Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Steak

 tips for grilling the most tender, flavorful steaks.America is a melting pot made up of people with many different tastes and preferences. Have you ever stopped to question what tops the list of favorite foods in this country? Well, you no longer have to wonder.

According to research commissioned by Davidson’s Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs as reported by the Daily Mail, one food comes out the clear victor in the roundup of all-time favorite American foods: Steak. Let’s take a closer look at this meaty meal, along with highlighting some tips for grilling the most tender, flavorful steaks. (…Read More…)

Parchment Paper Vs. Wax Paper

Wax paper can be used for preparing truffles and chocolate designs, preventing the need to worry about the paper sticking to the finished product.Every cook has felt the dismay of realizing that those roasted vegetables are in no way going to make it off that tray in one piece. You should have put more oil on the pan, or on the vegetables, or both. How are you going to cover it up so the plating doesn’t come out looking sloppy? You don’t have a choice, the order must go out, so you plate it as well as you can and try to cover up the imperfections.
And so the next time you attempt the seemingly simple feat of roasting some vegetables, you douse them vegetables in oil, and the tray too, just for good measure, and end with a finished product that, though beautiful and in one piece, tastes more like oil than the main ingredients. And so next time, you should try using parchment paper.

Parchment paper and wax paper are undeniably useful tools in any kitchen, commercial or home. Though, yes, you can manage without them, the sheer influence they will have in improving the kitchen experience makes them worth the investment. Yes, see it as an investment: less oil used, less time spent scraping off the burnt remnants off the pan, and better food presentation. Though in the end, you may break even in terms of financial aspects of the investment, the saved frustration will be greatly appreciated. Cooks make wide use of parchment and wax papers during food preparation, but in order to make the most of these tools financially, as well as guarantee a safer experience in the kitchen, the differences between them must be understood.

Parchment Paper

What it is: Parchment paper, also known as baking paper, is usually a cellulose-based or silicone-lined paper. It is often used as a disposable, non-stick surface, mostly for baking and roasting. By lining a cookie sheet or roasting pan with this paper, the pan will require minimal washing afterwards, since the parchment paper is both grease resistant and moisture resistant. Parchment paper can be found in rolls, sheets, or precut to fit pans of different sizes and shapes.

Pros: Parchment paper can have various useful applications in the kitchen. The non-stick surface facilitates moving the foods from the cooking surface to the dish on which it will be served, without ruining its appearance, while the grease and moisture resistant characteristics minimize the cleanup which must be done in between baking subsequent batches.

Cons: Using parchment paper on roasting pans generates an extra expense. Parchment paper is more expensive than wax paper.

When to Use: Parchment paper is convenient to use when cooking any ingredient in the oven since it is heat resistant. Besides being used to line pans when roasting and baking, it can be folded around fish and vegetable dishes for cooking “en papillote.”

Wax Paper

What it is: Wax paper is, as may be deduced by its name, paper covered with a thin layer of wax. Wax paper is similar to parchment paper in that it is moisture proof and nonstick. However, it is not heat resistant, limiting its potential applications in the kitchen.

Pros: Wax paper is less expensive than parchment paper, making it ideal for use when heat is not required.

Cons: Wax paper should not be used in the oven! It is not resistant to heat, and can be a fire hazard if used in the oven. Additionally, the melting of the wax in high heat conditions can give the food an undesired taste.

When to Use: Since wax paper is less expensive than parchment paper, it should be used for food preparations which don’t require the paper to be placed in the oven. It can be used as a base for decorating cakes and cookies and as a surface for cooling truffles and chocolate decorations in the fridge. Folding parchment paper into a small, cone-like structure, filling it with a sauce such as chocolate sauce, and cutting off the end of the tip, creates a tool for writing on a cake, decorating plates, and garnishing pastries.

