Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Eggplant Gender

January 10, 2017

Two Eggplants in Round Bowl, High Angle View

Today’s tip comes from a client of mine who shared a tidbit learned when he studied at the CIA.

( The CIA he is referring to is the Culinary School of America, where he studied to be a chef, not a spy, he quickly pointed out.)

It seems there are both male and female eggplants, and the taste is different among the two genders. Who knew?!

via Plant-based Paradise

via Plant-based Paradise

The female eggplant has a long brownish slit-like indentation at the bottom. The male’s marking is more round. The male eggplant has less seeds and tends to be less bitter, making it a better choice for cooking, especially for dishes that are not heavily sauced.

Thanks for the tip, Bob!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Spring Roll Bowls

August 23, 2016

We’ve been obsessed with food served in a bowl for awhile now. Smoothie bowls have gained popularity recently, and grain bowls and “power” bowls have replaced the salad as the go-to healthy lunch option. Now, there seems to be a new bowl on the scene: The spring roll bowl!

Taking a cue from the Asian spring roll, which is traditionally a rice paper wrap filled with vegetables and sometimes seafood or meat, the bowl version lays it all out in abundance, without the carbs.

An array of fresh, raw vegetables are enhanced with Pan-Asian infused flavors for a meal that is tasty, satisfying and healthy. Step away from the stove, and pull out the sprializer, to make your own summer roll bowl!

A Pinch Of Yum created this Vietnamese inspired bowl filled with vegeatables in a sweet garlic and lime sauce.

A Pinch of Yum

A Pinch of Yum

Rawmazing created this amazing spring roll bowl that uses Paleo friendly ingredients, such as almond butter and coconut aminos, instead of peanuts and soy sauce.

Rawmazing

Rawmazing

Lazy Cat Kitchen may call theirs a vegan sushi bowl, but whatever they want to call it, we call it delicious!

Lazy Cat Kitchen

Lazy Cat Kitchen

Tastes Better From Scratch got into the act, with their version on the theme:

Tastes Better From Scratch

Tastes Better From Scratch

Skinny Taste adds shrimp and hoisin sauce to their spring roll bowl:

Skinny Taste

Skinny Taste

Half Baked Harvest’s recipe is for the real deal, but their ingredient plate was so beautiful, we can’t help but think it would be perfect just like this, drizzled in their Thai Mango dipping sauce!

Half Baked Harvest

Half Baked Harvest

We’re definately inspired! Stay tuned for our vegetable summer rolls with carrot dipping sauce to be re-interpreted. Because, let’s face it. Food does taste better in a bowl!

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Paper Lids

April 19, 2016

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To cover, or not to cover; that is the question.
When cooking, if you cover the pot, the steam is trapped inside, providing a moist environment for the food, and prevents the liquid from evaporating. It also creates steam, which can drip back down into the food and dilute the contents.

With an open pot, the food will be able to brown, and the liquid will reduce.

There are valid reasons for cooking with the lid on or off, depending on what you are making. Sometimes we want a third option, so that the food doesn’t steam, but is covered enough to prevent rapid evaporation. This can sometimes be achieved by leaving the pot partially covered, if the lid is made to allow you to do so. Or, you can make a lid out of parchment paper that sits on top of the food, allowing the steam to escape, but leaving it essentially covered.

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To make a paper lid:
Cut a piece of parchment paper that is a little larger than the opening of the pot.

Fold the paper in half, and then in half again the other way. Next, fold that into a triangle, and fold the triangle again several times.  Place the point of the cone at the center of the pot, and then cut the open end along the edge of the pot. It is preferable to err on the smaller side, so that the parchment circle fits inside the pot. Snip off a small area of the point to create a hole for the steam to escape in the center of the lid once it is unfolded.

Place the lid directly on top of the food, and use tongs to lift it up as needed.

The best part? You just toss it in the trash when you’re done!

Get more details at Serious Eats.

Photos: Glasshouse Images / Serious Eats

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Unrecipe of the Week: Cacio e Pepe

March 24, 2016

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Just like in fashion, some foods suddenly take on a life of their own, as every menu, magazine and blog seems to be gushing over the same dish. Lately, that dish is Cacio e Pepe.

Translating from Italian, “cacio e pepe” means cheese and pepper. It is just a slight upgrade from the children’s plate of pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, but the simplicity of the dish, and the purity of the ingredients make it one that you will go back to again and again.

The preparation varies from recipe to recipe, but all agree on the ingredients: pasta, some of the water in which it was cooked, Parmesan, Romano, and or Pecorino Cheese, butter, and of course, pepper.  You really can’t go wrong here.

Cacio e Pepe:
Cook pasta a minute or two less than stated in the directions, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.

