Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day Brunch Recipes

Did you know that Mother's Day is the single busiest day of the year for restaurants? It's a fact. When you count brunch and dinner, more of us go out to eat on Mother's Day than on any other day.
Mother's Day Brunch Menu
Mother's Day Brunch
Photo c Danilo Alfaro

That means two things: big crowds and big bucks. If you think restaurants don't raise their prices for those special Mother's Day menus, think again.

So if you'd like to save some money and avoid the jostling crowds, why not treat the mom in your life to a homemade Mother's Day brunch? With these Mother's Day brunch menu recipes, you'll find several egg and omelet recipes, two kinds of waffles, two kinds of French toast, plus your choice of hash browns or home fries, fresh blueberry muffins or homemade scones. Not to mention a recipe for perfect crispy bacon.

You'll also find some cocktail recipes — with some non-alcoholic choices to go with the more "festive" variety. And here are some more great breakfast recipes:

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Definition: Mirepoix is a combination of chopped carrots, celery and onions used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, sauces, soups and other foods. The proportions (by weight) for making mirepoix are 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery.

Pronunciation: Meer-pwah

See Also: More About Mirepoix

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Staphylococcus Aureus

Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteria:

Staphylococcus aureus is the bacteria that causes staph infections and a frequent culprit in cases of food poisoning, generally due to improper food handling and inadequate hygiene by food handlers. Rather than causing an infection directly, the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria produce a toxin which is what causes the illness.

Where Staphylococcus Aureus is Found:

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are found on human skin, hair, noses, throats and infected cuts and sores. The bacteria can live on the skin of people who are otherwise healthy. By some estimates, the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria live on the skin of up to 25 percent of people. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria reproduce very quickly at room temperatures, and produce a toxin that can't be destroyed by cooking.

How Staphylococcus Aureus is Transmitted:

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are mostly transmitted via person-to-person contact and through food as a result of improper food handling and inadequate hygiene on the part of foodservice workers.

The foods involved in outbreaks of poisoning from Staphylococcus aureus include meats and poultry, as well as other proteins such as eggs and tofu. Sandwiches and deli salads (tuna salad, egg salad, macaroni salad etc.) are also frequently involved in Staphylococcus aureus outbreaks. Dairy products including milk, cheese and cream-filled pastries can also be contaminated. Finally, because the Staphylococcus aureus toxin isn't killed by cooking, reheated foods of all kinds which have been handled by infected workers can also cause illness.

Staphylococcus Aureus Symptoms:

Symptoms of Staphylococcus aureus intoxication include severe nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, headache, muscle cramping and changes in blood pressure and heart rates can also occur. The incubation period of Staphylococcus aureus is short, with symptoms appearing in as little as an hour after the contaminated food has been eaten. Symptoms are generally felt within two to four hours. The illness itself usually lasts two to three days, but it can last longer if there is extreme dehydration.

You can read more here about food poisoning symptoms.

Preventing Staphylococcus Aureus:

Preventing Staphylococcus aureus sickness is complicated by the fact that the illness is caused by the toxins which are produced by the bacteria rather than from the bacteria alone. Although the bacteria themselves are easily killed by cooking, the toxins that actually cause the sickness are not. Therefore, the usual regime of heating foods to 165°F to kill the harmful pathogens isn't enough. Thus, the best thing you can do to prevent illness from Staphylococcus aureus is to prevent the food from becoming contaminated in the first place. That means washing hands frequently, and avoiding cross-contamination.

More Food-Borne Pathogens:

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Velouté Sauce Recipe

Veloute is one of the five so-called mother sauces of the culinary arts, and while it can be made with veal stock or fish stock, it's usually made with chicken stock.
Chicken velouté sauce
Chicken veloute sauce.
Photo c Danilo Alfaro

The veloute itself is not traditionally served as-is, but rather, it's the starting point for other sauces. Chicken veloute, for example, is the basis for the traditional Supreme sauce, as well as the classic Mushroom sauce, the Aurora sauce and many others.

Still, there's no reason you couldn't simply season a chicken veloute with salt and pepper and serve it much as you would a basic gravy — which, after all, is nothing but a veloute sauce made with the pan drippings from a roasted bird.

Here's the chicken veloute recipe. And here are a few related items:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Definition: In the culinary arts, convection is a method of heat transfer where food is heated by a moving heat source such as hot air inside an oven that is circulated by a fan.


The movement of steam or the motion of boiling water in a pot are examples of convection.

Stirring a pot of soup would also be considered a form of convection, as it redistributes the heat from the bottom of a pot throughout the soup.

See Also: Conduction, Heat Transfer

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Mushroom Sauce III

Mushroom Sauce for Fish & Seafood
(Mushroom Sauce III)

This creamy mushroom sauce can be served with fish and seafood dishes. It's made by adding sauteed mushrooms to a basic White Wine Sauce.

Note: This recipe differs from Mushroom Sauce II in that it is based on a fish veloute rather than chicken or veal. For a version of the Mushroom Sauce based on the demi-glace that can be served with meat and pork dishes, see Mushroom Sauce I.

Prep Time: 5?minutes

Cook Time: 5?minutes

Total Time: 10?minutes



  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it's frothy. Stir in the lemon juice, then add the mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the White Wine Sauce. Bring to a simmer, cook for another 5 minutes and serve right away.
Makes about 1 quart of Mushroom Sauce.

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Definition: A canape is a type of hors d'oeuvre, or small, single-bite food, that is traditionally made with a base of a small piece of bread with some sort of topping.

Modern canapes may use a cracker, a small pancake or pastry as the base.

When building a canape, the bread is sometimes toasted, and then spread with butter, cream cheese, mayonnaise or some other spread. The canape is then topped with meat, fish, cheese, caviar or some other savory item. Finally, the canape is finished with a garnish.

Pronunciation: can-a-PAY

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Five Easy Muffin Recipes

A batch of fresh muffins hot from the oven is one of life's great simple pleasures. Whether it's blueberry muffins for brunch or double chocolate muffins for a decadent treat, the simple fact is that muffins make people happy.
Five Easy Muffin Recipes
Chocolate chocolate muffins.
Photo c Danilo Alfaro

And here's another reason to get happy: Because muffins are a member of the quick bread family, they're easy to make and you can bake up a batch of them in about half an hour. Here are Five Easy Muffin Recipes for you to try out. And here are a few more resources to do with baking:

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Graham crackers have been an American staple since a certain Sylvester Graham developed them nearly 200 years ago. Graham believed additive-free, whole-wheat flour was more nutritious than refined white flour. In this, he was correct. He also advocated vegetarianism as a cure for sexual urges. The jury's still out on that one.
Graham cracker pie crust recipe
Graham cracker pie crust.
Photo c Jennifer Sipala

Still, Graham's cracker remains ever popular — both as a snack and as a pie crust. This graham cracker pie crust is perfect for all kinds of unbaked pies like cream or chiffon pies, and it's really simple to make. For a variation, you can substitute chocolate graham cracker crumbs, vanilla wafer crumbs or gingersnap crumbs. Though I make no claims about what curative properties, if any, gingersnaps or vanilla wafers may possess. Here's some more about pies and pie crusts:

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Charcutiere Sauce Recipe

Charcutiere Sauce Recipe

The Charcutiere Sauce is a finished sauce made with onions, mustard, white wine and chopped cornichons, simmered in a basic demi-glaze. The Charcutiere Sauce is an ideal accompaniment for grilled pork and other meat dishes.

Prep Time: 5?minutes

Cook Time: 25?minutes

Total Time: 30?minutes


  • 1 quart demi-glaze
  • ? cup chopped onions
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • ? tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ? cup chopped cornichons


  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon juice, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onions until soft and translucent, but don't let them turn brown.
  3. Add the wine, heat until the liquid boils, lower the heat a bit and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds.
  4. Add the demi-glace, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes.
  5. Strain through a mesh strainer, add the mustard and the sugar-lemon mixture. Garnish with chopped cornichons and serve right away.
Makes about 1 quart of Charcutiere Sauce.

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How to Make Frosting

If you want to add a delicious homemade touch to your cakes or cupcakes, try making your own frosting. There are a number of different kinds of frostings (or icings; they're they same thing), but the simplest kind is a basic buttercream that you can mix up using butter, shortening and confectioners sugar.
How to Make Frosting
How to Make Frosting.
Photo c Lisa Romerein / Getty Images

Some buttercreams require cooking, but this one doesn't. All you really need is a stand mixer. And here's a tip: When you're making frosting, make more than you think you need. Read more about How to Make Frosting. And here are a few more resources related to baking and desserts:

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Basic Corn Bread

Cornbread is one of those foods that people tend to have strong feelings about, mostly depending on what part of the country they grew up in. If you're from the South, you may have grown up with unsweetened corn bread. In other regions, corn bread can be slightly sweet. Both types of corn bread are valid, and both are delicious.
Basic Corn Bread Recipe
Basic corn bread.
Photo c Danilo Alfaro

This basic corn bread recipe is sweetened with honey and and sugar — though you can leave out one or the other, or both, if you like your cornbread less sweet, or not sweet at all. Either way, this corn bread is a perfect accompaniment for soup or chili, and it makes a great breakfast, too. And here are some more quick bread recipes:

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Definition: Hominy is a food made from kernels of corn which are soaked in an alkali solution of either lime or lye. The corrosive nature of the solution removes the hull and germ of the corn and causes the grain itself to puff up to about twice its normal size.

Hominy can be made with either white or yellow corn, specifically maize, which is the type of corn used in making corn meal and other grain products — as opposed to sweet corn, which is the vegetable that can be eaten on the cob and so forth.

Once soaked, hominy can be dried and then ground and simmered to make grits (also called hominy grits). Alternately, the processed hominy can be cooked until soft and then used in soups, stews and casseroles. Posole is a traditional Mexican soup made with hominy.

Hominy is available in dried and canned form. The process for preparing dried hominy requires soaking the hominy grains for about eight hours and then simmering for an additional hour or two. Canned hominy has already been cooked and is ready to use, making it a good time saver, although the texture will be slightly different.

Also Known As:
  • Hominy grits
  • Posole
  • Pozole
  • Samp
  • Big hominy

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