Squashes generally refer to four species of the genus Cucurbita, alsocalled marrows(mainly in British English). These speciesinclude C. maxima (hubbard squash, buttercup squash, some varieties ofprize pumpkins, such as BigMax), C. mixta(cushaw squash), C. moschata (butternut squash),and C. pepo (most pumpkins, acorn squash, summersquash, zucchini). In North America, squash is loosely groupedintosummer squash or winter squash, depending on whether they areharvested as immature fruit (summer squash) or mature fruit (autumnsquash or winter squash).Gourds are from the same family as squashes.Well known types of squash include the pumpkin and zucchini. Giantsquash are derived from Cucurbita maxima and are routinely grown toweights nearing those of giant pumpkins. For more details, refer tolist ofgourds and squashes.Squash, botanically known as Cucurbita maxima Duchesne ex Lamk., iscommonly grown in the Philippines throughout the year. It is usually grownin home gardens and in commercial scale for its immature fruits, youngshoots, flowers, and seeds. In some places, intercropping squash withother crops like corn, sugarcane and coconut is practiced. Like othercucurbits, squash is recognized as an important source of vitamins andminerals. The term"summer" and "winter" for squash are only based on currentusage, not on actuality. "Summer" types are on the market allwinter; and "winter" types are on the markets in the late summerand fall, as well as winter. Thus, the terms "summer" and"winter" are deceptive and confusing. This terminology was nevermeant to confuse - it just dates back to a time when the seasonswere more crucial to mans survival than they are now. "Goodkeepers" became known as winter vegetables if they would"keep" until December.
Summer squash bruises easily and should be handled with care. Look for firm,glossy skin; fairly heavy for size. Stored in a perforated plastic bag in therefrigerator, they should keep for a week. Freezing softens the flesh of the squash,but it will still be usable in casseroles and other dishes where crispness is notimportant. Blanch cut up summer squash 2 minutes before freezing, and store inthe freezer for up to 4 months. For breads, freeze the raw squash whole or grated. Read your cookie recipe carefully before starting:Be sure you have all the ingredients called for and that you understand the recipeclearly.Remember - If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Cultivate thedo-it-right attitude and habit. Baking demands accuracy and care. Unlike other kinds ofcooking, such as soups or stews, you cannot improvise or substitute ingredients. Nevercarry on another activity while you are mixing a recipe. Distractions, no matter howsmall, lead to mistakes. Let the telephone ring!Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes.2. Use good tools and utensils:Assemble all the bowls, pans, and utensils you will need on your counter or worktablebefore starting. Use standard measuring cups and spoons.Shop Whats Cooking Americas Kitchen Store for all your cooking wants and needs.The store includes a large assortment of kitchen tools, cookware, bake ware, gourmetfoods, and more.3. Use correct pan sizes:Use the type of pan specified in the recipe. Recipes are carefully calculated as to yieldand changing the pan size also alters the baking temperature and time. Larger, shallower pans need increased heat; smaller, deeper pans need decreased heat. The size of a baking pan or dish is measured across the top of the container
from the inside edge to inside edge. The depth also is measured on the inside of the pan or dish from the bottom to the top of the rim. Prepare the pan carefully according to the recipe. Place pans as near the center of the oven as possible. Do not place pans directly over another and do not crowd the oven (this makes for uneven baking).4. Use top-quality ingredient and assemble the ingredientsbefore starting:You cant expect a first-rate product using second-rate ingredients. Be sure youringredients are fresh and of the finest quality. If your recipe says the ingredient mustbe room temperature, they are at room temperature before proceeding.Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Check expiration dates of baking powder andbaking soda, replacing if necessary. For testing purposes: Baking soda should bubble when added to vinegar Baking powder should bubble when added to hot water.Be sure to mix baking powder and/or baking soda into the flour before adding to thewet ingredients, as this distributes everything evenly so your cookies will not end upwith large holes. Controlling Spread in Cookies with Baking Soda: From How Baking Works; Exploring the fundamentals of Baking Science, by Paula Figoni Cookies spread across a cookie sheet when a they have too little
structure and cannot hold their shape. Whether this is desirable ornot depends on what kind of cookie you wish to bake, but oftensome spread is desirable.There are many ways to increase cookie spread: One way is to adda small amount of baking soda, as little as .25 to .5 ounce (5 to15 grams) for 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of cookie dough. Thisincreases pH of the dough, weakening gluten, and also weakeningegg protein structure. With less structure, cookies spread more andhave a coarser, more porous crumb. Since moisture evaporatesfrom a porous crumb more easily, baking soda often provides for acrisper crumb, as well.Measure baking soda carefully. Baking soda increases browningsignificantly, and if used at too high a level, it leaves a distancesalty-chemical off flavor. Too much baking soda also causes eggs inbaked goods to turn grayish green.When working a high altitudes, omit baking soda from thecookie dough. The lower air pressure at high altitudes alreadyencourages spread.
