Avocado 101 How To Pick Store And Handle The Perfect Fruit
Avocados. They're not just for guacamole anymore. Delicious Hass avocados add great taste, lively color and a creamy texture to ordinary dishes, making them extraordinary. From pizza to salads to sandwiches, avocados add that little something special to your recipes. Knowing how to properly select, handle and store your avocados will ensure that they add the perfect pizzazz to your meal every time.
Selecting your avocados
(*) When choosing your avocados, look for delicious Hass avocados. They are known for their creamy texture, have a distinctive bumpy skin and are available year-round.
(*) To determine the ripeness of a Hass avocado, gently squeeze the fruit-a ripe fruit will yield to gentle pressure. Hass avocados will also turn dark green to black as they ripen.
(*) If you are buying avocados for future use, purchase firm fruit.
(*) Avoid fruit with external blemishes.
To ripen a Hass avocado, place the fruit in a paper bag with an apple for two to three days at room temperature (apples accelerate the process by giving off ethylene gas, a ripening agent).
Ripe avocados can be stored in a refrigerator or freezer for later use.
(*) Mash the avocado, adding 1/2 tsp. of lemon juice per 1/2 mashed avocado to prevent discoloration.
(*) Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture before covering.
(*) You can refrigerate the mixture for up to two days or store in the freezer for up to two months.
(*) Like all fruit, wash the avocado before cutting.
(*) Cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed.
(*) Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate.
(*) Slip a spoon between the seed and the fruit and work the seed out.
(*) Slip a spoon between the skin and the fruit and scoop away from the peel.
Once you've selected and prepared your Hass avocados, try them in this quick, easy recipe.
Turkey and Avocado
1 round flat sourdough bread loaf
2 large Hass avocados, peeled and seeded, divided
3 Tbsp. salsa
3 (6 by 11/2-inch) strips roasted red pepper
1 pound thinly sliced smoked turkey
3 thin red onion slices, separated into rings
3 pepper jack cheese slices
2 romaine lettuce leaves
Cut a circle out of the top of the bread; tear out the inside of the bread in the bottom section to make a shell. Mash one avocado and mix with salsa; spread over the bottom of the bread. Layer pepper strips, onions, cheese and half the turkey inside the bread. Slice the remaining avocado and place on top of the cheese. Top with lettuce and remaining turkey. Replace the bread top and press down firmly to compress ingredients. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into wedges just before serving.
Your Chicken Recipe Could Win 100 000
A grand prize of $100,000 will be awarded to America's top chicken cook at the 47th National Chicken Cooking Contest, to be held May 4, 2007, in Birmingham, Ala.
Fifty-one contestants, one from each state and the District of Columbia, will be selected to compete. Chicken is the only required ingredient for recipe entries, and it can be prepared whole, in parts or in any combination of parts. Pre-cooked, pre-marinated and ground chicken products are also eligible.
Recipe preparation and other ingredients are left up to the imagination and creativity of the entrants. All recipes must be original, make four to eight servings and take less than three hours to prepare and cook twice. Grilling recipes are not allowed.
Contestants may submit an unlimited number of recipes. Each should be on a separate piece of paper and should include the contestant's name, full address and telephone number.
The judges, a national panel of food experts and journalists, will choose the winning recipes based on taste, appearance, simplicity and overall appeal.
The second-place finisher will be awarded $10,000; third place will win $5,000; fourth place will win $2,000; and fifth place will get $1,000. Every state finalist will win an expense-paid trip to Birmingham for the cook-off.
The contest is sponsored by the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Members of the Alabama Poultry Federation will serve as local hosts.
The grand prize at the 46th National Chicken Cooking Contest, held in Charlotte, N.C., in May 2005, went to Indiana contestant Camilla Saulsbury for her Mahogany Broiled Chicken with Smoky Lime Sweet Potatoes and Cilantro Chimichurri.
Cast Your Vote For America S Fish
Election season is in full swing, and it's time to get out and vote. For president, you say? Of course, but there's one more candidate to elect this year - America's fish.
Think about it: America has a national anthem, a national flower and even a national tree, but not a national fish. Therefore, the Catfish Institute has nominated U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish for the honor.
Why is this fish worthy of such a title? A true American original, U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish can be found on plates all around the country, from California to New York and all the way to Washington. This versatile fish is adaptable to a variety of seasonings and can be grilled, baked, poached, broiled or fried. So where does this candidate stand on the important issues? Read on:
* On the environment: A friend to the environment, U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is fed a grain-based diet and raised in closed, freshwater ponds.
* On family values: Affording Americans time at home with family is a valued priority for this candidate. Because catfish is so easy to prepare, families can spend less time cooking and more time together.
* On health and nutrition: Low in fat, calories and sodium, carb-free, and high in protein, this candidate is ideal for every health-conscious American.
* On the economy: With prices that are easy on the pocketbook, voting for this candidate is smart economics.
Try this quick, easy recipe to see what else "Candidate Catfish" has to offer.
