Friday, 28 March 2008
Do you have a family?
Do they like to eat?
Are you tired of cooking?
If you've answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, you need 5 minute meals.
5 minute meals are simply meals that you really do cook, but they go together fast. They may not all be 5 minutes from beginning to eating, (you can't even do that with a frozen pizza) but these meals are extremely quick and convenient.
(Here's my personal definition of a 5 minute meal: it's all about the assembly time. If I let something cook in the crockpot all day, I don't count that towards my meal-prep time because I'm not standing over my crockpot. I count the food assembly time, because that's what really counts when you're busy.)
Wanting to improve the nutrition of the meals you serve your family? You can make 5 minute meals healthier in a snap.
So what's the catch? No catch, but there are some simple secrets you need to know to make 5 minute meals work for your busy life.
Start with standing in your grocery store's bottled sauce and dressing aisle. These are 5 minute meals waiting to happen! Pick out your favorite flavors. Try some new tastes. Look for the low-fat or non-fat varieties and you'll keep added fat and calories to a minimum.
Think in terms of adding cooked meat to these 5 minutes meals. You can buy precooked chicken, for example, or for more savings, you can buy hamburger or chicken parts (I prefer skinless, boneless chicken breasts) and cook all your month's meat at once, then refreeze in individual meal portions. This will save you a lot of time in the kitchen.
Precooking your meat makes whipping up 5 minute meals a snap. Simply grab a precooked meat packet from your freezer, add a bottled sauce you love and heat. If a bag of frozen veggies would work in your meal, add that, too (you may need more than one bottle of sauce depending upon how much food you are preparing). Otherwise choose a bag of premade salad as an easy add-on for healthy veggies.
If you would like more ways to whip up 5 minute meals, see the author's resource box at the end of this article.
Once you decide upon the flavors and 5 minute meals you enjoy most, keep a list of these fast meals in your pantry. Your job is to always keep the ingredients for these meals on hand. So whenever you pull one of your favorite sauces out of the pantry, be sure and write it down on your grocery list so you'll replace it on your next shopping trip.
5 minute meals are fast, easy, convenient and can be healthy, too. Your family will gobble up these yummy meals leaving you more time to do other things you love.
Thursday, 27 March 2008
Grilling is an art, no doubt about it. Burnt burgers, charred steaks and oh yes...raw chicken are all some of the common grilling mistakes. Chicken seems to be one of the more difficult meats to grill - it's either burnt or raw. Rather than risk sending your guests running for the door or politely eating around the burnt parts, here are a few tips for perfectly cooked barbeque chicken.
Tip #1 One of the best kept secrets of barbequing chicken is to lower the heat and wait until it's almost completely cooked before adding any sauces. In this way the chicken is moist and tender with a pleasant smoky flavor. This also prevents fire flare ups because the sauce is generally the actual culprit of these flare ups. It's the sugar in the sauce that causes the burning. When you put it on near the end of the cooking time, it won't burn.
Tip #2 In order to keep your chicken moist you can baste it constantly over a slow heat with apple juice. You can use almost anything other than wine for basting. Wine will cause the chicken to dry out and depending on what type of wine can even cause a bigger fire to occur.
Tip #3 The sugars in many sauces are often the cause for burning. Rubs are a great way to season your chicken without the risk of burning. There are many rub varieties to have a different rub almost every day of the summer.
Tip #4 Use a meat thermometer. This is particularly important for chicken because raw or undercooked poultry can be extremely dangerous. To make sure your chicken is perfectly cooked, not overdone nor undercooked; try the voice alert remote thermometers for ease. These handy gadgets tell you when your chicken is almost done so you can place the sauce on at the right moment. The voice alert also enables you to enjoy time outside without having to hover over your grill.
Tip #5 Marinades offer the best of both worlds. Marinating your chicken before you grill allows your flavor to permeate the meat and it'll be moist and juicy - perfectly grilled chicken! The there are many marinades out on the market today that keep your chicken moist throughout the grilling process.
With all of these handy tips and gadgets, perfectly grilled chicken is right around the corner. Happy Barbequing!
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
Now this fondue is not really a crock pot recipe however it is fun to serve it in the crock pot. And the crockpot does a fantastic job of keeping it warm.
So it you don’t have a crock pot (you should get one, but that is another story), you can still make this and serve it in a fondue pot or any other pot.
Fondue is a Swiss dish having thought to date back to the 18th century. It is believed to have come about during long Switzerland winters when all that remained were some dry bread, cheese and wine.
And we are thankful for their thriftiness and culinary skills.
Traditionally at least two cheeses were melted in a dry white wine. The wine helps to keep the direct heat away from the cheese. And of course imparts an extra flavor.
This fondue is a little different in that it has no wine but chicken broth instead along with a few other surprises.
Brie and Onion Fondue
*Brie – use a good quality cheese. And for a different flavor try one of the new flavored bries like black pepper or herb.
Happy Dipping and Enjoy
Monday, 24 March 2008
It's nearly dinnertime. The family is beginning to gather. The soup smells great. Everyone is anticipating a great meal. You taste the soup, and it's Drab. Lifeless. Blah. What now?!
Don't worry; here are some secret ingredients you can add to your soups at the end of the cooking process that will take them from dull to delicious. These secret Soup Savers are generally items already in your pantry. They can used to zip up sauces and gravies too.
Lemon Juice - good in almost any non-creamy soup, especially chicken soup and bean soup.
Balsamic Vinegar - just a few drops can add amazing depth.
Wine- red or white depending on your soup.
Tomato paste - a tablespoon or so of tomato paste can balance saltiness and create more interesting flavor. Of course, the old standby for oversalting is potatoes.
Cognac or brandy
Cinnamon - try in spicy soups and tomato soups.
Nutmeg - good in creamy soups, but in tomato-based soups.