In a large pan, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter, and add a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper, swirling until the pepper is “toasted.”
Put the drained pasta into the pan, and add about a cup or more of the grated cheese, ( you can use all of one kind or mix the Pecorino with the Parmesan) and another tablespoon of butter, and toss until the pasta is coated. Slowly add some of the pasta cooking water, while continuing to mix and toss the pasta, until a smoother consistency is reached. You will likely only need 1/2 of the water. Place in a bowl and enjoy!!

Photo: Bon Appetite

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In The News

February 15, 2016

You can now make money selling off your leftovers

 You can now make money selling off your leftovers

Would you order takeout from the apartment next door?

Hundreds of New Yorkers are. Homemade, a new app that launched last month, connects industrious home cooks with adventurous eaters hungry to buy cookies and curries from strangers.

Simon Bowden, 63, is a creative director at a Manhattan advertising agency — and a baker.

Simon Bowden’s sourdough breadPhoto: Zandy Mangold

In his 10-by-8-foot kitchen on the Upper East Side, he whips up fresh loaves of sourdough that are eagerly snapped up by Homemade users.

“It’s fun [making] bread and giving it to your friends and family,” says Bowden, who makes four loaves at a time several days a week and sells them for $10 to $12 each, just enough to cover ingredients. “But someone purchasing it from you — a stranger — and eating it and liking it and then buying it again, is quite exciting and different.”

Bowden is one of about 150 amateur chefs in the tri-state area using Homemade. The platform was cooked up by Nick Devane, 24, and Mike Dee, 25, who previously owned a downtown coffee shop together.

Wannabe chefs apply to the app via an online form, and the two men review their qualifications.

Once on the app, cooks can post a dish, the price and the time it will be ready. Customers pay a 9 percent fee to Homemade, on top of a food’s list price.

Devan and Dee ask if chefs have a food handler’s license, caterer’s license or USDA-certified kitchen, but they do not require them.

The New York City Health Department, which was not familiar with Homemade, says in a statement, “New Yorkers are welcome to prepare meals for friends and family, but not sell them to the public.”

Devane insists that the app is “completely legal” and they’re “working with some folks” to figure out how to best regulate safety.

Users don’t seem to mind the potential health code violations.

“You’d be surprised how many people trust you,” says Nicole Russell, 43, a multimedia designer who sells pizzas on Homemade.

Nicole Russell earns about $250 a week selling pizza on Homemade.

She first started making pies in 2012 for construction workers fixing her neighborhood after Hurricane Sandy.

Now, she’s turned it into a profitable side hustle. Her Last Dragon Pizza nets her about $250 a week via Homemade — despite the fact that, like most cooks on the app, she doesn’t deliver. Hungry users trek from Queens and Manhattan to Russell’s home in the Rockaways to pick-up pizzas.

Freelance fashion designer Shari Hershon — who’s worked for Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein — says she’s not raking in the dough selling handmade s’mores and fortune cookies, but she still loves it.

“To be able to do have a second career and pursue a passion, it’s been really great,” says the 57-year-old wife and mother, who bakes out of her Chelsea loft.

Shari Hershon bakes a wide variety of treats out of her Chelsea loft.Photo: Spencer Jones/Glasshouse Images (3)

But there’s only so much space in city kitchens, as Bowden’s learned. “[My wife] gets a little concerned when I’m buying 50-pound sacks of flour,” he says. “She looks at me like, ‘Are you crazy? In an NYC apartment?’”

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Parmesan Rinds

January 26, 2016

 

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In our continuing quest to eliminate food waste, we’ve been saving the rinds from Parmesan cheese to add flavor to soups and stews.
This weekend, we were making our creamy cauliflower soup with parmesan crisps and realized that this was the perfect spot for those rinds. This  (un) recipe calls for adding a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese to the pot towards the end of cooking. Tossing in the rinds while it cooks instead, allows the cheese to slowly melt into the soup, delivery a savory and salty flavor.

The rinds can be kept in the freezer, and you can take out just enough to fill your needs.
Try tossing them into pasta sauces, ratatouille or vegetable soups.

Drop a rind into the sauce or soup while it is cooking, and allow the cheese to slowly melt into the dish. If there is still a solid portion when you’re ready to serve it, remove the rind and discard it.
Enjoy!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Clean As You Go

January 12, 2016

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It is easy to make a big mess in the kitchen. Pots, pans, utensils, mixing bowls… they add up fast! Not to mention all of the ingredients spread out on the counters.  All that clutter can cause a bad case of kitchen chaos. Cooking, and especially baking is a methodical process. It becomes almost impossible to acheive perfection in a messy kitchen, and cleaning up becomes a chore that is unpleasant enough to drive you straight to Seamless. ( For non- New Yorkers, that means take-out!)

Here are my tips for dealing with the colossal mess that comes with cooking and baking for a crowd. Trust me on this one people. I just made 200 pink marshmallows. It doesn’t get much messier than that!

Start with a clean slate. Put away the clean dishes, wipe down the counters and empty the sink before you begin. Starting clean makes it easier to find things, and to have ample room for the task at hand.

Take out all of your ingredients. Rummaging through the cupboards with sticky hands is not the way to go. Suddenly, everything is sticky and will require you to wipe down things you wouldn’t normally have to. It also helps make sure that you have everything you need before you get started.

Wash the dishes as you go. When you are done with something, put it right into the sink to soak. Once you finish that part of the project, wash them or put them into the dishwasher. Don’t leave the mixing bowls from the cake in the sink, only to find you don’t have room to wash the lettuce for salad. It will also help you keep tabs on where things are. If you need to reuse a bowl or utensil for something else, it will be clean and ready for you.

Keep up with the wiping up! If something spills, wipe it up as soon as you can. Not only will it keep your workspace tidy, it will avoid cross contamination of foods. It is also easier to wipe up something fresh, than to try to clean it up later when it becomes dry and crusted onto things.  Been there. Done that. Not fun.

For me, cooking and baking should be a calm experience. When all hell breaks loose in the kitchen, it takes the joy out of the process. It almost always shows in the end result too. Do your self a favor, and clean as you go. Its worth it!!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Spice Rubs

December 8, 2015

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Spice rubs are a great way to infuse flavor into meats and poultry. While many commercial blends are available, you can make your own using the herbs and spices that suit your taste and your specific recipe.

Here are a few tips to using seasonings:

Brush your meat or poultry with olive oil or butter to give the spices something to stick to.

Mix your seasonings in a small bowl before you start. This will allow for much more even distribution of the spices.

Remember that uncooked meats carry the risk of foodborne pathogens, such as E.coli and salmonella which are destroyed when cooked. When handling raw meats, be sure to clean everything that the meat or poultry and their juices might have touched. Using a small bowl for seasonings allows you to “double dip” without contaminating everything by touching various spice jars with the hands that are also touching the meat. Just remember to throw out the excess after you are done, to avoid spreading the bacteria to other foods.

Massaging the seasonings into the meat allows it absorb better, giving you more flavor. Even salt and pepper benefit from a little rub.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Talking Turkey: Countdown To The Big Day

November 12, 2015

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Thanksgiving is the Olympics of cooking ( and eating!). If you approach this event as a marathon, not a sprint, you and your guests will enjoy it more. We wouldn’t want to head into the big event without doing some advance work, and you shouldn’t either.  Since the holiday is just two weeks away, its time to do some serious planning. If you are preparing the entire meal from scratch, it is virtually impossible to do it all in one day, or to just “wing it.” Grocery stores sell out of key ingredients at the last minute, and the crowds make the shopping experience more stressful than it needs to be. While some people cook ahead and freeze it, I prefer to make everything fresh within the last day or two leading up to the holiday.

Here is a a schedule of what needs to be done so that you can plan a low-stress, delicous and fresh feast for Thanksgiving.

Two or more weeks ahead:(that means NOW!)

Invite guests

Plan the menu

If you are doing a potluck, assign guests specific dishes to bring to avoid duplications or holes in the menu. If you are doing it yourself, start a file with all your recipes in it. This can be digital or paper, but it helps to have everything in one, convenient place, rather than pulling out cookbooks and magazines. Photocopy the pages you want, and put the books away.

Order your turkey from the local farm or butcher. We get ours from Dipaula Turkey Farm and they are far superior to any frozen bird you will find. It costs more, but it is well worth the splurge.

Make shopping lists. Go through all of your recipes and make a list of what you need. Inventory your pantry items to see if you need to add any of the basics to the list.Don’t forget aluminuim foil and plastic wrap! Then, break the lists down by perishable and non- perishable items. The sooner you can pick up the non-perishable items, the better. Just do it, and get it out of the way. I tend to buy different types of things at different stores, so I list things by where I will need to get them.

One Week Before:

Make pie crusts and freeze them. Pie crusts are one of the very few things that I freeze. If you are planning to make several pies, it pays to do this in advance. The crusts benefit from a good chilling before baking to avoid shrinkage, and they don’t need to be thawed beforehand.

I also freeze rolls or biscuits unbaked and pop them in the oven at the last minute. Getting these messy items out of the way are a big help.

Inventory your serving dishes, tableware and linens and see if there is anything you need to buy, or take care of. Don’t wait until the last minute to iron 30 napkins, or polish the silver. Do it ahead of time. You will be glad you did.

Two Days Before:
If you are serving soup, now is the time to make it. It will stay nicely in the refrigerator and some will actually taste better once they have had time to sit. If there is any excess fat, it will rise to the top and solidify, making it easy to skim off.

If you have time, make the cranberry sauce and any dessert items that won’t get stale, such as chilled cakes, or cookies.

Pick up the rest of the groceries. At this point, I buy everything but any seafood I might want for appetizers, and the turkey.

The Day Before:

Pick up the turkey.

This is the day I try to go all out and get as much done as possible. I make the sweet potatoes, cranberries if I didn’t do it already, and clean all of the vegetables I will need for the salad and side dishes. I bake the pies and any other desserts and wrap them to keep them fresh. I even toast the bread for the stuffing, since the drier, the better. I make salad dressings or any sauces that can be prepared in advance. Mis en plas is your friend.

Set the table, or better yet, get someone else to do it for you. Bring in all the extra chairs needed.

Lay out the serving pieces. I serve the main meal as a buffet, so I line up my bowls, platters and serving pieces along the buffet, and put a post it note by each one assigning it to the item it will hold. This not only ensures that I have what I need when I am scurrying around at the last minute trying to get the food out, but also that I don’t forget something. I have opened the refrigerator many times at the end of the evening only to discover an item I forgot to serve, or a garnish I didn’t remember to use.

The BIG Day: 

Prepare the stuffing and make the turkey. Never stuff the bird until you are ready to cook it. This promotes bacteria growth that can make you and your guests sick. Wait until you are ready to put it into the oven before stuffing it. Also, be sure to remove all of the stuffing before storing the turkey for the same reason.

Wipe down the bathroom, sweep the floors and make sure the dishes are done and the dishwasher is unloaded.

Right before the guests come, get any other last minute dishes ready, and begin to slowly reheat anything you made in advance.

Bake the rolls or biscuits.

Toss the salad, make the gravy and anything else you couldn’t do in advance.

Have a glass of wine with your guests, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Be Prepared

September 15, 2015

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Even the most seasoned cooks get caught off guard sometimes. We think we have a well stocked pantry, and then discover that while we may in fact have the necessary item, its not enough to complete the recipe. We may get distracted and fail to pay attention to the recipe’s ingredient list until after we got started. Whatever the reason, it sucks to be in the middle of a recipe and realize we don’t have the right ingredients. Living in New York City has its benefits. I ran to the market on the corner twice mid-recipe last weekend, drastically overspending on items that I needed right that second. When cooking and baking in the ‘burbs, the drive to the supermarket might be more than you, or the stage of preparation can handle. Here are a few tips to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you:

Read the entire recipe through to make sure you have everything you need before you get started. Actually go to the cupboard or refrigerator and check so you don’t get caught short. ( One of my emergency trips was to pick up more eggs, only to discover that I had another carton in the fridge when I got back!)

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Mis en place is a french phrase used in the culinary world which translates as ” put in place.” This means measuring out the ingredients you need for a recipe ahead of time, so you can just grab and go. Garlic and onions get pre-diced, things get brought to room temperature, such as butter and eggs, and nothing gets forgotten. Make mis en place a part of your cooking and you will marvel at how much time you save.

Set out your tools. Once you are underway, hands covered with _________, (insert gooey, messy food item here:) is not the time to start frantically rumaging through the drawers looking for that random utensil.  Not having the right things you need can make or break an otherwise great dish.

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Preheat the oven before you get started so that it is the correct temperature when you are ready for it. Starting at the proper temperature makes a big difference in the cook time, and final outcome of the dish. Don’t just set the timer and assume that is the proper cook time. My oven is a bit erratic, and I have had things start to burn long before they were supposed to be done, because the oven temperature increased over time. Conversely, things aren’t always done when they are supposed to be. Check food regularly to insure it is cooking properly. For baked goods, such as cookies or muffins, rotate the pan part way through cooking to make sure that things are browning evenly. Insering a toothpick into baked items will let you know if the inside is cooked throroughly. A meat thermometer will let you know when the turkey or roast has reached the proper internal temperature.

ZC8X5976 Scones_Blog Indigo Jones Eats

Stay present. I got distracted last week and grabbed baking soda instead of baking powder for my scones. Two big ole tablespoons of it. Needless to say, they were inedible. The “blessing in disguise” moment was forgetting to take them out of the oven, forcing me to take a little bite to make sure they weren’t dried out. Dryness was the least of  my problem.  Re-read the recipe as you go, and focus on the job at hand. If you get sidetracked, go back and check your recipe and ingredients from the beginning to make sure you don’t forget something, or use the wrong item. The time spent double checking yourself is substantially less time than it took me to throw away two dozen nasty tasting scones, run to the market to get more ingredients and remake them. By the way, the second batch was perfect, so all is well that ends well!

Happy Cooking!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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