Monthly Archives: May 2016

How to Spice up your Food

Ignacio   May 17, 2016   Comments Off on How to Spice up your Food

I cook out of necessity, but over the years I’ve learned to enjoy cooking. After my divorce, I found myself cooking for my four small children. Not only were my choices for meals limited because the kids would only eat certain things, I also now had to stick to a tight food budget. We were constantly eating chicken, ground beef or pork made into some sort of dish the kids would eat and that accommodated what I already had on hand. Spices and certain seasonings were out of the question. After they grew up, I started experimenting with various spices and condiments and found that it doesn’t take much to spice up your food.

The easiest way to spice up your food is simply by adding salt and some sort of pepper. Black pepper, white pepper or fresh or dried hot peppers can be added to almost any food. I add them to soups, salads, vegetables, pastas and meats. You can add as much or as little as you want and the flavors will be different depending upon whether you add the spice before, during or after cooking. You may also use bottled hot sauce in much the same way

Garlic is another flavor enhancing spice. Since it is a little spicy in it’s raw form, most people either mince it or saute it into their dishes. Garlic is especially good when added to raw vegetables like spinach or cabbage during cooking. Roasted garlic rubbed onto toasted bread or mixed into mashed potatoes is wonderful. Garlic sauteed in olive oil and butter is great on pasta or drizzled over hot steamed vegetables.

Ginger is another spicy root to use in your cooking. Not only does ginger add a different but unique flavor to your food, it can really spice things up. Try adding it to chicken or seafood. I sometimes saute chicken, ginger, onions, garlic and coconut milk together. MMMM… great with white rice.

Spicing up your food doesn’t necessarily mean adding heat. Just by trying a few new flavors, you can bring new life to your favorite recipes. Balsamic vinegar on french fries, a mustard/mayonnaise mix for crab claws, sauerkraut on pork chops or sour cream and chopped chives on a steak give your old favorites a new spin. A little Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, pepper jelly or salsa mixed into your ground beef for burgers adds an extra burst of flavor and makes the burger even more delicious. Try different toppings for your veggies too. Chopped onions, shredded sharp cheese, chopped nuts or lemon juice add flavor and can help picky eaters eat more vegetables.

Now that I am no longer at the mercy of what my children like to eat, I have realized that there are quite a few ways for me to spice up my food. Try some new and different things, I’m sure you will like them.

Reference:
1. How To Spice Up Any Meal. Literally. | Nerd Fitness
2. Herbs and Spices to ''Spark'' Your Food | SparkPeople

How to Shuck Oysters

Quintin   May 16, 2016   Comments Off on How to Shuck Oysters

Opening oysters can be a tricky proposition, even for professional chefs. Shucking oysters can be a time consuming and frustrating experience, particularly the first time. It is, however, possible for anyone to shuck oysters at home with the proper tools and this easy technique.

As with most fresh ingredients, the first step to shucking an oyster is to make sure that the oyster is clean. The oyster should be washed off under running water to remove any sand or grime. It is a good idea to scrub the oyster with a vegetable brush if you have one.

Safety is essential when shucking oysters. It is very easy to slip with the knife and cut yourself while shucking oysters, but there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself. First, you should always hold the oyster in a towel so that if the knife slips it will hit the towel first. The oyster should be held so that it will open towards your hand.

With the oyster head level to the counter, insert the tip of your oyster knife about 1cm. The tip should be pointed towards the roof of the oyster as you slide the oyster along the oysters mouth from one side to the other. Pointing the knife towards the top of the oyster will help you avoid cutting up the meat inside. You should NEVER attempt to open an oyster with a regular kitchen knife. An oyster knife can be purchased at most major kitchenware stores and it is worth the investment to avoid risking serious injury to yourself.

Once you have cut all the way around the oyster (from one side of the hinge to the other) you should be able to pry the oyster open with your hands. It is not a good idea to attempt to pry the oyster open with your knife, as you will likely puncture the meat. It is also dangerous to try to open an oyster this way because the oyster may open suddenly, causing you to lose control of the knife.

