Showing posts with label tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tips. Show all posts

Apr 10, 2017

Tips & Tools: How to Hard-Cook Eggs

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Today I'm going to share with you my preferred method to hard-cook eggs. Making hard-cooked eggs is easy! Follow the simple steps below for perfect hard-cooked eggs with tender whites and brilliant yellow yolks every time.

How to Hard-Cook Eggs, tips, tools, eggs, hard, cooked, hard-cooked, hard-boiled, easy, simple, perfect, egg, green, ring, grey,
Egg-cellent eggs from our chooks!!!
What you need:
Large enough pan to hold eggs in a single layer
cold water/ice

Here's what to do:
1) Place eggs in a wide, shallow pan just large enough to hold them in single layer. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by one inch. Bring to just boiling on high heat.

How to Hard-Cook Eggs, tips, tools, eggs, hard, cooked, hard-cooked, hard-boiled, easy, simple, perfect, egg, green, ring, grey,

2) Remove pan from burner. Cover pan with tight fitting lid. Let eggs steep in hot water for 15 minutes. Removing the pan from the heat allows the eggs to cook gently in hot water. This produces tender eggs and reduces cracking.

How to Hard-Cook Eggs, tips, tools, eggs, hard, cooked, hard-cooked, hard-boiled, easy, simple, perfect, egg, green, ring, grey,

3) Pour hot water off immediately and cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water. This will cause the egg to contract in the shell making peeling easier.

How to Hard-Cook Eggs, tips, tools, eggs, hard, cooked, hard-cooked, hard-boiled, easy, simple, perfect, egg, green, ring, grey,
4) Allow the eggs to cool for at least 10 minutes. Then gently crack the shell of each egg on a hard surface.  Starting peeling at large end. Hold the egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off in necessary.
How to Hard-Cook Eggs, tips, tools, eggs, hard, cooked, hard-cooked, hard-boiled, easy, simple, perfect, egg, green, ring, grey,

5) Keep hard-cooked eggs in refrigerator safely for up to one week. Once peeled, hard-boiled eggs should be eaten that day.
How to Hard-Cook Eggs, tips, tools, eggs, hard, cooked, hard-cooked, hard-boiled, easy, simple, perfect, egg, green, ring, grey,
Tips for perfect hard-boiled eggs:

Want easy to peel hard-cooked eggs? The old saying is true, "Old eggs are for boiling, fresh eggs are for frying." The fresher the egg, the harder to peel. Use eggs that are at least 12 days old. I put mine in a a sealed plastic container labeled with the date at the back of the refrigerator for two weeks. As eggs age they take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

Avoid the unappetizing greenish-grey halo. The harmless discoloration that sometimes forms around hard-cooked yolks results from a reaction between sulfur in the white and iron in the yolk. It occurs when eggs have been cooked at too high a temperature. At 170F/77C the yolk starts turning green and smelly sulfur compounds begin forming. Cooking eggs in hot water (not boiling) and then cooling immediately minimizes this.
How to Hard-Cook Eggs, tips, tools, eggs, hard, cooked, hard-cooked, hard-boiled, easy, simple, perfect, egg, green, ring, grey,
Recipes to enjoy hard-cooked eggs with:
Chettinad Style Egg Curry
Looking for new and delicious ways to enjoy hard-cooked eggs? Try my recipes for Chettinad Style Egg Curry (pictured above) and Punjabi Dhaba Style Egg Curry

Interesting new way to use hard-cooked eggs:

Yup, it's a thing. Some beauty YouTuber called Nadi demonstrated that you can use a hard-boiled egg to blend makeup. Sounds kind of gross to me. Certainly not as unsanitary as those festering BeautyBlender or Silisponges so 'on trend' for blending cosmetics though. Not sure what you do with the egg after you've used it either. Now all the YouTube makeup vloggers are applying their makeup with weird things ranging from bras to tomatoes. No thank you, I shall stick to applying my foundation with my freshly washed hands. Some sage advice from your resident glamour guru Bibi: If it's taking more than your clean fingers to apply your foundation, buy a better foundation! Don't spend your money on gimmicky tools that require more time and products than your face to clean them! Or maybe try any random household item to apply your makeup. Whatev's.

Mar 6, 2017

Tips & Tools: Some Like It Hot!

Well, I really wasn't talking about fiery chilis or spicy heat.

No, no, NO! Not the movie Some Like It Hot (1959) either. Although that is my favorite movie. How could you go wrong with an all star cast (Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon) and Billy Wilder's brilliant script and direction? If you haven't seen it, SEE IT!

Bibi's cooking - FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!
I'm talking about food temperature! When we were first married my Indian husband would complain about the food I served being too hot. "Why so hot!?!" I looked at him absolutely bewildered as I proudly put a piping hot dish on the table. That just boggled my American brain. The objective of getting the food as hot as possible to the table was something that I'd just never questioned about my Western culture. With the exceptions of certain foods like salads and ice cream why are we Westerners so obsessed with our food being served so hot? And why do Indians not want their food served sizzling hot?

Well, duh Bibi. Indians eat with their hands! Nobody wants to stick their hands into scorching hot food. Traditionally, the fingers are used to determine the temperature of the food as well as combining flavors. In fact, there is a Hadith in Islam that warns there is no blessing in food that is too hot. Ayurvedic practices too recommend eating food that is warm or at room temperature for optimal health. 

So where did this Western notion of the hotter the better for certain foods come from? After all we Westerners eat certain foods with our hands. Fried chicken, pizza, french fries, and hamburgers are all eaten commonly with hands and are served hot. A tepid cooked item tends to induce unease in the Western palate. A lukewarm temperature suggests that the food has been languishing, possibly festering, or has at best been poorly reheated. I actually like cold fried chicken and pizza but a congealed burger and fries is truly icky.

Apparently this fetish for piping hot foods began with the 19th century trend of higher social classes' dining styles switching from the service à la française to the service à la russe in Western Europe. The service à la française (literally service in the French style) began in the 17th century and evolved over the next 150 years. A formal dinner served à la française would have a variety of hot and cold dishes all set on the table at one time before the diners arrived. The diners would then seat themselves and enjoy the dishes communally. The great disadvantage of this à la française style of service was that hot foods often became cold before it was even time for the diners to eat. Contrast this to the service à la russe (literally service in the Russian style) in which dishes are brought out sequentially in courses and served individually. Dishes such as roasts served à la russe were prepared in the kitchen then sent out to the table whilst still hot, similar to a Western style restaurant today. And so the rush to get hot food from the kitchen to the table was on! (Service à la russe also gave way to the Western fascination with the esoteric and redundant cutlery you see in the above photo too. No one ever heard of a salad fork or dessert spoon before service à la russe became en vogue.)

I thought it would have more to do with Western cultures preferring their foods served hotter due to colder climates or something more mundane. I am certain fast food commercials in the West have reinforced the notion that hot equates to fresh. It probably doesn't occur to the average Western consumer of such items that their hot food item is hardly fresh at all. In reality it was probably lurking in the walk-in freezer for months previously to being served. Come to think of it, most all foods Westerners eat with their hands are rather informal and cheap foods. Perhaps that's part of the disdain Westerners have about eating with their hands?

Anywho, be sure to serve your Indian guests warm food not sizzling hot. It doesn't matter if your guests are seated at a table, on flimsy plastic chairs at a wedding, or on the floor aside a dastarkhaan. I'm not going to go into the details of how to properly eat with your hands as I still can't do it. Always eat with your right hand even if you are a lefty though. (Although you can use your left hand to pass dishes or to serve or drink water.) If you don't feel comfortable eating with your hands don't feel embarrassed if you need to ask for a spoon, special requests are usually welcomed at an Indian dinner table.

There are some things that are traditionally served quite hot on the Subcontinent though. Momos are a juicy, stuffed dumpling popular in Nepal but often found as a street food all over India now. Freshly steamed momos taste best served piping hot  arranged pleated side up on a warmed plate. Yes, momos are eaten with hands only also. Nobody wants cold or lukewarm momos! 

Chai or milky tea must always be served scalding hot. No matter if the weather is oppressively humid, swelteringly torrid, or blisteringly broiling. Your chai must be served positively burn-your-mouth and cauterize-your-tonsils HOT! We Americans like our coffee served about the same temperature as molten lava too. Be forewarned the majority of times your chai will be pre-sugared to syrupy sweetness. Actually it's becoming fashionable to serve sweeteners on the side so that guests may adjust it to their tastes. But it better be HOT!

So always remember, some like it hot!!!

Please be doing the needful,

Aug 3, 2016

Tips & Tools: How to Blanch Almonds

almond simple way blanching skinned raw

Blanched almonds are simply raw almonds with their skin removed. The smooth texture of blanched or skinless almonds are often called for in many Mughlai recipes as well as some fancy Indian sweets and desserts. I've never seen pre blanched almonds for sale in India or Nepal so I've learned to prepare them myself. In as little as ten minutes you can easily blanch your own almonds!

Traditionally I've seen almonds soaked for hours in water or overnight to remove their skins in India. Often this results in mushy or slimy almonds. With the simple and quick technique of blanching by immersing in hot then cold water the almonds retain their firm texture. Be sure to use only raw almonds and the freshest you can find. 

2 C raw almonds
2-3 C water (or just enough water to cover the amount of almonds you wish to blanch)

Here's what to do:
1) Bring a small pot of water to boil and remove from heat. Place raw almonds in heated water and allow to steep for 2 minutes.

2) Drain the hot water from the almonds using a sieve or colander. Rinse the almonds with cool water.

3) The almonds' skins should be loosened and will easily slide off when squeezed. Be careful if you pinch too hard the almond will go flying across the room. This is the most time consuming part of blanching almonds.
The blanched almonds are on the left and their removed velvety russet jackets are on the right.
4) Depending on what you're using the blanched almonds for you may wish to leave them to dry. I usually place them on a baking sheet for a day to dry if need be. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks when dried.

Mar 16, 2016

Tips & Tools: Preparing Paneer

Paneer is a fresh cheese made by coagulating hot milk with lemon juice or vinegar. The whey is then drained from the curds and gathered in a cheesecloth or muslin bag before being pressed into blocks for ease of use. This versatile cheese does not melt and so may be prepared many different ways. I'm going to do a brief overview of four ways that paneer is commonly prepared in South Asian cooking: crumbled, simply cubed, cubed and fried, and a possibly "never before seen on the internet" exclusive- Kashmiri style "tsaman."

Three methods of preparing paneer:
1) Crumbled- Paneer can be crumbled and used a a garnish atop dishes or pan fried with spices to make a "bhurji." I don't really care for using paneer this way so I don't have a photo for you.

2) Simply cut into cubes- Just slice the paneer into cubes. The paneer can then simply be stirred into a sauce or gravy. Cubes of paneer can also marinated before skewering and broiling like a kebab for tandoori paneer or paneer tikka.

Plain, cubed yummy paneer.
3) Cubed and fried- For a bit of extra flavor and texture cubed paneer can be shallow fried to a create a delicate golden brown crust. This can also be useful if your paneer is particularly crumbly and or falling apart. Be sure to heat the oil for 7-9 minutes before you fry the paneer or the cubes will stick to the pan. A teaspoon of salt sprinkled into the hot oil will help prevent the paneer cubes from sticking also and give the paneer a bit of a flavor boost by forming a salty crust.

Get that oil really, really hot and add a teaspoonful of salt before you start to fry the paneer cubes.  If you don't get the oil hot enough the paneer cubes will stick and you'll have bhurji!
Lovely golden brown shallow fried paneer cubes. Well, at least some are cubes anyway.

3) Kashmiri style paneer or "tsaman"- I have never seen this technique shown online and only once in a cookbook. "Tsaman" is the Kashmiri word for paneer. Kashmir is too high in altitude for water buffaloes so the cheese is made from cow's milk and can be a bit rubbery or crumbly in it's plain state due to the lower butterfat content. Kashmiris prefer a spongy, soft texture in their paneer. To get this texture the tsaman is boiled with a bit of turmeric then drained. The cheese contracts and melds together when boiled which results in this unique texture. The turmeric in the water renders the outside of the tsaman a brilliant yellow hue. Then the tsaman is shallow fried in salted oil to give it a bit of a crispy salt crust on the outside. The delicately crisp crust contrasts beautifully with the soft, sponge-like inside. This is where a lot of restaurants and recipes get Kashmiri tsaman dishes wrong, they don't boil the paneer first to get the authentic texture. Kashmiris also cut their tsaman in rectangular blocks rather than cubes, almost resulting in a "paneer cutlet" of sorts.

Slice the paneer into rectangles about 2 inches long by 1&1/2 inches wide by 3/4 inch thick.
Drop the tsaman into water in a large stock pot with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Make sure the tsaman is covered by at least 2 inches of water. Heat until water just begins to boil. 
When the water just begins to boil the tsaman will float and look like this. See how it has contracted and shrinks up a bit? Remove the tsaman from the liquid and allow to drain while you heat the oil.  As the cheese is quite soft at this stage I usually put it in the refrigerator on a plate to firm up and make it easer to handle. Don't throw that turmeric/whey water away! You can use it like stock in other recipes or even to fertilize plants.

Shallow fry the tsaman in hot, salted oil to a golden brown.
Your tsaman is ready!
As you can see the tsaman turned a beautiful bright yellow hue from being boiled with the turmeric. The shallow frying gives it a delicately crisp browned crust. Inside, the tsaman is quite soft and spongy from being boiled. If you look closely you can see the tiny holes where the butterfat has melted together with the whey, that's what causes the textural change. Yes, this is a tedious extra step. We usually buy a kilo of paneer about once a month. I cut it all up, then boil and fry the entire kilo at once. I store the prepared tsaman in an airtight, sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Whenever I want to make a dish, I simply take out as many tsaman pieces as I'd like to make dishes such as tamatar tsaman, or haak tsaman. 

That concludes my brief survey on preparing paneer. If you have any questions about the above techniques please feel free to ask in the comments below.

Curry on,

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