Welcome to Southwest Florida Real Estate

Posts tagged ‘Florida Cooking’

Cooking Cajun Food

Cooking in the heart of Cajun country is an art form. There really is very little science to this particular form of cooking that includes a lot more than mere lagniappe from the pantry or the spice cabinet. Cajun cooking is something that has often been imitated around the country and around the world but can very rarely be accurately duplicated.

One of the fascinating things about Cajun cooking is the fact that there are very few exact recipes. Most, if not all authentic Cajun cooking is done to taste rather than measurements. Even more amazing is that from day-to-day one person can make the same dish over and over and it is quite likely to taste a little bit different each and every time it is made. The major reason for this is that in addition to being an art form in and of itself, Cajun food is often made even more delicious or mysterious simply by the mood of the one doing the cooking.

I’m sure that many of you have watched as Emeril Lagasse makes some special concoction and exclaims “Bam!” there is a good bit of that when it comes to Cajun cooking. Something that goes far beyond the ingredients in the recipe and somewhere into the heart and the soul of the cook in question. There is a reason that many southern cooked dishes are referred to as soul food and you should not for one second forget that New Orleans is in the heart of the Deep South.

The most difficult thing, perhaps when it comes to preparing good Cajun dishes outside of the New Orleans region is finding the right ingredients. It is nearly impossible to find the fresh seasonings and spices that are essential to most Cajun cuisine outside the heart of the old south. Not only that, but fresh crawfish and andouille sausage are a little difficult to come by during the heart of a Michigan winter.

If you are determined to learn to make Cajun food of your own, you must first find the ingredients. Specialty food shops or those that will special order might be your best bet. There are some grocers that will carry a limited stock of Cajun seasonings on their international food aisles. Keep in mind that these sources are extremely limited. Once you have the ingredients, it’s time to let a little jazz blare from your speakers in order to set the mood. Most of the best Cajun dishes require a substantial amount of time for simmering and this should be considered. Cajun food is not to be rushed-much like the citizens of the Big Easy. The food will be ready in time and as the one cooking the food you must learn to accept that about Cajun food. It has a way of letting you know when it is ready that is almost mythical until you’ve experienced it for yourself.

Cooking Cajun food will try your patience, try your talents, and in some cases zap your energy, as it tends to be an emotional process for many. On the other end however, Cajun food is some of the richest and most delicious food on the planet. Mastering the ability to cook this wonderful food will make you a slave to its flavor for many years to come.

Advertisement

Cooking for Crowds Shouldn’t be a Frightening Proposition

Most people balk at the idea of cooking for large crowds of people. With images of huge stockpots boiling over and becoming chained to a hot stove and oven for countless hours on end, it’s no wonder that so many people avoid the idea of cooking food for large crowds with more tenacity than they avoid being last in the dinner line.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be the frightening proposition that so many make it out to be. When it comes to cooking for a large crowd, the planning phase is the most important. You absolutely must plan your meals when feeding a large group of people. This goes far beyond the notion of spaghetti or fried chicken as the meals you are planning. You need to know how many servings you will need. While obviously you never know how hungry people will be or who will eat how much when it comes to cooking for a large crowd it is a good idea to always plan for a few extra mouths in case some need a little more than you may think (you might want to double servings for teen and college aged men that will be dining).

You need to know at least a general number of servings to prepare and adjust your recipe in order to accommodate those needs. Some people find it much simpler if they can double or triple recipes rather than scaling them to specific serving sizes. If this works best for you then by all means incorporate this practice when cooking for crowds. One thing you must be aware of is that you will need to include in order to create the meal you are planning.

Having the proper ingredients and the proper amounts of ingredients is more important in bulk recipes than is often necessary in smaller recipes as there is less leeway when it comes to creating the proper consistency. You should keep this in mind when making purchases for your cooking for a large crowd event.

Some people find the best route to take when it comes to cooking for crowds is to keep everything as close to their normal cooking routine as possible. This would mean that instead of cooking one really huge pan of lasagna for a triple sized crowd, they would instead cook three normal sized pans of lasagna. This accomplishes two things really and is something you may wish to keep in mind despite the extra time spent in the kitchen.

First of all, if something goes, wrong only one-third of the meal is in shambles rather than the entire dinner. Second, you have a greater possibility of finding consistency issues before the baking begins if you are using measurements and cooking containers that you are familiar with and comfortable using. It is always best to discover errors and omissions sooner rather than later when it comes to cooking as very few ingredients can be properly added after the fact.

While cooking for crowds may send some into dizzying spells with heart palpitations it helps if you take a few deep breaths, sit down, plan your menu, plan your meals, make a list of your ingredients, and cook in a manner that is comfortable for you. If you would rather get it all over with in one fell swoop, then by all means do just that. If you are more comfortable making multiple dishes of family favorites then that is probably going to be the best course of action in order to meet your large crowd cooking needs.

Most importantly you should remember when cooking for crowds is that you might have just earned yourself a well-deserved night off afterwards. Cooking for crowds is time-consuming and should be approached when well rested (if that is even possible) for the best results. There is something that is actually very satisfying about knowing that you have fed a crowd and fed them well.

Cooking for Two

Whether you are cooking for two out of a sense of romance or necessity you will find that there are many resources online and off when it comes to finding the perfect combinations for those terrific twosome. One thing to keep in mind however is that when cooking for two, it is sometimes best if two are doing the cooking. This gives cooking an opportunity to become a communication event rather than a chore.

Despite the fact that there are many resources and recipes available to those that are cooking for two there are also equal occasions to take traditional recipes that are designed to feed four and make them an opportunity to stretch your food dollars even further. By cooking traditional meals for four and feeding a portion you have managed to cook two meals for the time investment of one. It’s a good deal for many, particularly those that do not relish the idea of cooking at all, much less of cooking for two.

Young couples and older couples alike often find that it is easier and almost as inexpensive to hit the fast food or other casual dining establishments than it is to prepare a nice healthy meal for two at home. The one thing they often forget is that cooking for two can be an interesting way to bring a little romance into the evening when done right of course.

Cooking is an art that most people have forgotten as it is also a necessary act unless you wish to live on sushi and raw vegetables. Even in these situations however there is typically some degree of preparation that is involved in the process. Food is beautiful and can be beautifully arranged if you are of the mind to do so. This means that you can spend a great deal of time not only creating new and delicious foods, but also visually appealing food combinations as well.

When cooking for two you will have the most opportunity for experimentation when it comes to food as any other time in your life. You have the option of trying great new cuisines and the knowledge that if you do not like the food, you are not wasting multiple servings. You can try to mix and match flavors and textures. You can make works of art on your plate or go for the guts, gore, and eyeballs galore. Cooking for two opens doors that aren’t necessarily available when cooking for larger crowds with more limiting tastes.

Cooking for two is a great way to get your partner involved in the cooking process as well. When cooking for two you can discover the many great things that you both enjoy and those that aren’t so appealing to one or the other of you. Make sure that when you are cooking for two that you invite an open and honest dialog about the things that you like and dislike about the meals being prepared. This will help you discover things to add to your regular menu as well as things to avoid making a part of your dinner rotation.

Perhaps the greatest thing about cooking for two is the fact that you can afford to enjoy special occasion cuisine more often when you are only feeding two than when you are feeding larger crowds. Bring on the steaks and lobster tail. Learn how to make shrimp scampi and filet mignon. Take the time, when cooking for two, to prepare those dishes that you love most. After all, it is really living when you live to dine rather than when you dine to live.

Cooking for two is so much more than a cliché. It is a great way to explore the culinary universe while exposing your palates to some wonderful surprises along the way. The Internet, bookstores, and libraries are filled with books about cooking for two. Take advantage of the opportunity to do just that and you’ll be amazed at the world of flavors you’ve invited into your kitchen.