There’s no doubt that having the right tools for the job makes any task easier, and there’s no better place to illustrate this than in the kitchen, where having the right cooking utensils can be the difference between creating good meals and great meals.
Many cooks think about major appliances such as the stove and refrigerator when planning to equip their kitchens, but to be a success in the kitchen, you need to have a good selection of cooking utensils in addition to the bigger items. And don’t forget, cooking utensils means more than just spoons; there’s a host of small cooking utensils ranging from cutting devices, juicers, graters and more.
Think about what you do in a kitchen and about how different cooking utensils come into play for each task:
• Washing and drying fresh produce – always easy to accomplish with a strainer and salad spinner. A vegetable peeler is also an important addition to your cooking utensils closet.
• Slicing, chopping and dicing all kinds of food and garnishes – a food processor makes short work of vegetables, but mandolins, knives and graters are also helpful cooking utensils to have on hand.
• Measuring – cooking and baking can be a form of art and recipes should be followed as precisely as possible so measuring dishes, cups (both wet and dry measures) and measuring spoons are invaluable cooking utensils.
• Weighing – depending on what you like to cook, you may want to add a food scale to your shopping list of cooking utensils. Such a tool can be excellent for portioning meat and other products that have cooking times affected by weight.
• Temperature – as important as measures are temperatures, which can affect the success of your kitchen endeavors. An oven or meat thermometer is key to having properly cooked meat that is safe to eat, and should be included in your pantry of cooking utensils.
• Mixing – no kitchen would be complete without a cadre of mixing bowls in its cooking utensils cupboard. Having a selection of bowls in assorted sizes is essential to fast, efficient cooking.
• Manipulating, poking, prodding, lifting and stirring – perhaps what most often comes to mind when you think of cooking utensils are implements used to move food: spoons, forks, knives, spatulas, wire whisks, pastry blenders, tongs, salad lifters, slotted spoons, wooden spoons, serving spoons and more.
By imagining the tasks you do every day in the kitchen, you will get a better idea of the cooking utensils you should consider purchasing. Think about every stage of the food preparation process, from storage and cleaning, to cooking and presenting.
Other useful cooking utensils: pastry brush, kitchen shears, rolling pin, salt shaker, pepper mill, cutting board, ramekins, flour sifter, rotary beater, ladles, juicer and a can opener. Cooking utensils come in a range of prices, quality and materials such as wood, metal, rubber and silicone. Regardless of how much you pay, always make sure any cooking utensils that have multiple pieces, fit together securely.
Whether it's a small gathering of family members or an invitation extended to friends and neighbors, entertaining can take on a delightfully casual approach when it's done outdoors.
Add instant sophistication to a casual atmosphere with these entertaining and grilling tips guaranteed to impress every guest.
Be Courteous to Your Guests
Be sure to note any food restrictions or allergies and prepare alternate options.
Prepare ahead. Cut meats and vegetables, set the table, and toss the salad before the guests arrive. This will give you more time to relax and enjoy your company.
Create an Ambiance
White dinnerware always looks appropriate and pairs nicely with casual double-duty prep and serving pieces, such as rustic wood cutting boards for an outdoor meal.
Add instant elegance to your casual get-together with flowers. Just trim a few stems from the garden and arrange them in glasses or bowls.
Offer a few different bottles of wine at the table for a great conversation starter. The best wines to serve are ones that pair well with all types of food and do not require additional aging once purchased. For example, Rioja, one of Spain's oldest and most renowned wines, includes reds, whites and rose at all price ranges, aged to be ready to drink at purchase and complement meat, fish and vegetables.
Efficiency Is Key
To speed up grilling time, partially precook chicken, red meat, potatoes, carrots and other slow-cooking food in the oven or microwave. When grilling, if you need more than one cooking temperature, mound some coals on one side to create a hot section and spread coals out on the other side for a cooler section.
When grilling food on skewers, cut pieces into chunks that are too large to fall through the grate. Or for easy cleanup, consider using foil packets to grill onion rings, slices of zucchini and squash or even pineapple rings.
When basting, use two brushes - one green and one red. Use the green brush to baste raw meat. Once the meat has begun to cook, switch to the red brush to continue the process. This will help to avoid contamination.
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Camp cooking can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. If you want to prepare quick and simple but nutritious meals while you are camping, camp cooking doesn't even have to require a fire. But if you are interested in fueling your camping trip with a feast, camp cooking can allow you to make hot, healthy foods that are as good as you can make them at home in your own kitchen.
Camp cooking does not have to be limited to sandwiches and baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil. Almost any cooking method you use in the kitchen can be duplicated around the campfire. For example, use a dutch oven or pit cooking to bake your food. You can also easily fry foods in a pan over a grill, or boil, braise and roast. What type of camping cookware is best for you? Camp cooking and clean-up can be easy or a hassle, it all starts with great camping equipment.
Some pots/pans come in sets that mate together or "nest" for storage and even allow you to tuck a canister of fuel inside them. This comes in handy when you're looking to save room while camping.
Following are some camping items to take with you if you are planning on preparing some meals around the campfire. These common kitchen items will allow you to duplicate tasty meals while you are out of doors.
• Salt and pepper
• Other of your favorite herbs and spices
• Cooking oil
• Pot holder
• Hand-held can opener
• Aluminum foil
• Tongs and spatula
• Cutting knives
• Cutting board
• Mixing bowl
• Paper or plastic silverware, plates and cups
If you have just a few campers and are looking for some simple camp cooking, try the easy and quick technique of tin can cooking. All you will need is a clean tin can – a one gallon size can works well. Your source of heat can be a small campfire, or if wood burning is prohibited, a small buddy burner will work well, which can be found at sporting good stores or online. Place your meal in the tin can and simply heat the contents of your can over a flame. You will have a hot meal ready in minutes. This technique works great for soups, beans and tuna fish.
A more time-consuming camp cooking technique that also produces tasty meals is pit cooking. Pit cooking is great for items that can be wrapped in aluminum foil to be cooked. It is also a great camp cooking method if you are using a dutch oven or cast iron cookware. Pit cooking warms your food by heating rocks and coals that are buried in the ground. As the rocks cool off, their emitted heat cooks the food. To pit cook, first dig a hole that is about three times larger than your cookware. Line the pit with rocks and build a fire in the middle. Once the fire has burned rapidly for about an hour, push the hot coals and rocks into the center. Layer your wrapped food or covered skillets on top of the rocks and coals and place more on top. After a few hours, you will have some delicious camp food to enjoy.
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