Kitchen Tips - December 2011

  • New guidelines issued by the USDA for safe meat temperatures are great news but won't mean a thing to you if you don't have a good instant-read kitchen thermometer. As important as it is to cook meats and poultry to kill harmful bacteria, a thermometer allows you to prevent overcooking – which can quickly reduce a beautiful steak or chop to dry shoe leather. Guidelines now specify that pork (chops, ribs, tenderloins, roasts, etc. but not ground pork) cooked to 145˚ and turkey cooked to 165˚ are safe. For more information, visit
  • I recently tried a great trick for peeling garlic – an entire head all at once in less than a minute! First, break the cloves apart and place the unpeeled cloves in a deep pot with a tight-fitting lid. Holding the lid tightly in place and shake, shake, shake the pot vigorously for 30 seconds. Voila! Peeled garlic!
  • When making biscuits or shortcakes, don't twist your cutter! Twisting sideways while cutting the dough "seals" the edges, making it difficult for the biscuits to rise high. For the tallest biscuits, cut straight down and up.
  • To avoid lumpy gravy, warm your liquid gently (don't boil) before adding it to your hot roux (fat/flour mixture) and whisk it in very slowly. It's almost impossible to add it too slowly. Even if it looks like you are creating glue at first, the gravy will loosen up and be lump free as your proportion of liquid to roux grows and the temperature differential between the two evens out.
  • You can incorporate more whole grain in your diet by substituting them for some of the breadcrumbs in meatloaf and meatball recipes, even burgers. Try raw oats or cooked grains such as barley, bulgur, wild rice and red quinoa.

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