Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Burned Bottoms

August 9, 2016
My oven

My oven

I’ve written before about my erratic oven. It seems to cook unevenly, and sometimes items are burnt on the bottom and raw inside. I rotate my pans, adjust the temperature, and cover things to avoid them getting too brown before they are done, but sometimes I still get burned bottoms on cookies and cakes.

Recently, I discovered a solution to this issue. The heating element in my oven is on the bottom. Even once the oven is pre-heated, the coil intermittently ignites to retain the temperature. I have started placing a metal baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven, and putting the food I am cooking on the racks above. This seems to act as a barrier, absorbing the intense heat before it hits the bottom of the pans holding the food. So far, it has prevented my cookies and cakes from scorching.
If your baked goods are suffering the same fate, give it a try. It has made a big difference!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Poptails

August 8, 2016

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This has been one of the hottest summers on the record books. Cold rosé is being turned into “frozé” and cocktails are being frozen into pops to help beat the heat. Last weekend, I hosted a few ladies for brunch, and we kicked off the day with a refreshing “poptail,” to get our party started. Later, as the guys came by to join us, they were starting to get a bit melted. No worries there; we simply plopped them in a glass and poured some champagne over them for a drink that was part kir royale, and part smoothie. Either way, it was a hit!
While this recipe is super simple and tasty, you could take almost any summer cocktail and freeze them in ice pop molds with good results. Besides, isn’t everything better on a stick?

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Strawberry Grapefruit Poptails

Place 1 pound of strawberries, washed and hulled into the blender. Add about 1 cup of grapefruit juice (fresh is best, but unsweetened natural juice is fine too!) and puree until thick and smooth. Add about 5-6 oz. of vodka and blend.

Pour the mixture into ice pop molds and freeze until the are just starting to solidify. Place the sticks in the molds and freeze until firm.

To remove from the mold, run the bottoms under warm water to make them easier to pull out and enjoy!

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Take It With A Pinch Of Salt

August 2, 2016

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Adding a pinch of salt to a bucket of ice helps to keep it from melting quickly.

This sounds counter-intuitive, since we salt the pavement in the winter to melt the ice. Yet, adding a little water and salt to a cooler full of ice helps keep the ice cold for a longer period of time. The reason?
Salt lowers the freezing point of water. Once the water temperature dips below the requistite zero degrees fahrenheit, it serves to keep the vessel cool. While the ice may in fact melt, the water temperature will remain cool.

Next time you fill an ice bucket to keep wine or beer cold, try adding some cold salt water and see what happens.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Save Those Scraps

July 26, 2016

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When peeling and trimming vegetables, a lot of waste is created. Carrot tops and peels, and ends of onions; the list goes on and on. Rather than throw them away, why not start a scrap bin in the freezer and use it later to make stock? This concept also applies to chicken bones, or shells and skin from seafood as well. Just be sure to store them separately. When it’s time to make stock, toss in your scrap bag of vegetables and either the chicken, meat or seafood bones, and you’re good to go!

You will not only help save the planet, but you and your stock will be just a little richer in the process!

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Unrecipe Of The Week: Shrimp + Watermelon

July 25, 2016

Watermelon Shrimp

Last weekend, we went to a Mediteranean restaurant in the Village, and shared a few small plates and a bottle of rosé. The standout dish of the evening was grilled shrimp and watermelon. The combination was refreshing on a hot summer’s night, and completely delicious. The shrimp were grilled with fresh lemon and herbs, and drizzled with a little feta cheese. Each one was served atop a perfectly cut cube of watermelon, making the dish as visually exciting as it was flavorful.

We couldn’t wait to try to whip up our own version at home. We thought this was good enough to be put on a pedestal, so we perched our shrimp atop a column of watermelon. If you want to speed up the process and serve it as a main course, go ahead and cube the watermelon in a bowl, drizzle it with aged balsamic vinegar, and crumble some feta on it. Serve the shrimp on the side.

Watermelon Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp + Watermelon:
For the shrimp: Peel and devein the shrimp. Rinse and pat dry.

Mix together the juice of one lemon, a large “glug” of olive oil,  a clove or two of  finely minced garlic, some dried oregano and fresh thyme leaves. Add the shrimp, and let them marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The shrimp will start to “cook” a bit from the acid in the lemon. Don’t over marinate, or they will become mushy.

Remove the shrimp and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Grill (we used a grill pan on the stove top) for a couple of minutes on each side until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Do not overcook!

Assembling the dish: Drizzle a bit of aged balsamic vinegar* onto a serving plate. Line up the watermelon cubes on the plate and perch a shrimp on top of each one. Squeeze a little more lemon on them if desired. Crumble a bit of feta cheese over the top, and enjoy!

* aged balsamic vinegar is usually sold in a smaller bottle than the regular type, and has been aged for a much longer period of time. The result is a sweeter vinegar, and an almost syrup-like consistency.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Just Tarting Around

July 20, 2016

Last Saturday, I hosted a tart making class, through a wonderful new site called Keenobby. Keenobby offers an array of classes and experiences with their elite group of “expertainers.”

My class, held in my own kitchen, focused on the tips, tricks and techniques for making delicous, and visually stunning tarts. The five students, none of whom had ever made tarts before, embarked on an afternoon of rolling, cutting, filling and baking their creations. The outcome was impressive, with my students giving me a run for my money! Check out some of the photos from the day, and see their masterpieces for yourself…

To view available classes, visit Keenobby. To request a class in tart making, or any other type of cooking and baking, leave a comment below.

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Preparing the apples for apple filling

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The dough making demo

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This is how we roll

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Tart artists braiding and cutting shapes for upper crusts

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dough scraps

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Apple tart, headed to the oven. Impressive braid work for a first timer!

 

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Rectangles and minis with leaves and lattice

Pie art ready for the oven

Tart- art… ready for the oven

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Fully baked ideas!

A proud baker presenting his tart

A proud baker presenting his tart

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My bluberry demo tart

 

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My apple mini tart ready to bake

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: The Chill Factor

July 19, 2016

 

7091300904_compWhen making dough for pies, biscuits, or scones, it is important to use cold ingredients to get a rich, laminated outcome. Those little chunks of butter that haven’t fully mixed into the dough melt during baking, helping to create those layers that are the cornerstone of flakey, melt-in-your mouth baked goods. While many recipes suggest letting butter and eggs come to room temperature before using them, these baked goods are the exception.

Some people go to great lengths to keep those ingredients icy cold. They do everything from freezing the bowls and the blade of the food processor, as well as the ingredients. One friend, whose kitchen cred is very high, swears by grating frozen butter into the flour mixture to get the tiniest, coldest and most evenly distributed fat into the laminated dough. For pie crusts, I use ice water to ensure that the liquid doesn’t bring the temperature of the ingredients down.

 

7091300899_compWorking with metal bowls and a stone counter top also enables you to keep the dough chilly while forming it. Remember to handle this type of dough as little and as delicately as possible to avoid gluten formation. Gently patting it together, and only re-rolling the scraps once, keeps the dough open and craggy, which equates to layers of flakey goodness once baked.

Photos: Indigo Jones Eat’s biscuits shot by Glasshouse Images

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A Cut Above: Food Cuts

July 13, 2016

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There are lots of ways to cut food; julienne, dice, and chiffonade. You can grate it, shave it, mince it, cube it or brunoise it. Anyway you slice it, food is food, right?
Wrong! The cut of the food plays a role far greater than aesthetics. Cook time, texture, and how the seasoning is absorbed and distributed is effected by the size and shape of it.

A recent article on NPR’s The Salt takes the issue to the experts. Chef Brendan Walsh of the Culinary Institute of America states,”If you put a vegetable that is more rounded in your mouth, your mind is generally going to be thinking about something that has more of a succulence to it. Something cut in squares is going to be a little bit more toothsome, with a jagged edge, and will give the impression of something rugged or tough. Your mind will think something is flavorful if it is smoother.”

Bill Fuller, of the big Burrito Restaurant Group contends that texture and aroma are different depending on how the food is cut.  “Flavor is the taste of what is in your mouth, but it is also partly textural,” he says. “If you slice a radish really thin, you just get the flavor without the snap, pop, crunch, which is really an important part of the radish.” He also states that shape can effect the aroma of the food, which contributes to the flavor. Fuller says, “With a tomato, if you slice it and spread the slices out on a plate, you’re going to get a lot more of the tomato smell than if it’s quartered and piled up,” he says. “So you’re getting a lot of tomato aroma when you eat. I think a wedge of tomato doesn’t taste nearly as good as a slice of tomato.”

Food science plays a big role in aroma. When you cut into a fruit or vegetable, cells are broken open which release an enzyme that produces a chemical reaction. The more you cut the item, the more enzymes you release. For example, the more finely one cuts onions or garlic, the more flavor is released. The size and exposed surface of the food deterimine the cook time, and how much searing, browning or charring will occur.

Whether it is about texture, aroma or how quickly it cooks, the experts clearly agree…it’s time to sharpen up those knife skills to make your meals a cut above the rest!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Rusty Pans

July 12, 2016

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I noticed that some of my older metal tart pans were getting a layer of rust spots on them. The pans are perfectly good, but nobody wants to eat rusty crusts.
The solution: baking soda to the rescue!

Dampen the pan, and shake baking soda on the rusty areas. The soda should stick and act like a paste on the pan. Make sure the rusty areas are fully covered, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Use steel wool or a brush to remove the rust, and rinse well to make sure the baking soda is also removed, and fully dry it with a towel. Lightly oil the pan to prevent the rust from returning.

Some swear by using a raw potato to scour away the rust. Cut a potato in half, and use the cut end and either dish soap or baking soda to scrub away at the rust. If the potato starts to get a bit slimy, simply slice off a little add more soap |soda.

To keep pans from rusting, do not put them in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand, and towel dry them thouroughly before storing.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Asian Cucumber Noodles

July 11, 2016
via the garlic diaries

via the garlic diaries

We love our vegetable noodles around here. In fact, if it weren’t for zucchini noodles, I would be lost. But sometimes, even the novelty of zoodles wears off.

Tonight, I spiralized some fresh cucumber to act as the layer beneath my sauteed shrimp with garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger.  The cool cucumber “noodles” (cuddles?) were a refreshing change on a very hot summer night. Tossed with a bit of sesame oil, salt, rice wine vinegar and a dash of soy sauce, they brought another flavor profile to my sometimes meager repetoire of foods.

Cold Cucumber “Noodles” With Sesame Oil:

Spiralize a cucumber into long thin ribbons. Salt liberally, and place in a strainer to drain for 20-30 minutes. This allows the cucumber to give off the excess water that might otherwise dilute the subtle sauce.

When ready to serve, toss with a little sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar and a dash of soy sauce. Adjust the seasonings, using a little srirachia or hot red pepper flakes to add a little heat if desired. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and enjoy!

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