10 Culinary Tricks To Help You Cook Like A Pro

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culinary tricks

 

If you’re serious about your cooking, you’ll be fastidious in your approach to ingredients and preparation. Follow our simple culinary tricks to begin cooking like a pro.

  1. It’s All In The Ingredients

Any meal is only as good as the ingredients. So make sure you shop smart.

  • Stick to seasonal produce for the best results. Pick the best that the current season has to offer.
  • Always test food for freshness before buying. There are lots of telltale signs.
  • Know your cooking oils and fats. Know which to use and when.
  • Be authentic. E.g. if you’re cooking an Italian meal, find a reputable importer of Italian food.
  • Know your herbs and spices.

If you buy quality ingredients, the flavor will be evident. Therefore, the less you do to the food, the better.

  1. Storage

Store your food correctly to keep it fresh and prolong its life. This is particularly important for foods that are refrigerated and frozen. It can prevent contamination and illness. There are also some foods that should never be refrigerated.

  1. Preparation

If you’re entertaining and cooking from scratch, prepare in advance. Do as much as you can before the event. This includes chopping, marinating, weighing, etc. This will take away a lot of the stress and allow you more time with your guests.

  1. If You’re Short Of Time

If you have a busy life, always make twice as much food as you need. It won’t take much longer to prepare, and you can freeze half of it. This provides you with healthy ready-meals on nights when you get home late or don’t feel like cooking.

  1. Garlic

If you love garlic but hate the odor on your hands, follow this simple trick. After preparing your garlic, rub your hands on stainless steel. For example, the sink or a bowl. You can even buy stainless steel soap for this purpose. The steel will remove the odor. It also works on fish and onions.

If you’re crushing garlic cloves, try placing it inside a plastic bag. You can then use the back of a knife to crush it. This prevents the knife and chopping board smelling of garlic.

  1. Dressings

Always opt for homemade vinaigrettes and dressings. They will taste much better than their bottled counterparts. And you have full control over exactly what you add. No more unnecessary sugar and salt.

If you have leftover sauce, freeze it into ice cube trays. You can then defrost it as needed at a later date.

  1. Be Creative

Use recipes as a guide only. If they contain ingredients you don’t like, replace them. Let them inspire you and add your own flair.

  1. Cast-Iron Pan

A cast-iron pan is a useful kitchen implement. It provides an even cooking temperature and is easy to clean.

  1. Cheese Rinds

Save your cheese rinds. You can add them to olive oil and broths, etc. to add flavor.

  1. Clean As You Go

Keep a sink full of hot soapy water and wash the dishes as you go. It’s much easier to do it this way. It will save you spending an hour in the kitchen later when you just want to relax.

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Unusual Foods You Might Not Ever Get The Pleasure Of Trying

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Food can be an amazing thing to experience. We are lucky that in this day and age it is no longer just for survival, but we can now enjoy the delicacies and experiences other cultures have to offer. Eating unusual foods has now become a thing for some people. They strive to travel to different places just to try the different foods on offer. It can even be described as a hobby for some people.

 

unusual foods

Balut

Balut isn’t for the faint hearted. It is a duck or chicken embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell. It is most commonly sold as a street food delicacy in places like The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. It is recognised a high source of protein and is very common in these countries. They can found in stores as well as eating establishments. However throughout the rest of the world, it isn’t as popular due to animal welfare and how people feel about it.

 

Fried Spider

You will find fried spider in some regions of Cambodia. Again it is seen as a delicacy that is a common street food in that side of the world. Most often it is fried in salt, chilli flakes and pepper. It has been described as tasting like a bland version of cod or chicken. You can also get deep fried tarantula if you are a little more daring. This one is more for the people who perhaps don’t have a fear of spiders. Yikes!

 

Caviar

Caviar is an expensive delicacy most associated from the Beluga fish roe found in the Black Sea. It is mostly served on a spoon as a delicacy or spread over melba toast. It consists of salt cured fish eggs which can be fresh or pasteurized. It’s one of those things that you will either love or hate it. But if you get the chance to try it you should. However, most people associate caviar with the rich and famous.

 

Casu Marzu

Casu marzu, when translated into English, means rotten cheese. It’s as simple as that, and it is exactly what it states. It’s traditionally a sardinian cheese made from sheep milk. This cheese goes beyond normal fermentation of cheese. A larva is deliberately introduced to the cheese. This promotes an advanced level fermentation and breaking down the fats in the cheese. The cheese then goes soft, and you can then eat it. Some people leave the larva worms in and others don’t. It can leave an aftertaste in your mouth for some hours after eating it.

 

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Roasted Rat

Roasted rat on a stick is becoming a delicacy in Vietnam. You will find it as a street food or served in restaurants. You would be surprised that this roasted rodent costs more than pork and chicken in Thailand and other Asian countries. While it may not be your first choice, it is seen as a treat in these countries.

 

Maybe this has inspired you to perhaps try one of these foods at some point in your life.

 

Image credit

Image 1 – pixabay.com
Image 2 – By Hector Garciahttp://www.flickr.com/photos/hectorgarcia/61351098/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12125921

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Make Use of the Lovely Weather With the Ultimate Garden Party

When the weather is nice, it’s the perfect time to have a garden party! There’s something about good food and wonderful people that you just can’t beat. So, if you’re planning to have a garden party soon, you will need to work on ways to make it as great as possible. Take a look at this guide, and use it to make sure you have the best and most memorable party possible. It’s important for everyone to have a good time and the day to be a success.

Garden Party

Get the Garden Ready

Okay, now, you need to understand that a garden party can be a big undertaking. It’s very ambitious and you need to give yourself every chance of making it a success. And the first step on the road to success here is to get the garden ready. This means making sure it’s neat, tidy and free from clutter. It also means you need to arrange it in a way befitting of a party. There has to be plenty of space, access to seating, and entertainment. You might need to get creative depending upon the layout and shape of your garden.

Invite Friends

No garden party would be right without having your friends there as well. So, you need to make sure you invite as many of your friends as you can. The best way to do this would be to take to something like social media, and create an event. This way you can invite multiple people all at the same time. And you don’t need to worry about having to call or message each person individually. Of course, you might have to be careful about who you choose to invite and think about how people tend to behave at parties!

Backyard Party

Get Everyone to Chip In

The best way to throw a successful garden party these days is to make sure everyone chips in. This means putting people in charge of certain areas of the party. Have someone be responsible for the music, another for the drinks. Get some volunteers who can help with setting up, with food, and with clearing away at the end. You might also think about party etiquette when it comes to asking people to bring something with them. This could be a bottle of booze or some food that can be shared out. It makes your life easier, saves work, and gives the whole party a more collective feel.

Booze!

Let’s be clear, if you’re throwing a party you absolutely need to have booze, and lots of it. The brilliant thing about parties in the summer is that you can all sit around drinking and being merry. Of course, you could do that minus the booze, but alcohol always adds that extra element to things. People seem to relax and unwind more when they’re sipping on a tasty alcoholic beverage. So, you need to make a decision about the sort of booze you’re going to get for the party. The best bets would be to stock up on wine and beer, as well as asking guests to bring their own. Spirits are also crucial, and you might consider using them to make some delicious summery cocktails on the day! Check out some great cocktail recipes and don’t be afraid to experiment with things you’ve not tried before.

garden party

What Food Will You Have?

Food is also of the utmost importance when you are throwing a party. Sure, an evening party might have slightly less food as the focus is likely to be more on drinking. But, if you’re having an all day party you have to make sure there is plenty of food. The best bet when it comes to party food is to go for a buffet style. That way people can help themselves and eat what they want. You need to make sure you get plenty of party food when you go shopping. Don’t forget the sauces and condiments either, or the egg-free mayo from Hampton Creek for the vegans! It’s important that you make sure you have stuff that caters to the needs of everyone who will be there.

Use the Kitchen as a Base

Because you’re having a garden party you want to keep the garden clear of clutter. This is the socialising area where people will hang out. That means you need to use the kitchen as the base of operations. You can keep their food, drink and entertainment in the kitchen, and things can be brought out when they are needed. It will also be the preparation zone for any concoctions you want to rustle up. The garden might be the star of this party, but the kitchen certainly plays an important role too.

summer-cocktail

Play Games

In order to have a party to remember you need to bring out the games. Sure, many people will be doing their own thing, and may not want to play. But, there will be enough people interested that you can have a great time. Now, if you’re going to play outside you might think about something like Cards Against Humanity, or drinking games. You could even move inside for a while and play video games. But, it might be best to do this when it gets darker. Having a selection of games for people to play is the perfect way of making your party memorable.

Music Makes the Party

You also need to make sure you have plenty of music for people to enjoy as well. That’s why you should create a party playlist using Spotify or iTunes. It’s essential to choose the right kind of songs for a garden party. The weather is nice and everyone is looking to have a good time, and the songs should reflect this. So it’s probably best to avoid downbeat songs and go with the up tempo numbers instead. Get someone to take charge of sorting out the perfect playlists for the party that will get everyone in the mood.

Safety is Important

Because you’re the host, you’re going to need to be responsible for safety. Of course, a garden party isn’t exactly a dangerous proposition. But, you need to understand that accidents can and do happen. And they are more likely to happen when drinking is involved. That’s why you need to take procedures to ensure the party is as safe as possible. You should probably remove anything in the garden that is a potential hazard or may cause an accident. It’s also important to set some ground rules for your guests. The last thing you want is to have to break up the party with a trip to the hospital.

Keep People Warmth

One of the things you’re going to need to think about with a garden party is warmth. Because you’re going to be outside this will need to be addressed at some point. Hopefully, you’ll be fine because if the weather is nice, it will be hot. But you need to have a contingency in place to make sure you can keep people warm if the temperature drops. The best way to do this is to use a fire or pit fire in the garden. This can be the focal point of the party, and will do a great job of keeping people warm. You should also have blankets or throws on standby as well in case people want to use them to warm up a bit.

Smoking Zone

If you have a lot of guests over for your party the chances are there will be some smokers. Now, you don’t want to segregate them too much, but you also don’t want everyone else passive smoking. That’s why you need to make a designated area of the garden into a smoking zone. Just choose a part of the garden or patio and nominate that as the smoking zone. Make sure people are aware of where this is when they arrive. You also need to make sure you supply makeshift ashtrays so you don’t have to deal with cigarette butts all over the place. A smoking zone is a nice little touch for the smokers in the group and shows you’ve thought about them.

Child-Friendly

Lastly, it’s important to make a decision about whether you’re having kids come. If they do they will only be there for the day as the parents will take them home in the evening. But, if you do choose to have children come you need to make the party child-friendly as much as possible. That means people need to behave and try to curtail the heavy drinking until later in the evening. Make sure people are aware that the kids will be leaving at some point and then the party can progress from there.

The perfect way to celebrate the threat weather and the approach of summer is to host a garden party. These are an excellent way to kick off a summer of fun and good times. You might progress onto hosting a BBQ next, but for now the garden party should be your focus. So, you need to make sure you plan out the ideal garden party. There is so much work involved and you need to plan to get everything perfect. You want to be a good host and make sure everyone has a great time. And the best way to do this is to make sure you follow this guide and use it as your garden party blueprint.

party-1206687_640

 

Image credit:

Image 1 – By Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia (Garden Party) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image 2 – Camille Styles – https://flic.kr/p/6j3g4R

 

 

 

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Simple & Delicious Ideas For Your Next BBQ

BBQ

 

With summer almost upon us, thoughts turn to the outdoors. As the nights get longer, we spend more time in the garden. We switch from home improvements to garden improvements. And we start to plan for BBQ season. Whether you’re throwing a big bash or inviting a few friends over, follow our steps to the perfect BBQ.

  1. Sort Out The Cooking Arrangements

There’s nothing better than the smell of juicy burgers roasting on the grill on a summer evening while friends sit sipping wine. Before planning your food, sort out your cooking appliances. Is your outside grill in good working order? Take it out of storage and give it a good clean and test it. It’s always good to provide guests with something a bit different to the usual bangers and burgers. Pizzas go down well, whatever the occasion. They are versatile and easy to eat. Appliances like the Uuni Portable Pizza Oven will allow you to put your own spin on traditional recipes.

If you’re looking for a new BBQ or grill, there are lots of options. For speed and reliability, go for a gas grill. However, many people prefer the authentic taste of a charcoal grill.

 

bbq

  1. Food

When planning the food try to cater for all tastes. Some people prefer healthy dishes and so make sure there is a large section. Always check dietary requirements in advance. Food ideas for BBQs:

  • Gourmet burgers – make your own and add a unique twist
  • Bangers – try a range of options as well as pork
  • Salads
  • Pasta
  • Homemade pizza slices
  • Grilled marinated fish
  • Steak
  • Provide a range of sauces and condiments for the burgers and bangers
  • Season with fresh herbs from the garden

And don’t forget about dessert. It’s not all about grilled meat and fish. Provide a few simple dishes you can prepare in advance. Fruit salad is a good choice as it provides something sweet after a heavy meal. Ice cream and sorbet are always well-accepted. They are cooling and cleanse the palate.

 

beer

  1. Drink

Some people would argue that the drinks you serve are just as important as the food. As BBQs tend to last for several hours, it’s a good idea to provide soft drinks as well as alcohol. If it’s a hot day, people will be thirsty.

Beer and wine are the obvious choices. When looking for wine, try to match it with your food. As a general rule of thumb, white wine works well with poultry and fish. Red wine complements red meat.

A popular idea is to plan a theme. Over the last few years, Australian BBQs have become popular with people serving ostrich and alligator burgers. A little Aussie beer and wine make a great addition.

Rather than playing it safe with simple beer and lager, add a few specialty options. Look for craft beers from around the world. Cider is also popular, and there are many different types to sample.

The most important part of any BBQ is the people you invite. Treat them to an awesome day and enjoy their company.

 

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The Best Ways to Change Your Lifestyle and Be Healthier

With summer on the way, a lot of people will be looking to lose weight and eat more healthy food. There is something about the warmer weather that makes us want healthier food, I think. We want to drink plenty more water as we feel more thirsty. We want to eat cold foods like salads which can only be a good thing, right? So how can we make being healthy a permanent thing, and not just something we do over summer?

