current cooking quirks
i go through phases of obsessions, skill-building, and other various and sundry cooking quirks. i think i’ve overcome my chipotle fixation and i managed to get through this fall without butternut squash.
zest: i know i’ve mentioned this before, but i’d like to reiterate it. never, ever, ever use a lemon just for its juice. you can zest it right in to whatever you needed the juice for. or, freeze the zest with a bit of juice to keep it moist. if you’ve got zest in the freezer, you can make danishes like this in a flash.
warm plates: i don’t remember where i picked this up from, but i think it was alton brown or mark bittman in an old minimalist video. my forgotten teacher said “nothing leeches heat from hot food like cold plates.” this is so true. by the time i set the food down, grab drinks and silverware, and ameir and i both get to the table, the food starts to cool down. especially eggs – hot from the frying pan and straight onto a cold plate. cold eggs are not good (except in egg salad).
the idea was really seeded by my dad, who pours boiling water into an empty mug to warm it, then empties it and adds a teabag and fresh boiling water. also, abbu drinks his tea at near-boiling. the family theorizes that his mouth and throat are coated with some sort of heat resistant material.
now, this only works if you’ve got sturdy plates, of course. i’ve started warming serving dishes in the oven and eating plates in the microwave for 45 sec. it really makes a difference in keeping our food warm all the way through the meal.
keeping food warm in the oven: i’m also learning how to balance between timing and keeping food warm until serving. i hate serving cold food. when i’m making individual batches of things, like pancakes, i set my oven to the lowest it will go (170F) and put cakes in there until all the batter is done. if dinner is ready before we’re ready to eat it, whether it’s just the two of us or we have guests, i cover it and put it in the oven on 200F. [and if i can clean up while things are staying warm, all the better so i can just lounge after eating!]. of course, some things will dry out or overcook, and i’m still learning how to manage that, but this has largely made my life easier and my food tastier.
mushroom stems: real talk. the good part of mushrooms are just the caps, right? the stems have a weird woody, fibrous texture to them when cooked. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.
if you chop them up finely [whizz in a food processor if there are a lot] and saute them over medium heat until they’re evenly browned, they turn into flavor oomphing caviar. [they've got umami. not unagi.] especially if you add finely chopped onions and diced garlic. now, whenever i’m cooking with mushrooms, i always de-stem them first and cook this down into the sauce. i’ve also added this into ground beef for meatballs with great success. [fyi i got this idea from pioneer woman's amazing stuffed mushrooms. if you have any filling left over, roll it into some chicken breast. yeah.]
i’d like to experiment pureeing the cooked stems, onions, and garlic into a paste and keeping it in the fridge or freezer, and add spoonfuls into marinades or sauces or soups.
that’s all for now!