MY March 2012 : Page 59
6LPSO\1XWULWLRXV DQG'HOLFLRXV  Healthy Cook i ng 101 by Dawn Bause T his month I’d like to tell you about a few more of my favorite “step it up a notch” ingredients. Fresh cracked black peppercorns are a staple in my kitchen, and because they get old and lose their ﬂavor, I always buy small quantities and use a peppermill or grinder. Have you seen the peppercorns that come in their own plastic grinder at the store recently? I love using those. Besides black peppercorns I also like white, pink, and green. I use white peppercorns in white soups, sauces, and white potato or rice dishes when the black peppercorns would distract from the visual appeal. Pink peppercorns are softer and are dried berries of the Brazilian rose. They have a very distinct ﬂavor and should be added in moderation. I love them with sautéed red onions and white wine over salmon. I like to crush green peppercorns with a pestle in a mortar. One of my favorite dishes using green peppercorns is Steak au Poivre or Pepper Steak a la Julia Child. You can substitute green peppercorns for black, as the ﬂavor is a little milder. More and more people like seasoning their dishes with hot peppers. The quickest way to add some zest to a dish is with dried red cayenne pepper ﬂakes. I have been growing my own red chili peppers for a few years now, drying and crushing them myself. I can’t believe the difference in the ﬂavor. Cayenne pepper improves circulation, is a powerful antioxidant, and aids in digestion. Dried red pepper ﬂakes are great on pizza, pasta, rice, vegetables, salads, meat, chicken, ﬁsh, or just about anything except dessert. (Note, you can also buy them at the farmer’s market in late September, and dry them yourself on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set next to a window for about 10-14 days!) Just a reminder—peppercorns and red pepper ﬂakes will get old and are better when they are added well before their expiration date. This is why I love drying my own cayenne peppers each fall and giving them as gifts to family and friends. Fresh herbs are also important ingredients to incorporate in making your dishes tastier. I have learned so many things from my cooking classes in Italy, and one trick I’ve learned from working with Italian chefs is to use only one herb per dish, allowing that herb’s ﬂavor and aroma to take center stage. In the summer, I grow basil and rosemary in pots. In the fall, I bring those pots inside and put them next to a window or under grow lights so that I can enjoy them in the fall and winter. I grow tarragon, Italian parsley, chives, sage, and dill in my outdoor garden all summer. If I mulch them well in the fall, they’ll come back year after year. Many people complain that when they buy fresh herbs at the store, they don’t last very long. One reason for this can be that they have traveled a long way and were not very fresh when you bought them, or you are not storing them properly. When I buy fresh herbs, I put them in a glass mason jar, the kind used for canning, and keep them on a shelf in the fridge where I will see them and remember to use them. This prolongs the freshness for 7-10 days. I add fresh herbs in sauces and dressings. I use them on veggies, meat, chicken, ﬁsh, rice, pasta, breads, and dough. I have even used them in desserts and tea. Until next month, as they say in Italy where all food tastes better, Buon Appetito! Dawn Bause is a cooking instructor, cookbook author, and owner of Cooking with Dawn Tours, LLC, from Commerce Township, www.cookingwithdawn.com; AskDawnNow@aol.com www . mymetroyou . com MY Magaz i ne | 59
Simply Nutritious and Delicious
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