Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Make Chocolate Fondue and Delicious Dipping Ideas?

More people are realizing how simple and delicious fondue is, and there are so many different ways to enjoy it. Not only are there many different recipes for the fondue itself, the list of items you can dip into it is endless.

Different Types of Fondue

Probably the most well known types of fondues are those made with chocolate and cheese. A lot of fondue fans also like to place small meat or fish chunks into a simmering broth, and frying in oil is another popular option. Dip style fondues are another alternative such as spinach or bean dip.

Types of Fondue Pots

There are electric fondue pots and those that are heated with Sterno or candles. Personal experience has shown that electric models produce more even and consistent heating. You have much more control over the heat level if you use a unit that has a temperature dial.

Once the fondue is melted and smooth, the heat can easily be turned down to low and kept warm without burning. With Sterno there is first making sure you have a sufficient quantity, there is the associated odor, and you don't have control over the temperature.

Generally when using a Sterno heated pot, you will have to heat the ingredients in a saucepan first on the stove and then transfer to the fondue pot, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a fondue pot in the first place.

You can purchase an electric fondue pot for less than $30, and you won't have to worry with purchasing Sterno or candles for heating. You'll also have a much better fondue experience.

How to Make Chocolate Fondue


1 pound of semi or bittersweet white or dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (you can also use packaged chips)
1-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons of Grand Marnier or Torani Flavored Syrup of choice

Place chocolate in fondue pot.
Add cream and melt gradually on moderate heat, stirring often.
Don't use high heat as chocolate and cream will burn.
When creamy and smooth, add Grand Marnier or Torani Flavored Syrup.
Turn heat to low.
Dipping Ideas

There are many food items you can enjoy with the fondue you make, including vegetables, fruits, breads, desserts, meats, and seafood.

A few ideas for the chocolate fondue recipe above include fruits such as strawberries, cherries, grapes, bananas, oranges, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, apples, pears, honeydew melon, and pineapple. Graham crackers, pretzels, small chunks of angel food or pound cake, ladyfingers, biscotti, brownies, and doughnut holes are also good dipped in chocolate.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How Choosing Ideal Seasonings for Chicken?

Chicken is a favorite dish and widely accepted in many cultures. It is not expensive and can work with all purpose seasoning. Seasoning comes in form of spices or herbs. Seasonings for chicken can be made from any or a combination of both. Herbs are made from plant leaves while spices come from the bark, root, fruit, seeds or stem. Spices for chicken can be from a wide variety. Options for conjuring up Spices for chicken for a delicious chicken recipe are open. An experienced and creative chef can try new combinations every time. However, some spices will keep showing up every time.

Seasonings for chicken may not be the same everywhere. Each chef knows what mixes to use. A blend of spices does wonders especially when mixed into chicken dry rubs. Mexican recipes make use of coriander seed, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper to make an all purpose seasoning. Spices from India include sesame, saffron, turmeric and ginger. European spices for chicken are cinnamon, paprika, mace and allspice.

All purpose seasoning can also be made from savory herbs. These are from plants that are known for their distinct aroma. Good examples are sage, thyme, rosemary and basil. Their strong aromas and flavor make them ideal for grilled chicken seasoning. For a distinct flavor stick to one herb combined with other spices for chicken. Combining two or several herb flavors may confuse the palate. Alternatively, herbs used in seasonings for chicken can be tossed into the pan and cooked together with the meat for a strong aroma.

Table salt, a commonly found all purpose seasoning ingredient is mostly categorized together with spices. It should, however, be sparingly used for health reasons. Instead, flavor your favorite chicken dishes with spices for chicken to get that mouth watering flavor. There are other options for creating seasonings for chicken. You could try some lemon juice, orange or lime juice. They make the chicken dish appear brighter. Mushrooms and tomatoes are common flavorings as well.

If you are not sure of which spices for chicken you could use, then look for chicken recipes. These provide instructions on how to make or what seasonings for chicken to buy. When you are trying to blend an all purpose seasoning with flavors like coconut milk or juices, be sure that you understand the outcome. Otherwise you may ruin the dish. Seasonings for chicken make it delicious and enhance the flavor.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Make Cookies the Right Way?

What is the cookie method you may ask? Well, let me tell you. The cookie method is the fancy (or not so fancy depending on how you look at it) way that professional chefs say "how to mix your cookies right". There are three different ways of mixing including; the one-stage method, the creaming method (this is the one we will be concentrating on the most today), and the sponge method. Here is a brief overview of each.

The One-Stage Method -

This method is not used very much because the baker has less control over the mixing than with other methods. However, when you are making a recipe where over-mixing isn't going to be a problem, like with chewy cookies, this method can be used. The basic procedure goes like this- Measure all of your ingredients. Let them all come to room temperature. Put them in a mixer all at once and mix them until they are uniformly blended. Make sure you're scraping the sides of the bowl now and then so you don't end up with clumps of flour in your cookies because that's disgusting. Mmmmm flour clumps-not! This method is simple and quick and even a child could do it. It is good for macaroons, some bars and a few other recipes. So moving on....

The Creaming Method -

Although I've never Googled this fact or anything, I think it is safe to say that this is the most commonly used method of making cookies. It is what you use when you make chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and several others. The amount you "cream" will affect your cookies texture, the leavening and how much it spreads. You should only cream a little if you want your cookies to hold their shape (you don't want to loose the edges on those pretty Christmas Trees). If your cookie is short (chef talk for "high in fat and low in gluten development") or if you are making one of those very delicate thin cookies, too much creaming will make your cookie crumble-literally. So here is the basic procedure;

1. measure all of your ingredients 
2. let them come to room temperature 
3. put the fat, sugar, salt, and spices into the mixing bowl and cream them on low speed 
* note that you can also blend your spices and salt into your dry ingredients 
* for lighter cookies, cream until light and fluffy, this incorporates more air for leavening 
* for denser cookies, cream to a smooth paste, but do not cream until light 
4. add the eggs and any liquid and blend at low speed 
5. blend in your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder) 
* mix just until combined, you're making cookies, not bread

If you follow these basic steps, you should come out with a pretty nice cookie in the end. If your cookies still are coming out like crappies, check out the "what's wrong with my cookies" at the end of this article. And last but not least...

The Sponge Method -

This procedure can vary considerably, depending on the ingredients you're using. The batches should be kept small because the batter is super delicate, in other words, don't double recipes that require this method because your cookies won't come out. This method is generally used for meringue cookies.

1. measure your ingredients 
2. let them come to room temperature (for greater volume warm your eggs a little) 
3. whip your eggs and sugar together until the desired consistency 
* soft peaks if you're only whipping whites, thick and light if you're whipping yolks or whole eggs 
4. fold in the rest of the ingredients according to the recipe

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Best Ways to Screw Up Thanksgiving Dinner?

1. Over Cook the turkey

Cooking the turkey from 5 am until dinner time was how grandma cooked a turkey. Doing that now is a guarantee for the dreaded dry turkey. You know when a turkey is done by its temperature and not by amount of time it has been in the oven. This is because a turkey's required cook time varies based on size, weight, temperature of the turkey when it went in the oven, etc.

How to avoid the dreaded dry turkey? Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Assuming you are cooking a 14 lb turkey, after it has been in the over for approximately 2 hours, measure the temperature of the turkey by placing a meat thermometer in its thigh. Then measure the temperature every 30 minutes. (You should take the temperature of the turkey during the same time that you are basting and rotating the turkey.) Once the temperature has reached 155 - 160 degrees - the turkey is done!

2. Carving the turkey as soon as it gets out of the oven

Cutting the turkey immediately when it comes out of the oven causes all of the juices (and all of your hard work) to run immediately out. The result? A dry turkey. Instead, wait 20 - 30 minutes to allow all of the juices to re-circulate and then slice it.

3. Carving the turkey incorrectly

There may be 30 ways to leave your lover, but there is only one way to carve a turkey. A picture is worth a thousand words and this video is going to give your turkey the recognition it deserves.

4. Forgetting to watch your breasts

The turkey breasts are the leanest part of the bird and therefore they cook the fastest. When you reach the approximate two hour mark, start checking the temperature of the breasts as well. If the temperature of the breasts have reached 155 - 160 degrees but the temperature in the thighs have not, put aluminum foil over the breast area of the bird to keep the moisture in while the rest of the turkey continues to cook.

5. Watching your breasts too much

Opening the oven too much can cause temperature fluctuations, uneven cooking and prolonged cooking. Only open the oven every 30 minutes to baste and rotate the turkey.

6. Forgetting who is coming to dinner

It has practically becoming family lore, the story of the Thanksgiving our aunt decided to get creative with dinner. The result? A table full of people wondering why there were raisins in the stuffing and other assorted nuances which are remembered every year as we are (once again) eating the traditional meal. If your guests tend to lean towards non-traditional, creative food - well, then certainly consider giving them what they want. But, if your guests are looking forward to that one Thanksgiving meal they get and expect every year - then give them what they came for.

