Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Rolling Cookie Dough

December 16, 2014

We’ve been making a lot of cookies lately. { Insert shameless plug for indigo jones eats here.} Most recipes call for refrigerating the dough before rolling it, which allows the gluten to relax, therefore reducing shrinkage and making for a flakier outcome. With a super sticky dough like gingerbread, chilling makes it just firm enough to be handle. It also makes most doughs really hard to roll out.

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I have wasted lots of time letting the dough chill, only to have to let it sit to soften it enough to roll out.
While I was testing recipes for graham crackers to use to make my s’mores, I came across one that called for rolling the dough between 2 sheets of waxed or parchment paper, and then chilling it. While that recipe did not make the final cut, it did change my life. Since then, I have been rolling all of my cookie doughs this way, laying them on a baking sheet, and popping them into the refrigerator. The results have been spectacular.

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When you’re ready to roll, just peel off the top sheet, cut the dough into the desired shapes, lift it off of the bottom sheet with a spatula and viola;  perfect cookies!
For my hand shaped shortbread spoons, I have been chilling them after they are formed, and before they are baked with great success.

This has been a holiday cookie season public service announcement. You can thank us later.

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Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats for handmade foods

Don’t Start the New Year Fat

December 15, 2014

Girl in party hat, blowing up balloon

It’s holiday season, which often means  lots of celebrations. Celebrations mean food and alcohol, late nights, and skipped workouts.

Today, I overheard a conversation between some women on the mat while stretching after spin class. It went like this: Person 1;” I can’t wait until January, so I can stop eating too much and get back to normal.”

Person 2: “I know, right? I got on the scale and couldn’t believe my eyes. I will get on track after the first of the year.”

Male person 3: Why not just reel it in now?

{crickets}

Sorry ladies, but the guy is right. It’s easy to over indulge at a party, and it’s also perfectly ok to do so once in a while. But every meal is not a party, and there is ample opportunity to practice good judgement to offset the less healthy treats you will be partaking in later.

It’s a slippery slope. We get off track, and then adopt a WTF attitude for the rest of the week, or the entire holiday season.  I’ve been there. I get it. But this year, I am committed that I am not going to enter a new year feeling bad about myself. I want to start the year off on the right foot.

There is no time like the present, and I have been more diligent than ever to amp up my workouts, and eat healthfully and mindfully when I am home, knowing full well that when I go out I am going to enjoy myself. This doesn’t mean starving myself between treats. That never ends well. It does mean viewing my meals as fuel and nourishment, and not just stuffing cookies in my face. With the recent launch of indigo jones eats, I have been elbow deep in cookie dough and chocolate for days on end. It hasn’t been easy not to sample every batch, but I know I feel better by not doing so.

Here are a few of my personal strategies to manage holiday indulgences:

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1. Know when the parties are, and that is when you are going to throw caution to the wind and imbibe in whatever you want. All other times, eat healthfully.

2. In between, set strict eating guidelines, and stick to them. I have been eating a very high protein, low fat, low carb diet. I make sure that I have the right foods on hand so that I don’t grab the wrong thing when I’m hungry, by default. When I have a craving, I remind myself that I can have whatever I want at the upcoming party. So far, that tactic is working.

3. I consider what the upcoming event might be. Should I eat something first, so I am not at a cocktail party or an open house, eating fattening nibbles instead of a healthy meal? Is it a sit down event with a menu. Can I make a healthy choice for the main course, and then share a dessert?

4. For every cookie, candy, or cheesy, carb-y whatever, ask yourself if it’s worth the calories. Why waste them on a mediocre, stale pastry, when you can walk away and feel good about your self control, and the way your pants fit? If the answer is yes, by the way, go for it!

5.If it’s special, if it’s decadent, if it’s out of this world delicious…eat it, savor it, enjoy it and don’t look back. After all, you only live once.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Slow Food

December 10, 2014

This is the time of year when we crave slow foods; comforting dishes filled with tender protein and flavorful sauces. It’s time to bust out the slow cooker and make some magic.

Last year at this time, we were novices, fearing that the food would be dried out and overcooked, or raw. Now that we have made friends with our slow cooker, we have a few tips to share to ensure the tastiest and safest outcome.

1.Don’t put raw meat or chicken into the slow cooker. For added flavor and texture, brown the meat on the stovetop before putting it into the cooker.

