Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Secret to Joining a Cooking Contest and Winning

Are you thinking of joining a cooking contest but don’t know how or what to do? No problem. Here is a list of wonderful secrets to joining contests and winning. Whip up a batch of wonderful recipes and start looking at your best because these tips are your tickets to cooking contests.

1. Taste test your recipes

Before you enter a cooking contest, make sure that you have tested your recipes. Keep in mind that not all recipes from cookbooks are perfect. You may need to adjust a little on the amount of the ingredients or try some alternatives.

In testing recipes, it is best if you cook for your friends. It is a well-known fact that not all the recipes you have tried and tested will be appreciated by other people. Hence, it is always a good concept to let other people taste test your recipes. If they enjoy eating your food as much as you do, then you are on your way to success.

2. Have your recipe checked

In writing your recipe, have it checked by a friend who isn’t into cooking or who doesn’t know anything in the kitchen. In this way, she will most likely ask you questions regarding some areas of your recipe. This will be your guide in making your recipe more comprehensive.

The key to winning a contest is: ease of preparation and simplicity.

3. Be creative

Keep in mind that creativity is one of the major criteria in a cooking contest. You don’t have to literally make an original recipe. You may adapt some old recipes and give them a twist. Observe the trend in food as well and modify your recipe appropriately.

Make sure that food preparation will also have a touch of your creativity. Foods are more appetizing to eat when prepared in a creative way.

4. Read the rules and follow directions carefully

Having a good bunch of recipes will be totally useless if you don’t follow contest rules. Most cooking contests may require you to use certain ingredients or may ask you to prepare your dish in a particular way. Some may even have a time limit. With this, be sure that you have read the rules carefully and follow instructions in the contest.

Keep in mind that winning in a cooking contest isn’t just about great food. It also entails hard work, dedication, and obedience.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tips for Writing Your Chef Resume

Becoming a chef is a serious undertaking, so if you're planning to embark on a full time career, start with a strong resume. Your resume is your ticket to some of the best exposures for internship, training, experience and promotion. Here's how to build a chef resume that will highlight your expertise and get you noticed:

Mind the form.

Resumes, regardless of the chef position you're applying for, should follow a standard form. Take note of the proper margins on all sides, fonts and format. After the heading, which contains your name, address and contact information, write down your education and training. Include all certifications you have earned that are related to your chosen career.

Next, outline your experience as a chef. Include the dates, name of establishments and your positions. Write your experience as a chef and highlight your management skills.

Show your skills

Your resume should be a short but concise showcase of your skills and abilities as a chef so make sure they are included in detail. Do you have extraordinary accomplishments as a chef at a fine dining restaurant? Include that in your resume. Make sure to highlight your special tenures or work experiences, especially in excellent and reputable establishments and use bullet points if necessary.

Mention achievements such as increasing business and saving costs for the restaurants you’ve worked. Potential employers like to see that you have the ability to attract new business and maintain old ones. They also want to see that you are cost conscious and are capable of implementing cost-efficient measures without sacrificing quality.

Mention words that are related to your cooking skills and include those that highlight your management experience such as quality control, menu planning and selection and staff training. Your resume should show that you are capable of handling a group and managing day-to-day activities in the kitchen.

Mention your special skills and abilities.

Your certification is a good source of information about your extra skills but it's best to include a separate portion of your resume that will highlight your special abilities. If you are aware of kosher and halal dietary laws, write it down.

If you are knowledgeable about wine and spirits or can speak Italian, French or German, don't be shy about mentioning it. Don’t forget to mention your affiliations and memberships. Your chef's resume should show that you can do more than just man the kitchen and that you can actually interact with your customers.

Never lie about anything.

It's easy to check your references as a chef and whatever exaggerations you make on your resume will be found out, sooner or later. Best stick to the facts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Make the Most out of the Dutch Oven Cooking

The Dutch Oven is a much revered cooking apparatus that has served generations of kitchens with sumptuous and homey foods like no other. Because of such great adulation for food cooked in a Dutch Oven however people are intimidated by this wonderful kitchen tool. But this shouldn’t be, the Dutch Oven is a very versatile tool that can be used by anyone who know how to cook.

There are some things you can do to bring out the best from Dutch Oven cooking that isn’t that complicated. Here are some tips to make the most out of Dutch Oven cooking:

1. Choosing the right Dutch Oven for optimal cooking A good Dutch oven should have legs. The lid shouldn’t have gaps that will let heat escape. The casting should be even, as well as the thickness of the metallic material. The handle, called a bail, should be securely attached to the oven and should be strong enough to carry it even when full.

2. The oven should be cured properly once obtained Curing prevents the oven from unwanted rusting and food from sticking. A rusty Dutch oven may still be scrubbed by sandpaper with a fine grade to expose the metal. The oven can then be washed with hot soap and water. Put the Dutch oven in a 200 degree oven and coat it with some lard or shortening using a clean cloth. Leave it in for about an hour at 350 degrees. Let the oven cool slowly.

3. Use the right tools Dutch ovens are quite hardy but they can get damaged when the wrong tools are used with them. Never use metal utensils when cooking with the Dutch oven. Use wooden spatulas, forks, spoons, and turners to make sure you don’t scrape the metal. Use well-fitting leather gloves when handling the oven. You also need a lid lifter, lid holders, tongs, a shovel and a whisk broom.

4. Position the coals well You will experience uneven cooking if you don’t position the coals properly or if you don’t use the right amount. Normally you’ll need twice as much coals as the diameter of the ovens bottom. For best results use coal briquettes because they burn more evenly and last longer.

Dutch oven cooking shouldn’t be a complicated matter. If you do these tips, you are close to mastering the noble art of Dutch oven cooking.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tips for Successful Party Cooking

Cooking for a party can be such a taxing ordeal. You will be preparing food for a more people with little time. But party cooking can still be easy if you know how to manage things. With a few tricks up your sleeve you can cook for your party with ease. Here are some few hints that can make your party cooking a smashing success:

1. You do not need to do all the party cooking Parties are about having friends around, and if people who are coming to your party are indeed friends, you can ask them to lend a hand. You can ask them to bring some food items or you can ask them to help you in the kitchen. An extra hand can easily make things easier and more fun.

2. Plan your menu way ahead of the party You have to know what to cook at least two weeks before the party. This can help you calculate how much you need so that you are sure that there will be enough for everybody. Buying enough is also important so that you won’t have to make those annoying last-minute shopping trips because you ran out of supplies.

3. Cook ahead A lot of party foods can actually be cooked ahead of time. Check your menu for food items that can be cooked a few days before the party itself. This way, you’ll have fewer items when the big day comes. You just need to thaw or reheat the pre-cooked items and serve them at the party.

4. Pre-measure For the items that you can’t cook ahead of time, you can just measure the ingredients ahead of time. The night before, place the ingredients in accessible containers so that on the day of the party you just need to cook them and not waste time with the preparations.

Party cooking may appear to be overwhelming but the hustle and bustle is all in your mind. If you plan well and stick to your strategy, you can manage to make party cooking not only easy, but fun as well. Try out these hints for your next party and witness how things go smoothly. And the most important of all is for you to enjoy because the party is after all for fun. This will ensure the success of your cooking and the success of your party.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Secrets of Southern Cooking Revealed

Good food has incredible history. Can you imagine that the soul foods we enjoy at bistros and at home were introduced by families of the ancient Southern slave states? These meals they share every Sunday have now become most American homes specialties. Even the web has been conquered by different Southern cooking recipes. So learning cooking techniques is easy for every homemakers.

Not every recipe that spells Southern cooking is indeed genuine. You must know how to set Southern cooking apart from other cooking techniques. Note that Southerners are fond of frying so Southern foods are mostly deep fried. If you are avoiding too much fat but love eating Southern foods, then you better use vegetable oils like corn and olive oils.

Another incredible thing with Southern cooking is the use of seasonings. The determining factor is the extensive use of salt, onions, and bacon. Remember, Southern cooking doesn’t usually call for spices but for salty tang. Moreover, even boiled greens are commonly seasoned by bacon, onion, and salt.

On the other hand, what sets Southern cooking style apart from other baking techniques is the frequent use of buttermilk. The special taste of buttermilk has that distinctive Southern flavor. Regular milk won’t give the unique taste of cornbread and cookies.

When it comes to cooking ware Southern cooking wouldn’t be Southern cooking at all if not for cast iron. You can afford it since it is only two to three dollars and can be found at flee markets. Cast irons are good for cooking since they can hold heat for a longer time and cook food easily.

Compared with other cooking styles Southern cooking takes more time to cook especially the greens. Vegetables in Southern cooking aren’t stir fried. They are tender and delicious. However, other recipes like fried okra are just slightly cooked, while green beans take about two hours before becoming tender and dimly colored.

Another pointer to consider is the preparation of food before it is considered a product of Southern cooking. Remember that combining foods is the it thing in Southern cooking. When serving food, meat must always be coupled by greens. So if you are planning to have fried chicken and fried chops always bear in mind that you have to add fried bread, green beans, and cornbread to your recipe.

These are the techniques of having Southern cooking right in your kitchen. What makes Southern cooking addicting is the existence of these components. These are grounded on the history of Southern cooking. Missing one point will immediately make your food Southern cooking wannabes.