6/30/10

3 Kitchen Tip: Peeling Tomatoes

In making a no-salt spaghetti sauce for a relative, I had to ditch the idea of using tomatoes from a can.

Some recipes call for skinning your tomatoes or using a food mill, which I don't have.  In those situations, I choose to peel my tomatoes.

First, make an "X" on the blossom end of all your tomatoes for easier peeling.


Next, get a large pot of boiling water.  If you have a basket like this one, great, if not, don't worry about it.

Submerge the tomatoes, a few at a time, into the boiling water for about 10 seconds.

Roma tomatoes have a thicker skin, so I kept them in the water for about 20-30 seconds.



Immediately put the tomatoes in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.







The skins have softened and begun to peel from the tomato.

Using your fingers or the dull edge of a knife, the skin should come off easily.


This method is great for soups, spaghetti sauces, or salsa.



6/28/10

3 Fresh Buttermilk Ranch Dressing ~ or Dip

I will never buy ranch dressing again.  The bottled stuff does not even compare to this creamy version of PW's ranch dressing.

I made this for a family member who is on a very restricted no salt diet.  This dressing was a nice change to the vinegar/olive oil dressing that he has been using.



The story begins with roasted garlic that I keep in my freezer.  I love the mild sweetness that roasting brings out in garlic.


It smooshes well in my garlic press, which I love.





Next comes dried parsley.


I wish I had fresh, but this will do in a pinch ~




Here's the FRESH stuff.  Straight from my mom's garden.

The dill (or dill weed) and chives grow from seed year after year.

They are rinsed and spun dry in my salad spinner.




The chives get chopped up and thrown in...








and here comes the finely chopped dill.

My mom has never used the feathery dill that first comes up in the summer.  She waits until late summer when the dill goes to seed to use in pickles.





Next is mayonnaise.  I made this mayo with my immersion blender in less than five minutes.  If you have never made mayo, you need to do it.  It is SO easy!






Here is the sour cream.  Go for the real stuff.  No light or non-fat.  There is more salt and sugar in the reduced/light stuff.

Next is any kind of vinegar you want: white, apple cider, or red.  Whatever floats your boat.




Give everything a quick stir.  At this point you can call this DIP.  Veggie dip or chip dip.

Add a couple of tablespoons of homemade buttermilk and what do you have?





The best dressing on the face of the earth....

Regular dressing for us (with salt)

and a salt-free version for someone I love.






Fresh Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or Dip
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)

6/25/10

2 20 minutes or less to Homemade Butter...and... Buttermilk!

Did you ever eat butter as a kid?  You know what I mean.  Just butter...nothing else.  In first grade, I remember shaking a pint jar of cream and passing it on to the next student.  After all the students each had a turn shaking the jar, it magically turned into butter!

(The jar-shaking method takes at least 30-45 minutes of shaking in a pint jar or smaller.)




Now making butter goes high tech with the help of my Kitchen Aid mixer.  It does 80% of the work for you and gives you fresh butter in 20 minutes or less!
(see below this post for other methods!)


I used 2 cups of cold, whipping cream.  The recipes I have found call for HEAVY cream.  I'm sorry, but my stores around here don't call it that; they call it "whipping" cream or "heavy whipping" cream.  Don't use anything light.

You can use your whisk or paddle attachment.

Pour the cold cream into the bowl.

Start your mixer on speed two.  You don't want to create a splash!

After a few minutes, the cream will begin to coat the whisk and form soft peaks.


At this point, you can turn your speed up to six.


After a few minutes, you will have stiff peaks, and then a very stiff whipped cream.

Keep going...





Every once in a while, take a spatula and scrape down the sides.




Mix on speed six for a couple of minutes and then take a peek  ~



You will notice that the cream is turning a yellow color and is beginning to separate from the milk.


This is also a good time to turn down the speed of the mixer...you don't want to get sloshed ~



After a couple of more minutes, the butter will become creamier and ball up inside the whisk.



Scrape the butter off the whisk into the bowl.



Dump the entire contents of the bowl into a fine mesh strainer.

Using a spatula, stir and press as much of the milk out as you can.

Don't throw this milk away...it's buttermilk!




This recipe yields approximately 1 cup of glorious buttermilk.

There are a TON of uses for buttermilk.

I like to use it in bread and waffles.

What's your favorite way to use buttermilk?


O.k., we are almost done.  Here's the part where YOU come in.

Rinse the butter under cold water with your hands and knead out all of the milk.

I preferred to use a spatula and press it against the sides of my strainer.

*If you have any milk left in your butter, it will turn your butter sour*

This is a good time to salt your butter, if you prefer. Or put in some fresh herbs...yum.

Pack the butter tightly into an 8 oz. jelly jar.  Use a table knife to get rid of any air that may be trapped in the jar.


This is 1 cup of creamy butter...2 sticks....or a half a pound.
Pour cold water on top of the butter, put a lid and ring on it, and it will keep your butter soft at room temperature for a couple of weeks (if you have all the milk rinsed out).  This creates an airtight seal, keeping your butter fresh.

Pour off the water and add cold water every 2-3 days, or each time while you are using it.



Other bloggers making butter ~

The Organic Sister uses the cardio method-shake a jar like I did in 1st grade
Joy the Baker uses her Kitchen Aid and whisk
Kayotic Kitchen used a food processor
Alanaclaire uses her Kitchen Aid and the paddle attachment and cut out some butter "hearts"

Fresh Butter and Buttermilk
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)

6/23/10

10 Homemade Mayo: Round Three


Move over, Julia Child.  I have finally made a successful batch of mayonnaise!

It was so incredibly easy, so fast.






The first time I made mayo, I used my blender.

Didn't work.

While pouring the oil in, it just spattered back into my face.







Then I made it in my food processor.


A little better, but it was hard to slowly pour in the oil...






Then I tried my immersion blender.  I paid $10 for this at my local kitchen store and I LOVE it!  In fact, my kids use it more than I do.  They mix their protein shakes, chocolate milk, pudding, hot cocoa...anything that needs to be stirred.

I love it for pureeing soups (gets all the 'chunkies' out) right in the hot pan.  No need to transfer it to a blender or dirty another dish!

It cleans up so well.  I just fill a drinking cup with soapy water, stick the blender in and pulse it a few times.  Rinse, dry and put away.  Easy!


This is the way I will make my mayo from now on.  It only takes 5 minutes!

I put a room temperature egg (let the whole egg sit in HOT tap water for 15 minutes, then cracked it) into a 16 oz. canning jar that had straight sides.

Put in lemon juice and white wine vinegar,




Some dry mustard powder and salt,






Stuck my immersion blender in it and pulsed till blended...








Turned the blender off, kept it in the jar, and poured the oil in.









I was able to pour all but 2 Tablespoons of the require oil in for this very reason...

You don't want to fill above the MAX line.  Trust me.  My kids have tried this ~


Keep the immersion blender firmly on the bottom of the glass.

Turn it on and keep it there for a full 10-12 seconds.



As soon as you see the white stuff on the bottom,






You can slooooooowly begin to pull up the blender while it's running...






Keep going....keep going...I'm half way there...





All the way till I'm nearly at the top.

Ta ~ Da!


Smooth, creamy, fresh.  Pretty slick for a stick, huh?




Immersion Blender Mayonnaise
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)




6/21/10

6 Perfect Grilled Corn on the Cob

As a young girl, I loved eating corn on the cob.  What I didn't like was eating the remaining strands of silk that were stuck between some of the kernels.

Earlier in our grilling days, we would throw the husked corn on the cob directly on the grill.  What we got in return was corn that was dried out and charred.


Now, we have a better method!

To start, choose green, firm corn with no spots discolorations.

Fill your sink with cold water.

Put your corn in it.


The corn will have a tendency to bob and float, so find a heavy pan or object that will hold the corn underwater.

One of my stoneware pans will do the trick.


Allow the corn to soak for 2-4 hours.


Trim any long leaves, drain and place directly onto a heated grill.

My propane gas grill is on medium-high.

Cook, covered (uncovered for coal grills) for 15 minutes.

Turn and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.


Grab some hot pads and peel back the husks.

ALL of the silk will magically peel right off!






Serve immediately with butter and choice of seasoning.

I love SeasonAll on mine...


Sweet.   Buttery.  Nothing says summer quite like this!




Grilled Corn on the Cob
(4x6 recipe download)    (full page printable recipe)
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