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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Meal Planning

Number of things could think about when preparing your Holiday Meal. Keeping your Holiday guests safe from food poisoning isn't something that generally crosses peoples minds just because they are not aware of some of the things they are doing that may cause food poisoning right in their own kitchen. The most essential thing to remember is to wash hands properly before and after touching any food item.
Planning & Shopping for Meal:
Keep foods safe is something to think about even in the planning stages. How many things will you be preparing at the same time and do you have enough space to keep it chilled before and during your arrangements?Before going to shopping for all of the things that will need for your Holiday meal make sure that your refrigerator and freezer have been cleaned out and organized so that nothing that should be chilled or frozen sits out at room temperature while you try to make room for it.

Organize your list by dry goods, frozen goods and refrigerated goods.
Shop dry goods first, then frozen, then refrigerated to keep food at the right temperature for the long amount of time possible.

If you will be making several stops when you go grocery shopping, make sure that the grocery store is your last stop on the way home. Leaving food that should be chilled in the car while you make another stop increases the risk of having it enter the temperature danger zone where bacteria can begin to grow.

When you back home with your groceries, put away your refrigerated items, then frozen items, then dry goods.

Thawing and Storing Meats:
A big mistake that most people make while preparing food at home is leaving their meats out in room temperature to thaw. Doing this could greatly increase the time for bacteria to grow because the outside will thaw first and rise into the temperature danger zone while the inside is still frozen. There are only two safe ways to thaw meats. You can simply let the meat thaw in the refrigerator or you can “force thaw” under cold running water. To force thaw, place your meat in a bowl or pan under a constant stream of cold running water, not hot water. Using hot water will have a more dangerous effect than leaving your meat out in room temperature to thaw. Using cold water will keep the temperature down and the flow of the constantly running water will help the meat to thaw faster.

It is important to keep in mind that not thaws different kinds of meats next to each other. This may cause cross-contamination. Keep your ready to eat foods away from raw meats at all times. Never use the same knife, cutting board or preparation area for both raw meat and any other type of food with out carefully cleaning them first.

Keep Hot Food Hot and Cold Food Cold:
You will most likely be preparing several dishes that should be served hot for your Holiday Meal. Try to plan a way to keep them hot at all times before serving, possibly by using a warming plate or warm oven. If you prepare a hot item before the big meal and intend to simply reheat it, make sure that it chills thoroughly within 4 hours. An easy and effectual way to do this is by placing it in an ice bath. Use a container larger than the one that is holding the item and fill the bottom with ice. Place the hot item onto the ice and put ice all the way around the sides. Once the item has cooled, instantly place it in the refrigerator. When reheating, ensure that the entire dish reaches at least 165 degrees in the center by using a meat thermometer.

You will also desire to make sure that your poultry and pork reach at least 165 degrees and your seafood reaches 140 degrees.

After Meals:
When leftovers are involved, the risk of food borne illness does not end after the original meal. When everyone has finished eating, make sure to get all leftovers that are at risk of spoiling put into the refrigerator right away.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Dinner

Most of the Americans are just finishing the last of the Thanksgiving turkey left-overs when it is time to think about a Christmas dinner meal plan. You can go with the traditional or seek something totally different this year.

Traditional Christmas Dinner:

In United States and Canada, Christmas dinner is very much like Thanksgiving dinner. Typically you will have turkey as the main course and then a number of side dishes. to making a turkey then you will want to make stuffing and gravy and include to that. Some wonderful traditional Christmas side dishes would include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole.

There are different ways to prepare potato dishes. Sweet potatoes can be mashed and served as a sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and butter mixed in pecans on top or could chop sweet potatoes in large chunks and roast them in the pan around the turkey. Mashed potatoes can also be prepared some different ways depending upon what seasonings you add. Potatoes could also be seasoned and roasted or scalloped. Green bean casserole is a great creamy dish that goes well with turkey and all of your other side dishes.

Traditional Christmas Dinner with different side dishes could always start with the traditional turkey, stuffing and gravy but go with some very unique side dishes. Look to recipes from other countries for some wonderful ideas such as fried purple cabbage and a cold cucumber salad. Since your turkey does not have a strong flavor, it is easy to look to a range of different side dishes. Another common Christmas dinner main course would be ham instead of turkey. Although you won't have stuffing and gravy, almost any side dish that you would have chosen for your turkey will work well with ham also.

Non-traditional Christmas dinner menus if you want to break away for the traditional altogether you could go with a theme dinner such as Italian food. You could start with Tortellini soup and then serve a wonderful baked lasagne as the main course with Caesar Salad and garlic bread. If looking for non-traditional then be creative but make sure to go with something that you know your family will enjoy. If this is the first time you are trying some of these non-traditional menu items you may want to try making a half size part a couple of weeks in advance so you can do a taste test.

