Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Why are we told to boil beans in one lot of water, then start again with fresh water?

Some dried beans need a preliminary period of fast boiling because they contains toxins called protease inhibitors which interfere with the digestion of protein. While beans that have not had this preparation may taste palatable, the body will not benefit fully from their protein unless these toxins are neutralized.

Start by fast-boiling the beans, then discard the water and complete the cooking in a pan of fresh water. This fast-boiling is particularly important for soy beans because they contain half as much protein again as most beans and many vegetarians rely on them as a source of protein. Soy beans should be fast-boiled for 60 minutes. They should then be drained, then simmered in fresh water for another 80-90 minutes, or until tender.

Raw kidney beans contain a substance that cannot be digested and which may cause abdominal discomfort or food poisoning if the toxins are not extracted. It is essential that you fast-boil red kidney beans for 15 minutes before use, then change the water and simmer them for another 45 minutes, until they are tender.

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09:10:57 on 10/31/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Do beans and pulses really need to be soaked before cooking?

Lentils, peas and many beans do not need soaking. For those beans that do, there are some basic rules to observe. First, rinse them in a sieve under the cold tap to wash off any loose, floury matter before cooking. This minimizes the formation of scum during cooking.

Soak dried beans by pouring boiling water over them to quicken the process. In hot climate kitchens, a 1-hour soak is safer than leaving them to sit for a long time. Alternatively, soak larger beans in cold water for up to 8 hours, in the refrigerator if it is very hot weather. Although the beans absorb water, there is no evidence that they lose any nutrients.

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08:04:16 on 10/31/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to host a great dinner party and still find time to enjoy the company of my guest?

Choose recipes that can be made largely in advance and need little last-minute attention. Avoid fiddly recipes that will keep you in the kitchen away from your visitors.

If you have the space, arrange the starter and dessert courses on plates ahead of time. Cover and put them in a cool place and set out cheeses to reach room temperature. Lay out everything you will need in the way of cutlery and china for all of the courses, including coffee and after-dinner drinks. Make a simple timetable, wearing a watch, and work out a seating plan.

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07:08:29 on 10/31/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are the guidelines on putting together a dinner menu?

Try to balance the menu. Include easy dishes as well as complicated ones and vary the ingredients. Think of the textures, colors and tastes of the dishes you are planning and do not have the same dominant flavoring in more than one course. Also, avoid combining dishes that are similar in color.

Aim for variety: follow food that is crunchy with something smooth, a mild dish with sharp-flavored one. If the main course is heavy, avoid a rich dessert and choose instead a light, simple recipe, such as one based on fruit.

Finally, keep the overall effect of the meal simple. Nothing can better the taste of fresh, well-prepared ingredients.

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09:19:51 on 10/30/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to ensure that food inside the batter does not absorb grease and to keep deep-fried food from cooling off quickly?

Cook the food in small amounts. Adding too many pieces all at one time to the pan lowers the temperature of the fat so that the coating does not form a crisp crust. The food will then absorbs fat.

If the deep-fried food must wait a short while before being served, spread it out in a single layer on a hot baking tray or dish. Keep the food warm in the oven, with the door ajar to allow air to circulate. Do not cover or enclose the food, as this serve to make the crust soggy.

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08:44:36 on 10/30/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How do we know if the oil is at the right temperature?

The correct temperature for deep-frying is 190 degrees C, which is moderately hot. If your fryer does not have a thermostat, you can test the oil by dropping in a cube of bread. It should take only about 40 seconds for the bread to brown. If it browns in 10 seconds, the oil is too hot and should be cooled. If it takes a minute, the oil is too cool and the batter will not crisp immediately. This causes the food inside to become soggy.

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07:19:14 on 10/30/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Recipes say to coat some foods in batter, others in breadcrumbs, before they are deep-fried. Why?

Batter is best for wet foods, such as vegetable or fruit fritters, because it sticks to the surface of these foods once they have been floured. The batter will puff up and seal in the moisture without changing the lightness of the food inside. Breadcrumbs, which are heavier, are best for foods such as fish and chicken which need to cook longer.

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12:22:37 on 10/29/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why are some foods coated before they are deep-fried?

Foods are subjected to a very high temperature in the deep-fryer. A protective coating prevents a hard, unattractive skin forming on the food while allowing the inside to cook slowly and thoroughly.

If deep-frying is done properly, the coating also creates a seal that stops a food's flavor from tainting the oil, so it can be used again. Sealing has the added advantage of preventing any dangerous spluttering or bubbling of hot oil, which can happen if food juices leak out.

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10:41:59 on 10/29/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What kind of pan should we buy for deep-frying?

If we do a lot of deep-frying, an electric model has the advantage of thermostatic control as well as a charcoal-filter lid to prevent odors. Choose a pan with an automatic cut-off facility in case it is left on.

For occasional deep-frying, you can use a heavy-duty saucepan that is deep enough to hold a large amount of oil. We will also need a basket with mesh fine enough to keep the oil free of food particles. A close-fitting lid is essential for cutting off the air in case of emergencies.

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10:02:06 on 10/29/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to use fresh dates?

Fresh dates are available all year round, but in some countries, fresh dates are only available at certain time of the year. Try to buy the fresh dates when they are available. They are not only nutritious, they contain only half as much sugar, and twice as much fiber, as the imported sun-dried boxed variety.

When buying fresh dates, you should ensure that they are deep brown, plump and moist. They will keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can wash the fruit and eat them as they are, or cut the dates in half, remove the stones and chop the flesh into salads.

Dates can be stuffed with soft cheese, almonds and other fillings to serve as savories. You can also offer them with after-dinner coffee. Fresh dates are also delicious in scones, slices, teabreads, tarts and sticky date pudding.

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09:27:40 on 10/29/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are Danish pastries difficult to make at home?

Homemade Danish pastries require time and skill to make, but they are especially rich and luscious. The yeast pastry is made in a similar way to puff pastry, by rolling butter in between layers of dough. Roll out the pastry so that butter does not break through the paste. If the butter escapes, the pastry will hold less fat and taste heavy.

Roll the pastry with short, light strokes, moving first forwards and up (lifting the rolling pin slightly), and then backwards and up. If your pastry seems too sticky, put it on a plate, dust it with flour then cover it with plastic wrap. Rest the pastry in the refrigerator until firm.

If you prefer, make the dough in advance, then place it in a plastic bag and leave it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

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16:20:00 on 10/28/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do baked egg custards sometimes leak around the edges?

This is caused by too much heat and suggests the custard has been overcooked or cooked without the use of a bain-marie, or the oven temperature was too high. Any of these could result in pitting, so producing some moisture around the edges, and it cannot be rectified. Check your oven temperature, and use a bain-marie. The simmering water around the dish lowers the temperature, ensuring a lower, even temperature during cooking.

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15:30:00 on 10/28/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Baked egg custard is the perfect dish to give to a convalescent, but it takes so long to make. Could it be made in the microwave?

Yes, it is very quick and easy to do, and because you cook the custard at a very low temperature, you do not need to use a bain-marie. To make four individual custards, put 300 ml of milk in a microwave-safe jug and heat it on Medium for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Whisk two medium eggs, 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence together, then pour on the warm milk, whisking continuously. Strain into four ramekins and sprinkle with nutmeg. Microwave the ramekins on Low for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the custard is just set, then leave it to stand for 1 minute.

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12:43:49 on 10/28/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to move on from custard powder to the real thing. Is it difficult to make?

Custard is not really all that tricky but it does need to be cooked carefully. It is worthwhile mastering the technique because not only is the flavor of homemade custard much richer than that made with powder, but rich, smooth custard is the base on which many other desserts are built. For instance, it is essential for a superior trifle; when set with gelatin it turns into a bavarois; and frozen, it is the foundation of the very finest ice cream.

The most important thing when making custard is to cook it very gently and slowly. Trying to cook it in a rush is a mistake as it will almost invariably curdle. It must take its time and must never boil, so the choice of pan is important. For best results, dessert chefs cook custard in a bain-marie, or water bath, which is a pan of simmering water large enough to hold smaller pans. This makes it easier to control the temperature of delicate mixtures such as custard. A bain-marie is easy to improvise. Alternatively, make the custard in the top of a double boiler, or in a heavy-based pan on a very gentle heat. In addition, the custard must be stirred continuously while it is being cooked so that hot patches do not form against the side of the pan.

Custard is traditionally flavored with vanilla. You can either infuse the milk with a split vanilla pod or add a few drops of vanilla essence. It does not have to be vanilla, however; try other flavorings, such as almond, nutmeg or mixed spice.

Once the custard has thickened, (it will never thicken as much as packet custard) take it off the heat and transfer it to a cold jug or bowl, so it does not continue cooking. Serve it immediately if you want it hot. To serve it cold, cover the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming on the top, leave to cool completely, then refrigerate.

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11:18:14 on 10/28/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we cook cucumber and serve it as a vegetable with other dishes?

Hot cucumber makes a light, crisp vegetable dish to go with fish, but it shrinks during salting and cooking so you should allow a whole one to serve two people, or three at the most. You may have to use two pans if you are cooking for a larger number. Choose young cucumbers, which are smaller and have a thinner skin than older cucumbers and are likely to have fewer seeds and softer, more edible flesh.

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11:35:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do some recipes tell us to salt cucumbers before using?

Salt draws out the moisture which softens the crisp cucumber, resulting in a denser texture and a more concentrated flavor. This method is used for the tangy Greek salad or dip called tzatziki, in which the cucumber is coarsely grated and salted for 30 minutes; it is then rinsed, squeezed dry and mixed into yoghurt with plenty of garlic and a splash of olive oil.

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10:28:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we crystallize ginger in the same way as fruit?

Commercial preserved or stem ginger in syrup is made from the very youngest shoots of the ginger plant, and these contain very little fiber. The fresh root ginger we can buy is too fibrous to be used for home-made crystallized ginger. To give a subtle flavor of ginger to your own crystallized fruit, add a peeled piece of fresh ginger to the sugar syrup. Steep it with the fruit and discard it when done.

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09:30:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can all fruits be crystallized?

Strongly flavored fruits such as apricots, cherries, mangoes, paw-paw, peaches, pineapple, plums and slightly under-ripe pears are the best choice for crystallizing. You can also treat orange, lemon and grapefruit peel, and chestnuts, in the same way. Soft fruits such as berries, kiwifruit and melon are not suitable because they contain too much water and will break up and become mushy. Equally, the large amount of juice in whole oranges and lemons causes them to collapse easily, which makes them difficult to crystallize at home, but tiny kumquat can be preserved by this method.

You can use either canned or fresh fruit but canned fruit is easier to handle, with the exception of canned plums, which soften and disintegrate during the process.

Fresh fruit must be in perfect condition. The first step is to poach it lightly in sugar syrup until just tender. The second stage is to make a crystallizing syrup from the cooking water and then the process is the same as for canned fruit. It needs to be steeped for two to three days longer than canned fruit. Because fresh fruit can break up during the process, it is harder to see when enough sugar has been absorbed so the soaking may be stopped too soon, in which case the fruit could go mouldy.

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08:17:44 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to make crystallized fruits as Christmas presents at home?

Crystallized fruits, though expensive to buy, can be made quite cheaply at home and make lovely presents. The fruit is simply saturated in a sugar syrup then left to dry, and although the process takes more than a week, it requires only a small amount of time each day. Don't be tempted to hurry the process or the fruit will shrivel and become tough. To finish off the fruit, give it a sparkling crystallized finish or a smoother, shiny glace coating.

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01:15:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there an easier way to make decorative sugar flowers?

There are two methods. In the simplest, known as sugar-frosting, the flowers are brushed with egg white and then dusted with caster sugar, and this will preserve them for up to two days.

If you want them to last longer you need to use gum arabic (available from cake decorating shops and some chemists) dissolved in rose or orange-flower water. To use gum arabic as a covering, melt 15 g of gum arabic in 2 tablespoons of flower water. The gum must be thoroughly dissolved, so follow the packet instructions.

Using an artist's paintbrush, coat the flowers, petals or leaves on all sides with the gum arabic mixture, then dust them all over with caster sugar. Place the flowers on a baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper and leave them in a warm place for one to two days until they are dry and hard. Stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, they will keep for up to a year.

As this method takes quite some time and the flowers tend to lose their shape, it is best-suited for petals and flowers that are strongly scented and flavored and have a good color, such as gardenia, rose petals or violets. They can be used whole as decorations, or can be crushed and stirred into meringues or whipped cream for a delicate flavoring. Frosted flowers are a pretty touch on a cake or mousse.

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00:30:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which type of flowers are suitable for crystallizing? There are some better to use than others.

Many highly scented flowers are edible: fruit blossom, jasmine, lilac, wattle, clove-scented pinks, primroses, roses and violets. However, never eat flowers that have been treated with pesticides or any that are grown from bulbs as they are toxic. The flowers must be perfect, very fresh and completely dry. Use them as quickly as possible as they will begin to fade and wilt rapidly.

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11:15:00 on 10/26/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are there any variations on the traditional flour, butter and sugar crumble? Sometimes we would like our crumbles to have something more in the way of crunch.

We can always add texture in several ways for our crumbles. Sprinkle the crumble topping with 30 g or 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, or flaked almonds before baking. Or use a coarser sugar such as demerara instead of caster sugar, and replace 30 g of the flour with the same weight of toasted muesli or crushed amaretti biscuits. Add these at the same time as the sugar.

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09:30:00 on 10/26/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there any way to determine how much topping to add to a crumble?

The shape and size of the dish you use will determine how much topping you should add. Choose a wide shallow dish rather than a narrow, deep one for a crumble; in a deep dish there will be a little less crunchy crumble showing on top, but plenty underneath which will not become crisp. Using a shallow dish with more surface area will result in a thinner, crispy topping.

Don't worry if some of the juice from the fruit seeps through the crumble. These sticky parts taste sweet and delicious - they are one of the best bits and every crumble should have some.

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08:30:00 on 10/26/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to make croutons that are healthy but still tasty?

Usually croutons are made by frying 5 mm cubes of bread in oil or butter, which is delicious but rather high in fat. They can also be toasted, which cuts out the fat, but this tends to reduce the flavor. For a reasonable compromise, toss the cubes in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then spread them on a baking tray and bake them in an oven preheated to 190 degrees C, for about 10 minutes, or until they are completely crisp.

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07:07:57 on 10/26/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why does creme caramel sometimes contain so many air bubbles?

Creme caramel is cooked in a bain-marie in order to achieve a slow and gentle transmission of heat to the egg mixture. If the egg custard is not cooked in a bain-marie, the oven heat will go directly into the mixture and cook it too quickly, resulting in a custard that contains air bubbles and a grainy or curdled texture. If this does happen there is no remedy. Immersing the dish in cold water will help to stop the cooking process quickly, but it may already be too late for rescue.

Small air bubbles, giving the custard a pitted appearance, can also be created if cold milk was used to make the custard instead of milk that was heated first. You should have no problems with air bubbles if you follow the recipe closely.

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16:11:39 on 10/25/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we make creme brulee without a proper grill?

Yes, this classic French dessert is made from a thick, baked vanilla custard and sprinkled with caster sugar which is melted to caramel. This is usually done under a grill but the dish can also be browned in the oven at 200 degrees C for about 15 minutes, until the sugar bubbles.

Alternatively, you can make a caramel topping separately by gently heating 125 g (1/2 cup) of sugar in 125 ml of water until it dissolves, then boil until it changes to a rich caramel color and pour it over the custards. Leave for a few minutes to harden, then serve.

Or pour the caramel thinly onto a greased baking tray, allow it to set, then break it into small pieces and sprinkle over each custard.

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12:45:00 on 10/25/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can ordinary cream be turned into sour cream easily?

Yes, just stir 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice into 150 ml of fresh cream, depending on how thick you like it. Left to stand for 30 minutes and the cream will thicken. The taste and texture will be slightly different, but it is a good substitute for commercial sour cream. To make a lighter version, blend equal quantities of cream and yoghurt. Creams, fresh and sour, are an ideal base for a quick party dips. Serve with raw vegetables, corn chips, bread sticks, crisps, or pita bread, or use to fill baked potatoes.

