Sugar Syrup – Definition

Archived: March, 2010 | Related topics: , ,

Also called simple syrup, gomme syrup and strop de gomme, sugar syrup is a solution of sugar and water that is cooked over low heat until clear, then boiled for a minute or so. Sugar syrup can be made in various densities-thin (3 parts water to 1 part sugar), medium (2 parts water to 1 part sugar) and heavy (equal parts water and sugar). Depending on the thickness, sugar syrups have various uses including soaking cakes (such a baba), glazing baked goods, poaching or preserving fruit, adding to fro stings, etc. Sugar syrups are the basis for most candies and can be flavored with a variety of extracts, juices, liqueurs, etc…

Compote – Definition

Archived: March, 2010 | Related topics: ,

[KAHM-poht] A chilled dish of fresh or dried fruit that has been slowly cooked in a SUGAR SYRUP (which may contain liquor or liqueur and sometimes spices.) Slow cooking is important for the fruit to retain its shape.

Garam Masala – Definition

Archived: March, 2010 | Related topics: , , ,

[gah-RAHM mah-SAH-lah] Garam is Indian for “warm” or “hot,” and this blend of dry-roasted, ground spices from the colder climates of northern India adds a sense of “warmth” to both palate and spirit. There are as many variations of garam masala (which may contain up to 12 spices) as there are Indian cooks. In can include black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dried chiles, fennel, mace, nutmeg and other spices. Garam masala may be purchased in Indian markets and in most supermarkets.* It’s also easily prepared at home, but should be made in small batches to retain its freshness. As with all spices, it should be stored in a cool, dry place for no more than 6 months. ** Garam masala is usually either added to a dish towards the end of cooking or sprinkled over the surface just before serving.

*It’s not at Kroger, for those of you in the south. I had to go to Fresh Market, which is similar to Whole Foods for my West Coast friends. If you’re reading this in another country, I’m sorry but I have no idea where you can go. (But I’m stoked you’re checking out the website, thanks!!)

** I call bullshit on this rule of using spices in 6 months. Spices are expensive and I know I can’t afford to buy them all new every 6 months. It’s true to buy in small quantities so you don’t keep it forever, but don’t go overboard. (My boss, who is a brilliant cook backs me up on this too, by the way.)

Video: Butter Chickpea Curry

Archived: March, 2010 | Related topics: , , , , , ,

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed and cooked
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces, steamed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (regular sized can)
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup cream (or milk)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained.

Directions:

  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat; simmer until the potatoes are tender. Drain, and set aside.
  2. Steam or microwave cauliflower until it’s cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.(You can cook the potatoes and cauliflower ahead of time, just throw them in the fridge up to one day.)
  3. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Stir in curry powder, garam masala, ginger, cumin, and salt. Cook for at least 2 minutes, stirring the whole time. (Don’t worry that it’s a weird pasty mess, it will be fine once the liquid is added. Promise.)
  5. Pour in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, cream, and chickpeas. Stir in potatoes. Simmer at least 5 minutes, up to 30 minutes

This dish can be served right away, but it’s also delicious when it’s had some time to sit and let the flavors come together. If you let it cool then reheat it don’t forget to add a little water, as the curry can thicken up quite a lot. You want the curry to be like a heavy gravy, not lumpy and grainy.

Hopefully you saw in the video how totally easy this is. It’s a great dish, and even though it’s vegetarian I still feel like a hedonist when I eat it.

As always, enjoy and let me know what you think.

xoxo,

Melanie

Roux – Definition

Archived: March, 2010 | Related topics: , , , , , ,

[ROO] A mixture of flour and fat that, after being slowly cooked over low heat, is used to thicken mixtures such a soups and sauces. There are three classic roux-white, blond and brown. The color and flavor is determined by the length of time the mixture is cooked. Both white roux and blond roux are made with butter. The former is cooked just until it begins to turn beige and the latter until pale golden. Fuller-flavored brown roux can be made with butter, drippings or pork or beef fat. ti’s cooked to a deep golden brown and used for rich, dark soups and sauces. CAJUN and CREOLE dishes use lard based roux, which is cooked (sometimes for almost an hour) until a beautiful mahogany brown. This dark base is indispensable for specialties like GUMBO.

Video: Triple Decker Grilled Cheese

Archived: March, 2010

Here’s a video on how to make my world famous triple-decker grilled cheese. This is a fool proof way to make friends and attract a hottie. (Swear to God, it worked for me!)

Pasta with Ciabatta Roll…. (Food Porn)

Archived: March, 2010

Check out the video to make this yummy pasta sauce!

The keys to becoming a great cook…

Archived: March, 2010 | Related topics: , , , , ,

So if you’re like me, you’ve probably seen  someone in the kitchen whipping up something awesome, and it seems like they’re not even trying. You see it all the time on those cooking show. Chefs are busting out these crazy dishes and they still have time to push their new line of aprons or saucepans. They never get flustered and everything turns out great.   Then there is the rest of us.  Going in a million directions at once, forgetting ingredients, making a huge mess and stressing ourselves out. So what does that chef on TV  have that most of us don’t? Experience and preparation.

For the most part, cooks make the same food day in and out. It becomes second nature, so it’s possible to have 4 things going on saute at once and still have time to make fun of the servers. (Sorry to any servers out there, but it’s true.) When you watch it happen it seems like chaos, but really it’s just a routine they have down. If you want to be able to make a great dish at short notice, you’re going to need to get good at it. When I want to master a recipe, this is how I go about it.

  1. The first time I make it I follow the recipe exactly, and I never make it for a dinner party. If anything I’ll invite Julia over or I’ll take some to my folks. Those are the three people that love me no matter what, so I’m not stressing out about trying to impress them. When I’m done I write down what worked, what didn’t, and any modifications I think would be good.
  2. Then I make it a second time, within a week or two. This time I invite a couple close friends over and I try it with the changes.
  3. Third time I make it is again within a few weeks. This time I have it down and I can try making it for more people and see how it comes out when I’m under pressure.

You need to do a recipe at least 3 times, in a short period of time, if you want to be comfortable with it. Then you can tuck it away in your mental recipe box as something you know is great and you feel good cooking. No one, not even a professional cook, makes a great dish the first time they do it. Repetition is the key to mastering a craft, especially cooking.

The second part of being a good cook comes from being prepared. In a restaurant there is a whole crew of people that show up at 8am to prep everything. That way, when the cooks come in at 4pm, they have everything they need for the whole dinner shift. If you want to be a great cook you cannot underestimate the importance of prep. Nothing will screw you up more than realizing half way through a recipe that you forgot to measure something, or that you don’t have a necessary spice. This is especially true for those of us who live in apartments and are limited on space.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the $300 mixer, fifty different cookbooks and magazine subscriptions or the organic bamboo spatula that makes a good cook. It’s the willingness to put in the time and effort to understand what you’re doing.  It may sound like a lot of work, but being a good cook is a craft, like fixing cars or knitting. No one is good at it when they first start, and it takes time and effort to understand it. Just don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up! Practice, screw up, have fun and keep trying. You are totally capable of being a bad ass cook, I promise.

Business cards!!!

Archived: March, 2010

My business cards came in this afternoon! They are the flipping cutest things I have EVER seen! Liz Andrade is not just the best friend a girl could ask for, she’s a spectacular graphic designer/web goddess. Please check out her website, it’ll make you smarter. Things are going so great, thanks to everyone who has been helping and reading the website. Muah! Now to dinner with the parents and the new boy. Wish us all luck. :)

Video: French Toast

Archived: March, 2010 | Related topics: , , , ,

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 9 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups whole or reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 3/4-inch-thick slices French bread

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees (to keep cooked french toast warm.)
  2. Wisk all ingredients together (except bread of course) in large bowl.
  3. Soak both sides of bread in wet ingredients until fully saturated.
  4. Heat large skillet to medium/medium high heat, coat skillet with butter. (Butter should sizzle but not smoke.)
  5. Place bread in skillet and cook until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Flip over and cook 3-5 minutes more. (May take more or less time depending on oven and skillet. Keep an eye on it!)
  6. Once french toast is done, place in oven to keep warm. Make sure to put more butter on the skillet before cooking the next batch.

This recipe is really easy, and produces great French Toast!  Don’t forget that it’s very sweet. Preserves or even fresh fruit would be a great topping if you can’t handle too much sweetness. Let me know what you think!

xoxo,

Melanie