Recipes, Ideas and Tricks

My schedule has filled up so quickly and I have been so busy that I didn’t even realize that it has been 12 days since my last post! I am now nannying for an amazing family as well as working an event or two a week at Haven’s Kitchen. Nannying has helped me find a new level of respect for moms out there- I have no idea how you all do it! I am hoping that in the weeks to come I can start adding some healthy, child-friendly recipes and tricks that I have found that work with “my” little ones. For now, here are some recipes, ideas and tricks I have been archiving for the past few weeks that I think you will all enjoy! Thank god for Buzzfeed and the site’s infinite foodie wisdom.

This first recipe is for a Spanish Tortilla, something Nick and I ate our fair share of when we were in Spain. Essentially this is a bite of heaven- potato, egg and cheese… yum!  You can play around with this a little too (who doesn’t like to step away from tradition every once and a while) and add tomatoes, chives, asparagus or whatever you want. No matter what you do with it, it will be delicious!

Next, tomato sauce! I should have posted this about a month ago when tomatoes were at their peak. But, I didn’t. Sorry! Follow this recipe exactly and you will be amazed at the flavor you are going to be able to develop!

For tricks: Thai food. Ever since I got back from studying abroad in Vietnam, I have wanted to dive into cooking Southeast Asian (SEA) cuisine but it’s just so intimidating. This post helps take away some of the mystery surrounding Thai (and SEA food)- some ginger here, coconut milk there and you’ll have some amazing meals in minutes! Also, buy fish sauce. You will be surprised how often you will use it!

Lastly, here are some grocery shopping hacks– ways to make your groceries last longer. I have been doing my best to reduce my food waste and the first thing I did was start menu planning. It is amazing how much it helps! I have been able to reduce the amount I spend at the grocery store as well as the amount of food I throw out because it went bad before I could use it. Another was to start following some of these tips. I can personally vouch for the soft herb, banana and apple storage. I haven’t tried too many others but ,now that the list is up here, I will make sure to check back often and try to utilize them all at one point or another.

I hope you all get to try out these recipes, ideas and tricks sometime soon. Let me know how they go!

 

 

 

 

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Compound Butter

Making a compound butter is so simple and such an easy way to elevate any meals that calls for butter. I love making roasted garlic compound butter and using when sauteing vegetables- it adds so much flavor! Whenever you have some time on your hands, use a few sticks of butter and try out one of these recipes. They keep for a long time and you can just leave it in the fridge and pull it out anytime you want to add in some extra flavor!

13 Techniques Everyone Should Know

I used to skip over recipes if they called for a technique I wasn’t comfortable with. For example, the idea of cooking lamb used to scare me because if I were to mess up, it would be like throwing $25 down the drain. Now that I have been cooking for a while, I have slowly begun to trust myself and I have realized that most of those “fancy” words aren’t so scary. If you can master these techniques, you’re cooking will be elevated to an entirely new level and everyone in your life will be super impressed!

1. Butterfly: to cut meat almost in half lengthwise so you can open it like a book

Butterfly_7.23.2012-450x300

2. Truss: tying the wings of a bird (chicken, duck, etc.) to it’s body to ensure even cooking

chickentrussing

3. Cream: to blend to the consistency of a cream (usually butter or heavy cream)

creaming-butter-and-sugar-300x224

4. Fold: to incorporate one ingredient to another by gently turning them over one another

folding

5. Baste: to add moisture to food while it’s cooking (marinade, butter, drippings, etc)- think Thanksgiving turkey!

Baste

6. Render: to cook the fat out of meat by applying heat and melting it (this happens every time you cook bacon)

rendering

7. Sear: browning the sides of food over very high heat

sear

8. Deglaze: to loosen bits of food from a pan that stuck while cooking by adding liquid over high heat

deglaze

9. Braise: to cook food by submerging it in liquid over low heat from a long period of time

braise

10. Poach: to cook in liquid below 185 degrees F (think poached eggs)

poach

11. Simmer: to cook something just below or just at the boiling point

simmer

12. Blanch: to cook something in boiling water for a short time and then stop the cooking process by dropping the food in ice water

blanch-484

13. Shock: to stop the cooking process abruptly by dropping food in ice water

shock

Check out this article from Buzzfeed for detailed definitions, explanations and tricks!

