Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Deviled Eggs

This time of year Easter is upon us and we get colorful and creative. What better why then with colorful eggs. These simple and bright Easter Deviled eggs can turn not only the outside but the inside into a Easter palette. But first, we need to create the canvas for our creations.
 
Cooking eggs has been a constant battle. Do you use fresh? Old? With vinegar? Without? Do you cover the eggs with water? Do you slow cook them? Well really to cook a hard egg... and that is what we are doing, then first we have to understand the cooking method that works best. In our case steam is our friend. To be more precise, cooking our eggs in a steamer basket will do the job. Steam creates more of a softer method then boiling. It allows for even heat with out the eggs becoming hard and rubbery. And we all have seen the green coating around the yoke after we boil eggs. That green ring is caused by the protein level of the yolk getting over cooked and creating a breakdown of compounds and creating a sulfur ring. Think back to smelling rotten eggs.... remember the smell of sulfur?  Well the same thing happens when you boil the eggs over a high temp for a long time.
 
So assemble about 6-8 eggs and place them into a steamer basket and steam them for about 10 min.
cool over cold water and peel. Now cut in half the eggs and pop out the yokes into a separate bowl. With your nice egg whites, give them a little rinse then dry on a clean paper towel. Set out your containers for each color that you want to use. Make sure that the containers are deep enough for the colored water to go half way up before you dip your eggs. Select the colors you want. I have found that using the pastel food colors that you can find in the mega-mart works great for this application.
 
Next boil some water and then fill each container with the hot water to the half way mark. Add your food color, one or two drops per dipping container. Let the dipping container cool then take your hard steamed half whites and dip in the dipping container. It doesn't take long, about 15-30 sec for the color to adhere to the white. Remove from the dipping container and place on a paper towel to dry.
      
 With your yolks in a separate bowl, make your filling by adding a little mayonnaise, mustard and salt. Mix and then pipette into the colorful "whites" using a pastry bag and a star tip.
 
 Colorful Easter Deviled eggs for everyone and sure to bring a smile to your next Easter brunch!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Herbal Essence...



Herbs, Rosemary, Thyme & Sage
 For most of the country, spring has been anything but sunny mornings and tulips opening up in vivid colors in your garden. It has, for most of us, been a wonder as to what unusual weather pattern will we experience this week. Hail and snow in March for some parts of the country, to record highs when the norm has been in the lower 30's for other parts of the country. It has been hard to really get a handle on the spring time planting season as well as the needed sun to allow the already planted seeds and seedlings to grow.
One of the best things to plant at anytime (excluding outdoors in winter) has been herbs. You can't go wrong with chives or thyme fresh from your garden to bring life to often bland dishes. And where would we be without basil for pesto? Herbs are great for the kitchen window sill or in most areas of your garden that has a small patch of earth that calls out to be filled. Herbs are easy to grow, provide ample supply and can turn a ok dish into a WOW dish!
Some of my favorites tend to be the top five herbs you should always have on hand.

1. CHIVES - Baked potatoes wouldn't be the same without chives. This garlic/onion herb is also perfect for salads, dips, and soups. The flowers of the chive plant are edible and can be added to salads as well. This herb gives any dish a earthy onion flavor with out being overpowering.
2. THYME, We all need a little more thyme in our lives. This wonderful herb is one of the most used in cooking. Adding thyme to all meat dishes, vegetables, soups and stuffing's will spice the dish up just enough to be new again.
3. BASIL - Italian cooking would not be italian without basil. This aromatic, leafy herb is the ground work for pestos, sauces, salads, and pizzas. You can even try adding a little to your next shellfish dish, perfect!
4. ROSEMARY - Most commonly recognized as the herb in rosemary chicken, rosemary is more versatile than most home cooks realize. The delicate herb is the perfect addition to lamb, fish, potatoes, and breads. Rosemary can also be used to flavor oil for cooking and dressing salads.
5. SAGE -Sage is a wonderful herb used in many recipes. This herb is probably most readily known for its use in sausages, but the distinct flavor will bring new life to stuffing's, soups and vegetables as well.

