Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Best Grill Rubs

Grill rubs are a combination of spices and herbs that infuses flavor on food prior to grilling. Even the humblest blend of salt, pepper and sugar can be enough to make food super tasty. Rubs made of fresh ingredients usually make the best ones. Add cayenne, paprika, tarragon, and other spices, and your grilling is at its best.

Does your pork lack luster? Try the recipe below.

Diva Q's Pork & Chicken Dry Rub by Char Broil Live
Making the best grill rub is establishing a taste -- would it be salty, spicy, sugary, or peppery? Although barbecue rubs are typically dry, although they can also be wet and paste-like. Measure and mix together herbs and spices in a small bowl then rub them onto pork, poultry, or even fish. For best results, do this a day before grilling to allow flavors to develop. For liquid rubs, most of the flavorings used are soluble oils which require coating of the meat with a thin layer. The oil will help the flavor get beyond the surface.

If you want your rub to have some touch of sweetness, use brown cane sugar. Sugar works best for pork. However, direct grilling or roasting can  burn sugar-based dry rubs that can result in an unpleasant odor and flavor of the burnt sugar. Take note that sugar renders best flavors to foods that require short cooking or grilling time where the item is done before sugar has a chance to burn. 

Homemade Blackening Rub by The Home Cellar's Garden
While it's free to mix and match your own sauces, make sure your rub harmonizes with the natural taste of the meat. It may sound like it takes a lot of practice to make a good rub; but all you need to is experiment. Put together all ingredients and blend them thoroughly. Some say salt can dry meat out, but this is not necessarily the case. Salt can actually help in absorbing the flavor in the barbecue rub into the meat. 

More tips: Food that is overpowered by seasoning is unpleasant.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Different Ways to Make Decorative Cucumbers

Generally, we peel cucumbers all the way. Sometimes and for the healthier of it, we slice them right away without peeling, dash the slices with salt and there goes crunchy crispy sounding bites! Since cucumber is always available, delicious, and easy to slice, you too can make it more pleasing to the eye with the following ways. This is your time to make fresh vegetables look like the pros do which does not even have to be difficult - just like I did.

Peeled Cucumber 

This is the most common thing. Cut off both ends of your cucumber. Using a kitchen knife or a vegetable peeler, peel all the way down the vegetable. For some art, run a fork all the way down your peeled vegetable. Move over then slide again until the entire cucumber has been lined with the fork. Slice cucumber into 1/4 thick rounds.

Striped Cucumber 
From Jamie Cooks It up!
Trim both ends of your cucumber. Using a kitchen knife or a vegetable peeler, peel one strip all the way down the cucumber. Move about the width of the strip you just peeled and leave the skin intact. Peel again then leave the skin again. This will create a striping effect on your entire cucumber. Slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds.

No-Peel Cucumber

Many claims slicing cucumber with the skin on is healthier as you eat every part of the vegetable. Simply remove both ends of your cucumber and slice right away. This way is not just healthier but even faster:) 

Cored Cucumber

Remove both ends then peel the entire cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise. Loosen the seeds with a sharp knife then gently scoop out the seeds with spoon. You will be creating half moons. I made some doughnut holes out of this by simply trimming the ends, peeled down then cutting in half but not lengthwise. I used a long thin knife to remove the pulp with the seeds. Slicing my cucumber into 1/4 inch thick gave me doughnut-like cucumbers.

Julienne Cucumber
Image from House of Annie
I find this way of julienning easier. After removing both ends, cut right down the middle lengthwise then begin slicing each half into slender strips about 1/4 inch thick.  After you have all the long strips of your vegetable, stack them together and cut in half to make shorter strips about 1 & 1/2 inches long. There goes your match stick julienne.                                            

Cucumber Ribbons
Photo by
Trim the ends of your cucumber. I don't have a mandolin so I use a vegetable peeler. Simply move the peeler to slice the vegetable lengthwise, creating long and thin ribbons. When you reach the seeds, turn the vegetable and peel from the other side.

So far, those were all that I have learned and truly were so enjoyable and fun to do. Don't you think the techniques are simple but perfect enough to spruce up your cucumber dishes?

Try it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Parsley - The Herb for Garnishing, Flavoring and Medicine

This petite leafy thing is often discarded by diners as "just a garnish", yet parsley has persistently pushed its way as among the most useful and healthy culinary herb around the world.  

My sister is a garnish eater, but not me! She's so fond of stealing parsley from our plates and pop it in her mouth during dine-outs. Parsley is a staple in her kitchen and every time she makes special dinner, it's so amusing of her opening the door for us with hand and arms of fresh parsley as she wraps them around us and leading us into the kitchen. We loved the smell in the kitchen... perfect... soothing and relaxing. Perhaps it's what parsley is about.

What is Parsley?

Parsley is one of the most well-liked herbs grown in herb gardens everywhere purposely for flavoring, as a garnish or for medicinal purposes. It has a saw-like curly or flat leaves which grows at around 12 inches tall and cultivated in a well-drained and moisture retaining soil. It can be grown outdoors and indoors. 