Boullion cube - if the soup is just a bit weak, this is not a gourmet ingredient, but it might do the trick.
A few chopped anchovies - chop them up well; your soup won't taste fishy.
Some of these Soup Savers can be used in combination. Honey, cognac and a dab of tomato paste can really add depth to many clear soups, particularly chicken.
Beans benefit from lemon or vinegar, but don't add any acids to the beans until they are cooked. The beans won't become tender if you add lemon juice, vinegar or even tomatoes early in the cooking process.
Remember to add a bit at a time and taste, taste, taste. The trick here is to experiment to see what works best for your tastes. Consider adding a Soup Saver to a small sample bowl if you have never tried it in that particular soup before.
You don't have to save these Soup Savers just for failures. Incorporate them into lots of different recipes to add a new dimension of taste to your meals, and enjoy!
Thursday, 20 March 2008
Make These Easter Treats Your Easter Feast!
Easter Day and the Easter recipes we choose to cook play an important role in our lives.
Easter is about life; it's about springtime and welcoming back the flowers and birds; it's about a warmer sun on our backs and a renewed faith in all the good we want and believe in for everyone. Easter is a day to be with family. Easter is about love.
Yes, some people will think about new suits and new dresses and as a time for chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, and colored eggs. Certainly a number of children will. But for me, Easter is about being with family and friends and enjoying a great meal with them.
I recently saw a statistic that says, despite the fact that the better restaurants seem packed with people on Easter, only 35 per cent of Americans go out for their Easter meal. That means 65 per cent of us either stay at home and cook or we are the guests of relatives who are doing so.
I will be cooking and preparing Easter dinner at my house this year for the first time in 24 years! I finally have a fully trained, very competent staff at my restaurant. They will handle everything at the business, allowing me to cook for my family, relatives and friends. I consider this a great honor, not a burden. This is one of the things I do best, and I enjoy it!
One of the most interesting things about Easter is that it is somewhat of a "melting pot" holiday, with traditions from many cultures and religions. But there is no doubt about it, food plays a big part of celebrations in every culture.
Not sure what to serve for Easter dinner? The recipes on this page are traditional Easter recipes, or would make good components to an Easter dinner. But don't stop your recipe search here on this page. This is only a sampling of what you will find on my website.
Ham is a traditional main course at this time of year, so I have included a wonderful ham recipe here, along with a secret restaurant appetizer recipe, a starch and vegetable to accompany the ham and a recipe for dessert - a fabulous Triple Chocolate And Vanilla Cheesecake.
But on my website I have many other Easter recipes from which to choose. Mix and match components of these menus or other recipes on the website to create your own perfect Easter dinner.
This Crab Artichoke Dip Appetizer is the all-time best selling appetizer at my restaurant, despite the fact that crab is expensive. The combination of ingredients is what drives the price but it is so good my restaurant guests buy it frequently. They have asked me for this crab recipe many times and, until now, it has always been one of my secret restaurant recipes.
Hot Crab Artichoke Recipe For 8-10
Serve with thinly sliced French bread and/or artisan crackers
Apricot Glazed Ham Recipe
Basic Scalloped Potatoes
Fresh Green Bean Recipe
Dill Butter Recipe
Triple Chocolate And Vanilla Cheesecake
Ingredients For Crust:
Instructions For Crust:
Ingredients For Cheesecake:
Instructions For Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe:
Ingredients For Glaze:
Instructions For Glaze:
Enjoy your Easter recipes and the company of those you share them with! Cultivate the love!
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
If you're a salmon lover, you'll definitely want to learn more ways how to cook salmon and this article will give you more easy recipes for salmon that you can certainly add to your tasty and easy to prepare salmon recipes.
First, the Salmon Mold.
Salmon mold is a delicious dish, very attractive and it's definitely different from common and popular recipes for salmon that you can always find.
2 c. salmon
First get rid off all skin and bones from the salmon when it is taken from the can, and mince it thoroughly with a fork. Add the mixed vinegar, salt, and pepper. Prepare the gelatine by dissolving it in the boiling water. Add the seasoned salmon to the prepared gelatine. With cold water, wet a ring-shaped mold having an open space in the center. Pour the salmon and gelatine mixture into this mold, and allow it to stand until it solidifies. Arrange a bed of lettuce leaves on a chop plate, turn the mold out on this, and fill the center with dressing. Serve at once. Sufficient to serve six.
Second, the Salmon Patties Recipe.
Salmon patties are usually made from salmon by combining it with bread crumbs and using a thick white sauce to hold the ingredients together. You can either sauted them in shallow fat or fried in deep fat.
2 c. finely minced salmon
First step is to mix the fresh bread crumbs and the white sauce with the salmon. Season with salt and pepper and shape into round patties, roll in the dry bread crumbs, and fry in deep fat or saute in shallow fat. Serve hot with or without sauce.
Third, the Salmon Loaf Recipe.
SALMON TIMBALE OR LOAF
1 can salmon
Combine all the ingredients thoroughly, adding enough milk to moisten. Then pour into buttered timbale molds or into one bowl. Place on a rack in a pan, surround with hot water, and cover. Bake in the oven or cook on top of the range until the fish mixture is firm and is heated thoroughly. Turn out, and serve with White Sauce to which chopped parsley has been added. Peas in White Sauce make a pleasing addition to Salmon Timbale. Tuna fish or other cooked fish may be used instead of salmon.
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
The key to this classic spaghetti sauce recipe is fresh ingredients. Although you can substitute with dried parsley and basil, your sauce will be nowhere near as good if you had used fresh. So it's definitely worth a trip to the grocery store to pick up some fresh basil and fresh parsley!
