Tips For Cooking Salmon Perfectly

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Salmon fillets and steaks are yummy, but it is not the easiest of things to cook salmon well. So, here are a few salmon cooking tips which would help you sidestep the usual errors and will save you the blushes when it is serve-up time!

Salmon Cooking Tips

Poach, Grill, or Pan Sear?

You can employ any of these methods, but you will need to go the right way. When poaching, many commit the common mistake of poaching the fish in plain water, though when poaching, you are missing on a great opportunity to add flavors. We say if you should poach, poach the salmon in milk, chicken stock, or fish broth and try flavors with lemon, peppercorns, bay leaves, etc.—whatever suits your fancy. It is also a great idea to poach the fish in dry white wine.

If you are grilling or hot-smoking, use only pre-soaked wood chips—try alder, hickory or maple. Lower the heat once it starts to smoke and keep the temperature inside the smoker at no higher than 80-90C.

In case of pan-frying, use a heavy non-stick frying pan and use olive oil or butter (heated in medium high-heat) to cook your salmon.

Choose the Right Salmon

If you are going for steak or fillet, make sure that you pick pieces all of uniform size and thickness. A center cut is normally your best option. Also, do not go for whatever is there in offer. Organically raised salmon tastes the best. They are normally more expensive, but you will also get the best of your salmon if you choose those varieties.

Do Not Rip the Skin Off

This is another common mistake you can make when cooking salmon. There are some recipes which may advise you to get rid of the skin, but we at Italian Home Kitchen Blog say that it is best that you do not, especially when you are pan-searing or grilling. The skin provides a nice safety layer between the soft salmon flesh and the surface of the grill or the hot pan. Cook the skin-side down and ALWAYS cook in lower heat.

Follow these tips and chances are slim that you will ever go wrong in cooking your salmon again.

 

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Cook Perfectly Crispy Bacon In The Oven

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Everyone loves bacon that is cooked to perfection; but, there’s no doubt, it can be a bit messy to cook and it certainly requires patience as you stand over the stove diligently turning and monitoring the progress of your bacon. Fortunately, there is an easy alternative to stove top cooking. You can cook perfectly crispy bacon right in your oven.

Simply preheat your oven to 400° F and place a rack in the lower section of the oven. Next, place bacon on a baking sheet. The bacon can be placed close together, but be sure that it doesn’t overlap. For easier cleanup, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bacon. Start checking after about 12 minutes. When the bacon is crispy and a nice golden brown, carefully remove from oven. If you notice bacon grease building up in the pan during the baking process, carefully pour the grease off. The bacon should not be submerged.

This method will produce a nice crispy bacon with a somewhat tender or chewy middle; however, if you want your bacon crisp all the way through, you can place a cooling rack inside your baking sheet and lie the bacon directly on the rack to bake. This method will allow the bacon to cook on all sides and will result in a crispier finished product.

When the bacon is done, carefully remove it from the baking sheet with tongs and drain on paper towels. Baking is a great way to make a large amount of bacon without having to cook several batches on the stove top. You can use the bacon immediately or cool it and use it for dishes throughout the week. Cooked bacon also freezes well and will take only a moment to warm up in the microwave.

Baking bacon is convenient and cleanup is easy. Just let the grease sit in the foil lined baking sheet until it cools and solidifies, then, gather the foil with the grease and throw it in the trash.

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Healthy Breads That Can Even Help You Lose Weight

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Now, if you’ve ever been on a reasonably strict and healthy diet before, you’ll know that most diets recommend going easy on the starchy breads, rice, and sugary foods. Instead, you will always hear that wholemeal and whole grain breads, especially if they are BROWN in colour are the way to go! We here at the Italian Home Kitchen Blog could not agree more with this phenomena. Eating healthy always requires a certain amount of discipline, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be boring and lacking any real taste. In this article, we bring to you some of the most delicious and healthy bread options you have when it comes to eating right for your waistline.

Whole-wheat Pita Breads are packed to the brim with tons of minerals and useful vitamins needed by your body, whole wheat pita breads are also proven to reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure risks. It is ideally consumed as one piece.

Rye Breads — Now, this is one of the more common types of healthy breads. You can consume 3-4 slices of this bread without worrying about the calories piled on. It is 100% wheat-free, helps digestion, and has a higher fiber content than normal white bread.

Ezekiel Bread — An interesting combination of barley, wheat, malt, spelt, lentils, and beans, this one is a kind of bread most people don’t know about. It is also different from the rest in this list as it is rich in proteins. It can be found at your local health food store and contains no added sugars in most cases!

