Cooking

How to Cook Basmati Rice

basmati rice
Puja taught me how to cook basmati rice many years ago but I was never completely happy with it because whenever we would go out to a restaurant the rice seemed so much better to me. It was a problem that lingered with me for years until I finally decided to sit down and figure out how to cook basmati perfectly. After doing some research and taking my time with it, it came out perfectly on the first batch, no experimentation needed. Because the trick is so easy. It just takes a little time.

The trick is, you have to soak the rice for 30 minutes. We were doing everything else right, but it was taking this one shortcut that made such a difference. When you let the rice soak the grains expand, blooming almost like a flower. The difference is all texture. And I’m not even sure I feel the difference in my mouth, but we eat first with our eyes. But I also think when you prepare the rice correctly it will absorb gravy better, which is all important when you eat some of my favorite dishes, like butter chicken, or paneer makhani.

Please trust me, take the full hour to prepare your rice instead of half, it’s worth it!

Ingredients
1 cup Basmati Rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
A splash of oil (vegetable, olive oil or a bit of butter)
1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)
Instructions
Rinse the rice thoroughly with water to remove any excess starch.
Soak the rice with plenty of water for 30 minutes. You can do this in a separate bowl or the pot you are going to cook the rice in.
Drain the water.
Add the soaked rice to the pot. Add 2 cups water, salt to taste and a splash of oil. The oil will help prevent the water from boiling over which is caused by the starch in the rice, and some people say it also adds flavor.
Bring to a boil under medium-high heat, uncovered.
When it starts boiling, cover and lower the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
After fifteen minutes, take the lid off. If there is any excess water, allow it to boil off. Fluff with a fork, you are done.
(Optional) You can add a bit of color by mixing about an eighth teaspoon of turmeric with a tablespoon of water, then adding a handful of some still hot rice to your mixture. Then mix this rice back into the white rice.

Cooking

Safe Cookware for Cooking

When the health risks associated with making Teflon first came to light last year, many cooks trashed their non-stick cookware and went back to using their old stainless steel pots and pans. But what many people didn’’t realize was that even stainless steel is not immune to controversy regarding health impacts.

Read the full story.

Stainless Steel Cookware Combines Different Metals
In fact, stainless steel is really a mixture of several different metals, including nickel, chromium and molybdenum, all of which can trickle into foods. However, unless your stainless steel cookware is dinged and pitted, the amount of metals likely to get into your food is negligible.

Anodized Aluminum Cookware May Be a Safer Alternative
These days, many health conscious cooks are turning to anodized aluminum cookware as a safer alternative. The electro-chemical anodizing process locks in the cookware’s base metal, aluminum, so that it can’t get into food, and makes for what many cooks consider an ideal non-stick and scratch-resistant cooking surface.

Calphalon is the leading manufacturer of anodized aluminum cookware, but newer offerings from All Clad (endorsed by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse) and others are coming on strong.

Cast Iron Cookware May Actually Improve Health
Another good cookware choice is that old standby, cast iron, which is known for its durability and even heat distribution. Cast iron cookware can also help ensure that eaters in your house get enough iron—which the body needs to produce red blood cells—as it seeps off the cookware into food in small amounts.

cast iron pans

Unlike the metals that can come off of some other types of pots and pans, iron is considered a healthy food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Consumers should beware, though, that most cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned after each use and as such is not as worry-free as other alternatives. Lodge Manufacturing is the leading American producer of cast iron cookware.

Ceramic Cookware Provides Some Benefits of Cast Iron Without the Bother
For those who like the feel and heat distribution properties of cast iron but dread the seasoning process, ceramic enameled cookware from Le Creuset, World Cuisine and others is a good choice.

The smooth and colorful enamel is dishwasher-friendly and somewhat non-stick, and covers the entire surface of such cookware to minimize clean-up headaches.

Copper Cookware is Excellent for Certain Uses
One other surface favored by chefs for sauces and sautés is copper, which excels at quick warm-ups and even heat distribution. Since copper can leak into food in large amounts when heated, the cooking surfaces are usually lined with tin or stainless steel.

