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Salt Kissed Potatoes the Spanish way

Anyone familiar with me understands why I consider myself “The Political Chef”. This is one of the reasons why I fit that moniker so well, how that will play when I get my JD is anyone’s guess….enjoy the article. I’m a potato LOVER (Celtic ancestry) and will go out of my way for the salty little gems made with fingerling potatoes and coarse salt that I roast, this is even a neater idea!

A new wrinkle on potatoes
In the Spanish Canary Islands, potatoes are cooked in heavily salted water to yield spuds crusted in salt, with wrinkled skin and intense potato flavor. More than 45 types of potatoes are grown there, and they are typically served with fish, and red or green salsa.

Los Angeles Times

excerpted from “ProChef SmartBrief ”

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Almond Joy!

Nothing like almonds, coconut and chocolate together in one place. I find that the traditonal candy bars are too sweet for me though, so I thought “how can I put them all together in one place that is just as good, but not so sweet?”

Well, it turns out that there are many ways to do that!

Brownies, cake, cheesecake, bar cookies and re-making the candy itself. I started by using my favorite dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. That cut the sweetness down signigicanly, and because I like my chocolate the darker the better it worked out great. I also tried some recipes using Splenda. Some people don’t like it, I happen to find that it makes whatever taste just fine. You have to be careful about using it in cakes and cookies though where the sugar adds moisture to the finished product. Splenda in this application is better be used as part of the sugar content of a dish and something like applesauce or prunes being added to increase the moisture.

RECIPES TIME:

ALMOND JOY CHEESECAKE

SERVES 12
Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2- 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 16 oz marscapone cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Splenda
  • OR 1 cup splenda
  • 4 large eggs
    Glaze
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup sweetened toasted coconut


For crust: Preheat oven to 290°F.

1.Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan tightly with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with heavy duty foil, make sure that you go all the way up the sides of the pan with the foil and do not make holes in it.

2. In a food processor bowl fitted with a steel blade, finely grind cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds and sugar.

3.Add butter; process until moist crumbs form.

4. Press the mixture firmly onto bottom and up the sides of the pan approximately 1 inch.

Bake the crust until it begins to brown, about 12 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 290°F.

For filling:

Using an electric standing mixer, beat cream cheese, marscapone cheese and sugar in large bowl just until smooth. 

Continuing beating while adding eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Add in coconut extract .

Pour the filling into the crust.

You are going to bake this cheesecake in a waterbath. To do this:

Place the cheesecake (still wrapped in aluminum foil), in a larger baking pan.

Place the both pans  into the oven.  Add boiling water to the outside pan, making sure you don’t get water inside the cheesecake pan. Fill the pan until water comes about 1/3 to 1/2 up the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Bake until cake jiggles slightly in the center, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from the oven carefully. Remove from the water bath and cool completely on rack. Then refrigerate over night.

For glaze: Combine 1 cup chocolate chips, cream and vanilla in small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until smooth. Cool until glaze begins to thicken but can still be poured, about 30 minutes. Pour glaze over cooled cake; spread evenly. Chill cake overnight.

Run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Release pan sides.

Butter Me Up Scotty!

butter-and-baking

No big surprise, I love butter (and yes, I’m a Trekkie). I remember watching my mom churn butter as a kid and then later helping to churn it. My favorite part was when it was time to “taste”. We got to stick our finger into the glass churn and take a bit to see if it had enough salt. Man that was good!!

My next butter epiphany came when I discovered European Plugra ( pronounced PLOO-GRA) European butter has a higher butterfat content, so is richer in flavor. It is also cultured so that gives it a different flavor profile then US butter.  I fell deep in love with it during a trip to Germany several years ago. Oh, the deep flavor and nuances! 

 

“Butter is a culinary treasure as old as King Tut’s tomb.  “She brought forth butter in a lordly dish” (Judges 5:25). A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and butter… and oh, yeah thee!

Pure unsalted butter is what makes croissants melt in your mouth goodness so , well…good! Try them with chocolate in the center before you shape and bake them and you pretty much have “food for the god’s!”