If any part of the oyster is clinging to the top of the shell after it has been opened you should remove the attachments with your oyster knife as cleanly as possible to avoid damaging the meat. The muscle attachments to the bottom of the shell should be removed in a similar way. Make sure that the tip of the knife is pointing towards the bottom of the shell to avoid damaging the meat. Once the meat is completely detached from the shell you should remove any additional grit from the oyster with your fingers or a paper towel.

Your oysters are now shucked and ready to go, whether they are going to be marinated, chopped, or served on the half shell. While it may be difficult, just remember that you will improve with practice, and never forget to put safety first!

Reference:
1. How to shuck an oyster – YouTube
2. How to Shuck (Open) Oysters | Washington Department of Fish …

How to Ship Seafood

Monique   May 15, 2016   Comments Off on How to Ship Seafood

Shipping fresh, frozen or live seafood is a daunting task requiring the right storing technique and care. Improper packaging and handling can spoil seafood causing severe health problems when eaten by consumers leading even to death. Fresh or live seafood need extra care and must be consumed at most 24 hours after shipping. Frozen seafood on the other hand must be sealed air-tight and packed with ice in special bags to minimize ice melting. To properly prepare seafood for shipping demands some basic steps in order to reach at destination fresh and delicious. In particular:

1. Seal seafood air-tightly in thick plastic bags to avoid leakage. Especially frozen seafood or fishes with sharp edges may pierce bars and cause them to drip. Leakage will not only damage your seafood but also passenger baggage and the rest of the cargo. If possible, purchase especially designed vacuum food sealers for maximum safety and freshness.

2. Seafood is extremely fragile and needs careful handling. Despite the way you will choose to ship it, either by plane, car or train, it needs to be packed with plenty of ice to maintain its freshness and nutritional value. For that reason, purchase foam insulated shipping containers. Place ample ice or ice packs, then the seafood and ice again on the top. If you want, you can also lay a cold, clean, wet cloth on top of the fish and under the upper ice layer. Seafood needs to be totally covered with ice to stay protected under any weather conditions. Foam will make ice melt at a significantly slower rate keeping seafood fresh while prolonging its lifetime.

3. Prepare your package for shipping by securely closing it up with duct tape. Moreover, do not neglect to inform the carriers about your package and that it needs to remain in a cool and dry place if there is such a possibility.

4. If you wish to skip the above procedure, you can ask for a professional to help. Visit a qualified store specialized in shipping perishable packages. Additionally, most seafood stores have a website presenting in full details every step of shipping followed by a thorough price list. Make a thorough research to find the best deal for you.

Inform the recipient about the estimated time of delivery as it is best to receive the package immediately. Moreover, make clear that seafood needs to be refrigerated or frozen upon delivery to remain fresh and full of flavor. Shipping seafood is not an easy deal but it definitely worth the try!

Reference:
1. How To Pack And Ship Fresh Seafood For Overnight Delivery Using …
2. Packaging Perishable Shipments – FedEx

How to Saute Onions

Jeramy   May 15, 2016   Comments Off on How to Saute Onions

Literally, the word, sauté, means “to jump”, and when applied to onions it means to cause onions to dance, or jump, in the pan as they cook with a delicious result.

The best sauté pan is shallow, open, fairly wide, and oiled with a small amount of fat.

Onions for sauté must be washed clean of any soil or sand, dry, and at room temperature. They may be sliced, chopped, or diced, but of uniform size and thickness so that the onions will cook evenly. Both the pan and fat must be hot enough so that the onions react immediately to prevent sticking.

If onions are cold and wet when put into the pan they will reduce the heat needed to start the sauté and will not brown to produce a satisfying result. Additionally, leave plenty of room in the pan for the onions to dance, rather than steam, as they are gently tossed through the hot oil.

If you are not sure about tossing the onions inside the sauté pan, use a big spoon to keep the onions moving as they cook.

Sautéed onions are ready when lightly browned around the edges, crisp on the outside and moist inside. They are now ready to add a finishing touch to focaccia, mashed potatoes, a burger, or a steak.

