Friday, December 30, 2011

How Choosing the Right Cookery Class for You?

There are a huge variety of cookery classes to choose from, catering for those interested in anything from spectacular festive food for entertaining, to people who want to learn to prepare sushi. But how do you decide on the right one for you and your lifestyle? It's a question of the food you love, your level of experience and of course, your budget.

When your deciding on the course for you, it is important for you to choose a style of cooking you that you personally enjoy eating. Whatever your favourite cuisine is, whether it be Indian, Italian or British, there will be a course right for you. Making food you love is the best way to spark a passion for cooking, and will help you to continue using the skills you learn in everyday life.

You may feel as though your level of experience may hold you back in some of the styles of cooking that perhaps more exotic, or perceived as difficult to make. Cookery classes are a great way to get advice from experts, who can often simplify a dish you may have previously conceived as too tricky to attempt making. Once you gain a foundation of knowledge of cooking, it makes it far easier to learn new styles by building on your existing knowledge base.

It is important to choose one at the right level for you. For many people there may be a style of food which they enjoy eating but would not have a clue where to start when cooking it. For instance, in Britain a huge number of people love Indian food, but most would find the idea of cooking a curry from scratch intimidating.

But a curry can be as difficult or as easy to prepare as you make it. Once you know the basics, you can then learn all the regional variations and subtle nuances of Indian cuisine. This is not knowledge you can obtain by simply following a recipe book word for word. Classes are as much about improving your understanding and confidence, as they are about learning how to cook in a certain style.

The price of cookery courses can vary. A good quality course will be slightly more expensive, but will include good quality market fresh ingredients and offer a wider selection of dishes. Prices will be higher if a 'celebrity' chef is involved and often these classes will be more demonstration based than hands on cookery.

The amount of people attending a course can vary to. Be sure to select a course that allows you to get the attention you need, but also offers a fun and relaxed atmosphere which will add to your enjoyment of the day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cooking Has Never Been This Easy Before!

It's a struggle for any parent to find time to make tasty and healthy meals. Sometimes it's tempting to give up on cooking and just order take-out. But before you place that order, read this article. You'll find some tips that will help any busy mom or dad in the kitchen.

Choose the correct apples when making apple pie. The best apples for an apple pie should always have a firm texture and slightly tart flavor. Good varieties include Granny Smith, McIntosh and Jonathan. If you are unsure of which apple to choose, ask the produce manager for an all-purpose baking apple.

If you want to cook the perfect roast but feel that you won't have enough time before you would be able to serve it, buy a roast with the bone attached. When cooking, the bone holds the heat in, and then distributes the heat throughout the meat. This allows the meat to cook faster than boneless cuts.

Make Johnny cakes for a treat at home or in camp! All you need is flour, baking powder (the kind that comes in a can, not baking soda that comes in a box), and cooking oil. Mix about a teaspoon of baking powder thoroughly into a cup of flour. Add enough water to make a thick batter. Pour it into a hot greased skillet, and fry the cakes like you would a hot cake.

If you have made your gravy and skimmed the grease and it is still greasy at the end you can take a few sprinkles of baking powder to the top of it and then skim it off. The baking powder will make the grease disappear and you will have awesome gravy.

Save the stems of herbs like cilantro, parsley, or dill! Do not discard them! The stems have just as much flavor as the leaves. You can chop or snip them into soups, salads, sauces and other dishes - just as you would use their leaves. This leaves less unnecessary waste and lets you get more bang for your buck, if you purchased the herbs!

Learn to make a good roux. When you are learning to make the best bases for your cooking, consider learning the art of making a roux. It consists of mixing oils, fats, or butters and cooking with flour. If you enjoy making Cajun or French foods, roux is a mainstay.

To make grating blocks of mozzarella, Colby, cheddar and other cheeses easier, place the block of cheese in the freezer for ten minutes prior to shredding. The freezer will stiffen the cheese a bit without freezing it solid, so you can grate it without as much sticking, crumbling or becoming rubbery.

Don't overcook cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. While lightly steamed cabbage that still retains its crunch is delicious, particularly in dishes like coleslaw, and lightly steamed broccoli is great in salads, when either are overcooked, they liberate stinky sulfur compounds and lose a lot of nutritive value and texture.

