Category: How To

How to Dice

Many recipes call for dicing vegetables. Any slow cooke sauce or soup starts with  mirepoix, a combination of diced onions, celery, and carrots (ratio 2:1:1) as the foundation of the flavor base.Let us show you how to dice vegetables.

How to Dice an Onion

Common sizes are ¼-inch and ½-inch dice. Take the onion and slice a thin piece off the root end to get rid of the dirt and dried roots.

Removing a thin slice from the root end.

Cut the top off, stand the onion on the flat end and slice in half. Remove the skin and place the cut side flat on the cutting board. Place the heel of your chef’s knife against the top of the onion ¼- or ½-inch from the board and pull the knife back almost to the root end. Leave this small amount uncut to keep the onion intact. Repeat until you get to the top of the onion.

One-half-inch layers.

Turn the onion toward you with the root at the back. Make the same size slits across the onion without cutting through the root.

One-half-inch cuts across the top - keeping the root end intact.

Be sure to tuck your fingers under yourknuckles and keep your knuckles forward when slicing. The side of the knife runs into knuckles and your fingers are safely tucked away from the sharp blade.

Tuck your finger under and knuckles forward for safety.

Turn the onion back to it’s original position make same size slices.

Final cut down the onion in 1:2-inch slices.

Here’s a shot of a 1/4-inch dice (background) and 1/2-inch dice (front).

1:4-inch dice in background, 1:2-inch dice in front.

How to Dice Celery

Take a celery stalk and cut in half if very long for easier handling. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and each half into 1/2-inch sticks or 1/4-inch sticks.

Cut the celery lengthwise in half and each half in half for a 1:4-inch dice.

Turn the stalks and slice into a 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch dice.

Dicing celery.

How to Dice Carrots

Carrots have an odd shape, very large at the top tapering to a narrow end. Depending on the length and diameter of the carrot cut in half or in thirds. Then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place the flat side down and cut into 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch slices.

Slice the carrot in half then in half again and once more for a 1:4-inch dice.

Now cut each slice into 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch pieces. Lay these sticks side by side and cut across into a 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch dice.

One-quarter inch dice.

Watch the How to Dice video here.

 

How to Mince

Many recipes, such as dips and sauces, require very small pieces of uniformly cut food called a mince.

The primary reason for this small size is to infuse flavor. The more cuts made in a food more flavor cells are exposed. Quick cooking techniques, such as a panfrying or cooking in a wok, benefit from mincing vegetables, especially aromatics like garlic, shallot or chili peppers, to maximize flavor.

Try our recipe for Guacamole, which uses minced garlic, red onions and jalapeño.

Watch the How to Mince Video.

 

 

 

Mise en Place

As part of our new cooking video series, I want to share an important organizational concept with you known as mise en placeMise en place simply means having everything in place.

Getting Organized

The first step in food preparation is to read the recipe through. Check to make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before starting. There is nothing more frustrating than getting midway through a recipe to find you’re out of the next ingredient!

Once you know you have all the ingredients set out the tools and equipment you’ll need. Some basics are:

  • Garbage receptacle for trimmings and package wrappings
  • Bowls for holding prepped food
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Small appliances, such as a mixer blender, food processor or slow cooker
  • Hand tools, such as a peeler, whisk, wooden spoon
  • Cooking equipment, such as pots (lids) and pans, roasting pan, baking sheets, cooking racks
  • Grease or line baking/roasting pans
  • Preheat the oven
  • Sharp chef’s knife and paring knife

DSCN5055

 Food Preparation

DSCN4897

Now you’re ready to get into the nitty gritty of food prep.

  • Wash and dry produce.
  • Blanch and shock any vegetables that need precooking
  • Open canned goods and measure the amount needed if not using the full can.
  • Drain and rinse items like canned beans.
  • Peel, core and/or seed produce
  • Trim meat, poultry, fish
  • Slice, dice, mince, chop and measure

DSCN4903

Start Cooking

Mise en place makes you a confident cook. You know you haven’t forgotten anything and everything is at your fingertips. Follow the recipe instructions adding the ingredients as called for. Mise en place makes cooking fun and relaxing!

Watch the mise en place video here.

 

How To Keep your Knife Sharp

Manual knife sharpener and knife steel

Keep your knife sharp to work smart in the kitchen! We constantly bang our knives on cutting boards made of all kinds of material, wood, plastic, granite. That constant banging dulls even the sharpest blade and the hardest metal over time.

A simple and inexpensive manual knife sharpener keeps your blade honed to a fine sharp edge when used regularly. A few swipes across a steel smooths the edge after sharpening and in between knife tasks.

Once a year I send my knives out for professional sharpening. Those first few weeks, we have to be very careful handling them – they are honed to a very fine edge and little nicks on hands are a common occurrence!

