Sabtu, 24 November 2012

What To Consider When Choosing Paper Napkins For Your Wedding Day

Every bride-to-be is excited when it comes to planning their wedding. However, the planning process can also be challenging. There are various decisions that have to be made. Many women planning their weddings on their own often find that they are overwhelmed by the decision making. However, the process can be simpler with the right help.

The setting of the tables for your wedding reception is vital. Every detail counts if you want to ensure that your wedding is a success. It is therefore important to take your time to select the right paper napkins for your tables.

The tips provided here will help you select paper napkins that will make the dinner tables at your wedding reception spectacular. It is important to note that everybody is unique and has their unique taste. Ensure you select the napkins that reflect your personality and the theme that you have chosen for your wedding.

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing paper napkins is the color of the napkins. It is important to choose the right color for your napkins. The color will mostly be influenced by the theme color you have chosen for your wedding. You can choose the same color as your theme or a different shade of the same color. You can also choose a color that contrasts or matches with the theme color.

When choosing the color of the paper napkins it is important to remember not to choose a color that is similar or the same as the color of the table cloths. This is a mistake that is commonly made by brides. It is important to choose a color for your napkins that contrasts with the color of the tablecloths. This will ensure that your guests are drawn to the setting of your table and not the tablecloths.

You need to consider what you want done to the napkins for the setting. If you intend to have the table set with folded napkins, you should choose paper napkins that will not tear up when folded. You can choose lighter paper for napkins that will not be folded so elaborately.

You should also decide on whether you would like embossed or plain paper napkins. Most people who are planning traditional weddings opt for embossed patterns. These napkins add an elegant touch to the table settings.

Sabtu, 10 November 2012

Cast Iron Cookware: The Key to Authentic Caribbean Cooking

Shortly after relocating to the continental United States, I found myself having the desire to indulge in authentic Caribbean food. However, this desire was met with some challenges because many of the ingredients and items we often used were not readily available. Yes, I had no difficulty finding the fresh onions, green pepper, celery, and thyme that most Caribbean dishes cannot go without, but when it came to the seasoning for the meat, that seemed to pose a problem.

As the years went by, I was introduced to places like the various farmer's markets in the area and I was able to find a few of the seasonings and spices that was often used in the islands when cooking. Now, my dishes had the ground seasonings like garlic powder and the traditional complete seasoning (which is a blend of ground onion, garlic, salt, pepper). However, something still appeared to be missing in the food. Although these well prepared dishes were quite tasty, something was still missing; the taste that I was longing for was still not achieved.

One day, I came across a cast iron pot. Just seeing the pot reminded me of the islands. I now reminisced on how good the food seemed to taste when they were prepared in these pots. Growing up in the islands, the cooking with the cast iron pot usually occurred outdoor. I could remember, whenever I saw that pot come out the cupboard, I knew that the meal that day was going to be delicious. Something about those cast iron pots, it's almost like the pots themselves were needed to give that food the flavor.

So I decided to invest in the cast iron Dutch oven and went home to prepare one of my favorite island meals. Finally, that authentic taste that I was searching for suddenly seemed to have reappeared. With every bite you tasted the herbs and seasoning and the authentic flavor of the islands. Who would have thought that the Dutch oven (also known as the dutchy) would have made the difference in the flavor?

Truth be told, if you are trying to "lock in" the flavor and the seasoning that we often use in our Caribbean dishes, and you hoping to bring out that true "back home" authentic Caribbean flavor, I suggest, you start by examining the types of pots you are using. Cast iron cookware is a key ingredient!

Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012

Why You Need a Good Kitchen Knife

Well... You don't actually NEED a premium chef's knife. No more than anyone NEEDS a Ferrari or BMW to get to work and back. But I'm guessing you WANT one. And the underlying principle is the same as any other luxury: performance.

Just as a sub-compact car will get you from A to B fast enough, a cheap stamped-out knife at the supermarket will still cut food. But it won't do it with as much precision or style as a good knife.

There's a long list of reasons to get a top quality knife for your kitchen. Any of the following appeal to you?

Better Design

Quality knives have carefully designed blades and handles for the job at hand. More ergonomic handles, bolsters and finger-guards make a good knife easier to use, safer, and more comfortable.

The blade will be better balanced, carefully constructed for the best cutting experience. And if this sounds a little strange, talking about the "cutting experience" or "performance," then I challenge you to try a really good knife. The comparison is like comparing a modern cellphone with an old rotary phone. They're completely different machines.

Longer Life

No one will agree faster than me that top quality knives cost top dollar. They are typically in excess of $100, even $200 dollars. At the same time, however, they are a lifetime investment. A cheap knife from the dollar store is likely to break, chip, and lose its edge after cutting a banana. A good knife is a lifetime investment. They hold their edges longer, don't wear down or dull, and are more resistant to the regular wear and tear.

Which doesn't mean that a great knife is maintenance free. They still require care and attention to maintain their peak sharpness, but we are far more likely to value something that cost us a pretty penny. A premium kitchen knife demands respect and care, resulting in a longer-lasting utensil.

Better Materials

Besides some of the obvious features - strength, sharpness and weight - the quality of steel used to make a knife contributes to other quality control issues. Did you know that some kinds of steel can change the flavor of your food? Or that certain trace metals increase a knife's hardness, flexibility, and ability to take an edge?

There's also the look (and some function to go with the form) of the metal. Some knives use a lovely Damascus steel to sheath a harder but more brittle cutting core. The resulting blade is covered with a misty appearance that is quite striking.

And we return to the obvious. A better knife is sharper for longer, giving the discerning chef the ability to make finer, straighter, easier cuts. And a sharp knife is a safe knife. It doesn't slip, needs less force to cut, and it's surgical edge commands respect and caution where a dull knife may be dangerously ignored.

So you may not NEED a really good knife for your kitchen, but you certainly WANT one. There are plenty to choose from, in numerous styles. And many reasons to get any one of those styles for your kitchen right away.

Jumat, 12 Oktober 2012

All About Chopsticks - The Stuff You Didn't Know

Where do chopsticks come from?

It is well believed that these tricky little utensils originated in the great country of China about 5,000 years ago and spread to other Asian countries hundreds of years later. In China, they are also Kuai-Zi which means "quick little fellows". Interesting, because I am anything but quick when I eat with chopsticks. Anyways, so how did they come about? The early Chinese used sticks and branches of wood to collect their food when it was finished cooking over the fire. As the population continued to grow, resources became scarce and the people had to find ways to preserve the resources they had. In order to save fuel, they would cut their food into teeny tiny pieces so that it would cook faster. With these tiny pieces, there was no longer a need for knives. Thus, sticks and later "chopsticks", were the utensil of choice.

Confucianism and its influence on chopsticks

Confucianism was founded by Kong Qiu (i.e. Confucius) and had a powerful impact on the Chinese culture around c. 500 B.C.E. Confucius was a teacher to sons of nobility and traveled from region to region spreading his ideals and wisdom. Although Confucianism is not a religion, it is treated as such. Confucius developed followers and taught principles with strict guidelines and hierarchy of authority. His most notable teaching was one of respect towards all humans, specifically one's elders. How does this impact the development of chopsticks you might ask? Confucius was a vegetarian and he believed that knives would remind people of slaughterhouses. He stated,"Confucius taught, "The honorable and upright man keeps well away from both the slaughterhouse and the kitchen. And he allows no knives on his table." With Confucianism being influential to the Chinese culture, the use of chopsticks developed quickly.

What are chopsticks made of?

Wood, duh. Well that's what we see in America anyway. But chopsticks have been known to be made of a variety of materials with a variety of designs. The most common and popular material is bamboo. They can also be made out of plastic, porcelain, animal bone, metal, jade, coral, silver, and even gold. They are usually 9-10 inches with blunt ends, but they can also be pointed too. And if you're really fancy, you might like the chopsticks with calligraphy and intricate carvings along the side. Creating chopsticks can truly be an art.

Minggu, 30 September 2012

How Do You Design and Manufacture a Quality Kitchen Knife?

Before we explore the processes behind the design and manufacturing of kitchen knives, it's worth explaining why we've chosen to focus on Robert Welch as a business and their Signature knife range in particular.

Robert Welch makes for a great case study because, despite the company's long-standing role as a leading British design house, their foray into kitchen knives was their first under their own brand name and it was the first knife range designed by the company for over 30 years. In fact, the time between the designing of the ubiquitous Kitchen Devils Professional range and the Signature range meant that the management of Robert Welch had long-since passed down a generation to Robert's children.

