Tips for becoming an expert cook

* To slice meat into thin strips, as for Chinese dishes –
partially freeze and it will slice easily.

  • If you add vinegar in boiling water for boiled eggs, egg shell will never crack.
  • If the curd is really sour and you have to use it for gravy, whisk it and in half hour water will come up, throw that water and Dahi is ready to use.
  • If you want to reuse the fish cooked oil just fry some tamarind in it and the smell and flavor of fish will go away-you can use the oil now.
  • Garlic should always be peeled before 7 to 8 min of chopping as this process increases the flavor
  • Onion should be peeled and instantly cut because it starts losing its flavor
  • When you are cooking green leafy vegetables never cover the pan while cooking because the steam that condenses contains toxins which needs to evaporate.
  • Best way to store green leafy vegetables and fresh herbs is to roll it in newspaper or brown paper bag and place that in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • When combining dry things with liquid things, always sprinkle the dry ingredients on the surface instead of dunking it in at once, this avoids the batter from getting lumpy and product getting heavy. Eg. Dry fruits in a cake batter
  • * A roast with the bone in will cook faster than a boneless roast –
    the bone carries the heat to the inside of the roast quicker.

    * For a juicer hamburger add cold water to the beef before grilling
    (1/2 cup to 1 pound of meat).

    * To keep cauliflower white while cooking –
    add a little milk to the water.

    * Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour
    before frying to improve the crispness of french-fried potatoes.

    * Buy mushrooms before they “open.” When stems and caps are attached
    snugly, mushrooms are truly fresh.

    * Lettuce keeps better if you store in refrigerator without washing
    first so that the leaves are dry. Wash the day you are going to use.

    * Do not use metal bowls when mixing salads.
    Use wooden, glass or china.

    * A Perfect Pastry Crust? In your favorite recipe, substitute a
    4:1 ratio of lard:butter.

    * To make your own corn meal mix: combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup
    all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons baking
    powder. You can store it in a tightly covered container for
    up to 6 months.

    * It’s important to let a roast — beef, pork, lamb or poultry —
    sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to
    retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon,
    much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board.

    * Microwave a lemon for 15 seconds and double the juice you get
    before squeezing.

    * Microwave garlic cloves for 15 seconds and the skins slip
    right off.

    * When slicing a hard boiled egg, try wetting the knife just before
    cutting. If that doesn’t do the trick, try applying a bit of
    cooking spray to the edge.

    * Rescue stale or soggy chips and crackers: Preheat the oven to
    300F. Spread the chips or crackers in a single layer on a
    baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool,
    then seal in a plastic bag or container.

    * The best way to store fresh celery is to wrap it in aluminum
    foil and put it in the refrigerator–it will keep for weeks.

    * Store freshly cut basil on your kitchen counter in a glass
    with the water level covering only the stems. Change the
    water occasionally. It will keep for weeks this way,
    even develop roots! Basil hates to be cold, so NEVER put
    it in the refrigerator. Also, regular cutting encourages
    new growth and healthier plants.

    * A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of
    corn will remove every strand of corn silk.

    * Fresh eggs’ shells are rough and chalky; old eggs are smooth and
    shiny.

    * No “curly” bacon for breakfast when you dip it into cold water
    before frying.

    * When working with dough, don’t flour your hands; coat them with
    olive oil to prevent sticking.

    * Use a gentle touch when shaping ground beef patties. Overhandling
    will result in a firm, compact texture after cooking. Don’t press
    or flatten with spatula during cooking.

    * Never heat pesto sauce – the basil will turn black and taste bitter.

    * Butter pie pastry scraps: sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and
    bake like cookies.

    * A jar lid or a couple of marbles in the bottom half of a double-boiler
    will rattle when the water gets low and warn you to add more before
    the pan scorches or burns.

    * When mincing garlic, sprinkle on a little salt so the pieces won’t
    stick to your knife or cutting board.

    * If your cake recipe calls for nuts, heat them first in the oven,
    then dust with flour before adding to the batter to keep them from
    settling to the bottom of the pan.

    * Noodles, spaghetti and other starches won’t boil over if you rub
    the inside of the pot with vegetable oil.

    * Brown gravy in a hurry with a bit of instant coffee straight from
    the jar… no bitter taste, either.

    * To hasten the cooking of foods in a double boiler, add salt to the
    water in the outer boiler.

    * Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to
    prevent ice cream drips.

    * To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the
    potatoes.

    * Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your
    forehead. The throbbing will go away.

    * Don’t throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for
    future use in casseroles and sauces.

