tag: back to basics
November 5, 2012
You know what I don’t understand? Crustless quiche. First of all, isn’t that just a frittata? Secondly, the crust is clearly the best part of quiche, so why would you want to get rid of it? (I know, I know, it’s because it’s fattening… but seriously people, we need to get over our fear of butter for some things, and quiche is one of those things.)
Perhaps I’m biased because, well, I make some excellent pie crust. It’s the easiest thing, and I like to have a couple of discs of it in my fridge at all times just in case some fruit takes a turn and must immediately be turned into pie, or I have savory leftovers begging to become pot pies.
The only equipment you need is your fingers, a counter, a bowl (though this is optional), and about ten minutes of your time for an outstandingly flaky, buttery, versatile crust. Here’s how I do it.
October 1, 2012
I know we’ve talked about the process for balsamic reduction before, but I thought it was worth its own post. Now that I’ve had a big bottle of it at home for a while, I find myself reaching for it nearly every day — to drizzle on fruit, rub on roasts, or glaze vegetables.
The fact is, you aren’t going to use your best balsamic for everything. The really good balsamic vinegars have that spoon-coating thickness and deep richness from years of aging and slow evaporation in successively smaller barrels, and come with a price tag that matches the love and care put into each tiny bottle. It’s absolutely worth having a bottle of the good stuff around for special occasions, but it’s nice to have a thickened everyday balsamic for, well, everyday uses.
September 14, 2012
“Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, burnt garlic, garlic cut too long ago and garlic that has been tragically smashed through one of those abominations, the garlic press, are all disgusting. Please treat your garlic with respect. Sliver it for pasta, like you saw in Goodfellas; don’t burn it. Smash it, with the flat of your knife blade if you like, but don’t put it through a press. I don’t know what that junk is that squeezes out the end of those things, but it ain’t garlic. And try roasting garlic. It gets mellower and sweeter if you roast it whole, still on the clove, to be squeezed out later when it’s soft and brown. Nothing will permeate your food more irrevocably and irreparably than burnt or rancid garlic. Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”
— Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Mr. Bourdain has said it perfectly. Garlic is one of those transcendent ingredients that will permeate a dish with its heady flavor and aroma from just a small clove, it’s in nearly everything worth eating, and it should be treated with respect.
September 5, 2012
Okay, hear me out on this one. I know that dehydrating citrus zest isn’t nearly as widely practiced or ballyhooed as, say, making stock, but it should be. Think about all that orange juice we consume. All that fresh-squeezed lemon juice going into your vinaigrettes. The limes you squeeze over guacamole and Thai food.
Now think about how often you need lemon or lime zest for a completely different recipe, and have to go out and buy more citrus which sits in your fridge looking pale and naked after you’ve stripped it of zest.
The best way to get around this scenario is the waste-not-want-not method: just zest your citrus any time you’re going to use it for just its juice or flesh, and let the zest try out before bottling it and saving it. One minute of extra work and no fancy dehydrator necessary; since the bits of zest are so small and oily, they’ll dry out quite well on your counter. It doesn’t have the nose-smacking pungency of the fresh stuff, but it makes up for it by working its way into dishes you’d never think to pull out a whole lemon for — but since you’ve got a bottle of the stuff there on your shelf, well, why not?
Plus, it makes the house smell really good while it dries. Continue Reading