Every cook, whether beginner or not, knows how important onions are. With their sweet and earthy flavor, these alliums form the base for various dishes in almost all cuisines around the world. Besides flavor, onions are also well-loved for their wide availability throughout the year, as well as their long storage life.
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However, once you delve into cooking, you’ll find out that onions have over a dozen varieties: shallots, scallions, spring onions, red onions… The more varieties you discover, the more confused you become. Which type of onion is the best for sauces? Which one to incorporate in your meaty dishes?
One of the most common onion varieties is shallot. Surprisingly, there’s a great number of recipes that call for shallots. When you decide to buy them, you will probably feel even more confused: they look like garlic but taste like sweet onions. On top of that, they are quite hard to peel. So, what are shallots exactly? Can they just be replaced with onions? Are there any other suitable shallot substitutes you can use?
This article will answer all your questions related to shallots.
What Are Shallots?
Shallots is a type of onion, more specifically, a botanical variety of the species Allium cepa. Its closest relatives are garlic, chive, leeks, and Chinese onion.
It originated in Central or Southwest Asia and reached the Mediterranean region traveling through India. The name “shallot” comes from Ashkelon, a city in Canaan, where Ancient Greeks believed shallots originated.
Shallot’s skin varies from golden brown to gray to red. Most shallots have a white flesh that is sometimes broken up by magenta or green lines.
When peeled, they separate into cloves like garlic. Shallots are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes.
The so-called Western shallots are the most common type sold in the US supermarkets. They are rounder, smaller, thinner, and lighter in color than regular onions and often referred to as “false shallots” or “Jersey shallots”. Their skin is pinkish-orange, whereas the flesh is light purple.
Asian shallots are even smaller and with a deeper purple color. The French gray shallots, also known as griselles, are pear-shaped and offer a rather subtle flavor. They are also called “true shallots”.
As far as size is concerned, shallots can be small, medium, and jumbo. As a rule of thumb, smaller shallots taste milder and, according to experienced cooks, better.
Compared to onions, shallots have sweeter, milder, and more complex flavor, with a slightly garlicky twist. The longer shallots are stored, the more intense their flavor gets.
In case you were wondering, they make your eyes tear, though not as much as regular onions. All members of the allium family contain sulfur-based compounds, which are released upon cutting the plant’s cells, react with the atmospheric oxygen and make you cry.
Just like other types of onions, shallots can be eaten raw (usually in salads and dressings) or cooked (fried or roasted), in addition to being pickled. This makes them easy to incorporate into various recipes.
Historically, shallots have been used both for their aromatic and medicinal properties in Asian, French, and Mediterranean cooking.
Finely diced shallots are especially popular in French cuisine, where they’re often combined with wine or butter to provide the flavor base for sauces like Béarnaise, Bercy, and Beurre Blanc.
It is safe to say that shallots are indispensable in Asian cuisine. In the southern regions of India, they are commonly added to curries and different types of sambar, a lentil-based dish. Indian restaurants often include shallots pickled in red vinegar in their menus.
Iranians love grated shallots with yogurt, usually as a side dish to kebabs or as part of torshi, a sour dish comprised of various vegetables under vinegar.
Shallots are also widely used in many Southeast Asian dishes like fried rice. Chinese cuisine offers shallot chips, whereas in Indonesia, they’re pickled and added to various traditional dishes.
Buying and Storing Shallots
Shallots are available throughout the whole year, but their peak season is summer, i.e. from May to September. They can be found fresh and green in the spring, as well as dry, freeze-dried, and dehydrated throughout the whole year.
Like garlic, fresh shallots are sold in clusters but when selecting the best samples, think of onions. Ideally, shallots should be firm and compact, without visible damages. They should have their skin on and it should be smooth and shiny. If you see sprouted shallots, avoid them, since sprouts are an indicator of age.
If kept in a cool, dry, and dark place with plenty of air circulation, shallots will last for up to one month. If you place them in a clean pantyhose and hang them, they can last up to two months.
In case your shallots sprout, don’t worry, you can still use them. Just remove the bitter green sprouts or, if you are a fan of stronger flavors, include the sprouts into your dishes.
Shallots can be chopped and frozen up to three months. It should be noted though, that once you thaw them, they will not be as crunchy as fresh ones.
Health Benefits of Shallots
The health benefits of shallots have been known and appreciated for thousands of years. In Indian medicine, they’re often prescribed as a remedy for a sore throat, combined with jaggery and sugar. In Ayurveda, shallots are believed to have a cooling effect, which makes them suitable for alleviating inflammation, muscle pains, water-retention, and swelling.
Even though they’re smaller in size and milder in taste, shallots contain more antioxidants (flavonoids and phenols) than other members of the onion family! This makes them very efficient in reducing oxidative damage and fighting various chronic diseases.
Shallots also contain sulfoxides, which give them antibiotic, antidiabetic, and fibrinolytic properties. This means that shallots are great for fighting viral and bacterial infections, controlling blood sugar levels, preventing insulin resistance, preventing the formation of blood clots, and reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
Shallots and other onions contain vitamins A, B6, and C, essential minerals like potassium, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that benefit the blood vessels, digestive organs, muscles, and skin.
Shallots vs. Onions – Can They Be Used Interchangeably in Recipes?
After interviewing some of our users and fellow cooks, we have found that almost all of them tend to stock up on onions and garlic but only a few keep shallot reserves in their kitchen. The reasons for this range from simply forgetting to buy shallots to the fact that their price is slightly higher. There’s also their size, which makes them harder to cut, and the fact that they’re somewhat finicky to peel. In other words, shallots are not considered an essential ingredient in the kitchen.
That is why knowing how to substitute shallots is very important. Onions are the most available substitute for using but you need to be careful. Swapping onions for shallots in the same amount will result in a dish with prominently oniony flavor.
Also, it should be noted that onions can replace shallots only in cooked dishes. Raw onions in a dressing don’t taste so good (and will result in bad breath). Also, this swap is not applicable for recipes that call for more than a ½ cup of shallots. This amount implies that shallots play an important role in the recipe and replacing them might ruin the whole dish.
So, what type of onions are the best substitute for shallots? Well, any onion can substitute for a shallot, depending on the person you ask. Most coking experts voted for yellow onions. Small white onions, also called pearl onions, can replace shallots as well. On the other hand, sweet onions are considered too sweet, whereas red onions are too strong. However, all onion types have a common trait – when cooked, they get softer and lighter in taste.
To recreate the shallot flavor, add just a pinch of garlic powder to the onions you decide to use. However, bear in mind that garlic is stronger in taste than shallots so be careful not to add too much. You can also add fresh garlic. Just crush a clove and add only the liquid that comes out.
As a rule of thumb, one onion replaces three shallots. Since shallots are smaller, make sure to chop the onions into pieces that are smaller than usual.
Shallots tend to melt when cooked but that’s not the case with onions. To help mellow the onions’ flavor further, cook them down before adding to the dish.
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Shallots vs. Scallions
Shallots and scallions are often mixed up. If you want to test this theory, just send your husband to buy one of them J It might have something to do with their names or the fact that they’re the two mildest and most versatile members of the allium family
However, these two are quite different in appearance. Scallions are actually green onions, sold in bunches in the grocery stores. Scallions are in fact ordinary onions, only harvested while immature and still cylindrical, hence their slender, leek-like appearance.
Scallions are most often used raw to add a pungent note to egg dishes and salads, or simply sliced into thin rings as a garnish. When it comes to cooked dishes, they’re most often added to soups, stir-fries, and quiches for subtle flavoring. Combined with garlic and ginger, scallions form a base for sauces and broths.
Are scallions a suitable substitute for shallots? Yes, scallions are mild enough to serve as a substitute for shallots. Make sure to only use the tops, without the bulbs, and add them later in the cooking process to avoid overcooking.
Other Substitutes for Shallots
When used as shallot substitutes, leeks are very similar to scallions, i.e. only the tops are used. However, since they take longer to cook than scallions, leeks should be added earlier in the cooking process. Alternatively, leeks can be sautéed over medium heat to soften before adding them to the recipe.
Garlic scapes, i.e. the flower buds of the garlic plant, look much like green onions but with long, twisting tails. In terms of taste, they are somewhere between onions and garlic. In terms of flavor, they taste somewhat sharper than shallots so, when you use them as a substitute, reduce the amount required in the recipe by about 1/4.
Delicious Shallot Recipes
Shallots make a great addition to stir-fries, sautés, salads, soups, side dishes, and casseroles, and is very often paired with garlic.
Combine them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme to create marinades and sauces for your meat dishes.
Raw shallots pair well with fresh fruits like pineapple or vegetables like jalapeno to produce healthy salsas.
Here are more ideas to use shallots when cooking:
Tangy Mustard Pork Chops
Spinach Chicken Roll-Up
Garlic Parsley Potatoes
Corn and Bell Pepper Sauté
Veal with Blackberry Sauce
Mushroom Herb Risotto
If Lady Gaga says she’s obsessed with a certain food, we have to take her word for it. The singer has revealed that she loves the creamy chickpea paste and eats it almost every day when she’s on tour. This was enough for us to get in the kitchen, experiment with different hummus recipes, and start exploring all things connected to it, from hummus wipes to hummus wraps! Final verdict: the pop star is right, hummus is an obsession-worthy ingredient.
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What is Hummus?
“Even God eats hummus when he visits the Middle East, and you know how powerful he is when it comes to the public opinion.”
This Levantine spread/dip is made primarily of cooked and mashed chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, combined with tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The word ‘hummus’ is an Arabic means “chickpea” (the complete name in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna which means “chickpeas with tahini”).
Traditionally, hummus is beige in color and usually served on a large plate, often drizzled with some olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs, then stuffed in a fresh pita and complemented with cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. Some recipes also call for falafel in the serving combination. Optionally, this tasty paste can be served as an appetizer in a mezze-style or as a dip for vegetables on parties.
In Israel, however, hummus has been promoted to a main dish. The expression ‘hummus wipe’ also comes from this country. The Israeli always start the ritual of eating hummus with the phrase “Let’s go wipe some hummus.” Hummus wipe may also refer to the way in which hummus is eaten (yes, there is a right and a wrong way of consuming this creamy delight). This means that you must never ever use a knife and fork but wipe the hummus off the plate with pieces of pita (shaped like canoes).
Hummus is gradually becoming one of the Middle-Eats most successfully exported cultural-products, mostly as a result of tourists who tasted it while in the region and spread the word.
In fact, if two decades ago people in the US were unable to pronounce the word ‘hummus’, today it is found on the shelves of almost every supermarket and grocery store.
Numbers say that the sales of hummus have quadrupled over the past ten years, threatening to end the domination of guacamole and salsa as America’s two favorite dips!
This rise was accompanied by an increased production of chickpeas in the States – from 25 million pounds in 2009, it has reached 100 million pounds during the recent years.
To support this claim with even more numbers, compared to twenty years ago when annual hummus sales in the States were $5 million, today they are estimated at a whopping $725 million! In other words, while in 2006 only 12% of the US households stocked up on the chickpea spread, today this number is doubled to 25%!
The History of Hummus
The earliest recorded hummus recipes originate from cookbooks written in Cairo, Egypt in the 13th century. The invention of this creamy spread is often attributed to Sultan Saladin, who was the first to combine all the basic hummus ingredients.
However, given the fact that the two main ingredients, chickpeas, and tahini, have been used in the Middle East and Easter Mediterranean for thousands of years, experts believe that hummus’ origins go way back.
Today, many regions and countries around the world claim to be the place of origin of hummus, including Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon. The last two countries on the list are especially persistent in their efforts to prove historic ownership of this creamy delight, engaging in a competition of preparing the largest batch of hummus. Currently, Lebanon has the largest serving of hummus. It was made by 300 student chefs and served in 2010 in Beirut. The serving weighed 23,042 lbs. 12 oz. and was served on the new largest ceramic plate, which over 7m in diameter.
As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t matter who invented it, the very fact that there are so many national and regional hummus varieties makes us jump with joy! The major difference between these different hummus recipes is in the amounts of tahini used. Some varieties include cumin, hot peppers, and/or Greek yogurt; others, like the Turkish recipe, use butter instead of olive oil. But if you keep reading, you will find out that hummus is a versatile spread offers endless flavoring possibilities!
Health Benefits of Hummus
This beige-colored emulsion was further popularized by celebrity health promoters like Dr. Oz and the rising interest in the Mediterranean diet.
People are becoming more and more aware of how important food is to the overall well-being and they turn to healthier options. Nowadays, many modern Americans will choose a tasty and healthy spread like hummus over ranch dip, queso fresco, or mayonnaise.
Hummus is one of those rare foods that offer great taste backed up with amazing nutritive value. Here are the main health benefits of hummus:
- Chickpeas are very high in protein and dietary fiber which make you feel full. This means that, in the long term, hummus will help you eat less and stay slim. Furthermore, these nutty legumes regulate digestion and protect the heart. They are also packed with vitamin B6, manganese, and magnesium, three elements credited for relieving PMS symptoms. Garbanzo beans are rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium, minerals known to boost energy and aid sexual functions, making hummus an aphrodisiac. No wonder they’ve been consumed for more than seven millenniums!
- Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. These seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that lowers the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- The most important nutrients found in olive oil are the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are especially good for the cardiovascular system. To take the most advantage of its health properties, make sure you use extra virgin olive oil.
- Lemon juice is packed with vitamin C which strengthens the immunity, aids digestion, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it acts as a powerful alkalizer and regulates the level of acidity in the body. (Skip the bottled, store-bought versions and use freshly squeezed lemon juice)
- Garlic is rich in flavonoids, sulfur, selenium and many other nutrients that give this vegetable its antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.
- Salt. To keep your hummus recipe healthy, opt for healthier salt options like Himalayan, Celtic, or sea salt. Unlike the highly-processed, iodized table salt, these salts contain a large number of trace minerals which balance the fluids in the organism and facilitate nutrient absorption.
How to Make Traditional Hummus
Homemade hummus is much healthier and richer in taste than the store-bought varieties. You’re just a few steps away from the most delicious summer meal!
2 cups chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Step by step preparation:
Step 1: You can use either raw or canned chickpeas for your homemade hummus recipe.
Raw chickpeas: Raw, dried chickpeas need to be soaked overnight to soften. At this point, adding a teaspoon of baking soda will contribute to an extra velvety final product.
After the legumes have soaked overnight, rinse them and place in a pot filled with water. Cook at a low temperature until they’re soft (for about 1-2 hours; they’re done when they start crumbling under your fingers). Skinless garbanzo beans will produce the silkiest paste but peeling them one by one is a laborious task. The addition of baking soda once again in this phase will help separate the skins easily.
Note: Save the water in which the chickpeas were soaked. This liquid is called ‘aquafaba’ and can be added to the food processor together with all the other ingredients to contribute perfect density and some more flavor!
Canned chickpeas: If you don’t have the time or patience to soak and cook your chickpeas, opt for the canned version. Drain the canned chickpeas into a strainer, then rinse under running water.
Step 2: Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor (including some aquafaba).
Note: Some recipes skip the olive oil altogether since tahini is fatty and flavorful enough. This, however, is a matter of personal preference.
Note 2: Having a great processing tool is crucial for obtaining a perfectly smooth and creamy emulsion. Food processors are a better option since they have bigger blades than blenders.
Step 3: Process the ingredients for about two minutes, until you obtain a smooth and uniform paste. Stop to scrape the sides of the food processor’s bowl from time to time.
Step 4: Adjust the taste and texture. Taste to see if you need to add more seasonings or, if the hummus is dry, olive oil, aquafaba and/or lemon juice.
Amazing Hummus Recipes
Just when you thought hummus can’t get any better, you realize that there are countless hummus varieties! This creamy dip gives you an opportunity to get creative and make it different every time. You can add practically everything you have in the fridge: spices, herbs, tired veggies to make it even healthier and more flavorful. Here are just a few suggestions to tickle your imagination:
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Spicy Chipotle-Lime Hummus
Cucumber Hummus with Dill
Smokey Sweet Potato Hummus
Bell Pepper and Mint Lentil Hummus
How to Consume Hummus
Hummus will keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge. Note: the smear tends to thicken when stored, so you might need to add some more aquafaba or olive oil before each consumption.
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Transfer your hummus mixture into a bowl and serve it as a dip, along with raw vegetables or, make the best combination ever – hummus and chips. When we say hummus and chips, we refer to pita chips. And since this is one of our favorite game night and movie night snacks, here is how to make it:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with some olive oil.
Step 2: Take one pita bread with pockets or two without pockets. If your pitas have pockets, split them in half using a knife. If the pitas are without pockets, cut them into 8 wedges (like a pizza).
Step 3: Brush the wedges with oil on both sides, then season with at least salt (other spices and herbs are optional, feel free to use your imagination).
Step 4: Arrange the pita wedges on the baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the pita chips over, then return and bake until crispy and golden-brown, for another 5 minutes (thinner pitas need lower temperatures and, hence, a bit longer baking time, about 7-8 minutes).
Step 5: Make sure you let the pita chips cool completely before serving. Need recipes?
Hummus and Herbed Baked Pita Chips
Homemade Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips
Smear it onto your sandwich or on a pita and make a hummus wrap, combining it with various vegetables, meats, or even seafood.
Quinoa Hummus Wrap
Greek Grilled Chicken and Hummus Wrap
Egg and Veggie Hummus Wrap
You can also add hummus on top of meats and fish before roasting to add extra flavor.
Baked Hummus Crusted Chicken
Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Yogurt Hummus Sauce
Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Pizza
Parsley Scallion Hummus Pasta
Just as you can’t judge a book by its covers, you can’t judge a dish by its name. In fact, a dish with an off-putting name is delicious 9 times out of ten. And if you are eager to try new and fun foods, then maybe a shoo-fly pie or a Sloppy Joe will be just your cup of tea. Read along to find out more about the history and the interesting stories behind the names.
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Angel’s Food Cake
No, the recipe for this incredibly delicious cake was not created by a divine intervention, but the Angel’s food cake is just that, heavenly good! An interesting fact about this cake is that it was said to be the “food of the angels” when it first appeared in the 19th century. A more down to earth explanation, though, would be that the name of this cake comes from the fact that it is made with only egg whites, flour, and sugar – all white, just as angels are. And its texture, spongy, fluffy, and light, resembles the clouds angels sleep on :). This cloud-like texture can be put down to the protein foam (the whipped eggs), but what makes this cake stand out is the fact that it doesn’t call for butter.
How did fried balls of cornmeal end up being called puppies? Sure, if this was a recipe made with some kind of mini sausage then the explanation would be that “hot dogs” became “puppies”, but cornmeal is no sausage, and hush puppies are a few years older than hot dogs. While hot dogs were first introduced in 1870, hush puppies date back to the Civil War.
So what’s the story behind the name of this Southern staple? A legend says that their name has to do with the fact that fried bits of dough were thrown to hungry dogs to keep them quiet when frying catfish. —hence, “hush puppies.”
Yet another legend, places this story in the Civil War when Confederate soldiers heard Yankee soldiers approaching while they were preparing dinner. In order not to be discovered they had to silence their dogs somehow and to do that they referred to none other than fried cornmeal cakes for help :). Instead of barking they were noming.
Yet another dish whose name isn’t indicative of its taste, or the ingredients included. A shoofly pie is a molasses crumb cake prepared in a pie crust. The crust probably entered the picture so that people could eat a piece without using utensils, but the name stuck. This pie, much like the Angel food cake, is also eggless, and molasses is the star ingredient here. A particular brand of molasses is to be “blamed” for the first part of the name. The Shoofly Molasses was named after a circus mule called Shoofly the Boxing Mule that toured in Pennsylvania just around the time this pie came to be (the 19th century). Another theory associates the name with this pie being so sweet and attractive to everyone, including the flies.
Bubble and Squeak
This English dish, much like banana bread, is a result of the ingenuity of housewives, who wanted to make use of the shallow-fried veggies left from “last night’s roast dinner”. Although potatoes and cabbage are a must, many other veggies can make it into this recipe. The particular recipe below calls for pork sausage patties, which means that meat can also be added. Everything is fried together with mashed potatoes until brown on the sides. While the mixture is cooking, it makes an irresistible sound, the very reason why this dish is called bubble and squeak.
Behind the catchy name lies a very simple, easy to prepare sandwich. Made with ground beef, tomato sauce, onions, and cheese the sandwich originated in the United States during the early 20th century. The “sloppy” part of the name is indicative of the messy filling of this sandwich, but the “Joe” part is disputable. Several restaurants claim to be the place where Sloppy Joe was invented, with a restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa, being the most likely source. Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida, and the Sloppy Joe’s Saloon in Havana are the other 2 possible sources.
Try one of these Sloppy Joe variations
Sloppy Joe Twist
Traditional Sloppy Joe
Sloppy Joe Casserole
Beef and Been Sloppy Joe
Pigs in Blankets
These children’s favorite are not only adorable but very tasty as well. The earliest written record of these incredibly delicious treats is in Betty Crocker’s “Cooking for Kids”, and the little sausages resembling animals in a blanket are a great way of getting your kids to eat their lunch!
If you think that the Dutch baby is native to the Netherlands, you are very wrong. The name itself is a misinterpretation of the original, Deutsch Baby, which is German, for, well, “German”. As for the taste of this pancake, it is everything you ever wanted in a desert- sweet, tasty and easy to throw together. Prepare this Dutch Baby recipe and make your friends and family happy!
There you go guys, the 7 recipes with the most unusual names. So, what’s are you waiting for? Prepare one for each day of the week that follows.
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Yes, we all love going to a nice restaurant and trying delicious dishes, but when it comes to preparing food at home we don’t always have the will to cook. If you find it difficult to motivate yourselves to cook after a whole day at work, or you just don’t feel up to it, you definitely need what I call a cooking motivation boost. In fact, I can guarantee that by the time you’ve finished reading this article, you will be on the look for a new recipe to prepare today!
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Find an Amazing Food App
We live in a technology-driven world, and while we still cannot rely on robots cooking our own food, finding a good recipe app is the first step towards cooking inspiration. Even if you know how to cook, more often than not choosing what to prepare for lunch or dinner is way more difficult than the actual preparation process. Having a recipe app at hand will surely provide you with the inspiration you need. Plus, these apps have step by step instructions that newbie cooks can follow and many useful tips and ideas to make your regular dishes stand out! Have you downloaded our cooking app yet? If not, do so by clicking the links below.
MyGreatRecipes for iOS
MyGreatRecipes for Android
Go Grocery Shopping at Least Once a Week
Ideally, you could make a sort of a “week menu” and go grocery shopping in advance. This way you won’t get disappointed if the recipe you like calls for ingredients that you don’t have at home. Plus, you wouldn’t want to throw the money down the drain? Once you’ve spent money on groceries you might as well use them, right?
Make sure you prepare a list of the things you need before you head out to the supermarket. Plus, if you are not cooking that often, I will take a wild guess and say that you are not all that familiar with what you have in your pantry. So, check out whether you already have some of the ingredients in your kitchen. Say if a recipe calls for a drop or two of olive oil, and you already have it at home, buying it will be spending money in vain.
Plus, if you have a list of the things you need, you are less likely to buy anything you don’t need. Let’s face it, more often than not we end up buying something we don’t really need, just because the discount prize seemed tempting. This is especially important if you have a limited budget, or are on the look of saving money. Are you a student trying to learn your way around the kitchen? Check out our Student Guide to Efficient Cooking and learn everything there is to know about
Write it Down!
Regardless of whether you are a onetime cook, or like to cook every day, taking notes is of crucial importance. Yes, recipes have guidelines and measures, but one time out of three, you’ll see that these things are not constant. So, if you thought that one cup of flour was not enough for the bread you are baking and you decided to add a spoonful more, write it down! Forty minutes at 400° were not enough for the bread to cook through? Write it down! You swapped regular oil for olive oil and it was a success? Write it down! Next time you are to prepare your favorite recipe you will have the notes ready to guide you further. You can do this the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, or use your smartphone as your notebook.
Find Someone to Cook With
Just like every other thing in life, cooking is way more fun when you do it with someone. Be it your mom, husband, or friend, you will be simultaneously helping each other and having a blast while doing it! If, on the other hand, you don’t think cooking WITH someone will be effective, then cooking FOR someone surely will be! Surprise your family members with dishes you’ve prepared especially for them (say your daughter’s favorite pancakes or your husband’s favorite meat cut). Do this day in day out, your loved ones’ reactions will surely motivate you to cook more often!
The Ultimate Cooking Motivation
Well, if you weren’t inspired to grab your apron and toque blanche by now, then one of these delicious recipes will surely convince you to do so! And get this: all of these recipes take 30 minutes or less, start to finish!
Italian Chicken Sandwiches
The stringy, gooey mozzarella makes these sandwiches so irresistible, they will become your new favorite! If you don’t have a tomato paste on hand, use Italian-seasoned tomato sauce instead. Feel free to enhance the flavor with basil, oregano, and any other herbs or spices you like. Plus, if another type of cheese is more to your palate, you can always replace the mozzarella with Swiss cheese or grated Parmesan cheese.
Citrus Grilled Chicken
The orange sauce and pink onions are reminiscent of a sunset, and once you’ve prepared this recipe you will start affectionately calling it sunset chicken. Oregano and cinnamon go hand in hand to make the perfect sunset chicken marinade (use ½ a teaspoon of the first and a ¼ teaspoon of the latter).
Greek Style Orzo
The flavors of this orzo bring back the traditional tastes of grandma’s cooking. Childhood memories will evoke with every bite and you will enjoy the road to memory lane. Remember, some canned chicken broths are saltier than others. So considering the salt in the broth, the salt in the butter and the salty feta, you can omit the half a teaspoon of salt until you add all the other ingredients and taste the result. If not salty enough, add more, if it’s to your taste, skip the salt altogether.
Berry Berry Parfaits
This light, sweet and rich treat will definitely become your favorite summer dessert! Parfaits can be served year-round, so you can use whatever fresh berries that are in season. During blueberry season, substitute blueberries for the strawberries. In blackberry season, freeze sweetened blackberries so you could use them instead of raspberries in the winter.
Glorious Garden Pizza
Chopped the vegetables, especially the broccoli, into small pieces so they would cook to just the right crisp-tender texture. Because the cooking time needed for broccoli can be hard to predict, cook the cut-up florets in a little water for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain and dry them before arranging them on the pizza.
Country-Style Cube Steak
Plain good cooking like this never goes out of style! But hear this, you can alter this recipe to make something very much like pepper steak with just a couple of changes. Reduce the amount of ketchup to a ¼ cup, use soy sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce, and omit the dry mustard and vinegar.
Frosty Sherbet Squares
In Italy, this dessert is made with ice-cream flavors unique to Europe, such as nougat, rice pudding, burnt almond, and hazelnut. Create a completely different dessert by substituting coffee or maple ice cream, chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream for the sherbets.
So, was I right? Have you started looking for the kitchenware and ingredients needed for one of these recipes? Wait, don’t start cooking just yet, I have one more thing to say to you: Happy cooking! 🙂
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Now that we’ve covered the foods with the strange-sounding names, it’s time to give an honorable mention to the actual strange foods! Read through and see if you are brave enough to try one of these delicacies.
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FRIED STINKY TOFU
Fried stinky tofu is just that, stinky! People who’ve tried it, say that it tastes and smells like rotten meat or super moldy blue cheese. But, if you’re brave enough to try it, it grows on you. Behind the distinctive odor, stinky tofu is toothsome and every bit as interesting as it sounds. If you crave a treat crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this is it! As for the taste it leaves in your mouth, a flavor bomb of meat, veggies, fermented soy milk, and seafood would best describe this infamous dish. These are all the ingredients stinky tofu gets marinated in (plus a variety of different spices), but do remember that the recipe for the marinade is susceptible to change and with that, the flavor of the tofu as well.
Usually the stinky tofu comes into triangles or squares and to eat it, you will need a wooden toothpick. Spear the tofu together with sweet-and-sour pickled cabbage (that is usually served along) and dip the bite in chili sauce.
If you don’t want to give this smelly feet-tasting dish a try, then maybe fried feet will be more down your alley?
FRIED CHICKEN FEET
Yes, you’ve read it right, fried chicken feet are a thing… because why throw meat cuts away, right? Apart from their weird looking appearance, these are actually pretty tasty. They do have that fried chicken flavor, but the texture is more like that of pork cracklings. This, of course, if you fry the feet without coating. If you decide to fry these as you usually would your chicken fingers with a coating of eggs and flour, then they won’t be as crispy and will taste more like fried chicken.
Regardless of the manner you want to fry these in, you should remember to do these three things:
Cut the nails off
Need an explanation why you should trim the nails off? Didn’t think so. Divide the chicken claw into two parts for easier consumption, or if you don’t want to bother with it, leave it be. Do remember though, that you will need more oil if you fry the feet whole.
Pre boil them
To get a richer flavor, marinate the chicken feet. Get a large pot and bring enough water to a boil, add a teaspoon of sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and the same amount of rice vinegar. (Not only will the vinegar provide a bit of tanginess but it will also protect the feet from getting darker in color). Cook the chicken feet for 2 minutes and then transfer them on a rack to drain completely.
Simmer the feet into a cup of water, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped Thai chili peppers, an inch big finely chopped ginger root, a tablespoon of soy sauce and half a tablespoon of oyster sauce. If you want, you can also add cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, or whatever comes to mind.
- How to eat fried chicken feet
In case you were wondering, everything except the bones (and the nails in case they haven’t been trimmed) is edible. You should start eating the feet by biting off the toes between the joints, one at a time. Dip in sauce, chew off the skin, eat the meat (if there is some) and once you’ve sucked on the bone, spit it out. Proceed to the little pad on the foot, and eat it just like you did with the joints, chew the skin off and suck all the cartilage off the bone.
The Hakarl (or Hákarl) is a dish made from the meat of Greenland shark. The process includes beheading the shark and leaving it in a shallow grave covered with sand and stones. When fresh, this meat is poisonous, so it needs to get spoiled in the ground for two to three months. Are you ready to take a chance with this meat? Cut it into strips and dry for several more months before serving.
- How to eat the Greenland shark
If you are brave enough to try the hakarl it is advisable that you hold your nose in order not to throw up. If the revolting smell doesn’t keep you from eating the meat, you will be awarded with a fishy, sweet, and nutty taste.
So, if you ever got a hold of one of these dishes, would you dare to eat them?
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