To prevent the top layer of cheese from peeling off your lasagna or other casserole when you remove the foil, spray the foil with cooking spray prior to covering the dish with it. When you remove the foil so the cheese can brown, the cheesy layer will remain intact.

Choose the correct potatoes, according to your recipe. Potatoes are classified as all-purpose, waxy or mealy. Mealy potatoes have a dry, crumbly texture and are perfect for mashing. A common mealy potato is the russet. Yukon gold are considered all-purpose, and suitable for any dish. Waxy potatoes hold their shape very well, and are suitable for boiling or steaming. Regular white or red potatoes are the most common waxy varieties.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Techniques and Tips for Pickling Fish

Pickled fish is one of the most popular dishes during appetizer servings. It could be served in a very simple way, such as cutting the pickled fish into small pieces and serve it together with some vegetables, olive oils and other dressing; some other people will serve it together with crackers while some people might serve it in main dishes as well, together with potatoes, mushrooms, etc.

It is one of the appetizers that is grabbed and finished the fastest when served as most people can accept the taste and likes it very much.

So which type of fish is most suitable to be pickled? Actually all types of fish is suitable but the taste would be better with small fish with very fine and delicate meat. Watch out for the fish bones though, as usually we would prefer to use fish with small bone and thin skinned.

Northern pike perhaps is one of the fish that is used in pickling most of the time. You couldn't go much wrong with this. The pickling process usually will dissolve the bones of the northern pikes and makes it even preferred as the fish for pickling. Other than this, a lot of people also choose salmon and sardines for pickling. Some even pickled on shrimp, oysters as well.

There are a lot of ways when we want to do fish pickling but the idea is the same. Soak the fish in a container with water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Leave it for 5 days to 20 days, depending on different types of recipes. One thing it has in similar is that it is very easy to be done.

A few things that we need to keep in mind when pickling fish is

1. We need to make sure that the fish is frozen for a few days (at least 3 days) to kill all the parasites in the fish that could potentially cause serious stomachache and food poisoning.

2. Water need to be clean, boiled and left cool to remove all the other particles in the water. Mineral in the water that is high in iron, calcium or magnesium could result in off flavors of the pickled fish and also the undesirable color changes.

3. Make sure the fish is submerged in the vinegar marinade. Shut the brine, bottles or container used tightly to ensure the fish is well pickled.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Five Top Tips for Conscious Cooking

Is it possible that food is only to be viewed as a means to an end?

We need to eat to survive; end of story. Or is it?

There was a time in days gone by when we were more in contact with what went on with the food we ate before it reached our mouths. The old ways meant being wise and resourceful when it came to food because this was the difference between seeing it through the Winter or not, for food or a lack of it, was a matter of life or death. We could be found to be actively involved in gathering and foraging in the hedgerows and fields. We would toil the land and tend to livestock. We were governed and guided by the seasons. We were part of something much greater than ourselves and we took nothing for granted. We were aware, conscious even, of the importance of everything that was brought to the table and of our being involved with it.

Now, we live in different times but, if you choose it and with a little effort, you can connect with an old way of being more conscious when you prepare, cook and bring your food to the table.

1.Get Back to Basics

To cook consciously means putting yourself in charge of choosing the optimum ingredients that make up what you eat. You decide that only the best will do and settling for second best or a pre-prepared option that you weren't involved with, just won't do. You choose to get back to preparing your food from scratch and this choice ensures you will be fully conscious through this process of nurturing, by being on board from the very start, to the incr'edible' finish.

2. Where does your produce come from?

There is only one optimum answer here, your own back garden. Zero miles, zero carriage, zero loss of nutrition. The optimum journey for your food is from the ground to your kitchen and subsequently your body in minutes. The next best option is to seek a locally grown source. This may take a little time and effort to find your nearest farm shop or grocer. Find a place that still smells of fruit and veg and is perhaps a bit chilly. Find a place where you can touch the produce, see it close up and even smell it! Find a place where you can choose what you want and put it in the bag. Be engaged and ask questions of your fruit and veg. Has this produce travelled from Europe? Is there an English equivalent that will serve equally aswell? Being conscious means being bothered.

3. Get to know your fruit and vegetables, from their names to what they provide in terms of nutrition.

Nutrition is about how what you consume enhances your physical body.

To be conscious means connecting on a deeper level with your ingredients. You do this by finding out more about the nutritional value that is being brought to not only your table but in to your physical body. You find out more about the why and how and wonder of the produce. Take time to visually enjoy the shapes and colours of your fruit and vegetables. Find, within you, a deep appreciation for what you hold in your hand. Revel in the vibrant orange of an orange cleverly protected by its smooth and yet tough skin, filled with its juicy, gorgeous goodness that is vitamin C, so good for the immune system. Languish in the deep luscious green that is spinach, full of folic acid and vitamin C again vital for so many systems in the body. As you prepare the food see it in your mind's eye, in its natural state. Visualise how it grows in the ground and draws its nutrients from the good earth. Give thanks for the constituents of vital vitamins and essential minerals, that will be utilised by your body. Be gratefully conscious. Affirm to yourself that through knowing, understanding and connecting with these key constituents you boost your immune system and nurture your well-being. Vegetables have so much health to give to us if we would only let them.

4. Take pleasure in the prep.

Too often we look for the easy way out or the easy option when it comes to preparing our food. It's called convenience. We don't have the time (no really, I don't have the time!) or the inclination to peel spuds or chop carrots. The real message you send yourself and anyone who partakes in the food you opt out of preparing is actually this, you don't have the time or the inclination to nurture yourself or them for that matter. What you are actually opting for is to dis-connect with food because there are more important things to be doing. If you want to cook consciously it is time to review your priorities. There is real pleasure to be taken in the preparation of your food and that pleasure is part of the process that helps to keep you conscious. You let the joy of knowing you are fuelling and nurturing yourself and the people you love, flow from your heart and spill into the chopping and peeling. The food you prepare becomes a beautiful expression and limitless extension of your love.

5. Sit down to eat, share, take time with and taste your food.

Eating is an exquisite pleasure. There is a multitude of tastes and flavours that we as human beings are so privileged to be able to experience. To keep that conscious connection to the incr'edible' end means that when the food is ready to be eaten you remain in that place of deep appreciation. You take the time to let your senses be flooded by the smells, tastes and textures in your mouth. Let yourself be so moved you cannot help but comment on the sweetness of those Brussel sprouts or the vibrancy of the garlic. Share your pleasure by teaching your friends or your kids that its ok to express the gorgeousness that is exploding on your taste buds, by expressing it yourself. Remember that through consuming your glorious vegetables you are consuming the exquisite energy of nature. There is only gorgeous good happening in your mouth and how can you feel guilty about that!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Air Powered Popcorn Makers and Their Benefits

Air Poppers

Air popcorn makers use hot air to pop popcorn in a hopper that heats up and circulates the hot air around the kernels. These units are relatively small and useful for counter top use and storage. The air popping mechanism is fairly clean and offers popping without much hands-on manipulation. The health benefits go up as there is no added oil or butter in the popping process. There are a few different sizes, but most are similar and familiar.

The most common type of air popper is the small standing counter top model with a removable cover and chute. These models usually feature butter warmers/melters built into the top of the chute cover. Beware that the butter will not melt if it is in cold, room temperature butter stands a better chance of melting. The easier method is to zap it in the microwave in a small microwave safe bowl or cup and then drizzle on the popped popcorn.

Being an oil free popper, the popcorn that comes out is light, airy and low-calorie. Some people find this popcorn too light and regard it as akin to Styrofoam. This may be true with the standard popcorn from the local market. Gourmet and specialty popcorn types are nicer in taste and texture despite the air popping process.

Visually this popcorn maker type is fun and kids will really light up when the first few kernels start to pop. Soon enough the chute is full and the popcorn comes tumbling out, much to the delight of the kids watching. No shaking, stirring or hands-on is required, just a big bowl under the chute to catch the booty! When the last kernel has popped and the machine is unplugged you should wait for an additional thirty seconds or so because there can be latent kernels that will pop. If the cover is off when one of these renegades blows it can really fly!