7. Forgetting texture

Turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing and yams on one plate can get a bit, shall we say, baby food-ish? Adding some crunch can give the meal balance. Try adding a crisp romaine salad with pear or apples or toasted walnuts in the mashed sweet potatoes or squash.

8. Not seasoning the turkey correctly

To get the turkey taste you and your guests are looking forward, place your turkey in a roasting pan and line the bottom of the roasting pan with equal parts carrots, celery (do not include the root end or leaves) and yellow onions. Take one handful of equal parts fresh thyme, rosemary and sage, a quarter of a stick of butter, an apple cut in two and a lemon cut in two and place it inside the turkey. Soften ½ a pound of butter and rub it evenly over the entire turkey. Then season the outside of the turkey evenly with ¼ cup Matt's Mix. Every 30 minutes while it is in the oven, use a turkey baster to gather the juices at the bottom of the pan and spread them evenly across the turkey. Before closing the oven door, rotate the turkey. Continue to do this until has, you guessed it, reached 155 - 160 degrees.

9. Being too traditional with dessert

Ever notice most people have no problems eating a day or two of calories in one meal, but everyone seems to be "full" for dessert. An untested theory? Everyone loves the tradition of Thanksgiving dinner, but not everyone loves the tradition of Thanksgiving dessert. How about adding some chocolate or fresh berries in on the dessert tray.

10. Not being thankful.

In the midst of setting the table, greeting guests and waiting for 155 degrees to arrive, it is easy to forget that this day is all about being thankful. Don't forget to take a moment to enjoy all the many things in life in which to give thanks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Tips in Buying Beef?

Beef is the one of the most versatile meat in the world. Beef comes from bovines and it is primary meat used in Middle East, Brazil, Europe and Australia. Buying the right cut of beef for your recipe can be sometimes confusing. Each cut means different cooking time. It depends on the part from where it is from.

Like the chuck which located at the neck part of the cow and it is normally used for hamburgers and roasts. The rib which is divided into three parts: the short ribs, prime ribs and rib eye steak. The brisket that located at the bottom of the chuck and it is usually used for stews and other cooking method that requires slow and a long time. It is also the cut used for corned beef. The shank which is at the leg part and it is commonly used in soups and stews as well as it imparts a very strong beef flavor. The loin which is composed of three divisions: the tenderloin used for filet mignon and porterhouse steaks. The sirloin is more flavorful than the tenderloin and it is used for stir fry. The short loin is used for a strip steak.

Always remember that more marble of fat in the meat, the more tender it is. You can always ask your butcher to give you the right cut for your recipe. They always know which cut fits your recipe. To check the freshness of the beef, make sure that it does not smell bad. If it is smells funky and rancid then it is not fresh anymore and therefore you should not buy it. Another thing to consider when buying beef is the firmness. A good meat is a firm meat so make sure to touch and check the beef before buying it. Touch the fleshy part of your hand below the thumb, raw meat should have the same firmness.

Color is also a crucial part in buying beef. Raw beef is red in color and it is brightly colored. If it is pink and soggy, definitely it is a bad meat. Aged beef is different though. Aged beef has a chocolate brown and reddish color to it. Make sure to buy what is needed and not what is economical. We all know that buying in bulk saves a lot of money but it is does not apply in meat. Beef for instance, has a very sensitive handling procedure and short shelf life that it cannot be stored at home for a very long time and still maintain its quality. So make sure that when you buy beef, to buy what is called in the recipe. Ask your butcher for the shelf life of the meat and the right temperature to store it if you are not going to cook it right away.

Friday, January 6, 2012

How Using a Charcoal Barbeque Grill Safely?

Even with the proliferation of propane, natural gas, or other gas-fueled barbeque grills, old-style charcoal barbeque grills still remain a popular and economic cookout option. Charcoal barbecue grills are far less expensive than gas grills for the most part, and they are not as inconvenient to use as many who have converted to gas grills believe. You need only know the right way to use charcoal BBQ grills.

BBQ charcoal grills come in several variants, from the traditional large pan type to the small tabletop or large on-casters kettle type and back to the smaller, square Japanese-style hibachi. When choosing your charcoal grill, be sure its ventilation is sufficient enough to allow proper air to spread your cooking fire around the coals evenly.

