Top Ten Tips on Caring for Copper Cookware

All Clad Cop R Chef Copper Cookware SetCopper cookware can be a bit of a chore to look after but if you follow these top 10 tips it will ensure that your copper cookware stays in the best condition possible.

1. Use a mild detergent, hot water and a soft sponge or dishcloth to clean it.
2. Soak cooked-on food – don’t try and scrub it off.
3. Use a circular rotating motion when cleaning the inside of a copper pot.
4. Don’t put a hot pan into water. This can cause irreversible warping.
5. Always use a low flame for cooking as Copper and tin are very good conductors of heat.
6. Never heat an empty pan.
7. Use only wood, rubber or plastic utensils.
8. Never use metal or abrasive utensils.
9. An all over patina is fine but don’t allow your cookware to develop darkened areas which can cause hot spots.
10. Don’t use aerosol cooking sprays as they can leave a gummy residue which is very hard to remove.

Read the full guide to caring for copper cookware here…

How to Shop at a French Food Market

French Food MarketOne of the secrets behind the culinary prowess of French cooks is the incredible freshness of the ingredients used to make their dishes.

If you are planning to visit France, you can partake in one of the vital steps used to create the very best meals by visiting a marchés (market), where fruits, meats, and vegetables are sold fresh from the country, and at prices far lower than the ultra-processed offerings at the local supermarkets. Here are some tips on how to shop at a food market in France.

1. Check the Opening Times

Most food markets in France are open only on certain days, so don’t head out without checking the schedule. Also consider the fact that the food markets often attract a large number of people with the same idea that you have. If you want to avoid busy crowds, skip the weekend markets and do your shopping during the week instead.

2. Visit the Marchés Early

If you want to have your pick of the best produce available, don’t plan on sleeping in. It’s highly likely that the wares will be picked over or completely gone by afternoon, especially if you’re looking for some of the more exotic offerings. Head out early for the best deals and the freshest produce.

3. Let the Sights and Aromas of the Market Inspire You

If you head to a French food market with a strict list of what you want to buy, you could be cheating yourself out of some amazing experiences. It’s far better to go with nothing more stringent than a general idea of the kinds of foods you’d like to make, and let the ever-changing offerings at the market decide your menu. Immerse yourself in the sights, colors, and aromas of a French food market, and let your taste buds guide you to what you want to buy.

4. Keep Your Eyes Open for Seasonal Wares

There’s no point in taking the time to go to a French food market just to buy forced or preserved produce. The freshest, best-tasting ingredients that you can get will be the ones that are freshly in season – and foods in season will also offer the best deals. You might want to get an idea of which foods are in season before you leave for the market.

5. Familiarize Yourself with Common Phrases

If you don’t know the language, arm yourself with a French guide book and learn at least a few of the phrases you’re likely to need. Some important terms include “biologique” (organic), “soldes” (sale), and “promotion” (special offer).

Dairy products, jams and jellies made by hand, fresh breads and cheeses, and patisserie are just a few of the enticing wares that you can find at a French food market. The next time you are in the country, make sure that you make the time to partake in shopping like the locals do, and enjoy the freshest flavors that France has to offer.

Tips for Making Good Sauces

nroritake-gravy-boatA delicious sauce can make the difference between an average meal and an extraordinary one. Sauces can temper a spicy dish, add flavor to a bland meal, or complement and intensify the taste of a complex recipe.

Your sauces should be smooth, free of lumps, and delicious enough to enjoy alone or when paired with a dish. Here are some tips for making sauces that will help you achieve a delicious flavor and texture at home.

General Sauce Tips

The key to a delicious sauce is patience. You should never try to rush your sauce by looking over a high temperature.

Avoid adding cold ingredients to a hot sauce. Instead, mix flour or other cool ingredients with a small amount of the warm liquid before adding to the main pan. This will help prevent lumps.

The best ingredients, like fresh herbs, rich butter, and home-made stock, will result in the best-tasting sauces.

Starting Your Sauce

Most sauces start with the same main ingredients. Rich juices from roasted or baked meats are a wonderful place to start flavorful sauces. If those are not available, a stock that you have made yourself is a good second choice, followed by cooking wines.

Pan Drippings – Before you roast lamb, beef, pork, or chicken, butter the pan so that the juices won’t stick or burn. Use the drippings to create a sauce to go with the meal.

Stock – Homemade stock is a far better choice than cans of broth or bouillon cubes, which are often high in salt, artificial flavors, and other unhealthy ingredients. Create a stock by boiling bones or seafood shells for several hours, stirring frequently and removing fat as it floats to the surface. Strain well to remove bones, and freeze any excess stock that you don’t need immediately.

Wine – Wine can be used to deglaze pan drippings or to mix with eggs and/or cream for a meatless sauce.

Thickeners

A good sauce has a thick, not watery, consistency. To achieve this, you’ll add a thickening agent to the base of your sauce. Some common thickeners include:

Roux – The most commonly used thickener is a roux, which is made by mixing flour with the warmed sauce starters listed above.

Cornstarch – Cornstarch can be used to make a translucent sauce, and is commonly used in Chinese-style dishes.

Egg Yolk – Egg yolks can be used to make a thicker, richer sauce. Mix the yolk with cream before adding to the pan. Never boil a sauce with egg yolk in it, or it will curdle.

• Reduction
– You can also thicken a sauce by allowing the liquid to evaporate by cooking slowly over a low heat. Season after the sauce reaches the right thickness to avoid over-spicing.

Creating a perfect sauce takes time and practice, but it’s a richly rewarding way to expand your cooking abilities.

Cooking with Rosemary – How to Use Rosemary in the Kitchen

Rosemary-topiaryIf you want to expand the repertoire of spices that you use in the kitchen and create dishes with more flair and zing, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with rosemary. Cooking with rosemary is a great way to add delicious flavor to meats and vegetables, and to make your dishes more exciting.

What Is Rosemary?

Rosemary is an herb from the mint family, which grows natively around the Mediterranean. It is not surprising, therefore, that it is used in many Italian, French, and Greek dishes. The plant itself grows in many varieties, with different levels of flavor and hardiness.

Rosemary has short leaves with a shape reminiscent of pine needles. The top of each leaf is a dark green, while the bottom runs from light green to a silvery shade. These leaves are the primary part of the plant used in cooking.

Fresh, dried, and ground rosemary can all be used in cooking. Unlike many spices, dried rosemary is actually the healthiest form. Rosemary can also be infused into an oil, wine, or tea.

How Does Rosemary Taste?

Rosemary has a strong, fragrant flavor that many people find similar to lemon or pine. It is slightly sharp and tangy. When burnt, rosemary takes on a charred, mustard-like flavor which can add smokiness to blackened and barbequed food. It has a slightly oily texture.

Does Rosemary Have Any Health Benefits?

Rosemary was originally grown by monks around the Mediterranean region for its health properties as well as its flavor. Especially when dried, rosemary is a source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, folates, and iron.

Rosemary is also famous for its soothing properties, its anti-inflammatory ingredients, and its effect on memory. It is sometimes added to fortified cereals as an anti-oxidant.

Rosemary should not be overused, as extremely high amounts of the herb can cause convulsions.

Which Dishes Work Best When Flavored with Rosemary?

Rosemary is a very versatile spice that can be used with a number of different dishes. A few examples include:

Fish
The tangy flavor of rosemary accentuates nearly any type of fish, including red snapper, sole, cod, and swordfish. Sprinkle rosemary, salt, and pepper over the fish before cooking for an easy and elegant dish.

Chicken
Rosemary can spice up the bland flavor of chicken, turning it into a memorable dish. Mix rosemary and butter together and slide under the skin of a whole chicken, or sprinkle rosemary, garlic, and salt over chicken breasts before baking or frying.

Lamb
Rosemary is one of the best spices to complement lamb, whether you are cooking lamb chops or an entire rack of lamb. Mix rosemary with fresh cloves of garlic for a delicious addition to any lamb dish.

Salads
Rosemary is a great way to perk up an otherwise-boring green salad. Throw fresh or dried rosemary into a mixture of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and any other vegetables you like, and serve with an oil-and-vinegar dressing.

Potatoes
Rosemary makes a great companion to nearly any kind of potato dish. Try coating your French fries with rosemary before frying, or adding a pinch of rosemary to your mashed potatoes. Sprigs of rosemary leaves taste delicious with pan fried potatoes as well.

Mixed Vegetables
Blend rosemary with butter for a delicious and elegant topping for any kind of warm vegetables, from green beans to carrots to cauliflower.

Barbeque
Throw a handful of dried rosemary onto your barbeque coals to create a fragrant smoke that will add a lot of flavor to your meals. You can also sprinkle rosemary over ribs and other barbequed foods to create a pleasant smoky flavor as it cooks.

Dessert
Try adding a hint of rosemary to puddings, ice creams, and sorbets for a uniquely delicious flavor.

Rosemary is popular in the kitchen because it can be used in so many different ways, both savory and sweet. Experimenting with this versatile herb can really stretch your cooking abilities, and add a wide variety of new flavors to your repertoire.


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How to Choose a Food Processor

cuisinart-dlc-food-processor1.JPGFood processors are one of those handy devices that can save you a heap of time in the kitchen but they are not for everyone. Some people just don’t see the need as they can do the job a lot quicker with a good knife and a cutting board.

To really get good value from a food processor I think you need to be either a really keen cook or cook for a large number of people…or both. Otherwise you may find that you are spending more time lugging the food processor out of the cupboard, setting it up and cleaning it than you would actually using it.

What to look for when buying a food processor

1. Determine the capacity you will need. For the average home cook a 6 to 10 cup capacity would be adequate. You can purchase smaller mini processors for smaller jobs and if you are really keen you can buy professional models of up to 20 cups capacity.

2. Are the parts dishwasher safe? Most are these days but it is something you need to consider.

3. Consider the amount of storage space you have. Food processors are generally big and bulky so will take up some space in your cupboard and on your kitchen bench.

4. Look for a food processor with as higher wattage as possible, preferably at least 600-700w. The higher the watts the more powerful the machine will be.

5. Food processors usually come with a variety of blades to perform the basic functions. However, there is inevitably a multitude of additional attachments that you can purchase separately to make your life a whole lot easier.

6. Ensure the processor has a pulse function. This allows more control and provides short bursts of power. It is useful when you only want to process a food quite coarsely.

7. Ensure the processor has a safety lock feature which prevents the processor from starting if the lid isn’t on correctly. This helps to prevent food from splattering around the room.

Other things to consider

  • Do you want to make juice in your processor? Then ensure it has a juicing function or that you can purchase an extra juicer attachment if required.
  • Does the processor have a warranty?
  • Do you need a blender? – Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your food processor will do the same job as a blender. A blender works extremely well with liquids whilst a food processor works extremely well with solids. If you put liquids in a food processor then depending on the make and model you may find liquids leaking out of the bottom or through the lid. Some food processors have a separate blender incorporated into it or an attachment so ensure this is the case if you really want have the function of a blender.

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