The company is also interesting for its approach to product development. Whilst they don't manufacture housewares themselves, preferring to source specialist manufacturers, and are best-known for the beautiful simplicity of their designs, they are deeply rooted in an engineering ethos that sees every aspect of the development process being assessed and re-assessed.

Let's now consider the design process. It might seem easy to design a range of products for a category like kitchen knives. After all, their design and construction has evolved incrementally over Centuries and just about every variation on the theme has been tried. But therein lies the problem - how do you create a truly distinctive and incrementally superior product in such a category?

For Robert Welch's son, Rupert, this meant getting back to the essentials of what makes a great kitchen knife. This comes down to haptics, ergonomics, aesthetics and, ultimately, performance. With this in mind, drawings and 3D models form the basis of the work undertaken by the design team. However, this is just a process and doesn't deal with the inspiration necessary for great design.

For this, the Company's breakthrough cam in their evaluation of the comparative merits of the two great World knife-making traditions, namely the Anglo-German tradition and the Japanese tradition. In each case, these are based on the respective culinary styles of the two regions, so European knives are centred on the rough dice method of chopping that requires long, weighty and well-balanced blades and Japanese knives are focused on precise slicing that favours lightweight, shorter fine-edged kitchen knives.

As a result, the Signature knives are very unusual in that they combine fine Japanese style edges and bolsterless design with greater heft and traditional European blade patterns. In fact, many of the actual blade patterns are almost in a heritage style, given that there is a Sheffield pattern carving knife that wouldn't look out-of-place on a Georgian-era table, a total of four cook's knives and a ham slicer.

The traditional touch continues into the blade steel, where Robert Welch decided against using steel from the Far East, where the knives are manufactured, and opted instead for 1.4116 grade steel from Germany. This is the same grade used by the top knife makers in Solingen and is a very rare find in a blade made in the Far East. Normally, this wouldn't be terribly durable with a fine edge, but the company enlisted the help of world-renowned CATRA, the Sheffield-based knife research institute. This resulted in a special taper-grind being introduced that allows the slightly softer German steel to retain its edge for longer.

The final piece of Robert Welch's development jigsaw was, very unusually, to seek out specialist kitchen knife retailers in the UK, such as our own Cooks & Kitchens, and inculcate their thoughts and recommendations into the design of the individual knives and the range as a whole.

This might seem like an awful lot of work for any company to undertake, but it's paid off for Robert Welch. Consider that they attempted to enter a saturated product category with decades of tradition and assumptions behind it. To be successful, they had to come up with something genuinely innovative, but recognisable, and by finding an effective marriage between two diverse knifemaking traditions, they created something with aesthetic appeal and outstanding performance.

Kamis, 13 September 2012

Supplies You Need to Run Your Bar

If you are stocking up a professional bar, congratulations! Running a bar can be fun and exciting way to let your creativity shine. It also can be a whole lot of work. Being prepared with the right supplies and equipment is absolutely critical in running a smooth operation. You must be sure that your bartenders have everything they need to give your customers everything that they want. Here is a basic description of the materials every bar will need to to help you get started.

Organizational Supplies

Bars can be rather sticky places, which (unfortunately) is very attractive to unwanted pests. Keeping things clean is critical to deter insects and other pests, and a well-organized bar is the easiest kind to keep clean. Things like condiment dispensers, cap-catchers, bar caddies, wire glass hangers, and speed rails will all help your operation run both more quickly and more neatly. Basically, just make sure that everything has a proper place it should be put, from discarded caps, frequently used bottles, to drink garnishes.

Serving Supplies

Presentation is everything in a professional bar, so you will want your bartenders to be preparing and serving drinks in a way that is both stylish and attractive. Nice measuring supplies, glass rimmers, strainers, pour bottles, and cocktail shakers are all critical. Remember to have nice wine buckets as well for serving chilled wine. A nice rule to follow is that any time liquid needs to be transferred, a specific tool should be involved in each step, for the most appealing presentation possible.


A variety of tools will be necessary for many small tasks that should not be forgotten. You should definitely have some good ice picks and ice chippers on hand so that ice can always be made quickly available for drinks. Extra ice scoops are also critical, as scooping ice with a glass in simply not acceptable. Bottles and can openers should be in copious supply, for obvious reasons. Some more forgettable but equally important items are bar spoons and bar tongs for any stirring or grabbing that will need to be done.


There are a few items that don't necessarily fit into a neat category, but are still quite important to include on your list. Bar mats will keep your counters neat and provide a stable surface, non-slippery on which to rest your supplies. Liners also provide critically non slippery surfaces on which to arrange your glasses. This also provides a nice looking layer of separation between glasses and surface that may appear less than spotless at certain points if not properly covered.

Kamis, 30 Agustus 2012

Shun Ken Onion Chef Knife Vs Global G-2 Chef Knife

These are two of my favorite chef knives, but for very different reasons. While both ultra-modern in design, that's one of the few similarities they share. They're both fantastic chef's knives for different reasons, and I'd happily recommend either one, depending on the task at hand.


Though both these knives get my highest recommendation, it's in different contexts.

The Ken Onion knives are innovative designs, very different from any traditional kitchen knife. They are extremely ergonomic and perfectly suited to cutting, chopping and slicing. It's high-carbon core and edge give it a wicked edge, but the layers of Damascus steel give it flexibility and stain-resistance. It's an aesthetically stunning knife.

It's an unusual design, however, so it may not be the best if the chef isn't willing to get used to the design. They are also significantly more expensive for what's ultimately a designer knife, so they may not be well suited to a busy professional kitchen where someone may grab your knife off the line and abuse it.

The Global line of knives, on the other hand, is a study in modern minimalism. By all appearances, forged from a single block of high-vanadium and -molybdenum steel, it's hollow handle makes it extremely lightweight. It's a more Japanese design, trading the heavy bolster and finger guard for an easy elegance. For a top quality knife, the Global knives are extremely reasonably priced.

On the other side of the coin, this knife's steel may not give it the hardness or sharpness of high-carbon or high-carbon stainless steel. The molybdenum enhances its hardness, and the vanadium improves its grain (for sharpness), but it will need some very regular honing to keep up with better steels, and may never have as sharp an edge as high-carbon counterparts.

Specific Comparisons

Blade Shape

Both the Shun Ken Onion knife and the Global knife are designed in the Japanese tradition. They don't have a heavy bolster or finger guard extending to the heel of the blade. This is where the similarities end, though. The Global G-2 has a typically tapered blade shape, with a gradually sloping belly up to the tip. The Shun Ken Onion knife has a more exaggerated roll in the belly as it approaches the tip, a design meant to make chopping an easier and safer task.

Handle Shape

The Global knives have a more typical handle shape suited to a variety of different grips depending on personal preference. It's small enough that it's comfortable even for cooks with smaller hands, and its lightness makes it easy to use. The Ken Onion handle and bolster, however, is designed to work only with the pinch grip - the preferred method of holding a knife by most chefs - but isn't well suited to other ways of holding the knife.

The Global knives also have a very robust handle, it being all one continuous piece of steel. The Ken Onion has a composite handle made up of a full tang extending from the core of the knife and a synthetic handle covering held in place by rivets.


The Shun Ken Onion knives are all composite blades made up of more than one kind of steel. A high-carbon steel core extends all the way down to the down to the edge, leading to excellent sharpness and edge retention. The core is then sandwiched between 16 layers of rippled Damascus steel, a softer stainless steel that protects the brittle core from breakage and stains. The textured surface also traps air, preventing food from sticking to the blade.

Global uses high-molybdenum and -vanadium stainless steel for its knives. The steel is hardened by the molybdenum and the sharpness improved by the vanadium, but it still doesn't hold up quite as well against high-carbon or high-carbon stainless steel.


The Global is clearly the better buy. At less than half the price of the Shun Ken Onion, it's excellent value for a premium chef's knife. The Ken Onion knives demand a premium for their aesthetics and complex design, and are certainly worth the price, but they may not suit everyone's budget.


It's a toss up which of these knives I like better. The Global is elegant, simple, and much cheaper. The Shun Ken Onion is gorgeous, ultra-high performance, but comes at a premium. So here are my recommendations:

Global G-2 Chef Knife is best for the professional in a busy kitchen, the discerning home gourmet with a budget in mind, or someone looking for a light-weight, utilitarian knife to add to their kitchen.

Shun Ken Onion Chef Knife is best for very particular chefs who need the highest performance available, either in a professional kitchen or at home. Likewise, the aesthetic appeal of this knife makes it as much a decorative accessory as a kitchen utensil, so for those for whom cost isn't an issue, it makes the perfect addition to the kitchen.