Overall the air popper can be a lot of fun for kids, a safe and easy to clean appliance for parents, and a convenient healthy snack maker for any individual. While there are some minor drawbacks to this type of popcorn maker, such as lighter popcorn and a somewhat ineffective butter tray, the merits of a quick, clean and easy to store popcorn maker are nice to have. It is worth a try to pop up a batch of fresh popcorn for your next home movie or sporting event on TV and enjoy a healthy and tasty snack.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Cooking Fish?

Cooking fish is perhaps one of my favorite things to do. As a chef, with around 20 years of experience in the seafood restaurant business, I have had the luck to work with hundreds of varieties of, and many many different ways of preparing fish.

Every day I work is exciting for me, as I never know what I will find in the markets or the docks, and never know what I will do with what I find. Whether it is create a new dish with roasted halibut, or make a tequila, cilantro, lime, and pomegranate sauce for a grilled sockeye salmon, or even just a fish and chips with cod, every new day is an adventure.

It doesn't matter if you have very little experience in the kitchen, or have been cooking for many years. There is always a different way to cook seafood. The flavors you can combine are endless. The presentation is only limited by your imagination. Just a little knowledge will be all you need to get started making seafood masterpieces that will rival a chef's.

Grilling is a great way to cook meaty fishes, especially during the summer months. Grilling a hearty, yet light piece of salmon or swordfish on an outside grill with a cold beverage is pure bliss. Whether you are grilling fish over an open flame, electric grill, or plancha, the outcome will be amazing.

Poaching is another way to cook fish and bring out flavors, and also add aroma from the liquid used, such as a court-bouillion.

Baking is a very popular way to cook fish, especially during the colder months. Using a little bit of liquid and or fat, and other ingredients, you can have a wonderful piece of fish that will not only warm the house but the body as well.

Roasting is pretty much the same as baking, but generally at a higher temperature.

Frying is another great way to cook fish, not only in the summer, but all year round. Changing the subtle flavors of the batter, while keeping the moisture of the fish sealed inside, and a bit of sour from a lemon and tartar sauce, this is surely one of the most popular ways used for cooking seafood.

Sauteing, Searing, and Pan Roasting involve cooking fish in a pan over medium to high heat. One of the great benefits of this type of cooking is not only making a nice crispy outside and soft center, but also using the drippings in the pan to make a sauce with a hint of flavor from what you just cooked.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Different Types of Grills With Different Fuel Sources

Grilling food is an exciting leisure activity for the family. 8 out of 10 households have their own grills for yard barbecues. Grilling has become a tradition that continues to develop as technology improves. Common tools for grilling are now easily replaced by new grills that offer far more practical uses. Today, the three most used kinds of grills are charcoal, liquid-propane (LP), and natural-gas grills. Each uses a different fuel and generates various effects on grilled food.

The charcoal grill is the oldest kind of grill,but is still widely used for its advantages over other types of grills. It consists of three principal components set up in a simple arrangement grill support, charcoal container, and cooking surface. The grill support is usually a set of stainless steel legs securing other parts together at an elevation convenient for cooking. After burning charcoal inside the container, the cooking surface (usually made of metal or ceramic-clad steel bars) transfers heat to cook the food and keeps them from directly coming in contact with the hearth, preventing the food from getting burnt.

Experts in barbecuing choose this kind of grill because it cooks food well. Charcoal, which arises from burnt wood, has a more favorable effect on grilled foods. As opposed to liquid propane and natural gasoline, burning charcoal has a lot less chances of producing chemical compounds which might affect the general chemical change in the foods being grilled, and can even produce a far more delectable taste. Nevertheless, new technologies has also enhanced the effects of other fuel sources.

When petroleum is processed, it produces hydrocarbon chains of various lengths. Hydrocarbons are molecules composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms. These hydrocarbons could be separated and combined with other molecules to form several sorts of fuel such as methane. One more kind of gas it generates, propane, is considered an effective substitute to charcoal as fuel in bbq burners. Treated and processed into liquid propane, it produces as much heat energy as charcoal despite the fact that its effect on barbequed food is different.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making Tips for Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut

If you are venturing into making your own naturally fermented sauerkraut, keep in mind these tips.

