Thoughts from my kitchen
I’ve been reviewing the parties I gave and the recipes I depended on the most during 2009. I discovered that I used many of the same recipe ideas but found ways to keep things creative and fresh. So I’d like to share with you how I used a combination of four different techniques and ingredients. Give them a try – you can have fun using them, too.
Master the art of brining
Brining is marinating food in salt and liquid. It imparts flavor, moisture and tenderness to meat, fish and pork. Maybe you’ve brined a Thanksgiving turkey – but have you tried brining for everyday cooking?
- 2 qt. water
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add meat to the brine; let it soak in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Then prepare meat the way you normally would.
Make the switch from mayonnaise
I make the homemade version, known as aioli, to add creamy, delicate flavor.
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup canola oil
- Optional: garlic, orange juice, lime zest or chipotles
In a blender, combine egg, egg yolk and 1 tbsp. olive oil and blend until thick. In a measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup canola oil. Slowly drizzle the oil mixture into the running blender until the aioli thickens. Transfer to a bowl and season with your choice of garlic, orange juice, lime zest or chipotles. Aioli will keep one week in the refrigerator.
Look for local produce
I like to explore my neighborhood for locally grown flavors I can add for a regional touch. Lemons abound in my hometown of San Francisco, so I often make preserved lemons. They’re marvelous in sauces and pastas.
- 12 lemons
- 10 cups water
- ½ cup salt
- 1½ cinnamon sticks
- 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp. black peppercorns
- 5 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
Add water and salt to a large pot. Slit the rinds of the lemons; boil them in the water and salt mixture. Drain lemons, reserving cooking liquid, and place in a 2 qt. jar. Add cinnamon, coriander, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves and the cooking liquid. Store in refrigerator for five days. Scrape the intensely flavored fruit from the rind and add it to fish dishes, lamb stew, poultry stuffing or a salad with fresh tomatoes and black olives. The lemons will keep for one year.
Consider organic produce
Organic produce hasn’t been treated with pesticides, so it has higher levels of antioxidants. But certain produce has a less-penetrable skin or rind, so buying the organic version may not make good financial sense.
Produce that’s worth buying organic:
- Bell pepper
Better to save money and buy conventional:
- Frozen Corn
- Frozen Peas
You can also check out my video recipes on the Kenmore YouTube Channel.
What recipes are you looking forward to making this year?