    * If you have a problem opening jars: Try using latex dishwashing
    gloves. They give a on-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

    * Add a little lemon and lime to tuna to add zest and flavor to tuna
    sandwiches. Use cucumbers soaked in vinegar and pepper in sandwich
    instead of tomatoes. Use mustard instead of mayo to cut the fat
    and add a tang.

    * Instead of the water your recipe calls for, try juices, bouillon,
    or water you’ve cooked vegetables in. Instead of milk, try
    buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream. It can add a whole new flavor
    and improve nutrition.

    * Steak Sauce With A Kick: Deglaze your frying pan (after searing your
    New York steaks) with brandy. Add two tablespoons of butter, a little
    white wine and a splash of Grand Marnier. Serve over steaks –
    you’ll never use steak sauce again.

    * When browning ground meat, brown several pounds and drain. Divide
    evenly in freezer containers and freeze. Unthaw in microwave for
    quick fixing next time.

    * Ground spices really should be replaced every 6 months or so!
    Unless you know you will use them up fairly quickly, buy a bottle
    in partnership with a friend and split the contents.
    You’ll each benefit from fresh spices.

    * Sunlight doesn’t ripen tomatoes, warmth does. Store tomatoes with stems
    pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer.

    * Place green fruits in a perforated plastic bag. The holes will allow
    air to circulate while retaining the ethylene gas that fruits
    produce during ripening.

    * Marshmallows won’t dry out when frozen.

    * Poke a hole in the middle of the hamburger patties while shaping them.
    The burgers will cook faster and the holes will disappear when done.

    * For fluffier, whiter rice, add one teaspoon of lemon juice per quart of
    water. To add extra flavor and nutrition to rice, cook it in liquid
    reserved from cooking vegetables.

    * Cheese won’t harden if you butter the exposed edges before storing.

    * Sausage patties rolled in flour before frying won’t crack open
    during cooking.

    * Two drops of yellow food coloring added to boiling noodles will
    make them look homemade.

    * When separating eggs, break them into a funnel. The whites will
    go through leaving the yolk intact in the funnel.

    * Fresh fish freeze well in a milk carton filled with water.

    * Make your own celery flakes. Just cut and wash the leaves from the
    celery stalks; place them in the oven on low heat or in the hot sun
    until thoroughly dry. Crumble and store in an air-tight container.

    * When picking a melon, smell it for freshness and ripeness.
    Check to see that the fruit is heavy in weight and that the
    spot on the end where it has been plucked from the vine is soft.

    * When tossing a salad with a basic vinaigrette, always make the
    vinaigrette at least 1/2 hour ahead of time and let the mixture
    sit to allow the flavors to marry. Pour the vinaigrette down
    the side of the bowl, not directly on the greens, for a more
    evenly dressed salad.

    * For the perfect boiled egg, cover eggs with cold water and
    a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a full boil. Remove the
    pan from the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit for 8-9 minutes.
    Drain the water and place the eggs in ice water to cool to
    stop the cooking process.

    * When braising meat, cook it at a low temperature for a long
    time to keep the meat tender and have it retain all the juices.

    * When cooking any kind of strawberry dessert, add a splash of
    aged Balsamic vinegar to the recipe to enhance the flavor
    of the strawberries.

    * For fresh flavor in orange juice add the juice of one lemon.

    * Tenderize pot roast or stewing meat by using two cups of
    hot tea as a cooking liquid.

    * When making roux for a recipe, make extra and keep in
    the refrigerator for future use.

    * Chefs pound meat not to tenderize the meat, but to help
    even the meat so it cooks evenly.

    * To remove egg shells from a batter, use the remaining shell
    to attract the piece.

    * If a recipe calls for 1 cup sour cream, you may substitute
    1 cup cottage cheese blended until smooth with 1 tablespoon
    lemon juice and 1/3 cup buttermilk.

    * When using fresh herbs such as dill, chives, parsley, etc.,
    hold them together in small bunches and snip with kitchen
    scissors. It is a lot faster this way, and you’ll find the
    herbs will be light and fluffy, not bruised and wet as they
    often get when chopped.

    * When going on a picnic, keep sandwiches from becoming soggy
    by packing lettuce and condiments in separate containers.
    Add them to sandwiches just before serving.

    * Maple-flavored syrup, commonly found on the shelves in the
    store and in restaurants, is actually corn syrup flavored
    with a bit of pure maple syrup to keep the cost down.

    * Thaw fish in milk for fresher flavor

    * Put meat used for stir frying in freezer for 45 min. to 1 hr. to make
    slicing easier.

    * You can correct greasy gravy by adding a little baking soda to it.

