Monday, July 18, 2011

What Do You Know About the Different Olive Oils on the Market?

How adventurous a cook are you? Do you enjoy experimenting with new recipes and methods? Are you the first of your friends to try new crock pot recipes or to use an interesting oil? Wanting to learn more about olive oils?

Cooking with olive oil is very popular. Olive oil tastes good and is healthy for you as well. However, some folks are terrified of the large amount of oils they see at the market. I know the feeling well. Standing in front of the many different shelves containing everything from pure to refined to extra virgin and plain old everyday virgin...who knows what to buy! This does not have to be the case however. It is possible to learn the basic elements of olive oils so you can choose the right one from the oil department.

Seriously, there are a ton of different flavors, colors and brands of olive oil available. Why so many anyway? Olive oils come from different places around the world, and depending on the area and climate of where the olives were grown, the oil will have its own characteristics.

Before you go shopping, let's look at some of the different basic types of olive oil:


Friday, July 15, 2011

Easy and Delicious German Recipes

This post is especially for one of my subscribers, Herb, who has graciously requested some German recipes. I have some great recipes I acquired while living in Landstuhl Germany in the early 1990's that I made for my family.  They were very easy to make.

Here are a couple, and I'll post more later.  I hope these are helpful! Thanks :0)

Beef Rouladen

4 thin steak slices, cut from the top round steak
salt and pepper to taste
mustard
1 onion, sliced
4 thin ham slices or bacon slices
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup beef broth

Pound steak and sprinkle salt/pepper on both sides. Spread mustard sparingly on one side. On top of mustard, add ham and onion. Roll from end to end and secure with toothpicks. Dip in flour. Heat butter and brown rouladen. Add broth; cover and simmer over low heat for 1 to 1.5 hours.

Remove rouladen; add flour or cornstarch to thicken meat juices. If desired, 1 Tbsp sour cream may be used in gravy mixture. Serve with rice, noodles or potato dumplings. Serves 4.

Potato Dumplings

1 1/2 lbs. cooked potatoes, cold
1/2 cup flour
milk
1 egg
salt

Mash the cold potatoes. Combine with potatoes, the flour, egg, and just enough milk to cause the dough to hold together when formed into dumplings. Form dumplings, approx. 2 inches in wide. Drop carefully into pot of boiling, salted water. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 - 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from water and serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exploring Different Cultural and Regional Dishes: American Southern

To add spice and variety to the dinner table, you may want to explore different cultural dishes that are specific to a certain part of the United States. In the Deep South, states like Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Georgia prepare an array of delicious dishes ranging from Southern Fried Chicken to Boiled Peanuts to Swamp Cabbage. When they settle down for a meal, a heaping serving of sweet tea usually accompanies a plateful of heavily spiced food with lots of flavor.

Below are a few suggestions to get you in the right direction when you wish to explore recipes of the Deep South:


Fried Catfish:

This dish is heavily associated with the Deep South, as it came a long way from being referred to as the "food of the poor." Today, small-town and large-scale eateries showcase fried catfish on their menus, which is coated in a batter and fried. A typical fried catfish meal is usually served with hushpuppies and coleslaw. Pan-fried catfish is often prepared using a batter made of cold milk, yellow cornmeal, salt, ground black pepper, and red cayenne pepper.

Hushpuppies:

The dumplings that often accompany fried chicken and catfish are deeply fried and are a favorite throughout the South. To prepare hushpuppies for your Deep South dinner, you will need to gather vegetable oil, yellow cornmeal, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, eggs, milk, and water.


How To Preserve Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs do not last forever and in order to preserve the integrity of one of your most flavorful cooking supplies, you need to act fast, as the quicker you dry the herbs – the more flavorful the results. There are several different ways to satisfy this task, including: the conventional oven, air-drying, microwave-drying, and freezing. When preserving herbs, one of the best rules of thumb to follow is to avoid heat, moisture and light, which is known to weaken the flavor of herbs. Below you will find instructions on how to complete some of the most popular methods of preserving fresh herbs.


Conventional Oven

1. Place clean, dry herbs sprigs on a baking sheet lined with foil.
2. Bake the herbs at the lowest setting of the oven until they become dry and brittle.
3. Continue to dry the herbs for about 12 hours.
4. Once completed, separate the leaves from the stems and place them in a small airtight storage container.

Air-Drying

1. Tie small bunches of herbs with string and hand upside down by the stems. This should take place at a location that is dry and warm (but out of direct contact with the sun). Air should be able to easily circulate about the branches.
2. Let the leaves dry until they are brittle, which depending on the thickness of the leaves – may take a couple of days to a week
3. Pick off the dried leaves and store in a tightly sealed container within a cool, dry place for about two weeks or until the leaves are completely dried.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tin Foil Cooking

A roll of foil and a baking dish or just the foil itself, it brings endless possibilities to the novice cook.Whenever, the time factor involved allows the ingredients to bake or braise in an oven set to a desired temperature. Until, it has finished cooking. Sometimes, meat or poultry is encased in a foil pouch.

After seasoning the ingredients, enough foil is measured and folded at both ends and then placing a piece of seasoned chicken breast inside and folding it at the top. Waterless fresh vegetables are easy to manage by first: spraying the vegetables like green beans or asparagus with a commercial cooking spray and seasoning them with a non-salt or low-sodium seasoning. Then, the vegetables are put a baking dish and covered with enough foil to keep any cooking heat from escaping.