Classic Spaghetti Sauce with Sausage
1 pound (approximately) mild or hot sausage, ground
Add one Tbs of olive oil to pot and brown the sausage. When completely brown, pour out olive oil and grease and move sausage to separate bowl. Now add your remaining olive oil to pot. Add onions, parsley, and basil. Stir until onions begin to turn clear. The parsley and basil should be emanating a wonderful aroma.
Add garlic and stir for no more than two minutes as you DO NOT want the garlic to turn brown. Return sausage to pot and stir briefly, allowing the flavors to mix.
Pour tomato puree and canned chopped tomatoes into the pot. Salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon of each).
I find the best pasta for this sauce is angel hair.
When your pasta is al dente, pour out the water and then return the spaghetti to the pot in which it cooked. Lower the heat on the burner and spoon out three tablespoons of sauce into the pasta. Stir well. The spaghetti will take on the color and flavor of the sauce -- this is actually delicious in itself!
Remove from heat and the pasta's ready.
You can cook the sauce as long as you want. The longer you cook, the more you'll have to skim the grease and tomato waste off the top. Also the sauce will get thicker as you cook.
I like to cook for no more than one hour.
Monday, 17 March 2008
Ham is good anytime, but if you're looking for a special recipe for your Easter dinner, give this one a try.
Oven: 350/400 degrees
Combine apricots, prunes and raisins in a small saucepan. Add the apple cider and bring to a boil. Simmer five minutes, then let stand thirty minutes for the fruit to plump up and absorb the cider. Drain the fruits, reserving the juice.
Place the fruits on a chopping board and chop coarsely. Mix with the pecans, then pat evenly over the ham. Sprinkle ham with the cloves and ginger. Place the ham in a small, shallow baking pan. Add the reserved fruit juice, and cover loosely with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes, basting several times with the pan juice. Remove from the oven and cool slightly while making the crust. Reserve the pan juices.
In a large bowl, cut the shortening into the biscuit mix with a pastry blender. Add the sage, mustard, and parsley. Stir in the milk with a fork until the mixture is moist. Peel enough skin from a brightly-colored, thin-skinned orange to make 2 tablespoons when slivered. Add to the sauce, and serve with the ham.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Roll out into a rectangle large enough to cover the ham completely, about 16x12 inches.
Place ham on one end of the rectangle and bring the other end up and over the ham. Trim off the excess pastry and reserve. Brush the edges with the slightly-beaten egg and seal the edges.
Carefully place the ham on a cookie sheet. Brush all over with beaten egg. Make a small cutout on top for steam to vent. Reroll the reserved trims and cut into leaf shapes. Arrange them around the steam vent, and brush with the egg.
Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Remove to a heated serving platter. Cut into quarter-inch-thick slices, preferably with an electric knife to help keep the crust intact. Serve with the sauce.
Strain the pan juices into a one-cup measure. Add cider or water as necessary to make one cup. In a small saucepan, combine juices with the currant jelly and raisins. Heat to boiling.
Mix the two tablespoons of water with the cornstarch and add to the boiling sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and is bubbly.
Saturday, 15 March 2008
Preparing the Easter meal is yet another chance to engage your kids in cooking. After they've gorged on their chocolate Easter bunny and jelly beans, it'll be time for them to step up to the mixing bowl and help you put together an amazing Easter dinner.
Young ones need your help. Set up a work station for them built around the recipe you want them to make. Get out all the necessary ingredients, bowls, measuring spoons, measuring cups, etc., beforehand so your child is ready to go. Sometimes you lose their attention if you have to stop and go get, unwrap, or wash something in the middle of trying to make the recipe.
If your kids are already experienced cooks, give them a favorite Easter recipe and let them go at it. This works well with teens or tweens who don't like to be told what to do. Ask them to read through the recipe and ask any questions like "Where do we keep the flour?" which they already know.
Another important factor in choosing which recipe that your child will follow is to give them choices. They tend to pick the one that is their favorite to eat, or the one that involves chocolate or other sweets.
Little kids can do whole recipes, with your help, or they can do certain tasks such as:
• Stir anything. Just remind them to go slow and stir "around" not "up."
• Pour pre-measured cups of flour, milk, or water into the bowl.
• Crack eggs. Have them crack the eggs into a separate bowl so that bits of shell can be removed first (Hint: Use a large piece of egg shell to scoop out the little bits of shell. Works like a charm.)
• Shake the salt, pepper, cinnamon, or onion flakes into the bowl.
• Peel potatoes or carrots.
• Mash potatoes.
• Wipe down the counters.
• Set the table.
Older kids can proudly cook or bake their favorite recipes, and they can also help you with:
• Chopping and slicing.
• Cleaning up after themselves.
• Washing dishes.
• Grating cheese.
• Making the glaze for the ham.
• Opening cans.
• Totally setting the table; including putting on the nice tablecloth, the fine china, and your good glassware.
Let your kids get creative with the centerpiece. Give them some props like flowers, interesting vases, Easter eggs, twigs, berries and other pieces of nature, baskets, ribbon, fabric, and anything else they can use. I am sure their vivid imaginations will come up something that you will be proud to have sitting on your Easter table!
The Easter meal is a special time and can be made even more special when everyone helps in the kitchen. Kids of all ages can help, and in fact, there is quite a lot they can do. Just make sure they're not in their fancy Easter clothes while they're cooking.
Friday, 14 March 2008
If you are looking for fine French wine and food, consider the Alsace region of northeastern France. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a local white Pinot Gris wine.
Among France’s eleven wine-growing regions Alsace ranks number ten in total acreage devoted to vineyards, perhaps because it is the smallest region of metropolitan France. In any case Alsace is one of France’s best-known wine regions. The wine growing area is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) long, but at most 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) wide. Their wine bottles are distinctively tall and thin. Chaptalization (adding sugar to the fermenting grape mixture) is allowed for many wine categories. And unlike the standard practice elsewhere in France, the labels feature the grape variety.
