Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cooking With Corn Starch--A Versatile Kitchen Staple

(NAPSI)-When it comes to kitchen staples, corn starch is second to none.

Used in much more than gravies and sauces, starch is a key ingredient in a variety of dishes--whether you're baking, making hot soups, coating meat and fish, or making puddings and desserts. And as more people are eating at home to save money and to eat healthier, corn starch is playing an even bigger role in the kitchen.

These corn starch basics can help you make the most of your meals:

• Thickening with corn starch rather than flour adds 47 percent fewer calories because you use less.

• When cooking with corn starch, avoid high heat, which can cause lumping and scorching.

• Corn starch is flavorless, meaning it won't mask the flavor of foods in a dish.

• Acids such as fruit juice reduce the thickening power of corn starch. Add acids after your dish has already thickened.

Finding New Recipes

A free cookbook called "The Best Of Argo" offers 45 delicious recipes and tips you can make with Argo Corn Starch, which now comes in superior resealable packaging. It also provides tips and ideas to help you hone your cooking skills.

To order the cookbook, send one dollar for shipping and handling, along with your mailing address, to Argo Cookbook Offer, Dept. 5807, P.O. Box 5008, Stacy, MN 55078-5008.

Here's a look at two delicious dishes featured in the cookbook.

This easy dessert is a medley of juicy berries that tastes a little different with each fruity bite.

Triple Berry Fruit Crisp

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 45 minutes

Makes: 8 servings

1 bag (16 oz.) frozen berry mixture (or 11/3 cups each of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries)

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon Argo® Corn Starch

½ cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ cup butter OR margarine, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup quick oats (not instant)

1/3 cup flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

MIX berries, sugar and corn starch in a large bowl. Add water, lemon juice and almond extract. Pour mixture into a greased 8x8-inch baking dish.

COMBINE butter, brown sugar, quick oats, flour and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl with a pastry blender until butter is in small pieces. Sprinkle over top of berries.

BAKE in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes until fruit is bubbly and topping is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature. Delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This simple sauce that follows is long on rich cheese flavor with extra creaminess from the corn starch.

Easy Cheese Sauce

Prep/Cook time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 cup

1 cup cold milk

1 tablespoon Argo® Corn Starch

2 tablespoons butter OR margarine

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

STIR milk gradually into corn starch in a small microwave-safe dish until smooth. Add butter, salt and pepper.

MICROWAVE on HIGH (100 percent) for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Microwave an additional 30 to 60 seconds until thick and bubbly. Stir in cheese until smooth. Serve over broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or baked potatoes.

For more information, visit

Corn starch can be used in sauces, desserts, entrées and more.

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