Posts Tagged ‘oil’

Unrecipe of the Week: Confit

January 6, 2016

 

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Confit is a word that often turns up on restaurant menus, confounding the diner. Simply put, confit, ( pronounced kon- FEE,) means “to preserve,” in French.

Classically pertaining to duck, confit is the process of slowly cooking a food in a liquid that is inhospitable to bacteria growth. With meats and vegetables, it is some form of pure fat. For fruit, it is a concentrated sugar syrup. Once the food is slow cooked in its liquid, it has a shelf, or refrigerator life that is extended.

When food is fried in oil at a high temperature, the result is crisp surface acheived in a short period of time. With a confit, the oil is heated to a much lower temperature, during a longer period of time.

This week, we are making confits from garlic and shallots. These preserved alliums add a mellow flavor to meats and vegetables and the oil they are cooked in add a subtle taste to dressings and sautés.

They are easy to make, and great to have on hand to add dimension to simple week night dishes. While the instructions are interchangeable,we prefer to prepare them separately to keep the flavors pure.

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Peel several heads of garlic or shallots and cover them with olive oil so that they are fully submerged with at least  1/2″-1″ of oil on top. For about 2 or 3 pounds of shallots, you will use about 3 cups of oil.  Add several sprigs of fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, and a bay leaf or two, depending on the quantity you are making. Some people like to add a little diced hot peppers to give the confit some heat. Place in a 300 degree oven for about an hour, until the cloves become somewhat brown, but are still very soft. The time it takes to cook will be determined by the quantity. Start taking a look at the 40 minute mark if you making a small amount.

Conversely, this can be done on the stovetop, simmering the oil at a low heat until the garlic or shallots are soft and slightly brown.

Cool, and store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. The confit should last several weeks and up to 2 months.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Roasted Nuts

September 3, 2015

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Nuts are a great snack. They are plant based, all natural and high in protein and heart healthy fats. That is until a commercial company gets ahold of them.

When I began my Whole 30 quest a couple of months ago, I became a stickler for reading labels on anything that had them. While most of the food I eat doesn’t come in a package, nuts are a whole food that typically does. When companies roast nuts, they add oil to them. Planter’s, one of the largest commercial nut companies adds peanut and/or cottonseed oil to thier nuts, as well as salt. Since legumes (peanuts and peanut oil) are off limits, as is cottonseed oil on Whole 30 and Paleo, I decided to roast my own.

Everyone I share my freshly roasted nuts with loves them. Nuts are already high in healthy unsaturated fats and don’t require any extra oil when roasted. By roasting them “naked” the flavor of the nut is enhanced, and not over powered by the flavor of the aditives. They are so easy to make, that there really isn’t a good reason to buy those cans again.

How To Roast Nuts:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees*. Spread the nuts (I love cashews!) in an even layer on a baking sheet with sides. Roast in the oven for about 5 minutes, and shake the pan or stir the nuts to redistribute them. The nuts on the edges of the pan will brown much more quickly than those in the middle. Continue to roast the nuts until they are an even light brown color, and begin to release a delicous “nutty” smell. They will likely take about 10-12 minutes, but could take longer or shorter, so keep an eye on them. Beware; once they start to color, they brown very quickly! Remove from the oven and cool before enjoying.

Store in a glass jar after cooling.

*Smaller or more dense nuts may benefit from a slightly cooler oven temperature. If you are roasting pine nuts, for example, use a 300 or 325 degree oven, and watch them carefully.Time may vary due to the size and density of the nuts.

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Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Fresh Pasta with Zucchini and Roasted Tomatoes

June 1, 2015

Isn’t it funny how once the weather changes, my palatte changes with it? I suddenly can’t get enough tomatoes, corn, basil and zucchini. My spiralizer becomes my best friend, allowing me to morph a zucchini into noodles with the quick turn of a handle. Two minutes in a pan and I have a tasty base that gets me past my pasta craving most days. Except yesterday.

Home Made Pasta

Home Made Pasta

I made homemade fettuccine in the late afternoon, and tucked it away until dinner time. The dough gave me a run for my money…it was too dry, so I added a little olive oil and water and kneaded it into submission. When I started to put it through the pasta machine (the old fashioned hand crank type is all I use,) I felt like something magical had happened. The dough reacted perfectly, and didn’t require untangling or adding flour to prevent the cut pasta from sticking together. After 2 or 3 minutes in boiling salty water, I had a big bowl of the lightest, most delicate fettuccine I had ever made. It easily held its own against the fresh pastas I have had in fine restaurants here or in Italy. I had to give in and taste it.

