Monday, July 09, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

More Food Preparation Techniques

Bouquet Garni

A classic bouquet garni, often called for in French roasts, soups, and stews, includes:

1 part leaf thyme
1 part whole peppercorns
4 parts finely chopped parsley
1 bay leaf

Fresh or dried herbs can be used, or a combination of both. Place herbs and seasonings in a cheesecloth square that is tied up with clean butcher's string. For especially easy removal, make the string extra long and tie one end to the pot's handle.

For a variation, try experimenting with rosemary, tarragon, summer or winter savory, and whole cloves.


Cooking Dried Beans:

Before cooking dried beans, rinse them well and pick them over for stones or inferior beans.

If more water is needed when cooking beans, always add very hot or boiling water as cold water will discolor the beans.

More flavor can be obtained by adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar to cooked beans.

Adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the water used to boil beans will eliminate "gas attacks."

Eggs, Boiled

Put eggs into a pot (avoid aluminum as it will darken) and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the pot to a boil over high or medium high heat, then lower the heat and simmer. Depending on the size of the eggs, they will need to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes for soft boiled, about 4 to 5 minutes for medium and 15 to 20 minutes for hard boiled. Drain the eggs and immerse them immediately in cold water to stop the cooking process. Refrigerated boiled eggs will keep for about a week.

Corn on the Cob

Method 1: Fill a large kettle with two inches of fresh water. Add a steamer basket to the bottom of the kettle, and bring the water to a boil.

Meanwhile, shuck the corn, removing all silk. Arrange the corn in a single layer in the steam basket, and place the lid on the pan. Bring it to a full boil. The moment it reaches full boil, remove the pan from the burner, and let it stand for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how large the ears are. Serve with butter, salt and pepper. (If you want to add even more sweetness to the corn, you can sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over it before it begins to boil.)

Method 2: Put the whole ears (husks and all) in the oven and bake them for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

When you're ready to serve the corn, just put on a pair of oven mitts and peel the husks off the ears. The husks and silk just fall completely off.

Mashed Potatoes

Peel the potatoes. Cut them into chunks, then cover them with cold water in a very large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until very tender all the way through. Drain the potatoes, then put them back into the pot over VERY low heat to evaporate any excess liquid. This will dry the potatoes.

While the potatoes are drying, heat whole milk just until hot, but not boiling. A good rule of thumb is to use about 2/3 cup milk for every 2 to 3 pounds of potatoes. You can use a mixture of cream and milk, if desired. Add butter or margarine to the hot, dry potatoes, keeping them over very low heat. Mash with a hand masher until the butter is melted and the potatoes are very smooth.

With an electric mixer, beat the potatoes (with the pot still over low heat) as you add the hot milk, a little at a time, until the potatoes are the desired consistency. Scrape sides of the pot with a rubber spatula. Do not overbeat. Stop beating when they are creamy and fluffy. Add salt and white pepper to taste. The white pepper is used so that they are no "unsightly" black specks in the potatoes.


Always work quickly so that the potatoes do not cool down. Lukewarm potatoes turn pasty. Adding cold milk can turn hot potatoes pasty.

Courtesy of Recipe Goldmine

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