DEMARTINO'S MENTOR PROFILE

Hi, I'm demartino.

I'm a mentor in Misc. One Dish, North American, Dough/Crust

I'm from Boston, MA


View my Profile | View my Recipes

My Misc. One Dish Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
Because stews and chilis are excellent meals that anyone can make, regardless of skill level.


What inspires me in this category:
Stews and chili are culinary magic - you can take several ingredients, often the less-desirable ones, add a little heat, a little liquid, a lot of time, and you get a brand new product that is more than the sum of its parts - tasty, savory, fulfilling.


Experience:
Chilis, stews, fricasees... One pot meals that cook low and slow are a staple in my home.


Biggest Lesson Learned:
Prep everything ahead of time; since stews often have lengthy ingredient lists, I find it best to make sure I have all the ingredients ready to go before I even turn the stove on.


My Tips:

  • For more even low-heat cooking, use your oven set to a low temperature instead of the stovetop once it's time to simmer.

My North American Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
I want people to know that there is more to regional North American cuisine than "Deep South" or "Tex-Mex." New England cuisine it a conglomeration of more than 400 years of immigrants and natives blending cultures. Influences from Portugal, Brazil, Greece, Italy make use of the regional abundance (and lack thereof) of fish, seafood, legumes, maple syrup, and the those ingredients traditionally traded in the Northeast, such as molasses. A little ingenuity and a desire to stretch food to feed the maximum amount of people have created dozens of new dishes.


What inspires me in this category:
Despite its rustic, hearty appearance, New England cuisine is quite cosmopolitan, in that it doesn't exclude the influence of immigrants that came to the region. Rather, it embraces those influences, carving out niches for them, without losing its core concept of frugality and ingenuity. Certain dishes you won't find on menus even fifty miles outside of New England, yet there is something basic about the cuisine that most everyone can relate to. Whether or not you actually hail from New England, its cuisine can make you feel like you're home.


Experience:
New England cuisine, specifically. Growing up in Massachusetts gave me twenty years to study the traditional dishes of this region. It's so much more than just clam chowder, people.


Biggest Lesson Learned:
With a few exceptions, it's simple, hearty food, born of Yankee ingenuity and frugality. Like any good cuisine, use what's available. And like any region where food was once scarce, you'll use a lot of preservation techniques, and use ingredients that have been preserved in a variety of ways.


Education, Awards, Pro Experience:
Twenty years growing up in New England, ten years away from it - you try to find a decent cannoli or clambake in Los Angeles. If you want something decent, you have to make it yourself.

My Tips:

  • When in doubt, add bacon.
  • This is one cuisine where looks aren't that important. Stop worrying about how it looks, and focus on how it tastes.

My Dough/Crust Corner

Why I want to be mentor in this category:
Because pies scare people, and it's all because of the crust. But once you develop a good sense of how to make pie dough, you've opened up a whole new world of cooking - chicken pot pies, quiches, cobblers, tarts, even things like beef wellington. I want to help anyone who's intimidated by making dough by walking them through it step-by-step.


Experience:
A well-made pie is one of the greatest desserts - actually, one of the greatest foods - period. I've been making pies for years, and have tried various different recipes for crusts. Different ingredients, different techniques, different outcomes.


Biggest Lesson Learned:
More than souffles, pie crusts seem to know when the cook is scared of them. If you don't worry about it so much, your crusts will turn out just fine. Besides, even if you don't score a perfect ten, a crust that scores a nine is still fantastic.


My Tips:

  • Cold fat. Always - butter, lard, shortening, whatever fat you use, make sure it's cut into small pieces and chilled.
  • Pie crusts are always a balance between tenderness and flakiness. The more you work the butter into the flour, the more flake, but the less tender - so it's a tradeoff
  • When blind-baking pie crusts, always be sure to A) refrigerate the rolled-out crust for at least a half-hour, and B) use dried beans or pie weights during the first part of baking. This will help reduce shrinkage.
  • Pie dough can be frozen very successfully. So when you're making one batch, you might as well make two or three - that way, you'll always have some pie dough ready to go.
  • Pie dough should rest for at least a half-hour before rolling and using. This give the flour in the dough time to soak up all the liquid, and makes for a more easily-rolled crust.
  • There is such a thing as TOO cold. If your dough is rock-solid when you try to roll it out, it'll crack more easily. If the dough's rock-hard when you take it out of the fridge, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before rolling.
  • Alcohol. It's a useful little secret to making easy pie crusts. A little vodka mixed into the water will give you more leeway in mixing and rolling, and will cook off during baking.

MY PHOTOS

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