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17:17:46 on 10/24/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Should we use fromage frais like a cream or like a cheese?

Fromage frais, which mean, 'fresh cheese' in French, is made from skimmed cow's milk and may have been enriched with cream. it can be used like cream in both sweet and savory dishes, but it cannot be whipped, and it curdles easily on heating. Add to the hot dish, off the heat, stir in well and then reheat the dish gently for a few seconds only.

As a dessert, formage frais can be served fresh with fruit or sugar, or substituted for cream or cheese in cheesecakes. You can also use fromage frais instead of cream for a pavlova. Flavored fromage frais is widely available. Fromage frais will kepp for up to two months in the freezer; stir it well once it has been thawed and use the same day.

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13:24:38 on 10/24/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

About whipped cream

How to rescue the cream if it has been whipped too much?
There is no remedy. Always chill the cream before starting to whip and beat it firmly but carefully and not too fiercely.

Is it possible to make a lighter type of whipped cream?
You can lighten whipped cream by folding in one whisked egg white to every 300 ml of whipped cream. This lightened cream must be used within 2 hours as it is less stable than standard whipped cream.

Will cream separate if another flavoring is added to it?
No, just pour the flavoring, such as flower water, spirits or liqueur, into the cream, stir until well mixed, then chill until needed.

Can cream be frozen?
Yes, as long as it has a milk fat content of 35 percent or more. The best results are achieved by half-whipping the cream before freezing. The cream should then be placed in a suitable freezer container, leaving room for expansion. Freeze for up to three months and defrost in the refrigerator.

Is it possible to substitute creme fraiche for cream, and use it the same way?
Yes, but it is not suitable for whipping. However, the high fat content of creme fraiche means it does not curdle when heated, and it is therefore suitable for hot dishes such as soups, where it acts as a thickener, and casseroles. We can also eat creme fraiche with fruit purees or honey. Or serve it with cakes, tarts or any dessert you would usually serve with cream.

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11:48:17 on 10/24/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can frozen cranberries be used to make cranberry sauce?

Yes, frozen cranberries can be used to make cranberry sauce and they should be cooked while they are still frozen. Cranberry sauce is most often served with roast turkey, but it can also be used as a sweet topping for ice cream or cheesecake, as a filling for sponge cakes or little meringue nests, either combined with or topped with whipped cream.

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08:31:20 on 10/24/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we use couscous in desserts?

Yes, steam the couscous over boiling water, then top with a generous pat of butter, a few raisins and sprinkle sugar over to taste. Stir in some milk if you like. Alternatively, flavor the cooked couscous with the juice of an orange, chopped dates, and nuts such as pistachios.

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15:57:16 on 10/23/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is couscous?

Couscous is a pasta made from grains of semolina given a coating of extra fine flour so that they absorb moisture more easily, but it looks like a grain. Couscous was invented in North Africa, where it is steamed over a stew, allowing the grains to swell and soften as they absorb the steam and the flavor of the stew.

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11:12:24 on 10/23/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Often when we use cornflour, it makes our sauces lumpy. What can we do?

When used properly, cornflour is an excellent thickener. Place the required amount of conrflour in a small bowl and stir in a little cold water (1-2 tablespoons) until it is completely blended. Add a little of the hot sauce to the cornflour mixture, blend well and then whisk this back into your main sauce, which should be just below boiling point. Stir the sauce continually until it reaches a steady simmer, then cook it gently for 2 minutes and serve.

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10:12:20 on 10/23/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between cornflour and cornmeal, and can they be used in the same way?

Cornflour and cornmeal differ considerably. Cornflour is ground to a fine chalky white powder and is a valuable thickening agent in sauces. It is also added to some cakes and biscuits. Cornmeal is much coarser, used to make polenta, muffins and some breads, in particular corn bread.

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16:11:47 on 10/22/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is corned beef and how did it get its name?

In South America and Britain the term refers to beef that has been cured, boiled, heavily pressed and put into cans. The name, however, comes from an Irish American joint that is known in Australia as corned beef - brisket or silverside cured in brine. The early Irish settlers preserved joints of beef by coating them with grains (or corns) or salt, a process known as corning.

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06:42:49 on 10/22/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

We have used frozen corn kernels in rice salads and thick soups. Are there any other uses for them, and could we use canned instead?

When fresh sweetcorn is out of season, frozen corn makes a fair substitute and is better than the canned variety, which tends to lack that special juicy texture. Frozen corn can be stirred into a thick pancake batter to make corncakes (about the size of a pikelet), which are a very good accompaniment to fried chicken and great with a breadfast fry-up. They can also be served hot as a starter: place two or three pancakes in the cupped leaf of a crisp iceberg lettuce and accompany with a spicy salsa sauce.

Alternatively, it can also be served as a sauce or a starchy accompaniment to roast chicken, baked ham or smoked fish fillets.

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15:46:26 on 10/21/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to cook and serve corn-on-the-cob?

In late summer, the whole cobs make a splendid if rather messy starter to an informal meal. Strip off the outer husk, pull away the silky hairs and trim the stems. Cook them for 15 minutes at a rolling boil without salt, which makes the skins of the kernals tough and spoils the sweet flavor. You can add a pinch of sugar for extra sweetness. Serve them with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper or cayenne pepper. Baby corn cobs can be eaten whole but they lack the sweetness of full grown corn cobs.

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13:59:29 on 10/21/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Polenta appears on many menus nowadays, but seems different in each restaurant. Are there several ways to prepare it?

In northern Italy, wet polenta, a savory corn porridge, is served like mashed potato to soak up the juices from a stew. Polenta takes a long time to cook, and needs stirring throughout, but instant polenta, taking about 5 minutes to make, is now widely available.

Wet polenta can be a meal in its own right, flavored with cheese, pepper and a little virgin olive oil. Chopped vegetables, herbs and olives are other good additions.

Polenta is also frequently served in 'cakes', made by allowing wet polenta to cool and set. This is then cut into squares, slices or triangles and grilled or fried. These cakes, while also served with stews, can make delicious snacks topped with grilled red peppers and tomatoes.

For a substantial snack, cut the set polenta into small circles, take two and sandwich with a slice of mozzarella. Coat in egg and breadcrumbs and fry on both sides until the outside is crispy and the cheese is melted in the center.

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10:20:16 on 10/20/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are hominy and grits the same, and where do they come from?

Hominy is made from corn kernels in a process whereby the outer hull is removed and the remaining kernel left to dry. The dried kernel is then soaked overnight, or cooked for several hours, before it can be added to slow-cooking meat stews.

Grits are made by grinding dried hominy to provide a finer cereal that then needs no presoaking. They require a shorter cooking time than cornmeal, which is made from the whole grain of corn, but grits have less fiber, flavor and texture. The cereal is used throughout the south of the United States, usually cooked to a mush and served with bacon and eggs for breakfast.

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09:26:48 on 10/20/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Many people thought that the word corn referred to wheat, but later discovered the word maize. What is the explanation?

In Britain, corn is often used to describe all growing cereals, even wheat, but the term used in the United States (maize) is becoming widespread. In Australia, there are two basic types. Sweetcorn, which is eaten as a vegetable or dried to form the kernels that become popcorn and field corn, used as animal feed or processed to make cornmeal, cornflour and corn oil. Blue cornmeal takes its name from the black and blue kernels of a particular American variety of sweetcorn and is used in tortilla chips.

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08:39:19 on 10/20/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there any possibility of coconut milk curdling when you cook it.

Yes, it will curdle if cooked on a high heat or if it is too thick. Never place a block of creamed coconut directly onto a heated surface as it will burn. Always melt it down with enough water to cover, either on the stove or in a microwave oven.

When a recipe calls for coconut milk to be added at the end, it is to prevent it rendering down to oil during prolonged boiling. If a dish does not require more than 30 minutes of simmering, it doesn't matter when you add the milk. But once you have added it, do not stir the dish again until ready to serve.

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07:12:10 on 10/20/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is coconut milk the liquid in the middle of the nut? And what is the difference between canned coconut milk, creamed coconut milk and coconut milk powder?

