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The Basics Of Two Essential Cooking Techniques - Sauting and Cooking Pasta Correctly

While you may chuckle at the thought of not knowing how to boil water, some people will tell you how they ruined their favorite pan when it boiled dry! Basic cooking skills are something that everyone should know, even if they have never set foot in the kitchen. From making a grilled cheese sandwich to creating a five-course meal, you really have to start somewhere! Below, you will find some information on basic cooking skills that can get you started in the kitchen.

Sizzling Saut

Literally meaning "to jump" in French, this basic technique requires the use of oil or fat to keep vegetables or meat from sticking to a hot pan. Meat is best prepared by cutting into small pieces and trimming the fat off since you will be using oil or butter anyway. Prepare vegetables such as onions and bell peppers the same way by dicing, chopping, or mincing.

Start by placing the pan over high heat and melting a piece of butter. You'll know if it's ready when the butter starts to foam a bit and turn slightly brown. Add the meat first so that the released flavor will infuse with the rest of the dish. Keep everything moving and add the vegetables in next. This is a great way to make steak toppings or soup bases.

Cooking Perfect Pasta

With more to it than just boiling water in a pot, how the pasta is cooked will be the deciding factor to any pasta dish. All your efforts towards making the perfect sauce and side dish will be undermined with soggy, sticky pasta. With this in mind, there are a few tips to get you going in the right direction.

Don't make the common mistake of using a pan that is several sizes too small. You can't cook an entire bag of pasta in something that is meant to hold a couple of quarts of liquid. A good rule of thumb is to use four to six quarts of water for every pound of pasta. And before you put it in, add a teaspoon of salt to the water.

To keep the pasta from becoming one sticky mess, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. You can omit this if you watch it closely and stir continuously. However, it is still advisable to do so because a bonus to adding oil is that it keeps the water from boiling over.

Bring the water to a full rolling boil. Add your pasta and stir continuously for the first two minutes. This will give some of the starch a chance to boil off and you'll be much less likely to wind up with a clump of noodles stuck together. Cook for the recommended time, but stir every minute to two minutes while cooking.

Don't wait until the final minute to check if it's done. Variations in pan thickness, water volume, and stove intensity will produce different results. The time is just a rough estimate meant to serve as a guide. Check the pasta by taking a piece and biting it. Or you can just try to cut a strand by using the spoon.

You are looking for a doneness that is "al dente". This is how Italians call pasta that is done but still firm. Drain it an place it under running water to stop the cooking process. If you will be serving later, toss it with some butter or oil to stop the strands from sticking together.


Fast And Easy Meal Preparation

Whether it's because you've had a hard day working at home or because you've been delayed at the office, there are days when you need to fix a meal fast and you are too exhausted to even decide what to cook. Your family is waiting to be fed, and ordering a take-out dinner is not an option. You need to be able to somehow prepare dinner - right now.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you knew exactly what to fix for a quick meal in this situation? Rather than frantically going through your kitchen cabinets looking for something you can prepare fast, you would know precisely what to reach for. This is easy to do if you follow the tips and ideas in this article. All you need is a little creativity and a well-supplied kitchen. Meat of any kind, accompanied with pasta and any ready-made sauce is all you need for a super quick meal, for instance. Add some vegetables or fruit and you'll have a satisfying, nutritional supper. The important thing is to keep your kitchen well stocked with simple food items that are easy and fast to fix.

Quick cooking flavored rice is something you should always have in your kitchen; coupled with hamburger, it makes an easy meal. Boxes of pasta side dishes are also very useful; heat one up and serve with a couple of pieces of chicken. Adding a couple of cans of drained tuna to ready-to-serve macaroni-and-cheese will give you a tasty casserole supper in a few short minutes. If you keep supplies of your family's favorite pasta and pasta sauce in your kitchen, you'll always have a fast dinner option available.

Now these ideas will pull you out in a pinch but they may not be the healthiest choices to make. If it's possible, add fruits and vegetables when ever you can. Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables aren't as good as fresh ones, but they are better than none at all. Of course you want to provide your family with the best possible dinner, but in a pinch practically anything will do.

So, the next time you hit the super market, be sure to pick up a few of these time savers for the next disaster day you have. Unfortunately these days happen to all of us and the best you can hope for is to be prepared. Some of these ideas are so easy that even a teenager or your husband can do it!

Organize the time you spend in the kitchen to make cleaning up less time-consuming. Clean while you cook (wash dishes as you wait for a pot to boil, or set the table as you heat a casserole in your oven) and ask family members to help you out. You can reduce the number of pots and pans to clean by using a crock pot to cook your meals. Choose among the many easy and time saving slow cooker recipes available online.

So try to be prepared for a last minute meal by keeping something in the back of the cabinet just for that purpose. Encourage your family to help when ever possible, and make the very best of the time you spend in the kitchen by multi-tasking to get it all over with as quickly as possible. Sticking to this plan will allow you enough time to soak in a nice warm bubble bath before you hit the bed!


Kosher Food Plays a Major Role in Jewish Faith and Culture

Similar to the practices of Muslims and Hindus, kosher is very much important to the Jewish faith. Stemming from their deeply-rooted beliefs about food - its preparation and consumption - this practice of "keeping kosher" is their way of expressing their devotion to God.

You can find a store that caters to the kosher requirements of Jews in virtually every city. Not limited to butchers and fish mongers, you can also find delis and grocery stores selling kosher ingredients and serving cooked food.

With much more to it than merely buying food from certain sources, those looking for kosher foods know how to search for the rabbinic seal - a symbol guaranteeing that the food has been prepared under the supervision of a rabbi. For a true adherence to the laws of kosher, everything; from the equipment, to the methods of slaughtering animals, to the workers who prepared the food must follow stringent requirements set forth by the Kashrut. Every country has a rabbinic association that ensures the adherence to the rules. They are the ones who check if the shops claiming to sell kosher food are really selling the real thing.

Because Jews have differing theological schools and religious traditions, the Kashrut accounts for this fact by having different degrees. Often, food shops offer essentially the same kosher foods with different packages and different rabbinic seals signifying the difference in the said degrees. Prices are different for these foods simply because some pass more stringent rules than others.

You might have encountered the term "kosher-style". Although adhering to similar laws such as not using forbidden animals and not mixing dairy with meat, kosher-style is less stringent and not really considered kosher in the strictest sense of the word by purists and devout Jews. These are more fitting for individuals who are not practicing Jews.

Jewish Holy Scripture, the Torah, forbids Jews from eating non-kosher food. Special attention is given to kosher meat, which can come only from certain animals and prepared only in a certain way called the "shechitah keshera." The shochet, or Jewish butcher, is a key person in the community's ability to keep kosher. (Remember Lazar Wolf, the butcher, from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof"?). According to Torah law, any Jew can perform a butcher's tasks according to the prescribed ritual. In reality, however, the custom has become that only a man who has been approved by a supervising rabbi is considered a kosher butcher. What's more, a kosher meat shop is only kosher if the butcher is an observant Jew. Non-Jews, also known as Gentiles, cannot qualify as kosher butchers.

These laws were explicitly contained in the Torah. What is practiced today came from the interpretation of countless rabbis through the centuries. This period encompassed the time when food was scarce and preservation was virtually nonexistent. This led to some practices that seem dated by today's standards. But no matter how old the practice is, keeping kosher is all about eating soundly. Appeasing the will of god by taking care of one's body cannot be argued - no matter what your religion is.


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