I have quite a few knives from Cutco and use their knife sharpener with great results. These are moderately priced, well made knives that are dishwasher safe.

Use a 45 degree angle and run your knife from the top to the bottom of a knife steel sharpener to smooth the edge of a just sharpened knife or between knife tasks.

A sharp knife is a safe knife. A dull knife requires more pressure to cut through food and that pressure is likely to cause a slip of the knife and make a nick or a cut in your hand.

Watch our Sharp Knife video here.

 

How to Choose the Right Knife

Carbon Steel Knife

The most important tool for any cook is a knife. How to choose the right knife requires some background information. There are so many brands, styles and types to choose from it can be overwhelming.

There are different types of steel to choose from: carbon steel, carbon stainless steel and stainless steel. Which is best for maintaining a sharp edge the longest? Which is easiest to clean?

Should your knife have a full tang, a half tang or a rat-tail tang?

What length of blade is appropriate for you?

How does the handle feel?

How’s the weight/heft of the knife?

What brand should I choose? There are so many brands and styles. The Japanese have made huge inroads into the American marketplace, which only complicates the decision-making process.

I recommend the Cutco brand to my students. This is an excellent, high-quality knife that is moderately priced. They also sharpen their brand knives for free. You pay shipping both ways. For me this a bargain; I have two full sets (one was kept at NYU when I was teaching) and steak knives. The shipping is $14.o0 for around 30 or so knives.

Chef's Knife

Are there basic knives that every cook should have? Absolutely.

The knives below are a 10-inch chef’s knife, a bread knife (serrated edge is best especially for crusty breads) and a utilitarian paring knife for small tasks.

Carbon Stainless Steel

These are all important factors to decide on when selecting a knife.

Check out our playlist on YouTube for a complete lesson in knives and knife skills.

Watch the How to Choose a Knife video here and get the answers to all the above questions.

For additional information see a comprehensive review of knives on review.com.

 

My Favorite Cooking Utensils (Plus a Few Oddballs)

Cleaning out and rearranging the kitchen cupboards, I realize how much “stuff” I have and how much of that stuff is favorite cooking utensils.

Just about every cook I know has a special affection for his or her knives, which are the most essential part of any kitchen toolkit. There are so few recipes that don’t require cutting, chopping, or slicing something.

Knives

I have a bit of a knife fetish myself. I have a ten-inch Wüsthof chef’s knife, a ten-inch Henckels chef’s knife, and an eight-inch carbon steel Sabatier chef’s knife that I went through culinary school with. Yes, the Sabatier does rust and requires a little more care, but it also sharpens easily, which was important in school.

Sabatier Chef Knife

8-inch Sabatier Chef Knife

I also have two exquisite handmade Misono knives, eight-inches and a six-inches, that my husband brought back from a business trip to Japan. I purchased a set of Cutco knives in the 90s and then another set when I started teaching at NYU’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health – my work knives. I also have my father’s carbon steel butcher knife from when he briefly apprenticed to become a butcher.

Starting with a great set of knives is crucial, but care is just as important. Cutting with a dull knife is dangerous because you apply more pressure which increases the chance you’ll slip and cut yourself. I use the Cutco knife sharpener regularly and finish with a few swipes on a knife sharpener steel to smooth the edge.

All you really need to own to achieve most cutting chores are a good chef’s knife, a serrated edged knife, good for slicing crusty breads, biscotti and thin tomato slices, and a 3- or 4-inch paring knife for small jobs like deveining shrimp or removing strawberry hulls.

Catch Knives

Catch 8-inch Chef’s Knife. Serrated Slicing Knife and Paring Knife

Every year I have them professionally sharpened. Cutco sharpens their knives free of charge—you just pay shipping. The non-Cutco knives, I send to a local knife sharpener with excellent turn-around service.

Sharpening Steel & Cutco Knife Sharpener

Sharpening Steel & Cutco Knife Sharpener

Measuring Tools

Good measuring devices are also a big must-have, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time recipe testing and baking. I used to work with glass Pyrex tools for liquid measurement, but after a friend of mine found a glass shard in her cake, it inspired me to switch to plastic. I use a measuring cup with slanted sides so I don’t have to crouch down to make sure I’m getting an accurate measurement. For dry measurements, I have innumerable beautiful metal cups in any measurement you can imagine, including 2/3 cup and 1/8 cup. And don’t even get me started on measuring spoons—I have an entire  drawer slot full of them!

My small tools drawer - and yes, I have many occasions to use multiples!

My small tools drawer – and yes, I have many occasions to use multiples!

Other Tools

Beyond the basics, I have a digital scale that I love for making meatballs and dinner rolls (it might sound particular, but I want them to cook evenly). And I love my meat pounder for chicken (I pound it out to avoid dry, overcooked ends) and for pork tenderloin, which I occasionally slice up and pound into cutlets. And I don’t know what I’d do without my All-Clad stainless steel cookware, which heats evenly and cleans up beautifully.

I’ve received some curious implements over the years as gifts: a pineapple peeler, an egg separator (which always seemed more complicated to use than the old-fashioned method – my hands or the egg shells), and a sprayer you can insert into citrus. I confess, I’ve never found myself needing a “spritz” of lemon or orange juice for a recipe!

Then there are those quirky implements that have had strange staying power. Back when I was a teenager, Tupperware parties were huge. I once received a freebie Tupperware orange peeler, which scores the orange with one end and slips under the peel and removes it in one clean section with the other. A very useful tool.

And I  know you can’t find a Tupperware celery keeper like the one I have; they don’t make it anymore, unfortunately. It holds celery (and carrots) above the water, keeping it fresh and making it easier to store. I’ve had both of these pieces for at least forty years, and as long as they last, they’ll get a place in my kitchen.

Tupperware Celery Keeper

Tupperware Celery Keeper

What are some of your prized kitchen tools?

 

Working with Gluten-Free Flours


I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few years learning how to bake biscotti with various gluten-free flours. I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned and the flours I like to work with.

King Arthur makes gluten-free multi-purpose flour that contains both white and brown rice, tapioca and potato starches. This is a mild-flavored flour, which works well and doesn’t interfere with my flavor profiles.

Bob’s Red Mill sells a gluten-free all-purpose flour that contains garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and fava flour. The beans and sorghum have dominant flavors. In general an increase in the amount of flavorings used, such as extracts or liqueurs is needed to offset the prominent flavors of the flour. For my recipes, this was not the best choice. I can see where it would work with bread baking or as a coating on fried foods.

Nuts.com offers a gluten-free all-purpose baking flour with garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, whole grain sweet white sorghum flour and fava bean flour, this is also a mild-flavored flour that didn’t interfere with my flavor profiles.

Almond Butter Gluten Free Biscotti

Almond Butter Biscotti using Gluten-Free Girl Flour and waiting 2 hours before slicing.

A recent new-comer to the gluten-free flour market is Gluten-Free Girl all purpose flour blend, which contains millet, sweet rice four and potato starch. The “sticky” rice flour has a higher amylopectin content, which helps the stability of the dough. Shauna Ahern, from Gluten-Free Girl, doesn’t use any additives, such as guar gum and/or xanthan gum, in her flour and doesn’t recommend adding it. This mild-flavored flour worked well with my biscotti recipes and Shauna is correct, it does not require any additives. It was on her recommendation, that I increased the cooling time for the gluten-free recipes. Though she recommended overnight, I found a couple of hours were sufficient and had only an occasional broken biscotto, the same as the regular biscotti. This cooling technique works with the other flours, too.

Basic Gluten Free Recipe with Peanut M&Ms

Basic Gluten-Free Biscotti Recipe with Peanut M&Ms using Gluten-Free Girl Flour and waiting 2 hours before slicing.

Are the Gums Essential?

My initial research on using gluten-free flour was a couple of years ago and it was strongly recommended to use either guar gum or xanthan gum or a combination of both to stabilize the dough. I found the best results were using equal amounts of both with the ratio of ¼ teaspoon each per cup of gluten-free flour. The only flour I trust to use for the biscotti recipes without the gums is Gluten-Free Girl all-purpose flour blend.

Guar Gum

Guar gum is a powder that comes from the seed of a legume, the guar plant. It is also a thickening agent with a high-fiber content, however, too much of this gum produces a stringy dough.

Xantham Gum

Xantham gum is a polysaccharide secreted by a bacterium (Xanthomonas campestris), a byproduct of corn and is used as a thickener. Too much xanthan gum in a recipe may produce an unappealing gumminess to the dough, so measure carefully.

One-to-One Blends (includes guar gum and/or xantham gum)

If you want to forgo buying the gums separately, Bob’s Red Mill sells a gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour that contains sweet white-rice flour, whole-grain brown-rice flour, potato starch, whole-grain sweet white-sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum.

There are some other brands out there such as Cup 4 Cup, which contains xantham gum. The first ingredient is cornstarch and corn is a problem for some of my friends who are gluten-free. It also contains milk powder another common allergen. I prefer to keep to the rice grains, potato starch and more neutral flours.

Alternatively, there are many recipes out there for making your own gluten-free blend. Since celiac’s disease is not an issue for us, I prefer to use pre-made blends.

Use these few rules and good quality ingredients to get consistent results in your recipes.

Apple Cranberry Walnut Gluten Free Biscotti

Apple Cranberry Walnut Biscotti using Gluten-Free Girl Flour and waiting 2 hours before slicing.

Black Tea Primer

Goldsmith Teas

 

To celebrate National Hot Tea Month, I invited Will from Goldsmith Teas to come back and do a black tea tasting. We had a lovely afternoon tasting and talking about tea accompanied with some lemon scones and banana cake (thank you Carol!). Will brewed four different black teas: Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Royal Golden Tippy Orthodox and Ruby 18. The first two teas I was familiar with and are common teas, the other two I had never heard of, but boy were they worth tasting!

Goldsmith Teas

Black Tea Basics

There are over 250 tea varietals grown primarily in Asia: China, Taiwan and India. These teas become either green or black teas depending on how they are treated after picking. Other factors that affect taste and color are the land/soil, rainfall and altitude/temperature where the teas are grown.

The process of making black teas is labor intensive. The leaves are left to wither in the sun for about a half a day. After which they are subjected to a mixture of air and intense heat (temperatures range from 400 to 1000 degrees F), from one up to as long as five minutes. In between firings, the leaves are culled and twisted. This process can be repeated as many as twenty times, depending on the desired outcome.

In addition to drying and infusing the leaves with a smokiness, the intense heat activates the Maillard reaction, where the natural glucose interacts with the protein in the tea leaves and creates a sweet, and in some instances, a caramel-like flavor.

Darjeeling Tea

Goldsmith Teas

Darjeeling tea comes from the Darjeeling region in India. This tea stands up well on its own (does not require milk, sugar or lemon). It has a light amber color and and a medium flavor.

Goldsmith Teas

 English Breakfast Tea

English Breakfast tea is a blended tea that can be sourced from two or three continents. The leaves are curled, rolled and crushed. It is a stronger tea blended to go well with milk and sugar. The Goldsmith Tea’s English Breakfast tea is a blend of four teas Each tea house has its own formula of blends that they strictly adhere to for consistency in flavor.

Goldsmith Teas

This is one of my long standing favorites and I have it in both the loose tea leaves and sachets.

Royal Golden Tippy Orthodox

Goldsmith Teas

This is a relatively new tea varietal that comes from Kenya. The leaves are long and gently twisted with a golden hue – the result of the Maillard reaction. The tea has an inherent sweetness and as one taster commented, a bit of citrus.

Goldsmith Teas

Goldsmith Teas

Ruby 18

Goldsmith Tea Goldsmith Tea

Ruby 18 comes Taiwan. The long, large leaves are traditionally twisted by hand, fired, culled and twisted again.

Goldsmith Tea

After the first brew, you can still see the slightly curled edges of the leaves. The next brew opened up the leaves and you can see the serrated edge. Look at the size of these leaves!

Goldsmith Tea

 Black Tea Brewing Basics

Will brews the loose tea in a small covered cup with a tiny slit on the top of the cup for pouring. This provides room for the tea leaves to absorb the water and expand. The best way to optimize flavor and color. I find that the t-sac (http://www.amazon.com/T-Sac-Filter-Disposable-Infuser-Capacity/dp/B001BLCIN4) I use doesn’t have that much room and some of the larger leafed teas don’t expand as much as his. This does affect flavor and I’m now using a teapot with a removable infuser with much better results. He recommends brewing the tea for three to five minutes, he brewed these teas for four minutes.

Check out our green tea tasting from August last year!

How to Brew Hot Black Tea

Temperature is important to a well-brewed cup of tea. After bringing the water to a boil, pour a cupful and let the water cool slightly to 208ºF for black teas. Measure the tea, fill the tea filter and steep, also known as the “agony of the leaf,” Steep black teas for three to five minutes; longer brewing only increases unpleasant tannins

Will also recommends reinfusing the same tea two or three times. Though the tea may not be as strong, there is still good flavor left.

How to Brew Iced Black Tea

There are two methods to choose from to make iced tea, hot or cold.

Hot Brewed Iced Black Tea

Brew the teas as instructed above doubling the amount of tea to two ounces for every eight ounces of water and then pour over ice.

Cold Brewed Iced Black Tea

Use one heaping teaspoon for every eight ounces of cold water
and let sit eight hours.

Thank you Will for another fact-filled afternoon of tea tasting!

Contact Will at: http://goldsmithteas.com/contact/

Goldsmith Teas

Christmas Eve Preparations

Sweet & Sour Stuffed Cabbage, Applesauce, Apple Crisp

We throw a dinner party on Christmas Eve with extended family and friends and this year it looks like we’ll be about 20. The Christmas holiday is swiftly approaching and I’m making any items this week that can be frozen. Here’s the menu for this year:

CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER – 2015

Hors d’oeuvres

Spanikopita
Mini Potato Latkes with Sour Cream & Chives or Applesauce
Mini Sweet & Sour Stuffed Cabbage
Pigs in a Blanket with Mustard
Crudite & Dip

Cocktails

Buffet Dinner

Garlic-Herb Rubbed Roast Pork Loin with Creamy Mustard-Herb Sauce
Apple Cider Chicken
Macaroni & Cheese
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Thyme
Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower with Lemon-Shallot Butter
Christmas Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
(Kale, Beets, Apples, Pistachios, Blue Cheese)
Apple Sauce
Challah

Wine

Desserts

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Apple Crisp
Ricotta Cheesecake
David’s Bars
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Fruit Bowl

Coffee & Tea

Today I’m making the apple crisp, which I’ll freeze uncooked. This can easily be taken from the freezer to a preheated oven and baked for an extra 30 minutes (1 1/2 hours total). The remaining apples (I bought three bags of apples, Granny Smith, Rome and MacIntosh) are for applesauce. I used a large stockpot (think lobster pot size), which I filled three-quarter full of chunked apples. I didn’t peel or core the apples, I used a food mill to puree them, and then added a good sprinkle of cinnamon. I got nine pint jars and a bowl for dinner!

I’m also making the Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage today. These, too will be frozen uncooked and go directly from the freezer to the oven and cook for about two hours.

Sweet & Sour Stuffed Cabbage, Applesauce, Apple Crisp

Cut the blanched cabbage leaves into quarters (triangle shaped). Place about two teaspoons of the meat mixture at the top, bring the outer edges over and roll up.

Sweet & Sour Stuffed Cabbage, Applesauce, Apple Crisp

Throughout the rest of the week, I’ll make Challah and Potato Latkes.

I need to order some rentals: linens, chairs and all-purpose glasses. There are a few items I’ll get readymade from Stew Leonards: fruit bowl, pigs in a blanket and spanakopita. The chocolate-covered strawberries I’ll order from Edible Arrangements. With these details out of the way, I can focus on decorating the house and wrapping presents next week.

My To Do List is done. Anything already accomplished I highlight in yellow. I’d be lost with the list – it keeps me on track and from becoming overwhelmed. I’ll also print out the menu and pencil in cooking times on Christmas Eve so I know how to coordinate the final dishes.

Here’s the To Do and Grocery Lists:

To Do List

Centerpieces

Candles
Flowers

Rentals

Chairs (6)
Linens (cloths, napkins, runners) 3 tables + buffet
2 Dozen All-purpose glasses

Make Ahead and Freeze

Latkes
Stuffed Cabbage
Challah
Applesauce
Apple Crisp

Christmas Week

Tuesday

Groceries

Wash herbs and greens
Roast beets
Prep Ice Cream Base

Wednesday

Bring up Xmas china
Set Tables
Tablecloths/napkins
Centerpieces/candles
Knives/forks
Glasses
Churn Ice Cream
Lemon Shallot Butter Sauce
Thyme Butter Sauce

Thursday

Garlic Herb Rub
Brown Pork Roast
Rub Pork
Bake sweet potatoes
Parboil broccoli and cauliflower
Creamy Herb Mustard Sauce
Ricotta Cheesecake
David’s Bars

Friday

Thaw Challah
Prep Mac n Cheese
Prep Christmas Salad
Pomegranate vinaigrette

Cook

Apple Cider Braised Chicken
Stuffed cabbage
Spanakopita
Latkes
Mac n Cheese
Broc/cauli
Sweet pots
Warm Applesauce

Setups:

Cocktail Napkins/Small Plates/Forks
Dessert Plates/forks
Coffee/Tea/Spoons – sugar/cream

Serving Platters/Bowls:

Cocktails:
Spanikopita/Pigs in a Blanket/Mustard
Latkes/Sour cream/Chives/Applesauce
Stuffed Cabbage
Crudite/Dip

Dinner:
Pork/Sauce/Meat Fork
Chicken/Meat Fork/Ladle
Sweet Potatoes Bowl/ Serving Spoon
Carrot Platter/Tongs
Veggie Bowl/Serving Spoon
Bread basket/butter dish/butter knife
Salad Tongs/ Serving Spoons (sweet pots, mac n cheese, applesauce)

Grocery List

Order in Advance

Stew Leonards

Fruit Bowl
Crudite Platter

 

Edible Arrangements

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Meat

3 pounds ground beef
boneless pork roasts
chicken

Dairy

Heavy Cream
Half & Half
Eggs
Blue Cheese
2 # ricotta cheese
12 ounces extra sharp Cheddar cheese

Fruit

Apples (applesauce, apple crisp, plus one for stuffed cabbage)
Lemons
Orange

Vegetables

8-9# Russett Potatoes
Onions
3 Heads of garlic
Shallots
2 large green cabbages
2 pounds rainbow carrots
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Kale
Beets

Herbs

Chives
Thyme
Rosemary
Sage
Parsley

Staples

2 packages yeast
Kosher salt
APF (7 cups)
Dried cranberries (1 cup)
Pomegranate vinegar
Neutral oil
Dijon
Brown mustard
Dark, Milk and White Chocolate
1 # elbow macaroni
Condensed Milk

Other

Apple Cider
Pistchios
Spanikopita
Pigs in a Blanket

Chicken Nuggets

Family Dinner

I wrote about family dinner a few years back. Dinner with the girls in our early years was a bleak affair until I realized what I was doing wrong. Even though there were still the occasional glasses of
spilled milk and not everything I made was appreciated, chicken nuggets were a frequent default meal, we were talking and enjoying each others company. My girls even grew up to love all kinds of food and have become accomplished cooks to boot!

The biggest breakthrough was when Claire grew tired of making all of her friends accommodate her food issues, and ironically, she’s now become quite the adventurous eater. She wouldn’t eat any meat other than chicken growing up and certainly no seafood. Imagine my surprise when her very first attempt at venturing into the non-vegetarian world was eating raw oysters—and loving them!

 

Despite the fact that dinnertime was stressful, I made an effort to do it properly and make it an event. I thought nothing of this until Margot’s and Claire’s friends started coming over to join us for meals. They would remark on the cloth napkins, the place settings, the fact that we all sat down together rather than ferrying plates off to other corners of the house.

Table Setting

A typical family dinner setting. Now that the girls are adults, wine for all!

“What, no vegetables?” Margot asked one night when I’d forgotten to put them on the table. I went to get them and remarked that I was surprised that she actually wanted vegetables for a change.
“Oh I’m not going to eat them,” she replied. “I just thought it was weird that there weren’t any.”
Sigh.

autumn2.IMG_3477

In the end, both of my daughters grew up to love food and cooking. I like to believe that my influence had an effect, even if it took decades to emerge. My daughters grew up seeing me cook most nights. Forcing kids to help with cooking can undermine any love they might develop for it, so I included them by giving them small tasks like setting the table and helping with cleanup. I tried to give them a say in what we ate, as they’d be more excited about dinnertime if they knew they were getting their favorites, such as spaghetti or chicken nuggets with mustard.

I also encouraged them to spend time with me in the kitchen, even if there weren’t any tasks for them. I’d get them to keep me company while I cooked and they did their homework or just told me about their day. Giving them memories of the kitchen as a place of togetherness set the stage for them to do the same in their own lives.

Fresh cut bouquet for centerpiece

Chicken nuggets were a favorite with my kids, which they dipped in mustard. Make these simple chicken nuggets and celebrate family dinner with some broccoli florets on the side and let them eat with their hands!

If the chicken nuggets are not appealing to the older “kids” panfry a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts, too. Pound the breasts to make them even in size and cook for four minutes on each side.

Set up three small pans or three pie tins, a baking rack over a sheet of parchment paper and another sheet of parchment paper lined with paper towels.

Place the flour in one pan, the eggs in a second one and beat until frothy and finally the breadcrumbs and cheese (mixed together) in the last.

Family Dinner

 

Cut the tenders into four pieces each.

Family Dinner

 

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn and sprinkle the reverse side with salt and pepper.

Family Dinner

Heat the oil in a large skillet or electric frying pan to 350 degrees F. If you’re using a skillet, a handy tool to use is a surface thermometer, which reads the surface temperature of the oil. Keeping the oil properly heated means the frying food absorbs less oil. After frying two batches, 24 nuggets, I had this much oil left over out of one cup.

Family Dinner

 

Dredge each chicken piece in the flour first, then the egg wash and lastly in the breadcrumbs and cheese.

Family Dinner

Set each piece on the baking rack.

Family Dinner

Once the oil is hot, place the chicken nuggets into the pan with a good inch between piece. Fry for three minutes, turn and fry for three minutes more.

Family Dinner

 

Place the cooked nuggets on the paper towel to drain.

Family Dinner

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, or BBQ sauce.

 

Print

Family Dinner

Family Dinner

Chicken nuggets were a favorite with my kids, which they dipped in mustard. Make these simple chicken nuggets and celebrate family dinner with some broccoli florets on the side and let them eat with their hands!

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 24 chicken nuggets 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Panfry
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (white or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup oil

Instructions

  1. Set up three small pans or three pie tins, a baking rack over a sheet of parchment paper and another sheet of parchment paper lined with paper towels.
  2. Place the flour in one pan, the eggs in a second one and beat until frothy and finally the breadcrumbs and cheese in the last.
  3. Cut the tenders into four pieces each.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn and sprinkle the reverse side with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the oil in a large skillet or electric frying pan to 350 degrees F. If you’re using a skillet, a handy tool to use is a surface thermometer, which reads the surface temperature of the oil. Keeping the oil properly heated means the frying food absorbs less oil. After frying two batches, 24 nuggets, I had this much oil left over out of one cup.
  6. Dredge each chicken piece in the flour first, then the egg wash and lastly in the breadcrumbs and cheese. Set each piece on the baking rack.
  7. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken nuggets into the pan with a good inch between piece. Fry for three minutes, turn and fry for three minutes more.
  8. Place the cooked nuggets on the paper towel to drain.
  9. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, or BBQ sauce.

 

 

Green Tea Primer

Goldsmith Teas

 

Will Wertheim, the son of my dear friends Carol and Les, took an unexpected path when he branched out into the study of tea after finishing college majoring in environmental science. Will began studying with tea master Michael Wong of China Town in 2010. He went on to work at Chelsea Market & Tea, helped open the Harney & Son’s New York store, and was a wholesale rep for Ito En, a Japanese tea company. Will decided to go into the tea business and created an online site to sell fine teas  Therein the founding of, Goldsmith Teas, named after his maternal grandparents. Will now lives in Brooklyn and travels the world in search of excellent teas.

How to Brew Hot Tea

Here’s a primer on properly brewing tea. Temperature is important to a well-brewed cup of tea. Bring the water to a boil, pour a cupful and let the water cool slightly to 208ºF for black teas, slightly more, 195ºF, for oolong teas and 175ºF for green teas, before infusing. Will suggests using an unbleached tea filter for brewing, such as these sold by arborteas.com. Measure the tea, fill the tea filter and steep, also known as the “agony of the leaf,” for 30 to 60 seconds for most green teas; a longer brew adds caffeine, not flavor. Steep black teas for three to five minutes; longer brewing only increases unpleasant tannins.

Will recommends reinfusing the same tea filter two or three times. Though the tea may not be as strong,  good flavor remains.

Two Methods to Brew Iced Tea

Hot Brewed Iced Tea

Brew the teas as instructed above doubling the amount of tea to two ounces for every eight ounces of water and then pour over ice.

Cold Brewed Iced Tea

Use one heaping teaspoon for every eight ounces of cold water and let sit eight hours.

Green Tea Tasting

Tea #1 Jade Oolong

Oolong teas originated in China and are also grown in Taiwan. Will purchased this batch of tea leaves while on tour directly from the Taiwanese farmer!

Once the tea is harvested it’s left one day to wither, but not dry. The leaves must retain moisture as each leaf is raveled and unraveled up to 30 times. Notice how finely the leaves are raveled and rolled into these small balls. Each infusion, continues to unfurl the leaves.

Goldsmith Teas

Will used a Yixing Pottery teapot to brew the Jade Oolong, which contributes flavor to the tea.

Goldsmith Teas

He placed the tea leaves in the pot, poured hot water into the pitcher and let it sit for to cool slightly before adding to the pot and let it brew for 30 seconds.

Goldsmith Teas

The first thing I noticed was an aroma I didn’t immediately recognize. After a couple of sips and a few more sniffs, I finally identified a clove-like flavor with a slight tongue numbing effect. The tea is grown at the top of mountains with lots of cloud coverage and lack of sunshine and the struggle for sunshine produces more chlorophyll and polyphenols resulting in the numbing sensation.

This is the tealeaf after the first steeping; the leaf is unrolled, but still raveled.

Goldsmith Teas

Will opened the leaf for viewing (those are Mom Carol’s scrumptious orange butter cookies in the corner).

Goldsmith Teas

The Jade Oolong was brewed four separate times, the clove aroma faded quickly, but the numbing quality was still apparent.

Goldsmith Teas

(On the bottom is the tealeaf before brewing, right above, the first brew and
above that the second brew – notice how the leaf has expanded.)

The fourth and final brew was tannic, something that doesn’t appeal to me, but look at how the tealeaves have completely opened.

Goldsmith Teas

Jade Oolong speeds up your metabolism and creates a “tea drunk” affecting both the mind and the body. Drink enough and you reach a meditative state of awareness and tranquility. Too much, however, can upset the stomach. A little nosh with the Jade Oolong is recommended. Those cookies did the trick!

Tea #2 Amber Oolong

This green tea is briefly fired, which “singes” the edges of the leaf but doesn’t completely dry the tea. The firing creates the Maillard Reaction, a reaction caused by the heating process and the reaction of the sugar and amino acids in the leaves. The easiest way to describe this reaction is to think of the color and flavor created when you toast bread.

Goldsmith Teas

(Bottom leaf is Jade Oolong. Top leaf is Amber Oolong –
notice the slightly browned edges.)

The firing process gives the tea an earthier taste than the Jade Oolong (same tea leaves, just a different treatment). This tea also creates a numbness of the tongue due to the same growing conditions. Will uses a Gaiwan pot to make the Amber Oolong.

Goldsmith Teas

After a couple of infusions, there was an interesting caramel flavor, brought on by the Maillard Reaction, and slightly floral aroma in the bottom of the empty cup.

Tea #3 Jasmine Pearl

This tea is from China and is rolled into pretty little orbs of green and white. The stems and buds, the white portion of the tea plant, are included. The harvested tea leaves are placed on a shirt lined with jasmine petals and rolled to infuse the jasmine perfume into the leaves. The jasmine petals are then removed; the remaining pollen contributes added flavor.

Goldsmith Teas

Brew for three minutes. The first infusion is very fragrant and the jasmine taste is strong. With multiple infusions, the color of the water gets lighter but the jasmine flavor is still apparent.

Goldsmith Teas

We had a lovely and informative two-hour tasting party. It was a pleasure to talk with Will about tea. He’s very passionate and knowledgeable about the topic.

Contact Will at: http://goldsmithteas.com/contact/

Goldsmith Teas

How to Read a Recipe

Ice Cream Recipe Book

When you write a book, you always hope it’s 100% perfect. It’s rarely the case however; there may be a misspelled word or, unfortunately, a missing ingredient. Such is the case with the early printing of Endless Summer: 54 Quick and Creative Ice Cream and Dessert Recipes, published by Zoku LLC  and the manufacturer of the Zoku Ice Cream Maker.

I recently received an email concerning the Pumpkin Pie ice cream recipe asking at what point does the pumpkin go into the mix. The answer is with the vanilla extract after the custard has chilled. The publisher in subsequent printings has corrected the error. This lead me to think it would be helpful to offer some advice on how to read a recipe.

For those of you who find this error in your book, the recipe is on page 40 and the final paragraph indicates chilling the custard for 30 minutes. The next sentence, which omits the pumpkin, should read: “Stir in the pumpkin and the vanilla extract….”

It occurred to me that not every cookbook author might be as easily found as I was and that a little information on how recipes are written may help you intuit a missing ingredient or instruction. Following are the nuts and bolts of how to read a recipe.

Ingredient Order

Ingredients are always listed in order of use. In a simple recipe using all the ingredients at once, these start with the largest ingredient and continue to the smallest. The method should reiterate these ingredients again, in the same order, to make it clear what is being used.

In a more complicated recipe where ingredients are incorporated at different steps throughout the method, each step should list the ingredients being used with the largest ingredient first down to the smallest, and list the remaining ingredients the same way for each subsequent step in the method.

For example, here is my  Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic Recipe.

How to read a recipe.

Ingredients

Step 1

40 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
6 sprigs of fresh thyme

Step 2

2 tablespoons olive oil

Step 3

1 whole roasting chicken cut into eight pieces
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Step 4

1/4 cup cognac
1/2 cup dry white wine

Step 5

1 cup chicken stock
zest of one lemon

Step 6

juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced thyme

Method

The method of incorporating the ingredients, follows the order of the ingredients listed above and each individual ingredient should be listed again and in the same order as the ingredient list. A recipe written as “combine all the ingredients” can lead to a mishap if an ingredient is missing.

The most common way to present the directions is in numbered or separate paragraphs for each step. This should help you intuit where the missing ingredient should be added based on its placement in the ingredient list.

Should the ingredient be missing from the “Ingredient List,” you will have to guess the quantity to use. Having the ingredients listed by size within order of use, could give you a fair indication of the amount needed.

Step 1

Spread the garlic over the bottom of a roasting pan and lay the thyme sprigs across the top of the garlic.

How to read a recipe.

Step 2

Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat.

Step 3

Season the chicken, both sides, with the salt and pepper.

How to read a recipe.

Sear the chicken for three minutes, skin slide down. Don’t crowd the pan, sear in batches as needed.

How to read a recipe.

Turn and cook for one minute more.

How to read a recipe.

Lay the seared chicken on top of the garlic and thyme in the roasting pan.

How to read a recipe.

Step 4

Add the cognac and wine to the frying pan, bring to a boil and deglaze the pan by scrapping the fond with a wooden spoon. Reduce the liquid to one-quarter cup.

Step 5

Stir in the chicken stock and lemon zest and bring to a boil.

How to read a recipe.

Pour the sauce over the chicken.

How to read a recipe.

Note: The chicken can be made ahead to this point. Cover and refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before roasting.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or a little longer if refrigerated. The chicken is done when the internal temperature registers 175ºF on a meat thermometer.

Step 6

Remove the chicken to a warm platter and boil the sauce to reduce it for about five minutes.

How to read a recipe.

Discard the thyme sprigs, whisk the lemon juice, minced thyme and butter into the sauce. At this point, you can leave the sauce as it, mash the garlic with the back of a fork or blend to a puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender.

How to read a recipe.

Pour the sauce over the chicken or serve on the side.

How to read a recipe.

I hope this clarifies recipes a little. Never hesitate to contact us here at Honeypie’s Recipes for help, even if it isn’t our book!