The liquid in the middle of a coconut is not coconut milk but coconut water, a delicately flavored liquid that can be drunk straight out of the shell or added to fruit juices. Coconut milk comes from the flesh of the coconut, shredded or otherwise processed to extract a thick, white liquid. It can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.

Coconut milk is sold in cans, in which form it is very easy to use. Coconut milk powder is coconut milk that has been dehydrated, and it needs to be reconstituted with warm water. Also available is canned coconut cream, which is slightly thicker and richer, and block coconut cream, which is used to thicken and flavor.

You can get a thin milk from desiccated coconut by soaking it in an equal volume of hot water and squeezing it through a muslin cloth.

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16:38:53 on 10/19/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between desiccated, flaked, shredded and creamed coconut and how is each one used?

They are all derived from fresh coconuts, but differ in how they are processed. Desiccated coconut is the shredded white flesh of the coconut from which all the moisture has been extracted. it can be bought either flaked or in shredded strands.

Desiccated coconut in all its forms is suitable for both sweet and savory dishes, but is used mainly in cakes and biscuits. The longer strands and flakes are usually used for garnishing and decorating.

Creamed coconut, sold in cans or as a block, is formed from desiccated coconut that has been ground to an oily paste which thickens and sets when chilled. The block is sealed in plastic, and once opened, can be stored in the refrigerator for many weeks. Simply cut off pieces to use. Add creamed coconut to traditional Southeast Asian and Indian curries, or to stews, casseroles and soups to enrich and flavor them.

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09:10:25 on 10/19/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between chocolate and cocoa?

Cocoa comes from the cacao bean, the fruit of the cacao tree, and was one of the treasures Columbus took back to Spain from the New World. The cacao tree originated in the Amazon rain forest and had spread as far as Peru and Mexico in Columbus's time. However, it was Hernando Cortez, while conquering Mexico for Spain, who realized that cocoa was special after he saw it transformed into a chocolate liquid, served in golden goblets, at the court of Emperor Montezuma.

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12:40:04 on 10/18/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to get the right clams to make an American clam chowder?

Quahogs or hard-shell clams are named in the United States according to size, starting with little necks and cherrystones and going up to the largest sharps or chowder clams, which can measure up to 13 cm. It is these large ones that are minced for chowders, as they have a strong flavor and will withstand long cooking, but you can use any clams and simply add them later in the cooking. Canned clams can also be used in a chowder and New England clam chowder is rich and creamy.

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07:36:24 on 10/18/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to tell which oranges or lemons contain the most juice?

It is difficult to tell, but as a general rule, choose smooth, thin-skinned fruit that feel heavy as these are usually juicier than those with a knobbly rind. To get more juice out of a lemon or orange, roll it backwards and forwards under your hand on the work surface a few times before you squeeze it. If the fruit has gone hard, pop it into the microwave on High for 30 seconds before squeezing.

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14:13:01 on 10/17/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Citrus fruits are waxed. Why is this done, and is it unhealthy?

After harvesting, most citrus fruits are washed before being packed. As the washing process removes some of the fruits' natural protective coating, they are given a thin coating of wax to help prevent hydration, extend storage life and improve their appearance. The waxes used for fruits are made from natural products and are also used to coat jelly beans. They must conform to food standards.

The washed fruit is also treated with preservatives and pesticides to prevent the fruit decaying and protect it against insect damage. These substances are controlled by state and territory legislation and safety assessment, taking account of the fact that the peel may be used for cooking.

If these additives make you uneasy, buy organic fruit which is neither waxed nor treated with fungicides. Seville oranges, used for marmalade, are usually free of wax and fungicide, but unwaxed lemons (unless they are organic) will have been treated with fungicides. It is best to scrub citrus fruit under a warm tap with a clean nailbrush before use, as the various substances can come off on your fingers and be eaten with the fruit.

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12:50:28 on 10/17/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to tell when a chutney has cooked enough to be bottled?

Chutney is ready when it has reduced and thickened to a jam-like consistency and no excess liquid remains. Long, slow cooking is best for chutneys, so that the ingredients can break down and all the flavor is extracted.

Once cooked and bottled, store chutney in a cool, dry, dark place for at least a month before eating, to allow the flavors to develop and mellow. If kept in the correct conditions, unopened jars can keep for up to a year. Once opened, consume within a month.

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11:44:27 on 10/17/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is actually 'onion confit' which we normally see in restaurant menus?

Onion confit is a popular feature in many restaurants, and is easy to make at home. Basically, it consists of either whole button onions or sliced onions, cooked very slowly in oil with spices, vinegar and sugar until they are reduced to a jam-like consistency. Herbs can be added to enhance the flavor.

Its full, rich flavor is especially good served hot with roast meats and game, or served at room temperature with pates and terrines.

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07:59:57 on 10/17/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When chutney developed mold, what could have gone wrong?

The most likely explanation is that not enough vinegar was used, as this is the ingredient that preserves the chutney against spoilage. There needs to be at least 1 liter of vinegar to every 3 kg of fruit and vegetables. Other possible causes of mold are under-cooking the mixture, so it retains too much moisture, or the use of unsterilized jars.

Chutney with mold growing on its surface should not be eaten, as the mold may have produced toxins within the entire jar.

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08:22:10 on 10/16/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to prepare and sterilize jars to store chutney?

Wash them in warm soapy water, then put them in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes. You can also sterilize jars in the microwave: half fill them with cold water, then heat them on High for about 3 minutes or until the water boils. Whichever method you use, then put the jars upside-down in an oven preheated to 140 degrees C and leave them to dry for 10 minutes.

The jars must be clean, dry and warm when the hot chutney is added. As soon as you have filled the jar, cover the chutney with a waxed disc and seal with a glass, plastic or plastic-coated lid. Do not use bare metal as the vinegar in the chutney would corrode it.

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07:25:38 on 10/16/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

There are many types of chopstick available, Which one to buy?

It is best to use bamboo chopsticks, as plastic and lacquered ones are slippery and morsels tend to slide off them. Japanese chopsticks have a pointed end as this makes it easier to pick up pieces of marinated fish, for example. However, Chinese chopsticks are blunt because in China, it is thought unlucky to bring sharp implements to the table when eating.

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15:08:17 on 10/15/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to use chopsticks and are they any better than a fork?

Chopsticks are used mainly to scoop up noodles and to shovel rice from bowl to mouth, holding the bowl close to the lips. Chinese people never use chopsticks to pick up rice by the grain to convey to the mouth, as falling grains symbolize bad luck.

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11:48:40 on 10/15/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to chop fresh green herbs?

The easiest way to chop most herbs is with a large and sharp knife. You have much more control and it is quicker than using scissors (except in the case of chives). If you are chopping herbs in bulk, an Italian mezzaluna is a handy tool. This is a double-handed chopper with a semicircular blade that you use with a rocking motion. While these are usually single bladed, they may have up to four parallel blades that can make fast work of large piles of herbs.

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10:46:00 on 10/15/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best material for a chopping board?

Wood is generally preferred for chopping boards as a thick board made of seasoned wood will last a very long time and the food does not slide over the surface. Wood also has the advantage of not blunting knives as quicly as other materials.

Doubts have been raised about the hygiene of wood, but researches found that wooden boards may be better than plastic for keeping bacteria at bay. A variety of boards were deliberately contaminated and left overnight. Levels of bacteria on the wooden boards were virtually undetectable while bacteria levels had actually risen on some of the plastic boards. The researches surmized that bacteria may be sucked in by the porous structure of wood and destroyed by the antimicrobial chemicals that protect trees from infection.

Other materials used for chopping boards are polypropylene and toughened glass, both of which can be sterilized easily. In a restaurant or other professional kitchen, these polypropylene boards are often color coded so that different ones are used for raw meat, cooked meat, fish, fruit and vegetables to avoid cross contamination.

Whatever material you choose, be sure to scrub your board thoroughly in hot fresh water and soap or an antibacterial cleaner after every use. If the board is washed properly and stored on its edge and not in contact with other surfaces, contamination will be minimal.

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09:26:22 on 10/14/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best chocolate for cooking? And when a recipe says dark chocolate what should be used?

