Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 38, Tuesday, September 28, 2010




The perfect poached egg

Poached eggs for breakfast are such a treat to start the day with, an absolute thing of beauty. But there is always the scare of getting a soggy, straggly mess of protein one generally scoops out of the pan at home. Simple in theory, if not execution, a poached egg is the only choice when someone else is cooking the small pleasure of watching the golden yolk spill under the knife never grows old. So here's to cracking the secret of the perfect poached egg.

The chef's secret weapon
Whenever poached eggs are under discussion, the word vortex seems to pop up, which makes cooking them sound excitingly like Star Wars. The theory is that you have to create a whirlpool in your pan of boiling water to help the egg hold its shape when it first enters the water, instead of stirring the boiling water with a spoon, you should whisk it, vigorously, before sliding in the egg (previously broken into a ramekin, with a drop of vinegar) and turning down the heat.

Let it spin wildly around the pan, and eventually lift the egg out after three minutes. What you get will look like a proper, hotel-poached egg, the outside is like a delicate oval snowdrift, the interior perfectly gooey. But do give these rather different methods a try as well.

Method II
Use a small frying pan, filled with 4cm of barely simmering water keep the heat low enough for there to be just the merest trace of tiny simmering bubbles on the base of the pan and no more, break the egg directly into the water (the use of a cup being apparently unnecessary, although it might be useful,) and cook for three minutes. It's perfectly cooked, but visually, a bit of a let down.

A clever cheat Method III
Here another sensible approach to poaching, line a ramekin with a square of cling film that should be lightly greased with a tiny drop of vegetable oil, crack an egg into it, then twist it shut, lower the pouch into a pan half-filled with simmering water, cook for three minutes, then dunk the whole thing in iced water.

The perfect poached egg
Large pinch of salt
1 large fresh egg
1 drop of malt or white wine vinegar (optional)

Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add a hefty pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, crack the egg into a small jug or bowl and add a drop of vinegar.

Stir the boiling water vigorously with a balloon whisk until you have a whirlpool, then immediately slip the egg into the centre, lowering the jug a couple of centimetres into the water.

Turn the heat down low, and cook for three minutes use a timer to prevent overcooking.

Drain the egg on kitchen paper, and serve immediately. If you're poaching it in advance, drop it straight into a bowl of iced water instead, or it will carry on cooking; to reheat, simply warm the egg through in a pan of gently simmering water.

The needle trick
The best way to test the freshness of your egg is to put it into a bowl of water: the more they float, the older they are.

Source: The Guardian

Quick fix

The easiest way to make a salad dressing is to shake the ingredients in a jam jar. Otherwise, just whisk them together with a fork. Here are some of the simplest dressings and marinades, in quantities for 1-2 people.

Classic French vinaigrette for green salads
1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp wine vinegar, 4 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar if you like.

Italian-style dressing for salads or grilled vegetable
1 tbsp lemon juice, 3-4 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, some chopped chives or parsley and/or some chopped capers.

Low-fat dressing for Asian-style salads
1 tbsp sunflower oil, 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (it might sound expensive using rice vinegar but you can use less oil), 1 tsp light soy sauce.

Garlic and lemon marinade for chicken
3 tbsp lemon juice, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 crushed clove of garlic, salt, pepper and a sprig of rosemary if you have some.

Tandoori marinade for chicken or lamb
1 heaped tsp (cereal spoon size) curry paste, 2-3 tbsp plain yoghurt, a little lemon and some salt.

Saving the dish

Even the most experienced cook makes a mistake from time to time, but you can normally bluff it with an airy: "there are no mistakes, only variations". However, some things take a bit more fixing.

Oversalting, for example, is best corrected by adding a few slices of potato to the dish. Let them cook for a bit then discard them. Too much sugar can usually be remedied with a squeeze of citrus or a bit of grated lemon peel, while an over-hot curry can be cooled with a dollop of yoghurt.

The best way to avoid disaster is to read the recipe in full before you start and taste as you go along. It's better to go easy on the seasoning then add a little more than to chuck it in all at once particularly if you're not measuring.

Ls Editor’s Note

Traffic the terrible

By the time I reach work every day I am in a murderous mood; please do take it in the literal sense of the meaning and in total actuality. And frankly I might commit this horrendous crime one of these days or simply go into a self destructive mode. My patience has reached depths lower than rock bottom.

A two hour commute every day from Uttara to Karwan Bazar is the most difficult part of my job. I start at 9:30am and reach work at a time when most bureaucratic or corporate office-goers are enjoying their mid morning tea-shingara break (some with onions and green chilli on the side, a total 'eww' factor but onions are a reality anyway).

Talk about system loss.

From making important and not so important calls to checking everyone's Facebook statuses, I do so much in the car that is moving at a turtle's pace. Having dusty carbon soot laden "amras" to engine oil mixed popcorn; not to forget writing, planning photoshoots, maintaining most of my PR chores and yet I am still on the road.

Cribbing and cursing all the dimwits in front of me, chewing the heads of drivers in cars ahead and actually wanting to register a gun in my name and firing blank shots all the way, I go through such dark moods and still I am nowhere near my office. By the time I am near the Prime Minister's office I feel it's time to walk and my office is just a few steps ahead, but I totally forget the infamous Farmgate crossing. I did once start walking though and the experience was anything but pleasant. The sidewalks were full of heroin addicts, sleeping or trying to get a buzz, sly kids on the lookout for a careless moment and off they go with your bag and of course hop- scotching the loogie-ridden footpath is another ball game altogether.

An interesting point to ponder is how my driver became used to my mood swings. When we start off he puts on my favourite Rabindra Sangeet CD and I am calm and happy with the bright, sunny morning having its effect on me. But forty-five minutes later after crossing Biswa Road, I am not so joyful. He plays latest Hindi movie songs yet their analgesic 'Zandu Balm' lyrics do not help my temper barometer. Thirty minutes later, in front of Radisson, he switches to Radio Foorti where RJ Mukur's Tea Stall slightly helps but I am already thinking arms and ammunition by now. I am in a killer mood by the time I am on the flyover and he switches off everything and there is only pin drop silence in the car. When I am at Farmgate, I get out of the car and walk but on the way I buy coconuts to balance my electrolytes because the cramps are killing me.

Finally when I sit down at my desk I am screaming at my very efficient team, frowning at any un- scheduled meetings or appointments. At this point I only love playing spider solitaire. I hope my boss isn't reading this, and then a certain dreaded letter is certainly on the cards. But who's to be blamed? For it certainly isn't me.

– Raffat Binte Rashid

Beauty Talk

Beauty talk

Beautician, La Belle, 13/A /2 Kemal Ataturk Avenue , ( 3rd/ 4th fl ) Gulshan -2

The art of well-manicured nails can be traced back thousands of years, when noblemen used solid gold implements to groom their nails. Even back then, at the dawn of civilisation, there was an awareness of the importance of beautiful nails, yet some of us are still fighting the urge to chew them.

Nail polish apparently was first invented by the Chinese; it was worn as a means of indicating one's social status. A 15th century Ming Dynasty manuscript describes how the royal colours for fingernails were red and black.

Egyptians were never behind in anything, least of all where getting dressed up was concerned. As such, along with Queen Nefertiti and Cleopatra, the commanders of the Egyptian armies also painted their nails and lips 'red' before galloping off to battle -perhaps as a strategy to knock the socks off their opponents! It would certainly have freaked me out!

Though I like to see men with clean manicured nails I would not go so far as to encourage them to emulate the Egyptian men and paint them strange colours.

Today well-groomed nails are as much a part of life as brushing one's teeth or combing one's hair for both men and women.

Thanks to modern technology and continual improvements within the nail industry, the art of manicuring can be at the fingertips of almost everyone.

A manicure involves cutting and filing the nails to your required specifications: round, oval or square. Followed by soaking the nails in warm water to soften the cuticles, which are then pushed and cut, the nail is then buffed for a natural shine and finally massaged with cuticle oil for strength and growth. Pedicures require additional scrubbing with a pumice stone to smoothen the dead skin of the heel or the dead skin can be razored off with a peeling blade.

