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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Be Food Safe

In many cultures of the world food is cooked and served on a leaf. Sometimes the leaf is to be devoured with the dish and sometimes not. Why go far, in Southern India dosa is traditionally served on a banana leaf which is hygienic, flexible and waterproof way of serving your food. This banana leaf is also used in cooking. The food is wrapped with banana leaf and steamed to perfection. The leaf imparts a subtle sweet flavour to the dish, lends an overwhelming aroma and acts as a platter for serving. Not just south India, the culture of using banana leaf is widely popular in many other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, China Vietnam.

In Mexico, their popular breakfast Tamales are steamed and cooked wrapped in a corn cob leaf and served in the same leafy wrapper. Similarly, in many countries bamboo barks are used as natural eco friendly packaging material. The list is endless. However, over years the culture of using leaves as food wrapping and packaging material has been replaced by clay, ceramic, metal and now plastic. This advent has been, not only a disaster for environment but has also exposed our food to a number of hazards. The plastic reacts with our food and makes it toxic. Also, the plastic doesn’t biodegrade itself. When it breaks it readily soaks up and releases toxins that then contaminate soil and water.

It’s understandable, the world is moving at a fast pace where everything is portable and in a hurry. Fast food chains are mushrooming up with junk food and adopting unsafe ways of cooking and serving them. On the other hand, finding such leaves appropriate for wrapping and cooking food can be quite a task. They may not be readily available or may be too expensive. So the pertinent question arises what are the other safer available food wrapping material, which does not cause havoc to the environment, are safe to use and sound on your pocket?

  1. Of Course, nothing replaces the good old Banana Leaf. As discussed earlier, they are convenient, safe and natural product used both for cooking and serving.
  2. Traditional cotton towels can be used to wrap lunches. However, care has to be taken to wash them after every single usage. Otherwise, they themselves can be a storehouse of germs and highly unsafe for the food you wrap in it. You can cook your food wrapped in parchment paper or en papillote
  3. Use of good quality Food wrapping Paper is a safer way of wrapping food for storage, for taking aways and hygienic lunch boxes.
  4. Parchment Paper is another multi-purpose and safer option. It can be used for baking, wrapping and even lining confections.
  5. Airtight containers are another option, but they have their own limitation. They are to be washed after every usage. They are not very compact and not that light weight and of course, they can be messy as the food can spill inside the container.

About Gourmet Shrimp

First up is a garlic butter prawn or shrimp. You can toss these over pasta with cherry tomatoes, or you can serve them as is with a fresh salad and some crunchy bread to mop up the sauces. If you’re more a rice person, that would work too, especially with some coriander. The recipe below from Once Upon a Chef is simple, timeless and a real crowd pleaser. It takes only twenty minutes, so it’s perfect if you’re in a rush. You could even use frozen shrimp, which you can just keep in your freezer for a hurried day. If you do opt for that route, then run them under water to help defrost before you start cooking.


2 pounds extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 large cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Pinch freshly chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the shrimp on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Roast for 6-8 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through. Immediately add the butter directly on the hot baking sheet and stir until melted. Transfer the shrimp and butter sauce to a serving dish and sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.

For one more perfect, easy shrimp dish try this shrimp alfredo from Allrecipes. Pasta is always a winner, and who can argue with over 500 reviews? Half and half is an American mixture and you can achieve a substitute by mixing half full cream milk and half light cream, or ¾ full cream milk and ¼ heavy cream. To keep things on the healthier side, you can use whole-wheat pasta, add mushrooms and serve with a green salad.


1 pound fettuccini pasta

1 tablespoon butter

1 pound cooked shrimp – peeled and deveined

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup half-and-half

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt to taste


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a large skillet, cook and stir shrimp and garlic in the butter for about one minute. Pour in half and half; stir. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese in one tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. After all Parmesan is added, mix in parsley and salt. Stir frequently making sure it does not boil. Sauce will take a while to thicken.

Different tricks Cooking Rice

Soak a cup of rice in one and a fourth cups of water for an hour, then add a cup of milk, turn into a dish suitable for serving it from at table, and place in a steam-cooker or a covered steamer over a kettle of boiling water, and steam for an hour. It should be stirred with a fork occasionally, for the first ten or fifteen minutes.
Boiled (a Japanese method).
Thoroughly cleanse the rice by washing in several glasses of water, and soak it overnight. In the morning, drain it, and put to cook in an equal quantity of boiling water, that is, a pint of water for a pint of rice. For cooking, a stewpan with tightly fitting cover should be used. Heat the water to boiling, then add it, and after stirring, put on the cover, which is not again to be removed during the boiling. At first, as the water boils, steam will puff out freely from under the cover, but when the water has nearly evaporated, which will be in eight to ten minutes, according to the age and quality of the rice, only a faint suggestion of steam will be observed, and the stewpan must then be removed from over the fire to some place on the range, where it will not burn, to swell and dry for fifteen or twenty minutes.
It has to be boiled in an ordinary manner, requires two quarts of boiling water to one cupful of rice. It should be boiled rapidly until tender, then drained at once, and set in a moderate oven to become dry. Picking and lifting lightly occasionally with a fork will make it more flaky and dry. Care must be taken, however, not to mash the grains.
With fig sauce.
Steam a cupful of best rice as directed above, and when done, serve with a fig sauce. Dish a spoonful of the fig sauce with each saucer of rice, and serve with plenty of cream. Rice served in this way requires no sugar for dressing, and is a most wholesome breakfast dish.
Orange rice.
Wash and steam the rice. Prepare some oranges by separating into sections and cutting each section in halves, removing the seeds and all the white portion. Sprinkle the oranges lightly with sugar, and let them stand while the rice is cooking. Serve a portion of the orange on each saucerful of rice.
With raisins.
Carefully wash a cupful of rice, soak it, and cook as directed for Steamed Rice. After the rice has begun to swell, but before it has softened, stir into it lightly, using a fork for the purpose, a cupful of raisins. Serve with cream.
With peaches.
Steam the rice and when done, serve with cream and a nicely ripened peach pared and sliced on each individual dish.

You can Make Tomato Sauce in Home

Here’s what you need to prepare your organic tomato sauce:

  • tomato strainer or food mill;
  • big pots with lids;
  • wooden spoon;
  • glass jars;
  • clean cotton cloths;
  • organic tomatoes and basil.

Now, let’s have a look at the sauce preparation.

Take the San Marzano tomatoes, wash them thoroughly and cut them, removing only the dented parts. Then, place the tomatoes in various pots and make sure that they aren’t too full, otherwise you won’t be able to properly mix them.

Put the pot on the stove and cover it with a lid: let it cook over low heat. Stir the tomatoes frequently and lower the heat when they begin to simmer. You have to cook the tomatoes until their consistency will be more liquid.

Remember that the sauce shouldn’t be too thick, because when you reuse it you will still have to cook it for a few minutes. Then, seep the tomatoes in the tomato strainer or in the food mill: this way you will remove the seeds and the tomatoes’ skin, obtaining a smooth and rich tomato puree.

To sterilize the glass jars, you have to boil them in a clean pot full of water for at least 30 minutes. You should put a cotton cloth into the pot before boiling it in order to avoid breakage and then you should fill in the glass jars with the cloths.

Leave them cool until you can handle them. Then, put a few fresh basil leaves inside the jars and pour the tomato sauce in the jars. Close the jars when the tomato puree is still warm, leaving a space of one centimetre.

Put the jars upside down in a large pot full of water and boil it for 30 minutes. It is absolutely necessary to ensure sterilization and vacuum-sealed jars.