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Use marinades and rubs to add an ethnic flair and to tenderize leaner cuts of beef.
When roasting beef, put a rack in the pan to allow fat to drip away from the meat.
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Week of February 25, 2007

Working with Phyllo Dough

Working with this paper-thin dough is not simple, but it certainly is not as hard as some cooks believe. To create tasty appetizers, tarts or turnovers, just follow these instructions. Before beginning, thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. If you do not use the whole package, wrap unused dough in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

While you work: Cover extra dough with a slightly dampened, lightweight cloth kitchen towel, (not terry cloth), to prevent the dough from drying out.

1. Carefully remove one sheet at a time. Layer four sheets on a cutting board, one atop the other, for a sturdy pastry. Coat all but the top layer with cooking spray to prevent tearing.

2. Use a pizza cutter to cut dough in half vertically, creating two long sections. Use cooking spray to bond any tearing that occurs while working.

3. To make triangles: Working with one section at a time, drop a tablespoon of filling onto the bottom. Leave a one-inch border around the filling to allow for folding.

4. Gently fold pastry into a triangle-start at the filling end and fold forward in a flag pattern. Avoid wrapping too tightly, which can cause the filling to spill out during baking.

5. To make shells: Cut the two long sections (from Step 2) into thirds to create six squares. Line a muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, then fill and serve. These can be used for great custard or fruit tarts or you can fill with chicken or shirmp salad.

Week of February 18, 2007

How to Dry Your Own Herbs

If you have an abundance of herbs in your garden or just do not want to waste unused purchased herbs, try drying them. Air drying herbs is not only the easiest to dry and preserve fresh herbs. The slow drying process does not deplete the herbs of their oils. This process is best with herbs that don't have a high moisture content, like Bay, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Summer Savory and Thyme.

Moisture dense herbs, like Basil, Chives, Mint, Tarragon preserve better in a dehydrator, or try freezing them.

Herbs Drying

To air dry herbs:

  1. Gently wash herbs and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Tie two to three stalks together with kitchen twine.
  3. Hang upside down in an airy, dry spot.
  4. Herbs will dry in one to two weeks under favorable conditions.
  5. When herbs are dry and crumbly, remove leaves from stems.
  6. Crush leaves with a rolling pin or leave whole.
  7. Pack herbs in an airtight container or small zip-top bag and remove all air.
  8. Use within 6 months - Hint: as herbs loose their color, they loose flavor

NOTE: Use about 1 teaspoon crumbled dried leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh

Week of February 11, 2007

How to Make Your Own Crostini

Try making these homemade baguette toasts, and serve with salads and soups for a light lunch or top with low fat or fat-free cream cheese, green onions and smoked salmon or your favorite toppers for great appetizers. The list could be endless: roasted red peppers, sliced tomato, basil, capers, caviar ...

1 baguette (about 10 ounces)
6 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse ground sea salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut baguette diagonally into 1/4 inch slices. Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil. Arrange slices on 2 baking sheets; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Bake until slightly dry on top, about 6 minutes. Flip slices, and continue baking until crisp and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes more. Let cool. Makes 60 toasts.

COOKS NOTE: For a variation, you can also sprinkle the tops with grated Parmesan cheese after flipping the slices.

Per Slice (does not include sodium): 25 Calories; 1g Fat (53.9% calories from fat); trace Saturated Fat; trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 29mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Fat.

Week of February 4, 2007

How to Cook Brown Rice

One cup of raw brown rice makes about 2.5 cups of cooked rice. It requires about 2 cups of water per cup of rice. Here are two simple ways to make perfect brown rice.

Stove Top Method:

First, rinse your rice well -- at least three times -- with cold water. Stir it with your hand in a circular direction. Next, let the rice soak for 30 minutes. Drain the rice and then turn the stove heat on medium. Stir the rice around the pot and toast it in this manner for a couple of minutes until it is fragrant, the grains are nearly dry, and the hissing noises have stopped. (This essential step adds flavor to your rice and prevents it from becoming gluey.) Then, add the required water. A teaspoon of salt and margarine (or other oil or fat) may be added. Bring to a boil and then cover tightly with a well-fitting lid and simmer at very low heat for 40 minutes (do not stir or even lift the lid to peek!). Turn the heat off and let it sit covered for another 15 minutes for truly sensational rice.

Oven Method:

1 1/2 cups long-grain, medium-grain or short-grain brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Bring the water and oil to a boil and immediately at the salt and pour it over the rice in a casserole dish. Cover tightly with double layer of foil and put in a preheated 375 degree oven for one hour. Immediately take it out of the oven, fluff it with a fork, cover with a towel for five minutes.


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