Cooking tips

How to Cook Basmati Rice

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Cook it in a non-stick pot on the stove, not in a rice cooker: first, be sure to rinse the rice with cold water until most of the starch is removed and the water pours off pretty clear. Then, add enough water to cover the rice and boil for about 7 minutes. Test the rice by biting into a few grains...it should be firm, but not crunchy. Be sure not to over-cook the rice at this stage (it's better to have it a little under-cooked). Drain in a colander and rinse the rice with about 2-3 cups fresh water. Put the rice back in the pot and steam with the lid on for 30-40 mins. Over low heat. The rice will develop a nice crunchy bottom that's delicious (eat this first so it doesn't get soggy!).

Pumpkin Seeds

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To Oven-Toasti
Spread them in a single layer in an ungreased pan. Bakei at 350ºF for 13 to 15 minutes, stirring and checking frequently.
To Skillet-Toast
Heat a skillet over medium heat and toast the pumpkin seeds, stirring often. They will pop and dance around like popcorn as they are roasted. Do not let them burn.

Pressure Cooker - How to Use

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Use more if you choose, but never less water than called for when adapting your own recipes. Always add 1 cup or more liquid to roasts after browning and cover cooker at once called for in any recipe. Liquids other than water constitute part of liquid necessary and should be deducted from total liquid called for in any recipe.
When you choose to use rack always add ¼ cup more liquid than called for. Always reduce heat when regulator (or control) begins to jiggle or rock. It should move 1 to 4 times to produce desired finished product. Use low or medium setting on electric range to maintain this pressure, or simmer on gas range.
During the course of steaming if you notice a sight leakage around air vent or pipe, this is natural. But if this persists, examine automatic air vent to see if food has collected there or is some part of cooker needs to be tightened. Leakage between cover and body suggest sealing ring or gasket is not in place or needs to be replaced. Realize that all cooking times specified can only be approximate.
Conditions of ingredients use, size of fresh produce varies, pressure of home gas or electricity varies and certain other uncontrollable variations. So know your own cooker and range condition.
When adapting your own recipes for dishes that are to be cooked in a mold or casserole covered with double fold of heavy foil be sure to increase cooking time. To secure foil, crimp edges tightly to seal. As and added precaution, tie with string.
Two methods of reducing pressure instantly may be used-cooling cooker under cold running water or setting cooker in pan of cold water. The first method is faster. When reducing pressure by placing cooker under cold running water take care not to let water get into cooker through steam vent. When you want to cook 2 or more vegetables at the same time, it is not necessary to place in separate containers as flavors will not mingle.
Don't use high heat to bring up pressure when cooking, cereals, pastas, rice, dried vegetables or other foods that are apt to froth while cooking.
Always add 1 tablespoon oil to counteract froth, and bring pressure up slowly. When you want to drain liquid from cooked food remove gasket from cover, and let liquid drain through 'apertures.' Never substitute oil for required amount of liquid in any recipe. Always consult manufacturer's handbook for specific information about your particular cooker.

Chicken

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After flouring chicken, chill for 1 hour. The coating adheres better during frying.
If you want to stew an old hen, soak it in vinegar for several hours before cooking. It will taste like a spring chicken.
Remove skin from chicken before cooking. If you remove the skin after cooking, the fat from the skin will be absorbed by the meat as it cooks.
For golden brown chicken every time, put a few drops of yellow food coloring in the shortening before it has heated.
Defrost frozen chicken by soaking in cold water that has been heavily salted. The meat will be pure white and very tasty.
Tenderize chicken and other fowl by rubbing them inside and outside with lemon juice after cleaning and before dressing.
To prevent roast poultry from sticking to the pan, simply place it on a row of celery stalks and carrot sticks you've tossed with a little salad oil, then roast as usual - no roasting rack needed.
Use leftover pancake batter to coat chicken for frying.
For golden brown chicken every time, put a few drops of yellow food coloring in the shortening before it has heated.
After flouring chicken, chill for 1 hour. The coating adheres better during frying.

Mashed Potatoes

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Peeli the potatoes. Cut them into chunks, then cover them with cold water in a very large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until very tender all the way through. Drain the potatoes, then put them back into the pot over VERY low heat to evaporate any excess liquid. This will dry the potatoes.
While the potatoes are drying, heat whole milk just until hot, but not boiling. A good rule of thumb is to use about 2/3 cup milk for every 2 to 3 pounds of potatoes. You can use a mixture of cream and milk, if desired. Add butter or margarine to the hot, dry potatoes, keeping them over very low heat. Mash with a hand masher until the butter is melted and the potatoes are very smooth.
With an electric mixer, beat the potatoes (with the pot still over low heat) as you add the hot milk, a little at a time, until the potatoes are the desired consistency. Scrape sides of the pot with a rubber spatula. Do not overbeat. Stop beating when they are creamy and fluffy. Add salt and white pepper to taste. The white pepper is used so that they are no 'unsightly' black specks in the potatoes.
NOTES:
Always work quickly so that the potatoes do not cool down. Lukewarm potatoes turn gluey.
Adding cold milk can turn hot potatoes gluey.

Pots - Cazuelas

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Cazuelasi are glazed or unglazed Mexican pots which are used for long, slow cooking. There may be concern about the lead content of the glazes. It is preferable to buy glazed cazuelas from reputable dealers. The unglazed pots are NOT safe.

Turkey

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With a basting needle, inject the raw turkey around the breast and thighs with 1/4 pound melted butter. You will have a juicier bird.

Poultry - Trussing

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Trussi turkeys, chickens and other meats with dental floss. Truss the bird with dental floss when grilling. Dental floss does not burn and is very strong.

Pumpkin - How to Cook

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Steamed, microwaved or pressure-cooked pumpkin is tender and creamy. If you bake it, you will get a slightly sweet, roasted flavor as well. Baked pumpkin is best for baking because the other three methods yield a more moist puree.
After cooking, scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skin and puree in a food processor or food mill. Discard skin.
Baked Pumpkini
Cut pumpkin into chunks, or if small, cut in half. Clean out seeds and pulp. Place in a baking dish, flesh side down, with 1 inch water. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of chunks, until tender when pierced with a knife.
Steamed Pumpkin
Cut seeded pumpkin into large chunks. Place in a steamer basket. Place over boiling water and cover. Steam about 20 to 25 minutes, until soft but not mushy when tested with a knife.
Microwaved Pumpkin
Cut seeded pumpkin into pieces that will fit in microwave. Cover each piece tightly with microwave safe plastic wrap. Place in microwave, skin side down, and cook on high until tender when tested with a knife, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on amount of pumpkin and size of microwave.
Pressure-cooked Pumpkin
Place a trivet or steamer basket in bottom of pressure cooker. Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water and seeded pumpkin chunks. Close and lock the cooker. Bring it up to full pressure and cook about 4 minutes. Release pressure before opening cooker. If pumpkin is not tender, re-cover cooker and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

Pomegranates - Preparation

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Never use a knife on pomegranates. Juice will run everywhere except where you want it, which is in your mouth. Instead, gently score the outside skin into lengthwise quadrants, being careful not to penetrate the seed cavity. Then break the fruit apart gently, following the natural divisions created by the pale, papery membranes that separate the seed compartments.
Remove the membranes by pulling them off with your fingers. Bend the skin of each segment back and either scrape the seeds directly into your mouth using your teeth or lift them out with a spoon.
Young children love pomegranates, probably because to eat them is to play with them. Just give them a bowl big enough to catch stray seeds that pop out and dress them in old clothes.
Pomegranatei juice is delicious in fruity drinks, sorbets and fruit salads. It also can be boiled down into a concentrated syrup (grenadine) that can added to cocktails, ice cream, rice pudding or diluted with carbonated water for a natural soft drink.