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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Types of Mushrooms: A Brief Guide

 By: Caterina Christakos


At a typical grocery store, you’re likely to find anywhere between 3 and 10 different types of mushrooms. Even so, for the longest time, I would only purchase simple button mushrooms, as those were the type I was most familiar with, and I knew I could use them in almost anything. Plus, I figured there probably wasn’t much difference between all the types of mushrooms. But once I started doing some research and trying all the different varieties, I found out that I was wrong. Not only are they diverse, but they also have vastly different flavors and uses.

Button: Like I said before, these are the most common and useful type of mushroom. They may not be very well regarded in culinary circles, but that’s simply because they don’t have a particularly strong or unique flavor. Basically, their flavor can only be described as "mushroomy." But because they are rather mild, they go with almost anything. You can serve them with meat, put them in salads, soups, or pastas, toss them into sandwiches, or even cook them up on their own with some garlic and onions.

Portobello: Portobellos are usually the largest type of mushroom you’ll find at the store, with a full-grown diameter of around 6-8 inches. When cooked, they become buttery and soft with a flavor that is not unlike meat. Because they’re so tasty and hearty, portobellos are popular among vegetarians. One popular way of serving them is to place the portobello cap on a hamburger bun and eat it with olive oil, garlic, and your favorite burger fixings.

Shiitake: Another versatile mushroom, Shiitakes are harder and thicker than button mushrooms, and they have a more earthy flavor. They go great in almost anything. They can be used as pizza toppings, in salads, or as a side dish for any type of meat-based meal. They’re originally from east Asia, which makes them a staple of cuisines from that part of the world, particularly in sushi.

Oyster: Oyster mushrooms get their name from their mild, seafood-like flavor and delicate texture. While soft, they don’t break up very easily, which makes them great for stews that require long cooking times. They’re also good to have on their own, gently sautéed for about five minutes and dashed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Enoki: Enokis are small, round mushrooms with long stalks. They have a unique fruity flavor and a crunchy texture that makes them appealing as a raw side dish. Meanwhile, they also work great in cooked dishes such as stir-fries and soups.

Truffles: Truffles are the delicacy of the mushroom world. Part of what gives them their classy status is the fact that they’re difficult to cultivate and are rare in the wild. But they also have a unique, complex flavor that is simultaneously sweet, with chocolaty undertones, and mushroomy. In general, they’re served raw, shaved over pastas or salads, but they may also be added to cooked meals such as roasted meats or stuffings. Truffles can be pricy, but they’re definitely worth trying.

Caterina Christakos is a published author and reviewer. Read her latest reviews of auto insurance estimate quotes and where to get auto insurance quote comparisons.

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How Drying Herbs Saves You More Green

 By: Chef Todd Mohr


If you love cooking healthy using fresh ingredients, you’re in good company. The trend today is away from the large, corporate agri-businesses and in support of your local farmer. This is great news as you can have more healthy cooking using locally grown, fresh produce. And, nothing helps your cooking to taste fresher than cooking with herbs especially those grown locally. Sometimes, you may gets a great deal on your herbs and decide that you need to dry them. This week, you’re going to learn about what to do with your local herb bounty as well as the secret to drying herbs.

Chef Todd Mohr gets his produce sent to him weekly from The Produce Box. This week’s produce box from his local farmer included turnips, broccoli, squash and endive lettuce. The most surprising content was a tumble-weed size of fresh dill.

Healthy cooking always includes cooking with herbs. Fresh herbs are the artist’s final touch on your dinner creation. Cooking with herbs means being able to use their fragrance to highlight your dish whether they’re fresh or dry herbs.

However, if you find yourself with a month’s worth of fresh herbs in your produce box, and suspect that the herb will not last the week in the refrigerator, it’s time to plan ahead so as not to waste all that expensive herb.

Drying herbs is a very simple process, and there are three ways to dry herbs that are excess from your garden, given by a neighbor or obtained from your local farmer. 1. You can dry them naturally by hanging them in the garage or a warm dark place 2. You can dry them in the oven at a very low temperature for an extended period of time 3. You can wash and dry them completely and trim the fresh dill with scissors into a ziplock bag for freezing

To add even more flavor and aroma to your healthy cooking, consider using fresh herbs. If you are cooking with herbs and have too much fresh herb, you can easily become an expert at drying herbs for later use.

Chef Todd Mohr is a classically trained chef, entrepreneur and educator. Chef Todd's simple philosophy - burn your recipes and learn how to really cook - has helped many home cooks and professionals alike finally achieve success in the kitchen. Learn his 1 Secret for Free and discover how online cooking classes can really teach you to cook!

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Cappuccino: Some Like it Hot and Some Like it Cold

 By: Kainoa Louis

Cappuccino was once considered a drink of the high class who had the time and money to waste sitting around fashionable coffee shops and drinking their beverage of choice. But, the popularity of espresso machines brought Cappuccino into the homes of almost every coffee lover around the world. Today, this beverage is enjoyed by people from all walks of life both in modern coffee cafes and at home.

There is nothing like waking up to a rich cup of cappuccino on a dreary and cold morning or enjoying a great cup of this frothy beverage with lunch or dinner or just for a relaxing night cap. It is warm and satisfying and to many truly the beverage to be savored. It is one of the great hot drinks around the world.

But what is a cappuccino lover to do on those sweltering hot summer days when you are dying for your favorite beverage but the thought of drinking something hot is just unbearable? Why not have a your cappuccino cold. Yes, cappuccino can be served cold and there is even a special name for it....Cappuccino Freddo! While the Mediterranean countries enjoy this beverage almost as much as the hot version we here in the States are a little behind. Very few coffee shops offer Cappuccino Freddo choosing instead to leave off the foam on top and serving a iced latte. But you can make your own cappuccino Freddo at home. The secret is all in the cold milk foam and cooling the cappuccino and serving it without ice.

Making the cold cappuccino itself is an easy task. You simply make your cappuccino as you normally would only a little stronger, pour it over ice and then drain it into another glass so that there is no ice in the cappuccino itself. Now just before serving you will need to make your cold milk foam. There are several ways to do this but the fastest and easiest way is by hand.

You simply place half and half in a jar with the lid, put the lid on tight and shake with all your might until the half doubles in size and starts to foam. You then take the lid off the jar, and pop the jar in the microwave for a few seconds to bring the foam to the top of cream and stabilize it. Using a holey spoon scoop off the foam and place it on top of your cold cappuccino. You now have cappuccino Freddo.

Some people skip the microwave all together and take the cold foam straight from the jar. Either way your cappuccino has the foam that makes it well...cappuccino and you have your cappuccino fix made a cool new way.

Whether you prefer your cappuccino hot or cold, it is a drink you can truly enjoy anytime of the day and any day of the year. So sit back, relax and enjoy that nice hot cup or cold glass of cappuccino.

Kainoa Louis loves a great cup of coffee and shares his passion for great coffee recipes at Learn more about the many varieties of cappuccino by visiting his Web site
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scalloped Squash, Peppers, and Onions - A Delicious "Comfort Food" Side Dish

 By Frank Ernhart

Scalloped dishes always remind me of my grandmother's dinners years ago. This recipe takes advantage of the abundance of squashes and bell peppers at this time of year. My pepper plants this year are purple in color. I bought the plants from a local farmers' market. These have a little different flavor than the usual green version, but you could substitute either green or any of the other colors in this dish. The recipe will serve 4 people.
2 yellow crook neck squash, cooked then the pulp removed and mashed
1/2 medium yellow onion sliced thin
1 purple bell pepper, sliced thin in rings
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled, then sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup buttered bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 - Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2 - Cook the onion in the olive oil until translucent.
3 - Spread the squash pulp in the bottom of a greased covered casserole dish.
4 - Add a layer of about half the sliced potatoes
5 - Add a layer of about half the sliced peppers.
6 - Add a layer of about half of the sauteed onions.
7 - Repeat the layering with the rest of each in steps 3 to 5.
8 - Cover with buttered breadcrumbs
9 - Drizzle the milk over the top.
10 Bake covered for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
11 - Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes.
Note - This recipe makes a delicious side dish sure to please even pick little children.
My name is Frank Ernhart. I am a retired engineer, self-made chef with over 1600 recipes, some original, some previously published all FREE. The website is

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shrimp Alfredo Pasta And A Bottle Of Pinot Grigio Are The Perfect Aphrodisiac Pairing

by Kira Volpi


Dim lights, soft music, and the succulent scent of shrimp Alfredo pasta mingle together to create an enchanting ambiance of romance and sensuality.

Foods are often assigned aphrodisiac attributes based on the way they look, taste, smell, or in some cases, their nutritional composition. So that perfect aphrodisiac meal - the romantic and seductive dinner for two - will tantalize and tempt all the senses, creating an energy that is irresistible.

Perhaps the most illustrious source of aphrodisiacs is the unfathomable sea, granting us the gifts of oysters, caviar, and of course, shrimp. The word 'aphrodisiac' is derived from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and desire, who was born of the sea, marking the beginning of a long and legendary association between seafood and seduction. From France to South America to the Caribbean, shrimp has been hailed as the food of enticement and temptation. The Greeks, the Romans, and even the legendary Italian romanicist, Casanova, understood that hidden within these diminutive morsels are certain powers that tap into romantic energy and passion.

In fact, shrimp is packed full of vitamins and nutrients essential to a healthy libido. High in iodine, it nourishes the thyroid gland, which is vital for energy. Also containing zinc, iron, and protein, this little shellfish is effective in increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters associated with attraction and desire. So, toss them in a creamy Alfredo sauce, spoon them atop a plate of your favorite pasta, and share a delectable dinner with your special someone.

Complete your menu with the perfect wine. Wine is the romantic's beverage of choice, being recognized for its ability to put people in the mood for love. There is nothing like a chilled glass of fine wine to soothe the soul and release inhibitions. Pinot Grigio is the perfect pairing for shrimp Alfredo pasta. Dry, crisp, and with a subtle fruity aroma, this light-bodied choice compliments and enhances flavor, adding to the enjoyment and charm of your amorous meal for two.

Imagine sitting across from that special someone - lights dimmed, candles flickering, enticing aromas floating on the sounds of romantic music, the indulgent blend of decadent food paired with a flawless wine. Romance, passion, seduction. Shrimp Alfredo pasta, a bottle of Pinot Grigio, and two passionate souls - the perfect combination, interwoven with the language of love and resulting in an unforgettable evening.

Kira Volpi is passionate about pasta and created to share her family's secrets for making the best Italian pasta. You'll find her recipe for shrimp Alfredo pasta deliciously seductive.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Italian Fast Food Restaurants - A Successful Venture

By: Pawan Kumar


With quickly increasing middle class population, transforming standards of living, rise in nuclear families predominantly in urban India, exposure to international media as well as Western food and growing number of women joining the workforce have had a great impact on the eating habits of people in India. It all has directed us to a new era of eating and that is 'fast food'

India is blessed by means of one of the fastest promising fast food markets of the world. Approximately all the major fast food brand names of the world like Pizza Hut have been successful in creating their existence in the country and the majority of them are gaining considerable escalation in their business. All the famous fast food chains have chalked out extensive plans for escalating their trade.

The central causes following the achievement of these global chains is their proficiency in product improvement, sourcing performances, excellent standards, service levels and consistent working procedures in their restaurants, the strong points that these fast food restaurants have developed over years of practice around the world. These outlets also have the provision of take-away and home delivery.

Fast food outlets in India target youngsters as their main consumers. They launch array of products that can draw the youngster's interest and by aiming youths they automatically target their parents.

Pizza Hut's family restaurants keeps on launching diverse kinds of items for consumption so that people of all ages, gender, income groups etc can approach and turn into a regular customer of their food line up. The success of these restaurants also lies in their affordable price points and value schemes. These Italian restaurants can be found everywhere these days be it stadiums, airports, zoos, college campuses, supermarket, petrol stations and even in big organization's canteens.

Pizza Hut is a renowned fast food centre established in various metropolitan areas of India like Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Noida, etc. Pizza hut, the name is only recognized for its signature Italian pizzas, starters, pastas, appetisers, desserts and beverages. Pizza Hut, the famous Italian cuisine restaurant is implementing a double approach to benefit from the financial brake. These Italian restaurants are flanked by fine-dining and quick-service family dinner restaurants in several parts of India.

Pizza Hut dining restaurants are speedy, well-organized and dedicately providing unbending fast food to gratify everyone's appetite and senses with excellence and offering customers the utmost value for money and becomes the favorite family restaurant.

Article source: Italian Fast Food Restaurants - A Successful Venture

About: Pawan writes about Italian Restaurants. Pizza Hut fast food restaurants offering Italian cuisine, pizza pasta dining experience. To get more information, you can visit

Thursday, August 12, 2010

 By: Dilip Shaw

Preface: Read this article to learn the importance of pasta and

the way to cook it.

In its various forms, pasta has become a part of almost every

country. Some say that Marco Polo brought the idea of pasta from

China to Europe, but archaeological evidence has shown that it

had been in both places long before then, so after doing a great

deal of study, I found that nobody really knows for sure what

culture pasta truly came from (if it was just one).

Many people think of pasta as regular egg noodles, spaghetti,

macaroni, and lasagna, but once you start looking around, there

are many more completely different varieties. In Asia alone,

although some of their noodles are wheat-based, they use a great

amount of rice noodles, but also some with a variety of other

starches. These other starches include such things as potato

flour, buckwheat flour, and mungbean starch, and may be eaten

either hot or cold. Noodles in Asia are generally cooked by

steaming, stir-frying, and even deep frying. They also have a

large variety of different dumplings, which would also classify

as pasta. Germans have their spaetzle, which is made with flour,

eggs, water (or milk), and salt, made very soft and pushed

through a colander into boiling water, then tossed with butter

sauce, soups, and other dishes. In Poland they have their

pierogi, half-moon shaped pork filled dumplings.

The most common Italian-style pasta refers to a dough made with

semolina (durum wheat) flour mixed with water or milk and

sometimes eggs. Semolina is the superior flour that is used

because it doesn't absorb too much water and is perfect when

properly cooked al dente (just slightly firm). The most common

source of pasta is dried, and when looking for the best brand of

dried pasta, even Italians in Italy admit that Barilla is the

best brand. When I was in Italy, some friends I made there were

surprised that Barilla was popular here since it is so good.

It's really not all that difficult to make fresh pasta either.

All you need to buy is a pasta roller and the few basic

ingredients. Generally, with fresh pasta, eggs are used as the

liquid to better hold the more delicate pasta together. You can

also experiment by adding other ingredients, such as adding

herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, or even some sweeter

ingredients for a dessert pasta. When you add extra ingredients,

be careful with how much liquid you add to the pasta, as with

many ingredients (such as spinach) you will need less liquid.

Since the pasta is rolled out as small as it is, it's best to

puree the added ingredients rather than leaving them chunky.

Contrary to dried pasta's almost indefinite shelf life, fresh

pasta is best only within a few days of making it unless you

freeze it or dry it yourself. Your pasta roller should come with

directions on how to roll out the pasta. You can cut the pasta

into a variety of shapes and sizes, and even make fillings and

form the pasta into raviolis, tortellini, or other common (and

not so common) shapes.

When cooking pasta ALWAYS make sure the water is boiling heavily

and that there is a much larger quantity of water than pasta, as

if both of those conditions don't exist, the pasta will release

too much starch and become sticky. Also, make sure you salt the

water. Although it was a slight exaggeration, one chef I worked

under always informed us how (in a real deep accent) "ze water

must taste like ze sea." You should always salt your water

(taste the water to make sure it's the right consistency), as

that adds greatly to the flavor of the pasta.

There is a large variety of pasta sauces you can use as well.

For a lighter summer dish, you may want to use a simple broth,

aglio e olio (garlic and hot olive oil) sauce, Checca (lightly

toast some garlic in olive oil then add basil and tomatoes until

warm, season) sauce, or maybe a pesto (an uncooked puree of

basil, garlic, and parmesan, then adding olive oil to your

preferred consistency - for pasta you can also finish it with

cream) sauce. For not so light pasta dishes, you can use a

carbonara (make a basic cream sauce starting it with cooking

bacon until very crispy and finishing it with romano cheese)

sauce, alfredo (basic cream sauce finished with parmesan) sauce,

a variety of other cream sauces, bolognese (meat sauce) sauce,

marinara (a cooked tomato sauce made with garlic, onions, and

herbs) sauce, other tomato-based sauces, and many more.

You can combine in the sauce and/or garnish pasta with a variety

of ingredients. The most common meats include Italian sausage,

chicken, seafood, ham, duck confit, anchovies, and beef. Other

common ingredients include parmesan (or other) cheese, grilled

or roasted vegetables (large dice various vegetables, toss them

in oil, garlic, salt & pepper, and roast them quickly to golden

brown in a VERY hot oven), roasted pepper strips, mushrooms, and

a variety of herbs.

Pasta is such a versatile ingredient that it has an almost

endless amount of variations that can be used in some sense in

almost any theme of a meal or restaurant.


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Monday, August 9, 2010

Dutch Oven Cooking Basics

 By: Robin Shortt

Pioneer Cooking

When you think of a cast iron Dutch oven, what comes to your mind? Pioneer cooking? Stews over the open fire?

Of coarse both are true, but they are still very much in use today and as for the Dutch oven, the possibilities are endless.

Dutch ovens can be used for frying, baking, boiling, and steaming as well.

Purchasing Your Dutch Oven

When purchasing your Dutch oven, make sure the lid has a raised ridge.
This is to hold your heat source, which will be briquettes.

This will help you to reach the proper temperature needed for whatever cooking you are wanting to do , with the exception of boiling or frying.

In which case you would want all the heat on the bottom.

Heating Fundimentals

If you are planning on baking, you need more heat on the top than on the bottom.

Put one briquette on the bottom for every 3 on the top of the lid.

For preparing stews, use one on the top for every 4 on the bottom. When roasting, put briquettes on the top and bottom evenly.

Best Temperature

To understand the temperature and number of briquettes needed takes a little math.

Each briquette adds about 25 degrees of heat.

A good starting temperature is 350 degrees F.

To figure out how many briquettes to use, take the size of the oven in inches, and subract three to get the number of briquettes for under it, and add three to get the number of briquettes for the top.

Preparing To Cure Your Dutch Oven

Now that you understand the basics of using your Dutch oven you need to prepare or cure your oven before using it.

Some cast iron ovens have a protective covering which you will need to remove .

You will need to do some scrubbing with a non-abrasive scubber.

Once the covering is removed, rinse and dry the oven and then let it air dry.

Curing It

To cure your oven, pre-heat your kitchen stove to 350 degrees. Place the Dutch oven on the center rack, with the lid open slightly.

Allow it to heat slowly until it is too hot to handle. Apply a thin layer of salt free cooking oil with a clean cloth to the Dutch oven inside and out.

Place your oven back inside the stove with the lid slightly open. Bake your oven for about an hour.


After baking , allow the Dutch oven to cool slowly.

When it is cool enough to handle, repeat the oil again the same as before and bake again.

When cool enough apply a third layer of oil, but this time it is ready for use.

Preparing your Dutch oven in this way prevents rust and makes for much easier cleaning as well


To clean your oven after use, scrape it out, add warm water, without soap, and heat it in the oven until the water is almost boiling.

For any food that sticks a little, use a non-abrasive scrubber.

Protect your Dutch oven again by warming it in the stove, applying a thin coating of oil and letting it cool. Its now ready for storage.

About the Author

Val and Robin Shortt are experienced campers and own three outdoor websites For more tips like these and to register for their Free newsletter visit:
Good Night Camping Equipment

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Low Fat Cooking Tips


Here are some low fat cooking tips to help with your weight
loss diet planning:

Low-Fat Supplies - -Keep these on hand. Butter-flavored
low-fat vegetable cooking sprays are out there. So is apple
sauce in place of some oil in recipes. Also keep the following
handy: lemons, limes, your favorite fresh herbs and spices,
evaporated skim milk, cornstarch, plain non-fat yogurt, flavor
vinegar, and onions.

Substitute – Check recipes and ingredients and whe
applicable, cut fat and calories by using:
•Fat-free or reduced-calorie versions •Skim milk, 1 percent or 2
percent milk for whole milk

Cooking Skills - - Hone in on or learn how to:

•Sauté, as with vegetables in water or broths. •Use coking
sprays or nonstick cookware. •Cook in foil or parchment paper to
seal in juicy flavors •Trim fat from meats •Stir-fry, bake,
roast, poach, microwave, steam and broil •Experiment with
seasonings (herbs, spices)

As a basis for meals and menu planning, refer to the food
pyramid information that is available to make sure you have the
basic food requirements met for all family members. Then cross
check and plan by looking over basic food categories to target
healthy foods to fit the lifestyles and health of everyone.

Meal planning also depends upon several factors like the number
of people eating, meal times, special dietary concerns, budget,
available foods, recipes on hand and likes and dislikes of
everyone who will be eating. Begin by choosing foods and recipes
that you like and know how to prepare well and that fit into
everyone’s dietary plans. If one or more people have special
needs, like diabetics, plan ahead for substitutions either in
the food preparation or food substitution for that individual or
for those individuals.

There are a few things to note when making meal choices and men
planning. First, some foods may be advertised a certain way, but
that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment. For instance, eggs and
sausage can be served for dinner, not just breakfast. And
waffles can be made from healthy wheat grains and eaten for
lunch with fresh fruits instead of sugary syrup and heavy butter
for breakfast.

Add variety, too. Have other family members jump in and prepare
meals some nights and on weekends. Kids enjoy making macaroni
and cheese, so host mac-n-cheese night on Wednesdays, for
example. Then alternate different vegetable combinations, colors
and textures to vary the menu on a weekly basis (no need to let
boredom take over on Wednesdays with the same routine!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cooking instructions for prime rib roast

 By: Hans Dekker

Have you been searching for cooking instructions for prime rib roast and still can’t find a recipe that will give you the juicy and tender prime rib roast that you deserve? The reason may be that recipes only give you the basic ingredients for cooking and not the cooking instructions for prime rib roast.

Let’s start with cooking instructions for prime rib roast that begins long before the day you prepare your prime rib. First, you should choose the prime rib that will give adequate portions for each guest that will be attending your dinner party. You may have to look for rib eye instead of prime rib, some local grocery stores label prime rib as rib eye. You can ask the butcher if he would remove most of the fat from the prime rib roast that you choose. This will save you time preparing the roast. If you can not get the butcher to remove the excess fat, then you will have to trim it when you get it home. You should leave just a little bit of fat on the roast for added flavor.

The next step in your cooking instructions for prime rib roast is to create a seasoning rub or paste. You can use ingredients such as coarse salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and even honey. Slit the prime rib roast on top about ½ inch deep all over the top and sides. Rub the seasoning rub or paste on the entire roast, including the bottom and sides, anywhere the meat is exposed. Place in a roasting pan or baking dish with a lid. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Most cooking instructions for prime rib roast include using a meat thermometer and this is the best way to ensure that your prime rib is cooked to perfection and not overcooked. The internal temperature for rare prime beef should be 130 degrees Fahrenheit, for medium rare around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, medium around 150 degrees Fahrenheit and for well done between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

For cooking instructions for prime rib roast that is boneless the basic cooking time is for medium is a 3 to 4 pound prime rib roast should be cooked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 23 to 30 minutes per pound, for a 4 to 6 pound prime rib roast you should cook it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 to 20 minutes per pound and for a 8 to 10 pound prime rib roast you should cook it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 13 to 15 minutes per pound. Remember, this is only an estimate and all oven do not cook the same. You should still use a meat thermometer to ensure the desired doneness.

The last cooking instructions for prime rib roast and maybe the most important is to let the roast sit for around 15 minutes before carving. The roast will still cook and the internal temperature will raise another 10 degrees but this sitting time is important to hold in the juices and flavor.

