How to Boil Water was an early Food Network show designed for the novice cook.
Having mastered water a while ago, I moved on to more complicated recipes like the time I made boned Cornish hens stuffed with fruited rice pilaf. Brushed with a currant glaze, those little birds were so good to eat. But they also took two days to put together. That was then.
Now I want gentler, simpler recipes. Unlike a recent study that indicated Millenials don’t eat cereal because they don’t want to wash the bowl, I’m OK with cooking and the dishwasher.
It makes you wonder what the future of meals looks like when cereal is inconvenient.
Building your cooking chops may begin with pouring cereal, but it’s not too hard to ramp up your game. Even with limited skills and time, delicious food is a few minutes away. It just takes hot water.
Just add hot water
Hard-cooked eggs seem like a no-brainer, but even experienced cooks get tripped up. If your eggs have green yolks, they’re overcooked. The chemical reaction between sulfur in the egg white and iron in the egg yolk happens when the water is too hot or the egg is cooked too long.
To cook the Goldilocks, just right, version, place them in a saucepan. Add water to cover the eggs by an inch. Place on stove over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, cover the pan with a lid. Remove from heat and let the eggs rest in the hot water for 17 minutes (this time is for high-altitude, lower altitudes require about 12 minutes for large eggs). Remove the lid. Place pan in sink and run cold water over the eggs.
To use those eggs…
1. Add chopped eggs to salad greens with sliced pickled beets and walnuts.
2. Toast an English muffin and top with sliced eggs, tomatoes and shredded mozzarella. Broil to melt cheese.
3. Gently mix chopped eggs with small spoonful of mayonnaise and another of plain yogurt. Add a handful of chopped celery. Sprinkle in salt and pepper and you have egg salad. Want more flavor? Add a pinch of curry powder to make curry egg salad.
Building your cooking chops
Budding cooks may want to go beyond water.
• Watch basic cooking technique videos at RealSimple.com
• Read J.Kenji Lopez-Alt’s descriptions on how, why, and what to cook at SeriousEats.com
• Use Anyone Can Cook by Better Homes and Gardens for a cookbook with “ask Mom” tips
• Subscribe to Cooking Light magazine
• Read my book, Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest, Simple Solutions for Fresh Food and Well-Being. I offer lots (and lots) of food solutions.
Just add spices and milk for Masala Chai
Of course, boiling water isn’t limited to eggs. Add some milk and spices and you have Masala Chai.
In my Masala Chai recipe I use whole star anise, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. Grinding whole spices is worth the fragrance alone. That’s because the volatile oils are released. It’s also why whole spices last longer than pre-ground spices. Once spices are ground the aging process begins which explains why spices lose flavor as they sit in your kitchen cabinet. I use a marble mortar and pestle or a small electric coffee grinder that I keep just for spices. Both are less than $20. The mortar and pestle I prefer has a rough interior surface which easily breaks up the hard spices. The more you work the spices, the finer they become. Of course, you can use the ground spices you find at any grocery store, but when you grind whole spices, you realize what a certain spice smells like and how much flavor it contributes. I buy whole spices in ethnic grocery stores. You may have a local spice shop or order online at Penzeys.
This is a not-too-sweet chai that is soul-soothing and delicious.Enjoy steaming hot on a chilly day or ice cold in the middle of summer.
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- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken
- 8-10 cardamom pods (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
- 5 cloves
- 9 black peppercorns
- 8 coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 star anise
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, ¼-inch slices (or ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons loose black tea, such as Assam
- Grind the whole spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Place the milk and water in a medium saucepan and add the spices, ginger and brown sugar. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the milk from boiling over. Remove from the heat and add the tea; steep for 4 minutes. Strain and serve.