Wok this Way! (Part 1 of 5)
Woks have been synonymous with Chinese cooking since the emergence of Chinese cuisine. They have been used for some 3000 years in China for a variety of cooking methods, including stir frying, boiling, and steaming. A wok is a large, thin-walled, round-bottomed, metal cooking pan, and shaped like a shallow bowl with handles. The addition of a wooden rack and cover transforms the wok into a steamer. Although woks come in sizes ranging from 10 to 32 inches in diameter, a wok that's 11 to 14 inches should suffice for use in a household kitchen.
With the increasing popularity of Chinese cuisine, there are now many "Westernized" versions of the wok. There is the addition of a metal ring, which is set on top of a gas or electric stove to hold the wok to prevent tipping. Some have a small flat bottom instead of the traditional round bottom, for the same reason. The new versions will get the job done, but the "traditonal" large round-bottomed woks are still, by far, the preferred wok of choice.
Since the essence of Chinese cuisine is to achieve food tenderness through quick cooking to retain the natural taste, flavor, and color of the ingredients, the wok's ingenious unique design makes it a perfect fit in Chinese cooking. Its bottom concentrates heat to achieve 2 objectives: 1) to direct the heat at the food, while sealing in the flavors and allowing food to be cooked evenly, and 2) to allow cooking food quickly with very little oil. The stir fry cooking technique shifts food around the wok quickly, coating it with oil during cooking, as opposed to using a flat frying pan where a lot more oil is required. Consequently, cooking with a wok is essential for a healthy diet. It also has curved sides to keep in food that is being tossed and flipped during stir frying. Food, when cooked, may be moved up the sloping side of the wok to stay warm without cooking further, while other food is cooked at the bottom. It is also ideal for deep frying as it requires less oil than any other kitchen cookware to do the job.
Next, in Part 2 of Wok this way!, we'll go over selecting a wok.
Helen Fan grew up in a family that has owned various Asian restaurants all over North America, from Vancouver (Canada), Houston (Texas), Decatur (Illinois), to Chicago (Illinois). She, and the rest of the Fan family are now sharing their decades of knowledge on the art of Chinese cuisine at http://www.ChineseHomeCooking.Com
Two for One Dinners: Ham
If you find leftovers boring, uninviting or downright "yuck," then here are some ideas to put the "zing" back into mealtime. With a little creativity your home-cooked meal can easily become a delicious meal another night. There are a six articles in this series, today we are going to look at what you can do with ham.
The Perfect Scone: Keys to Make Your Scone Just Right
Ah, there's nothing like a tender, steaming scone in the morning. (Pronounced "skawn" like "fawn" or "scone" like "tone" ?Webster says either is okay.) They're quick, they're easy, and with a few tips, they are absolutely delectable.
Barbecue Success With The Rule Of Thirds
Ever been to a barbecue party where the 'chef' placed as much food as he could possibly fit onto the barbecue grill, every so often stabbing the food with a fork and juggling it around so that it cooks evenly? Ever noticed how, within a few minutes, the flames start gently flickering under the food, the chef proudly standing back admiring the char grill effect that he's creating? Ever notice the panic that sets in when the flames suddenly leap up and around the food burning it black on the outside and leaving it raw on the inside?
Buying, Storing, and Preparing Apricots
When buying apricots, always look for those that are firm, plump orange fruit that gives slightly when you press with your thumb. Bruised apricots should be avoided. Like apples and potatoes, apricots contain polyphenoloxidase, an enzyme that combines with phenols in the apricots to produce brownish pigments that discolor the fruit.
Two for One Dinners: Beans
If you find leftovers boring, uninviting or downright "yuck," then here are some ideas to put the "zing" back into mealtime. With a little creativity your home-cooked meal can easily become a delicious meal another night. There are a six articles in this series, today we are going to look at what you can do with beans.
Low-Budget Meals In a Minute
Ever go home and look in the fridge only to find it sadly, echoingly empty? Well, look again my friend... there are probably a ton of condiments in there just waiting to be made into a hearty meal. Here are some tasty new recipes I discovered while living on a limited income. Dish up some dinner, liven up lunch, whatever you like! Mmmm, MMMH!
The Barbecue Pit
The barbecue pit has been around since 1920,s and it was used to cook barbecue beef ribs. BBQ ribs had a far more delicious than ribs cooked in the kitchen.
Barbequing, a Fun and Convenient Way to Make Dinner
"There's nothing more enjoyable than having friends and family gathered around amidst the wonderful smells of charcoal-grilled prawns, vegetables and selected favorites. Barbecuing is one of those time- honored rituals that go hand in hand with summertime. Whether you're in your backyard or at you're favorite camping site, barbecuing is a pleasure to be enjoyed by the whole family." Barbecuing has never been more exciting; with the endless designs of barbecues available and the myriad of barbecue cookbooks and cooking shows it really does take barbecuing into a whole new realm. With recipes for everything from grilled bananas to peaches and dry rubs for ribs, barbecues aren't just for cooking steaks and burgers anymore. With all the available barbecuing options it helps to know a few of the barbecuing terms and barbecuing utensils that are used.Firstly, barbecues come in a wide variety of options; there are propane, natural gas and the standard barbecues for use with charcoal. Barbecues can come with range style one, two and four burner options along with rotisseries. There are even barbecues that have coolers built right into the bottom! Barbecuing has never been quite so convenient.AccessoriesWhen you're using your barbecue it really helps to have the right utensils and barbeque accessories, this will make your barbecuing experience easier and more enjoyable. Long handled tongs, basting brushes and spatulas are quite helpful. Heavy-duty oven mitts can also be useful. Of course you don't want to forget the proper wire brushes and scrubbers (crumpled foil even works well) to remove build-up, keeping your grill racks clean. Foods that are tender such as fish, vegetables and some burgers can benefit from cooking in a special grill basket (this way you aren't loosing any of your meal into the barbecue). There are also special racks available to be used with corn, potatoes, ribs and meat.An excellent barbecue accessory is the grill wok, with this you can make you're favorite stir fries and vegetable dishes; the wok has small holes throughout that allow heat and smoke to penetrate the food. Another great grill accessory is the grill pizza tray used mostly for grilled pizza. Other grill accessories include; the grill topper used for fish and vegetables providing an even cooking surface, which prevents foods from falling through the grill rack; you can never have too many skewers in assorted lengths which can be used with a skewer rack for grilling your favorite marinated vegetables and meats; smoker boxes for gas grills filled with soaked wood chips add a wonderful smoked flavor to foods. Lastly foil packets are available or simple tin foil to wrap foods, just remember that you may be sacrificing the grill and smoke flavors when foods are wrapped tightly.Grilling ProcessesAfter you have the utensils and proper grilling accessories needed for you're barbeque experience you'll want to familiarize yourself on the different types of grilling processes and terms to find the ones that work best for you and to know exactly what has to be done. To start, basting is probably the most familiar of barbecuing terms, a simple brushing with a seasoned liquid adding both flavor and moisture to your food. A brochette is just French for a kabob, or simply food cooked on a skewer. A glaze is a glossy, flavorful coating on food as it cooks as a result of regular basting. Three very popular methods of barbecuing are the direct grilling, dry smoking and indirect grilling methods. Direct grilling is probably the most popular grilling used, it is when food is placed directly over the flame. It is a fast method because of the intense heat and allows for browning on the outside of foods. This process works best for food requiring short cooking times such as burgers and steaks, you must remember to turn food over to allow cooking on both sides. The dry smoking method is achieved by placing a grill rack indirectly over the heat source with the barbecue lid down, this allows the flame to burn thus creating smoke which covers the food, giving you a smoky flavor. Lastly the indirect grilling is a slow process of cooking because of less heat, it is done by surrounding a drip pan with the coals and putting the food over the pan, so the hot air circulates around the food (similar to a convection oven). It is wise to check with your barbecue owner manual for indirect grilling specific to your barbecue, roasts work well with this method.After you've acquired the barbecue and all the necessary cooking utensils and accessories you're ready for the best part of barbecuing and that is the cooking of the food. Sauces, marinades and rubs are popular cooking ideas when barbecuing. Barbecue sauce can be said to define a great barbecue. Whether you use a little or a lot is a matter of preference. A sauce often includes sugar, honey or preserves, which can cause the sauce to burn when cooking; a suggestion is to brush your sauce on in the last five to ten minutes of cooking. There are a wide variety of sauces and glazes to be made ranging from apple butter barbecue sauce to raspberry piquant sauce. Marinades are used for soaking your choice of meat, tofu or vegetables. The marinating both tenderizes and permeates the food with flavor, adding flavor and promoting crisp brown exteriors, changing an otherwise average dinner into a great one. Marinades are virtually fool proof and can be made in advance refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. The three basic ingredients in a marinade are; flavorings such as herbs, spices, sweeteners; oils which keep the food pliable and give a crispy crust; acids such as citrus juices, wines, vinegars and yogurts used to balance the sweetness. It is suggested to use the acids sparingly on fish and poultry, as they will soften the flesh when used.A virtually fat free and easy way to add flavor to food is by using a variety of bold seasonings in a rub. The food is rubbed with spices prior to grilling, the rub transforms into a crunchy brown crust that seals in the juices and enhances the flavors of the food. The spices should be generously applied coating the entire surface of the food; the food should then be covered and put in the fridge for 15 minutes to 2 hours. Simplicity is the key for making rubs, salt and sugar are two of the main ingredients and the rest are up to you.In summary, whatever your barbecuing specialty might be barbecues can be both a fun and convenient way to make dinner. Summertime needn't be the only time of year that you're barbecuing, if weather allows you can barbecue all year round. The options have never been more exciting, and the variety of foods and recipes never more abundant.