The best chocolate for cooking is dark cooking chocolate containing a high percentage of cocoa solids. Milk chocolate is rarely used in cooking as it does not have the depth of flavor of dark chocolate, but it can be used if it is chilled and then finely grated before melting. These steps are necessary because milk chocolate can easily seize up.

'Chocolate compound' cake coverings or coatings are not chocolate at all. They contain no cocoa solids and most or all of the cocoa butter has been replaced with coconut or palm oil. Although they are very easy to melt and handle, these coatings do not have the flavor or texture of real chcolate. It is a false economy to cook with very inexpensive chocolate or substitutes as the results are disappointing.

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08:37:12 on 10/14/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to make a smooth chocolate sauce?

Use roughly equal amounts of fresh cream and finely grated dark cooking chocolate. For example, put 100 ml of cream into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Remove it from the heat immediately and leave for 30 seconds to cool. Add 100 g of chocolate and stir well until the sauce is smooth and glossy. You could then add a flavoring such as cherry, coffee or orange brandy if you wish, and use it at once if the sauce is to be served warm. To serve the sauce cold, stir in 2-3 tablespoons of milk and leave it to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

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07:21:31 on 10/14/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can carob be used as a substitute for chocolate in recipes?

Not really. Carob is the dried pod of the carob tree and has a sweet taste vaguely like that of the cocoa bean. Chocolate contains caffeine, but carob does not, so some people prefer to use it for health reasons. Carob can be bought as a powder to use in place of cocoa, and it chips and bars, but it should not be thought of as a substitute for good quality chocolate. Both the flavor and texture of carob are very different from the real thing.

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16:20:26 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is 'couverture' chocolate and what does 'tempering' mean?

Couverture chocolate is a type of chocolate used by professional confectioners. It contains more cocoa butter than ordinary chocolate and so melts and spreads easily. But cocoa butter is composed of fat crystals, and after melting some of these may recrystallize and form grey streaks in the chocolate called bloom which, though harmless, looks unattractive. So couverture chocolate has to be tempered: that is, heated and cooled to precise temperatures to prevent bloom and then spread and worked on a marble slab as it cools to produce a chocolate with a very smooth and shiny texture. All chocolate ideally needs tempering, but for most everyday cooking it is satisfactory to use good plain chocolate.

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13:05:01 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Sometimes when we try to melt white chocolate, it turned crumbly. What has gone wrong?

Some types of white chocolate have had some or all of the cocoa butter replaced with vegetable oil and these are extremely difficult to melt. White chocolate should never be directly substituted for dark or milk chocolate. Technically, white chocolate is not chocolate at all as it does not contain any cocoa solids. Should a particular recipe require white chocolate and it has to be melted, check that the type you buy contains a high level of cocoa butter and always chill and then finely grate before very gently melting it. If it seizes, white chocolate is impossible to rescue.

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11:56:16 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When melting chocolate, it occasionally becomes grainy. How to prevent that from happening?

When melting chocolate, remember that you are not heating or cooking it. Chocolate will melt in the heat of your hand, and that is how gentle the melting process should be. Chocolate that is grainy, or turns thick and seizes up in a solid mass, has been overheated.

It is also important that the chocolate be kept dry, as even one drop of water will cause it to seize. When you are melting chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, take the pan off the heat before putting the bowl on top then reduce the heat so that the water simmers gently and does not boil, as boiling water creates droplets of steam that may fall on the chocolate. Do not add any cold liquids to the chocolate until it has melted.

When you are melting chocolate in a microwave, use the Defrost setting and check its progress every 30-60 seconds; the chocolate will retain its shape even though it has softened.

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09:30:00 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What makes a good chocolate?

The key things to look for are cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The more cocoa solids a chocolate contains, the deeper and more intense the chocolate flavor will be. The wrapping must list the quantity of cocoa solids; any containing less than 50 per cent has little real chocolate taste; one with 70 per cent or more will have a much stronger, finer chocolate flavor.

The amount of cocoa butter listed on the packet will also help you to determine the quality of the chocolate. The more cocoa butter the chocolate contains, the softer it is, melting more easily and having a unique, mouth-feel quality.

But there is a huge demand for cocoa butter for use in cosmetics, which makes it very expensive, and so vegetable oils are substituted for the real thing in cheaper chocolate, reducing the flavor. Cocoa butter does not have to be listed on the packet by percentage, but you can work out how much is present by its position in the ingredients list, since these are shown in order of volume. If vegetable oil comes higher on the list than cocoa butter, it is an inferior chocolate. However, this is just a general guide and it is not necessarily has to be that way.

As a general rule, the thinner and smaller the pieces of chocolate, the finer the chocolate will be. Another way of identifying good chocolate is how smooth it feels on the tongue. This is because high quality chocolate undergoes a longer period of conching, or stirring, while it is being made. Very fine chocolate with a superior flavor is expensive, but you do not have to use as much to get an intense chocolate taste, so it is a good idea to pay a little more for the best.

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08:44:57 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we make won tons at home?

Stuffed won tons are simple to make at home. The only special ingredients you need are the won ton skins, which are now widely available either frozen or fresh in Asian food stores.

Minced pork and fresh shrimps are the essential ingredients for the stuffing. And by using the crunchy water chestnuts and the firm white tops of spring onions in the stuffing provides the right contrast to the soft texture of the won ton skins.

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04:30:33 on 10/12/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is actually Yum Cha?

Yum Cha, also known as dim sum and tien sin, is a collection of little snacks served to accompany tea. It is a tradition that began in Chinese tea houses aroung 500 years ago.

Many dishes, primarily breakfast fare but now also lunch and dinner, are served, usually from trolleys piled high with steaming baskets. Popular yum cha dishes include custard tarts, dumplings such as siew mai (filled with shrimps and pork) and steamed won tons.

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02:20:46 on 10/12/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What dishes should be included in a Chinese meal for the family?

Traditionally, most Chinese family meals feature four dishes and a soup, which is drunk throughout the meal and between mouthfuls of the other dishes.

Flavors should be based on the yin and yang concept of contrasts. For example, a typical meal might include deep-fried chicken (which is succulent), steamed fish (light), sweet and sour pork (rich and soft) and some water chestnuts (crisp). Dishes are shared, and the ideal menu would feature one dish per person, normally of chicken, fish, pork and a vegetable, generally accompanied by rice or noodles.

Starters are not usually a part of the traditional Chinese meal. If you do want a starter, select something light such as the Hot and Sour Soup. It lends itself to considerable variations, although the basic seasoning remains much the same. It can be left as a light, spicy vegetable-based soup, or you can add some pieces of chicken, pork or seafood to make it heartier.

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13:51:37 on 10/11/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do so many Chinese dishes contain monosodium glutamate?

Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is glutamic acid, or concentrated salt, used by Chinese cooks to boost the flavor of a dish rather as we use ordinary salt. It is not expensive and keeps indefinitely.

If used well, MSG can do much to improve the flavor of a dish, but it is true that some chefs add too much. In quantity, MSG can cause extreme thirst and other reactions like swollen neck glands, flushes and throbbing headaches. Using salt instead, along with sugar or vinegar is enough to bring out most flavors in food.

Alternatively, use a tablespoon or two of sesame oil or oyster sauce. These are complete seasonings in that they combine salt and flavoring with the richness of the base product. If you add one or both of these, there is no need to use salt, stock cubes or indeed, MSG.

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09:52:04 on 10/11/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How much rice is required for a Chinese meal, and is it best to have a special rice cooker?

In Asia, rice is regarded as a bland base and contrast for richly sauce dishes and it is usually eaten in the ratio of seven parts rice to three parts other food. A typical Asian serving would be 100g of rice per head. Western diners like a higher ratio of main dish food to their rice, and the usual serving is 60-90g per person.

In some parts of Asia, electric rice cookers have become very popular. These are worth the expense only if you frequently cook large quantities of rice. The simple and effective way to cook perfect, fluffy rice is to use what many homes already have, which is a microwave oven.

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07:42:01 on 10/10/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

There are so many variety of chilies. How should all these different types be used?

Chili is one of the world's favorite seasonings and there are hundred of types. The capsicum family of pepper-producing plants were introduced to Europe in the 16th century from South America. Chilies were then taken to India and Asia where they became popular.

