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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cooking

FOOD 101: How To Avoid Salmonella & Other Food Poisoning

People tend to worry about food poisoning during the summer months, when eating outdoors exposes food to greater bacterial growth from the heat. But you can get food poisoning year round, including in your own kitchen.

The Partnership for Food Safety Education helps consumers get the facts, deflating common myths about cross-contamination and the growth of harmful pathogens that cause food poisoning. Here are their myth busters for 2014:

Myth 1: It’s O.K. to wash bagged greens if I want to. It’s even better for them.

Fact: While intuition says that giving ready to eat, washed or triple washed salad couldn’t possibly hurt, the truth is otherwise. An extra rinse will not enhance safety, but could potentially lead to cross-contamination from pathogens that could be on your hands or on kitchen surfaces. Ready-to-eat greens are just that: ready!
 
Myth 2: Cross-contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator. It’s too cold in there for germs to survive!

Fact: Some bacteria can survive cold environments like the fridge. In fact, Listeria monocytogenes grows at temperatures as low as 35.6°F. A recent study from NSF International reveals that the refrigerator produce compartment is one of the germiest place in the kitchen, containing salmonella and listeria bacteria.

   

Raw_whole_chicken-chicken.ie-230

Don’t rinse raw chicken before cooking it. Salmonella can contaminate other items in the sink. Photo courtesy Chicken.ie.

 
To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, clean the bins regularly with hot soap and water; clean the other surfaces of the fridge likewise, including the walls and undersides of shelves; and clean up any food and beverage skills immediately. Be sure to keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

 

salmonella-kosmix.co-230r

Not fun: the salmonella bacterium. Photo
courtesy Kosmix.co.

 

Myth 3: It’s only important to rinse fresh fruits and vegetables for safety. I don’t need to dry them too.

Fact: Using a clean cloth or paper towel to blot dry fruits and vegetables after rinsing is more important than you might realize. Research has found that taking a minute to dry the produce reduces the level harmful bacteria that can remain on the surface.

  • Just before use, rinse under running water only that produce that you plan to eat, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten (like melon or citrus).
  • Dry with a clean cloth or a paper towel.
  •  

    Myth 4: I don’t need to rinse this melon for safety, since the part I eat is on the inside.
    Fact: There are many pathogens on the rind that can contaminate the edible portion. A knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry them from the outside to the inside. The rind also touches the flesh when sliced pieces of melon are stacked on a platter. Play it safe and rinse the melon under running water while rubbing it with your hands or scrubbing it with a clean brush and then dry it before slicing.

     

    FOOD SAFETY TRIVIA

  • 65% of people don’t wash their hands before starting meal preparation.
  • 1/3 of people only use water to rinse their hands. You need to use soap!
  • 45% of consumers rinse raw chicken. This spread germs and isn’t a food safety step. Don’t rinse it! (Big surprise—we intuitively rinsed the chicken.)
  • Don’t guess: Use a food thermometer. The safe temperature for cooked chicken is 165°F.
  •  
    For more food safety information, visit FoodSafety.gov.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make It A Trio

    Once upon a time there was a magical restaurant in Wheeling, Illinois, Le Français, the creation of chef-owner Jean Banchet. There, among other glories, we were first introduced to the “trio” approach he brought from his classic French training:

    Whatever protein you hungered for—beef, duck, seafood, veal—would be served in three different preparations on one plate. For example, the lobster trio might include truffled lobster, Lobster Thermidor and lobster sausage.

    By varying cuts, preparations and sauces, Banchet created a symphony of flavors and visual appeal. It became our favorite way of eating.

    The trio approach never took great hold in the U.S. In New York City, we find them mostly in seafood preparations:

  • The trio of fish tacos at Haru Japanese restaurants.
  • A trio of mussels, variously prepared as a seasonal special from Anita Lo of Annisa (see photo).
  • Wild salmon sushi with three different garnishes (fresh ginger and scallion, concasse of tomato and a lemon and vodka marinade topped with lemon zest) at Sushi Seki.
  •  

    mussels-trio-annisa-230

    Photo courtesy Annisa Restaurant | NYC.