Teflon Cookware is Safe, Experts Say
But if you’re concerned about the build-up of solid waste in our landfills, don’t trash your non-stick cookware just yet. According to DuPont, the finished product of Teflon does not contain any of the production-process chemicals linked to health problems in factory workers. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that ingesting small particles of Teflon flaked off into food is not known to cause any health maladies. With proper use and care, such pots and pans— which constitute more than half of all cookware sales in the U.S.—should be safe to use for years to come.

Cooking

Not My Favorite Rice Cooker

A little-known fact about my husband: he spent five years in Korea and surrounding Asian countries before we met and got married. He brought back with him a love of Asian food, Korean in particular. In the years since we have been together, we have eaten things like Beef Bulgogi and Kimchi fried rice plus many more. He is the cook when it comes to these meals, partly because he loves to do it and partly because he is so good at it (and partly because I am a little bit lazy and all the chopping and dicing makes me crazy).

He travels for work, though, and when he is home he doesn’t really want to spend a lot of time cooking. This last trip, he was gone for six weeks and it was all I could do to get him to stop sleeping, much less encourage him to cook. I thought I would learn how to cook at least one of his favorite dishes while he was gone–you know, being the good wife and all, plus the kids were clamoring for some Korean lettuce wraps. Simple enough, right?

Wrong. The first mistake I made was in not realizing that the rice cooker we have was one he bought online. Meaning, of course, that the instructions (including the control buttons) were written in Korean. I thought I could guess which one was correct-but no. Apparently there is a “Keep Warm” setting, which I found out after I checked the rice and it was only mildly warm. We had lettuce wraps minus rice that night.

Last week, I thought I would give it another try. This time, I put just a little bit of rice and water in and hit a different button just to see if it would cook it. Success! So I dumped that bit out and measured the correct amounts of water and rice and turned it on. After about 30 minutes, I went back into the kitchen to discover that the rice cooker had completely overflowed. There was rice water all over the counter and the floor. Do you know how sticky rice water can be? We had scrambled eggs.

Needless to say, I have quit trying. If my husband ever wants me to learn how to cook Korean food, he better find one of the best rice cookers on Amazon and present it to me with a huge red bow and a heartfelt thanks for the effort. Otherwise, I will just stay out of the kitchen while he cooks and everyone will be much happier!

Cooking, Personal

What Makes My Great Kitchen Knife

Well, before I even tell you what makes my great kitchen knives, I personally was born in a family of chefs. Starting from my great grandfather down to my father; all of them have worked in some of the best hotels in and around the world. In seems the love for the kitchen was not only going to stop with them because immediately my father retired from the kitchen I joined one of the best schools of chef in town. It is now over 5 years since I completed my culinary studies and opened a top restaurant in town. Through out all this years, I have probably come across some of the best knives sets. With such experience, I can easily tell a good kitchen knife from a bad one. If getting the top rated chef knives is something you have been giving some serious thoughts lately, here is a list of all the things I always watch out for when shopping for a good knife set.

First of all is all about versatility; when looking for this tool, a kitchen knife that can do quite a number of things is always my top choice. I want something than can dice, mince, slice and do other things. It does not even stop there; I know what rust can do to my knife; thankfully, there are a number of things I can do to prevent this. The best kitchen knives are those that come fully equipped with a stainless steel. With this alone, my knife will not only be rust resistant, but you I find its cleaning easy and hassle free.

Lastly, the handle is another thing that I always give great consideration even more than other things. A knife that comes with excellent and comfortable grip, for me, always makes a great kitchen knife. At the end, a knife that comes short of all that will not make into my kitchen, and I believe that should be the case with you also.

Cooking, Personal

The Best Cookware Set For You

What is the best cookware? Is one question that every person who wants to buy a cookware asks himself or herself. This is because there are many types of cookware in the market. This is because they are made of different materials. These materials include stainless steel, copper cookware, hard anodized cookware, cast iron and many more. These are some of the best cookware for you:

  • Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Cookware Set

This set contains 3 quart covered saucepans, 6 quart covered stock pot, 10 inch skillets and 3 quart and 10 inch covered saut. They are built of hard-anodized aluminum with non-stick finish. The hard-anodized aluminum heats evenly and quickly and is resistant to scratching. Its handles are oven safe up to 400 degrees. The clear lids allow you to watch as the food is cooking without letting heat out and nutrients. When cleaning hand wash is recommended.