Most cooks agree that a mixture of olive oil and butter produces the best sautéed onions. You know that your oil is ready when the mixture in the pan becomes fragrant but does not smoke. If the pan seems to become too hot, simply lift it from the burner for a few seconds until it cools and continue with the sauté. If the pan seems cool after you have started to add the onions, increase the heat and wait until the temperature within the pan is high enough to continue.

Gilding the lily

The addition of a small portion of minced, fresh garlic enhances the flavor of sautéed onions.

Many good cooks agree that sautéing onion before combining with other ingredients enhances the flavor.

This is an interesting and delicious addition to antipasti. Dip ½ inch thick eggplant slices in beaten egg and lightly coat with Parmesan cheese. Sauté eggplant and top with a generous portion of sautéed red onion. Finish with a dash of balsamic vinegar for a delicious  flourish.

Finally

There are delicious recipes for what are normally called sautéed green, or early spring onions. They are not true sautes, but are often considered tonics or at least some of the first taste treats of the year.

Cook the green onions as you would any sauté, except the green onions are not to be fried until crisp but should remain fresh, tender, and enrobed in their own sauce. It might be necessary to add a bit of water to adjust the consistency of the sauce.

Turn the heat down, watch the pan closely, add other emerging herbs and greens to cook at their own pace if you wish, and create your own early spring tonic.

Reference:
1. How to Saute Onions – Better Homes and Gardens
2. How to Caramelize Onions, Caramelized Onions Recipe …

How to Poach the Perfect Eggs

Clyde   May 14, 2016   Comments Off on How to Poach the Perfect Eggs

Poaching eggs is the perfect way of serving eggs: this method adds virtually no extra fat, and the cleanup is easy. If you want to change the way you eat eggs, then poaching is the right way of cooking eggs for you. However, not many people know a good method that will give them perfectly poached eggs every time. I’m sure that the tips I’m about to share with you will help you get great poached eggs.

First, you will need a pan that is heavy-bottomed and that is quite wide. You do not want to use a high-sided pot, but neither do you want to use a pot that has too-shallow sides. Saucepans are great, but make sure that you are able to put in two or three inches of water without spilling anything over. Once you have your pan ready, then you can take out your eggs and allow them to sit at room temperature. Pour water into your pan (two to three inches deep) and bring it to a boil. Then, you will want to lower the heat and let the water simmer.

Once the water has begun to simmer, you are just about ready to put your eggs in. You will need a stainless steel, round cookie cutter. Any size works, but I think that the larger it is, the better. However, many people have used smaller cookie cutters and have ended up with beautifully round and perfectly poached eggs. So, use whatever you have on hand. Place the cookie cutter into the middle of the pan. If you are using more than one, you can put more cutters in at the same time. However, I recommend just poaching one egg at a time. This takes a bit more time, but it does ensure perfect-looking poached eggs. Also, the middle of the pan is perhaps the best place to poach your egg. This allows for easier removal and the heat is perhaps most concentrated in the middle of the pan, which means a faster cooking time overall.

Leave the single cookie cutter in the middle of the pan and allow it to get heated through thoroughly. You want to heat it up because when the egg goes in, the egg will start to cook immediately. If it doesn’t, it will be more likely to stick to the sides of the cookie cutter, and it’ll be harder to remove. The cookie cutter will heat up in under a couple of minutes. Crack the egg into the cookie cutter, and if the pan you are using has a lid, use it. This steams the top of the egg and cooks the yolk ever so slightly. If you want to cook the yolk more, you will want to keep it covered for a while. Make sure that enough steam is circulating to cook the top of the egg.

It does not take too long to cook the egg whites. It will take no more than seven or eight minutes. In fact, you don’t want to leave the egg in too long because the egg whites can turn rubbery. You can check for doneness by pricking the egg whites with a fork or knife. If it doesn’t run, then it’s finished cooking. The yolk should be in a similar stage. However, some eggs can be removed at the four minute mark. This makes the yolk a little runny, but the egg whites are cooked to perfection. With simple steps like these, it’s possible to make beautifully poached eggs at home. Why not try them today?

