Because Sharing is Caring

little_chef_1280x800Tips, hints, tricks, and little kitchen ‘hacks’ learned along the way and shared with you… please feel free to share your hints with me. Let’s talk stock…

  • Stock is its own creation
    A liquid concentration of meaty bones and aromatics. When made from scratch its a creation all its own.
  • Size the Vegetables
    When cutting vegetables to cook with bones, use smaller diced vegetables for quicker cooking chicken stock and larger chunks of vegetables when using large bones for beef stock.
  • No need to season stock
    Stock is itself an ingredient in a dish that will be seasoned.
  • Always be skimming
    remove the impurities and concentrate the flavor. to that end…
  • Do not boil stock
    Boiling pushes the impurities back down to the bottom on the liquid.

So, a couple of hints, tips, take what you like and leave the rest… speaking of leaving… leave a comment to share one of YOUR tips!

Thank You!

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Sweet Glazed Sweet Potatos

A little maple syrup goes a long way. Especially since Best Yet market has a 37 cents a pound sweet potato sale! I think I feel a side dish coming on. Please Please Please, support ‘real’ agriculture and purchase only real maple syrup, not the chemical concoction called breakfast syrup…. One, because its healthier and more natural, and secondly, because the chemical one often turns too runny when cooking with it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2   pounds sweet potatoes (4 to 6 medium)
  • 1/3  cup pure maple syrup
  • 2  tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  cup cranberries

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1- to 1-1/2-inch chunks. In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and pepper; add sweet potatoes and cranberries. Toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 3-quart baking dish, spreading mixture evenly.

Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are glazed and tender, stirring twice. Makes 8 servings.

As an added option, you can topped with chopped pecans.

sweet sweet potatos

Creamy Tomato Soup

Best Yet Market out here by me has a sale on its canned tomatoes, one dollar per can, and a great price on basil at the same time. So, a little chill in the air and a thought springs to mind. The market often has a nice variety of rolls, and I could really use a nice bowl of warm soup, with a warm buttered roll… yeah, I think I have a recipe for this.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 1lb cans of diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1 large Spanish onion chopped
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until tender. Mix in tomatoes and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken broth, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 15 minutes.

Grab your immersion blender and blend the mixture till smooth. Reduce heat to low, and gradually mix in the heavy cream. Pour soup through a strainer before serving. Garnish each serving with a sprig of basil. Toss that roll in the microwave for a second or two, butter it up, and sit down for lunch.

toamtosoup01

Because Sharing is Caring 02

Tips, hints, tricks, and little kitchen ‘hacks’ learned along the way and shared with you… please feel free to share your hints with me…

  • Go Slow
    To save time, avoid injuries, and cook better… slow down! Don’t be in a rush, making harried actions. First master the basics, especially where knives are concerned, and then earn speed as an external expression of internal fluency.
  • Use a cold pan for butter
    Heat the pan and the butter together. Adding cold butter to a hot pan will burn the butter due to its dairy component. Burnt butter is toxic, throw it out and start again.
  • Use a hot pan for oil
    Add oil to an already heated pan. The oil will be hot enough to cook your food in seconds, but not yet hot enough to smoke the oil. When it does smoke the oil becomes toxic, throw it out and start again.
  • Rest that Bird!
    When cooking whole poultry, let it rest before carving. This gives the juices in the bird enough time to redistribute within the flesh making for juicer slices and little juicy mess in the carving board.
  • Eat!
    Just as a good writer should read, a good cook should eat. Mangia!

So, a couple of hints, tips, take what you like and leave the rest… speaking of leaving… leave a comment to share one of YOUR tips!

Thank You!

little_chef_1280x800-02

Spicy Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoe Soup

Its that time of year… pumpkin pickin’ time! Pumpkins populate “punkin’” patches and make spooky faces from door steps and window sills around Halloween, but Sugar Pie pumpkins are the sweet and mellow ones used for cooking—not scary, and 100% tasty. And unlike their jack-o’-lantern brethren, they are thin-skinned for easy peeling. The sugar pumpkin is a small 3 to 8 pound range squash that has a wide range of cooking applications, but in this recipie… that firey jack-o-latern will meet his spicy match.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin
  • 4 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

In a mortar or spice grinder, grind coriander, cumin, oregano, fennel, red pepper, salt and peppercorns into a coarse powder. Blend in garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil to form a paste.

Wash pumpkin, and cut into 2-inch wide wedges, scraping away seeds. Peel potatoes and cut each potato lengthwise into 6 wedges. Smear the pumpkin and the potatoes with the spice paste and place in a baking dish.

Roast in preheated oven 30 to 40 minutes, until tender and just beginning to blacken at the thinnest points.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, cook the onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent.

Chop pumpkin and potatoes into smaller chunks and add this with the chicken broth into the pot. Using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. Be sure to scrape the roasted spice paste off the baking dish and include it in the puree. It may be necessary to deglaze the dish with a little chicken broth.

Heat this thoroughly and then serve with toasted french bread slices. Make this vegan friendly by using a flavorful vegetable stock.

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Bay Crab Chowder with Corn

As the weather turns cooler, thoughts turn to… chowder! Since I used one can of crab for the appetizer, I will use the other can of crab meat for… you guessed it, chowder! You can’t just buy one can of crab… or at least I can’t. Add it to some chicken broth and milk, with some corn, and a shake or two of Old Bay seasoning, and you can make a simple Chesapeake Bay style staple.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 ribs celery chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 teaspoons OLD BAY® Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 leaf McCormick® Bay Leaves

Heat butter and oil in large saucepan on medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper, Old Bay Seasoning and bay leaf; cook and stir 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and chicken broth. Bring to boil. Add corn and crabmeat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

corn-crab-chowder-finished-1

Salmon Cakes – With No Evil

What to do with that can of salmon? Make fish cakes! “Oh no! All that oil! Frying is evil” you say. Wait, Wait… you can make these in the oven, or more accurately, bake these in the oven and not have to deal with all that ‘evil’ frying. Although it is my firm belief that not all frying is evil.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 15 ounces canned red salmon, flaked
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs (2 bread slices)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

First, start by preheating you oven to 400°F. Then spray a cookie sheet with nonstick vegetable cooking spray, or use a nonstick cookie sheet.

Combine the salmon, bread crumbs, scallions, egg, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce in a medium-size bowl; stir the mixture well to combine. Then, shape the mixture into 4 equal patties. Place the patties on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake the patties in the preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side or until the patties are golden and heated through. What could be simpler, and no evil frying. Top these with some homemade tartar sauce and enjoy without the fat-guilt.

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Duck Walk Shrimp

Its a nice day for shrimp, and yes, I have no idea what exactly that means, but it popped into my head none the less. I have shrimp on my mind, which is better than the alternative, having wine on my mind which is probably just as likely. So, let’s open a fresh bottle of Duck Walk white and talk about shrimp, and pasta, and vino.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound of medium shrimp drained peeled and deveined
  • 1 ½ cups Duck Walk white wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and fresh ground peppercorns
  • 1 package of linguini cooked and drained

Melt the butter and toss in the garlic and get that browning. Deglaze with a little wine and add the shrimp and the rest of the wine. Cook until the shrimp are done, nice and firm, about six minutes or so. Then remove the shrimp for the pan and set aside. Add the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and reduce this down to a little thicker sauce. Then add the linguine and get tit well coated with the pan sauce, and then add back the shrimp. Warm every thing and serve it up shaved Parmesan cheese and with some garlic toast…. And wine!

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Basic Stuffed Stripe Bass

Strippers are running just off shore. And they seem to be plentiful when the boats pull into Babylon, the local fishmonger is running a sale on whole fish. So, one great way to cook these up for a bunch of friends is to keep that bass whole, stuff it, bake it, and bring it to the table.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 two pound whole striped bass
  • 2 cups of cubed bread for stuffing
  • ½ cup of diced tomatoes
  • ½ of a small red onion diced
  • ¼ tsp tarragon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Sea salt

Combine the bread crumbs, tomatoes, onions, tarragon, salt and pepper to taste. Use this simple stuffing mix to stuff your cleaned and dressed striped bass. Use toothpicks or those fancy bamboo skewers to close the fish and place it on a baking rack. Brush butter on top of the fish and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily.

stripped_bass

Butternut Squash with Red Onion

Butternut squash is one of those things that is practically indestructible in the pantry and seem to be plentiful in the fall. Cherry Valley market had a good price on these the other day so I picked one up with a nice couple of red onions and decided to get these two together on an date so to speak.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium butternut squash cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • About 10 dates diced
  • ¼ cup Duck Walk white
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Sea salt

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the squash and brown it. Add the onions and garlic, cook till the onions are soft. Add the dates and deglaze with the wine. Cook this down till the liquid evaporates. Mix in the chives and remove from the heat. Serve! Preferable with a stripped sea bass:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH