Posts Tagged ‘salt’

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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Unrecipe of the Week: Nut Butter

January 11, 2016

 

1635400235_compI loathe peanut butter. I always have and always will. I remember being at a friend’s house when I was a little girl, and the babysitter said that we couldn’t leave the table until we finished our lunch. Not wanting to insult her “cooking,” I sat there for hours until she finally sent us away. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat that sticky muck, slathered with jelly and smeared inside that gummy white bread that stuck to the roof of my mouth and was so hard to swallow. I still don’t really care for the stuff, but I have managed to make amends with almond butter. Pure, salted almond butter with nothing else in it. I put it on an apple or a banana to add protein to my meal. When it is in its purest state, I can eat it with a spoon right out of the jar if I let myself.

I think the key here is purity. When you can taste just the freshly roasted nuts, and the consistancy is not gummy, it can be delicous. The common commercial brands contain sugar, molasses, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and mono and diglycerides. This contains just nuts. It doesn’t really need anything else.

You can buy great alternative nut butters in many supermarkets that are pure, and some supply the machine to grind your own peanut butter. I am partial to Trader Joe’s brand of almond butter. You can also make your own in a matter of minutes if you have a food processor or a super strong blender.

Homemade Nut Butter:

Place roasted nuts* into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse the nuts until they are completely chopped. Continue running the machine constantly for several minutes, pausing to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula. Process until the nuts go from grainy, to smooth. This could take about 5 minutes, depending on the amount of nuts, and the strength of the machine. If you like it chunky, add a little more of the nuts at the end, and pulse until they are finely chopped and distributed throughout the nut butter. Store nut butter in an airtight jar and refrigerate until ready to enjoy!

If you like salted nut butter, you may add a little and process until mixed. If your nuts seem very dry, you can add a little neutral flavored oil and continue to pulse, however, if you are patient, it should smooth out without any additional oil.

If you like flavored nut butters, you can add in some cinnamon or melted chocolate at the end, and mix it thoroughly.

*I roasted my own raw almonds,but you can buy them already roasted. Just look for dry roasted nuts with no added ingredients except salt, if you like salted nut butter.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How to Chill Wine Quickly

September 16, 2014

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Sometimes we want a glass of nice, cold chardonnay, and we want it NOW. Chilling wine quickly isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Place the wine bottle into a metal bucket, fill it with ice and cold water, and toss in a big handful of salt. The salt will lower the freezing point of the water, making it colder, faster. After about 6 minutes, your wine should be sufficiently chilled and ready to drink.

Salud!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Oven Spills

June 10, 2014

Don’t you just hate when something splatters in the oven and burns to a crisp, sending smoke and a nasty smell into the air?

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Next time that happens, (and it inevitably will) sprinkle some salt over the spill to reduce the smoke, and make it easier to clean up later. Adding a  little cinnamon to the warm oven will give off a much nicer smell than the charred food did, giving the kitchen pleasant spicy scent. Much nicer than “Eau de Burnt Food,” don’t you think?

photo: Glasshouse Images

Salt of the Earth

March 13, 2014

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Salt often gets a bad rap these days, taking the blame for many of our health woes. The fact is, that salt is an essential mineral that our bodies need to properly function. It also adds flavor to food, and can be a natural preservative.

There are many types of salt on the market, each with it’s own distinct flavor and texture. Before you settle for that cardboard cylinder, learn a bit about the different varieties, and how to use each one.

Table salt: Refined from underground mills, this is the most common salt. It is often found in salt shakers, and those cardboard cylinders in the supermarket. Most table salt also contains anticaking agents and iodine, which is an essential  nutrient. The flavor is non distinct and can even be a bit on the bitter side. It is higher in sodium chloride than many other salts, and because of it’s pourable texture and bland taste, it is easily over used.

Kosher salt: The most all- purpose of the bunch, and the one used most frequently by chefs. It’s larger crystals dissolve easily, disperse flavor evenly, and it’s coarse texture works well for sprinkling.

Sea salt: Similar to kosher salt, it has a coarse crystal which dissolves easily, and can also be found finely ground. Sea salt can have a slightly tinged hue, depending on it’s origin, and the minerals it contains. Pink salt, for instance, is iron rich which causes it’s rosy color.
Expect sea salt to have a slightly briny, or even sweet flavor.

Flaked sea salt, or Maldon sea salt: This quick dissolving salt from England is considered a finishing salt.  It’s soft white flakes add a brininess to already cooked foods.

Fleur de Sel: This is the cream of the salt crop. Harvested by hand in France under perfect conditions which allows it to “bloom” on the surface of the water, fleur de sel is slow dissolving, allowing the eater to savor it’s delicate flavor. Crush it in your fingers, and sprinkle it on salads, vegetables and cooked foods.

Himalayan Sea Salt: Hand mined in Pakistan, this ancient salt is thought to be the purest possible. Often used in spa treatments, or as a slab to serve food, it is also useful as both a cooking or a finishing salt.

