Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to Glaze a Ham

A baked ham is a delicious holiday dish, and one of the best ways to turn a simple baked ham into something truly special is by glazing the ham.
How to Glaze a Ham
How to Glaze a Ham.
Photo c Annabelle Breakey / Getty Images

Glazing a ham basically involves brushing the ham with a combination of ingredients that feature sweet, tangy and pungent flavors. A semi-liquid base such as jam or preserves is good so that it will stick to the ham, but you can also make a ham glaze with maple syrup or honey. Mustard is another common ingredient, and soo is brown sugar.

Here's an article that describes How to Glaze a Ham. It also explains when to glaze the ham, and offers a few simple glaze recipes. You might also want to check out this recipe for Baked Ham with Fruit Glaze. Here are some related resources:

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What is Confectioners' Sugar?

From Saturday's mailbag comes this wonderfully concise question from Adam in Milwaukie, Oregon: "What is confectioners' sugar?"

Confectioners' sugar is another name for powdered sugar. A confectioner is someone who makes candies and other sweets, and because of its extremely fine granules, confectioners' sugar is especially well-suited to that kind of thing. To learn more, check out What is Confectioners' Sugar? And here are a few more resources to do with desserts and baking:

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Delmonico Steak

Definition: Delmonico steak is a steak cut from the beef short loin and named for Delmonico's, a steak house in New York where it is said to originate.

Delmonico steak is a triangular steak with an L-shaped bone. The Delmonico steak somewhat resembles a T-bone steak, but it comes from the front part of the short loin, the part nearest the rib. In contrast to the Delmonico steak, the T-bone steak comes from the center section of the short loin.

The Delmonico steak is also different from the T-bone in that the Delmonico steak doesn't have any of the tenderloin muscle.

Because it is a tender cut of meat, the Delmonico steak is good for dry-heat cooking methods such as grilling and broiling.

Also Known As:
  • Club steak
  • Country club steak
  • Shell steak
  • Top loin steak
  • Strip loin steak

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Definition: Cornichons are small pickled gherkins, which are a variety of cucumber. Cornichons are a traditionally served as a condiment with a number of classical French dishes like pate.

Cornichons have a tart, mildly sweet flavor, and they are used for both flavoring and as a garnish. Cornichons are frequently paired with capers.

Many recipes incorporate chopped cornichons, including beef stroganoff and steak tartare, as well as various cold salads like egg salad or potato salad.

Cornichons complement pork dishes, such as grilled pork chops, and are often included in sauces for pork.

Classic sauces featuring cornichons include the Charcutiere sauce and Gribiche sauce.

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Friday, March 30, 2012


Definition: Aspic is a savory gelatin made from consomme or clarified stock. Because consomme is high in gelatin, it hardens when it cools, forming aspic.

Aspic can be prepared as a mold with various ingredients such as meat, vegetables or egg set into the mold. The aspic is chilled and then sliced and served.

Used in this way, aspic is an effective method for preserving foods because the gelatin seals off the oxygen, preventing the bacteria that cause food spoilage.

Aspic can also be used as a glaze for appetizers and cold food platters.

Aspic is traditionally made from consomme, and this process can be time-consuming. To save time, some modern kitchens prepare aspic by fortifying water or ordinary stock with added gelatin. This technique produces an inferior product, in terms of both flavor and texture.

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Cooking at High Altitude

A reader who lives at 4,000 feet above sea level recently asked me if I'd ever written anything about cooking at high altitude. In case you didn't know, recipes don't necessarily work the same way at elevations higher than 3,000 feet or so, and it can be a source of frustration for cooks who live in high places.
Cooking at High Altitude - High Altitude Recipes
Pasta takes longer to cook at high altitude.
Photo c Lonnie Mann

The main issue is the fact that the atmospheric pressure is significantly lower at high altitude. This causes water to evaporate more quickly, and water actually boils at a lower temperature. If that's a difficult thing to get your mind around, then you can imagine what a strange experience high-altitude cooking can be.

There are other issues, too, and they tend to increase in severity as you get higher above sea level. Read all about cooking at high altitude. Even if you don't live at a high elevation, I think you'll find it interesting from a purely culinary standpoint.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blade Steak

Definition: Blade steak is a cut of meat from the shoulder section of either beef or pork.

Beef blade steak is a steak cut from the beef chuck. Beef blade steak is a relatively tough cut of meat, with a seam of connective tissue running through the center. Beef blade steak is best prepared by braising.

See also: Flat Iron Steak

Pork blade steak is cut from the Boston butt pork primal. Pork blade steak is slightly more tender than beef blade steak, so it can be grilled. But braising is probably a preferred cooking technique for the pork blade steak as well.

Whether beef or pork, blade steak is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat.

Also Known As: Beef blade steaks are also known as:
  • Chuck steak
  • Bottom chuck steak
  • Under blade steak
  • Book steak
  • Lifter steak
  • Petite steak
Pork blade steaks are sometimes called pork steaks or pork shoulder steaks.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Make Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are one of the classic comfort foods and they're easy to make if you know how to do it. Great mashed potatoes should be light and fluffy, not sodden and runny nor stiff and gluey.
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
How to Make Mashed Potatoes.
Photo c Sheri L Giblin / Getty Images

The way to accomplish this is by ensuring that the cooked potatoes are as dry as possible. And also, you don't want to overwork the potatoes. That means no pureeing them in a food processor. And of course, it helps to buy the right type of potatoes to begin with.

This simple guide, How to Make Mashed Potatoes, will explain the technique from start to finish. And here are some more great potato recipes:

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