Friday, November 18, 2016

While preparing for the days meal, one of our team member placed the ingredients for our Corn and Black bean Salad into a storage container creating a piece of food art.

Corn and Black Bean Salad
Serves 4-6
  • 15 ounces can of black beans
  • 15 ounces corn kernels, frozen              
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced                               
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juiced 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil                              
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper                              
1. Thaw corn under warm water, drain and empty into a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the black beans, combine with corn.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and gently toss with a spoon. Allow the mixture to rest in the refrigerator for a half hour before serving.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tis the season...... For Turkey. Turkey 101

As we enter the Turkey Cooking Season, I have attached some basics on food safety, cooking and brining for your teams and turkey recipients. Please let me know if you have any questions. Happy and Safe cooking.
"The Big Thaw"
Turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature during "the big thaw." While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely. However, as soon as it begins to thaw, any bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again.

A package of frozen meat or poultry left thawing on the counter more than 2 hours is not at a safe temperature. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen, the outer layer of the food is in the "Danger Zone" between 40 and 140 °F — at a temperature where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly.

There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave oven.

Safe Methods for Thawing
Immediately after grocery store checkout, take the frozen turkey home and store it in the freezer.

Frozen turkeys should not be left on the back porch, in the car trunk, in the basement, or any place else where temperatures cannot be constantly monitored.

Refrigerator Thawing
When thawing a turkey in the refrigerator:
  • Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below.
  • Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.
Refrigerator Thawing Times 
Whole turkey:
  • 4 to 12 pounds — 1 to 3 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 4 to 5 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds —5 to 6 days
A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking. Foods thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking but there may be some loss of quality.

Cold Water Thawing
Allow about 30 minutes per pound.

First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product.

Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.

Cold Water Thawing Times 
  • 4 to 12 pounds — 2 to 6 hours
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 6 to 8 hours
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 8 to 10 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds — 10 to 12 hours
A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately. After cooking, meat from the turkey can be refrozen.
Turkey Basics 101: Safe Cooking
 A food thermometer should be used to ensure a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F has been reached to destroy bacteria and prevent foodborne illness.

Many variables can affect the roasting time of a whole turkey:
  • A partially frozen turkey requires longer cooking.
  • A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook.
  • The oven may heat food unevenly.
  • Temperature of the oven may be inaccurate.
  • Dark roasting pans cook faster than shiny metals.
  • The depth and size of the pan can reduce heat circulation to all areas of the turkey.
  • The use of a foil tent for the entire time can slow cooking.
  • Use of the roasting pan's lid speeds cooking.
  • An oven cooking bag can accelerate cooking time.
  • The rack position can have an effect on even cooking and heat circulation.
  • A turkey or its pan may be too large for the oven, thus blocking heat circulation.

1. Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F. Preheating is not necessary.

2. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Times are based on fresh or thawed birds at a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below.

3. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.
Optional steps:
  • Tuck wing tips back under shoulders of bird (called "akimbo").
  • Add one-half cup water to the bottom of the pan.
  • In the beginning, a tent of aluminum foil may be placed loosely over the breast of the turkey for the first 1 to 1 1/2 hours, then removed for browning. Or, a tent of foil may be placed over the turkey after the turkey has reached the desired golden brown color.
4. For optimum safety, cook stuffing in a casserole. If stuffing your turkey, mix ingredients just before stuffing it; stuff loosely. Additional time is required for the turkey and stuffing to reach a safe minimum internal temperature (see chart).

5. For safety and doneness, the internal temperature should be checked with a food thermometer. The temperature of the turkey and the center of the stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

6. Let the bird stand 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.

(325 °F oven temperature) 

UNSTUFFED (time in hours)
  • 4 to 6 lb. breast — 1 1/2 to 2 1/4
  • 6 to 8 lb. breast — 2 1/4 to 3 1/4
  • 8 to 12 lbs. — 2 3/4 to 3
  • 12 to 14 lbs. — 3 to 3 3/4
  • 14 to 18 lbs. — 3 3/4 to 4 1/4
  • 18 to 20 lbs. — 4 1/4 to 4 1/2
  • 20 to 24 lbs. — 4 1/2 to 5
STUFFED (time in hours)
  • 8 to 12 lbs. — 3 to 3 1/2
  • 12 to 14 lbs. — 3 1/2 to 4
  • 14 to 18 lbs. — 4 to 4 1/4
  • 18 to 20 lbs. — 4 1/4 to 4 3/4
  • 20 to 24 lbs. — 4 3/4 to 5 1/4
Brining foods in a saltwater mixture before you cook them adds flavor, tenderness, and reduces cooking times. If this sounds like a good thing then it's time to learn the basics about brining.
Brining meat is an age-old process of food preservation. Heavy concentrations of salt-preserved meats were taken on long ocean voyages and military campaigns before the advent of refrigeration. Today, brining has a new purpose.
By using smaller quantities of salt mixed with other spices and herbs, brining can permeate meat with flavor.
The chemistry behind brining is actually pretty simple. Meat already contains salt water. By immersing meats into a liquid with a higher concentration of salt, the brine is absorbed into the meat.
Turkey Brine Recipe
  • 2 quarts apple cider or juice
  • 6 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 6 slices fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons powder
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 oranges