    * If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer.

    * Keep popcorn fresh and encourage more kernels to pop by storing in
    the freezer.

    * Lemons stored in a sealed jar of water will produce twice the juice.

    * Use paper bags rather than plastic to store lettuce and celery in the
    crisper. They will stay fresh longer.

    * Bread will stay fresh longer if a celery rib is stored with it in the
    package.

    * Save butter wrappers in the freezer to use for greasing pans when baking.

    * To keep salt from clogging in the shaker, add 1/2 teaspoon of uncooked rice.

    * If guests are coming and you’re behind making dinner, throw some onions on
    to saute and your kitchen will smell wonderful and homey.

    * Egg whites should always be at room temperature before whipping.
    Be certain there is no yolk in the whites and that the bowl and
    beaters are perfectly clean. Cream, on the other hand, should be
    well-chilled. For the largest volume, chill the bowl and beaters
    before whipping.

    * When using spaghetti, keep in mind that 8 ounces of uncooked
    pasta makes 4 cups cooked.

    * When using all-purpose flour, keep in mind that one pound flour
    is the equivalent to 4 cups.

    * When using dried beans and peas, keep in mind that 1 cup dry beans
    or peas makes 2 1/2 cups cooked.

    * When using rice, keep in mind that 1 cup of uncooked long-grain
    white rice makes 3 cups cooked.

    * When using granulated sugar, keep in mind that one pound sugar
    is the equivalent to 2 cups.

    * Ultimate Disposable Pastry Bag:
    Take a heavy-duty zipper-seal plastic bag and snip off
    one corner, making a slightly curved cut. Using a standard
    two-piece plastic coupler (available wherever cake decorating
    supplies are sold), insert the larger piece into the hole.
    Choose a tip and secure it with the coupler’s ring. Fill the
    bag and zip the top closed. Decorate away, then remove the
    coupler/tip assembly and toss the bag. No messy cleanup!

    * One way to preserve the flavor of fresh herbs is to make herb butter.
    Let the butter soften, then add finely chopped herbs in any
    combination, abbout 2 to 4 tablespoons per stick of butter. The
    butter freezes well, and you can serve it spread on French bread
    or with seafood or chicken.

    * Pancakes are lighter and fluffier when you substitute club soda
    for milk in the batter.

    * Before opening a package of bacon, roll it. This helps separate
    the slices for easy removal of individual slices.

    * Drain deep fried foods on brown paper grocery bags as opposed to
    paper towels to retain crispness.

    * Whenever possible, warm your dinner plates slightly in the oven
    before serving so the meal stays a little bit hotter.

    * To make lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch or two
    of baking powder to the potatoes before whipping.

    * Cookies will spread if your dough is too pliable by allowing butter
    to get too soft. If your cookies are spreading too much, try
    refrigerating the dough for a couple of hours before baking.

    * Cookie dough can be frozen up to three months in an airtight
    container or refrigerated three to four days.

    * Check cookies at minimum baking time.

    * Let cookies cool completely before storing. Store different types
    of cookies in separate containers so they’ll keep their original
    flavor and texture.

    * Marinate red meats in wine to tenderize.

    * Marinate chicken in buttermilk to tenderize.

    * Use margarine instead of butter to panfry or saute.
    Butter burns quickly.

    * Instead of adding raw garlic to sauces, saute the garlic
    first for a milder flavor.

    * Thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not on
    the kitchen counter where bacteria can grow.

    * Add a small amount of lemon juice to the artichoke cooking
    water to retain the color of the artichoke.

    * A low-calorie solution for high-fat frying of corn tortillas is
    to place them in the oven, directly on the rack. Bake at 350 F,
    to desired crispness. The tortillas will automatically fold over
    into taco shell form with just a little postioning help.

    * A simple way to sharpen kitchen shears: cut a piece of steel wool.

    * Don’t just keep dental floss in your medicine cabinet. Keep some
    in the kitchen. It’s a great tool. Unflavored dental floss is
    often better than a& knife to cleanly cut all kinds of soft foods,
    soft cheese, rolled dough, layered cake and cheesecake.

    * If lettuce starts turning a little brown (but not slimy) it may
    not be suitable for salads, but it is for sauteing. Sauteed
    salad greens like lettuce, radicchio, and endive make an unusual
    but tasty side dish. Saute lettuces just as you would spinach.
    Cook them quickly in a little olive oil, minced garlic, and salt.
    They taste great, and you cant tell that the greens were once
    a little brown.

    How can I prevent the fresh cream from splitting?

