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Thumb_531613283_e41537ccc0How to seed a cucumber

Thumb_531613283_e41537ccc0How to seed a cucumber

Removing the seeds from a cucumber reduces the amount of watery liquid you get in the finished soup or salad in favor of the pure flesh of the cucumber. It's not always necessary (and the seeds are good for you), but it's easy to do when you want a more refined dish. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise. Then scoop the seeds out with the tip of a spoon. If you press down hard enough, one or two passes with the spoon should get most of the seeds.

Thumb_354050728_1bde95c683What is kosher salt?

Thumb_354050728_1bde95c683What is kosher salt?

Kosher salt is a bright-tasting white, coarse-grained salt made without additives (such as iodine). It is called kosher salt in North America (elsewhere it's referred to as coarse-grain salt) because it is used to aid in the preparing of kosher meat that is salted after butchering in order to draw out the animal's blood. Kosher salt works particularly well because its large grains don't immediately dissolve on the surface of meat, drawing in liquid instead. But you don't have to keep kosher to appreciate kosher salt, a favorite of cooks everywhere for its large flaky texture and clean taste that works in a variety of dishes. If you're new to kosher salt, be aware that it doesn't always dissolve completely in baked goods and that its grains vary in size according to the manufacturer, so be sure to check the box for measurement conversions. The large flakes of kosher salt make it a nice finishing salt to sprinkle on dishes before serving.

Thumb_395374835_f4f39415d2What is rice wine and how is it different from rice wine vinegar?

Thumb_395374835_f4f39415d2What is rice wine and how is it different from rice wine vinegar?

Rice wine is sweet cooking or drinking wine made from fermented rice, such as Chinese Shaoxing and Japanese mirin and sake. Made from fermented rice -- or in some cases, the dregs of rice wine -- Chinese and Japanese rice "wine" vinegars have a milder, sweeter taste than Western-made vinegars. Even those rice vinegars made from rice may be labeled "rice wine vinegar." Just remember to look for the word "vinegar" when telling rice wine and rice vinegar apart. Chinese rice vinegar includes the pale variety used in sweet-and-sour dishes; red vinegar made from red yeast rice; and the smoky black vinegar popular in Southern China and used as a condiment. Japanese rice vinegar is pale yellow and is used to flavor sushi rice (with the addition of salt and sugar) and salads. Koreans and Indians also make and use rice wine vinegar.

Thumb_2716275689_c9bdf6fa12What exactly is red pepper?

Thumb_2716275689_c9bdf6fa12What exactly is red pepper?

Red pepper is a generic term that usually refers to red-colored Cayenne pepper, which is made from dried, ground hot chile peppers named after the capital of French Guiana where they originate. Red pepper flakes are the dried seeds and flesh of the Cayenne pepper. Used to add heat and excitement to food, Cayenne has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, to help treat everything from circulatory problems to sore throats.

Thumb_370_How to zest a lime

Thumb_370_How to zest a lime

Lime zest adds intense, bright flavor to a dish. It holds up best when you add it toward the end of cooking. There are lots of tools for zesting a lime. It's hard to go wrong with a microplane grater. Microplanes range from fine to coarse -- the fine makes an airey and light zest that melts into a dish and gives great flavor. You can also use a traditional zester that makes long thin strands of zest -- but you get more flavor if you finely chop the strands with a knife.To zest with the microplane, just rub the lime in one direction against the blades.Turn the lemon as you go so you only remove the yellow part -- the zest. You don't want the white pith just beneath. It's bitter.

Thumb_greek yogurtWhat is Greek yogurt?

Thumb_greek yogurtWhat is Greek yogurt?

Greek yogurt is a thicker, creamier version of the regular variety. It's thicker and creamier because it has been strained of its whey. In Greece, yogurt is usually made with sheep's or goat's milk. Although there are "lite" versions available, Greek yogurt generally refers to the full-fat variety, the fat contributing to its rich taste. Greek yogurt's velvety texture has won it fans in the United States in recent years. But if you can't find Greek-style yogurt, you can always make your own. Line a fine-sieved colander with cheesecloth or paper towels, place it over a bowl and allow the whey to drain off in the refrigerator. For small amounts, a cone-shaped coffee filter works well. Strained yogurt is a healthier cream-cheese substitute -- lightly sweetened, it can be used to frost a carrot cake. Combined with chopped frozen mangoes, litchis or bananas and a splash of light rum, it makes a delicious homemade yogurt. In Middle Eastern cuisine, strained yogurt is also known as labneh, which is often bathed in olive oil and showered with a spice mix known as Za'atar. It is also used to thicken sauces, mixed in at the last minute (the high fat content prevents curdling). Strained yogurt is the main ingredient in Indian raita and Greek tzatziki, dips made with cucumbers and garlic or spices. Garnished with a dollop of honey, strained yogurt is a popular dessert in Greece, and fit for the gods. Recipe: Grilled Yogurt-Mint Lamb Kebabs (Cookthink) Reference: What is Za'atar? (Cookthink) Reference: What is tzatziki? (Cookthink) Reference: What is raita? (Cookthink)

Thumb_742268361_d9cc8609c3How to chop cilantro

Thumb_742268361_d9cc8609c3How to chop cilantro

Cilantro is the parsley of the East, where it's known as "coriander leaves" or "dhani". (In Mexico, where it's also very popular, it's sometimes called "Mexican parsley".) If you like cilantro (and some people don't at all), the herb is an easy way to add a beautifully fresh, sweet, fruity flavor to any dish. To prep it, first rinse and shake dry the leaves. Hold the bouquet at an angle with the leaves against the cutting board. Run your knife down the side of the bouquet to slice away the leaves. It's fine to remove some of the tender stems along with the leaves. (In fact, for salsas, spice pastes, curries and some longer-cooking dishes, the stems add essential, concentrated cilantro flavor.) Now just run your knife back and forth across the pile of leaves, chopping them as coarsely or as finely as you need to. The closer to the end of the cooking you plan to add the cilantro, the finer you'll want to chop it. But since cilantro is so tender it's usually okay to keep the the chop coarse. Now that you know how to prep it, try some cilantro recipes at Cookthink.com.

Thumb_968_What is vinegar?

Thumb_968_What is vinegar?

Vinegar is basically fermented wine. You know how that forgotten bottle of red takes on a thin, shrill quality when you neglect to drink it in a timely fashion? It's on its way to becoming vinegar. (The French word for vinegar, vinaigre, literally means "sour wine.") Made since the Gallo-Roman era, vinegar gots its official stamp of approval when vinegarmaking was declared an official occupation in 1580 by Henri IV. It's a pretty simple process: vinegar is made using a bacterial process in which naturally fermented wine is converted into a weak acetic acid that lends vinegar its sour taste. Vinegar quality depends on the quality of the ingredients from which it is made. There are many types of vinegar, which can be made from wine, spirits, Champagne, rice or honey. It can be infused with tarragon, raspberry and even rose petals. Reference: The Vinegar Institute's FAQ Recipe: Quick Pickled Cucumbers and Sweet Onions Recipe: Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

Thumb_cucke-vs-zucchiniCucumber vs. zucchini

Thumb_cucke-vs-zucchiniCucumber vs. zucchini

Side by side, they might fool you: cucumbers and zucchinis share the same dark green skin, pale seedy flesh, and long cylindrical shape. To the touch, however, these near-twins are not the same: cucumbers are cold and waxy, while zucchinis are rough and dry. The two vegetables also perform very differently when cooked. Cucumbers wilt but maintain a slight crunch when heated. Zucchinis soften, sweeten and brown on the stove top or in the oven. Eaten raw, cucumbers are juicy, cool and crisp. Raw zucchini is heartier, a little sweet and a little bitter. As a general rule, we prefer cucumbers raw and zucchini cooked. (There are many exceptions to this rule.) While you can’t replace one with the other, zucchinis and cucumbers do complement one another. Slice two cucumbers, two zucchinis and one sweet onion, and soak them all in rice vinegar for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Serve as a cooling side dish alongside something spicy or layer a few slices on top of a burger or sandwich. Recipe: Cucumber, Carrot And Radish Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing (Cookthink) Recipe: Couscous With Raisins, Zucchini and Feta (Cookthink) Reference: How to seed a cucumber (Cookthink) Reference: What is raita? (Cookthink)