Pure butter is produced today essentially as it was in King Tut’s time, al though butter is now made of milk from cows instead of camels or water buffaloes.”

Here are some of my thoughts: unsalted butter is always preferable to salted butter because older cream can be used in salted butter, not only is salt a preservative it can mask old cream.

Bakers like European butter because of the process that it goes through. Europeans use the “cultured” process…see below.

Butter has it’s own “terroir ” depending on the breed of cows, what they ate and the location  they produce from because of fauna (what the eat) and the time of the year. The time of year it is produced can also change the color of butter. Butter produced in Devonshire has a different taste than butter produced in Normandy. Irish butter has a different flavor than butter produced in Germany. I like artisan butter for just those reasons. 

  • Stories of butter having an “off” flavor because a cow may have eaten
  • It takes 21 pounds of fresh, wholesome cow’s milk to make each pound of butter .
  • While you can keep butter at room temperature for many days without worrying about spoilage, air and light break down butter’s molecular structure. The result? Butter that smells and tastes rancid. To keep butter fresh at room temperature, use a butter keeper. Store extra butter in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container, since butter easily picks up odors from other foods.
  • Contrary to popular belief, adding vegetable oil to butter in a frying pan will not keep it from scorching at high heat. Instead, use clarified butter, which can be heated to 400°F without burning.
  • When it comes time to add dots of butter to pies and casseroles, use a vegetable peeler and a frozen stick of butter. It’s much less messy!

 

“Melting at just below body temperature, butter has a luscious mouth feel that imparts a rich, creamy taste to everything it touches. Think of fresh bread spread with butter, velvety mashed potatoes, or flaky butter cookies. Just a little butter adds flavor to everything from pancakes, vegetables, and sauces to pastries and cakes. Butter effortlessly carries other flavors, and is often the vehicle for delivering garlic, herbs, citrus, or nuttiness to both savory and sweet dishes.

Yet in the second half of the twentieth century, butter – one of the great flavors and most important ingredients in a cook’s repertoire – was reported to be the gateway to a host of health problems. We now know that butter’s negative reputation was undeserved, and instead that butter substitutes and man-made trans fats are the true culprits that pose threats to our health.

Indeed, recent studies reveal just how important butter is to a healthy diet. It supplies our bodies with vitamins and minerals; boosts our immune system; helps hormone production; and supports our bones, organs, and most importantly, our brain. Good natural butter is satisfying and can even help with maintaining a healthy weight.

The bottom line? Get out your mixing bowl or saucepan, roll up your sleeves, and embrace the joys (and challenges) of cooking with butter, and savor its unique, irreplaceable taste.”

In many ways, butter is unique in the world of fat. It doesn’t require us to kill the animal in order to obtain it, and without us it wouldn’t exist. The fat content of butter ranges from 80% to 86%, and the rest is water and milk solids. This means that butter isn’t pure fat; rather, it is an emulsion. As a result, butter must be handled with more care than other fats in the kitchen. Warm butter can be chilled again, but if the butter gets too hot the emulsion will break and chilling will not bring it back. The milk solids in butter’s emulsion burn at the relatively low temperature of 250°F/121°C, so butter is not as useful for cooking at high temperatures. To use butter at higher temperatures it must be clarified. This simply means melting the butter over low heat until it separates into butterfat and milk. The butterfat, or clarified butter is poured off, leaving the milk solids behind. However, much of butter’s distinctive flavor is in the milk solids, so clarified butter doesn’t have the same taste as melted butter.

Butter marries perfectly with sugar and is an undisputed star in the dessert kitchen. It adds lots of flavor, making tasty cookies, crisp pie shells, and light, flaky puff pastry. Many dessert recipes, such as butter cookies, rely entirely on butter for their taste. High fat butters give the richest taste and their lower water content produces the best results. While the choice between cultured or sweet butter is personal, unsalted butter is often preferred for cooking because the amount of salt can be controlled.

Which fat to use when?
Animal fats are excellent for cooking because their low polyunsaturated fatty acid content makes them stable when heated and slower to oxidize. So the question becomes: which fat to use when?

Food author Jennifer McLagan contributed this page to WebExhibits. Her book, “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes” is published by Ten Speed Press.

http://www.webexhibits.org/butter/cooking.html

Here is some basic information about butter:

Definition: Cream churned into a solid state

In the U.S. butter must contain at least 80% milk fat, and the USDA grades its quality on flavor, body, texture, color and salt (AA, A, B, and C).  Sweet butter is simply made with sweet, as opposed to sour cream.  All butter is salted unless it specifically says unsalted, in which case it has absolutely no salt.

Unsalted is preferred in baking so the baker has control over the salt content, but is more perishable (salt is a preservative). Whipped butter has air beaten into it, which makes it easier to spread when cold. Light or reduced-calorie butter has about half the fat as regular through the addition of other stuff (skim milk, water, gelatin, read the label).

How to select: Butter is perishable, check the pack date at the store before you buy.

How to store: Butter will pick up any kind of odor, so store air tight in the refrigerator, 1 month for regular and 2 weeks for unsalted, or both in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Substitutions: margarine, do not substitute whipped or low-fat butter when baking; 1 stick of butter = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup = 1/4 pound; To cut cholesterol and fat, you can also use oils in place of butter on a 1:1 ratio in some recipes, although texture and taste are often affected. This must simply be worked with.

http://www.recipezaar.com/library/getentry.zsp?id=141

Compound Butters:

 These can be made from almost anything, from your favorite herbs & spices , fruits or vegetables  to chocolate, honey and liquers.

Take unsalted butter and a mixer. Soften the butter just enough to be pliable and add your favorite thing!

Roll and wrap in parchment paper, refrigerate to harden. Cut off slices and put on your favorite bread, fish, chicken or pasta!

In the freezer compound butter will last in  parchment paper and palstic wrap to protect the flavors from outside influences that linger in your freezers, up to 6 months.

In the refrigerator probably about 3 months.

Be creative and have fun!

The word butter derives (via Germanic languages) from the Latin butyrum, which is borrowed from the Greek boutyron. This may have been a construction meaning “cow-cheese” (bous“ox, cow” + tyros “cheese”), or the word may have been borrowed from another language, possibly Scythian.[2] The root word persists in the name butyric acid, a compound found inrancid butter and dairy products such as Parmesan cheese.

 

Before modern factory butter making, cream was usually collected from several milkings and was therefore several days old and somewhat fermented by the time it was made into butter. Butter made from a fermented cream is known as cultured butter. During fermentation, the cream naturally sours as bacteria convert milk sugars into lactic acid. The fermentation process produces additional aroma compounds, including diacetyl, which makes for a fuller-flavored and more “buttery” tasting product.[3] Today, cultured butter is usually made from pasteurized cream whose fermentation is produced by the introduction of Lactococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria.

Another method for producing cultured butter, developed in the early 1970s, is to produce butter from fresh cream and then incorporate bacterial cultures and lactic acid. Using this method, the cultured butter flavor grows as the butter is aged in cold storage. For manufacturers, this method is more efficient since aging the cream used to make butter takes significantly more space than simply storing the finished butter product. A method to make an artificial simulation of cultured butter is to add lactic acid and flavor compounds directly to the fresh-cream butter; while this more efficient process is claimed to simulate the taste of cultured butter, the product produced is not cultured but is instead flavored.

When heated, butter quickly melts into a thin liquid.

Dairy products are often pasteurized during production to kill pathogenic bacteria and other microbes. Butter made from pasteurized fresh cream is called sweet cream butter. Production of sweet cream butter first became common in the 19th century, with the development of refrigeration and the mechanical cream separator.[4] Butter made from fresh or cultured unpasteurized cream is called raw cream butter. Raw cream butter has a “cleaner” cream flavor, without the cooked-milk notes that pasteurization introduces.

