Dice with a French Fry Cutter

I am talking about the simple handheld cutter that you would stand a potato up on your cutting board, place the cutter on the top and use both hands to push the cutter down to the board, perfect french fries. Works like a champ, easy to clean, very inexpensive kitchen gadget to have.

I made some soups recently, two called for diced potatoes and carrots, and one for diced sausage (Vietnamese pork sausage, Cha Lua). So I decided to use the french fry cutter.

Use the cutter to make “fries” with the potatoes, carrots, and even the sausage, then just lay the fries on their side and complete the dice with a knife. This saves you a few minutes in the kitchen, and the slicer is quickly washed.

Lemon & Lime Juice Measurements

Nearly all the recipes posted here (except for Thai recipes), lemon and lime juice measurements are commonly ‘juice from 1/2 lemon’ or ‘juice from two limes’. For the readers, this works well if you have regular size lemons and limes where you live.

Here in Thailand, however, lemons are not that common, and limes are small, just a bit bigger than a golf ball. So for those viewers in Thailand that want to use a recipe that calls for the juice of a lime or lemon, use this as a guide, you can still use fresh limes and lemons, BUT measure the quantities.

These are average amounts:

1 lemon yields: 3 tablespoons of juice.
1 lime yields: 2 tablespoons of juice.

Curry Paste vs Curry Powder

When I add recipes, I am clear with stating either curry powder or paste.

The difference is paste is mainly a Southeast Asia item and powder is an Indian item.

You can certainly interchange the items but the dish will change in flavor. Powder has turmeric, paste does not, that is the major difference.

Casserole Dishes

I had to research this today as a recipe I am going to add calls for a 2 quart casserole dish, I don’t have any Pyrex dishes that are ‘casserole’ dishes so I looked up the size of casserole dishes.

Casserole Size and the Baking Pan Size in inches

1 1/2 quarts = 9x5x3 loaf pan
2 quarts = 8 inch square cake pan OR 7×11 cake pan
2 1/2 quarts = 9 inch square cake pan
3 quarts = 9×13 cake pan
4 quarts = 10×14 cake pan

Several good references are here:

www.almanac.com/content/substitutions-baking-pan-sizes

www.craftybaking.com/howto/baking-pans-substitution-chart

Flour Measurements

When baking it is always best to weigh your flour than using a cup measurement. Humidity is a big factor, weighing the flour provides the most accurate way to measure. I use a digital scale for all flour measurements when making bread.

All Purpose Flour

1 cup = 128 grams = 4.5 ounces
3/4 cup = 96 grams = 3.38 ounces
2/3 cup = 85 grams = 3 ounces
1/2 cup = 64 grams = 2.25 ounces
1/3 cup = 43 grams = 1.5 ounces
1/4 cup = 32 grams = 1.13 ounces
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) = 16 grams = .563 ounces

Bread Flour

1 cup = 136 grams = 4.8 ounces
3/4 cup = 102 grams = 3.6 ounces
2/3 cup = 90 grams = 3.2 ounces
1/2 cup = 68 grams = 2.4 ounces
1/3 cup = 45 grams = 1.6 ounces
1/4 cup = 34 grams = 1.2 ounces

Rye Flour

1 cup = 102 grams = 3.6 ounces

Digital Scales

When I ordered an electric meat grinder, I also ordered a digital scale, after all, the goal was to grind meat so I needed to weigh it out. And I will say, this little device is a life saver!

The best feature of a digital scale over a conventional scale is the tare feature, which removes the weight of the bowl or plate you are using to hold the item being weighed. Very useful when weighing ground meat or flour. To use the tare feature, normally you would just turn on the scale, let it zero out, place say a plate on the scale and it will show that weight, then press the Tare button, and the weight is removed and goes back to zero, then you add what you are weighing and you have the accurate weight.

Ground meat is easy, I pack everything into 500 gram packs and freeze those. Very handy and convenient.

Now the perfect use for a scale, flour. I am a firm believer in weighing flour, not using a measuring cup. And as I go through my recipes, I will change cup measurements to grams and will list the cup measurements as a note. Measuring flour with a cup does not take into consideration how the cup is packed or the humidity of the flour, weighing is the most accurate measurement, this is very true for bread and pastry formulas.

Zip Lock Bags

This may seem like an odd post but I thought this was warranted. Zip lock bags were not available in the town near us for about 3 years, now they are stocked and we get them often. These surprisingly are labeled as 1 Gallon bags, with expanding bottoms as well. Only this size is available here, smaller sizes would be nice but I won’t complain as I have them now.

If you are grinding your own meat, these are a bonus to you, put the meat in, roll up, seal, and label. I keep these at 500 grams of ground beef or pork per package.

Think of marinating some meat for the grill or cooking later, add everything to the bag and the meat, squish it up a bit to mix it in, roll to get all the air out, seal, and refrigerate, easy.

If you buy vegetables on sale, such as bell peppers, dice the peppers and bag what you think would be needed in a recipe and freeze.

Very versatile.

Grams to Pounds

When I started this site it was mainly aimed at expats living here in Thailand so measurements for meat, pasta, cheese I give in grams as that is how we buy it here. Smaller liquid and dry measurements are given in cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons.

To remove any confusion I use the following for meat, cheese, and pasta, think of the following when you read a recipe that states, say 500 grams of beef:

500 grams = 1 pound (actually it is 1.10 pounds, no one will complain).

Once you think like that, easy to remember, the recipes are much easier to follow.

For baking of pastries and bread, weight measurements are more accurate than cup or spoon measurements and may be listed by weight, I have a digital scale for this.

Cooking and Baking

Cooking – think making a skillet dish, an omelet, baking stuffed bell peppers, that is using a recipe.

Baking – think dinner rolls, hamburger buns, breads, pastries, this is using a formula, and there is a difference between a recipe and a formula.

Stated often in the recipes I have listed here on this site is what I call variants, things you can to change up, optional items. And as I state many times, recipes are not set in stone and can be changed on the taste of the user or with what is available or on hand at the time.

Cooking, just volume measurements are adequate and perfectly fine.

Baking, one can get away with volume measurements, but the preferred method is by weight. Digital scales are very reasonable in cost and very accurate. If you have a pastry or bread formula in weight and volume, use the weight measurements if you have a digital scale.

With baking formulas, unless one is a very experienced baker, always follow the formula, reducing one ingredient may have serious affects on another ingredient, and these affects are never good and the end product you are making will not turn out well.

Information provided courtesy of good friend, Garland Davis, US Navy Cook (Ret).
United States.

Stock or Broth?

Odd question that I never really gave any thought to, what is the difference between stock and broth? This was brought to my attention today by a good friend and respected cook, there is a difference.

I made a chicken pasta dish yesterday, 8 Dec 2016, and I mentioned I boiled the chicken quarters then returned the bones to the pot to simmer longer. As it turns out, I made what I will call chicken broth stock.

Broth is from simmering meat, such as chicken thighs and legs.

Stock is from simmering bones, such as the thigh and leg bones I put back into the pot.

Tesco sells chicken carcasses for the sole purpose of making stock which is used in many Thai soups. Chicken carcasses are a common item in Tesco and other grocery stores. In the large cities, one can get pork bones at Tesco also for the purpose of making pork stock.

Anytime I boil chicken, and it is often, I pour the water used through a strainer and reserve the liquid in the fridge for use in recipes, if I have the time, then I continue to simmer the bones for several more hours as well. When I list chicken stock as an ingredient on this site, it will be noted as fresh or from the powder for this very purpose. But what I have been calling stock is actually broth, but for the sake of this site and the recipes listed here, I use the word stock mostly, but feel free to use broth or stock, both are flavorful additions to the dish being prepared.

For the pot of water, I normally just add a onion cut in half and peppercorns, feel free to add some carrot, celery, etc. If you are going to simmer chicken, then skin on and bone in to get the most flavor.

Information provided courtesy of good friend, Garland Davis, US Navy Cook (Ret).
United States.