To prepare your fire, pile charcoal briquets into a pyramid at the center of the grill. If you have a kettle charcoal grill, there should be a smaller grill toward the bottom of the kettle, above the ventilation holes, on top of which you can pile the pyramid. Some hibachis also feature that lower grill. If you have a large pan-style grill, simple pile the pyramid in the middle of the pan.

After piling the briquets, coat them liberally with lighter fluid. You should see a glossy sheen on the coals for a few seconds after you do this. Allow the fluid to soak into the coals before you light two or three single coals, either with a match or a long-nosed propane-fueled lighter. If there is too much breeze to keep these coals lit long enough to spread around, you can spray a very small amount of lighter fluid over their small flames. That should be enough to begin spreading the fire around the coals.

Normally, depending on the size of your cooking fire and how much you plan to cook, it should take only fifteen minutes for the flames to dissipate and the coals to begin turning white as they heat completely on their inside. Spread them evenly and closely around your cooking area. When your coals are almost completely white, you can begin cooking your hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, or other barbeque foods.

However, many people prefer not to use petrochemicals to light BBQ grills charcoal. If you are one of them, there are two methods you can use. One is a chimney made from a gallon can with several half-inch holes drilled into the sides approximately half an inch from the bottom. Place a few crumpled sheets of newspaper into the can, leaving one or two ends to protrude when you place the can over your coal pyramid, and light those ends. Leave the chimney on the coals for approximately ten to fifteen minutes, then remove the chimney safely and spread the coals evenly and closely around your cooking area.

The second such method is an electric barbeque fire starter, usually made of a long or wide coil similar to an electric stovetop burner's coil, shaped in a loop. If you use one, be sure its electric wire is long enough not to have to set your grill up next to your home, or use an extension cord.

Place the starter into the charcoal BBQ grill first, then pile your charcoal on top of its coil. Leave it under the coals a few moments after the coals ignite before unplugging the starter and removing it from the grill very slowly. Let the starter rest on the nearest concrete ground to cool off completely; do not leave the starter resting on wood, on grass, or against your home.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Healthy Cooking and Cooking Made Simple?

If there is one thing that is on the minds of everyone across the country, it is eating healthy. In a time when people have fast food for dinner more than once a week, it can be just a little bit difficult to get into a healthy mindset when it comes to food. If you are concerned with eating healthy, then there is no better place to start than in your own kitchen. Here are some tips and methods that you should use to cook healthy recipes and get your way to a healthier lifestyle.

The first thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to healthy cooking is to be more selective when it comes to the foods you buy. If the majority of your groceries come from the frozen food aisle or come in a box or can, then there is a pretty good chance that it isn't good for you, or your family. Instead, pick a set list of recipes that you would like to try and then go buy the freshest ingredients for it that you can. You will find that buying fresh ingredients is not only healthier for you, but that it is also far cheaper than buying already assembled, processed food. Remember, if you are not sure how a particular food is made, then you probably should not eat it.

You need to be sure to shy away from recipes that involve a lot of frying. Fried foods, while tasty, do not exactly do your body any favors. However, you do not have to totally abstain from fried foods, just so long as you remember to use smaller portions.

There are certain ingredients that you need to learn how to control in order to cook more healthy meals. Butter, for example, is a very tasty ingredient that has multiple purposes in cooking. However, more often than not people tend to overdo it and end up using too much butter, which ups the fat and cholesterol in the meal. Meat is another thing that many cooks overdo. While meat is a valuable source of protein, too much of anything can be bad for you. You also need to regulate how much oil you allow in your food. Another commonly misused ingredient is cooking oil of any kind. Oil is absolutely essential for many recipes but overusing it can not only yield unhealthy consequences, but it can ruin the recipe.

Cooking healthy is something that takes patience to learn. You have to learn to do away with a lot of the short cuts that are available to you when you are preparing food that comes from a can or box. But you will find that you will have more control over the food that you are putting into your body as you keep learning. Something else you will find is that many recipes were designed to be healthy in the first place, but utilizing larger portions is what undoes the health factor. You need to be sure that you portion each ingredient properly and to not over indulge. You can undo all of your healthy cooking if you deviate too far from the set recipe.

Substitution is often a big deal in trying to learn how to cook healthier food. If you find that there is a type of ingredient you have to cut out of a recipe, or that there is a type of food that you have to abandon altogether, take comfort in knowing that there is a good chance that there is a healthy substitute available for you. Substitution is a way to get the flavor that you are craving without having to use the unhealthy original ingredient or recipe. Remember, being healthy requires a level of discipline, especially when it comes to food, so in some scenarios it may be easier for you to learn to live without certain foods.