Some chilies are used fresh and the type of fresh chili you choose for cooking will have a considerable effect on how hot the finished dish will be. Others are dried and ground and used to make such ingredients as chili powder, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. Chilies are also used in fiery sauces like Tabasco.

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06:20:13 on 10/10/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can chili powder or hot sauce be used to replace cayenne pepper in a recipe?

Yes, chili powder is very similar to cayenne pepper. Both are made from dried capsicums that have been finely ground, but cayenne is a little bit hotter. Hot pepper sauce (Tabasco) may be used as a substitute in liquid dishes, but it should not be used in dry mixtures.

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15:11:12 on 10/09/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is the color of a fresh chili any indication of how hot the flavor will be?

No. Most chilies are green when they are unripe and then ripen to yellow, orange, reddish-brown and purple or near-black. The fruity flavor increases with maturity but not the intrinsic heat. As a rough guide, smaller and slimmer chilies are the hottest, but there are exceptions. The only safe course is to become familiar with the common varieties.

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13:12:10 on 10/09/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are the uses of chickpeas?

Chickpeas are versatile, nourishing and useful in soups and stews, cooked with or without meat. You can also incorporate them in bean salads and vegetable dishes. Dried chickpeas need overnight soaking and long cooking to make them tender. For this reason, it is much easier to buy canned chickpeas, which are already cooked. Traditionally, a fluid, oily paste of sesame seeds called tahina is added to the chickpea mixture.

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04:50:14 on 10/09/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the reason for cooking chicken in a clay pot?

Cooking chicken in a clay pot is healthy, because you don't need to baste or use fat. The pot is a hollow, unglazed container that is put into a cold oven. As the oven heats, steam from the food condenses on the lid and bastes the food. The bird will be tender, flavorsome and moist - lightly browned and sitting in its delicious juices.

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12:08:02 on 10/08/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When roasting chicken, how to achieve moist flesh as well as a crisp, brown skin?

Pat the skin dry with kitchen paper towels. Smear it with butter, season with salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon juice all over.

For even cooking, place the bird in the baking dish on its side for the first third of the time, turn on the other side for the next third and finish with the breast uppermost. This ensures the bird is evenly cooked and less likely to scorch. Roast at 200 degrees C for 35-45 minutes per kg, plus 15-20 minutes. Baste often to keep moist and to color the skin golden brown.

When the bird is cooked, turn off the heat and rest it for 15 minutes with the oven door ajar, then carve.

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10:57:13 on 10/08/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can frozen chicken taste as good as the fresh variety?

While frozen chicken is inferior in taste to the fresh variety, free-range frozen birds have more flavor than fresh battery chickens. Remember that frozen poultry has water which drains out when the bird is defrosted, so weigh the bird after it has thawed to calculate the cooking time. Defrost the chicken in the refrigerator, allowing 2 hours per 500 g. When buying packs of frozen poultry, avoid any with pink ice crystals as these show signs of thawing and refreezing.

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09:56:05 on 10/08/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to keep a skinless chicken breast succulent?

If you are on a low-fat diet, you can poach the breast in stock, or cook it in a foil parcel with some sliced vegetables and seasonings. If you do not mind using a little oil, marinate the chicken in a mixture of olive oil, orange juice, honey and mustard, then grill. Baste with the marinade during cooking.

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06:26:25 on 10/08/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there an alternative to using fresh chestnuts in recipes?

Dried chestnuts are available from health food shops and when reconstituted, by soaking in water, they can be cooked and used in the same way as fresh chestnuts. Home-frozen peeled chestnuts taste identical to the fresh variety and are well worth storing in the freezer.

Canned whole and pureed chestnuts have been processed so do not have as good a flavor as fresh. And when using canned chestnut puree in savory recipes, always make sure that you have not purchased the sweetened version.

Fresh, dried or frozen chestnuts can be used for soups and stuffings, salads and vegetarian nut loaves and patties. Canned chestnuts are more suitable for sauces, cake fillings, desserts and ice cream recipes.

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12:41:11 on 10/07/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to cook fresh chestnuts once they have been peeled?

For stuffings or to serve with vegetables, gently boil fresh chestnuts in salted water or stock for about 30 minutes until just tender - they should feel soft when pierced with a fine skewer but not break up.

For purees, fresh chestnuts need to be cooked a little longer so that the nuts will be soft enough to pass easily through a sieve or mouli mill, or be processed in a blender or food processor.

For soups and casseroles, add the chestnuts raw and allow to soften in the cooking liquid along with the recipe's other ingredients. When using chestnuts in cakes and desserts, cook them barely covered with some sugar syrup or sweetened milk in a lidded, heavy-based saucepan, stirring often.

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11:41:59 on 10/07/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which are the best cherries to eat fresh and which should be used for cooking?

There are three basic types of cherry: sweet, semi-sweet and sour. The cherries that you generally find in shops are sweet or semi-sweet dessert cherries and they can be red, black or pale-skinned (sometimes referred to as white cherries). Some are plump and tender, others have a firmer flesh.

Sour cherries are red and the best known is the morello cherry, which has a strong acidic flavor. Morello cherries are suitable only for cooking and can be poached, used for sweet and savory pies, added to desserts, savory dishes, or made into preserves. Dessert cherries can also be used for cooking but will not have the same deep cherry flavor as morello cherries.

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10:00:59 on 10/07/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the quickest way to remove stones from cherries?

Use a cherry stoner, available from most kitchen shops. First remove the stems from the cherries. Place them one at a time and with the stalk end uppermost on the base of the cherry stoner, then close the plunger to push out the cherry stone. Alternatively, you can use the point of a knife to split the fruit and carefully praise out the stones.

Besides, you might also want to stone cherries inside a clean, plastic bag to prevents the cherry juice from splashing over the work surface or your clothes.

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08:13:11 on 10/07/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Many cheesecake recipes specify the use of cream cheese. What would happen if we were to use reduced-fat, light cream cheese in them instead?

Many soft, fresh low-fat cheeses are suitable for making uncooked, chilled cheesecakes. You can substitute or combine reduced-fat cream cheese, neufchatel, ricotta, mascarpone, or quark. However, for a richer cooked cheesecake it is safer to use the cheese that is recommended in the recipe, or one very similar. Reduced-fat cheeses curdle more easily when heated and may separate in a cooked cheesecake.

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12:09:46 on 10/06/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best cheese to use when making cheese biscuits?

Choose a firm, hard cheese which will grate finely; ordinary Cheddar may be too soft and could produce a sticky dough that is difficult to roll. For a good strong flavor use a mature Cheddar or Gruyere, perhaps combined with some freshly grated Parmesa. To achieve a crisp, short texture, the pastry should be bound with a little egg.

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11:06:49 on 10/06/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to serve mascarpone?

Mascarpone is a fresh unripened cheese with a thick creamy texture. It should be used within two to three days of purchase. It is a versatile cheese and can be used in savory or sweet recipes. Try using it in place of sour cream in your favorite dip, or add it to a cheesecake. It is perfect accompaniment to poached fruit or fruit salad when mixed with a little brandy or liqueur and icing sugar.

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10:06:03 on 10/06/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are 'eye' cheeses?

Eye cheeses are those that contain holes or eyes, such as Swiss-style Emmental, Gruyere and Raclette, the Dutch-style Edam and Gouda, and Havarti and Tilsit.

The cheese is usually smooth and satiny and the eyes are formed by the production of carbon dioxide during ripening. The eyes can be large and quite distinct as in Emmental, or small in close-textured cheeses, such as Gouda.

The flavor of these eye cheeses is mild, slightly sweet and nutty, so they are enjoyed by most children. They are usually cut from a wheel so look attractive on a cheese board. They are also suitable for cooking. Rachlette, in particular, is good for melting and serving Swiss-style over new potatoes.

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15:53:11 on 10/05/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are 'pasta filata' cheeses?

Australian Mozzarella, Bocconcini, Provolone and Haloumy belong to the family of 'pasta filata' cheeses originally produced in Italy. These cheeses are characterized by working the curd to a plastic state in hot water, so that it may be drawn out to a rope. It is then cut into varying lengths for moulding into individual shapes. Pasta filata cheeses are also called stretched curd cheeses.

