite. I know what it pairs well with yet I still almost never prepare food with it. Dill reminds me too much of caraway, which I also don't enjoy.

How to Make Quality Wine at Home

This question is for all experienced winemakers:

What are the detailed steps for making about 30 gallons or less of quality wine at home?

Pretend that you're instructing someone who doesn't know the first thing about how to make homemade wine, and with your advice, they would succeed after reading your instruction.

Energy Drinks 101

I'm specifically interested in learning more about energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rock Star, Xyience, Sobe, NOS, Monster, 5-Hour Energy, etc. and not the Starbucks coffee substitutes or actual coffee/espresso. Despite some associated health concerns, most of which aren't proven, there are people who swear by the effectiveness of energy drinks. Some prefer the flavor to coffee and they're particularly more convenient for people who are on the go. When I'm not drinking coffee, my go-to energy drinks are either the Blue can Rockstar, 0 Carb, 0 Sugar with Wild Berry Flavor or the Black can Xyience, 0 Sugar, with Apple-Flavor. These two selections have always kept me alert without the early jitters or the late crash. Plus, they're healthier options than some others with 60+grams of sugar per serving.

Neverthless, most of these energy drinks are loaded with some form of sugar and packed with tons of Caffeine and B-vitamins that are not effectively used by your body. Few companies display the amounts of the last two ingredients on the nutrition label. Instead, they post some sort of energy complex blend or proprietary blend amount. There are so many forms of energy supplments out there that things can get confusing.

I found some data however and hopefully others can provide more information...

Do not exceed 3 grams of Taurine/daily.
Do not exceed 1000 mg of Inositol/daily.
Do not exceed 550 mg of Choline/daily.
Do not mix Ginseng with Caffeine or Alcohol.
Guarana and Yerba Mate are forms of Caffeine.
100 mg Caffeine = Increased Mental Alertness
238 mg Caffeine = Increased Physical Endurance

Please shed some light on the topic of Energy Drinks and provide further information so we can better distinguish the good choices from the bad.

Basic Pommes Puree Tips

Basic Pommes Puree = potato, salt, pepper, butter and some form of cream.

Pommes Puree is silky smooth and more rich than typical mashed potatoes. It usually has a higher ratio of fat and never contains skins in the final product.

Now, I know how to make great tasting Pommes Puree, but I want to know more about the science involved in making the perfect batch. Someone recently told me that by leaving the peel on the potato as it simmers, and then discarding it later, you will get more potato flavor in the end. Much to my surprise, it did taste more potato-ey this way. I enjoy learning little things that make simple foods better.

I always use Yukon Golds, hot whole milk, unsalted cold butter, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. I don't have a food mill or ricer (and both of these don't make the mixture fine enough) so I'll either pass it through my tamis, or my chinois if I want it to be super smooth.

1. What type of potato do you use and why?
2. Do you use whole milk, heavy cream or a combination?
3. How much butter do you add and when do you add it? Is it cold and cubed, clarified, melted?
4. Do you remove the peel or leave the peel on while the potato is cooking?
5. Do you use a food mill, ricer, chinois, tamis or a standard mixer?
6. Do you simmer the potatoes in saltwater or bake them on a bed of salt?
7. Are there any tricks or methods you employ when making a perfect batch of basic pommes puree?