April 2010

Herbed Olive Oils

Right now, when fresh

herbs are readily available in stores, or in your own Kitchen herb garden or windowsill planter, is a perfect time to bottle some olive oils infused with herbs. You can use dried herbs, of course, but the appearance of a few sprigs of a freshly picked herb in the olive oil is quite attractive. I should also note that you can use other things besides herbs—garlic, dried peppers, or dried citrus peels, for instance work well. I'm going to assume that you're using fresh herbs in the following post; the instructions are close enough that you can certainly figure out what to do with dried herbs. I'll be using olive oil; you could conceivably use hazelnut or walnut oil for a similar lovely result.

Dandelions Are Actually Healthy and a Little Tasty

I was getting the spaghetti ready for dinner tonight when I asked my husband to prepare a salad; I was thinking Spinach, but he had other ideas. He asked me if I knew anything about making “Dandelion Salads”. Since my main image of Dandelions is in a yard full of weeds, the idea of a “Dandelion Salad” didn’t sound all that appetizing, but I decided to try it.

Last week, my husband picked several Dandelions at a near-by farm and was eager to use the leaves for a salad. He googled for a Dandelion Salad recipe he liked and then added Roasted Pine Nuts, Red Onion, and Red Cabbage to the young Dandelion leaves and then made a quick Olive Oil-based dressing.

How And Why To Knead Bread Dough - Or Not!

Kneading dough "develops the gluten," which are the sticky strands that trap and hold the bubbles of carbon dioxide that the yeast exhales as it grows.  Kneading your bread will stretch out the protein strands, as well as continuing to mix everything together to get the best exposure to all the chemical processes happening inside the loaf.

However, you don't actually have to knead your bread in order for this to happen.  "No-knead bread" became fantastically popular after Mark Bittman (one of my favorite food bloggers) talked about it in a New York Times article.  The exact same thing happens, on a molecular level, if you just let the dough sit there longer.  

What's The Best Sandwich?

According to a food writer for the Guardian, the world's best sandwich is some kind of bizarre smashed collection of steaks and grilled mushrooms.  What?  I mean, seriously - what?  This bizarre violation of basic food handling principles ("Leave under the weights in a reasonably cool place (don't refrigerate) for at least six hours or preferably overnight") cannot possibly be the world's best sandwich.

I will tell you my personal candidate: grilled cheese.  The simplicity of the form alone should do the trick for its nomination.  The ideal grilled cheese sandwich is a combination of textures - crunchy toasted bread and creamy melted cheese.  It can also be a foil for a simple sauce - I often have mine with ketchup, or a bit of ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.

My Secret Muffin-Baking Tips Finally Revealed!

I read a recent article on MSNBC about common mistakes people make when following recipes. I have said it before and I will most definitely say it again: I am not a cook. I haven’t let that little teensy, weensy fact stop me from bravely attempting numerous recipes- some of which come out better than others.

All of the tips,  which included suggestions like “Don’t Overheat” and “Read the recipe” were pretty straightforward. However, that doesn’t mean that I necessarily agreed with everything the writer suggested, especially the tip, “Do not substitute.” Maybe it works in most cases, but when I make muffins, which are my specialty, the substitutions are what makes the muffins delicious.

What To Do With Leftover Potatoes

After any holiday, it seems like there is always a ton of leftover potatoes.  I am maniacal about not wasting food, and potatoes have a lot of good nutrition.  Ignore the carb-haters: potatoes include vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, potassium, and a number of other key vitamins.  (According to Wikipedia, the vitamins are distributed evenly between the skin and the flesh, although "almost all the protein content of a potato is contained in a thin layer just under its skin."

Whether you are being overwhelmed by leftover baked potatoes or leftover mashed potatoes, let's take a look at what you can do with them!

Potato Pancakes

Sprucing Up Simple Dishes

Sometimes we crave simplicity. Humble foods that are quick, easy and inexpensive have as much culinary power as complex, gourmet dishes. They're what we eat when we need to focus our energy elsewhere or when finances are too tight for more nuanced fare. These two-note dishes can be satisfying in their own right, but it doesn't take long to grow bored with them. This creates something of a dilemma. How do you make basic meals more interesting without sacrificing the simplicity that defines them? Here are a few ways to make those easy foods more lively while keeping them honest.