Contrary to what some of us may believe, kitchen knives are not divided into two basic types - sharp or dull. In reality, kitchen knives are to the kitchen what handsaws are to a woodworking shop. There are numerous types of kitchen knives, each with their own purpose and design. In the same way you wouldn't use a chainsaw to trim a picture frame, you wouldn't use a meat cleaver to peel potatoes, for instance. Each blade performs a specific task, so knowing the different types of kitchen knives can help a cook work more efficiently and safely.

One of the most common kitchen knives used today is called a chef's knife. A chef's knife is used for many of the most basic food preparations tasks in the kitchen. It can chop through most vegetables and fruits, slice through meats and cheeses, and create a fairly fine mince or dice.

Chef's knives are usually sold in different sizes, although the largest and smallest sizes still perform the same tasks well. The different sizes are used to match the size of the knife with the size of the user's hand. Larger chef's knives can be harder to control if you have smaller hands, so be sure to test the grip of any knife for comfort before you add it to your collection.

Another variety of kitchen knife is the carving knife. A carving knife is generally larger than a chef's knife, although their basic shapes can be similar. A carving knife can be very rigid or very flexible, depending on the type of meat it is designed to carve. Carving a large pot roast may require a very rigid blade, while carving pork or fish steaks may require more flexibility. A carving knife is often accompanied by a large two-pronged tool called a carving fork.

On the smaller end of the kitchen knives spectrum is the paring knife. A paring knife's blade is rarely more than four inches long (about 10 cm), making it ideal for peeling and coring fruits and vegetables. A paring knife is also used to create special garnishes and other decorative elements. A paring knife's blade should be kept very sharp to prevent accidents. A dull paring knife can cause the user to place too much pressure on the blade, leading to slips and cuts.

Some kitchen knives are designed to prevent food preparation disasters. Many people find slicing through a loaf of bread to be an exercise in futility. This is why many cooks keep a long serrated knife on hand.

A serrated knife works much like a crosscut saw in woodworking. Instead of slicing through the hard crust and soft interior of a bread loaf, a serrated knife's blade makes a series of short saw cuts instead. Without the serrations, a regular knife blade would slide smoothly across the top of the crust without penetrating it. Some fibrous vegetables and fruits also benefit from a serrated knife's crosscutting design.

For removing bones from meats, many cooks uses narrow-bladed kitchen knives called boning knives. A boning knife is usually larger than a paring knife, with a rigid blade that tapers off to a point. It is used to carve out any remaining bones in red meats or to completely debone a whole chicken. A boning knife's narrow blade allows the user to cut around bones without excessive waste. A cousin to the boning knife, called a filet knife, is much more flexible and allows the user to remove skin from fish.

One of the largest kitchen knives is the cleaver. A cleaver has a very heavy, thick blade for cutting through the thickest portions of meat or bones. Despite its imposing size, however, it can also be used for fine chopping and dicing. Cooks can also use the flat side of a cleaver to crush garlic cloves, whole spices or seeds. A cleaver's flat blade can also be used to transfer chopped ingredients to the cooking area.

Other kitchen knives are more specialized, but they all serve a purpose. An oyster knife can penetrate the hard shell of oysters and clams and slice through the tendons holding the sections together. A deveining knife has a small, thin blade designed to remove the gritty vein found in raw shrimp, while simultaneously slicing through the shell. Other specialty knives help process grapefruits, slice through hard cheeses, open clam shells, and even carve steam holes for chestnuts.

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Basic Kitchen Tools

Posted by Catur Setiawan | 8:36 PM | , , | 0 comments »

Many people just moving into their own places for the first time, or newlyweds setting up a kitchen, may be overwhelmed by the array of kitchen tools available. It seems that there is a tool for almost any job, and picking the right ones seems impossible. Does the person rely on the kinds of spatulas Mom always used, or should he or she think about something new? Some kitchen tools are indispensable, and should be purchased first. Then, the person can go ahead and look for interesting gadgets.

Quality and multipurpose use are a couple of things to keep in mind when purchasing kitchen tools. A good example is measuring cups. Measures for dry and wet materials are different. A cook has two options: either buy a set of dry measuring cups, and a liquid measure, or buy a measuring cup that is marked for both dry and wet measures. However, a cook should always have a 2-cup liquid measure in a microwave-safe material. This will come in handy for numerous uses in the kitchen.

A cook should also have two or three different sizes of spatulas around, and a set of rubber or silicon scrapers. Wooden spoons are also a necessity in a well-stocked kitchen. They can be used with any cooking surface and are non-reactive, which means they can be used for stirring any food, no matter its composition. They are absolutely necessary for making a roux or candy.

A set of basic kitchen tools should also include a cutting board. The debate still rages over whether plastic or wood is the best material, but both are good if kept properly cleaned and stored. It all depends on the cook's preference.

The discussion of cutting boards inevitably leads to talking about kitchen knives. A bride, for instance, can register for that US$500 cutlery set she's been drooling over, but someone looking for basic kitchen tools may want to start a bit smaller. A cook should have a minimum of three knives: a 7-inch butcher/chef's knife; a 4-inch utility knife and a paring knife. These, along with a set of steak knives, should meet most cooking needs.

A beginning cook should also have a grater, a soup ladle, two or three serving spoons, one slotted, and a set of mixing bowls. Don't forget a can opener that will open bottles, as well, along with a balloon whisk. An electric hand mixer is also one of the basic kitchen tools. With a little thought and some common sense, anyone can stock up on basic kitchen tools without sacrificing quality or breaking the budget.

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What is Melamine?

Posted by Catur Setiawan | 7:40 PM | , , | 0 comments »

Melamine is an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant. Melamine resin is a very versatile material with a highly stable structure. Uses for melamine include whiteboards, floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics, and commercial filters. Melamine can be easily molded while warm, but will set into a fixed form. This property makes it ideally suited to certain industrial applications.

Melamine resin is manufactured by mixing urea with formaldehyde under heat and pressure. The substances begin to polymerize and are forced into a mold which will create the desired shape. Under pressure, melamine releases water, which could make the plastic unstable if it is not removed. The materials finish polymerizing and create a finished product, melamine resin.

Melamine resin is known as a thermoset plastic, because the plastic is fixed after molding. If exposed to enough heat, melamine will melt. For this reason, melamine dishware should not be exposed to high temperatures like those in the oven and microwave. However, the plastic is able to withstand higher temperatures than other plastics. Because it is a thermoset plastic, melamine resin is difficult to recycle.

Melamine can be made into a foam product. Melamine foam has a distinctive structure composed of stacked bubble shapes, which are extremely hard and therefore can easily clean a wide variety of substances. Melamine foam is marketed under a variety of commercial names including Magic Eraser, a cleaning tool well known for removing scuffs and dirt from a wide range of surfaces.

Melamine resin is used in Formica and similar construction products made from composite materials. Formica is made using melamine resin, which is used to coat the fibers in the upper layer of the construction product. The melamine resin makes the end result heat resistant, so that hot objects can be set on the counter without concern. The surface of the material is designed to be easily wiped and cleaned, creating a long lived household product.

Melamine also plays a role in a wide range of flame resistant materials. These include textiles used in upholstery and the uniforms worn by firemen. Thermal liners, heat resistant gloves, and aprons to protect from splashback of hot substances are made using melamine. Melamine will protect a wearer from heat hazards, and will help to resist the spread of fire in aircraft and buses by providing a fire blocker.

Melamine is also used in the manufacture of some filters. The material is porous and will admit substances to pass through, but can be used to filter out particles of a particular size. Melamine filters are capable of handling a high capacity and can be used in hot environments due to the heat resistance of melamine. Melamine filters are also extremely efficient.

Aside from common commercial uses, melamine became a topic of much discussion in early 2007, when veterinary scientists determined it to be the cause of hundreds of pet deaths, because of pet food contamination. Prior to these reports, melamine had been regarded as non-toxic or minimally toxic. However, because of the unexplained presence of melamine in wheat gluten added to mass-produced dog and cat foods, it is the most likely cause. Pet owners report symptoms that are commonly associated with renal failure, which could be explained by the ammonia that may result from the digestion of the melamine.

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If you are planning to put together a beautiful cheese plate, check out The Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley. Their selection of local and international cheeses cannot be beat, and their prices are by far the best I have found.

The Cheese Board has been in business for almost 39 years. They are a collective with about 30 members. Everyone who works there is a member and has equal decision-making power. They are so friendly and knowledgeable and….they have an amazing selection of international and domestic cheeses, as well as a bakery that produces interesting and delicious breads. I find that their prices are substantially less on their cheeses and breads than I find at high-end grocery stores or specialty shops. I love the casual atmosphere, too - the place is really charming.

While you are there, check out Cheese Board Pizza, which is a couple of doors down the block. Cheese Board Pizza opened about 20 years ago and is located just a few doors down the street from the original Cheese Board. They make only one kind of pizza made each day, and it is vegetarian. We are not vegetarians, but we absolutely love their pizzas. We buy them half-baked and finish the baking at home. We have found that they freeze well – just wrap them tightly in foil and freeze for up to a couple of months. Then take them out of the freezer and pop them (still frozen) into a very hot oven (about 450oF). Let them bake for about 10 minutes until bubbly. (If you can re-heat them on a hot pizza stone, that is even better.)

The Cheese Board
1504 Shattuck Ave.
(510) 549-3183

Cheese Board Pizza
1512 Shattuck Ave.
(510) 549-3055

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Bunn has been synonymous with great coffee for decades. Ever since their introduction in 1963, Bunn coffee machines have set the standard for commercial pour-voer coffee systems. Bunn has been an innovator in the coffee industry since 1957 when they started making a revolutionary paper filter. They were already well-known in the coffee and restaurant industry when they introduced the Bunn Model X, the very first Bunn coffee machine. In 1973, Bunn made coffee history again with the first drip coffee maker for home use. Their home drip coffee maker started a revolution in the industry and for the past forty years, drip coffee makers have held the largest market share of all types of coffee makers in home use.

Bunn didn’t stop innovating with the drip and pour-over coffee makers, though. In 1990, they patented the first brewer to grinder interface so that Bunn coffee machines could grind and brew consistently great coffee every time. In 1997, Bunn took a stand against burned coffee with their Soft Heat system to keep coffee warm on the burner without overheating it. In 2001, Bunn introduced yet another innovation - the BrewWise system that saves individual customer profiles so that everyone in the house can have their coffee to their taste - or you can brew coffee just the way you like it for breakfast all the way to dessert coffee. With all that history of innovation and coffee goodness, you’d guess that the makers of Bunn coffee machines have some good advice for brewing coffee - and you’d be right. Here are some great tips for making excellent coffee from the makers of Bunn coffee machines.

Tips for Brewing Great Coffee from the Makers of Bunn Coffee Machines

Start with great tasting water. Believe it or not, hard water makes the best tasting coffee. Soft water doesn’t extract coffee flavor from the beans as well as harder water - but hard water can be rough on your coffee machine. You can use a water filter to remove most of the impurities from water, or use spring water. Skip the distilled water, though. It makes coffee that tastes flat.

Measure the coffee. Most of us here in the U.S. are accustomed to drinking weak brew made with too little coffee. Bunn recommends that you measure a full tablespoon for every five ounces of water. You’ll probably be shocked at how much coffee that actually is the first time you measure that out into your coffee basket, but the taste will convince you that this is what coffee is meant to taste like.

Keep it clean to make it great. Coffee oils build up on glass and metal and can get rancid quickly. Clean equipment makes the best coffee because there are no old coffee oils hanging around to spoil the flavor. Clean the glass decanter after every pot. Toss out the filter and grounds the moment the brewing is finished to keep it from dripping into the pot.

Clean the machine routinely following manufacturers instructions to remove coffee oils, lime scale and mineral deposits.

Use the right size disposable coffee filters. If your coffee filters are too small, grounds may escape into the coffee. If they’re too large, water will wick up above the filter basket rather than dripping over the coffee as it should. Bunn makes paper filters that are perfectly sized to fit all of their Bunn coffee machines.

Serve fresh-brewed coffee immediately. If you wait longer than twenty minutes to drink brewed coffee, it will begin to lose its flavor. If you won’t be drinking it that soon, you can hold it in a thermal carafe for up to sixty minutes before it starts to lose its flavor.


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Diet Plans For Healthy Life

Posted by Catur Setiawan | 10:20 PM | , , , | 4 comments »

Diet PlansDiet plans are essential for leading a fit and healthy life. There are various diet plans that you can select, based on your requirements.

Some diet plans created are restrictive of carbohydrates and proteins. Others provide alternative food like cookie or the soup recipes. Still, others are integrated with stages or phases. But there's one which makes them united, most of them include fruits and vegetables.

• 3-Hour Diet
Description: Eat everything with perfect timing which was conceptualized by Jorge Cruise. It requires eating breakfast within 60 minutes upon getting up in the morning. Second is eating in 3 hour intervals or between meals. No more food is allowed 3 hours before going to bed at night.

What To Eat: 3 meals, 2 snacks, and a treat (carbohydrates, protein and fats) and small portion of sweets

Advantage: Flexibility of meal types and fits any food budget

Downside: It is not possible for very busy people

• Atkins diet
Description: It is a meat based diet with no fruit or starchy vegetables conceptualized by Dr. Robert Atkins. No carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables and this results in using the reserve fats as source of energy

What To Eat: meat but no carbohydrates

Advantage: Effective for fast or crash diet

Downside: It is unhealthy since it doesn't practice good nutrition. In addition to that is the tendency for people to gain so much weight when diet stops. It increases risk of cancer.

• The Cabbage Soup Diet
Description: It is a 7 day diet plan which includes cabbage soup recipe and other meals. Proper distribution of food groups within the 7 day period. It includes the special menu of cabbage soup. It also recommends taking in multivitamins to fight stress. It focuses on the lose water diet scheme.

What to Eat: cabbage soup menu, skim milk, brown rice, unsweetened drinks, fruits

Advantage: It is effective for fast dieting. There is no possibility of serious heart problems. It includes a very simple recipe.

Downside: Weight gain when one stops the cabbage soup diet.

• Cookie diet
Description: It requires eating cookies the entire day to replace the breakfast and lunch meals. Dinner should be healthy and sensible. Using cookies in a low calorie diet tends to make someone feel full. Cookie is made of amino acids and fiber.

What to eat: four to six cookies throughout the day and a healthy dinner

Advantage: It is effective for those who skip meals and have no time. It does not need preparation.

Downside: It is not easy to make it as a lifestyle diet scheme so it's short term. There are limited flavors for the cookies available.

• Eat to Live Diet
Description: It requires eating low calorie nutritious meals conceptualized by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Primarily, focus on vegetables and fruits with less salt and sugar.

What to eat: nuts, vegetables, fruits and no snacking

Advantage: It aims to lose weight yet remain healthy. It is not a tasteless diet. It is lifestyle changing and good to lower cholesterol.

Downside: It is lifestyle changing so it would require avoiding the usual snacking and eating out practices.

• The Raw Food Diet
Description: It requires eating a low calorie nutritious diet which includes raw food. It is also known as the living diet. Raw food is one of the best diet foods. It encompasses the living food philosophy.

What to Eat: salad, cake, soup, vegetables, fruits with recipes

Advantage: It is a low calorie diet but healthy and nutritious. Some recipes do not require 100% raw food.

Downside: Reality is that some vegetables can't be eaten raw. It entails planning and preparation.

• The Sonoma Diet
Description: It includes ten power foods flavored in 3 waves conceptualized by Connie Guttersen. Food preparation of the ten power flavored foods based on Mediterranean diet with portion control

What to Eat: whole grains, almonds, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, grapes, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and olive oil.

Advantage: There is wide variety of food prepared with flavor and easy to maintain. Recipes are prepared to be shared with all family members.

Downside: It requires spending time for cooking.

• The South Beach Diet
Description: The diet plans is restricted to low carbohydrates plus fruits and vegetables. It has 3 phases: restrictive, targeted and maintenance. It was created by Arthur Agatston.

What to Eat: lean meats, low fat vegetables and cheeses, low carbohydrates, fruits

Advantage: One eats three meals a day with snacks. It's easy to prepare food which includes frozen entrees.

Downside: Probably it is not as healthy as the Sonoma diet.

• The Vegetarian Diet
Description: The diet plan involves a low calorie high in nutrients recipes. It must have a plan based on one's size from the Zone Food Blocks. It is a calorie restrictive diet.

What to Eat: sweet potato, brown rice, fruits and vegetables

Advantage: It is a healthy and balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates and fat.

Downside: It needs menu planning to check on alternatives for meat.

• The Zone Diet
Description: It is a diet plan of eating 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 30% protein. It allows one to enjoy 3 meals and two snacks each day. It is one of the most famous diets in Hollywood. It was created by Barry Sears.

What to Eat: lean meats, vegetables, whole grain

Advantage: It includes all types of foods.

Downside: It can be expensive for those who will avail of food delivery. It can be complicated to follow on the ratio pattern of food intake

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Is Cooking School for You

Posted by Catur Setiawan | 5:58 AM | , , | 0 comments »

If you find yourself cooking for friends, being asked to cook a special dish for a family gathering, cooking in your spare time just for the fun of it, or heading for the cookbook aisle of the local library or book store, then cooking school may be your cup of tea. Take the initiative and get started on the road to becoming a chef.

Even if you do love to cook, this doesn't mean it will be easy studying to be a chef. Like any career, it takes stamina, perseverance, and dedication to the culinary arts. The first thing to do is research the different cooking schools available to you. Cooking schools teach all the different aspects of cooking from main courses to pastries and desserts. Certifications or Bachelor Degrees are given on completion of the cooking program.

Culinary Institute of America offers certification to those who demonstrate expertise and proficiency in their cooking skills. Bachelor Degree Programs are offered from Johnson and Wales University, Stratford University, and Baltimore International College. These are just a few of the many noted cooking schools. Be proactive in your search for the cooking school that fits your needs.

Once you have decided upon the cooking school that is right for you, prepare yourself mentally. Even though you enjoy cooking for yourself and others, cooking school takes a lot of intense study and long days. The responsibilities of being a chef can be daunting. Every time a chef prepares a meal, pastry, or entrée, he or she is being judged by the people dining, so the cooking school instructors will be even harsher with you. A chef needs to be thick skinned, accepting the negative comments from diners, as well as the praise. It is difficult at times, to remain calm, trying to prepare the perfect dinner. The cooking school will try to prepare you for these types of confrontations; especially, if cooking for a well known restaurant in the future. Diners expect perfection.

While attending cooking school, try to find a job in a bakery or small restaurant. This will give you experience being around a dining atmosphere, and you will become familiar with the responsibilities involved in being a chef. Even working as a waiter or waitress keeps you up with meal preparation, serving, and the current trends in food preparation. Experience with the people dining is as important as learning to cook. Check the reactions of patrons to the way meals are served, cooked, and presented on the plate. There is a wealth of knowledge to gain from working first hand at some type of food service while attending cooking school.

As you attend cooking school, you will develop confidence in your cooking skills. The sense of accomplishment as you meet the challenges of meal preparation will make all the hard work worthwhile. Being a chef is a never ending quest for knowledge, new cooking techniques, people skills, and bold, creative ways of preparing foods. If you decide cooking school is for you, take your passion for cooking to the next level.

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Before yogurt makers camealong, making homemade yogurt was practically impossible. The conditions have to be just about perfect for the yogurt to be successful. New yogurt makers have changed all this. You can make delicious, healthy yogurt in all types of flavors. The yogurt maker keeps the yogurt at a perfect temperature for all the live yogurt cultures to thrive in. 

The homemade yogurt is made from whichever type of milk you use: whole milk, 2%, or fat-free. The final yogurt ends up costing half of what you would pay in a grocery store, and it will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. 
Yogurt makers all come with their own instructions and recipes, but the basically yogurt making is all about boiling the milk, how to increase the temperature to reach the boiling point, or raising the temperature to incubate the yogurt. 

Boiling the milk destroys any bacteria, but does not affect the cultures in the yogurt. Pasteurized milk has actually already gone through this process, so it is only an added precaution.

Follow the instructions with your yogurt maker for the amounts of milk, and the time to process it. Don't leave the yogurt in the machine after it is done, or it will curd and separate. It is best to refrigerate it as soon as possible to keep it fresh longer. 

Here are a few hints for great tasting yogurt: 

Using skim milk or powdered milk will give the yogurt a soft consistency. If you would like the yogurt a little thicker, add about ½ cup of powdered milk to it before heating. 

Check the expiration dates on the plain yogurt you buy at the store for live cultures. The longer the yogurt stays on the store shelf, the weaker the cultures will be. Also, make sure you use plain yogurt for the cultures. You can add fruit and flavoring later.

The longer you cook the yogurt, the sourer it will be. If the milk is cooked for too long at a high temperature, the yogurt will not be as good, but you want to make sure all bacteria is killed. There is a fine line here that takes some practice. Once you get the hang of the correct time and temperature for the yogurt, all your yogurt will be delicious. Practice makes perfect.

Use only clean kitchen tools to prevent bacteria growth. Cool the milk to the temperature recommended by your yogurt maker, and then add the yogurt starter. If it is too hot, the cultures will die. It is similar to adding yeast to bread. The temperature is very important for growth.

Keep the yogurt maker away from drafts or cool areas that could lower the temperature of the maker. This is also similar to rising bread. Don't be tempted to open the yogurt maker during the process.

After following the yogurt maker's instructions for processing time, remove the yogurt and refrigerate. Make sure the yogurt is cooled before adding flavoring and fruits. Be creative with your flavorings, using all your favorites. That is the great thing about making your own yogurt. You can add whatever your favorites are to the yogurt for a really yummy, healthy treat.

Discover how you can make delicious homemade yogurt with a yogurt maker.

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How to Start a Catering Business

Posted by Catur Setiawan | 5:38 AM | , , | 0 comments »

If you thrive in the crowd and love everything about food, your ideal entrepreneurial niche could be a catering business. The challenges in a catering business include back-breaking hours at the stove and lots of physically laborious activities, but the ultimate rewards are definitely worth all the hard work.

It's not compulsory to have a culinary degree to start your own catering business. However, familiarity with food safety measures, preparation techniques, presentation and of course, governmental procedures for setting up and maintaining the business will come in handy. Also, as common sense tells you, prepared food must be eye-appealing and delicious at the same time.

Most importantly, you need to believe in yourself and get started with enough information to succeed. So, start by researching on the internet or by visiting libraries. Make sure you do a thorough research on licenses, certifications and registration requirements before you invest your time, energy and money to your catering business.

Once you are through with your primary research, you will have to assimilate relevant data and organize it well for your use. Now you have to formulate a business plan and a marketing strategy from all the information that you have learned. The internet provides excellent resources for this. You can check out websites like, where you can find various published papers and other useful data.

The next step is finance. Having your hands on a good business plan and marketing strategy will give you a fairly accurate idea of the kind of credit you will require, as well as increase your chances of quick loan approval. You can get this done through banks and finance companies. Obviously, you will have to invest a small fraction of the total budget upfront. Even as you do this, take care that you do not end up investing more than you can afford losing.

While it might be exhilarating to start your own catering business, it's important to realize that in the beginning you will be wearing many hats. In addition to preparing food and catering events, you'll need to have a good understanding of marketing in order to obtain new business. And, let's not forget the day-to-day duties such as answering the phone, quoting prices, following up with clients, performing accounting duties, ordering supplies, etc.

Although owning your own catering business is a highly rewarding experience, you should be prepared to work long hours and be available to work weekends and evenings, at least until you are well-established.

A catering business is not just about preparing food for an event. The actual A to Z process involves preparation, delivery, table arrangements, food serving and cleaning up after the event. You'll need lots of stamina for this business and it's best to be prepared for the uphill climb.

There's more for you to tackle when you are running a catering business. Most often, caterers work 15 hours per day, 7 days a week. Outdoor events are more common than indoor events, so you'll need lots of energy and gumption to be able to handle the summer-day catering events. Also, maintaining a friendly attitude with lots of vitality throughout all this is essential for a good catering business relationship.

In any case, notwithstanding all the hard work, in the end, if you genuinely love what you do, it is going to be worth it, and a lot of fun. Catering jobs are hectic and taxing and hence you require a good plan for all your activities.

Gary Pearson is an accomplished niche website developer and author.

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