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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 31, 2009

Carmelizing Onions
Caramelizing is a term that describes what happens to sugars when they are heated up - they kind of turn brown, which is where we get the word caramel from, just sugar that's been cooked and heated and it turns brown. One of the best kinds of onions to use for caramelizing is a sweet onion, because it contains more sugar.

Trim off the bottom root, and then trim off that top stem.Set it down on the flat side, and take our knife and just go right through the center of it there. And now we've cut it in half and we can just set it on its side. Slice the onion into half rings, being careful not to cut your finger.

Saute the Onions
The way I like to carmelize onions is in oil in a saute pan. Once the oil starts to smoke add the onions. The trick to caramelizing onions is that you want to cook them fairly slowly over a longish period of time because it takes a little while for those sugars to develop. What has to happen first is the moisture kind of has to get cooked out of them, but one of the things we don't want to do is let them burn. So it's better to have a lower temperature, and if nothing seems to be happening, you can always raise it up.

Keep moving the onions for a little bit, and once everything is nice and coated with oil, let it cook for a little bit, only stirring every once in awhile.

You want the onions to become golden brown. From beginning to end, this process will probably take maybe 20 to 30 minutes - it's definitely a labor of love but you will adore the taste.

Week of May 24, 2009

Marinated Chicken Halves
Serves 4

1 - 3 1/2 pound chicken
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Place chicken, breast side down, on a cutting surface. Cut chicken in half lengthwise along backbone, cutting to, but not through, other side. Turn chicken over. Starting at the neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Place chicken, breast side up, in a large shallow dish. Combine buttermilk and remaining ingredients except cooking spray; pour under skin and over surface of chicken. Cut a 1-inch slit in skin at the bottom of each breast half. Insert tip of each drumstick into each slit. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 24 hours.

To prepare chicken for indirect grilling, preheat grill to medium-hot using both burners. After preheating, turn left burner off (leave right burner on). Place a disposable aluminum foil pan on briquettes on left side. Pour 2 cups water in pan. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place on grill. Place chicken, skin side down, on grill rack covering left burner. Cover and grill 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer registers 180°, turning halfway during cooking time. Discard skin before serving.

Week of May 17, 2009

Outdoor Vegetable Grilling Guide

Cherry Tomatoes
For 1 Pint of Cherry Tomatoes

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Thread onto skewers
Seasoning: Brush with 2 teaspoons oil
Grilling Time: 5 to 7 minutes, turning several times


Button Mushrooms
For 8 Ounces of Large White Mushrooms

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Trim and thread onto skewers
Seasoning: Brush with 2 teaspoons oil
Grilling Time: 20 minutes, turning several times


Eggplant
For a 1 1/2-Pound Eggplant

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Seasoning: Brush with 1/4 cup oil
Grilling Time: 11 to 13 minutes per side


Corn on the Cob
For 8 Ears of Corn

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Soak 15 minutes, then remove silk (leave husks on) or remove husks and silk
Seasoning: Brush with 1 tablespoon oil
Grilling Time: 45 minutes with husks on or 20 minutes, turning occasionally, if husks and silk have been removed


Endive
For 4 Heads Endive

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut lengthwise in half
Seasoning: Brush with 1 teaspoon oil
Grilling Time: 10 to 12 minutes per side


Fennel
For 2 Medium Fennel Bulbs (1 Pound Each)

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Seasoning: Brush with 4 teaspoons oil
Grilling Time: 6 to 8 minutes per side


Green Onions
For 2 Bunches of Small Green Onions

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Trim
Seasoning: Toss with 4 teaspoons oil
Grilling Time: 2 to 4 minutes, turning several times


Leeks
For 6 Medium Leeks

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Remove dark green tops; blanch and cut lengthwise in half
Seasoning: Toss with 1 tablespoon oil
Grilling Time: 11 to 13 minutes per side


Radiccho
For 2 Heads Radicchio (12 Ounces Each)

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut lengthwise into quarters
Seasoning: Brush with 2 tablespoons oil
Grilling Time: 5 minutes per side


Portobello Mushrooms
For 4 Large Portobello Mushrooms (About 1 Pound)

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Remove stems
Seasoning: Brush with 4 teaspoons oil
Grilling Time: 15 minutes per side


Red Bell Pepper
For 4 Red, Green, or Yellow Peppers

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut lengthwise into quarters
Seasoning: None
Grilling Time: 10 to 12 minutes per side


Red or White Onion
For 4 Medium Red or White Onions

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and secure with toothpicks
Seasoning: Brush with 4 teaspoons oil
Grilling Time: 12 to 14 minutes per side


Tomato
For 4 Medium Tomatoes (8 Ounces Each)

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut crosswise in half
Seasoning: Brush cut sides with 2 tablespoons oil
Grilling Time: 14 to 17 minutes per side


Zucchini or Yellow Squash
For 4 Medium Zucchini or Yellow Squash (8 Ounces Each)

Serving Size: 4
Preparation: Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Seasoning: Brush with 4 tablespoons oil
Grilling Time: 5 minutes per side

Week of May 10, 2009

How to Use Jicama

If you have ever wondered what this ugly little root is in your grocery produce section, it is called jicama (HEE-kah-ma). It is an edible root that resembles a turnip but has thin brown skin and crisp, juicy, white flesh that’s mild in flavor (think of a cross between a water chestnut and a pear).

Jicama is native to Mexico, where it’s sometimes called yam bean, Mexican turnip, or Mexican potato. The root is the only edible portion of the plant as its leaves and seeds contain a mild toxin.

Find jicama year-round in the produce section of most large supermarkets and Latin American markets. Select firm, dry jicama roots. Skin should not appear shriveled, bruised or have deep blemishes.

Remove skin with a sharp vegetable peeler, then cut the white flesh into cubes or strips, according to your recipe. Because jicama does not brown or become soggy after cutting, it makes a nice addition to salads and crudités served with dips. It’s also good in stir-fries, as it retains its crispness.

Keep jicama unpeeled in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Week of May 3, 2009

Working with Dried Chilies

1. Wash them (during the drying process, they get buggy and dusty). Wear gloves while handling very hot chiles, and avoid rubbing your eyes or other sensitive body parts.

2. Break off the stem on the top of each chile after washing, then split the chile open and shake out and discard the seeds.

3. The heat of the chile is not only in the seeds but also in the veins. Carefully peel them out and discard them. Then you're ready to soak and soften the chiles. They will still be full of flavor, but you will have controlled the heat.


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