    In hot weather, beat the cream over a platter of crushed ice. Be careful not to overbeat this cream, as it can separate the butter from the cream, leaving it lumpy.
    How can you prevent your custard from sticking?

    While making the custard sauce it is important to stir the sauce continuously so that it does not become lumpy and stick to the bottom of the pan. It is preferable to use a non-stick pan if available. Once you have perfected the art of making good custard, you can flavour and sweeten it to taste and use it as a filling for pastries or as a base for fruit salad.

    13/10/2008 :-

    • To keep the cottage cheese soft and luscious after deep frying, dip it in lukewarm water to which a pinch of turmeric powder is added.
    • Crush vermicelli or sago and roll patties or croquettes in this powder before frying, to get a crisp crunchy cover.
    • Mint pulao will be tastier if you sauté mint leaves in a teaspoon of butter or oil before cooking with the rice.
    • Add a few drops of salt water to banana chips while frying them as this will make the chips crisper.
    • One cup of soaked poha added to five cups of rice while grinding the batter for idlis, will make them softer and lighter.
    • Use milk instead of water to knead puri dough. Puris will become soft and luscious.
    • To obtain soft and flaky paranthas add ghee instead of oil to the flour while kneading the dough.
    • To make aloo tikkis crisp add two teaspoons of roasted semolina to the potato (three to four medium sized) mixture.
    • To make creamier raitas, add a little fresh cream. It will however make the dish richer.
    • Three-fourth teaspoon of hot oil added to one cup of batter will make bhajias, fritters, pakodas etc. crisper and also prevent them from soaking up too much oil
    • A pinch of turmeric powder and a teaspoon full of ghee added to half a cup of dal before pressure-cooking it will give it a better flavour.
    • To make good crispy bhaturas, add two teaspoons of semolina two cups of refined flour while kneading the dough.
    •  

    22/10/2008 :-

    SERVING AND EATING PIZZA

     

    Pizza can be found in practically every country in the world. Although enjoying steady popularity, it seems that pizza is now becoming a sophisticated, fashionable food in unusual shapes, large and small, with exotic toppings. Pizza need not be just a snack or a quick cooked meal. They can become stylish cocktail foods, substantial pies and pastries and even desserts. Pizza is a fun food item for children because they can eat it with their hands. That is the most acceptable way to eat pizza. Knife and fork are optional, however they can take away some of the enjoyment. Following are some rules that should be applied when serving and eating pizza.

     

    1. Pizza should be served on a plate or napkin. It is not necessary to serve it on fine China since paper plates will suffice.
    2. Pizza is one of the few dishes that require no side dish, however it is all right to serve salads and other greens if one desires (side dishes should be eaten with a fork and not with the hands).
    3. The pizza should always be the main course unless pizza is served as an appetizer before an Italian dinner.
    4. Soda, fruit juice, fruit punch, colas, iced tea etc. are the acceptable beverages that can be served along with pizzas.
    5. Pizza should be eaten by the slice. By no means should pizza be eaten as a whole uncut pie. The slice should be held carefully at the crusty edge. The first bite should be the point and the last should be the edge.
    6. Pizza should be hot if served during lunch or dinner. It is important that the pizza be at a temperature that the cheese on the first few slices will stretch and form strings from the pie to your plate. If you are served a pizza in which this is not the case then you can be assured that the pizza has been setting too long and should be taken back and be remade.
    7. Cold pizza is acceptable during the morning hours and can be a great breakfast. Heating cold pizza in the microwave is okay. Care should be taken to ensure that the pizza is not overheated.
    8. The minimal number of slices is four. They should be cut in an even number and sliced in the fashion of spokes of a wheel. A Rotary pizza cutter is the common equipment for cutting pizza since it can cut fast and precisely. This is an important factor since if the pizza is cut too slowly, the melting cheese may grab onto the cutter and pull away from the top.

     

    Most people eat the crust, however there is a growing trend eaters to leave layers of crust on their plate. In that case offer a dipping sauce to complete the experience.