Use a variety of cabbages. Cabbage is a healthy vegetable and it turns out that the many different varieties of cabbage provide us with different micro-nutrients and antioxidants. In addition to the common green cabbage, try Chinese or savory cabbage. You can even add red cabbage to turn your sauerkraut pink.

Use a good salt. Sea salts are exceptional in flavor compared to traditional table salt. A naturally fermented sauerkraut is the perfect time to take advantage of the distinct flavor of sea salt.

Pound your cabbage. After layering your cabbage and salt, pound it and pound it some more. Pounding will help release the juices in the cabbage which will combine with the salt to make a brine.

For a crispier kraut, chop by hand. Larger pieces of cabbage will have a more crisp texture at the end of the fermentation process. Cabbage sliced in a food processor will have a more smooth texture.

Add fruit and vegetables. Apple slices, garlic, and onion are a classic addition to sauerkraut, but experiment with other seasonal options as you have them on hand.

Use a well-fitted weight. After pounding your cabbage, you will weight it down with a plate or stone weight. Find one that is well-fitting so that cabbage does not float to the top where it can mold. A pickle crock with its open top makes it easier to find a well-fitted plate. Actual sauerkraut crocks will come with properly fitting weights.

Consider an airlock. For best results, you do not want fresh air getting into your sauerkraut, but you do want the gasses to be able to escape. An airlock is a solution. You can buy an airlock fastened to a lid that fits a wide-mouth canning jar or you can buy a sauerkraut crock with an airlock feature designed into the pottery itself.

Taste liberally and wait. Part of the fun of making sauerkraut is tasting it along the way to see how it changes. You will learn in the process how you enjoy it most. When it hits that point, that is when it is ready. You can stop that fermentation process then by placing it in the refrigerator until it has been eaten or you can allow it to continue fermenting on your counter top and experience more of its phases.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Work The Sushi Machine?

Because of the high demand for sushi, and its ever-increasing popularity, many restaurants are choosing to use a sushi machine. The high demand for sushi means that although people can make sushi at home, more people are finding sushi in their local supermarket, their Specialty Asian food store, and their local campus cafeteria.

It is true that making sushi at home for yourself can be very satisfying. You have your own choice of ingredients based on your personal preference of vegetables and fish. It is also relatively easy to make sushi rolls. You mix short grain rice with sushi vinegar or sweetened rice vinegar, place it onto a nori seaweed sheet, add a little of your choice ingredients, then make it into a roll and slice it into rounds. There are even sushi maker molds which allow a person to shape their sushi like Hello Kitty, or flowers and bears, or triangles and squares.

It can be fun and rewarding to make sushi rolls for a party of friends or for an evening at home. There are so many different options to choose from in preference to taste and shapes. The experience can be thrilling and fun.

On the other hand, if you make sushi for a living, or own a sushi restaurant, sushi can become a demanding experience. It is much easier to make a few sushi rolls by hand for yourself or a small group of friends than it is to make numerous sushi rolls all day long for a specialty restaurant..

The sushi machine was invented for this reason. Sushi machines, also known as robots, have become a favorite in the sushi restaurant business. There are many different types of machines and sizes of machines to choose from. There are some large industrial sized machines, and some machines which fit perfectly in a small counter space. Some machines make rice balls, so that you so not have to mold and shape them yourself. They can also change the shape of the rice just by changing the shape mold in the machine.

There is a mixer machine as well, which conveniently mixes the rice and rice vinegar so you do not have to. Mixing the rice and vinegar may seem like the easiest part of the sushi making process, however, it is actually the most physically demanding part of the job and this machine is very convenient for those efforts.

Also, there is a sushi machine, or robot, which will slice the sushi roll for you. So all you have to do is let the mixer robot mix the rice and sweetened rice vinegar, allow the mold machine to form rice balls, wrap the roll in nori, and then put it in the slicer for perfectly shaped sushi rolls. Although it may not seem like these robots are necessary to the regular sushi eater, to the sushi bar owner the sushi machine is very beneficial to have around.