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Need some advice on storage and cooking with spices? Here you go:

You should always store spices in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor more quickly. Although the most convenient place for your spice rack may be above your stove, moving your spices to a different location may keep them fresh longer.

As a general rule, herbs and ground spices will retain their best flavors for a year. Whole spices may last for 3 to 5 years. Proper storage should result in longer freshness times.

When possible, grind whole spices in a grinder or mortar & pestle just prior to using. Toasting whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat before grinding will bring out even more flavor. Be careful not to burn, they tend to burn easy.

 

 

Because the refrigerator is a humid environment, it is not recommended to store your spices there. To keep larger quantities of spices fresh, store them in the freezer in Ziploc bags.

Usage Tips:

Don’t over spice! Your goal is to compliment your dish without crowding out the flavor of the food.
Remember, it’s usually impossible to “un-spice” a dish!

For long-cooking dishes, add herbs and spices an hour or less before serving. Cooking spices for too long may result in overly strong flavors.

Finely crush dried herbs before adding to your dish. A mortar & pestle is a great way to achieve this.

Do not use dried herbs in the same quantity as fresh. In most cases, use 1/3 the amount in dried as is called for fresh.

Keep it simple. Unless the recipe specifically calls for it, don’t use more than 3 herbs and spices in any one dish. The exception to this rule is Indian cooking, which often calls for 10 or more different spices in
one curry dish!

Black pepper, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper are excellent “after cooking” seasonings.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice have a special affinity for sweet dishes.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try replacing herbs and spices called for in recipes with something different! Marjoram instead of oregano, savory instead of thyme, anise seed instead of fennel and my favorite, cilantro instead of parsley!

Go ahead, spice up your life!

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Cooking, Cuisinox, Entertaining, Spices

 

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Feng Shui for the Kitchen

Have something living on display in your kitchen. A bowl of fresh fruit implies care of your family. A small pot of flowers or of herbs works too.

Get rid of clutter. Clutter contributes to financial collapse and cash flow problems. Get organized!

Don’t hang knives or scissors on the wall. Store knives in a block and your scissors in a drawer. Anxiety and conflict is present if you show the cutting edges of these tools.

Keep a bowl of 9 oranges on display in your kitchen. 9 is the Feng Shui power number and oranges bring good luck. Make sure your oranges don’t spoil. Bad fruit is bad Feng Shui.

Throw out plates that have been chipped. Using chipped plates attracts stagnant chi energy.

Keep brooms and mops out of sight. Store them upside down with the business ends of them up in the air. The reason is so that intruders are kept out and the family finances are not swept away.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Entertaining, Feng Shui, Home & Garden, Lifestyle

 

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How to Steam Asparagus

Steamed asparagus can be served whole, or it can be cut up and added to salads, pasta or vegetable dishes.

Wash all spears in cool water, making sure to clean soil and sand from tips.

Cut about an inch off bottom of each spear.

Arrange asparagus bundles upright in an asparagus cooker. Arranging them this way allows the tougher area at the bottom of the stalks to get more thorough cooking than the tender asparagus tips.

Pour in 2 inches water.

Add garlic clove, onion slice or piece of lemon if desired.

Bring to boil and then cover.

Cook 2 to 8 minutes, or until the spears have turned bright green.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Asparagus, Cooking, Cuisinox, Recipes

 

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Food Is Important; People Are More Important


When entertaining, don’t forget to have fun: Engage your fellow diners, and enjoy the delightful community of dining in a warm, hospitable environment. When you do, the food and the manners will take care of themselves. (www.emilypost.com)

 

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How to Use a Couscoussier

The traditional method of preparing couscous is to steam-cook it in a special pot called a couscoussier. The couscoussier consists of two parts: the lower part is a stockpot with a lid that fits snug, and the upper part is the couscous steamer insert. The top pot has holes in it to allow steam to rise from the lower pot. The stew or broth in the bottom pot cooks  while the couscous is steamed on top. (Real couscous is always steamed, never boiled.) Most traditional couscous recipes call for the couscous to be dampened with water (or oil), then steamed, removed and allowed to cool, mixed with butter or oil, then steamed again, and then perhaps cooled and steamed a third time. Note: Be sure to identify which type of couscous you have purchased instant or traditional. The boxed couscous is available in most grocery stores, which is prepared by pouring the couscous pasta into boiling water. This is really pre-cooked “instant couscous”. Cooking “instant couscous” in the traditional method described here may result in mushy, overcooked pasta. To obtain real (not instant) couscous you can go to any specialty store, or, if using instant couscous, reduce the cooking time by at least half. You can find many more elaborate recipes on the internet, but here is my suggestion for a basic recipe.

What you’ll need

  • Six cups of couscous (not “instant couscous”)
  • Two cups of warm water, mixed with two teaspoons of salt
  • One-half cup of cooking oil (olive oil, melted butter, or similar)
  • Chicken broth (or any North African vegetable or meat stew)

What you do

  • Put half the couscous in a large bowl. Sprinkle half the salted water over the couscous. Rub your hands with a bit of the oil and sprinkle the rest of the oil over the couscous. Use your hands to evenly distribute the oil and water into the couscous. Let the couscous form small pellets, but break any lumps. Add the remaining couscous and continue the process, adding the remainder of the salted water and oil to make the couscous uniformly damp, but not wet.
  • Place the couscous on a clean cloth, cover it with another cloth and leave it to rest for an hour or two. (Some cooks let it rest for a much shorter time.)
  • Bring the chicken broth (or stew) to a very gentle boil in the bottom pot. Place the couscous in the top pot, cover, and let the couscous steam for about an hour over the simmering broth (or stew).
  • Remove the couscous from the steamer and place it in a clean bowl. Massage some more oil or butter into it (careful not to burn your hands) and let it cool for about fifteen minutes.
  • Return the couscous to the steamer and let it steam for another half hour. Test for tenderness. The last two steps can be repeated.
  • You can also use our couscoussier as a steamer for vegetables.
  • Even if you don’t make couscous the traditional way, now you know there’s more to it than dumping it from a box into a pot of boiling water.

Bon Appétit!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Cooking, Entertaining, Home & Garden, Recipes

 

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For the Love of Cooking!

Welcome to Cuisinox‘ new home on the internet.

Bookmark us for cooking and entertaining tips and tricks from a group of people who are passionate about what they do.

There is lots more to come…

 

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