     
    Following our enlightenment from Banchet way back in the 1980s, we took to making trios at home for dinner parties. You don’t need a large kitchen staff to turn out three completely different preparations. Here are some tricks:
     

  • Include a sausage as one of the trio. It requires only a quick grilling and an interesting flavored mustard, chutney or other condiment.
  • Consider poaching one of the other two, and grilling, pan frying or roasting the other two. Poultry, filet of beef and seafood are delicious when poached, and the texture is very tender.
  • Use a marinade. A very well-seasoned marinade (lots of herbs, spices, balsamic, etc.) on one of two remaining proteins will differentiate the flavor.
  • Use a dairy based sauce (butter, cheese or cream) and a non-creamy one. The choices are vast: caper, horseradish, mushroom, olive, tomato and wine reduction aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. Browse the sauces section in your cookbooks and check out the mother sauces of France.
  • Think garnishes. The options are endless, but go for good color contrasts.
  •  
    Today’s homework: Start to sketch out some trios: protein, preparation, sauce, garnish. Keep on the refrigerator door and update it as inspiration strikes.
     
    *Jean Banchet, a French chef, founded Le Français in 1973, and soon earned a rare five-star distinction from Mobil. In 1980, it was named the best restaurant in America by Bon Appetit magazine. Banchet retired from Le Français in 2001 and passed away last year.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Check Your Cooking Spray Ingredients

    Some 50 years ago, the debut of the first spray cooking oil, PAM, was a game changer for many cooks. But over the years, the joy of convenience and calorie savings gave way to wariness of the chemical propellants—petroleum, propane and isobutene—said to be 11% of the contents in the aerosol spray can. Today’s tip is to look at the ingredients in the can.

    If you’ve never used it, here’s the 411: Cooking spray is applied to frying pans and other cookware to prevent food from sticking. The virtually calorie-free spray spare the calories and saturated fats of butter, oil or other fat because the sprayed layer is so thin.

    PAM and the cooking spray brands that followed made other tasks a breeze, too—in the kitchen and beyond. We’ve listed some of the popular uses for cooking spray, below.

    In recent years, consumers have become more aware and fussy about the quality of the ingredients they consume. Two companies have decided to lose the controversial chemicals: major brand Bertolli and artisan producer La Tourangelle.

    Opting for compressed air to propel 100% oil (instead of 89% oil and 11% chemicals), these products deliver even better taste without the hint of chemicals.

    The original sprays were a greasing agent; these new, all natural sprays are also salad spritzers, finishing oils* (especially the top-quality La Tourangelle line) and more—for example, a cholesterol-free, mess-free condiment for corn on the cob. In every case you use far less oil than in another type of application.

     
    BERTOLLI 100% OLIVE OIL SPRAY

    The new sprays launch in three varieties:

       

    bertolli-cooking_spry_extravirgin_230

    Spray away, without chemical propellants. Photo courtesy Bertolli.

  • Bertolli 100% Classico Olive Oil Spray, to spray directly on the pan before sautéing proteins and vegetables
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray, to spray onto salads and pastas
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil Spray, for baking tins and preparations that require high heat
  •  
    You can purchase a six-pack on Amazon.com for $37.52 ($6.25 per five-ounce can), or a three-pack, one of each flavor, for $21.99 ($7.33 per can).

     
    LA TOURANGELLE ARTISAN OIL SPRAYS

    La Tourangelle, the California-based artisanal oil company and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, has launched the first-to-market line of gourmet spray oils that are also all-natural and propellant-free. The company’s top-selling bottled oils are now sprayable:

  • 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Spray
  • Grapeseed Oil Spray
  • Roasted Pistachio Spray
  • Organic Canola Spray
  • Roasted Walnut Oil Spray
  • Thai Wok Spray
  •  
    The products are now available online at LaTourangelle.com and will be hitting store shelves soon. The prices range from $6.99 to $9.99 SRP. Consider them as stocking stuffers for friends with good palates.

     
    *A finishing oil is one that is added to cooked food as a condiment, to add flavor and mouthfeel. It is an oil with especially fine natural flavor and aroma that should be enjoyed as a surface accent, and not used for cooking or baking where the nuances will dissipate under heat. It can be used on carpaccio, legumes, porcini mushrooms, pasta, rice and other grains, roasted meats and fish, vegetables and other foods. Fine olive oil can be drizzled atop vanilla ice cream and garnished with a sprinkle of sea salt.

     

     

    la-tourangelle-sprays-230

    Four of the six new artisan-quality spray oils
    from La Tourangelle. Photo courtesy La
    Tourangelle.

     

    USES FOR COOKING SPRAY

    Cooking spray is godsend for anything that calls for greasing, from skillets to bundt pans. Popular kitchen uses include:

  • Baking & Roasting: baking sheets, baking dishes/casseroles, cake and muffin pans, roasting pans and broiler pans
  • Cookware, with or without non-stick coating: barbecue grills, frying pans/skillets, gelatin molds, griddles, pots
  • Food preparation: preventing food from sticking to spatulas, wooden spoons, skewers, measuring cups (especially when measuring sticky things like honey, syrup and agave), food processor blades and blender blades
  •  
    Adventurous people found uses beyond the kitchen: everything from unsticking doors to preventing fresh nail polish from smudging.

    How about using cooking spray for removing dead bugs from your car, and other unconventional uses?

     
    COOKING SPRAY HISTORY

    PAM, America’s first aerosol cooking spray, was launched in 1961 by entrepreneur Leon Rubin who, with Arthur Meyerhoff, started Gibraltar Industries to market the spray. The name is an acronym for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff. The brand is currently owned and distributed by ConAgra Foods.

    With canola oil as its main ingredient, the appeal of PAM was immediate.

  • For calorie counters, it provided a zero-calorie*, fat-free option for greasing the pan, instead of other fats at 100 calories per tablespoon.
  • For bakers, it was the way to prevent cakes and muffins from sticking.
  • For recipes like vegetables, mozzarella sticks and the like, it helped the seasonings to stick thoroughly.
  • For utensils, coating the inside of a measuring cup with the spray allows sticky substances such as honey to pour out more easily.
  •  
    Not only did it spawn imitators (Baker’s Joy, Crisco, Emeril, Mazola and Smart Balance, for example), but PAM itself developed eight varieties: Original plus Baking, Butter, Canola Oil, Organic Canola Oil, Grilling, Olive Oil, Organic Olive Oil Professional.

    And now, welcome to Cooking Spray 3.0: chemical free.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilling Tips

    quadruple-burger-grilling.com-230

    Burgers are the number one item grilled–
    although few are quadruple burgers, like this
    one. Photo courtesy Grilling.com.

     

    Labor Day, just around the corner, is the third most popular grilling holiday of the year. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s most recent State of the Barbecue Industry Report:

  • 51% of grill owners used their grill on Labor Day last year
  • 52% grilled on Memorial Day
  • A whopping 68% lit up their grills on July 4th
  •  
    It doesn’t stop at the end of summer: Statistics show that 60% of grill owners use their grills year-round.

    What are all of these grills cooking up? The most popular foods for cooking are

  • Burgers, 85%
  • Steak, 80%
  • Hot dogs, 79%
  • Chicken, 73%
  •  
    The side dishes most commonly prepared on the grill are:

  • Corn, 41%
  • Potatoes, 41%
  • Other vegetables, 32%
  •  

    The Association’s website has information including

  • Choosing the Right Grill
  • Popular Accessories
  • Grill Features
  • Knowing Your Fuels
  • Grilling Facts and Figures
  • General Grilling Safety
  • Gas Grill Safety
  • Charcoal Grill Safety
  • Electric Grill Safety
  • Food Handling Safety
  • Easy Grill Clean-Up
     
    The most popular flavors of barbecue sauce? Hickory, followed by mesquite, honey, and then spicy-hot.

  •  

    Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale_1805_230-wiki

    Thomas Jefferson, the First Griller, in 1805. Portrait by Rembrandt Peale | Wikimedia.

     
    Not surprisingly, HPBA has a variety of resources for grillers, including:

  • BBQ 365 Grill Guide.
  • BBQ 365 Calendar featuring barbecue trends, stats, holidays and events throughout the year.
  •  

    GRILLING AT THE WHITE HOUSE

    Barbecues have been a White House tradition since Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the U.S. Fast forward some 160 years: Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president, hosted the first barbecue at the White House that featured Texas-style barbecued ribs.

    Jimmy (the 39th president) and Rosalyn Carter hosted a “pig pickin’” for about 500 guests including visiting foreign dignitaries. Ronald (the 40th) and Nancy Reagan also were avid barbecuers who entertained with barbecues at their ranch.

    George H. Bush, 41st president, held a barbecue for Members of Congress annually on the South Lawn of the White House, a tradition continued by his son, President George W. Bush (43rd). However, that tradition was interrupted on September 12, 2001, the day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    Secret Service agents, who had evacuated the White House a day earlier, cancelled the barbecue. The White House kitchen donated the 700 pounds of beef tenderloin to feed the hundreds of rescue workers who had traveled to Washington.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook Frozen Steaks

    A tip just heard on the Today Show: A Cook’s Illustrated taste test on cooking frozen versus thawed steaks.

    Conventional wisdom is that frozen meat should be thawed before cooking. But when testing frozen versus thawed strip steaks on the grill, the Cook’s Illustrated test showed that, while they took longer to cook, the frozen steaks were better: juicier and more evenly cooked.

    The technique also produced less overcooked meat, specifically the so-called “gray band” near the seared edge.

    Here’s the step-by-step:

    1. PREHEAT oven to 275° (135°C).

    2. FILL a skillet with 1/8″ oil and heat.

    3. SEAR meat until browned, about 90 seconds per side.

    4. TRANSFER meat to an oven safe wire rack, set upon a rimmed baking sheet.

    5. COOK in the oven to desired doneness, 18 to 20 minutes for a 1-inch-thick steak.

     

    porterhouse-on-grill-omahasteaksFB-230

    But will it work on the grill? Try the test yourself. Photo of Porterhouse steaks courtesy Omaha Steaks.

     
    Here’s the original article, along with a video.

    So try it yourself—not just with steaks but with burgers and other frozen meat and fish. And then, see how it works on the grill, and let us know.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Cooking History

    early-man-cooking-sirgy.com-230

    Be grateful for your stove and microwave! Photo courtesy Sirgy.com.

     

    Do you like sashimi and steak tartare?

    Man has been wandering Earth for some 200,000 years, but the general use of fire began only about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. Until then, man ate his food raw.*

    Neanderthals discovered how to deliberately create fire. This led to warmth—the priority in the Ice Age—and to the secondary benefit of cooking meats. Most likely, a piece of mammoth, venison or another flesh that would have been eaten raw, fell in the campfire. It had to be left there until the flames died down, no doubt filling the air with the alluring aroma of roasting meat.

    Heat breaks down tough fiber and releases flavor in the process. As a natural next step, meat and tough roots were slower cooked in the embers or on a flat stone by the side of the fire.

     
    Boiling took more time to evolve, using large mollusk or turtle shells until man created vessels of earthenware or bark that could be placed over the fire. Steaming inside animal stomachs and leaves preceded the more sophisticated development of crockery. The first oven could have been as simple as a hole in the ground.
     
    Here’s what your most ancient of forefathers did:

  • They dug a large pit in the ground and lined it with flat, overlapping stones to prevent seepage. Large quantities of water were poured in, presumably transported in skin bags. Other stones were heated in the campfire and add to the water to bring it to a simmer.
  • The food was then added and, while it was cooking, more hot stones to keep the water at the desired temperature. This technique is still used in some isolated parts of the world.†
  •  
    It was only much later that boiling or stewing was done in small pots placed near the fire, or in cauldrons suspended over a fire. [Source: Food in the Ancient World, Joan P. Alcock [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2006 (p. 105-106)]

    The use of fire vastly extended man’s diet, enabling tough foods to be palatable. Cereals—barley, millet, rice, rye, and wheat, as well as potatoes, require cooking before they can be consumed by humans. The use of fire doubtless encouraged the domestication of these foods and the end of lives as hunter-gatherers, as man settled into farming communities.

    Thanks to FoodTimeline.org for inspiring this article.

     
    *Source: Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 (p. 1571)
    †Source: Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press:New York] 1988 (p. 14-16)
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Veggie Skewers, Veggie Grilling Tips

    We discovered these nifty grill combs from Fusion Brands at Sur La Table. What better way to get everyone to eat more veggies than to skewer and grill them?

    Americans are woefully behind when it comes to eating the recommended 3-5 servings of vegetables a day; and no, spaghetti sauce and ketchup don’t count.

    So make it fun by grilling skewers of veggies while you’re cooking your proteins. Aim to build skewers of 70% veggies, 30% protein; or make all-veggie skewers.

    BEST VEGETABLES FOR GRILLING

    Many different types of vegetables can be grilled, but start with a selection from these:

  • Asparagus: If you loose them between the spokes of the grill, get a grilling basket or a shaker basket.
  • Bell peppers: Grill whole, char and peel, or cut into chunks and grill until just charred around the edges.
  • Corn: Some people leave corn in the husks for grilling. Others like the char that comes from grilling the husked corn. Try both and decide.
  •    

    veggie-skewers-comb-SLT-230

    A fun way to cook and eat veggies. Photo courtesy Sur La Table.

  • Eggplant: Slice then into 1/4” pieces and briefly marinate in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and basil.
  • Green beans: Few people think to grill these. All you need is a grilling basket/shaker basket.
  • Mushrooms: Marinate whole portabellas in balsamic vinaigrette for 1 hour; grill over high heat for 10 minutes. Smaller mushrooms can be skewered or grilled in a basket.
  • Onions: Cut crosswise into half-inch slices, skewer and grill over medium heat.
  • Potatoes: Parboil fingerling or new potatoes until they are al dente thread and finish them on the grill.
  • Radicchio or Endive: Quarter, leaving the core in, and serve warm with a vinaigrette.
  • Tomatoes: Cut in half and grill cut-side down; flip halfway through (3-4 minutes), top with pesto and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Zucchini And/Or Summer Squash: Use the eggplant marinade above.
  •  
    GENERAL GRILLING

    Karen Schultz and Maren Jahnke note in their book, Vegetarian Grilling, that vegetables contain far less fat than proteins. They thus require added fat so that they don’t dry out.

    This is done both by marinating and by brushing often with olive oil or other oil. “Be heavy on the brush,” they recommend.

    For more on how to grill vegetables, John Kennedy, in an article on SteakBytes, the blog of Omaha Steaks, offers these tips:

     

    grilling-basket-mr-bar-b-q-amz-230r

    How to keep small veggies from slipping
    through the grill: Use a grilling basket. Photo
    courtesy Mr. Bar-B-Q.

     

    VEGGIE GRILLING TIPS

    1. USE skewers. Skewers are the best way to keep vegetables from rolling around on the grill, and to easily flip to ensure that each side is getting equal contact with the heat. If you don’t want to invest in skewers, you can wrap the vegetables in a sheet of foil, then place the packet on the grill. Use nonstick cooking spray on the foil before adding the vegetables to help prevent sticking.

    2. BRUSH the vegetables with olive oil or canola oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill. Avoid the temptation of butter, to keep the cholesterol/saturated fat levels low.

    3. SEASON with dried or fresh herbs instead of salt. You’ll add great flavor without increasing sodium levels.

    4. SLICE the vegetables thickly since they will cook fast (unless you want thin, crisp slices). However, denser vegetables take longer to cook: Potato slices require a lot more time than zucchini slices, for example.

     

    5. COOK vegetables directly on the grill at medium-high heat and turn over halfway through cooking.
     
    Do this often, and you’ll eat better while enjoying the superior flavor of grilled vegetables.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Use Olive Oil When Grilling

    demedici-beaker-230

    When grilling, trade the olive oil for a high
    smoke point oil. Photo courtesy
    DeMedici.com.

     

    Do you use olive oil when grilling? Perhaps you shouldn’t. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils, so it will burn faster.

    Each fat (including butter, lard, oil and shortening) has a particular smoke point, which is the temperature at which the fat begins to break down. At this point, both the flavor and the nutritional value of the fat begin to degrade; and the fat will eventually smoke and burn if kept on the heat.

    The higher the cooking heat, the higher smoke point your fat must be. That’s why grapeseed oil (485°F), soybean oil (490°F) and safflower oil (510°F) are so popular for deep fat frying, the highest heat of stovetop cooking.

    While extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 440°F, few people would use this pricey oil for grilling. Much of the regular olive oil has a smoke point of just 320°F.

    Here are some comparative smoke points:

    440°F:
    Peanut Oil
    Sunflower Oil

     

    450°F:
    Corn Oil (Refined)
    High-Oleic Sunflower Oil (Refined)
    Palm Oil
    Peanut Oil (Refined)
    Safflower Oil (Refined)
    Sesame Oil (Semi-Refined)
    Soybean Oil (Refined)
    Sunflower Oil (Semi-refined, Refined, High Oleic, Refined)
    Vegetable Shortening

    468°F:
    Olive Oil, Extra Light

    485+:
    485°F: Grapeseed Oil
    485°F: Tea Seed Oil
    490°F: Rice Bran Oil
    495°F: Soybean Oil
    510°F: Safflower Oil
    520°F: Avocado Oil (Refined)

     

    salmon-chicken802078_SXCSlavomirUlicny

    Use a high smoke point oil for grilling, regardless of what you’re grilling. Photo by Slavomir Ulicny | SXC.

     

    MORE ABOUT THE SMOKE POINT

    Why your fats smoke and burn, or not: What’s the smoke point?

     
    CHART OF SMOKE POINTS OF OILS

    Different oils have different uses in smoke points. Here are the comparative smoke points of most oils.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Healthier Grilling Options

    turkey-burger_salad-cheesecakefactory-230

    Topped with garnishes, most people will
    enjoy a turkey or veggie burger as
    much as beef. Photo courtesy Cheesecake
    Factory.

     

    At the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago, creating “better for you” cuisine is a hot topic of discussion. Many culinary schools first train students in classic French technique. But today’s trend is to learn how to cook foods that are healthier—still mouth-watering and satisfying, but with lower saturated fat, calories or sodium, more dietary fiber, or all of these.

    Kendall’s resident nutrition expert and dean, Chef Renee Zonka, RD, CEC, CHE, notes that barbecuing and grilling are excellent opportunities to serve more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, leaner meats and antioxidant-rich seafoods. No one notices this better-for-you food, because virtually everything tastes better when cooked on a grill. Her 10 tips:

    1. Non-Beef Burgers. Burgers do not have to be beef in order to be delicious. Turkey, veggie, shrimp and salmon taste great yet have far less fat and cholesterol. Many stores sell them pre-made at the meat counter; look for Chef Big Shake shrimp burgers, loaded with peppers and spices, in the freezer case.

    2. Trim the fat, skin the bird. If you must have beef, try ground sirloin for burgers, which contains less saturated fat than 80/20 (20% fat) ground beef. Choose leaner steaks like top sirloin for grilling; with fattier steaks such as Porterhouse, trim all visible fat.

     
    Do the same for loin pork chops (pork tenderloin is naturally leaner than beef). Skin chicken and duck breasts, thighs and legs before marinating and tossing on the grill to lock that just-grilled flavor into the meat.

    3. Go fish. Oily fin fish like cod and salmon fillets are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Tilapia is not only a sustainable species, but is naturally lean, and can accept virtually any flavor from a marinade or rub before grilling. Heartier fish fillets can go right onto an oiled grill, and more delicate fish can rest on aluminum foil or even sturdy lettuce or banana leaves. Shellfish such as oysters and scallops can be grilled right in their shells. With any lean fish, watch grilling times, as less-fatty species cook quickly.

    4. Grill your veggies. Vegetables taste better when grilled, and can tempt even stalwart veggie-avoiders. From asparagus to zucchini, grilling coaxes out vegetables’ natural sugars. Other favorites include bell peppers, corn on the cob, eggplant, mushroom caps, onion, yellow squash, and even sturdy long-leaf lettuces like romaine and endive. Marinate for an hour in the refrigerator first or brush fresh veggies with olive oil on both sides. Experiment with grill times, turning once for those beautiful caramelized grill marks, until done.

     

    5. Serve fruit for dessert. Stone fruits like apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums (halved and pitted) and seeded tree fruits like apples and pears, become more exciting when grilled (over medium heat). Fruit’s natural sugars caramelize nicely for a tantalizing smoky/sweet flavor. Pineapple rings, strawberries and even sliced mango and watermelon wedges can go on the grill. Skewer smaller fruits for easy turning and serving. When grilling any fruit, make sure to lightly spray a clean grill with vegetable oil spray to prevent sticking. For softer fruits like stone fruits and mango, leave the peel on to help the fruit stay together on the grill. Serve with optional garnishes such as vanilla yogurt, fat-free plain Greek yogurt sweetened to taste, and pistachios or other nuts.

    6. Marinate! Before grilling, marinate meats, seafood and vegetables in citrus juice, vinaigrette, wine, or a simple brine of salted water, for a few minutes to a few hours in the refrigerator. Marinating both tenderizes and adds bolder flavors, so you can use less salt while grilling.

     

    grilled-plums-peaches-healthyinahurrybook

    Grilled fruit with Greek yogurt and pistachios. Photo courtesy Healthy In A Hurry.

