Friday, December 23, 2016

6 Amazing Cooking "Tricks"

Found these tips both very useful and fun (the banana trick)....especially #s 5 & 6 since we all hate to peel a hard boiled eggs and garlic cloves.

Hope  you enjoy....your comments & thoughts welcomed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Beginners Cooking Tip-How to Use a Recipe

Those who don’t enjoy cooking find it a chore or too challenging.  One reason may be they are intimidated by the recipe. The list of ingredients and/or the actual instructions may be lengthy.
To start, browse through the recipe from beginning to end. While it may appear long, the list of ingredients frequently itemizes very common items like butter, cooking oil, salt, pepper, various spices, etc. The instructions may look complicated but, again, simply detail basic procedures like setting the correct stove top or oven temperature are detailed. Get familiar with the methods or processes and get a feel for how easy or difficult they may be based on your abilities. You want to be comfortable and try to cook the dish or you may pass for feel of the dish not coming out just right. If you’re uncomfortable, try cooking it just for yourself and experiment/practice your skills. Even the best chefs have burned toast or cooked a hard boil egg to to speak. Remember, recipes are used by the best cooks around the world.
Now that you’ve read through the recipe, you know what’s involved and the ingredients you’ll need. You want to have all the ingredients when you start. It will be very frustrating to start cooking and run out of something simple. You’ll lose your enthusiasm and interest.
Next step…prepare the ingredients.
Make sure you have the right ingredients...and the correct quantities. While you can generally substitute Dijon mustard for spicy brown mustard, you can’t use dry mustard. You don’t want to find out you need 3 cups of chicken broth when you only have a half a cup. As you get more experience with cooking, you’ll learn how easy it can be to substitute and/or adjust quantities.
Now….make sure you have the right cookware and utensils.
Most recipes will call for a specific type of pot or pan, but rarely is it “exotic” and not something you already have in your kitchen. Basic large spoons, ladles, tongs and “flippers” usually cover what you need. A tip…if you’re using “non-stick” or enamel coated pots and pans make sure you use wooden rubber type utensils so you don’t scratch the coated surfaces.
Here’s a recipe that lists nine ingredients but as you read it and see it is very simple, including instructions.
Recipe for White Clam Sauce
1 (10oz) can minced clams
¼ c. olive oil
½ c. butter
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp. oregano
3 Tbsp. (heaping) dried parsley
3 Tbsp. onion-chopped fine
1 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese
Combine all ingredients and heat in a sauce pan. Pour over cooked linguine. Makes 2 servings.
Some time ago I decided that if you have to do something several times a day, why not make it a hobby and enjoy it. Cooking can be fun and give you a sense of accomplishment…not to mention a very enjoyable meal for your family or friends.
Visit my website@ for a quality selection of enamel coated cookware that will serve all your cooking needs.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cooking Tip-How to Braise Meat

If you want to enjoy a gourmet meal using inexpensive cuts of meat then you’ll want to learn how to “braise”. Braising means browning the meat oil and/or butter then slowly cooking in a covered roasting pan. The meat is covered in a liquid which usually includes some combination of water, broth and red or white wine. Cooking time can take from one to several hours as this method is used to tenderize and intensify the flavors in the meat and accompanying vegetables. Despite the time frame, most recipes are usually fairly simple and don’t require any advanced skills.
Follow these basic steps and you and your family or friends will thoroughly enjoy the results.
Step 1-Choose your favorite cut of meat. Lamb, beef, veal or pork shanks are very common in these recipes. Beef shoulder roast, chuck roast or brisket are also good choices. These cuts are usually tougher with higher levels of collagen. Collagen, when cooked at low temperatures for an extended time creates a gelatin which helps the tenderizing process. You can use chicken but it should not be skinless and bone should be in. Legs and thighs work best. The real secret is in the slow cooking.
Step 2-Brown the meat in some type of fat…olive oil, butter or some combination suggested in the particular recipe. The browning process is intended to add color and flavor enhancement. Frequently, the recipe may call for rolling the meat in flour seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper. Again….a flavor enhancement. The browning process is done in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot with a lid. The browning step may take 10 -20 minutes to cover all sides of the meat. It only cooks the surface of the meat and the earing locks in flavor.
Some tips….the meat should be patted dry and free of moisture or it will “steam” more than brown…don’t crowd the meat so any moisture can escape. Size of the portions, if not whole, should be the roughly the same for even cooking.
Step 3-Add liquids. As I mentioned earlier, depending on the type of meat and recipe, you can use wine, water, stock/broth...usually a combination of these liquids. At this point you will usually add onions, garlic, spices, vegetables and any other flavoring you may like. Some cooks/recipes say don’t cover the meat & vegetables entirely. I have covered with liquid and the results are very good.
Step 4-Cover the Dutch oven or pan. You can cook over a stove top or in the oven. I prefer the oven as it provides more even cooking on all sides and results in the best flavor and tenderizing. Follow the recipe for the correct oven temperature. Remember it will always be low….300-325* or less.
Here are some typical cooking times...                    
Lamb shanks….4-6 each a pound…2 ½ hours
Veal shanks….4-6 each a pound…2-2 ½ hours
Shoulder roast…3-4 pounds…roughly an hour per pound
Chicken (remember bone in/skin on)….1-1 ½ hours

Give ‘braising” a try….you don’t have to be a gourmet cook to enjoy a wonderful meal!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Have Fun With A Tagine

If you enjoy trying international cuisine, then invest in a tagine. A Moroccan tagine is a two part cooking vessel that traditionally is made of clay or ceramic.  It has a cone shaped top. Tagines are used to cook stew like dishes.
Part of the fun is that tagine recipes can be very easy to prepare and cook. Once you stock several spices frequently used in the recipes (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon to name a few), the ingredient list can be pretty simple. The main part of the stew can include beef, lamb, chicken or fish. Fruits are usually part of the dish….prunes, dates, dried apricots. You can also prepare vegetarian dishes. Another reason why cooking with a tagine is easy...only one pot. You don’t need any other special kitchen equipment or other pots or pans.
Besides making for a unique looking piece of cookware, the cone shaped top serves a practical purpose. The lid ensures that heat condenses at the top so that the dish does not dry up even if left on the stove overtime.
When your family or friends come into the kitchen, they’ll know a tagine meal is in the works. There is a tiny hole in the lid to let out some steam and it fills the air with the wonderful smell of the spices used in tagine recipes.

Back to easy….tagines are very attractive. They can be plain or come in a variety of colors and painted patterns. As a result, remove the lid and bring the meal directly to the table as the bottom serves as an attractive serving dish.