Reference:
1. Poached egg
2. Perfect Poached Eggs Recipe : Alton Brown : Food Network

How to Roast Garlic

Renaldo   May 14, 2016   Comments Off on How to Roast Garlic

Roast….Garlic.

Roast meaning to bake and garlic being garlic.
That simple if you are a purist.

Well, that and a little drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of Maldon Sea Flakes or Australian Murray River Sea Flakes.

When you roast garlic, you will end up with the most delectable and intense flavored paste, which is sweet, but savory at the same time.

To roast garlic, simply line a baking dish with some baking or silicone paper. Drizzle this with some olive oil. Then cut the whole bulbs in half across the individual cloves, leaving the skin on. Cut as many whole bulbs as you wish to roast. Place them cut side up into the baking dish, drizzle the tops with some more olive oil, sprinkle a liberal amount of sea flakes, and a little water in the bottom of the dish (to prevent them from drying out – which will then assist with the end product being very moist). Then place baking dish into a moderately hot oven (about 200 degrees Celsius) until nicely brown, (being careful not to overcook )and the cloves are soft and pliable.

You can then just squeeze the paste directly out of the skins.

One of the most amazing uses of this caramel paste is in aioli (garlic mayonnaise )in place of fresh minced garlic. I find that if aioli is made with raw garlic, the result is too intense, whereas if you use a little roast garlic in its place, the end product is more mellow, less pungent, and sweeter.

You might like to roast some garlic in with your Sunday roast, be it lamb, beef, pork or chicken. Simply place the cut bulbs in the same baking dish, and your pan juices will be that much better for it, and following on from that, the gravy that you then make from those pan juices will be amazingly flavored without much additional effort.

Alternatively, you can even roast your garlic with your crispy baked potatoes which will impart the sweet flavor into the potato, or in with your sausages and fennel (a gorgeous winter dish).

All with such little time and effort, and an impressive garnish if you can find no other use, but I’m sure you will be able to find many uses with this little standby in your repertoire.

Reference:
1. How To Roast Garlic in the Oven — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn
2. How To Roast Garlic Recipe – Food.com

How to Make a Souffle

Kimberlee   May 14, 2016   Comments Off on How to Make a Souffle

Dessert souffls or any other souffls for that matter have an undeserved reputation for their difficulty, but did you know, that one of the reasons why restaurants serve souffls on their menu is because they are actually pretty easy to prepare ? Also, did you know that chocolate souffls can be made a full day ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours? Well today I am going to Explain to you how this is possible and I’m even going to give you the recipe for these individual chocolate souffls, which are amazing by the way.

Most souffls are last minute affairs, bake and serve right away, however, that doesn’t mean that doesn’t mean that you can’t make them ahead of time and refrigerate; in fact, most batters can be prepared several hours ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator. This is because they congeal upon cooling, and chocolate is one of the only few that can be made a full day ahead of time.

Unlike most souffl recipes that are made with milk or starches, this one I am about to give you does not. However that doesn’t mean that its not as good as the other that do include milk or starches because these chocolate souffls are still just as light and moist with enough chocolate to make you think that this should be a sin.

Okay, first you need to gather the equipment that you will be using.

1. Baking sheet, several small ramekins (depending on how many guests you have), a scale, measuring spoons, measuring cups, bowl, skillet, whisk and finally a rubber spatula.

This recipe serves 6

Next you will need to pre heat your oven to 375*. Butter and sugar your ramekins and place on baking sheet.

Now, you will need to combine in a heatproof bowl:

8 Ounces semisweet or bitter sweet chocolate, chopped

6 Tablespoons () stick unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons of Rum, Coffee, or Water

Set the bowl in a skillet of hot, but not simmering, water and stir until the mixture is smooth. Let cool for 10 min then whisk in:

10 Egg Yolks

Wisk until foamy. Or beat on medium speed until foamy:

6 large egg white, at room temperature

Add and beat on high speed until soft peeks form:

teaspoon cream tarter:

Gradually beat in:

C sugar

Beat until peaks are stiff but not dry. Using a large rubber spatula, stir one third of the egg whites into the chocolate then gently, but thoroughly fold in the remaining mixture. Dividing the mixture among the prepared ramekins and make sure top is level. Bake and let set, about 20 min. NOW SERVE and ENJOY!

