Choose A Place To Eat

If you are eating with someone for the first time it is unlikely that you will know all of, or any, of their dietary needs. Are they vegetarian, vegan, fruit eaters, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafarian, Sikh? Do they need food free of dairy products or gluten, low salt or fat, without nuts and suitable for diabetes sufferers?

Are you looking for somewhere new that is close by, in the country or the city centre? How do you intend to travel to and from the venue? Is there public transport, or satisfactory parking facilities?

If you are so lucky the meal might be funded out of and expenses claim, but they have limits and it is likely that your boss will not pay for a top priced meal because you did not realise that the eating place was three star Michelin. Set a budget.

Check that it is possible to make a reservation, and if there are any restrictions and limitations depending upon the number in your party. Do they expect some form of payment in advance, how is the booking confirmed by both you and them, by email? What are their cancellation terms both in terms of time and costs?

It is pointless ending up at a burger outlet if you want a romantic meal, and likewise sitting in a candlelit booth if you are with the bank manager. Although the latter might be a good idea if you are desperate for some financing! Does the menu change regularly or is it constant? Both of these options might be important for differing reasons such as, you like change or you want to rely on a particular item being available.

Friends, family or work associates might offer recommendations based upon experiences, good or bad. Search the Internet using your key words, however be aware that a Website will be set up by the organisation, so totally impartiality will not exist. Do not take too much notice of any “Independent Testimonials”, since probably the last thing that they will be is independent – the good ones could be set up by the proprietor and the bad ones people looking for a freebie. Review the food guides published by organisations with professional food inspectors, and are not reliant on comments from the public. Take note that in a year may eating places change ownership and style, so the guide might be out of date before it reaches the book store. Try to visit the premises to see if they are clean and look good and importantly have some customers.

Assuming that you now have details of your requirements and have short listed two or three eating places. Ring the outlets to check the response. How quickly is the phone answered, is the response polite, are all of your questions answered, do the staff appear to be knowledgeable. Complete the exercise with all the short listed outlets and make your decision. After the effort you will have put in, I hope that the new eating place lives up to your expectations.

Steel Cut Oats vs Rolled Oats

Steel cut oats, or Irish oats as they’re often called, are made when the groats are cut into smaller pieces. That’s it. There is no other process. Unlike the rolled variety, which are further processed, these oats look similar to rice and have a more grainy texture when cooked. They are also more chewy and have a nuttier flavor. Some people, however, prefer the mushy taste of rolled oats instead.

Steel cut oats are definitely the best choice for consumers who are more health conscious. They contain no additives and nothing artificial and are usually sold either in tin cans or boxes. They are 100% whole grain, high in fiber, and very nutritious. A popular brand that is sold in the United States is McCann’s Irish Oatmeal.

One of the advantages of steel cut oats is they have to be cooked longer than the rolled brands. This can make them very inconvenient for those of us who are often in a hurry in the morning and need a quick breakfast. While regular oats can be prepared in just a few extra minutes, steel cuts oats often take thirty minutes or longer to fully cook.

On the other hand, they are more flavorful than the rolled oats. The reason being that the process steaming and rolling oats takes some of the taste out of them. So it is a tradeoff between quality and flavor versus convenience. Depending on how seriously you take breakfast, sticking with the old fashioned Quaker brand may be a better solution. Really, it is a matter of personal choice.

If you look at the back of a box of steel cut oats and compare it to a brand of rolled oats such as Quakers, you’ll find that the nutritional labels on each is virtually identical. So while there are a few health advantages to the Irish oats, the overall difference between the two types is negligible. You should simply choose the one that you like best. If you enjoy a chewy oatmeal, then Irish oats are a great choice. If you’re used to rolled oats and don’t want to change, then that is fine also. You aren’t missing much.

Avoid Bones when Eating Seafood

A few years ago I dined with a business associate who ordered Whitebait as a starter. Whitebait are the tiny pencil thin fish coated in milk, seasoned flour, deep fried and eaten whole. My colleague decided to fillet all the fish. It took him a while, to concern the waiting and kitchen staff who were wondering how long it would before serving the main course.

His expectation of a boneless piece of fish was a little extreme. With most people the concern is to remove the hidden, lurking throat assassin – the small pin bone. Ask help from your fish supplier to remove them, and state your concerns about any remaining in the fish you buy. If on your return home you still find a bone in the fillet then try another fish supplier next time.

If help is not at hand then complete the task on your own. You can easily find the bones. They are usually either in the stomach wall or down the length of the fish in the centre of the fillet. Gently feeling around will find them. Using a set of tweezers will remove the smaller bones, with a small filleting knife coming handy to cut out the bones in the stomach wall. You will end up with a totally bone free fillet and be able to cast all your worries aside.

With some types of firm textured flat fish, such as Dover Sole, the fish will not need filleting. You will find that after cooking, the fillet can easily be removed from the carcass of the fish.

Balcony Grill

If you want a balcony grill that does all of that, and even more, you should consider the Cobb Premium Portable Grill. The Cobb is a wonderful little grill that is really a complete cooking system, a “kitchen in a bag.” Here’s some more information about it.

Weighing in at just under nine pounds, with a convenient carry bag, the Cobb Portable Grill takes up a little more than a square foot of space, so no matter where you keep it, there will be lots of room left for the rest of your gear.

Because the Cobb burns very little fuel – up to 3 hours on just eight to ten briquettes – you can get away with keeping a tiny supply of charcoal in your closet or spare room. Whether you do your grilling on a balcony, terrace, patio, or rooftop, the Cobb makes the perfect balcony grill.

No matter what kind of cooking you like to do – smoking, grilling, pan frying, or roasting – the Cobb Premium Portable Grill does it easily. The Cobb is available with accessories – like a frying dish/wok, a roasting rack, a griddle, and a frying pan/skillet – that make any of these cooking chores a snap. The Cobb also has a “flavor well” around the heat chamber that let’s you use your liquid of choice – beer, wine, whatever – to impart that “just right” flavor to your food.

Designed with safety and clean up in mind, the Cobb’s aluminum and stainless steel construction heats up in just minutes, and cools down for cleanup just as fast. Additionally, the Cobb’s mesh base – made of stainless steel – stays cool during the complete cooking process, which lets you place your Cobb on almost any surface. The Cobb really is the ideal tabletop balcony grill! You can even move your Cobb around safely during cooking.

Basmati Brown Rice Pulav

It is the healthy gluten free option which will help you meet all your nutrition requirements without compromising on taste and diet.

Just removal of the outer hull of the rice kernel gives is this variety of rice which has a layer of bran.

Over the few years, It is gained popularity and have a designated place on the shelf in many kitchens. It has become a great pick for those who are health and fitness conscious. However, cooking brown rice is time consuming process. And moreover, people assume that being a healthy option, brown rice has a boring taste.

In today’s fast paced world, where people run on the ticking clock, regular brown rice that takes 60 minutes to cook makes people skip it. It cooks quickly can help in lot many ways and can be a time saver by just cooking in 15-20 minutes.

However, it is slightly differs from Basmati brown rice in certain other ways too. It is long, fluffy when compared to the mushy texture of regular brown rice.

It is grown in Himalayan foothills, have a distinct texture and nutty flavour. These tiny long grains are more lighter than the regular brown rice.

Paired with your choice of favourite vegetables, a dash of spices and raitha as a sider, brown rice can serve as a complete protein and fiber rich meal.

The side hull and bran content in brown rice aids digestion. It gained popularity off late due to its rich nutrient content providing the body essential needs like thiamine, potassium, fiber and magnesium.

The low glycemic rate aids weight loss and even is healthy option for diabetics.

There are many people who find it difficult to stick to brown rice due to its versatile taste.

Here is the delicious recipe of Brown rice pulao just in five easy steps, which will make you swap from white rice to brown basmati organic rice easily.

Note: check the label and select Basmati brown rice as per your preference. It is the best option and it retains all the wheat nutrients.

Before going ahead to the cooking part, wash it thoroughly and for one cup rice you might need to add three cups of water.

Preps:

  • 2 cups Basmati brown
  • 1 finely diced onion, 1 chopped carrot
  • 2 capsicums finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion for garnishing
  • 1/2 cup green peas

Paste:

Take two to three green chillies, 1 dried red chilli, 1 small piece of ginger and a handful of curry leaves, stalks of basil leaves and a few mint leaves. Churn them until it becomes a paste after adding a little amount of water.

Recipe:

Pour 6 cups of water in a vessel, add little salt as per your taste and add two cups of Basmati brown rice. Squeeze half lemon and let it boil until cooked. Remove the excess water once cooked but little firmly al dente. Make sure the rice doesn’t turn out mushy. After straining the excess water, allow the rice to settle down by itself.

On the other side, take all the vegetables except onions in a vessel and add water. Allow the vegetables to boil until cooked but a little firm. Then strain the excess water.

Meanwhile, heat a non stick pan and add oil. Sautee the onions till they turn purplish brown.

Add two cloves in powdered form, 1 pinch cinnamon and two pods of cardamom. Add the paste and stir cook for about two minutes. Add boiled vegetables and put off the flame. Add rice and mix with a loose hand. Add salt as per the taste and lemon if required.