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14:46:20 on 10/05/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Should cheese be served before or after dessert?

The French and other Continental Europeans offer the cheese board before dessert to accompany the last of the red wine that has been served with the main course. This completes the savory part of the meal before guests move on to the sweet course, a logical progression for the palate and the one generally preferred by cheese enthusiasts.

In Britain, there was a tradition of ending a formal dinner with a savory to accompany the port, and the cheese was served after dessert. With today's lighter, more casual meals, cheese may be offered as an alternative to dessert. Do whichever you prefer.

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13:14:02 on 10/05/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When grilling or baking cheese on top of a dish, it looks unpleasant. What went wrong?

Providing that you have chosen a cheese appropriate for grilling or baking, it is most likely that the cheese has been covercooked. In fact, cheese needs only to be melted. Do not put it too close to a fierce grill. Once cheese reaches temperatures above 75 degrees C, it is likely to become hard, stringy or chewy, because the heat encourages the proteins, fat and water in the cheese to separate.

For a successful result, try adding an equal quantity of fresh breadcrumbs to the grated cheese.

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12:19:48 on 10/05/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which cheeses are best to have on hand in the kitchen for cooking?

Strong, mature cheeses are generally better for cooking than mild cheeses. Cheddar is the most widely used cheese for cooking, but other firm-textured cheeses are equally versatile and delicious. Gruyere is very popular for cooking because of its excellent flavor and good melting qualities. Gouda cheese is a good alternative.

Emmental and stretched curd cheeses, such as Mozzarella and Provolone, make excellent melting cheeses and are popular because, although they become stringy, they maintain their creamy qualities during cooking longer than other cheeses. Emmental is classically used with Gruyere in fondues, and Mozzarella and Provolone are good for topping pizzas. Haloumy, which is another stretched curd cheese, can be dry-fried like steak.

Blue cheeses melt well and retain their piquancy, making them useful for sauces, pasta, grilled dishes, souffles, soups, salad dressings, dips and for topping red meats.

Very hard, grainy cheeses such as Parmesan and Romano are useful sprinkled over foods, but they also melt well in sauces, souffles and risottos. They are often combined with other cheeses such as Swiss Gruyere, but even a small quantity will add a lot of flavor.

Smooth, fresh cheeses such as curd cheese, cream cheese and ricotta have a mild, milky flavor that is excellent in desserts, and can also be used in savory fillings for pastries or pasta. Soft, fresh flavored cheeses, such as those with garlic and herbs, can be melted to make sauces or used in savory fillings. Keep the cooking time for these cheeses brief, otherwise they will separate.

Goat's milk cheeses are slightly less versatile than most but can be used for pizzas and crostini. They combine particularly well with nuts. Rinded goat's cheeses are best when peeled before being cooked in case the rind imparts too much of a farmyard flavor.

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14:02:37 on 10/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Where is the best place to store cheese and how should it be wrapped?

Ideally, cheese should be stored in the refrigerator, at temperature of 4-6 degrees C, because this provides a low temperature and low humidity.

To avoid cheese being tainted by the aromas from other foods, keep it in its own plastic box or separate compartment in the refrigerator, and store it in its original wrapper, where possible. Or else wrap individual pieces of cheese in waxed paper or foil. Greaseproof paper draws the fat from the cheese and encourages mold. Plastic wrap can induce sweating, although it may be used to cover just the cut surfaces of hard and blue cheeses. Whatever the material used, do not wrap cheese tightly; allow it to breathe. The harder the cheese, the longer it will keep. Some cheeses like Cheddar, Cheshire, Leicester, Colby, Emmental, Gouda, Parmesan and Romano can be kept for months if properly wrapped and stored. A little mold or cut surfaces which have become slightly dried and cracked can simply be trimmed away.

Ideally, buy only a quantity of cheese that you can consume within one to two weeks.

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13:09:14 on 10/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How do goat's milk and other animals' cheese differ from cheeses made with cow's milk?

When they are young, mild and creamy, fresh goat's milk cheeses taste quite similar to cheeses made from cow's milk. Their characteristic tang develops with age and very mature goat's milk cheeses have a strong 'farmyard' flavor though they should always taste clean. Unlike most cow's milk cheeses, the paste is usually bright white in color, except for hard goat's milk cheese, which is pale yellow.

Goat's milk cheeses are just as high in fat as cow's milk cheeses, but both goat's and ewe's milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow's milk cheeses because their fat particles are smaller; some people who are intolerant of cow's milk can tolerate goat's milk.

With their high flavor, goat's cheeses cannot easily be substituted for cow's milk cheeses in cooking, but they are good in souffles, or grilled, served with salads.

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11:29:24 on 10/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we serve cheese to a vegetarian?

Yes and no. It all depends if the vegetarian is a lacto-vegetarian or a vegan. Lacto-vegetarians do eat dairy products, which include cheese as well as milk, cream, butter, yoghurt, buttermilk and ice cream. A vegan does not eat dairy products or eggs, fish , meat, poultry or game. However, you can serve soycheese to a vegan. This is made from soy beans, available in various flavors such as black pepper, chives and garlic, and is suitable for cheese boards. It is available in health food stores.

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10:33:40 on 10/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is farm and farmhouse cheese? Do these names mean the cheese is of better quality than cheese which is not labelled 'farm' or 'farmhouse'?

The terms 'farm' and 'farmhouse' are not legally regulated, so their use is no guarantee that the cheese has been made, as one might expect, on a small scale using traditional equipment. However, the terms usually indicate high quality, specialty cheeses. Generally, the cheese has been made on a farm, using the milk of that farm and, frequently, its neighbors. However, this can include a wide area and a large number of animals. Similarly, cheese producers not based on farms may have very large or quite small specialized operations.

Farm or farmhouse cheese makers in Australia tend to focus on European-style cheeses, such as chevre or goat's cheeses, ewe's milk cheeses, washed rind and vine ash cheeses, Brie, Camembert, Feta, Haloumy and Swiss cheese styles. These fine or specialist cheeses are most often made on a small scale, by cheesemakers who use traditional methods and provide this country with huge diversity of cheese.

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09:17:23 on 10/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

The difference between cereals and breakfast cereals.

Cereals are the edible grains or seeds, of grasses. The name comes from Ceres, the Roman goddess of tillage and corn. The cultivation of wild grasses marked the transition of hunter gatherers to agriculturalist. The cultivation of grains developed according to geography and climate. The main cereal grains are wheat and barley, which spread from Egypt and the Middle East to Europe, India and parts of Asia. Rice became the staple cereal of Asia; millet developed in Africa and Asia; corn and maize became the staple cereals of North and South America.

Some of these cereal crops are processed to produce the large range of breakfast cereals available on supermarket shelves worldwide. Cereal grains have also given rise to other processed foods in several food cultures, such as noodles, pasta, tortillas, couscous, polenta, as well as several flours and breads.

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07:10:02 on 10/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Celery seems to wilt and go soft quite quickly even when kept in the refrigerator. Is there a way to keep it crisp?

A whole head of celery will keep fresh for up to a week when placed in a vegetable crisper, or in a long-life green storage bag, in the refrigerator. However, it may need to be cut in half to fit in the crisper drawer. You can break off individual stalks for use and the remainder will keep well, especially if it is still attached to its root base.

To prepare celery, cut the strings from coarser outer stalks, trim the stalks and wash all the celery carefully to remove trapped earth. The celery stalks can then be sliced, diced, chopped or cut into strips to be cooked in soups and stews, braised or steamed as a vegetable or used in stir-fries. Serve it raw as a crisp partner to cheese.

For best effect when serving as a raw accompaniment, especially on a cheese board, you can leave some of the leaves attached.

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How is celeriac prepared and then cooked?

Celeriac is one of the knobblier root vegetables. It needs to be thickly peeled and cut straight into water acidulated with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. It cooks to a good puree, which is often mixed with mashed potato to soften its flavor and make the texture drier. Chopped celery adds a crunchy contrast. The puree goes well with chicken, and is very good with fish, particularly as the topping to a fish pie.

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14:01:49 on 10/03/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the suggested way to serve caviar?