Olive oil massages are great for the hands and feet after a manicure and pedicure. Its rich consistency makes it a great hydrator, replacing lost moisture and keeping skin soft.

Twice a month a professional manicure is preferable but it is imperative that you are aware of the hygiene and sterilising habits of your salon. Make sure that the implements are cleaned with Dettol or Savlon before they begin with your work, especially the cuticle cutter and the nail cutter as these are cutting implements, followed by the cuticle pusher and file that may be in a position to cause damage.

Having said this, it is not always possible to head to a salon; you might need some tips on a home manicure and pedicure, so here goes:

Begin by removing any old polish and cleaning the hands and nails with a scrub. Trim and file nails to the approximate desired length and shape with medium to fine grit files. Soak your hands and feet in warm water to soften the cuticles and push them back with a cuticle pusher. Apply cuticle softening cream and wipe off after few minutes to remove excess cuticle skin. This is available at all nail accessories stores abroad and comes in a nail polish sized bottle.

Moisturise and nourish cuticles with cream or oil. If you wear nail polish use one coat of base coat, two coats of nail colour followed by a clear top coat. If you don't wear polish then use a buffer to smooth small ridges and maintain shine.

You will be amazed at the number of nail accessories available to decorate your nails, ranging from stickers to rings that are pierced through, acrylic designs, diamonds, etc. But sadly these are only for ladies of leisure and not for the hardworking ones who slog from 9 to 5. They will not be able to have them on for more than a few hours. We would have to stick to and make do with the range of colours available of which there are plenty.

Deep dark colours for the night, neons for the discos, lighter shades for the day, and when in doubt go nude...with shades like taupe, beige or French polish, which are quite sophisticated and neutral and can be worn with varied coloured clothes. Metallic colours are very popular now and the gold, silver and bronze appear like real metal and are huge on the ramps of Europe.

Acrylic nails are in vogue in a big way and are a boon for many of those who have small or weak nails that chip easily .They are the strongest semi-permanent nail extensions available. They need filing every few weeks as the nail grows out. With proper maintenance they are easy to use and the only down side is that in humid countries like Bangladesh, there can be a danger of fungal infection if not done properly.

Men’s Grooming

Skin care for men

What kind of facials should men opt for?
Male skin is thicker and oilier compared to female skin. They are prone to excessive sweating and are exposed to the sun and pollution. There are several facials and services to address the specific needs of male skin for enhancement and grooming solutions as well as services for specific skin concerns.

There are services that are tailored to tackle concerns like acne, tanning, excessive sweating and skin conditions related to ageing.

Men also have the choice of going in for rejuvenating face masks, which work wonders on tired and dead skin.

Men usually hate using masks? Is there any alternate treatment that is equally effective?
Masks are beneficial for the skin as they moisturise, hydrate and nourish, leaving the skin soft and supple. The steps taken during the service ensure that the client enjoys these benefits.

How can razor burns and nicks be handled?
Razor burns are caused due to dryness of skin. Regular use of a moisturiser helps to avoid burns. The best way to deal with razor burns is to stop shaving for a while. Give your skin some rest and simply let your facial hair grow back for a while. You can use a soothing after-shave balm if you are already suffering from razor burns.

Lots of men also suffer from foot odour? What can be done in this regard?
Effective cleansing of feet is the best way to tackle this problem. Make sure you wash your feet regularly, to keep them clean. After you have properly washed your feet, make it a point to pat them dry.

Dry in between your toes as well, to prevent any moisture from remaining in your feet, as it is the prime location for the bacteria to develop. Make sure you change your socks regularly. A home pedicure can also be done once a week. This would consist of soaking feet in warm water to which you can add 3-4 drops of Savlon, for 15-20 minutes, followed by cleansing your nails and scrubbing the feet with a foot scraper. Complete the pedicure by applying a light moisturiser.

What are the best types of body wash and deodorants for men who sweat a lot?
An anti-bacterial body wash is ideal for men who sweat excessively.

What are the common skin and hair queries that men have?
Some of the common skin and hair problems that men face include razor burns, acne, excessive sweating, dry scalp, hair fall and dandruff.

By Dr Sharmina Huq
Kaya Skin Clinic





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