 

  • Wearever Cook & Strain Stainless Steel Cookware Set

This cookware set that gives you value for your money, and it is made of stainless steel. Its sauce pans come with impact bonded aluminum bases that give an even distribution of heat. They are also sturdy, a feature that is looked out for in saucepans. The pans are oven safe, standing up to 350 degrees. The pans are a bit heavy for those who like light ones. The handles stay cool to touch ensuring a safe and comfortable grip.

  • Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless- Steel 12-piece Cookware Set

This is a high quality cookware built from a combination of high quality metals. This metals are aluminum and stainless steel. Aluminum core conducts heat evenly and very well. However, stainless steel does not conduct heat but is very durable. In addition, the stainless steel exterior ensures you enjoy healthy food, as it is non-reactive. The pieces rest firmly on the burner due to their heavy bottom. The handles do not heat up, they are always cool to touch. It is easy to clean with its nonstick function.

Cooking, Diet, Personal

Friday Is The Day

Many people like the Thanksgiving holiday because of the food and getting together with family and friends. I have to say that holidays are certainly different since my vertical sleeve gastrectomy weight loss surgery. I still like the food, but my little vsg post weigh loss tummy doesn’t hold much.

Then there are shoppers. They like Thanksgiving because of Black Friday, the Super Bowl of shopping. LOL I am always conflicted about it. I like the deals if there is something in particular I am shopping for, but I hate the crowds. I don’t do crowds well. This year there is also the consideration of the economy. We have definitely cut back as many people have. I wonder what this Friday will be like. Will it be super crowded with people desperate for bargains or will it be a wasteland with everyone staying home?

Diet Food

I have said before that I am for any kind of diet or weight loss program that works for you, not just weight loss surgery. I was talking to a friend who is interested in one of the diet food delivery programs. One of her main problems is that she doesn’t cook so she eats out a lot. She heard about these programs and thought that it would be a solution for her. She asked me to help her find a program.

After a little looking around I found BestDietFoodDelivery.com. It has extensive information on the top diet food delivery services. The companies covered are Medifast, Nutrisystem, Diet to Go, Zone, E-Diets and Bistro MD. What I especially like about the site is that user contribution is encouraged. There are posts from people who have used the various diet food delivery services with their thoughts and experiences regarding them.

After reading through the site I can see where a diet food delivery program can be a great way to lose weight. You don’t have to stress about making food selections and counting calories. This diet food program didn’t require you to buy the best juicer or the best blenders, it just takes the problems of shopping and cooking out of the equation. The dieter can just pop their entry into the best microwave oven and enjoy their meal. It even looks like a great time saver. I think that once my friend makes her decision she is going to enjoy her diet food delivery plan.

Visiting Blogs

Visiting blogs is one of my favorite pass times when I have the opportunity. Sometimes when I am working on line and need a break I will visit some blogs such as Martha Stewart, Smitten Kitchen to refresh my mind and think about something besides business. With the holiday this weekend I indulged myself and visited lots of blogs. I like blogs that blog about cooking, home improvement and travel.

I have decided to share my list with you. The topics are all over the place but I enjoy them all. You may even find something you like yourself. Here they are.

Baking, Cooking, Personal

What You Should Know About Toaster Oven

The quality of toaster ovens needs to be tested and so we have devised a few experiments for the toaster oven. Before you read on, you need to know that the range between low end and high end toaster ovens are quite wide apart.

The experiments we do on our toaster ovens are cooking experiments that can be done by anybody with a toaster oven. First is the test to toast evenly. A toaster oven that can toast evenly will be able to do a range of other cooking tasks well. By placing six pieces of bread in the toaster oven to toast, a pattern of brownness shows whether the toaster oven heats its interior capacity evenly.

Later on, we test the same toaster ovens for melting cheese, heating frozen casseroles and baking cookies. The toaster ovens with bad performance in toasting evenly also was not able to melt the cheese evenly on pizzas; the casseroles still have cold centers even when the surfaces were browned; and the cookies had dry and brittle edges.

The design and the shape of the toaster oven also played a significant role in the cooking. Those models with a divider in the middle to separate the bun warming section and the oven are too small to accommodate large servings like an entire chicken.

On the flip side, the tall models with a large interior cooking space are not good for small sized or flat food items because the heating elements and the walls are too far away. However, a large cooking space is still better and nowadays toaster ovens come with adjustable racks to let you place food nearer to the heating elements.

To be able to cook well, a toaster oven must be able to achieve and maintain temperature throughout cooking. The lesser quality toaster ovens will not be accurate with the temperature settings, giving you more or less than what you need.

The best oven will have small discrepancy in the temperature and will not lose heat over time. Only one of the best toaster ovens we tried was perfect in every aspect. It browned toast nicely and evenly without turning it into a crisp, and all six pieces of toast were beautifully browned without hot and cold spots.

The cheese and casseroles posed no problems for the toaster oven, and even the chicken fitted nicely in it. The interior is spacious and yet not too big for baking the bite size snacks. There are heating elements on the top and below, and you can set it to use both or only one of them.
The material that made the heating elements will decide how responsive it is to temperature change, and how well it maintains the temperature. Quartz is the best material for responsive heating compared to chromium and nickel. The heat will be constant and more even.

As a conclusion, a good toaster oven can be difficult to choose if you require it to be as multipurpose as it is described to be, but if you are willing to compromise a couple of functions that you don’t often use, it is very likely that you can find a decent one. Looking for toaster oven recipes?

Cooking

My mother’s day cooking project

Okay, so I don’t make steak very often. Let me change that, very often means that not in the last decade have I cooked a steak myself. I’m actually more of a casserole person. I love me a good casserole, all cheesy, gooey and yummy. Anyway, for Mother’s Day I thought I would make my wife and mother a nice steak dinner. I had my cooking project all planned out. I would make mashed potatoes, boil carrots and zucchini (separately, of course) and cook some good rib-eye steaks.

I went to the meat counter at my local supermarket. I told the guy, “I don’t really cook steak. Can you tell me about the different stakes you have here?” He was very nice and he told me about the different stakes and what I could expect. He suggested the ribeye and it was on sale so that’s what I got. I got yellow potatoes because they are the best for mashed potatoes. I already had a huge bag of carrots for juicing, so I would use those. I had a bunch of zucchini that I hadn’t eaten yet. Ingredients for my cooking project? Check!

About an hour and a half before dinnertime, I started cutting stuff up. I thought I would just prep it and then go take a nap. Surely this dinner wouldn’t take very long to make, right? Hah! The preparations for this cooking project really got away from me. I was busy for the next 90 minutes, cutting, boiling and searing. The cooking project was underway.

The guy at the meat counter had told me how to cook the ribeye. He said the best way to do it is to sear it so it gets a crust and then grill it. Well, I don’t have a grill. I don’t even really have an oven, but I have a really good broiler. So I figured, I could sear the stakes, and then broiled them. That will work, right?

Potatoes are boiling. Carrots are boiling. I’m making packaged gravy (because it is easy!). I go to the Internet to get directions on how to cook ribeye steak. Everybody online says sear the steak in a really really hot pan (over 500 degrees!) and then grill it for two minutes on each side. That’s what I’m going to do.

I don’t have a large cast-iron pan, so I get out my large Dutch oven for this cooking project. I figure that will do the trick. Like I said, I don’t have an oven, so I can’t pre-heat the Dutch oven. I put it on my largest burner, and begin to heat the pan. Per the recipe I found online, I begin by oiling the meat and then sprinkling salt and pepper on each steak. Once the pan is hot, I drop in two steaks to sear on one side for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds I flip them over and they look okay. I have a little bit of the “char” that I’m supposed to get. I put three seared steaks on a cookie sheet and throw it under the broiler on high for two minutes. I flip them for another 2 minutes and then cover them and let them rest.

Now things are really flying. The potatoes are boiled. I’m turning them into mashed potatoes. The carrots are done. The gravy is boiling. The steaks are “grilling” in the broiler. I broiled six stakes, three at a time. They were all seared in the Dutch oven, two at a time. I managed to get everything to the table while it was still hot. Everything was delicious. I was really worried about the steaks, because I’ve never cooked them before. But the Dutch oven and the broiler did the trick. They were fantastic. This is one cooking project I’m going to remember. It was crazy, but it turned out really well.