Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking...H, I, J

Thursday has come around again and with a new batch of culinary terminology for you to learn.  How's it going with your new way of talking about cooking?  I hope you have been very bold and stepped out using new information and impressing others with you knowledge. Remember, we always give you a recipe.  Today's is so yummy you'll want to use it all the time.

Let's get started:

Habaneros are one of the hotter more readily found chiles.
Habanero pepper
CAREFUL!!  They are hot!
Haricot verts is the French term for green beans.

Haricot verts
Heriloom tomatoes are brightly colored and interestingly shaped. They have recently become more popular and readily available in markets. They have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than a regular tomato.

Hoisin sauce is a Chinese dipping or marinade sauce. Hoisin sauce is made from soy, garlic and spices.  It has a pungent, rich, sweet and salty flavor.

Hollandaise is a warm emulsified sauce made from yolks, clarified butter and acid (either lemon or vinegar).  

Pam, Prickly Pear #2, learned how to make Hollandaise Sauce from Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  It is the best.

We hear so many times Hollandaise Sauce is so hard to make.  It really isn't hard at all.  It does not take long to make BUT you need to take your time when making it and following Julia’s step.  If you do, your sauce will turn out every time… PROMISE!

Here is what you need…

Double boiler

6- 8 oz butter, which is 1 to 1 ½ sticks of butter. ** I personally always use 1 ½ sticks
3 eggs yokes
2 tablespoon real lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 tablespoon cold butter
  1. Cut the 6 to 8 oz butter into pieces and melt in a pan.  When melted set aside.
  2. Heat some water in bottom section of the double boiler until the water is barely simmering.  You do not want to over heat and cook your eggs.
  3. In the sauce pan of the double boiler beat egg yolks until thick and sticky.  About a minute.
  4. Add the water and lemon juice to eggs and beat for about a half minute.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of cold butter but do not whisk.
  6. Place the sauce pan on the simmering water and whisk until eggs become smooth and creamy and the tablespoon of cold butter is melted.  This will only take about 2 minutes.  Watch the eggs closely.  If they start to cook to fast put the pan in cold water to cool the eggs down.  You do not want scrambled egg yolks!
  7. Remove mixture from the heat and add the other 1 tablespoon of cold butter and whisk until melted.  This will cool down the egg and stop the cooking process.
  8. VERY slowly add the melted butter to the eggs.   Omit the milky residue of the butter if possible.

** Using the maximum amount of butter will make it hard for the butter to hold in the sauce.  Some people us the lesser amount of butter and add the rest before serving.  If you choose that method just make sure the amount of butter you are adding in soften or tepid.

We personally think you should eat it on everything. :)

Honing steel is a sharpening tool used to align the small teeth on a blade and will keep the knife sharper for longer.

Horseradish is a root vegetable condiment that has a sharp spicy flavor.

not too pretty, but oh what a lovely flavor!
Hummus is a dip made of pureed chickpeas flavored with tahini, and often garlic and lemon.

Jalapeno is a very hot green chili pepper.

Jalapeno Peppers
Julienne is to cut in thin even strips much the same as a matchstick.

Julienne cut vegetables
Jus is light sauce or juice.

Kabobs are skewers of grilled meat or vegetables or fruit.

Kalamata olives are large deep purple Greek olives.

Kalamata olives...
you'll never go back to the canned stuff.
Knead is to work dough in a vigorous manner thus mixing it evenly and well.

So that's today's lesson.  We hope that you not only use your new words skills, but will go out and try different and tasty things that are new to you.  

Be bold and try something's good for you!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking...D, E, F, and G

It's Thursday again, and that means more culinary terminology.  Before we get started, we want to know if you have used any of your new words from the A, B, C list?  We hope so.  The best way to learn a new language is to use it.  So go ahead and show off your culinary language skills.

Now for today's words.  (Don't forget to look for today's recipe.) 

Deglaze means to use a like wine, stock, or even water to help lift the cooked residues from the bottom of pan (to make a sauce).

Dredge is to coat an ingredient in something such as flour or breadcrumbs

Dry Rub is a mixture of dried dried herbs and spices used to commonly marinate meat for BBQ cooking

Dry Rub
Dutch Oven is a heavyy pot with a thick base and walls so it retains heat extremely well and disperses it evenly which is perfect for long braising or making stews. It has a fitted lid as well and the whole thing can go into the oven, which makes it a very versatile piece.
Dutch Oven
Emulsify is to mix (and often bring together two different liquids) forming a thickened mixture - i.e. an emulsification

Extra-virgin olive oil is extracted from the first press of olives, thus yielding a richer flavored olive oil

Fajitas is a grilled meat served with tortillas in Mexican cooking

Fennel is a vegetable that has celery-like stalks and fibers with a sweet anise flavor

Fleur de sel is a fancy finishing salt.

Florets are small heads of a vegetable such as broccoli or cauliflower

Focaccia is a of flat Italian bread made with yeast and olive oil and flavored with herbs

Frisee is a type of chicory lettuce with distinctively curly leaves giving it characteristic texture

Frittata is an egg dish similar to an omelette or quiche that is baked.

