Tag Archives: recipe testing

Confit… con? or fit?

2 Jun

Confit: [kohn-FEE, kon-FEE]

This specialty of Gascony, France, is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit  can be refrigerated up to 6 months. Confit d’oie and confit de canard are preserved goose and preserved duck, respectively.

© Copyright Barron’s Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER’S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/entry?id=2028#ixzz1OA1VZ100

Confit, as defined above is reserved for slowly cooking poultry in their own fats for preservation reasons. But, lately, it seems as though you can “confit” anything. I’ve seen recipes for tomato confit, garlic confit, lemon confit and most recently, chickpea confit. Personally, I feel that confit is turning into one of those culinary terms like carpaccio. You see anything sliced paper thin is a carpaccio of “fill in the blank.” Granted anything salted and slowly cooked in fat sounds delicious to me, but is it really a confit?

It’s an interesting thought really. Why not just poach these items in oil. They certainly done have their own fat to bring to the party. But what’s the different between oil poaching and confit? Mostly, when you poach something in oil, you are removing the item from the cooking liquid whereas with a confit it is being stored in the fat. Still, doesn’t tomato confit sound so much more luxurious than tomato dip or even preserved tomatoes. And an oil poached tomato kinda sounds like a greasy mess.

Confit or not, I made my version of chickpea confit. The bottom line is that this is a dip or spread. It’s similar to hummus but with infinitely more flavor and texture. Plus it sounds so elegant for a dip. Here’s the recipe:Chickpea Confit

Chickpea Confit
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large garlic cloves
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low for 45 mins-1 hour. Let the mixture cool slightly and mash with a fork. Serve chilled with fresh baguette or crackers.

So what is my final verdict on the proper nomenclature? Well, I think that whenever something sounds exotic and exciting it makes me want to eat it more. I’m still not convinced that radish carpaccio should be allowed… but the idea of elevating a simple vegetable to new heights by cooking as if it was as special as duck or goose, can only be a good thing.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Pickled Beets and Strawberries

3 Apr

Pickled Beets and StrawberriesPickled beets are not just for the salad bar. Come on, you know the ones. Their neon glow reflects so queasily on the sneeze guard. You know, it’s not that pickled beets taste bad, really I think they taste good… it’s just… they are so intimidating.

I know beets are good for you and they are a natural source of sugar, and even though I make beets quite often, I am always intimidated by the pickled version. I guess I’m always thinking that they are going to taste like an odd combination of dill pickles and roasted beets. So the other day I was at Whole Foods and I saw a jar of pickled beets and strawberries. Sounds good…definitely no weird dill garlic beets combo in there. Problem… 8 bucks. I passed…on the jar, not the idea.

I came home and started playing. What I discovered was a crazy amazing combination of flavors!

Pickled Beets and Strawberries

Step one: Roast 2 large beets

2 large beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
sprinkle of salt

roast at 400, wrapped in foil for 1 hour.

Step two: prep the strawberries and peel beets

Slice 1 pint of strawberries
Let the beets cool to room temperature and then peel the skin off the beets and then slice the beets

Step three: prepare to pickle

in a small bowl combine the sliced strawberries and beets with the juice and zest of 1 blood orange and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar.
Put the whole mixture in a air-tight container and let sit for 3 days.

Serve with crackers and goat cheese or just eat out of the jar… they are that good!

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

You don’t have to hug a tree to love granola

31 Mar


I love granola. I mean what’s not to like about sweet crunchy whole grains mixed with fruit and nuts. I make granola a lot at work. I serve it to the kids to mix with yogurt and fruit. It holds up well without going stale and it can be flavored in so many ways. Since today is a very rainy day I figured it was a good day to play with the food in the house.

If your pantry is anything like mine, you have a few items in there that are partially used. I always seem to have a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or a handful of nuts. I also seem to have an assortment of dried fruits left over from different recipes. Granola is great what to use up all those odds and ends. As with most things, granola is a technique. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can tweak the ingredients to customize your mix.

Here’s the basic formula for granola:

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the mixture is crumbly and the syrup has been evenly incorporated. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Below is a table of combinations to give you an idea of how you can mix and match flavors to make a personalized granola…

Basic Base Dry Goods Syrup Flavor 2nd Flavor Additives
oats no additional maple cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats wheat germ agave pumpkin

pie spice

vanilla powder pecans
oats coconut honey cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats shredded wheat honey nutmeg clove white chocolate chips
oats puffed rice agave espresso powder vanilla powder chocolate chips

Today I made a tropical granola… here’s the recipe:

2 cups oats
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup shredded coconut

Added after the base was toasted and cooled:
1/2 cup dried mango, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup banana chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

I followed the above technique and viola, a yummy granola! I would also recommend using macadamia nuts instead of the peanuts or omitting the chocolate chips for a slightly healthier granola, but ce la vie… This is what you get what you’re cleaning out the pantry

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Strawberry and Rhubarb Galette

6 Mar

Nothing says spring to me like strawberries and rhubarb. And, now that I’m living in Florida, I have the pleasure of getting local strawberries. I’m sure I’ve bored you all before with my rants on fresh local ingredients, but the simple truth is… the shorter the distance between you and your food, the better.

I was in the grocery store this afternoon and the sale was 3 pounds of local strawberries for $5. I wasn’t really shopping for fruit. In fact, I was there getting a toothbrush, but I couldn’t resist this deal. The rhubarb was cleaned and broken down and conveniently merchandised right next to the strawberries. It was kismet. Dessert was a must for tonight.

I love making galettes. They are rustic free form pies that are less stuffy and finicky than traditional pies. The technique is simple enough. Just make a simple pie dough and roll it out on a cookie sheet. Place your fruit in the center of the rolled out dough and then fold the edges in toward the center. Brush the outside with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. In this case I used pearl sugar. (The pearl sugar doesn’t melt so it gives the effect of salt on a soft pretzel.)

Here’s the full recipe. Make this soon, as rhubarb season is short and the frozen stuff just isn’t the same.

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

For filling:1 pound strawberries, hulled
1/2 pound rhubard, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar

For crust:
1 1/2 cup AP flour
6 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
2 T water

Start by making the crust. Combine the dry ingredients together and then cut the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Add the the wet to the dry and kneed to combine. Once everything is incorporated, chill the dough for approx. 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Combine the fruit with the sugar and allow to macerate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree. When the dough is chilled, roll it out into a 14-16 inch circle. place all of the filling in the center of the dough leaving a 3 inch border around the sides. Then fold the edges in toward the center leaving a 2 inch hole. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the dough is GBD (golden brown and delicious.) Serve at room temp with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Mussel-rama

23 Jan

In the past I’ve written about my serious love of mussels. I know I have at least one post on it, but I’m sure it’s been mentioned several times. Last night, we had a party that was the ultimate indulgence of mussels. A lot of our friends share in my love of this creature and we had been comparing recipes for sometime. I figured, enough talk, let’s throwdown.

It took a little finessing, but the final plan sounded like this. We would provide the mussels and everyone had to come with a sauce or ingredients to make their version of mussels with. There were no limits and no qualifications. It just had to taste good with mussels. I know there are thousands of ways to prepare these little buggers so I was pumped to see what everyone was bringing.

I made my version of moule frite. I did a quick steam in bacon fat, shallots, and prosecco and then garnished with crispy bacon, bleu cheese, and watercress. I did make french fries, complete with truffle oil but they were gone before the mussels were cooked (and that’s saying something.) Our friend Desiree went with a white wine butter sauce with red onion and parsley…

Our friends Lindsay and David went a non-traditional route and made grilled mussels with a sriracha and wine sauce. It was crazy amazing. I wanted to stop eating them, but I couldn’t.

I will apologize to our other friends who’s mussels are not pictured, but I was so busy eating my first round, I forgot to take pictures of the second round. Our friends, Vicki and Steve made the mussels from Bonefish. Not only were they fantastically full of garlic, the sauce was perfect for dipping. Greg and Margot made a Tuscan tomato based sauce that was also out of this world. I know that I’m gushing, and raving about everything, but it’s the truth. There was not a bad mussel to be had!

The best part about this party was that everyone got involved. There was some friendly competition and everyone wanted to impress. We had simple appetizers and free flowing wine and beer. There were lots of laughs and lots of eating. It’s been decided that it was so fun, that we are now going to do a monthly dinner where everyone prepares something. It never ceases to amaze me that food brings people together, and when it’s made with care and passion.

Always thinking about the next meal

Katie

Week 2… Let the criticism begin

24 Oct

So this week was all about the trials and tribulations of learning on the job. As previously mentioned, this job came with no manual or instructions. As long as the kids received a hot meal things would be good. My menu was creative and filling. I had some classic dishes as well as some new things. The kids seemed excited. Quite frankly, I was too. It was my first week on my own and I was full of adrenaline. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but my parents were helping me shop, so at least that part was going faster. I had know idea what was to come…

Monday- Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I figured this was a no brainer. All kids like mac and cheese. I inherited 3 cases of goldfish crackers and needed to use it up. (No amount of tomato soup could use up these goldfish) I saw on TV that there is a restaurant out there that makes a crust for their mac and cheese using goldfish crackers. I thought, Brilliant! I’ll borrow the idea, and the kids will love it. As soon as I started serving, the kids revolted. “Why are there goldfish in the mac and cheese?” “Can I have mine plain?” “Why would you do that?” The list goes on. I knew going into this job that my creativity would be limited, but I never thought something as small as goldfish crackers on baked mac and cheese would have such a negative result. I served peas and oranges a long side as well as shortbread cookies. Even with all this, it was apparently not enough to please.

Tuesday- French Bread pizza. Who didn’t like French Bread Pizza Day when they were in school. I remember thinking it was one of the best days. We didn’t have homemade FBP though, we had frozen, re-heated Ellio’s. It was good, but nothing beats homemade… or so I thought. I was really excited for this day. I made the turkey sausage from scratch and was working the sauce. I took a little shortcut and used canned tomatoes to save time. I flavored the sauce with onion, garlic, spinach and mushrooms. I pureed everything together so the kiddies didn’t see the vegetables. I thought it was great. Everything tasted wonderful and looked perfect. I served fruit on the side. I really thought this was going to be a homerun. Each pizza was about 7 inches in length and piled with toppings and cheese. The comments were shocking. Not enough food. The kids are still hungry. Well, that is the worst. I never want anyone to be hungry. But, seriously these pizzas were huge. And they were heavy. They probably weighed a 1/2 pound each. But… the kids were still hungry.

Wednesday- Meatloaf. It’s strange… I grew up with meatloaf. My mom made it a lot. Apparently it’s no longer the dinner time staple it was. The kids actually liked this one. My problem… I had no idea how much to make and I was really close to running out. The kids were used to having corn and mashed potatoes on the side. Personally, I’m not sure how you can count either of these as a vegetable, but the woman before me did. I added peas to the mix and oranges for dessert. Again the biggest comment, not enough food. At this point I was going crazy. Yes, I’ll admit the meatloaf portions were a little small, but I was really tight on servings and I had to make it work. I figured with all the starches on the side that it would be OK. After all, this was only my second week and I’m still adjusting to my portioning. Little did I know that the portion sizes of the sides were getting so big that I was running low on those as well. My volunteers seem to think that more is better, but in reality, it’s not. First of all, kids don’t need to each a cup of corn, a cup and a half of mashed potatoes and 4 oz of protein. Plus, they had the option of peas and oranges. The trays are getting so heavy that the kids are dropping them. I just don’t understand. Size wise, this should be plenty but parents are saying no.

Thursday- Tacozagna. This was a gamble. I was trying a recipe that I had never made before. It’s a Rachel Ray recipe that I adapted to fit my needs. I over made. I wanted to make sure there was more than enough for everyone. I served chips on the side and fruit, and the PTO was providing ice cream. As I was portioning out the trays, some moms were watching what I was doing. I laughed a little and said, “Wow, these are huge portions.” Each serving was at least 8oz. The dish was made with ground turkey, beans, cheese and flour tortillas. It was a hearty meal to say the least. Then they were given the option to top it with lettuce, tomato or salsa. The moms’ reaction? “Actually, it’s just enough.” Are you kidding me? Maybe it’s just enough for an 8th grade boy… but that it a lot of food for a kindergartner. The kids really liked it. A few of them can up to me and said thank you and said it tasted really good.

I’m finding it really hard to keep my food costs down and give the kids enough to eat and give them enough variety that if they don’t want fruits or vegetables, that they aren’t going hungry. The frustrating thing is that I have no control over what they choose to eat besides putting it on their plate. If they get to the table and don’t eat something or don’t like it, I can’t help it. I can’t force feed these kids. I seem to have a mixed support. People believe in my fresh foods philosophy, but are stalling process by telling me to offer chips and cookies at every meal. Portion size is a huge issue in this country. Everything is super-sized. This week’s menu is challenging. Not only, because it’s just me doing it, but because some of my choices don’t have a lot of side with them. I’m going to have to pull out some miracles and hope that what I offer is enough and that the kids like it.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Tone your Mussels

24 May

I was at the grocery store this afternoon getting mussels for dinner and this woman started talking to me. She was getting scallops but told me she had made mussels for dinner last night. She asked me how I was preparing them. Honestly I didn’t have a plan yet. I just love mussels and thought I’d figure it out with whatever I had in the produce drawer. I felt like I couldn’t answer her question with that though. So I said I usually prepare them with sautéed fennel and white wine (which is true.) She gave me a terrified look and turned back toward the seafood counter. This was not the reaction that I was expecting. Surely if she was looking to share a successful menu with a fellow seafood lover, dinner must have been great. Did she think fennel was gross or maybe she didn’t know what fennel was. In any case, I decided that I should ask her how she prepared hers. This was a mistake. She turned around quickly and very stiffly said spaghetti sauce and wine and turned back around. Immediately I regretted saying anything. I was handed my mussels and told her to enjoy her scallops.

This awkward conversation started me thinking. Has our culture of convenience brought us to thinking that something in a jar that is labeled “spaghetti sauce” means that is good to use in anything we deem to be “Italian.” There’s nothing wrong with the quickie dinner that you are too busy to think about. A box of pasta and a jar of sauce and bada bing dinner. I have been known to have the occasional emergency meal. I guess the real question is why would you take something as delicious as a mussel and smother it in a sauce that’s been sitting on a grocery shelf for an unknown amount of time. I’m all for mussels marinara, but jarred spaghetti sauce just won’t cut it for me.

I wanted to shed the “usual” mussel preparation and try something new. After a quick internet search (as you may be doing right now) I decided to just wing it with the ingredients I had on hand. Here’s what I came up with…

Mussels a la minute
serves 2 for appies or 1 for dinner

1.25 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup red or white wine (whatever is open)
2 tablespoons olive tapenade
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan add the oil garlic and onions. Sauté until the onions are soft. Add in the the mussels and wine and cover the pan to create steam. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels are just open. Add in the butter and swirl the pan. Add in the lemon juice, zest, parsley, and cheese. Season and put in a serving dish and garnish with toasted ciabatta bread.

This was great. It was fresh and light and perfect for the time of year.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie