The Health Benefits of Licorice Root

The Health Benefits of Licorice Root

The Health Benefits of Licorice

There is nothing more distinct than the taste of licorice. This flavorful candy comes in black and red. While black licorice is a love hate relationship, you may be surprised to know that it doesn’t contain any actual licorice root.

The taste that we associate with “black licorice” is actually anise oil. In teas and other herbal medicines, the smell that people often think is licorice is actually anise.

Whether you love the taste of licorice or not, there is no denying the health benefits of licorice root. Licorice root has many healing properties when taken in small doses. Be careful when taking licorice to treat a medical condition, though, too much licorice can be toxic!

Medical Uses

  • Licorice is used intravenously to treat multiple forms of hepatitis
  • Licorice root is effective for treating eczema when applied as a gel
  • Treating heartburn and other gastrointestinal issues
  • Reducing stomach acids and treating peptic ulcers

Breaking Research

Licorice root is being studied in many different areas for effectiveness. One of those areas is in the treatment of obesity. According to the University of Maryland, people who ate licorice over a two month period had a reduction in body fat.

Another study showed that a topical ointment prepared from one of the acids found in licorice reduced the thickness of fat found on the thighs of human subjects.

Finally, a third study looked at the effects of licorice flavonoid oil. This was the most effective of the research studies aimed at analyzing licorice’s ability to help combat obesity.

Those who consumed the licorice flavonoid oil over an 8-week period saw a reduction in body fat, body mass index, LDL cholesterol, and body weight. There are more studies needed as the long-term health risks of licorice use are yet unknown.

Menopause

Early findings point to licorice as a possible source of relief from hot flashes for women in menopause. The University of Maryland highlights a study that found licorice root to be more effective than hormone replacement therapy when treating hot flashes.

This may come as good news for many women who have learned that hormone replacement therapy may not be the safest option to treat their menopause symptoms.

Toxicity
Licorice is one root you do not want to play around with. Studies have shown that those who ingest more than 20 g of licorice a day may experience increased levels of aldosterone. This hormonal increase can cause headaches, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

If you already suffer from heart disease, kidney disease or high blood pressure, these negative effects could be seen with as little as 5 g of licorice root a day.

The National Institute for Health highlights a Finnish study of mothers who ate a lot of licorice root during their pregnancy. This study indicated that there might be a link between the consumption of licorice root during pregnancy and brain development issues in children leading to behavior issues, attention problems, and aggression.

Interactions
Licorice root will interact with many prescription medications. There are major interactions noted on Web M.D. with the medications, Warfarin and Coumadin.

Those drugs with lower levels of interaction include but aren’t limited to:

  • Digoxin
  • Lasix
  • Medications changed in the liver
  • Ethacrynic Acid
  • Medications for high blood pressure
  • Corticosteroid
  • diuretics

Licorice root may have interactions that can complicate surgery. It is recommended that you stop taking licorice root 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. In addition to surgical complications, licorice has been shown to lower libido in men.

It can also worsen the symptoms of erectile dysfunction by lowering levels of testosterone. These hormone-altering effects are also seen in women because licorice can act as a source of estrogen in the body. If you have hormone-sensitive conditions like uterine fibroids or breast cancer, you should avoid the use of licorice root.

Using licorice as a form of medicine should only be done so under the supervision of your physician. Even with their permission regular blood pressure, monitoring may be necessary to avoid any long- term damage.

Authentic Mexican Recipes

Authentic Mexican Recipes

Authentic Mexican Recipes

 

     

Salsa

Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce. Salsa usually is made with tomatoes, chilies, onions, garlic, and cilantro and is the base for the majority of salsas served with a typical Mexican meal. Flavors vary with the type of chili and whether the salsa is cooked or fresh ingredients are used. Salsa verde is made with green tomatillos, which is a small green vegetable that is wrapped in a papery outer layer.

 

    

Chilaquiles

This popular traditional breakfast dish is made with lightly fried corn tortillas cut into pieces and topped with green or red salsa. Scrambled or fried eggs and pulled chicken are usually added on top, as well as cheese and cream. Chilaquiles are often served with a healthy dose of frijoles (refried beans).

  • Try making your own chilaquiles

 

 

 

Pozole Soup-  

Verde (green)

vs Rojo (Red)


The original pozole was created in Chiapa, Guerrero during the eighteenth century. This meal consisted of soaked corn added to chicken and herbs; it has become a special Mexican dish.
In Jalisco and Michoacan, pozole rojo, red dried chile ancho and combined with chiles, guajillos are a popular dish. Pozole verde green color and unusual taste and texture comes from ground pumpkin seeds,  tomates verdes (green tomatoes) and various greens.
According to anthropologists, this pre-Hispanic soup was once used as part of ritual sacrifices. These days chicken, pork and vegetarian pozole versions are readily available in more everyday surroundings. Made from hominy corn with plenty of herbs and spices, the dish is traditionally stewed for hours, often overnight. Once ready to serve, lettuce or cabbage, radish, onion, oregano, lime, and chili is sprinkled on top.

 

 

Tacos al Pastor

      

    This historic dish is one of the most popular varieties of tacos, with origins dating back to the 1920’s and 30’s and the arrival of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants to Mexico. To create tacos al pastor (meaning ‘in the style of the shepherd’), thin strips of pork are sliced off a spit, placed on a corn tortilla and served with onions, coriander leaves, and pineapple.
     Try making your own tacos Al Pastor

     

     

     

    Tostadas

    What should you do with stale tortillas? Why, fry them of course! Literally meaning toasted, tostadas are a simple and delicious dish involving corn tortillas fried in boiling oil until they become crunchy and golden. These are then served alone or piled high with any number of garnishes. Popular toppings include frijoles (refried beans), cheese, cooked meat, seafood and ceviche.

    Try making your own tostadas

     

     

     

    •  

      Chiles en Nogada


    • Boasting the three colours of the Mexican flag, chiles en nogada is one of Mexico’s most patriotic dishes. Poblano chillies filled with picadillo (a mixture of chopped meat, fruits and spices) represent the green on the flag, the walnut-based cream sauce is the white and pomegranate seeds the red. Originating from Puebla, history tells that the dish was first served to Don Agustin de Iturbide, liberator, and subsequent Emperor of Mexico.

      Try making this: Chiles en Nogada Chiles in Walnut Sauce

     

     

     

     

    Elote

    • You’ll find someone selling elote, the Mexican name for corn on the cob, on nearly every city street corner in Mexico. The corn is traditionally boiled and served either on a stick (to be eaten like an ice-cream) or in cups, the kernels having been cut off the cob. Salt, chili powder, lime, butter, cheese mayonnaise and sour cream are then added in abundance.Try making your own elote

     

     

     

    Enchiladas

    Enchiladas date back to Mayan times when people in the Valley of Mexico would eat corn tortillas wrapped around small fish. These days both corn and flour tortillas are used and are filled with meat, cheese, seafood, beans, vegetables or all of the above. The stuffed tortillas are then covered in a chili sauce making for a perfect Mexican breakfast.

     

     

     

     

    Mole

    Three states claim to be the original home of mole (pronounced ‘mol-eh’), a rich sauce popular in Mexican cooking. There are myriad types of mole but all contain around 20 or so ingredients, including one or more varieties of chili peppers, and all require constant stirring over a long period of time. Perhaps the best-known mole is mole poblano, a rusty red sauce typically served over turkey or chicken.
    Try making your own Mole

     

     

     

     

     Guacamole

    • Guacamole is undoubtedly one of Mexico’s most popular dishes but few know that this traditional sauce dates back to the time of the Aztecs. Made from mashed up avocados, onions, tomatoes, lemon juice and chilli peppers (and sometimes a clove or two of garlic), guacamole is often eaten with tortilla chips or used as a side dish.Try making your own Guacamole

     

     

     

     

     

    Tamales

    • Tamales were first developed for the Aztec, Mayan and Inca tribes who needed nourishing food on the go to take into battle. Pockets of corn dough are stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling, wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks, and steamed. Fillings vary from meats and cheeses to fruits, vegetables, chillies and mole.

    • Be sure to try our recipe for Tamales.

     

    The Versatile, Nutritious and Delicious Carrot

    The Versatile, Nutritious and Delicious Carrot

     

    The Versatile, Nutritious and Delicious Carrot

     

     

     

    The humble Carrot is one of the most widely used vegetables in the world. Carrots are very versatile in so many dishes from around the world. The modern day carrot has been bred to be sweet and has a  crunchy texture. Carrots are typically orange, but purple, white, yellow, and red carrots are grown but are not as common. The average American eats about 12 pounds of carrots a year, that is about one cup per week.

    It is believed that the carrot was first cultivated in Afghanistan thousands of years ago as a small purple or yellow root with a woody and bitter flavor, nothing of the carrot we know today. Purple, red, yellow and white carrots were cultivated long before the appearance of the now popular orange carrot, which was developed and stabilized by Dutch growers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The majority of carrots today are now cultivated in China.

    “Baby Carrots” were introduced in the 1980’s by a farmer who wanted to salvage misformed carrots that were being thrown away because they did not look desirable. Up until then all the broken and misformed carrots were discarded, leaving sometimes as little as 30 percent of their crop suitable for stores. The carrot farmer took an industrial green bean cutter to quickly whittle, peeled, cut, washed and packaged the carrots into the familiar 2-inch baby portions we find in packages today. All Baby Carrots are washed with a water/chlorine solution that is comparable to tap water to eliminate bacteria (including E. coli and Salmonella) that can cause food-borne illnesses. There is controversy concerning the benefits and drawbacks to this water/chlorine solution.  Baby carrot products have become the fastest growing segment of the carrot industry since the early 1990’s and are among the most popular produce items in the market – more than potatoes and celery, according to a 2007 USDA report.

    Here are a few ways to enjoy carrots – raw, cooked or baked:     

    • Add grated raw carrots to whole-grain muffin batter.
    • Add grated carrots to omelets, frittatas, pasta sauces, coleslaw and green salads.
    • Combine grated carrots, beets and apples for a nutrient- and antioxidant-rich salad.
    • Make carrot soup by pureeing boiled carrots and potatoes (and cooking water). Add herbs and spices to taste.
    • Add baby carrots or sliced carrots to curry and stir-fry recipes.
    • Juice carrots by making a beta-carotene-rich protein shake by blending leftover cooked carrots (or one half-cup carrot juice), one banana, almond milk and protein powder.
    • Carrots make great snack food to eat with dips.

    CookingToday Store offers these great recipes using carrots:

    How to Select and Store Carrots

    You do not need to peel the organic carrots,  many of the nutrients and fiber are found in the skin. Just use a strong brush to wash the carrots and remove any dirt and debris. Nonorganic root crops, such as carrots, grow in soil and absorb whatever toxins and pesticides are present in the soil. The deeper the color, the more beta-carotene is present in the carrot. When juicing it is best to consume whole, organic carrots so many of the unwanted contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals chemicals do not end up in your body.
    Carrots are hardy vegetables that will keep longer than many others if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture lost.To do this, remove the green tops and make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. They should last fresh for about two weeks. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter. Carrots will form a white film that is a result of the dehydration of the cut carrots, to revive the carrots soak in a bowl of ice water. Carrots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in color. Avoid carrots that are excessively cracked or those that are limp or rubbery. When buying carrots do not have their tops attached, look at the stem end and ensure that it is not darkly colored as this is also a sign of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery and not wilted. Since the sugars are concentrated in the carrots’ core, generally those with larger diameters will have a larger core and therefore be sweeter. As carrots age they become limp, these are perfectly good to freeze and save with other vegetables to make your broth base.

      Be careful not to overcook carrots to help them to retain maximum flavor and strong overall nutritional value.

    Carrot Nutritional Value & Calories

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one medium carrot or ½ cup of chopped carrots is considered a serving size. One serving size of carrots provides 25 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of sugars and 1 gram of protein, beta-carotene and fiber content plus antioxidant agents and vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin B8, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese

    • Vitamin A, One medium carrot contains 204 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin A. In plant-based foods, this vitamin is produced by your body from the nutritional compound beta-carotene. This vitamin, also known as retinol, is responsible for maintaining the health of your eyes. Vitamin A helps your eyes retain their ability to adjust to changes in light and maintains necessary moisture and mucus levels of your eyes. Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, uneven skin tone. Improves Eyesight: Deficiency of vitamin A can cause some difficulty seeing in dim light. Since carrots are rich in vitamin A, it is good for improving eyesight and preventing conditions like night blindness from developing as we age.
    •  Vitamins K and C. Vitamin K maintains your blood’s ability to clot. It also contributes to bone strength and kidney health. One medium carrot contains 8 mcg of vitamin K. One medium carrot also contains 6 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, which is associated with a healthy immune system and strong teeth and gums. Vitamin C can also help your body absorb iron from plant foods and can help combat free radicals.  Carrots contain a number of antiseptic and antibacterial abilities that make it ideal for boosting the immune system. Not only that, carrots are a rich source of vitamin C, which stimulates the activity of white blood cells and is one of the most important elements in the human immune system.
    • Carrots contain 2% of calcium needs and 2% of iron needs per serving.
    •  The antioxidant beta-carotene that gives carrots their bright orange color. Beta-carotene is absorbed in the intestine and converted into vitamin A during digestion.
    • Potassium one carrot contains 400 mg of potassium. Potassium is the third-most-abundant mineral in your body. It may help reduce your risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and anxiety.  Potassium is a vasodilator and can relax the tension in your blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing blood flow and circulation, boosting organ function throughout the body and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. The coumarin found in carrots also has been linked to reducing hypertension and protecting your heart health and the health of your muscles, heart and nervous system. 
    • Fiber is one of three types of nutritional carbohydrates, your body’s main nutritional energy source. Fiber promotes bowel regularity. It can also help control your blood sugar levels and contribute to healthy weight management. Carrots contain high amounts of soluble fiber, largely from pectin, which could be the reason they’ve been shown to lower cholesterol.
    • Beta-carotene in carrots has been linked to a reduced risk of several cancers, notably lung, breast cancer and colon cancer.  The average carrot contains about 3 milligrams of beta-carotene.  In one study, researchers found that eating fiber-rich carrots reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 24 percent. Another study shows that women who ate raw carrots were five to eight times less likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not eat carrots.
    • Researchers have just discovered falcarinol which may have the anticancer properties.Falcarinol is a natural pesticide produced by the carrot that protects its roots from fungal diseases. Carrots are one of the only common sources of this compound.
    • Alpha-carotene and bioflavonoids in carrots have been associated with lower risks of cancer, particularly lung cancer. 
    •  Carrots are good for blood sugar regulation. Carotenoids inversely affect insulin resistance and thus lower blood sugar.  They also regulate the amount of insulin and glucose that is being used and metabolized by the body, providing a more even and healthy fluctuation for a diabetic.
    • Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste.  Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which being alkaline, balances out the acid forming and cavity forming bacteria.  The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.

    Fun Facts on Carrots:

    • Carrots are the second most popular type of vegetable after potatoes.
    • The biggest carrot recorded is more than 19 pounds and the longest is over 19 feet!
    • There are over 100 species of carrots some big some small and come in a variety colors orange, purple, white, yellow, and red. 
    • English women in the 1600’s often wore carrot leaves in their hats in place of flowers or feathers.
    • The name “carrot” comes from the Greek word “karoton,”

    Here are a couple good videos for you.

    https://youtu.be/Nf6sX4DyDFU

    https://youtu.be/xFPeH7lR-44

     

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    The Kitchen Knife

    The Kitchen Knife

    The Kitchen Knife

     

    The kitchen knife is one of the most used tools in the kitchen.  Almost all of your food preparation begins with cutting is so much easier with the right knife for the job. A good kitchen knife may be costly but it’ll serve you cooking well. Good knives, properly taken care of, should last forever. When equipping a kitchen for the first time, or when you are adding to your current kitchen knives, you’ll want to know which knives are best and what to look for.

    Know Your Knife

     

             Tip- The first third of the blade (approximately), which is used for small or delicate work. Also known as belly or curve when curved, as on a chef’s knife.
             Cutting Edge– The entire cutting surface of the knife, which extends from the point to the heel. The edge may be beveled or symmetric.
             Spine-  The top, thicker portion of the blade, which adds weight and strength.
             Heel- The rear part of the blade, used for cutting activities that require more force.
             Bolster– The thick metal portion joining the handle and the blade, which adds weight and balance.
             Spine– The top, thicker portion of the blade, which adds weight and strength.
             Rivets- The metal pins (usually 3) that hold the scales to the tang.
             Heel – The rear part of the blade, used for cutting activities that require more force.
             Tang– The portion of the metal blade that extends into the handle, giving the knife stability and extra weight.
             Butt– The terminal end of the handle.

     The Handle

    Look for a knife that is rated excellent or very good for handle comfort and balance. Make sure the knives feels comfortable and are a good weight. A lightweight knife is great for speed and precision, but a heavier one can be better for more solid foods like ginger and nuts. The balance is important to make the cutting action more effortless, good knives don’t have too much weight on the handle of the blade. Some handles may be adapted to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities or left handed people. For example, knife handles may be made thicker or with more cushioning or a slight difference in the handle shape.

    • Wood handles provide good grip they are slightly more difficult to care for as they must be cleaned more thoroughly and occasionally treated with mineral oil. Most wood handles, especially those of ordinary varnished hardwood, do not resist water well and will crack or warp with prolonged exposure to water. They should be hand-washed for that reason.
    • Plastic handles are more easily cared for than wooden handles and do not absorb microorganisms. However, plastics may also be less resistant to ultraviolet damage and may become brittle over time, resulting in cracking. Some plastics are also slippery in the hand. The material is lighter than most other materials, which may result in a knife that is off-balance or too light for some tastes.
    • Composite handles are made from laminated wood composites impregnated with plastic resin. Composite handles are considered by many chefs to be the best choice because they are as easy to care for and as sanitary as plastic, they have the appearance, weight, and grip of hardwood, and are more durable than either. They often have a laminated, polished appearance, and may have intense or varied coloring.
    • Stainless steel handles are the most durable of all handles, as well as the most sanitary. They are very slippery in the hand, especially when wet. To counter this, many premium knife makers make handles with ridges, bumps, or indentations to provide extra grip. One disadvantage of some all-metal handles is that knife weight usually goes up considerably, affecting the knife’s balance and increasing hand and wrist fatigue. Knife manufacturers, most notably Japan’s Global, have begun addressing this issue by producing hollow-handled knives.

    Knives are forged or stamped.

    • Forged knives, which tend to be higher priced, are made in an intricate, multi-step process, a single piece of molten steel alloy is cut and pounded into the desired shape and pounded while hot to form it, so as to realign its molecular structure and make it stronger and more resilient. The blade is then heated above the critical temperature (which varies between alloys)  and tempered the desired hardness. Forged blades are generally less flexible than stamped and they are less apt to bend over time. After forging and heat-treating, the blade is polished and sharpened. Forged blades are typically thicker and heavier than stamped blades, which is sometimes advantageous.
    • Stamped knives are made from cold rolled steel and literally cut with a cookie-cutter-type machine, then heat-treated for strength, then ground, polished, and sharpened. They are usually the same thickness throughout, except at the cutting edge.

    Kitchen knives materials.

    •  Stainless steel knives are the least expensive. Stainless Steel, also called SS, can rust if not cared for, but it can withstand much more causal care than High-Carbon steel. SS is harder, will hold an edge longer, but is harder to sharpen.
    •  Carbon steel is more expensive, but the metal is harder and simpler to keep sharp, although it can rust. A knife made from a single piece of steel – and better still, hand-forged (although this costs a bomb) – will last you a lot longer than cheap, thin knives with clumsy handles covered in plastic.
    •  High carbon stainless steel normally refers to higher-grade, stainless steel alloys with a certain amount of carbon, and is intended to combine the best attributes of carbon steel and ordinary stainless steel. Most ‘high-carbon’ stainless blades are made of higher-quality alloys than less-expensive stainless knives. Carbon steel is normally easier to sharpen than most stainless steels, but are vulnerable to stains and rust. The blades should be cleaned, dried, and lubricated after each.
    •  Ceramic blades, which are 10 times harder than carbon steel and they don’t rust. They are extremely lightweight, and they don’t need to be sharpened, but they can chip or break if care is not exercised. Ceramic knives are very hard and will maintain a sharp edge for a long time. They are light in weight, do not impart any taste to food and do not corrode. Excellent for slicing fruit, vegetables and boneless meat because they do not react with any acids or oxidizer in your food.
    • Laminated Knife blades are both hard, but brittle steel which will hold a good edge but is easily chipped and damaged, with a tougher steel less susceptible to damage and chipping, but incapable of taking a good edge. The hard steel is sandwiched (laminated) and protected between layers of the tougher steel. The hard steel forms the edge of the knife; it will take a more acute grind than a less hard steel and will stay sharp longer.
    • Titanium knife blades are lighter and more wear-resistant, but not the hardest metal They are more flexible than steel.
    • Plastic blades are usually not very sharp and are mainly used to cut through vegetables. They are not sharp enough to cut deeply into flesh making the good for a child to learn with.
    • Damascus, are very costly mottled knives are made from carbon steel core, surrounded by layers of soft and hard stainless steel, which results in an extremely hard and razor-sharp edge.

    The Knives to avoid new or second-hand:

    •  There are ads that say their knives don’t need to be sharpened but what they do not say is when they lose their edge, you’ll have to throw them away, they can not be sharpened.
    • Check for signs of poor joining or welding, in the blade and handle, which may cause a weak point and cause the knife to bend or break, as well as trapping food and breeding bacteria.
    • When a knife is left unwashed knives in the sink or put in a dishwasher, the knife will be stained and become dull. Knives will last as longer if you hand wash and dry. All knives require regular honing. If you do not want the maintenance to consider an inexpensive disposable knife.
    • Avoid a wobbly handle, loose parts, or protruding rivets (the round metal pieces that secure the blade to the handle). If the rivets aren’t flush, they could irritate your hand or trap food, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.
    • Any knife with broken tips or chips in the blade can not be repaired or sharpened.
    • Knives with wooden handles that have started to crack or degrade (to prevent this, never put them in the dishwasher).
    • Blades with a separate piece of metal (called a collar) attached at the point where the blade meets the handle. These knives are not well made and tend to come apart easily.

    The 4 Essential Kitchen Knives that do 90% of all cooking jobs:

    Chef’s knives are also known as a cook’s knife or French knife, are the number one workhorse in all cutting tasks in the kitchen. Everything from slicing zucchini to chopping meat, slicing, trimming or carving. The common chef knives ranging from 6 inches to 10 inches, the average 8-inch blade has about a 2-inch width and slightly curved edge. That curve helps you rock the blade back and forth when mincing. Chef’s knives typically come in either the French or German style. German chef knives have a more continuous curve to their blades, while the French style has a flatter edge and more pronounced curve right at the tip, neither design is inherently superior, so it is just a matter of taste.

     

    Paring Knife is an all-purpose small plain edge blade knife 3 to 4 inches long used for general light-duty jobs, peeling fruit or potatoes or hulling and slicing a strawberry and deveining a shrimp, removing seeds from a jalapeño, or cutting intricate garnishes. It is similar to a chef’s knife but smaller, a good all purpose knife. Avoid using a paring knife to cut hard vegetables, such as carrots, beets, or parsnip, they cannot easily slice through these foods, where you may increase the pressure or tighten your grip as you’re cutting.  Paring knives are ideal for children use when they first start learning to work with knives, it allows their little hands to have more control.

     

    Serrated Knife or Bread Knife, usually is 8-10 inches, long and with a wavy, saw-like serrations blade to allow for even and precise slicing. The serrations of these knives cut well without needing much downward force. Serrated knives cut much better than plain-edge blade knives when dull, and they do not require frequent sharpening.A Serrated Knife is especially useful for cutting bread and soft fruit or vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, or also particularly good on fibrous foods such as celery or pineapples, watermelons. The jagged edge can grip and cut those exteriors, while the flat blade of a chef’s knife would slip and slide across the surface. Serrated knives should not generally be used with fish or meat, as the blade can damage the structure of the flesh.

    Knife or Filet Knife or Boning knife the same knife, just with different names. A carving knife is often a little longer than a chef’s knife, but far narrower, and without the chef’s knife’s customary curve. These knives tend to be quite long—between 6 and 11 inches—and exceedingly narrow with a flexible blade. This allows the knife to easily curve under the fish skin, or remove the silver skin on beef tenderloin up or boning fish, meat, or poultry of any size, whether a 3-inch-long anchovy or a 150-pound side of pork. The thinner blade allows for thinner cuts, and the length of the blade encourages a sawing motion used in carving. A carving knife must be razor-sharp to produce minimal friction on the meat, allowing you to cut easily and cleanly against the grain. A carving knife should not be used to cut through bones, but rather to cut around bones.

    How to Sharpen a Knife with a Honing Steel or a Whetstone

    Sharpening

    The edge of a knife gradually loses its sharpness, which can be restored by sharpening. Knives with smooth edges can be sharpened by the user; knives with any form of the serrated edge should ideally be sharpened with specialist equipment. The essential tool for your knife is a honing steel, which is a rod made of steel or ceramic, which is designed to keep your knives at their peak sharpness for as long as possible. Knives should be honed every time you use them, but because honing doesn’t actually sharpen the blade.

      

    Honing Steel

     

    Running your knife along a steel does not sharpen knives, but instead straightens the blade, while a sharpener the blade and realigns the teeth on the blade, which leads to a sharper edge and thus a cleaner cut. A honing steel is about 30 centimeters (12 in) long and about 6 mm to 12 mm (¼ to ½ inch) thick.

     

    Whet Stone (Also know as Wet Stone)

     

     

     

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    Black & Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker

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    Perfect Pie or Tart Crust with 10 Fast and Easy Tips

    Perfect Pie or Tart Crust with 10 Fast and Easy Tips

     

     

    Perfect Pie Crust

     

     

    I am going to share with you some practical basic tips to help give you the skills to make pie or tart dough that is always flaky, delicious and never tough. Pies that could win a county fair blue ribbon and best of all, your friends and family gratitude.

    One of the great things about summer is the abundance and variety ripe fruits. There’s an almost endless variety of wonderful pies and tarts, including those filled with fruit, custard, or nuts, meats. You can easily prepare the pies or tarts to either enjoy now or freeze them and enjoy all year long.

    Both pies, tarts consist of a rich favorable filling and a  flaky tender pastry shell. Some are filled then baked, while others are baked empty, then filled. Some have a bottom crust, a double crust, a lattice top, a strudel top, or a meringue topping. Tarts are always open-faced and can be baked in different sized and shaped pans, including mini-tartlet pans. Pies are baked in a round, shallow, slope-sided pan, or a deep-dish pan or casserole dish.

     The Best Pie and Tart Crust Tips 

    The Crust: The goal of the perfect pie crust is a tender flaky golden crust with a dry bottom. The first step is, to begin with all ingredients and equipment cold, this simple tip will increase the tenderness of the crust.

    • Flour: For a tender crust, choose a low protein wheat flour such as cake flour, pastry flour or unbleached flour. Sift together the flour and dry ingredients.  It is best to have the flour in the refrigerator or freezer for at least an hour or more before mixing all the ingredients.
    • Fats: Don’t blend fat into flour to thoroughly; leave some pea-sized pieces. Chunks of fat create space between the layers of pastry producing a flaky baked crust.
    • Liquids:  Always use ice water with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in your pie dough.This is one more step to help make the crust most tender. Always use the least amount of liquid possible, just enough to make the pie crust hold together.
    • Egg yolk– When a recipe calls for an egg yolk (almost all tart recipes use yolks), it adds more fat, as well as natural lecithin, making the dough pliable and easier to handle. Count the yolk moisture as part of the liquid for the dough. You will see flakes of yellow from the butter and egg yolk.
    1. Mixing

    • When working the pie dough with your hands, use your fingertips instead of the warmer palms of the hand, to pinch the dough to mix it.You can also use two knives or a pastry cutter to cut the flour and butter together, add the liquids slowly and use only what is necessary to hold the dough together.
    • When using a food processor refrigerate the bowl and blade about 30 minutes and cut the butter into 1/2 inch squares and freeze. Process the dough no more than 20 or 30 seconds so the butter is not to fine. Add liquid and plus again for 5 or 6 times only. Pour out on the board or parchment paper and proceed.
    • Leave pea size chunks pf butter. Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together. This will help create layers, which translate into flakiness. When the dough starts to come together, transfer it to a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Squeeze it into a ball. If the dough seems dry and chunks break off, spritz with a little ice water. The dough is ready when it just sticks together with small dry cracks, your dough is perfect. Refrigerate it again for 30 minutes.
    • If you’re making a double-crust recipe, divide dough in half, then roll gently into a 4 to 5 inch circle disk, then refrigerate again to get dough cold again, keep wrapped in the parchment or plastic wrap. To avoid ragged dough edges, flatten each piece into a rough disk, then roll like a wheel across a floured work surface, to smooth the edges.
    • *This is the time to freeze your extra dough you plan to use in the future. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a zip lock bag. Slightly thaw out just to the point you can easily roll out.
    1.  Rolling the Dough Out:

    • If the pie crust is soft, chill about 30 minutes more. Soft dough is sticky and you will need to use more flour than when it is colder. If the dough is chilled hard, allow dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly, it should be cold and firm, but not rock hard, this could take 5 to 20 minutes.
    • When ready to roll out the dough, lightly flour the countertop or parchment or other floured surface. If you have a double crust, refrigerate the top while preparing the top. Add more flour as needed.
    • *When you roll out the dough on parchment paper, you will use less flour it is easier to turn, easier transfer to the pie plate, it helps keep the dough cooler, plus it makes cleanup easier. To keep paper from slipping, sprinkle a few drops of water on the countertop before arranging the paper.
    • *A great tip is to draw the circle size you will need for the finished dough on the parchment paper, to be able to easily get an ]perfct finished dough.
    • Roll out the pie dough roll from the center to the edge, rotate the dough a quarter turn after each movement to form an even round crust easing the pressure as you near the edge to keep it from becoming too thin. Continue this process until the dough reaches the diameter needed for your pie pan, about 13 to 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. After every few passes, check that the dough isn’t sticking, both top and bottom. Add flour as needed, excess flour makes a drier, tough crust. Gently lift the paper off once your dough is rolled to the appropriate size, then take a pastry brush and remove any excess flour on both sides. Lift dough and transfer the dough into the pie pan.
    • Patching the pie crust– when you have a hole or tear in the crust just dab a little water over the problem area and cover with a scrap of the dough, problem fixed.
    • Transferring the dough– You can move the dough with the parchment paper and slide the dough into the pie pan, you can fold the dough into quarters and easily lift the dough and place it in the pan or you can gently roll the dough onto your rolling-pin and unroll on top of the pan. The first time may be difficult, after that it is fast and easy.
    • Brush a little water around the edge of the bottom crust before placing the top crust. This helps create a good seal once the two are crimped together.
    1. Pie Plates:

    • Pyrex glass pie plates are a great choice for baking your pies, conducts heat evenly. When using a glass pie plate, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. If you have frozen pie in the Pyrex allow the glass to warm up slightly so it will not break in the oven heat.
    • Dull metal pie plates are better than shiny metal pans for making pies. The shiny metal pans keep the crust from browning properly.
    • Tart pans often times have removable bottoms. They always have straight sides and a stronger crust so that they can stand up alone without a dish for support. Very often they are small individual servings size.
    1. Baking:

    • Once again chill dough for about 30 minutes because pie crusts that are baked right after shaping, are warm enough for the butter to melt to quickly in the oven, causing the edge to sink or even slump over the edge of the pie pan.
    •  Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven. Generally, bake the pie at 425° for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350° and bake until the filling is cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes more. Insert a knife tip to test if the pie is done.
    •  To prevent dark browning of the edges during baking, cover the pie edge with a 2 to 3-inch wide strip of aluminum foil, and mold lightly around the edge of the pie. Bake as directed, removing the aluminum foil 15 minutes before the end of the baking time.
    1. Glazes  Getting a golden color pie crust usually depends on the glaze you brush on top. For any glaze, only apply a thin coating with a pastry brush.
    • Milk or Cream – An even reddish-brown color with a fairly matte finish.
    • Whole Egg, Beaten – plus add a teaspoon of water for intense yellow-golden color with a shiny finish.
    • Egg Yolk, Beaten – plus add a teaspoon of water for deep golden brown color with a highly glossy finish.
    • Egg White – plus add a teaspoon of water for no color, but a very shiny finish. We use egg whites when we’re planning on sprinkling the crust with sugar. It helps the sugar stick and makes the pie look sparkly.
    1. Tips for a Remarkable Finish:

    • Attractive Lattice Top- To make a lattice, roll out dough into a 12-inch square; using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the square into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-wide strips. Lay strips, spaced 1 inch apart, across the filling. Fold back every other strip almost to the edge; then, at the folds, place a new strip perpendicular to the first ones. Return the folded strips so they overlap the new strip. Fold back the other set of strips, stopping about 1 inch away from the first perpendicular strip; arrange another perpendicular strip at the folds. Continue until the lattice has been formed. Trim the overhanging strips so they are flush with the pie plate’s edge. Using a fork, seal the strips to the edge.
    • Honeycomb Pattern- For a honeycomb pattern, cut out circles in the top crust with a small round cutter. Fold the bottom crust over the top, and seal.
    • Braided Edge Make a braided edge by cutting 3 12-inch-long, 1/4-inch-thick strips of dough and braiding them together. Brush the edge of the crust or the bottom of the braids with water; secure. Trim braids equal to the circumference. Glaze for a beautiful finish.
    • Fluted edge– Place the dough in pie plate. Trim the overhang to about 1 inch. Flute the crust by pressing a finger into the rim of the crust against two fingers on the other side of the crust to make an even impression. Repeat every ½ inch about the pie to create a ruffled edge.
    • Cut-Out ShapesUse cookie cutters or cut with your knife to make designs out of spare dough; then attach them with water. When you make the top crust with large decorative cut outs you should freeze, for only a few minutes, the top so that you can more easily move it without it becoming distorted or broken when moving.
    • Always make deep slits in the top crust of fruit pie to allow the steam to escape and prevent the mix from bubbling over. You can make the cuts in a decorative design. These slits can be simple slashes or made with a cookie cutter design heart, flower, leaf and the cut outs can be used as a decoration. For more juicy pies always use the lattice style top or have large openings.
    • Two crust pie– Fold the edges of your dough under.After fitting the dough into the plate, cut off the excess, leaving an overhang of about ¾ to 1 inch (2 cm). Fold this under, using the scraps to patch any thin areas, and crimp. This has the added benefit of making the edges of the pie look very smooth and neat. 
    • Scraps– Save the scraps to make tiny jam pies, turnovers, cinnamon cookies or save in the freezer for the next pie, there is no wasted dough. 
    • Brush the unbaked bottom crust of a pie with a well-beaten egg white before filling with berries and other juicy fruits from making the pie bottoms mushy.
    • To prevent the bottom crust from getting soggy refrigerate the dough (in the pie plate) for 15 minutes before adding the filling. Also, sprinkle bottom crust with a mixture (about 1 tablespoon altogether) of equal parts sugar and flour before adding filling.

     8. Blind-Baking Basics 

    • Blind baking means pre-baking an empty pie crust before adding a filling. This is something you do if the filling itself isn’t going to be cooked, like a fruit tart or chocolate pie or if the filling will cook faster than the crust like with a Quiche. You can also either fully bake the crust or partially bake it so that it has a head start when the full pie goes in the oven.
    • Place the crust in the pie pan then prick the crust bottom with a fork to allow steam to escape evenly while cooking. Then chill the dough.
    • Line the unbaked crust with parchment paper add dried beans or pie weights to help keep its shape, push the weights all the way to the pie edges to help keep the sides from collapsing during baking. You may use foil but some times it sticks, parchment paper never sticks. *These beans will no longer be of much use for making beans because they become so dry. Save them to use for many years in your pies. Without them, the crust will rise and puff on the bottom or slide down the sides under the weight of the crimped edge.
    • Moisture-proof the crust by brushing it with a bit of egg white two or three minutes after it comes out of the oven.
    •  Bake the pie crust in a 425° oven until the edges are brown and golden. Allow 30-40 minutes for full baking or 25-35 minutes for partial baking or until the edge just begins to color. Remove pie weights halfway through cooking so the steam can escape and the bottom can fully cook. 

    9. Baked Pies

    • Cool baked pies on a wire rack set on the counter. The rack allows air to circulate under the pie, preventing it from becoming soggy from the steam remaining it in. 
    • Finished Pie: Pie dough may be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Frozen, up to 3 months.
    • Be sure to refrigerate finished pies containing eggs (pumpkin, custard and cream pies). Fruit pies store them loosely covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. For Meringues cover with a large bowl high enough not to touch the pie. You cannot wrap them because they will stick to the wrapper and will weep or they become soggy.
    1. Tips for freezing:

    •  Discs of dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and then in a ziplock bag can be stored in the freezer for months, and defrosted in the refrigerator overnight before they are rolled out. Rolled out crusts can be put into pie pans, frozen, and baked straight from the freezer when they are needed. They can also be rolled out and gently folded into quarters, frozen and used as desired. An unbaked crust will keep for 2 months in the freezer; a baked crust will keep for 4 months.
    • A frozen crust shrinks less than a freshly rolled crust when blind baked.
    • To thaw a baked pie crust, unwrap and let stand at room temperature, or heat in the oven at 350°F for about 6 minutes.
    • Don’t thaw unbaked crusts; bake them right out of the freezer.
    • Frozen Fruit pies and Tarts freeze well. Prepare the fruit pies according to your recipe, freeze immediately. Do not forget to label the frozen filings with the what it is and the date so that later you know which to use first.
    • To freeze an unbaked pie, wrap pie tightly or place in a plastic freezer bag (as you would a baked pie). Don’t cut slits in the top crust. Unbaked fruit pies will keep in the freezer up to 3 months. When you’re ready to bake, unwrap and carefully cut slits in the still-frozen top crust. Do not thaw first.
    • I like to place the finished filling (not in a crust) in a zip lock bag then place in a pie dish and freeze. Once frozen you take the frozen mixture out of the pan and easily stack many frozen filling.
    • When you remove the pan place the frozen fruit in a second bag to prevent freezer burn. Just place the frozen fruit in your fresh pie crust and continue as before.
    • When you want to bake your complete frozen pie, place in a pie crust then transfer it straight from the freezer to a hot oven. By not defrosting them first, you are protecting them against sogginess because the crust starts to bake and firm up before the fruit begins to give off juices.
    • When you use frozen fruit with a fresh dough bake or with the entire pie is frozen bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and bake 30 to 45 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slit. Protect the crust with foil or pie guard because the frozen pie will be baking a little longer and the edges will get over dark.
    • **Do not forget that a frozen Pyrex may crack when it hits the high heat so allow it to thaw slightly before baking.
    • Freeze your pie uncovered for several hours, then placing them in the freezer bags. 
    • If you want to freeze a baked pie, wrap it in a double layer of foil before placing it in the freezer. When you want to serve the pie, unwrap and thaw it at room temperature for about 3 hours. Then bake the pie at 425 degrees F for about 15 minutes to give it a fresh, crisp flavor.
    • How to freeze custard pies filling and the pie shell. The best way to freeze custard style pies, for example, pumpkin, or chocolate, and other custard style pies, prepare the mixture as normal, then place custard mixture in a clean, airtight container and put it in the coldest part of your freezer. If allowed to sit even overnight in the refrigerator, the pumpkin can start to ferment, thickening the custard and eventually giving it a sour flavor.
    • Put the custard and crust together at the last moment. The day before you are planning to bake the pie, pull it from the freezer; allow to thaw in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. The next day, blind bake the pie shell and then add the filling and finish baking.

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    Please post a comment if you have any good pastry crust tips or suggestions to share. Also when you like or share my site it helps me allot. Enjoy!

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