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Microwave Cooking Tips

you famished and think you'd faint if you did not grab a bite in minutes? Help is at hand with microwave that guarantees a highly nutritious and tasty meal within minutes!
You just can't think of a kitchen without a microwave oven. Microwave is one of the greatest kitchen tools that adorn almost all modern-day households across the globe. You can cook all kinds of recipes ranging from simple, everyday recipes to specialized gourmet recipes within a very short time in your microwave.

The biggest plus point of microwave cooking is that you use extremely little or no oil/fat and do not have to add much water while cooking. The microwave basically steams your vegetables, fruits, fish or meat by utilizing the trapped natural water molecules in the food as well as pulls off excess fat from the meat items too. So you are serving tastier, healthier, highly nutritious and low-fat meals cooked in the microwave.

To make your microwave cooking experiences more satisfactory and exciting here are a few useful tips that you can keep in mind while cooking your favorite dishes in the microwave.
 When you use aluminum foil to shield various parts of your food from getting overcooked while cooking in the microwave make sure that the amount of food is always greater than the amount of foil used to cover the food to avoid arching of the foil. The percentage ratio of food amount to foil amount must be generally 80%: 20%.
 Make use of round dishes while cooking in the microwave to facilitate uniform heating and thus better cooking of food.

 Always add salt to the microwave cooked food after the cooking is complete. Salt tends to draw out the trapped water from food if added before the completion of cooking and hinders the microwaves from cooking your veggies or fruits or meat optimally.
 If your microwave does not have a carousel feature to automatically rotate your foods while cooking then you must stir, rotate and rearrange larger amounts of food such as turkey, beef steaks, whole vegetables, fish, etc. occasionally while cooking in the microwave to prevent 'cold spots' in your microwaved food and facilitate even cooking.
 Food items must be arranged in an appropriate manner for even cooking in the microwave. When you are cooking several pieces of food together arrange all the pieces in a single circular layer leaving a gap of 1 inch between each piece. Avoid cooking food in a pile. Also try to keep the food pieces more or less equal in size and shape so that they cook more uniformly.
 While cooking in the microwave make sure that the dish is covered properly with a lid or plastic wrap. Always make provisions for the steam to escape from the covered dish. So you can make holes on the plastic wrap or loosen the lid while cooking.
 A thumb rule in microwave cooking that you must follow is the'6 minutes per pound rule'. According to this rule 6 minutes per pound will cook most foods including meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Fish and other seafood take lesser time to cook in the microwave. So set the cooking time of the microwave according to the type of food you are cooking.
 Do not overlook the importance of standing time in microwave cooking. You can expect your foods to continue cooking even after the food is taken out of the microwave for say about another 5-20 minutes or so. This should be taken into consideration especially while cooking large and thick or dense foods.

From-Ms.Leena Mahajan

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Is chocolate good for your health?

As you hear the name 'chocolate' your mouth waters! You are allured by the delicious and stimulating taste of chocolates. At the same time you are worried about the harmful effects of eating too much chocolates. But you must know that recent studies have proven that chocolates high in cocoa solids provide potential health benefits. So toss up good health and nutrition by treating yourself with chocolates!

Presently scientists are beginning to disapprove some of the myths related to the dangerous effects of eating too much chocolate. It is not true that too much intake of chocolate will rot your healthy teeth. Neither it triggers migraine headaches nor does it cause acne or makes it worse.

In fact researches have proved that chocolates have properties to work against sugar's tendency to produce oral bacteria that can cause dental decay. Present researches have proved that chocolates are helpful to you in many ways. Chocolates release endorphins in the brain that acts as a pain reliever. It will boost your appetite without causing weight gain. It reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. It will make you live longer. Besides sugar in chocolate reduces stress and enable you to have a calm and pain relieving effect. So chocoholics it's time to feel less guilty about your choco-addiction!

Chocolate which is rich in cocoa solids are now regarded as having the qualities that are beneficial to health. Cocoa is an excellent source of Polyphenols of the flavanol group. Polyphenols are very good antioxidants that destroys free radicals in a body. Free radicals are dangerous to a human body and can cause some serious diseases like cancer and heart diseases.

Chocolates that are rich in flavanol have a large amount of nitric oxide. Nitric oxides are very important for human health. They resist cardiovascular diseases and help in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Also flavanol rich chocolates act similar to low dose aspirin. They promote a healthy blood flow. They even reduce the risk of heart attack and blood's ability to clot in the arteries and veins.

Chocolate contains some essential trace elements and nutrients that are good for health. Chocolate made from cocoa is the richest source of magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for you, as deficiency in magnesium may lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and also pre menstrual tension. Chocolates are also rich in iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, B1, C, D and E.

Before you grab a chocolate bar you must know what chocolate is good for your health! When cocoa is processed into chocolate products it undergoes several processes to reduce its pungent taste. The pungent taste is due to the presence of flavanols. The more chocolate is processed more flavanols are lost. Dark chocolate is reported to have highest level of polyphenols. So it is better to choose dark chocolates over milk chocolates.

