Cooking guide, Famous recipes, Delicious world cuisines, Food facts, Kitchen safety tips and more about cooking..

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cooking Safety Tips

* Take care in putting food in hot oil. Any moisture will cause the oil to splatter, possible causing burns.

* Keep knifes sharp. A sharp knife is safer than a dull one.

* Never use shrimp if in doubt of it's freshness. Dispose of it.

* Always keep pets and children at a safe distance from the stove or outdoor grills.

* Always use a knife with cutting strokes away from you, not toward the hands.

* Keep a fire extinguisher handy near the kitchen and know how to use it.

* Have a working smoke detector near the kitchen

* Never allow chicken (or other raw meat) to contact other food, utensils, cutting boards or your hands before washing.

* Keep hot food hot and cold foods cold.

* Keep pot holders handy and use them.

* Wash down counters with a weak bleach solution periodically to sanitize them.

* Do not leave food cooking on the stove unattended.

* Use a meat thermometer to determine the doneness of meat.

* Keep your freezer at 0 degrees.

* Keep pot handles turned away from the front of the stove.

* Uncover pots by lifting the side of the lid away from you.

* Never pour water on a grease fire. Use a proper fire extinguisher.

* Wipe up spills on the floor immediately to prevent falls.

* Eat or freeze refrigerated leftovers within four days.

Baking Tips

  • You always pre-heat the oven to the temperature specified in the recipe.
  • When making biscuits, don't overwork the dough. Just two or three folds is all that is needed. Overworking the dough results in heavy biscuits.
  • Use an oven thermometer to determine the accuracy of the temperature control on your oven. You will only have to do this once. If you set the oven for 400 degrees F. and find that the thermometer shows the oven is actually 415 degrees F., you will know in the future to set the control just slightly below the 400 degree setting when you want 400 degrees.
  • Bleached and unbleached flours can be used interchangeably.
  • Use the cookware specified in recipe. If it says glass, use glass. If it says cookie sheet, use a cookie sheet. It makes a difference in the final product.
  • When baking breads or any dish calling for baking soda, baking powder or yeast, use measuring cups and spoons to measure accurately. Breads to not take well to eye-ball measurements.
  •  Baking powder and baking soda are not interchangeable
  • Invest in a biscuit cutter and rolling pin for smooth edged symmetrical biscuits.
  • When baking pies or any dish with a crust on top, cover the outer edge of the pie with aluminum foil to prevent burning before the rest of the crust is brown.

Poultry Cooking Tips

Safety First
The most important tip in cooking poultry concern is safety. Raw (uncooked) poultry contains bacteria can make you sick. Bacteria can destroyed by cooking. Its is advise to consumers to cook raw poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If roasting an entire chicken, the temperature should reach 180 degrees as measured in the thigh with a thermometer. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken's thigh, without touching the bone. Poultry should be roasted at an oven temperature of 350 degrees. Never lower than 325 degrees.
 It is very important to take care in handling and preparation of poultry. The juices of a chicken can contaminate anything it touches. This means cutting boards, utinsils and your hands that touch the chicken should not touch other food or utinsils before being washed. Additionally, care should be taken, when placing poultry in the refrigerator, that the juices do not drip onto other food.
Poultry should be refrigerated, frozen or on the stove being cooked at all times. Never leave poultry out on the counter while you attend to other matters. All frozen poultry should be defrosted in the refrigerator. Or you can defrost in cold water in a plastic bag, replacing the water every 30 minutes. Never defrost at room temperature.Poultry should be consumed immediately after cooking. Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. Use refrigerated leftovers within 3 to 4 days. In the freezer you can keep cooked poultry 3 to 4 months.
Cooking Tips
  • When buying turkey, allow one pound of turkey for each adult person (8 people = 8 pound turkey). This provides a little leftover for later meals.
  • Look for a turkey that has a pop up timer. This eliminates all concern of determining when the bird is cooked.
  • Place a small onion and 4 or 5 cloves of garlic into the body cavity.
  • Rubbing the poultry with salt inside and out before cooking will enhance the flavor.
  • For more flavor, season your poultry inside and out with herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage or Tarragon.

Beef Grades-Beef Storage-Beef Cooking Tips

Grades of Beef
There are many grades of beef, only 3 are generally used by grocery stores and restaurants: Prime, Choice and Select. These grades differ in texture, age and marbling, among other factors. Marbling is what gives the meat its flavor and tenderness. In order of tenderness and flavor (and price) Prime grade is the top grade, then Choice, then Select. The label "lean" is used very loosely on beef and can apply to very different quality meat. It is probably better to ignore "lean" and look for "round" or "loin" on labels if you want what most people consider "lean".