Meats such as lean beef or steak and pork chops are also better tasting when encased inside a foil pouch. Spray the meat or poultry or fish with commercial cooking spray, season with some salt and pepper, the choice of meats are then splashed with Worcestershire Sauce or Teriyaki Sauce.

Place the foil pouch inside a baking dish or drip pan to keep the juices from spilling on the bottom of the oven. Using a temperature of three hundred and fifty degrees, the meat cooks within a few hours. For hurried cooking times, use the broiler set at four hundred and check within a hour or an hour and a half. Take the meat, or poultry out of the foil pouch and finish cooking it for two minutes in the microwave. It will be ready to serve. Fresh vegetables are done within twenty to twenty-five minutes depending upon desired tenderness.

Aluminum foil was commercially sold in sheets and rolls to grocers in nineteen forty-eight. With the invention of the tv dinner in nineteen fifty-four, foil cooking was the rage in the form of meals already prepared on aluminum trays and then covered with some foil.The meals were in frozen form. The dinners were heated in the oven that took at least thirty to forty-five minutes depending upon the ingredients cooking times

Nowadays, fresh ingredients can be prepared ahead and then warmed in the microwave for a home cooked meal. The whole idea of foil cooking, it allows some time away from the stove. With the invention of the microwave, heating already prepared meals takes less cooking time than oven heating it. Also, the meals are prepared with nutrition in mind.

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Dieter's Quandary are some recipes and helpful tips to lose weight and keep it off.


How to Cook White Rice

The Japanese eat rice on a daily basis. So we all know how to prepare it. However for people not used to cooking rice and using rice cookers there are a few simple steps to follow to ensure that you are able to make the best tasting rice possible.

I like to follow 4 stages when I make my rice. They are as follows:

Washing the rice
Soaking the rice
Cooking the rice
Being patient

I shall discuss each of these steps in turn. Firstly it is important to wash the rice prior to cooking it. Rather than it being dirty, the aim when we wash the rice is to rinse away excess starch from the surface of the grains. So the first thing to do is to scoop the required number of cups of rice into the non-stick cooking bowl of your rice cooker. Then add some water. Simply using your fingers, start to swirl the rice and water around.

You will notice that the water begins to turn a milky color. When it becomes a strong white color simply pour this water down the sink. Then add more water and repeat. It is traditional to do this three times. Although if you are not satisfied that your rice is clean enough simply continue until the water hardly changes color when you mix it around the bowl.

Once you have washed your rice you must ensure that you add the correct amount of water to the cooking bowl. This is easy as you simply fill the bowl to the numbered mark that is equal to the number of cups of rice in the non-stick cooking dish. Then you can place the bowl into the rice cooker itself. Rather than turning it on straight away, I like to let my rice sit for a few minutes, ideally 5-10 minutes. This allows it to begin to absorb some of the water.

Thirdly simply start your rice cooker and it will take care of cooking the rice for you. The cooking is the easy part as we do not have to do anything. However the preparation prior to cooking is important to ensure we get the best tasting rice possible.

Finally once the rice has finished cooking, rather than serving it up straight away, it is best to let it sit for a few minutes. You can also turn the heat setting down. Leaving the rice for a few minutes rather than serving it up straight away makes it less likely to stick to the cooking bowl. When serving the rice, rinsing the serving spatula before use means it will reduce the quantity of rice that sticks to the serving spoon. And these are the simple steps to follow to get great tasting Japanese rice every time.

Yoko Iwata is a native of Japan and prepares rice every day. She is an expert at using Japanese rice cookers.

How to Make Flawless Brown Gravy From Scratch

Making a silky, lump-less gravy is not at all hard! All you have to do is follow some basic steps and your final result will be completely successful. Have you ever been passed a gravy boat full of substance that resembles glue? How about glue full of lumps? I have and it was not a pretty site! Well glue-like gravy no more! Let us make a perfect sauce for our mashed potatoes!

The first thing you need to do is make a stock from the giblets excepting the liver. You can use the tail if you want, as well. Rinse off the giblets and place them into a small heavy pot. Add 1 carrot, halved; 2 smashed garlic cloves; 1/4 of a yellow onion, sliced and 1 celery stalk (preferably with leaves), halved. Cover everything with water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat. Let your stock simmer for at least 90 minutes, until you have a nicely concentrated stock. Do not season the stock with salt and pepper as you will add the flavor with the brown bits from your roasting pan. Once the stock is ready, pass it through a strainer making sure to squeeze all cooked veggies. Set the stock aside.

When your turkey is ready remove it from the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the stove and turn the burners on medium heat. Using a spatula, scrape all of the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan and let the mixture simmer until it reduces a bit. Pour the fat into a fat separator. Reserve all of the brown bits.

Place 1/4 cup of the separated fat into a small heavy pot. Vigorously whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour. Whisk for a couple of minutes, making sure to dissolve any lumps, in order to cook the flour. Slowly whisk in the giblet stock, whisking constantly getting rid of all the lumps that might form. Add as much stock as you want - until you get the thickness you desire. Whisk constantly until your gravy comes to a soft boil. Add all of the brown bits whisking well. Cook for an extra 3 to 4 minutes.

Pass the gravy through a very fine strainer, discarding any remaining bits. Warm through and serve with your favorite turkey and mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Check out this step-by-step video on how to successfully make a flawless brown gravy!

Mary Ann Allen, The Frugal Chef, is dedicated to show people how to eat well without spending a fortune. Her website http:///www.TheFrugalChef.com is loaded with free recipes, cooking videos and tips on how to save money without sacrificing nutrition and flavor!