Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Cook Perfect Pork Roast

Pork roast are very easy to cook, but my experiences tell me that not many people know how to cook them. The biggest problems I see when eating someone's pork roast is there is not enough seasoning, the roast is over cooked and dry, or the meat is greasy. All three of these problems can be remedied without much work.

Seasoning food and in particular, meat, seems to elude many cooks. People either don't put enough seasoning or they put too much. After a few times of doing this and having their loved ones complain about the flavor they give up and quit seasoning the food altogether. I understand your frustration if you are one of these cooks that have had this type of problem with seasoning. I used to have the same problem and every once in a while I still have a mishap.

But seasoning meat is not that hard. I like to coat my pork roast with a 2:1 mixture of salt and pepper with about 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 tablespoon of pepper per pound of meat. Rub the mixture in and then brown the roast in a hot dutch oven on all sides. This will seal the meat and fuse the seasoning to the meat. Once you have seared the meat, you can add beef broth to the pot. Using a good broth further enhances the flavor. Finally you can add whatever dry seasoning you would like to flavor the broth with. I usually add sage and rosemary. I also like to add some dry cranberries right at the end to add some sweetness to the broth.

For some, it seems that the only way to cook pork roast is to over cook it. This doesn't have to be your pork roast. If you sear the roast like I talked about above, you will lock the moisture in for a certain amount of cooking. Once you have added the broth, you need to bring it to a rolling boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low. The broth should continue to simmer. Cook the pork roast about 15 minutes per pound or until 170 degrees internal temperature is reached. Your roast will be perfectly cooked.

The third and final problem I see with pork roast is they are too greasy. There really is one simple solution to this problem. Buy lean meat. Look for roast that do not have a lot of fat. I know that many people like the fat and say it adds flavor, and a little bit does add flavor. Most people over do it with the fat. A leaner roast will be less greasy and will be healthier for you to eat.

Pork roast is meant to be enjoyed. A few small steps can get you on the right track to making the perfect roast. Season the meat right, don't over cook it, and choose lean meats with a little bit of fat; the next time you cook, your pork roast will be just right.

Ten Practical Ways to Use Ice Cubes

Almost every home has at least one ice cube tray, but for the large part, most of us tend to use ice cubes in the regular way - to cool down our drinks. We may try something a little bit different by buying trays that create cubes in various shapes, but there are many more ways to jazz up a simple cube of ice. In fact, ice trays and cubes have the potential for many other uses - some of them practical and some of them just plain fun.

10 Ways to Use Ice Cubes

Here are a few ideas on how to turn your ice trays from mundane to fantastic, with just a few additional ingredients. 

Add edible flowers such as pansies or rose petals into your ice trays before adding water. These are a great way to add some style to drinks for functions, cocktail parties, romantic dinners or even tea parties with friends.

Add some food colouring or even edible glitter to your ice trays for an even more eye-catching option - this option is ideal for weddings or glitzy parties where you want to make a statement.

Freeze individual portions of baby food for a quick and convenient way to heat and serve later. This saves plenty of time for busy parents!

Freeze herbs of any kind to reuse later. As cut herbs don't last very long even in the fridge, this is a good way to keep them fresh until you use them.

Add flavoured yoghurt or fruit juice, or even bubbly or sweet wine to your ice cube trays, and once they are almost set, add a toothpick. Once they are completely frozen, you will have delicious mini ice lollies.

Keep your iced coffee perfectly chilled with frozen cubes of ready-made coffee. If you prefer your coffee on the stronger side, freeze strong black coffee. Otherwise add milk and sugar to taste for a milder version.

Make ice sculptures from your ice cubes by adding glitter, flowers, food colouring and other decorations before freezing. Once frozen, these blocks can be melded together using a bit of salted water, resulting in fantastic creations made of ice.

Create an elegant, unusual ice cream dessert by adding your ice cream mixture to individual ice trays rather than one large container. Once the ice cream has set, you can build an edible ice cream sculpture that is sure to impress guests.

