Cooking tips

Tamales - Assembling and Cooking

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To assemble, hold a prepared corn husk flat on one hand, smooth side up. If you need to overlap two husks, have the wide ends in opposite directions (so that it forms a rectangle) and spread the dough over the husks together, just as if they were one husk. With a rubber spatula, spread a thin layer of masa across the husk, but not to the edges. Top with filling spread more thickly through the dough's center, stopping short of the dough's edges. Ensure that the dough's edges meet to enclose all of the filling. Secure the tamale by folding the wrapper over or tying it.
To cook tamales, stack them loosely in crisscross directions or standing them on end in a large steamer and steam for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the tamales. The dough should become firm and spongy and it should not stick to the corn husks.

Cinnamon Sugar

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Stiri 2 cups sugar and 5 tablespoons cinnamon together until completely mixed. Store in a tightly-capped jar with a shaker top for up to 6 months.
This is good sprinkled on Indian fry bread, buñuelos or buttered French toast.

Brown Sugar

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To make, add 2 tablespoons molasses to 1 cup granulated sugar and stir with a fork. Store brown sugar in an airtight container to keep it soft.

Syrup - How to Prepare and Serve

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To serve piping hot pancake syrup, remove the syrup cap, place the bottle in a microwave, and heat on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
Make fruit syrup by adding 2 cups sugar to 1/2 cup of any kind fruit juice and cooking until it boils.
If syrup crystallizes, set the bottle in a pan of cold water. Heat gently and crystals will disappear.
A pinch of salt added to boiling syrup prevents crystallization.

Superfine Sugar

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To make, put white granulated sugar into a blender and pulse for a few seconds.

Thickening Sauces

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The quickest way is with a starch, such as cornstarch or arrowroot. Add to cold water, mix until completely dissolved, then add to sauce and stir until desired thickness is reached. The better way, if you have time, is to simply reduce the sauce over medium-high heat, whisking to avoid burning. Cook until desired thickness, keeping in mind that flavors concentrate and become considerably stronger as water evaporates. Alternatively, you can add either “beurre manie

Colored Sugar

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To make, combine 1 cup sugar with a few drops of desired food coloring. Shake in a jar until the color is evenly distributed.
Another way to make it is to put sugar in a zip-type bag with a few drops of food coloring. Close the bag, then knead the color into the sugar.
Try placing several layers of different colored sugar in a glass jar for a gift.

How to Cook Spinach

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Remove the stems of the spinach by hand before cooking. Steami the freshly-washed and stemmed spinach by placing the spinach with its clinging water droplets in a large pot or wok. Cover and cook, stirring often. The water on the leaves is usually enough to steam cook the spinach.
Spinachi can also be cooked in a steamer over boiling water for 5 to 8 minutes.
When finished cooking, season with garlic, freshly cracked black pepper and olive oil, if desired.
If you plan to use the spinach in a more complex dish, simply blanch it in a large amount of water just until it wilts, then submerge in ice water to preserve its color.
Spinach can also be sauteed in a small amount of oil or stock. Tossi the leaves often, and add more stock if too much liquid evaporates.

Splenda

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Splenda® has been available in Canada for several years and is now available in the United States. Splenda® (sucralose) is chemically inert and does not break down as it passes through the body. It can be used more or less measure for measure like sugar. In other words, 1 teaspoon of Splenda® tastes like 1 teaspoon of sugar.
1 teaspoon (5 mL or 0.5 grams) of Splenda contains 2 calories (8 kJ); 0.5 grams carbohydrate; 6 mg sucralose; 0 g fat; 0 g protein

Squash Blossoms

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They are extremely perishable, so use them the day they are picked. The squash blossoms called for in Southwestern recipes come from winter squash, not zucchini.