No more dried out turkey

It’s almost Thanksgiving and everyone is getting ready for turkey again!

There are tons of tips on “how not to overcook your turkey”, but this is one of those situations where you usually don’t know until it’s too late.

You can’t cook the turkey a day ahead; you can’t cut in the turkey while it’s cooking to test if it’s done; and you may not have done it often enough (once a year?) to be an experienced turkey cook.

So what do you do?  Here’s the solution: Dip your turkey in chicken broth!  Bet you didn’t think of that before 🙂 

Check out  this video tip on chow.com on how to fix dried out turkey. Genius! 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Things to do with onions besides crying

There is something about onions that give food more flavor, whether raw, cooked or pickled. Depending on which kind, onions can be sharp, spicy, tangy or mild and sweet. They’re used in almost any cuisine in the world and can you believe they have been used since 5000 BC?  Click the link for more amazing facts about onions.

This post is not about the historical or cultural value of onions, but merely listing information and some tips on how to handle onions properly without crying or cutting yourself. I found some great videos to illustrate how the pros do it!  Read on and soon you’ll feel like an onion-pro yourself!

Reduce the intensity.
Where it was never a problem before, nowadays my stomach can’t handle any food prepared with raw onions or an abundance of onions. To reduce the intensity of chopped raw onions for my homemade coleslaw dressing, I soak it in vinegar or lime juice first, before adding to the dressing.

Some of the tips at The Kitchn mention soaking in cold water before adding to the dish, quick cooking over high heat, slow cooking over medium heat, or slow cooking over low heat to caramelize the onion (French Onion Soup).

Chop onions without crying.
Over the years I’ve tried many things to keep from crying while cutting onions, including running out of the kitchen halfway through chopping, only to start crying again as soon as I returned. I finally found one tip that really worked:  NOT breathing through my nose, but through the mouth!

  • Others say that burning a candle right next to the cutting board – a Martha Stewart tip – helps them.
  • Rinse onion in cold water after peeling and after cutting in half,then chop like crazy (done that, didn’t work for me).
  • Keep the roots on while peeling and chopping (doesn’t always work).
  • Cutting under running water (but what if the onion should be dry to prevent oil from spattering?).
  • Make the knife wet with with cold water before cutting, so the sulfur reacts with water on the knife and not in your eyes.
  • Use onion goggles (swim goggles should work too), although I cannot see myself do that 🙂  It seems that contact lens users also have no crying issues when cutting onions.
  • This is a weird one: Put some vinegar on the cutting board, or soak a paper towel in it and sniff it just as your about to cry. (Maybe the vinegar balances out the sulfur?)

You can find many more tips at http://www.wikihow.com/Chop-Onions-Without-Tears

Check out this video to see another tip to cut onions without tearing up.

Here’s another  video on how to properly chop an onion.

And if you ever wondered what scallions or shallots look like, visit this wonderful Epicurious onion guide.

Other things you can do with onions:

Do you have other onions tips? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Different types of noodles

pastaUntil I moved to the U.S.A. I only knew of spaghetti and macaroni which we either used for bami, spaghetti, macaroni salad or in soup. Imagine my surprise when I saw shelves of what was called “pasta” in the supermarkets. There are so many varieties, from dried to fresh, small to large, and many more possibilities to cook with pasta. Here is a list of the different types of pasta I have personally cooked and their recommended uses.

Strands

ANGEL HAIR (capelli d’angelo)
Super thin and fragile; best served with a light broth-based sauce, because a creamy sauce would be to heavy for this pasta.

VERMICELLI
Up a scale in thickness, can be lightly tossed with olive oil, garlic, and black pepper. Also good in soup.

SPAGHETTINI
Spaghetti’s thinner brother; toss with freshly made tomato sauce or use in a soup like minestrone.

SPAGHETTI
Means little string in Italian, even though it’s the thickest. It is the best known pasta of the family, America’s favorite to pair with meatball, fresh, jarred or canned tomato sauce topped with cheese.

Ribbons

LINGUINE
Flat type of spaghetti; absorbs sauces well and usually served with seafood sauces.

FETTUCCINE
Wider than linguine; for a richer flavor and softer texture eggs are added to the dough. Perfect pasta to serve with a creamy Alfredo sauce.

LASAGNA
Wide and flat noodles with smooth or ruffled edges; fits most casserole dishes for ovenbaking.

EGG NOODLES
Curly or straight, short and flat noodles made with egg yolks. These noodles are usually served for stroganoff, simply tossed with butter and parsley, or cooked in soup. Also comes in a version made with egg whites for low or no cholesterol.

Creative

BOW TIE PASTA (Farfalle)
Farfalle actually means butterfly in Italian. They are rectangles pinched in the middle. This small pasta is great for salads.

CANNELLONI
Tube-shaped pasta with a spinach and ricotta (or other) filling. Finish in the oven with a red or white sauce.

SHELLS (Conchiglie)
Shell-shaped small pasta (Italian pronunciation ‘con-kee-lee-ay’). Good for catching thick sauces and for soup and salads.

ELBOW MACARONI
Short, curved type macaroni (‘maccheroni’ in Italian), very popular in the U.S. and often served with cheese. Also good in soup or salad.

PENNE
Penne means ‘quills’ in Italian and refers to straight pasta tubes cut diagonally at the ends. Excellent for salads or ovenbaked dishes.

RIGATONI
This is a very popular pasta in South Italy and rigatoni are large, ridged tubes of pasta with squarely cut off ends. Good for meaty sauces.

TORTELLINI
Small, cheese-, vegetable- or meat-stuffed pasta that is sold fresh or canned and maybe even semi-dried.

ZITI
Medium thin, smooth or rigged tube pasta. Ziti is great for casseroles with a red sauce.

Asian Noodles

RAMEN
Better known as instant noodle-soup, the noodles are skinny and made with eggs. Quick and easy but plain so you can add anything to complement these noodles.

RICE NOODLES
Round or flat, thin and translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. Thin rice noodles are also known as chinese vermicelli. There are wider varieties as well.

BEAN THREAD
Made from mung bean starch, these noodles become translucent and slippery when soaked in hot water or cooked. They absorb other flavors cooked together very well. Used in soups or with meat and soy sauce.

WONTON SKINS (dumpling wrappers)
Fresh or frozen round wrappers for meat or vegetable fillings are made with wheat flour. The square wrappers are made from an egg dough for boiling or deep-frying. Usually prepared and steamed for brothy soup.

Sources: Good Housekeeping, Pasta Recipes Made Easy and Wikipedia’s List of Pasta.

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