Looking for a treat on St. Patrick’s Day? Try this Chocolate Guinness Truffles recipe.
A popular salad combination in the spring and early summer, the New Potato and Green Bean Salad is an ideal dish for any occasion.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 ½ pounds organic red potatoes, skinned
- 12 ounces organic green beans
- 1 small organic red onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh organic basil
To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce to taste in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To prepare the salad, in a steamer over simmering water, steam the potatoes until tender. Cool and cut into quarters. Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water to cool. Cut the beans in half. Combine the green beans, potatoes, onion, and basil in a large bowl. Add the dressing to coat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Welcome in the Spring and gear up for St. Patrick’s Day with this pale green, luscious asparagus soup. For a quick garnish, top with some shredded fresh asparagus.
- 3 cups organic asparagus spears, cut into ½-inch slices (about 1 pound)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ¾ teaspoon minced fresh organic thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 2 cups low-fat organic soy milk
- Dash of grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine asparagus, broth, ½ teaspoon of the thyme, the bay leaf and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until soft. Discard the bay leaf. Place the asparagus mixture in a blender and puree until smooth.
Place the flour in a medium saucepan and gradually whisk in the soy milk. Add the pureed asparagus and grated nutmeg and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ¼ teaspoon thyme, the oil, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
The second cardinal rule of safe home food preparation is: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use a thermometer with a small-diameter stem to ensure that meats are completely cooked. Insert the thermometer 1 to 2 inches into the center of the food and wait 30 seconds to ensure an accurate measurement. Beef (including ground beef), lamb, and pork should be cooked to at least 71 C (160 F); whole poultry and thighs to 82 C (180 F); poultry breasts to 77 C (170 F); and ground chicken or turkey to 74 C (165 F). Don’t eat poultry that is pink inside.
Eggs should be cooked until the white and the yolk are firm. Avoid foods containing raw eggs, such as homemade ice cream, mayonnaise, eggnog, cookie dough, and cake batter, because they carry a Salmonella risk. Their commercial counterparts usually don’t because they’re made with pasteurized eggs. Cooking the egg-containing product to an internal temperature of at least 71 C (160 F) will kill the bacteria.
Seafood should be thoroughly cooked. The FDA’s 1999 Food Code recommends cooking most seafood to an internal temperature of 63 C (145 F) for 15 seconds. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, look for other signs of doneness. For example:
Fish is done when the thickest part becomes opaque and the fish flakes easily when poked with a fork.
Shrimp can be simmered three to five minutes or until the shells turn red.
Clams and mussels are steamed over boiling water until the shells open (five to 10 minutes). Then boil three to five minutes longer.
Oysters should be sautôed, baked or boiled until plump, about five minutes.
Protect food from cross-contamination after cooking, and eat it promptly.
Cooked foods should not be left standing on the table or kitchen counter for more than two hours. Disease-causing bacteria grow in temperatures between 4 and 60 C (40 and 140 F). Cooked foods that have been in this temperature range for more than two hours should not be eaten.
If a dish is to be served hot, get it from the stove to the table as quickly as possible. Reheated foods should be brought to a temperature of at least 74 C (165 F). Keep cold foods in the refrigerator or on a bed of ice until serving. This rule is particularly important to remember in the summer months.
After the meal, leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as possible. (Never mind that scintillating dinner table conversation!) Meats should be cut in slices of three inches or less and all foods should be stored in small, shallow containers to hasten cooling. Be sure to remove all the stuffing from roast turkey or chicken and store it separately. Giblets should also be stored separately. Leftovers should be used within three days.
And here are just a few more parting tips to keep your favorite dishes safe. Don’t thaw meat and other frozen foods at room temperature. Instead, move them from the freezer to the refrigerator for a day or two; or defrost submerged in cold water flowing fast enough to break up and float off loose particles in an overflow. You can also defrost in the microwave oven, or during the cooking process. Never taste any food that looks or smells “off,” or comes out of leaking, bulging or severely damaged cans or jars with leaky lids.
Though all these do’s and don’ts may seem overwhelming, remember, if you want to stay healthy, when it comes to food safety, the old saying “rules are made to be broken” does not apply!
Now that we are in the midst of the holiday season, there will be lots of good food and spirits abound. The last thing we want to do is to come in contact with spoiled or contaminated food. So as you are preparing your meals or participating in potlucks, remember the first cardinal rule of safe food preparation: Keep everything clean.
The cleanliness rule applies to the areas where food is prepared and, most importantly, to the cook. Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before starting to prepare a meal and after handling raw meat or poultry. Cover long hair with a net or scarf, and be sure that any open sores or cuts on the hands are completely covered. If the sore or cut is infected, stay out of the kitchen.
Keep the work area clean and uncluttered. Wash countertops with a solution of 5 milliliters (1 teaspoon) of chlorine bleach to about 1 liter (1 quart) of water or with a commercial kitchen cleaning agent diluted according to product directions. They’re the most effective at getting rid of bacteria.
Also, be sure to keep dishcloths and sponges clean because, when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may promote their growth. Wash dishcloths and sponges weekly in hot water in the washing machine.
While you’re at it, sanitize the kitchen sink drain periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of 5 milliliters of bleach to 1 liter of water or a commercial kitchen cleaning agent. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal and, along with moistness, create an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
Use smooth cutting boards made of hard maple or plastic and free of cracks and crevices. Avoid boards made of soft, porous materials. Wash cutting boards with hot water, soap, and a scrub brush. Then, sanitize them in an automatic dishwasher or by rinsing with a solution of 5 milliliters of chlorine bleach to about 1 liter of water.
Always wash and sanitize cutting boards after using them for raw foods, such as seafood or chicken, and before using them for ready-to-eat foods. Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked, such as raw fish, and another only for ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, fresh fruit, and cooked fish.
Always use clean utensils and wash them between cutting different foods.
Wash the lids of canned foods before opening to keep dirt from getting into the food. Also, clean the blade of the can opener after each use. Food processors and meat grinders should be taken apart and cleaned as soon as possible after they are used.
Do not put cooked meat on an unwashed plate or platter that has held raw meat.
Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly, rinsing in warm water. Don’t use soap or other detergents. If necessary–and appropriate–use a small scrub brush to remove surface dirt.
Sweet potato pie is a Southern tradition that graces any holiday table. It’s one of my favorites that I can enjoy year-round.
- 21/2 to 3 pounds sweet potatoes
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 2 9-inch partially baked pie shells
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium saucepan, boil potatoes in lightly salted water until tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Drain water from pot and shake pot over low heat to dry potatoes. Mash the potatoes and then beat them smooth with an electirc beater. Stir in beaten eggs, brown sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, evporated milk, and sweet potatoes. Pour into pie shells. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees for 40 minutes, until center is almost set but still soft.