If you would like, you can also serve your souffls with a custard sauce, white chocolate sauce or a dark chocolate sauce.

I am going to give you the custard sauce, also known a crme anglaise, recipe because it is just simple amazing with the souffl; it just melts in your mouth.

Crme Anglaise

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

6 egg yolks

1/3 to cups sugar

Pour into a medium, heavy sauce pan:

2 cups whole milk

Cooking, stirring over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg yolks and sugar. Return mixture to heat. Rinse out mixing bowl and place a fine mesh strainer over the top. Stir the sauce over low heat consistently. As soon as the sauce is slightly thickened pour the sauce the mesh strainer, keep stirring the sauce for 10 minutes for cooling then add:

2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir. You can serve this sauce either warm or cold with your souffl.

And don’t forget, it’s not as hard as it seems! Have fun and impress your guests with this easy yet elegant dessert.

Reference:
1. How To Make A Soufflé Dessert | Incredible Egg
2. How To Make a Cheese Soufflé — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife

Dayle   May 13, 2016   Comments Off on How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife

Did you know that a dull kitchen knife is more dangerous than a sharp one? This is because you have to use more force to get that dull piece of metal to cut! So protect your family and sharpen those kitchen knifes.

When you decide to sharpen your kitchen knives, you first need to consider what tools you will use. The absolute best tool is a series of whetstones of varying roughness. However, not many people are obsessed enough to get these fancy stones, so the next best tool is the kind where you have two rods that stick at angles into a wooden holder. But! This tool is quite hard to find, so what is the best and most convenient way to sharpen your knives without these tools?

Get a sharpener that has two stones placed inside a plastic housing. This works because all you have to do is hold the sharpener in place and run the knife through in a smooth, firm motion.

So what are some tips on making sure your knife gets truly sharp and you are not ruining it? First, be sure to keep that sharpener completely still. Next, hold the knife very firmly by its handle. Then slide the knife through the sharpener, starting at the point on the blade that is nearest the handle. This means you will be pulling the knife through the sharpener. Pulling is more reliable than pushing because it is steadier and more controlled.

As a final note, you may have seen those sharpeners that are basically a long stone or metal shaft with a handle. Unless you absolutely know what you are doing, do not use these. If used improperly, these tools will take years of life off of your knife and will cause barbs and snags to appear on the cutting edge.

Good luck and careful sharpening!

Reference:
1. How Do I Sharpen a Kitchen Knife? – Lifehacker
2. How to sharpen knives – Jamie Oliver's Home Cooking Skills …

How to Pick a Melon

Nicholas   May 13, 2016   Comments Off on How to Pick a Melon

Summer introduces a variety of fresh fruits. Among the selections, melons are one of the most popular in season. The top three melons sold in stores are watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. And if you’re a fan of any of these, choosing a perfect melon is likely important to you.

Cantaloupe

Also known as muskmelons, cantaloupes peak in July and are the sweetest at this time of the season. They are the most popular among the melons, and if they’re a favorite of yours, you probably know that its sweet flowery aroma and succulent orange flesh is quite tantalizing to the taste buds.

To avoid being disappointed by an unripe cantaloupe, watch this video and follow these simple rules:

– Look for one that has cream color ridges. The color as a whole should be yellow to orange.

– The skin should have large webbings or nettings.

– The stem should be slightly soft, smooth, and rounded.

– Aside from the stem, the body should be firm.

– It is blemish free: no bruises, cuts or scars.

– Its scent should be sweet and/or musky.

Things to avoid when picking out a cantaloupe:

– The body is green.

– It has soft and dark spots. This usually means mold is growing.

– A rough stem, or portions of the stem remains. This is a sign of an early harvest, and it was not ready to be picked in the first place.