Set the can in a bowl filled with ice. Open the chilled can just before serving, as air causes caviar to oxidize, affecting the flavor. Serve it simply, with triangles of hot toast and unsalted butter. Blini (buckwheat pancakes) and sour cream are also good with caviar, as are smoked salmon and new potatoes with cream fraiche. Avoid accompaniments such as egg, lemon, onion and parsley which only detract from the flavor. Serve champagne and iced vodka as the traditional drinks.

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Are there any caviar substitutes that are less expensive?

Pressed caviar, a favorite with the Russians, is a mixture of damaged or fragile eggs pressed through muslin after salting and cost less than the whole caviar. Other less expensive varieties include salmon caviar, also known as red caviar or keta, which is shiny and orange-red in color, and lumpfish caviar, which is very small and black. Although these are not really 'true' caviars, they have a similar, highly salted taste.

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What is the difference between the various types of caviar and why are some so expensive?

Caviar is the roe (or eggs) of the sturgeon. These are very highly salted, which helps to preserve and flavor them. The three main types of caviar - beluga, oscietra and sevruga - come from different varieties of sturgeon. These originate mainly from fish in the Caspian Sea that are over 15 years old.

The most expensive caviar is from the beluga, as only about a hundred fish caught each year. The eggs are fragile and vary in color from light to dark grey with a white spot. Sevruga is small dark grey, with a light, sweet taste.

Nutty-flavored eggs from the oscietra are small and black when the fish are young - but become larger and golden as the fish ages.

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Why is cauliflower so often served with a sauce?

Cauliflower is a particularly bland vegetable served on its own. The absorbent heads are much better soaking up a cheese sauce to make a tasty lunch or family dinner dish. The ability soak up flavors also makes caulifloer an excellent ingredient to add to soup, or to include in vegetable curries.

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10:03:16 on 10/03/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to pick and choose cauliflower?

Look for firm, creamy-white florets that are tight and without brown speckles. Check also the condition of the base of the stem. If it is dry and discolored, the cauliflower is certainly past its best. The outer leaves of a cauliflower are usually cut away before they are sold. This helps you to see the head but removes what would be a clue to a limp, older cauliflower that is definitely best avoided.

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08:56:22 on 10/03/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are fricassee and blanquette the same dish?

Although both of them are white stews, they are not the same dish. A fricassee is made from poultry and other white meat, and the meat is just turned in fat but not browned before cooking in a white sauce.

For a blanquette, the meat or seafood is poached in stock and a sauce is made with the liquor after cooking, to pour over the meat.

Fricassee really should be made with fresh meat but sometimes using leftovers could also be an excellent way.

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15:50:48 on 10/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do recipes require the use of stock for casseroles when the ingredients should have provided enough flavor?

A well-flavored stock will give a better taste than plain water. However, it is quite acceptable to use plain water with the tougher cuts of meat. These are anyway best left to cook for a long time along with other flavorings such as herbs, vegetables, spices and wine.

Adding some bones is another way in which you can help to improve the taste of a casserole. Shank bones have a hollow center that contains a soft material called marrow. Putting these bones in enhances the stock flavor as well as providing good nutrients.

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14:50:55 on 10/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Recipes often suggest cooking casseroles for 2 hours to make them tender, but sometimes, it could take about 3 hours to do so. Is it normal?

The cooking time for a casserole depends largely on the cut of meat that is used. Nowadays, relatively tender cuts of meat are included, and these can be cooked successfully in as little as 1-2 hours.

In previous times, traditional casseroles were made with the tougher cuts from the leg, neck and shoulder of older animals. The well-developed muscle fiber and connective tissue could be broken down only by slow, moist cooking. Casserole meat is usually cut into pieces to accelerate this process.

These tough cuts of meat usually have an excellent flavor, with the connective tissue dissolving to a gelatine during slow cooking. This gives a very soft texture and an excellent rich, velvety sauce, but the process may take 3 hours.

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13:19:59 on 10/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do recipes tell us to flour and fry the meat first when it is going to be casseroled for hours?

The meat is fried partly to seal in the juices, and also to give it a rich brown color. Flour protects meat, and helps to thicken the gravy.

Fry the meat in small batches, for only about a minute or two each batch. It is not necessary to move the meat around in the pan. Simply turn each piece so it browns all over.

To flour meat, place the cubes into a clean paper or plastic bag and add the flour and seasoning. Hold the bag closed and shake until all the meat has been coated. Using the plastic bag to toss meat in flour helps to ensure an even coating.

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10:05:26 on 10/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between a casserole, stew and daube?

All of them use long, slow and moist cooking in a covered container to tenderize tough meats and vegetables, but they differ in the ingredients and type of pot used.

A casserole uses small pieces of meat and vegetables and is usually cooked in the oven. A stew is made on the top of the stove. In fact, it was originally would have been cooked slowly over an open fire. A daube makes use of a large cut of meat, often beef, braised in wine. Traditionally, it was cooked over a fire in a tall casserole with an indented lid full of hot carcoal, so it had heat from both the top and bottom.

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09:19:23 on 10/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are electric carving knives worthwhile buying?

Electric carving knives are labor-saving if you have large amounts of meat to carve. However, they can be unwieldy and noisy and are not very suitable for use at the table.

Besides, it can be difficult to achieve very thin slices with an electric knife, especially when carving hot meat. Great care must be taken as electric knives are very sharp and can be dangerous to use.

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06:55:30 on 10/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is it so important to let meat rest before carving?

Whatever meat you have roasted, you should always take it out of the oven and leave it to stand for about 15-30 minutes, depending on the size, before it is carved.

Cover the joint with aluminum foil and put it in a warm place. Resting allows the juices to sink back from the surface and they can then be reabsorbed to tenderize the meat. It also makes meat easier to carve, as juices will not spurt out.

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03:00:21 on 10/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best technique for carving poultry?

When carving small poultry, use a short, flexible carving knife and a table fork or small carving fork. It is much easier to carve chicken at the table if the wishbone is removed before the bird has been cooked. The method is quite simple. Just pull back the skin at the neck end to expose the breastbone, then cut and scrape with a short, sharp knife to extract the wishbone. Do not cut too deeply into the meat as you work. After the bone has been removed, tuck the skin back under the bird.

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12:36:33 on 10/01/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are there any general rules for effective carving of meat?

For regular, attractive slices, make sure that the cuts go across the grain of the meat. Cutting with the grain tends to result in slices that are shredded and stringy. However, when carving undersides of joints like sirloin of beef or leg of lamb, it is easier to cut more thickly and with the grain of the meat.

Cold meat is generally sliced thinner than hot meat. If you are going to serve the meat cold, wait until the joint cools before carving or the slices will lose their juices, color and texture. it is also much easier to carve a cold joint.

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11:06:14 on 10/01/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it better to carve meat on a board or on a plate?

You can use either a board or a plate as long as it is large enough and sits firmly on a surface that is nonslip. The platter or board used should be almost flat, as carving in a deep dish is virtually impossible.

If the table is slippery and the serving plate is china, put a cloth mat or folded napkin underneath to keep the dish from moving. And while it may look attractive to put the potatoes and other vegetables around the joint, this can make carving awkward and messy.

Another essential requirement for carving is a razor-sharp knife and a carving fork with a guard to prevent the from knife slipping.

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10:19:28 on 10/01/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Does the way carrots are cut affect how the vegetable cooks?

The way carrot is chopped does affect its finished texture. Carrots that are sliced into discs cook soft and are ideal for simple boiled carrots or to be made in purees. Batons, which are cut lengthways, can be cooked fast and stay crisp for stir-fries or to toss into pasta. You can also 'roll-cut' a carrot for maximum surface and angles so that it will caramelize.

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09:01:50 on 10/01/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are there any herbs that would add a bit of excitement to a plain vegetable like carrots?

Carrots are simple and go well with almost any herb. In winter, dried thyme, rosemary or even lavender bring a fragrance to the sweet, maincrop vegetable. Dill is the gentle, classic herb used with all types of carrots, while mint is a spring and early summer favorite. Parsley is a good addition any time, as is coriander, particularly if you like your carrots cooked in a blend of orange juice and butter.

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08:12:53 on 10/01/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -