Sunday, January 31, 2016

Zests, peels, and juices, OH MY!!

What beautiful things these zests, peels, and juices are!  Especially as they liven up any recipe, refresh us in the heat of the summer, and create an incredible and healthy addition to our diets.  But which to use and what can be a substitute?  I want to examine and study this deeply and share it with you.

First, lets define what they are:

Zests are the scrapings of the brightly colored peel, be it yellow, green, or orange. There, we have also handled what Peel is!!  Don't go too far, though or you will hit the membrane that is very bitter.  To quote "Joy of Cooking" by Rombauer and Becker,
"What better name than "zest" could be found for the gratings of the colorful outer coatings of lemons, oranges, tangerines, and limes - those always available, valuable, yet somehow not fully appreciated ingredients!"
 Zests brighten up a dish, just a teaspoon of zest can make such a pleasant difference to a dish!  Zests, I have found, need a certain grating system to be successful, not just any grater works well.  Microplanes are the best, a box grater can work well too.  In this video, you can see how they work:

The Peel of the fruit is just that, the outside colorful skin of the fruit.  Zests are made by grating the peel...see above.

Juices, directly from the fruit is the best and only true ingredient when a recipe calls for the juice of "such and such" fruit.  period.

True juice is not from concentrate with water added, it is the real deal, squeezed from the actual fruit.  It is more expensive, but oh so worth it.  Just a little goes a long way here too!

So how much is the right amount and what can be a substitute?

"Joy of Cooking" says

1 tsp of freshly grated zest (peel) = 2 Tablespoons of fresh juice = 1 tsp dried zest = 1/2 ts extract = 2 tsp of grated candied peel(zest).

Hope this helps!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snow Cream!! Jonas the megasnowstorm is coming Reposted from Jan 2014

Well the snow storm hit yesterday here on the coastal side of North Carolina.  Everything in the area is closed and there are hardly anyone on the streets....hopefully.  The four of us are snuggled in for the day, gladly I may add.  It's always nice to have husband home during the week, along with the kids.

Snow Cream was the order of the day and both girls went out and filled my big Tupperware bowl with the rather dry and powdery stuff.  I grew up in the north, Upstate NY, and never EVER had I heard of snow cream until I moved to the south.  Anyway, here is the recipe that seems to be our favorite.  There are many Many variations, some with butter, some with sweetened condensed milk, some with chocolate, but we like the plain vanilla version best.

First, send the kiddos out with a large bowl to get the snow with the very careful instructions that they get the snow from the MIDDLE not top and definitely NOT the bottom!  No yellow snow either...yuck!

Then to the parental inspected snow, add:

2 cups of whole milk...or as much as needed to make it creamy
1 Tbsp of vanilla
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar

Mix until fluffy, smooth, and enjoy!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Chicken with Bowties

Well, the race was on and I beat my husband home the other night.  It was a long day for both of us and we were hungry.  I knew that I had some chicken and about half of a box of bow tie pasta in the pantry, so when I got home, I got the frozen chicken out and in my large frying pan with a cup of some of my turkey stock from our Thanksgiving bird.  Next, I chopped up some celery stalks (along with the leaves), an onion, carrot, and celery and got them in the pot as well.  Letting that cook, I started got the pasta water started in another pot.

In about 15 minutes, the chicken was cooked so that I could shred it and I added some breadcrumbs to thicken the broth into a nice tasty sauce and added a can of diced tomatoes.  Covering it and letting it warm up together, I drained the pasta and added it to the dish and voila!

Here's the recipe:

Chicken with bow ties

Chicken pieces, boneless, skinless
3 Tbsp Olive oil
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups of turkey stock
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of Breadcrumbs
seasonings to taste:
Sea salt
garlic powder

one half box of bow tie pasta

In a large deep pan, heat up olive oil, add the chicken and let cook for 10 minutes on each side or until cooked enough to shred.  Add the vegetables and broth and let cook for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Shred the chicken and add back to pan along with a can of diced tomatoes. Add the breadcrumbs to thicken the stock into a nice sauce.

In another pot, cook the pasta and drain.  Add the pasta to the meat/vegetables and cover.  Let simmer until completely heated through.    Enjoy!

Serves about 4