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Most of us are familiar with the phrase “cooking is a science and applied as an art”. Like any art, of course cooking also has some tactics and tricks which if followed properly, will make cooking a lot easier and faster for you. Following are some golden tips that one should follow while cooking food.

Cooking Tips

  1. You should be completely prepared for what you are going to cook. All the required ingredients and utensils should be available for what you want to cook. If you are following a recipe, go over it a few times to make sure you are well prepared for it.
  2. If the ingredients require any pre work e.g. chopping, slicing, thawing etc. or any other cooking techniques, it should be done before you start cooking.
  3. Sometimes you may prefer cooking two dishes at a time to save time. Check out if you require similar ingredients for both to save time.
  4. Use utensils according to the requirements of your dish. If you need a big dish, do not start preparing in a small one and then inverting in a large dish.
  5. If you are required to fry some thing, pre-heat the wok before putting your ingredients in oil. Similarly according to the required temperature of your dish, pre- heat the oven as well.
  6. Never touch a pot with naked hands while on the burning stove. Always use a kitchen cloth for safety purposes. Follow these kitchen safety tips to avoid problems in the kitchen.
  7. Try to use plastic gloves while cutting ingredients. It will prevent rashes or burning from ingredients like green chili.
  8. While cooking many dishes at the same time, start with the dish, which according to you will take the most time.
  9. Try to use non stick utensils in your kitchen. It helps in making cooking more convenient and also decreases the quantity of oil usage.
  10. Keep the fire of the burner at a moderate level while cooking.
  11. Never compromise with your ingredients in a particular recipe. Never use cheap products. Always use fresh products and check for expires on shelf items before using them.
  12. Cut the ingredients especially vegetables in small pieces. It will allow sauces to merge into pieces faster, and will allow the taste to come out properly.
  13. Always wash or clean vegetables, fruits and herbs properly before using.
  14. Before removing your pan or dish from the stove, turn off the burner.
  15. Try to avoid too much oil and spices in your dish.
  16. If you are cooking two things together like meat and vegetables, start cooking the ingredient which will take more time than the other and then mix in the second one.
  17. Never over cook the food. This leads to loss of nutrients and makes food unhealthy.
  18. If you are using any frozen vegetables, do not defrost them in a microwave oven. Simply put it under running water for five minutes.
  19. While cooking, constantly stir the food, especially if you are preparing sauces. If you are frying something, change sides frequently for an even golden color or when one side is properly done.
  20. If you want to grill the food make sure the grill is properly clean.

Stay tuned for some more cooking tips in the next blog post!

In: General/ Posted by admin

To learn successful cooking, it is essential to learn different cooking techniques that are commonly used by cooking schools, chefs and cookbook authors worldwide. Learning these basic cooking techniques will not only make cooking fun for you, but you will be able to complete your cooking projects with ease.

Basic Cooking Techniques

The most commonly used techniques in cooking are listed below:

Cutting refers to breaking food into smaller chunks, usually uniform in shape, such as vegetables, meat or making mince.

Chopping is a term used to refer to cut foods into pieces, such as cubes. Chopping is different from cutting by being a larger cut and it generally does not have to be uniform.

Sautéing is a cooking technique which means to fry food at moderate heat until it is soft and light golden brown.

Roasting refers to cooking in large amount of fats. The term usually applies on large parts of meat or joints but can also be used for vegetables.

Frying is the process of cooking food in oil and involves different methods including deep frying, shallow frying and stir frying.

Deep frying is the process of immersing food in large amount of fat or oil until the food cooks properly at moderate heat. However it is not recommended by dieticians as it is not good for health due to the high fat content.

Stir frying is to cook in a small amount of oil similar to sauté; the oil should be sufficient enough to cover the surface of the pan. This technique of cooking is used to soften the food. The technique is specially used in Chinese cuisine to stir fry vegetables.

Shallow frying requires frying food in pre-heated oil sufficient enough to cover one quarter to half of the ingredient (e.g fish/ poultry) being fried.

Barbecuing is the technique of cooking meat over red hot coals or a barbecue grill. The food is placed on barbecue braces just 8-10 cm over the hot coals to cook it quickly.

Poaching is cooking food in shallow water over a low flame.

Steaming means cooking food in the steam of boiling water. Water is filled into a steamer up to the marked level with a hot plate on the lid. The steamer is then put on high heat till water starts to boil. You can then put the vegetables or meat on the hot plate on the lid till it is cooked. For steaming, water should not be present in very large quantity and heat must be continuous all the time. Steaming preserves and promotes nutrients of food and is a highly recommended cooking technique. In case of excess water evaporation from the streamer before the food is tender and thoroughly cooked; replenish steamer with additional hot water supply.

