4 Safe Methods for Thawing Food

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food safety is a serious subject. I am passionate about preventing food borne illness. I have been teaching the subject to restaurants, hospitals, schools, dietary managers, nursing homes and at the college level since 1991. I am a Food Safety expert.

This is the launch of a series of food safety articles.

The first subject is on 4 Safe Methods of Thawing Foods.

There are 4 safe methods for thawing food. Following one of these methods can help prevent making your family and friends sick with a food borne illness.

1. Thaw under refrigeration.

This takes some planning. Sort out  your refrigerator so you have a designated drawer on the bottom of your fridge to hold raw meats.

If you want to defrost a whole 3 pound chicken, it will take about 4 days to thaw. You need to plan a place where it can do so safely. All thawing meats should be positioned so they are not dripping onto any foods below them. Place them in containers to catch thawing juices.

In My Fridge

In A Fridge (Photo credit: Nikita Kashner)

Store food according to:”Swim, Walk, Fly”

  • Ready to eat foods on top
  • Things that swim (Including oysters, clams etc. If it comes from the water, it is considered a “swimming thing.”
  • Things that walk around (On hooves and feet and have fur or hair like pork, lamb, beef, or Ostrich.)
  • Things that walk around but are ground up, like ground pork or ground veal or hamburger. These get cooked to a higher temperature than steaks, chops or roasts.
  • Things that fly ( Chickens, ducks, squab, quail, and even though turkeys don’t fly, they also fall into this category)
  • This is based upon internal cooking temperatures which will be explained in another post. For now remember and practice
  • “Swim, Walk, (Ground-up Walk),Fly”

So what happens when you don’t have the time?

2. Thaw under clean drinkable water that is 70°F or less, and either running or changed frequently.

A bowl in the sink with cold water, but not hot, is fine for thawing a package of chicken for dinner. As long as you change the water about every half hour. If water logging is a concern, place the item in a zip lock bag and place that in the water.

The water should be changed every 30 minutes.

This is not a method to use while you are at work. Why? Because the water needs to be changed every 30 minutes or lightly running so the water is exchanged as thawing occurs.

Never thaw in the sink for longer than 4 hours! That is the amount of time it takes any bacterial colonies to grow to dangerous levels.

Never, ever thaw on the counter or just left in the sink. This is a very bad and risky practice.

Keep you eye on the product, it will thaw faster than you think it will.

3. In a microwave as long as the item will be cooked immediately after thawing.

My concern here would be the quality of the item. I can’t think of anything that benefits from a run in the microwave.

But, as long as you cook the item as soon as you finish nuking it to thaw, this is considered a safe method.

Be sure to clean and sanitize the inside of the microwave after you finish thawing.

4. You can thaw food as part of the cooking process.

day fifty three | a piece of meat

(Photo credit: I Are Rowell)

The best examples here are frozen vegetables into soup stock, frozen french fries into the oven or fryer oil and frozen burgers going directly onto the grill.

Again, your call on the quality issue of cooking meats from frozen. I find the texture isn’t as nice than if you thawed it under refrigeration which is my thawing method of choice.

So there you have it. 4 Safe methods to thaw foods.

This information is from ServSafe® an educational division of The National Restaurant Association (NRA). These are the best practices that are used to train food handlers in  all restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and dietitians.

I have a dual role with the NRA to both teach and administer the exam for ServSafe®. Food safety is a passion of mine. No one should ever suffer an illness from food you eat.

Learn how to prevent such things from happening.  Become advocates for your own food safety. If you see a bad practice, speak up!

Implement good food handling practices every time you touch food.

It really is that important.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

Advertisements

Salmon Coulibiac with Mustard Sauce

In the restaurant, we used to make Salmon Coulibiac for New Years appetizer. It was wildly popular and considering how easy it is to make and the big WOW factor, I am surprised we didn’t offer it more than just on New Years menus.

Salmon Coulibiac is a great dish to use poached salmon but this time, I had some salmon left over from dinner. So I decided to use that up.

This recipe makes quite a bit. I got 2 lovely fish out of it and still had enough left over to make a couple of smaller rolls with the filling.

There are a couple of ways to approach this, you can layer the filling ingredients or you can mix them all together.

Personally, I like layering as the sliced serving looks so much better.

Salmon Coulibiac

You will need:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry or you can make brioche if you like
  • 8-10 ounces of cooked salmon
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 ounces of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced if layering, chopped if mixing together
  • Cooked rice (I used a wild and brown rice mixture)
  • fresh cilantro
  • Fresh scallions, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and mushrooms in butter until done. Season with salt and pepper, deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine.

Cool to room temperature.

Lay the puff pastry on a cutting board. Trace and cut into a large fish shape. Cut two: one for the bottom and the other to top. The top should be slightly larger than the bottom.

Transfer the bottom fish shape to a sheet pan lined with parchment and dusted lightly with corn meal.

Leaving a 1/2 inch border around the outside, place a bottom layer of cooked rice.

Top with cooked salmon, then the onions and mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, cilantro and scallions.

Season with salt and pepper.

Moisten the edge of the dough with egg wash, top with the other piece of dough. Press together to seal the edges all around.

Use dough scraps and a knife tip to create a design in the dough

Using scraps of dough, decorate the surface to create gills, eye, scales can be traced with a knife point. Cut through the dough in a few places to create vents for steam to release during cooking. If you don’t, your fish will break open during baking. Not a good look.

Use egg wash to hold the decorations in place and wash the entire surface with egg wash to give a nice shiny surface to the finished dish. Sprinkle a few bread crumbs on the surface if you like.

Bake is a 375°F oven for 40 minutes or until done and golden brown.

Mustard Sauce

Simple and tasty

  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

Bring the half and half and cream to a boil, whisk in the mustard and garlic, simmer for 5 minutes.

Adjust seasonings with salt if needed.

To serve:

Slice the Salmon Coulibiac and place each slice on a plate, put a spoon of sauce over one edge.

Serve with a salad and enjoy!

This is a great dish to use up any leftover salmon and rice you may have in the fridge.

If you aren’t the whimsical type and want to make this without the fish shape, you can.

Personally I love the fish shape, it makes me smile!

Easy Grilled Vegetable Rosemary Skewers

The other day Robert was going to the lake with some of his friends. They were going to grill out and get caught up on each others lives.

He asked me if I could make a vegetable they could grill so I made these vegetable kabob on rosemary skewers.

Rosemary Vegetable Skewers

To make these skewers, cut the rosemary twigs on a bias to form a point.

You will need:

  • 2-3 zucchini
  • Whole button mushrooms
  • Pappadew peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Rosemary stems
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

Slice zucchini very thin the length of the zucchini. Wrap the zucchini around a drained pappadew pepper, thread it onto a rosemary skewer.

Next, thread a button mushroom, the top with a cherry tomato.

Marinade in a balsamic vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes.

Season each skewer with kosher salt and pepper.

Grill on each side for 2-3 minutes each side or cook over indirect heat for about 8-10 minutes.

Serve with grilled meats.

Since Robert does not eat red meat, when he stays out I usually turn into a carnivore. This particular evening I had some beautiful lamb chops marinated in garlic, rosemary, mint, lavender, oregano, olive oil, and black pepper. We grilled fresh buckwheat bread seasoned with olive oil and rubbed with raw garlic. Marvelous.

I had some mint sauce I made from an arm load of mint during the summer so I couldn’t wait to eat some lamb.

With Robert away, my friend Joanie and I grilled and set the table in the courtyard, poured some wine and had quite a feast.

All because of a rosemary vegetable skewer.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars or What To Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce you may have from holiday meals. I find whole berry works best but if you like the jelly kind, use it too. Store bought, in a can or fresh, any cranberry sauce will work out quite well.

For the best, make your own cranberry sauce.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Spray the bottom and sides with baking spray, line the pan with a sheet of parchment, allowing the sides of the paper to overhang on the long edge of the pan. This makes for easy removal from the pan after the bars are baked. Simply lift the paper and the whole thing can be moved to a cutting board or platter.

Spray the parchment with baking spray. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the dough:

  • 8 ounces soft  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, mix just until it comes together.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

Mix together: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pecans in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the butter and eggs, stirring slowly to combine, slowly add all of the oats and mix only until combined.

Press 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.

Top with cranberry sauce. Make sure to cover the entire surface, all the way to the edges. I added some seedless raspberry jam in dollops all over the dough too.

Dot the cream cheese over the surface of the dough.

Using the remaining half of the dough, dollop it over the top of the cranberries and cream cheese.

Bake in the pre-heated 350°F for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

When the bars come out, drop 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. The heat from the baked bars will melt the chips, then spread the melted chocolate in swirled patterns over the top. You could drizzle some fondant icing over them too but that might be overkill.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.

Carefully lifting the sides of the overhanging paper, lift the baked bars onto a cutting board and cut them into the desired size with a sharp knife. Sprinkle any crumbles over yogurt.

Store covered at room temperature for up to 7 days. (If they last that long!)

Plated Oatmeal Cranberry Bar

Lemon Marmalade

Bitter Orange Marmalade made with Seville Oranges is one of life’s truly great pleasures. The intensity of the orange, the bitter-sweet finish that mixes with melted butter on good toast is something that could inspire sonnets.

Tempting Bite!

So humbly, I go into making a marmalade from the abundance of lemons in my kitchen. It is worth noticing that some recipes ask for the white pith to be removed, some include the entire lemon, some just peel and lots of interesting versions in between.

The main ratio you want to have for making a lovely marmalade is 1 part water: 1 part citrus fruit:  1 part sugar

All ingredients are equal parts and there are only three ingredients. Water, fruit and sugar. Simple recipe, right?

Armed with this knowledge, you can make as much or as little as you like. For me, I’ll make at least 4 pints and put it into 1/2 pint jars.

This makes a good gift and the holidays are just around the corner.

Lemon Marmalade

Remember the ratio

  • 1:1:1
  • Water
  • Lemons
  • Sugar

Wash and soak the lemons for at least 30 minutes. Scrub them gently.

Remove the zest using a 5-hole zester or a sharp knife. The best appearance comes from cutting thin strips of the peeling.

Peeled lemons. Sometime the citrus will have a thick pith between the zest and the fruit. Remove the peel, cut the pith away just as you would to remove the peeling for sectioning citrus. Refer to the “Related Article” below.

Pile the strips to cut into fine strips. Notice how much of the pith left on the peels. This will ensure a desirable bit of bitterness. This adds so much to the complexity of flavors involved in a great marmalade.

Cut the fruit into quarters; remove the core and slip out all the seeds. Reserve core and seeds in a bowl; chop the fruit and place it into another bowl. Try to reserve as much juice as you can.

Measure chopped fruit and sliced peel to determine how much water and sugar are needed. Remember equal parts of all three.

Here you have the chopped seedless fruit, the sliced zest and the trimmings from seed removal in separate bowls. Place all of the trimmings into a cheesecloth, tie it and put into the pot to cook with the fruit, water and sugar. You will want to remove it after cooking. Add the same amount of water, sugar. and the fruit and peel to a deep heavy bottomed pot.

Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking and burning.

Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to an active simmer. Place your thermometer into the mixture and let it simmer until it reaches 220°F.

Remove from heat. Please be careful handling this as it is hot melted sugar and can really cause a nasty burn. Keep a small bowl of ice water near to dip your hand into just in case it splashes.

Fill sterilized jars with the hot marmalade, place the lids on and flip them upside down to cool. This will seal the jar.

Cooling jars upside down will seal them or you can use traditional canning methods.

I use small 1/2 pint jars so I can have extra to take along with me when ever I need a small gift. These are also great office gifts and hostess gifts too.

When the Keller family of  Dundee Scotland started making Bitter Orange Marmalade, they bought a lot of oranges from Spain they thought were sweet. Upon the discovery of the oranges being bitter, Mrs. Keller took them into her kitchen and boiled them with water and sugar to make what became the wildly popular “Bitter Orange Marmalade”.

In my opinion the best marmalade is full of fruit and peel with that lovely bitter element tucked into the sweet flavor.

California made marmalade is made with sweet oranges therefore does not have that bitter bite marmalade fans enjoy.

Lemon Marmalade

When buying or making marmalade you can get the fruit just the way you like it. I like it full of chunked fruit with lots of peel. You can make it (and buy it) with just peel too.

Making marmalade is easy as long as you have time and a candy thermometer. Besides, there is something quite satisfying to see a line of nice glistening jars all full of  lovely marmalade that you made.

It makes you feel as if you can do anything.

Pickled Turnips

OK, before you turn your nose up, make a small batch and see. It is hard to believe something so simple can taste so good!

Besides October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and this pickle is the color of choice.

This recipe comes from David Lebovitz, who lives in Paris. I pretty much copied the recipe and fell in love with the results.

In the most recent batch, I added some red radishes to see how they turn out. The turnips really are wonderful done this way as are the beets that give the pickle the lovely magenta hue. The beets and turnips and radishes all turn out to be quite equal in color.

In my next batch I’m going to add some dill and instead of beets for color, I’ll use saffron or turmeric.

At your next gathering, no matter how small, set out a dish of these lovely pickled turnips and see how strangely addicting they are.

You will find yourself sneaking over to the dish for just one more.

Recipe from David Lebovitz

Pickled Turnips
You can dial down the amount of garlic, but I like the slightly aggressive flavor of the slices in the brine. Use whatever white salt is available where you are, but avoid fine table salt as it’s quite unpleasant and bitter. Gray salt will discolor the brine.

For those who like to tinker, although these are usually served as they are, a few sprigs of fresh dill, or dill flowers, in the brine will take them in a different direction. A hot pepper will add some zip.

3 cups (750 ml) water
1/3 cup (70 g) coarse white salt, such as kosher salt or sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup (250 ml) white vinegar (distilled)
2-pounds (1 kg) turnips, peeled
1 small beet, or a few slices from a regular-size beet, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

In a saucepan, heat about one-third of the water.

Add the salt and bay leaf, stirring until the salt is dissolved.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, add the vinegar and the rest of the water.

Note to Davids Directions:

I added the remaining salt and vinegar as soon as I was ready for it. The salted water cools quickly; adding the remaining water and vinegar definitely cools it quicker.

Cut the turnips and the beet into batons, about the size of French fries.

Use a mandolin and square off the ends for a nice appearance. Cut the garlic by hand, just do it carefully!

Put the turnips, beets, and garlic slices into a large, clean jar.

Pickling Jars with wire bales and silicone or rubber seals

I like to use gallon or 2-gallon Ball or Mason jars with wire bales and rubber or silicone seals. After the process is complete, I transfer the pickles into smaller Ball or Mason jars for the refrigerator.

Pour the salted brine over them in the jar, including the bay leaf.

Make sure everything is below the surface of the liquid. Use a small dish or a water-filled plastic bag as a submersion weight.

Place a small bowl inside to hold contents below the surface. Look carefully as this bowl is clear like the jar.

Cover and let sit at room temperature, in a relatively cool place, for one week. Once done, they can be refrigerated until ready to serve.

Storage: The pickles will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. They’ll be rather strong at first, but will mellow after a few days. They should be enjoyed within six weeks after they are made, as they tend to get less-interesting if they sit too long.

So there you have an amazing and unusual recipe for the age-old question: What can I do to turnips so someone will like them?

Watch everything change color while curing. The batons are turnips, the wedges are radishes.

Now you have your answer!

 

In My Kitchen October 2012

I went to the new posts reader this morning and saw Celia’s new “In My Kitchen ” post  at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and was shocked at how fast time has flown by.

Yikes! It has been over 2 weeks since I have posted anything. Guess when life gets busy, things slip by without realizing how much time has slipped by unnoticed.

turnips

turnips (Photo credit: hagerstenguy)

In my kitchen were 5#’s of fresh turnips and radishes which are being turned into Pickled Turnips. The recipe came from David Lebovitz a while back. As much as I love turnips and radishes, the recipe intrigued me, so I had to try them and fell in love immediately. A post with the recipe is in the works.

Pickled Turnips

In my kitchen is a big basket of lemons and some limes. Robert uses the limes in his drinks so I need to come up with some ways of using all these lemons we over bought. So I am planning to make lemon curd, preserved lemons, lemonade, dried zest, maybe some lemon vinegar and emulsified lemon oil and Chicken Piccata.

A Basket of Lemons

Right now, they are just a basket of lemons.

I bought a lemon squeezer just because.

Lemon Squeezer

In my kitchen is a new pan! I love this new square pan from All-Clad. I am sure they call it a griddle but I sure do like it. I have used it everyday since I got it.

Square Pan

In my kitchen is my levian. It was kept in the fridge all summer. Now that the weather is cooling down, it can come back out and hang out at room temperature. It will develop a deep rich flavor this way. Typically I make bread every week. I think September was a time warp because I didn’t make bread but once, maybe twice. And now October is also flying by. Can time be measured accurately by a levain life cycle? if so, I should read and listen to what it is telling me.

A Bowl of Levain

I have two buckwheat loaves in the oven. Next is a 10-grain loaf and an olive loaf with lemon and rosemary. I look forward to making that one!

Tyler gets to move back into his apartment next weekend so he will be cooking again. The “How To . . .” posts will start back again soon.

And there is another White Dinner Event on October 27 and classes resume again soon. Is it true that time speeds up as you get older? Is it time to write the November IMK already?!