Posts Tagged 'Cooking Information'

How to cut up a bunch of strawberries the easy way

This sounds easy, and it is. And, in the past I’ve cut up pounds and pounds of strawberries. I’ve sliced them, diced them, and chopped them. And usually they leave red berry stains on my cutting board, on my counter and on my hands.
Well, no more.
Here is an easy way to cut up strawberries that is also fast:

  1. Using a paring knife, cut the stem and core out. The core is sightly bitter and it’s a good idea to get rid of it. You don’t have to go very deep, about 1/4” to 3/8” should do it.
  2. Place the cored strawberry on the cutting board sitting on its fat end.
  3. Do all the strawberries this way (see photo above)
  4. Next, take each strawberry and cut twice vertically from the top end to the bottom cutting the berry into quarters (see photo above).
  5. Grab the whole strawberry near the base and throw it into a bowl.

Once you get the hang of this technique, it goes really fast.
Because of the way they are cut, the berries stick together and you do not have to handle the cut edges of the berries so everything stays cleaner. Especially your hands.
Now, go cut up some strawberries and make some great strawberry short cake!

Kitchen Safety and the Sliced Finger

This past Sunday, I was helping make dinner. I decided to make the Japanese cucumber salad with sugar and rice wine vinegar (recipe here). Rather than get the food processor out, I  got our plastic chef’s mandolin, pealed the cucumbers and started slicing away.
As luck (or unlucky) would have it, my hand slipped off the cucumber and I cut an 1/8th-inch slice off the end of my middle finger. Worst accident I have ever had cooking.
So, what happened?
First, I did not use the guard.
Lesson learned: always use the guard.
Second, I tried to cut the long cucumber without cutting it down to size first.
Lesson learned: cut vegetables down to manageable size before slicing on the mandolin.
I know this sounds like common sense, and it is. It’s just when you do not use a piece of equipment often, remember to review the safety procedures and think about what you are doing before you start.
Oh yea, watch out for the edge of the blade on the food processor. It is really sharp, too.
So, think before you start and work  safely in the kitchen.

How to Grill Vegetables

This is not so much a recipe as it is a tutorial on grilling vegetables on a gas grill. First, it’s not hard and it makes vegetables taste wonderful.
It brings out the natural sugars and caramelizes them and also adds a smoky flavor you cannot get any other way.

Which vegetables and how do you prepare them?

Just about any vegetable can be grilled with the right equipment. Some like green, yellow, orange or red peppers can be done right on the grill. Others like asparagus will need a vegetable grate (great for shrimp, too) like this one or a grilling wok (great for shrimp or scallops, too) like this. Tongs and a large spatula are a help, too.

Below, I will list various vegetables, the perpetration and the best method of grilling:

Asparagus

There may be nothing finer than fresh, locally grown asparagus grilled.  Snap off any tough ends of the asparagus.  Toss with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook on a hot grill for a total of six to eight minutes, turning frequently.  Keep a close eye on the asparagus because when it can go from done to OVER DONE very quickly.  Do not overcook.

Eggplant

Slice eggplant into 1/4- to 3/8-inch slabs like the squash above or rings. Coat with vegetable oil or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill for 15 to 25 minutes to cook through.

Corn

Use the freshest local corn you can find. Remove all the husks except the last layer. The corn should be completely covered with husk and there may need to be two layers in some areas. Peal back these husks and brush the corn with melted butter. Place on a hot grill and cook 8 to 10 minutes total rotating the corn frequently.

Green Onions

Coat onions with vegetable oil or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill (you can use a vegetable grate if you have one) and cook for a total of 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice. Do not overcook.

Sweet Onions, Sliced (Vidalia, Maui, etc.)

Slice onions about a 1/4- to 1/2=inch thick. Rub with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt a pepper. Place on a medium grill and cook for three to five minutes per side (depends on thickness of the slices) until you get grill marks and the onions are just cooked. Don’t overcook. They should be just beyond crisp.

Whole Peppers

Rub the outside with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place whole peppers on a hot grill and cook on that side until the skin is charred, about two to three minutes. Rotate the pepper 90 degrees and cook that side the same way. Cook the pepper until the entire skin is blackened. Place the pepper in a paper bag and allow the pepper to cool. The pepper will steam inside the bag and make removing the skin very easy. Peal the skin off the pepper and use your favorite recipe. Delicious. Note: This works with hot chili peppers like jalapenos, too.

Pepper Slices

If you have a vegetable grill or grilling wok like this one, slice the ends off the peppers and remove the seeds. Or, place the pepper end flat on a cutting board and cut from the top to the bottom just outside the core of the pepper. This will give you four slabs and the seeds still attached to the core. Either way, slice the pepper into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Toss the strips with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Preheat the grilling wok on high and place the pepper in the wok. Grill the pepper with the lid down for about two minutes. Open the lid and toss the pepper slices with a wooden spoon. Cook a total of about four to five minutes. Do not overcook.
If you do not have a grill wok, just place the oiled and seasoned slabs on the grill and cook until just done. Remove from the grill and cut the peppers into slices.

Summer Squash and Zucchini

Place either on a cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch slabs longwise. Coat each side with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place slabs on a hot grill and cook for about three to four minutes per side.
Alternatively, you can cut the zucchini or summer squash into cubes, coat with oil, add salt and pepper and cook in a grill wok.

Tomatoes

Thickly slice tomatoes. Coat with vegetable oil or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill two to four minutes per side.

Button Mushrooms

Leave small mushrooms whole; larger mushrooms should be cut in half or quartered.  Toss mushrooms with vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook on a vegetable grate over high heat for about five to ten minutes.

Portobello Mushrooms

Okay, not a vegetable, but the technique is the same. Coat with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a medium hot grill. Cook for four to six minutes per side.

