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Test kitchen - test kitchen.

Summary: We're here to help you get the best from your cooking. Our expert tips and reviews will take your kitchen skills up a notch

FOOD IN FOCUS

The towering burger

To plate up the most iconic, on-trend burger, stack it high. Work on the principle that your heaviest item -- usually the patty -- goes at the bottom, and lighter elements like lettuce will be at the top. This helps to build an upright, stable burger from the base up.

If you're using melted cheese, cut a slice so that the corners just melt over the edge of the burger as it cooks.

Crown the top with the bun, but don't press down on it too enthusiastically. To give it extra attitude (and keep it all in place), push a steak knife or skewer through the middle. Now it's ready to eat (and Instagram!).

Pick the perfect... PARING KNIFE

There are some good cheap paring knives on the market, but this versatile German workhorse is a real winner. The short 8cm blade means that it acts like an extension of your hand, giving you good control over trickier

J s, yet it still feels weighty and balanced. If you're a minimalist cook and want just two knives for your kitchen, this is the small one to go for. Henckels Zwilling Pro paring knife, Dhs275 at www.zwillingonline.com.

TAKE A COOKERY COURSE

Spice Spoons cooking class at Anantara Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Step behind the scenes of Thailand's world famous gastronomy with this richly interactive experience that is designed to immerse you in the colourful local culture and traditional heritage of Thai cuisine. Enjoy a captivating cooking class as you learn to master the unique flavour balance of Thai cuisine and prepare a selection of authentic dishes under the expert tuition of a Thai Master Chef. Savour your creations for lunch and leave with impressive new skills to entertain your family and friends at home. The Spice Spoons cooking classes are available at Anantara the Palm Dubai Resort and Eastern Mangroves Hotel and Spa by Anantara. Rates start at Dhs500 to Dhs750 per person, inclusive of soft drinks or a glass of house beverage with lunch. Running from from Saturday to Thursday, classes are limited to a minimum of 2 guests, and up to a maximum of 6 guests. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance. Call 04-5678304.

CHEF SWAPS

Guinea fowl for chicken

There is very little you can do with a whole chicken that can't be done with a guinea fowl, making it a popular alternative. The flavour is slightly gamier, which is how a top-quality, outdoor-reared bird should taste.

A large guinea fowl is the size of a small chicken, so adjust timings accordingly. Jointed pieces are thinner and need less cooking time.

DO YOU REALLY NEED TO..Season with pepper?

We're as guilty as everyone else of instructing to season with salt and pepper, but -- other than adding a pleasant spicy aroma -- pepper isn't essential in the seasoning process.

Salt, on the other hand -- which enhances flavour and tenderises protein -- is one of the five tastes our taste receptors recognise, along with sweet, sour, bitter and umami. They're the most important elements for balancing a dish.

DO IT BETTER

Griddling

Griddling on a ridged pan is an indoor alternative to direct-heat barbecuing. But, with nowhere for fats or juices to drain, it can be a tricky cooking method to control if you choose the wrong ingredients -- so don't presume that if it can be barbecued, it can be griddled.

1Always heat your griddle well before cooking, then oil the food, not the griddle.

2 Never griddle food that's coated in a thick marinade (like yoghurt or curry paste) without wiping it all off first -- the excess marinade will just stick to the pan and burn before the food cooks properly.

3Leave food to sear and mark well before turning. If it feels like the food is sticking to the pan, leave it -- the more it marks the easier it will come away.

4 For a classic steakhouse crosshatch, griddle the food until marked, then turn it 90 degrees and leave it to mark again.

5 Griddling fat causes smoke, so use leaner cuts of steak and less oil for less smoke. You can transfer a hot griddle pan to a hot oven to minimise the smoke output and finish the cooking process.

HOT HACK

BUTTERY BISCUIT BASE

The easiest and cleanest way to press a biscuit base right into the corners ofacaketinistoput your hand in a sandwich bag and use it as a makeshift kitchen glove.

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Publication:BBC GoodFood Middle East
Date:Aug 31, 2016
Words:785
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