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The Plastic Wrap Trick Restaurant Pros Swear By

“Hotel wrapping” is standard practice for saving and transporting food in many professional kitchens..

"Hotel wrapping" is standard practice for saving and transporting food in many professional kitchens, but it's a practical technique that can be a total game changer for the home cook as well. Cling to this trick to become a true (plastic) wrap legend… and keep your food fresher, longer.

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Some call it “hotel wrapping,” others say “banquet wrapping,” (depends on which restaurant industry veteran you ask), but whatever you call it—this is the only way you should be plastic wrapping your food. It’s a technique the pros swear by and it’s so easy to adopt into your own plastic wrapping practices. Basically, instead of laying a single sheet of plastic wrap over the opening of a container, to shield the exposed surface of food, you are tightly gift wrapping the entire container (bowls, casserole dishes, sheet pans, stock pots, etc.) with multiple layers of plastic—creating something of a plastic cocoon around the container of food.

Okay, I know what some of you are thinking (and probably feeling tempted to write me an aggressive email about)… no, you're likely not going to be able to re-use the plastic wrap more than once using this method. In fact, you will probably even have to cut the Saran casing off with scissors if you do it right. Hear me out, though. What you fear wasting in plastic wrap, will ultimately keep you from wasting food.

How to do it…

1. Pull the plastic wrap out and lay it on a cleared surface.

2. Place your vessel you are going to wrap on top of it.

3. Fold the plastic over the vessel.

4. Repeat wrapping until vessel is securely encased.

Why you should…

1. To Prevent Spills

For restaurant folks and caterers, this plastic wrap practice proves its worth more often than not when it’s time to transport a large pot or tub of a soup, sauce, etc. from one location to another. And if you’ve ever driven more than half a mile with a vat of marinara strapped into the backseat of your car, you understand what nerve-wracking is. The pros know that by completely encompassing your vessel with plastic wrap, you are essentially transforming a stock pot (or whatever you’ve got your food in) into an airtight, slosh- and spill-proof container. And while while we may not find ourselves transporting a 24-quart pot of soup across town on a weekly basis, this trick can come into play for the home cook fairly often—especially during the holiday season.

When you’re taking a dish to some sort of potluck, party, or family dinner situation, you want to make sure that it ultimately arrives in the same condition it left your kitchen in, and that you packed it up in the most efficient way possible, yes? There’s not always going to be a large enough plastic container with a fitted lid for what you’re transporting, and sometimes, it’s not exactly convenient/practical to transfer your food out of the dish it was made in or the dish it’s ultimately destined to be served in. Even if you’re not moving the dish further than from your kitchen to your dinning room, accidents do happen… and if you happen to knock over a bowl full of lukewarm gravy over when reaching for something else in the back of the fridge, you’ll be thankful you hotel wrapped.

P.S. If you are doing this with a hot liquid—something like a pot of soup or hot mulled cider—be sure to poke a small hole in the top of the plastic wrap to allow steam to escape.

2. To Keep Your Food Fresher

Be it a pan of brownies out on the counter or a pan of lasagna in the fridge, hotel wrapping is going to keep your food in prime eating condition for longer than laying a single layer of plastic wrap over top (yes, even the almighty Press ’N’ Seal wrap) can. Tightly wrapping from the bottom to the top securely locks out air that turns baked goods stale, unwanted moisture that prompts mold growth, and other intrusive odors that might be floating around your fridge.

3. To Prevent Icky Freezer Flavor

Direct quote from one of our test kitchen chefs: “I would always banquet wrap anything I’m planning on freezing.”

The freezer is a fairly harsh environment—I mean, it’s pretty freaking cold in there—and this is the best way to protect your food against the elements, so to speak. The tight plastic wrapping locks in fresh flavor and helps to prevent freezer burn. The key here is to make sure your food is completely cool before wrapping it, otherwise you run the risk of creating condensation, and the last thing you want to do is trap excess moisture on your food when you pop it into the freezer.

4. To Avoid the Utterly Infuriating Frustration Spurred by Your Plastic Wrap Not Clinging to the Surface of Your Container

Everybody knows this struggle, it's so real. You manage to pull out a tight sheet of plastic wrap to cover _whatever dish is soon to become the object of your deepest fury_ without having to start over (because the plastic wrap got hopelessly stuck on itself) even once… and it becomes immediately obvious that the plastic wrap and the container you need to cover want literally nothing to do with one another. Great. The cling wrap refuses to cling.

But wait… what have we (painstakingly) learned is the one thing plastic wrap will *always* grip to? Yes—ITSELF. This is perhaps the strongest bond that will ever form in one’s kitchen, and hotel wrapping makes use of it to benefit both your food and your sanity.

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The post The Plastic Wrap Trick Restaurant Pros Swear By appeared first on News Wire Now.

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30 Best Oreo Flavors, Ranked and Tested

We write about Oreos a lot here. Like, a lot a lot. But can you blame us? The classic cookie has been around longer than any of us have (since 1912!), and there are so many Oreo recipes and desserts out there that frankly, we’re surprised that we as a society haven’t caused a nationwide shortage. There are few things in the world more simple and versatile as an Oreo cookie and milk (yes, that includes all of the 85-plus flavors in the brand’s history), and it’s safe to say we’re just a little bit obsessed. Case in point, this giant Oreo cake, these Oreo truffles, this Oreo popcorn, and this Oreo cookie skillet. You get the idea.

It was only a matter of time before we turned around and said, “Have we ever tried them all in one sitting?” We hadn’t. So we did.

Of course, there were hiccups. Although so many Oreo flavors have emerged over the course of the cookie brand’s 110-year lifespan, some flavors are hard to find on shelves. Some seem to be discontinued. Others are only available overseas. Green tea Oreos, for instance, are only available in Japan. (But whyyyy?) That said, our editors are nothing if not intrepid, tracking down a whopping 30 Oreo varieties for an in-depth taste test.

Without further ado, here’s our worst-to-best ranking of every Oreo flavor we could get our hands on. Let us know if we missed any favorites!


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How to convert a mushroom hater

As with any difficult relationship, Ollie, it can take work, but there is hope. “When you say, ‘I don’t like mushrooms’, it’s like saying you don’t like wine,” says self-confessed fungus obsessive Will Murray. “There are so many varieties out there, and they all behave in different ways.” The chef and co-founder of Fallow in London, who even grows his own at the restaurant, adds: “If, for example, you brine and deep-fry grey oyster mushrooms, they take on the texture of fried chicken.”

Perhaps a simpler strategy in the fight against squishy, spongy mushrooms, however, is to fry them on a high heat. “You need to be in danger of setting off the smoke alarm, or you’re not doing it properly,” Murray says. Then, as in life, it pays to be patient – and use more butter than seems reasonable. “Mushrooms hold a lot of liquid, so you need to fry them for quite a while to get them crisp,” says Helen Graham, head chef of veg-led Bubala in London. “If you don’t take them to the colour you want before adding other stuff to the pan, the mushrooms will never catch up.”

You could also try replicating Bubala’s charred oyster mushroom skewers. “We marinate the mushrooms in soy sauce, agave, coriander seeds, garlic and vegetable oil, then thread on to skewers and grill,” Graham says. “The agave helps to caramelise them, and obviously the oil helps to give crispiness and a really nice texture.”

Alternatively, pop a portobello in a bun. “I grew up in the Middle East, where it’s always barbecue weather,” says Noor Murad, who heads up the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen. “I love throwing mushrooms on the grill and slathering them in barbecue sauce [homemade or store-bought].” Melt a square of cheese on top, if you fancy, and serve with slaw.

It’s also worth considering how you prep the mushrooms. “You want to keep their meaty integrity, so you can really get your teeth into them, which means don’t chop them too small,” Murad explains. That said, a duxelles [finely chopped mushrooms cooked in butter with onions or shallots and herbs] might be a good gateway. “If she doesn’t enjoy the texture of mushrooms, make a very finely chopped duxelles,” Murray says. “The mushrooms dissolve into the sauce and add a rich undercurrent of earthy umami.” Spread on toast, add to omelettes or mashed potato, or go all out with a wellington.

You could also, of course, do away with cooking them altogether. “Raw mushrooms aren’t slimy,” says Murray, who suggests thinly slicing chestnuts or portobellos, dressing them with sherry vinegar (“or even a little sherry”), dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh herbs and minced garlic, then adding to salads. Dried mushrooms, meanwhile, have “second chance” written all over them. “They’re amazing, especially in the base of soups and stews,” Murad says. “You don’t get the texture, but you’ll get that umaminess – maybe that’s a good way to get Ollie’s partner to like mushrooms.” Graham agrees. She adds shiitake (“porcini would be equally delicious”) and kombu to stock, reduces down “with something tangy like pomegranate molasses”, then uses it as a sauce for cabbage. Happily, it’s good with other veg, too, so there’s shroom to manoeuvre. *groans*


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Preventing food fraud: Europe’s battle against the spice pirates

Spices are among the oldest food products in the world and still enjoy great popularity today. But h..

Spices are among the oldest food products in the world and still enjoy great popularity today. But how can we be sure of their quality and authenticity? With serious money to be made, counterfeiters are often attempting to fradulently pass off inferior products as the genuine article.

To find out more about how fraud in this arena can be identified and stopped, we went to Belgium to meet a spice trader – and also to see scientists working at the Joint Research Centre’s Fraud Detection Unit.

Spice expert

Herbs and spices are the daily business of Alexandre Veuve; he is the manager of the prestigious spice specialist and gourmet grocery store Le Tour Du Monde En Epices in Waterloo, south of Brussels.

As an expert in the sector, he always guarantees that the products he sells are of the highest quality:

However, he knows only too well that fraud is a common risk in this market:

“There is generally fraud on quite expensive spices, for example saffron. This is a spice that is worth as much as gold, so obviously there are a lot of scams involving it.

“Powders are also the target of fraud because they can be more easily falsified.

“That’s why we make our own powders; we buy the spices whole and then we create them ourselves.”

“There is ofen fraud on quite expensive spices – for example, saffron. This is a spice that is worth as much as gold, so obviously there are a lot of scams involving it.”Euronews

Europe’s food fraud unit

One of the facilities of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Geel in Belgium hosts the European Food Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit. Here, teams of scientists analyse samples of spices imported to Europe using state-of-the-art technologies, in some cases using methods similar to those used for police investigations.

One of the most powerful tools at their disposal is DNA analysis. The genetic map of the spice can indicate whether or not there are foreign biological elements present.

The most common types of fraud are the use of less expensive plants, or the addition of dyes to make the spice appear more attractive or authentic.

Antoon Lievens, a Molecular Biologist at the Unit, says saffron is a good example of where fraud is regularly attempted:

“We’ve found one or two samples that were not saffron at all and the sequencing analysis has shown that it was safflower that has been sold as saffron.

“Another exemple is curcuma (turmeric). We’ve found a sample that was not curcuma, but actually paprika powder that had been dyed or coloured to look like curcuma.”

Analysis via spectroscopy

The detection of fraud is based on a set of investigative protocols, each of which unveils a part of the puzzle. Spectroscopy is one powerful method; it doesn’t require special sample preparation and allows a rapid result through the examination of the samples molecules by a laser beam.

Jone Omar, an Analytical Chemist at the Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit, says this is a foolproof method:

“Spectroscopy is basically based on a ray of light touching the sample, which makes the molecules vibrate and we then obtain a light spectrum readout of the vibration of those molecules.

“So when we focus on a pure food, we have a pure spectrum for it.

“When we spot an adulteration, the spectrum of the vibration of the molecule bands is different.”

This x-ray fluorescence technique, which is also used for non-invasive analysis of artworks to establish authenticity or otherwise, reveals whether or not inorganic materials – such as sand or clay – are present in the plant sample.

Chemical tests such as liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry allow, through the separation of the molecules, the establishment of whether or not there are traces of external dyes present.

These same techniques are also used to create chemical fingerprints of spices, which can then provide even more in-depth information about the nature of the sample.

If the adulteration is confirmed, certain measures can then be taken.

Franz Ulberth, Head of the Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit, explains:

“One of the further measures could be that you send inspectors to check the company, to look into the books, to (examine) transportation papers, establishing a chain of traceability, to trace it back to the origin.”

The spice production and distribution supply chain is spread between different countries and this makes controls more complicated.

In a growing market of global scale, the use of these techniques is key to certifying the quality of the product.

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