 

food-healthy-vegetables-potatoes

Clear out any temptations

When you embark on a health and wellness journey, it can be hard when there are lots of junk foods in your home. They can be so tempting when they are right there in front of you. So clear out all of those foods. If you can give them to a shelter or food bank, then that might be better than just throwing them in the bin. Then you can stock up on goodness when you visit the supermarket. You should look out for things like healthy Milo chocolate drinks on sale. Then you can stock up and have plenty in the house. Other things that you should buy are things like dates, grains like quinoa and, of course, plenty of fruits and vegetables. It is easy to be healthy when the food is there for you, and there isn’t any temptation.

 

Avoid Fizzy Drinks

Fizzy and sugary drinks are full of, as you might imagine, sugar. So having them a lot can lead to weight gain. Sugar can also be addictive so you might get hooked and then you’ll just crave them. You should make sure that you are drinking plenty of water instead. Water helps you to feel full, and it hydrates you properly. If you need something else with the water, think about adding a squeeze of lemon or lime. Sparkling water could also help you wean off the pop if you still like to have a drink with bubbles.

 

water-drink-fresh-lemons

Allow Yourself a Few Treats

It can be hard to stick to a new routine of being healthy if you have to cut out everything that you are used to. The great thing is, there are plenty of sweet treats that you can have that are still good for you. If you love chocolate, try a few pieces of dark chocolate instead. If you have a sweet tooth, how about making your favorite desserts but use something like coconut sugar, instead of refined sugar. You could also use natural things to sweeten a cake or bake. Think about using apple sauce, maple syrup or honey as a sweetener. There are a lot of recipes online that you can work from.

 

Eating a Rainbow

Make sure that your plate is full of color. Lots of color means lots of vitamins and minerals. All of this will help you to feel so much better, and you will have more energy. This will help you to stick to the plan too. If you feel better, as a result, you are more likely to stick with it.

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Quick And Healthy Spring Dishes To Try At Home

If you love food, but you don’t have much time to rustle up culinary delights when you get home from work, look no further. With these simple, quick recipes, you’ll be able to enjoy a nutritious, tasty meal with minimal fuss.

 

Sizzling salads

There’s a common belief that salads are dull. But this doesn’t have to be the case. A salad is a great idea for a warm evening. It takes minutes to put together, and you can add all kinds of vegetables. Add flavour with dressing, and try and vary your ingredients each time. You could create your own version of a classic Caesar or Nicoise salad. Or grill some chicken and pancetta and add bell peppers and red onions for a colourful feast. If you’re after a filling dish, make a cold rice or pasta salad.

 

salad

 

Stir fry dishes

Stir fry is one of the easiest ways to pack in your 5-a-day in a single meal. There are so many options and this dish is suitable for vegetarians and meat eaters. Popular sauces include black bean, honey and soy and hoisin, but you can make your own if you wish. Add some heat with condiments, such as Dorset Naga Chilli Sauce, or sweet chilli dip. Go for Asian flavours with bok choi, water chestnuts and bamboo. Or stick to traditional favourites such as peppers, mushrooms, onions and carrots. Chop up some tender stem broccoli and sprinkle over a handful of beansprouts. You can create a tasty vegetable medley, or add some chicken, beef, pork or duck. Salmon is a fantastic choice for those who prefer fish to meat. Serve with rice or noodles for a delicious, healthy meal, which will be ready in minutes.

 

ginger beef stir fry

Image credit: jules – https://flic.kr/p/dWPxM7

 

Barbeque fare

When the days heat up, it’s tempting to get the barbeque out and gather friends and family around. Most people think about burgers and sausages when a barbeque is mentioned, but there’s so much more you can do with your grill. Try out different marinades, and widen your range of meats. Try fish and poultry, as well as vegetables. Cut up some peppers, onions, mushrooms and courgettes and get some skewers out. Chicken, beef and pork kebabs are an excellent option for parties. Tuna, cod and salmon steaks make a fantastic alternative to red meat. Serve with new potatoes and a freshly prepared salad or some zesty couscous. Try smoky chicken wings, juicy ribs and halloumi skewers for last-minute gatherings.

 

barbeque

 

Light pasta dishes

Pasta is a winter favourite, but it can also deliver in the summer. Swap hearty, heavy wine-based tomato sauces for light, fresh flavours. Over bake cherry tomatoes on a medium heat with garlic, oregano and olive oil. Boil some fresh tagliatelle for 2-3 minutes, drain and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and mix together. Alternatively, keep things simple with a sauce made from lemon juice, a knob of butter and olive oil. Toss your cooked pasta through the sauce, grind some sea salt and sprinkle parmesan to finish.

 

pasta

 

Most of us make an effort to be healthy when it comes to spring, and these recipes are perfect for cooking up nutritious meals in a hurry.

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