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Low-fat sour cream can be a substitute for heavy cream or whipping cream used to flavor and thicken creamy soups.
Removing the skin from chicken reduces fat content by approximately 50%. Wow, that's a lot of fat!
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Week of May 30, 2004

Crushing seeds and spices releases more of their flavor. If you do not have a molcajete being the mortar, tejolote the pestle. [mohl-kah-HEH-teh ee and teh-hoh-LOH-teh] You can find one at the Mexican Grocer, Click on the Link: Authentic Mexican kitchen items

The black, rough texture of both pieces is a result of the fact that they're made of basalt (volcanic rock).The grinding process releases the oils, and flavor essence of the substance. When done carefully you will produce a product that is more flavorful than a product prepared in a food processor and definitely more flavorful than what you buy ground at your grocery store. The process can be a little laborious but since the quantity of spice is usually small, it is not a major factor of consideration. If you enjoy cooking, using a mortar and pestle will simply be part of your "craft" of food preparation.

Place the substance to be ground inside the mortar (bowl). Sit the pestle on top of the substance and apply downward pressure, then grind using a circular motion. This action forces the substance against the surface of the bowl and pulverizes it.

How To Season or Prepare Your Molcajete Before Use
It is necessary to season the molcajete prior to using it or you'll get grit in your food.

1. Wash and scrub the interior of the molcajete and the tejolote with water and a stiff brush. Let both objects air dry. Now proceed to steps 2 and 3. We like the combination of both methods or you may select one or the other. This process only needs to be done one time before actually using your molcajete and tejolote..

2. Put a handful of uncooked rice in the molcajete. Use the tejolote ( the pestle) and grind the rice into the surface of the molcajete (bowl). Discard the pulverized rice. Repeat the process until the pulverized rice is white, rather than gray or ash colored.

3. Add 4 cloves of garlic (peeled), 1 teaspoon of cumin (comino) and 1 teaspoon salt, kosher is good, and a teaspoon of pepper. Grind the mixture evenly around the interior of the molcajete. Remove and discard the mixture. Rinse the molcajete and tejolote with clear water and allow to dry before storing. Note that these ingredients and quantities can be adjusted to your liking and for the size of your molcajete.

Maintenance
Wash the molcajete and tejolote in warm water after each use. Do not use soaps or detergents which may be absorbed into the stone and taint your food.

Warning: Make sure that your molcajete is made from an authentic material not just for decoration. There are some on the market that are made from painted concrete and are not suitable for cooking.

Week of May 23, 2004

Since the grilling season is upon us, we've gathered together approximate grilling times for Beef and Veal, Fresh Pork, Lamb, Chicken and Poultry, Venison and Turkey.

The times given are approximate so you have a starting point from which to judge. Until you become comfortable with cooking on your own specific grill, the most accurate way to determine if your meat is done is to measure the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, for a true reading.

Fish is different. There is not a temperature guideline because of the difference between types of fish. During cooking the fish will turn from translucent to opaque. When done, a toothpick inserted in the thickest portion should meet no resistance and come out clean when you remove it from the fish.

Cut
Heat
Time
Temperature
Steak 3/4 inch thick
High/Direct
3 to 5 minutes side
145 degrees F
Steak 1 1/2 inch thick
High/Direct
7 to 8 minutes side
145 degrees F
Kabobs 1 inch cubes
High/Direct
3 to 4 minutes side
145 degrees F
Sirloin Patties 1/2 inch thick
High/Direct
3 minutes side
160 degrees F
Sirloin Tip 3 1/2 - 4 pounds
High/Direct
25 minutes pound
145 degrees F
Veal Steaks/Chops 1 inch thick
High/Direct
5 to 7 minutes side
145 degrees F
Pork Chops 3/4 inch thick
High/Direct
3 to 4 minutes side
160 degrees F
Pork Chops 1 1/2 inch thick
High/Direct
7 to 8 minutes side
160 degrees F
Pork Tenderloin 1/2 - 1 1/ 2pounds
High/Direct
7 to 12 minutes side
160 degrees F
Lamb Chops or Steaks 1 inch thick
High/Direct
4 minutes side
145 degrees F
Lamb Kabobs 1 inch cubes
High/Direct
4 minutes side
145 degrees F
Lamb Patties 1/2 inch thick
High/Direct
3 minutes side
160 degrees F
Whole Fryer
Medium/Indirect
60 to 75 minutes
180 degrees F
Cornish Hens 18 to 12 ounces
Medium/Indirect
45 to 55 minutes side
180 degrees F
Chicken Breast Bone In
Medium High/Direct
10 to 15 minutes side
180 degrees F
Boneless Chicken Breast
High/Direct
6 to 8 minutes side
180 degrees F
Chicken Legs or Thighs
Medium High/Direct
10 to 15 minutes side
180 degrees F
Chicken Drumsticks
Medium High/Direct
8 to 12 minutes side
180 degrees F
Venison Leg Roast
Medium/Indirect
25 - 30 minute pound
145 degrees F
Venison Steak 1/2 inch thick
High / Direct
4 to 5 minutes side
145 degrees F
Venison Steak 1 1/2 inch thick
High / Direct
6 to 7 minutes side
145 degrees F
Turkey Breasts 6-8 ounces
High / Direct
10 to 15 minutes side
180 degrees F
Turkey Thighs/Drumsticks 8-16 oz.
High / Direct
10 to 15 minutes side
180 degrees F
Boneless Turkey Roll 2-5 pounds
Medium/Indirect
1 1/2 to 2 hours
180 degrees F
Boneless Turkey Roll 5-10 pounds
Medium/Indirect
2 to 3 1/2 hours
180 degrees F

Happy Grilling!

