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Volume 16   Number 35

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  THIS WEEK'S FEATURES AND RECIPES:

   > Article: An Italian Classic Looks to the East

   > Food Funnies: Things Every Kindergartner Knows About Food

       S E L E C T E D    R E C I P E S :

    * IHOP Harvest Grain & Nut Pancakes
        
    * Beef and Avocado Fajitas
        
    * Marinated Grilled Shrimp
        
    * Chicken and Rice Casserole
        
    * Inside-Out Cheeseburgers
        
    * Sweet and Sour Radicchio
        
    * Zucchini Bread
        
    * Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

     Healthy Eating:

    Low Carb: Cheese and Beer Soup

    Diabetic: Fruit Smoothies

    Low Fat: Apple Crumble

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  THE E-COOKBOOKS LIBRARY - ALL YOU NEED TO COOK IT RIGHT!

   Discover Over 100 World Class Cookbooks!

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  This Week's Cooking Tips

     Microwave Tips:

 * Choose foods that cook well in moist heat: chicken, fish, ground
   meat, vegetables, sauces and soups.

 * Pieces that are about equal in size and shape will cook more
   uniformly.

 * You can reduce the liquid used in cooking beverages, soups,
   vegetables, fruits, and main dishes by about one third because less
   evaporates in microwave cooking.

 * Choose a microwave-safe container slightly larger than the dish
   required for cooking the recipe in a conventional oven.

 * To create a crusty look on baked items, grease pans with an
   acceptable vegetable oil and add ground nuts or crumbs.

 * Add lowfat cheese and other toppings near the end of cooking to
   keep the top from becoming tough or soggy. More Cooking Tips

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  This Week's Culinary Quiz (Answer at the bottom of page)

   Indian food has a very long history of flavorful curries, but
  one prominent ingredient in many of these dishes was not available
  to locals until around the beginning of the 16th century when trade
  links with the Americas were established. Which one? 

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  Quote of the Week:

     "Good bread is the great need in poor homes, and often times
      the best appreciated luxury in the homes of the very rich."

      - A Book for A Cook, The Pillsbury Co. (1905)

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    UPCOMING FOOD HOLIDAYS:

         September is: National Biscuit Month 
                       National Chicken Month 
                       National Cholesterol Awareness Month 
                       National Honey Month 
                       National Mushroom Month 
                       National Organic Harvest Month 
                       National Papaya Month 
                       National Rice Month

             August 28 - National Cherry Turnover Day
             August 29 - National Whisky Sour Day 
             August 30 - National Toasted Marshmallow Day 
             August 31 - National Trail Mix Day
             September 1 - National Cherry Popover Day 
             September 2 - National Blueberry Popsicle Day 
             September 3 - National Welsh Rarebit Day 
             September 4 - National Macadamia Nut Day 

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    Kick it up a notch with a touch of class! Create a
    personalized and professional look in your kitchen.

                Personalized Chef Coats

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    An Italian Classic Looks to the East
     By Mark Bittman

  There are almost no limits to what can be used for a braising
 liquid: stocks, wine, soy sauce, the liquid exuded from onions and
 other vegetables, or even water.

  One of the most interesting choices is milk. For many veteran cooks
 it was Marcella Hazan who first revealed this attribute of cow juice,
 with a pork recipe in "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking."

  Her recipe still astonishes. The milk transforms from white to
 golden brown and from thin to thick, as a sweet, slightly bitter
 caramel sauce - not unlike dulce de leche - forms around the pork. It
 looks like a fake gravy but it is nothing but milk, and outrageously
 delicious. (It can be made with 2-percent milk, but nothing leaner.)

  Several years ago it hit me that it would be quicker to make the
 dish with chicken instead of pork: the milk's metamorphosis takes
 less than an hour, but the pork requires from two to three hours to
 become tender. Using chicken shortens the cooking time for the dish
 to an hour or so, making it more suitable for a weeknight.

  Then I thought about Thai and Indian dishes braised in coconut milk.
 Never - in my limited experience - had I seen those curries, as they
 are usually called, cooked so the coconut milk caramelized.

  Would it work? Of course. Even a straight substitution of coconut
 milk for cow's milk is pretty good. But because coconut milk is so
 sweet, I prepared the dish with strong Thai seasonings: ginger,
 chili, nam pla and lime. The result looks like Ms. Hazan's original,
 but tastes quite different.

  The Italian versions cry out for crusty bread and the Thai style for
 sticky rice. But the preparations are nearly identical.

  Pork (or Chicken) Stewed in Coconut Milk
  ================================
    2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola 
    2 to 3 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder 
    Salt and pepper to taste
    10 shallots, peeled and left whole
    1 or 2 small chilies, stemmed, seeded and minced, or dried
      chilies, or to taste
    1 inch-long piece ginger, peeled and minced
    2 or 3 cans unsweetened coconut milk, or as needed
    1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce) or soy sauce, or to taste
    Juice of a lime, or more to taste

 1. Put oil in a large deep skillet or casserole that can later be
    covered; turn heat to medium-high. Brown pork on all sides,
    turning as necessary, and adjusting heat so the meat browns but
    does not burn. This will take about 20 minutes. Season it with a
    little salt and pepper.

 2. When the pork is just about browned, add shallots, chilies and
    ginger; brown a bit, then add about 2 cups coconut milk and the
    nam pla. Bring to boil, cover, and adjust heat for a steady
    simmer. Cook, turning occasionally, for at least 90 minutes, or
    until the pork is tender; add additional coconut milk if mixture
    dries out.

 3. When the pork is tender, remove to a platter. Stir lime juice into
    sauce; taste, and adjust seasoning, adding more chili, nam pla or
    lime juice as necessary. Carve meat, and serve it with sauce.

 Variations: For chicken stewed in coconut milk, use 4 chicken leg
 quarters in place of the pork. Brown in 4 tablespoons oil, on skin
 side first, then turn over. Cook for a couple of minutes more, then
 proceed as in Step 2, leaving lid askew so liquid reduces more
 quickly. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

 For chicken (or pork) in milk, use half butter and half olive oil.
 Substitute garlic for shallots; omit chilies, ginger, nam pla and
 lime, but add 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or sage leaves. Substitute
 whole or 2 percent milk for coconut milk. Cooking times are about
 the same. 

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  FOOD FUNNIES: Things Every Kindergartner Knows About Food
 

 9. If it tastes really yucky, the teacher knows a song about how
    great it is!

 8. In a pinch, glue is an acceptable condiment.

 7. Absolutely everything tastes better with chocolate syrup or
    ketchup on it.

 6. Most blue food you find in the fridge will make the puppy sick.

 5. Mom's M&M cookies are worth two sandwiches and a dead frog.

 4. Dr. Pepper supplies the best on-demand burps.

 3. Most foods can be used as fingerpaints when necessary.

 2. Your dog, your cat and your one-year-old brother all look the
    same eating peanut butter.

  ... and the #1 Thing Every Kindergartner Knows About Food ...

 1. Happy Meal french fries last longer than the Happy Meal toys.
    But the toys taste better.

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  IHOP Harvest Grain & Nut Pancakes
  ============================
    3/4 cup Quaker Oats 
    3/4 cup whole wheat flour 
    2 teaspoons baking soda 
    1 teaspoon baking powder 
    1/2 teaspoon salt 
    1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
    1/4 cup vegetable oil 
    1 egg 
    1/4 cup sugar 
    3 tablespoons finely chopped blanched almonds 
    3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

  Lightly oil a skillet or griddle, and preheat it to medium heat.
 Grind the oats in a blender or food processor until fine, like flour.
 Combine ground oats, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder
 and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl combine buttermilk, oil,
 egg and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth.

  Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients, add nuts and mix well
 with mixer. Ladle 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot skillet and cook
 the pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until brown.

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  Beef and Avocado Fajitas
  ====================
    1 1/2 lb flank steak, trimmed if necessary
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 tablespoon chile powder
    3/4 teaspoon black pepper
    3/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 heart of romaine
    2 firm-ripe avocados (8 to 10 oz each)
    12 (6-inch) flour tortillas (not low-fat)
    1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs

  Heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan (preferably cast-iron) over
 moderately high heat until beginning to smoke, then brush with oil.
 While pan heats, pat steak dry and stir together spices and salt,
 then rub all over both sides of steak. Grill steak, turning over
 once, 9 to 11 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting
 board and let stand 10 minutes.

  Meanwhile, cut romaine crosswise into thin shreds. Quarter avocados
 lengthwise, then pit, peel, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick
 slices. While steak is standing, stack tortillas, wrapped completely
 in dampened paper towels, on a microwave-safe plate and cook in a
 microwave oven at high power (100 percent) until tortillas are hot,
 about 1 1/2 minutes.

  Holding knife at a 45-degree angle, thinly slice steak across the
 grain. Serve with tortillas, avocado, romaine, cilantro, and your
 favorite salsa.

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  Marinated Grilled Shrimp
  ===================
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup tomato sauce
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
    skewers 

  In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, olive oil, tomato sauce,
 and red wine vinegar. Season with basil, salt, and cayenne pepper.
 Add shrimp to the bowl, and stir until evenly coated. Cover, and
 refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once or twice.

  Preheat grill for medium heat. Thread shrimp onto skewers, piercing
 once near the tail and once near the head. Discard marinade. Lightly
 oil grill grate. Cook shrimp on preheated grill for 2 to 3 minutes
 per side, or until opaque.

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  Chicken and Rice Casserole
  ======================
    2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil 
    1 medium onion, peeled and diced 
    3 cups diced, cooked chicken 
    2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans green beans, drained and rinsed 
    1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped 
    1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos 
    1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup 
    1 cup mayonnaise 
    1 (6-ounce) box long-grain wild rice, cooked according to package 
    1 cup grated sharp Cheddar 
    Pinch salt 

  Preheat oven to 350F. Heat butter or oil in a small skillet over
 medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
 Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add all remaining
 ingredients to bowl and mix together until thoroughly combined.

  Pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25
 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

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  Inside-Out Cheeseburgers
  ====================
    1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
    1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
    1 pound ground beef
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 

  Preheat grill to medium-high or preheat the broiler. Combine
 Cheddar and Gruyere in a small bowl.

  Gently mix beef, Worcestershire, paprika and pepper in a large
 bowl, preferably with your hands, without overworking. Shape into
 8 thin, 4-inch-wide patties. Mound 2 tablespoons of the cheese
 mixture on each of 4 patties, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Cover
 each with one of the remaining patties. Crimp and seal the edges
 closed.

  Grill the stuffed patties on an oiled rack, about 4 minutes
 per side for medium-well. (Be sure not to press the burgers as they
 cook or they'll split open and the cheese will ooze out.) To broil,
 cover a broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Broil
 the stuffed patties in the upper third of the oven, about 4 minutes
 per side for medium-well. In either case, let the burgers stand for
 5 minutes before serving.

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  Sweet and Sour Radicchio
  =====================
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large onion, thinly sliced
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    2 large heads of radicchio (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored, each
      cut into 8 wedges
    1/3 cup raisins
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

  Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
 Add onion and sugar. Saute until onion is lightly browned, about
 7 minutes. Add vinegar; stir to blend. Add radicchio, raisins, salt,
 and pepper. Cook until radicchio is just wilted, about 5 minutes.
 Transfer to serving dish; sprinkle with pine nuts. 

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  Zucchini Bread
  ============
    3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
    1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
    2 teaspoons baking soda 
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
    3 cups sugar 
    1 cup vegetable oil 
    4 eggs, beaten 
    1/3 cup water 
    2 cups grated zucchini 
    1 teaspoon lemon juice 
    1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

  Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg,
 baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil,
 eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry,
 add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with
 nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean.
 Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

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  Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll
  =======================
    3 eggs 
    1 cup sugar 
    2/3 cup canned pumpkin 
    1 teaspoon baking soda 
    1 teaspoon cinnamon 
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
    3/4 cup flour

  Filling:
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 
    4 tablespoons butter, softened 
    1 cup powdered sugar 
    1 teaspoon vanilla

  In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Beat in remaining cake
 ingredients. Grease a 10"x15" jelly roll pan. Line pan with waxed
 paper, then grease and lightly flour the waxed paper. Pour batter
 into the pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. The
 cake will cook fast so watch carefully to avoid burning the edges.

  While cake is baking, sprinkle powdered sugar heavily over a kitchen
 towel, using a sieve or sifter. Turn hot cake onto the towel. Remove
 waxed paper. Trim off burnt or crusty edges. Sprinkle more powdered
 sugar over the hot cake and quickly roll up with towel inside. Let
 cake cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  Meanwhile, prepare filling by beating together all ingredients until
 smooth and creamy. Unroll cooled cake and spread with the filling
 mixture. Roll up cake with filling on the inside. Wrap in waxed paper
 and then foil. Refrigerate or freeze. To serve, slice cake about
 1/3 inch thick and sprinkle with powdered sugar. The cake cuts best
 when still slightly frozen. 

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   This Week's Culinary Quiz Answer: Chili Peppers

  By 3,000 B.C. turmeric and cardamom were both being harvested in
 India, and around this time the people of India had trade links with
 the Sumerians which gave them access to, amongst other things, cumin.
 Chili Peppers, on the other hand, are indigenous to modern day Mexico
 and other parts of the Americas. Indian cuisine has strong regional
 variation, clearly linked to local ingredients and culture, but has
 also proven adept at incorporating new ingredients into its dishes.

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