Cooking Basics

Food is one of the basic necessities for everybody. We eat to keep ourselves strong enough to face our respective daily routines. That is why; it is very important to know at least a little of cooking, especially if you are not that blessed enough to create sumptuous meals that are truly outstanding.

Cook Much?

Cooking is defined as the act of how to prepare food properly. This term directly encompass almost all methods of preparation of food, including those methods that do not necessarily require heating. Aside from the wide methods of cooking, other things also matter with cooking, including the tool and the equipments, the combinations of the different ingredients, and of course the digestibility of the food. Likewise, cooking is also called a process of measuring, combining, and selecting ingredients in a very ordered procedure, making an effort to easily achieve one’s desired result.

Culinary Dictionary

The world of cooking and culinary art, with a lot of cooking materials, recipes, and culinary terms, can be daunting at times. As a beginner, aside from the fact that you should learn about the basics of cooking like the materials and the safety precautionary measures, it is important that you are aware of the many cooking terms of the culinary industry. A culinary dictionary is one of the most useful tools that you should have. Below are the basic glossary of cooking terms, with its respective cooking term definition.

Aerate is synonymous with the term ‘sift’, meaning to pass fine ingredients through a device primarily to break up larger pieces of the ingredients while incorporating air into the, making them lighter. Al dente is an Italian term that means ‘to the tooth’. This means that the pasta is cooked enough to keep its firm yet chewy texture. Bake means to cook into the oven. It also is defined as the food that is slowly cooked using gentle heat, thus causing the natural moisture of the food to slowly evaporate, concentrating more on the flavor. Baste is to spoon or to brush liquid fat or juice over a roasted meat to add some flavor and prevent it from drying during the roasting method. Batter is another term in the culinary dictionary that means a mixture of fat, flour, or butter, thin enough in its consistency. These are used primarily in cookie and cake preparations. This is different from the dough because the latter maintains its shape. Beat is the term used that means to smoothen a particular mixture by whipping it briskly or stirring it continuously with a fork, a spoon, a wire whisk, a rotary mixer, or an electrical mixer, until the desired consistency is achieved.

Caramelization is the term that means browning sugar over flame, even with or without water to help this process. Normally, the temperature range where the sugar starts to caramelize is about 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Coddle is another cooking method where food, like eggs, are placed in separate containers, before putting it in a pan that is full of simmering water, primarily for slow yet gentle cooking. Custard is that mixture of beaten milk, eggs, and other sweet and savory flavorings. The mixture is gentle cooked under medium heat, often on double boilers or water bath. As for the pie filling, the custard is cooked frequently and chilled before layered into a crust that is already pre-baked.

Dredge means to sprinkle evenly and lightly with flour or sugar. Dredgers have holes that are pierced on the lids so that even sprinkling is attained. Drippings are those that are used for sauces and gravies. These are basically the liquids that are left at the bottom of a frying or roasting pan right after the meat is cooked. Emulsion is another term in a culinary dictionary that means a mixtures of liquids, one being water based and the other one being oil or fat so that smaller globules of each are equally suspended between each other. Entrée is a French term originally referring to the very first course of a particular meal that is served right after the soup but before the other courses of meat.

Ganache is a very rich chocolate coating or filling that is made with vegetable shortening, chocolate, or even heavy cream. This is the one that serves as the coat for cookies and cakes, and is sometimes used as truffle fillings. Glaze is that particular liquid that gives the food a shiny and attractive surface. Some examples are the fruit jams that are heated and chocolate thinned along with shortening from melted vegetables.

There are actually a lot of culinary terms that you should be aware of. Read more about them over the Internet, or you can try to purchase cookbooks with cooking terms that are made easy. Equip yourself with the basics of cooking so that you will not have a hard time, come your cooking situations.

Cooking Techniques

There are also a number of cooking techniques that is very useful and that you have to be aware about, if you wish how to learn to cook the right way. There are varied techniques actually and they are categorized into two major groups: the hot cooking methods, and the cool techniques. Of the hot cooking methods, this includes the following:

Baking- Baking is that technique of cooking food for longer periods of time by a process known as conduction, normally in ovens, though hot stones and hot ashes will do. This method is primarily used for cakes, bread, pastries, tarts, pies, and quiches.

Boiling- This is also another method that a first-time cook, like you, should be aware of. There are many sub-categories of boiling including blanching, braising, coddling, crock potting, double steaming, infusion, poaching, pressure cooking, simmering, steaming, steeping, stewing, and vacuum flask cooking. A lot of advantages are actually brought about by boiling. Those tougher, older and cheaper meat cuts are easily made digestible with boiling. This method is also very helpful for large-scale cookery. While doing some boiling methods, you can also gather nutritious and well-flavored stock. However, when boiling is done, there is a great chance that you lost some soluble vitamins of the boiled food, not to mention that it can be a very slow method, and can sometimes make your food look not that attractive.

Frying- This is another thing an aspiring chef should be aware of about food preparations. Frying is basically that method of cooking the food with the use of fat or oil. There are other forms of frying that are usually considered such as deep frying, hot salt frying, hot sand frying, pan frying, pressure frying, sautéing, and stir frying.

Other forms of hot cooking methods include microwaving and roasting that includes barbecuing, grilling, Rotisserie, searing, and toasting.

On the other hand, the cold methods of food preparations include brining, drying, grinding, Julienning, marinating, mincing, pickling, salting, seasoning, sprouting, and sugaring.

Aside from the above-mentioned concerns, it is also very important that a cook should have the proper knowledge above food safety. If heat is primarily used in food preparations, this method can kill potentially harmful organisms like viruses and bacteria. However, the effects solely rely on the temperature as well as the cooking time and the techniques used in cooking. Basically, the temperature range that goes from five degrees to fifty-seven degrees Celsius, are considered “food danger zones”. It is on these temperatures that bacteria rapidly grow. In this case, food like meat and poultry should be avoided from the food danger zone to keep them safe for consumption.

There are actually a hundred of things that an aspiring cook or chef needs to know before finally preparing food. The right tools, with the right knowledge about cooking, and the basic safety measures of cooking, will greatly help.

