Monthly Archives: August 2013

Knife Cuts- Chop Like a Pro, part II

Now that you’ve practiced your knife control, let’s get into the various types of knife cuts and what they are used for. There are many more of these, especially in French Cuisine, but for now these cuts will be plenty for you to work on. You can print this info-graphic out and stick it on your fridge as a reminder! Now you know how the MagicKitchen.com chefs prepare the delicious frozen meals you love!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

 

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How to Chop Like a Chef

Chef’s Knife

August seems to be turning into How to month! These tips will help you cook like a pro. One of the important things in cooking is to have items chopped into the same size pieces. So the chicken will be cubed, the carrots julienned, the onions sliced, and all the carrots will cook at the same rate, same with chicken and onions. Get it?

1. Use a sharp knife. A dull one is more likely to slip off the food and slice your hand. So use a very sharp knife, and go slowly at first.

2. A chef’s knife will do for most of your chopping. Get one that feels comfortable in your hand. It will be wedge-shaped, will be a little heavy, and will have a straight edge. It will be 8-10 inches long.

Thanks to Kershaw Knives for this diagram!

3.  Control- So Important! Pick up the knife firmly by the handle and hold it firmly at the base of the blade. Put your thumb on one side and keep your index finger, slightly bent, on the other.

4. Your other hand- the guiding hand- is important, too!  Hold the food down, keeping your fingers curled inward and your knuckles up.

5. Rest your middle knuckle against the knife as a guide.  Try slicing a few things first using this technique. next we will get into different types of slices and dices, different knife cuts!

Chef Joey- MagicKitchen.com blogger

 

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Taste the Globe: 5 Buffet Ideas From Around the World

Are you planning a themed  party this summer? Here are some of the best flavors from around the world.

There is something very satisfying about preparing a scrumptious spread for your nearest and dearest. I love cooking and if I have friends and family over, I like to get a bit adventurous in the kitchen.

Buffets are great for large parties because it easy for the chef (you!) as you prepare a lot of it in advance. Your guests will love it too, as they can just pick whatever they like and mix and match your delish flavors.

Here are five mouth-watering culinary combinations, which will create the perfect buffet:

Mexican

Image by beccapie

Mexican cuisine is colorful, spicy and lively so this is what you should be aiming for with your buffet. Mexican food needs to have a real kick, yet a fresh and juicy feel – this taste is usually achieved with the winning combo of lime and chili.

Spicy chicken, jalapeno and mango salad is great dish to share and has all the flavors that makes Mexican cuisine stand out. Combine this with spicy fried potatoes and sour cream dip – always a favorite at buffets.

A bean salad is another tasty and nutritious side dish, perfect for a Mexican buffet. In the image to your left you can see a great serving suggestion idea – separating out the vibrant peppers creates a colorful display.

For dessert, you could also try and make some chili chocolate cookies – these are gooey and chocolaty yet have that Mexican kick.

Try arranging the food on a brightly colored tablecloth or in bold, vibrant bowls. Decorate the table with tropical fruits – pineapples and oranges will add a splash of tropical color to your buffet.

Serve with fruit juice or Mexican beer for the perfect party.

Indian

Image by London Chow

An indulgent Indian curry is one of life’s treats! Indian food is rich in flavor and can be spicy, creamy or herby. Coconut, chili and coriander are classic Indian ingredients and adding any of these to your dishes will give them a real burst of flavor.

Tasty spiced rice makes an excellent base dish at an Indian buffet – pretty much everyone likes it and it goes well with all the extras! Include things like onion bhajis, samosas, mango chutney and a mint yoghurt dip.

Other great dishes I would include are a spiced vegetable dish (just roast a selection of vegetables in olive oil and spices) and dhal, a spiced lentil side dish.

Decorate the table with fresh spices, fruit (which can also be eaten for dessert) and lanterns. Serve with fruit juice or Indian beer like Kingfisher or Haywards.

Italian

Image by SummerTomato

Italian is one of the world’s most popular cuisines and it makes me think of sun-ripened tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil. Although Italian cuisine may be famous for pizza and pasta, the latter doesn’t work too well on a buffet, so here are some great Italian ideas…

Mini pizzas work perfectly for a buffet and you can try all sorts of combinations like spinach and ricotta, feta and artichoke and of course the classic pepperoni.

