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Tasty Tip Tuesday: Grating Cheese

Can you guys believe I fell off the wagon already?

Don’t answer that.

My apologies to all my veggies out there. Meatless Monday was non existent this week in my kitchen. Unless you count the whole grain pasta I made and then proceeded to dump jarred sauce on top and call it a night. Yes, I’m like the aerobics instructor that gets lipo or the nutritionist that makes late-night Carl’s Jr. runs.

But I’ll make a pathetic attempt to redeem myself with this week’s Tasty Tip.

Grating cheese seems to be everyone’s least favorite job. But there are some tricks to make the grating go easy and fast.

1) Get your cheese cold: The colder the cheese, the firmer it is, making it easier to grate. Semi-soft cheeses, like mozarella, can be put in the freezer for about 30 minutes before you grate it to help ease the grating. Just remember to let all cheeses, even that rock-hard parmesan, come to room temp after you’ve grated it. Its taste is amped up at room temp over colder climates.

2) Don’t just grate down: I see people grating the cheese downward, then they lift the cheese from the grater surface and start all over. No need. Simply rub it up and down the grater, like you would if you lived out on the prairie and had to wash clothes on a washboard.

3) Use a food processor: Got a lot of cheese to shred? Drop it in and watch the magic.  Lotso cheese in not-so-lotso seconds.

Anyone minions here ever get cheese elbow? How do you grate your cheeses?

Tasty Tip Tuesday: Putting Out Grease Fires

The kitchen is somewhere where I feel pretty comfortable. But grease fires scare the $#!t out of me.

One of the first things I ever learned in my high school Home Ec class was how to put out a grease fire. And it’s really something everyone should know, not just hotty hot firefighters.

Baking soda is the trick here. You need a lot of it to extinguish big fires, but if you get some of the salty substance on the fire as soon as it starts, you should be fine. Here are some steps to take when encountering a grease fire, which you hopefully will never have to take.

1) Turn off the heat and don’t move the pan around.

2) If you can, cover it up with a lid (basic physics tells us that no oxygen=no fire. Or something like that.)

3) Douse with baking soda.

My tip here is to always keep a large container of baking soda near the stove. Just in case. It’s kind of how like moms keep a first aid kit in their purse, complete with advil, midol, antiseptics, burn ointment, bandaids, cortisone, insulin, antihistamines, umbrellas, goulashes, extra underwear …you know, the whole nine yards. They’re always prepared.

Not as hot as a fireman, but it’ll do

Anyone here actually encounter a grease fire? did you take the appropriate measures and douse with baking soda or salt?

Tasty Tip Tuesday: Storing Herbs

Fresh herbs can really make a dish. Sprinkling on something as simple as parsley to finish off a dish not only makes it look pretty, but adds just a hint of freshness that can brighten the dish.

I used to have a serious problem with keeping fresh herbs, especially cilantro and parsley, well…fresh. I would keep them inside their produce plastic bag and shove them inside the crisper drawer. Feel free to shake your heads in disappointment.

But the woman I nannied for taught me an herb-alicious trick. She would take a tall drinking glass, fill it up with an inch or so of water and toss in the parsley, cilantro, basil, etc. upright and store it in the fridge that way. Like a bouquet of flowers:

via Simply Recipes

Those herbs lasted twice as long and were easy access. Just reach into the fridge and snip or pull some off.

Of course, there may have been a spilled glass or two in the four years I worked there. But there’s really never any use crying over spilled herb water, or something like that.

Tasty Tip Tuesday: Cleaning Mushrooms

My first tip should actually be “never, ever, ever buy pre-sliced mushrooms.”

Just don’t. It’s not hard to slice them yourself and if you’ve got an egg slicer, you can use that!

But when it comes to cleaning mushrooms, I’m kind of particular. With very good reason. I see people take mushrooms and rinse them in a colander under water and cringe. Mushrooms are very porous and soak up any and everything.

So when you rinse them under water, they plump up with lots of water, which means you might have trouble cooking them down later, especially if you add them to a sauce.

I take a damp paper towel and rub down each ‘shroom before I slice. It’s time consuming but the results are worth it. You get much more dirt off than by simply rinsing and your mushrooms are just that—mushrooms. No water-logged fungus for you!

How do you clean your ‘shrooms off?

 

Tasty Tip Tuesday: Segmenting Citrus

Anyone here eat oranges like they’re trying to cure a serious case of scurvy?

Polito Family Farms

Well, knowing how to segment citrus is a must-know skill cooks and chefs should have, as well as citrus-lovers in general. It makes things much simpler when it comes to making salads or dressings or fruit salads.

Fine Cooking has a great video tutorial I’m sharing with y’all. It’s super easy to do and will make your life so much easier when you’re trying to make that beautiful salad with avocado and grapefruit slices.

Tasty Tip Tuesday: Separating Eggs

You know, I don’t separate eggs a lot.

But if you like to bake, like Rachel here, or whip up your own mayonnaise or make meringue, separating eggs is just a part of life for you.

Now, you can separate the whites from the yolks the old fashion way and make a clean break in the egg and pour the yolk from one egg shell half to the next, but clean breaks have never really been my thing and I’ve been known to drop the yolk into the bowl with the whites…

My way is much easier and fool-proof: Use a funnel

picture via thriftstorecowgirl.wordpress.com. she's in the know.

The egg white falls right through and the yolk stays snuggled up inside the funnel.

Now, as what to do with the leftover yolks? You’re on your own there.

Tasty Tip Tuesday: Read the Recipe

How many of you rolled your eyes when you saw the title of this blog?

Well, you’re all about to eat crow. Not literally, of course. I’ve heard the black birds aren’t so tasty. But pigeons? They gave those things a fancy name when they first cooked them up, which means they’ve got to be delicious. And by fancy, I mean disgusting. Squab? It sounds like you’re going to get a nasty rash by eating it.

Anyway, reading a recipe ALL THE WAY THROUGH is the most important thing you can do before you start cooking. I usually read something through about three times before I start a new recipe. Then I make my mise en place and get to it.

However, I’ve made the mistake of not reading everything correctly. Like when I made this mushroom lasagna with my friend Heidi? Yeah, I used all the shallots in the beginning because I didn’t read up top that it was “divided.”

In the words of Cher Horowitz, “Oops, my bad!”

Reading the recipe thoroughly and multiple times will help keep mistakes at a minimum, like knowing to divide an ingredient. Or preparing the sauce beforehand. Or making sure you have all necessary kitchen gadgets to make your dish. ‘Cause, uh, that’s never happened to me before.

So read that recipe like it’s The Hunger Games. Soak it up. Absorb it. Comprehend it. Whatever you do, don’t start cooking until you understand the recipe as a whole.

How many of you have started making a dish without reading the recipe all the way through, only to find out your kitchen adventure is now an epic fail?

and for your Tuesday viewing pleasure:

Tasty Tip Tuesday: Bring Down the Spice

Sometimes, things get a little too spicy in the kitchen. Like, too spicy for even the pepper.

So how do you cool things down when it heats up? I’ve got some suggestions on cutting the spiciness of a dish:

  • Add fat: Things like sour cream or avocado help cut the spice. These two work especially well for chili. I made a Chipotle Black Bean Chili that made you tear up just by smelling it, so I added peanut butter and Mexican Crema. Then I loaded cheese and avocado on top. Then I gained 50 pounds.
  • Add sugar: Sugar can cut through the heat and works well in certain types of cuisine, like Thai. You can make a gastrique with vinegar and sugar and add that to your dish to help balance it out. Carrots are also known to take heat away. Make a carrot puree and add it to your soup or chili and their sweetness will counteract the spiciness.
  • Add contents: You can help dilute the spice by adding more ingredients. Add more protein, beans, rice,vegetables, etc. and say no to more seasoning.

And a bonus tip? Try your hardest to slowly add things, like spice. It’s much easier to add than to take away, so season with your spices and taste. If it needs more heat, add it little by little, tasting each time. The same rule goes for when you’re putting your ingredients in to cool it down.

But don’t cool your food down too much. Spicy food is good for you (generally speaking) and can help suppress appetites!

found via Google Images

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