Don’t let people trick you into believing that fresh pasta is always superior to the dried varieties. Fresh pasta is more delicate, and takes to simpler, oil based sauces. The dried types do the heavy lifting, and should be used for tomato sauces, especially those with meat, which could overpower many freshly made pastas. I tossed ours in a garlic and basil puree with lots of parmesan cheese and topped it off with my latest obsession, oven roasted cherry tomatoes. They become so sweet they are like eating candy.

This dinner is so simple to make that you can prepare the components and go sit around and relax until dinner time. At least that is what I did.

If you can’t get fresh pasta (many stores carry it in the refrigerator case ) and don’t feel like making your own, it will still be good with the boxed kind. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a vegetable peeler to shave your zucchinni into ribbons. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender, or buy a bottle of pesto sauce. The beauty of an unrecipe is keeping it simple and making it your own. Do roast the tomatoes though. Its totally worth the minimal effort.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

For the tomatoes:

Rinse and dry a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes.  Toss them in a little olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper, and spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop them into a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until they are starting to caramelize, but not burnt or dehydrated. Turn the pan about half way through and give it a shake to ensure more even cooking. You can also sprinkle some dried or fresh herbs, such as basil or oregano on them before roasting.

For the basil oil: 

Place the leaves of one bunch of basil and a clove or two of garlic into the food processor, and process until finely minced. (Traditional pesto has pine nuts in it. If you would like to use nuts, add them now and mince thoroughly.)Drizzle olive oil through the feed tube with the machine running, until it forms a loose paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap that lays right on the surface of the food to avoid it turning brown. (* Traditional pesto has the parmesan integrated into the sauce. You can add it now if you prefer. I like the consistency of the basil puree without the cheese for this purpose, but it is your choice. If using jarred pesto, it will already be in there.)

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles aka Zoodles!

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles aka Zoodles!

For the zucchini:
Saute the zucchini noodles in a little olive oil until starting to soften, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the pureed basil oil and mix well. If it is a little thick, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water to thin it down.

Fresh Pasta with Zucchini, Basil Oil, Parmesan Cheese and Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Fresh Pasta with Zucchini, Basil Oil, Parmesan Cheese and Oven Roasted Tomatoes

To assemble:
Cook the pasta according to directions, or about 2-3 minutes if homemade, and drain.

Place the pasta in a bowl. Spoon the zucchini on top, and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese. Place the oven roasted tomatoes on top, and enjoy!!!

Pasta photo: Spencer Jones for Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Whatever Sticks

December 30, 2014

Lately, we have been dealing with some pretty sticky situations; hello marshmallow making! When working with sticky ingredients, such as honey, syrups or molasses, try lightly oiling your hands and utensils to make things a little less gluey. Make sure you use a neutral tasting oil such as canola, sunflower or even a squirt of cooking spray so that you don’t add unwanted flavors to your food.

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Coconut oil also makes a great lubricant for dishpan hands, and is pure enough that it won’t taint the food you are preparing, as a regular lotion might. Go ahead and slather up to keep your hands and your food stick free.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Super Sleuthing

November 21, 2014

I don’t generally use this site for tasteless gossip, but hey, it’s Friday, it’s freezing cold, and I have a little time on my hands right now.

As I was perusing Perez Hilton, reading yet another ridiculous post about Kim Kardashian’s well oiled rear end, I noticed something suspicious. How could the entire media gossip world have missed this one?

Kim is not, in fact naked. I repeat, she is NOT actually naked! While everyone is posting stories on what type of oil was used to make her butt so shiny ( it’s been attributed to a local French baby oil by her makeup artist, and to a hair oil from her very own haircare line by Mrs. West herself,) I am here to tell you differently. She is wearing a skin toned, latex suit! Uh-huh honey ( see what I did there with the Kanye reference?) This particular photo shows subtle lines around her upper body, which are clearly straps. Blow this photo up a little bit and see what I mean. A photo expert, who happens to live in this house, noted that the skin reflections are different on the presumed covered parts than on the actual skin. And when I  blew it up in more dramatically in photoshop ( I really do need to get a life) you can see where she has been photoshopped down a size or two ( or three.)

She has been photographed recently wearing latex clothing from fetishwear designer Atsuko Kudo, In a recent comment to the Daily Mail, the designer remarked,”‘Latex fits so much to the body that to the naked eye it’s very difficult to tell if it’s a top and a skirt, or a dress.”. ( Or a bodysuit to make it look like you’re nude when you really aren’t?)
Kim’s skin-tight outfit appears to leave little room for underwear, and Simon admitted it generally looks better if the wearer does go sans pants.