Brown-rice bread –  Just as brown rice itself is remarkably nutritious for the body, bread derived from it is the same. It will keep your tummy feeling full and light, giving you heaps of energy on its low-calorie, high-burn content. It is best-tasting when combined with fresh veggies and butter. A more sinful option for the occasional cheat might be low-fat cheese. Nevertheless, it’s recommended to  stick to 2-3 pieces of bread in any one day at max.

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The Basic Ingredients You Should Stock Up on For Baking

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We all know someone who makes those magically wonderful desserts that just seem to melt in your mouth upon tasting them. While beginning cooks sometimes think that there must be some sort of magic involved, it’s really much more simple. Becoming a wonderful baker is more than simply having artistic flair or an uncanny ability. It’s simply about precision, patience and maintaining several basic baking ingredients in your kitchen.

The experts here at the Italian Home Kitchen Blog know that you’re probably not making cannolis every chance you get. Yet, we know that you need some basic pantry essential on hand that will allow you to create delicious treats whenever you like. To succeed in making wonderful treats, you need basic baking ingredients on hand that will allow creation of many different types of tasty sweets and desserts.

Here are basic baking ingredients that every well-stocked pantry should have:
• Unbleached all-purpose white flour
• Rolled oats
• Stone-ground cornmeal
• Salt
• Baking power
• Baking soda
• Granulated white sugar
• Confectioner’s sugar
• Brown sugar
• Honey
• Canned pumpkin puree
• Bar baking chocolate
• Cocoa powder
• Shredded unsweetened coconut
• Vanilla extract
• In-season ripe fruit
• Dried fruit

Some of those ingredients are no-brainers. After all, you can’t bake without flour, but rolled oats, for example, adds texture to cookies, while the different types of sugar have their own specific uses in baking. Plain white sugar, for example, is ideal for blending with wet ingredients. Baking powder and baking soda are essential for light and airy creations, white pure vanilla extract adds wonderful flavor to all sorts of breads and cookies.

As you become more savvy with your creations, you’ll want to add the following ingredients to your basic list to create even more tempting treats:
• Whole wheat and other alternative flours such as rye and gluten-free
• Coconut oil
• Alternative liquid sweeteners such as molasses and agave
• Alternative granulated sweeteners
• Raw sugar
• Corn syrup
• Cornstarch
• Vanilla beans
• Condensed milk and evaporated milk
• Ripe bananas

Check back often with Italian Home Cooking for more tips that will make you a savvy cook.

Building Your Kitchen Workstation

156272491Your kitchen workstation should be clean and well stocked for a multitude of dish preparations. Things you really need at your prep station are a cutting board for meat and one for vegetables. You’ll also need a chef’s knife and a paring knife and a few other tools along with water for hydration.

Cutting Boards

Starting with your medium sized cutting boards.  Secure them with a non-slip pad and a damp towel to keep it from slipping as you work. It’s tempting to work on too many foods when you board is too big, so stay with a smaller board and keep it cleared of food debris and juices between foods.

Keeping It Clean

Never use the spoon you’re cooking with for tasting. Make sure you keep tasting spoons nearby for quality control and sanitation.  Use a plastic bag lined bowl placed within reaching distance to dispose of all your peels, skins, packaging and other discarded food particles.  Keep salt and pepper handy in a pepper mill and a ramekin for easy access.

Additional Kitchen Tools and Utensils

The other tools you might need include a fish spatula, microplane, wooden spoon, rubber spatula, tongs, an apron, dish towel, squeeze bottles and paper towels.  Each one of these is likely to be used each time you prepare a dish. The best way to store them so you have accessibility is in a wide mouthed storage jar that sits squarely on the counter for easy reach and visibility.

Lastly, keep your recipe holder within reach to the side and something to drink as well.  You may need to refer to the recipe from time to time. It’s good to keep water handy just in case you get dehydrated while cooking in a hot kitchen. Water may not be your preference, so keep a liquid such a wine, juice or tea handy.

Your kitchen workstation should be functional and well organized. By storing only the tools necessary for food prep, you can keep the clutter down to a minimum and everything can be stored in its allocated space. Now you’re ready to cook, from cutting and slicing to cooking, your prep workstation is adequately stocked for you to start and finish any meal.

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10 “Italian” Sauces Unknown In Italy

494234277Cooking is not only about tastes. It also covers other things, such as culture and history. For instance, many think that Italian sauces are the most original recipes in the planet, because they are very famous in making different pasta dishes. On the other hand, there are lots sauces or gravies that are known to be Italian, though they don’t even exist Italy. You might be surprised one day that your favorite famous Italian sauce is not actually from there. Below are 10 famous sauces that many think as Italian, though Italians don’t really own them.

