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Some wild game, such as venison, rabbit, squirrel and pheasant, are very lean; duck and goose are not.
Select lean pork such as tenderloin, loin chops, center-cut ham (fresh and cured) and Canadian bacon.
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Week of July 27, 2003

Don't Forget The Eggplant!

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.

Eggplant 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.

Varieties 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.

Select 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.

Since 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.

Eggplant Spread

1 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

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

With 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.

Place 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.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Per 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.

Week of July 20, 2003

Brining
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.

The 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 of poultry."

Lean 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.

However, don't brine already enhanced meats like salt and water injected turkeys like Butterball. And do not use salts with additives like iodine.

For the the best authority on brining poultry and meats, check out The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly

Start planning ahead. If you have never had your Thanksgiving Turkey brined before, you will be in for a real treat!

Week of July 13, 2003

Grilling Tips
Here is a collection of little grilling tips we have collected over the years to help the novice as well as the expert.

It 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.

Turn 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.

Bring 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.

Marinating 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.

Cuts of meat with no natural fat - skinless poultry, and kebabs usually need to be basted to prevent drying out during broiling/grilling.

Baste 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.

Try to purchase and cut meats of the same thickness, to ensure even cooking. This rule also applies to vegetables.

Just 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.

If 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.

Mound 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.

Knock 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.

Set 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.

You 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 time.

Learn 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.

To 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.

Vents 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.

When 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 time.

It 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.

Week 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 the pace.

1/4 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 onions
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
Salt (optional)

  1. Place 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.
  2. Stop 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.
  3. Pour into a bowl and stir in buttermilk. Season with salt, if desired. Makes one cup.

Per 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

Tips: 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.

Things you can add:

  1. Green Onion - 1/4 cup green onion in Step 2.
  2. Ranch - Add one clove garlic and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley in step two.
  3. Garlic 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.
  4. Poppy Seed - Add 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon poppy seeds in Step 2.
  5. Lemon Pepper - Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper in Step 2.
  6. Pimiento - Add 2 tablespoons chopped, roasted red peppers and 1 tablespoon tomato paste in Step 2.
  7. Creamy Italian - Add 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning in Step 2.
  8. Blue 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 Step 3.
  9. Russian - Stir in 1/4 cup ketchup or chili sauce and 1 tablespoon drained prepared horseradish in Step 3.
  10. Cucumber Dill - Stir in 1/4 cup chopped, peeled cucumbers and 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill in Step 3.
  11. Horseradish - Stir in 2 tablespoons drained prepared horseradish and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard in Step 3.

I 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.

This also makes a great sauce for some vegetables.


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Contents in this web site are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counsel .

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