For garnishing purposes, add lemon zest and coriander. Serve the rice with piping of a refreshing chutney in the dish or serve with curd for the delicious taste. Nutritional info:

Per 100 gram serving

81 calories, 1.9% protein and 1.2% fats.

Essential Culinary Skills

  1. Cooking Methods – As there are many types of meat, there are also various ways to cook them. Roasting chicken would definitely differ from roasting meat due to the meat’s texture and weight. Aside from learning the right temperature to cook certain cuts of meat, it is also necessary to learn how to prepare simple sauces. Even poaching eggs the right way is very important because restaurant customers can be very picky. If you need to know the right way to stew, caramelize, broil, bake, or simmer any dish – learn cooking methods.
  2. Familiarity with Kitchen Equipment – There are many varieties of kitchen equipment that can be used to prepare food. However, it is significant to understand when and how they should be used. Proper handling of equipment such as mixer, oven, or even a spatula promotes efficiency and safety. Think of cooking for a dinner party with a hundred guests then you would understand the necessity of learning this culinary skill.
  3. Knife Handling Skills – The knife is an indispensable tool for any chef or cook. Use it properly so it can drastically reduce your food preparation time. There are many types of knives each with a specific purpose. Cheese knives, bread knives, cleavers, carving knives, sushi knives ” they all play a role in creating the right cut or slice. A good chef or cook should master knife skills; in fact, a good chef demonstrates the right way to mince onions. It seems trivial but a chef is measured by how he handles the knife.

If you are serious in making a career out of your passion for cooking, enroll in a reputable culinary school. Make sure the school has accreditation to make it easier for you to land a job. There are many local schools offering culinary courses to choose from. Make the right choice today by getting a certificate or diploma in culinary arts.

Kedgeree

Smoke the fish yourself

Don’t be put off, because it is simple and adds to the fun of cooking the dish. Traditionally the process would start with the curing of the fish in water and salt, by covering the bone less fillets of fish in the liquid solution then removing and allowing the fish to dry. This was to start the removal of water from the fish which would help in the preservation. However for your own needs at home, preservation is not needed, and in addition by removing this stage you will be reducing the chances of excessive amounts of salt being in the finished dish. Salt which is vital in small amounts to control the electrolytic balance of the body, but is hazardous in large amounts because of it increasing our blood pressure levels.

So I suggest that you start with the smoking of the fish. You will need some wood shavings, ideally from a used whisky barrel, if you have one lying around. Failing that you can buy supplies at very reasonable rates from the Internet. The fish needs cold smoking for a minimum of eight hours. At a temperature of no more than 30 degrees Celsius. Without initially buying a specialist smoker, make you own. You will need an enclosed metal container large enough to hold the fish, with a lid and a raised surface to keep the fish off the embers of wood. Over heat, with the lid on, bring the wood shaving to a temperature where they start releasing a mild burning smell. Add other flavourings if wanted, such as crushed juniper berries or a slug or two of a malt whisky. Take off the heat and add the fillets of fish. Whilst the overall temperature needs to be low the embers still need to keep smouldering, so keep a check on the temperature and if need be put back on the heat or slightly open the lid. Keep the process going for around eight hours, at the end of which you will have produced your own smoked, salt free fish. Do not worry if the temperature rises too high at any stage, just remove the fish and use as normal in the dish.

Making up the Kedgeree, the simple way

Gently heat a pan and add 150 g of cooked rice, 125 ml of cream, and a teaspoon each of ground Turmeric and Ga-ram Masala, then 100 g of the flaked smoked fish. Allow to warm and plate topped with chopped boiled egg and parsley. If you prefer replace the cream with fish stock.

An alternative way is to not add the flavourings to the mix but to serve with a jug of curry sauce. Each to their own.

Serving Kedgeree with more elegance

With this option warm the rice, cream and spices; as you are serving add a handful of chopped spinach or kale and stir until warm. Separately poach the smoked fish in milk, and when cooked place on top of the flavoured rice and spinach. Top with a poached egg and parsley.

Paneer Palakh

Paneer Palakh, also known as saag paneer or spinach paneer is a divine dish, fit for royalty, fit for your favorite party or get together, and maybe also the perfect dish you’d like to make for your family as a tempting Sunday night dinner.

Some things that make Paneer Palakh a dish as tempting as none other are:

  • It’s a tasty, fulfilling meal
  • Very nutritious, spinach happens to be a rich source of minerals while cottage cheese is one of the best sources of protein.

The dietary value of paneer paalakh is high, and this acts as an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and also Calcium, Iron, sodium and potassium.

The best part is that the dish is relatively easy to make.

So if you are trying to get your kids to start liking leafy greens, paneer palakh is the alternative to go for. If the kids happen to admire cottage cheese, they will develop a liking for spinach as well.

Go for paneer palakh, and see you guests rave in awe, admiration and delight.

With the high percentage of minerals, vitamins, pigments and phytonutrients that we find in spinach, the vegetable is beneficial for a host of vital processes.

Let’s run through some of the additional benefits of spinach that we should be aware of:

  • Maintaining A Good Eyesight
  • Preventing AMD or Age related Macular Degeneration. High percentages of antioxidants that are present in spinach help prevent harmful effects of free radicals which negatively affect vision. Consuming spinach regularly could work towards preventing age related conditions such as glaucoma or even macular degeneration.
  • Neurological Benefits. Components of spinach such as potassium, folate and several antioxidants offer neurological benefits to people who regularly consume them. So the risk of Alzheimer’s disease reduces. Potassium is essential for brain health and works towards improving cognition, concentration and neural activity.
  • Maintaining Blood Pressure. Spinach has high potassium content and low sodium content. The combination is extremely effective for someone suffering from high blood pressure as potassium lowers blood pressure while sodium increases blood pressure.
  • Bone Mineralisation. Spinach is a rich source of minerals such as manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus which keep the bones strong and help prevent osteoarthritis. Alternately, vitamin K present in spinach helps retain calcium in bone matrix so as to ensure bone mineralization.

Cabbage and Polish Sausage

I believe it’s a trait I learned from her. Here is a cabbage recipe I would like to share that I learned from watching her. I have several ways I prepare cabbage, and it’s a very versatile side dish or you can add meat to it to make it an entrée. This recipe is how I fix it for when I want it as a main course. It is best served with hot water cornbread.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large potato or 2 small ones
  • Half an onion
  • 1 lb package smoked sausage (turkey sausage optional)
  • A sprinkle of red pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Take the head of cabbage and cut into quarters. I sometimes remove the outer layer of the cabbage if the edges are turning brown. Remove the hard-core of the cabbage and cut the quartered pieces into smaller pieces. Wash in a colander and add to pot. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pot. You don’t want to cover the cabbage in water because cabbage makes its own water. Peel the potato and dice the potato to add to the pot. Dice the onion and add with the cabbage ingredients. Slice up the polish sausage into 1 inch pieces or smaller slices if you have small children and add to pot. Put in 2 heaping Tbsp of butter and salt and pepper the ingredients. Add in a touch of red pepper or more depending on how much heat you like in your food. I usually do a couple of shakes of red pepper to the pot to give it a little quick. Cover and quick for about 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender. I usually serve this with hot buttered cornbread.

Healthier Fast Food Choices

Noodles & Company

Generally speaking, if you opt for one of the small plates here you’ll do just fine. At the top of the list is the Bangkok Curry which contains broccoli, carrots, red peppers, onions, mushrooms and a light portion of rice noodles, which are coated with a sweet coconut curry sauce and served on a bed of cabbage. It clocks in at a very healthy 250 calories and 430 mg. sodium.

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill

The Chicken Street Taco is very yummy and quite filling. It features a warm corn tortilla filled with chicken, cilantro, onions and a dab of guacamole. And at just 90 calories and 180 mg. sodium, you can even have two!

El Pollo Loco

The “naked” Grilled Chicken Salad has 232 calories and 517 mg. of sodium; and it includes lettuce topped with chucks of grilled chicken breast, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, corn poblano mix, cilantro and cotja cheese. Skip the salad dressing and instead top it with a dab of salsa, or even some jalapenos from the salsa bar.

Taco Bell

Run for the border and get a Chicken Gordita Supreme. This flatbread taco is filled with grilled chicken, reduced-fat sour cream and shredded lettuce; then topped with a cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella cheese blend. Nutrition wise it stacks up pretty well, with 270 calories and 510 mg. sodium.

Subway

This fast food deli chain has a number of healthy choices, but the Veggie Delite Flatbread Sandwich tops the lists. It’s served on 9-grain wheat bread and contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cheese. And if you pass on the condiments, it’s only 230 calories and it has just 310 mg. sodium.

KFC

Although the fried chicken is a no-non here, a grilled chicken thigh with a large ear of corn is a manageable choice, at 310 calories and 535 mg. sodium.

Burger King

The flame broiled Hamburger is pretty tasty, and it has just 240 calories and 460 mg. sodium. Cut that down even more by ordering it without the bun, and have it as lettuce wrap.

McDonald’s

Try the Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich and ditch the bun. Pick up a few extra napkins because it’s a little messy. On the plus side, it’s also very filling, yet has only 150 calories and 490 mg. sodium.

Wendy’s

Choose the Sour Cream and Chive Potato, which has just 320 calories and 50 mg. sodium. Be sure you specify “no butter” though, as they tend to pile it on if not specified otherwise.