Fra Diavolo Sauce

Fra Diavolo is the nickname of a famous Neapolitan guerrilla leader, Michele Pezza. Though many believe that Fra Diavolo is an Italian sauce, Italians actually don’t have this type of sauce in their early recipe books. One probable reason that this sauce was named after the famous leader is because Pezza was known for his bravery. The Fra Diavolo Sauce is known to have strong flavor due to cayenne and other types of pepper, which resembles the strength of Pezza during the French rule.

Primavera Sauce

Another famous sauce in most restaurants today is the Primavera. Unknown to many, this sauce was created in Nova Scotia in 1975 by an Italian American chef. After preparing this hearty sauce in Canada, the chef brought the recipe to New York where it became famous.

Roasted Garlic Sauce

There is no doubt that Italians love to roast peppers, garlic and other spices to make their gravies more flavorful. Roasted garlic sauce can be seen in almost every grocery store on the Italian section. Many think that it is traditionally part of the Italian cuisine, but it is in fact a recipe that resembles Italian-Americans.

Alfredo Sauce

Pasta Alfredo is often found in Italian restaurant menus, but in reality, Alfredo is an American remake of the Italian recipe called Pasta al burro. Many people think that this sauce is Italian because of the ingredients used. Then again, if you will go back in history, you’d know that this is just a way for Americans to embrace Italian cuisine.

Sunday Sauce

Sugo della domenica, which means Sunday sauce, does not really describe a specific recipe. It is only used an expression among Italians because for them, Sunday is a special day when people eat special meals cooked by their mothers. In the US, people think that there really is Sunday gravy since most Italian-Americans prepare meaty gravies for Sunday lunch. If you go to Italy and literally look for Sunday gravy, you’ll find out that there’s no specific product because it’s based on every mother’s recipe.

Other Sauces That Are Unknown In Italy

There are other sauces or gravies that people classify as Italian, even if they unknown in Italy. For instance, the Fresca sauce is not a real Italian sauce because Fresca means fresh, which often pertains to a kind of salsa or salad. The Pescatore sauce may also sound strange to any local Italian because Pescatore means fisherman. It just so happened that there are certain herbs that Italians use with seafood, but there is no such thing as a fisherman’s sauce. The three cheese sauce is undoubtedly American, but people think it’s Italian because it blends well to most Italian pasta dishes. Others believe that the Garlic Parmesan is purely Italian, but once you meet a traditional Italian friend, you’d know that they don’t have this type of sauce. Instead, they’d offer you Parmigiano Reggiano, which is not like the pre-packed shaved cheese you’d find in supermarkets. It’s a piece of hard cheese that you’d have to grate, but definitely more flavorful than packed cheese. Lastly, you should take note that the Italian white bean sauce is not and should not be classified as Italian because the real Italian pasta with white beans is runny, and not thick like Carbonara sauce that you see in most restaurants.

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Not Just Another Ordinary Grain: Polenta

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Many homeowners think that their kitchen has it all. However, what they are not aware of is that there is a wide variety of delicious foods available that they might not have even heard of. Polenta is one of these delicious dishes. It is a whole grain cornmeal that is packed with numerous different types of nutrients and vitamins.

What Is It?

Polenta can be understood simply as cooked cornmeal. While it was once a solution to affordable food, it has quickly risen up the culinary chain. It is now on its way to gourmet menus and cookbooks, and has captured the attention of numerous chefs. Preparing polenta on your own can be very simply and delicious. In order to make it, all that you have to do is grind the dried corn in water or broth in order to create a warm and creamy mixture. It has a nutty flavor, combined with classic corn, and it can be mixed with a wide variety of other foods as well. You can add just about anything to it to add some delicious flair.

Creating The Best Polenta

Cornmeal is typically available in a wide variety of different types and textures. In order to get the best results, however, it is recommended for you to choose cornmeal that is white or yellow, as blue cornmeal is usually much coarser. Cooking the polenta can be very easy. A ratio of cooking a standard batch is usually one cup of cornmeal for every four cups of liquid. This can be changed once you get more used to cooking the food, and know what type of consistency you want. One cup of the cornmeal will typically produce three cups of polenta. A cup of polenta by itself has only one hundred and fifty calories, three grams of protein, three grams of fiber, one gram of fat, and no cholesterol at all.

This delicious dish can be introduced as a side piece to a main meal, or prepared as a snack, and it even can be created into a breakfast creation! With how simple it is to make, it is not surprising that more and more people are beginning to add polenta to their cooking repertoire.

There Are So many Different Ways To Prepare Polenta, The Possibilities Are Endless: