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HISTORY//
THE SEEDS
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    Cheap stuff. Good place for shopping wholesale.

    Geektro

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    I bought this 28 mould baking tray from Ng Ming Huat. I like it

    Jess Zhou

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    Upcoming blog
    Jun.
    08

    Posted by ngminghuatjb / Blog / 0 Comments

    Here you will find the essential information you need for baking. Preparing baking dishes and pans Rub a piece of butter over the inside of the dish with a paper towel, making a thin, even coating. Sprinkle in some flour, then shake and tilt the dish until it is coated. Turn the dish upside down and tap out the extra flour. Sifting flour Method 1: Put a sifter over a bowl, add the flour and squeeze the handle to force the flour through the mesh screen. Method 2: Put a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and add the flour. Hold the sieve by the handle and gently tap it against your other hand. Cracking eggs Gently but firmly tap the middle of the egg on the edge of a bowl to crack the shell. Hold the egg over the bowl and pull the shell halves apart, letting the egg fall into the bowl. Beating butter and sugar Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl. The butter should be slightly soft for the best results. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes. Every now and then, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Cutting butter into flour Scatter the butter chunks over the flour. The butter should be very cold for the best results. Method 1: Using a pastry blender, make quick chopping motions, pressing down firmly into the butter. Method 2: Using 2 table knives, cut through the butter and flour by pulling the knives in opposite directions. The mixture is ready when it looks like coarse crumbs with small pieces of butter still visible. Rinsing fruits Thoroughly rinse all fruits under cool running water. Lay them on a paper towel in an even layer to dry before using. Peeling fruits and vegetables Hold the fruit steady on a cutting board. Run a vegetable peeler down the fruit and away from you. Keep turning and peeling until all the skin is removed. Zesting citrus fruits Using short strokes, rub the citrus fruit over the small holes of a box grater, turning the fruit as you work. Rub off only the colored part of the skin (the zest). Avoid the white part underneath because it tastes bitter. Juicing citrus fruits Hold the fruit on its side on a cutting board and cut it in half. Twist each half over the cone of a juicer, then strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve. Coring fruits Hold the fruit steady on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut down through the center of the fruit at the stem. Put the fruit halves, cut side down, on the cutting board. Cut each piece in half lengthwise to make quarters. Turn 1 quarter of the fruit onto one side and trim away the stem and core. Repeat with the remaining 3 quarters. Hulling (or coring) strawberries Easy method: Using a small, sharp knife, cut across the top of the berry, removing the stem. Advanced method: Insert the tip of a small, sharp knife near the stem and turn the blade in a circle, removing the stem. Use the strawberries whole or cut lengthwise into halves or slices. Working with puff pastry Thaw the frozen puff pastry unopened in the refrigerator. Gently unfold it on a lightly floured or sugared surface. When not in use, keep the pastry covered with a towel so it does not dry out. Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin on the lightly floured or sugared surface. Melting chocolate Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Select a saucepan in which the bowl will rest comfortably on top. Fill the pan one-third full with water. Heat the water over medium heat until steaming. Place the bowl on top. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. As the chocolate softens, stir it with a wooden spoon until melted and smooth. Use a pot holder or oven mitt and be careful of the hot steam! Testing for doneness Using an oven mitt to steady the pan, poke a wooden skewer or a toothpick into the center of a baked cake or muffin and then pull it straight out. If gooey batter is stuck to the toothpick, the cake or muffin needs to bake longer. If no crumbs are clinging to the toothpick, the cake or muffin is finished baking. Dusting with sugar Put confectioners sugar in a fine-mesh sieve. Move the sieve slowly over the surface of the baked good while tapping it gently against your other hand. Whipping cream Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the cream. Increase the speed to medium-high as the cream thickens. It will take about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and lift the beaters. The cream is ready if it stands in medium-firm peaks. Be careful not to beat the cream too long!

    Apr.
    28

    Posted by ngminghuatjb / Blog / 0 Comments

    Some people subscribe to the theory that you’re either a cook or a baker. But I know plenty of natural cooks who have learned to bake and plenty of natural bakers who have learned to free-style their savoury cooking like the best of them. So don’t be afraid! Here’s a list of the of the main making techniques discussed below oven preheating preparing your pan / tin measuring ingredients creaming butter and sugar whisking egg whites melting chocolate preparing nut meal rubbing butter into flour mixing piping baking how to know when something is done cooling storing oven preheating why Because ovens need to be hot to bake! how Turn oven on to the stated temperature in the recipe. Unless the recipe recipe states otherwise, use the fan-forced (or fan assist) setting and place one shelf in the middle of the oven. If your oven doesn’t have a fan assisted setting, the rule of thumb is to increase the temperature from the recipe by 20C (or 50F). what to watch out for Gas ovens tend to be less efficient than electric. So if you’re cooking with gas, be prepared for everything to take a little longer. All ovens are different, so be patient and learn to know whether your oven tends to cook fast or slow and be prepared to adjust the cooking time accordingly. The back of most ovens tends to be hotter than the front and top hotter than bottom, even in fan assisted ovens. So be prepared to rotate things to get even baking. Lots of books tell you to invest in an oven thermometer to check your temperature, but I’ve found they’re difficult to get to work properly because you have to open the oven to look at them and it can be difficult to find a good place to put them. If they work for you, great, but if you haven’t tried, I wouldn’t bother. preparing your pan / tin why To avoid your precious treat from sticking to the tray / pan. There’s nothing worse than a cake falling apart as you try to get it out of the tin! how For flat trays just spread with a layer of baking paper (parchment paper). Or invest in a silicon mat (also called silpat). For cakes and loaves, trace the shape of your pan onto a layer of baking (parchment) paper. Then rub the base and sides of your pan with butter, line with the paper and rub the paper with butter as well. For a video demonstration see the chocolate brownie recipe. For spring form pans, lining isn’t critical because you know you’re going to be able to remove the sides. But it can make your cake look more rustic, I just place a layer over the base of the pan then place the sides on top and lock them into shape. For tart tins with a removable base, there generally isn’t a need to line. For muffins and cup cakes, use prepurchased papers OR cut squares of baking paper and use these to line your. For a video demonstration see the raspberry muffins recipe. what to watch out for I’ve found that cheap parchment / baking / greaseproof paper is fine most of the time. Especially when you are greasing it with butter. Sometimes the sides will stick. Just carefully separate with a small knife, being careful not to cut into the cake more than necessary. If you run out of paper, al foil makes a good stand in, although it generally doesn’t look as good in photographs! measuring ingredients why Baking tends to be a little more scientific than general cooking and it’s important to keep the ratios of ingredients about the same as the recipe intended to get the desired results. That being said, some things are more flexible than others so don’t feel you need to be weighing to the EXACT figure every time. how By far the quickest and most accurate method is to invest in a set of digital scales. That way you just pop your bowl or saucepan on, zero the scale, weigh out the ingredient and then you’re good to go. So much easier than fiddling around with cups and spoons. For liquid ingredients, I give measurements by weight (g or oz) because metric cups are different to US cups and it gets too confusing. And when I worked in the food industry, we just weighed everything. So much easier. what to watch out for I’ve given measurements in both metric and US. Choose one set and stick to it – there can be slight differences and if you measure the flour in grams and the liquid ingredients in oz. you may run into troubles. So if you like to bake, even only once a month, buy yourself a digital set of scales, They’re not expensive these days and soo worth it. But if you’d prefer to stick to cups and spoons – this website is good for conversions or just google it. Apparently Australian tablespoons are meant to be different from the rest of the world (20mL instead of 15mL) but every set of measuring spoons I’ve ever owned has had normal 15mL tablespoons so take that as the standard. And as I mentioned metric cups are different slightly to US imperial cups. creaming butter and sugar why Like whisking egg whites, this is a way to get air incorporated into your baked goods, making them lighter and fluffier. how You can use a food processor, but a stand mixer with beaters tends to do a better job of incorporating air into the butter & sugar mixture. what to watch out for Don’t use butter straight from the fridge as it will be too hard – allow it to soften a little and come up to room temperature. If you’ve forgotten to get your butter out, like I often do, chop it into small pieces so it warms more quickly than a whole lump. You can over-mix your butter and sugar. When it is pale cream in colour and looks fluffy is a good time to stop. whisking egg whites why It’s all about getting air into your creation to make it light and fluffy. For things like meringues, pavlova and macaroons it’s also about dissolving sugar into the egg white to give you sweet flavour and crisp texture when baked. how The old fashioned way is to beat egg whites in a clean dry bowl until you have a white foam. It doesn’t take as long as you think and can be quite theraputic. The modern way, with a stand mixer fitter with a wire whisk. Just pop the egg white in the bowl and turn on to the highest setting. Scrape the sides down every now and then to get even mixing. Much quicker and less labour intensive. what to watch out for Cleanliness! Oil from a dirty bowl or whisk or from a little droplet of egg yolk can prevent the white from foaming. If this happens just throw everything out. Clean thoroughly and start again. You could use the egg white for scrambled eggs if you prefer not to waste good food. Soft peaks. This is when you have a nice foamy white mixture with no runny egg white in the bottom of the bowl. Will almost hold it’s shape if you scoop up some mixture with a spoon and try and drop it. The mixture looks glossy. Firm peaks. When the mixture is slightly more solid than soft peaks. Easily holds it shape if you scoop up some mixture with a spoon and try and drop it. The mixture is less glossy and a little more matt. A pinch of salt. Can help the protein in the whites foam. Cream of tartar. A pinch can help stabilise your egg white foam. I tend not to bother though. Using a copper bowl can also stabilise but if you’re using your egg whites straight away there’s no need to go that cheffy. Overmixing. I’ve read and heard from pastry chefs that it is possible to overmix egg whites, I think they start to separate out again. But to be honest this hasn’t ever happened to me. melting chocolate why Because melted chocolate is divine! how Bash your chocolate into small chunks, ideally no more than 1cm (1/2in) squares. Microwave – place in a microwave proof bowl and zap on a medium heat stirring ever 30 seconds or so until chocolate is glossy and smooth. Stove top. The easiest method is to heat your butter or cream (if the recipe needs it) then pour these over your broken chocolate. Stand for a few minutes then gently stir. Stove top – just chocolate. If you need to just melt some chocolate on its own. Place in a saucepan then carefully put over a low heat for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stand for a few minutes. Stir, If it isn’t melting keep putting back over a low heat for 15 seconds at a time. And repeating the standing and stirring. High temperatures will cause your chocolate to split so you need to be super careful. Stove top – double boiler. The alternative stove top method means more washing up but is less risky. Place a about 1cm (1/2in) water in the base of a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl and place the bowl on top of the saucepan. Stand for a few minutes then stir. If the chocolate hasn’t melted, leave it a little longer or add more heat. It’s important the base of the bowl doesn’t actually touch the hot water. You just want the gentle heat of the steam to caress the bottom of the bowl. what to watch out for Heat. Excess heat is the number 1 reason chocolate splits. And it takes less than you think. So be careful. Splitting. If your chocolate starts to split it will look like it’s curdling and you can see oil (cocoa butter) separating out. If this happens cool the mixture down asap by transferring to a clean cold bowl. And quickly stirring in some (a few tablespoons) cold milk or cream. If you’re going to be adding eggs, don’t worry the eggs will re-emulsify the chocolate and all will be good. If you’re not adding eggs and the milk hasn’t helped, try adding an egg yolk anyway. Moisture. For some crazy reason, small amounts of water or steam can cause chocolate to split. But large amounts like in the cream seem to be fine. Who knew? preparing nut meal why Sometime it’s hard to find ground almond or other nut meal. And sometimes it’s cheaper to grind your own. how Pop the nuts in your food processor and whizz until you’re happy they’re fine enough. Something like coarse sand is about as good as you’ll get. what to watch out for Over grinding – if you whizz too long the heat from the food processor will draw out the oil from the nuts and you’ll end up with nut butter. May not be a bad thing ? Under grinding – If you’re maxing something like macaroons, you want fine particles otherwise your finished dish will have a gritty texture. For things like