Getting the Egg Out of its Shell

Soft-boiled eggs can be a great topping for focaccia, salads, and stews, but peeling them without ruining their appearance can be tricky.

Most cooks I have met swear by some strategy for preparing boiled eggs to make them perfect, not only in terms of the actual cooking process, but also the tweaks that can be done to make peeling easier. Yet through all the advice, there never seems to be one, clear solution for the perfectly cooked, perfectly peeled egg. This article aims to put some of the classic tips into perspective.

Salt or No Salt?

There is often a debate between believers of the idea that cooking eggs with salt helps make peeling easier and those who believe the help is attributed to rinsing the eggs in cold water after cooking. Salt and vinegar cause protein to coagulate. Therefore, if some of the eggs crack during the cooking process, the salt will help minimize the risk of the whites leaking out, yielding unattractive products. Why is this something that should concern cooks? Eggs often contain an air bubble, which is responsible for that flat bottom of the egg. When heat is applied, the air expands, pushing against the white of the egg and causing it to be flat when cooked. However, if the pressure build to be too high, the egg may crack. This is where the salt comes in handy, helping prevent the whites from spreading. Some cooks choose to prick the bottom of the eggs with a toothpick before boiling in order to allow the air to escape, preventing cracking and flat ends. In this case, adding salt to the water will help eliminate the possibility of the white leaking out. Most cooks choose to forgo the pricking process, since the difference in the outcome is usually minimal and sometimes even ugly, causing the egg to take on an abnormal shape. Overall, adding salt to the water is a good idea, though it may not help make the peeling process easier.

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A Guide to Flatware

flatware_resizedFlatware is present in every restaurant, on every table, but the quality and look selected by the venue differs from restaurant to restaurant. Some venues offer a wide range of flatware tools, specific to many different types of foods and drinks, while others only offer a few basics. The latter type of venues will often prefer to save the extra expense and forgo purchasing such specifically geared flatware tools. Beyond the different types of flatware tools available, the numbers used to describe stainless steel products and the different flatware weights offered can be confusing as well. This guide will put some of the options into perspective.

The Numbers

18/10, 18/8, 18/0- the numbers used to represent different types of stainless steel flatware can be overwhelming. Stainless steel is a metal usually made from a mixture of chromium, stainless steel and nickel, with some other metals sometimes incorporated as well. The concept behind the numbers is very simple: the first number indicates the percentage of chromium (a type of metal) compared to the total weight of the item, and the second number represents the amount of nickel content in the stainless steel mixture. The rest of the alloy, not indicated in the numbers, is the percentage of steel in the stainless steel metal mixture.

Why do these percentages matter? Chromium is a light-colored metal prized in alloys because of its toughness and stain resistance. Almost all stainless steel products contain steel and chromium. In higher quality stainless steel mixtures, nickel is added as well for its non-corrosive and stain resistant properties, as well as shininess.

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A Short Guide to Bakeware

Ramekins are bakeware items that can be used to prepare soufflés and coddled eggs, among other dishes.Bakeware is a necessity for venues offering homemade baked goods such as breads, muffins, pies, and cakes. Such venues can use their bakeware for preparing and serving both baked goods and other foods. Even venues not focusing on baked products can make use of various types of bakeware in order to serve foods in unusual ways. Below are some ideas for how to make the most of various bakeware items.

Cookie Sheets

Cookie sheets are similar to baking pans, but very flat. The flat surface allows oven heat to efficiently reach all sides of the food and offers an easy to work with platform for bakers and chefs to craft dishes containing multiple components. As hinted by their name, cookie sheets are ideal for preparing cookies, but are the best option for French macarons and jelly rolls cakes as well. They can also be used for preparing both sweet and savory tuiles and crackers.

Muffin Tins

Muffin tins are typically the bakeware of choice for muffins and small bread rolls, but can also be used to prepare cinnamon buns, mini tostada-style appetizers, frittatas, small quiches and tarts, mini lasagnas, and perfectly shaped, baked, potato fritters. Miniature dishes and dishes presented in a creative ways are all the rage in event catering as well as sit-down restaurants. Since muffin tins are perfect for this purpose, they can be a great, versatile multipurpose piece of bakeware for a commercial kitchen. (…Read More…)

A Guide to Types of Rice

Wild rice, though not technically a grain, can be a great addition to salads and rice dishes.

Rice is the main food staple in the diet of about half of the world’s population. The dominance of rice in diets throughout the world can be seen in the many types of ethnic dishes based on rice. Mexican rice, flavored with salsa, is a mandatory side, if not a main dish component, in many types of Mexican food. Sushi, a staple of Japan, can forgo the seaweed at times, but without rice it won’t be sushi. In Italian food, risotto is a main-stage rice dish, and in the Middle East, majadra, or rice with lentils, is a wildly popular dish. Though rice dishes with strong ethnic backgrounds can surely provide a basis for imagining rice dishes in restaurants, other popular menu items can be inspired by rice as well: fried rice balls, Nicoise salad with rice, risotto, and more. In addition to their versatile uses, various types of rice offer a wide range of health benefits. As an added bonus, rice is sodium, cholesterol, and gluten free, making it a great option for diners with strict dietary constraints.

Arborio Rice

Arborio rice is round and starchy, making it ideal for use in risotto. Though the starch in Arborio rice gives risotto a creamy texture, it is not higher in carbohydrates than other, alternative types of rice. Arborio rice has a small amount of iron, and some vitamins and minerals, making it extra attractive to cook with. However, since it is grown mostly in Italy, it tends to be on the pricy side which may deter some venues.

Sushi Rice

Sushi rice retains shape and relative firmness when cooked, but is also sticky. The shape and sticky texture make it ideal to use in sushi, helping the roll stick together. Sushi is a virtually fat free dish, and therefore a good option for some dieters despite being high in carbohydrates. Since sushi has become an American favorite, many restaurants that don’t necessarily specialize in sushi have taken to offering sushi and sushi-style dishes, making sushi rice important to have on hand.

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Types of Cookware Materials – Buying Guide

Porcelain cookware can be used to finish off dishes and serve them aesthetically immediately afterwards.

In the 1700s, some Europeans believed that tomatoes were poisonous, due to fatalities associated with eating them. However, it was later discovered that the problem was not with the tomatoes, but rather the cookware used to cook and serve them: pewter. The high acidity of the tomatoes caused lead from the pewter to leach into the food, causing poisoning. Though the cookware of today is generally recognized as safe, the incidence that occurred in the 1700s highlights the importance of cooking foods with the right cookware. The types of materials available for cookware make it hard to choose which to buy and which to forgo. By having a variety of cookware, made from different materials, food businesses can make themselves as comfortable as possible. Materials can be selected based on the purpose they will serve as well as the budget of the venue.

Aluminum

Aluminum is typically one of the cheapest options for cookware. Though it is relatively versatile and lightweight, aluminum can react with acidic foods, leading to a metallic taste and aluminum consumption. Studies have shown that consuming aluminum may be dangerous to health, hinting that cooking with aluminum should be done with caution (acidic ingredients should not be cooked using aluminum cookware). Anodized aluminum is less reactive due to having undergone treatment, making it a better, but more expensive option when compared to regular aluminum cookware.

Cast-Iron

Cast-iron is often a top choice for stovetop cooking, since it distributes heat efficiently and is relatively heavy duty. Egg dishes such as Israeli shakshuka and stews can be started on the stove in a cast-iron pan and finished in the oven. (…Read More…)