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Be Nice--Nice Is Good

Joe Barkson's

The Official Recipezine of the Internet

This Weekend's Theme: Cooking on the Run


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Thanks to Russ Hogue for this one:

At the diner, my breakfast arrived with only three sausages
instead of the usual four. The waitress explained that the cook
had dropped one and was making another. Soon the cook
dashed out of the kitchen. "Here you are," he announced. "It's
the missing link!"



All About... Fruits

Preserving Fruits

Preserved fruits have been an important part of our diet for
thousands of years, especially in colder northern climates
where preserving and storing foods of all kinds was necessary
to survive the harsh winters. Over the ages many methods of
preserving fruit have been developed by people from all climates
eager to extend the availability of fruits beyond their short
natural season.

The high sugar content of most fruits makes them excellent
candidates for many types of preservation, but their high water
content also makes them excellent candidates for spoilage,
as we have already discussed. Most methods for preserving
fruits, therefore, aim to eliminate as much of their water content
as possible. A thorough discussion of these various techniques
is beyond the scope of this little essay, and I suggest that you
consult a good cookbook devoted to the subject for complete
instructions on preserving fruits.

That said, here is a quick look at the many methods of preserving

Dried Fruits

Many fruits, including apples, pears. peaches, nectarines,
apricots, figs, grapes, berries, and bananas can be dried and
stored almost indefinitely. Apples should be peeled, cored,
and thinly sliced before drying. Pears and stone fruits such
as peaches need only be halved and cored or pitted, and
bananas should be peeled and thinly sliced prior to dehydration.
Grapes, figs, and berries can be dried whole. Commercial
dehydrators are available to the home cook, but you don't
need a special appliance to dry fruits at home. You can place
the prepared fruits on a wire rack and dry them in an oven set
on the lowest setting.

Fruit Leathers

A variation on drying, any fruit can be peeled, seeded, and
pureed in an electric blender or food processor. The resulting
puree is then spread in a thin layer on parchment or wax paper
and air dried or dried as described above.

Candied Fruits

Also known as crystallized or glace fruits, this process involves
cooking fruits in a sugar syrup before drying. Suitable fruits
included citrus (both the flesh and rinds), stone fruits, and

Fruit Jams, Jellies, and Preserves

Most fruits can be cooked with sugar (and sometimes some
pectin to aid thickening) to make jams, jellies, and preserves.
If done properly and stored in sterilized containers, these will
last almost indefinitely. They can be eaten as spoon sweets
or used as toppings for toast or bread and as fillings for pastries.
Jellies are made only with the juice of the fruits, while jams and
preserves are made from the entire fruit. The difference between
jams and preserves varies depending on whom you ask, but
the general consensus is that preserves have larger pieces of
fruit than jams, which are more like a fruit puree.

Fruits in Alcohol

Eighteenth century seafarers discovered that the fruits they were
transporting could be preserved in barrels of rum during their long
voyages. Any fruit can be preserved if stored in an airtight
container and covered with rum, brandy, vodka, or other distilled
spirit. These will last for many months, and new fruits can be
added to the container as its contents are consumed.

Pickled Fruits

Pickling fruit is largely a forgotten art, but in the past many fruits
were preserved in a sweet vinegar solution, often with spices
such as cloves and cinnamon added. Suitable fruits include
stone fruits, figs, berries, and of course, watermelon rind.

To be continued.



Even the most enthusiastic cooks have days when there just
isn't enough time to cook a tasty, nutritious meal. Here is a
small collection of recipes for those times.

One of the secrets to preparing healthy meals on the run is to
maintain a well stocked pantry. Having a few canned items on
hand, such as the artichoke bottoms in this dish, will fuel your
creativity even when time is short.

Parmesan Artichoke Bottoms

2 14-ounce (390 g) cans artichoke bottoms, rinsed,
drained, and patted dry
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (125 ml) mayonnaise
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon peel
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) pine nuts (pignoli)

Place the artichoke bottoms round side down in a lightly
greased baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients
except the pine nuts in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Mound the Parmesan mixture on the artichoke bottoms and
sprinkle with the pine nuts. Bake in a preheated 350F (180C)
oven until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Keep several cans of good quality chicken and beef broth
on hand and you can whip up healthy soups like this in a jiffy.

Quick Carrot and Caraway Soup

1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb (450 g) carrots, shredded
2 tsp (10 ml) caraway seeds, crushed in a
mortar with a pestle
4-6 cups (1-1.5 L) chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, chives, or basil for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over moderate heat and saute
the onion until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the carrots and caraway seeds and saute 3 minutes.
Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer covered until the
carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Puree the soup in an
electric blender or food processor and adjust the seasoning
with salt and pepper. Serve hot or chilled, garnished with
chopped herbs. Serves 4 to 6.

Here is a quick and easy dish that appeals to the eye as
much as to the taste buds.

Cherry Tomatoes with Pecans

3 Tbs (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups (500 ml) cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1/4 cup (60 ml) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tbs (30 ml) red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh basil for garnish

Heat the oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic and
tomatoes and saute just until the tomatoes are warmed through,
about 3 minutes. Add the pecans, vinegar, salt, and pepper
and stir for 1 minute. Garnish with chopped basil. Serves 4 to 6.

