Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Centering Egg Yolks

April 15, 2014

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With both Easter and Passover occurring this week, many people have hard boiled eggs on their minds.

When making deviled eggs, it’s nice to have the yolks perfectly centered in the whites, to allow them to be stuffed evenly, and to look more presentable on the plate. Here is a little trick that will make that possible.

The night before you plan to boil the eggs, lay the carton on it’s side in the refrigerator. Use a rubber band to keep the eggs from rolling out of the carton. Leave them for 12 – 24 hours. Cook as usual, and viola! Perfectly centered yolks.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Marbled Matzoh Brittle

April 14, 2014

Here is a simple, yet delicious version  of the matzoh brittle we have posted previously. It has all the properties of the perfect confection. It’s a little bit salty, a little bit crunchy and a little bit sweet. And did I mention it has chocolate? What’s not to love?

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Adapted from Salt and Serenity.

Marbled Matzoh Brittle:

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and cover it with parchment paper. If you skip this step, you will be scrubbing for a long, long time. Trust us on this!

Line the pan with sheets of matzoh. If you have room, break pieces to fit the extra space.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 sticks of butter, and 1 cup of brown sugar. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it comes to a boil and blends together. If it looks separated, keep stirring. Stir for couple of  minutes or so until it forms caramel. Pour the caramel over the matzoh, and smooth it with a spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until the caramel is golden in color, and bubbling. Don’t let it burn!

In the meantime, melt 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips. Place the melted white chocolate into a pastry bag. (see our tip for doing this here.)

Remove the matzoh from the oven. Sprinkle it with semi-sweet chocolate chips and allow them to soften. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly across the matzoh.

Cut the end off of the piping bag, and pipe the white chocolate in a zig zag pattern across the matzoh in both directions. Don’t be too worried about precision. Use a skewer, or the tip of a paring knife to smear the white chocolate, forming a marble effect.

Sprinkle the matzoh lightly with sea salt.

Pop the pan into the refrigerator, and chill until the chocolate is firm.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the chilled matzoh into squares, and enjoy! (Don’t forget to share!)

photo: Salt and Serenity

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: What NOT To Microwave

April 8, 2014
Do you think they had a microwave disaster?

Do you think they had a microwave disaster?


While microwave ovens can speed things up in the kitchen, they can also lead to disaster. I actually ended up in the hospital due to  a freak microwave accident,  but alas, that is a story for another day.

Here are some things that should stay out of the microwave:

Metal should never be put into the microwave. Even the smallest bit can send plasma through your microwave, melt the metal, or in the case of aluminum foil, start a fire.

Many plastics are labeled microwave safe, but although those products themselves are safe in the microwave, they can give off unhealthy chemicals that are not safe for humans to ingest. Just. Say. No.

Hot peppers contain an ingredient called capsaicin, which gives them that hot, spicy flavor. Once microwaved, it also gives off a vapor that is unpleasant to inhale. Skip it, and use the stove.

It seems as though hard boiling an egg in the microwave would be a good idea, right? Wrong! The center of the egg gets very, very hot, the steam inside has no way to escape, and bam, you guessed it: they explode.

Have you ever had a microwave disaster? Tell us about it in the comments below!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Pasta With Seafood + Marinara Sauce

April 3, 2014

This is a perfect unrecipe for those of us lucky enough to live near a place to get the freshest seafood, pasta made daily, and even a homemade marinara sauce in a jar. For me, it’s a quick trip to Chelsea Market.

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I purchase freshly caught Atlantic shrimp and scallops at The Lobster Place, one of New York’s very best fish markets. I sear them with very little seasoning, as the marinara sauce from Buon Italia is full of diced garlic, rich red tomatoes, and slick with olive oil, which coats Rana’s homemade pasta beautifully.

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Sure, this can be done with commercially jarred marinara sauce, and dried pasta with acceptable results. For a few extra minutes

(ok, maybe 15 extra minutes,) you can create the sauce yourself. It’s that simple. It’s that easy. It’s that good.

