Category: How To

Safely Blend Hot Ingredients

Blender Safety

Use these tips on how to safely blend hot ingredients to prevent an accidental splash of hot liquid in the face and chest.

  • Barely fill the blender halfway up the container. The blending action creates volume and the hot liquid oozes out the sides.
  • Make sure there is an even amount of liquid and solids in the container to blend smoothly.
  • Remove the smaller cap from the top and cover it with a kitchen towel folded in quarters or a thick oven mitt and be sure to hold the cloth or mitt over the hole with your hand. The steam creates pressure and pops the top off the blender and the hot liquid smacks you in the face.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll have a smooth puree and no accidents!

Try our: Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

Watch the video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients here.

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

Here’s another video from our mini grilled chicken series featuring grilled boneless chicken thighs.

When the bone is removed from the thigh, the meat is thin and cooking time is quick. Yet, the thighs retain some fat and remain moist. The flavorful meat is good with only salt and pepper and a little oil to prevent sticking. Also try different marinades and rubs.

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

I like to use the grilled boneless chicken thighs in sandwiches. Choose a nice bun or good bread and use your favorite condiment(s), pile on the lettuce and tomatoes and a few slices of dill pickle. The perfect sandwich!

A great sandwich spread is pesto – check out my recipe here.

Tune in to Honeypie’s Recipes YouTube Channel to view the Grilled Chicken Mini Series playlist!

Watch the Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs Video Here

Quick Marinade Tip

Quick Marinade Trick

This quick marinade tip was a fluke. Many years ago I was making Rosh Hannah dinner. One cousin doesn’t care for red meat and won’t eat the brisket, so I make something else as a second entrée. One year I was running behind and needed something quick. I grilled chicken and as soon as the chicken came in to rest I poured an herbed lemon juice over the chicken.

Quick Marinade TipThe resting time allows the denatured proteins to coagulate again and when they do, they trap this flavorful liquid.

My cousin and her husband loved the dish and she asked for the recipe. When I told her what I did, she didn’t believe me. It was too simple for something that tasted that good!

I sautéed these chicken breasts recently and added a generous splash of wine (rosé was open, red or white is fine – is just a splash) and deglazed the pan. The delicious brown tidbits in the bottom of the pan dissolve with the liquid in seconds. I poured this over the chicken and then the lemon marinade above.

Quick Marinade Tip

You can do this, too. Simply juice a lemon, throw in some thyme sprigs, a smashed clove of garlic and toss these together. Pour this over the chicken after cooking and let rest for 5 minutes. Use lime juice and garlic – sprinkle with chopped cilantro for something different. Combinations are endless.

Watch the Quick Marinade Trick Video Here.

 

How To Sauté Chicken Breasts

finger test

Skinless boneless chicken breasts are so versatile. Here’s a simple way to sauté chicken breasts with only salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Pouring a vinaigrette or a little fresh citrus juice over the chicken as soon as it comes off the heat to rest quickly and easily infuses flavors into the chicken.

Make sure you pound the chicken breasts to even out the thickness and they’ll cook evenly. If you have time, let the chicken sit on the counter for 30 or 40 minutes to warm up a bit.

finger test

Check out the “Finger Test” video  to test for doneness when you don’t have a thermometer handy.

Watch the How To Sauté Chicken Breasts Here

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How To Sauté Chicken Breasts

sauteed chicken breast

Skinless boneless chicken breasts are so versatile. Here’s a simple way to sauté chicken breasts with only salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Pouring a vinaigrette or a little fresh citrus juice over the chicken as soon as it comes off the heat to rest quickly and easily infuses flavors into the chicken.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Saute
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast, split
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pound each breast to even thickness for even cooking with a meat pounder or heavy-bottomed pan. Be sure to cover the chicken with film first to prevent splattering.
  2. Season each breast, both sides, with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil over high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all the chicken, or cook in batches.
  4. Lay the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Turn and cook for 2 minutes.*
  6. Be sure to rest the chicken; then slice on the bias or serve whole.

Notes

Timing will varie depending on the thickness and temperature of the chicken.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4

 

 

How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Blind baking

Not all pie fillings require baking, but the pie crust certainly does. Use this simple technique to blind bake a pie crust before adding the filling.