    Flowers for the Dining table

    Flowers bring any table setting to life. Before the meal when all the linen and tableware are set out but there is no food, the table seems dead until flowers are added. Between courses, flowers help to distract attention from the bare tablemats.
    Arranging flowers for the table is a special art, something over and above the normal skills of producing an artistic arrangement. In this context, the choice of flowers is crucial to the success of the arrangement – you cannot necessarily just make use of the flowers that are available, as you would in a normal room setting. Just as linen and china are chosen to tone together and to match the mood of the food, the flowers must do the same. Their colours must also tone or complement the colours of the tableware.
    Other considerations also come into your choice of flowers. At a dinner party, or any sit down meal, the flowers should never be so tall that they obscure one guest’s face from another, or placed such that they may get knocked over as dishes are passed around. For a buffet table, long stems and abundance of flowers become an advantage. Flowers for a buffet table benefit from height as the guests are usually standing anyway and the height of flower arrangement can give shape to an otherwise flat arrangement of foods. Tone the colours with the china and linen again, but for a buffet you can have more freedom with shape. Use either a single, large display or several tiny flowers.
    It is rarely advisable to go for a strictly formal arrangement at the table, even if the setting is a formal dinner. Fine china and silver are somewhat sterile, so a stark arrangement of flowers is used.
    When it comes to choosing flowers, your choice does of course depends largely on what grows in your garden or what you can afford to buy from your florist. Roses are nearly always suitable – either arranged with other flowers or casually plonked in a small pottery jug for the supper table. Daisies of all sorts, marigolds and any small flowers lend themselves well to table arrangements. Large flowers are difficult unless you have a table like a football field! And do be careful to shake dahlias well before you bring them to the table – they are rather prone to hiding earwigs within their curly petals and it is not very appetizing to see an insect emerge and wander across the table.

     

    Be the best host in town!
    It’s party time and there is slight sweat on your brow! No need to get nervous, yours will be the best party in town. To be a good host and hostess you only need to be armed with a checklist. Not only will it help you to maintain certain norms but will also give you a clear idea of your requirements. We have the general guidelines here for you. So, now let the party begin!

    Make a list:

    • Reason for having the party.
    • Whom to invite?
    • What form of invitation?
    • Best date to host.
    • Who will help?
    • Menu for the party.
    • Liquor to be served.
    • Music or entertainment.
    • Venue of the party.
    • Parking for vehicles.

    Invitation:

    Invitations that are unclear could put the guest in a tight spot and you as the host could be highly embarrassed. Be day, date and time specific. If using the telephone to invite, reconfirm at a later date. Specify who to bring along, as space in your home or party venue may be a constraint. Your guest may have an in-house guest whom he would like to bring along. When inviting take a feedback on diet restriction and alcohol preferences. Clearly specify the occasion and the dress code. Most importantly, indicate the venue and give directions on how to reach.

    Planning:

    • Invite couples or invite each friend to bring a partner. There should be a good gender balance.
    • If a large group of fifty or so is desired, invite about sixty people. There are bound to be dropouts.
    • If the party is at home put away all precious possessions. Valuable artifacts may be repositioned depending on the nature of the party.
    • Move furniture to ensure maximum seating.
    • Position adequate ashtrays, coasters and tissue papers/ serviettes.

    Ambience:

    Ensure that the ambience is conducive to making your party a most memorable one.  It should be such that each and every guest feels comfortable and at ease.

    2

    Tips for bachelors and those who do not have the time to cook elaborately:

    6/10/2008:-

       
  • Choose ingredients like paneer, sweet corn kernels, bean sprouts etc. when you are in a hurry as these require less time to cook. Also use faster cooking methods like stir- frying as compared to boiling and baking
  • Remember to cut the vegetables into small pieces to enable them to cook faster
  • It is always handy to keep the following things in your refrigerator.
    1. Boiled Vegetables: These can be used to rustle up delicious subzis in minutes.
    2. Boiled Potatoes: Potatoes are very versatile and can be used in lots of recipes
    3. Pastes: Onion paste, garlic paste, ginger paste, green chilli paste etc. last for a long time and can be used as required
    4. Gravies : Like kadai gravy and green gravy should be made in bulk and frozen. These last for upto two months and are very handy and help optimize on time
  • It is also a good idea to rely on ready made pastes if you are too pressed for time

    Innovative recycling of left-overs not only saves your time but also gives a variety to your meals. Try and make an idli burger or a chapati frankie.

    One usually wastes more time in planning a meal as compared to actually cooking it. It is always a good idea to make a list of things you would like to make when in a hurry and make sure you stock all the ingredients required.

    Innovative use of ready food mixes helps to shorten an elaborate recipe. Here are a few tips

    1. Make a sponge cake using a cake mix and then decorate it with different kinds of icing. Your mouth- watering gateau is ready
    2. Gulab jamuns and rasgullas can be made using the mixes. They can then be converted into various desserts like malai koftas, rasmalais, meva batis etc.

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    5 Responses to “Tips for becoming an expert cook”

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    Great tips !
    I hope at least now cooking will become an easier and a likeable job for me.
    Thank You So Much for sharing these tips !

    I like your all in one tip. It is very useful and i can find very easily in one place.

    Thanks

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