the pear cake or brownies, however this isn’t usually a problem. rubbing butter into flour why Part of the secret to getting light crisp pastry, is to get your butter to coat as many flour particles as possible. how Either pulse in the food processor or use the tips of your fingers to literally pick up little pinches of butter and flour and rub them together. You can stop when the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. what to watch out for You don’t want the butter to be melted into the pastry. So start with cold butter and keep everything as cool as possible. So no overmixing and not hot hands! mixing why If you’re going to get cake mixture to lick at the end. You need to mix things! how Mostly a spoon in a bowl is fine. If the recipe calls for ‘folding’ then that means super gentle mixing. Watch the almond macaroon video for an example of folding. what to watch out for Overmixing. If the recipe has flour, the more you mix, the more you’ll develop the protein (gluten) which means the tougher your texture will be. This isn’t a problem for flourless recipes. Lumps. Mostly you don’t want lumps because they’ll stay in the finsihed product and you don’t want to chew through flour or sugar lumps. Some things don’t matter in the lump department and seem to work themselves out. The muffin recipes and the banana bread are two that come to mind where lumpy mixture doesn’t equal lumpy baked goods. piping why It’s all about getting pretty shapes, or more even shapes. how Get a ziplock bag. Spoon the mixture inside. Press the mixture down to one corner. Twist the top so the mixture wont escape that way. Then cut off the corner with scissors and get to work. It can take a bit of practice. Watch the macaroon video or the custard tartlet video for examples. what to watch out for The size of the corner snip makes a difference! Too small and your mixture will take forever to flow out. Too large and it will rush. Find the right balance. You can always transfer to a fresh bag and start again. Try to use your whole hands to gently squeeze the bag for more even flow rather than pinching from the front. It’s a little like chopsticks, the further back from the tip you hold, the better. baking why Well this is a baking class… how Pop in the oven. what to watch out for See preheating your oven above. Unless the recipes says otherwise – choose the middle shelf. If something is starting to brown too quickly or look burnt but the middle isn’t cooked, cover it with foil to retard the browning. For delicate things like a sponge cake, opening the oven door before the protein has set will cause the cake to sink in the middle. Most things aren’t so pretentious but remember every time you open the oven door, you’re losing heat so it’s going to take longer for your things to bake. how to know when something is done why So you know when it’s time to eat! how First look at the colour. If it isn’t dark enough keep cooking. Second, have a feel – be careful it’s hot! For cakes and things you want it to feel spongey and slightly firm. If it sinks easily in the middle or feels gooey it’s not ready. For brownies as long as the top middle seems to have a crust, I’d say it is done. You want your brownies to be a little under baked to give that wonderful squidgy texture. Third if you’re still not sure, stab it with a skewer, or a small knife in the middle (because this is the last place to cook – the edges can be fine but the middle may not be!). Pull out the instrument and have a look. If there is lots of gooey cake batter on the instrument, it’s probably not cooked. If it looks relatively clean, then you’re good to go. what to watch out for see details above. cooling why Even after you take things out of the oven, they’re still cooking while they’re hot. how Either cool in the pan on a cake rack. Or remove from the tin and cool on a cake rack. what to watch out for If you don’t have a cake rack, try to use something that will allow the air to circulate underneath the tin/cake. This stops it sweating and cools faster. If you think something is over baked, you want to remove if from the tin so it cools more quickly. But generally, gentle cooling in the tin works best. storing why Because sometimes it’s not a good idea to eat everything in one sitting. Trust me. how Generally, covered in the fridge is best. Especially for anything involving cream or butter. BUT chocolate goes dull in the fridge so only refrigerate if you have to or if it’s too warm outside. Dry things like meringue or macaroons without filling will last longer the dryer they are. So popping in an airtight container or sealing in a ziplock bag can be best. Freezing is usually OK, expept for cream or custard. Just defrost at room temperature or in the fridge. what to watch out for Mostire transfer. The first thing that happens as cakes and bakery treats age is that mosture transfers from where there is lots of it (like in a custard filling) to where there is little of it (like a pastry shell) so mostly keeping things unfilled until the last minute is best.

    Apr.
    28

    Posted by ngminghuatjb / Blog / 0 Comments

    Food Why the wrong kitchen equipment or cooking method can reduce the amount of nutrients you glean from even the healthiest meals. Who doesn’t love the aroma of food cooking on the grill on a warm summer night? Or how about that little boost you get when you reach for your favorite, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet? But did you know that certain cooking methods and pots and pans can actually diminish the nutrients you get from those meals you so painstakingly prepare? In today’s busy world, those of us who take the time to shop for fresh ingredients and then cook well-balanced healthy meals want to ensure we’re getting the biggest nutrient bang for our efforts. With a little bit of knowledge about the cooking methods and utensils that maximize nutrient retention, you and your clients can do just that! Dicey Matters “Preparing food at home provides control over what we—and our family—are eating,” says Pat Baird, MA, RD, a nutrition consultant and author in Greenwich, Connecticut. Experienced cooks use certain techniques to greatly influence the taste, texture, aroma, color, safety and nutrient value of food. This process starts with knowing the best food preparation and storage methods. When foods are cut, the area scored is similar to a wound: This is where the most nutrients leach out or bleed from! That’s why it is advisable to leave foods whole or in the largest pieces possible. It is also why you should always turn food—especially meats and poultry—with tongs or a spatula rather than a fork during cooking. This way you avoid piercing the food and releasing its nutritious juices. Whenever possible, cook fruits and vegetables with their skins intact; these skins act as a protective coating, which helps retain nutrients. Time is also a nutrient killer. The longer foods are stored, the more the nutrients break down. Cook foods as soon after purchase as possible and eat any leftovers within a few days. Safety is also an issue here; to prevent bacterial growth, food should always be kept at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (˚F) and cooked at above 140˚F. Faster Foods As a rule, rapid cooking techniques are better for retaining nutrients than slower methods. In fact, spending the least amount of time cooking is the way to go! Any type of cooking changes food in some ways. In general, nutrients are lost when food is exposed to heat, light, moisture and air (Robertson 1986). The longer food is exposed to these factors, the greater the nutrient loss. To retain the most nutrients possible, most experts recommend that you cook food thoroughly but rapidly. The methods that typically preserve nutrients best can be ordered from quickest to slowest, as follows:   pressure cooking   microwaving   steaming   stir-frying   broiling/grilling   sautéing   poaching   braising   roasting   baking The nutrient retention achieved through these methods may vary according to the food type, size and shape and your own cooking technique. Note that boiling is not a preferred cooking method because it does the most nutrient damage (Robertson 1986). This is especially true when foods are boiled in too much water, which is then poured down the drain (along with the nutrients themselves!). A practical way to recoup the nutrients that are released into boiling water is to retain the liquid after cooking and use it as stock for soups. PRESSURE COOKING A pressure cooker is a pot outfitted with a locking lid. This device cooks food quickly and healthfully by creating steam under pressure, thereby increasing the cooking temperature. Foods that are the best candidates for this cooking method are beans, grains and vegetables. When using a pressure cooker, timing is essential since vegetables can become overcooked in seconds! It is also important to use precisely the amount of liquid called for in the recipe. When you are cooking grains or beans, allow enough room for them to expand; do not fill the cooker more than half full. To prevent beans and grains from foaming over, add a few teaspoons of oil (Margen et al. 1992). (Cooking in high altitudes will require more liquid and a longer cooking time.) For best results, be sure to follow the instructions that come with the pressure cooker. MICROWAVING Can anyone imagine life without the microwave now that we have become accustomed to its speed and convenience? Microwaving uses electromagnetic radiation to heat foods (McGee 1984). Water in the food is the predominant molecule affected in this process; the water moves back and forth rapidly, creating energy that causes the temperature of the food to rise quickly. Microwaving is undeniably fast and uses a minimum amount of liquid, producing great-tasting vegetables and fish. However, this method is less successful for cooking meat and poultry. Quick heating can cause greater fluid loss and result in a drier texture. Also, meats and poultry can’t be browned as they can with other methods, since the food’s surface never gets any warmer than the interior; this affects both the flavor and the appearance of foods (McGee 1984). Little is known about the long-term safety of microwaving food. Concerns have been expressed about microwaves altering the protein chemistry of foods in ways that may be harmful (Weil 1997). For this reason, some health experts recommend using the microwave only for rapid heating and defrosting, not for longer cooking. One major health concern that has recently surfaced about microwaving involves the use of plastic containers or plastic wrap—even those types labeled “microwave safe.” It appears that chemicals from the plastics (known as “plasticizers”) can migrate into food and may eventually interfere with the body’s hormonal balance, contributing to birth defects, reproductive abnormalities, early puberty in girls and some hormone-dependent cancers (Walsh 1998; Welland 2000). Heat and light accelerate this potentially detrimental process (Welland 2000). The hotter the food is, the greater the risk of these plastic particles melting into the food. To avoid this danger, use glass or ceramic containers like Pyrex™ or Corningware™, which do not react with food. To keep food moist, cover it with a glass or ceramic lid, paper towel or wax paper. STEAMING This healthful cooking method retains most nutrients, since the food is not immersed in water. Almost any food that can be boiled can be steamed, especially any type of vegetable. Invest in a metal steaming basket or bamboo steamer or improvise using a metal colander in a pot topped with a tight-fitting lid. A large steamer pot is ideal since it provides ample space for the steam to circulate, cooking the food most efficiently. Water will boil away as the food is cooking, so be sure to start off with enough liquid in the pot. STIR-FRYING Traditionally an Asian cooking technique, stir-frying rapidly cooks small, uniform-sized pieces of foods, most commonly mixed vegetables. Thinly sliced pieces of beef, chicken or shrimp can also be stir-fried in a wok or large, nonstick frying pan. Stir-fried meals are healthful because foods cook rapidly at relatively high temperatures. Very little oil is needed with this cooking method, just enough to form a thin film on the pan (Hensrud et al. 1998). If desired, broth, wine or nonstick cooking spray can be used instead of oil. (Just be sure to add more liquid to the pan as it evaporates.) Gradually add the oil or broth to the pan, heating until hot but not smoking. Then toss in the food and stir constantly until meats are thoroughly cooked and vegetables are just tender and crisp (Margen et al. 1992). BROILING & GRILLING Both of these cooking methods expose food to direct heat, leaving food crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside with a characteristically intense flavor. These methods work well with meat, seafood, poultry, vegetables and even fruit! For best results, meat should be cut in chunks 1 to 2 inches thick; however, leaner meats, such as chicken or fish fillets, can toughen and overcook under such high heat. Depending on the food’s thickness and the heat intensity radiated by the broiler or grill, position meat about 4 inches from the heat source; place chicken and fish about 6 to 8 inches away (McGee 1984; Margen et al. 1992). For a great marinade that can be used on most grilled or broiled foods, see “Marvelous Marinade” above. Sturdy vegetables can also be broiled or grilled. However, this works best if the veggies are in fairly large pieces (like whole baby carrots or mushrooms), thickly sliced (like red potato wedges) or cut in half (like eggplant). You can either marinate the veggies and cover them with aluminum foil or brush them lightly with oil and put them in a wire basket, which can be easily turned during cooking. Place the vegetables about 4 inches from the heat source and, as the veggies cook, baste them once or twice with broth, marinade or juice. When they begin to brown, turn them over to lightly brown the other side (Margen et al. 1992). When broiling, use a pan with a rack to allow the fat drippings to slip through; this will lower the fat content of meat and prevent flare-ups caused by dripping fat. Although grilling causes fat to drip away, flare-ups when barbequing can result in harmful substances forming on meat. The smoke coats the barbequed food with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which may promote cancer (Golub 2001). The high temperatures of grilling (and broiling) can also cause carcinogenic substances called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to form on the surface of well-done and charred meat (Golub 2001). For tips on how to grill more safely, see “Healthy Barbequing Tips” on page 27. SAUTEING Sometimes called pan-frying, sautéing rapidly cooks small, uniform-sized pieces of food in little or no oil. The best candidates for this method are vegetables and thin cuts of meats or seafood, such as pork medallions, boneless chicken breasts and scallops. Traditionally, most cooks have used butter or oil to sauté, but very little fat is needed if a nonstick pan is used (Margen et al. 1992). Depending on the recipe, broth, wine or water can replace all or some of the oil. (Keep in mind, however, that these liquids do not heat as quickly as oil and may slightly alter the cooking process and flavor.) I personally prefer to sauté garlic lightly in olive oil, then add a cut-up vegetable like broccoli (either raw or blanched) for a quick side dish; for an entrée, I add some broth and pasta. The key to sautéing is to use a hot skillet, heating the liquid until hot—but not smoking—so that the food cooks quickly. Once the liquid is hot enough, add the food immediately and stir. To avoid releasing juices (and nutrients), turn meats with tongs or a spatula instead of a fork. If using broth or water in place of oil, replenish the liquid as it evaporates. The pan should be large enough to avoid crowding, or the food will actually steam rather than sauté! POACHING This stove-top cooking technique gently simmers foods in water (or other liquids, such as broth, vinegar, wine, fruit juice or vegetable juice, to add more flavor). ‰ Meats, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables and fruit can be poached. The nutritional advantage to poaching is that the liquid becomes part of the dish itself but contains little or no added fat. The liquid can be thickened by adding flour or cornstarch. To poach food most efficiently, choose a pan that best suits the size and shape of the food, so a minimum amount of liquid is used; this also minimizes cooking time (Hensrud et al. 1998). BRAISING Braising involves slow cooking in a small amount of liquid inside an open or covered pan. Suitable for meat, poultry or vegetables, braising can be done either on the stove top or in the oven (Hensrud et al. 1998). The braising liquid can be water, broth, juice or wine. This is one of the best methods to tenderize a tough piece of meat, since slow cooking in liquid softens the connective tissue. (Pot roast is a familiar example of a braised meat.) Be aware that fatty, tender cuts of meat will become tough with this cooking method (Margen et al. 1992). ROASTING Like baking, roasting uses the dry heat of an oven to slowly cook food such as meat roasts, whole chicken or turkey. However, roasting is typically done at higher temperatures than baking. Almost any kind of fatty or lean meat can be roasted, although the method works best for larger cuts. Sturdy vegetables can also be roasted to intensify their flavors. While vegetables can be roasted on a baking sheet, it is best to roast meats in a broiler or in a roasting pan with a rack so that fat can drip away from the meat during the cooking process. For easy cleaning, coat the rack with cooking spray and line the pan bottom with foil. Cooking time will vary with this method, depending on the size, shape and cut of meat. A good meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion is essential to judge when the meat is cooked thoroughly (Margen et al. 1992). BAKING When we think about this method, the first foods that usually come to mind are baked goods, such as breads, cookies and cakes. But this dry-heat technique, which cooks food by surrounding it with heated air in an oven, can be used to cook uniform-sized pieces of veggies, fruit, seafood, poultry or lean meat. Baking works well when little or no fat is added to a dish (Margen et al. 1992). Use a shallow baking dish, and cover it with foil or a lid to keep foods moist. Rattling Those Pots & Pans Like the food you prepare, a quality set of pots and pans is an essential ingredient in any successful recipe. There are two basic qualities to look for in cookware. First, it should be made from a material that conducts heat evenly and efficiently to prevent “hot spots” from developing and food from burning. Second, the pot’s surface should not be chemically reactive, which would allow atoms from the metal to leach into the food, potentially affecting the food’s flavor or color; examples of cookware with this drawback include cast-iron and aluminum pans (Garrison & Somer 1995). Unfortunately, while there are many good products on the market, no one material currently meets both the criteria listed here. For example, metal pots and pans are good heat conductors but they are usually chemically reactive. ALUMINUM The advantages of aluminum are that it is inexpensive, a very good heat conductor (second only to copper) and lightweight, making it easy to handle (McGee 1984). Unfortunately, food molecules can easily penetrate its surface, particularly acidic ones like tomatoes, alkaline ones like milk and sulfur-rich foods like eggs. These molecules can cause light-colored foods to become noticeably discolored. The sulfur odor that is emitted when cooking foods such as cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cauliflower and broccoli) is also intensified in aluminum pots and pans. In the 1970s, aluminum cookware was linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease when Canadian scientists observed a higher than normal level of aluminum in the brain of patients with this disease (Schepers 2000). However, other researchers have been unable to duplicate these results (Schepers 2000). Aluminum cookware and utensils contribute about 2.5 milligrams (mg) of aluminum to the average American’s daily diet. This is small in comparison to food additives and leavening agents, which add 25 to 50 mg of aluminum daily; buffered aspirin, which adds 125 