Cooking Styles

Because of the fact that when it comes to food, different cuisines could be more delicious than the others, so good chefs have practically learned the many types of cooking styles to fit to a particular meal. There are a number of possible cooking styles applicable to any type of meal preparations.

Shallow frying is perhaps the most common home style cooking. There are four known methods that involves shallow frying, all of which using a small amount of oil or fat. This cooking method is actually cooking food in a very small part of oil into a sauté or frying pan. The side of the food for presentation must be the one that has to be fried first because this particular side has a better appearance since fat is very clean when presented. Another cooking styles are sautéing. This is the method where tender portions of meat as well as poultry, are cooked in a frying pan. After the meat has been cooked, the pan is deglazed with some wine or stock to form as the sauce of the fried meat. However, the types of meat that can be sautéed are only the tender ones. This method is also used when cooking onions or potatoes that are cut into thin pieces. The ingredients are tossed into a very hot shallow pan with hot oil until they become golden brown.

Steaming is a cooking method traditional among the Chinese. This method is also considered a cooking Japanese style because most Japanese, for that matter, the ones of Chinese background, are very much conscious with having a healthy lifestyle. There are basically three know methods used for steaming. The first and the most traditional one make use of bamboo steamers. The traditional Chinese stack one bamboo steamer on top of another. The food that needs less cooking are placed on the top most level, while the ones are placed at the bottom layer, just near a boiling water. Another method is to arrange the food on plates or bowls right inside the steamer racks. After carefully arranging, this is then slowly placed over a pot of water that is already boiling. Alternatively, woks can also be used with this method. Finally, the third method is the one where ingredients are placed on a bowl, and then partially immersed into boiling water. Within a specified time, the ingredients are gently cooked by the boiling water, as well as the steam produced from the water. Accordingly, steaming is one of the healthiest cooking styles because they bring out healthy and subtle taste of the ingredients used, thus making it not necessary to add other forms of flavorings.

Baking is another cooking styles. This is perhaps one of the many Italian cooking styles because Italian cuisines are mostly composed of pasta that needs to be baked. Baking is normally done for bread, pastries, cakes, tarts, pies, and quiches. The basic ingredients that are used for baking are margarine, butter, shortening, flour, sugar, cocoa, egg, salt, and leavening agents like yeast and baking powder.
Roasting is also a cooking style that normally utilize heat, whether from an oven, an open heat, or any other source of heat. Roasting actually causes a method called caramelization on the food’s surface, considered being the flavor-enhancing agent of a particular food. Most foods that are roasted are the meats as well as the bulb or root vegetables.

There are basically a number of methods on cooking as well as cooking styles that can greatly help towards having a meal that is just perfect. If you wish to learn more about them for your own home cooking pleasures, read more about the cooking styles over the Internet. Though there are some that can be quite challenging, as much a possible do not try to limit yourself from exploring to other possibilities. After all, everybody believes that cooking is experimenting.

Cooking Accessories

The kitchen just would not be complete without cooking accessories. A lot of people might say otherwise. But think about it for a second. We live in fast-paced world, and the same fast pace does exist in the modern kitchen, whether we like it or not. To compensate for these modern times, we do need to have cooking accessories in our kitchens. You don’t really have to be a renowned chef just to have these cooking accessories. Well, chef accessories might be nicer to have, but they are really not needed for the typical meals you prepare for your family. But then again, who’s to say who can or cannot have chef aprons accessories, right?

But before you get down to the business of fat chef kitchen accessories and bistro chef plates and accessories, there’s one question you would have to answer first. Just which of these cooking accessories are indeed essential in the typical kitchen? Let’s tackle this question with more depth. The following are the cooking accessories that you would normally see in an ordinary kitchen: ovens, electric mixers, the dough hook, blenders, juicers, pie makers, range hoods, copper pots, canisters, and cooking utensils. And there are just so many more that can be added to the list!

Because of the many cooking accessories, your kitchen can very well look cluttered to the naked eye. And a cluttered kitchen would not look very appealing to guests, not even to the very residents of the household. So, what can you do to prevent clutter with the many cooking accessories you have in your kitchen? What can be done with a tight budget then?

To match the color or overriding theme of your kitchen, positioning your cooking accessories strategically, and adding some can easily solve this problem! But the cooking accessories should complement the color or the theme of the kitchen as well. If your kitchen does not have a theme yet, then here comes the fun part because you get to choose whatever theme you want to have. And you can choose the cooking accessories to match your theme as well! What theme do you want to have? An Italian theme? How about a cottage theme? Cottage themes make kitchens very cozy, you know. For cottage themes, you can try using some artwork for your walls. Decorative plates would make great cooking accessories for the cottage theme. So will decorative wooden trays.

The arrangement of these cooking accessories can greatly help as well. It’s essential that you design or position your cooking accessories to be seen at the eye level. And wall decors should be grouped according to shapes or themes. For example, you have decorative plates hanging on your walls. It would be more appealing to the eye to group together plates that are of the same shape. Circular plates should be grouped together, for starters. That way, harmony would be established in your design of your cooking accessories. As for cupboards that you use to store cookbooks, you can also do something about this to avoid clutter. Just position your books according to height, and order will be established. If you still have empty cupboard shelves, then you can also place some cooking accessories inside them, like fancy bowls that you use for parties.

And if you have a wire rack over your kitchen table, you can also use this to hang your pots and pans. Such cooking accessories, when made of copper, can really add to the homey effect of your kitchen.

Whatever style, design, or theme you decide to incorporate in your kitchen, it would be better to consult everyone in your family. They just might have ideas that can help you in the design of your kitchen.

Cooking Utensils

What good is the kitchen without cooking utensils? Any cook, whether professional or a mere amateur, would agree that kitchen cooking utensils are indeed essential in any kitchen. This goes for kitchens of both houses and restaurants.

Now, it cannot be helped that there are cooking utensils that differ around the world. This is because there are inevitably different kinds of cuisines worldwide. And with the various cuisines people enjoy come the different cooking utensils needed in preparing them. Chinese cooking utensils differ from Italian cooking utensils. As do these differ from Mexican cooking utensils. Over time, cooking utensils have also transcended at one particular aspect or another. Medieval cooking utensils have changed over time at one aspect or another to become today’s professional cooking utensils and gourmet cooking utensils.

