Tag Archives: Tips

How to Cut a Mango

Mango season is upon us!  We have a few mango varieties in Guatemala, which include the Tommy variety that you see in our photos. We’re showing you how to cut them properly so you can make the most out of this flavorful, juicy, vitamin C packed delicious fruit!

How-To Cut Mangoes

As soon as we get our hands on more of these, we’ll be posting new recipes… we still don’t know what they will be, but inspiration always strikes.

How-To Cut Mangoes

1. Cut off the mango “cheeks” – Hold the mango upright on the counter with your fingertips. Position your knife to one side of the center stem and slice straight down, hugging the flat of the seed as closely as possible. If you hit the edge of the seed as soon as you start to cut, remove your knife and rotate the mango 90-degrees.

How-To Cut Mangoes

Turn the mango and slice off the other “cheek.” You will have two big pieces of mango and the flat seed.

How-To Cut Mangoes

2. Dice the mango – Hold one of the mango pieces in the palm of your hand or upright on the cutting board. Using your paring knife, make long cuts down the length of the mango without slicing through the skin. Repeat with perpendicular cuts to form cubes.

How-To Cut Mangoes

3. Turn the mango inside out – Gently press the back of the mango to invert the fruit. Use your paring knife to gently pry or slice the cubes away from the skin and into the bowl. Repeat steps two and three with the other half of the mango.

How-To Cut Mangoes

4. Trim fruit from the seed – With the seed flat on the cutting board, cut around the seed to remove any remaining mango flesh. Cube the fruit without cutting through the skin and then pry or slice the cubes away from the skin.

How-To Cut Mangoes

How-To Cut Mangoes

5.  Sliced mango will keep refrigerated for several days or can be frozen for up to three months.

How-To Cut Mangoes

Freezing Rhubarb

We don’t get Rhubarb very often in Guate, and when we do, not a lot of it is available.  A few weeks ago, I happened to swing by one of our favorite produce stores, called Super Verduras.  I got a nice big bottle of Molasses and I found three packs of huge rhubarb stacks. I called Helga right away and asked if she wanted me to get it for her, as I knew she was going to need it later in the month.  So, what to do with 6 pounds of Rhubarb? Well Freeze it of course!

Freezing Rhubarb

I looked online for the best way to do it, but without blanching or adding sugar to it. We both want to prepare recipes with it and if we add sugar to it before hand, that will mess up the flavors. I found a site called Rhubarb Central, and it explains Freezing Rhubarb pretty straight forward:

  • Step 1: Choose stalks that are firm, crisp, and blemish free. If the leaves are a bit blemished, but the stalks are fine, I include those stalks as well. Remove the leaves. If you buy stalks without leaves like I do, just make sure that chop off both ends of the stalks when cutting them. Wash the Rhubarb stalks and dry them out, using a kitchen cloth if needed. Then, using a cutting board, chop the rhubarb stalk into approximately 1 inch pieces.
  • Step 2: Place the rhubarb in a colander to dry (for approximately 20 minutes). According to the site, the rhubarb does not have to be totally dry…just not dripping wet. But, I did want the Rhubarb to be completely dry before freezing.
  • Step 3: Transfer the chopped rhubarb to freezer containers or freezer bags. Before closing them make sure you take out the most out of the air. I strongly recommend that to be able to keep track of when you are freezing, label the containers or bags before you freeze.

How long can you store Rhubarb in the freezer?

I store my Frozen Rhubarb in the freezer for as long as 12 months.

Do I need to thaw my Rhubarb before using it in a recipe?

  • If you are planning to stew your frozen rhubarb, or make a rhubarb sauce, you can use your rhubarb as it is, frozen. When you begin to stew it, heat it on low heat at first, until it is thawed.
  • If you are planning on baking with your frozen rhubarb, thaw it first. Do so using a sieve set over a bowl, and discard the excess liquid. Or, better still, add it to a punch or other beverage! (Since rhubarb tends to “shrink” after thawing it, be sure to start off with enough frozen rhubarb.)

Freezing Rhubarb

Freezing Rhubarb

Freezing Rhubarb

Freezing Rhubarb

And if you’re looking for Rhubarb recipes, we have a few here at The Foodies’ Kitchen!

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb Jam

Rhubarb Jam

Rhubarb Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Rhubarb Cupcakes

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble Pie

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble Pie

Roasting a Turkey 101

The information that follows includes general guidelines for roasting a turkey which we got from Williams-Sonoma and Epicurious’ websites.  We’ve added some of our own comments as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

  • What Size Turkey to Buy

To ensure ample servings for Thanksgiving dinner as well as generous leftovers, allow for 1 to 1 1/4 lb. of turkey per person.

  • What Size Pan to Use

For best results, roast your turkey on a wire rack in an open roasting pan. Because of the turkey’s weight, a sturdy pan with good handles is recommended. If you use a foil roasting pan, double it for extra strength and take special care when transferring it into and out of the oven.
I use a foil roasting pan ( I know, I should have a proper roasting pan by now… I’ll get to it). Anyway, I double it as this tip suggests, and for easier handling I transfer it to a large cookie sheet so it’s easier to move around when I set it on my counter top.

Turkey Weight Minimum Pan Size
Up to 12 lb. 14″ x 10″ x 2 3/4″ high (small)
Up to 16 lb. 15 3/4″ x 12″ x 3″ high (medium)
Up to 20 lb. 16″ x 13″ x 3″ high (large

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Do not leave the turkey at room temperature longer than 1 hour.

  • Roasting an Unstuffed Turkey

The times listed below are calculated for an unstuffed turkey brought to room temperature and roasted at 400°F, breast side down, for the first 45 minutes, then turned breast side up and roasted at 325°F until done.

Turkey Weight Approximate Roasting Time
10 to 12 lb. 2 1/2 to 3 hours
12 to 14 lb. 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 hours
14 to 16 lb. 3 to 3 3/4 hours
16 to 18 lb. 3 1/4 to 4 hours
18 to 20 lb. 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 hours
20+ lb. 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • Roasting a Stuffed Turkey

Stuff the turkey just before putting it in the oven (do not stuff it earlier). Spoon the dressing loosely into the body and neck cavities. Do not overfill, as the dressing will expand during roasting. Truss the turkey (see related tip at left).

To facilitate removing the stuffing, first line the inside of the cavity with a double layer of cheesecloth, allowing it to extend beyond the cavity by a few inches. Then spoon the stuffing inside. After roasting the bird, gently pull the overhanging cheesecloth and the stuffing will slip out easily, neatly tucked inside the cheesecloth.

To ensure that a stuffed turkey cooks evenly, roast the bird slowly, breast side up, at 325°F, covering the breast loosely with foil for the first two-thirds of the roasting time. Using the chart above, add about 30 minutes to the total cooking time for stuffed birds weighing 16 lb. or less, and about 1 hour for birds weighing more than 16 lb.

  • Additional Tips

1. After taking the turkey out of the oven, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows time for some of the juices to be absorbed back into the meat, which makes it easier to carve and more moist.

2. If roasting a stuffed bird, remove all of the stuffing at serving time.

3. After dinner, remove any remaining meat from the bones and refrigerate the leftovers.

I wanted more information on roasting times. And what about basting?
Personally, I don’t flip the bird once I put it in the oven.  I place it breast side up and leave it to cook, so this is what I found most useful when it comes to timing:  ( I roast mine at 350F)

Size of Turkey: Roast Time: Temperature:
If your turkey weighs 12 to 14 pounds,
roast it for:
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hours
2 3/4 to 3 hours
3 to 3 3/4 hours
425°F
400°F
350°F
325°F
If your turkey weighs 15 to 16 pounds,
roast it for:
3 to 3 1/4 hours
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 hours
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours
3 3/4 to 4 hours
425°F
400°F
350°F
325°F
If your turkey weighs 18 to 20 pounds,
roast it for:
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours
3 3/4 to 4 hours
4 to 4 1/4 hours
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
425°F
400°F
350°F
325°F
If your turkey weighs 21 to 22 pounds,
roast it for:
4 to 4 1/4 hours
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
4 1/2 to 4 3/4
4 3/4 to 5 hours
425°F
400°F
350°F
325°F
If your turkey weighs 24 pounds,
roast it for:
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours
4 3/4 to 5 hours
5 to 5 1/4 hours
425°F
400°F
350°F
325°
  • Basting

Traditional recipes call for basting the turkey every half hour, to moisten and flavor the bird. Basting is a simple process that just requires opening the oven and spooning (or using a turkey baster to squirt) the pan juices all over the turkey. You can add butter to the roasting pan for a richer basting solution, or have turkey broth simmering on the stove to use if the pan juices run dry. Basting will certainly help the skin brown up nicely, but opinions vary on whether the liquid actually penetrates the skin to moisten the flesh. And remember: The open oven door will allow heat to escape, lowering the interior temperature and lengthening the roasting time. For these reasons, today’s cooking trends favor moistening methods that don’t require basting, such as brining the turkey before roasting, stuffing butter under the skin, or roasting the turkey breast side down (flipping halfway through cooking to get an even brown) so it self bastes.

Alternately, you can split the difference by treating the bird with a brine and/or butter mix before cooking, then basting it every once in a while—say on the hour instead of every 30 minutes—as it roasts.

  • How Do I Know When My Turkey’s Done?

To kill all bacteria, a turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. According to the U.S.D.A., the bird must reach this temperature before you take it out of the oven. As it rests, the temperature will then continue to rise to around 180°F. For juicier meat, however, some people prefer to take the bird out at 150°F so the temperature will rise only to 165°F as it rests. This is less of a risk if you get an organic or heritage bird, which is less likely to contain harmful bacteria.

Whichever temperature you choose, be sure to use a meat thermometer to determine it. In the past, people used to use the color of the meat as an indication of doneness: The turkey was pierced with a knife, and if the juices were clear instead of pink, it was done.  But this is not a reliable method, for several reasons. First, pinkness can disappear before a safe temperature is reached. And on the flip side, some turkeys (especially organic and heritage birds) may never lose their pink color, even if they’re cooked to well above 165°F.

To check the temperature, you can use either an instant read thermometer (which you insert after cooking, as it gives a reading immediately) or a remote thermometer (the type that has a probe that you insert before cooking, which connects to a digital display that sits on your counter).  Either way, insert the probe into the thickest part of the turkey’s thigh, being careful not to touch the bone (which will skew the reading). The thigh is the best place to test because it takes the longest to cook, but to be on the safe side, it’s smart to also take the turkey’s temperature underneath the wing.

If you find the skin is getting too dark and the desired internal temperature hasn’t been reached, loosely tent the browned parts with a double-thick layer of buttered aluminum foil to protect them from the heat.

The chart below gives approximate roasting times for an unstuffed turkey to meet the U.S.D.A.-mandated 165°F. A stuffed bird will take approximately half an hour longer. Basting will lengthen the cooking time as well.

  • The Foodies’ Kitchen Tips:

Now, for the secrets no one tells you.  We all want our turkey to look nicely browned and glossy like the ones we see on magazines.  To get that look you absolutely need to roast your turkey UNCOVERED to get an even brown color.  Baste, baste, baste!  I baste mine every 30 minutes. You can use a baster or a large spoon to do this.  This will help make your turkey nice and moist.  You know what else I do? I inject the turkey with white wine before I put it in the oven.  Give it a good dose, get the breast and the legs. I put in about 2 cups of white wine, use a nice cooking wine.  At the end of the roasting time, check the color. If you think it’s getting too tan, cover it with foil.  To get a richer color and that beautiful gloss, you need a glaze.
Here’s what you do: A turkey glaze will make your bird look shiny and beautiful. The jelly helps brown the skin and gives the meat a hint of sweet.

Glaze

Ingredients
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. of Worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 cup plum or cranberry jelly

Procedure:

  1. Add the jelly, lemon juice, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard to a small pot or saucepan with a lid.
  2. Stir the mixture constantly over low heat until everything is combined and the jelly has turned into a smooth liquid.
  3. When the turkey has about 10 to 15 minutes left to cook, brush your turkey with the glaze once every 5 minutes until the turkey is done or you have used all the glaze. Glazing it twice is sufficient, but a third glaze will add even more flavor.

Here’s my turket from last year…in the making. See? double foil pans and a cookie sheet, nothing fancy.

Kitchen & Cleaning Tips

In any kitchen, it is very important to keep track of all, and we have some really cool tips for every little thing we can do in the kitchen.

Spring-cleaning HDR

Doing the Dishes

  • Fill especially dirty pots that have coated, baked-on food with water and 1/4 cup powdered dishwasher detergent or baking soda. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and let soak for an hour. Scrape the pot with a spoon or rubber spatula and finish up washing as you normally would.
  • Fill badly burned pots without nonstick coatings with cold water and 2 or 3 tablespoons salt. Let soak overnight. Slowly bring the water to a boil; the burn marks should disappear (You may need to repeat a few times). Then wash as you normally would.
  • When using the dishwasher, put heavy-duty wash jobs on the bottom rack, delicate dishes and glassware on the upper rack. Don’t place items over the prongs on the upper rack but use the prongs to hold glasses and mugs in place. DO use only the recommended amount of detergent — too much can leave behind a residue, and too little can result in dirty dishes.DON’T jam too many pieces into the silverware basket, which can lead them to get scratched.

Cleaning the Fridge

  • Wipe up spills immediately, before they have a chance to dry.
  • Make sure everything that goes into the fridge is immaculate; wipe off rims of jam jars, salad dressing bottles, and ketchup containers before storing them. Check for spoilage and throw out anything past its prime.
  • Place anything likely to leak, such as defrosting meat or cartons of berries, on a rimmed plate.
  • Regular maintenance and storing leftovers in airtight containers are the best ways to prevent odors. Even so, you may still be plagued with smells from time to time. Try spreading a box of baking soda onto a rimmed baking sheet. Leave it inside with the door closed, until the smell goes away.Another method is to spread fresh coffee grounds on a tray inside, until the smell goes away. The lingering coffee scent will eventually disappear. Or, place activated charcoal (available at drugstores or pet shops) on a tray inside, with the fridge temperature set on “low.” Cat litter can also help. Spread 1/2 inch unscented chlorophyll cat litter in a shallow pan and leave it inside until the smell is gone.

Stove

  • Dirty stoves may attract bugs, create smoke as food spills burn off of them during cooking and look unattractive. Excessive grease spills can also present a fire hazard under extremely high cooking temperatures. Dried food spills do not always wipe off of stoves easily, but a few tips for how to clean stove tops can help remove spills and stains.
  • Try using a soft rag or sponge to clean stove tops, and soften spills with warm water.
  • Baking soda mixed with warm water helps get rid of stains, but will not scratch stove surfaces or contaminate the cooking area with harsh chemicals. Vinegar will also help cut through stubborn grease stains without toxic chemicals.
  • Electric stoves have metal drip pans underneath the heating units. Spills tend to bubble over into the drip pans, causing burning smells while cooking.
    A suggestion is to lift up the heating element during cleaning to wipe off the metal ring and drip pan around and under the element. To avoid having to clean the drip pans in the future, you can cover them with foil. Simply change the foil when the drip pans get dirty rather than spending time scrubbing off dried stains.
  • Rather than spending effort scrubbing spills off of a stove top’s heating elements, turn each element on and let the spill burn off. Make sure to turn on any kitchen fans and open windows to avoid excess smoke. Watch the stove carefully, and turn it off to avoid a fire hazard as soon as the stains burn off.
  • Stove knobs usually pull off easily, according to Penn State University. For easier cleaning, remove greasy stove knobs and soak them in warm soapy water.

Kitchen Appliances

  • If you wipe appliances regularly with a damp cloth or sponge, most will require little additional maintenance. A buildup of grime, however, calls for a bit more elbow grease and sometimes even a particular cleaning solution. Before you get to work, be sure to consult the owner’s manual or call the company’s customer-service line, since manufacturers use a variety of materials to make their appliances.
  • Wipe off stove spills and splatters immediately, because they become more difficult to clean off when they dry and become hard.

Tips from Martha Stewart.com, WikiHow and About.com Picture by  M.R Photography