Storage and Safety of Beef
Beef may be stored in the refrigerator set at 35 to 40 degree F. or in the freezer at 0 degrees or colder. Steaks may be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer 6 to 12 months.
Ground beef may be kept in the refrigerator 1 to 2 days and in the freezer 3 to 4 months.
Cooked beef may be kept in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days and in the freezer 2 to 3 months. If  the meat in a purchased package has turned gray or brown, it may be beginning to spoil. It is probably best to discard it.
Never leave ground beef or any perishable food out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
You should fully defrost beef before cooking to prevent the exterior becoming overdone before the interior is cooked. It is best to thaw frozen beef in the freezer. You can also defrost in the microwave oven or in cold water. If using the microwave, cook the ground beef immediately because some areas may begin to cook during the defrosting. To defrost in cold water, put the meat in a watertight plastic bag and submerge. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately. Do not refreeze ground meat thawed in cold water or in the microwave oven.
Bacteria on food will rapidly multiply when left at a temperature between 45 and 140 degrees F. Beef should be cooked as soon as possible after it is defrosted.
It is recommended to use a meat thermometer when cooking ground beef and cook to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F.

Tips on Cooking Beef
To slice meat thin, as in many Chinese dishes, place in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes first and it will be much easier to slice.Cheaper cuts of meat can be very tough. However, meat may be tenderized by beating it thin with a mallet, marinading or cooking in liquid for extended times. One of the best ways to cook a tough cut of meat is to cook it in a crock pot (slow cooker). Five or six hours in a crock pot will make practically any meat tender.
When cooking over an open flame, as in barbecuing, do not place the meat directly over the flame. Place to one side, over glowing coals. An open flame will discolor the meat and impart undesirable flavors.
Be aware that meat with a bone in it will take longer to cook than without a bone.

Sea foods Cooking Tips

Buying Seafood
For buying seafood, you want to get the freshest product as possible. So, how do you tell if it's fresh? By using your eyes and nose. Pick a proper place to buy seafood. If the location has a fishy or offensive odor, walk away. Find another place for your purchase. Also a store with a fast turnover will have fresher seafood. You may find a better price at a small, out of the way market, but you may be buying fish that has sat there for days. Ask store personnel when they receive fish shipments. Arrange to purchase the day the seafood arrives. Inspect the proposed buy. Look and smell . Fish should have clear eyes, firm (non-slimy) skin and bright reddish gills. There should not be any strong fishy smell. Live shellfish should be active, not sitting listlessly in a corner of the tank.
Clams and mussels should be tightly shut. Or if slightly open, they should close quickly when touched. Avoid clams and mussels that are open and do not close when touched.
Shrimp should look shiny and wet with no strong odor. Clean shrimp can take a little practice. Beginner cooks would be better off buying de-veined (pre-cleaned) shrimp.
Many foods seem to lose a degree of flavor when frozen, but seafood handles being frozen very well and loses little flavor.

Storing Seafood
All fresh seafood is best consumed the day it is purchased. It should be transported from the point of buy directly to the refrigerator (40 degrees or low) or the stove for cooking. If frozen, defrost in the refrigerator. Or you may put in a sealed plastic bag and submerge in cold water to defrost. Replace water every 25 minutes. Do not use hot water.
Shrimp is especially prone to spoilage if handled improperly. If shrimp has a strong odor or if in doubt, dispose of it. Getting sick from bad shrimp is one of the worse sicknesses you can experience.
You should use fresh fish within 1 to 2 days of purchase. Live shellfish should be consumed the day it is purchased. Cooked seafood, in general, may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Fresh shellfish (not live, not frozen) should be used within 2 to 3 days.

Cooking Seafood
Seafood is one of the most versatile of foods when it comes to cooking methods. Nearly all fish, shrimp and shellfish may be fried, boiled, steamed, grilled or baked. And in the case of sushi, raw! There are so many seafood recipes it is difficult to recommend a particular one. In general, cook fish until it is flaky but still firm. Cook shrimp until it changes to a pinkish color and crab or lobster according to size and cooking style. Follow recipe recommendations for cooking times. As a general rule cook fish 10 minutes per inch thickness, turning it halfway through the cooking process. Uncooked crab legs should be cooked 20-25 minutes in boiling water.
To prevent lobster tail from curling, run a skewer through the tail length ways prior to cooking.
Avoid over cooking any seafood as it becomes tough and very bland.

Vegetable Cooking Tips


The big mistake for beginners make in cooking vegetables is in cooking time. Over cooking or under cooking  to be a problem for many. And then, it has a lot to do with preference. Just like people prefer their steak rare, medium or well done, people also have a preference for their veggies. Some prefer soft and tender some prefer crisp and crunchy. If you are cooking for someone that you do not know their preference, it is usually best to under cook vegetables. If needed you can always toss them back in the pan for a few more moments.