Add pureed fruit or whole small berries to use for smoothies and slushy drinks. These can be added to drinks as whole cubes, or added to the blender along with yoghurt for a scrumptious frozen drink.

Freeze pre-made stock in ice trays for a quick and convenient way to add flavour to soups and stews, without having to remake stock from scratch.
Did you know that your ice trays also have many different uses? These can be used for anything from button and bead storage to jewellery boxes, snack trays or even office odds and ends storage. With so many unique ways to use both ice cubes and trays, these items become far less mundane and a lot more useful than you may have assumed before.

How Simple Steps to Preparing Easy Recipes at Home?

There are so many easy recipes online and so many cookbooks it's no wonder some people feel overwhelmed about cooking at home. Many decide to forgo cooking and opt to eat out instead.

If you're trying to save money or you have a family to feed, eating out can quickly blow a budget. In addition, it really doesn't save time by the time you travel to the restaurant, wait for a table, and then wait for service. Finding simple restaurant recipes will allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes without added costs.

Begin by preparing your kitchen and organizing your space. Then follow up with selecting favorite dishes found in a cooking guide for restaurant recipes.

• Clean out expired food from your cabinets and refrigerator.

Don't procrastinate. You'll be surprised how fast you can do this by dedicating 30 minutes a day until the task is complete. How easy is that? If you feel like dedicating an hour, then do so. The point is to bite off the task in small bites so you don't keep putting it off.

As you go through your food, write down the items you have on hand and organize them. This will allow you to use things you already have on hand for easy recipes. This will also help cut down on unnecessary grocery store purchases, which will save you money. In addition, organizing your cabinets will make it easy to find the items you need when cooking easy recipes for dinner.

Once you have completed this task, it's much simpler to maintain. To keep up with your list of available items, keep your cabinets and refrigerator clean and organized by setting aside fifteen minutes a week to do so.

• Write down some of you and your family's favorite restaurants, the restaurant dishes you love, and the foods you enjoy.

This will be a jumping off point for identifying where to begin in the search for easy recipes for dinner. Usually main dishes are the focus of favorite restaurant dishes, but that's okay because you can then list the side items you enjoy, such as green beans, potatoes, broccoli, etc.

From this point on, it's just a matter of mixing and matching your chosen main dish with side dishes to add flavor, nutrients, and color to your plate for easy cooking options.

• Look for recipes with few ingredients and few steps.

Don't overwhelm yourself. Start out with simple meals and add a couple sides of vegetables. Once you've prepared a few dishes and feel more comfortable cooking, you can really start to roll out restaurant style recipes and find a method that works for you.

Using these steps will provide you with great tasting food that takes only a little amount of time. As you prepare dinner, you can then start accumulating a list of favorites you can pull out when you are hungry for a certain type or style of food. Easy cooking is not an impossible task: with a little planning and practice, you can learn how to cook restaurant style dishes and certainly won't miss all the extra time and money you spent before.

How to Steam Fish Without Losing Its Natural Flavors

Steaming is a cooking technique that seals the food with moist heat and helps to retain their nutrients, flavor, and texture. When you steam fish perfectly, you will get a very tender, silky and slightly chewy texture that is so hale and hearty. Steaming does not require a lot of techniques and skills. You simply have to learn the secret tricks that would turn your plain steamed fish to Chinese-restaurant worthy.

Note that whole fish is better than fillets as the best flavor you get from steaming fish comes from the blood. Plus, the head, bones and skin add flavor. In fact, the fatty belly meat is the tastiest part of a fish. This is why almost every steamed or poached fish recipe calls for a whole fresh fish. Don't buy pre-gutted fish as the blood will drain out and you will have a tasteless piece of fish to eat. You can gut the fish yourself to reduce fluid loss. Frozen and thawed fresh whole fish can just be as good as fresh fish.

To begin the steaming process, make sure the water is rapidly boiling so it produces high heat and full steam before adding fish on the steamer basket. This ensures constant heat right through the cooking time. See to it your water is kept below the steaming rack and not in contact with food. Steam a small fish for 5-8 minutes, and 8-10 minutes for a bigger fish. Use your best judgment. For bigger fish, you might need to watch the level of water and add more as needed.

Do not over steam or overcook your fish. When you remove fish from the steamer it should still be a bit translucent at the spine. Just make sure the fish is fresh. You can add a glass of dry white wine or cider to the pot along with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, lemon and onion slices for a more robust steam flavor. If you want, you can also steam vegetables along with your fish by placing the veggies on top. To give your steamed fish that perfect sheen, brush a little amount of heated oil on the fish.

Steaming fish is a wonderful way to make a simple, fresh and healthy meal in one pot without taking too much time in the kitchen. It is amazing you only need to steam your fish perfectly to get the most flavorful steamed fish recipe. Match it with a green salad and you sure are getting all the healthiness you have been looking for.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are You Making These Seven Mistakes When Cooking?

Do you want the same to happen to you? If not, keep reading. I'll share seven of the most important cooking mistakes people do all the time.

1. Frying with olive oil Many cooks may want to shoot me for saying this but I'll say it anyway. Don't fry with olive oil. Olive oil, just like most other vegetable oils is not resistant to the high temperature that it reaches when frying. This produces cancer-causing chemicals and trans fat.

Olive oil is excellent for salads and might be fine for cooking in a soup because the water temperature doesn't get as high. But it's very bad for frying.

If you want to fry at all, fry with butter or even lard.

2. Switching off the oven when the food is ready

In short, don't wait the food to be ready to switch off the oven. Even if you have one of these modern ovens that switch off and on pretty fast there is always remaining high heat in it for a couple of minutes. Switching it off when the food is ready leads to a couple of consequences:

a) You waste energy. Switch off a couple of minutes earlier and you will use the heat "for free".

b) Your food gets burnt.

3. Cooking with salt from the beginning

Of course no food is good without any salt in it. So in order not to forget it, you put the salt in the beginning, do you? Bad idea. Salt preserves most vegetables and especially the pulse and makes them hard to cook. That's why you have to boil the lentils and green peas for such long time and at the end they still nibble.

Put the salt after the pulse becomes soft, not before that.

4. Putting cold water when baking

Next time when baking potatoes in the oven pour in hot water instead of cold. You can heat the water in a water jug or a kettle which will happen much faster than heating it in the oven. Putting cold water results in awful loss of energy and time.

5. Putting the parsley too early

When cooking a soup or some pottage inexperienced cooks often put the parsley to cook when the food is nearly ready. Even this is too early.

Parsley is best consumed raw. And the point to add it to a dish is to have something fresh in it. It gets soft and cooked for minutes so don't put it to boil even for short time. Put the parsley when you take out the pot from the hot plate. Only then it will be good.

6. Cutting out fat

In our efforts to make healthy food we often get to extreme. I'm guilty too. I've made quite a few tasteless dishes by trying to cut out fat.

One of the most common mistakes is to cut out all fat. This is plain wrong and stupid. Don't do it. Here is what it leads to:

a) Tasteless food. Most cooked foods need at least a bit of fat to be tasty. Otherwise they become as tasteless as those in the dietetic restaurants.

b) Health problems. Yes, a lot of fat is bad for your health but so is too low fat. Don't go to extremes in cooking.

7. Overcooking vegetables

You know what Chinese cooks ask every time they taste Western food. "Why do these guys cook the vegetables for hours?!". You know the cooked vegetables in Chinese cuisine are very fresh and crunchy. Why don't you do the same? The vegetables in the soup or the stew don't have to be soft. They are much better if cooked less. Of course this is not valid for pulse, pulse has to be cooked well.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tips and Benefits Italian Cooking

If you are aiming to reproduce the most authentic Italian cooking, you need to keep the following in mind. 

Freshness of the ingredients is the first and most important requirement of authentic Italian cooking. Use high quality fresh produce. You will not need to use many ingredients; so do not settle for less than the best for the few which you do have to buy. For ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, lettuce etc always use fresh products and do not put them in refrigerator.

Pasta is the base of most Italian menus. So you need to be familiar with it. There are more than 120 different varieties of pasta. You should know how and where to use it. The most important trick is to combine the pasta with the right sauce. For example, fine spaghetti has to be combined with light sauce. Thicker the sauce, thicker should be the pasta. Full flavor sauces need to be combined with penne or shell like pasta. If the texture of the sauce is chunky, use pasta with large diameters so that they can be flavored inside out. Heavier pasta like ziti are ideal for baking.

You have a choice between fresh and dried pasta. If you are really going for the most authentic Italian cooking, you should make your own pasta at home. Otherwise, you can buy from stores where both types are available. However, fresh pasta spoils easily and should be used at once. Frozen pasta can also be used.
If you do not find a particular ingredient, use the nearest substitute. Here are some common examples

Use chicken broth instead of beer
Margarine instead of salted butter
Combination of white sugar and molasses in place of brown sugar
Bouillon cube in place of broth
Unsweetened chocolate instead of cocoa
Cottage cheese in absence of cream cheese
Agar instead of gelatin
Macadamia nuts in place of Hazel nuts
Sour cream instead of mayonnaise
And many more
Finally, combine your Italian cooking with the correct beverage to round off the experience. Different types of coffees will be highly appreciated. Choose your wine correctly.

Some benefits 

If you want to enjoy the true flavors of Italian meals, you will have to take your time over it. Then only will you be able to appreciate its myriad tastes, textures and flavors. This style of eating is not only conducive to digestion, but also the total quantity eaten will be less if you take time to savor your food.

The emphasis on fresh ingredients in Italian cooking ensures that you eat food high in nutrient contents.

In a typical Italian menu, the emphasis is on vegetables. Italian cuisine will open your eyes to the vast number of ways in which veggies can be prepared. This will address the health issue of all members of the family, regardless what their age is.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Using Techniques and Tips In Baking Potatoes?

One of the most enticing and evocative kitchen smells is that of the baked potato. Its association with childhood and most particularly with Bonfire Night keeps it forever as something of a treat. It remains too a comfort food but one that can be transformed daily with a different stuffing.

The jacket potato is The Great Standby and The Complete Meal. Treated simply with a pinch of salt and a generous dollop of butter its a pauper's supper fit for a king. With a liberal grating of mature Cheddar cheese is even better. After Christmas it really comes into its own. When served with pickles, a couple of crunchy baked potatoes make the prospect of unlimited cold turkey almost seem attractive.

In France they call the jacket potato pommes de terre au four - au four for short - or most often robe de chambre, a corruption of the original robe des champs (of the fields), meaning in their skins as they were grown. Many French chefs use the flesh of potatoes for making pommes purée because the steam-cooking makes for dry potato flesh. It also breaks down the flesh of their waxy potato varieties.

Perhaps because the French don't go in for the mealy variety of potato which is best suited to baking, their potatoes tend to be elaborately stuffed. These potatoes are usually called pommes de terre farcies. They are prepared by partial baking then the flesh is scooped out, mixed with the stuffing and returned for a final baking. The potato becomes a vehicle for very fanciful combinations and is a very different animal from the potato baked in the embers of the dying bonfire.

The secret of perfect baked potatoes is to put the potatoes into a very hot oven; from 400-425F/200-220C/gas mark 7) and to cook them for a minimum of 1 hour. The exact length of time depends on the size of the potato and the number of potatoes being cooked - they will take longer the more there are. Any variety of potato will taste good baked but mealy varieties are best. The starch expands under the intense heat and the potato becomes fluffy on the inside and with a nice crisp skin: the combination that makes the potato such a delight. Some people rub salt or oil into the washed skin to make it crispy but I rather like the nutty flavour that is most prevalent if the skin is merely washed. Also good is the burnt flesh edge of halved potatoes. If you favour a soft skin, wrap the potato in foil.

To allow the steam to escape cut the potato with a cross or prick it a few times with a fork. Potatoes can be partially cooked in advance and finished to order, this is especially useful to remember when providing baked potatoes for a party. In fact in his delightful Cooking In Ten Minutes Edouard de Pomiane recommends keeping a stock of baked potatoes for making instant meals.