Knife Skills: How To Dice, Julienne, Brunoise & Batonnet by Jacob Burton from Stella Culinary

Every now and again, I try to brush up on my knife skill knowledge. I still don’t have the best cutting techniques, but I’m always trying to work on them. Stella Culinary has some great instructional videos, to this end. Today, just a review of those little cuboids and cuboe: julienne, brunoise, and batonnet.

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The Five Best Food Processors from Our Tests for $100 Or Less by Consumer Reports

Heya folks… some of these are already a bit hard to find, and the #1 is only 7 cups (watch for capacity)… but this is a great starting point.

By: Daniel DiClerico
Consumer Reports News:   July 18, 2013, 12:38 PM

Consumer Reports’ top-rated food processor, the Breville BFP800XL/A is masterful in just about every way, and it’s incredibly quiet. But at $400, it’s also the priciest model in our Ratings by far. What if you can only spend $100? Or even $50? It turns out there are some decent models at that price point, though you’ll have to settle for one or two deficiencies. Here are five to consider from Consumer Reports’ complete food processor Ratings.

Cuisinart MFP-107BC, $100. This is the one $100-or-less model on our recommended list, combining superb slicing and shredding with very good chopping and grating. It holds 7 cups, which could be a plus or minus depending on your needs. The compact machine won’t take over your countertop, but if you do a lot of high-volume processing, say for slaws and stir-fries, the relatively smaller capacity (other recommended models hold 11 to 16 cups) could be an issue.

The Hamilton Beach Big Mouth sells at Sears for $64.99.  Photo courtesy of Sears.

The Hamilton Beach Big Mouth sells at Sears for $64.99. Photo courtesy of Sears.

Hamilton Beach Big Mouth 70573, $70. This 14-cup food processor performed very well or better on every processing task, beating out models that cost two or three times as much. Its model name refers to its ample feed tube, which you’ll appreciate when shredding chunks of cabbage or slicing large potatoes. The only knock against the Hamilton Beach is the noise. It’s a lot louder than most recommended models, and that could be an issue if you’re sensitive to sounds or there’s a baby sleeping in the other room.

Farberware FP3000FBS, $60. This Walmart-exclusive from Farberware has a roomy 12-cup processing bowl, plus a mini-bowl for chopping nuts, herbs, and other smaller items. It performed very well at chopping, slicing, shredding, and grating. But it struggled with purees, so this is not the best choice if you like to blitz soups and sauces in the food processor. Like many inexpensive food processors, it’s also on the noisy side.

Hamilton Beach 70730, $50. Another low-priced option from Hamilton Beach, this 10-cup model combines decent capacity with mostly standout performance. Shredding in particular is superb, and it also does a fine job chopping, slicing, and grating. Like the Farberware, it’s not great at pureeing and noise is once again an issue.

Oster FPSTFP4010, $30. Oster’s 4-cup model looks like it belongs in our food chopper Ratings, but the fact that it slices and shreds makes it a food processor, and it actually holds its own against many full-sized models. It did struggle somewhat in our shredding tests, but otherwise it should do the job for all of your processing needs.

See original article, here.

Indian Cooking 101 by Hooked On Heat

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, it is time for me to get back to basics.  In my kitchen, this means revisiting my staple spices and cooking techniques.  My own experience with Indian cooking changed the way I cook.  For instance, I almost always layer and toast up my spices for any dish (either dry or in oil).

Thinking in these ways, and also about returning to Nashville and the temperatures that reach way higher than those in the Northeast, I am thinking:  oh right, spicy food can actually cool down the body.  It is funny, I always crave more cayenne during the warm months, but it took a long time to realize the root reason.  Sometimes the body knows what the mind hasn’t quite processed.

Below, I highlight the quick-start guide for Indian cooking from Hooked On Heat’s website (which has a FANTASTIC tutorial for Indian cooking).  Remember that you can substitute yogurt for a vegan yogurt (non-sweetened, please!), or even make your own.

Must-haves in every Indian pantry:

Indian Spices

Hindi Translations

  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Coriander Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Chaat Masala
  • Dried Mango Powder
  • Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • Whole Cumin Seeds
  • Fennel Seeds/Aniseeds
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Curry Leaves
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Green Cardamom
  • Bay Leaves
  • Lal Mirch Powder
  • Dhania Powder
  • Haldi Powder
  • Jeera Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Chaat Masala
  • Amchur Powder
  • Kasoori Methi
  • Sabut Jeera
  • Saunf
  • Rai
  • Kadi Patta
  • Sabut Kali Mirch
  • Laung
  • Sabut Dalchini
  • Hari Elaichi
  • Tej Patta

Must-haves in every Indian Fridge:

  • Plain Yogurt
  • Ginger-Garlic paste
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves

Must-haves for every Indian Stove:

  • Non-Stick Frying Pan
  • Deep Saute Pan
  • Deep Soup Pot
  • Non-Stick Wok (called kadhai in Hindi)

Chocolate Monday: How to Temper Chocolate by Mattie at Veganbaking.net

If you love chocolate and you do nothing else, read this article.  Mattie at Veganbaking.net did us all a great favor, here.  Really.  Read it all (that means read and click the link at the end).  Really.

Image courtesy of zole4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of zole4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Temper Chocolate

My love affair with chocolate comes from many things: The smell of rich cocoa that fills your nostrils upon opening a box of chocolate; the numerous shapes and sizes and the way the light reflects off their glossy angles; the fillings that lurk within certain chocolates, waiting to be discovered; the snap when you bite into it, sending a shockwave throughout your mouth that signifies that the rush of chocolate flavor has been unleashed to your senses. This telltale snap is like a magician quickly withdrawing a velvet cloak, exposing the magic below.

Fascinated by this experience, long ago I set out to make my own chocolate bonbons with good quality store bought baking chocolate. I’d melt the chocolate and use it to coat some fillings and everything would be great. I could pack them up for Mom and she would be astounded when she learned that I had done this all myself.There was only one little problem though.

Once I had given a full day for good measure, to give the chocolate a chance to solidify around the fillings, I grabbed a bonbon to survey it. Surprisingly, they weren’t as glossy as the ones I was trying to replicate from the professional chocolatier. They had more of a flat, blemished appearance with a mysterious white powder that I don’t remember dusting them with. Then I took a bite. Astounded would be the proper word to describe what I was feeling, but not in the way I had hoped. There was no snap and the chocolate crumbled and gave way like a landslide, filling my mouth with chocolate dust that turned from a sandy consistency, into a strange gum before finally melting away. The lack of the snap was like the magician was tripping and falling flat on his face before even getting up to the stage to do the trick.
What happened?
It turns out that in the chocolate world, there is a difference between solidifying the right way and solidifying the wrong way.
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