Watermelon

A favorite among Americans, domestic watermelons are available from as early as May through October; however, its peak months are from May through August. A bite into this bright red fruit brings nature’s sweet juice that’s refreshing to the taste. It would be disappointing to pick one that’s unripe and flavorless.

Follow these tips to avoid this mistake:

– Watermelons are mostly water weight, so pick a heavy one.

– Make sure it’s firm.

– Find one that’s symmetrical.

– It is free of blemishes and scars.

– The body is dark green.

– Its bottom spot should have a creamy yellow tone.

Things to avoid when picking out a watermelon:

– The bottom spot is white or greenish.

– A prominent white or pale body color.

– A high pitch sound or thud when using the open-palm technique for sound test. 

Watch this video for more tips.

Honeydew

Originating from France, no wonder why honeydew is considered one scrumptious melon. It is the sweetest out of the melons, and unlike its variant, the muskmelon, its flesh is colored with an Easter, pastel green. This sweet and aromatic fruit would be so unsatisfying to the taste receptors if picked unripe. The only way to avoid this problem is by knowing how to pick the right one.

Watch this video, and bear these simple rules when picking out your honeydew:

– Its shell should have a waxy feel to the touch.

– The blossom end should be slightly soft, but hard elsewhere.

– It is symmetrical in shape.

– The shell should be slightly yellow, not green.

– It is blemish free.

– A sweet and/or musky smell should accompany it.

Things to avoid:

– It’s too firm or too soft.

– It has dark blemishes, scars and cuts.

Moving forward with these tips in mind, you can choose your melon with confidence and avoid being disappointed. So the next time you’re in the grocery store picking out your favorite melon, put your worries aside and pick to your heart’s content.

Reference:
1. 5 Tips for Picking a Perfect Melon — Tips from The Kitchn | The Kitchn
2. How to Pick a Good Honeydew Melon | Home Guides | SF Gate

How to Make a Linzer Torte

Janel   May 13, 2016   Comments Off on How to Make a Linzer Torte

Traditional Linzer Tortes, which originated in a little Austrian town called Linz are constructed similar to a fruit pie. The dough is a lot richer because it contains ground almonds or hazelnuts. Fillings used are jams, jellies or fruit butters. Linzer torte flavors blend together and the taste is enhanced after two or three days and can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast the nuts for five or six minutes. Use 3/4 of a cup of almonds, blanched or slivered or whole hazelnuts if you prefer them. Remove as much of the hazelnut skins as possible after they’re roasted. Finely grind the nuts after they have cooled.

Place the ground nuts in a large bowl and add the following:
1 ½ cps. all purpose flour
1/3 cp. confectioners sugar
1 tbs. cocoa
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. salt

Mix the above ingredients completely and then add;
1 ¼ cps. of softened unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
Grated zest of one lemon

Mix these ingredients until you have a smooth dough, using a wooden spoon or the low speed on your mixer. Form the dough into a rounded, somewhat flat, smooth ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it at least two hours.

Bring the dough from the refrigerator and let it reach room temperature. This may take 30 minutes or so. Remove about ¼ of the dough and save it for the top of the torte.

Press the balance of the dough into a 9 or 10 inch tart pan that has removable sides. Roll out the remaining dough to a 10 inch square between 2 sheets of wax paper. Take off the top piece of wax paper and cut the dough into equal size strips. Chill the strips again if they become too fragile to work with.

Spread 1 ½ cups of raspberry or other jam over the dough to about a ¼ inch thickness.

Place the strips of dough on top of the torte. Lay strips in a horizontal position over the top and then lay vertical strips creating a lattice top, as if it were a fruit pie. Pinch the edges of the dough to seal it to the crust.

Bake the torte at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes until the linzer torte is golden brown. Place it on a rack so air can circulate and help cool the torte. After it has cooled remove the sides of the tart pan. Let the torte remain on the bottom portion of the pan. It can be refrigerated fro one week or placed in the freezer for a month.

Serve the Linzer Torte at room temperature with whipped cream. One 9 or 10 inch torte provides 8 to 10 servings.

Reference:
1. Linzer torte
2. Linzer Torte Recipe – Joyofbaking.com *Tested Recipe*