Monday, October 22, 2018

Quick Beef Gravy

Developed October, 2018. Good companion to roast beef, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, hot sandwiches.
1 T vegetable oil
1 T wheat flour
1/4 t each ground coriander, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder
8 oz hot water, divided
1 T beef stock base
1/2 t mushroom powder
1 T tapioca or corn starch dispersed in 1 T cold water
In a small saucepan, mix flour and oil. Heat over medium until a blonde roux forms, about 4 minutes. Stir in herbs. Slowly stir in a 1/4 cup hot water until a smooth slurry is formed. Stir in stock base and mushroom powder. When incorporated, stir in the remaining hot water, and simmer 5 minutes. Return to pan, stir in starch slurry, heat and stir until it thickens. Can be easily doubled. Variations: Dilute finished gravy with 1 cup beef stock to make a 'jus' for French dip sandwiches or use as a base for hearty soups or stews.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Cauliflower Quick Braise in Butter and Stock

Developed Fall, 2018. The microwave makes this a very quick preparation. Sumac is a popular middle-eastern spice that adds a citrus-like acidity and an attractive red-orange color.
10 oz (275 g) cauliflower, cut into small florets
water in a trigger spray
1/4 t salt
1 t chicken stock concentrate (Better Than Bouillon™ Organic Reduced Sodium is good)
1/2 T butter, cut into small dice
1/4 t ground sumac or 1 t lemon juice
Place cauliflower in a medium glass bowl, mist with water, season with salt, and toss. Microwave on high (1250 W) for 2-1/2 minutes, covered tightly. Stir in the stock concentrate and the butter. Mix until combined adding a little water if needed. Microwave one more minute, add sumac, and stir. Serves 2 or 3.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hint: How to Prevent Freezer Burn

So-called "freezer burn" is the term used to designate the process that turns the outside layer of a frozen food product into a dry, unpalatable residue covered with frost. The cause of the food drying and the accumulation of surface frost is sublimation. Sublimation is when water molecules evaporate from ice in much the same way they evaporate from liquid water. This dehydrates the food, spoiling it. Some of the released water vapor then re-deposits on the surface in needle-like frost.

What can be done? Two techniques largely eliminate the problem. (1) Mist the food with a light layer of water using a trigger spray before wrapping. This added layer will act as "sacrificial water" that can be lost to sublimation without harming the food but too little to dilute flavor. (2) Eliminate as much of the air space between the food and the wrap as possible. This denies a space for the water molecules to enter. Use a thin plastic bag or plastic wrap that can be pulled tight as the first wrap layer. Place that package in a larger bag and force the air from it. This outer bag protects the inner bag from puncture or leaks and adds another layer of protection.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

One-Pan Easy Mac and Cheese

Developed September, 2018 from a recipe on America's Test Kitchen TV program on PBS. The method cooks the elbows in milk and water and adds the cheeses after the pasta is cooked al dente. American processed cheese includes 'emulsifying salts' — namely sodium citrate — that yield a smooth melt and prevent the sharp cheddar, there to boost flavor intensity, from oily separation.
2 c milk
3 c water
1 t salt
1 lb elbow macaroni
1/8 t cayenne
2 t Dijon mustard
8 oz American cheese, grated (from deli, not packaged slices)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz sliced ripe tomatoes
Bring milk. water, and salt to a boil in a three-quart saucepan. Be careful to prevent boiling over. Stir in the macaroni, reduce heat to a fast simmer, and cook until pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Off heat, stir in the seasonings and the American cheese until melted. Return to heat and simmer gently 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the cheddar cheese, top with tomato slices, and cover. Let stand 10 minutes to soften the tomatoes. Stir the tomatoes into the pasta, reheating as necessary. Variation: Replace the tomatoes with 1/2 cup frozen peas. Hint: Freeze the American cheese before grating.