About 95% of Alsace wine is white. The major white grape varieties are Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. The major red grape variety is Pinot Noir. A companion article in this series will review an Alsatian red wine.
Strasbourg is the major Alsatian city, with a population somewhat exceeding a quarter million. The city dates back to Roman times. It was part of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire for centuries and first joined France in 1681, but as a Free Royal City retaining some independence. Like the rest of Alsace, Strasbourg has bounced back and forth between France and Germany. It now houses the European Parliament and is a symbol of French-German reconciliation and united Europe.
Hopefully by the time you read these lines the Ancienne Douane (Old Customs House) will be fully rebuilt from its fire in 2000. This magnificent building that served as an art gallery was first constructed in 1358 and destroyed during the Second World War. It was faithfully reconstructed after the war. The Ancienne Douane also houses a giant brewery, should your tastes run that way.
The dark pink sandstone Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame, dating from 1176, is unsurprisingly the most Germanic of all French cathedrals. Climb the spire, finished almost three hundred years later, to get a magnificent view of Strasbourg and the nearby Black Forest and Vosges Mountains. Among the museums to visit are the Musée Alsacien (Alsatian Museum), the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (Modern and Contemporary Art Museum) and the Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame (Notre Dame Cathedral Museum). The list goes on and on.
Make sure to see the Petite France (Little France) neighborhood close to the town center with its gingerbread houses and tiny streets. After this look into the past, you may want to see the European Parliament, open to the public one week per month, which may or may not represent the future of Europe.
Before reviewing the Alsatian wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Tarte Flambée (Onion Tart). For your second course savor Chouchroute Garnie (Sauerkraut with various Pork dishes, perhaps cooked in Champagne). And as dessert indulge yourself with Kugelhopf (Almond and Raisin Cake).
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed Pfaffenheim Pinot Gris Cuvée Rabelais 2005 13.5% alcohol about $17
Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. Alsatian Pinot Gris is becoming increasingly fashionable, and this example illustrates why. Honeyed fruit aromas, such as peach and pear, plus a texture of smoke and mineral seduce in this just off-dry white that's, round, soft and quite rich. The producer recommends this as a good substitute for red wine with meat dishes such as cold cuts, roast beef or game. They also suggest pairing it with smoked chicken, fish or lobster. And now for the review.
My first meal consisted of a broccoli quiche with avocado and out-of-season grape tomatoes. The wine was a true success. Two words came to mind, gossamer and honey.
I then paired it with slow-cooked chicken and potatoes in Mediterranean spices. The wine kept its fruitiness and did a great job of cutting the grease. It was excellent with dessert, a chocolate mint cake. The mint intensified the wine’s fruit.
I was somewhat disappointed when I tasted this Pinot Gris with a cheddar-cheese omelet. The combination was OK, neither element added anything to the other. I tried to make up for this shortcoming with two desserts. First, and I should have known better, I tried the wine with a very sweet chocolaty pecan pie. Once again, nothing was added. But at least the wine wasn’t destroyed. All’s well that ends well. I finished the meal with high-quality butter (and margarine) cookies. This time the words were gossamer and orange.
Saint-Aubin is a soft French cow’s milk cheese traditionally packed in a wooden box. This cheese has a creamy brie-like texture and a stronger taste. The wine’s fruit came out to meet the cheese, but the wine was a bit short. I next tried the wine with an Italian Bel Paese, a mild buttery cheese suggested to accompany fruity wines or to be eaten alone as a snack or a dessert. The wine was quite round and had great fruit. This was one of the best wine and cheese combinations that I’ve enjoyed in quite a while.
Final verdict. I usually don’t like Pinot Gris. So what. I really liked this wine and plan to buy it again even if, as almost always, I do wish that it cost a bit less.
Thursday, 13 March 2008
If you want to make a thoroughly healthy, tasty and simple pasta for all the family, then try this one below. Always a success with every age!
1. Buy certified organic spelt pasta.
Freshly made is best, but alternatively, nothing beats the flavours of certified organic pasta.
2. Slowly simmer 3 cups in filtered water with a pinch of celtic sea salt.
I usually simmer for about 10 minutes, have a taste, then continue.
3. When soft enough, strain it in cold, filtered water.
This separates the strands of pasta without any tearing.
4. Separately, mix handfuls of organic fresh basil, 1 thinly sliced organic carrot, 1 sliced organic red capsicum, 2 cloves of organic chopped garlic, 1/2 cup of organic cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup of organic black olives and 1/2 cup of chopped organic or biodynamic fetta or cheddar cheese.
5. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed, organic olive oil. Or, you may use cold-pressed hemp oil or flaxseed oil.
6. Mix well.
7. Add the strained pasta.
8. Sprinkle with celtic sea salt (to your taste).
9. Mix well.
11.Serve and enjoy.
How Healthy Is This Meal?
Basil: Contains powerful anti-bacterial properties.
Carrot: The combination of Vitamin A and C and the mineral silicon, promote good eyesight. It's also a good vegetable source of Vitamin E , which is the muscle vitamin. Excellent for prevention of colds and viruses and for helping to cure teenage acne
Red Capsicum: One of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin C. It also contains Vitamin P which is essential for increasing the strength of the capillaries and helping to prevent varicose veins.
Garlic: Promotes elimination of acid-mucus poisons from the lymphatic system and entire body. It is also effective in clearing up the respiratory system.
Tomato: An excellent source of Vitamins A and C, both required to protect the body against infection and to promote healthy skin. It also contains sulphur, which has a cleansing and antiseptic effect on the digestive system, bloodstream and skin.
Black Olives: An excellent source of antioxidants. Olives contain polyphenols, that are believed to help prevent cancer. One of the polyphenols found in olives is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory.
Hemp: A whole protein, rich in essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and has 22 grams of protein per serving. Excellent for vegan athletes and growing kids.
Flaxseed: Rich in essential fatty acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and most importantly fiber. As an excellent source of dietary fibre, it has the following health benefits: it can strengthen a diseased heart, reduce cholesterol, prevent many different kinds of cancer and bind carcinogens, lessen the risk of diabetes and improve already diagnosed diabetes. The list goes on...
Celtic Sea Salt: Full of essential minerals from the ocean. It stimulates salivation, helps to balance and replenish all of the body's electrolyes, provides renewed energy, resistance to infections and bacterial diseases, balances alkaline/acid levels and promotes good digestion. Containing natural iodine, it can protect against radiation. It can also help relieve allergies and skin diseases.
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
You have just purchased the outdoor barbeque you have always wanted, and now you are ready to break it in. Your mouth is watering for a juicy steak, and you are anxious to impress your guests with your new barbeque and grilling skills. But do you know what the best grilling steaks are to use? You may have the perfect marinade in mind, as well as your own special blend of seasonings. Choosing the right type of meat is just as important as the type of flavoring you use.
While so much of steak grilling is subject to individual taste palates, some steaks lend themselves very well to barbequing endeavors. There are a number of factors to keep in mind when choosing cuts of beef for grilling. For example, one aspect to consider is the amount of marbling on the steak (i.e. how much fat the beef has running through it). While many people insist on avoiding the fat, it is actually this fat that contributes significantly to the flavor of the beef when its cooking. Some people instinctively choose top sirloin, because it is leaner and tends to be less expensive. However, because of its low fat content, sirloin steaks tend to also dry out faster and be less juicy, as well as a little tougher. On the other hand, porterhouse, T-bone, rib eye and rib steaks will have a healthy amount of fat, which will make the steak especially appetizing when grilled. In addition, the marbling on a steak helps to insulate the meat and keep it from overcooking.
In general, the most tender steaks available are tenderloin and strip (also called New York) steaks. But porterhouse and rib eye steaks can also be quite tender and flavorful, which means that you can have great-tasting grilled steaks for your guests without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that porterhouse steaks are especially flavorful, not only because of the level of fat, but because they also have a section of tenderloin on one side of the bone and a section of strip steak on the other side.
Another factor to keep in mind is the type of grade of the beef you are buying. The U.S. Department of Agriculture assigns specific grades to meat according the level of quality of the beef. Prime grades are considered the best, but these are widely used by restaurants and tend be bit a little harder to find in the average grocery store. However, many supermarkets have begun carrying some cuts of prime beef in small amounts, and you may be able to secure prime cuts from a local butcher as well. These cuts are a bit more expensive. They tend to have to most marbling in them, making them especially juicy. Alternatively, Choice grade steaks will work wonderfully for barbequing, as they still have a generous amount of marbling in them. Select grade beef will tend to be the least tender, they can dry out quickly, particularly if you are relatively inexperienced with your grill.
The thickness of the steak you choose will also determine the kind of results you will get when using the steak on a grill. A relatively thick steak will help to keep the meat from drying out too quickly or overcooking. As a guideline, you should always choose steaks that are at least ¾ of an inch thick. Ideally, you should shoot for steaks that are about one inch to an inch and a half. Finally, you should know how long the steaks have been aged. Beef cuts that have undergone some degree of aging are likely to have characteristics that is more tenderized and mellowed in flavor. Whenever possible, ask your butcher about the age of the steaks you intend to purchase.
Overall, it pays to know your cuts of beef and the quality of the beef. The more information you have about the steaks you intend to grill, the more effective choices you can make…
… and your guests will love you for it!
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
The loin of pork ranks amongst the tenderest and tastiest cuts on the animal. By far the best way to prepare it is to roast it. But, there are two classic ways to roast a loin of pork. The first of these is the British way, where you roast at high temperatures for a relatively short amount of time. This gives you perfect crackling. The second is the French method where you roast the meat slowly in wine for a long time. This does not crisp the pork skin and you get no crackling, but you do get a very moist and juicy joint of meat.
I present both these roasting techniques below.
Herbed Roast Pork with Crackling
Place the meat on a chopping block and score the fat. Insert sprigs of thyme and rosemary along with the garlic into the score marks now rub as much of the salt as you can into the skin. Grind black pepper to season well. Spread the onion on the base of a roasting tin then place the meat either on top of this (or on a metal rack in the roasting tin. Place in the centre of an oven pre-heated to 240°C and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190°C and cook for a further 110 minutes.
You can, of course make a gravy from the pan juices to serve with your meat.
Roast Loin of Pork with Garlic
This is the classic French method of roasting a joint of pork. Compared with the traditional British method you end-up with juicier and more succulent meat but you do not get a crispy crackling.
Transfer to a roasting pan and add the wine or water. Cover with a lid or foil and place in an oven pre-heated to 150°C. Roast for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the juices are no longer pink when pierced with a skewer. Check the pan every now and then and if the joint becomes to dry add a little more water.
Take the joint out and place on a warm plate. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the string at this point and carve into slices. Arrange these on a warm serving platter.
Again you can make a gravy out of the pan juices to serve with the meat if you so wish.
You now have two truly classic and time-honoured methods for roasting pork. Which you chose to base your own recipes upon will depend on personal preference. Though you're more than welcome to give both recipes a try.
Monday, 10 March 2008
Pasta and a quickly whipped sauce make a nourishing and satisfying meal. Having pasta and a few choice ingredients always at hand makes one good to go. Available fresh or dried, in all sort of shapes, sizes and colors, storing pasta and the pantry items listed below leads to a dinner ready in no time at all; adding a little culinary imagination, even a great dinner. No need to keep all the ingredients in the list, stocking only one or two of the cheeses as staple will do, for instance, buying any of the others as needed.
A well-stocked pantry means there is no end to what one can do with pasta.
CHEESES FOR PASTA
When purchasing hard cheese such as Parmesan, demand a slice cut from the whole cheese instead of picking out a ready-cut piece packed in plastic. Wrap the cheese in kitchen foil and keep in the fridge. Store fresh and soft cheeses sealed in airtight containers in the fridge.
Mozzarella - This creamy, mild cheese melts well for a pasta topping. Once opened, it will keep for 2-3 days refrigerated in brine.
Pecorino Romano - A hard cheese made from sheep's milk, this is similar to Parmesan, but has a more incisive flavor.
Ricotta - Often used as the basis for pasta fillings, ricotta is a young, soft cheese with a slightly tangy flavor.
Fontina - A semi-hard cheese with a taste reminding of smoking wood, fontina softens easily and blends into sauces.
Gorgonzola - This is the Italian version of blue cheese, with a pungent flavor.
Grana Padano - This is a semi-hard Italian cheese with a grainy texture, made from cow's milk and similar to Parmesan.
Mascarpone - A smooth, double cream, dessert cheese, use it for a pasta-based pudding.
Parmigiano Reggiano - Another semi-hard, granular cheese, with a strong taste, excellent grated on top of pasta. Incidentally, this is the cheese known as Parmesan; Parmigiano Reggiano is the rightful name.
Anchovies - For sale packed in oil, or whole, salted, in which case you should rinse, fillet and pack them in oil. Always keep in the fridge.
Capers - Use capers for sauces, pizza toppings, and to flavor stews. Capers are best added toward the end of the cooking time because heat deepens their flavor and the salty impression they make.
Ham, bacon or pancetta - Numerous pasta recipes demand an amount of ham, bacon of pancetta, often diced or cut into strips and sautéed. Parma is one of the many Italian hams. Pancetta is an Italian type of bacon cured like ham.
Olives - Olives packed in oil or vinegar can stay at room temperature. Transfer to another container and refrigerate canned olives after opening.
Pine kernels - Toast pine kernels to heighten their flavor and make them crunchier. Use them for sauces, whole or ground -as in pesto.
Blend pureed olives and olive oil to make an easy pasta sauce. Prepare a slightly more complex one by mixing anchovies, olives and capers.
Eggs - Fresh eggs make an instant sauce such as carbonara.
No need to say fresh herbs have the best flavor. If using dried herbs, those with whole leaves are better than the ones with chopped leaves. Dried herbs have a stronger flavor than fresh ones; use only half the amount.
Basil - The tingly flavor of basil is complementary for any tomato-based dishes.
Marjoram - This herb is similar to oregano -many would say superior- but with a more delicate flavor and aroma, an ideal to condiment pasta salads.
Oregano - An herb with a piquant taste well preserved when dried, oregano is often used to flavor pasta and pizza dishes.
Parsley - Parsley imparts a distinctive flavor and aroma and it is a ready available garnish.
Sage - Pasta sauces improve with the delicate flavor of recently chopped sage.
Thyme - Remove sprigs before serving. Fresh or dried leaves make a pungent seasoning.
Olive oil - Consider olive oil the first option for pasta dishes, as a condiment on its own or as an ingredient in marinades or sauces. Choose extra-virgin olive oil, the unrefined oil produced from the first cold pressing of the olives.
Nutmeg - A little grated nutmeg contributes to give a distinctive flavor to milk based sauces.
Pepper, black or white - Black pepper is more pungent than white.
Saffron - Available in strands or ground, saffron provides color and flavor. Best used in risottos and with meat or fish dishes.
Garlic - Red skinned for more flavor. Fry garlic gently as it scorches easily and acquires an acrid taste.
Onions - Choose common yellow onions for a stronger taste.
Spinach - Mix with ricotta cheese for a creamy pasta filling. Cook, drain and squeeze thoroughly to remove all excess moisture.
Tomatoes - Fresh or preserved in one of the many ways, are a vital ingredient in many pasta dishes. Needless to mention outdoor grown, sun-ripened tomatoes have the best taste, but we do it anyway.
* Common tomatoes - Whole or diced for pasta salads or as garnish. Peel, seed and chop for soups and sauces.
* Plum tomatoes - They have fewer seeds, plenty of juice and excellent flavor, ideal for sauces.
* Cherry tomatoes - These ones are little but pack a punch of flavor. Serve whole or halved as garnish and in pasta salads.
* Sun-dried tomatoes - Available whole or packed in oil, only a tiny amount needed as they have plenty of taste, use dried or re-hydrated.
* Tomato puree - Find it in a tube -close again after using a small amount- or canned, in which case go for double concentrate puree for best flavor.
* Chopped canned tomatoes - Press through a sieve and you have an instant passata sauce.
* Tomatoes canned whole - Usually plum tomatoes, use for sauces.
Balsamic vinegar - Delicious, however, true balsamic vinegar is aged for several years and it is very expensive. There are cheaper, younger versions. Use for pasta salads and to add zing to sauces.
FOR HOMEMADE PASTA
Flour - Use strong white flour or unbleached plain flour. Same amounts of white and wholegrain flour would add fiber and produce healthier dough.
Eggs - Use the freshest eggs possible for homemade pasta. Store eggs in the fridge but bring back to room temperature prior to making the dough.
Beet - To color alimentary pasta dough pink or dark wine-color, add pureed cooked beet.
Red peppers - Roasted red peppers, skinned and pureed, will give flavor and red color to pasta dough.
Spinach - Use it to color and flavor homemade pasta dough green. Fresh leaves or frozen chopped ones, both are good.
Anne Ehmer is passionate about food. Non-stop traveling between Europe and United States has somehow afforded Anne time to develop her unique skills in cooking. Her stimulating ideas and recipes are registered at all-foods-natural.com and world-food-and-wine.com
Thursday, 06 March 2008
Crisp vegetable stir-fries from China, bowls of steaming noodle soup with mint and coriander from Vietnam, fiery jungle curries from Thailand, and fill-you-up sushi rolls from Japan. These are just some of the Asian dishes that are tempting our taste buds and winning the tick of approval from nutritionists around the globe.
With its emphasis on vegetables, rice, clear soups, noodles, fresh fruit, fish and lean meat; Asian food is light, yet filling. It is generally low in fat, with most recipes requiring only small amounts of vegetable oils for cooking. Sweets are healthier too, with none of the rich desserts and pastries of European cuisines. Traditionally, healthy snacks are eaten between meals to help avoid hunger pangs, and to spread food intake over the day.
Eating for a Healthy Heart
There are many reasons why nutritionists recommend Asian fare for a healthy heart:
All these food factors combine to keep blood vessels clear and free of build-up, and to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The total fat in Asian food tends to be low and, because vegetable oils are preferred for cooking, saturated fats are also kept to a minimum.
Fighting Cancer and the Aging Process
The abundance of vegetables, fiber-rich fresh herbs (all lightly cooked or served raw), antioxidants, and phytochemicals in the Asian diet, make it work in your favor to protect against many cancers and slow the aging process.
Diet for Diabetes
Anyone with diabetes should have a repertoire of Asian recipes in their kitchen. This is because those aspects of the Asian diet which make it good for weight control and heart health, also make it a must for diabetes management. Enjoy meals and carbohydrates spaced evenly, fresh fruit for dessert, plenty of flavour without fat, variety and freshness.
Which Dishes are Best?
Healthy choices: Steamed dim sims or wontons, steamed fish with black bean sauce, combination vegetables, chow mein dishes, stir-fry meat, chicken or seafood dishes with vegetables, crab and corn soup, clear soup with noodles or dumplings, san choy bau, tofu tossed with vegetables, plain boiled rice, Chinese green tea, jasmine tea.
Healthy choices: Noodles with fish, chicken or pork, noodle soups, sashimi (raw tuna or salmon), steamboat dishes, teppanyaki-style barbecues, sushi nori rolls, steamed rice.
Healthy choices: Clear hot soup (pho) with chicken or beef, noodle soups, meat, seafood or chicken salads, stir-fry meat or scallops with vegetables, fresh prawn rice paper rolls, grilled pork skewers, chicken with lemon grass, steamed ginger fish, stir-fried mixed vegetables, jasmine rice.
Healthy choices: Dry curries of meat, chicken or vegetables, lean meat kebabs, tandoori chicken or lamb, dhal, naan and roti bread, boiled rice, cucumber and yogurt sambal, chutneys.
Healthy choices: Thai beef salad, satays, dry curries, stir-fry meat, chicken or seafood with vegetables, clear hot and spicy prawn soup (tom yarn goong), grilled chicken satays, jasmine rice.
Wednesday, 05 March 2008
You will find that the Barbecue shrimp recipe is one of the most mouth watering dishes you will experience, which will make you come back for more than one dish. The essential ingredients that are required to make this delicious dish follows, you require one to two pounds of shrimp, which can be either of medium or small sized and need to have well boiled, cleaned and peeled off and one third cup of fresh butter. Then, you need vegetable oil of two tablespoon as well as three-table spoon of lemon juice. Next, you require quarter teaspoon of salt, for taste, as well as ground black pepper for the same quantity.
The barbecue shrimp recipe also requires one bay leaf with spicy sauce amounting to three tablespoon and, garlic, well crushed to the core. The final ingredients include dried leaf basil, dried rosemary as well as paprika all amounting to half a teaspoon and a quarter teaspoon of pepper to make the recipe taste better.
The preparation of making the recipe includes heating the oil and the butter in a large fry pan until the butter melts. After, which you have to add shrimp and fry until it becomes pinkish in color. Then, add the remaining ingredients of the recipe and stir well so that it mixes better. You have to simmer and stir frequently until for abut to 3 to 5 minutes and keep it aside for over 5 minutes. Finally, you remove the shrimp that is well fried and serve it as well as pour sauce on top of the shrimp. The Barbecue shrimp is ready to serve.
Tuesday, 04 March 2008
Winter weather in most of the south will usually not interfere with a good backyard barbecue. Most of us don't have to be concerned with sweeping snow off the grill in order to burn a steak. Our biggest challenge in the first cookout of the year is dusting the spiders and crickets out of the charcoal tray.
If you'll be using charcoal and a liquid lighter, know what kind of accelerant you're going to be pouring on those briquettes. It's not the volume of the whoooomp you hear when you light the fire that determines whether you coals will burn evenly or not.
Be wise and never use gasoline, lacquer thinner, lantern fuel and any of the highly combustible solutions you can buy at the paint store. Any of those can light up the night like a roman candle, and you with it. Pay the extra dollar and stick with charcoal lighter even though its fragrance may linger on the meat you're cooking.
Kerosene is another flammable liquid to avoid; not because of its ability to start a fire but because it will really stink up your food. It's a slow burner and no matter how long you let your briquettes flame, those barbecued ribs and T-Bones will taste like kerosene. It's best to stay with fuels that won't stink up the food.
The best method I've found for lighting charcoal is the chimney starter. They're basically metal cylinders with holes near the bottom for ventilation. There's a grate in the bottom of the chimney that holds charcoal. All you have to do is stuff newspaper under the grate, light it and watch the flames attack the briquettes. In just a minute the charcoal will be burning with no aroma of petrochemicals in the air.
I use my electric smoker if I'm cooking something larger than a steak or pork chops. Through experience I've learned to make sure the lava rocks in the heating pan are dry! Most folks will have stored their smoker in the garage or on the porch during winter, but if they have been left outside, they'll usually have water in the bottom of the tray.
Water and electricity don't mix. When you plug the cord into the socket, step back! The electric heating iron in the smoker will explode, leaving you with a piece of raw meat. If that happens, you'll have to go back to your charcoal grill and hope that the Boston Butts or turkey will fit inside. Check the smoker the day before and if there's water in the bottom of the heating tray, give it time to dry out before you start cooking.
Since its winter, there's the likelihood that you won't want to spend a lot of time outdoors cooking meat so it would make sense to grill steaks or pork chops because they cook faster than something large. Place a little more charcoal on the grill than you would use in the spring or summer.
The outside temperature does make a difference in the length of time it takes to cook your meat. Watch your rib eyes or center cut pork chops carefully so that they're cooked to your specifications when you take them off the grill. Cook the meat a little longer.
All the worry about constant temps in the winter is erased when you have a gas grill. Just preheat the grill to the required temperature and cook away. This is an easy way to grill just about anything, from grilled steaks to barbecued chicken. You won't get the smoky taste that comes from a charcoal grill, but it's more convenient.
The only drawback I see with winter time barbecuing is daylight. It gets darker earlier so make sure you have plenty of light to work with. Either that or have a strong flashlight.
Monday, 03 March 2008
While many of us are trying to figure out how to switch to healthy cooking these days, to a lot of people this is a foreign concept. "Healthy cooking" still inspires visions of chewy, flavorless tofu and boring lettuce leaves to many skeptics, making it very difficult to get those people to make healthy eating choices.
Luckily, the healthy cooking movement has progressed such a long way in just the last few years. As Americans are starting to realize that their health is in danger from the way they eat, more and more people are turning to healthy cooking to help them live longer and healthier lives.
So how do you start a program of healthy cooking in your house without being met with cries of protest and demands for fast food hamburgers? The best way is to ease into it. Start replacing some of the meat in your meals with more vegetables. Add one new food a week to keep your meals interesting and fun.
Cooking for Picky Eaters of All Ages
If you are trying to switch to healthy cooking for kids, adding new foods can actually be distressing for them. Never force them to eat new foods; rather, just keep quietly offering the new foods at mealtime. Eventually, the new foods will be familiar and your kids won't reject them just because they are unknown.
Healthy cooking for adults can be just as challenging. It's difficult to break a lifelong habit of eating high-fat, high-calorie and low-nutrition food. The best way to start is by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Not only will this add interest and some new tastes and textures, but it will also help to fill you up with less food.
Healthy cooking is all about using the flavors and textures and even the appearance of food to please the eater. It's not about depriving yourself and telling yourself that you must eat nothing but lettuce and tofu. Healthy cooking involves learning how to cook foods in a way that is more beneficial to your body while still pleasing your taste buds.
The most important healthy cooking tip to remember is this: food is nourishment, but it is also a great source of joy. Not many people eat solely for the purpose of fueling their bodies. This is our primary reason for eating, but we also long for a pleasant eating experience. The smells, the tastes, and the feel of the food all contribute to the experience. Healthy cooking just involves adding another dimension to that experience: knowing that you are doing something positive for your body.
Saturday, 01 March 2008
Filet Mignon is a gourmet class of steak cut of beef which is the primary choice of the typical affluent beef lover. Filet mignon is carefully extracted from the tenderloin part of the animal and is a definite gourmet connoisseur's delight.
It would be helpful to understand how the famous filet mignon came into being. The word 'filet mignon' is borrowed from French where the word filet means a thick slice and the word mignon means a delicacy. The tenderloin part of the cow extends on both sides of the back bone on the backward side of the rib cage of the animal. This particular area of the animal does not bear weight, and so the flesh does not experience much exercise. Because of this filet mignon typically is a very tender and soft meat.
The only drawback of cutting it from the tenderloin area is that the steak lacks the flavor found in meat which has the bone attached, a fact ignored and sometimes loved by the affluent customer who swear by this beef steak. The tenderness of the filet is so connotative that it is sometimes referred to as a tender filet.
The filet mignon is typically cut with a thickness of about one or two inches and a diameter of about two to three inches. It is cooked in a variety of ways. Some prefer quickly grilling it but it is also possible to broil, pan-fry, roast or even sauté filet mignon. Filet mignon is a dryer cut of beef compared to other steaks. To see if it has been cooked well enough, it is necessary to touch the steak. If the steak feels hard, it is too done. If it is soft enough to receive and imprint from the touch, it is done too rare. A compromise between the two states produces the best possible filet steak. In every form chosen, this version makes for a gourmet delicacy preferred and loved by the affluent diner world wide.
The filet Mignon of beef is also sometimes referred to as Medallions and Tenderloin Steak. It is sometimes misspelled as filet mignon and it is also called fillet steak in UK and Ireland. The filet mignon is the most tender cut of beef, and is also considered as the most expensive one. It is priced relatively very high as an average cow does not yield more than four to six pounds.
Sometimes it is sold whole as it is harvested from the cow. Usually it is available as one to two inch thick pre cut portions which are grilled and served as is. Bacon wrapped filets are also available in stores. In this format, the cut is wrapped with bacon after being cut into portions.
The purpose of wrapping in bacon is that it particularly lacks in fat because of the nature of the region of the animals body the steak is cut from. When it is wrapped in bacon, the bacon enhances the flavor by contributing the necessary fat which keeps the cut from drying out.
The filet is usually served with sauces which tend to go well with its mild flavor. It is either smothered in sauce or the sauce is used as a dip for the filet sauce. There are no specific sauces that are recommended as it tastes good with any particular sauce. The selection of sauces is solely dependent on the personal preference of the diner alone. Some people prefer a marinade to be used during cooking rather than have sauce during dining.
No matter where you have your filet mignon or in which form, this exceptional steak will change your convictions about the steak as a whole and take you into a new world of culinary delight.