Vegetable Cooking Tips
  • Start cooking larger cuts of vegetables first since they will take longer cook.
  • Cook dense veggies first (Carrots, celery and broccoli ), then softer veggies (Onions,Peppers and garlic last).
  • Chop and mince all vegetables before you begin, then you will be able to devote full attention for cooking.
  • Invest in a good quality vegetable peeler. It has many uses and is invaluable in the kitchen.
  • For boiled corn on the cob that literally explodes in  mouth, bring a pot of water to a boil; put the corn in the pot and wait for the water to return to a boil. Boil 3 minutes. No longer. Remove and enjoy real corn flavor.
  • Try the Southern style of cooking green beans. Cook until beans lose all green color and turn an olive drab color and are very tender.
  • You must know that tomatoes are technically a fruit, not a vegetable?
  • To make lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch or two of baking powder to the potatoes before whipping.
  • Buy a quality knife set for chopping all those vegetables and keep them sharp. More cuts are due to a dull knife than a sharp one.
  • Use day old rice for making real Chinese style fried rice.
  • Avoid cooking acidic foods (vinegar, tomatoes, ) in reactive cookware. This can discolor the food and impart an off-flavor. Reactive cookware is aluminum, copper and cast iron. Frequently aluminum pans are coated for this very reason. Non-reactive cookware includes clay,  glass, plastic,enamel or stainless steel.
  • Storage of fresh cucumbers may be prolonged by peeling, slicing and storing in the refrigerator in a sealed container filled with 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt. Sounds a little like pickles.
  • An easy way to seed cucumbers is to slice the cuke in half lengthways. Then use a knife to make a cut like a trench on each side of the seeds down the length of the cucumber. Finally, using a spoon rake out the seeds. They will come out clean and easy.
  • Remember garlic burns easily and imparts a bitter taste when burnt.
  • While onions and garlic will keep quite a while without refrigeration they will lasts longer and you can prevent them from sprouting if you store them in the frig.

Basic Cooking Tips

So many experienced home cooks seldom measure their ingredients. They use a pinch and a pinch of that, depending on look and feel to know what is right. Key word here is "experienced". For beginner, it is best to always measure ingredients. The essential part of kitchen should be a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons.After measuring you should conform with the recipe in using "heaping" or "level" measurements. A "heaping" spoonful is just what it says, you mound  the ingredient on the spoon. However, a "level" spoonful should be leveled by raking a knife or your finger across the top area of the spoon.

Good use of seasoning is one of the secrets to cooking. Good cooks season "to taste". In other words, when possible use a little less seasoning than the recipe calls for and taste the dish when nearly completed cooking. Then add more seasoning to achieve the flavor you prefer.

Temperatures of oven vary. Because the dial says 400 degrees does not necessarily mean your individual oven will be 400 degrees. Trick is always to use a timer when baking and check the dish a few minutes before the prescribed baking time expires. Then adjust the baking time as needed for oven.
Always pre-heat your oven to the required baking temperature. Never start baking in a cold oven.

Tools of the Trade
A good set of pots and pans, while not essential, will certainly make the job easier and much pleasant. With some dishes the wrong cooking utensil may even ruin your dish. You should not use reactive pots and pans when cooking acidic foods. Reactive materials impart a metallic taste and can discolor your food. Two common acidic foods are vinegar or tomato based dishes. Reactive metals include copper, aluminum, and cast iron. Non-reactive materials are stainless steel, enamel and  glass.

A very general problem beginners have is in timing their cooking so that everything gets to the table hot. This is not rocket science, just a matter of planning ahead. Here's how. Before putting anything on the stove, take a minute to think about the cooking time required for each food item. For example, you are preparing hamburgers & french fries. French fries will take considerable longer to cook that the hamburgers, therefore, you want to start the fries first. Simple?

Should also be aware of certain foods that are difficult to keep hot or do not lend themselves to re-heating, such as mashed potatoes. They should always be the last dish cooked since they do not stay hot long and are really not very good cold.

These are just a few basics to cooking like an expert.

General Tips
  • Before you begin to cook, lay out all your ingredients. Measure out ingredients and complete all chopping and sizing. If baking, preheat oven.
  • The secret to boiled corn on the cob that explodes in your mouth is to bring a pot of water to a boil first, then put the corn in and wait to come back to a boil, then cook for 3 minutes.
  • Buy a good timer and use it. They are inexpensive. Also, invest in a meat thermometer.
  • Place a damp paper towel under mixing bowls to prevent from sliding around while mixing.
  • To make lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch or two of baking powder to the potatoes before whipping.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010