Roasting Meat - Temperatures and Times
Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, I still see recipes that insist you should cook meat at high temperature for the first twenty minutes or so to seal it and then lower the level for the rest of the cooking time.
Bacteria and Food-borne Diseases
Types of Bacteria
ServSafe Food Program in Montana a Success
Montana has a great program for restaurant employees. Each preparer of foods to the public must go through a special program where they learn at what temperatures food must be served and how to keep the place clean. It is through this program that MT ranks among the lowest in the country for food poisoning. E. coli bacteria is very unlikely in MT because as part of this program they learn all the other important food preparation rules. The signature program? It is called ServSafe. And each employee must complete this program.
Working with Eggs
Bad eggs are rare but they do occur. Crack eggs into a separate bowl before mixing with other ingredients. If the egg is bad it will have an unmistakeable odor.
How to Peel Almost Anything
The great English cook Prue Leith once famously remarked "life's too short to stuff a mushroom". I feel pretty much the same way about peeling a grape.
Grilling Tips ? Safety Comes First at the Barbecue
You're standing at the gas grill in the hot sun, wiping the sweat from your brow, and having your favorite cool drink. You are making one of your favorite grill recipes for the neighbors that are coming over in a few minutes for a home and garden party. You are using your brand new gas grill with all of the bells and whistles. You even went to the trouble of sending out fun invitations you found on the internet and you have just the perfect theme picked out for your party. Your new pool furniture has arrived and the weather is a perfect 80 degrees. Your picnic table is set up for the kids and their friends. Summer life doesn't get much better than that. With every grill recipe, party and backyard barbecue you can still maintain safety and common sense. Your party could be a disaster without first thinking about safety for yourself and your guests. Here are a few tips that ensure safety first:
Rice Cookers - Perfect Rice Every Time
Love fluffy cooked rice but dislike the preparation time and clean up? Then rice cookers maybe just what you need. Today's rice cooker is a thrifty time saving device for anyone's kitchen. Also eating rice weekly has many health benefits. With so many rice cookers to choose from how does one decide? Let's take a look at the many features and sizes of a rice cooker and determine which is right for you and your family.
Secrets of Great Breads
Often we field questions about making great bread. Great bread is a matter of using the right ingredients and the right techniques-there's no single secret that will make perfect bread. But really great bread is readily attainable. We've compiled our list of what goes into great bread.
Unique Cake Decorating With Flowers
Flowers as a Cake Decoration, unique and easy to place on every one of your cake creations.
High Altitude Baking - A Cooks Guide
High altitude baking can be a real adventure for the cook, with a number of challenges to keep you on your toes. The higher you are in elevation, the less pressure there will be. How does this affect your baking creations? Low air pressure creates increased evaporation of liquids during the baking process and this can cause your cakes to fall. Baking at high altitudes means a few more adjustments so that your baked goods will come out perfectly, ready to tempt the finest of taste buds.
Cooking Lobster at Home
Lobster has always be one of those extravagant meals which few people ever try because of the high cost. With restaurants paying thirty dollars a pound, by the time they put their markup on it, you're easily paying sixty dollars for a ten ounce tail. This high cost leaves lobster dinners for the well-to do or at least only for special occasions. But, this doesn't have to be.
The Right Grill for Your Barbecue
Barbecue is a mix of talents. There is the choice of meat (or in some cases vegetables), the creation and choice of sauce, and of course the flame. Once the components are gathered together, then the real talent starts with the maintenance of the flame, smoke, turnings and sauce applications.
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