How To Reheat Cooked Food…..

Good morning-

Busy, busy.  Between weekly clients and an engagement party last Saturday night, not much time to think about anything but cooking!

I thought this an important topic to talk about as I deliver cooked foods to my clients and I am always reinforcing how to  reheat safely.

Cooked foods should be enjoyed or frozen within 7 days of preparation.  For this reason, it’s best to label and date everything you have leftover.  When enjoying foods that have already been cooked, there are two simple rules.

1)  Enjoy within 7 days of preparation.  The only exception here would be fish.  Use within one to two days.

2)  Heat to the proper internal temperature of 165′.  This goes for any leftover foods.

I’m sure you’ve experienced hot or cold spots in foods you’ve heated in the microwave.   For this reason food should be heated thoroughly and then allowed to stand for 2 minutes before serving to evenly distribute heat.  To take it a step further, internal temperature should reach at least 165′ and should be checked in several spots.

It’s easy to warm cold foods in the oven and it doesn’t compromise the quality of the food as much as microwaving.  When reheating meats, it’s best to reheat them covered with moisture in the pan.  Lower temperatures work best too, between 300′-325′.  Warm covered for about 20 minutes per pound.

When rewarming for children and elderly adults, it’s critical to get the foods to the right temperature.  Reason being that their immune systems may not be fully developed or compromised, so best to be totally safe.  Simply heat the foods until piping hot and allow them to cool a bit before serving.

I hope you all had a nice holiday weekend and I’ll post again soon!

Thank you~


How To Defrost A Frozen Turkey Safely…..

We’re down to the wire.  Thanksgiving is only one day away.   It takes several days to defrost a large turkey in the refrigerator.  Never defrost a turkey at room temperature.  If your turkey is frozen, this is the safest and quickest way to defrost.    With this method, there are two things you MUST have. 

1)  An accurate instant read thermometer.

2)  A large enough pot to completely submerge the turkey in water.

To defrost a frozen turkey completely submerge it in water.  Allow 30 minutes per pound.  So if you’ve got a 10 lb. turkey at 30 minutes per pound comes out to about 5 hours of defrosting.  If you’re not cooking it right away, put it right back into the refrigerator.  Cook within a day of defrosting.  Optimum water temperature should be 41′ or below.  Check the temperature of the water with an instant read thermometer every hour making sure not to touch the side of the bowl or the turkey.  If the temperature reads above 41′ simply change the water and replace with cold tap water. 

Email me if you have questions.

Happy cooking!


Food Safety 101

     A year ago I took a food safety class and became certified in the safe handling of food.  Periodically, I will be sharing helpful hints and tidbits of information necessary to keep your loved ones safe.
     This isn’t the most pleasant subject, but it’s extremely important! Did you know that E.coli bacteria is in 25% of ground beef in the United States? E.coli is a surface bacteria that through grinding, incorporates the bacteria throughout the meat. The good news is that when cooked to the proper 155′ internal temperature, it does not survive.
     What does this mean? Number one NEVER serve ground beef rare or even pink to small children, pregnant women, older adults, or someone with a compromised immune system. There is a simple way to be sure you’ve cooked ground beef properly and that is an instant read thermometer. They run about $10 and can be found at Target or most any kitchen supply store.  Simply inject the thermometer in to the center part of the hamburger for 30-60 seconds and get a reading of 155′ or higher, and you’re good. When cooking steaks that are seared or grilled, you needn’t worry as the bacteria doesn’t survive the cooking on the surface.  It is ok to serve pink steak to children, etc.
     Additionally, be very careful when you are handling ANY raw meats. Designate a section on your counter for handling raw meats, and if possible, designate another section for vegetables and ready to eat items as they do not go through a cooking process to make them safe.
     Last but not least, wash your hands with hot water and plenty of soap for 20 seconds before, during, and after handling raw meats.

Food Safety Tips for Leftovers…..

So, you’ve spend hours and hours preparing all that delicous food, and it’s over in 30 minutes…talk about anticlimactic!!  You then have the daunting task of dealing with all that leftover food!  Enlist your guests to help you to get everything into the refrigerator soon after eating.    I use plastic zip bags for all leftovers, they will fit beautifully in your refrigerator when space is at a minimum.  I recommend dismanteling the turkey first, reserve all the meat and SAVE THE CARCASS!!  We are going to make some beautiful stock with it very soon, remove the meat saving any pieces such as wing tips and any bones, wrap with cling wrap and put into a large zip bag and freeze.   If you haven’t eaten a good amount of the turkey meat after a couple of days, why not freeze for later.  Always label the bag with the contents and the date it goes into the freezer, Sharpe pens work great on plastic bags.

It is important when you use leftovers that you heat them to a high enough temperature before eating, a minimum temperature of 165′.  It is important too, that you allow microwaved food sit for at least 2 minutes for even heat distribution.

Test your food safety knowledge…..

What is the best way to defrost a frozen turkey?…………A. In a bowl of water on the counter, B. On the counter on top of paper towels, C. In the refrigerator, D. In the microwave……………………..The answer is C, in the refrigerator. You must allow several days for a large bird to defrost. If after several days it is not defrosted, you can place the bird in a large bowl in the sink and allow cold water to run into the bowl, overflowing down the drain. I would recommend ordering a fresh turkey, you can pick it up the day before Thanksgiving and simply bake it on Thanksgiving day! Butch Novack, at The Villager in Oak Park sells fabulous fresh turkeys, I believe you must order ahead. The number is 708-386-1800. The address is 1135 Chicago Avenue.

Test your food safety knowlege……

Where is the best place to store eggs in your refrigerator?
A. In the vegetable crisper;
B. In the door;
C. In the deli drawer;
D. On a middle shelf towards the back

The answer is D. This is the coolest part of the refrigerator. You do not want to store them in the door because it is the warmest part of the refrigerator due to teenagers standing at the open door waiting for something delictable to magically appear…..and yes, this happens repeatedly.