Ganache is a French term referring to a smooth and velvety mixture of chocolate and cream.  It can be used as a cake filler, a cake glaze, the middle of a truffle, as a drizzle and more.  You can adjust the amount of chocolate and cream to have a thicker or thinner ganances.  

Here's a easy recipe for a smooth ganache that can be used to ice a cake:

2/3 cup Heavy Cream 
10 oz Chocolate
If your chocolate is a large block, chop it up in small pieces.  Otherwise place your chocolate in a medium sized glass bowl.  Heat our cream in a small pot until it just begins to bubble around the edges.  Pour heated milk over chocolate and allow to set for about a minute.  Using a wisk, mix the chocolate and cream until it is smooth and luscious.  Pour the ganache over your cake and allow it to set. 

Garlic is one of the most commonly used ingredients throughout the culinary world.  It has a pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably once cooked, thus making it indispensible in a lot of recipes.

Gastrique is a vinegar-based reduction with a syrupy consistency.

Gazpacho is a cold soup made of pureed fruit or vegetables.

Ghee is simply clarified butter and commonly used in Indian cuisine.

Glaza is to baste and cover repeatedly with a sauce and cook until the sauce has thickened and is shiny.

Gnocchi are small dumplings made from potato, semolina or flour.
Grand Marnier is a orange flavored liqueur

Gremolata is a flavorful garnish traditionally made with citrus zest, herbs and garlic

Grits are made from coarsely ground hominy or corn and are a common dish in the South. They are classically prepared with cheese and butter

Gruyere cheese is a hard cheese that is sweet but salty in flavor with a nutty aroma

Gruyere Cheese
Guacamole is an avocado based dip found in Mexican cuisine.


And that concludes today's lesson :-)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grill'n Time! Taters on the Grill

Who doesn't like the first grill of the season?  Nothing like the smell of hot coals in the grill as you get your favorite burgers, brats, chicken, fish, etc ready.  Every main dish needs a great side.  With everyone's busy schedule or the need for something that works within your budget here is a great recipe that has been a favorite of 2 Prickly Pears for years.

Taters on the Grill
4 cups of cubed red potatoes. 
2 cups diced onions
1-2 cups shredded cheese (use your favorite)
2 - 4 Tbls butter
Aluminum foil

Peel and cube your potatoes and dice your onions into bite size pieces.  Keeping the size of the potatoes and onions bite size is important.  This will help with the cook time and prevent burning on the bottom during cooking.  Place potatoes and onions in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.   This is where you can add different seasoning based on your preference.   We found some excellent Organic Italian Seasoning, so we decided to try it out.  Mix everything together until the potatoes and onions are well coated with the seasoning. 

Cut aluminum foil to the size that will hold the potatoes and onions.  Most times you have to use two pieces.  Fold the two long sides together to make one large piece.  Place the potatoes and onions on the aluminum foil and dot with butter. Wrap everything in the aluminum foil as pictured below.

Once the coals are ready place on the grill.   Watch carefully as to make sure the potatoes do not burn.   Test the potatoes occasionally.  

Once potatoes are almost cooked,  sprinkle the cheese on top and reclose the foil.  Normally we will use a mixture of whatever we have left in the frig.  We usually have cheddar and mozzarella.  Use what you like.

Now this is where it can get tricky.  You want to finish cooking the potatoes and melt the cheese BUT you don't want to burn the potatoes on the bottom of the foil.  So it is important to keep a watchful eye.  Depending on how hot your grill is it wont take long. 

Time to EAT!  Careful! They are hot and if you are anything like us it is hard to wait for them to cool a bit.  We always burn our tongue!

This recipe is so easy to change. You can really do a lot with it.  Adding shredded carrots will add great flavor to the dish. If you are a colored pepper fan, add them.  

Have fun with the dish.  The possibilities are endless.

And leftovers are AMAZING!!!!

Last night meal was grilled chicken with chimichurri sauce, raw carrots with a chipotle dip and taters & cheese.

Our tummys were very happy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Vocabulary of Cooking... A, B, C's

The 2 Prickly Pears have decided that Thursday is vocabulary day.  Every Thursday we will define terms used in the culinary world.  Now, that's a lot of words.  Not to worry; we'll only do a few each day.  When we get to Z, we will start over and discover new words that need to be better understood. DON'T WORRY!  There will be no examination afterwards.  Let's just learn stuff for the sake of learning!

Pssssst!  Don't forget to look for the not-so-hidden recipe! :)

Do you watch cooking shows?  If so, does some of the language get past you and you end up wondering what was just said?  That might be because there is, like with so many professions and activities, a special language that is used. There's no reason we can't all use the common language of cooking.

We'll start with the ABC's:

Adobo is a sauce or marinade commonly made of tomatoes, chilies, onion, garlic, vinegar, herbs and spices.  You can find chipotle peppers, which are smoke jalapeno peppers, in cans on your grocery shelf.

Agave is a syrup derived from the agave plant used as a sweetener.

