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The art of braising

I often wonder how some of the culinary technique that we use evolved or were created. If you have been cooking for many years you find that some of those accidents and the attempt to correct them actually turned out to be culinary creations. The challenge lies sometimes is trying to recreate the”magic.”

One technique that I use quite often is braising which comes from the French word”braiser”and is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor. Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting.

Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to break down the tough connective tissue in meat, making it an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Many classic braised dishes such as coq au vin are highly evolved methods of cooking tough and otherwise unpalatable foods. Pressure cooking and slow cooking in crockpots are forms of braising.

The technique of braising follows pretty much the same steps. The food that you are going to braise(meat, poultry, vegetables or mushrooms)should be first seared to brown its surface and enhance its flavor. If the food is not going to produce enough liquid of its own, a small amount of cooking liquid could be added to give it an acidic element in the pot; you can use tomatoes, beer, or wine, often with the stock. You should cook covered at a very low simmer until the meat is fork tender and use the cooked liquid to create a sauce or gravy.

Cooking is about sharing and having fun in the process so allow me to share the great recipes from Roscoe’s Kitchen and be sure to listen to Star 106.5 FM every weekday at 6:25 p.m. Make sure and e-mail us at [email protected] with your comments and recipes so that we could share your experiences and creations with our audience.

Spicy Sweet Potato Balls

3 pounds sweet potatoes cooked or 2(17 ounce)cans, drained

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg

Miniature marshmallows

1/2 cup ginger snap crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mash sweet potatoes while they are hot, then add, butter, salt, and spices. Add egg and continue to whip until thoroughly combined. Chill until firm.

Form into golf ball sized pieces and place 2 to 3 marshmallows in center of each ball. Roll in ginger snap crumbs.

Place on non-stick or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Source: foodnetwork.com

Carrot Spice Cake

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/3 tsp baking powder

1 1/3 tsp baking soda

1 1/3 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ginger

1 cup sugar

1 cup cooking oil

3 eggs

2 cups grated carrots

1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the first seven ingredients and set aside.

Cream together the sugar, oil, and eggs, one at a time.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir well.

Fold in two cups of grated carrots and 1 cup of chopped walnuts(optional).

Pour into 9×13″non-stick pan, sprayed with cooking spray, and bake until cake tests done.

Sprinkle with confectioners’sugar or frost with cream cheese icing

Source: recipes4cakes.com

Duck Breasts in White Wine

4 duck breasts

1 medium onion, sliced

1 large carrot sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

1?cups of dry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed potatoes for serving

Remove the skin and attached layer of fat from duck breasts.

Place some of the skin fat in a flame-proof casserole and heat until about 3 tablespoons of fat run.

Remove the skin and brown the meat on all sides.

Remove from the pan.

Sauté the vegetables in the hot fat until softening.

Return the duck to the pan and pour in the wine.

Bring to a fast boil then season with salt and pepper.

Cover and place in a 300°F oven for about 2 hours 30 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Source: duckrecipes.org

Split Peas Soup in Slow Cooker

1(16 oz.)pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed

1 meaty hambone, 2 ham hocks, or 2 cups diced ham

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

1 tbsp. seasoned salt(or to taste)

1/2 tsp. fresh pepper

1 1/2 quart hot water

Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given; pour in water.

Do not stir ingredients.

Cover and cook on high 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone.

Remove bones and bay leaf.

Mash peas to thicken more, if desired.

Serve garnished with croutons and serve with steamed basmati rice.

Source: southernfood.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons(8 1/2 ounces)cake flour

1 2/3 cups(8 1/2 ounces)bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks(1 1/4 cups)unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups(10 ounces)light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons(8 ounces)granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.

Drop chocolate pieces into mix and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside

Scoop 6 dough batches(the size of generous golf balls)onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.

Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes.

Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.

Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm

Source: forum.ecitefun.net

SPICE OF THE WEEK: NUTMEG

Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavor. Mace is often preferred in light-colored dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like color it imparts. Nutmeg is a flavorful addition to cheese sauces and is best grated fresh.

In Indian cuisine, nutmeg powder is used almost exclusively in sweet dishes.

The essential oil is obtained by the steam distillation of ground nutmeg and is used heavily in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The oil is colorless or light yellow, and smells and tastes of nutmeg.

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