of July 27, 2003
Forget The Eggplant!
or sometimes known as Aubergines have long been
a staple of Mediterranean cuisine. Eggplant is
usually considered a vegetable, however it is
actually a fruit. It is considered a nutritious
source of vitamins and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
is available year round, its peak season is in
August and September. And when it's really fresh,
eggplant has a sweet, mild flavor. You can eat
the skin of young, fresh eggplant, but older ones
should be peeled. Since the flesh discolors rapidly,
an eggplant should be cut just before using.
of eggplant range from deep purple to white, from
oblong to round and in lengths from 2 to 12 inches
in length. The lighter the color, the milder the
eggplant, with white being the mildest. The narrow
Japanese or Asian eggplant is tender and sweet
and usually has less seeds. The egg-shaped white
eggplant has a tough skin and smooth flesh. Americans
are most familiar with the large, purple eggplant.
an eggplant that's heavy for its size and has
a firm, smooth skin. Avoid those with brown or
soft spots. Eggplants are very perishable and
become bitter with age. Store them in a cool,
dry place and use within a day or two of purchase.
If you must store them longer, put them in the
vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.
eggplants have a capacity to absorb other flavours,
they are great mixed with tomatoes and spices.
They also absorb oil at an incredible rate, so
frying or sauteing is not recommended. I find
the best way to cook them is either by oven-roasting
or char-grilling. Below is a simple Roasted Baba
Ghanoush or Eggplant Spread that is wonderful
on sandwiches or pita wedges.
medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 small onion, cut into fourths
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
the oven to 400 degrees.
a fork, pierce eggplant in 3 or 4 places. Place
on a rack set in a baking sheet. Bake about 40
minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool. Peel
eggplant and cut into cubes.
eggplant, onion, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt
and pepper in a food processor or blender. Cover
and purée until smooth, stopping to scrape
down sides of container if necessary. Check seasoning
and add more salt to taste, if desired. Drain
excess liquid and spoon mixture into a bowl. Garnish
with Italian parsley.
about 2 1/2 cups.
1/4 cup serving: 27 calories, 1 g. total fat (less
than 1 g. saturated fat), 4 g. carbohydrate, 1
g. protein, 1 g. dietary fiber, 2 mg. sodium.
of July 20, 2003
To "brine" means to steep in a strong
solution of water and salt. A sweetener such as
sugar, molasses, honey, or corn syrup may be added
to the solution for flavor and to improve browning.
salt has two effects on poultry, reports Dr. Alan
Sams, a professor of poultry science at Texas
A & M University. "It dissolves protein
in muscle, and the salt and protein reduce moisture
loss during cooking. This makes the meat juicer,
more tender, and improves the flavor. The low
levels of salt enhance the other natural flavors
cuts of meat with mild flavor tend to benefit
most from flavor brining. These would include:
Chicken, Cornish Heans, Turkey, Lean Cuts of Pork
and Seafood like Salmon, Trout and Shrimp.
don't brine already enhanced meats like salt and
water injected turkeys like Butterball. And do
not use salts with additives like iodine.
the the best authority on brining poultry and
meats, check out
The Complete Meat Cookbook
by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
planning ahead. If you have never had your Thanksgiving
Turkey brined before, you will be in for a real
of July 13, 2003
is a collection of little grilling tips we have
collected over the years to help the novice as
well as the expert.
is best marinate or dry rub any meat the day before
or at least several hours before you begin grilling.
Thoroughly drain food items which have been marinated,
especially ones that contain any oil at all. Oil
can cause flare-ups.
foods which are not fragile two or three times
to prevent burning. Try to get that golden brown
color before turning. Be more careful for fish
and only try to turn it once. Some fish grill
best when you cook one side on the grill then
turn onto foil and allow it to finish cooking.
meat to room temperature before grilling to ensure
best results. The meat will also cook much faster
at room temperature as opposed to a chilled state.
Grill meats best suited for it - naturally tender,
not dry cuts such as veal or filet mignon. Also
save tougher large cuts of meat for another moist
method of cooking, like roasting or braising.
food before broiling or grilling primarily adds
flavor but it won't turn a tough cut into a soft,
tender one. Most marinades have an acid present
(vinegar, lemon juice, wine, even yogurt) that
may break down the connective tissue to a point
but don't expect a tough cut of meat to become
tender from a marinade.
of meat with no natural fat - skinless poultry,
and kebabs usually need to be basted to prevent
drying out during broiling/grilling.
fish or shellfish well and don't overcook. Grilled
fish with a higher fat content such as tuna, salmon
and swordfish are more forgiving. These fish retain
more moisture even if slightly over-cooked.
Vegetables best for broiling/grilling are those
that are naturally moist, such as eggplant, tomatoes,
mushrooms. Cut your vegetable so they are easier
to grill or broil.
to purchase and cut meats of the same thickness,
to ensure even cooking. This rule also applies
as in roasting, allow meat to rest for about five
minutes before serving, to finish cooking and
allow juices to settle throughout the meat. The
larger the piece of meat, the longer you allow
it to rest.
Lightly spray grill grates with cooking spray.
This is extremely important with fish, which can
very delicate and if it sticks, breaks apart.
your grill has a damper (air flow control), make
sure it is open when you start the fire. Once
the fire is burning well, close the damper to
control the speed of burning. Certain meats do
better when they are cooked slowly while others
do best cooked quickly.
briquettes in a pyramid or mound to start fire.
Once the fire has caught, spread them out in a
single layer. Allow them to burn to a thin white
ash before cooking. Be patient and never pour
charcoal fluid into a flame.
white ash off before putting food on the grill
rack. Shake the barbecue/grill or tap the coals
with a wooden handle utensil. Otherwise the dust
from the coals could fly up into your food.
the grilling rack 3 to 5 inches above the heat
source. Get the grate hot before cooking. The
final adjustment of the height of the grate varies
depending on what you are grilling.
Make sure the grill rack gets quite hot before
you place food on it. Then the food will sear,
lock in natural juices, and cook evenly. Not only
does food cook faster, it will taste better.
will need about 45 minutes for the fire to be
hot enough for grilling. If you have a butane
grill, you may be ready in much less time. If
the grill has a temperature gauge with "ready
to grill" zone, you can easily tell start
how to determine the heat of your grill. The old
time-honored method of the hand test is where
you hold your hand an inch or two over the grate
until the heat forces you to pull away. Assuming
that the grate is placed four to six inches above
the fire, if you have to pull away in one or two
seconds, the fire is hot. Three seconds indicates
medium-high heat, four to five seconds is medium-low,
and so on. This is important when grilling recipes
indicate low, medium or high heat.
cook spareribs and chicken, you need low heat
for slow, covered cooking. Lean meats and kebabs
need medium-hot; and quick-grilling steaks, chops
and burgers require red-hot.
in the bottom of the barbecue can be opened more
to make the fire hotter, or closed partially to
cool it down. If you find that your item is browning
much too quickly, close the vent.
grilling outdoors, remember air temperature affects
cooking time. On a cool or cold day your food
will take longer to grill. On humid days, moisture
in the air slows up cooking. Keep the lid on it
until you're ready to cook. Every time you peek
and the lid is opened, you extend the cooking
is easiest to clean your grill while it is still
warm. Use a wire brush to clean the cooking rack
of your grill. First close the lid and allow the
surface to get extremely hot. Then shut it down,
and brush while it's very hot.
of July 6, 2003
Now that the weather is turning hot, main
course salads are a quick and delicious choice
for lunch or even dinner menus. The problem with
most salads are the dressing that we put on them.
That is where the fat and calories come from.
Try this homemade low fat creamy salad dressing
and you can add your favorite additions to chance
cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
1/4 cup fat-free margarine (my favorite is Smart
Beat® Fat-Free Squeeze)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder or 1 teaspoon minced
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
egg substitute in a blender. Cover with lid,
leaving center hole open. On lowest speed, add
margarine, 1 teaspoon at a time. Allow about
5 seconds between additions.
blender and scrape down the sides. Add lemon
juice, vinegar, mustard, pepper, onion powder,
garlic powder and sugar. Blend on lowest speed
10 to 20 seconds.
into a bowl and stir in buttermilk. Season with
salt, if desired. Makes one cup.
2 tablespoon serving: 13 Calories, 0.1g Fat, (7%
of calories), 0 g Saturated Fat, 1 mg Cholesterol,
0 g Fiber, 1.1 g Protein, 1.6 g Carbohydrate,
91 mg Sodium
Have ingredients at room temperature to emulsify
better. Add the fat-free margarine to the egg
substitute very gradually. Adding it too fast
could cause the dressing to separate. Stir in
the buttermilk by hand; the blender will tend
to make it thinner.
you can add:
Onion - 1/4 cup green onion in Step 2.
one clove garlic and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
in step two.
Herb - Replace cider vinegar with tarragon
vinegar. Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (such
as thyme, tarragon, basil), 1 tablespoon chopped
chives and 2 garlic cloves in Step 2.
Seed - Add 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon
poppy seeds in Step 2.
Pepper - Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper in
- Add 2 tablespoons chopped, roasted red peppers
and 1 tablespoon tomato paste in Step 2.
Italian - Add 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian
herb seasoning in Step 2.
Cheese - Add 4 tablespoons crumbled blue
cheese and 1/2 teaspoon white wine Worcestershire
sauce in Step 2. (For a chunkier dressing, add
2 tablespoons in Step 2 and the remainder in
- Stir in 1/4 cup ketchup or chili sauce and
1 tablespoon drained prepared horseradish in
Dill - Stir in 1/4 cup chopped, peeled cucumbers
and 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill in Step
- Stir in 2 tablespoons drained prepared
horseradish and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard in
found all of these ideas many years ago in prevention
magazine and I am sorry to say that I did not
keep the authors name.
also makes a great sauce for some vegetables.