So, school's now pretty much in full-swing for everyone. Here in Houston, we're actually about a month into the school year already. As our family's primary cook I'm thinking about some faster recipes for school nights - and also the idea that Fall is starting to creep up to us (not fast enough for me!). I found a recipe that in my mind pulls both of these ideas together. It's a comfort food (roast chicken) recipe but with warm thyme and maple flavors. I don't know about you, but herb-y and maple-y speaks to me. So, this week's featured Recipe of the Week is Maple Thyme Roasted Chicken from Texas' own LocalSavour.com.
Do you know what a roux (pronounced “roo”) is? Think of roux as a thickener for sauces, gravies, stews, and soups. It combines equal parts flour and butter. It’s one of those foundational things that you really should know - and will turn to on a regular basis. Another reason to know how to make a roux is that it’s used as the foundation for three of the five “mother sauces” of classical French cooking: béchamel sauce, velouté sauce, and espagnole sauce. (What?!?!? You’re not familiar with those five “mother sauces”? You can read about them here: "Can You Make the Five 'Mother Sauces'?".) So, think of it as a fundamental element of making sauces.
Caramelized tomato + chevre filling. Do I need to say any more to get you interested in making this week's great featured recipe? Have you ever caramelized tomatoes? I must admit, I haven't. But I sure love the idea! Still not sold yet? (Tough cookie, you are!) Let me add two more phrases: "homemade savory, buttery, flaky crust" and "creamy goat cheese". Are you in? I sure am! So much so that I decided to make this recipe my featured Recipe of the Week. It's called Tomato Chevre Tarte Tatin and it's from a beautiful blog called AdventuresInCooking.com.
Have you ever been to a restaurant and looked longingly at the beautiful, silky, creamy sauce that has been dripped over a nice piece of meat, poultry, or fish - and wished you could do that at home? You know what? Although it looks like something only a "saucier" (or sauté chef) could churn out, the truth is that making a pan sauce is really not that hard. You can (and should) master this technique. Here's how.
Well, September's officially here. But I live in Texas, which means that Fall weather won't start hitting us until January. OK, ok, that's a overstatement. But, really guys. The thermometer is still regularly topping 90 degrees every day. But, let me be clear - I LOVE Autumn! So, here;'s the question of the day: Will featuring a Fall-like recipe (apples, cinnamon, etc.) make Fall come earlier? Let's answer that age-old question: Does Autumn follow cinnamon or does cinnamon follow Autumn? I guess we'll find out, huh? So, here's my (possibly vain) attempt to have Fall come early. My featured Recipe of the Week is Apple Pie Cake from Foodess.com.
Let’s face it, our lives are very, very busy. Work, school, family, etc., etc., etc. As a result, we’ve become pretty darn good at looking for ways to shave time from things. We found that route that saves 5-10 minutes from our commute. We plow through “junk” emails while on the phone. We shouldn’t, but we knock off calls, emails, and texts while in the car. Don’t you feel like sometimes your week has become a never-ending list of to-dos and shortcuts? And, yes, that does extend into our homes - cleaning, laundry, cooking our meals. We want the fastest way to get food on the table. And trust me I get it. Especially on busy weeknights.
But as we have plowed through Summer and past Labor Day, we know Autumn is just ahead. I’m going to argue for taking a little extra time…to make our meals better (and better for you) and the preparation of them more enjoyable.
As a cooking blogger, I some across tons of recipes each week. I try to share the best ones I see. (For those of you that follow me on social media, I hope you like the ones I share!) But, since I don't develop recipes on my site I try to find a great mix of recipes to share as my highlighted Recipe of the Week; different types of dishes, those that use interesting and/or seasonal ingredients, those that feature techniques you should learn, introduce you to new foods or terms with which you may not be familiar, etc. This week's Recipe of the Week hits a few of those notes. It introduces you to the French dish clafoutis (think something bread pudding-ish) and uses the spice cardamom which is extensively used in Scandinavian and East Indian cooking. So, with that build-up, let me share with you this week's featured Recipe of the Week, Cardamom and Stone Fruit Clafoutis from TheKitchn.com.
I’ve come to believe that keeping your knives in good condition doesn't have to be some big, magical thing. Like so much in life, it’s really about about forming positive daily habits that keep everything in good working order. And it’s nothing super-difficult. Just a few small steps each time you use your knives and you’ll be good to go. Here are some of those daily habits.
The weekend’s almost here. You might be thinking about what to make for breakfast or brunch. And does anything cream the word brunch any louder than FRITTATA? And here we are getting toward the end of summer. So our favorite produce will pretty soon (1) not be as available as it is now and (2) the summer produce we DO have might be piling up on us. (The latter being a nice problem to have!)
Yes, yes football season is almost here. SO, how could I not throw in a football reference? Huh? Well, seeing as how I'm more of a baseball and hockey fan, you won't get too many more of those. But it sure fit right here!