About the Author

Hans is author of
Prime Roast,
Steaks, Seafood Articles

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chinese Cooking: Sauces & Spices

 By: Jacklyn Chen

Sauces and spices are the key in any cooking. No dishes would taste good without them. The only exception is that some sea animals can be simply steamed or boiled before serve. Well, that is because they are salty already in their body. Imagine eating steamed river shrimp? I wouldn't bother!

I'd like to introduce some of the most popular sauces and spices that we use everyday. You may already know some of them, but I bet you haven't heard of others.


Bean Curd Sauce (Dou Fu Ru):
Fermented bean curd, rich in proteins. May be kept for fairly long time. Comes in two types - red and white. Red is typically used to cook Braised Pork. White tastes spicy and is normally used as a side dish along with noodles, buns, or congee. Some like to serve with soy sauce and vinegar for meat dumplings, hot pot dishes, and others. Favored by north and west of China.

Oyster Sauce:
Oil from oyster. Heavily salted. Use sparingly for sautéed dishes. Popular in Hong Kong, Cantoon (Guang Dong, to be exact), and some areas in south of China while not used at all in north and west of China except for hotels and some restaurants.

Shrimp Sauce:
Oil from salted baby shrimp dried and fermented. Use sparingly for sautéed dishes. Used heavily for dishes from south of China.

Sesame Sauce (Zhi Ma Jiang):
Ground sesame seed with strong flavor. Used for cold dishes.

Hot Pepper & Bean Sauce:
Hot sauce made from combination of hot spices and beans. Red or brown in color. Use sparingly in sauteed dishes or cold dishes. In north, people often mix this sauce to stir fried minced meat and serve with noodles (make it Noodles with Meat Sauce).

Hot Pepper Oil:
Made from sesame oil and red pepper. Serve with meat dumplings, buns, etc.

Sesame Oil:
Flavor is too strong for use in frying and sautéing. Use only for enhancing flavor of cooked and cold dishes, noodles, hot pot sauce, soups, etc.

JiangXi Vinegar:
A special vinegar produced in JiangXi province. Light amber in color with a distinctive fragrance. Use for meat dumplings and cold dishes.


Star Fennel:
Shaped like eight cornered star, brown in color. Use for cooking with chicken, meat, offal and fish.

Anise Pepper:
Dried brown round spice. Added sparingly in chicken and meat can remove the unpleasant smell (fishy smell). Can also be used for making pickles or even some deserts.

Five Flavored Powder:
A mixture of anise pepper, star fennel, clove, cinnamon, and dried tangerine peel. Sparingly used in cooking fish and meat.

Pepper Salt:
Mixture of anise pepper powder with salt. Serve with fried chicken, meat, and fish.

(c)Copyrighted: You may freely republish this article as long as author bio and active hyperlinks are kept intact.
About the Author

Jacklyn Chen - Webmaster of, satellite info, and She is a full time mom who works very hard to make living with multiple web sites.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How to Make Healthy Beef Stock

 By Gladys K.

Good quality stock is essential in low fat cooking as it imparts great flavor base for many dishes. There are two ways for making beef stocks. One is made from the leftover roasted beef. If you use leftover beef, make sure you rinse it with sufficient cool water as this will reduce the amount of seasonings and fats that remained in the leftover beef. The other way of beef stock making is to make from fresh beef, fresh veggies and herbs. Read on to understand how to make a flavorful, nutrient-dense, good quality and healthy beef stock.
Bone Selection for Beef Stock - Use Good Quality Marrow Bone
Stock is incredibly nutrient-dense, hence choosing good quality bones and meats is essential in order to yield a flavorful, delicious and nutritious stock. Ideally marrow bone is a good choice. Always make sure beef bones are from ranch-raised, grass-fed, free-range organic beef, this is to minimize artificial hormones, antibiotics and toxins that are often found in fat and bones of commercially raised beef. Making stock is about leeches all the stuff out of the bones, these include nutrients (vitamins, minerals, gelatin) and also harmful hormones, antibiotics and toxins.
Raw Vinegar Added as A Catalyst To Release Nutrients From Bones
To allow all the nutrients, minerals and collagen in the bones to leech out, you can add a small amount of raw vinegar to cold filtered water and the roasted bones, let them soak before the beef stock begin to boil. The combination of the cold water and vinegar forms an acidic medium which helps to break down the cartilage and other connective tissues in the bones, thus accelerating the formation of gelatin. This will definitely yield a pot of nutritious soup.
Flavor Layering - Browning or Roasting Bones
To add depth to the flavors of homemade stocks, it is crucial for home cooks to develop layers of flavors through food combination and cooking techniques. Layering flavors not only perks up the flavor of lower-calorie dishes, it also help to improve nutrient absorption and add spark to health cooking. One of the approach is by first browning or roasting beef bones and meats for about 45 minutes at 450°F in the oven before making broth. Roasting beef bones make richer, darker and more flavorful brown stock. This step also help to lock in juices and flavor, develop a crust on the outside and bring out natural goodness of the stock ingredients. Discard excess fat and save those browned bits in the bottom of the roasting pan where all the essence and flavors concentrate. Then you can dissolve or deglaze these browned bits using some water. Use a metal spatula to scrape up all of the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan, then pour the browned bits and water into the stock pot to make a rich beef stock.
Flavor Layering - Sweating Vegetables
Another flavors layering technique is sauteing or caramelizing onions or any vegetables you will be using in your soup over medium heat on the stove in butter, until they turned golden brown. This browning process brings out the natural sweetness and intensifies flavors and aromas. Don't let the butter shuns you, it is a healthy fats that is good for health.
Flavor Layering - Mirepoix (Onions, Carrots and Celery)
To develop layers of flavor in the stocks, vegetables, herbs, spices and root vegetables are often added to infuse natural sweetness, pungency and colors. A combination of chopped onions, carrots and celery commonly known as Mirepoix is added to the stock usually in the ratio of 2:1:1. Mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery) renders sweetness, flavors, aromas and a wholesome color to the stock. Herbs and spices such as cinnamon sticks and star anise are also tossed in the stock to impart aromatic, pungent and licorice flavor.
Straining for Clearer Beef Stock
To strain hot stock, dampen the cheesecloth with cold water, wring it out and line a colander. The purpose of doing so is to catch any fat or impurities that are left behind. When hot stock poured through the cold cheesecloth, the fat will solidify and trap in the cheesecloth, leaving only clear stock strain through it. Then cool the stock down before transferring to ice cubes tray and freeze them. If you do not freeze them in freezer, you can leave the fat as it is in the fridge, only skim the top layer off when there's cooking needs. This fat layer serves as a protective layer against any micro-organisms or bacteria which would shorten the shelf life of the beef stock.
With this, you will have your own homemade beef stock on hands to add to soups, stews, stir-fries, rice (or risotto), noodles, sauces, casseroles and pies that is rich in nutrients, delicious, nutritious and healthy.
Make about 2.5 liters (4 pints)
  • 1.75kg (3 1/2 lb) beef bones
  • 1.5kg (3lb) lean braising steak, cut into pieces
  • 5 liters (9 pints) water
  • 125g (4oz) onions, cut into chunks
  • 4 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3-4 slices fresh root ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  1. Put the bones and pieces into a large saucepan with the meat.
  2. Add the water and bring it to the boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and remove any scum that rises to the top.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, ginger, cinnamon and star anise and simmer, partially covered, for 4 hours.
  4. Leave the stock to cool slightly, then strain and pour into a container. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will keep for 2 days. Before using, skim any fat from the top. This top fat layer act as a protective layer against micro-organisms. Alternatively, to extend shelf life of beef stock (up to three months), you can reduce the stock further and then freeze it in ice cube trays. With this, you can unfreeze the desired quantity of stock cubes (instead of batch) for cooking needs in future.
Gladys is passionate about health. She believes in natural healing and is an advocate in healthy diet, exercise and positive thinking.
If you think that watching your weight, keeping a tab on your cholesterol level, maintaining your waistline and looking after your health equal dull and bland food, then Healthy Easy Food Recipes website will change your mind. Gladys also shares various diabetes diets in her Free Diabetic Diet Recipes website. She reckons home-cooked dish is akin to culinary art which you can add a personal touch, a healthy note and a sprinkling of love to whom you concerned.