Thursday, February 21, 2008

Brain Food - The Tuna

school of Tuna

Excerpt from U.S. Tuna Foundation
New Evidence That Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Fish, Canned Tuna Halt Mental Decline Later in Life

WASHINGTON, 7 April 2004 /PRNewswire/ -- - Research Confirms Role in Brain Development During Pregnancy

- Citing new evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood improve brain function in middle aged people and actually lower the risk of mental impairment as people age, the U.S. Tuna Foundation (USTF) today reminded the public that canned tuna is not only good for your heart but is a tasty and affordable "brain food" for people of all ages.

The latest research comes from researchers with Utrecht and Maastricht Universities in the Netherlands and was recently published in the journal Neurology. Tracking more than 1600 Dutch men and women aged 45 to 70 over a six-year period, the researchers found those who ate fish regularly scored higher on a battery of tests for memory, psychomotor speed, cognitive flexibility, and overall cognition. Moreover, the study concluded that the specific factors contributing to better brain function were fatty fish and the consumption of two essential omega-3 fatty acids found in canned tuna, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

Of the top 10 most commonly consumed fish in this country, salmon and canned albacore tuna have the highest levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutritional Database.

"This study offers encouragement to all Americans who consume fatty fish and especially those who worry about Alzheimer's disease," said Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc., R.D., author of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health and a member of the Tuna Nutrition Council, which advises USTF on nutrition and public health matters. "We know that people with mild cognitive impairment are likely to progress to dementia or Alzheimer's disease, so learning that a simple step like adding canned tuna and other types of fish to the diet is important news, especially as the number of older Americans increases dramatically."

slices of Tuna

Along with improving brain function in older people, USTF pointed to extensive research concluding that the omega-3 fatty acids in canned tuna and other types of seafood are essential for the developing brain during pregnancy and the first two years of a baby's life. According to numerous studies, DHA comprises approximately 40 percent of the polyunsaturated fatty acid content in the cell membranes in the brain and is transferred from mother to the fetus at a high rate during the last trimester of pregnancy. Along with DHA, the developing fetus uses EPA for the growth of the brain and the developing nervous system.

"It is important for pregnant and nursing women to understand that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are essential during pregnancy and lactation," Dr. Nettleton said. "Women need to know that eating canned tuna and many other types of fish during pregnancy provides the omega-3 fatty acids that are necessary for the brain of the fetus to develop and thrive."

It is because of these important benefits that health leaders around the world are urging pregnant and nursing women to include fish, such as canned tuna, in their diets while heeding some specific advice about how to minimize the small risk to the unborn child from mercury in certain fish. Most recently, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the United Kingdom (UK) revised its advice about the amount of canned tuna that pregnant and nursing women can safely eat, doubling the maximum amount to four cans or two tuna steaks a week.

Issued on March 24, the updated advice from the UK food safety agency is based on new guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the levels of mercury in fish. Citing the health benefits of fish consumption for pregnant women and their developing fetuses, this UK advisory sets maximum recommended consumption levels at nearly twice the amount recommended in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their recent advisory.


Tuna Bisque With Cheese

Tuna bisque is hearty enough to serve as an entree with a salad and bread or crackers.


1 large can (12 ounces) tuna, drained
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
dash cayenne
2 teaspoons diced pimiento or roasted red pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry, optional


Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add onion and green pepper; sauté until tender but not browned. Blend in flour and salt. Gradually stir in the milk. Add shredded cheese and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is thickened and cheese is melted.

Stir in tuna, pimiento, and sherry, if using.
Serves 6.

Tuna Pot Pie

This delicious tuna pie is made with tuna, homemade creamy sauce, mixed vegetables, seasoning, and pastry.


1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning blend or dash garlic and dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
dash dried thyme, crumbled
2 cups milk
1 large can (12 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked, or 2 small (6 to 7 ounce) cans
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
pastry for single 9-inch pie


In a large saucepan melt butter; add onion and cook over medium-low heat until tender. Blend in flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper, herb seasoning blend, paprika, and thyme. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly.

Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbling and thickened. Fold in the tuna, vegetables, Worcestershire sauce, and cheese. Taste and add more salt and seasoning if necessary. Pour mixture into a 2-quart baking dish.

Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out pastry to fit top of baking dish. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top crust. Place pastry on the baking dish; flute edges. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until crust is browned and mixture is bubbly. Serves 4 to 6.

Tuna Rice Salad

Tuna Rice Salad


2 cans white tuna, drained, (12 to 14 ounces total)
juice of 1 lime
1 can (2 1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2 cups cooked long-grain rice, chilled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dried dill weed


In a mixing bowl, break up tuna with a fork. Sprinkle lime juice over the tuna; mix well. Fold in the sliced olives, quartered artichoke hearts, and rice. Add mayonnaise and stir in dill weed.
Serves 6.

Tuna Tomato Bites

Cherry tomatoes are stuffed with a tuna mixture, for a pretty and tasty appetizer.


1 can (7 ounces) tuna
1 small package (3 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ripe mashed avocado
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or similar pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 pints cherry tomatoes


Drain and flake tuna. Cream together cheese and mashed avocado. Add lemon juice, chili powder, salt, pepper sauce, Worcestershire, and tuna. Refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Wash cherry tomatoes and hollow out centers.

Turn upside-down and drain well on paper towels. Fill each tomato center with a heaping teaspoonful of tuna and cream cheese mixture.
Makes about 40 to 48 appetizers. Keep in refrigerator until serving time.

Tuna Salad with Honeydew Melon

This tuna salad recipe is made with mayonnaise, celery, and thyme, served on a honeydew melon slice.


1 large honeydew melon
2 cans (7 ounces each) tuna, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Peel honeydew melon; cut into circles about 1 inch thick. Remove seeds and place on beds of lettuce. Mix tuna, mayonnaise, and celery, thyme and pepper. Spoon into centers of honeydew circles. If desired, garnish with fresh parsley.
Tuna salad recipe serves 6.

Tuna Chowder with Cheese

A tuna chowder recipe with potatoes and cheese and corn.

2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, or about 12 ounces
1 can (7 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
1 small can (8 ounces) cream-style corn
few drops Tabasco sauce
chopped green onions or parsley for garnish


Put water and about 1 teaspoon of salt in a large saucepan; add diced potato, carrot, celery, and chopped onion. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes; remove from heat and set aside.

In a small stock pot, melt butter. Blend in flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Continue cooking, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add cooked vegetables with their liquid, tuna, corn, and Tabasco. Add salt to taste and serve garnished with green onions or parsley, if desired.

Tuna Appetizer Puffs

Tuna puffs are made with party rye slices and spinach and egg.


1 can tuna in oil, about 7 ounces, drained
16 slices party rye bread
1/4 cup chopped cooked spinach
1 egg, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried leaf basil, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice


Place 1 tablespoon of the tuna on each bread slices. In a small bowl, beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Beat egg yolk in a separate bowl; stir in chopped spinach, salt, basil, and lemon juice. Fold in beaten egg white and spoon 1 tablespoon of the spinach mixture over tuna on each bread slice.
Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. If desired garnish with slices of cherry tomatoes or ripe olives. Serve immediately.
Makes 16 appetizers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chocolate for your Valentine

Pastry Chef Gregor Pfaff from Germany uses his hand to smear the finishing chocolate on a gigantic chocolate heart at the four seasons shopping plaza in Bangkok.
It weighs approximately 2,028 pounds (922 kilograms), and stands 16.4 feet (5 meters) high and 16.4 feet (5 meters) in width.

This Valentine's Day try out these great Chocolaty Recipes and give a gift that is Yummy!

Chocolate Heart Layer Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse
Yield: 4 servings, 1 eight-inch cake

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Mousse Base:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

Mousse, Cake Assembly, and Glaze:
2/3 cup cherry jam
2 tablespoons kirsch (clear cherry brandy)

4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon chai-spiced tea leaves or Lapsang souchong smoked black tea leaves (from 1 tea bag)
5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For Cake:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place 8x2-inch heart-shaped cake ring on sheet of foil. Wrap foil up sides of ring. Brush foil and inside of ring with 1 tablespoon butter; dust with flour. Place on baking sheet. You could also use a buttered and floured 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides.

Sift flour, cocoa, and salt into medium bowl. Combine eggs and sugar in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from over water. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until thick and billowy and heavy ribbon falls when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Sift half of dry ingredients over; fold in gently. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients. Transfer 1/4 cup batter to small bowl; fold in 3 tablespoons butter. Gently fold butter mixture into batter; do not overmix or batter will deflate. Transfer batter to ring.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cake with foil to rack; cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

For Mousse Base:
Bring whipping cream and cinnamon sticks just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat; let steep 1 hour at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate cinnamon cream overnight.

For Mousse, Cake Assembly, and Glaze:
Blend jam and kirsch in small bowl. Cut around sides of cake; lift off ring. Using metal spatula, loosen cake from foil and transfer to rack. Using serrated knife, cut cake horizontally in half. Using tart pan bottom, transfer top cake layer to work surface; turn cut side up. Spread half of jam on cut side of both cake layers.

Strain cinnamon cream into large bowl; beat until soft peaks form. Stir finely chopped chocolate in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Quickly fold warm chocolate into whipped cream (chocolate must be warm to blend smoothly). Immediately drop mousse by dollops over bottom cake layer; spread to within 3/4 inch of edge. Gently press second layer, jam side down, atop mousse. Smooth sides of cake with offset spatula. Chill assembled cake on rack while preparing glaze.

Bring cream, 1/4 cup water, corn syrup, and tea to boil in small saucepan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; steep 5 minutes. Strain into another small saucepan; return to boil.

Remove from heat. Add coarsely chopped chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool glaze until thickened, but still pourable, about 30 minutes. Place rack with cake over baking sheet. Slowly pour glaze over cake to cover, using spatula if necessary to spread evenly. Chill until glaze is firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Place cake on platter and serve.

Chocolate Balls with Caramelized Almonds

Yield: about 60

Flavorless oil for the baking sheet
1 1/4 cups (9 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
1 2/3 cups (9 Ounces) whole blanched almonds, at room temperature
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Lightly oil a baking sheet with a flavorless oil.

Mix the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Use an unlined copper sugar-pot if you have one. Cook the syrup over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the sugar dissolves. Put a candy thermometer in the pan. Wash any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 248 F.

Remove the thermometer, and turn off the heat. Add the almonds. Stir until the sugar syrup clumps and turns opaque. Over low heat, continue stirring until the sugar remelts and coats the nuts with a caramel-colored syrup. This will take about 20 minutes. If the nuts start to smoke, remove the pan from the heat for a minute, turn down the heat, and continue to cook.

When the sugar has melted again, carefully pour the almonds in the syrup onto the oiled baking sheet. Be careful -- the almonds will be very hot.

When the candy is cool, break it apart. Store it in an airtight container (not in the refrigerator) until you are ready to make the chocolate balls.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. (Use a food processor to grind the candy into a powder.
Mix the candy powder and the warm chocolate together.
Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap.

Bittersweet Chocolate Hearts

Yield: 6 Chocolate Hearts

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Cut parchment paper to fit a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. Brush vegetable oil in corners and center of the pan, pressing parchment to adhere it. Set aside.

Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer. Place chocolate in a medium stainless-steel bowl; place the bowl over, but not in, the simmering water to melt the chocolate, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove chocolate from simmering water. Thoroughly dry bottom of bowl; a drop of water will ruin the chocolate. Pour chocolate into prepared pan. Using a large metal offset spatula (angled blade), spread the chocolate evenly over the surface 1/16 inch thick. Freeze until chocolate sets, about 6 minutes.

Working quickly, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter (3 1/4 inches across at widest point), to cut out six chocolate hearts. If chocolate begins to soften, return to freezer for several minutes. Run an offset spatula under the hearts, and place in a container. Cover and freeze until ready to use, up to 2 weeks.

These are perfect paired with raspberry semifreddo in Chocolate and Raspberry Heart Napoleons.

Chocolate and Raspberry Heart Napoleons

Chocolate hearts are layered with raspberry semifreddo ("half cold" in Italian), a frozen dessert similar to ice cream.

Yield: 2 Servings

3 half-pint containers of fresh raspberries (about 18 ounces), or 1 pound frozen raspberries

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons kirsch or champagne

3 large egg whites

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon superfine sugar

Bittersweet Chocolate Hearts
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Line a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan (1/4 sheet) with parchment paper. Set aside. Place raspberries (if using fresh raspberries, reserve 1/2 cup for garnish) in a medium skillet over medium heat. Simmer until raspberries begin to break down and liquid is released, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer raspberries to a food processor, and puree, about 20 seconds. Pass through a fine sieve. Set aside to cool.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a stockpot a quarter full of water to a boil. Let simmer. In a medium stainless-steel bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup, and kirsch or champagne; place over simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until mixture thickens (when whisk is lifted over the mixture, the ribbon-like trail it leaves on the surface should hold its shape for 1 or 2 seconds), about 4 minutes. Transfer bowl to the ice-water bath; whisk mixture while it cools. Add 3/4 cup raspberry purée to mixture; whisk to combine. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. While mixer is running, gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar; beat until very stiff, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Beat cream with whisk attachment until stiff; fold into egg whites.

Fold raspberry mixture into egg whites and cream. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan; cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to the freezer; freeze until hardened, at least 4 hours. This can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

To make the raspberry sauce, stir superfine sugar into the remaining raspberry purée (about 2 tablespoons). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter (2 1/2 inches across at the widest point) to cut out four hearts from the semifreddo. Divide the raspberry sauce between two dessert plates. Place a chocolate heart, off center, on top of the raspberry sauce. Place a semifreddo heart on each chocolate heart, and repeat layering until there are three layers of chocolate and two layers of semifreddo, ending with a chocolate heart. Garnish with reserved fresh raspberries (if using), and sift confectioners’ sugar over the raspberries, if desired.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fruits and Vegetables Art

I received these great pictures of fruits and vegetables presented in a unique look. Enjoy the great "Meal"

Brinjal Penguins

Brinjal Penguins

Cauliflower Sheep

Cauliflower Sheep

Green Fishes

Green Fishes

 Mummy I dropped my Icecream

Mummy I dropped my Icecream!

Quack Quack

Quack Quack

Melon Bus

Melon Bus

Dog with an umberella

Dog with an umberella

Dog on fire

I am on Fire

Vegetable Smiley

New Wave Smiley

Vegi faces

Vegi faces

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Italian Cooking

Whenever I think about Italian cooking, the first thing that comes into my mind is Olive oil then Pasta. These two could be said as synonyms with Italian cooking.

When it comes to Olive oil, there are many brands available in the supermarket offering prices of different ranges. But wouldn't it be nice to add Olive oil from Italy into your cooking. Thanks to the internet, such a desire is not too farfetched.

As I was browsing the net I came across a site that deals with Italian products such as olive oils, pastas, coffee, vinegars, sea salts and many more.

OliveNation is a site that allows you to connect with many of the small, traditional farmers in Italy who produce some of the country’s finest ingredients such as olive oil, coffee, pasta, vinegar and other pantry products.

You can shop online for ingredients such as Aged Balsamic Vinegar,Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pasta, Coffee, Sea Salt, as well as Regional Cook Books.

Do your loved ones go nuts about using only the finest ingredients. Well for this Valentine, give her/him a unique gift. A gift certificate from OliveNation so that she can experience the finest ingredients in her cooking. ( You get to eat all that fine food too)

OliveNation has many mouth watering recipes using these great ingredients. Here are some of my favorites for you to try out.

Summer Pasta Salad

Serves 4-6
Prep: 10 min. Cook: 12 min.

1 lb rigatoni
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, in bite size pieces
4 oz. black olives
2 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 medium salad tomatoes diced
8 basil leaves, torn

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Toss vigorously with half the oil and set aside to cool. Add all the remaining ingredients. Toss well and chill in the refrigerator for 30 min. before serving.

Wine: a dry white

From the book Pasta by Fabrizio Ungaro. Published by The Wine Appreciation Guild. Pice ($12.95)

Sicilian Orange Salad

Serves 4
Prep: 7 min.

Serve as a starter

4 juicy oranges
salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 black olives, pitted and cut in half
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Peel the oranges, taking care to remove all the white pith. Slice thinly and place in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt, then add the olives and onion. Drizzle with the oil and season with a generous grinding of pepper.

Wine: a light, dry white.

From the book Olive Oil by Leonardo Romanelli and Gabriella Ganugi. Published by the Wine Appreciation Guild. Pice ($12.95)

Coffee Macaroons

Makes 3 doz.

¾ cup blanched almonds
2 tbsp light brown sugar
4 large egg whites, at room temp
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp finely ground espresso, dissolved in 1 teaspoon boiling water
Icing (see recipe below)
Whole espresso beans

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Combine the almonds and brown sugar in a food processor until completely ground. Using an electric mixer, fitted with a whip attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed until frothy. Add the confectioner’s sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue whipping until very stiff peaks form. Fold in the almond and sugar mixture. When almost completely incorporated, add the coffee and continue folding until mixed. The batter should be smooth and shiny.

Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls, about 1-inch wide and 1-inch apart, onto a lightly greased baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake 12 minutes or until just starting to brown. Transfer to wire racks. Cool.
Drizzle cookies with icing and top each with an espresso bean.

2 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Beat egg whites with vanilla extract using an electric mixer. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Use immediately or store in an airtight container.

Tomatoes, Rosemary and Onion Focaccia

Serves 6.
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 1 hr.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil, additional for brushing
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
6 sprigs of fresh dried rosemary, chopped lightly
1 Vidalia onion thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons sea salt

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
Heat water and olive oil until warm. Add water mixture to ingredients and then add the egg. Blend with an electric mixer at low speed until moistened. Beat for 2 additional minutes. Gradually add 1-3/4 cups flour while beating, until dough pulls away from side of bowl. Knead in 3/4 cup flour on floured surface. Cover dough with a bowl, and let stand for about 5 minutes. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Press the dough out evenly onto the pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 20-30 minutes. Uncover dough, and press indentations with your fingers at 1 inch intervals. Brush dough lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and rosemary sprigs. Arrange onion rings and plum tomatoes evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 400º F for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

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