Anyway....most of us have at least one big recipe - that one big dish that we just haven’t been willing to tackle yet. Maybe we’re afraid we’ll screw it up. Maybe we’re just not ready to commit the time to it. Maybe we don’t have all the skills or techniques yet. Maybe we aren’t familiar with one or more of the ingredients. Whatever our reasons, I say it’s time to tackle it. THIS week. This coming weekend.
I'm a fan of small dishes. The perfect meal to me is one in which I can try 3-4 different things at once - just a little of each. And I like to cook things that are healthy, flavorful, and in-season whenever possible. This week's featured dish pulls it all together in one place. Summer's fresh corn, some pepper-y kick and they can be pan-fried or baked. I do like choices! So I thought I'd share this one with you - Jalapeño Vegan Corn Fritters from ConnoisseurusVeg.com as this week's Recipe of the Week.
I've seen them on television and in the movies. I've seen a closed one on a cruise ship. But, one thing I've never had the good fortune to do is to work observe a commercial kitchen in action. And I've always wondered what it's like. Is it like we see on the screen? Temperamental chefs. Pots, pans, utensils, and dishes flying around. Fires theatrically flaring up from stovetops. Kitchen staff chopping and cooking and yelling and running like crazy. In a nutshell...pandemonium.
Well, just recently I had the good fortune to visit a popular local restaurant (Canopy) during one of their busier times - a Sunday morning brunch, What an awesome experience! It was a little like what I had imaged but to be honest so much more controlled - and much less dramatic. Just good people doing good hard work they love.
I've eaten at Canopy (and their co-owned restaurant, Shade) a number of times, so I know the wonderful, beautifully presented food (and some of the best baked goods around) they churn out. I wanted to know how that all happened. What's it like there in the back of the house? Is it anything like I'd imagined. I asked the owner Claire if I could pay a visit to observe sometime. She graciously said yes.
Summer is the time I like to sing the praises of tomatoes - especially fresher, more local (maybe even heirloom) tomatoes. So when I saw this recipe for a really great, inventive salad that incorporates lovely small heirloom and/or cherry tomatoes (both raw AND roasted), spicy harissa (an aromatic and spicy chili paste from North Africa), caraway seeds, goat cheese, and a touch of sweetness from brown sugar or maple syrup, I was sold! Sooooo, this week's featured Recipe of the Week is Roasted Tomato Salad from 101Cookbooks.com.
Well, it’s August and summer’s bearing down on us pretty hard right now (especially here in Texas). As the summer season rolls on, there are just tons of different fruits and vegetables that are at their absolute peak this time of year. And you really should be trying to get your hands on them - to eat and to cook with.
So, here we are late-summer. What’s in season? Look for these fruits and vegetables in abundance at your market - and put them to work in your kitchen and./or your your backyard grill. Some that are especially good during the summer include:
I came across this gem of a recipe the other day and had to ask myself "Is a no-bake recipe still a recipe?". Hmmm. You certainly combine ingredients and there's a technique or a process to follow. But no cooking. What's the definition of a "recipe" anyway? And then after a few minutes of wrestling with this very deep, very existential question I came up with a solution. No one cares. It's awesome. It's simple. I should make it this week's Recipe of the Week. Let me introduce you to the snacking goodness that is No Bake Cookie Dough Balls from one of my favorite sites, WellPlated.com.
If your family is like mine, cooking for the crew can be a little challenging. We have six people in our family - and all with different likes and dislikes. Some days it seems like NO ONE can agree on what to eat. I face this practically every day. Four kids and me being a vegetarian. Well, you can do the math on that one! Sometimes I feel like a line-cook in a diner. LOL. So, I started thinking what I do that helps simplify things and get dinner on the table before midnight! I thought I'd share few tricks and tips that help.
Cheesecakes can be tricky business. Temperamental ingredients, water bath cooking, cracks, etc. So, when I stumbled across this recipe which uses ricotta instead of full-fat cream cheese (lightening it up a bit) and NO (I repeat, no!) water bath (and a fun back-story to boot), I knew this one was destined to be my Recipe of the Week this week. So, let me introduce you to your newest best friend: Raspberry Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake from one of my favorite sites, Cake 'n Knife.
Have you ever gone to a cooking class at your local kitchen store? I’ve been to several and have really gotten a lot from the experience. I have found that attending a cooking class can really improve yours cooking skills quickly. You’ll usually walk away with more knowledge some recipes
The other night I went to cooking school. I went to the “Sharpen Your Knife Skills” class at Central Market here in Houston. I found it an interesting experience. Since I’ve taken a few similar cooking classes over the years, it made me think about the best way to get get the most out of your class.
¡Ay, caramba! ¿Una receta mexicana dos semanas en una fila? Which (I think) means" "Oh wow! A Mexican recipe two weeks in a row?"
And the answer is yes. I wasn't out trolling around looking for another Mexican recipe, but when I came across this one it caught me eye. It brings together so many great things - any of which would be super on their own - the cool little corn meal cakes, the smoky beans (I love smoky flavor), the avocado salsa. So, in effect, I'm sharing with you three recipes in one. Go ahead - start thanking me. :)
I was at Sur La Table the other day for a Vitamix event they were having. Of course while I was there I had a few other things to check out. One thing I've been thinking about is purchasing a kind of knife many people have never even heard of before, a nakiri knife. I am thinking of buying one. I thought you might find it interesting to learn a little about them and about what I found when I compared two of the most popular ones.
Today I'm thinking about both yesterday and tomorrow. A little philosophical? Perhaps. Well, no not really. It's just a darn clever way to introduce this week's featured Recipe of the Week. Yesterday I had the great fortune to spend some time with Abi, the owner of one of my favorite new food blogs VeryVeganish.com. We discusses family, business, blogging, and food. (More on Abi and her wonderful blog and story a little later.) Tomorrow I'll be taking my family out to dinner. And last week I promised one of my triplets (yes, we have been blessed with triplets!) that we would go to one of his favorite restaurants called Escalante's, a slightly-upscale local Mexican place. And there, being a vegetarian, I typically only have 1-2 choices - and almost always choose the spinach and mushroom enchiladas. So go I go out to scan through Abi's VeryVeganish.com blog and what do I come across? Her Tex Mex Spinach and Corn Enchilada Deep Dish recipe. It was a sign from above that that recipe had to be this week's Recipe of the Week.
The other day I was driving between Houston and Brenham, TX. Along the side of the road are local stands (often just the backs of pickup trucks) selling local watermelons, peaches tomatoes, etc. I decide to stop and buy a bunch of tomatoes. I figured (1) they were locally grown which are so much better and (2) they helped support local area farmers. We all know that produce grown locally just has a different, fresher flavor. Those apples and onions in your local grocery store were probably picked at least a week ago. And if they had any flavor at all to begin with (doubtful), it's lost it by the time it reaches your grocer and your home. It got me to thinking of produce quality and flavor. That got me to thinking of heirloom tomatoes. I’m certain you’ve heard the term “heirloom tomato” and have at least a vague idea of what it means. Talk about flavor! Have you had one? Do you grow them? Have you ever thought about what makes them so different? That sounded more and more like a blog post to me, so here we go!
Dang it's gotten hot quickly here in Houston! There's no doubt that summer has got a grip on us right now. So, if you're like me sometimes you look for ways to put together great dishes without turning on an oven or a stovetop. And I also wanted one that used some of the awesome produce that is so plentiful this time of year. And that just screams BERRIES! So, this week I went in search of one such recipe. What I came across fits the bill perfectly...tasty, sweet, and NO-BAKE! So, this week's Recipe of the Week is No-Bake Berry Cheesecake from one of my favorite blogs, Mandy's Recipe Box (a site I have featured on this blog before).
Nonstick cookware is pretty much all about the nonstick surface, right? Once the surface is messed up, the whole thing is pretty messed up. Food starts sticking to it, you start to wonder if you are eating bits of the black coating, etc. Truth is, it’s life span is really about five years. So, how do we keep that surface as nice and clean as possible for as long as possible? Well, there are a couple of things you can do. Here are a few pointers.
So last night I spent the evening harvesting tons of sweet basil from my planters and my garden...and turning it into enough basil pesto to last us years! And at the same time I had Food Network's Chopped (one of my favorite shows) rolling along on the TV. Not a bad evening, huh? And this morning my kitchen was still suffering from a post-pesto hangover of sorts - the drying food processor, the still-strong smell of basil and garlic wafting through the air, a big bag of finished pesto hardening in my freezer. And the kicker? And as is seemingly always the case, I ran out of pine nuts before I ran out of basil. So, back to the store today with the promise of more pesto-making this evening.
You’ve heard of coconuts, coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut water. Have you ever heard of coconut cream? I hadn’t until very recently. Is it possible that I’m one of the last to the party? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time! Anyway, I have to admit that I’m more than a little intrigued (maybe infatuated?) with coconut cream. If you’ve been using it for a while…ummmm….thanks for telling me! If you’re new to it, let me be the first to turn you on to this stuff. Oh, and, you’re welcome! :)
It was Mexican dinner night the other night. Shrimp tacos. Refried beans. Spanish rice. Tortilla chips. so of course we just had to have pico de gallo to go with it. And because I love cilantro I had some chopping ahead of me. And if you've ever chopped cilantro, like a lot of herbs it can be hard to chop up into small pieces with leaves flying around and all. At the last second I remembered the mezzaluna knife that I had bought last year - and never used. Wow! Could I kick myself now? What was I thinking? The mezzaluna is my new favorite herb cutting tool! So I just had to share it with you.