For indoor growing, use a deep pot and fresh potting soil to accommodate the long taproot. If infestations arise, spray with soap and water at once. Since germination of parsley requires warm temperatures, it is best to place your pots on windowsill so it is sure to get the necessary 5 hours of sunlight requirement. 

During cold weather, use fluorescent lights hanged 6 inches from the plants and leave the lights on for 14 hours a day. For growing outdoors, planting is as simple as seeding straight into the spot where you want to grow it and allow the plant to sow by itself.

The Health Benefits of Parsley

Parsley is healthy and known as one of the world's most potent disease fighting culinary spices rich in calcium, chorophyll, folate, iron, vitamins, and beta-carotene. These are the benefits that herbalists and health-conscious people believe to help with digestion and in lowering high blood pressure. For medicinal approach, it is believed to enhance and stimulate energy on the body's vital organs that aids in the assimilation of nutrients.

Parsley makes a good herbal drink. I first had a hot cup of this herb from my grandmother, the taste was a little peppery, grassy and yes earthy, but it's healthy. Imagine a cup of finely-chopped fresh parsley is richer in beta carotene than a carrot, it's twice the vitamin C of an orange, contains more calcium than a cup of milk, and 20 times iron content as a serving of liver. 

Because of its peppery flavor, fresh aroma and lively green color, parsley is the perfect in to garnish dishes that needs some freshening up. Parsley is also the most natural breath freshener. It's fresh and clean grass-like taste and scent helps get rid of that onion and garlicky after taste and smell in your mouth after eating them raw.

Parsley is excellent in salads, sauces, soups, stews, stuffing, omelets, and vegetable dishes. It is perfect to embellish meat, fish, poultry dishes. Chop it so fine and mix with cheese dips, crush it into butter and spread in your bread and biscuits, melt it into casseroles, scrambled eggs, rice or pasta. Although dried parsley is common to keep this herb on hand, it is best to use in fresh.

A photo from The Fresh Dish

Example of certain recipes with fresh herbs like parsley as main components are pesto, tabbouleh, or classic salad that layers mozzarella, tomatoes and muzzled parsley leaves. A salad dressing drenched with dried parsley is another good example. From garnishing to flavoring, parsley truly does make for deliciousness all the time.

Truly every cook's best leafy friend!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where Are the Herbs & Spices?

Ras El Hanout 4.0 Oz By Zamouri SpicesThe Spice Lover's Guide to Herbs and Spices 

Can you imagine cooking without the traditional seasoning?  Perhaps with the new ways of instant cooking today that gone were the days of unique herbs and spices?

Never reject the power of old-fashioned cooking. The world of culinary ingredients shares the old imagination of the kitchen through traditional seasoning and the use of herbs and spices, that flourished from the rich soils of the best growing regions of the world. Every culinary spice and herb of the like is carefully handcrafted to preserve its extraordinary savory and aroma. Why not relish your pick of herbs by embracing back the norms of traditional spicing?

History and Uses of Culinary Herbs

Oregano, Mediterranean - 3 Lb Bag / Box EachThe wide use of herbs has a very important role to human life. It has been practiced for centuries around the world both for the purpose of deriving exotic food and for its curative properties that heal many kinds of diseases. Growing and production of herbs nowadays are being classified according to use and the soil will have the benefit from the organic material added accommodating direct seeding of some herbs into the soil. Today, the excitement of propagating herbs in a simple home garden puts the magic of culinary herbs to every dish.

Taste Profiles 

The old custom of picking leaves just before flowering has been a tradition in the belief that flavor is on the peak. The soil from where herbs are planted has a tendering effect on its over-all taste profile. Over-fertilizing ruins the essential oils responsible in giving its normal taste. Most herbs like rosemary grow well in neutral to slightly alkaline soil (7.0-7.5pH) maintaining its self-generated taste profile. Herbs such as mint, parsley and celery grow better in soils that are moist, while the herbs of sage, thyme and rosemary change its state in slightly moist soil.

  Storing Your Herbs Spices

To preserve fresh herbs, wrap clean leaves in paper towels and store them whole inside the refrigerator. The harder the leaves, the longer it lasts since the oil of the leaves is retained and the flavor is preserved. Powder of dry leaves should be stored in a tight container to prevent the breaking of its aromatic oil elements. It is important to check your leaves from time to time to ensure dryness. Herbs mold quickly in closed jars or container if not stored completely dry.

Cooking Guide

Fresh leaves are great in salads. Mix fresh leaves with fruits, spices and a lemony vinaigrette to create a Mediterranean salad. The presence of herbs give zest to dishes as garnishing or ornaments, flavoring, accompaniment or simply consumed raw. Mild, or full-bodied herbs, makes the cuisine of roasted food, soups and stew, recognized in compliments.

Where to Find Herbs and Spices

These suggestions might be of interest: