Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sticky Pasta

August 25, 2015

4093602895_comp

Friends should stick together. Family should stick together. Pasta, on the other hand, should never stick together.
Why do we sometimes get lumps of pasta when other times the noodles slip apart with ease? The answer is not what you might think.

Contrary to popular belief, adding oil to the water is not the solution. Sometimes, we all need a little space. The size of the pot, and the amount of water is the secret to cooking pasta well.

Pasta releases starch when it hits the water, and can absorb nearly double its dry weight in water as it cooks. Not using a big enough pot crowds the noodles, causing them to stick together during cooking. Less water means more starch in the water, and ultimately, gluey pasta.

The solution? Use 5 quarts of water for every pound of pasta. Add a little salt, and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta, and give it a stir. Continue cooking at a full boil until the pasta is al dente, or cooked, yet firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse it.

The ultimate finish is to add the pasta to the sauce for the last minute or so of cooking. This allows it to absorb the sauce, get perfectly coated, and hit the table piping hot.

And why not add oil to the cooking water to keep the noodles slippery and separated? They will become a little too slippery and the sauce will not adhere to the pasta properly. Even if you are serving the pasta with oil, add it at the end. It really does make a difference.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Pan Color Matters

July 14, 2015

 

4561400944_comp

When you reach into your cupboard to pull out a baking sheet, it is important to choose one that is appropriate to the food you are cooking. Did you know that the shade of the pan has an effect on the way the food cooks? This is especially critical when baking cookies.

Light pans reflect the heat and darker pans absorb it, often effecting the baking time.

The darker pans will make food cook faster, and will often yield a darker bottom on the food you are cooking. Cookies will brown more deeply, and sometimes even burn if they are not watched like a hawk. If you opt to use a dark pan, reduce cooking time by 25% and then watch carefully to make sure that things don’t start to brown too quickly. These pans are great for things like roasting vegetables, where the darker pan will help them caramelize.

Those shiny silver pans may be harder to keep that way, but they are optimal for baked goods. I use parchement paper most of the time, which helps keep them looking fresh for a longer period of time, and prevents food from sticking. Usually made of aluminium, they are light weight, easy to clean and relatively inexpensive. As they start to age, they will get a beautiful patina. I love my old, mottled and discolored pans for photography, or as drip pans, but they are no longer suitable for baking. As your pans begin to darken, or have a mottled appearence, it is time to put them into retirement as baking sheets.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Healthy Reset: Week Two

July 13, 2015

1831900014_comp

This week has been pretty unremarkable. I am completely into the vibe of eating only whole foods, and don’t feel deprived or overly hungry at all.
I fully understand why they don’t want you to weigh yourself on this program. It distracts from the idea that this is a way of life and not a crash diet, and they don’t want you to obsess over a number on the scale. Of course I weighed myself anyways. I  was shocked at the almost five pound drop last week, (which is a huge amount for a relatively small person,) but on day nine, some of it seemed to be back. No big surprise, as daily fluctuations occur, but it can be a bit disconcerting.  Add this as just another reason to step away from the scale during Whole30.

The key to success has been preparation. I have been working from home lately, but this week I needed to head to the office. I roasted an assortment of vegetables, boiled some eggs and cleaned some salad greens so I could have healthy, compliant lunches, and a jumpstart on dinner when I get home. During the week, leftovers often added variety. In the past, I could broil a piece of fish and steam a little broccoli and call it night. If I wasn’t satisfied, I grazed. Now I focus on a delicious, healthy dinner, eaten mindfully at the table with my family, so I walk away satiated. It seems to be working. I sip a cup of mint tea after dinner, and it has become my post meal ritual to relax, and aid digestion before bed.

I am often making food for others that I am not eating. I can’t get the rest of the family to join my quest, so I am making pasta, bread and sweets to supplement my protein and plant heavy diet. I tend to entertain over the weekend, and run a small baking business on the side, so the temptation to eat broken cookies, taste icing or cake scraps is always there. I know this sets off a chain reaction, so “nope, not going there” is my mantra. It is easy to walk away from the crumbs, but not easy to stop once that door has been opened. Another lesson from Whole 30.

———————————

The weekend is here. The sweets in the office and the pizza at home held no great appeal, but I wouldn’t mind a glass of wine about now. I am not a big drinker, but relaxing with a nice glass of wine at the end of a busy week is more of a spiritual indulgence than a dietectic one. It’s something I know I will want to add back into my diet at the end of the month, in moderation. Plus, a little wine does have its health benefits.

Freshly made pasta that I won't eat. One of the many things on that list!

Freshly made pasta that I won’t eat. One of the many things on that list!

Willpower! I just made s’mores, mini shortcakes (for strawberry shortcake), coconut icecream, and fresh pasta, none of which I will eat. Monday’s baking includes marbled cheesecake brownies, yum! Before you start to feel sorry for me, or tell me to just “eat the cookie,” let me tell you about the dinner I have planned tonight.

We are celebrating a friend’s birthday and I am making her favorite dishes. The guests will have a salad with roasted beets and heirloom carrots, chicken piccata on a bed of homemade fettuccini with butter and parmesan cheese. There will be roasted green beans, and grilled tomatoes. They will finish the meal with the above mentioned strawberry shortcakes with coconut icecream and fresh strawberries in Grand Marnier. ( The other stuff is for indigo jones eats customers.)

I will have the salad and vegetables, and my chicken will not be breaded. It will be simply prepared with fresh lemon and capers, rather than the buttery lemon- caper sauce the others will have. No pasta, and sparkling water instead of wine. For dessert, I will have fresh strawberries. That doesn’t really sound like a big sacrifice, does it? I certainly don’t think so. Once again, the event is at my home, and I am the one cooking, so it is easy to be compliant without inconveniencing anyone else, or making an unwanted fuss about my restrictions.

I have hit the half way point, and I can see eating this way indefinately, with a few splurges and a little wine along the way.

On to week three!

Top photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Unrecipe of the Week: Raw Artichoke Salad

May 11, 2015

IMG_4027

One of my favorite dishes to eat in Italy in the summertime is a raw artichoke salad. It is delicous in it’s simplicity; small ribbons of sliced artichoke drizzled with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice, with a pile of paper thin shreds of parmesean cheese on top.
Something has always held me back from making it. Artichokes can be a bit prickly to deal with, pun intended.  Today, I set out to conquer my fear of preparing fresh artichokes so that we could finally enjoy this seasonal specialty at home. What did I have to lose, except perhaps a few artichokes?

IMG_4029

Artichoke 101:

Artichokes have tough outer leaves, which get progressively more tender as you get closer to the center. Once there, you will find the prickly purple core, called the choke. Some of the leaves also have sharp points on them, which need to be trimmed. All in all, not such a daunting task, except that the artichoke starts to turn a not-so-pleasant shade of brown, the minute it is cut and exposed to air. Yet, with a few tricks and some fast knife work, artichoke salad was enjoyed by all!

Raw Artichoke Salad With Lemon and Parmesean

Rinse artichokes thouroughly, getting in between the leaves to rid them of any dirty residue.

Prepare a large bowl of water, with the juice 1 or 2 lemons in it. Save the already squeezed lemon halves and toss them into the bowl.

Peel any of the tough leaves off of the artichoke and discard them. For this salad, you will want to get to the more tender leaves, which are yellow. Using a kitchen scissors, trim the tips of the remaining leaves to eliminate the sharp points. There is a tremenous amount of waste in preparing fresh artichokes, so brace yourself to throw out what appears to be more than you are keeping.

IMG_4030

Slice the artichoke in half, lengthwise,and immediately rub it with one of the discarded lemon halves. Using a spoon or melon baller, remove the purple “choke” and discard it. Trim off the stem, and toss the remaining artichoke heart into the bowl of lemon water to prevent it from discoloring. Continue with the rest of the artichokes, always putting them back into  the lemon water as quickly as possible.

Squeeze another lemon or two into a bowl big enough to hold the artichokes.

Take one piece of the cleaned artichoke hearts at a time, quickly slice it into thin strips, and toss it in the lemon juice. Once all the artichokes are sliced and coated with lemon juice, add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Spread it on a platter, and using a peeler, shave fresh parmesan cheese over the entire salad and enjoy!

NOTES: for 2 people, I used 4 very small artichokes and 2 tiny lemons. With larger artichokes, you may be able to get by with 2 or 3. The lemon quantity should be enough to coat the artichoke slices, without them swimming in lemon juice.

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Unrecipe of the Week: Greek Shrimp

April 16, 2015

We love shrimp at our house. It is low in calories, cooks up quickly, and adapts well to a variety of preparations. This unrecipe was adapted from Ina Garten, one of my all time favorite chefs, known for her fresh, simple and very tasty cuisine.

1231000191_comp

Greek Shrimp With Fennel and Feta Cheese:

Core and dice the bulb end of fennel and saute in olive oil until it is starting to soften, about 6-8 minutes. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely diced and stir another minute. Pour some dry white wine ( 1/2 cup or so) into the pan and cook until the liquid reduces by about half. Add a can or box of diced tomatoes in their liquid, a dollop of tomato paste, and spoonful of dried oregano. Continue to cook at medium/low heat for another 10-15 minutes to create a rich, chunky sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange a pound of peeled and deviened shrimp on top of the sauce, and sprinkle it with crumbled feta cheese. Mix together a cup of breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and the zest of one lemon with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle the mixture over the shrimp and feta. Place the pan in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until the shrimp have turned pink and opaque, and the breadcrumb mixture is golden brown, but not burnt.

Squeeze a little lemon over the dish and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Separating Eggs

April 7, 2015

 

unnamed

Separating eggs is serious business. If you are making something like a souffle, meringue or another dish that requires beaten, fluffy egg whites, it is crucial that no yolk gets mixed in. If there is any moisture, egg yolks, or other impurities in the bowl, the egg whites will fail to become the big, white peaks you are looking for.
For this reason, we recommend using 3 bowls to separate eggs. One for the white, one for the yolks and one to separate the eggs over.

We separate the eggs and put the white in the small bowl and throw the yolks into the designated yolk bowl, before transferring the whites to the larger bowl. That way, if you get a little yolk into the whites while separating, you only lose one egg.

If you happen to get a little yolk into the whites, put it aside to use for things like egg white omelets, or other dishes that don’t require the egg whites to be beaten into stiff peaks. A little cream of tartar can also keep the egg whites stiff after beating.

Happy Baking!

GIF: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Unrecipe of the Week: Egg Cups

March 30, 2015

I have been obsessed with these healthy and delicous mini soufflés, which are baked in a muffin tin.

They are easy to make and reheat well, so you can whip them up in advance and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them. You can put virtually anything you like in them, and each muffin cup is an opportunity to experiment with different fillings.

IMG_3944

Mini Egg Cups:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray each cup you are using in a muffin tin with cooking spray. You can fill the whole pan, or just a few cups at a time.

Add the filling ingredients. I have been using broccoli and cheese, but any combination of vegetables, cheeses and ham, bacon or smoked salmon would work. Think of it as a mini omelette.

Pour liquid egg whites into the pan until it barely reaches the top. It will puff up during baking. Place then muffin tin on a baking pan “just in case” they run over, and slide it into the oven. Bake until puffed and a sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. This should take about 20- 25 minutes or so, depending on the fillings.

A few things to note:

If you are using raw vegetables, such as broccoli or mushrooms, chop and quick saute them before putting adding them to the pan. Finely diced onion or shallots can be placed in the pan and put in the oven to start the cooking process. Add the rest of the ingredients about 5 minutes later.

If you are using sausage or bacon, cook that before using.

It is best to layer onions first if you are using them, then other vegetables, cooked meats or fish, then sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, so that it doesn’t burn.

I have used frozen chopped broccoli florets or spinach without precooking.

You can use whole eggs if you prefer. Scramble them with a little milk and use in place of the egg whites.

To reheat, just pop them in the microwave for 2 or 3 minutes until heated through and enjoy!

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Like White on Rice

March 27, 2015

 

1876300070_comp

A scientist from Sri Lanka has discovered a way to drastically reduce the calories in white rice, through a cooking technique.

Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah and his student Sudhair James claim that adding coconut oil to the cooking water can alter the digestable starchy components of rice, resulting in a significant reduction in calories.

Apparently, the oil reacts with the starch in the rice, changing its structure. Chilling the rice helps foster the conversion of the starches, which remains even when the rice is reheated.

We don’t know if the technique really works or not, but it certainly is worth a try.

The experts suggest adding 3% of the weight of the rice in coconut oil to the boiling water before adding the rice. Once the rice is cooked, it can be chilled to further the process of converting the starches.
Rice made in advance can be reheated, without affecting the results.

Future studies with bread are underway.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Foiled Again

March 24, 2015

This one might sound like a no- brainer, but if you aren’t already doing it, you really should.

4980600022_comp

When roasting something in the oven, or just reheating it, cover your baking sheet with aluminium foil or parchment paper. Either spray it lightly with cooking spray, or buy easy release aluminium foil to avoid having the food stick.
This saves so much clean up time and effort, that you will wonder why you hadn’t been doing this all along.

When you are done, toss the foil or paper in the trash and rinse the pan in hot soapy water. That’s it. No scrubbing, no scraping, no greasy film.

You’re welcome.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sifting

January 6, 2015

I have a confession to make. I don’t own a sifter.

While it’s entirely possible you don’t either, for someone who bakes as much as I do, it’s pretty surprising. It’s a relatively inexpensive item and sifting is often required for recipes. So what’s the deal?

61OyBTc917L._SL1000_

Sifting is defined as “put (a fine, loose, or powdery substance) through a sieve so as to remove lumps or large particles.” A sifter, for those of you who don’t have one either, is looks a bit like a large tin can with a handle on the outside, and has a mesh filter on the inside. There is some sort of mechanism to move the flour around, such as a crank, or a spring loaded device, serving to aerate the ingredients and propel them through the mesh filter.

Although I agree that the aerating and “de-lumping” is an important step in baking, I usually do it with a small wire whisk and a metal strainer. ( Truth be told, depending on what I am making, I don’t even bother with the strainer.)

If you are caught without a sifter when baking, simply place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and place the required ingredients into it, ( usually flour, and sometimes salt or a leavening agent, such as baking powder or soda) and whisk until it all passes through the sieve and into the bowl.

Nothing extra to store, or clean. That works for me!

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats


%d bloggers like this: