All posts filed under: Building blocks

Balsamic Vinaigrette

For Vinaigrette Week: here is the first vinaigrette I learned as a technique as opposed to a recipe. It’s still my favorite – the balsamic vinegar gives it a hint of sweetness that I really like. I was at a cooking class given by Fat Cats, a local restaurant. The chef did the recipes, while one of the owners kept up a running commentary. They had a good act – It was very entertaining. But, more importantly, I learned two things. The first is, this is just a technique – as long as you know the basics, you can do endless variations. They used Fig Balsamic vinegar, but it was fine if you couldn’t find it; just get good balsamic vinegar. The second is that exact measuring doesn’t matter – close enough is good enough, as long as you taste afterwards to adjust if you need it.I remember something like “Add a half a cup of olive oil. (Glug-glug sound as he pours from the bottle.) OK, that’s close enough. (Whisks madly, then dips his …

Basic Technique: Vinaigrette

This was probably the technique that made me a food snob. Once I learned it, I was ruined. Why anyone spends money on store-bought salad dressing, which tastes of nothing but the stabilizers they put in it, is beyond me.*Death to store-bought salad dressing! Who’s with me! Chaaaaarge! All you need is some good vinegar, some oil, and a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Whisk these together, and you’ve got vinaigrette! Michael Ruhlman’s new book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, has the perfect recipe: 3 parts oil: 1 part vinegar That’s it! See? You never need to buy salad dressing again.No, really, I mean it. Put down the bottle of “Lite Italian”. Have you read the ingredients list on that thing? It should say: Oil. Vinegar. Spices. What is xanthan gum, and why is it in my salad dressing? I’ve got the recipes to prove it; you’ll be getting them for the rest of the week. The important part is the ratio, and the following technique.And, as …

Homemade Barbecue Rub

I use this homemade barbecue rub on anything I want to have a barbecue flavor. Sure, barbecue sauce is nice, but the rub is where the flavor is. Now, If I was a real barbecue pitmaster, I would have to guard this recipe with my life.* *You know – the old Keyser Soze routine: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you. And your family. And everone who’s ever met you. By the time I’m done, they’ll have to post signs off the coastline, warning people away from the continent you live on for the next thousand years.” But I’m not a real pitmaster. And, as you can probably tell, I can’t keep my mouth shut when it comes to food. I gave away containers of this rub as christmas presents to friends and family, so if they want to refill they’ll need the recipe. Recipe: Homemade Barbecue Rub     Notes This rub is best on chicken, pork or fish. I use about 1-2 tsp per pound, but I usually just sprinkle it …

Turkey Stock done right

Recipe: Ruhlman’s Turkey Stock Done Right(via: Ruhlman.com) Equipment: 12 quart stock pot (or the largest pot you have that you can fit in your oven.) I have this: All-Clad Stainless 12-Quart Multi CookerAnd I want this: All-Clad Stainless-Steel Stockpot – 16 quart Aromatics! Ingredients: Carcass from one turkey, broken into pieces that will fit in your pot 6 quarts cold water (or more to cover) 1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and halved 1 celery rib, cut in half (optional) 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in half (optional) 3 cloves garlic, skin on, crushed (optional) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp whole black peppercorns 1 bay leaf 1 sprig fresh thyme 1 half a bunch of parsley stems (optional – skipped, since I didn’t have them) Turkey! Directions:1. Turn oven to 180*F (or as close as you can get it, if your oven doesn’t go that low). 2. Put carcass in pot, and add the cold water – you want to cover the carcass by 1″ 3. Put pot on high heat, bring to a bare simmer, …

Pressure Cooker Turkey Stock

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Turkey Stock(Inspired by The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook: Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock) Cook time: 60 minutes Equipment: 8 to 10 quart Pressure Cooker (I use this one:Fagor Duo 10-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner) Aromatics! Ingredients: Carcass from one turkey, broken into pieces that will fit in your pressure cooker 1 large onion, trimmed and halved 1 celery rib, cut in half (optional) 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in half (optional) 3 cloves garlic, skin on, crushed (optional) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp whole black peppercorns 1 bay leaf 1 sprig fresh thyme 1 half a bunch of parsley stems (optional – skipped, since I didn’t have them) 3 quarts cold water (or more to cover) Carcass, broken into pieces Don’t fill your cooker over it’s “max fill line” – I’m probably a little over it here… Directions:1. Put all ingredients in pressure cooker, and add the cold water – you want to cover the ingredients by 1″ 2. Put on the lid, clamp it shut, and bring the PC up to high pressure, …

Turkey Stock for people who aren’t obsessed

Recipe: Turkey Stock for people who aren’t obsessed (AKA, like my Dad used to make*) *Still does, actually… Makes about 6 quarts of stock, but this will vary depending on width your pot, and how much you break up your carcass Equipment: 12 Quart or larger pot (my dad has always used one like this:¬†Granite Ware Stock Pots) Ingredients: Carcass from one turkey, broken into pieces that will fit in your pot (or not broken up at all, if your pot is big enough) 1 large onion, trimmed and halved 1 celery rib, cut in half (optional) 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in half (optional) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp whole black peppercorns (optional) 1 bay leaf 1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 tbsp dried thyme (optional) 1 half a bunch of parsley stems (optional) Cold water to cover other ingredients Directions: 1. Put all ingredients in granitware pot, and add the cold water – you want to cover the ingredients by one inch. 2. Put pot on high heat, bring to a bare …

Easy Barbecue Sauce

One of my original cooking jags was barbecue – real, low-and-slow barbecue. (See here. Or, more embarrassingly, here, 3rd picture down.*) Now, with the kids, I usually have to live with ribs every now and then, instead of overnight beef brisket. One of the things I learned was that store-bought barbecue sauce is not good. And what’s even worse is that you can make it yourself in no time at all! I can whisk up a batch of this no-cook barbecue sauce in about ten minutes, and it keeps in the fridge for just about forever. *Aargh. Remember this picture if you ever think of putting something on the web that you might later regret. Black socks? What was I thinking? On the other hand (literally), I’ve got Ben in all his baby cuteness to distract you. Recipe: Easy Barbecue Sauce       Notes: Obviously, this recipe can vary quite a bit (see all the optional ingredients and variations) When I have it on hand (almost always), I’ll add a tablespoon of barbecue rub …

Chipotle in Adobo Puree

Chipotles en Adobo are canned chipotle peppers – smoke-dried jalapenos – in a thick vinegary, red sauce.  When I started using them years ago, you had to go to mexican groceries, or specialty cooking shops.  Now you can find them in any grocery store, in the “international” aisle. They are a great ingredient if you need heat and some smoky flavor.  I use them all the time in salsa and chili, and occasionally in a vinaigrette with fish or shrimp.  Be careful though – they pack a punch! This recipe is a quick tip I picked up from Bobby Flay. Instead of using “one chipotle pepper, choppped, with adobo sauce”, puree the entire can ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. Chipotle Puree Ingredients: 1 can Chipotle Peppers Directions Open can, pour into food processor or blender.  Process for 30 seconds, or until smooth.  (Note: the mini-bowl that comes with a KitchenAid food processor is perfect size for this, and I don’t have to clean up the processor afterward.  Well, except for the lid.) Scrape …