Week of May 16, 2004

This French term "En Papillote" for cooking in paper not only saves on clean up, but is an attractive and classical presentation technique.

However many of you have written in saying that you were having a hard time making the envelope or package. Here are some photos that may help.

Start by folding a length of parchment paper (not wax paper) to form a square or boxy rectangle; then cut along one side to form a heart shape (just like you used to do in elementary school to cut out valentines).

Oil both the left and right sides of the "heart" (using a pastry brush works or you can use lightly spray edges with cooking oil spray).

Add your ingredients. In the photo, the chef is using a fish fillet, mushrooms, green onions and chopped garlic.

Fold over and crimp about an inch at a time along the open edge from top to bottom. Make sure to double crimp the last fold.

Place the sealed bags in a hot oven and remove once the paper has puffed up and become brown on top and around the edges.

Week of May 9, 2004

What is calcium?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. It is very important for:

  • bone health
  • teeth
  • nerve function
  • muscles
  • blood clotting

If you do not get enough calcium in your diet you may be at risk for losing calcium from your bones, making them thinner and weaker. This condition is called osteoporosis.

How much calcium do you need ?

How much calcium you need depends on your age and whether you are male or female.

The recommendations are:

GROUP

Children
Teenagers and Young Adults
Premenopausal Women - 25 to 50 years old
Women 25 to 50 years old
Pregnant and breast-feeding women
Women over 50 years old (postmenopausal)
      Taking Estrogen
      Not taking Estrogen
Women over 65 years of age
Men 25 to 65 years of age
Men over 65 years of age

MG CALCIUM/DAY

800
1200 to 1500
1000
1000
1200 to 1500

1000
1500
1500
1000
1500

   

What are good sources of calcium?

Dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium. Calcium may also be found in a variety of other foods, as listed in the following table. Fat content (regular, low fat or fat free does not affect the calcium).

FOOD
SERVING SIZE
MG CALCIUM (APPROXIMATE)

Milk, whole, 2%, 1%, or skim
Yogurt
Cheddar Cheese
Ice Cream
Frozen Yogurt
Cottage Cheese
Tofu
Soy Milk, unfortified
Greens (collard, kale, mustard)
Red beans, chickpeas
Sardines (with bones)
Salmon, canned
Molasses, blackstrap
Corn tortillas
Seaweed, dry

8 ounces
1 ounce
1 ounce
1/2 cup
1/2 cup
1/2 cup
4 ounces
8 ounces
1/2 cup
3/4 cup
3 ounces
3 ounces
1 Tablespoon
2
1/2 cup
300
300
200
100
100
90
250
80
80 to 150
60
350
180
125
90
100

Many brands of orange juice, cereal, and bread are fortified with extra calcium. Check the labels.

If you can get enough calcium in your diet, you do not need to take calcium supplements. Dairy products are the easiest source of calcium. It is hard to get enough calcium if these products are not a part of your diet. If you can not eat dairy, it is best to take a supplement.

Week of May 2, 2004

Spring is here and fresh asparagus is now in season. The price dramatically drops in grocery stores across the country, so that mere mortals can once again enjoy this luscious delicacy without pocketbook guilt.

There are three types of asparagus: purple, green or white. The green asparagus is the most common and what you will find in your market. This type usually has a green stem and a green-purple tip.

Steaming is the classical method of preparing asparagus - often served hot with a small bit of butter or margarine to coat or cold served with a vinaigrette dressing. But the bold cook will want to experiment with the vegetable in everything from soups, salads, Thai entrees, creamy risottos to soufflés. Die hard asparagus fans who fancy the unadulterated flavor will probably say, don't mess with a good thing.

The golden rule is to avoid storing or cooking for too long, cooked heads should be firm (not bending when held from the base) but not so firm as to be crunchy or leathery when eaten. The quality of asparagus deteriorates quickly with age. It should be cooked within three days of cutting. Select ones with no more an inch or so of the tough woody base that will need trimming. They usually can be purchased in one pound bundles. The most tender spears are usally not too thin or not too thick.

To prepare for steaming, wash the spears and then snap off tough base ends and place in cold water. If your asparagus appears to be a little tough, it may be best to peel the stalk with a sharp knife or potato peeler. This will always produce a really tender stalk.

The next step is to tie them into a bundle with soft kitchen string or twine. Tie one band close to the base and the other just below the tip. Make sure the ends at the base are level (tips to the other side). Place and support the bundle upright in a pan of boiling salted water - tips must be well above the level of the water. I find that a tall narrow stockpot works well. Cover the pan and boil gently for 10 to minutes or just until crisp / tender and still bright green in color. Drain carefully and serve with a dash of lemon zest and a tablespoon of low saturated fat margarine.

Other ways of cooking asparagus are to microwave it, poach in water and dump into a cold bath, pan roast it with a little olive oil spray, stir fry it or roast it in a 450 degree oven with a little olive oil. It only takes a few minutes until they are crisp / tender, so check spears after four minutes.

Here is the best part; asparagus is a great source of folic acid, vitamin C and carotenoids. And for all you fat, calorie and carbohydrate watchers out there, this is a great diet food.

1/2 cup Cooked Asparagus = 20 calories, 0.20g fat, 2.16g protein, 1.8g fiber,
3.70g carbohydrates, 13mg sodium

or, if you want the breakdown in spears . . .

4 spears Cooked Asparagus = 13 calories, 0.13g fat, 1.44g protein, 1.2g fiber,
2.47g carbohydrates, 8mg sodium

For a change of pace try the Asparagus with Red Pepper Sauce


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