Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Multi- Wheel Cutters

May 1, 2018

I am not a big kitchen gadget fan. I prefer to use multipurpose tools to get the job done. Why spend money and kitchen storage real estate on a boiled egg slicer you rarely use, when a knife works just as well? Avocado pitter anyone? The list goes on and on.

This item, however, is more of a pro tool than an infomercial worthy gadget. It is a multi-wheeled cutter attached to an expandable base, useful in getting your items cut into perfect, equal pieces. It’s ideal for brownies, blondies, and other bar cookies, and useful in cutting even strips of dough for lattice tops and puffed pastry cheese sticks. While some are stronger and sharper than others, even the lightweight version will at the very least score the surface, giving you a line to cut along for even bars of any size. They vary drastically in price, but for a home baker with perfectionist tendencies, an inexpensive version works just fine.

We have this one.

 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cake Keeping

April 17, 2018

“Your cake will only last as long as its quickest expiring ingredient.” – Craftsy

This quote popped up on my feed earlier and gave me pause.  While the cake itself may last a while, the fillings, frosting or decorations may not. Once that buttercream, cream cheese icing or fruit filling starts to go, the whole cake needs to follow.

Consider the ingredients when determining the shelf life and storage of various foods. Donuts may sit out indefinitely, but cream filled crullers or eclairs should go in the refrigerator, and be tossed after a couple of days. Use this tip to safely determine the proper storage and expiration date for all the food you may have on hand.

photo: Glasshouse Images

 

 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Softening Brown Sugar

March 13, 2018

I store my brown sugar carefully in an airtight container to avoid it hardening, yet, somehow, I have a  large canister of hard and lumpy brown sugar on my hands. All is not lost, as brown sugar can be brought back to life by softening it in the microwave.

Simply place the hard sugar in a microwave safe (glass is ideal) bowl and drape it loosely with a wet paper towel. Cook on high for about 30 seconds, and check to see if it is softened. If it isn’t ready, stir it and repeat this operation in 20-second intervals, re-dampening the towel as necessary until it reaches the desired state. Avoid letting the wet towel touch the sugar to keep it from melting. The sugar is ready to use when it is soft, easy to pack into a cup, and free of clumps.

photo: @indigojonesnyc 

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Composting 101

March 7, 2018

New York City is taking a stance on food waste and has begun to roll out what will eventually be a mandatory composting program.  For those of us new to the composting world, here are a few do’s and don’ts to help make the transition smoother.

Why compost?

When food waste is mixed into our regular garbage, it sits in the landfills and gives off greenhouse gasses. When composted, our organic waste can be used to add nutrients and improve soil quality for our street trees, parks, and urban farms.

 

What do I compost vs. recycle vs. toss in the garbage?

Compostable items are food scraps, such as vegetable and fruit peels, tea bags, coffee grounds and egg shells. Dry food items including bread, cereal, and pasta, are also compostable. Animal products, including meat, bones, and feces, as well as other greasy products are not. It is still important to separate glass, plastic and the like for recycling, and non- compostable food waste as true garbage.

How do I avoid getting fruit flies or vermin from my kitchen compost, and prevent my kitchen from smelling bad?

While there are plenty of compost bucket options at all price ranges out there, it’s not really necessary to purchase something. A large yogurt container with a tight-fitting lid, a big mason jar, or even a zip-lock bag works fine. If you don’t have easy access to a drop off point or your building is not providing a communal compost bin for its tenants, you can put the food waste in the freezer to eliminate odors as the waste starts to break down until you can get it to the compost site.

Doing the right thing for our planet is not always the easiest choice, but it certainly is the best choice. If your building is not yet part of the compost program, here is a list of drop off points around the city so that you can participate in the meantime.

https://www.grownyc.org/compost/locations

photos: Glasshouse Images

 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Is It Time To Toss Those Leftovers

November 28, 2017

 

It is sad to even think about throwing away the delicious remains of your Thanksgiving meal, but if you still have leftovers lingering in your refrigerator, it’s time to bid them farewell. Yes, food safety trumps food waste every time.

Turkey lasts about 3-4 days well wrapped and refrigerated. Same for stuffing provided it has been removed from the turkey before it was stored. Gravy is good for only a day or two, but most cranberry sauces should last up to 2 weeks. Mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes should be good for about 3-5 days. Pumpkin pie lasts 3-4 days and apple should be refrigerated within 2 days if it has been cut.

Freezing certain items are an option but don’t freeze just for the sake of freezing. My freezer sometimes becomes a receptacle for things I don’t know what to do with and in the end, never get thawed and used. As unpopular an opinion as this is, if you don’t see yourself eating that cranberry sauce in the next several weeks, let it go.

Goodbye leftovers! We shall never speak of you again(until next time).

photo: Glasshouse Images

Visit our food site: indigo jones eats

 

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Leftover Madness: Unrecipe of the Week: Turkey and Biscuits

November 26, 2017

 

Working our way through all these leftovers is daunting, to say the least. Reliving the Thanksgiving feast just isn’t that appealing to us and with only three unenthusiastic eaters to work on it, too much is sadly going to waste. Last night, in an effort to create dinner from what I had on hand, I threw these together, to positive reviews. They only took about 10 minutes to prep and made a slight dent in the bountiful array of foods filling up my refrigerator.

Not the best photo, but it’s all I could get before they got devoured.