THE FUN PART

Grilled vegetables are great by themselves, but mix and match them and you have a party. Grill peppers and onions with grilled sausage is great. Try grilled eggplant and onions with you next Italian meal. Make vegetable kabobs on bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes. Yum. The possibilities are endless.

Good luck and good grilling.

Why Chemists Do Not Write Cookbooks

I found this on the Internet and just about fell off my chair. I have no idea if this “recipe” is good or not but it shows just how geeky you can make just about anything. I had to share this with you all. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1. 532.35 cm3 gluten
2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite
4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8. Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
10. 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

Direction
To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel (reactor#2) with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous. To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1.
Additionally, add ingredients nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction. Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston’s first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

Tip #12: How to keep a fish grilled in a wire cooker from sticking.

We grill a lot. Something like 200 days a year. All through the winter in Michigan. I just shovel a path through the snow to the grill and fire it up.
We love to grill salmon and rainbow trout. Really just about anything that swims.
I have a 30-year-old wire fish cooker that works great. However, I have had to fix some of the welds after years of abuse on the grill.
But, how do you keep your wire fish basket from sticking to the wire?
Simple: Spray the top and bottom sections of the inside of the wire basket with non-stick vegetable cooking spray.
But where?
You’ll make a mess in the sink because the wire basket does not fit in the sink.
Paper on the floor? NO! (so said my wife).
Outside? Maybe, but on the grass?
Here’s the solution: Open your wire basket fish cooker and place it on the open door of your dishwasher (see photo) and spray away.
Neat, clean and no more sticking fish.
Works for asparagus, too!

Tip # 11: How to make cookbook ribbons


What the heck are cookbook ribbons? I first ran into cookbook ribbons when they came on our first copy of The Joy of Cooking (Photo 1). Two red ribbons were glued into the spine of the book and they were included so you could bookmark two recipes and find them easily. I loved the idea.
One day I was using one of my favorite cookbooks and making two recipes from it. I got very frustrated about losing my place as I went from recipe to recipe and back again.
Then the light bulb went on. Why not put cookbook ribbons in this book?
Gluing ribbons into the spine was not an option. So, I decided to add them to the back of the book. Here is how to do it step by step (this is more difficult to write out than actually do!):

Materials:

  • One spool of 1/4-inch red ribbon. I got mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics. The spool holds 10 yards and the ribbon is made from 100% polyester. It works just fine.
  • Good quality packing tape
  • Scotch tape or you can use small pieces of packing tape
  • Scissors

Steps:

Photo 2:
Cut two pieces of ribbon. To figure the length of the ribbon, open the back of the book and put about two inches of ribbon into the gutter of the book between the last page and the inside back cover. Holding the ribbon in place, run the ribbon down the top of the book to the front cover and slide the ribbon in between the front cover and the first page. Now run the ribbon diagonally to the lower left-hand corner of the book (the top of the book is up). Leave about two inches hanging out of the corner. Hold this spot on the ribbon and spool off enough ribbon to double the length. Cut the ribbon at that point. Hold the two ends together and cut this long length into two equal pieces.
Photo 3:
Using a small piece of Scotch tape or small pieces of packing tape, stick the end of the one of the pieces of ribbon two inches into the gutter of the cookbook (from the top) with the tail of the ribbon extending out the top. Repeat with the second piece of ribbon. Make sure that the two pieces of ribbon are slightly separated so both of them are secured by the tape in the next step. The reason for using the small pieces of tape is to keep the ribbons in place while you tape them down in the next step.
Photo 4:
Using a three-inch to three-and-one-half inch long piece of packing tape, tape down the two ribbons. The packing tape should be placed down on the last page of the book first, pressed down on that page over the ribbons, pressed tight against the gutter and then up and over to the inside back cover of the book. Half of the packing tape width should be on one side of the ribbon and half on the other. You can see the shinny tape on both sides of the tape in this photo (4). Be sure to keep the tape inside the top edge of the cookbook. You do not want the tape sticking out the top of the book. Also, make sure the tape is long enough so it extends about an inch beyond the ends of the ribbons.
Photo 5:
Now, take the ribbons and run them over the top of the book and between the front cover and page one of the book, running the ribbons diagonally to the bottom left-hand corner of the book. Grab the ribbons at about 2 inched from the corner of the book. Trim the ends of the ribbons on a slight diagonal as shown in the photo.
Photo 6:
This is how the book looks with the ribbons placed on two different recipes.

All of my favorite cookbooks have ribbons.

How to Poach an Egg the Right Way

Poaching eggs is not all that hard. It just takes the right equipment and some time. And, don’t try to hurry the process. Before you start, take the eggs out of the refrigerator so they can come to room temperature. Or, put them in a bowl of warm water to take the chill of off them.
You will need a skillet that is about three inches deep. A sauté pan works great. Fill the skillet with about 2-1/2 inches of water and heat over medium heat until it boils. You want the eggs to sit on the bottom of the skillet and be covered with water.
While the water is heating up, add about one teaspoon salt and two tablespoons of white vinegar to the water. This will help stabilize the egg whites and make for better looking poached eggs.
Now, once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down until the water is just simmering.
If you have an instant read thermometer (here), the water should be about 160 to 180 degrees F. You do not want the water boiling!
Take your room temperature eggs and crack each one into a ramekin or coffee cup. When the water is the right temperature, place the lip of the cup about a half inch into the water and let the egg slid into the water. You can most likely cook two eggs at a time by using your right and left hand to slide the eggs into the water. If you want to cook more eggs at one time, get help.
Eggs take about three to four minutes to poach (it’s closer to four minutes for me). Watch the top of each egg and the white will creep up on the yolk. Then about a minute or two after that, the egg are done.
Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and plate up on slices of toast or toasted sourdough English muffin (here).
Enjoy.