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2.Don’t add too much liquid. Unlike other methods where high cooking temperatures cause the liquids to evaporate, slow cookers don’t allow the sauce to reduce. If you are using wine, deglaze the pan after sautéing the meat to allow some of the alcohol to burn off; don’t just pour it into the slow cooker, or you might get a harsh flavor.

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3.Start heating the cooker while you are preparing the ingredients. This allows the food to come to a safe temperature more quickly.

4.Slow cookers work by trapping the heat inside the pot over a long period of time. Lifting the lid, however tempting it may be, lets the steam and heat escape, reducing the temperature. To make sure the food is cooked at the specified time, resist the temptation to peek inside.

5.Dairy products ( milk, cream etc. ) are likely to curdle if placed in the slow cooker. If your recipe calls for dairy, add it at the end of the cooking cycle. Coconut milk is non-diary and won’t curdle during prolonged cooking, so it’s safe to put it in right away.

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6.Don’t leave raw food sitting in the cooker set on a timer to turn on after you leave the house. The food can start to spoil before the cooker starts. Place the food into the slow cooker when you are ready to begin  the cooking process.  Chickpeas and other beans can be used as a vegetarian protein, and don’t need to be sautéed first. If using canned beans, add them towards the end of the cook time so they don’t get mushy.

7. Fattier meats often withstand the slow cooker better than leaner ones. Think chicken thighs on the bone, vs. boneless, skinless breasts for a more tender and juicy outcome. Fish and seafood are more delicate, and not good choices.

8. Smaller pieces of protein will cook faster than a large piece of meat, so if time is of the essence, or you need to leave the house for a long period, gauge what is best based on how much time you have available to cook.2117900485

9. Be creative! Many recipes which require cooking in the oven or on the stovetop in a sauce can be interpreted for the slow cooker. It may take longer, but you can leave it unattended safely, and get the mess out the way early!

10. Enjoy!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cutting Edge

December 9, 2014

 

Steel Ruler

 

We’re all about winging it in the kitchen where appropriate ( hello, unrecipes!) but sometimes we need to be more precise.

When cutting baked goods, candies or other foods into squares, cover a ruler in plastic cling wrap and use it to mark off perfectly even portions. You can even cut right along the straight edge , or etch a straight line to follow.

The plastic wrap keeps the ruler and the food clean, and still allows you to see the markings.

Pretty smart, we think!

photo: glasshouse images

 

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Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats for made to order treats.

Holiday Treats from Indigo Jones Eats

December 8, 2014

It’s official! We are taking orders for our holiday treats on our sister site,

indigo jones eats!

We don’t want to steal their thunder, but here is a sneak peak of what’s cooking:
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Freshly made S’mores tied up in bakery twine

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Hot chocolate and a homemade marshmallow on a stick

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Shortbread spoons dipped in chocolate

For pricing and ordering information, please go to

indigo jones eats

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

Stay Tuned

December 8, 2014
from our photo shoot

from our photo shoot

We’ve been teasing you all weekend with our holiday baking project, and we know some of you are anxious to see the real deal and place orders.

(What? You don’t follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? You really ARE missing out!)

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Roasting marshmallows in the studio.

 

We will have the official “beauty shots” with details and prices up today. Keep checking back, as we will be posting throughout the day here and on the official site for these products, indigojoneseats.

See you later!

The Weather Outside is Frightful

December 6, 2014

The weather outside is frightful, but we’re inside whipping up something delightful!

Why not let us deal with some of your holiday gifts? We are making handcrafted artisanal treats that will bring a smile to anyone’s face.
While the real photos won’t be ready until Monday, here is a preview of what is available, shown as works in progress:

IMG_3269These handcrafted spoons are a whimsical treat to serve with coffee or tea. Made of shortbread cookie dough, the tips are awaiting a quick dip in chocolate, and a sprinkle of peppermint sticks or nuts. Of course you can get them plain, or dipped in something else. Caramel perhaps?

IMG_3261This isn’t a winter wonderland, it’s a pile of homemade marshmallows! We will be plopping them on top of our hot chocolate on a stick to give you a decadent treat. They are the perfect stocking stuffer, or small token of the season.

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Our local tasters gave our hot chocolate sticks four thumbs up!

Those same fluffy marshmallows are also part of our S’mores kit. Nothing is lovelier than a fire in the fire place and marshmallows roasting. Our graham crackers are also handmade.

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Stop by indigojoneseats on Monday to see the final products, and take a peak at what else we can do.

Everything is made to order, and packaged for giving.

All photos ( and lots more!) from indigo jones instagram. Follow us to see how we roll. (literally!)

For orders or inquiries: indigojonesnyc@gmail.com

 

 

 

Rice Risks

December 4, 2014

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Brown rice is healthier than white rice, right? It contains 67% more vitamin B3,80% more vitamin B1, and 90% more vitamin B6 and 60% more iron before it is milled and polished into white rice. It’s clearly a superior food.

Until now.

In 2012, Consumer Reports tested 60 different types of rice, and found traces of arsenic in all of them. Recently, the publication tested 128 additional samples of rice and rice related products, as well as 114 grains, and found that brown rice contains about 80% more inorganic arsenic than it’s white counterpart.

The tests were run in conjunction with the Food Safety and Sustainability Center and were supplemented by FDA data.

Arsenic is introduced into the soil through the use of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as from natural sources such in the Earth’s crust . The chemical seeps into the outer layers of the grains. Since brown rice retains it’s outer layers, which are stripped away during the refining of white rice, it tends to have a much higher level of arsenic. Surprisingly, organic rices were found to have a similar amount of arsenic as conventional varieties. Brown basmati rice was found to have 1/3 less arsenic than other types.

Good news for the health conscious, especially vegetarians and vegans who count on brown rice as a meal staple: There are many other nutritious grains that are safer.

Amaranth, millet, cornmeal ( grits or polenta ) and buckwheat were found to be almost completely free of arsenic. Trace amounts were found in barley, bulgur and faro.

Some experts advise limiting brown rice consumption to 2 servings (1/4 cup uncooked) per month to avoid toxic levels. The FDA suggests cooking rice in 5 times more water than customary ( the way we cook pasta) which will eliminate some of the arsenic in the cooking process.

We need the FDA to step up and ban farming techniques that expose deadly additives to our healthy foods. In the meantime, it is best to explore other grains and keep rice consumption to a minimum.

photo: glasshouse images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Perfect Chicken Breasts

December 3, 2014

This week, I am atoning for the not so healthy eating I did last week. My body tends to let me know when I have over-indulged, and when I need to clean up my act. I tend to do something drastic and unsustainable for a couple of days to shut off the cravings and debloat. This week, I am eating a very lean, high protein diet, and need to have the right foods on hand, ready to go when I am hungry.

I stumbled on this method of cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts, that filled the bill. They came out moist, tender and flavorful, without adding a lot of excess ingredients. It’s the perfect method to cook chicken breasts to add to salads, or use in sandwiches. Give it a try, and tell us what you think! Warning: patience is required!

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Perfect Pan Chicken Breasts:

Season the skinless, boneless chicken breasts however you wish. I marinated mine in some herbs, lemon and a little olive oil. If the breasts are large, pound them down a bit so that they are uniform in size, and about 1/2″ thick.
Heat a large sauté pan with a lid on the stove, and add a little oil or butter. Allow it heat and cover the entire pan lightly.

Add the chicken breasts and cook 1 minute without touching them, so they begin to brown. Flip them over, lower the heat to medium and cover the pan. Allow them to cook for 10 minutes while resisting the urge to peek. At the end of 10 minutes, turn the burner off, and allow it to sit covered for another 10 minutes, without lifting the lid. It is important that you let it cook unfettered to seal in the juices and allow the steam to build up inside the pan. At this point, double check to insure that the chicken breasts are fully cooked, and enjoy!

photo: glasshouse images

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All The Rest is Gravy

November 26, 2014

A good gravy goes hand in hand with a beautiful roasted turkey. We get rave reviews for this one, made with the pan juices, and a little help from some pantry items.

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Mushroom Gravy:

Pour the pan juices from the turkey in a bowl, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain them into a glass measuring cup, and add 1/2 cup of white wine, and enough stock to measure 6 cups in total.

Sauté 2 pounds of sliced mushrooms until they are golden brown and the juice has evaporated. It will take about 15-20 minutes. Mix in reserved garlic herb paste, and sprinkle with about 1/3 cup of flour. Toss to incorporate the flour, so lumps will not form when the liquid is added. Whisk in the broth/pan juices and bring to a boil. Continue whisking as it thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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