Turkey and Biscuits:
This is the ultimate unrecipe, designed to use what you have, so feel free to be flexible with ingredients.
Saute one finely diced shallot in butter. If you don’t have a shallot, use an onion. Add diced carrot, and celery if you have it, and keep cooking until the shallot is transparent and the carrots are softened. Mix in chunks of cooked turkey, and sprinkle it with cornstarch or flour. Toss until everything is coated, and the flour is no longer visible. Slowly add turkey stock, or chicken broth, bring to a slow boil and stir until thickened. Go easy here. If it isn’t thick enough, mix some of your cornstarch or flour with some hot broth and stir it in. If it gets gloppy, add more broth. At this point, I added some frozen peas. You can add whatever vegetables and herbs you have. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Bonus points if you made this part in an ovenproof skillet and don’t have to wash another dish! Place biscuits on top of the mixture. Mine were already lightly baked, and very high, so I sliced them in half and brushed them with melted butter and little Maldon sea salt, ’cause I’m fancy.
Place in the oven at 350 degrees and bake until the biscuits are hot and browned about 5 minutes. If you don’t have leftover biscuits, you can use the ones from the tube and bake according to directions.
No biscuits, no problem. This filling could go into a traditional pie with a top crust, or atop those frozen puffed pastry shells instead. Baking times will vary according to your pastry preference.
Enjoy!

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The Aftermath

November 24, 2017

Our soup from a previous year

Today is the morning after the feast. The dishes are technically done, but the house is still in disarray. Everyone is feeling lazy, especially the cook, but things need to be taken care of. Most “mornings after”, my mother would take the carcass of the turkey, and start a pot of soup. After all of this heavy, carb-laden food, there is nothing more soothing than a simple soup, made from the oft-wasted remains of the day. She isn’t here this year so the job has fallen on me to add the celery, carrots, and onions to the pot, prepare the turkey bones, and make the soup. I prefer to strain it like stock, and then add back any vegetables or chunks of meat afterward. And while turkey can be low in fat, all of the seasoning and added fat ( I make a roasted garlic and dijon mustard herb butter to rub on mine ) does make the broth a bit greasy, so it best served the next day when it has had time to cool and the layer of fat has been skimmed off.

Turkey Soup:

Place the carcass of the turkey into a large stockpot. You will probably need to cut it to fit.

Add onion, carrots, celery, parsley, a turnip or a parsnip, and any leftover herbs. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for several hours. Strain the broth through a sieve or strainer, and chill. Once cold, the fat will rise to the top and solidify, allowing it to be easily removed.

You can use this as a rich stock, a base for other soups, or you can add back in diced turkey meat, carrots, rice, barley or noodles or anything else that suits your fancy. Your overworked belly will thank you for the soothing treat.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Thanksgiving Countdown: Tip #9

November 19, 2017

Clean the oven.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but start the cooking marathon with a clean oven. Once the oven gets cranked up and is on for many hours at a time if there are drips and grease spatters, they will start to burn and smoke up the whole house. Even if it looks pretty clean, give it a good wipe to remove crumbs and any other debris that might cause an issue. Trust us, a blaring smoke alarm causes undue chaos with a house full of guests.

photo: Glasshouse Images

 related post: https://indigo-jones.com/2013/03/12/kitchen-tips-tuesday-non-toxic-oven-cleaner/

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Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #7:

November 18, 2017

Go grocery shopping this weekend. Even sooner if possible.

There are many things that I won’t purchase until the last minute, such as fresh herbs, vegetables, and other highly perishable items. But for those things that will keep, go now! As we get closer to the holiday, the lines get crazy long, the shelves get emptied of all the Thanksgiving classics, like canned pumpkin, cinnamon, and cranberries, and the overall stress levels climb. For those of you in the ‘burbs, this might even reach the frenzy of a regular Saturday at a NYC Trader Joes. For us city folk, it’s off the charts.

Get it over with as soon as you can, and move on to the more compelling parts of preparing the feast.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #6:

November 16, 2017

One word: Tablescaping. Yes, it’s a thing.

Do you have a tablecloth and napkins? If the answer is yes, pull them out, check for stains and iron them now. If the answer is no, it’s time to shop or innovate.

Do you have something that can be used as a runner down the center of the table? How about a roll of brown kraft paper, that can be scattered with votive candles, and seasonal greens? There are tiny pumpkins around this time of year that are available in a creamy white or orange. I’m not sure how they taste, but they look great! You can get crafty and spray paint some with a metallic paint, or a color that works with your home decor. Herbs in tiny vases or scattered among greens, small vines or branches, or even eucalyptus feels seasonal. Lay a spring on each napkin for a festive touch. Cranberries, persimmons, and clementines in a bowl offer a shot of color that can be eaten later.

Not enough matching china or napkins? Mix it up! Rather than using a few ad hoc place settings to fill in, embrace the eclectic aspect and intermingle the different pieces. If you are only short a couple of settings, place them at the two ends of the table so it looks deliberate. I have lots of mismatched teacups that my grandmother collected that I serve soup in. It adds a uniqueness to the table that is a conversation starter.

Clean, (unstained) dishtowels make great napkins, and rarely need to be ironed. For a more rustic look, a pack of striped or checked kitchen towels is a great investment that you can repurpose for their original intent later.

Have fun creating the perfect decor to suit your style and level of formality!

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