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Get To Know Your Champagne

Traditionally, opening a Champagne bottle has always been a way to celebrate milestones or toast the bride and groom on their marriage.  Considered to be a versatile beverage, Champagne can be served with a meal or with dessert.  For many years, this truly refreshing and exotic drink has been used as a way of celebration and just enjoying the times that lie ahead.

Champagne is derived from the vineyards of the French region.  If you have a bottle and notice Champagne imprinted on the label, rest assured that the bottle was produced in the vineyards of France.  If you do not get Champagne that was produced in the French regions, you are pretty much just purchasing a standard sparkling wine.  You should also be sure that the name is spelled “Champagne”, with a capital C.  French producers are really protective of this very name, and thus are they are the only ones that are authorized to use it.

Champagne is produced using three different types of grapes - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  Noir and Meunier are types of black grapes, while the long-familiar Chardonnay is a type of white grape.  The label on the bottle will stand for what type of Champagne you are purchasing, so you will recognize what flavor to expect.  There are also kinds of this wine that are a mix of different grapes, offering rather an exquisite taste to say the least.

Just like sparkling wine, Champagne is really popular with celebrations and such.  While it is actually debated to be a type of sparkling wine, Champagne is way better.  You have to be mindful where you buy it though, as a lot of producers like to use low end grapes, which don’t taste the same.  If you've ever tasted this wine before - you’ll know exactly what quality tastes like.

A lot of people favor Champagne because of the bubbles that are known to spew out once a bottle has been opened.  The bubbles that spew out from this wine are the result of tiny drops of liquid that are agitated by the carbonic acid gas.  Once the liquid is agitated, the bubbles form and shoot out of the bottle.  This is a normal reaction of the double fermentation process that can only be observed with a bottle of Champagne.

The next time you have a celebration and want something to make the celebration a bit more interesting, you ought to grab a bottle of Champagne.  Few things mark a celebration like the bursting bubbles of a fine bottle.  You can find quality Champagne at ABC stores or other shops that sell alcoholic beverages.  Even though it could cost you a bit of money - when you pop the top you’ll be delighted you bought it.
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Sweet Talk: Confectioners’ Terms We Need to Know

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What’s in those fancy sweet names? Probably everything there is to know. Here are the common confectioners’ terms used for desserts and pastries.
Let us get to know them:
Buttercream: a rich creamy mixture of butter, eggs, and sugar used both as filling and frosting.
Dacquoise: a meringue paste with fine-ground nuts.
Dragée: a silver or gold sugar ball used for decorating
Ganache: a smooth mixture of melted or finely chopped chocolate and heated cream.
Génoise: a light, airy sponge-type cake that is usually round and the basis for many layered cakes.
Pastilage (or gum paste): an edible dough-like paste that can be used for modeling ribbons, flowers, figure, and other decorations.
Piping:  a technique for forcing buttercream , icing, chocolate, etc., from a pastry bag to form specific shapes or decorative designs.
Poured fondant: a soft, pliable paste made from sugar syrup that is used to fill/ or ice chocolates and other confections such as petits fours.
Praline:  caramelized almonds and/or hazelnuts used as flavoring, filling, and decoration.
Pulled sugar:  a taffy-like sugar that is formed into various shapes— ribbons, fruits, leaves, flowers— to decorate cakes.
Rolled fondant:  A popular icing with a matte, porcelain-like finish that is rolled out like dough and draped over cakes.
Royal icing:  a rock-hard sugar used for trimmings and decorations
Spun sugar (also called angel’s hair):  pulled strands of caramelized sugar for decorative nests, bows, etc.


A Chinese- style steak that's actually an American invention.

1 pound flank steak
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 green peppers, cut in squares
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of garlic powder (optional)
3 ripe tomatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

1. Slice the meat diagonally against the grain into 1/8 - inch strips. Heat a large nonstick skillet and brown the steak quickly over high heat. Push aside.
2. Add the onion and green pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute.
3. Add the soy sauce, sherry and water; stir in the seasonings. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Uncover and add tomatoes and cornstarch mixture. Stir and continue cooking another minute or two.

NOTE: This is another good dish for about 1/2 pound leftover rare roast beef.

Low Calorie Sukiyaki

Good beef, specially raised for leanness and tenderness, is a Japanese delicacy. The dish Sukiyaki can be an elaborate company dinner, with slender slices of the finest beef tenderloin and crisp vegetables prepared at the table. 
Here's a family-style version that's more convenient because it's prepared in the kitchen—and it's slimmer and less expensive because you use flank steak, with only 653 calories per pound.

1 1/2 pounds flank steak
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup canned Chinese
vegetables or bean sprouts, drained
1/2 plastic package (8 ounces) mixed fresh salad vegetables (shredded cabbage, lettuce, celery, carrots, etc., from supermarket produce department)
egg (optional)

1.    Slice the meat diagonally against the grain into 1/8-inch strips; slice strips in half. (Partially frozen meat is easiest to slice.)
2.    Heat a large nonstick skillet. Brown the meat very quickly over high heat, stirring all the time. Push meat to one side, and leave in skillet while cooking vegetables.
3.    Add the onion and mushrooms; stir-fry 3 minutes.
4.    Add soy sauce, sherry and vegetables; cook, stirring frequently, for an additional four to five minutes. (Don't overcook; vegetables should be crisp.)

NOTE: This is a good dish to prepare with leftover rare roast beef. (Use about 3/4 pound. Makes 6 servings.)
 Makes 6 servings at 237 calories each.

Healthy Cooking Tip: Alternative Ways to Trim Fat From Your Food

Serving food is good; serving good food is even better; but serving healthy good food that is flavorful is the best.

To cook healthfully, you do not need to cut the flavor; you just have to modify the traditional cooking methods.  Chefs say that the secret to cooking a healthy meal is by knowing the best culinary techniques.  Here are ways to lessen fat from your food.  Let us compare the two methods for each technique.

Traditional method:  Brown meat in fat; then cook, covered, with a little liquid for a long period of time.  Braising seals in moisture and makes tougher cuts more tender.

Alternative method:  Skip the browning step.  Use a cooking bag to lock in moisture without adding calories.  Dust bag with flour, which combines with juices for a low-fat sauce.

Traditional method:  Oven-roasting meat ensures even browning and rich flavor.   Baste tender meat frequently with fatty pan drippings to keep it from drying out.

Alternative method: Baste meat with fat-free broth, wine, or juice to lock in moisture without losing flavor.  Chill pan juices, skim off fat and use the juices to make low-fat gravy.

Traditional method:  Cook food in hot oil in a skillet over high heat.  Remove food and make sauce in same pan.  Stir food back into pan and coat with sauce.

Alternative method:  Use a non-stick pan and substitute any flavorful liquid—juice, wine, broth—for the oil; sauté as usual.

Traditional method:  Cook food directly above or below the heat source.  Since food is cooked under intense heat, apply basting sauce or oil often to maintain moisture.

Alternative method:  Use a cooking spray—instead of brushing on too much oil—for a light, even coating.  Food still caramelizes, but with a fraction of the fat and calories.

How To Grill Seafood To Bring Out the Best Flavor

Not only does seafood give a healthier choice to those who cannot have a bit much of meat but they also taste quite good if you know how to ready them the correct way. With the numerous pleasant things you are able to turn seafood into by the use of your grill it's no marvel why it's becoming more popular by the minute.

Regarding that, you may wish to try having seafood the next time you and your family decide on grilling. So to inform you with what seafood will be fine on the grill as well as what are a few good things to do with them, here are some tips that should describe in detail the suitable way of cooking and having seafood.

Read more:  How To Grill Seafood To Bring Out the Best Flavor 

Prime Rib Preparation Tips for Outdoor Grilling