Simmering involves cooking in liquids over a low heat till bubbling gently.

Boiling is the process of cooking liquids over moderate to high heat till bubbling rapidly.

Baking deals with cooking of various types of foods in an oven.

Blanching or parboiling is a unique method of cooking that is used to soften the food and also to stop it from going brown. It requires you to dip the food in boiling water for a little time which can then be transferred to chilled or iced water if required. This is mostly used to help get rid of bacteria and any other impurities on the food.

Broiling means to brown or toast the tops of food under direct high heat. Food must be kept 4-6 inches away from the source of heat.

Grilling is a method of quick cooking under radiant heat. This technique for cooking is about preheating the grill and placing vegetables, meat or food on a grill pan that must be 7-9 cm below the heating source. This is the best way to cook or soft vegetables.

Braising is a cooking technique in which the main ingredient seared or browned in fat and then simmered in liquid on low heat in a covered pot.

Whipping Cream

Whipping is the process of beating an ingredient vigorously, such as cream or eggs, to incorporate air until frothy.

Stewing is the process of cooking meat or vegetables by heating them slowly with oil and moisture in a tightly sealed or covered container.

Kneading is a term used for mixing dough by stretching and folding to help form gluten in the flour.

These are some of the basic cooking techniques and mastering them is easy. However, there are other specific cooking techniques which are specific to certain cuisines, like French, Italian, Chinese, Indian etc. By learning these basic cooking techniques, you can become a good cook and you will be able to handle most recipes.

In: General/ Posted by admin

Kitchen Safety Tips

Kitchen is considered as an important area of the house where utmost attentiveness and careful action is required. It is a place where you get juicy, creamy and spicy food, and where you also have to deal with sharp knives, burning fire and hot utensils. A small carelessness might cause big damage.

Here are some very basic and primary tips, which if kept in mind, will help improve kitchen safety and at the same time you will enjoy your cooking.

  1. When you are cooking, it is best that you should only cook rather than watching TV or doing other household chores along.
  2. Never leave food on the stove unattended.
  3. Keep all the utensils, spices and other kitchen related material in order for easy access.
  4. After using an ingredient, put it back in its proper place, so that you can have it on time, if you require it again.
  5. Never ever make a mistake of keeping any pesticide or other chemicals along with any edibles.
  6. The cabinet containing pesticides, drain cleaners or other chemicals should always be at the bottom of other cabinets, so if ever leakage takes place, they may not mix up with food items.
  7. If you ever use any chemical or poison in your kitchen for cleaning or killing bugs etc, close the lid properly and immediately wash hands with soap.
  8. While working in the kitchen if any liquid spills on the floor, clean it immediately or someone might slip over it.
  9. Always use a dustbin in the kitchen for putting away litter. Never let it scatter on counters and kitchen floor.
  10. Clear the kitchen garbage every day.
  11. Never let dishes unwashed over the night. It produces germs and bad smell in the kitchen.
  12. Never dispose off remaining food into the dishwashing sink since this will block your sink.
  13. If you have any electric plugs near your dishwashing sink, avoid using them as there is a chance that water may spill on them and cause an incident.
  14. Keep different cleaning clothes for different cleaning purposes; for the stove use a different cleaning cloth, for dishes use a separate cloth and for shelves and counters use a different cleaning cloth.
  15. Wear an apron when cooking food to avoid your clothes from getting dirty.
  16. Never keep any edibles uncovered in the kitchen.
  17. Try not to allow small kids to enter the kitchen while you are cooking.
  18. While cutting vegetables and fruits use a sharp knife and perform your task slowly and carefully.
  19. Keep all knives and forks at a safe place all the time, like in a drawer or wrapped in some cloth or towel to avoid any accidental cuts.
  20. While cooking, always keep the stove at moderate heat.
  21. Never touch or try to carry hot pots with naked hands. Always use kitchen napkins for this purpose.
  22. Never put any hot dish directly into the refrigerator.
  23. Before using any utensils in the microwave, make sure that it is recommended for microwave use and the utensils are dry.
  24. Never keep expired food material in the kitchen. There are chances that small children might eat them or you accidentally use them in your cooking.
  25. Always keep eggs, raw meat and seafood refrigerated.
  26. Always turn off the stove before leaving the kitchen.
  27. Keep all electric appliances on a counter or shelf, away from any moisture and water source.
  28. Keep your chopping boards and utensils clean, and when cutting meat and vegetables, do not cut them on the same board without washing the board.
  29. Keep all house pets out of the kitchen at all times.
  30. Regularly clean your kitchen cabinets and cupboards as well as the refrigerator and get rid of rotten vegetables or fruits.

These are some of the very important steps that one should always keep in mind while entering the kitchen and making your meal time always happy.

In: General/ Posted by admin

Whether it is a rushed fast food meal, lunch in the company cafeteria with co-workers and friends, a pizza order at a friends or a casual family dinner at a restaurant, eating out is no longer reserved for special occasions. In fact, dining out has become an essential part of our lifestyle today and kids and teenagers especially enjoy it a lot.

People do not dine out just for the sake of eating and quenching their hunger, but they dine out because it excites the senses. Everyone enjoys eating out, especially with loved ones, socializing with friends, family and colleagues, enjoying every moment by experiencing flavours that cannot be prepared at home. Above all, some people simply dine out to enjoy and have fun!

Dine Out

Despite all the fun and excitement, one of the major drawbacks in dining out can be indulging yourself and overloading on calories. The more you eat away from home, the greater the impact of those meals or snacks have on your overall health and diet. Today, restaurants, takeaways, bars and pubs offer a huge variety of meals and dining options to choose from. Whether you are looking for fast food, or specific cuisines like Chinese, Italian, French, Thai or Continental, you can find one close by. It all depends on what you order for yourself; because these meals and snacks you eat away from your home can not only be enjoyable and great tasting but they can also be healthy. So no matter where and when you plan to dine out, make sure you keep these smart dine out tips in mind to avoid the urge to splurge and over eat, which can be harmful for your overall health. These dining out tips will not only help you choose a wholesome meal, but they will also make sure that what ever you order does not affect your health negatively.

Go with a “smart-eating” mindset – This will help you sort through the menu faster and avoid straying from your plan. If you have already had a heavy meal during the day, then order something light.

Avoid skipping meals during the day to “save up” for an evening out – If you are planning to go out on a dinner party, then do not skip breakfast or lunch just to save up. Most people find it easy to over indulge at restaurants, especially if they are feeling hungry. Skipping a meal during the day is not a good approach, as the food you eat out at a restaurant or party will usually be more in calories and will have a high fat content, which can lead to health problems.

Order half or medium portions – Some restaurants offer half, medium and full portion meals. If you are not feeling very hungry or are being conscious about your health, order a medium or half portion to cut on calories and fat. If half or medium portions are not available, you can always split your order with a friend or have the rest of it packed away to take home.

Balance your nutrients – If you are in a habit of dining out frequently, make sure you balance your nutrient intake by ordering different dishes every time. For example, if you order a meat or chicken dish today, go for a vegetarian one the next day. Picking your favourite dish every time, like steaks or fish and chips is a not a healthy habit.

Choose a meal with food variety – Every time you dine out, and are ordering a full meal, try to balance it out. For example, if the main dish has a higher fat content, order a salad or accompaniment which is low fat. Ordering fresh fruit or dessert after your meal is also a good idea. When dining out, you have to make trade-offs in your daily routine, for example if you have had a heavy lunch at office, then you can cut back on calories when you come back home for dinner.

Ordering complimentary breads and crackers before your meal – Some people cannot simply resist the complimentary breads, crackers and cheese sticks which most restaurants offer before the food is served. If you are conscious about your health, it is not necessary to finish the whole basket. You can simply take a few and then leave the rest for friends or ask the attendant to take the basket away.

You should also go easy on the dips, butter and sauces served with breads as they are also rich in salts, calories and fat. Instead of dipping the whole cracker or cheese stick in the dip, use your fork to take a portion of the sauce or dip instead.

Fast Food

Always order salad – Most restaurants offer a do-it-yourself salad bar where you can find a wide variety of salads available. However, be careful what you choose from the salad bar as salad dressings, croutons, cheese, noodles, pasta and creamy sauces and dips can have more calories in them than a usual meal. Lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage and other fresh vegetables are safe choices so always take larger portions of raw veggies, fruits and beans and less of pasta, toppings and dressings.

Choose your meal according to your health – If you have a health problem such as hypertension, heart problem or diabetes, always be careful about what your order. For example, go for grilled, baked, barbecued or steamed meals instead of going for deep fried foods such as fish and chips.

Enjoy your food! – Dining out should be fun and exciting whether you dine out alone or with family and friends. So savour every bite and relish the flavours and aromas of what ever you eat, making each meal an exciting and wonderful experience.

In: General/ Posted by admin

For all you cooks out there, the kitchen work triangle is the most important area of the kitchen as it acts as the workspace. The work triangle consists of the cooking area, food storage (including the refrigerator and any other storage racks), and the main working counter. Whether you are looking to design your new house, or re-model or renovate your existing kitchen, it is important that you keep these kitchen space maximizing tips in mind to make the most out of the time you spend in the kitchen.

Kitchen Design Ideas

The first and most important tip is that the kitchen triangle should not be so large that its three corners are way too far apart, making it difficult for you to move around to grab things, nor so close that the traffic and movement area between the three points is blocked. An ill planned kitchen can have a lot of pitfalls, which generally include:

  • Cluttered counter tops
  • Storing things in the wrong place
  • Having too many tools, utensils and appliances in the kitchen which are never used

Make sure your kitchen is free from all these pitfalls and you will enjoy cooking as much as you can.

Size of kitchen cabinets

All kitchens have cabinets to store utensils, pots and pans etc. for daily use. Most kitchen cabinets are made to a certain height, causing all the space above them to go to waste. Cabinets can be extended or extra kitchen cupboards can be installed on top of the existing ones reaching the ceiling to give extra storage space, especially to store bigger utensils, expensive dinner sets or machines which are not regularly used.

Keep the machinery mobile

Machines such as microwaves can be kept on carts and trolleys, or simply a table on wheels so it can be moved around easily. This also allows you to use the machines both inside and outside the kitchen, like in the dining room.

Keep the number of doors and windows to a minimum

Small kitchens do not need a lot of doors and windows as they take up a lot of space and can make the kitchen look crowded. Similarly, sliding doors and French doors are not recommended for small kitchens as they take up too much space. Single doors are a better option, and you can keep them fixed or swinging, according to your preference. In some kitchens, the door may also be eliminated completely to make an open kitchen, but then a very good exhaust will be needed to keep the food smell from entering the rest of the house.

Use of drop down tables

If you do not have a very large kitchen, but need to incorporate an eating area in the kitchen, a drop down table is an ideal solution. This table works just like a proper table but is basically a board which acts like the table top and is attached to a wall on one side by hinges. The free end of the drop table can be freed and propped up on a cabinet door or counter to serve as a dining table or a counter top, and can be laid flat against the wall once again when it is not in use.

Use of Built-in kitchens

Built-in kitchens give a perfect streamlined look to everything in the kitchen. All the appliances, cabinets and counters are built-into the walls of the kitchen instead of jutting out or taking up floor space.

Use of roll out shelves and baskets

Pull-out trays and drawers can be used in the kitchen instead of the usual fixed shelves used in kitchen cabinets. Mesh or wire baskets can be attached to the doors of the cabinets that pull out like drawers, making it easy for you to view the contents of these baskets when the cabinet door is opened. As the baskets are pulled into view, they make it easy for you to see and reach the items inside.

Kitchen Basket

Stack utensils properly

By properly stacking your dishes, utensils and pots and pans, you can save a lot of storage space. Small pans can be stacked inside large pans, just like bowls can be stacked one inside the other. You can also stack food storage boxes one on top of the other.

Use door organizers

They can help you use the extra space inside cabinets which would otherwise go to waste. You can use racks inside cabinet doors to place cookbooks, food wraps, rolling pins, counter cleaners, detergents and any other items which do not need a lot of space. Baskets can also be hung behind the kitchen door to store garlic, onions, potatoes or other dry vegetables.

Ceiling storage

Large kitchens which have a peninsula or island can use ceiling space above them to store pots and pans. Bar racks can also be attached to the ceiling to store bar glasses, bottles and similar items. However, with ceiling storage you have to make sure it is neat and organized all the time as a big ceiling structure is the first thing that the eye catches.

Avoid dead space

When planning your kitchen, make sure there are no dead spaces between the counters and wall cabinets. This space can be used to hold narrow shelves, horizontal or vertical to store various odds and ends.

Use dividers

Many kitchens have slender cabinets that seem to be fillers for the extra, unplanned space that may have been left unused at the time of construction. These are good for nothing if used horizontally. Instead, use dividers to leave narrow spaces for baking trays, cutting boards and serving trays, all fitting vertically.

Organize and sort your kitchen regularly

The storage spaces in your kitchen need regular sorting and cleaning. By discarding old and useless things from your kitchen, you can make space for new items. Also make sure that you keep the kitchen and counter tops clear of non-kitchen items such as toys, car keys, notebooks and pencils etc.

Use baskets

If you are looking for extra storage space in the kitchen, you can hang baskets in different parts of the kitchen, or keep them on the counter or island to store left over spoons and forks. Similarly, hooks on the door or cabinet sides can be used to hang mittens, aprons and other dishcloths etc.

So, make sure you plan your kitchen well and use these tips to act as ingenious solutions for all your kitchen design needs.