Monday, March 30, 2009

How to Serve Finger Food

Ease the mess for guests with these presentation tips for casual entertaining.

• Morsels should be small enough to be eaten in one mouthful.
• Check the temperature. Hot food doesn’t mean hot enough to burn your tongue.
•If you’re putting out communal food platters, such as antipasto or tapas, be sure to supply toothpicks or mini-forks. And provide an empty bowl for the used forks, olive stones or prawn tails.
•Don’t stack multilayered sandwiches in a continuous line, arrange them so that its easy to pick out an individual serve neatly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Extend the Life of Your Knife

Use these tips from Bill Brown of to keep your knives in tip-top condition.

- Invest in quality. A good set of knives can be costly, but if looked after they will last a lifetime.

- Store away from other metal objects on a magnetic rack or in a block, to avoid nicks and scratches.

- Hone a little and often with a steel to realign the blade. Hold the steel on a board, start with the blade vertical with the end furthest away and pull towards you. Steels come in two versions, for Asian-style knives and European-style knives.

- Sharpen old knives. Some cook shops offer this service or you can buy an electric sharpener.

- Clean by hand. Harsh chemicals and stacking in the dishwasher can damage the knife. Dry straight away to avoid a watermark.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spices - How To Use Them

Star Anise
Has a flavour halfway between aniseed and liquorice. It is an ingredient of Chinese five-spice powder.

Coriander Seed
Has a warm, citrus-like flavour. Use it alone, or combined with other spices. It is always included in curry powder and garam masala.

Has tiny, highly aromatic black seeds inside the loose pod. Green cardamom is best, but brown or white are also good. It is used in India in curries and in the Middle East to perfume coffee.

Is delicate and mild and goes especially well with coriander. It is best bought as seeds and then gently toasted before use, whole or ground.

Usually sold ground, it is perhaps the easiest spice to recognize because of its bright yellow hue. Often used for its colour as a cheap substitute for saffron. Its flavour is actually fairly unremarkable and slightly bitter.

Is the inner bark of an evergreen tree, sold either in papery rolls that resemble quilts, or ground. Its fragrant sweetness can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes such as rice pilafs, hot cross buns and apple tarts.

Is best bought whole and grated when required. It is good used in cheese and vegetable dishes, milky sauces, junkets and rice puddings.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kitchen Glossary

To spoon liquid or melted fat over food during cooking to prevent it drying out and add extra flavour.

A strong solution of salt and water that is used for pickling or preserving.

A clarified soup, usually made with meat.

Food seasoned with a spicy sauce, usually pepper, chilli and mustard.

Egg Wash
Beaten egg, sometimes mixed with a little water, brushed over pastry and bread before cooking, to give a shiny golden finish.

Chocolate and cream mixed together over heat to form a very rich filling used in truffles, or for coating or filling cakes.

Vegetables or citrus rind, that have been cut into very thin strips.

To soak food, usually fruit, in a syrup or liquid such as alcohol, to allow the flavour to mix.

To marinate and cook strips of oily fish in a pickling mixture containing vinegar, spices and flavouring.

To gently stew food, usually vegetables, in butter, oil or a little stock until very soft but not coloured.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Basil and Lime Sorbet

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
20 fresh basil leaves, minced


Make a sugar syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan; allow to boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Combine the syrup, lime juice, and basil in a blender; puree. Pour the mixture into a container and cover; store in freezer until completely frozen for about 2 hours.

Break the frozen mixture into pieces and place in the blender; blend until smooth. Return to the container and cover. Store in freezer until ready to serve.