To blind bake a pie crust, place the dough in a pie dish, crimp and then use a fork to gently poke holes around the sides and bottom of the dough. This allows steam to escape and prevents the bottom of the pie dough rising into a small hill.

Blind bakingPlace a piece of plastic wrap, no worries, it doesn’t melt, parchment paper or foil in the bottom of the unbaked shell and fill with pie weights. Pie weights are sold in stores in small quantities and tend to be expensive. An excellent and inexpensive alternative is a one-pound package of dried beans. Cool the beans after removing and store in a covered container for reuse.
The cooking takes place in two stages:

  1. Baking with the beans in the shell and removing about 20 minutes in.
  2. Return the pie shell, without the beans or liner, and continue baking until golden brown.

Cool the shell before adding filling.

On occasion, it pays to blind bake a pie crust with a filling that needs to be cooked, such as quiche, which makes the bottom crust soggy. See our recipe for Bacon Spinach Quiche.

Blind baking

See the How To Blind Bake a Pastry Crust Here.

How to Finger Test a Chicken Breast for Doneness

Finger Test

Here’s a quick tip on how to finger test chicken breasts for doneness with your finger.

Sometimes we find ourselves without the proper tools at hand and need to improvise. Perhaps you’re at a friends house cooking or camping and don’t have an instant read thermometer. Here’s a little tip to help you out.

Finger test

Cutting the breast is an alternative, but it releases all those precious juices and dries it out. Use this method as a last resort if you’re still unsure.

Note: The chicken breasts should be white and juices should be clear (no red); pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness helps and aids in more precise cooking.

Here’s our post on how to sauté chicken breasts.

Watch the “Finger Test” Video Here.

 

How to Freeze Pie Crust

Can I freeze pastry dough

How to freeze pie crust is a simple task. Making the pie crust from scratch is a little time consuming, there is a waiting period for the dough to hydrate. I make several batches at one time and freeze as individual pie crusts, which freeze well and defrost quickly.

The benefit of making pie crusts in advance is having it on hand to make any kind of pie quickly. Don’t forget that pie crusts are for both sweet and savory preparations.

See our post on basic pie crust.

Can I freeze pastry dough

There are two methods I use to freeze a pie crust. Wrap the unrolled pie disc wrapped in plastic tightly with foil and freeze.

Can I freeze pastry dough

The second method is to roll out the dough to a 14-inch circle, place this on wax-paper lined heavy-duty aluminum foil, cover with another piece of wax paper and roll. Seal tightly and freeze.

Can I freeze pastry dough

Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Thawing on the kitchen counter is risky – the dough gets very soft and is difficult to roll out and handle. It can stay in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for several days.

You can also pre-bake a crust and freeze it, but it takes up more room in the freezer and it’s awkward to wrap.

Be sure to stock up and enjoy the luxury of having pie more often!

Watch the How To Freeze Pastry Dough Video Here.

Hard Boiled Egg

eggs

The key to a successful hard boiled egg is gentle heat and slow cooking. By using this method, the egg is moist and tender with no off odor and a perfectly yellow egg yolk.

Overexposure to high heat releases sulfur from the egg white and iron from the yolk, which results in that unpleasant odor and gray-green coloration on the outer yolk.

Place eggs in a pan large enough to hold the eggs so they are covered by two inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes.

Plunge the eggs into an ice bath and let cool completely.

Crack and peel for delicate and delicious hard boiled eggs!

Here’s a recipe for Curried Devil Eggs.

How to Roll Out a Pie Crust

pastry dough/pie crust

The technique to roll out a pie crust is relatively simple. Follow these simple rules and the pie crust is tender and flaky.

Here’s our post on basic pie crust. Here you are instructed to gently handle the dough. The more moisture and agitation (mixing and kneading), the more the gluten develops. This makes the pie crust difficult to roll out, it stretches out and shrinks back. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before rolling out to allow the starch to properly hydrate.

Also see our post on how to freeze a pie crust.

How to Roll Out a Pie Crust

Lightly flour a flat surface to prevent sticking, place the dough in middle and lightly flour the top of the dough and the rolling pin.

The dough is cold and stiff, so start by tapping on the dough with the rolling pin in different directions, flip, flour and tap again.

pastry dough/pie crust

The dough has flattened a bit and warmed up, now place the rolling pin in the center of the dough and push out away from you. Place the dough in the center and pull towards you. Turn the dough, add a sprinkle of flour, and turn the 90 degrees and repeat. Keep rolling and turning until the dough is a 14-inch round and about ¼-inch thick.

pastry dough/pie crust

Fold the dough in half and in half again. Place the center point in the middle of the pan and reopen. Tuck the pie dough into the pan making sure to leave no gaps at the edges. Trim to 1-inch from the rim of the pan.

pastry dough/pie crust

Don’t discard those scraps – make these delicious pastry treats.

For a single pie crust, tuck edges of the dough under and then crimp with your fingers or with a fork to make a decorative edge.

For a double pie crust, add filling, trim dough and tuck both top and bottom crusts under and crimp.

 

Basic Pie Crust

How to make pie dough

Whenever I make a pie crust, I think of Grandma Mary, my mother’s mother. Pies have always been a big thing in our family and I remember when Grandma taught me how to make my first one. I was 16 and my parents had gone on vacation, a very rare occurrence, I can assure you, and she was staying with me and my brother.

I asked her to teach me and we set up on the table in the breakfast nook, put all the ingredients together, gently brought the pie dough together and rolled it out. This is the only cooking experience I ever had with her, which is a real shame considering the repertoire of recipes she had in her head! I didn’t realize until it was too late the importance of learning about food and recipes from family members, including my Mother-in-Law Ruth who passed away very early on in our marriage. Her sisters and daughter didn’t know her secrets either.

Cherish your memories of cooking with family and remember to write down traditional recipes and family favorites, even if you need to measure ingredients as you go along because they don’t!

Ratios

For a basic, savory pie dough use a 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to water, plus a little salt (1/2 teaspoon per 1 ½ cups flour). For a sweet pie dough add 1 tablespoon sugar per 1 ½ cups flour.

Flavored Crusts

Add more sugar for a sweeter crust, add herbs or shredded cheese for a savory crust.

Smear the Butter

You don’t need special equipment to make the dough. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the butter, which has been cut into small pieces and work the four and butter together by smearing together with your thumb and index finger until the butter is the size of peas. Alternatively, use a pastry blender, electric mixer or food processor, but be very cautious of over developing the dough when you add water with these appliances.

Smearing the butter coats the flour with fat and is one step in preventing an over-developed gluten. The most important factor is to use as little agitation as possible: minimal mixing, no kneading.How to make pie dough

Want a flakier crust? Leave the butter pieces in slightly larger pieces.

Flaky Crust

Butter contains about 15-20% water and milk solids, the rest is fat. Because of the water content, a butter crust is crispier than a crust made with lard or shortening, both of which are 100% fat.

The water in the butter turns to steam, puffs up the layers and creates that much desired flaky, crispy crust.

Add the Water

Water is always given in an approximation; it depends on how much moisture is in the flour. Use only cold water to keep the butter from getting too soft. Add about half the water at first and gently toss the flour and water together.

Pick up a small handful of the dough and press together. If it falls apart, add more water, toss and check. Keep this up until the dough holds together with no crumbling.

How to make pie dough

For a single-crust recipe, scoop the loose mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap, large enough to contain the disc.

For a double-crust recipe, divide the loose mixture in dough in half and place each portion onto a piece of plastic wrap large enough to contain the disc.

Gently form a mound and wrap the dough. Push the mound down with the palm of your hand and form a disc. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to hydrate the flour.

 

How to make pie dough

Watch the video here.

 

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Basic Pie Dough

How to make pie dough

This recipe gives the ingredients for a double-crust pie. Divide the recipe in half for a single, or make the whole recipe and freeze the second disc.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 9- or 10-inch crusts 1x
  • Category: Baking
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and kept cold
  • 3/4 cup cold water, approximate

Instructions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the butter, which has been cut into small pieces and work the flour and butter together by smearing together with your thumb and index finger until the butter is the size of peas.
  2. Alternatively, use a pastry blender, electric mixer or food processor, but be very cautious of over developing the dough when you add water with the appliances.
  3. Water is always given as an approximation; it depends on how much moisture is in the flour. Use only cold water to keep the butter from getting too soft. Add about half the water at first and just toss the flour and water together. Pick up a small handful of the dough and press together. If it falls apart, add more water, toss and check. Keep this up until the dough holds together with no crumbling.
  4. Divide the dough in half, it’s loose and crumbly because you haven’t forced it together yet, and scoop each half onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently form a mound and wrap the dough.
  5. Push the mound down with the palm of your hand and form a disc. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to hydrate the flour.

Notes

Freezes well. Freeze as a disc or roll out and freeze as a rolled up sheet. See video here.

 

Loose Leaf Lettuce

ose Leaf Lettuce

I’m a big fan of loose leaf lettuce such as green and red leaf lettuce with their curly edges and the dark green flat leaf Romaine.

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These greens are versatile. Use them to line platters or bowls. All three are perfect on sandwiches, they’re crispy and cover the sandwich edge to edge. And, of course they make delicious salads.

To clean, remove the core by slicing the end off. As you get to the center, slice away the inner core. Place the loose leaves in a large bowl of cold water and gently swish to remove dirt and/or bugs. Swish the red leaf lettuce gently, it’s more fragile than green leaf and Romaine. Drain, and rinse again. The lettuce is clean when no grit remains on the bottom of the bowl.

Spin dry and lay flat in one layer across a length of paper towel. The residual water on the lettuce is absorbed by the paper. The water is necessary to keep the lettuce crisp but if it remains on the leaves, the lettuce rots quickly.

Green leaf and Romaine last 7-10 days when cleaned and stored properly, especially the ones purchased at the farmer’s market, which are so fresh. Red leaf lettuce is fragile and should be used within 3-4 days.

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These greens stand up well to vinegar-based dressings, such as our French Vinaigrette. Romaine is the lettuce typically used in the classic Caesar salad. Use whole hearts of Romaine drizzled with a creamy dressing for a different presentation.

Watch the Video on Loose Leaf Lettuce Here

 

Tight Head Lettuces: Cleaning & Storing

Cleaning and Storage

Farmer’s markets are still providing an abundant supply of lettuces. In this upcoming video series, we look at lots of different kinds of lettuces and how to clean and store them. We start with tight head lettuce. These lettuces grow in the shape of a ball with tightly bound leaves. Outer leaves that are wimpy or bruised, pull away and discard. Give a quick rinse and you’re good to go.

Iceberg Lettuce

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Let’s start with the ubiquitous Iceberg lettuce. This was the only lettuce available when I was a kid. We had it in every salad and on sandwiches. It’s not a bad lettuce, just a little boring in comparison to so many others that have more flavor and color.

Iceberg has a light green exterior color and is almost white at the center. The flavor is mild, which makes it such a perfect host for rich, creamy dressings like Blue Cheese or Thousand Island, a classic steakhouse salad with crumbled bacon bites!

Steakhouse salad

Radicchio

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Radicchio is a bitter Italian lettuce that is primarily red with white veins. It is crisp, crunchy and can be served cold or grilled. I like to chop the leaves and serve along with arugula and endive, also known as a Tri-Color Salad. These three lettuces are bitter and a balsamic vinaigrette is most commonly served as the sweetness of the balsamic complements the bitterness of the leaves.

Belgian Endive

Belgian Endive

I’ve included Belgian Endive in this group. The leaves are tightly bound and cleaning and storing are the same as for Iceberg and Radicchio. The Belgian endive is a delicate lettuce with pale leaves from growing underground. The edges of the leaves begin to brown quickly. Buy and use within a day or two. It’s another bitter lettuce and can be used in salads or as a vehicle for a spread, such as chicken salad or a blue cheese spread, for hor d’oeuvres. In the video we discuss using the leaves whole or chopped.

Storage

To store tight head lettuces, place a damp paper towel in the bottom of a plastic container or sealable plastic bag and place the cleaned lettuce on top. Remove the air and seal. The Iceberg and Radicchio will last a good week. The Endive should be used within a day or two.

Watch the Tight Head Lettuces video here.