to 725 mg; or common antacids, which add 850 to 5,000 mg. If concerned, avoid aluminum cookware, but be aware that far greater sources of aluminum are regularly consumed without much fanfare (Schepers 2000). COPPER Considered the best heat conductor, copper cooks food quickly and evenly. Unfortunately, it is highly reactive with anything it encounters, including food. To prevent copper from leaching into food, the copper must be coated with stainless steel (Schepers 2000). (Older cookware was often lined with tin, which wore off easily, revealing the copper below.) While copper is an essential mineral, too high an intake can be toxic. Never serve or cook food in unlined copper pots or pans or in utensils whose lining is worn even minimally. Pure copper pots and pans are truly for decorative use only! IRON Don’t tell Grandma that her old cast-iron skillet is a relatively poor conductor of heat. Chances are, her prized pan is so thick and heavy it will absorb and hold heat well, regardless of its poor conductivity! Iron cookware needs to be regularly oiled and gently cleaned to avoid corrosion. This cookware can also leach iron into food, which can be a good or bad thing. Increased iron intake can benefit children, adolescents and menstruating women, who typically need to boost their levels of this nutrient. But older people and those at risk for hemochromatosis (iron overload disorder) should avoid additional dietary iron intake (Schepers 2000). NON-STICK COOKWARE This cookware is created by placing a nonstick coating (like Teflon®) over metal. The obvious advantage is that this minimizes the amount of fat needed to prevent food from sticking to the pan. However, the coating itself can chip. Although the material is nontoxic and will pass through the body without being absorbed (Schepers 2000), chipping is obviously undesirable and can cause food to be unevenly cooked. To protect the coating, avoid using metal utensils with nonstick cookware. If you have a pot or pan with a significant amount of chipping or peeling, throw the piece away since the damage affects cooking performance. STAINLESS STELL Although stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat, it is chemically the least reactive of the metals. Stainless steel cookware tends to be expensive, so some manufacturers skimp on the thickness of the metal. A pan that is too thin will create hot spots, causing uneven cooking. The transfer of heat is vastly improved if the pan has a copper or aluminum inner core or if the bottom of the pan is coated with copper (McGee 1984). Despite their inferior heat conduction, stainless steel pots and pans—particularly the hybrids that are “clad” or combined with other metals—are probably the best forms of cookware available today. CERAMICS Ceramic pots and pans are poor conductors of heat, especially when used on a stove top, so they don’t distribute heat evenly over a surface. Ceramic material is a better choice when used as an oven casserole dish or a Crockpot™, because the heating process is slower and more diffuse. Ceramic pots and pans do retain heat well, making them good candidates for keeping food hot at your next dinner party! However, a word of caution is in order: Do not cook or store food in that beautiful ceramic pottery you purchased on your last trip to Mexico, South America or the Mediterranean! Many of the ceramic items produced in other countries are not fired at high enough temperatures and, as a result, can leach lead from the ceramic glaze into food. Even in small amounts, lead is extremely toxic and can cause brain or nerve damage and impair the immune system (Schepers 2000). Marvelous Marinade Marinades can not only add great flavor to food but also tenderize tougher cuts of meat. From a safety perspective, marinades may help reduce some of the carcinogens that can form on food when it is grilled or broiled (American Institute for Cancer Research 2001). The following marinade works well when grilling or broiling vegetables, tofu or meats. Slice veggies—such as eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and/or red onion—into thick rounds or, if small, leave whole. Cut lean meat, skinless chicken, seafood or firm tofu into 2-inch cubes. 1/2 cup rice or white-wine vinegar 1 tablespoon canola oil 1/4 cup finely chopped onion 1 small bay leaf 2 sprigs fresh (or 1/2 teaspoon [tsp] dried) rosemary, thyme or oregano 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper In bowl, combine marinade ingredients until well blended. (Use a nonmetal container to prevent off flavors from forming.) You’ll need about a 1/2 cup of marinade for each pound of food. Add the food and turn several times until all sides are coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, occasionally turning food so that marinade is distributed evenly. Drain and discard marinade. Thread skewers for meat and vegetables separately or place in aluminum foil or wire baskets (cooking times will vary, depending on the food). Place on grill and turn often with tongs or spatula to prevent charring. If you want marinade for basting, make a second bowl, to prevent spreading bacteria.

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