When using flakier salts, it’s best to add them at the end, and a little can go a long way. Given the coarse or flakier texture, and the increased flavor, you may find you use less than you would when using traditional table salt. Before you just pour the salt on your food, be sure to taste it, and decide if more is really necessary.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cutting Herbs

February 18, 2014

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When chopping fresh herbs, toss a little salt on the cutting board to keep them from flying around.
If you only need a small quantity, consider snipping the herbs with a kitchen scissors.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Accordion Potatoes

July 29, 2013

For awhile, it seemed like we were bombarded with photos of beautiful accordion-like potatoes, often referred to as Hasselback Potatoes, in honor of the Swedish restaurant The Hasselbacken, which created them. Tonight, I thought I would give them a try, as the accompaniment to a rack of lamb.

I used small Yukon Gold potatoes, but any kind will do.

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Peel the potatoes. (confession: I didn’t.) Cut small slits into the potato, leaving it still attached at the bottom. You can place chopsticks on the cutting board on both sides of the potato to stop the blade of the knife from going all the way through. Be sure to cut deeply enough, or the potato will not fan open while baking.

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Brush the potato liberally with melted butter or olive oil, allowing it to seep between the cut. Sprinkle it with coarse salt and any other seasonings you wish to use. Place the potatoes in a greased  pan, cover with foil and bake in a hot, 400 degree oven for about 30  minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Uncover, and brush with more butter or oil, and cook another 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Enjoy!

Some recipes call for cheese, garlic, or any other topping that catches your fancy. If you are using cheese, add it to the last 15 minutes of roasting.

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Unrecipe of the Week: Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 12, 2013

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Sometimes simple things are best.  Every time I make Toll House chocolate chip cookies, they get gobbled up. The recipe has been around forever, and it never disappoints. The rich buttery dough with almost melted chocolate chips is so easy to make, that there really isn’t a good reason to buy packaged cookies. The dough actually improves if left in the refrigerator for a few hours, or even overnight. It can also be frozen in a log, and a few cookies can be sliced off and baked so that you can have a fresh out of the oven experience at a moment’s notice.

Trust me, these are so easy, you can make them with one hand. I did!

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Toll House Cookies

Beat together 2 sticks of butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar and ¾ cup brown sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Add 2 eggs and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl mix 2 ¼ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. With the mixer running, slowly add it to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Stir in 12 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips. **

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Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, using a tablespoon* and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes, until they are golden brown. Allow them to sit for a minute or two in the pan before transferring them to a rack to cool. Enjoy!

* I use a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the pan. It is so much neater, and the cookies tend to be more uniform in size.

** If you want to experiment with variations, try using white chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips in place of the chocolate chips, or use a combination.

Replace the chips with M&M’s for a fun look. If you like nuts, add a cup of the chopped nuts of your choice to the batter.

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Dukkah

May 31, 2013

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Every so often, a “new” item hits the culinary scene and suddenly foodies everywhere are talking about it. This recent discovery has been used in Egyptian cooking for centuries. Dukkah, derived from the word “dakka” means “to crush,” and it is essentially a blend of crushed nuts and spices often sprinkled over flatbread dipped in  olive oil. Since the variation of ingredients is so vast, it is only right that it’s uses are equally as broad.

The mainstream store bought version from Trader Joe’s contains almonds, sesame, fennel, coriander and anise seeds and kosher salt. It adds wonderful flavor when sprinkled over salmon filets, and surely it would be an enhancement to roasted vegetables, chicken or lamb.

While it’s easy and economical to let Trader Joe’s make it, making your own would allow for some variation in ingredients. Here is a simple base (un)recipe to get you started. Let your imagination run wild as you add flavors to enhance the simplest of dishes.

Dukkah:

1/2 cup toasted nuts, crushed. (put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin for easy crushing)

Try almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or even pistachios as a starter.

1/4 cup  sesame seeds 

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon cumin,anise,or coriander seeds (or any mixture of seeds that suit your taste)

1/2 teaspoon or more kosher salt or sea salt

Consider adding dried herbs to the blend: mint, tarragon, thyme or basil

Toast the seeds lightly in a dry skillet, tossing to avoid over browning. Cool, and grind lightly in a spice grinder so they are crushed, but not turned to powder. Add to the nuts and mix. If you don’t have a grinder, give them a once over with the rolling pin before adding to the nuts. Transfer to a glass jar and enjoy!

photo: Indigo Jones

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Unrecipe of the Week:What to do With Beet Greens

May 30, 2013

A stroll through the Union Square Greenmarket today yielded rainbow baby fingerling potatoes, some asparagus and a huge bundle of beets with the teeniest, tiniest little beets settled at the bottom of an enormous bunch of leaves.

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Determined to use them, I washed and dried the leaves to await their fate.

It seemed like they could be used as one would use kale; massaged in a salad or sautéed lightly in olive oil. That assumption was correct, and our roasted beets were the perfect accompaniment.

Roasted Beets on a Bed of Sautéed Beet Greens:

Remove the beets from the leaves, and cut off the ends. Scrub them well, as it not necessary to peel them before roasting. (Especially these little tiny ones!)

Sprinkle with olive oil, and roast covered in a 400-degree oven for about 40-60 minutes until they are tender, depending on how large the beets are.

Set aside.

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Wash and dry the beet greens, discarding the thick stems. Heat a little olive oil in a pan. Add a chopped shallot, and a diced clove of garlic and stir. Sauté the beet greens for a few minutes until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the greens on a plate. Top with the roasted beets and drizzle with a little aged balsamic vinegar.

We also sprinkled a few toasted walnut pieces and some goat cheese over the beets to make it a heartier dish.  Enjoy!

Photos: indigo jones

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