Month: October 2014

Choosing The Juiciest Lemons

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When a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, how do you know how many lemons to buy? The answer to that question is:  it depends.  It depends on how ripe it is and how large it is.  It’s amazing the different amount of juice lemons can produce.  One juicy  lemon can give you as much as 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) but more often 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of juice.  An unripe lemon (even a jumbo one) can give you as little as 1 tablespoon (thus you would need four lemons to get 1/4 cup of juice).

Then there’s the flip side of the question.  How much lemon juice does a recipe call for when it says “Juice of one lemon”?  To be a little dogmatic, to me that would indicate a poorly written recipe, but that aside, I would go for 2 tablespoons of lemon juice assuming an average lemon.

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could select a juicy lemon just by looking at it?  Well you can (or at least I can).  Look at the five lemons above.  Which one do you think is the juiciest?  the darkest yellow?  the lightest yellow?  the biggest one?

Actually none of those factors are the first thing I look for.  It’s the texture of the skin.  Lemons with smooth skins are fresher (less pits and a fresher flavor) than lemons with pitted skin.  Usually they are also lighter in color.

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Although texture of skin is the visual cue, you must also give the lemon the squeeze test.  If it is hard as a rock and has no give; it will not be juicy; and the pith (white part) will be very thick no matter how light or smooth the lemon is on the outside.

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The darker, more pitted lemon in the front of the picture above will also have more seeds than the lighter one (usually the light lemons have no pits at all).

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The last fact to consider is that the really old lemons, ones that are dark yellow with deeply pitted skins, can still be juicy but may have a bitter after taste.

So, when life deals you lemons – make lemonade – but choose the best lemons to make it with!
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Fosolia (fasolia) – Ethiopian Green Beans and Carrots

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo *

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I don’t exactly remember when I first tasted Ethiopian food, but I do remember two things: it was a long time ago and there was a great famine in Ethiopia at the time.  It seemed ironic to me that the Ethiopian people were starving just when we (at least in New York) were suddenly becoming interested in Ethiopian cuisine.  The restaurant was called The Blue Nile and was on West 77th Street.  It was kind of dark and cave-like.  You sat on very low stools and the food was served on a flat basket lined with the injera (bread/giant crepe with a consistency somewhere between a sponge and a crepe and a vaguely sour taste) with various foods on top of it – and no utensils. The injera was then torn and used to scoop up the food.  It was a memorable experience.

I’ve eaten Ethiopian food many times since then (in fact I had it for lunch today) and I love the subtle and not so subtle flavors of the food.  I also love the fact that injera  is a gluten-free bread when made with teff flour as it is in Ethiopia.  So though this is my first Ethiopian recipe here, you can be sure there will be more to follow.
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Have You Tried This Measuring Cup Yet?

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As a cookbook author I am a stickler for accurate measuring devices…and for using the right measuring cup for the designed ingredients.  You might wonder why you need special measuring cups for liquids; can’t you just use the metal scoop-like ones you use for flour and sugar?  The answer is that the liquid and dry measuring cups do hold the same amount, but if you are measuring liquids in a dry measuring cup you must fill it to the tippy top and the problem is  you will most likely spill some of the liquid on the way to the bowl or pot – making them less accurate than using the liquid measuring cups which are deep enough to prevent spillage and have a spout to make the pouring easier.

Ever since I could remember liquid measuring cups looked like this:

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You fill the cup to the proper line, but here’s the trick – you have to look at the cup at eye level or you won’t get the measurement right.  The angled measuring cup allows you to pour in the liquid and look down to see the proper measurement.  Much easier than the old fashioned kind, they’re also lighter as they’re made of plastic and most of the traditional ones are made of glass.  Both types are dishwasher safe.

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The 1 cup angled measuring cup costs about $7.00; 2 cup about $9.00;  4 cup $10.00, and 8 cup $18.00.  It also comes in sets of 3 sizes 1, 2 and 4 cups for about $20.00

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Though I have both types of measuring cups in my cabinet, I find myself reaching for the angled measuring cup much more often than the traditional one.

I think you’ll really like it.

Supermoist Bundt Pan Roasted Chicken

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I really love kitchen gadgets.  The problem is I need a bigger kitchen to store all the gadgets I’d like to have. On the other hand there are also plenty of gadgets that I think are just a waste of money (not to mention valuable storage space).  Vertical roasters fall somewhere between great gadget and waste of money.  They are available in the whole gamut of prices – I’ve seen them for as little as $3.99 and as much as $229.00.  I honestly don’t know if they work differently enough to warrent the price differential.

Why roast vertically?   Two reasons:  The skin is crisp all around the chicken, not just on top; and the chicken cooks more evenly.  That’s because the metal tube on the inside conducts heat cooking the  chicken from both inside and out instead of just from outside in.  So here’s my solution to the should I buy a vertical roaster…the bundt pan.  It’s something I have on hand and can do the same thing as the vertical roaster – in fact it’s even better because you can cook the vegetables and make sauce in the bundt pan – which is a feature only of the very high end vertical roasters.  There is a down side to using a bundt pan and that’s that you can really only make a smallish (about 3 to 3 1/2 pound) chicken on it.  Larger chickens just won’t balance on the short tube in the bundt pan.  On the other hand, I already own (and store) bundt pans and further, I rarely cook chickens larger than 3 1/2 pounds.  So this kitchen trick works for me.

Hope it works for you too.
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Pickled Beets

Wheat free * Dairy free * Gluten free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve

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Summer is winding down.  All those wonderful tomatoes I have been cooking with are disappearing from my CSA pickup.  The only tomatoes that arrived this week was a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes.  But, sad as the end of tomato season is, other goodies are beginning to appear.  This week we has beets, and squash, and cauliflower.

I love beets.  Generally I just roast them, but this week I decided to venture further than usual and make pickled beets.  I’m kind of forced into this decision as my favorite brand of store bought pickled beets “greenwood” seems to have disappeared from the supermarket shelves and in it’s place is “nelly’s” which has way too much clove for my taste.  Although I do like pickled beets as a side dish by themselves, mostly I use them to make beet horseradish to serve with my (store bought) gefilte fish.  All you have to do is put some drained pickled beets into a food processor and puree them until somewhere between finely chopped and pureed.  Then just stir in prepared horseradish (I use Gold’s white horseradish) to taste.

I served the horseradish with A & B salmon gefilte fish (it’s gluten free) that I buy frozen in a log, then boil according to package directions.  It was a real hit at my break-fast.
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