It's summer. And here in TX the temperature is getting hot, hot, hot. The strawberry crop is in full swing. This is when I look for ways to throw them into so many different recipes like pies, salads, etc...or just eat them by themselves. Then I came across this gem from Hilah Cooking and just HAD to make to share it. It's simple, cool, and oh-so-summery. So guys this week's Recipe of the Week is Whipped Coconut Cream with Strawberries from Hilah Cooking. Let's check it out a little more closely.
Summer is now upon us! And if you have a backyard I bet you have already been back there grilling. For many it’s steaks, hot dogs, burgers. For other it’s grilled veggies. But, how many of you have tried your hand at grilling fruits? It’s a great way to try something different. Something lighter and sweeter right off the grill.
Well, I'm on a semi-vacation this week. We're enjoying a week in beautiful San Diego, CA. We've enjoyed time at the beach, at the San Diego Zoo, at the Birch Aquarium, at Petco Park watching the Padres, seeing the seals (and having a great lunch with a view at Georges Ocean Terrace) in La Jolla, and a few other great activities. Oh, and overnight there ws even a 5.2 earthquake felt here in San Diego. The COMPLETE California experience! So, while I'm taking it easy a little I thought I should share a recipe that takes it easy as well. How about an easy, simple (yet still tasty!) recipe? So, in that spirit I chose White Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic and Herbs from the Naturally Ella blog as the Recipe of the Week this week.
As some of you who follow me on social media may know, I recently did a weight-loss thing. I hit my goal of losing 30 pounds (yay!) and I am in the process of “short-term maintenance”. This part of the plan involves adding some foods back into my diet. One thing this includes is a limited number of grains. And one of the grains that’s at the top of my list is millet. Have you ever heard of millet? Have you ever used it? Since I now get to include some carbs back into my diet I thought I’d introduce you to this wonderful ancient grain.
As always I like to share one of the best recipes that I came across during the last week. This week I found a wonderful one that I think you're gonna love. From one of my favorite Houston local bloggers (A Tasty Mess), including one of my favorite ingredients (zucchini noodles), and using one of my favorite tools (a spiralizer). Bing! A triple-play. So, I just had to make French Onion Zucchini Noodles from A Tasty Mess my Recipe of the Week.
Are you thinking about buying some new cookware - and have settled on stainless steel? Good choice. Theres a reason (well, several reasons) why stainless steel cookware has been so popular over so long. Let's look at a few of the key characteristics that make stainless so great - and think about which ones are more important.
The weekend is here. A three-day weekend at that. As we get ever closer to summer, beautiful, fresh berries are appearing more and more in our markets. So, why not start to put them to work, huh? I've been scanning around looking for a great recipe to share with you that employs those berries. And I found one! Truth is, I found loads of them. The hard part was picking one to focus on for this week. I chose this one because (1) it's so darn good and (2) it gives us a little info you may not have known. Oh, and a little sweepstakes you may want to drop your name into. (More on that in a sec.)
Have you ever heard of a Pullman bread loaf? It’s a square-shaped bread loaf with a light crust. (Think of a tube in the shape of a square.) The Pullman loaf is a somewhat dense, tight-crumb bread with less of a crust than we are used to seeing in typical sandwich breads. And it's square, so it doesn't have the more rounded top we are used to seeing also. They loaves have a thin crust and a soft, finely textured crumb. These loaves are also called "pain de mie" in French, which means "bread of the crumb".
I love recipes targeted toward weeknight cooking. Those that simplify more complex, more involved recipes that we love. Well, this is one of those recipes. It takes a dish many love, pasta carbonara, and simplifies it to make it quicker, simpler...in short, more "weeknight-friendly". This week's Recipe of the Week is Carbonara Orzo Risotto from TheKitchn.com, one of my favorite websites.
In the race for the “right” vanilla flavor you need to balance flavor with the cost. Do you go (maybe invest is a better word?) for the real stuff or is imitation okay? What’s the difference? What’s the tradeoff? Is there a time when you’d want to use one vs. The other? Well, here’s the stuff you need to know.
Crêpes. Love 'em. Scared to make 'em. That about sums it up for most people, doesn't it? Admit it. What words/phrases come to mind when you think of crêpes? Difficult? Fussy? Frustrating? Lots of work and planning?
So, what if I told you there was a recipe that tackles both sides of all this? One that makes a tasty crêpe that's easy to make and avoids a lot of the headaches? You'd be interested, right? Well, good. Because I certainly am!
It may be time for an upgraded kitchen knife. If you’re like me you may have never thought much about your knives or thought you wouldn’t spend the money on one of those higher-end knives. The weight, balance, and cutting ability of that first really good knife made all the difference in the world. Honestly, I could just feel the difference. This is not only beautifully designed but also is very solidly constructed. It made me think about the other cheap knives I had in my drawer. I could feel what a difference a really top-notch knife could make. Not as any type of status symbol, but as a well-designed, well-built tool. My curiosity was peaked. I wanted to learn more - and also see if I could upgrade the rest of my knives.
I ask you. Would it be Mothers Day without brunch? And would it be brunch without scones? Correct answers: No and no. And so off I went hunting for a great Spring-like scone recipe. It didn't take long to find just the perfect thing. So this week's Recipe of the Week is from one of my favorite bloggers, Gaby Dalkin ("Your Everyday California Girl"), over at What's Gaby Cooking: Meyer Lemon Blueberry Scones. As Gaby put it so well on her blog, "...it’s a combo of perfectly ripe and juicy blueberries, lemon curd AND a Meyer lemon glaze.".
Choosing the right cutting board(s). Boy, is this one of the most overlooked decisions people make in their kitchens! You may not think about it much, but your cutting surface can make a ton of difference in your cooking. The wrong cutting board can leave behind germs, dull your knives, and just generally make it harder to cut. There are several types out there; some better than others. Here are some of the more common ones you’ll come across.
Well, here we are venturing deeper and deeper into Spring. Here in the Houston area it has been one wet and soggy Spring so far. In fact, we're still dealing with flooded reservoirs and bayous - with more rain expected this weekend. Sigh.
So let's turn instead back to the garden. As I wrote a few weeks ago, so many great veggies start showing up at this time of year - spinach, asparagus, green onions, spring peas, etc. That's why this recipe stood out to me. It's a perfect way to use some of the asparagus that is so nice and tender right now. The flavors of the creamy, tangy goat cheese, the sweetness brought out in the roasted asparagus, and the spicy arugula go particularly well together.
This week's Recipe of the Week is Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Pizza from OhMyVeggies.
Have you ever braised meat? Heard about it and wondered how it’s done? It can seem a little intimidating, can’t it? Honestly, once you learn the basics of braising you can transform even the toughest cut of meat into a tender masterpiece. Braising is just one of those very basic cooking techniques that you HAVE to know. It’s not really that hard - and you’ll be happy you know how.
What is it that made this recipe catch my attention this week? Well, a couple of things. First, I have to admit it. I’ve been on a bit of a blue cheese kick this week. I picked up some blue cheese at the market the other day and I’ve been finding ways to include it wherever I can. I love it’s strong, tangy flavor. I’ve been eating lots of cheese lately, but mostly of the mainstream cheddar, butterkäse, swiss, and havarti varieties. Blue cheese just sounded like a really good alternative with a punch of flavor. So when I saw this recipe with a honeyed blue cheese sauce it just spoke to me. :)
Secondly, I came across the beautiful de Buyer blue steel crepe pan I picked up a few months ago and have used exactly ZERO times! Time to break it out...
In addition, where else are you gonna find a recipe that tells you how to make great crepes AND caramelized onions - and an interesting sauce too? Oh yeah! So, this week’s Recipe of the Week just had to be Caramelized Onion Crepes with Honeyed Blue Cheese Sauce from LocalSavour.com.
There are SO MANY cooking oils available to the home cook nowadays, it can be confusing and overwhelming. Of course there are the old standards, canola, olive, corn, sunflower, safflower, “vegetable”, etc. And in recent years we’ve seen tremendous growth in some more unique gourmet oils like nut oils (hazelnut, walnut, etc.), avocado oil, coconut oil, etc. In addition, we’ve become much more aware that there are even differences (sometimes big ones) in the oils we are more familiar with. (After all, an olive oil is not just an olive oil, right?)
So, how do we make sense of them all? How do we know when or why to use one vs. another? I thought I’d share a primer on some of the keys to look for - what’s important and what’s not.
Dang taxes! What started out as an exercise in entering "just a few more numbers" turned into an all-day affair. In addition to those couple of numbers, I also had to enter (one-by-one!) every investment transaction that occurred when we moved some of our investments around late last year. Yes, I spent waaaay too much of my time today entering individual investment transactions into TurboTax. Fun, right? Nothing better to do, right? Grrrrrr.
Anyway, I'm here now and ready to share a great recipe I came across this week. The first word "smoky" got my attention. I love food infused with a wonderful smoky flavor. As I read further I loved the idea of a soup with tons of flavor, veggies, beans, and, yes, yes, yes, smoky flavor. So this week's Recipe of the Week is Smoky Black Bean Soup from Joy the Baker.
Cooking sure can get complicated. Sometimes we're trying to emulate the cooking we see on TV. Sometimes we’re learning more and more, so we’re trying to test ourselves. Sometimes we're just trying to do too much at once. Sometimes at my house I feel like things in the kitchen are just getting too involved - taking too much time, requiring too much attention, causing too much frustration. How about you?
So, my challenge to you (and to myself) this week is to look for ways to simplify our cooking and our time in the kitchen. And to get you started I have a few ideas to share:
Soufflé. I don't know about you. But what I grew up knowing about the soufflé was two things: (1) that it's a "fancy" thing rich people ate, and (2) it is so delicate that any loud noise will make it fall. C'mon don't you remember those sit-coms that used the baking soufflé as a comedy trope? Remember? The Brady Bunch? The Mary Tyler Moore Show? (Or am I aging myself?)
It turns out that making a soufflé isn't really all that hard and magical. But it is really, really good - and really doesn't fall like it did on TV. So, with a nod toward breakfast (yay!) and toward making the soufflé accessible, I came across this recipe and thought it would be great for this week's Recipe of the Week. So, here's to the Cheese Soufflé with Fresh Chives recipe I found at the Williams-Sonoma Taste blog.
The foundation of cooking is anchored in knowing a few basic things - roasting, braising, frying, etc. - and several basic cutting techniques. Today I thought I’d zero in on one of those knife techniques, the julienne cut. You’ve seen julienne-cut vegetables plenty of times. It’s the ones that are essentially thinly-cut strips that look a lot like matchsticks.
I'm feeling like a side dish this week. But not just any side dish. One with veggies (of course). One with FLAVOR. One that perhaps is just a notch up on the "fancy-scale". (Bet you didn't know there was such a thing, did you?) And before you get all "You're getting WAY too uppity for me!" remember two things: (1) haricots verts are green beans (pretty unfancy) and this recipe uses frozen haricots verts.
Now, with that set-up let me introduce this week's Recipe of the Week: Mustardy Haricots Verts from ThatSkinnyChickCanBake.com blog.
The kitchen knife edge. The cutting surface. Where the rubber meets the road…ummmm…I mean where the knife meets the food. The more you learn about knives, the more choices you realize you have - for almost every part of the knife. Different tangs, different bolsters, different handles, etc. And the cutting surface is no different. So I thought it would be helpful to focus a little on the different elements of the knife blade's edge, some differences, and the specific purpose each one has.
As Winter sort of peters out (at least for MOST people) and Spring starts to spring we can start looking for the first great early-Spring veggies to show up fresh at your grocer and at your favorite farmer’s markets. I thought it would be interesting to highlight just a few of the best late-March vegetables to be looking for. (Of course, this all depends on where you live - so some of these may appear a few weeks earlier or later…but soon!).
With St. Patrick's Day still in our wake (and I guess for those who may have had a little too much of that green beer and/or a few too many pints o' Guinness, it may still be with you), my thoughts this week are staying with things Irish.
This week's Recipe of the Week: Real Irish Soda Bread from one of my favorite websites, SeriousEats.com.
Well, it’s Spring Break. As my family decamped to a lake house for most of this week (with many recipes in tow since we cook almost all of our meals there) it’s reminded me of an interesting dilemma I face sometimes. Cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen. Have you ever faced this challenge? You know what I find every time I do this? That it puts my skills to the test. Dull (often cheap) knives. Sometimes a mismatched set of pots and pans. Random tools. Ovens and stovetops you have to figure out. And trying to find where everything is. It’s an interesting experience. It can feel like you were just dropped into an episode of Chopped!
It made me think about some ideas for making the challenge just a little bit easier. So here are some ideas for succeeding in an unfamiliar kitchen.
As Spring starts to poke it's head out, our minds start to turn to....asparagus, of course. I love asparagus and actually my kids do too (ok, ok, 2 of of 4 do...but those two LOVE it). So, I'm often happy when I run across a new recipe that features it. This one certainly fits the bill
Don’t you just love those little ribbons of herbs sprinkled across your pasta dish? Ever wonder how the cook gets ‘em that way? It's called a chiffonade (pronounced "shif-oh-NOD") cut. The chiffonade is a technique used to cut fresh leafy vegetables and herbs into slender ribbons. (BTW, "chiffonade" is a French word meaning "made of rags".) It sounds fancy-schmancy, but it’s actually a pretty easy technique to master with just a little practice.
Are you thinking about breakfast for the family this weekend? Maybe something a little different? Maybe something nice and simple? The mix of oats, brown sugar, butter, and tart cranberries in this recipe really spoke to me. And adding the crème fraîche definitely helps give the flavor a little additional complexity - along with keeping them moist.
I bet by now you have at least heard of the ancient grain known as farro. Have you tried it? Have you made it? If not, you should. In addition to being an all-around winner nutrition-wise and taste-wise, it can do so many other things besides. So, let's back up a sec and talk a little more about farro.
Recently, I saw a rerun of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes "The Dinner Party" in which babka from Royal Bakery played a central role. For anyone who grew up in New York and/or Jewish and/or or just appreciated "The Dinner Party" episode, babka is truly something to love. Babka is a sweet cross between a cake and a bread. It's similar in texture to challah bread although a little more cake-like. It's something your bubbe would have made as they were typically baked by Jewish grandmothers (especially those from Poland or other parts of Eastern Europe).
My kitchen is pretty big (two big counters and a recently-expanded center island). So why the heck can’t I find a space to set down some serving plates, a hot pan, or whatever is in my hands? Why are the drawers always stuffed with utensils…but yet I can’t locate the ONE I need? Why do spices jump out at me when I open the spice cabinet…and then I don’t even recognize the spice that did the jumping?
Do you sometimes feel like your kitchen is closing on on you? I know I sometimes do. So what are some things we can do to improve our cooking spaces to make cooking easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable?
Breakfast was on my mind this week. Quick breakfast. Between commuting, travel, family, etc., breakfast is a luxury many of us forgo. I know I do. Soooo, wouldn't it be great to have a breakfast that you can eat rather quickly or take on the road with you? Sure it would! And we all know that sometimes that means that super-fatty, high-calorie, ultra-salty, and (let's be honest here) not very tasty stuff you might pick up at a fast-food place. And, by the way, I was also looking for one that doesn't take forever to make. C'mon world...give us a better alternative!
In the world of food you don’t hear too much about parsnips, do you? Oh, you’ve heard the name. You’re not quite sure what they are though, are you? And you most likely have never bought or cooked one. Well, maybe I can change that.
With Valentine's Day quickly upon us (SUNDAY, for those of you who are on planet Mars!) I went searching for (you guessed it) something sweet. After all, what screams Valentines Day more than a chocolately dessert? So off I went for something nice, sweet, chocolately. When I came across this recipe on the SheWearsManyHats.com blog I knew it was THE one. Chocolate and cookie dough. Need I say more? Yeah, I didn't think so. This week's Recipe of the Week is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles.
Today I thought I’d take us back to the basics a little bit. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how important proper knife handling is - for control and, yeah, for keeping all your fingers where they belong. So I'm going to get you away from that grabbing the handle thing you are doing and onto the proper grip that will give you more control, power, and safety.
Now I'm not sure why, but this week I just felt like finding something warm and comforting to share with you. And along comes this great casserole recipe with pasta, beef, onions, garlic, marinara, cheese. What's more comforting and warm than that, right? But as I like to do I bookmarked it and kept looking around and reading. And I kept coming back to this warm, simple recipe. Mmmm pasta. Mmmm onions. Mmmm garlic. Mmmm cheese. Mmmm basil. Obviously I was hooked (and I think you'll be also).
The Meyer lemon. A Chinese houseplant until Frank Meyer came along in 1908. A USDA agricultural explorer (yes, his title was “Agricultural Explorer”), Meyer reportedly found these lemon tree growing in pots near Peking (now Beijing). It was pretty much considered an ornamental tree. Meyer was on a mission to collect new plant species. Among the 2,500 (!) he introduced into the US was the lemon that now bears his name.
What? A savory "pancake" with a beautiful Italian name that can be topped with all sorts of great ingredients? A great basic recipe that is flexible enough to make into tons of different dishes? My ears perked up...or my eyes bulged....or my mouth drooled...or something like that happened. Anyhow, I liked the idea a lot!
Ok, right now I bet your answer to my title question is: "How do I know if I can make them? I don't even know what the &?@#$!*^ they are!"? Fair enough. The five "mother sauces" are the fundamental sauces that form the foundation for all the sauces in classic French cooking. And no you don't have to be cooking French dishes to use and appreciate them. They come from the French tradition but are used in dishes of all types.
I have to admit that I love breakfast even though I don't get to eat it very often. So when I do get time to make breakfast I want to make it something special. Personally I'm especially drawn to dishes that are more savory and less sweet. (I know, I know...but, hey, that's just me). Anything with eggs usually gets my vote. Find something creative to put in an omelette and I'm there. A frittata? Bring it on! A little spice? You bet! So maybe that's why this week's recipe got my attention.
This week's Recipe of the Week is: Shakshuka (Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce) with Broiled Feta from the website Foodess.com. Eggs, veggies, cheese, some spice, let's go!
Let’s begin with a simple question. Have you ever heard of “supreming” citrus? I must admit that I hadn’t heard that term until recently. But I bet we’ve all seen the results of supreming. You know that can of cute little mandarin orange slices? The oranges have been supremed. So has the citrus in your fruit salad at a restaurant (or at least it SHOULD be).
I was trolling around for a new pasta recipe the other day and came across this wonderful one from RachelCooks.com. It caught my eye for lots of reasons - reasons like pasta, spinach, and a cheesy, lemony, creamy sauce. And even better it's a way for me to use some of the zest from the lemons still on my patio lemon plant (which is becoming more of a tree!).
This week I want to try that onion dicing trick. You probably know the one. You dice an onion while keeping it intact by not cutting through the root and making vertical AND horizontal cuts to make the evenly cut diced onion fall apart. I have a few tricks like that that I want to learn and practice this year.
It got me to thinking that sometimes cooking can be like the businesses I consult with. You have to have strategic goals (aligned with your mission) and shorter-term tactics and actions that will help you get there. So why not have these for areas of your personal life too? When it comes to cooking, I have a few that I plan to concentrate on this year.
Happy New Year everyone! I want to take a moment to thank all of you for tuning into HomeChefsMarket.com. I just started this site a few months ago and it's really starting to pick up steam. (Yeah, pun intended. ;) )
So, who's in the mood for a little Chinese food today? I know I am! But, let's start the year off in a healthier, cleaner way. How about a vegan Chinese dish? This week's Recipe of the Week is Veggie Lo Mein with Pan-fried Tofu from OhMyVeggies.com (one of my favorite go-to veggie recipe blogs).
I know, I know. There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of herbs and spices you can have in your kitchen. So, I tried to boil the list down (get it? LOL) to the relative few that pretty much every cook needs to have. I think I got it down to thirteen or so...not bad. These are the ones I have found to most useful. The ones I go to over and over again.
Brown butter (or “buerre noisette” if you wanna sound fancy and French) is one of those mysterious secrets to good cooking. Or is it? Truth is brown butter adds rich, nutty taste, smells incredible…and is very, very easy to make. It’s great on savory dishes like pasta. Or toy can cream it into cakes or cookies to add another layer of complex flavor.
It’s pretty simple, really. And something everyone should know how to make. Here’s how to do it.
It’s getting SO close to Christmas. Yikes! Did you miss your chance to sit on Santa's lap this year? Are you needing a last-minute (ok, I guess it's really a last-second) gift for a friend or family member? Are they asking what you (an avid cook) would want? What would any cook want for the holidays? Well, I’m here to make that question just a little bit easier to answer.
The holidays are FAST approaching. If you are entertaining I know you are looking for great pick-up appetizers. But we are always on the lookout for something just a little different, just a little unique. Well this week's recipe is one of my favorites that fits the bill!
Have you come across “hard anodized” cookware and wondered what the heck that is? Well, in a nutshell it's aluminum cookware that has been chemically and electrically treated to make it hard and (almost) nonstick. It has that gray finish you are probably familiar with.
The frantic yells go out..."Where the heck is that 9x13 baking dish!?!?!?!" "Where's the salt?!?!?!" Does that sound familiar? It sure does to me. I've shouted that (or something very much like it) many times!
If there is one thing that has helped my cooking in the last year or so it’s applying the concept of “mise en place”. Mise en place is a French term meaning “set in place”. In many ways I feel that it has made me a better, more efficient home cook (when I remember do it!). And when I don't, I always regret it.
I’m a fan of NOT complicating things unnecessarily. I’m not a huge fan of buying single-use kitchen gadgets or tools (although I DO admit that I have a strawberry huller that I really like :) ). So, when it comes to knives I try to keep things simple. I think (especially starting out) that you should only buy the knives you need. And there's waaaaaay more out there than you actually need to run your kitchen successfully.
I’m a believer that there’s really only three types of knives you need as a gourmet-level home cook - with a fourth that you might consider. As I said before, I think you need three essential knives in your kitchen - a chefs knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife (and maybe, just maybe, a fourth). I have found that these three can do almost anything you need to do. So, let’s hit each one.
When cooking have you ever just ignored that line in the recipe that says “Cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.”. Thinking “When it looks done, it’s done” or “I’ll just cook it the length of time it says in the recipe.”. C’mon. Admit it. We’ve all done that. Why? It's easier. And anyway, many of us don't have or know how to use a thermometer properly. But unless you like to gamble with fun things like salmonella and E.coli, I’d suggest using a thermometer.
Learning to use a thermometer properly can take a lot of the guesswork out of our cooking. So here ya go. A quick lesson on using a meat thermometer.
All week long I'm following, reading, and sharing so many great food- and cooking-related resources. Recipes. Tips. Techniques. Tools and gadgets. As you know I like to highlight one recipe that caught my eye each week.
I’ll be honest. Salt’s kinda had me stymied. Table salt. Kosher salt. Sea salt. They have different names and seem to be favored in different recipes or different cooking techniques, so there much be some difference, right?. But I’ve never known what that difference was. Well, let’s remove the mystery.
Actually, none of those statements is true. (OK, the heavy part is true.) What else is true is that many cooks are simply afraid of cast iron. I know I was. Then I bought a few pieces from Lodge about 2-3 years ago. They were reasonably-priced and I was curious. I have to admit I’m still learning; but I have definitely fallen in love with my cast iron.
November? Already? Wasn’t it just Labor Day? Weren’t we just talking about grilling? Yikes! Well, in case you have a little calendar-challenge going on, Thanksgiving is still a few weeks off. Thursday, November 26th just so you know. So you still have 2 1/2 weeks to get ready. And if you start now you can keep Thanksgiving relatively simple and low-stress.