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Archive for the category “Techniques”

Party Spread: Labels are helpful

When I throw a party, I like to label the foods in the spread. On a basic level, this communicates to everyone what the foods are (which is especially appreciated by any guests with allergies).

Moreover, labels are a convenient way to show off to your friends certain ingredients or recipe techniques. Certainly not everyone cares enough about food/cooking to do this, but in a circle of friends where crystallized orange peels and homemade crackers could be impressive and/or interesting, labels are good to use.

With labels, you don’t have to spend the party repeating yourself over and over, or trying to remember to tell someone that the dip has ham in itwhoops, too late— is miraculously vegetarian.

Recipe: Bacon Gorgonzola Dip

There are two types of people: those who put healthy ingredients into almost every recipe and those who figure that healthy foods should stay in the vegetable kingdom.

I figure I’ll be prepared when I have kids someday because I have already perfected the art of “sneaking” healthy foods into everything from muffins to, well, bacon Gorgonzola dip. This recipe (secretly) features sauerkraut. Fermented foods like sauerkraut aid digestion and overall health. I figure as long as I’m trying to eat nutritional powerhouses I may as well prepare them in tasty ways.

Bacon Gorgonzola Dip

Adapted from Great Lakes Kraut

6 slices bacon
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 blocks (16 oz) cream cheese, softened (low-fat or nonfat okay)
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 small tomato, diced
2 Tbsp milk (low-fat or nonfat okay)
1/3 cup chives, finely chopped
1/3 cup sauerkraut, drained (reserving 2 Tbsp of juice)

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut bacon strips in half and cook over medium high heat until crisp. Remove from pan and crumble. Discard bacon drippings, leaving only enough to sauté garlic. Add garlic and cook until soft.

    2. In medium bowl, mix cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add sautéed garlic, cheese, diced tomato, milk, chives, and bacon. (Reserve some chives and bacon for sprinkling on top.) Mix until well blended. Add the sauerkraut and reserved juice.

    3. Spread evenly in an 8″ x 8″ ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the remaining chives and bacon on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.

    Serve warm with crusty bread, bagel chips, or raw vegetables.

    Recipe: Parmesan Garlic Flax Crackers

    There are two types of people: those who make their own crackers and those who do not.

    Based on purely anecdotal evidence, I am the only person in the former category, aside from the creator of this recipe. It is the recipe I have been asked for more than any other. It is a recipe that it is delicious and healthy. It is even gluten free. And Atkins-friendly. And makes you popular. It may save the world. So let’s get to it:

    Parmesan Flax Crackers

    Adapted from Laura Dolson

    1 cup ground flax seed (either golden or brown, which determines cracker color)
    1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
    1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup water (truthfully, I never measure; I just add water until a paste forms)

    1. Heat oven to 400 F.

    2. Mix all ingredients together.

    3. Spoon onto sheet pan which is covered with a silicone mat or greased parchment paper. Cover the mixture with a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Even out the mixture to about 1/8 inch (I use my hands, but a rolling pin or wine bottle would work too. The important thing is not to let it be too thin around the edges or that part will overcook before the center firms up.)
    4. Take off top parchment paper and, using a butter knife, cut where you want the cracker edges to be. You can make long skinny sticks, big triangles, little squares- whatever.

    5. Bake until the center is no longer soft, about 15-18 minutes (or for me, sometimes it’s longer). If it starts to get more than a little brown around the edges, remove from oven. Let cool completely – it will continue to crisp up. Sometimes I will remove the individual crackers that are done and continue baking the rest for a few more minutes.

    Contests: You can win, really

    There are two kinds of people: those who enter contests and those who do not.

    My friends often comment on how lucky I am to often win things.

    “Not so much lucky,” I specify, “as I pursue the opportunities.” …Huh?

    Really, though. The more contests you enter, the more likely you are to win. I have won:

    -A one year membership to Crunch gyms thanks to a newspaper advertisement

    AND

    -A one year’s supply of Stonyfield Farms yogurt & ice cream thanks to the above photo

    Double Boiler: Measuring Cup + Saucepan=Makeshift and workable

    There are two types of people: those who love buying specialized gadgets for each kitchen task, and those who avoid them.

    Like many, especially New Yorkers, I don’t have a huge kitchen or tons of cabinet space. When I read through a potential recipe I always worry that the last paragraph will reveal the need for an ice cream maker, juicer, 12-cup food processor or wok. Because I don’t have these things. And I don’t want to buy them because my oven already stores cookie sheets, muffin tins and glass casseroles that don’t fit in my cabinets.

    Double boilers I’m no longer worried about. Not because I have one, but because I invented (though surely I’m not the first) the method pictured above.

    1. Take a saucepan and a glass measuring cup that fit snugly together

    2. Fill the saucepan with an inch or so of water (so that it’s just below the bottom of the measuring cup). The beauty is, you can see through to the water!

    3. Heat over burner, following recipe.

    Voila! I love kitchen utensils that serve multiple purposes. Multiple purpi.

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