The Bottom Line

Parchment paper and wax paper can both be useful in any kitchen, especially commercial kitchens. However, they aren’t absolutely necessary. If a kitchen plans to purchase only one type of paper, they should choose parchment paper since it can be used for a wider range of applications. When both are available, wax paper should be used for “cold” preparation of foods, while parchment paper should be used in the oven. By balancing the use of these two types of cooking papers, businesses can reach the safest and most cost effective solution.

Pick Your Peppercorns

Black, white, pink, and green peppercorns can add color and complexity to a dish

Pepper, together with salt, makes up the most basic of spices, included in almost every type of cuisine. Almost every savory recipe calls for salt and pepper to taste, without specifying exact amounts, because they are so basic and necessary in flavoring, that most home and professional cooks are able to eyeball the necessary amount which will make the dish come out perfect according to their taste preferences. Pepper has some health benefits as well. It has antimicrobial properties, possibly helping prevent infection, and is also thought to help in the digestive process. Pepper contains some key vitamins and minerals, and may have some therapeutic properties against pain, cancer, bronchitis, and malaria. Like most spices, for food it should be used in appropriately small amounts. An overload of pepper can make dishes inedible and may have negative side effects for the diner. If plain old ground black pepper isn’t exciting enough for you, many other types of pepper exist. Below is a guide to some of the common types of peppercorns available.

Black Pepper

Black pepper is the most commonly used type of pepper in the United States. It has a spicy taste, and is often made available in shakers, alongside salt, on restaurant tables. You would be hard-pressed to find a restaurant kitchen without black pepper handy and used in dishes, and for good reason, since its taste can enhance pretty much any dish when used in small amounts (like salt). Black pepper is a dried form of not yet ripened, and therefore green peppercorns, sometimes boiled briefly before the drying process to help the darkening process during the drying. The slow-drying process allows enzymes within the pepper to darken its color. Purchasing it in the form of peppercorns, and grinding it close to the time it will be used, will help it keep its flavor longer compared to the pre-ground form. Peppercorns are also the chosen option for flavoring clear stocks and soups, since it can be strained out after cooking. If a restaurant was to choose only one type of pepper to keep on hand, black pepper would be it.

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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 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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Top 3 Cooking Oils – Which is the Best?

Olive oil is probably the most widely used oil…and not only in the kitchen.

With consciousness on the rise about obesity and the detrimental effects of a bad diet on health, many are developing an aversion to fats. However, it is almost impossible to imitate the texture and flavor that fats give foods, with alternatives. Kitchens would be hard-pressed to prepare food without fats, even without taking deep-fried options into consideration. Despite the many options available, by choosing just a few cooking oils to keep in stock, food businesses can easily prepare high level, healthy, and delicious foods. The type of oil used for each dish depends on the preparation of the dish, making it important for chefs and cooks to know the basics of which oil can be used for what. Venues offering food on a budget, with deep-fried options on the menu, will probably choose to stock up on inexpensive oils with high boiling points, such as soybean oil, while other venues will choose to occasionally deep-fry in Canola oil, an alternative which is often considered healthier.

Before diving in to share our top 3 picks, it is important to understand why smoke points matter in cooking oils. An oil’s smoke point will go up, as its chemical structure gets more saturated. That’s the same type of “saturated” people are referring to when they say that you should try to eat more unsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats. The difference in health and smoke points in saturated and unsaturated fats are due to the same reasons. The less saturated a fat is, the more reactive it will be. This means that it is easier for the body to break down, but also that it can react with oxygen in the air to get oxidized. Oxidized oils are even more reactive than unsaturated oils, which can cause health damage when consumed over time and in large quantities. Oxidized oils also have a rancid taste. So what does this have to do with cooking? When you heat an oil, you enhance its ability to react with its surroundings, making oxidation occur faster, and making the oil go rancid faster. Therefore, you want a highly saturated oil when using high temperatures, since it has a higher smoke point, which means it will be less reactive at a higher temperature. Burnt oil has carcinogenic components as well as a foul flavor, making it non-servable. Due to all these reasons, saturated fats are best for deep-frying and cooking at high temperatures.

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