Shrimp and Scallops in a Spicy Marinara Sauce Over Pasta:

Clean and devein shrimp, rinse scallops and pat dry. It is important to get as much moisture off of the seafood so it sears and browns.( I figure about 1/2 pound of seafood per person )

White garlic from Lomagne

Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté 3 or 4 cloves of diced garlic until soft. Place the seafood in a single layer in the pan so that each piece touches the hot surface. Don’t over crowd the pan. If necessary, do this in batches. Flip it and sear the other side. This should only take a few minutes.

This is our homemake pasta from a previous post.

This is our homemake pasta from a previous post.

Add a can or box* of diced San Marzano tomatoes and a liberal dose of salt. Add a little red pepper and lay a leaf or two of fresh basil across the top of the mixture. The leaves will wilt into the sauce naturally. Heat until the sauce starts to bubble, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook briefly, and serve over pasta.  Enjoy!

*canned tomatoes are a good news/ bad news item. They are healthier, due to the higher levels of lycopine than fresh tomatoes, but their acidity makes the chemicals in the can even more harmful. Whole Foods carries San Marzano tomatoes in tetra pack boxes, which is a much healthier alternative. If you can’t find them, you can use Pomi brand, which has always come in boxes.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Knives

April 1, 2014

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Scraping the food from the cutting board with the knife is easy and efficient, but it also wrecks havoc on the blade. Try getting in the habit of using the other side of the knife for scraping, to avoid dulling the blade.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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The Skinny On Full Fat Dairy

March 26, 2014

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I only eat fat free dairy products.  I use skim milk in my coffee, and eat 0% Greek yogurt for breakfast. I do this mainly because I always do. I have been conditioned to think that fat is bad for you, and the reduction in calories from fat free products is a good thing. Also, I am perfectly satisfied with the taste and consistency, so I don’t even think to try a richer, higher fat version.

Until now. A recent study at Washington State University analyzed 400 samples of organic and conventional milk over an 18 month period and found that the organic milk contained significantly more heart healthy omega-3s than it’s conventional counterpart. It also found that whole milk had an even higher amount of omega-3s than reduced fat versions. Hmmm.

The vitamins in milk, especially vitamins A and D are fat soluble, which means they require fat to be absorbed into the body. Omega 3s are a fatty acid, so it should come as no surprise that more of them would appear in full fat milk. According to the study, the whole milk contained 50% more omega-3s than 2% milk, and 66% more than 1% milk.

The other interesting fact is the levels of omega-6 fatty acids in conventional milk were extremely high, due to the corn and grain intensive diet fed to conventional cows, vs. the mostly grass fed diet of organic cows.

Omega-6 acids promote cell rigidity and help our blood to clot by triggering an inflammatory reaction in our bodies. They are also involved in fat storage.  Omega-3 acids help calm inflammation, promote cell permeability, and metabolize glucose. While we need to have both of these in our diets, the ratio of omega -3 to omega-6 should be about 1 to 1. Due to the amount of corn and soybean oils found in many commercial products consumed in the United States, the amount of inflammatory omega-6s are much higher.

While the Department of Agriculture and other food and nutrition experts have yet to change their tune on fat in dairy products, researchers hope that this information will trigger new ways of thinking about fats in general.

photo:Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sprouted Garlic

March 25, 2014

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We were always under the impression that once  garlic had sprouted, it was on its way out. Those green shoots were a supposed indication that the garlic had passed its prime, accompanied by the ominous warning that sprouted garlic was the cause of nasty morning-after garlic breath.

A recent study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggests that those green sprouts may be actually be filled with heart healthy antioxidants.

After researchers in Korea (a country that knows their garlic!) observed the growth in old heads of garlic for five days, they concluded that the seedlings contained new compounds to protect the plant against pathogens. These compounds also increased the antioxidant levels in the older bulbs.

No word on whether or not the age of the garlic has any effects on the breath issue.

Sprouting carrots, onions, chickpeas, beans and wheat may also be safe to eat, as long as they are not beginning to soften. Potatoes however, are considered poisonous once they begin to sprout, or form “eyes,” and should be avoided.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Filling a Pastry Bag

March 18, 2014

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Somehow, every time I pull out the pastry bag, I am soon up to my elbows in icing. When I saw this genius tip, I knew I had to try it. Place the pasty bag, with the piping tips affixed, into a tall drinking glass. Fold a few inches of the bag over the edge of the glass, and place the icing, or whatever you are piping, into the bag, using the edge of the glass to scrape the excess off spatula. Once it is filled, remove the bag from the glass, gather up the sides, and pipe away!

Why didn’t I think of that?

photo: glasshouse images

Food Additives Found In Industrial Products

March 17, 2014

Riddle of the day:

What does your yoga mat have in common with your lunch?

Answer: If your lunch includes commercially baked bread, the answer just might be azodicarbonamide.

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This compound, often used to improve the texture of dough, has been shown to cause respiratory issues in factory workers who were exposed to high levels of azodicarbonamide. There is no indication that small amounts, like the amount found in bread, is actually harmful to ingest.

The fact that it is used in rubber products from yoga mats to flip flops was the red flag for many health advocates. The compound makes the rubber lighter and more flexible.

Many food products benefit from the same type of aeration, such as pastries, pizza, bread products and tortillas.

Subway was the first of many companies to be called out on the use of azodicarbonamide, and urged to find an alternative.

While we fully support taking any chemicals out of our foods, there are far more potentially lethal additives, such as BPA and potassium bromate to contend with.

The best line of defense in protecting yourself and your family from harmful food additives is to eat fresh foods, and avoid processed and packaged foods wherever possible.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Salt of the Earth

March 13, 2014

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Salt often gets a bad rap these days, taking the blame for many of our health woes. The fact is, that salt is an essential mineral that our bodies need to properly function. It also adds flavor to food, and can be a natural preservative.

There are many types of salt on the market, each with it’s own distinct flavor and texture. Before you settle for that cardboard cylinder, learn a bit about the different varieties, and how to use each one.

Table salt: Refined from underground mills, this is the most common salt. It is often found in salt shakers, and those cardboard cylinders in the supermarket. Most table salt also contains anticaking agents and iodine, which is an essential  nutrient. The flavor is non distinct and can even be a bit on the bitter side. It is higher in sodium chloride than many other salts, and because of it’s pourable texture and bland taste, it is easily over used.

Kosher salt: The most all- purpose of the bunch, and the one used most frequently by chefs. It’s larger crystals dissolve easily, disperse flavor evenly, and it’s coarse texture works well for sprinkling.

Sea salt: Similar to kosher salt, it has a coarse crystal which dissolves easily, and can also be found finely ground. Sea salt can have a slightly tinged hue, depending on it’s origin, and the minerals it contains. Pink salt, for instance, is iron rich which causes it’s rosy color.
Expect sea salt to have a slightly briny, or even sweet flavor.

Flaked sea salt, or Maldon sea salt: This quick dissolving salt from England is considered a finishing salt.  It’s soft white flakes add a brininess to already cooked foods.

Fleur de Sel: This is the cream of the salt crop. Harvested by hand in France under perfect conditions which allows it to “bloom” on the surface of the water, fleur de sel is slow dissolving, allowing the eater to savor it’s delicate flavor. Crush it in your fingers, and sprinkle it on salads, vegetables and cooked foods.

Himalayan Sea Salt: Hand mined in Pakistan, this ancient salt is thought to be the purest possible. Often used in spa treatments, or as a slab to serve food, it is also useful as both a cooking or a finishing salt.

When using flakier salts, it’s best to add them at the end, and a little can go a long way. Given the coarse or flakier texture, and the increased flavor, you may find you use less than you would when using traditional table salt. Before you just pour the salt on your food, be sure to taste it, and decide if more is really necessary.

photo: Glasshouse Images


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