CLASSIC FRIED CATFISH
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish
For garnish: sliced tomato
and parsley sprigs
Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Coat farm-raised catfish with mixture, shaking off excess.
Fill deep pot or 12-inch skillet half full with vegetable oil. Heat to 350 F. Add catfish in single layer and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes, depending on size. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Mouthwatering Organic Vegetarian Salad
Two hard-boiled organic or local eggs (optional if you're vegan or too impatient)
Organic bacon bits alternative
2 organic hearts of romaine
Organic shredded cheese or cheese alternative (your choice; either yellow or orange cheeses are great)
2 vegetarian breaded chicken patties
2 organic tomatoes
1 organic red pepper
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, thoroughly rinse romaine hearts, then pat them dry with a towel.
Tear off any brown areas to compost them, then bunch the romaine with your hand and cut it into horizontal slices, working from the tip to the butt. Repeat for second heart of romaine. Compost the butts.
Dice tomatoes and red peppers. Compost the tomato core and red pepper cap and innards. While you're chopping, reflect upon a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: "We have to eat happy eggs from happy chickens."
When the water boils, gently drop in eggs. Boil for three minutes or until they're hard-boiled. Meanwhile, spread the sliced romaine hearts evenly between two plates. (This serves two, in case you haven't already guessed.)
Cook the vegetarian chicken patties according to package directions, either in the microwave if you're super hungry and need to eat soon, or in the oven if you want them to be more crunchy. (Of course, if you cook them in the oven, make that the first step before boiling the eggs.) Cut the patties into slices when they're done, then arrange the slices on each plate of romaine.
Rinse the eggs under cold water until they're cool enough to handle. Chop the eggs, or use an egg slicer and pretend it's your least favorite politician's head.
Sprinkle organic bacon bits alternative, cheese or cheese alternative, red peppers, tomatoes and croutons evenly onto each salad. Actually, don't do it evenly-sneak just a few more goodies onto your salad.
You can use pre-packaged organic croutons, or you may be able to find crunchy organic or local baguette chips that you can crumble onto the salad. And if you're in a pinch, you can simply crumble some organic crackers or tortilla chips that you may already have on hand.
The organic produce you use in this hearty salad is as limitless as your imagination. You can also try diced cucumber, shredded carrots, sugar snap peas-the list goes on and on.
This organic salad is really great with organic thousand island dressing. Or try mixing organic ranch and organic French dressing! Chow down!
Entertain Easily At Brunch
Even if you've got a hectic end-of-the-year schedule, you can gather family and friends for a joyous holiday celebration. Entertaining can be relatively carefree and inexpensive if you plan a casual brunch.
Brunch is generally served between the traditional hours for breakfast and lunch, a convenient time that leaves the evening free for you and your guests. Easy on the cook, a brunch menu usually stars comforting and simple-to-prepare dishes, most often based on nature's own convenience food, eggs.
For brunch, you can cook up versatile eggs to please almost anyone. Omelets are a popular brunch choice. You can flavor your omelets simply with herbs and cheese or dress them up with a fancier filling, such as garlic-laced creamed shrimp.
Another option is scrambled eggs, the top egg choice across America. To suit everyone, offer plain scrambled eggs with an assortment of different toppings from which your guests can pick and choose their favorites.
Consider veggies such as sauteed mushrooms, onions and bell peppers; two or three cheeses, perhaps brie or feta, cottage or ricotta, mozzarella, Swiss or Cheddar; and, for a flavorful zip, chopped or minced herbs, such as chives or dill, an herb blend from curry powder to Italian seasoning, or maybe a prepared sauce or two, like pesto or salsa.
For a more unusual treat, serve Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls. With this recipe, simple ingredients that you're likely to have on hand combine into handy, but elegant, individual servings. Preparation is an uncomplicated matter of stirring together the flavoring ingredients, spooning the veggie mixture into hollowed-out rolls, slipping eggs into each nest and baking. While the eggs are in the oven, set the table and cut up fresh fruit for a colorful compote and toss a crisp green salad. Because bread and carrots are already in the egg dish, that's all you need to round out the meal.
Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls
6 Kaiser or round rolls (about
4-inch diameter), uncut
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons reduced-fat
2 cups shredded carrots
(about 8 oz.)
6 tablespoons (about 1.5 oz.)
part-skim mozzarella cheese
Fresh dill sprigs, optional
Slice tops off rolls about 3/4 inch from top. With fork, scrape out insides of bottoms of rolls, leaving about 1/2-inch wall all around. Save crumbs for another use. Set rolls aside.
In medium bowl, stir together mustard and mayonnaise until well blended. Stir in carrots until evenly coated with mustard mixture. Spoon 1/3 cup of the carrot mixture over bottom and up sides of each roll to form a nest. Place rolls and tops, cut side up, on baking sheet. Break and slip an egg into each carrot nest. Sprinkle
1 tablespoon cheese over each egg. Bake in preheated 325 degree F oven until whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, about 30 to 35 minutes. Garnish with dill sprigs, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving of 1/6 recipe without dill garnish: 250 calories, 9 gm total fat, 216 mg cholesterol, 561 mg sodium, 231 mg potassium, 26 gm carbohydrate, 12 gm protein and 10% or more of the RDI for
vitamin A, riboflavin, thiamin
Scotch Broth Keep Away The Winter Chill
There are some flavors which linger in the mind forever; a good soup, a comforting hotpot, a favorite cake or biscuit. One of the enduring flavors of my childhood was a traditional Scotch Broth - my aunts used to make this for us when we went to visit.
You can vary the ingredients if you find some difficult to find. However, I'd recommend that you try and keep in the small quantity of cabbage or kale, because this adds something special to the broth!
1lb neck of mutton (or some beef, or minced beef.... you get the picture!)
Approx 2 pints of water
1-2 ozs of barley
Handful of dried peas, soaked overnight to soften
1 medium turnip
Small piece of cabbage or winter greens or kale
Parsley, pepper and salt.
I use a large pan with a solid, heavy base to make this soup. (A pressure cooker is fine.)
Put the water into the pan, add the meat and the well-washed barley. Bring to the boil, add the diced turnip, carrots, chopped leek, finely chopped onion and peas; reduce the temperature to a gentle simmer. Cook very slowly for about 90 minutes and then add the cabbage.
Before serving, lift out the meat (ok, not the mince, that wouldn't be possible), dice it and then return it to the soup. Season to taste and add the chopped parsley.
Serve hot with delicious home-made bread or a wholemeal scone (biscuit??)
I hope you enjoy this little taste of Scotland.
Easy Breezy Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie seems to say warm weather, maybe because it's as yellow as sunshine and has clouds of sweet meringue. Simple to love, it was a real challenge to make until now.
Here's a recipe that's quick and easy but still has that homemade flavor you crave. Starting with a lemon bar mix gives it a luscious citrus flavor, while eggs and sugar make it taste so fresh and rich. And the crust? Golden, buttery and sweet.
Serve the pie warm from the oven for oohs and ahs, or for easy Lemon Meringue Bars, just make the recipe in an 8-inch square pan and serve chilled.
Lemon Meringue Pie
1 package Krusteaz Lemon Bar Mix (1 pouch each lemon filling mix and complete crust)
3 whole eggs
1/3 cup water
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350
Red White And Blue Savory Potato Salad
The next time you're planning a picnic, don't forget the pickle's place at the table when preparing your menu. Consider this potato salad recipe for your next gathering.
Red, White and Blue Savory Potato Salad
Serves 8 to 10
6 large red potatoes, unpeeled
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
4 small green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green part only)
6 slices maple-smoked bacon
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (or one 4-ounce package)
11/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup minced Del Monte
Observe Passover With Macaroons
For centuries, food has played a prominent role in numerous springtime festivals celebrated by people of various faiths.
For Jews, the last of ten plagues, the night before the Hebrews' flight from Egypt, was the taking of each family's firstborn son. According to Exodus, though, Jews who followed the rules of Moses by sacrificing a lamb, sprinkling its blood on the doorframe and eating the lamb along with other specific foods were passed over and their sons lived. In modern times, for seven to eight days each spring, Jews celebrate Pesach, or Passover, with a ritualistic dinner called a Seder.
An egg, hard-cooked and usually roasted in the oven until the shell browns, is one of five symbolic foods on the Seder plate. Called beitzah, the egg represents life itself as well as burnt temple offerings, grief for the destruction of the temple and the hope of salvation. Under Jewish dietary laws, eggs are neutral and may be served with either milk or meat dishes, so eggs are often used in other parts of the meal, too.
It's egg whites which star in macaroons, a traditional cookie served during Passover. Macaroons are simple to prepare and make a welcome hostess gift for many occasions, especially for working people who haven't time to bake. For a pretty presentation, tie up a patterned gift bag full of cookies, wrap the cookies in colored plastic wrap or place them in a decorated tin. Whether you're Jewish or not, comforting macaroons are a sweet treat that can warm the soul, lift the spirit and help end a celebration memorably.
What about the yolks? Simply cook them in water just as you would hard cook eggs in the shell. Then crumble the cooked yolks over a green salad for a sunny protein source.
about 3 1/2 to 4 dozen
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher-for-Passover vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher-for-Passover almond extract
1 1/3 cups (3.5 oz.) flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped red glace cherries
Additional red glace cherry halves, optional
In small mixing bowl at high speed, beat egg whites until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. (Rub just a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger to feel if sugar has dissolved.) Beat in flavorings. Stir together coconut and chopped cherries. Gently, but thoroughly, fold into beaten whites. Drop by rounded tablespoonsful onto greased or lined (foil or waxed, brown or parchment paper) baking sheets. Top each cookie with cherry half, if desired.
Bake in preheated 325 degree F oven until lightly browned, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container between sheets of foil or waxed paper. Wrap for presentation, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving of 1/48 recipe without cherry garnish: 26 calories, 1 gm total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 13 mg potassium, 5 gm carbohydrate, 0 gm protein. - NU
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