Welcome to issue no. 11 of Foodstuff

May 8, 1998

In this issue:

June is almost here and it's that time of year when many of us have someone important in our lives either getting married or going off to college. I love giving gifts that I know will be used over and over again. Whether your gift recipient is boiling his or her first egg, or attempting to turn out a spectacular meal, they have to have the right equipment. I hope this list helps.


Set of measuring cups and measuring spoons
Non-stick skillet(s) - one small about 8 inches in diameter, one large about 12 inches in diameter
Pots and lids - one small, one medium and one large deep stock pot
Spatula - plastic if using non-stick cookware
Cake pans - if they plan to do any baking at all
Baking sheets
Wooden spoons
Garlic press
Knives - small paring knife, larger chef's knife, medium size in between and one serrated
Rubber spatulas
Electric mixer
Mixing bowls
Can and bottle opener
Cutting board
Pot holders
Vegetable peeler
Cookbooks - go for the classics with lots of practical recipes, and kitchen tips

In addition, (while not essential for a brand new cook) the following items will round out a well stocked kitchen.

Food processor
Heavy duty mixer
Coffee bean grinder
Bread machine
Toaster oven
Pressure cooker

Yes, you read that correctly, I did say pressure cooker. Forget those horror stories about exploding pressure cookers. A new generation of safe, less intimidating and easy to use models have put this kitchen time saver back in style, and they're better than ever. First a quick lesson on how pressure cookers work. At sea level, air pressure is 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi), and water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When you heat water in a sealed container, the steam from the boiling water collects and the pressure begins to rise. The temperature at which the water boils likewise rises. Inside the pressure cooker the pressure is 15 pounds psi higher than normal and the boiling point is 250 degrees. Because food cooks at a hotter temperature, it cooks significantly faster; usually in a third the time of conventional methods. It's wise to understand the advantages and limitations of pressure cooking before investing up to $150 on a unit. Most classic cookbooks devote entire chapters to the subject of pressure cooking. The library and the World Wide Web are also good sources of information. In my own library of cookbooks I found great information in Joy of Cooking, and my Julia Child cookbooks.

Last Minute Mother's Day Brunch Ideas

Shrimp and Pea Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. minced shallots
4 cups cooked macaroni
2 cups medium size cooked shrimp
1 lb. frozen peas, partially thawed
chopped fresh parsley and lemon wedges for garnish

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and shallots. Keep chilled. In a large bowl, toss the macaroni, peas, and shrimp. Add the mayonnaise and shallot mixture; toss gently. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and top with lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6

Curried Chicken Salad

Serve on whole leaves of romaine lettuce, on mini-croissants, or even in papaya boats

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. curry powder
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup almond slivers

Blend mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder. Set aside. Combine chicken, celery, grapes, and almonds. Mix mayonnaise mixture into chicken. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Serves about 8

Chai Tea

Chai (pronounced as a single syllable and rhymes with 'pie') is the word for tea in many parts of the world. It is a centuries-old beverage which has played an important role in many cultures. It's generally made up of rich black tea, milk, a combination of various spices and a sweetener. The spices used vary from region to region. The most common are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Indian chai produces a warming, soothing effect, acts as a natural digestive aid and gives one a wonderful sense of well being. It's difficult to resist a second cup. This is a drink to be savored; a fragrant reminder that you're special and deserve this special time just for you or to be shared with friends.

Most Indian's are amazed at all the current fuss in the West. Many who have traveled to India come away with fond chai drinking experiences. Chai has become very common at specialty beverage shops such as Starbucks, and I'm even beginning to see chai ices, milkshakes, chocolate ice blended chais, non-fat, low-fat, decaf, and so on. Many industry analysts are predicting that chai will eventually become as popular and common as lattes and cappuccinos. Making your own chai is not difficult.

Basic Chai

1-tablespoon fennel or anise seed
6 green cardamom pods
12 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4" ginger root, sliced thin
1/4-teaspoon black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
7 Cups water

Boil the above for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to seep for 10 minutes. Add, 2 Tablespoons Darjeeling tea and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Strain and add 6 tablespoons honey or brown sugar and 1 cup milk. Serves 8

1998, 2003 Debbie Puente
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