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Archive for September, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: How To Boil Water

How to boil water? Doesn’t everyone know how to boil water?

Not everyone knows how to boil water correctly.

Here’s some advice from Chef Louis Eguaras, author of 101 Things I Learned In Culinary School.

1. Choose the right size pot. This means a pot large enough to comfortably hold what you need to cook, with about 1/3 room at the top after the food is covered with water.

2. Fill the pot with water. If the food is to be placed in the pot from the beginning, add the food and cover it with cold water.

Why cold water? Wouldn’t water from the hot water tap help the water boil faster?


Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian | SXC.

Warm water can contain impurities from the hot water heater. Also, some foods, including eggs, rice and root vegetables, cook more evenly from a cold start.

3. Add salt to the water. Adding it at the beginning of the process rather than at the end helps it get absorbed into the food.

4. Place the pot on the stove and cover it with a lid. If you don’t have a lid, use a fry pan, tea kettle or any other heat-proof cover. In a pinch, you can use aluminum foil.

Why do you need a lid? It keeps in the steam generated by the heat and helps the water boil faster. Without a lid, a portion of the water will evaporate. But worse, the water will take four times as long to boil, wasting your time and valuable fuel.

Water boils at 212°F/100°C at sea level. The boiling point drops 1.8°F/1°C for every 1,000-foot increase in altitude. So if you’re cooking at a different altitude—on vacation or visiting relatives, for example—don’t be surprised if the water boils faster or more slowly.

5. Don’t use a burner or flame larger than the pot. This not only wastes energy; if flames escape to a wider circumference on your stovetop, other items can catch fire (including grease spatters).

Now, you can boil water like a professional.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Be Sure It’s Whole Grain Bread

Don’t be fooled by package ingredients. If
it doesn’t say whole wheat or whole grain,
it isn’t. (This sandwich bread is.)

Yesterday, we were at the bagel shop perusing our choices. While leaning towards the “everything” bagel, we decided that, as a trade off for all the carbs and cream cheese fat, we should at least make it a whole grain bagel.

The darker-looking bagel choices included oat bran, oatmeal, pumpernickel and whole wheat. But “dark” doesn’t mean “whole grain.”

Pumpernickel isn’t made from whole-grain flour; oatmeal and whole wheat are. Oat bran, while high in soluble fiber, isn’t considered a whole grain (it has the fiber but not the vitamins and minerals).

Processed white flour is stripped of much of its fiber and nutrients, while whole grain flour contains fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals including B vitamins and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper and magnesium). A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer.

The need to eat whole grains is espoused in magazines, television and healthy websites. Yet, though it’s an easy switch to make in one’s food purchases, only about 10% of Americans eat whole grains daily.**According to Web MD.

Food producers have responded and far beyond sliced bread and bagels, there are whole grain tortillas, pita, pretzels, pasta, pizza crusts and other flour-based foods.

  • If it says wheat flour and not “whole wheat flour,” it is not whole grain. “Unbleached” and “enriched,” “cracked wheat” and “100% wheat flour” do not change that fact.
  • In fact, the word “enriched” is a dead giveaway for refined flour; after processing, vitamins are added back in to enrich the nutrition-stripped flour.
  • “Multigrain” is not whole grain. It just means that it’s a blend of different, processed grains. It may or may not contain some whole grain.
  • The same goes with your breakfast cereal. While Total, Product 19, and Special K are seen as healthy choices, only Total is whole grain.

How else can you be sure that it’s whole grain?


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TIP OF THE DAY: Oil & Vinegar Triage

You can save money by keeping different grades of oil and vinegar for different purposes.

For example, basic balsamic vinegar is slightly acidic and best used for salad dressings.

The next grade up is significantly smoother, and should be used for finishing and for marinades.

Trade up one more step and the balsamic has a well rounded, full-bodied flavor, ideal to make warm sauces over meats and fish.

The top grade, made from the the best reserves, should itself be reserved to glorify a simple dessert like fresh fruit and ice cream, or a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Follow the same steps with olive oil: regular for cooking, extra-virgin for dressing salads and garnishing other foods.

Know when to save and when to
splurge. Photo by Andi Pantz | IST.


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PRODUCT: Goat Cheese

An easy-to-make goat cheese-apricot
canapé. Photo courtesy Vermont Butter &
Cheese Creamery.

We hear quite a few people say that they don’t like goat cheese. While taste is a very personal thing, goat cheese is our favorite.

If you think you don’t like goat cheese, try one of the fresh chèvre, the French word for goat cheese (pronounced SHEVr with a guttural R at the end). It’s like soft cream cheese with a tang. The stronger flavors develop as a goat cheese is aged.

Goat cheese adds a touch of sophistication to whatever it graces. Here are just a few things you can do with a log of goat cheese:

  • As a canapé or tea-time treat, make apricot “sandwiches,” filling two dried apricot halves with goat cheese. You can also stuff dates with goat cheese, and garnish both recipes with chopped pistachios or walnuts.
  • Toss crumbled goat cheese on pasta and pizza.
  • Add it to salads, either crumbled or as a sliced disk (circle) with baby lettuces and a large crouton (made from a sliced and toasted baguette).
  • One of our favorite salad recipes: goat cheese, beets and mesclun, garnished with toasted walnuts and dressed with a walnut oil vinaigrette.
  • Serve it as a cheese course: a disk on a plate with fresh or dried fruit slices, nuts and a garnish of small greens (such as baby arugula and watercress). No bread or crackers are needed, but you can serve them.
  • Spread it on a bagel, top a burger, make a goat cheese BLT—the options are many.


To bake goat cheese disks for a warm goat cheese salad:
1. Cut a log into inch-thick disks and place in a shallow container in one layer.
2. Sprinkle with chopped thyme, rosemary or other favorite fresh herbs and add extra-virgin olive oil to marinate.
3. Cover and chill 12 hours or overnight.
4. Before baking, pop into the freezer for 1 hour.
5. Remove disks from marinade and roll completely in panko, Japanese breadcrumbs. Press gently so the crumbs adhere.
6. Place on a large baking sheet and bake in a 400° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Flip halfway through.
7. To make croutons, add baguette slices to oven for the last 5 minutes of baking.

If you’re feeling more ambitious we highly recommend goat cheese tarts as a first course, and goat cheese ravioli.


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Video Of The Week: Make Easy Thai Salmon


This salmon dish, from Martha Drayton of Whole Foods, packs a lot of flavor into one tasty dish. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Salmon is marinated in a coconut curry sauce that takes just a couple of minutes to prepare, then steamed and infused with Thai flavors.

For more Thai flavors, try an equally quick recipe for Thai Red Curry Crab.

Not into spicy foods? September is National Honey Month: Try Honey-Citrus Glazed Salmon.

And for more videos, head over to our video page.

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