Other dishes that work well are tomato and basil tart, focaccia, bruschetta and side dishes of roasted Mediterranean vegetables and an Italian leaf salad, drizzled in a pesto dressing.

To decorate, try using the colors of the Italian flag and you could even make your own leaning tower of ‘pizza’.

Serve with red or white wine and have some creamy Italian gelatto for dessert.

Spanish

Image by Raelene G

Spain is a vibrant, colorful country and the cuisine reflects this. Spanish cuisine has a spicy flavor, a rich tomato tang, smoky paprika, as well as a herb-y kick.

A classic Spanish dish, which works perfectly at a buffet, is paella. This delicious rice dish can be adapted to suit your tastes – from vegetables to seafood to chicken, or a bit of everything.

Serve this with patatas bravas – the tasty potato and salsa dish pictured above, garlic prawns with sherry dip and a chorizo and egg salad.  Another great idea is to have little cups of the cold Spanish soup, gazpacho.

Decorate the table with citrus fruits to add to that fresh, Mediterranean feel. And, since sherry originates from Adalucia, Spain – why not have a glass with the buffet, or even fruity cocktails?

Japanese

Image by VoixMarionette

Japanese cuisine is delicate and beautiful to look at – as well as packed with flavor. Whenever I think of Japanese cuisine, I can see neat displays of sushi, beautifully crafted chop sticks and bubbling miso soup.

If you are planning a Japanese buffet, then you have to include some kind of sushi, whether it’s vegetarian or the traditional raw fish. I would recommend smoked salmon and avocado sushi as this is particularly tasty and looks great.

Serve with a Japanese salad of lettuce, radish, soya bean and carrot, with ginger soy dressing and add a chili green salad for a spicy kick. You could also make a batch of miso soup and serve it in little cups for each guest.

For dessert, try frozen green tea yoghurt ice cream. Not only is this a healthy alternative to normal ice cream but the green tea give a fresh, unusual and distinctly Japanese flavor.

Decorate the table with chop sticks and origami creations and you’ll have the perfect Japanese buffet spread. Serve with the Japanese rice wine, Sake.

So what are you waiting for? Throw a catering table cloth over your dining table and start cooking and decorating – before you know it, you’ll have a delicious and beautiful themed buffet.

Do you know of any great buffet ideas? Share your thoughts below.

Bio: Elise Leveque is a blogger and freelance translator who loves to write about anything from social media to food. She loves to try new recipes, throw adventurous dinner parties and prepare buffets and exciting party food nibbles.

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How to Devein Shrimp

Shrimp- so delicious, so tender and succulent… such a pain in the rear to devein. Why do we need to devein them? Because- look away if you are squeamish- it’s not actually a vein, it’s their little poop chute! If you don’t find a vein, don’t worry about it- it’s only the dark ones we need to remove.

Here are a few ways to deal with deveining them. Of course first you will need to peel the shell off in most cases- leave the tail on if you prefer:

1. There’s a little flap of skin near the top of the shrimp- peel it away and it will expose the part that you don’t want. Holding the shrimp under water, rub it away, using the water to clean your hand and the shrimp, then place the cleaned shrimp in another bowl.

2. If you don’t like getting so close up and personal, try this technique: With a sharp paring knife or filleting knife, cut a slit along the back about 1/4 inch deep. Lay the shrimp down on your board, and scrape the offending item away. Rinse the shrimp briefly and put into a clean bowl.

3.  Use a shrimp-cleaning tool like this:

For this method, there’s no need to peel the shrimp. This little shrimp cleaning  tool does that for you at the same time as it de-veins. Place the point of the tool where you see a dark dot at the top of the shrimp where the head used to be. Slowly slide the tool along the track, straightening the shrimp as you go. The peel and vein will slip out as one. Rinse the shrimp well and put into a clean bowl. Do this slowly at first until you get the hang of it, then you’ll get faster. (A  two-tined fork will also work this way)

So there are three different ways to devein and clean shrimp. Now you can enjoy them in many recipes!  Bubba: ‘Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it. ‘

If you don’t want to go to the trouble, then MagicKitchen.com makes several delicious shrimp dishes delivered!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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VW Cuisine- Blog post 2

Greece became our home away from home when we were traveling in the Kombi.(VW bus). It is a crossroads, and we ended up there 4 times on our 14 months out. I’m enamored with Greece; I find the language and alphabet to be intriguing puzzles. To walk up to an ancient Greek site like Delphi and be able to translate a few words, perhaps the name of a deity or ancient playwright, made me feel like I had found the Rosetta Stone.

Of course, I also loved the beaches, the beer, the food and the people of Greece. It is amazing that they welcome millions of visitors each year and still maintain their innate warmth and charm, making you feel at home.

Pasta is the be-all and end-all of Kombi cooking. Sometimes days go by when the only variety in your diet is the shape of your pasta. Bows, spirals, radiators or shells are the options you discuss for dinner. Often in Greece we would buy small cans of meatballs in tomato sauce and olive oil and pour that over pasta. But one day we got some fresh shrimp.

Shrimp and Feta Pasta

1/2 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/8 lb Feta Cheese, crumbled
6 oz. pasta, cooked and drained
Salt & pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic gently over medium-low heat in the oil. When onion is translucent, add tomatoes and shrimp and turn heat up slightly to medium. Toss and stir until shrimp is cooked and tomatoes are soft. Toss with drained pasta, feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Alternatively, get MagicKitchen.com’s Shrimp Fettucine.

 

 

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Maintaining Optimum Health Into Old Age

As we get older, the little things that we once took for granted are often no longer there. The little things like being able to sprint for a bus or the ability to drink reasonable quantities of alcohol at night and feel ok the next day.

These are natural signs of getting older and it is at times like this that we sometimes reflect and wish that we had lived our lives differently; perhaps eating healthier and taking more exercise. Try as we might though, we can’t go back in time and all that we can do is to start from this moment on to ensure that we have the best health possible. Of course, sometimes illnesses will happen but we can reduce the chances of that or at least speed up the recovery process by keeping ourselves in good shape and here are a few tips to help you to do this.

Exercise

It is never too late to exercise. Of course, this does not mean training to run a marathon and our exercise regime should be based on our current level of fitness. If, for example, you have spent the last few years as a couch potato, then it would be very unwise to start a strenuous regime. A much better approach would be to initially increase the distances that you walk. Instead of getting in your car to make short journeys, allow a little extra time and walk; equally, getting off a bus a few stops early is a good way to start the process as is using the stairs instead of escalators.

This routine can be increased as you feel a little fitter. Do remember though that you are aiming to be healthier and not to win races so increase cautiously and if you have any doubts at all about what to do, it may be a good idea to ask your doctor who may be able to suggest appropriate levels of exercise for you.

Diet

A little of what you like will do you good is a saying that we often hear and there is no doubt that although some people would love to have us eating a diet of blueberries and quinoa, that is not a realistic (or enjoyable) goal for most people. We can all though, improve our diet by reducing the saturated fats that are in meats and dairy and which are the cause of high cholesterol and also increase our fruit and vegetable intake.

Reducing the level of salt and alcohol too are all positive steps that we can take and this can be done gradually over a period of time and are perhaps best thought of as an adaptation of a change of lifestyle rather than a ‘throw it all out and start again’ approach which can tend to be the case with new diets. This approach though rarely works and usually ends up with the person becoming bored or disillusioned and abandoning their new eating approach. MagicKitchen.com can help with that, with delicious meals for seniors!

Dental Care

We should not neglect our dental health either, As well as any aesthetic considerations, gum disease and other dental problems can make our lives a misery and however fit we are and well we eat, we are less likely to enjoy our lives if we are suffering from bad breath or dental decay. Some reports have also linked gum disease with potential heart problems although research is at an early stage and has not been proven.

In summary then, just look at your daily routine and see where you can improve things Take small steps at first that are manageable and at the end of each week or so, sit down with a piece of paper and note your new routine and where that can be changed; a little planning can certainly go a long way.


Alan Fielding, the author of this article, hit 50 last year and took a look at his unhealthy lifestyle. Deciding to put a stop to the slow decline to his health that he had noticed, he turned off his TV and joined a local tennis club. As well as this he chose to go vegetarian two days a week and also got his problematic gums fixed at his local dentist and hasn’t felt better in years.

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