Eggs: Check your date on your egg carton. Check out SellDate of Eggs (Sell Date of Eggs - Date Codes on EggCartons).Eggs should be at room temperature. Also theemulsion can be ruined if eggs or other liquids are too cold ortoo hot when they are added.Flour: Dont substitute flour types. If your recipe calls for all-purpose flour, thatswhat you need to use. Cake flour and bread flour will not behave the same. Learnabout the different types of flour. When a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, it meansthe bleached variety.Measuring Flour: Too much flour can make some cookies rock-hard. When indoubt, err on the side of less flour. Even better, use a scale if the recipe offers aweight equivalent. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup and sweep aspatula across the top to level it off. Dont use the measuring cup as a scoop oritll pack the flour and youll end up with more flour in the cup than intended.See #6 below for additional information.Nuts: Smell and taste nuts before using. Oils in nuts can turn rancid quickly. Storeany leftover nuts in the freezer for longest shelf life.Butter: Make sure your butter is at room temperature, otherwise it wont cream properlywith the sugar. The terms "room temperature," "softened" and "soft" mean differentthings. The temperature of the butter an make a difference in the recipe. Most cookiedough recipes depend on the emulsion that occurs when you cream butter and sugartogether. This emulsion will not happen if the butter is too hot or too cold.Room Temperature Butter: It should be pliable enough that your finger canleave a mark in it, without being soft and greasy. Set the butter out at leastone (1) hour in advance.Softened Butter: Will feel a little warmer to the touch, and it will be mucheasier to leave a deep indentation, but it should still be firm enough to pick upwithout falling apart.Soft Butter: Will be too soft to pick up.Microwave Butter: Do not try to microwave your butter as it will just end uptoo soft. If you dont have an hours lead time, increase the surface area bycutting the butter into small pieces or shredding it on the large holes of agrater. It will then come up to temperature in approximately 10 minutes.Unsalted Butter: Unsalted butter is generally recommended because somesalted butters have more sodium than others. If you use salted butter, only use1/2 the amount called for in the recipe. Dont skip the salt, as salt brings outflavors and balances the sweetness in a recipe
Salt: Use the full amount of salt called for in a recipe, especially is using unsaltedbutter. If you use salted butter, only use 1/2 the amount called for in the recipe. Dontskip the salt, as salt brings out flavors and balances the sweetness in a recipe.Shortening: Check vegetable shortening before using. Shortening, especially newtrans fat-free brands) can go bad, introducing off-flavors to your cookies that youworked hard making.Sugar: The type of sugar used in your cookies can promote spread in baked cookies.To understand this, you need to know that sugar is a tenderizer which interferes withthe formation structure. Sugars with a finger granulation promote more spread(probably because they dissolve sooner and only dissolved sugars will tenderize).Powdered sugar (confectioners sugar), when it contain cornstarch, prevents spread incookies despite it finer grind.5. Room temperature Ingredients:Have all ingredients at room temperature for more glamorous perfect cookies, unlessotherwise specified.6. Measure the ingredients quantities correctly - Use correctmeasuring cups and spoons:This is a baking must! Follow your cookie recipe to the tee (you can alwaysexperiment with later batches, testing how alterations affect the final product). Onecommon cause of cooking failures is inaccurate measurement of ingredients. You canuse the best ingredients in the world, but if you do not measure correctly, the recipewill not come out properly. Also always use level measurements (all measurements ina recipe are level).Know the difference between liquid and dry measures, and use theappropriate one for each task. While they hold the same volume, they areused differently.Measuring Liquids - Liquid Measuring Cups:Use a Liquid Measuring Cup (glass or plastic measuring cup) for liquids such as water,milk or oil. The glass or plastic permits you to see the level of the liquid being
measured. The cup for liquids should have additional space above the one-cup line, sothat a full cup can be accurately measured without spilling. To get an accurate readingin a liquid measuring cup, set the cup on a level surface and bend down to check themeasurement at eye level.Liquid measuring cups come in several different sizes and are also useful for meltingchocolate and butter in the microwave as well as measuring. Following are somedifferent types of liquid measurement cups:Measuring Dry Ingredients - Dry Measuring Cups:Dry ingredients such as flour, sugar, salt, and baking powdershould always be measured in Dry Measuring Cups, never inliquid cups. Use individual Standard Measuring Spoons fortablespoons and teaspoons.Techniques: Check out my Cooking Equivalent Measurement Chart to help you figure out cup and spoon sizes. The charts shows standard U.S. measures following U.S. Government guideline. The charts also offer equivalents for United States, metric, and Imperial (U.K.) measures. Lightly spoon dry ingredients into correct cup or spoon size, and level off with edge of spatula by cutting across the top. Use measuring spoons in this way too. Dip a dry measuring cup into the ingredient and sweep away the excess with a straight-edged tool, such as an icing spatula. Measure a liquid in a measuring spoon by filling it full. To measure a "heaping" or "rounded" tablespoon or teaspoon, it is generally a moderately-sized, round mound, or heap of the dry ingredient in addition to that which fills the spoon. Measure a "scant" spoon by filling the measure not completely full or by shaking or pouring a little bit outFlour need not be sifted before measuring unless recipe specifies it. When a recipe calls for sifted flour, it is important to take the time to sift, even if the flour youre using is labeled "pre-sifted." Sifting flour onto a sheet of wax paper instead of into a bowl cuts down on dishwashing. Measure brown sugar by packing it firmly into a measuring cup or into a
measuring spoon. Shortening should hold its shape when turned out of the measuring cup. The same applies to brown sugar.7. Oven temperaturePreheat the oven 10 to 15 minutes before you begin baking cookies. This isusually consistent unless a recipe specifically calls for you to start with a cold oven.Purchase an Oven Thermometer to make sure your oven is operating at the righttemperature. An oven that is too hot or too cold not only throws off the cooking timesbut can throw off the texture and appearance of the finished cookies.8. Baking or Cookie Sheets:A baking sheet should be either cool or at room temperature when the cookie dough isplaced on it; otherwise, the dough will start to melt, adversely affecting the cookiesshape and texture. Bake one cookie sheet at a time, and be sure that the sheet fits inthe oven with at least one inch of space around its edges for the proper heatcirculation. Rotate cookie sheets and rinse and wipe clean between batches.Type of Cookie Sheets To Use: Cookie Sheets with little or no sides will allow thecookies to bake quickly and evenly.Greasing Cookie Sheets: Grease cookie sheets with either vegetable shortening orunsalted butter. Do not use vegetable oil for greasing the cookie sheets, as the oilbetween the cookies will burn during baking - this is very difficult to clean. You also can use parchment paper or the reusable Silicone Baking Mats on your cookies sheets instead of the shortening or butter. I, personally, can not imagine how I ever lived without these fantastic reusable silicone pan liners. To me this is a "must have" in my kitchen. You cant rip them, you cant tear them, they are extremely durable and inexpensive, and they never lose their shape. If the cookie dough you are using has a large amount of vegetable shortening or butter in it, it is not necessary to grease or butter the cookie sheets or pans. Most cookie dough can be baked on ungreased pans. If you flour a cookie sheet after it is greased, there will be less tendency for the cookies to thin out and spread too much during baking. A greased and floured cookie sheet is also preferred for any dough containing chocolate chips (the
chocolate which comes in contact with the cookie she is less likely to stick and burn while baking).Baking Cookies: Bake one cookie sheet at a time, and be sure that the cookie sheetfits in your oven with at least one-inch of space around its edges for proper heatcirculation. Avoid placing one sheet above another sheet in the oven, as this causesuneven baking. Cookies should be baked in the center of the oven.Cooling Cookie Sheets: Be sure to cool your baking sheets between baking batchesof cookies. A baking or cookie sheet should be either cool or at room temperaturewhen the cookie dough is place on it. Otherwise, the dough will start to melt, adverselyaffecting the cookies shapes and texture. If the sheets are still hot when you addmore dough, the cookies can start to melt and spread before they even get in theoven. To cool your cookie pans in a hurry, run them under cold water and then wipedry before using.9. Baking the Cookies:Cookies should be of a uniform thickness and size so they will bake in the sameamount of time. Using a small cookie scoop or ice cream scoop will provide picture-perfect, uniform size cookies. To get uniform cookies, weigh the cookie dough. Usingyour kitchen scale weigh 1-ounce dough for each medium-size cookie and 1/2-ouncesfor each smaller cookie.Leave room between cookies on the cookie sheet. Rule of thumb is 2 inches betweencookies. If they are extremely large cookies or the recipe calls for more space, adjustthe spaceWatch the baking time and use an accurate timer. Always check the cookies atthe minimum baking time listed in your recipe. Even one minute can mean thedifference between a cookie that is done and one that is ruined.Unless the recipe directs otherwise, remove baked cookies from cookie sheet to wirerack immediately to prevent further baking. Use a thin pancake turner to remove andmove cookies from baking sheets. If cookies are left on the sheet to cool, they will bevery difficult to remove (this will keep cookies from tearing or breaking). Bars, Squares, and Brownies
Bars and squares are a softer type of cookie. They are more like a cake. Always bake bars and square cookies in greased pans that are at least 1 1/2-inches deep and that have sides. Do not over beat this type of cookie. Beat just enough to mix the ingredients together. over beating will cause them to rise too much, and as they cook, they will then fall with a cracked surface and a ridge around the outside edge. Important: Do try to use the pan sizes indicated in your recipes. The texture of thebaked bars or square cookies are affected by the thickness. Using a pan smaller than theone indicated in the recipe will give a cake-like result, not a chewy one. A pan too large,will give a dry and brittle result.Bars and squares are done when the sides shrink from the sides of the pan or the topsprings back when lightly touched with your finger.When baking brownies, do not over bake them (the result will be dry and crumbly).Brownies should appear set in the center and when a wood toothpick is inserted at edges(1/2- to 1-inch from edge of pan), the toothpick should have moist crumbs attached. If thecrumbs are dry, the brownies are over baked.Cutting Bar Cookies: To prevent jagged edges that often occur when cutting bars andsquares, use a sharp knife to score the bars as soon as the pan comes out of the oven.Cool completely before cutting - then cut the cooled bars along the scored lines. Bar Cookie Tips: Make sure that you use the size pan that the recipe calls for. Too big can cause dry bars and too small can cause under baked bars. If baking in a glass pan, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. To store brownies or bar cookies, wrap bars in the pan they are baked in, covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. If storing for prolonged periods, wrap each square in aluminum foil after they have cooled. Brownies are best when refrigerated or frozen for storage. Line pans with aluminum foil for super easy removal of bars. Leave an overhang at two opposite ends so youll be able to lift out the
baked bars easily. Cutting Brownies Tips: To make cutting easier, score the bars with a knife as soon as they come out of the oven, using a ruler as a guide. It helps if you completely cool the brownies before cutting. You can even cool them down in the freezer somewhat hardened. Dip the sharp knife in hot water and wipe with a dry kitchen towel before making each cut. Move the knife across the pan in an up and down sawing motion from one end to the other until they are cut. Some people get better results by using a sturdy plastic knife or a teflon spatula to cut brownies. Crisp or Rolled Cookies Crisp or rolled cookies are made from a stiff dough which is rolled with a Rolling Pin and cut with sharp cookie cutters, a knife, or a pastry wheel. They should be thin and crisp. It is usually best to work with a small amount of dough at a time. Chill the dough if it is too soft to handle easily. For rolled cookies, the dough should be chilled for 15 to 30 minutes before rolling. this will prevent the dough from sticking to the Rolling Pin. Roll out only one portion of the dough at a time to prevent dough from drying out. I like to keep the other portion is the refrigerator and chilled.When using plastic Cookie Cutters, they should be dipped in warm vegetable oil while youare working. You will get a cleaner, more defined edge on the patterns.For the most tender cookies, use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough. Saveall the dough trimmings and roll at one time (these cookies will be less tender). Sugarcookies will not get stiff or tough if you roll them in sugar instead of flour.TIP: Roll the
chilled dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper or wax paper. Remove the top sheet.Make cookie cutouts, then lift with a wide spatula from paper to pan.Crisp or rolled cookies should be stored in a container with a tight-fitting cover. Rolled Cookie Decorating Tip: To keep sparkling sugar on unfrosted rolled cookies, make a "paint" of egg white and water (1 egg white and 1/4 teaspoon water) and paint the UNBAKED cookie with this colorless paint. Then sprinkle the sugar right onto the sugar to stick. Then bake the cookies according to your recipe. Drop Cookies Almost any cookie dough can be baked as a drop cookie if additional liquid is added to the batter. Use your kitchen scale: 1 ounce of cookie dough makes a nice large cookies 1/2 ounce of cookie dough is great for smaller cookies. Drop cookie dough vary in texture. Some fall easily from the spoon and flatten into wafers inbaking. Stiffer doughs need a push with a finger or the use of a second spoon to releasethem.To make uniform soft drops, use a measuring teaspoon. When chilled, dough may beformed into balls and flattened between palms. First dust your hands with flour orpowdered sugar. If the cookies are dark or chocolate, use cocoa for dusting.
#1 Cookie Question Asked - Why do my dropcookies spread and thin out while baking?Easy Solution: Bake a test cookie to get an indication ofdough condition before baking an entire batch. If itspreads too much, one of the following could be the cause: Dough was not properly chilled. Pure cane sugar (sucrose) was not used; fructose sugar or a blend of sugars was substituted. Baking pans were greased too much. Dont grease the cookie sheet unless the recipe calls for it. Dough was placed on warm baking sheets. Used a low-fat margarine, diet spread, or vegetable-oil spread instead of butter or shortening. Never use a low-fat spread with 60% or less fat. Low-fat spreads have a higher moisture content and will make cookie dough very soft. Butter makes cookies spread if the dough is too soft before baking. Not having the butter at the right consistency when making the dough. The dough should be soft enough to allow you to poke an indentation with your finger, but the indentation shouldnt stay. If using 100% butter, start with CHILLED butter right from the refrigerator versus room temperature butter. Cut butter into 1-inch cubes and chill again before using in your recipe. Substitute shortening instead of butter, as butter melts faster than solid shortening. Even 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening will melt more slowly than using butter only. Used the wrong type of flour. Flour can affect how cookies bake and behave. Flours with a high protein content (bread flour and all-purpose flour) produce cookies that tend to be flatter, darker, and more crisp than their counterparts made with cake or pastry flour. Unbleached all-purpose flour is recommended
for the best spread on cookies. Bleached or chlorinated flours reduce spread. Macaroon Cookies Macaroons originated in an Italian Monastery around 1790. They were baked by the Carmelite nuns who followed the principle: "Almonds are good for girls who do not eat meat." During the Revolution, two nuns who hid in the town called Nancy, made and sold macaroons. They became known as the "Macaroon Sisters." Most macaroon and meringue cookies are fragile and need special handling. Keep them small and they will hold together better. Some of the meringues, heavy in nuts, keep well if stored in a tightly covered container. Macaroon Cookie Tip: Using your fingers, form cookies into loose hay stacks. Moisten fingers with water to prevent sticking. Should the macaroon cookies harden on the pan, return the cookie sheet to the warm oven for a minute before trying to remove them.Shipping or Mailing Cookies:
When mailing cookies, choose cookies that are hardy so they can stand the trip. Softcookies generally are the best travelers.Use a strong cardboard box or metal container; line with either wax paper or aluminumfoil. Then place a cushion of crumpled wax paper, plastic wrap, or cellophane straw on thebottom.Wrap cookies in pairs, back to back, with wax paper between them. A moisture-proofmaterial, such as plastic wrap, safely holds the flavor while the cookies bounce around.Pack snugly in rows with heavy cookies at the bottom. Tuck popcorn, puffed cereal, orcrushed wax paper into the holes to prevent jiggling. Cover each layer with a cushion ofwax paper or paper towels.Tape the box shut, print address on box (if paper should become torn in route, the addresswill not be destroyed with it) and wrap in heavy brown paper. Tie or tape securely.Print name and address plainly on front of package and label "FRAGILE, HANDLE WITHCARE.Storing Baked Cookies:Always store cookies after they have cooledcompletely. If still warm, they will get too softand moist from the condensation and youllwreck them. For short-time storage followthese suggestions:Crisp Cookies - Stored in a container withloose lid unless you live in a humid climate. Ifyour humidity is high, store these cookies in anairtight container as well.Fragile Cookies - Store in a shallow tininstead of a deep cookie jar or crock as extraweight will break the delicate treats.Frosted Cookies - Stored only after the frosting is set on the cookies. Like soft cookies, allfrosted cookies should be stored between layers of waxed paper. It is best if you do notstack the layers deeper than 3 layers.Soft Cookies - Placed between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. Make surethe container has a snug fitting lid. If the cookies begin to dry out, place a slice of on asheet of waxed paper and place inside the container. Replace the slice of bread as needed.Cookie Jars - If storing cookies in a cookie jar, line it with a re-sealable plastic bag forairtight storage.Freezing Baked Cookies:
For a longer storage you should freeze baked cookies in airtight freezer containers, freezerbags, or aluminum foil. NOTE: Dont use cardboard containers because they pick up freezerodors. They can be frozen up to twelve months.font>First put a piece of waxed paper or foil in the bottom of the container. Then place thecookies so they arent touching and separate the layers with waxed paper or foil to protect.Seal tightly.Before serving the cookies make sure you thaw them in their original freezer wrappings (sothat condensation forms on the wrapping, not on the cookie). Crisp cookies may softenwhen thawed after freezing; to re-crisp, put them in a 300°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.Freezing unbaked cookie dough:Most cookie dough freeze extremely well and can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. Themost important thing to keep in mind is that the dough will absorb any odd odors presentin your freezer if its not properly wrapped and sealed. To prevent this smell-sponge effect-as well as freezer burn-wrap the dough securely twice.Its also a very good idea to write the type of cookie dough and the date it was frozen onthe outside of the package. When you are ready to bake simply let the dough defrost in therefrigerator. This will take several hours, so plan ahead.The cookie dough that freeze best are shortbreads, chocolate chip, peanut butter,refrigerator, sugar, and brownies, just to name a few. The types of cookie dough that donot freeze well are cake-like cookies and cookies that have a very liquidly batter, such asmadeleines and tuiles.For slice-and-bake cookies, form the dough into a log and freeze. When ready to bake, justslice off as many cookies as you need.When ready to use, the dough should be thawed in the refrigerator because it needs to bequite cold and firm to be cut into even slices. You can even slice it frozen if you want to,you just need a really sharp knife and a little elbow grease.