Saturday, January 6, 2018

Olive oil

Olive oil provides excellent flavor both in salads and cooking.  It is mainly produced in the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy and Greece as well in southern parts of France and increasingly in Australia and California.  Wherever wines are made, you will also find olives and their oils. 

In general Spanish oils have a stronger flavor, Greek oils  have a thicker texture/consistency, Italian oils have a nutty flavor and French oils are quite fruity. Olive oil has a slightly lower heating point and it is therefore not suitable for deep frying.  It is more expensive as well thus making its use more selective.  

The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due both to the monounsaturated fatty acid content and the high incidence of antioxidant substances. 

Olive oil is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, which appears to be better at helping to prevent high blood pressure than typical western diets.  

The following list describes attributes of the various olive oil types: 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil -Virgin Olive oil with pure flavor and aroma, acidity of no more than 1%.
  • Virgin Olive Oil-Virgin Olive oil with pure flavor and aroma, acidity of no more than 2 %. 
  • Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil -Virgin Olive oil with pure flavor and aroma, acidity of no more than 3.3%.
  • Pure Virgin Olive Oil -Virgin Olive Oil with pure flavor and aroma, acidity of no more than 2%.
  • Refined Olive Oil -Olive oil obtained from generally defective virgin olives by refining techniques acidity of 0.5% or less.
  • Olive Oil- A mixture of refined Olive Oil and Olive Oil which is not pure, having an acidity of 1.5% or less. 
  • Olive Pomace Oil- Pomace is the ground flesh and pits after pressing.  It has a free acidity of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams. Use for bulk purposes.  

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Different Kinds of Flour

It is used throughout the world to make breads, pasta, noodles and a multitude of
 baked goods. This hub talks about the different kinds of flour and their uses.
Flour is defined as finely ground cereal grain such as wheat, corn, rye, chickpea and rice. It is used throughout the world to make breads, pasta, noodles and a multitude of baked goods.

Wheat flour is one of the structural ingredients used in flour confectionery. To achieve reliable results it is desirable to chose the correct type of flour with the required strength.

Wheat Flour
Cooks often refer to flours as strong or weak. These terms indicated the content of non-soluble proteins called gluten contained in the flour. Without gluten, there would be no such thing as raised bread. Gluten gives the dough the elastic property which helps to entrap air and gas during the baking process, to form the sponge-like framework supporting the product. The gluten strength in flour can be altered by using different methods of manipulation, example is kneading or by adding ingredients such as acids like lemon juice, which will soften the gluten. Gluten can also be purchased as a commercial product and added to flours to increase their strength.

Strong Flour
These flours can absorb more than weaker flours. Gluten proteins absorb about twice their own weight of water. They are used for products which will have a high rise such as yeast goods, choux and puff pastries. Strong flour is also known as hard flour or baker’s flour.

Weak Flour
These flours are more suitable for producing items of shorter and denser texture such as cakes, sponges, biscuits, short and sweet pastries. Weak flours are also known as soft flour or cake flour.

Self Raising Flour
This flour is of medium strength and contains a proportion of blended baking powder. Commercial self-raising flour is not a standardized product, because the law only specifies the minimum amount of baking powder it must contain. Results using these flours will vary, making them unsuitable for the professional cook. All flour will contain a certain amount of dampness, which can react with the baking powder, lessening its effectiveness and reliability even further.

Corn Flour
This flour is finely milled from corn, which contains no gluten and is mostly starch. It is used mainly to thicken liquids for sauces. It can also be added to wheat flour to lower gluten content and soften the flour for such items as sponges and biscuits.

Cornflour is first mixed with cold water. It is then added to the liquid to be thickened at a temperature which must not exceed 77°C. If it is added to hotter liquids, the cornflour will go lumpy. Commercial custard powder is made from cornflour with flavor and color added.

This flour is finely milled from the arrowroot plant. It has the same thickening properties as cornflour and is used in the same manner. It is widely used for making glazes, because in clear liquids it remains almost transparent.

Rice Flour
Flour made from finely ground white or brown rice.
In many Asian countries it is used to make rice noodles, desserts and as a thickening agent. Ground rice is a coarser form of rice flour. It is also used to make milk desserts, in shortbread and as a thickener and binder for forcemeats. Glutinous rice flour is used in pastries, sweet dishes and to thicken sauces.

Chickpea Flour
Also known as “BESAN” (Indian) . Flour made from a small variety of chickpea. Used in a batter for fritters and as a thickener for sauces and stews.

Rye Flour
Contain less gluten than wheat and produces a very heavy dark bread such as pumpernickel. It is usually blended with wheat flour to make a lighter rye bread and crisp bread.

Storage of Flour
Flours should be stored in dry, clean containers with well fitting lids in a dry well-ventilated area.

Old flour should be removed and containers cleaned clearly labeled with their contents to avoid mistakes when selecting flour.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018


The production of vinegar involves acid fermentation of fresh wine.  Vinegar can be used for preserving, dressings, marinades, sauces and with condiments.  Adding herbs, fruit and spices can provide a wide variety of vinegar for menu use.  Alternatively, rice, wine, malt liquor, cider or other spirits can be used.

The following list describes the various vinegar types:

  • Distilled or white vinegar – Produced from diluted and purified ethanol.
  • Malt Vinegar – Made from malted barley and beech shavings.
  • Cider Vinegar - Produced from apple wine and mother of vinegar, light gold in color.
  • Rice vinegar, Sweet Chinese vinegar- Distilled from fermented rice and alcohol, Japanese and Chinese origin. Used for sushi rice. Sweet vinegar is Chinese. It has a caramel flavor with spice undertones and is best used for braised dishes.
  • Fruit based vinegar -  (i.e. raspberry, blueberry and mango vinegar) The fruit is steeped in white vinegar to extract the flavor and color.  The flavors go well in dressings and harmonise with walnut oil, macadamia nut oil and other high quality oils.
  • Wine vinegar - Can be produced from either white or red wine.  Acetic acid or mother of vinegar is added and the vinegar has to mature afterwards to mellow it.
  • Herbal or spice vinegar- Herbs and spices are used to impart flavor to wine vinegar. 
  • Balsamic vinegar - Originally from the Modena region in Italy. traditional Balsamic Vinegar is obtained by converting simple sugar through acid fermentation of cooked grape must.  The subsequent ageing and refinement phases take place in barrels of different types of wood, mostly cherrywood. The must is situated in the largest barrels where mother bacteria colonies transform the sugary must into vinegar, this process is repeated each year. The vinegar is transferred each year to medium-size barrels for maturation.  After three years it is then transferred to smaller barrels for ageing. 

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Tomatoes are fruit but are more often used as vegetable.  

There are many varieties of tomatoes and they range in size, shape and color from the tiny cherry tomato to pear-shaped yellow tomatoes and the oval roma to name a few. 

Tomatoes need to be purchased for the purpose for which they are intended on the recipe or menu.

Always choose smooth, well-formed tomatoes that are heavy for their size for sandwiches, salads, buffets and presentation work.  Sound ripe tomatoes will be suitable for cooking. It is recommended that tomatoes be bought as 'pinks' a few days in advance of requirements and allowed to ripen at room temperature in the kitchen.  This will avoid bruising and allow the ripest tomatoes to be used first. 

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Satay sauce

A very popular sauce and has many variations.  In general, you sauté onions, ginger and garlic, chillies and then add coconut cream.  Roast slightly, add coconut milk and stock.  Add crushed peanuts or peanut butter, soy sauce and simmer for about 30 minutes.  You can add a variety of other ingredients such as lemon grass, oyster sauce or  fish sauce.  Asian ingredients to achieve different flavors.

The term satay refers to the grilled skewers of meat.  The meat is threaded onto the skewers, marinated and then grilled.  Remove the skewers from the barbecue, place onto rice and then top with the satay sauce. 

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017


There are hundreds of varieties of fungi, some of which are poisonous. Edible fungi are generally known as mushrooms.  The common ones are now cultivated but may be harvested from the wild. 

Mushrooms are versatile food, they and be used raw in salads or cooked in combination with other ingredients in pies, sauces, soups and stuffings, with meat, poultry and fish.  They may also be served as hors d' oeuvre and as a vegetable in their own right.

Cultivated mushrooms include shitake, swiss brown, straw, oyster, endokidake and chinese black. 

Common mushrooms are available in three grades.

  • Button - which are small, tightly closed mushrooms to be used whole in garnishes.
  • Caps - which are medium-sized closed mushrooms suitable for slicing for salads and cutting into halves or quarters for garnishes.
  • Open - which are suitable for stuffing, slicing for garnishes and hopping for duxelles mixture.
  • Wild - mushroom varieties includes cèpes, chanterelle, boletus, morel and matsutake.  These have a stronger flavor than the cultivated varieties and should be eaten cooked. 
To cook mushrooms
  • Preparation:
Unless they are old, cultivated mushrooms do not require peeling.Trim the stem and wash in basin of cold water.Keep the trimmings for stock.  For some recipes,  it is necessary to saute them lightly in butter.   
  • Procedure:
  1. Wash and trim and slice the mushroom and put them in a saucepan.  Add just enough cold water to cover them
  2. Season lightly with salt and add 5g butter and 5 ml lemon juice for every 200g mushrooms. 
  3. Bring quickly to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, drain and use as required.  if not required immediately leave in the cooking liquor and cool. 
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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bouquet Garni

This is a bunch of herbs tied into a bundle.  it is used in sauces and braised dishes to impart flavor.  It is removed at the end of the cooking time and must never be served with a dish.  The size of the bouquet garni depends on the number of portions in the recipe.

A number of bouquets garnis should be prepared fresh each time you need it.

To make a bouquet garni, tie with string into a neat bundle 6-8 cm long the following:

  • 3 or 4 parsley stalks
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • surrounded with 2 or 3 pieces of celery

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tips for making salads

All raw salad vegetables should be washed and drained thoroughly. Remove the excess moisture from the leaves by using clean toweling, a colander for draining, or a salad spinner.  It is very important that all moisture/water be removed from the leaves, as it will dilute the dressing and leach out the vitamins.

Store covered in the refrigerator to retain freshness.  Salad greens tend to deteriorate rather rapidly so prepare them as close to service as possible.

Due to fragile nature of salad leaves and herbs, it is important to handle these carefully in the preparation stages.

Salad greens should not be dressed until they are ready to be served, as the acid in the dressing will begin to 'cook' the greens causing them to rapidly deteriorate and become limp. Salt also draws out the moisture and thus softens the salad ingredients.

Salads have to be crisp, fresh and colorful in their appearance.

Taste is influenced by the choice of dressing, the ingredients and the texture.

All ingredients need to be of good quality.  Salad items should be purchased and used in season whey they are at their best. Ensure all produce is free from blemishes, bruising, pests and soil.

Lettuce should be torn carefully along the natural fibers rather than being cut.  Cutting lettuce tends to bruise it, causing it to quickly turn brown and wilt.

Salad greens should be presented in bite-size pieces.  This way the customer can eat without having to cut the leaves.  The use of precision cuts can enhance the presentation of the salad.

Ensure correct hygiene and storage principles and adhered to at all times. Avoid crossing contamination and store prepared produce in the refrigerator, neatly covered.  

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Types of salads

There are two main types of salad namely:
  • Simple Salads- contain one main type of ingredient usually combined with a dressing.  Tomato salad with vinaigrette would be a good example from this group.
  • Compound Salads - contain more than one type of ingredient usually combined with a dressing.  A good example of from this group would be Caesar salad.
Salads can be made from any edible commodity.  The most common types are made from vegetables, fruit, pasta, meats, seafood and rice.

Examples of salads
Simple salads:
  • Tomato with basil vinaigrette
  • Green bean salad
  • Carrot with orange dressing
  • Cucumber with sugar cream and paprika
Compound salads:
  • Greek salad
  • Caesar salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Tossed salad
    Cold salads:
    • Avocado and orange salad
    • Antipasto salad plate
    • Seafood salad with mango and asparagus
    Warm salads
    • Warm quail salad
    • Warm duck salad
    • Warm salad of rainbow trout with tomato and lime salad

    Avocado and orange salad

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    Thursday, November 2, 2017

    Salad dressings

    There are several types of salad dressing that are categorised under the following headings:
    1. Vinaigrette
    2. Mayonnaise
    3. Dairy based dressings such as yoghurt, cheese cream and sour cream 
    Vinaigrette - This is a mixture of oil, vinegar and seasoning. The ratio varies depending upon the quality of the oil and vinegar used. A general ratio if 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.  If the oil is only of moderate quality then the ratio might drop to 2:1.Vinaigrette is the basis of many derivatives and forms a temporary emulsion or suspension sauce.  It is important that the dressing needs to be stirred before serving. Dressing of this nature may be split into three groups:
    • Basic vinaigrette - a temporary emulsion or suspension dressing
    • Bound vinaigrette - with an egg yolk
    • Cooked vinaigrette - using reductions such as red wine.
    Different kinds of oils and vinegar maybe used to impart flavor or provide for variations.  Other flavors may be added in the dressing to give them an altogether different character.  You may choose to add soy sauce and coconut cream to basic vinaigrette for an East Asian touch. Other ingredients such as mustard, herbs, vegetables, fruits cheese and seafood essences provide a wide range of options. 

    Citrus juice may be substituted for the vinegar, but always remember to taste the dressing to ensure the correct flavor balance has been achieved. If the dressing is too acidic, sweetness such as honey sugar or palm sugar can balance the flavor.   

    2. Mayonnaise - is a cold emulsion sauce in which vinegar, mustard, oil and seasoning are bound with egg yolks.  As with all emulsion sauces  the fat (in this case oil) should be added gradually to prevent the mixture from splitting.  The ingredients should be of similar temperature before mixing, ideally around 20°C. 

    3. Dairy Based Dressing 
    • Yoghurt dressing - it provide a low fat alternative to traditional dressings. It is particularly suited to fruit-based salads, seafood and warm salads.  Ensure that the flavor is complementary and then mix with a variety of ingredients to change the character of the accompanying sauce.
    • Cream and sour cream dressing - these are used much in the same way as yoghurts. Cream with citrus juice is a common example and is usually combined with these fruit type salads.  
    • Cheese dressings - these can be used to provide added flavor. Usually white mould or blue vein cheeses are used.  Simply push the cheese through a strainer and whisk in vinegar and oil and season to taste- finish with fresh herbs.  This can be done easily in a food processor.  Alternatively, combine the blended cheese with yoghurt or other dairy products.
    4.  Miscellaneous dressings 
    • Asian style dressing such as soy bases that are associated with East meets West style cuisine.
    • Indonesian or Malay style salads based on peanut dressing 
    • Mexican or South American dressing  based on chillies and roasted capsicum

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    Wednesday, November 1, 2017


    Salad can provide that ideal accompaniment to grilled meats or can be served as a meal.  Their versatility makes them very attractive to chefs as well as the customer and generally salads have a low food cost percentage, therefore you can gain more profit. If being used as an accompaniment they can be prepared, refrigerated in advance and then dressed as they are served.  This saves time during service. Salads used as a meal are normally assembled as ordered.  They can be made using uncooked or cooked foods and are served either warm or cold.

    Salads may be presented as a side dish (accompaniment), a buffet item, an entree, a main course or a dessert.  They suit today's lifestyle with an emphasis on lighter meals that are nutritionally balanced and have a relatively short preparation time.

    A variety of dressing types may be used to complement, enhance and flavor the salad.  It is the combination of fresh crisp ingredients and a well prepared dressing that satisfies the palate.

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    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Culinary uses of vanilla

    Good vanilla pods are deep brown or black long and narrow,
     somewhat wrinkled, moist, waxy supple and immediately fragrant.
    The best pods have a light, white frosting call givre of vanillin crystals.

    Whole or split pods are used to flavor creams, custards and ice cream. The presence of tiny black specks indicates authenticity. A whole vanilla pod that has been infused in a syrup or cream can be rinsed, dried and reused.

    Vanilla flavors cakes, tarts and syrups used for poaching fruit. Cut pods can be laid over fruit to be baked in the oven.

    Vanilla’s original use with chocolate is still widely practiced and it also enriches tea and coffee.

    Flavored Vanilla Sugar 
    Rather than buy expensive packets of vanilla sugar, caster sugar can be flavored beautifully simply by putting a vanilla pod in the jar. 

    Vanilla is less commonly thought of as a spice for savory foods but it goes well with seafood, particularly lobster, scallops and mussels and with chicken. It enhances the sweetness of root vegetables and in Mexico it is used with black beans.

    Good with apples, melon, peaches, pears, rhubarb strawberries, fish and seafood cream milk and eggs. Combines well with cardamom, chillies, cinnamon cloves and saffron.

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