Peeling and Chopping Garlic

Here’s a write up with detailed pictures from an Irish site The Lazy Cook about how to peel and chop garlic:

Chopping Garlic can be done Goodfellas style with a razorblade. The idea there is to chop it so thin that it just dissolves when added to the oil in a pan. It looked good in the film but frankly it takes too long.

See here for the full article: Chopping Garlic – how to

It’s a nice website with only a few recipes, but certainly “Cook Like a Guy” style. However, you can’t leave comments, as there is some captcha bug.

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Cooking as a Second Language

Cooking as a Second Language

Aside from the usual lack of training, the general inexperience and the tendency to procrastinate, there’s something else that slows me down on my path to become the next Batalli, Emeril or in my case Wolfgang Puck: Language. I constantly get frying and roasting mixed up and really don’t have a name for the act of leaving a casserole dish in the oven for some time. I understand some of the cooking methods need to be defined even for the native speaker, which gives me an easy excuse to be confused about some of them.

Let’s have a look what we have to deal with: Cooking, boiling, broiling, grilling, frying, roasting, baking, sautéing, steaming. Now for the research on the subject:

Cooking is the generic term for it all, which is already the first stumbling block, because in German, it has the same meaning as boiling. Boiling is cooking something in water brought to a boil, which usually happens around 100C or 212F.

Let’s call broiling a technicality and skip to grilling which is done on a grill, which in German is a rost. Rost is called a false friend, something that sounds familiar in the other language but has a different meaning. But let’s go back to grilling, which is applying heat to the subject, usually meat, with the grill keeping the meat from falling into the fire.

Frying is difficult, since a frying pan translated means roasting pan, which makes you want to get your head banged by one. Frying involves cooking in various amounts of oil. Sautéing covers the pan in a thin film, you need a good deal more for frying, and when deep frying, your subject, usually twinkies, is submerged in it.

I think roasting is grilling in a pan or on a baking(!&?%) sheet in the oven. Your subject is often basted in tasty goodness. Casseroles, in the oven, without a lid are baked. Baking in general applies to cakes, pastries and pizzas. In short, a lot of it involves dough, except for baked potatoes.

Steaming involves boiling water. The resulting vapor cooks the food while we try to keep the water away from the food. Back home, steaming involves German engineered pots, which makes it far more complicated than necessary and mostly overcooked.

But I still don’t have a term for cooking something in a casserole dish with the lid on.

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Facing the Rice

It’s already a good while back since I got to visit my first Indian restaurant and got to smell Basmati rice for the very first time. It was incredible. Until then I had mostly eaten boil-in-bag rice, and some rice a Korean guest student had made a couple of times in the dorm. Of course I wanted to make Basmati rice all by myself. (Note to self: need to rant about Basmati(tm) )

So I got the instructions kind of right, 1 1/2 cups of water for every cup of rice, get it boiling and turn it on low for 20 minutes or so. That worked well a couple of times. Sometimes I added some more water. Sometimes I ended up with a more or less solid layer of rice on the bottom of the pot. Which I had to soak over night and to scratch out from the pot next day. But it did produce a decent amount of rice.

And then I burned my $50 1 gallon pot. Blackened, inside and out. No way to wash it off the ionized surface. Kaputt. Damn. I admit, I had forgotten to set a timer. But there were no obvious signs I was in trouble. No smell. No smoke detector went off. Nothing. The rice was burned, too. I tried to revive the pot a couple of times, but nothing helped and all that was left to do was to give it a proper burial. I salvaged the lid, though. And I face that lid at least once a week.

I haven’t managed to make rice since. Not that I didn’t attempt it. No, I failed multiple times: burned, under cooked, soggy beyond believe, not enough rice. And worst of all, I think I infected my wife, too. I think next time she attempts to make rice, I’ll just leave the house for a while.

And then there were a couple of attempts to cook rice in the crock pot. I am being told it is possible, but you need to have the right rice and good timing. Me? Impatient and struck by ADD as I am?. The crock pot recipe did produce a soggy hard to describe mix of halfway dissolved rice, overcooked chicken and various vegetables. Tasty, actually, but it felt more like eating grits.

All that’s left now is boil-in-bag. The bag of Basmati rice is half empty, sitting right next to a bag of Jasmin rice, also half empty. Don’t start a discussion if they are half full or half empty, I don’t know which one the pessimists view is. All I am saying is, I want to eat some good rice. Without trouble. In my despair I looked up an article about making risotto. It made me cry. Somewhere two paragraphs in they said, this cook was able to make such great risotto only because he knew his rice so well. Oh, the horror!

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