Stones and Pizza’s

Whether you are interested in a pizza completely from scratch or if you’re okay with a quick veggie pizza or chicken clubhouse pizza,  the stone will cook a pizza you will not mind serving to family or friends.  Pizza brought home from dining out will taste so much better and not soggy or mushy tasting if reheated on a stone.  With people trying to spend money more wisely, a pizza stone will offer a delicious and cost saving option to dining out or the pizza delivery service. Leftovers taste so much better when reheated on a stone.

ANDREA WEIGL, of the News and Observer, wrote about her experiences with homemade pizza’s before properly using stones.  Read her article and see three of her favorite pizzas dough recipes.

http://www.newsobserver.com/105/story/1428005.html

Herbs

Recipes using fresh herbs instead of dried herbs give more flavor to your dishes regardless of the cuisine.  Fresh herbs can be purchased or grown at home.  A great article on growing your own herbs was just shared with me through a newsletter. Rather than repeat the information here, I am going to provide a link to the article below “Growing Herbs in Containers”.  Once you grow the herbs you need to store them properly.  Properly storing them, keeping them in an upright position with their leaves out of water and air circulating around them is the key to keeping them longer and fresher.

An herb keeper that has a base water fill line is great to have because you do keep the leaves out of water.  If the herb should be refrigerated, keep it in the door of the refrigerator.  Basil and cilantro will do better if stored without a lid at room temperature.

If buying fresh herbs, buy those which are crisp and bright in color. For freshness, trim approximately a half inch of  the stems, snipping them in a diagonal direction, taking off any dead leaves, and washing them by swishing in cold water, and patting or blotting the leaves dry before storing them. To maintain freshness, change your water daily in the herb keeper.

For quality kitchen tools for both snipping and storing your herbs, contact me through email and I will be happy to share with you tools that will not only do the job but make it easier to do so.

“Growing Herbs in Containers” by Mary Alward.            

http://www.anypresentations.com/enl/article.php?aid=8499&id=742&sid=e5c7&NID=43

Stoneware

Not all stones are created equal.  

If a stone says, pizza stone on the packaging, it means to use the stone for the sole purpose of cooking a pizza. 

If the stone says round  or rectangular stone, it is okay to cook raw meat or other items on the stone.

I cook all types of meat on my stones and cleaning up is so easy; clean with hot water–no soap.  It’s the hot water that cleans your cookware not soaps.  

Stoneware and frozen foods.  

Placing a frozen pizza on a stone and placing it in a hot oven causes thermal shock and will cause the stone to break.

When purchasing a frozen pizza, nuggets or fries, take them out of freezer for about 5-10 minutes.  Then place the pizza on the stone and place the stone in a COLD oven, then turn the oven on.  This allows the stoneware, the oven, and the frozen food to heat up at the same time.  It is also recommended you choose the stone to fix the amount of food you are cooking.  A large bar pan for one small piece of food could cause thermal shock too. For one small item of food, I would use a small bar pan.

“To get the most for your buck”, choose stones that are guaranteed for microwave use.

 When company drops in unexpectedly, it’s nice to be able to cook a cake in the microwave and be ready to serve it in about 15 minutes.  It’s also great to be able to cook a pork tenderloin in about 8 minutes per pound or 6 pork chops in 10 minutes without heating up the house in the summer. A covered stone is like having a crock pot on steroids.  It’s a great addition to everyone’s kitchen.

Garlic tips

A clove, not a bulb, can improve your overall health while 2-3 cloves a day can help ward off colds.  You can add garlic to your yogurt or cottage cheese to help cover the taste of garlic. You can  eliminate garlic breath by eating a small piece of fresh parsley, eating a lemon, drinking lemon juice, or eating a crushed clove in olive oil. If you have Parmesan-Garlic oil dipping seasoning, add a clove to it when you add the olive oil–great for bread dipping.

The two main ingredients in garlic which promotes these healthy benefits is Allicin and Diallyl Sulphides.  Allicin isn’t produced until you finely chop or crush it. The finer you chop it or press it, the better because more allicins are generated and the stronger its health effects.  “Allow 10 minutes before adding the chopped or pressed garlic to your recipes to allow the allicin to develop fully.”  So press or chop the garlic before beginning the cooking process. It begins to decompose quickly; therefore its health benefits decreases over time. Cooking speeds up the decomposition process and is destroyed when microwaving.  ”Add the garlic about five minutes before the end of cooking – this way you apply just enough heat to convert the allicin into medically active compounds.”

For the best results add pressed garlic toward the end of the cooking process.  By adding it to the end of the recipe you will also keep most of the flavor. And remember if a little is good, more is better, does not apply to garlic!  Too much raw garlic can produce irritation of and/or damage to your digestive system.

Diallyl sulphides do not decompose as quickly as allicin when cooking. These help lower the bad cholesterol and boosts the immune system. For the health benefits to be produced, garlic does have to be chopped or crushed.  ”If garlic is not crushed or chopped there are relatively no health benefits to eating garlic.”  The breakdown process of these in the body is just a couple hours so again more at one time is not better.  To receive the benefits of garlic it is better to add it often to your meals rather than an overdose at one meal.

I often add 2-4 cloves of pressed garlic toward the end of the recipe and reduce salt in meal preparation. The garlic replaces salt for me in the preparation.  When using salt I use sea salt which has so much more health benefits than table salt. Again, its much healthier to use.

As a kitchen specialist if you email me I can help you locate the sea salt, the  oil dripping seasoning, a garlic press, a garlic peeler and garlic slicer which are not only easy to use but comes with a guarantee.  This means no more handling the smelly garlic yet still being able to add it to our meals so we can reap the many health benefits of adding garlic to our meals.  Eating healthier, easier and quicker preparation of meals means not only a healthier you, but a healthier family.

Chocolate cooking tips

Chocolate melts quicker when it is chopped up. Use the food chopper to chop your chocolate, before melting. 

Melting chocolate in the microwave is wonderful in a micro cookers. It melts smoothly, it doesn’t stain, and the cooker isn’t hot to touch. Microwave 1 minute on 50% power, then in 20-second increments until melted. Don’t overcook.

Be very careful when using chocolate, even the smallest amount of water droplets, can cause the melted chocolate to become lumpy and grainy.  If this should happen, add more water–lots of water can normally help the chocolate to relax again and be smooth.  

When working with chocolate, store the leftovers in a cool dry place.  If it is stored improperly or becomes too warm, it will develop a film on it called bloom.  If bloom should occur it will not taste as good as it normally does but it is still good when baking.

Garlic as a Food which prevents Cancer?

Just recently I read a news release that says the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends foods that are plant based.

“Many people are beginning to realize there are foods you can splurge on and eat in moderation, and there are foods that you should consume on a regular basis because of their beneficial properties,” explains Enzo Febbraro, co-owner and executive chef of Washington D.C.-based D’Aqua Ristorante. “Whether dining out or eating at home, it’s usually pretty easy to incorporate some of them into your diet, once you know which ones are the anti-cancer powerhouses.”

So if eating on a regular basis –garlic, grapes, tomatoes, whole grains, veggies, beans, and berries–may reduce the chances of cancer, we not only owe it to ourselves but to our families.    

Garlic is an ingredient many people shy away from because they do not know enough about garlic.  Garlic is sold in bulbs, with about fifteen-twenty cloves. A recipe normally calls for one to four cloves.  So please, please, do not confuse bulbs and cloves. This is often discovered by people new to my cooking shows.

Preparing garlic has never been easier using a garlic press. With this tool there is no longer a need to peel or handle the garlic. There is no mess, once pressed, use a knife to scrape off the presed garlic that didn’t fall in the bowl or pan and then to remove the skin left in the press, use your knife’s tip to remove and throw in garbage. Simple and nice. 

If you add garlic at the beginning of the recipe, there will be a mild to no taste of garlic because garlic does mellow with cooking.  For those wanting a strong garlic taste, you would add the garlic toward the end of the cooking.  

Once you get used to cooking with garlic and understand when to add the garlic to the recipe, like myself, you will find yourself adding more than the recipe calls for.

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