Prime Ribs of Beef

In the restaurant field, the Prime Rib Roast that is prepared usually weighs about twenty-five pounds and has seven bones. This is too large and too costly for the average size family who really only needs about a seven pound roast with two bones.

If you wish well brown end cuts, start your roast, which has its ends  brushed with fat, in  a 450 degree oven for twenty-five minutes, and then lower the oven to 340 for the balance of the baking time. To reduce shrinkage, just start and bake the roast in the 340 degree oven. It takes about 15 minutes per pound to reach the desired doneness, depending how you like it cooked. A meat thermometer is a good way to prevent over-baking, but remember not to test next to the bone which will stay rarer longer. I remove my roast from the oven at 130 degrees, because it will continue to cook during the thirty minutes that you should allow it to rest. Resting allows the juices to properly redistribute. A roast is also done when a metal skewer that has been inserted in it, feels BARELY WARM against the space between your lip and your chin.

It is best to use a shallow pan. I like to put the meat in the pan, rib side down, on a rough cut mirepoix, which is celery, carrots, and onions. I also season the roast with salt and pepper and springs of fresh  rosemary.

The finished product

While the roast is resting on a platter, remove the mirepoix and deglaze the pan with a cup or so of beef stock. You can enrich this au jus by swirling a couple of table spoons of butter into the juice.

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A Moist Turkey

Whenever I serve a turkey meal to holiday guests, they always complement me on how nice and moist the white meat is to eat.  This leaves me to believe that they have had dry tasting turkey meals on other occasions. There are a few simple steps and items readily available in most super markets to avoid this problem. Always start roasting your turkey breast side down on a rack  and covered with foil, so that the juices will settle in the breast area.   Also put an inch of stock in the pan under the rack , so steam will generate. As an added precaution, I always inject several syringes of stock into the bird in various locations. Before you place your bird on the rack, brush its entire body with melted butter, so that it doesn’t stick to the rack and tear its skin, which would spoil its appearance. After about an hour, uncover the bird and let the back become brown.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your turkey moist.

Once browned  flip the bird over so that the chest can become brown too. Again brush the bird with melted butter and again inject broth. Although injecting the bird really makes it moist, I still like to periodically baste it, so that the stock will get added flavor for the gravy. Use a meat thermometer to tell when your bird is fully cooked.

The final trick is to let the bird rest on a serving platter for at least twenty minutes before you carve it. This will give the juices time to become evenly distributed .This is just about the time that you will need to deglaze your pan, strain the dripping through cheese cloth and add the dripping to your already prepared gravy. You have made this gravy by sautéing  a mirepoix  in butter, adding flour to it to make a roux, and adding broth and let it thicken.  once the gravy has absorbed the flavor from the mirepoix, the mirepoix can be discarded.  By doing it this way, not only will you have a delicious bird, but also plenty of  gravy without  the last minute fuss and bother.

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Parsley – More than a Garnish!

Parsley has either a flat or curly leaves. It is a delicate herb that is widely used in the restaurant field for garnishing or flavoring of food. Its bright green color adds contrast to white fish, potatoes, and many light colored soups.  it is one of the main herbs in a bouquet garni.

When you see the word PERSILLADE  on a menu, it means it is garnished with parsley, but PERSILLADE is also the name of a blend of bread crumbs, garlic, melted butter and chopped parsley used as a topping for some meat dishes. Another meat topping is  GREMOLATA, which is also made with bread crumbs, garlic, and chopped parsley, but this also has orange and lemon zest.

As a garnish parsley is usually used fresh and accompanied by a different colored item like a lemon or tomato wedge. However after the stem has been removed, it can be deep fried and used as a garnish for fried items.

Parsley sauce is just melted butter with chopped parsley and perhaps a drop of lemon juice. This is used on fish and some vegetables.

Chopped parsley is often sprinkled on food that is enhanced with a light colored sauce or is light colored itself like scrambled eggs or omelets. This makes the dish look more attractive. It is also added to stuffings for the same reason. Chopped parsley added to dog food, helps freshen their breath and eating a spring of parsley that has been dipped in vinegar helps human breath too.

This small garden herb has been popular since the Roman days when they made head pieces out of it because they thought this would slow people from getting drunk at their banquets.

It is easily grown in pots indoors or can be found in most super market produce sections. As parsley contains vitamin A and C, it should not be left of a plate, but eaten as it is very good for you.

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Canned Foods

For almost forty years, my husband and I enjoyed going camping with our family. For the first twenty years, we enjoyed our twenty-five foot cabin cruiser and the last twenty years our motor home. Both of these camping vehicles had most of the comforts of home, but sometimes the weather made meal planning a challenge. As a result, I always had an emergency supply of canned goods, which always included items like spam. Spam® is a versatile canned meat that you can cook and use in many unique ways. I have used Spam very successfully for so many years that I consider myself qualified to praise this World War II staple.

Most food banks have Spam as one of their offerings, so I thought would be an appropriate type of meat to feature at this time of year, as many people have to rely on a food bank for their food. As I relied on Spam, when the weather was too nasty to cook outside, I actually considered it a comfort food, because as it cooked, it made the cabin smell warm and inviting. The key work here is ‘cooked’ and not just eating it as it comes out of the can.

Our camping vehicles each had a stove with an oven, refrigerator and storage cabinets, so I had a lot of preparation options. These included baked spam with brown sugar, cloves and pineapple or baked macaroni with spam. In other words, with a little ‘doctoring up’ Spam can replace ham in most recipes. Use it for Spam and eggs, baked Spam and beans or add to lyonaisse potatoes. You can make Spam croquettes, chopped Spam and pickle, grilled Spam and cheese sandwiches and the list goes on and on.

Although I have highlighted Spam, this same idea or principle applies to all canned foods. I have depended on canned foods, not for a monetary reason, but as the only option in adverse weather conditions. Take a can of beef stew and put the contains into a casserole, add a drop of red wine for flavor and make a crust out of baking powder biscuits and it turns into an attractive meal. Instead of a cold tuna salad sandwich like one that you would find in a cafeteria, you can add a couple of slices of cheese and grill it making it a yummy patty melt like you would find on a restaurant’s luncheon menu.

I recommend keeping some of these items on hand at all times. You’ll be surprised at all the affordable, fast and easy, delicious meals that can be made from this versatile food in a can. Look outside the can and be creative!

More information and many recipes are available at: http://www.spam.com/

Note: Spam® is a registered trademark of Hormel Foods Corporation, 1 Hormel Place, Austin, MN 55912

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Court Bouillon – That Enhancing Taste

A stock normally takes hours to extract all the flavor from its ingredients, which are usually bones, but court bouillon, which means ‘short boil,’ only takes forty-five minutes to make. This is because its main ingredients are a sautéed mirepoix, an acid flavored water and a bouquet garni of herbs and spices. The mirepoix can be a rough garnish (cut any way) of leeks (or onions), celery and carrots and the acid for the water can be a choice of lemon juice, white vinegar or white wine. The bouquet garni consists of cheesecloth tied to form a bag which contains thyme, parsley and bay leaf plus salt and several peppercorns.

Most stocks are bases for soups or sauces. This vegetable stock, however, is only used to poach fish and/or shellfish and is then discarded. Poaching is a method of cooking over or in a liquid at a very low temperature. This means around 160 degrees, which is far below the boiling temperature of 212 degrees.

You can make it a white court bouillon by adding milk, but this can be difficult as it might curdle. Instead of white wine, you can use red wine, but this might stain the fish. So white wine is the best acid to use and it tastes the best too.

Sometimes some of the court bouillon and the mirepoix can be served with the fish and this is called ‘a la nage.’ When presenting the fish in this way, the mirepoix must be cut attractively and uniformly, such as julienne style.

If you are poaching a white fish, it is best to do so on a wire rack, which makes it easier to remove it from the stock in one  piece, instead of broken.

Using a court bouillon, is an added time consuming step, but this vegetable stock enhances the delicate flavor of the shrimp, sea scallops or fish that you are poaching without adding any additional fat and it is well worth the effort.

The delicious flavored food can now be served with a butter sauce or one of your choice that will complement the balance of your hot meal or if you are using cold shrimp, a cocktail sauce makes a nice appetizer on lettuce.

