Wok this Way! (Part 1 of 5)Written by Helen Fan
Woks have been synonymous with Chinese cooking since emergence of Chinese cuisine. They have been used for some 3000 years in China for a variety of cooking methods, including stir frying, boiling, and steaming. A wok is a large, thin-walled, round-bottomed, metal cooking pan, and shaped like a shallow bowl with handles. The addition of a wooden rack and cover transforms wok into a steamer. Although woks come in sizes ranging from 10 to 32 inches in diameter, a wok that's 11 to 14 inches should suffice for use in a household kitchen.
With increasing popularity of Chinese cuisine, there are now many “Westernized” versions of wok. There is addition of a metal ring, which is set on top of a gas or electric stove to hold wok to prevent tipping. Some have a small flat bottom instead of traditional round bottom, for same reason. The new versions will get job done, but "traditonal" large round-bottomed woks are still, by far, preferred wok of choice.
Since essence of Chinese cuisine
High Altitude BakingWritten by Lauren Danver
High altitude baking can be a real adventure for cook, with a number of challenges to keep you on your toes. The higher you are in elevation, less pressure there will be. How does this affect your baking creations? Low air pressure creates increased evaporation of liquids during baking process and this can cause your cakes to fall. Baking at high altitudes means a few more adjustments so that your baked goods will come out perfectly, ready to tempt finest of taste buds.
Start by following high altitude recipes by letter. For some bakers, this will work out fine. For others, changes will be necessary. Begin with making adjustments to your oven temperature by 15 - 25 degrees F. Next, adjust ingredients in your recipe. For cakes that are supposed to rise, using either yeast or baking powder, you will need to make some changes.
If you are using yeast during high altitude baking you will have to make sure that dough rises slowly. For cakes using baking powder make certain not to over-beat eggs. You will also have to decrease amount of baking powder used.
A decrease in atmospheric pressure will cause gases to expand easier. For your lovely meringue toppings, meringue (angel) pie shells, angel and sponge cakes, follow following suggestions: Whip egg whites to medium-soft peaks instead of stiff peaks. Add more stiffening with a bit more flour and a bit less sugar. Also, with your increase in oven temperature by 25 degrees F, batter will have a better chance to set before air bubbles or leavening gases have chance to become too expansive.
When preparing puddings and cream-pie fillings above 5,000 feet, using a double boiler will not provide you with maximum gelatinization of starch. You can simply use direct heat rather than a double boiler.
High altitude will affect rising time of bread most. At high altitudes, rising period will be shortened. To maintain development of a good flavor in your breads, you will need to preserve longer rising period. Punch bread dough down twice to give time for flavor to develop. Remember that flours tend to be drier and able to absorb more liquid in high, dry climates. Use less flour when bringing dough to proper consistency. You may want to experiment a bit with this for best results.