Tips, Tools, and Technique

By Published On: March 9th, 2013Categories: Fish, Meals, Uncategorized0 Comments

My first tip is regarding my last blog. If you received the blog via email you probably were not able to view my video debut. Two solutions: either go to the top of the email where you will see a line reading something like: If you are having trouble viewing this email, click here to view it in your browser. That should allow you to open the videos. The other, and I think better answer, is simply to go to: www.cookwithcindy.com and view the videos in the actual blog.

HOLD YOUR BOWL IN PLACE
Next, a tip on holding bowls in place while you are stirring, beating or whisking. You may have heard this before, but it is a simple way to hold a bowl in place allowing you to use both hands-one for beating and the other possibly for adding ingredients as you mix. Bunch up a dish towel and place the bowl on top of the scrunched dishtowel which holds the bowl in place while you are beating.

TIDY UP AS YOU GO
Everyone has their own style of cooking, but I recommend you clean up as you go. It helps me stay organized and focused if I rinse and put things in the dishwasher or wash the special knives by hand as I prepare a meal. It also is very welcome when you finish prepping a meal, especially a big dinner, if you don’t have a mound of dirty dishes to face, allowing you to sit down and relax with a glass of wine before your guests arrive.

KEEP POTHOLDERS HANDY
Here’s a tip I just learned from one of my favorite magazines, “Cook’s Illustrated”. Use shower hooks on your oven door to make pot holders and dish towels easily accesssible.

And speaking of pot holders, my Mom made both the turtle and the fish. Every year for Christmas she made a different pot holder for all the kids in the family. My all-time favorite was the one she made when I bought my first (on my own) home in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. The house was sided in pink asbestos shingles and we affectionately called the house Big Pink…lots of fun dinner parties took place in that house!

As you can see this one has been well used over many, many years!

My Dad every year for Christmas made cutting boards. He had two designs: hearts and apples. These two were made from a huge black walnut tree that grew in our front yard. Black walnuts are beautiful trees and the grain is very fine making the wood extremely hard…perfect for cutting boards, but the tree was messy and a lot of work to clean up after in the spring so it finally came down and was transformed into cutting boards, ornamental boxes, tables and anything else my father could think of to make!

I think the grain is beautiful! The Black walnuts are also delicious to eat, but hard to crack!

EASY BERRY HUSKING
I have mentioned this tool in previous blogs, but need to discuss again as the more I use it, the more I realize just how good it is. It makes husking strawberries fast and easy! Just push the prong in, twist and pull out the stem and core.

This was a gift from my brother and his wife at Christmas. They also gave me a rubber whisk which acts as both whisk and rubber scrapper. Really, very handy!

RE-GROW SCALLIONS
Here’s a tip, also from “Cook’s Illustrated” that I have not yet tried myself, but I will the next time I buy scallions. One of the features about “Cook’s” that I like is that it is filled with tips, technique suggestions, and also reviews on cooking utentils, pots, pans, knives, etc. Publisher, Christopher Kimball is also a great writer and tells wonderful stories of life in Vermont where he lives and the magazine is published. In every issue they also ‘fine-tune’ recipes in their Test Kitchen to give you the best-ever recipes! So here’s the tip:  Cut the green portion off a bunch of scallions and place the bulb/root ends in a glass of water. Within 3 days the green starts to grow back and you can use them all over again! They are more crisp than the ones you bought in the store as they are completely fresh. The process can be repeated a second time, but the greens will be a bit more wispy and not quite as pungent. The second round also takes a bit longer to grow.


Here’s another tip from “Cook’s Illustrated”…

HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT SOFT EGG
I love soft poached or soft boiled eggs and take pride in the challenge of cooking the perfect egg so the yolk is soft and creamy and the whites are totally set, but I have never used this method before. I tried it last week and it really is a great method for perfectly soft eggs. I served the eggs on whole grain English muffins, topped with a thick piece of beautiful Black Forest Ham and then finally the soft egg.  Here’s the method:

Be sure to use eggs that have no cracks and are cold straight from the refrigerator. One of the eggs I used had a crack that I did not see before starting which made the end result a little less than perfect looking, but still tasted great. This method works for 1 to 6 large, extra-large or jumbo eggs without altering the cooking time. That seems odd to me, but I trust “Cook’s”.  I used 4 large eggs.

Bring 1/2 inch water (really?? only 1/2 inch?!?) to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Using tongs (I used my fingers), gently place eggs in boiling water (the eggs will not be submerged). Cover saucepan and cooks eggs for exactly 6 minutes.

Remove cover, transfer saucepan to the sink, and place under cold running water for 30 seconds. Remove eggs from pan and serve, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. “Cook’s” suggest removing the top of the egg and serving in egg cups. I chose to peel the egg.

To peel the eggs, gently crack the broad end against a hard surface and then peel away the shell and the inner membrane. A quick rinse in warm water removes any remaining wisps of membrane and shards of eggshell. Split the eggs in half and serve. Caution: when splitting remember the yolks are soft so will run out easily if you are not careful.

EASY BREAKFAST

Cantalope with cottage cheese and fresh strawberries.

Well, this was a different twist on my blog. Next time, back to recipes! I love talking about anything and everything related to food. My all-time favorite cooking magazine was Gourmet. I used to anticipate every issue and would spend hours pouring over it when it arrived in the mail. I am so sad they have gone out of business. I was a faithful follower for many years. I never threw out an issue, but finally, after moving boxes of old Gourmets more times than I want to remember, I cut out my favorite recipes and created 5 fun recipe books.

Yes, that is ME on the cover!
 

Thanks again for allowing me to share my passion with YOU!

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