Always choose the chocolates that are from reputed brands. Cheap chocolates are usually low in chocolate solids and high in sugar content and saturated fats. These chocolates can be harmful to your health.

Therefore chocoholics leave all your worries behind and boost your health by grabbing your favorite chocolate bar right away!

 

From-Ms.Sayali Shah

 

On the way to their hearts:

Ever asked anyone what  one  misses  most about one's home especially when one is far away? Well, no marks for guessing that nine times out of ten the answer is going to be ' Home cooked food made by my mother'. Now this food doesn't  have to be made  exotic looking with  exotic sounding ingredients  and  the  end  result doesn't have to appear like an offering from another world.
Bookshelves in stores the  world over  are brimming  with  cookbooks which promise the world  and yet  one yearns  for that simple morsel which reminds one of one's home and hearth.
 With  this  article  and those to follow ,I propose to take you down nostalgia lane and place on recall simple recipes which can be put together in no time and at minimal expense because great cooking is a combination of instincts and a sense of balance added to a penchant for the right presentation. I guess I am right?  So , here we go.

Balle balle  dahi bhalle !
Bhallas  is the ethnic Punjabi name of  what we call Dahi Wadas.

Ingredients

1 kg curd,11/2 tsp sugar,? tsp red pepper powder

For the bhallas

1 small cup udad dal{white},1/2 cup chana  dal,1/2 cup moong dal,
1/4th cup white chaoli

Saunth {  tamarind chutney} 
100 gms Tamarind,200 gms jaggery,1tsp red pepper powder
1tsp roasted and coarsely ground cumin seeds
Salt as per taste.
Mix tamarind pulp and jaggery,boil and strain and then add dry ingredients.

To garnish

A watery paste made of a cup of coriander leaves and 4 nos  deseeded green chillies.

Method

Soak the four pulses in water for about 6/7 hours.
Grind them together to get a semi fine batter.
Add salt to taste and a few chopped green chillies and some coriander leaves.
Heat oil in a karai and put small portions of the batter in  hot oil to make small round bhallas . Allow the excess oil to drain on an absorbent tissue. Soak bhallas  in water for about 15 minutes and then press each one gently between the palms to drain excess water and oil.
Beat the curds well along with 1 ? tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt. If the beaten curd appears thick  add some milk or water as desired. Gently put the bhallas in the curd one by one. It is a good idea not to crowd the curd with bhallas as they are likely to absorb a lot of curd.
 Top it  generously with Saunth, followed by roasted cumin powder,red pepper powder and coriander leaves.
Just before serving add a dash of green with the chilly and coriander paste and tap  your feet to the beat  of bhangra with  balle balle dahi bhalle !!

From-Uma Nagpal--  vhi10uma@yahoo.com

Cooking Tips

Avoid Sticky Rice

1. Wash the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Remove all the water until no water remains. Let it sit for 20 minutes. This will remove all the starch and help the rice to remain separate

2. Also adding a few drops of lemon juice to the rice while cooking, you will find that the grains of rice will tend to remain separate

For Crispier Puris

Add a teaspoon of Semolina / Rava and 1 teaspoon of Rice flour to the wheat flour while kneading.

Quick Tomato Paste Cubes

Spoon tomato paste into ice cube trays. Freeze overnight. Transfer into plastic bags and freeze. Frozen cubes can be dropped right into curries.

Eggplants(Baingan) Retaining Color

When cooking eggplant (Baingan)add a spoon of milk to a bowl of water and add the cut up pieces to that water. The eggplant (Baingan)will retain their color without becoming black

Remedy for Salty Curry

Wash a potato. Cut into two. Place a the two halves of the raw potato in the curry and it will absorb the extra salt.

Ready To Use Masalas

Indian cooking requires a lot of pre-preparation. Make wet and or dry the masalas ahead of time making extra portions. Divide the masala into the desired portions according to the recipe. Place the portions in Ziploc Freezer bags and freeze till the next time. A great time saver....for next time you make the same recipe !

How to cut an onion without crying ?

Indian food requires a lot of onions sometimes. Use sweet onions. Peeling and cutting under running water, chopping near a gas flame, and refrigerating onions before chopping, all methods for reducing the volatility of the sulfide that causes the irritation.

Alternative to Fresh Coconut

Ever try to break open a fresh coconut for making Indian chutney? Well, here is a great alternative. Out here in the US look for UNSWEETENED dry grated coconut. Make sure it is not the sweet kind. Add just enough water so that the coconut is covered with water. Use as directed in the recipe instead of freshly grated coconut. Making chutneys will be a breeze

Using Kitchen Scissors

Most Indian dishes require the use of freshly chopped coriander leaves as a garnish. Use the scissors to chop fresh mint, chilies and coriander finely and without any mess

Buying Lemons and Lime

Buy large lemons and limes, they tend to be much sweeter. Make sure that the skin is thin, those are much juicer. To obtain more of the juice from lemons, limes or oranges, microwave on high for 30 seconds and then let stand for a couple of minutes before cutting and squeezing. Rolling them between your hand and the counter will also help release more juice

Skinning a Chicken with Ease

Have you tried skinning a chicken? Well, always peel off a little part of the skin to start with and hold it tightly with a paper towel. The skin latches on to the paper towel and skinning the chicken...even the tough skin on the chicken legs becomes a breeze !

Overripe Tomatoes

Dip them in cold water, add some salt and leave overnight. They will be fresh and firm to the touch the next day.

Tips for Making Dosa

To ensure that the griddle (tawa) is hot enough before spreading dosa, sprinkle a little water over it. If it sizzles immediately, then the griddle is hot enough. Wipe with a clean rag or half a raw onion and proceed

Tip for making soft chappati dough

While making paneer from milk, don't throw away the paneer water. This nutritious water can be used for making soft dough for chapatis or can be used to cook dals

Retaining the "whiteness" of white rice

While cooking rice add a few drops of lemon juice. The color of the grains become bright white

Reheating left-over Rice

Refrigerate leftover cooked rice in a well-sealed container. Reheat cold rice with a sprinkling of water in a microwave oven or in a covered pot over low heat. Left over rice is great to have on hand for stirring into soups and broths and for making fried rice — it's perhaps the world's best vehicle for turning leftovers into something fresh and new

Peeling a whole Garlic

To peel garlic, place your knife flat on the garlic clove and whack with your other hand. The covering will burst open and the clove can be easily removed.

Peeling or scraping Ginger

Peeling or scraping ginger with the back of spoon is an easy way to peel ginger. Scrape the ginger with the inside of a spoon, getting the edge of the spoon into the crevices of the ginger. The skin will come off with a gentle scrape

Dicing Onions

The best way to avoid crying when dicing an onion is to use a very sharp knife and to move as quickly as safety permits.

1. Cut off the end of the onion end with the small roots sticking out.

2. Cut it into half lengthwise, so that the end that is still together is cut into half.

3. Now remove the skin and may be one of the layers to clean the onion.

4. Holding your knife parallel to the cutting surface slice the onion parallel to the cutting surface so that you are making slices that are 1/4 inch from each other. Remember to never make a cut that would break through the end of the onion. The onion will come apart if you slice through the bottom end. Remember to never make a cut that would break through the end of the onion. The onion will come apart if you slice through the bottom end.

5. Turn the onion. Make lengthwise slices remembering not to cut all the way to the end . The onion will still be in one piece and look like half an onion.

6. Turn the onion and chop the onion all the way to the back of the part that is still together.

7. You will have perfect small dices of onion.

8. Now chop the other part of the onion the same way.

Finely chopped onion is a very important ingredient for many Indian curies.

Avoiding over-spilling milk when boiling

Before pouring milk into a pot for boiling rub butter along the top edge and inside lip of the pot. When the milk foams up, it will stop over spilling when it hits the butter

Removing the garlic skins

Use 'Jar Openers'- round flat pieces of rubber. Put the clove of garlic in the center of the jar opener and fold it in half over the garlic. Then press down with your hand while rolling it back and forth over the garlic

Instead of Onion

If anyone does not like or want the strong taste of onion, you can use cabbage in the recipe for the same taste and good recipe

Storing Potatoes

Store potatoes in a cool dark place. To prevent potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes! This will prevent the potatoes from budding. Change the apple every week

Avoid Staining Tupperware

Before storing tomato-based sauces or Indian curries with lots of turmeric powder or other foods that can stain, spray your plastic storage container with nonstick cooking spray

Cleaning Tips

Cure Garlicky Hands

Immediately after chopping raw garlic or after a marinating process, rub your fingers thoroughly with the bottom of a stainless steel spoon under running water. Then wash your hands with soap. The metal magically neutralizes the garlic fumes!

Quick BBQ Grill Clean Up

Spray the cooking grill with non-stick spray before placing the grid over the coals. Food won't stick nearly as much as it does on an untreated grill

Cleaning A Messy Blender

To clean a blender, add a cup of warm water, run for a few seconds. Now add a drop of dishwashing detergent and another cup of water and blend. Let is sit for a few seconds. Rinse clean

Strong odors on your hands (such as onions or fish)

can be removed by lightly wetting your hands and then sprinkling on baking soda. Rub the soda all over the hands, then rinse the soda away -- along with the odors.

Cleaning Cilantro

Plunge into a sink full or pot full of cold water. Swirl around a few times and let sit for a while. The sand, dirt, and other debris will settle to the bottom, and the leaves will float to the top and can be removed. Repeat the procedure if the cilantro is very dirty

Cleaning scratches on wood furniture

Rub the same color crayon as the wood on to the scratch. This will fill the scratch. Then clean with mayonnaise. The scratch will disappear.

Cleaning a coffee pot

Pour a handful of table salt into the dirty coffee pot. Use a dish towel or sponge to rub it around and on the stains. Rinse clean

From-Ms.Pramila Katdare

 

 

 

 
 
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