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The Perfect New York Style Cheesecake

Find a recipe for a cheesecake that uses ingredients that you and your family enjoy eating. Using a “mise en place” (pronounced me-zahn-plahs, a French term that literally translates to ‘set in place’) procedure assemble and portion out all the ingredients that the recipe needs. Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature. This takes around three hours for them to reach it from the cool of the refrigerator, but it is a VERY IMPORTANT STEP.

Add one item at a time and beat until smooth before adding another one. Do not rush this step as each egg and cream cheese should be perfectly beaten before another one is added.

Preheat your oven to the required temperature and prepare your break-a-way pan, which is a pan that has a collar that can be loosened, when the cheesecake is finished baking.  This makes it easy to remove from its base, where the cheesecake will remain. Now the cheesecake must be baked in a water bath, which is a pan with about an inch of water in it. To ensure that no water leaks into the batter, secure the break-a-way pan with a tight layer of aluminum foil around it.

Once the batter is properly beaten, fill your break-a-way pan and bake for the required time in the water bath.  When the time is finished, which is usually about an hour, shut off the oven and open the door about an inch. This can be accomplished by wedging a wooden spoon between the oven and the door and leaving it ajar. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour and then refrigerate it for at least eight hours in the pan.

The next day remove the collar of the pan from the cake and place upside down on a serving plate. Loosen the pan’s bottom and remove it from the (now) top of the cake.  At this point you might want to use a spatula or knife that has been moistened with warm water to smooth the sides and top of the cake. Once this is finished you can decorate the top of the cake with nuts or fruit.

The perfect cheese cake takes time to make correctly and it can’t be rushed, but the extra time is well worth the effort.

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Apples

The magic of apples starts in the springtime when their blossoms come to life. They are so pretty, that way back in the 1940s the Andrew Sisters, a singing trio, had a hit song with the lyrics: “I’ll be with you in apple blossom time.”

Apples have been an important part of our food supply since the days of Adam and Eve. Apples eaten out of the hand, peeled or not, are a nutritious snack. They are a good addition to a brown bag lunch. Red delicious, Gala, Macoun, Cortland, McIntosh and Fiji are good eaten this way.

When making an apple pie, it’s best to use three or four different types of apples as some are sweet and others tart and some are soft and others crispy. Using more than one type will give more balance to the taste and texture of the pie. Also try using tapioca as the thickening agent instead of flour as it will have a less starchy taste. Granny Smith, McIntosh, Cortland, and Macoun are good choices to use in pie preparation. Serve the pie with a scoop of ice cream or a slice of sharp cheese as both complement it.

Besides fresh apples in the market, you can find apple juice, apple cider, apple vinegar, apple butter, apple sauce and canned apples to name a few apple products.

Fresh apples, peeled and diced, can be added to salads like Waldorf or chicken salad, stuffing for a turkey or loin of pork, sauerkraut, cakes, cookies, Cole slaw, fritters and dumplings.

Apple crisp is a popular dessert at schools and hospital cafeterias and an apple tart with custard and an apricot glaze is an attractive item on a dessert cart.

Apple sauce is associated as a garnish to be served with pork or it can be added to a pancake batter for flavor or used to replace some fat in a cake batter. A colorful red, spiced apple ring is often used with a sprig of parsley to garnish an entree in a restaurant.

Add peeled, sliced apples, raisins and cinnamon to your water when making oatmeal. It tastes great and will reduce the need for sugar to sweeten it. Apples diced with cooked diced chicken, celery and mixed with mayonnaise can be used as a spread for a sandwich.

Apples discolor quickly, but brushing with lemon juice slows the process, however they should not be dipped in lemon juice as this will change the delicate flavor. If you have carved an apple to look like a bird for a decoration for a cheese or meat tray, do preserve it with the lemon juice.

If an apple a day can help keep the doctor away, there are many unique and tasty ways to add them to your daily diet.

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Scrod

Cod is a salt water, round fish that averages between two and twenty five pounds. It is a very popular fish as it has a mild flavor and is very lean. It is the fish that is most used in frozen fish products like fish sticks as it will keep up to six months in the freezer.

Scrod is a small cod fish and weighs up to two and a half pounds. It is the cod served in most restaurants and it is purchased already cut into desired portion size pieces. It is an extremely flaky fish whose flesh turns from opaque to white when cooked. As scrod has very little connective tissue, it cooks very quickly and being very lean, it can become dry if not handled correctly.

When breaded and deep fried or sautéed, the oil will penetrate the fish and keep it moist. When baked, it should have sufficient butter or oil to keep it moist and seasoned bread crumbs on top can also protect it. It poaches very well with court bouillon as this is a moist heat method. For a delicious dish, bake your scrod with seasoned stewed tomatoes and slices of green bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. Many sauces complement baked scrod like Newburg or fish veloute. Try a few to see which ones you prefer.

Scrod covered with a batter and deep fried is the way the traditional “fish and chips” meal is prepared. This is a great take out meal in a lot of fish stores. The fried fish, which is served with French fries( the chips) is usually accompanied with a side of Cole slaw.

Pieces of scrod can be added to a fish chowder as it is very nutritious and reasonably priced. Although fresh scrod will keep in a refrigerator for a couple of days, it is best to use it as soon as it is purchased.

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Squashes

There are two types of squashes: thin skinned, which are called summer squashes and thick skinned, which are the winter squashes. Zucchini and yellow squashes are the summer variety and do not have to be peeled. They can be eaten raw in salads or with a dip. Oiled and seasoned with herbs and spices, they are delicious cooked on an outdoor grill or sautéed with other garden fresh vegetables. Shredded zucchini is used to make cookies and zucchini bread and larger zucchini can be stuffed with a meat loaf style stuffing and served with seasoned stewed tomatoes.

Butternut squash has to be peeled and it is usually boiled or steamed, then mashed with butter, cinnamon and a little nutmeg. These two spices complement all of the winter squashes. Acorn squash, which is one of the smaller variety of winter squash, is frequently baked and served with the skin still intact.  A serving size is a third or a half of the squash, which has had its seeds scraped out and just the solid part of the squash left.

All winter squash must be cooked by baking, steaming or boiling. The skin is not edible and it is normally removed. It is almost impossible to peel some of the larger, bumper, winter squashes.  It is best to just cut them and scrap out the seeds and bake them until they are soft  enough to separate the “vegetable meat” from the skin. This can also be done in a microwave oven, but I do not like microwaving anything. One of the most popular winter squashes is the pumpkin, which is associated with Halloween decorations.This squash is used more for baking than it is as a vegetable. Canned pumpkin is available, but it is easy to just bake the pumpkin and remove the skin before pureeing it.

Pumpkin seeds that have been cleaned with water and dried are a great snack after they have been oiled and salted and baked in a low slow oven.

Winter squashes are called winter squashes because they will keep most of the winter, when stored in a cool, dry pace.

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Processed Meats

Processed meat is preserved by curing, salting or chemicals like sodium nitrite. A lot of them have four times as much sodium as fresh meat and also contain saturated fat, sugar and spices. They are assumed to cause cancer and heart attacks and people are advised to eat them sparingly. This is difficult to do as ham, all cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages and even the red meat in frozen food dinners are made with processed meat.

There are over two hundred varieties of just sausages which are different types of meat or a combination of meats stuffed into a casing. This casing can be made from the intestines of sheep, hogs, cattle or made synthetically. The meat used must be federally inspected and approved, but it can contain fatty tissue, liver, blood, heart and many other parts of an animal. This combined with the many other ingredients are what makes the different varieties of hot dogs, sausages, cold cuts and kielbasas. A good example is salami, whose name comes from the Italian word Salome which means salted meat.

One of the most consumed processed meat is bacon, which is not only a popular breakfast meat, but a meat used in many sandwiches and burgers.

At the end of the vegetable growing season, I like a meal consisting of sautéed green tomatoes, onions, peppers, sliced cabbage, thinly sliced potatoes, kielbasa and seasoned with caraway seeds. A kielbasa can be used instead of a corn beef for a New England boiled dinner or cooked on an outdoor grill for a picnic style meal. Thin sliced cooked kielbasa, cheese and crackers are nice to serve with cocktails.

So from a kids favorite meal of hot dogs and beans to a quick hot dog in a bun from a  corner wagon, there is a lot of processed meat consumed every day, as it is delicious and enjoyed by most people.

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