Whatever your menu plan for Christmas dinner just keep in mind that it is truly the time spent with your loved ones that is the special part of this meal.

How to Cook Chicken

How to Bake Chicken
Baking is an oven-based method that is considered to be among the healthiest methods for cooking chicken.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Dredge chicken pieces in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
3. Melt 1/2 cup butter in large baking pan in oven. Remove pan from oven; roll chicken in butter to evenly coat.
4. Arrange chicken, skin side down, in single layer in baking pan.
5. Bake chicken 50 to 60 minutes or until no longer pink in center, turning pieces over after 30 minutes.

How to Poach Chicken
Poaching is a technique that cooks chicken slowly and gently in a simmering, but not boiling, liquid that covers the food. The poaching liquid may be flavored or seasoned.
1. Mix ingredients for poaching liquid in large saucepan or stockpot.
2. Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels; add to poaching liquid.
3. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to low and cover.
4. Simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.
5. Remove chicken from liquid using tongs. Strain stock; refrigerate or freeze for another use.

How to Brown Chicken
Browning chicken is the first step in many recipes for cooking chicken.

1. Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
3. Add chicken pieces to hot oil in a single layer without crowding.
4. Cook 8 to 10 minutes per side or until chicken is browned; remove with tongs. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
5. Continue with your chicken recipe of choice, baking, braising, or simmering the chicken accordingly until it is no longer pink in center.

How to Braise Chicken
Braising is a moist-heat cooking method used to tenderize tough cuts of meat. Chicken is normally browned first and then braised.

1. Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels.
2. Heat oil in heavy, large saucepan over medium-high heat.
3. Add chicken pieces to hot oil in a single layer without crowding.
4. Cook 8 to 10 minutes per side or until chicken is browned; remove with tongs. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
5. Add braising liquid and other ingredients per recipe to saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat.
6. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or as recipe directs.
7. Add chicken to ingredients in saucepan. Cover and simmer according to recipe directions, typically 40 to 45 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in center.

How to Stir-Fry Chicken
Stir-frying quickly cooks bite-size pieces of chicken over very high heat in a small amount of oil.

1. Place uncooked boneless, skinless chicken on cutting board.
2. using a sharp knife, slice the chicken crosswise across the grain into 1/4-inch strips.
3. Heat wok or large skillet over high heat. (Test hot pan by adding drop of water to pan; if water sizzles, pan is sufficiently hot.)
4. Include 2 tablespoons oil to hot pan, swirling to coat all sides. Heat oil until hot about 30 seconds.
5. Add chicken to wok; briskly toss and stir chicken with wok utensil or wooden spoon, keeping chicken in constant motion, 3 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.
6. Remove chicken; set aside and continue with recipe.

How to Saute Chicken
Sauteing, or pan-frying, is the technique of quickly cooking or browning food in a small amount of fat in a skillet.
1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat until foamy.
2. Include chicken to skillet in single layer; cook 6 to 8 minutes per side or until chicken is lightly browned.
3. Cover; reduce heat to low.
4. Cook 10 to 20 minutes, depending on type of chicken, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink in center.

How to Roast a Chicken
Roasting is a technique often performed in the broiler.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle chicken halves with salt and pepper.
2. Place chicken halves, skin side up, in single layer in large shallow baking pan. Brush chicken with butter.
3. Roast chicken, basting frequently with butter, 45 minutes or until chicken is tender.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Soup Recipes

Bread and tomato Soup:
• 500g ripe cherry tomatoes
• A large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
• The best extra virgin olive oil you can find
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• 2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes
• 500g or 2 large handfuls of stale good-quality bread
Prick the cherry tomatoes and toss them with one sliced clove of garlic and a quarter of the basil leaves. Drizzle with additional virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put them in a roasting tray and cook in the oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 for about 20 minutes. The reason for doing this is so that their flavor becomes strong and concentrated.
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot and add the remaining garlic and the basil stalks. Stir around and gently fry for a minute until softened. Put in your tinned tomatoes, then fill the tin with water and add that. Break the tomatoes up with a spoon, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Tear the bread up into thumb-sized pieces and include them to the pan. Mix well and season to taste. Tear in the basil leaves and let the soup sit on a low heat for 10 minutes. By this time your roasted tomatoes will be done, with juice bursting out of their skins, so eliminate them from the tray, remembering to scrape all the lovely sticky bits from the bottom. Pour them into the soup with all the juices, basil and oil from the tray.
Give the soup a good stir  you're looking to get a thick, silky, porridgey texture, so feel free to adjust it with a little water. Then remove it from the heat and add 6 or 7 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Divide between your bowls and serve with a little extra basil torn over the top if you like. The most important thing with this soup is that you have a wonderfully intense sweet tomato basil flavor.

Beef Soup Stock:
1 pound of round of beef, 2 quarts of water, 2 small new carrots or 1/2 of an old carrot, 1/2 pound of beef bones, 2 small potatoes ,1 onion, 1 tomato fresh or canned Parsley.
Boil the beef, bones, and vegetables in two quarts of water over a slow fire adding pepper and salt. Skim occasionally, and after two hours add two tablespoons of sherry; then strain through fine soup strainer or cheese cloth. This is the basis of all the following soups, except when otherwise stated.
To make this stock richer, add a turkey leg to above receipt; boil one and a half hours, then add one-half a pound of finely chopped beef. Cook for half an hour longer, then strain.
To make meat jelly, add a little gelatine to the soup stock 5 minutes before straining.
To give a excellent dark color to the stock, include a few drops of "caramel," which is organized in the following manner:
Put three tablespoons of granulated sugar into a saucepan with a little water, and until the sugar has become dark and reddish; then add a little more water and boil again until the sugar is melted. Strain and pour into a bottle when the caramel will keep perfectly for several weeks.

Feel good Chicken Broth:

Put your chicken, celery, carrot and bacon in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer slowly for an hour and a quarter, skimming the white residue off the top every now and again. Add rosemary sprigs, shitake mushrooms and sherry for the last ten minutes, and then remove the chicken from the pan. It should be wholly cooked, and will be great for salads or sandwiches or for tearing into slivers to put into the soup. Season the soup with salt and ladle it through a sieve into bowls, trying not to disrupt it too much as you want to keep it reasonably clear. Put in chicken slivers and a few mushrooms to each bowl and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. The completed thing should be a kinda clear consommé.

English onion soup with sage and cheddar:

If you have the opportunity, get hold of as several different types of onion for this soup as you can you need about 1kg in total. Sweat them gently and you’ll be amazed at all the flavors going on.
Put the butter, 2 glugs of olive oil, the sage and garlic into a thick-bottomed, non-stick pan. Stir everything round and add the onions, shallots and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Place a lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook gradually for 50 minutes, without coloring the vegetables too much. Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes, your onions will become golden and soft. Stir occasionally so that nothing catches on the base. Having the patience to cook the onions slowly, slowly, gives you an incredible sweetness and an awesome flavor, so don’t be tempted to speed this bit up.
When your onions and leeks are lovely and silky, include the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. You can skim any fat off the surface if you like, but I prefer to leave it because it adds good flavor.
Preheat the oven or grill to maximum. Toast your bread on both sides. Correct the seasoning of the soup. When it’s perfect, ladle it into individual heatproof serving bowls and place them on a baking tray. Tear toasted bread over each bowl to fit it like a lid. Feel free to push and dunk the bread into the soup a bit. Sprinkle with some grated Cheddar and drizzle over a little Worcestershire sauce.
Dress your reserved sage leaves with some olive oil and place one on top of each slice of bread. Put the baking tray into the preheated oven or under the grill to melt the cheese until bubbling and golden. Keep eye on it and make sure it doesn’t burn! When the cheese is bubbling, carefully lift out the tray and carry it to the table.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Italian Dishes

Italian Mocha Espresso:
7 serving
Prep time 5 minutes
Food Class- Kosher

1 cup instant coffee,1 cup sugar,4 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk,1/2 cup cocoa

Cooking Instructions:
Stir ingredients together. Process in a blender until powdered. Use 2 Tablespoons to one small cup of hot water. Serve in demitasse cups. Makes about 7 cups of mix.

Italian Style Meat Loaf:
Server 6
Prep time    5 minutes
Food Class-Meat
Main ingredient-Beef

1 lb lean ground beef,6    oz   Italian sausage or spicy,Bulk sausage,1cn (14 1/2 oz) Italian style,Stewed tomatoes,1 c fresh bread crumbs,1/2 c chopped onion,1/2 c chopped green bell pepper,1 egg

Cooking Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Place in a 4 1/2 x 8" loaf pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 1 hour; drain.

Crock-Pot Italian Beef:
Server 6
Prep time 5 minutes

1 sirloin tip or rolled rump roast,1 t salt,1/4 t  pepper,1/2 t oregano,1/2 t Italian seasoning,1/2 t garlic salt,1    t accent,2 pk  good seasons Italian, Salad dressing mix (dry)

Cooking Instructions:
Place roast in crock-pot. Bring all seasonings and enough water to completely cover roast to a boil in a pan on the stove, then put in crock-pot. Cook all day, then let it set in the juices overnight in the refrigerator after it has been sliced or minced. Heat in the oven or microwave the next day and serve on Italian buns.

Cannellini Beans with Italian Sausage:
Prep time 5 minutes
Food Class-Meat Kosher

1 T olive oil,3  hot Italian sausages,3 sweet Italian sausages,4 cloves garlic,1 T chopped fresh sage or,1 t dried sage,1 cn Italian plum tomatoes,2 cn cannellini beans (16 oz. ea.),Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:
Heat oil in an ovenproof, flameproof medium casserole and saute' sausages 15 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Add garlic and sage and saute' until garlic is golden. Cool and slice sausages into 1 1/2" pieces. Add tomatoes and beans and simmer until well cooked, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. Serves 6. Note: This may be held in oven for 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

Classic Bruschetta Recipe:This is a recipe for basic bruschetta. You may make this to begin with and then add additional toppings to enhance this wonderful Italian treat. Some suggestions are, plum tomatoes (cut into cubes), fresh basil leaves, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, olives, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, oregano or prosciutto. If topping with any type cheese, make the basic recipe below, add the cheese topping, and then put back under broiler just long enough to melt the cheese.Although this recipe starts with six slices of bread, you may make as many as you want by adjusting the quantity of the other ingredients as needed.

6 slices Italian bread, cut 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick, 2 garlic cloves cut in half, Extra virgin olive oil, as needed,Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cooking Method:
1. Preheat broiler (or you may use the grill).2. Cook the bread until lightly golden brown on each side.
3. Remove from broiler and immediately rub one side of the toast with the cut side of the garlic.4. Brush olive oil over the garlic side of the bread.Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Chocolate and Ricotta Tarts:
Server 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Food Class-Dairy
Main ingredient-Ricotta Chocolate

300 g sweet crust pastry,20 g candied orange peel,20 g candied lemon peel,20 g glace cherries,20 g plain chocolate,1 egg,75 g caster sugar,1/2 lemon,200 g ricotta cheese.

1. Roll the pastry and line four 3 inch loose bottomed flan rings. Cut the excess pastry into strips. Put in the fridge for 20 minutes. 2. Beat the egg yolk and sugar until creamy. Add the chopped fruit, chocolate, lemon zest and ricotta to the mixture. 3. Preheat the oven to 190c / 375f / Gas Mark 5. Pour the mix into the pastry cases and cover with the strips of pastry in a lattice shape. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the top is brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream

Pepperoni Calzone Recipe:
* 1 loaf frozen bread dough (1 lb.), thawed* 1/2 cup pizza sauce (spaghetti sauce may be substituted)
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano* 4 ounces sliced pepperoni* 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a flat rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a greased baking sheet.
3. Spread spaghetti sauce over the dough, leaving a 2-3 inch border around the edge without sauce.
4. Sprinkle with oregano, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.
5. Fold in half by bringing long side of dough up over filling. Use a wet finger to moisten border and press together to seal.
6. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
7. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Fried Calamari Recipe:   
* 1 pound calamari, cleaned bodies and tentacles* Oil as needed (canola or peanut oil)* 1 cup flour, all-purpose* Salt & pepper to taste.

1. Cut each of the squid bodies into 4 rings using scissors.
2. Place 1 inch of oil in a large cook pot and heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees F., as measured with a thermometer (see note below).
3. Combine flour, salt and pepper on a large flat plate and dredge calamari in flour to coat on all sides.
4. Lower calamari rings and tentacles into hot oil and cook until lightly browned (about 2-3 minutes).
5. Remove to paper towels to drain oil.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Note: If you do not have a cooking thermometer, use a wooden stir spoon or other wooden utensil by placing the wooden handle into the hot oil. If the oil is hot enough, bubbles should rise along the handle immediately. If not, wait for the oil to get hotter.

Pasta With Garlic Sauce Recipe:This is a yummy pasta recipe with a little kick. If you do not like a slight spicy flavor, omit the red pepper flakes.
* 1 lb. pasta shells (any shape you prefer)* 4 garlic cloves* 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes* 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese* 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. 

1. Cook the pasta in boiling water per package instructions.
2. While the pasta cooks, crush the garlic cloves in a bowl using garlic press. Add the Parmesan, pepper flakes and oil. Mix well until creamy.
3. When the pasta is cooked strains it and adds it to the garlic cream, mix well and serve hot.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

* 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
* 1 teaspoons baking soda
* 8 ounces butter, softened (do not substitute margarine)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla (not imitation)
* 12 ounce (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
* 2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare baking sheet(s) by lining with parchment paper or spraying with vegetable shortening.
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy.
5. Add brown and white sugar and beat until fluffy.
6. Continue beating and add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla
7. Turn mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture a cup at a time until mixed well.
8. Scrape the bowl and make sure there is no flour at the bottom.
9. Using a tablespoon, measure out the cookie dough and place on prepared sheet(s) leaving a little space between to spread.
10. Bake in pre heated oven for 10-12 minutes or until slightly firm around the edges.
11. Remove to cooling racks and cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.
Makes 25-30 soft Chocolate Chip Cookies