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Thumb_2155899000_1492b3934dWhat is Prosecco?

Thumb_2155899000_1492b3934dWhat is Prosecco?

Prosecco is the Italian answer to Champagne. A sparkling alcoholic drink that is made from late-ripening white grapes from the Veneto region, it is served chilled, and makes a nice accompaniment to salty prosciutto. It was Prosecco, not Champagne, that was originally mixed with peach puree for the elegant cocktail known as the Bellini. Prosecco is a protected designation that can only be used on wines made from the Prosecco grape in the Conegliano/Valdobbiadene region of Italy. Unfortunately for Prosecco purists, this is indeed where Rich Prosseco, the maker of the Paris Hilton-shilled Prosecco in a can, gets it wine. Blog: Prosecco vs. prosciutto (Eat DC) Reference: What is prosciutto? (Cookthink) Blog: Prosecco makers: it's swanky, not skanky (Cookthink) Recipe: Bellini (Hair of the Dog)

Thumb_2818046328_dc189519c0Meet the sugars

Thumb_2818046328_dc189519c0Meet the sugars

Once a prize kept under lock and key in wealthy households, sugar is now ubiquitous and comes in many forms. Most commercial sugar is made from cane or beet root. Here's a look at the most common types of sugar used in the kitchen. Granulated white sugar: White sugar is highly refined and made from sugarcane or beets. This all-purpose refined white sugar has small but fairly coarse crystals and is used to sprinkle on food, sweeten beverages, or add to dishes during cooking. Golden granulated sugar is a brown sugar made from sugar cane molasses that is similar but has a light brown color. Castor (caster) or superfine sugar: This refined white sugar has fine crystals that dissolve more quickly than regular granulated sugar, making it a good choice for baking meringues. Golden castor sugar is made from unrefined cane sugar. Brown sugar: Brown sugar is nothing more than white sugar that has been mixed with molasses to color it and give it a moist texture. Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark brown sugar. Brown sugar should not be confused with raw sugar, which has a similar color and taste but is actually the residue from processed sugarcane. Turbinado sugar: A sugar cane extract that is made by steaming unrefined raw sugar. It has large crystals and a slight molasses flavor. It's a shade paler than brown sugar and can be substituted for brown sugar in recipes. We like to use turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins, cookies and scones. It holds its texture well and, when cooked, has a nice sweet crunch. Demerara Sugar: True Demerara sugar is raw or partly refined sugar with large crystals, but some impostors are nothing more than white sugar stained with molasses. Muscovado Sugar: This raw cane sugar comes in light and dark varieties and is used to make cakes and desserts. Powdered, icing or confectioner's sugar: This sugar is made by reducing granulated sugar to a powder and mixing it with starch to prevent it from lumping up. It's used to decorate cakes and can also be used in making sweet dishes and baked goods.

Thumb_3113700403_7e1a31a7f1What is AOC?

Thumb_3113700403_7e1a31a7f1What is AOC?

AOC stands for Appellation d’origine contrôlée, a controlled term of origin for French agricultural products such as wines, liqueurs, spirits, cheeses and butters. Roquefort became the first AOC-labeled cheese in 1925. AOC standards stipulate that products must come from designated geographical regions and adhere to traditional methods of production. Nevertheless, it's not a perfect system: the laws that regulate labeling are confusing and quality controls are not rigorous, making the AOC label an unreliable indicator for the consumer. Other countries have adopted similar labels, and the French AOC system is said to have influenced the European Union's protected designation of origin (PDO) category.

Thumb_2669048494_101d008591What is an aperitif?

Thumb_2669048494_101d008591What is an aperitif?

Apéritif is a French word for a drink taken before a meal in order to whet the appetite. Plant-based drinks have been used therapeutically throughout the ages to aid the appetite, but nobody really knows when the custom of pre-dinner drinks began in earnest. Nevertheless, cocktail hour has been an American tradition since about the turn of the 20th century. While some people drink hard alcohol and call it an apéritif, the word usually means a light drink such as wine-based vermouth, bitters like Campari, anise-flavored liqueurs like pastis and of course Champagne. An apéritif is usually accompanied by small, salty snacks like nuts or olives; the word can also refer to a cocktail with finger food that can take the place of a full dinner. Reference: Root Source: Pastis (Cookthink) Reference: What is a Negroni? (Cookthink)

Thumb_2946840627_f293947df2What's the difference between white and brown sugar?

Thumb_2946840627_f293947df2What's the difference between white and brown sugar?

  White sugar is highly refined and made from cane or beets. Brown sugar is nothing more than white sugar that has been mixed with molasses to color it and give it a more moist texture. Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark brown sugar. Brown sugar should not be confused with raw sugar, that has a similar color and taste but is actually the residue from processed sugarcane.

Thumb_575277850_46c35cbee1How to zest a lemon

Thumb_575277850_46c35cbee1How to zest a lemon

Lemon zest adds a bright spark to a dish. There are lots of tools for zesting a lemon -- zester, a knife -- but it's hard to go wrong with a fine grater (such as the popular Microplane version), which makes a beautiful light zest that melds into a dish and gives great flavor. To zest with the Microplane, just rub the lemon in one direction against the little blades. Turn the lemon as you go so you remove only the yellow part -- the zest. You don't want the white pith just beneath -- it's bitter. If you use a traditional zester, which makes long, thin strands of zest, or a knife, be sure to finely chop the strands with a knife. The finer shrivels of zest will permeate the dish better than the strands. To get the most flavor out of lemon zest, add it toward the end of cooking. Recipe: Agnolotti With Eggplant, Tomatoes And Garlic (Cookthink) Recipe: Broccoli With Fettuccine, Lemon Zest And Parmesan (Cookthink) Recipe: Cremini Mushroom Risotto With Lemon Zest (Cookthink) Reference: What is a Meyer lemon? (Cookthink)