     
    Adding a little sweetness to the marinade—like brown sugar, fruit juice, honey or molasses—helps balance the flavor. Add just a touch; you don’t need to “dump the sugar bowl” onto proteins and veggies. Or consider a homemade spice rub from dry herbs and seasonings for a delicious and salt-free flavor boost. For cut fruits, soak in water with a splash of lemon juice (and, if desired, a little cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove or ginger) for up to a half-hour before grilling to maintain their natural juiciness and color.

    7. Whole grains salads. Instead of high-fat potato and macaroni salads, a lightly dressed quinoa side dish not only delivers fresh, bright flavor; but whole-grain quinoa is packed with protein and all eight essential amino acids for optimal human health. Available in white, black and red varieties, it is naturally gluten free. Take a look at —like Chef Zonka’s Quinoa & Lentil Salad with Sherry-Dijon Vinaigrette—and Pomegranate Quinoa Tabouli). Make other cold salads with trending whole grains like barley, farro, freekeh and wheat berries. Wild rice, often relegated to autumn and winter, is delicious served cold, studded with fresh veggies and spiked with zesty citrus dressing.

    8. Watch your buns. Replace hamburger and hot dog buns made with refined white flour with whole-grain varieties. You’ll get added fiber plus enhanced flavor.

    9. Bake beans without the bacon. A hearty and satisfying side dish of baked beans need not rely on animal fat to taste delicious. Beans are a naturally good source of meatless protein and dietary fiber. You can add smoky flavor with a touch of liquid smoke.

    10. Watch the sauce. Most commercial brands of barbecue sauce are loaded with sugar (often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup) and sodium. Check the labels and go for those sweetened with agave or Splenda, or consider making your own sauce. Blend canned tomato paste with agave (or much less sugar than commercial brands), spices, vinegar and, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, fruit juice and/or mustard. Taste as you go. For portion control, don’t pour liberally over meats: Brush the sauce on.

    Now, your cook-outs will be better-for-you, and you didn’t have to go to culinary school to learn how to do it!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 7 Uses For Broth Or Stock

    Digging in the back of the pantry, we found several cartons of beef, chicken and vegetable broth and stock stock nearing expiration. We grabbed a pencil and created this list of how to use them:

    Braise & Glaze. Braise meats, glaze vegetables. Any savory recipe that calls for the addition of water can probably be improved by substituting stock.

    Cook Grains. Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the cooking water and your grains will taste so much better. Use two parts stock to one part barley, couscous, rice, quinoa or other favorite grain.

    Drink A Cup. Beef and chicken broth are protein-packed alternatives to a hot cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy a cup plain or with cracked pepper, minced herbs and/or a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Spice it up with a splash of hot sauce or minced chiles.

    Make Pasta En Brodo. An Italian classic, soup pasta or tortellini cooked in broth and served in the cooking broth with generous amounts of pasta. You can substitute barley, quinoa or other nutritious grain for the pasta. (Add spaghetti to chicken broth and you’ve got chicken noodle soup.)

     

    swanson-chicken-broth-carton-230b

    A versatile pantry sample. Photo courtesy Swanson.

     

    imagine-vegetable-broth-carton-230

    For recipes or a cup of pick-me-up. Photo
    courtesy Imagine Foods.

     

    Make Polenta. While we typically save time by purchasing premade rolls of polenta, the homemade version is so much better—and even better when made with stock instead of water. (In cooking school, which followed French techniques, we were instructed to make it with cream. Nope!)

    Make Risotto. We love an excuse to whip up a risotto. You need arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano rice (these starchier varieties create risotto’s creaminess—see the different types of rice). While plain risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano or other Italian grating cheese is delicious, wild mushroom risotto or seafood risotto is submlime. Seasonal vegetables are another fine addition. Here’s a recipe for asparagus and shrimp risotto.

    Make Soup. Add pasta and veggies for homemade chicken noodle soup; use as a base for anything from minestrone to hot and sour soup.

     
    STOCK & BROTH: THE DIFFERENCE

    The difference between a stock and a broth is the seasoning. Stock is not seasoned; it is an unfinished product that is an ingredient in another dish. For example, stock is used to make gravy (beef stock is use used for au jus), marinades, risotto, sauces and other soups.

    So, if you’re using stock, you’ll need to add salt to your desired level. Broth already contains salt.

    Broth is a thin soup is made from a clear stock foundation. The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably. However, a bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantive with the addition of a grain (corn, barley, rice) and vegetables.

    Here are the related types of soups, including consommé and velouté.

     

      

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