Photos courtesy of (in order):

http://whiskedfoodie.com;

http://www.joepastry.com;

http://www.onceuponachef.com;

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com;

http://shopnsavefood.com;

http://notdabblinginnormal.wordpress.com;

http://forum.thefreedictionary.com;

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com;

http://deniebernier.com;

http://lookimadethat.com;

http://www.bonappetit.com;

http://www.realsimple.com

DIY Raw Cleanse

Every once in a while I can tell that my body needs to be rebooted. This is when I turn to cleansing. I have done a few different kinds (Organic Avenue and Isagenix to name two) but they can get very expensive, very quickly. When I got home from the beach after the 4th of July, I knew I needed to cleanse. 6 days of beer, wine and all those American favorites- burgers, steaks, hot dogs, chips, bagels, etc- had put me over the edge. I did some research and found this easy-to-follow DIY raw cleanse on a blog called Small Kitchen College.

The thing I like about this cleanse is it can be 100% tailored to your needs. We decided to do it for just one day to do a quick reboot but we’ve committed to doing this once a week. You can also try cleansing for 3 days a week every once in a while or, if you have the will power that I definitely do not, you can cleanse for a week every month or for one month every year!

Here’s what to do:

1. Begin the day with a large glass of filtered water with the juice of half a lemon. This aids digestion and stimulates the liver to begin the day’s detoxification process. Add a dash of cayenne pepper to balance out your blood sugar.

2. Only consume liquids (smoothies, fresh juices, herbal tea, water) until noon. Snack on raw fruits and veggies if necessary.

3. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of filtered water each day. For example, if you weigh 120 lbs. you should drink at least 60 oz. of water. This is a good rule of thumb for overall health!

4. Eat as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible. Go for organic, especially for the dirty dozen.

5. Enjoy 1/2 cup raw nuts and and seeds per day.

6. Fill up on 2 cups of cooked whole grains throughout the afternoon and evening. But! Avoid gluten (whole wheat, barley, rye).

7. Follow the 80/20 Rule: at least 80% of your cleanse should include raw foods, and 20% can be cooked vegetables, grains, and beans.

8. Take a daily multivitamin.

9. Eliminate: dairy, eggs, meat, fish, sugar, gluten, and alcohol. Cut out caffeine if you can, but this is where I cheat. A small cup of coffee or tea in the morning is actually good for you!

I decided to easiest way to shop for this cleanse was to order from Fresh Direct.

Here’s What I got:

Almond Milk- Blue Almond Unsweetened Vanilla

Naked 100% Fuit Smoothie Blue Machine

Kale Pineapple Breakfast Smoothie ingredients

6 Organic Lemons

Organic Strawberries

Organic Red Grapes

Arugula

Organic Red Bell Pepper

Avocado

Cucumber

Organic Shelled Sunflower Seeds

Organic Raw Almonds

Fresh Direct Super Salads*

Chamomile Herbal Tea

We loosely followed the above guidelines and kind of did our own thing. Although we only did this for one day, I felt a huge difference. I lost 2 pounds (most of which, I understand, was water weight) and felt thinner and full of energy. Our groceries cost about $120 (we originally planned on doing the cleanse longer so we bought groceries for 3 days- $20/person/day) but we have added many of the ingredients into other healthy meals on non-cleanse days. This is by far the cheapest and most flexible plan I have ever found for cleansing and I plan on doing it at least once a week to keep myself on track!

I hope you’ll try it out and let me know how it goes!

* I bought these instead of doing grains on my own- I was not happy with them because they lacked flavor and texture.

 

Clarified Butter

First, I want to apologize for not posting all that often recently. As anyone who lives in NYC knows, using a stove top and oven during the summer in the LAST thing you want to do because it increases the temperature of your apartment by at least 10 degrees. Once it has been hot enough, long enough there is no way your apartment’s temperature will drop below 80 degrees (unless of course you have an air conditioning unit in your common areas- kitchen, living room and hallways). Knowing that I am always on a budget, I cannot afford to have AC anywhere but my bedroom and this is why my momentum with this blog and cooking in general has decreased significantly.

OK. Now that that is out there, I will share a fun and easy kitchen essential you can make with butter. Clarified butter is used in almost all professional kitchens because it is full of flavor and it has a higher burning point than normal butter. It is so easy to make and can take a dish to the next level. Here’s how to make it:

clarifiedbutterskimWhat you’ll need:

1 1/4 cup of butter

Saucepan

Spoon

Instructions*:

Place butter in a saucepan over a very low heat. Let the butter melt slowly, do not stir the butter while it is melting

As the butter melts, it will separate into three layers. The top layer is a thin layer of foam, the middle layer contains the bulk of the liquid (weighing in at about 80% of the total), and the bottom layer is where the water and most of the milk solids are. This natural separation is what makes clarifying possible

Skim the foam off the surface of the butter, discard the foam. Be cautious to avoid dipping the ladle into the butterfat while skimming, as the fat should remain intact

Use a ladle and skim the fat up and out of the pan, making sure not to let any of the water get into the ladle

Pour your newly clarified butter to a separate container, and discard the water and small amount of remaining milk fat

If the clarified butter sits for a moment, you might notice more foam float to the top; use a spoon to remove this last bit of foam

WW Points: 1 point per teaspoon

Use the clarified butter to get a nice sear on meats, seafood or even vegetables. I made some last week and used it to get a nice brown sear on both sides of some beautiful diver scallops I got at Whole Foods. I use small mason jars to store the clarified butter in the fridge. It will keep for months so it is worth making a big batch. You’ll be surprised how often you go into the fridge to use it!

*I used this “recipe” to help me along. Here’s Allrecipes.com’s step-by-step with pictures (which helped me a lot the first time I made clarified butter)

**Photo from www.asian-recipe.com

Great Father’s Day Idea

While I try to work my way out of this rut, I am going to stick to great things to read, try or buy! I was wandering my way around Facebook this morning and stumbled upon a great company based in Brooklyn called Mantry. Mantry is a food-of-the-month club that sends members a wooden box (made in Brooklyn) full of artisanal products from all over the United States.

crates

If you are still struggling with a gift idea for the father(s) in your life, check them out! For $75/month this is a great way to try some new and unusual products while supporting local producers!

Foodily

I had a few new roommates move in for the summer and one of them just told me about Foodily. I haven’t had a chance to play around on it too much but, from what I can tell, I will be using it all the time!

It is essentially a food/recipe search engine where you can plug in different ingredients you have at home and it produces recipes. The coolest part is that you can ask for gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, etc. options! I can’t wait to try it out soon!

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is one of those things that I have had on my radar for a while but never really understood. I’ve always been interested in seeing what it is all about so, when I was visiting my parents in Atlanta last June, I picked some up at the Dekalb Farmers Market. I have had the ground flaxseed in my pantry for almost a year and I am FINALLY using it.

flax seed

A few quick facts about flaxseed:

1. It has been cultivated since 3000 BC in Babylon!

2. There have been studies that show it may reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, stoke and diabetes.

3. It is high in Omega-3 fatty acids (the good fat). 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed (flax meal) contains 1.8 grams of omega-3s!

4. They contain 75-800 times more lignans (chemical compound found in plants) than other plant products. Lignans contain estrogen and antioxidant qualities.

5. Flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. This means it helps with digestion!

The most important thing is that you buy ground flaxseed because your body cannot absorb it otherwise. Just add a tablespoon of two to your morning smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal and you’re good to go. You will definitely notice a difference in your digestion and it can help you in the long run as well!

WW Points: 1 point per tbsp