Ah-ha! Another clue. Did Kudo design a special suit to smooth her skin, compress her a bit and make her look sleeker and slicker?

Take a look at this photo from Perez Hilton, and see what you think. The caption is referring to the oil, but I, dear readers, have found something different. kim-kardashian-paper-oil-doodle__oPt
Look at the scoop under her arm, and the straps and scooped back. Those aren’t tan lines!

I should have been a detective…Mwahhahahahaha!

Break the internet Indigo Jones!

*We shall resume our more tasteful and useful stories on Monday!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Asian Vinaigrette

December 27, 2013

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On Saturday night, I set out to make Ming Tsai’s Asian shallot vinaigrette to marinate fresh tuna, scallops and shrimp. I waited until I was all huddled in for the night, and was surprised to discover that I lacked most of the ingredients, first and foremost the shallots. Not one afraid to improvise, I used what I had and somehow it worked out just fine. It’s a little bit Asian by way of the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, and very French, as it is a riff on the classic vinaigrette. The leftover portion is sitting in a jar in the refrigerator, waiting to flavor chicken, meat, sauteed vegetables, or top a green salad. Got an extra 2 or 3 minutes? Whip some up for dinner tonight!

Pouring a spoonful of olive oil

Asian Vinaigrette 

Place the ingredients in the blender (or if you are really lazy, in glass jar with a tight fitting lid)

1/2 cup of grainy Dijon mustard

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar

a pinch of sugar

a tiny pinch of salt

black pepper to taste

With the motor running, drizzle in oil ( I used sunflower oil, but safflower, canola or any bland oil will work ) until it starts to emulsify. It will probably take 1/2 cup or so. If you are using a jar, shake it until it is fully mixed. It won’t thicken as much.

Feel free to add finely diced shallots, garlic or a dash of sriracha to give it an edge.

Use as a dressing or marinade and enjoy!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Perfect Salad Dressing

April 16, 2013

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Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make, and so much better than the store bought variety. A simple vinaigrette can be made with oil, and anything acidic, such as vinegar, or citrus juice.
As a baseline, dressing should be 3 parts oil, to one part acid. Depending on the ingredients, and what the dressing is being used on, that might need to be tweaked a bit. Personally, I tend to  err on the side of extra acid, preferring a little more tang to the dressing.

To make the perfect salad dressing, start out with a good quality oil. Olive oil is the most common base for a vinaigrette, but other clean, flavorful oils such as walnut can also be used.  Vinegar, or citrus juice can provide the acid.

There are lots of types of vinegars on the market. Balsamic vinegars can range from tart, to syrupy and sweet, depending on how long it has been aged. There is even a white balsamic, that has a milder taste. Red wine vinegar is a bit more tart, and half wine vinegar and 1/2 balsamic can be a nice blend. There are also flavored vinegars which add an extra element.  Lemon juice is a nice alternative to vinegar, as is lime or even grapefruit juice.

Whisking, or shaking the mixture will cause it to emulsify, thickening it slightly.
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Once you have the basic recipe, it is fun to experiment with fresh herbs or other condiments.

One of my favorite tricks is to make the dressing in a dijon mustard jar that is almost empty. Just pour the oil and vinegar or lemon juice into the jar, and shake it vigorously. The mustard left on the sides of the jar will mix in and add another level of flavor to the mix.

Once you start making your own dressings, you will never want to go back to bottled versions, which are laden with preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients.

Enjoy!

Photos:Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Avocado Frites

February 12, 2013

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This is a delicious and unique way to serve avocados. In this interesting twist on tempura, the avocado gets sliced, breaded and quick fried. It’s got a crispy exterior and a melt in your mouth center.

Peel and slice a ripe but firm avocado into 2/3″ spears.

Dip each one in flour, then scrambled egg, and finally Panko (Japanese bread crumbs.) Lay them out on a plate until ready to fry.

Heat enough canola oil to fully cover the bottom of a frying pan.  Fry the breaded avocado slices until golden brown, turning to cook both sides.

Drain them on paper towels to remove any excess oil, and sprinkle with sea-salt.

Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. Enjoy!

*I keep thinking that these could be enhanced by adding a little grated parmesan cheese. Try adding about 1/2 cup of parmesan to the flour, and see what happens!

photo:Glasshouse Images


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