tunasalad

Brown Rice Cooking Methods – Which Do You Choose?

When you’re cooking brown rice, does it come out mushy or lumpy? When you follow the brown rice instructions, do you get inconsistent results? Despite what everyone on the internet says, there is more than one way to achieve firm but fluffy results when cooking brown rice. All the brown rice instructions on the internet will say their method is the best. Ultimately, it’s up to your own tastes and desires how you like your grains cooked. A perfect method for one person may be unacceptable to another. Understanding HOW the rice cooks will lead you to the results that fit your tastes. This is one of the 7 Skills Chefs Use to Cook Food Consistently.

Brown rice differs from white rice in that it’s less refined. The outer skin or “bran” is left on. It’s like a scuba suit for the rice, making it harder for water to enter. Thus, you must find a way to crack that outer layer, or unzip the scuba suit. Cooking brown rice will generally take you in one of two directions. Either bring the liquid AND the rice together to a boil, OR boil the water first and THEN add the rice. What’s the difference?

The science of cooking behind rice is “gelatinization of starches”. At 150F (65c), starches will begin to absorb liquids and swell. This is how sauces are thickened, and why the water disappears and the rice gets bigger under cooking.

Different rices have different starch contents. Sushi rice is very sticky. Jasmine rice is very fluffy. Once the bran is cracked on brown rice, the starches gelatinize and make them stick together in lumps. You can avoid lumpy rice by adding acids or fats in the cooking. Whether you choose to boil your liquid separately from the rice, or together, you can inhibit gelatinization and stick-factor. If you coat the grains in fat, as in making Risotto, they won’t be as sticky. Try a simple sauté method with butter before adding hot liquid. Acids like rice wine vinegar are often added to sushi rice to reduce sticking and add flavor.

When you’re cooking brown rice, you have the options and the power. Experiment with different methods and decide which is best for your tastes. Brown rice instructions can’t always tell what is unique about your kitchen and cooking style. Your tastes should be reflected when cooking brown rice. Which method works best for you? Or have you invented a new way of cooking brown rice? Share your new ideas with everyone by commenting below:

tunasalad

Summer Demands an Easy Baked Stuffed Clam Recipe

When I go clam digging and I am as successful as I was on this particular trip, my favorite clam recipe to cook is baked stuffed clams. Today, I'm going to share how I create this fantastic dish!

Knife Skills First and foremost, all of the clams need to be cut into small, yet uniformly sized pieces. While you are chopping the clams, it's good to keep a watchful eye out for pieces of shell. You may also feel these unwanted pieces with your hands.

Into the Pan Calling on your knowledge of basic sauté method is what you'll need to do next starting with melting butter into your pan. For the best baked stuffed clams, make sure that you control the heat so your melted butter isn't allowed to brown in the pan. Once melted, add your chopped clams.

After a few moments, the clams you brought home from your clam digging expedition will release much of the moisture that they have and begin to poach in their own liquid. Watch your temperature to ensure that the clams don't boil or simmer, but continue to poach.

The Thickener Add enough Panko bread crumbs to soak up some of the liquid as well as a heaping mound of Parmesan cheese. Stir all of the ingredients together and taste it to ensure that you have the correct seasoning in place. Now, your clam recipe is starting to take form!

Seasoning I like to add basil and oregano, but it doesn't mean that you have to. Make sure that you season your clams to your sense of taste. After the seasoning is just right, I like to add a large quantity of fresh chopped parsley to give it a fresh aromatic flavor.

The Half Shell Set up some half shells on a sheet pan for your baked stuffed clams and use a portion scoop to get the same quantity of clam mixture out of your bowl and into the clam shells. Using a portion scoop will ensure that your clam recipe cooks consistently for each clam shell.

Percentages From my clam digging adventure, I ended up using 120 raw clams for my clam recipe which yielded a total of 40 baked stuffed clams. That's 3 whole clams for each baked clam.

The next time you go clam digging, remember that the most flavorful dishes that you cook are made from the freshest ingredients and the simplest cooking methods. I hope that your clam recipe for baked stuffed clams turns out just as flavorful as mine.

tunasalad

You Need to Dig Deep for a Clam Recipe

 

One of my favorite clam recipes is baked stuffed clams. But, to get the freshest clams, you have to go clam digging first, and then you need to open the 300 clams that you dug up.

Heading out in a small boat to find a secluded low-tide spot that no one else knows about and spend the afternoon clam digging is a fond childhood memory of mine. I grew up on Long Island, NY and as a kid, I could walk along the shore, dig my toes into the sand and find clams to bring home. I decided to revisit this childhood memory. It’s a beautiful day. I’ve even brought my dogs, who want to get into the act, even if they think clam digging is a game to find very hard tennis balls.

Once we’ve collected all our clams, my head begins to swim with clam recipes. In the end, I know that one of the recipes I will have to cook is baked stuffed clams as it's my absolute favorite. However, to even start making baked stuffed clams, the fresh clams need to be opened.

There is a specific technique to opening fresh clams and a certain tool to be able to do it correctly and safely. First, it’s wise to wear gloves, because the clam shells can be sharp, but also because the knife can slip under the pressure you exert to open them and you can easily cut yourself.

The key to opening fresh clams is not to cut through the belly of the clam as this makes the clam unappetizing for clam recipes. The proper technique is to cut the two muscles on either side of the shell to expose the clam meat in tact.

Clam digging is done, 300 clams are opened, baked stuffed clams are a must…but there are so many more clam recipes to choose from!

tunasalad

Peel Tomatoes in 2 Easy Steps

In my efforts to help you understand how to cook healthy foods for yourself and your family, the most important thing to remember is that the most nutritious food comes from fresh produce. So go ahead, enjoy the summer harvest and the flavor of just-picked items, you might even want to enjoy the flavors of some unfamiliar fruits and vegetables.

Today, I want to share information about an item that you probably very familiar with and already understand the health benefits and eat it every summer. The tomato. One of the best flavors of summer are fresh tomatoes. They are bright, clean, slightly acidic and can be used in just about any kitchen application. Most of us love a sliced tomato on sandwiches, or diced tomatoes into a cool summer salad or salsa.

However, if you have to cook a tomato, the skin becomes bothersome. The skin of a tomato does not break down under heat and needs to be removed unless you like little rolled quills of tomato skin stuck in your teeth after a meal.

First heat some water to simmer or a very slow boil. While your water is heating, core your tomato and on the opposite end, mark an "X" in the skin. Once your water is ready, drop in your tomato. You will not need to leave the tomato in very long as you're not trying to cook it, rather to tease the skin off. When the skin on the tomato begins to split, remove it from the water and drop it into ice cold water. This change from intense heat to ice cold is called "shocking" and will cause the skin on the tomato to begin to roll up on the edges and separate from the tomato so you can easily pull the skin off using your fingers.

Once this is complete, you can cut the tomato in half and flick out the seeds inside the tomato. Once you remove the seeds and give your halves of tomato a good squeeze, you now have peeled, seeded tomatoes that you can use in any number of dishes. The French call this procedure “tomato concasse” (con-ka-say). It’s peeled and seeded tomato, and a procedure anyone can master in their own kitchen for sauces, jarring, or diced in any dish.

Nutritious food can be found all around us and in learning how to cook healthy dishes, open your mind to the idea of learning some new procedures that will enable you to enjoy your produce in fresh, new ways. Enjoy your healthy eating!