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Category Archives: Food

Cook Food More Nutritiously

Cook on Medium Heat:

The amount of heat your food cooks at greatly decides its nutritional outcome. Overcooking it would not only deprive your taste buds of the natural tastes but would also destroy delicate nutrients (like complex carbs). It is, thus, advised to cook food at medium heat. It will also prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the cooking pot. Even at medium heat most cookware being made from metals or ceramic (unnatural material) destroy delicate nutrients. Keep reading to find out how this can be fully prevented.

Wash or Rinse foods the right way:

Different foods need to be washed differently to preserve their nutrients. Generally, for most vegetables, it is recommended to wash them right before you cut for those water-soluble nutrients to stay locked in. Avoid soaking your vegetables, as that can remove key nutrients, such as vitamin C.

Don’t overcook vegetables:

Overcooking vegetables makes them mushy and they taste quite bland. It’s important to cook them for just the right duration so they neither remain uncooked nor overcooked. Cooking for too long also reduces their nutritional value by breaking down the nutrients at molecular level.

Always use the right cookware, it makes a big difference!

The cookware makes a big difference to the health of your food. Most conventional metal and ceramic cookware make food unhealthy by contaminating it with reactive metal toxins and destroying nutrients with their harsh heat. You can make your food way more nutritious by choosing the right cookware – healthy and non-toxic pure-clay pots. Pure clay is naturally inert so doesn’t react with food a biochemical entity, and their unique far infrared heat keeps nutrients intact.

Steam management is another important aspect of cooking healthy. Most of the steam generated in food is water-soluble nutrients. Out of the 13 essential vitamins and minerals, 9 are water-soluble, which means they dissolve in water, are quickly used in the body and need to be replenished every day – the body doesn’t store them. With conventional cookware, as steam constantly leaves the pot so do the water-soluble nutrients, cooked food remains deficient in one more way.

Grilling Myths and the Truth

Marinade longer to tenderize the meat

We’ve all heard of it – the longer you marinate your meat, the better it penetrates the meat for flavour and the more tender your meat will be. It’s not entirely true, though. It may work for thin cuts of meat, but for usual cuts such as chicken breast or regular pork chops, marinades are just treatment for the surface. While salt can penetrate deep into the meat, other spices (like garlic and pepper) have huge molecules and can only penetrate up to 1/8 inch of the meat’s surface even when marinated overnight.

To prevent food from sticking, oil your grill grates first

This is probably one of the most common tips you’ll encounter when you first read about grilling. Honestly, it does work sometimes – but the chances that it won’t are bigger. Oiling the grates below smoking point may work (doing so above smoking point will definitely make your food stick), but the better option is to oil your food, not the grates.

The more you check, the longer your food will cook on the grill

Surely you’ve read a tip about this – they usually advise against checking on your food too much because it lengthens cooking time. Some even say that you add 15 minutes of cooking time to long cooks (like beef brisket) every time you peek. The truth is, no matter how many times you check your food, it doesn’t make much of an impact on the temperature, let alone the cooking time. According to Boston University’s Professor Greg Blonder, a food scientist and physicist, opening the lid drastically makes little or no impact on the temperatures of the meat’s surface and center, therefore not changing its cooking time.

How to Braise Meat

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 searing 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

Cooking Tips for Vegetables

In the case of the latter instead of picking the whole head take only a few florets when required. They can be cut or broken from the main stalk as needed. Don’t wash but lightly cook in a microwave if necessary. No longer than a minute on its own or with other varieties but always without water.

Silver beet can be gathered by the leaves as required. One leaf is usually ample for me plus a leaf of kale. Along with a few rounds of carrot or pumpkin my evening meal consists mainly of these beautiful products.

Anyone can grow vegetables as they are the least fussy of any crops. As long as they have sunshine, an occasional feed of seaweed fertiliser and plenty of water there is not much that can go wrong? Even in an apartment one can grow something, including essential herbs.

The best advice is not to over cook and it’s best done dry in a micro-wave. When they are boiled in water the goodness goes down the drain when the liquid is strained off. Don’t make that mistake but think of the wonderful healthy gut you can have by adding that extra fibre along with the other goodies in the food.

Fruit and vegetables that are uncooked or only partially so retain the enzymes and they will work the gut as they pass through it. This is like a huge cleansing bush that not only massages the colon but gets into the crevices and frees it of anything that might otherwise hang there and cause a polyp or worse, cancer.

Knife Cutting Techniques

  • Julienne

This is a technique similar to slicing but not quite. The style leans more towards the cutting of strips. To achieve this type of cut, you would first need to top and tail (cut off both ends) the vegetable. The seeds will then need to be removed to cut the vegetable into rectangular pieces. After it has been cut into rectangular pieces you will need to cut it into strips along the longer side.

  • Dice

Dicing is another common cutting technique used by anyone who works in the kitchen. Chefs often use this technique on onions when making anything from pasta sauce to curries. There are also different sizes that you can cut the onion into depending on what you are fond of. Professionals prefer to leave the root of the onion intact when using the dicing technique. They do this so that they can keep the onion together during this process.

  • Mince

Use this technique when dealing with garlic. Many people prefer not to have pieces of garlic floating around in their food but love the flavour. Mincing is a way to get the flavour into the dish without having large pieces in the food. Crush the garlic with the flat side of the chef’s knife then constantly chop and repeat until you have miniature pieces.

  • Chiffonade

This technique might sound complicated and difficult but it really is quite simple. Chefs often use this technique to create a presentable garnish for the plate. All you do is roll up the herbs or leaves such as basil or spinach and slice them to make coils of garnish.

Tips For Grilling During Winter

Keep extra fuel

If you’re grilling using charcoal, it’s ideal to have some extra as charcoal burns quicker because of the cold and the wind – you don’t want your barbecue to be cut short because you’ve run out of fuel. If you’re grilling using gas, make sure that your tank is full before each barbecue session to make sure that your grill is able to maintain the right temperatures to cook food evenly.

Don’t over check

Once the lid is down, set your timer and wait for your food to cook properly. When you check too much, the winter weather will cause your grill’s temperature to drop and your food won’t be cooked evenly. Keep the lid closed and check only when necessary.

Practice safety

During winter, the grease can accumulate at the bottom of your grill quickly which increases the risk of fire. Have a bottle of water ready (it’s not as easy to access the hose during winter as it is in summer time) or a fire extinguisher ready in case of fire or flare ups.

Pre-heat your grill earlier

When the weather is cold, your grill takes a lot longer to heat up before you can cook anything on it. You also have to allow some time to melt off the grease first. Also, it’s ideal to pre-heat your serving platter – when the food is cooked, you don’t want it to cool too quickly. Serve warm, delicious grilled food on a pre-heated serving plate.

Take Care of Polycarbonate Dinnerware

· Polycarbonate dinnerware is suitable for reheating in the microwave oven but it is not suitable for cooking food. As tough as you may think this catering equipment is, don’t be tempted to cook food in it either on the stove or in the oven.

· It is dishwasher safe and will last you a lifetime with normal levels of heat and detergent, but avoid bleach or abrasive detergents. This could damage the gloss finish of the polycarbonate dinnerware.

· Dishwasher temperatures should be between 60 and 65 degrees Celsius for the wash cycle and between 70 and 85 degrees Celsius for the rinse cycle. If temperatures are higher it may lead to the deterioration of the material. The high heat could cause it to melt and become distorted in its shape.

· Whichever detergent or rinse aid you choose, ensure that it is compatible with the polycarbonate dinnerware. Also make sure that you use the correct dosage. If you use too much or let it soak for too long it could shorten the life of the polycarbonate dinnerware.

· When washing this catering equipment by hand try not to use the abrasive side of the sponge or a nylon brush because this could scratch the surface and ruin the gloss finish or, possibly, the material itself.

· If you find small scratches on the surface buff it lightly with a lens cleaning cloth and this should remove them.

· Strong solvents may cause permanent damage to the polycarbonate dinnerware, so avoid using it. It’s not worth the risk if you want it last you a lifetime.

Cake Frosting For Kitchen

1. Sugar, Butter, Eggs

You must whip sugar, butter and eggs together to get the base for your frosting. The frosting might need to have an additional ingredient such as sunflower oil if you want some extra flavour. If you intend to heat up the frosting later, it would be a good time to add the cooking oil at this stage. The cooking oil protects the structure of the frosting and it helps to bind the frosting where the butter is too cold or not included.

2. Whip to Consistency

After combining the initial ingredients, the whipping or beating process is in order. An electric beater will help you get to the correct consistency sooner. Once the mixture looks fluffy and stiff, you can now add your choice of flavours, extracts or colours into the mixing bowl. There are many flavours you can experiment with; from almonds and bananas to chocolate and strawberry. Cake frosting tastes delicious with a fruit flavour too. The more ingredients you add, the heavier and thicker the frosting will become. This will require extra whipping.

3. Heating

If you are planning to heat the frosting in order to add fruits or fruit flavours in it then you need to have some sunflower oil ready to pour. When the mixture is warm but not hot, you can add the desired flavours and ingredients. Heating frosting is only to be done on rare occasion and only if the mixture is too stiff to work with.

Ghee and Cooking Oil

You will notice that when you cook with butter it will release froth once heated and melted. This froth will be strained so that none of the oil will be wasted and discarded. The leftover oil from the butter will turn into a pale yellow which will be strained to remove any remaining bits and then stored as what is known as ghee.

On the other hand, cooking oil is a neutral and non-polar chemical substance which means that it does not have an electric charge and will not conduct electricity if it is in such a situation. It is also a sticky or greasy liquid when it is exposed to regular temperatures.

The extraction process of oil is dependent on the type of fruit or seed it comes from. For instance, the sunflower seeds are compressed until the liquid gets released. It will also be refined to change the appearance so that it looks like the cooking oil on the shelves. Other cooking oil may also go through processes to change the taste and smell of it thus making it more appealing.

In some cuisines, the type of cooking oil used in the dish is very important. Flavour is important and chefs prefer to achieve unique textures and flavours that are native to their culture.

Ghee is lighter on the stomach because of the way it has been extracted from the butter. There are some people who struggle to digest food because of the viscous properties it may have. With ghee, a person does not have to worry about uncomfortable indigestion.

Utilize Spices and Herbs

The mix of flavors utilized as a part of planning a dish influence the personality of a dish. Each flavor mirrors a specific culture that uses those flavors that separates it from different sorts of ethnic dishes. Lime, cilantro, cumin and garlic are staples in Mexican nourishment. Morrocan food will fuse turmeric, dried ginger, paprika, cumin and cinnamon. Lemongrass, ginger, lime, new red stew pepper, sweet rice wine and soy sauce are related with Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese sustenance.

Dried and new herbs and flavors vary significantly in their flavor. Dried herbs and dried flavors more often than not have a more grounded taste than fresh items because of the diminished measure of water they contain. The distinction is featured by the utilization of dried ginger in Moroccan sustenance, and fresh ginger in Asian nourishment. The tremendous contrast in the dishes indicates exactly how definitely the kind of a zest can be changed when dried.

Notwithstanding the coveted result of the dish, there are a few rules that apply to all flavors. The most famous flavors are utilized as a part of every single ethnic flavoring. These incorporate salt, pepper, and garlic. Spices ought to ideally be fresh. For fresh herbs and spices this implies they ought to have a non-shriveled appearance and wonderful smell. Dried flavors will lose their flavor after some time, so it is prescribed to purchase entire flavors and crush them utilizing a spice processor.

Playing around with spice blends can yield delightful outcomes. Whenever included while the dish is cooking, the spice will equitably enhance the whole dish. New herbs and some different flavors are included just before serving, permitting the flavor and surface of the herbs to be fresh and new.