Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sinking Fruit

March 11, 2014

Blueberry muffins

When making muffins and coffee cakes with berries, it’s preferred to have them scattered evenly throughout the pastry. How do you avoid the blueberries sinking to the bottom? Make sure they are dry, and toss them lightly in flour before mixing them into the dough. The flour will keep them afloat, until the muffin is baked and enjoyed.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Smoking Hot

August 9, 2013

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We love olive oil. It is heart healthy, tastes great and enhances our salad dressings and pastas, pesto and hummus, among other things. We use it for most of our cooking needs.
However, there are lots of kitchen chores where less popular oils are better suited to the task at hand.

All fats have a smoke point: the point in which the oil begins to smoke and burn when heated. Once oil reaches that point, it, and the food cooked in it not only tastes bad, but can also be bad for you. It starts to break down chemically and releases toxins and carcinogenic free radicals through the smoke.

Olive oil, in comparison to other oils, has a relatively low smoke point. It is not recommended for frying, searing, stir frying or roasting at high temperatures.

Canola oil has a much higher smoke point and has a neutral flavor that does not over power foods. Like olive oil, it also is low in saturated fats, and may help reduce the risk of cardio vascular disease.

Below is a guide to several different oils and their smoke points:
Butter          325 degrees

Olive oil      325-400 degrees, depending on quality

Coconut oil 350-450 degrees, depending on refinement

Corn oil       425-450 degrees

Canola oil   450-475 degrees

Peanut oil    450-475 degrees

Safflower oil 475-500 degrees (if refined)

photo: glasshouse images

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Easy Menu for a Hot Evening

August 1, 2013

Last week, I had a lot of house guests, and not a lot of time. The temperatures were in the high 90′s and humid, making using the oven for a prolonged period of time unappealing.

When I get time crunched, I tend to  rely on our old standby “unrecipes”.

I created this easy menu, which was served as a buffet for 14 people.  All the food shopping and cooking was done the day of the event, except for the desserts, which were made the night before. I’d say it was a hit!

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My battle with hors ‘doeurves is well documented, so I kept it super simple.

We started with an array of hummus, served with pita chips and baby carrots, and a big bowl of cold, steamed shrimp. All were purchased, and devoured.

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For the main meal, we had balsamic marinated chicken, “tarted up” with lemon zest and parsley. We broiled salmon and served it with a low fat avocado cream on the side.

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Rice with shallots, corn and mint, a watermelon and feta salad, and a cool celery salad with walnuts and parmesan were nice make-ahead side dishes that can be served at room temperature.

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We finished the meal with cold desserts: a flour-less chocolate cake with white chocolate bourbon cream,( I owe you the recipe), fresh strawberries and a cheesecake.

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Everyone seemed happy with the selection, and took home leftovers, a sure sign of a good meal!

photos: indigo jones

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Plate Licking Good

July 5, 2013

Yesterday we gave you a peek at our stars and stripes tart before we served it.

Stars and Stripes Tart: BEFORE

Stars and Stripes Tart: BEFORE

 

Good thing we did, because about 5 minutes later it looked like this:

Stars and Stripes Tart: AFTER

Stars and Stripes Tart: AFTER

YUM!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Cooking with Garlic Scapes

June 24, 2013

Garlic scapes are the green leafy stalks of the garlic plant that grow above the ground shortly after the first leaves appear. They are long and curly at the ends, and are usually cut off, as they inhibit the growth of the plant, resulting in very small garlic bulbs. Most garlic scapes are tossed into the compost heap, but they are completely edible and delicious. The farmer’s market is full of them right now, but act quickly, as these are only available in the early summer.

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Think of these green stalks relating to garlic cloves, in the way that scallions relate to onions. They possess the same garlicky flavor, albeit a bit milder.
We experimented with some of these unusual stalks, and found them to be quite versatile.
Here are just a few ways to use garlic scapes:

Use them to make pesto:
Instead of using basil (or any other green vegetable you like) and garlic cloves, place chunks of garlic scapes into the food processor, with a large handful of pignoli nuts. Process until finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil until the sauce forms a smooth consistency. Add Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over pasta, or spread over grilled fish or chicken.

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Use them in dips and spreads:
Take 1 can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained) and some garlic scapes (we used about 16”-20” worth, cut into chunks) and put them in the food processor. Add a handful of parsley if you like and process until finely minced. Add the juice of one lemon, and with the machine running drizzle in olive oil until it forms a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pita, or grilled vegetables, or as a sandwich spread.
Use them in a traditional vinaigrette, with olive oil, Dijon mustard and either balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice.

Finely chop them and sprinkle them in salads, over pasta or vegetables.

They cook quickly, so if you are using them in a recipe, add them near the end to avoid them browning.

Now that we have gotten you started, surely you will come up with lots of great uses for garlic scapes.  Let us know in the comments what your favorite uses are.

Enjoy!

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Like Buttah

June 10, 2013

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Paula Deen, the first lady of fatty foods has embarked on a new venture. Her line of flavored butters launched this week, and will be sold at Walgreen’s and Walmart stores across the country.

It’s only fitting that Ms. Deen would offer designer butter as one of her early forays into the packaged food market.

The butters come in a variety of flavors and are meant to add the finishing touch to cooking, or to be spread on baked goods.

Deen says of her Sweet Citrus Zest butter:
“My Sweet Citrus Zest butter is hard to practice in moderation – it’s so good on a biscuit or cornbread and it’s the perfect butter to have in the morning – it feels so fresh and clean on your palette.”

She also offers Garden Herb, Lemon Dill, European Style with Sea Salt, and something called “Southern Grillin’.”

Deen has been touting using butter at the end of the recipe to moderate butter consumption. Instead, she has been cooking with other fats, such as bacon fat and using the butter at the end to add flavor and a slick finish to meats and vegetables.

While a bit contradictory to her recent bid for healthier cooking, we have no doubt these will be a great success with her fans.

Portions of the proceeds go to The Bag Lady Foundation, which helps families in need.

That’s a good thing Y’all!

 

Unrecipe of the Week: The Salvage Operation

December 17, 2012

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Last night, I finally got around to assessing the vegetable situation in my refrigerators. I tossed out an entire garbage bag filled with stalks of wilted Brussels sprouts, rotting greens and herbs; some too far gone to identify. I did manage to salvage some things, and set about using up what I could.

I roasted 2 large bunches of golden beets, and trimmed them up for salads.

I found 4 tiny heads of cauliflower, and a large head of garlic.
Inspired by a recipe I saw, I seized the opportunity to create a dish to put it good use. I pureed the cauliflower for a base on which to scatter sautéed bay scallops and roasted cauliflower florets. It was delicious, and surprisingly hearty.

Sautéed Bay Scallops with Cauliflower Two Ways:

For the cauliflower:
Separate cauliflower into florets and divide it in half.

For the roasted portion:

Toss the florets in olive oil, sea salt and a little black pepper and roast in a hot oven for about 20 -30 minutes until soft and golden brown. For the last 5-7 minutes of roasting, toss in some pignoli nuts.

For the pureed portion:

Boil the florets in water for about 20 minutes until soft. Add a little butter, salt and pepper, and puree until smooth.

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For the scallops:

Heat some olive oil and a little butter in a pan until the butter is melted. Add 2 cloves of diced garlic and stir. Add the scallops to the pan in a single row and let them start to caramelize before turning them. You can do this in batches if necessary. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Remove the scallops, and add a little white wine or lemon juice to deglaze the pan.

To assemble:

Place a large dollop of cauliflower puree on the plate.
Spoon the scallops over the puree. Sprinkle the roasted cauliflower and pignoli nuts around the scallops. Pour the remaining pan juices over the scallops. Garnish with finely chopped parsley or the fresh herbs of your choice.

Enjoy!

Now, what to do with the 2 heads of cabbage I have left…

CSA Tuesday + Unrecipe Round-Up

November 21, 2012

Our weekly CSA provided lots of Thanksgiving ingredients. We got sweet potatoes, carrots, red potatoes, onions, a giant pumpkin and cilantro.

I have already started preparing our Thanksgiving meal!

Our weekly list from fresh from the farm:

Pumpkin pie,anyone?

The baskets of produce ready to be distributed:

Here are a  few of our previously published favorite Thanksgiving “unrecipes:” Search the site for even more ideas!

Pumpkin Pie:

http://indigo-jones.com/2011/11/23/unrecipe-of-the-week-thanksgiving-edition-5/

Roasted Garlic and Herb Paste for the Turkey:

http://indigo-jones.com/2010/11/22/unrecipe-of-the-week-thanksgiving-edition-2/

Honey Banana Sweet Potatoes: no marshmallows for me!!

http://indigo-jones.com/2009/11/24/unrecipe-of-the-weekthanksgiving-edition/

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Enjoy!

Hot Cranberry Jones:

http://indigo-jones.com/2009/11/05/unrecipe-of-the-week-14/

 

Happy Belated Birthday Julia!

August 16, 2012

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

― Julia ChildMy Life in France

Yesterday would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday.

She left behind a legacy including cookbooks, television shows and most importantly, the idea that cooking is a creative pursuit.  I believe that any vaguely intelligent person can read a recipe and prepare a meal. But to be a really great cook, one must find joy in the process, and have the courage to experiment.

Thank you Julia, for inspiring me and the legions of people who mastered the art of cooking because of you.

Happy Birthday!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Someone’s In The Kitchen With Jonesie

March 11, 2010

Someone’s in the kitchen with Jonesie and I LIKE it!! I love to cook, and our large open kitchen is a hub for many of our friends to congregate, and reap the benefits of my passion.

Lately, I have been working like crazy, and juggling all of the other things that life tosses at us. Ok, I admit it….. I am tired!!!
This week, I had the great privilege to have a gentleman or two cook me dinner.
Sunday, Alex made a gourmet feast of roasted beet salad, wild mushroom risotto, Swiss chard and braised beef. On Friday evening, as I raced out of work at 8 pm (unfinished, I might add) he was in my kitchen, roasting whole Red Snapper on a bed of potatoes with a salad and carrot, apple and cumin scented soup.

Sunday rolled around again, and I had a strategy meeting with people from out of town.
And what do you know, lucky me, Peter came by and made a German meal of roasted pork, cabbage with caraway seeds and potato dumplings the size of softballs!

Cooking is something I do, to make delicious and (usually) healthy choices, and the act of preparing food can be very creative and even relaxing for me. Feeding my family and friends is something I do to nurture and appreciate them. But did I mention how TIRED I am lately?
It was such a rare and wonderful experience to be on the receiving end of someone else’s hospitality in my own home.

Thank you Alex and Peter, for feeding my body and my soul.

photo: Glasshouse Images


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