Al dente literally means "firm to the bite."  It means the level of doneness to cook pasta.

Andouille is smoke cajun sausage made with pork and garlic.  It has a spicy kick to it.

Balsamic vinegar is a rich, thick and sweet vinegar made from pure grape juice.  Be sure to get a good quality balsamic.  It is lovely!

Bechamel (besh a mel) is a white sauce made from a roux (even parts butter and flour) and cream or milk.  

Don't be afraid of a bechamel sauce.  It's a simple white sauce.  Here's a recipe for you:

4 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons Flour
2 Cups Milk or Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add flour and whisk and allow to heat without browning.  Stir constantly.  Add your milk or cream and stir until thickened.  You can add more milk if you want a thinner beshamel.  Salt and pepper the sauce to your liking.  If you add cheese, you will have cheese sauce.  If you add garlic and extra black pepper you have a tasty sauce for your sautéed chicken breasts.  Add a bit of red pepper flakes and give some attitude to your roasted asparagus.  Have fun and enjoy your beshamel!

Biscotti literally means "twice cooked", and is an Italian twice baked cookie.  These are great cookies if you are a dunker.  Perfect with coffee.

Bouquet garni is a French term that literally means a bouquet of aromatic herbs.  Tied together they add flavor to soups and broths.  Then are removed and tossed.  The little bundles usually consist of bay leaves, thyme, parsley, garlic.

Brine  is a liquid mixture consisting of water, salt and sugar.  It isn't just for pickles, either.  You can brine a turkey or a brisket too.

Capers are a small salty flower bud, usually found in a jar packed in salt or brine.  Use capers when you are looking to add a sour/salty note to a dish. 

Cardamom is an exotic spice that has a unique, savory, aromatic flavor

Carpaccio is thinly pounded fillets of raw beef. 

Ceviche is a dish of citrus-marinated seafood popular in Latin cuisine.

Chiffonade is thin ribbons cut of leafy herbs or greens.  Chiffonade fresh sweet basil and add a lovely flavor to just about any salad.

Chorizo is a spicy Spanish pork sausage flavored with paprika, garlic and chili

Chutney is a condiment that is chunky in texture and traditionally contains fruit, sugar and a bit of vinegar.  There are so many combination to have fun with.  Add a little spice and pour chutney over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers.  Yikes!  DeLish!

Confit is a method of cooking by submerging an ingredient in oil or fat and cooking it slowly.  Duck confit is ridiculously good! 

Couscous is a type of pasta.  It comes in small and large granuals and made from semoline durum wheat.

Crudite is a simple combination of raw, seasonal vegetables that are accompanied by some sort of dip.  Think about using the Chipotle Dipping Sauce from our post on Black Beans.  It's a little sassy and will make your vegetables dance!

Stay tuned for next Thursday when we start with the D's.  

Go ahead, use your new vocabulary.  You will sound so good and look fabulous!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mouth watering Flat Bread Pizza

The 2 Prickly Pears love-love-love flat bread pizza.

And it is so easy to make your own.  You can find flat breads everywhere now days.  We found them on the bottom shelf just below the deli cases.  There was also Lavash, which is a cracker type crust, as well as thin crusts all designed for homemade pizza.

The topping possibilities are endless when it comes to pizza.  Do you like it loaded?  Do you like it simple?  Or are you somewhere in the middle?

We are all very familiar with the classic toppings on pizza, such as cheese, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.  Some newer, but still familiar, pizza toppings are pineapple, Canadian bacon, and black olives.

Some more exotic toppings are feta cheese, arugula, asparagus, chicken....honestly pizza is a blank canvas that you can design anyway you like.

And what about the sauces?  There was a time when pizza sauce was only one  Now you see white sauces, especially when you include chicken as a topping.  Have you ever tried pesto as a sauce on your pizza...we love pesto!  Layer it with sliced fresh mozzarella, slices of tomato, and fresh basil.  Drizzle it with a good balsamic vinegar and you have capresse pizza!  Hey!  That sounds too good!

We are offering you today one of our favorite pizzas.  Yes, sometimes we like simple.  Just a few toppings on a flat bread.  It includes lots of garlic and lots of cheese.

3/4 lb hot Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Mozzarella cheese (as much as you like)*
Parmesan cheese (as much as you like)*
Chipotle sauce (see recipe from earlier post)
Red pepper flakes (if you like it extra spice)
2 flat breads
Set oven to 400 degrees

Saute onions and garlic, do not brown.  Brown sausage and drain. Place the two flat breads on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.  Spread chipotle sauce evenly on bread, leaving about a 1/2 edge.  Spread half of the onion/garlic mixture on each bread.  Spread half the sausage on each bread.  Sprinkle each pizza with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes to suit your taste.  Top both with the two cheeses. *remember that your crust is thin, so too much stuff might be difficult to manage.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly brown.  Cut up as you see fit and enjoy.  Be Careful!!  It's hot!

Be bold, be inspiration, be inventive and find your own ways to make your pizza.  Go ahead and play with your food!