Other herbs you may want to add to your selection are;
Oregano - popular in the use of pizza but it also used in stuffing’s and pasta sauces.

Parsley - this herb is incredibly easy to grow. You just have to be patient because the seeds take at least 6 weeks to germinate. Parsley can be used as a garnish as well as an ingredient in many dishes and comes in several varieties including flat and curly leaf.

Garlic -  this herbs well known and almost universally loved by good cooks across many cultures.

Cilantro - is an herb that is commonly used in Mexican dishes. In addition, the seeds can be used to make curry powder. The dried seeds are called Coriander.

Mint - this herb is the general term used for a variety of highly aromatic herbs, the most common of which, for culinary purposes, are peppermint and spearmint. There is even a chocolate variety that gives a mocha essence. There is no substitute for fresh mint in beverages or as a garnish for fresh strawberries or melons, fruit salads. If you are planting outside be aware that mint can be invasive into other areas of your garden.

So now is the time to get started or make it a simple project for the family, starting your own herb garden. Herbs can make any dish better tasting as well as better looking.





Saturday, March 16, 2013

Food Blogger 2013


Writing a food blog can be a challenge.
The day to day life of work, family and life can leave little time for a project like blogging. So every year there is a conference to help food bloggers find ideas, thoughts and new ways of capturing food and related events onto virtual paper...
 
This years International Food Bloggers Conference ( IFBC) is going to be held in Seattle Washington. It runs for a few days and the interchange of ideas and friendships can find lasting impressions on even the most articulate of writers. 
Organized by Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures, IFBC was the first-ever conference for food bloggers, first held in May of 2009. The series focuses on three themes: Food, Writing, and Technology. This event often features high-quality educational sessions, personal networking opportunities, and what 95% of attendees say is the best food and wine of any blogging conference!
 
 
 

Monday, December 3, 2012

In The Thick of Things - Beurre manié


Flour and Butter
When one thinks of thickeners for sauces, most people think of cornstarch or flour. One can leave your sauce jelly like and the other, can impart a "dough" type of flavor.
But there are better ways to give your sauce a rich silkiness by adding a few teaspoons of Beurre manié.
Beurre manié (French "kneaded butter") is a dough, consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour, used to thicken soups and sauces. By kneading the flour and butter together, the flour particles are coated in butter. When the beurre manié is whisked into a hot or warm liquid, the butter melts, releasing the flour particles without creating lumps.

Beurre manié should not be confused with roux, which is also a thickener made of equal parts of butter and flour, but which is cooked before use. And cornstarch (something I would never use except if I was making an asian dish) needs to be added as a slurry to a high temp liquid before it achives the desired constancy.

Because Beurre manié contains uncooked flour, liquids thickened using Beurre manié dough may have an undesirable floury or pasty taste due to the uncooked proteins in the flour. For this reason, it is important that the Beurre manie is allowed to cook adequately, rather than being added to a dish immediately before serving.

Beurre manie is also used as a finishing step for sauces, imparting a smooth, shiny texture prior to service. Once made, your Beurre manié should be kept covered and should last a couple of weeks in your fridge.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Simple Thanks

Cornish Game Hen with Rosemary
This Thanksgiving do something different. Serve a half of a Cornish game hen on each of your guests plate, instead of the traditional 20 lb. turkey. It's fast, easy and provides each guest with ample white meat.Served on a bed of herbed risotto with traditional green bean casserole and sweet potatos, your guests will be amazed at how you were able to make a great Thanksgiving dinner with out spending hours in the kitchen.

You will not find Cornish game hens in the wild. In fact, the breed didn’t exist before the mid-1950s when Alphonsine (“Therese”) and Jacques Makowsky bred Cornish game cocks with domesticated chickens on their Connecticut farm. But the diminutive chickens (and that’s what they are) have come to epitomize elegance and single-serving perfection on American tables.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eager Bean

Marinated four bean salad

The bean often gets a bad rap for... well... just being a bean! But this little legume is a creative and often a eager addition to the world of food.
One of the easiest and often most tasty additions is in the form of a four bean salad. With a few simple ingredients, you can turn a lonely bean into a great dish.

Four Bean Salad
Ingredients
• 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained, reserve 1/4 cup.
• 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) cut green beans, drained
• 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) cut wax beans, drained
• 1/4 cup scallions (green onions, approx 2) sliced 
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup cider vinegar (for a more mild vinegar taste use rice wine vinegar)
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
• In a large salad bowl, combine all of the beans, and onions. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, vinegar, oil salt and the reserved kidney bean liquid until sugar is dissolved. Pour over bean mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring several times. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 10-12 servings.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Salmon Run

Photo - courtesy Copper River Salmon Board 
Arriving in markets is a ever popular salmon from Alaska's Copper River region. While not as large as it's cousin the King or Sockeye, it is fast becoming a favorite among consumers in the Northwest. Copper River salmon are bright silvery salmon with a bright red flesh, a firm texture, and a rich flavor that makes them a very delicious dining experience whose popularity is rapidly growing.

Each May, Pacific Northwest restaurants and markets celebrate the arrival of the season's first fish. There are festivals, parades and community activities all centered around the first available Copper River salmon. As newspapers fill with ads of fish for sale, "low flying fish" can be seen commonly at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle as locals buy whole salmon and fillets for outdoor barbecues and picnics.

When it comes to nutritional benefits, Salmon, is a smart choice for a healthy diet. The healthy oil content of Copper River salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce heart disease and lower cholesterol. Studies have also found that fish oil can help combat ailments such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, and migraines. Furthermore, salmon is an excellent source of protein and essential amino acids.

As a note, when you buy salmon or for that matter any fish at your local fish monger, always smell the fish. Yep that's right.. take a deep breath.. If it smells like the sea...fresh and clean then you are good to go. On the other hand, if you can smell ANY fishy smell or even worse an ammonia smell, run away! Any foul smelling emissions from fish is a indicator of old fish and/or bad handling. Remember the local kid behind the mega mart fish counter most likely has been told how to bag and tag but not what is fresh and when it's time to toss "bad fish".
And always keep your fish purchase cool till you get home. For me, if I know I am going out to get some fish, I always have a small foldable cold-pack bag and I throw in a prefozen ice pack. If you shop and buy fish on impulse, buy a couple packages of frozen veggies and pack that next to your fish for the ride home. Once home, put your catch in the fridge for up to 24 hrs. Any longer, you risk your fish turning toward the "dark side"!

When your ready to cook, remember fish can cook relatively fast, so cook on med high heat for a pan sear to be finished off in the oven, or steam or poach on med heat for a lighter, flaky texture. The worst thing you can do to fish is over cook it. It can end up dry and tough.

Enjoy!

SPINACH SALAD WITH PAN-SEARED SALMON, ORANGES, RED ONION, AND AVOCADO
Recipe Provided By Copper River Salmon Association
Ingredients
  •  ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  •  1 tsp. whole-grain mustard
  •  ½ tsp. sugar
  •  ½ tsp. kosher or sea salt
  •  Fresly gound pepper
  •  7 cup (about 6-oz.) lightly packed baby spinach leaves
  •  1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  •  1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded, deribbed, and cut into long, thin slices
  •  2 navel oranges, peeled and white pith removed, cut into segments
  •  4 Copper River salmon fillets (about 5 oz. each), skin and pin bones removed
  •  Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  •  3 Tbsp. olive oil
  •  1 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into 16 thin wedges 

Instructions

  1. In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
  2. Place the spinach, onion, and bell pepper in a large salad bowl. Put the oranges in a small bowl.
  3. Season the salmon on all sides with a little salt and pepper. Place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the remaining olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the salmon, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is crisp, about 4 minutes.
  4. Carefully turn the salmon and cook until the fillets are almost opaque throughout, but still very moist, or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125 to 130 degrees F, about 4 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a warm plate and set aside while you toss the salad.
  6. To serve, add the orange segments to the salad bowl, give the dressing a last-minute shake, and pour over the salad. Toss gently. Arrange the salad on 4 dinner plates. Place a salmon fillet in the center, on top of the salad, garnish each salad with 4 slices of avocado, and serve immediately.