With all these differences across worldly cuisines, you cannot help but question as to how significant these differences really are. Does it really matter which particular knife you would use in slicing or chopping a particular piece of meat or vegetable? And does the usage of such really improve the meal’s flavor? The ordinary cook would not see this difference as something significant. But chefs all over the world would tell you otherwise.

Take Chinese cuisine, for starters. If you not have the appropriate utensil from your collection of Chinese cooking utensils, you would find the mundane task of draining water from your pasta a bit hard to do. What’s more, you just might incur burns and such if you lack the appropriate utensil. And, mind you, Chinese cuisine calls for presentation. And such presentation is directed towards the stimulation of your five senses, to capture that experience of craving for the dishes. Plus, there are certain constrictions you would have to keep in mind when preparing Chinese cuisine. There are strict rules as to what size and shape you should cut your ingredients for a particular dish. This is precisely why the proper cooking utensils are needed in preparation and the turning of an ordinary dinner into a feast you won’t likely forget.

So, what are the typical Chinese cooking utensils that you would need to have? There are a number of them actually: the wok, the steamer, the Chinese wire strainer, the cleaver, the clay pot, and the sizzling platter. The wok is usually made of steel or iron, and is used for frying small pieces of meat and vegetables. The steamer is actually one of the famous bamboo cooking utensils, and is used for steaming dishes over boiling water. The steamer is used in the preparation of dim sum dishes.

The Chinese wire strainer is a flat utensil that is used in taking out foods that have been deep-fried. The strainer is also used in removing noodles from boiled water. The size of the strainer is usually six inches in diameter. The cleaver is used for chopping meat and vegetables into minced pieces. It is typically made of steel and has such a sharp edge.

The clay pot and the sizzling platter are the Chinese cooking utensils are the ones used in the serving of the dishes themselves. The sizzling platter gives a dramatic effect to the dish, while the clay pot gives the dishes a more Oriental effect. Both of these cooking utensils are also good in retaining heat for the dishes.

There are still more that you can add to the list of cooking utensils for Chinese cuisine. The ones discussed are just some of the more commonly used ones. Others that can be included on the list include the steam rack, the wok brush, the spatula, and the ladle. With Chinese cuisine, it is indeed clear how cooking utensils can influence the gustatory experience of people worldwide.

Cook Books

If you are interested in the culinary arts, but you don’t have someone in the family to trade kitchen secrets and recipes with, there is really no reason to worry. You see, there are a lot of reliable cook books that you can find just about everywhere! From online sources to those you can find in any reliable library, cook books make good companions for the aspiring chef in you. Just get your hand on any cook book you would want to try, and you’re sure to find some recipes that you and your family will surely enjoy.

But which of the many cook books should you get? Being the enthusiast can very well lead to you buying too many cook books for comfort. Although this would be ultimately helpful, it would just lead to confusion, especially if you’re still quite the novice in the culinary arts. It would be better for you to just choose one cook book at a time. And when you’re done leafing through the different recipes, then you can move on to buying other cook books. You can even join a good cook book club, if you want.

So, what makes a good cook book? Well, there’s the ever reliable Betty Crocker cook book that has helped thousands upon thousands of households over the years. But make no mistake about it; despite the popularity of Betty Crocker, she was not a real person. She was just an icon that became a household name because of the many recipes associated with her. The very first Betty Crocker cook book was published for the American public way back in 1950. Ever since, a lot of households all over America and beyond have been using this particular cook book in the gustatory pleasures of their families. Nowadays, since there are a lot of cook books everywhere, the Betty Crocker cook book is already considered vintage by the people. This cook book remains quite the icon that it was refurbished into its first ever moment of glory. The refurbished version of the original Betty Crocker cook book is now available in bookstores, both local and online.

Another great cook book that can very well help you in the culinary arts is the Better Homes and Gardens cook book. This is actually the 3rd most popular book in the whole world! Not just among cook books, but among all other kinds of books worldwide! The Better Homes and Gardens cook book is just right behind the Bible and the dictionary, when it comes to sales in the worldly sense. And this cook book has been part of the American household for over half a century already.

And then, there is the equally reliable online cook book. The obvious advantage to the online cook book is that there would be no pages to get smears on. There would be no torn pages or smudged covers and such. And you would be able to choose the recipes you want to have printed as well! With regular cook books, you won’t have control over the recipes included in it. But with online cook books, you have this privilege.

And if you want to share your own recipes, or some of your favorite ones, you can also come up with your very own cook book! The easiest way to do this would be to publish your recipes online. It does not take that much capital to do this as well. And you can also gain access to free cook book writing software over the net very easily. This piece of software also has instructional materials containing step-by-step processes on how to go about the publishing of your recipes as well.

So, whether or not you’re the reader or the author, cook books are definitely very popular in the market. And this is simply because food is indeed one of the pleasures people all over the world would not hesitate to enjoy.

 

Crockpot Cooking

A lot of people have resorted to crockpot cooking nowadays for a number of different reasons. But the general reason here is that crockpot cooking is actually more convenient than cooking meals over a gas stove or in an oven.

Most of you, if not all, have experienced at one point or another burning your dinner while cooking on a gas stove. A lot of times, it is because you were doing some other chore, like setting the table or so, while you left the food to sizzle on the stove. The next thing you know, you start smelling smoke from your kitchen. And this is precisely why cooking in a crockpot is more convenient.

With crockpot cooking, all you have to do is slice up whatever ingredients you need for your meal, place them in your crockpot, and leave them to cook. Yes, you can actually leave your dish for them to cook. Gone is the need to constantly be looking over the stove with crockpot cooking. And if does not spell out convenience in cooking meals, then cooking can never be convenient at any time.

Also, with crockpot cooking, your meals will become more flavorful than when cooked over the gas stove or in the oven. This is because the dish will have more time to be cooked inside the crockpot. Thus, the meal would not be deprived of the juices and such that make meals richer in flavor. For starters, cooking ham in a crockpot can certainly enhance the taste of ham itself. With the long time it would take for cooking ham in crockpot, the juices will surely have more time to seep into the ham itself. With this action, the ham will surely become more flavorful, for your family to enjoy. And this not just for ham alone! Cooking lamb in crockpot can also lead to a more delectable meal for you and your family! Lamb dishes do take more time to cook, and with crockpot cooking, it would take even longer. But the wait will be more than worth it.

Plus, there are a lot of crockpot cooking recipes that you and your family just might enjoy. Crockpot cooking is typically the method used for cooking meals perfect for cold weather. Stews and pot roast? You just have to use the crockpot for these meals, to bring out the best, best flavor of these dishes. But if you think that crockpot cooking is just for winter meals, then you are in for a cool surprise. This is because there are indeed a lot of recipes for cooking in a crockpot for the summer season. And these are very easy to prepare as well.

Sandwiches are an essential part of summer. One thing you can do is you place pork roast or beef inside your crockpot. The meat should be just about three pounds. Pour a cup of water into the crockpot as well. Cover your pot, and let the meat cook for just about eight hours. After this cooking period, remove the meat and prepare to shred them into smaller pieces. After shredding the meat, place them back into the crockpot. Add that barbecue sauce you’ve been storing inside your cupboard for your summertime meals. Stir the shredded meat with the barbecue sauce inside the crockpot. When the meat and the sauce have been stirred well, cover the crockpot, and let the meat cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. After which, you can now spread the shredded meat onto sandwich buns and serve them to your family.

Yes, crockpot cooking is definitely becoming quite the strong trend in households these days. And it’s all because the method brings out the best flavor in your dishes. What’s more, the convenience of the method just cannot be discounted. If you haven’t tried crockpot cooking, then you should try it yourself as soon as possible.

Dutch Oven Cooking

What is Dutch over cooking? Before you purchase yourself a Dutch oven, it is very important that you should review at least some of the basic things that you have to know regarding the type of cooking. Literally, there are hundreds of options as well as size combinations that are available for your Dutch oven cooking. In shopping for a Dutch oven, choose the one that is well made. The bail handle should be made from heavy gauge wires and are securely attached to durable molded tangs on the oven’s side.

There are basically two types of Dutch ovens: the camping Dutch ovens and the modern Dutch ovens. The camping, or sometimes called the cowboy or the wagon Dutch ovens have three legs, a durable wire bale handle, and a rimmed lid that is slightly convex so that the coals from a cooking fire can be properly placed both on top and below the pan. This practically provides a more uniformed internal heat while making the inside act as its own oven. The Camping ovens are made from bare cast iron, though there are some that are made from aluminum. On the other hand, the modern Dutch over cooking sets are designed primarily for cooktop or oven use. These ones are smooth-bottomed with two handles. Cooking in a Dutch oven like these ones are better than the traditional ones because they are easy to maintain and handle. Most of these types of Dutch ovens are made from enameled cast iron, though there are also those that are made from ceramics or aluminum.

Dutch ovens are practically suited for those long but slow cooking, making them perfect for stews, casseroles, and roasts. When cooking for campfire, most importantly for the scouts doing some camping activities, a Dutch oven cooking recipe is needed to create easy-to-bake cakes, biscuits, pizzas, and even pies. Smaller baking pans can also be placed right inside the ovens, used and then replaced with a new serving right after the first batch has been completed. Also, campers mostly stack Dutch ovens to conserve heat and time

Proper Care and Maintenance of a Dutch Oven
Because a Dutch oven is very useful be it inside your home or during your outdoor camping pleasures, it is very important then that you have to learn about the proper care and maintenance for these said ovens. Traditionally, the newly seasoned Dutch ovens should never be used in cooking foods that contain vinegar, tomatoes, and some other acidic ingredients because these foods can directly damage a newly seasoned Dutch oven, or for that matter, any form of cast iron cookwares. For this matter, the ovens that are newly-seasoned should only be used for cooking foods that are high in fat or oil, like the chicken, sausage, bacon. Generally, these types of ovens should only be used for deep-frying. On the other hand, the bare Dutch ovens are cleaned the same way with the other ovens made from cast iron. They are cleaned with brush and boiling water, with minimal amount of soap. Once the oven is cleaned, it has to be left completely dried before using it back.

It should also be the owner’s responsibility also to watch out for the surface of the Dutch oven because it can become dark. Every after use, it should be properly washed so that it can go for years or even decades of use.

There are basically a lot of advantages of having a Dutch oven cooking activities. They are practical for the outdoors, especially for the young boy scouts. In fact, a Dutch oven is considered one of the requirements for any camping activities of a typical boy scout. With its many uses, no wonder a Dutch oven is one thing a homeowner should have.

Solar Cooking

If you think about it, the sun is indeed an excellent source of energy. And it would really make sense to put this energy into good use. In fact, solar panels have been invented for this very purpose. And there are a lot of households using solar panels nowadays as well.

So, why not try solar cooking? You may have heard of solar cooking in passing before. This is because the concept of solar cooking has been out for quite some time already, if you look a bit into its history and various solar cooking articles. There have also been word about solar cooking projects, from solar cooking info that you can found on the web. This strongly suggests that solar cooking can indeed be done. It’s just that a lot of people are wary about how it should go about.

And there’s also the issue of solar cooking being inconvenient in the northern regions of the United States. Not just in the United States, but practically around the world. This is because the extent of the sun’s energy does not really reach those regions that much. So, cooking with solar energy in these areas becomes too impractical to be done already.

But for those areas that are located between the equator and around 40º north of it, then solar cooking can indeed be done here. Now that this has been established, let’s move on to one of the basic ways of employing solar cooking, and that is by building a solar oven. There are actually three kinds of solar ovens that you can choose from. There’s the heat-trap box, which basically traps heat inside it and uses it for cooking. There’s the curved concentrator, which has a shape that’s somewhat like a parabola. And then, there’s the panel cookers. Now, this type of solar oven makes use of solar panel cooking in preparing dishes. Let’s discuss each of these solar oven types in more detail.

The heat-trap box is a rectangular box that is insulated quite heavily. The box comes with a reflective panel, positioned to reflect sunlight into the box itself. This way, heat is trapped inside the box easily. Heat-trap boxes should be large enough to include a number of food containers inside it. This way, the heat would be utilized at its maximum potential. These boxes are also able to cook food at very high temperatures.

Curved concentrators, or what are commonly called as parabolic ovens as well, has a holder that is specially designed and created. This holder is positioned in the center of the parabolic oven. This particular solar oven works best at very high temperatures. Otherwise, it would not be able to give results at its best. So, you have to make sure that the oven is properly aligned with the sun. The sun is at constant movement from our point of view, as our planet revolves around the sun. In order to maximize the potential of solar cooking with the parabolic oven, you have to shift the position of the oven from time to time.

The panel cooker is just the integration of the heat-trap box and the curved concentrator. The panel cooker has the solar panels of the heat-trap box, as well as the specially designed holder of the curved concentrator. Thus, this could very well be the most effective of all kinds of solar ovens. Plus, these are not expensive to come by.

The obvious downside of solar cooking though is that the absence of the sun would render them useless. You can definitely use them during the day, but solar cooking requires high temperatures for it to work. On a cloudy day, any of these kinds of solar ovens just might not work. This is why it is best to employ solar cooking during the summer season.

Cooking Light

There are so many cooking magazines out in stands all over the market right now. And these magazines contain a lot of recipes that have captured the heart of the American kitchen. But there is that one nagging issue that plagues a lot of Americans today, and this is cholesterol. Yes, cholesterol plagues the ordinary American at just about any time and place.

This is precisely why Americans have to be careful when it comes to diet. And this is also precisely why there some of magazines aimed healthy living. One of these is the Cooking Light magazine, a subsidiary of renowned Time Inc. Since 1987, Cooking Light has been publishing recipes that are aimed at healthy diet and healthy living. And over the years, Cooking Light has become America’s largest healthy diet magazine. Statistics show that there is a huge proportion of the American population that is overweight. Thus, it is quite understandable why a lot of Americans cater to purchasing Cooking Light every month.

Aside from Cooking Light recipes, the magazine also features news articles that are related to health and fitness, tips on staying healthy and fit, as well as other food fads and trends worldwide. But the primary focus of this magazine is always the Cooking Light recipes that the magazine is so famous for.

One common concern Americans have against dieting is the fact that healthier ingredients would substitute some ones for dishes. And doing this can indeed affect the taste of the dishes, making them a bit bland. But Cooking Light has provided a sweet alternative to the usual recipes. By following the Cooking Light recipe instead of the usual recipe of a particular dish, you can still get the best of both worlds.

Take the Cooking Light granola recipe, for starters. This fruit-and-nut dish is quite the favorite when it comes to breakfast. And Cooking Light has the perfect mix for this. The ingredients for this version include oats, toasted wheat germ, sliced almonds, nonfat dry milk, sunflower seed kernels, sesame seeds, ground cinnamon, salt, orange juice, honey, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, raisins, dried mixed fruit, and dried cranberries. With this mix, you are guaranteed to have 0.0 mg of cholesterol, and the calorie content would be decreased as well.

Another delightful surprise here is the Cooking Light chocolate mousse recipe. You may ask yourself now how it’s possible that chocolate mousse can be considered healthy food because it is quite rich in calories and such. But with Cooking Light, this is absolutely possible! In fact, Cooking Light has a lot of versions for this tasty dessert. All you have to is flip through the many versions of the recipe, and choose which one you’re more comfortable with. If you want, you can try all versions yourself! And you will find that these versions don’t have that much difference from the regular chocolate mousse you make, in terms of taste. You would not have to worry about this tasty dessert having a bland taste if you’re using the Cooking Light recipe at all.

But if you do not have that much time to buy Cooking Light and check out these recipes from the magazine itself, there’s no need to worry at all. You can actually file your own subscription for the magazine, and they will deliver the magazine right to your very doorstep. And if you’re hooked to the Internet, you can also check Cooking Light online right this minute! The recipes featured in the magazine are also featured on the site. So, Cooking Light does make life more interesting and convenient for their readers. Just take your pick as to how you would want to gain access to these recipes that promote health and fitness.

Italian Cooking

When one hears the world “Italian cooking”, the first thing that directly associates to the word is pasta. Italians are known to be pasta lovers, which practically explains why Italy is somehow associated with pasta. However, over the years, there have been a number of Italian cooking recipes that greatly offer a wide array of different delicious and sumptuous meals for everybody.

Italian cooking is extremely very varied. Italy became officially unified in the year 1861, which basically explains why its cuisines generally reflect on the different cultural varieties of its many regions. With its many region and diverse history, as well as its different culinary influences like the Greeks, Romans, Gallics, Germanics, Goths, Normans, Lombards, Franks, Turks, Hebrews, Slavics, Arabs and the Chinese, no doubt, Italian cooking is greatly imitated all across the globe.

Regional Differences Of Italian Cooking

Every region of Italy has its own delicacy and cuisine. For example, the Roman Cuisines use lots of pecorino, or the sheep milk cheese, as well as the offal like frattaglie or frattaje in dialect. The Tuscan cuisines, on the other hand, feature meat, white beans, and unsalted loaves of bread. Pizza is also another famous Italian cooking recipe and surprisingly, they vary from one region to another. For example, the pizza that comes from Rome makes use of cracker-thin crusts, while those Sicilian pizza and Neapolitan pizza often use thicker pizza crusts. Likewise, there are several other cuisines from the different regions of Italy. Lombardy and Piedmont of Northern Italy make use of varied types of rice to create a risotto. Northern Italy is also the origin of polenta. Tortellini and lasagna are from Emilia-Romagna, along with the mortadella, the prosciutoo, the basalmic vinegar, the Bolognese sauce, and the parmigiano or the parmesan cheese. The home of pastries, mozzarella cheese, and pizza is Naples or Napoli, while the salami is from Calabria, known for its distinctive hot pepper cuisines. Moreover, Sicily is famous for its gelato ice cream and granita but its varied cuisines are mostly influenced by Arab cuisines. Their specialties include delicacies made from fish like tuna. Finally, Sardinia is very much popular for its pecorino and lamb.

The Different Types Of Italian Coffee

Aside from the many Italian Cuisines, Italian coffee is also very famous worldwide. There are some known types of Italian coffee but the most popular ones are the espresso. Espresso is actually a very concentrated coffee that is prepared by forcing an amount of boiling water at very high pressure through coffee beans that are finely ground. On the other hand, caffe macchiato is a type of Italian coffee that is topped with steamed milk or even foam. Caffe Ristretto, on the other hand, are those who love their coffee to be very strong. Cappucino is the one that is topped with steamed milk and is generally considered an early morning beverage. Caffe latte is that type of Italian coffee where equal parta of steamed milk and espresso is done. Contrary to what most people believe, espresso is not actually made from special espresso beans. Rather, espresso is made from similar coffee beans used in traditional coffees. However, the coffee beans that are used to make espresso are usually the roasted dark ones, and they are mostly a blend of various coffee types from different origins.

Italian wines are also very important for Italian cooking and Italian cuisines. In fact, the wine is always present in any Italian cuisines. Most of the world-renowned Italian wines come from the three major regions in Italy. Barolo wines come from Piedmont, Amarone and Pinot Grigio wines are from Venetia, and the Chianti and the Brunello are from Tuscany.

Because of the interesting and varied cuisines in Italy, it is no wonder that a lot of Italian cooking schools are now present not only in Italy but also in different parts of the world. With its rich background and history, Italian cooking is indeed one of the world’s most delicious cuisines.

Mexican Cooking

People all over the world would definitely say that Mexican cooking is scrumptious all on its own. Yes, a lot of people are indeed fond of Mexican cooking. This is why there are so many sources all over the web, and even in magazines, featuring Mexican cooking recipes and such. There are even many Mexican cooking shows on the television! And if instructional materials all over the web and magazines are not enough, there are also a lot of Mexican cooking schools worldwide as well.

But there really is more to Mexican cooking than the dishes themselves. This is because the utensils and the equipment used in Mexican cooking do play a huge role in the meals being scrumptious and very rich in flavor.

If you find it hard to believe that Mexican cooking utensils and equipment influence the rich taste of these dishes, then here are some details in depth on the subject. For example, there is the cazuela, or the Mexican pottery dish. This dish is actually large in size, but it is just shallow. The cazuela is often used when preparing mole and certain sauces because it is made of clay. Clay heats in an even and thorough manner, so this can help in the prevention of burnt patches on the bowl. And the element of clay also adds flavor to whatever dish is being prepared in it.

Another cooking utensil used in Mexican cooking is the olla or the barro. This is actually the Mexican name for a pottery pot. The olla is a bit like the cazuela, being a pot and all. But this pot is deep, not shallow. This clay pot is used in the preparation of soups, beans, and stews. Being made of clay, the olla or the barro responds very well to temperature changes that occur quite suddenly. Plus, there’s the earthly aura that the clay pot gives to the dishes.

Aside from these clay pots, grills are also used in Mexican cooking. The term for their grill is actually comal. The comal is actually round in shape and large in size. In fact, the diameter of the typical comal ranges from that large dinner plate you have in your cupboard to about two feet. The comal is usually made of aluminum, with the modern models of it being non-stick already.

Aside from Mexican cooking utensils, there are also other things that make these dishes one of a kind. These include Mexican cooking ingredients. If you take a brief look into the history of Mexican cooking, you will see that the Spanish have made quite a lot of influences on their dishes. The use of citrus fruits, milk, wine, meat, garlic, and cheese come from the Spanish.

These days, Mexican cooking is just not complete without the inclusion of corn and tortillas. If you think about it, the tortilla can be the Mexican counterpart of the American bread. And corn, well, Mexicans have long used corn in their dishes. And what about tomatoes? Yes, Mexicans use tomatoes in almost all of the sauces they concoct. Plus, tomatoes make great Mexican cooking ingredients when making salsa!

All this talk of ingredients in Mexican cooking has surely gotten your mouth watering by now. So, if you want to get into the hobby of Mexican cooking, you best try out recipes you can find. As scrumptious as the dishes are, they are quite easy to prepare. Just make sure you have all the Mexican cooking supplies at hand. With constant exposure to Mexican cooking recipes, you will surely become a pro in preparing their dishes over time! And you will surely be able to impress your friends, even your Mexican friends as well!

Chinese Cooking

Chinese cooking is very popular worldwide. This goes for western regions as well, even the United States. In fact, a lot of Americans enjoy Chinese cuisine very much. And a lot of Chinese restaurants are indeed successful in the United States.

But who’s to say that only the Chinese can prepare Chinese cooking recipes? Being from the west does not really imply that you cannot efficiently prepare Chinese cooking recipes. With just the right Chinese cooking sauces, tools, and methods, you will be able to tackle any Chinese cooking recipe there is in the market.

Cooking Chinese food entails you to be familiar with Chinese cooking utensils. Not only that, you also have to learn the different Chinese cooking methods. There are a lot of these methods actually.

The first off the list is stir frying. This Chinese cooking method is actually great for cooking Chinese fast food. When you stir fry Chinese food, you would actually need a wok. A Chinese wok is actually a pan that is deep and has a round bottom. Your ingredients will be placed inside the Chinese wok that should be oiled to intense heat already. The typical ingredients that would make their way into the Chinese wok are meat, seafood, and a variety of veggies and spices. The ingredients should be well-seasoned, to avoid sticking to the bottom of the Chinese wok. By the fast stirring and frying of the ingredients, the color and flavor of the dish will surely be brought out.

Another Chinese cooking method is steaming. Now, steaming is one of the popular Chinese cooking methods worldwide ever. All you have to do is place the dish inside bamboo containers or bamboo steamers. The steamers are then placed over water that should be boiling. This way, the food is cooked by steaming, not by applying direct heat to the dish. Chinese dim sum restaurants employ this Chinese cooking method for most of their dishes, such as meat dumplings and siomai dishes.

Double cooking is another Chinese cooking method that has captured the attention of a lot of people worldwide. In fact, the Chinese are considered the masters of this method all over the world. This is true despite the fact that there are also other people all over the world who employ double cooking. One of these are actually the French. For double cooking, two or more Chinese cooking methods are actually used in the preparation of the dish. These two or more techniques vary all throughout the dishes. And they are used in various stages as well.

For example, there are Chinese cooking recipes that require for the meat to be deep fried at the first stage. After deep frying these meat cuts, they would then be stir fried with other ingredients to create a delectable main dish. The famous Chinese mantou goes through double cooking as well. The Chinese mantou is actually steamed for its first stage, and then it is deep fried for the purpose of making the bun fluffy, and having a crisp crust.

Sautéing, or shallow cooking, is also a popular Chinese cooking method. This is actually one of the practical and economical methods ever because it does not require that much oil to begin with. Plus, you can use a lower temperature for sautéing Chinese food. The food should be fried into a light brown slowly, thus the need for lower temperature so that the food would not fry that quickly. This makes the food soft on the inside. The outside, however, would be crisp to the taste.

Now that you have an inkling on the common methods used in Chinese cooking, you can start trying out Chinese cooking recipes available all over. You can scour the web for these recipes, or try browsing through cookbooks for them. The important thing is you can start learning how to cook Chinese food in no time.

Other Cooking Sources

Cooks Illustrated

It is not out of the ordinary for someone to cook different versions of a particular dish, just to determine which version is the best. This takes time, but the time and effort in pursuing this will definitely be worth the wait. But there really is no point in doing this, not with Cooks Illustrated. This is because Cooks Illustrated has already done this for the world to enjoy.

Yes, Cooks Illustrated’s primary purpose in life is to cater to the needs of all Americans. The Cooks Illustrated magazine has an elite group of chefs and culinary experts who dedicate themselves into finding the best version of your favorite American dishes. And the magazine is not just about finding the best version of recipes, you know. The magazine also features the best cooking techniques and cookware out in the market. In fact, the chefs from Cooks Illustrated are adamant about letting the public know which particular technique works and which does not. The magazine also informs the public why a particular technique does not work, and provides an effective alternative to this, for whatever recipe it may be.

As to cookware, Cooks Illustrated also offers pointers and such in purchasing the best of the cookware available in the market. For starters, the best coffee maker Cooks Illustrated recommends the Stove Top Cappuccino maker. But for which particular brand, well, you would have to purchase a Cooks Illustrated subscription of your own. With this subscription, you will be able to get your hands on discount Cooks Illustrated magazines, and even on recipes that are exclusive to their members, such as the Cooks Illustrated creme brulee recipe. What’s more, by getting the subscription, or subscribing online, you can also have access to Cooks Illustrated bulletin board posts by other members as well. On this board, you and your fellow members can share feedback on such about the recipes that have been featured in the magazine. You can also discuss whatever recipes you may have with the other members as well. Truly, Cooks Illustrated provides an environment so conducive to learning. With that, the magazine has indeed gained such an advantage over other cooking magazines.

But if you would prefer another medium for this, you can also check out the PBS Cooks Illustrated version, by watching America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen is the television counterpart of Cooks Illustrated. On this series, you will be able to get hold of the recipes that are featured in the magazine. What’s more, you will see these recipes being cooked hands-on as well! And this would indeed be a more interactive than the magazine because you can really see the chefs toiling and mulling over different versions of one particular dish! Because of this appeal, America’s Test Kitchen has become one of the strongest cooking shows all over America and in other countries as well!

But if you prefer the web to leafing through magazines and watching TV, you can do this as well. By visiting CooksIllustrated.com, you can actually sample some of their recipes featured on the web. You can also browse free videos of their recipes. This is available for non-members, although it is quite limited as compared to being a member. And they also give you the option of having a free trial upon signing up as well! This makes the offer more appealing. This way, Cooks Illustrated can give you a bird’s eye view on what to expect, should you continue your subscription. You also get to have a free trial issue of the magazine shipped out to you. Yes, Cooks Illustrated is that comfortable with the quality of their work. They have had 14 years worth of experience already. Thus, there really is no reason for them not to be boastful of the benefits you would get with them.

Paulas Home Cooking

If you are into home-cooked meals, like most health conscious people are, then you must have heard about Paula Deen at one point or another. Yes, Paula Deen is indeed a household name when it comes to home-cooked meals already. And Paula even has her own show on the Food Network! This is entitled Paula’s Home Cooking. With Paula home cooking becomes such a breeze for Americans and people worldwide!

Let’s look into the life of the woman, Paula Deen, for quite a bit. Paula Deen learned how to cook old school. All of her secrets and moves in the kitchen come from both her mother and her grandmother. So, her secrets have indeed been in her family for generations and generations now. Apart from being the popular TV personality for Paulas Home Cooking, she is also a writer and an entrepreneur. She has written four cookbooks that have helped a lot of people worldwide. All of these cookbooks have been published in large amounts. Paula Deen also owns a restaurant in hometown Savannah, Georgia. Her sons, Jamie and Bobby, own this restaurant with Paula, and they have named it The Lady & Sons. If you ever make your way into Georgia, take the word from locales, and drop by this restaurant. You will surely be in for a treat!

But Paula Deen did not really start out with a catering service of her own. She first worked for Best Western Hotel in her hometown, wherein she worked for five long years. Her passion for cooking meals just could not be contained inside the four walls of the hotel’s kitchen. So, Paula Deen decided to open her very own restaurant, which has ultimately become The Lady & Sons restaurant. More doors opened with the opening and operations of the restaurant. Pretty soon, the very show, Paula Dean’s Home Cooking, was launched on the Food Network. And Paula’s very own aromatic kitchen has been exposed to viewers worldwide.

So, what dishes are exactly being featured on Paula’s Home Cooking show? What kind of cuisine is Paula’s specialty? If you are from Georgia yourself, you will be happy to know that Paula Deen is very much into Southern cuisine. And she is also into those familiar American dishes that we deem as comfort food every time we are in need of delectable comforts in life.

Some of the dishes featured in Paula’s Home Cooking include the American favorite pot roast and the very delectable pecan pie. Sweet potatoes, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, creamed corn, all these and more are also featured on Paula’s show. Yes, it is quite clear that these dishes have high cholesterol levels. But it’s nice to give in to the guilty pleasures of life once in a while. Just as long as you exercise discipline on your part as well, you know.

Yes, Paula has indeed shared a lot of secrets from her kitchen to the kitchens of mere strangers. And these secrets have warmed the stomachs of all those people. So, here’s Paula Deans home cooking recipe of the American submarine sandwich. First, get the following ingredients: bread, oils or spreads, lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers, onions, pickles, mushrooms, sliced meat, bean sprouts, string beans, Chop Suey, boiled egg, and scrambled egg. For the fillers, you don’t really have to get everything on the list. Just get what you would want to have on your submarine.

When you have everything for your sandwich, just slice your submarine roll, and let it toast in your oven. Be careful that you do not burn it. Just let it reach a light brown color. After which, spread oil all over your roll. But do not be excessive on your roll. Olive oil is best for this, while salad dressing and mayonnaise make excellent alternatives. Place in your fillers, and place the sandwich back into your toaster oven for a few minutes. And in minutes, you will be able to enjoy a home-cooked

Top Chef

What attracts viewers to a certain culinary competition show? There are a number of aspects actually. But the very top of the list would definitely be the prize at stake. And the culinary competition show Top Chef is certainly on top of the viewers’ lists because of this.

Top Chef on Bravo cable TV network has a lot of great prizes at stake for the winners of this American reality TV show. The prize money alone adds up to $100,000. The Top Chef winner is also featured in the famous culinary magazine Food & Wine, and will also appear in Aspen, Colorado, for the Food & Wine Classic. Plus, the winner gets to take home a lot of kitchen showcases, provided by the Brave Top Chef sponsors. Because of such a package at stake, a lot of chefs have wanted to join the Top Chef TV show. And a lot of viewers have been watching all episodes of the Top Chef show, just to support their favorites on the show.

So, what exactly are the mechanics of the show? And how do they determine that particular person who won Top Chef? First off, the chefs are given weekly challenges at the start of the show. At the end of each week, professional chefs serve as judges in eliminating one or more chefs. The number of eliminated chefs depends on the mechanics of the show. As mentioned, there is a series of challenges that all chefs should go through each week. For each episode each week, the chefs are given two challenges, the quickfire challenge and the elimination challenge.

The quickfire challenge has each chef preparing a dish according to specific constraints. Such constraints can be in the form of the usage of certain ingredients. These can also be in the form of perfecting a certain taste or such in the dish they’re preparing. With either of these constraints, the chefs are given just one hour to finish the task at hand. There are also times when the chefs are given less time. At the end of the challenge, their dishes are tasted, and one of the chefs is deemed the winner. There are also times when more than one chef is awarded the winning spot. More often than not, the winning chef is granted immunity from the elimination challenge, which comes after the quickfire challenge.

The elimination challenge has the remaining chefs preparing dishes once again. Usually, the elimination challenge has the chefs teaming up. There are times when the task at hand would require just a few hours, or a few days as well. To match the requisites of the challenge, there are times when the chefs are given a certain amount of money for the ingredients they need to purchase. Upon judging, the four judges sample the dishes prepared by the chefs. The chefs are then judged as individuals or teams, depending on the nature of the challenge. Questions can be placed all throughout the judging. In the end, one chef is named the Top Chef for the challenge. The worst of the remaining chefs would then be eliminated.

For the final challenge, the remaining two chefs will be pitted against each other for the title of Top Chef. The two chefs are then asked to prepare a dinner of many courses. What’s interesting about the finale is that the eliminated chefs are asked to assist the remaining chefs in the preparation of the courses. When judging comes, there are certain aspects upon which the chefs would be judged. These aspects include food quality, presentation, their leadership over their chosen team members, and their overall performance on the show. The chef that totals higher scores over the other chef is then deemed the Top Chef, and is then awarded the wonderful array of prizes at stake.

Iron Chef

If you have been watching the Food Network, then you must have heard about the show Iron Chef at one point or another. But the popular show Iron Chef did not really start in America. The show actually comes from Japan. In fact, when Iron Chef was first featured on the Food Network, the episodes were still clearly in Japanese, and were just dubbed as English.

What makes the show very huge is most likely the Iron Chef theme that is coined with each episode. A challenger chef is placed against one of the Iron Chefs on the show. Each of these Iron Chefs specializes in a particular kind of cuisine. These kinds of cuisine include Japanese, French, Chinese, and Italian. The match-ups are picked before the episode starts, although it is made to appear that the match-up has been made randomly then and there. Originally, Iron Chef aired for a full 90 minutes because of the preliminary rounds, but these rounds were taken off the show over time. This is because this format of the show proved to be quite unnecessary already. Thus, the show has come to air for 60 minutes only.

For each of the episodes, the rivaling chefs are given an hour to prepare a meal of many courses that centralize on a theme ingredient. This theme ingredient, therefore, becomes the Iron Chef theme for that episode. After the hour given, and the Iron Chef recipes have been prepared and ready for tasting, the judges then begin to do their jobs. The chefs are awarded points according to the taste, originality, and presentation of the meals they have prepared. The highest score that a chef can collect is actually just 20 points. But this score does not necessarily imply the winner, you know. This is because the chef that has gained more support from the judges in general would win that episode. But for those rare cases that the scores are tied, as well as the favor of judges are tied down, then an overtime battle ensues. This overtime battle is set right then and there, with the chefs given 30 minutes to come up with dishes with another theme ingredient. Now, this can really hold viewers in suspense, sitting practically on the edge of their seats.

Iron Chef Japan was indeed a popular show from the time it started in the year 1993 up to the point that it ended 6 years later. When the show ended, there were still TV specials of the show that aired until 2002. This is a clear indication that the show is indeed quite the hit in Japan.

So much a hit that the Food Network bought the rights and such to air it all over America. At first, all they did was air the episodes from the Iron Chef Japanese version. They just had the episodes dubbed from Japanese to English. But in a short period of time, the network decided to come up with their own version of the show, which ultimately became Iron Chef America.

Iron Chef America is not to be treated as a remake of the original Japanese version of the show. This is because the American show is just a version of the original. The American version would then become some sort of successor to the original. And this successor complies with the basic theme and format of its predecessor. Iron Chef America has really attracted a lot of viewers from various demographics all over the world. This is because the show has the very nature that comes along with all game shows. It is not just about food and recipes. It is also about competing, pitting yourself against renowned chefs from all over the country. And this has so many viewers hooked to the show