Seafood is always a good thing to cook when you're pressed
for time because it cooks so quickly. You can even pop the
salmon fillets into the oven frozen - just be sure to adjust the
cooking time accordingly.

Mustard-Crusted Salmon

2 Tbs (30 ml) red wine vinegar
2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) Dijon-style mustard
2 tsp (10 ml) dry mustard
1 tsp (5 ml) dried thyme
1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
4-6 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces (170g) each
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup (250 ml) bread crumbs

Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustards, and thyme in an electric
blender. With the motor running, pour the oil in a thin stream
to make a semi-thick sauce. Season the salmon fillets with
salt and pepper and arrange them skin side down in a lightly
greased baking dish. Spread about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the
sauce over each fillet to cover completely. Press the bread
crumbs onto the fillets and bake in a preheated 375F (190C)
oven until the topping is crisp and golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
Serve with the remaining mustard sauce on the side. Serves 4
to 6.

If you're always looking for new ways to get healthy fresh fruit
into your family's diet, here is one answer. You can make it
even healthier by using frozen yogurt, ice milk, or fat-free ice

Tropical Fruit Sundaes

3 oranges
1/2 cup (125 ml) packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon
1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
Vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or ice milk

Peel the oranges and, working over a bowl to collect the juices,
cut between the membranes to remove the sections. Squeeze
the membranes to extract the remaining juice. Combine the
orange juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan
and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes,
until the juice has thickened slightly. Let the syrup cool and
add the orange sections, pineapple, mango, and bananas.
Spoon the fruit and syrup over scoops of ice cream. Serves 4
to 6.



Thanks to reader Shirley Allen in California for today's helpful

Now that barbecue and grilling season is upon us, here is a
do-ahead time saver. I buy whole chicken, then cut them in
quarters; or, skinless, boneless breasts and thighs. I put
enough chicken in plastic freezer bags and cover contents
with bottled (or your own) marinade. Seal the bags tightly. I
freeze the prepared chicken until later. Then, all you do is
take what you need from the freezer the night before to
defrost and to continue the marinade. When ready, remove
and pat dry. Then grill away. Discard the marinade; or boil
same for about 5 minutes to use as a sauce. You can have
as many prepared bags of chicken as your freezer will hold.
They will keep for about 4 months.

Last Week's Kitchen Tips -

Thanks to reader Joyce Revlett for Monday's helpful hint:

Reading a question recently about using expensive cardamom
seeds reminded me of something I discovered quite a while
back (and have since read about in WWR too but it probably
bears repeating). I no longer buy expensive herbs and spices
at the supermarket because I've discovered how much cheaper
they are at my local Asian or Indian market. I started with
whole nutmegs, which I discovered were about 1/10 of the
price at my neighborhood Asian market as at the supermarket.
And I recently purchased a lifetime supply of Chinese 5 Spice
at less than the price of a tiny can at the supermarket. And it?s
true for all herbs and spices. Check it out.

Thanks to reader Laurel Hennessy for Tuesday's helpful hint:

Before measuring sticky ingredients like peanut butter, honey
and molasses, spray the measuring cup with a bit of cooking
spray. This will allow your ingredients to slip right out.

Thanks to reader Warren McManus for Wednesday's helpful

A few tips for pasta lovers:

1) Prepare your sauce in a large skillet instead of the usual
saucepan. Boil your pasta as usual, but stop boiling and drain
a half-minute before your preferred doneness. Dump the drained
pasta into the skillet and cook over a low flame, blending
continuously with the sauce, until done. Optional: if the recipe
calls for grated Parmesan, add it at this point and mix.

2) Don't skimp on salt in the pasta water, around three
tablespoons for a medium-large pot of water. No sauce can
cover the taste of underlying insipid pasta.

3) Don't over-sauce. Even if it means leaving some sauce
behind in the skillet, don't serve "gorpy" pasta swimming in

Buon appetito!

Thanks to reader Rosemary Sadler of Lexington, KY for
Thursday's helpful hint:

Camilla gave us her mother's method for cooking rice and asked
what method others use. Way back in the olden days when I
first got married and was learning to cook, I saw an ad from the
American Rice Council or some such organization in a magazine,
giving the rice growers' recommended method for cooking rice.
I followed the directions and my rice was perfect every time,
not to mention ridiculously quick and easy to cook. It made
me look like a pro when I could barely boil an egg. This was
in 1971, and I have been cooking my rice by this method ever

Foolproof Rice

1 cup rice
2 cups water
pinch salt (I no longer add the salt)

Put rice, water and salt in a saucepan, preferably a heavy pan,
with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil, stir with a fork, cover the
pan and turn the heat as low as it will go. Cook for 20 minutes
(I always use a kitchen timer), remove from heat and let rest
for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork. That's it--perfect rice. No
oil, no rice cooker necessary, no sauteing, just perfect fluffy
rice. And we don't notice that I never add the salt anymore.

Thanks to reader Janice Marana for Friday's helpful hint:

When I have left over cilantro, I rinse it, lay it on a paper towel
to get the excess water off, then lay it on a piece of plastic
wrap and roll it up and place it in the freezer. When I need more,
I unroll it and cut off what I need. It cuts up really easy when
still frozen and the taste is pretty much fresh.

If you have a handy solution to a common kitchen problem,
please send it to [email address deleted]



Chris Moore of St. Louis, MO asks: I have an espresso machine
and I have always used it with coffee beans marked as "espresso."
Is this the kind of bean that should solely be used for making
espresso, or can any of the types of bean sold at the store, like
Kona, French roast, etc. be made into espresso by brewing it
with an espresso machine?

The Chef answers: The only difference between espresso beans
and other coffee beans is the degree to which they have been
roasted. Espresso beans are roasted more than the other
coffees you mention, resulting in a stronger, richer coffee flavor.
The additional roasting also destroys much of the caffeine, so
ironically, espresso is weaker than other coffees in terms of its
effect as a stimulant. You can make coffee using your espresso
machine and any coffee beans you like, but it won't be espresso.

Last Week's Ask the Chef -

Jean B. asks: I've seen three written versions of the Italian
antipasto, antipasti, and antipasta. So which one is correct?

The Chef answers: The Italian word is "antipasto" and literally
means "before the food" ("pasto" comes from the Latin "pastus,"
the past participle of the verb "pascere," to feed). "Antipasti" is
the plural of antipasto, and "antipasta" is just plain wrong.

Heidi from Pennsylvania asks: I just bought a citrus fruit at my
local grocery store called a minneola. I think it's a cross-bred
citrus fruit. They're very juicy, kind of tart, with a slightly bitter
aftertaste. Can you help?

The Chef answers: Minneolas are a type of tangelo, a citrus fruit
resulting from the crossing of a tangerine (or Mandarin orange to
the rest of the world) and a pomelo, a large fruit closely related
to the grapefruit.

Beryl in Canada asks: I am wondering what type of cutting
board you would recommend for everyday use.

The Chef answers: There is some controversy as to whether
plastic cutting boards are safer than wooden boards because
some studies have found that wooden cutting boards actually
retain fewer bacteria than plastic in spite of their porous nature.
My opinion is that either wooden or plastic boards are perfectly
safe if properly washed with hot soapy water after each use,
so choose whichever you prefer. Some things to consider when
choosing a cutting board are size (there's really no need to
have large and small boards when a single large board will do
for small items as well) and weight (someone is going to have
to lift it to wash it, ya know?). Whatever you do, stay away from
glass and ceramic cutting boards that will dull your knives and
shatter into small, sharp pieces at the first opportunity.

Amy Griffis asks: This milk soured fast... sell by date was 6-1,
and I have had milk much longer and never had problems. At
this time I have a 1/2 gal of sour milk. I left it out to flush ,but
when I came back it had separated. My mom made cottage
cheese but I believe you needed rennet. Can I drain this product
and have an edible 1% yogurt?

The Chef answers: Chances are the "cheese" you have made
is perfectly edible, but since it wasn't made under controlled
condition, there is no way of knowing exactly which bacteria
are at work. I hope you'll err on the safe side and discard the
curds and whey.

Susheela Nadarajah asks: I'm writing from sunny Malaysia
and find your ezine most informative and entertaining. Here's
a little question for you: what's the difference between
shortening and butter? I've noticed American-style cake
recipes require shortening, whilst British ones stick to butter
or even margarine. I'd be grateful for your opinion, and also
whether you can use butter and shortening interchangeably.

The Chef answers: Shortening is a liquid fat that has undergone
a process known as hydrogenation in which additional hydrogen
atoms are added to unsaturated fats in order to saturate them -
in other words, they have taken "good" fats and turned them
into "bad" fats, and have also created trans-fatty acids ("very
bad" fatty acids) in the process. Most experts believe that
these hydrogenated oils (including margarine) do more harm
than good to people who must restrict their cholesterol intake.
As a general rule, any fat may be substituted for any other fat
in cooking and baking, so choose wisely.

Send your questions on any topic, no matter how serious or silly,
to [email address deleted] - I can't answer them all, but I'll publish
one every day whether I know the answer or not.



Since this is a paid subscription, I need to manage cancellations
and changes of address manually. Please email me at [email
address deleted] for all matters concerning your subscription.



(c) Copyright 2011 by Worldwide Recipes. All rights reserved.

You are permitted to print and/or save this publication to disk for
your personal use. Forwarding any portion of this ezine to other
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may result in cancellation of your subscription.



About "The Chef"
Joe BarksonJoe Barkson has been writing and publishing under the pen name "The Chef at Worldwide Recipes" since 1998. He came to food writing late in life following checkered careers in computer marketing, graphic design, and teaching high school Spanish. A lifelong interest in food and cooking ("I've been eating since I was a baby," he is fond of saying) was nurtured by extensive international travel during his formative years, and this accounts for the emphasis on world cuisine in his choice of recipes and themes. Twice married and currently happily single, he lives in rural Georgia with a hyperkinetic schipperke that answers to Cooky when the mood strikes him.


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