Throughout Continental Europe, cultured butter is preferred, while sweet cream butter dominates in the United States and the United Kingdom. Therefore, cultured butter is sometimes labeled European-style butter in the United States. Commercial raw cream butter is virtually unheard-of in the United States. Raw cream butter is generally only found made at home by consumers who have purchased raw whole milk directly from dairy farmers, skimmed the cream themselves, and made butter with it. It is rare in Europe as well.[5]

Ghee-clarified butter-India

Vermont Butter & Cheese-http://butterandcheese.net/atTheCreamery.html

BUTTER IN A CLASS BY ITSELF. 
 
Plugrá Butter Defined. 
Plugrá, (pronounced PLOO GRA), is a European style butter lower in moisture and higher in butterfat than conventional butters. Plugrá butter imparts a richer taste and smoother texture to foods and is long preferred by leading chefs, bakers, confectioners and anyone who appreciates fine food. 
 
What’s the Difference? 
Regular butter contains 80% butterfat. The remaining 20% consists of water and milk solids. Plugrá European Style Butter contains 2% more butterfat and is slow-churned in a way that creates a lower-moisture, creamier texture than other butters. 
 
When Should I Use Unsalted Plugrá Butter? 
In the preparation of baked goods, confections, pastries, sweet goods, sauces and as a spreading butter. Any time a recipe calls for butter, we recommend using Unsalted Plugrá butter. This allows you to control the salt content like a professional baker or chef. 
 
When Should I Use Salted Plugrá Butter? 
Salted butter is best served at the table. It may contain more salt than called for when baking or cooking. You may serve it in slices, whipped or in a small ramekin. For a decorative effect, use a melon-baller, pipe it through a pastry bag or curl it with a spoon. 
 
Why is Plugrá Butter Better for Baking? 
Plugrá butter contains less water than regular butter. Lower moisture means that cakes will rise higher, cookies will crisp more evenly and pie crusts or croissants will be flakier. A higher butterfat content means that all your baked goods will taste better when baked with Plugrá butter.

New Fusion Speed Meal Cooking

What is Speed Meal Cooking? 

Well to me it means using good quality prepared ingredients along with some fresh ingredients to prepare meals that are nutritious and delish that, (and here’s the important part), your hubby and picky-little or big eaters will enjoy without sighs and the hiding of things under their plates. They are also meals that will have your family asking for seconds. Does this sound impossible? Well it’s not as evidenced by Rachel Ray & Sandra Lees great sucess on the Food Network and their best selling cookbooks. 

Yes, I’m a Chef and most Chefs stick their nose up in the air when talking about prepared ingredients. I’m not sure why, but I think it may be culianryily correct as dictated by big name Chef’ s who are proponent of hand making everything…well that’s all well and good for a Chef who has a slew of sous chefs to do all their shopping, chopping and prep work.

For us mere mortals, THAT is the impossible task and one that keeps most women out of the kitchen, those unrealistic expectations…

Sandra Lee is a Cordon Bleu trained Chef who said that when she was in culinary school she learned all the long preparation techniques and wondered why spend hours to do something that has been “done” for you by a high quality pre-preparation products.

Pre-preparation ingredients are not a bad word ladies…if you choose carefully and read the ingredients, you can choose healthy prepared ingredients that are good for your family and make your life easier.

Shake off the shackles of culinary snobbery and reap the bennies of time in the kitchen by using all the culinary tools at your disposal.

Utilize Local Farmers 

Certainly use local ingredients in season when you can, support local growers and frequent you local Farmers Markets on Saturdays. They are a great family trip, it helps get the kiddies involved in the prepartation of your family meals. The added bonus is that it helps you to connect with your community and support local small businesses.

It’s fun and educational!

It is an educational and recreational trip for your family and gives them an opportunity to learn about the ingredients by talking to the producers of the products you buy. Studies have shown that kids will eat more when they are involved in the process. That means not only in the prep work and cooking, but in the choosing of the meals and ingredients!

I know, I know,  you have visions of the mess the ktichen will be with the kiddos helping! Think of it as creating a new tradition, spending time with your kids is a treasure!! My boys loved helping in the kitchen when they were little.  It made great memories! It also taught my children repsonsibility because they were required to help clean-up and made them think about the process. It teaches them math and science  all good things right?

Go out and make it a great day!

Crock Pot Bolognese Pasta Sauce 

Serves 4

8 oz. of Penne Pasta cooked according to package (2 2/3 cups)

2 cups frozen diced carrots

1 cup medium dice onions

1 cup medium diced celery

1 medium chopped red bell pepper (these are sweeter than green bell peppers)

2 minced garlic cloves

2 teaspoons italian seasoning

1 teaspoon thyme

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds or anise seeds

2 cups beef stock

1/2 cup red wine

1 pound ground turkey or ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 (28 oz italian crushed tomatoes)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Sugar to taste

Place all the ingredients into a 5 qt crock pot and cook LOW for 8 hours. Stir before serving to break up the meat.

Serve over Penne Pasta.

Freeze the leftover sauce!

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Thanks for visiting!

ChefK

Talk to me!

Please leave comments at the time you visit or send me an email with comments or questions at
onthego4522@gmail.com

Luzianne Gumbo Mix

Okay – I know it’s a mix, but it is YUM.  I made the seafood version and added a pound of  shrimp (raw/frozen) and canned crabmeat.   The package includes the ground red pepper separately so you can adjust the heat to your liking.  Half the packet worked for us.

I had never seen this mix before.  I know Luzianne is (or was?) primarily a southern brand, but I did find it also on http://www.Amazon.com and http://www.cajungrocer.com just in case you can’t find it at your local store.  Give it a try if you want gumbo but don’t have all day to make a roux and chop the holy trinity.  It’s easy, quick and mighty tasty!!

St Paddy’s Day

st-paddys-day1

Not Your Mama’s Mac & Cheese

I’m a chef, but I also like to find great products that makes my clients time in kitchen more productive. One of my fav products is Stouffers Man & Cheese and it comes in a bag! You can scoop out the amount you need and put the remainder back into the freezer. No fuss no muss. It’s great with an Amish all beef or Kosher hotdog, but I jazz mine up a bit with things I have in the pantry or left-overs in the refrigerator or freezer and change it up a bit. My family loves it and I have saved a lot of time and hassle in the kitchen…follow me!

bowls-of-spices

Not your Mama’s Mac & Cheese

servings-4

INGREDIENTS

3 cups of frozen Stouffers Mac & Cheese 

1/2 cup of velveeta cheese

1/4 cup  asiago cheese

1/4 cup cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese.

1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes-cut in half

1 cup cooked chicken stripes or leftover meat (see list)

1/4 cup cooked bacon-chopped or bacon bits

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground chipotle pepper-this is spicey so either cut it out or use to taste

pinch of ground nutmeg

French’s Fried Onions- I go to Aldis and get their brand of cheddar cheese ones Yummolish!

1/2 cup of milk or chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter an oven or microwave proof casserole dish about 2 QT size.

3. In a bowl add the 3 cups of mac & cheese, the cheeses and the remainder of the ingredients

4. Get creative here, if you have left-over broccoli, peas, carrots use that, or any leftover cooked meat, ham, salmon, hamburger, turkey, sliced hotdogs.

5. Pour into the casserole and sprinkle the french fried onions or use potato chips, cheese crackers, what ever you have in your pantry!

6. Place into the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

7. Serve with a salad & Crusty multi-grain bread and butter!

NOTE:

I have made this in the microwave, mix as directed above and plac in your microwave in a microwave safe dish and nuke on power level 4-5 for 15 minutes. Check every 5 minutes to check to make sure it doesn’t get overdone on the sides.  Renuke for a minute at a time until it is heated through.

SHOPPING LIST:

cut and paste onto a word document for a convenient shopping list

 

3 cups of frozen Stouffers Mac & Cheese 

1/2 cup of velveeta cheese

1/4 cup  asiago cheese

1/4 cup cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese.

1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes-cut in half

1 cup cooked chicken stripes or leftover meat (see list)

1/4 cup cooked bacon-chopped or bacon bits

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground chipotle pepper

The Cooking Studio Online Blog

Welcome to The Cooking Studio Online! I’m a Chef with 30 years of culinary experience. I have had several questions about my career as a Personal Chef, owner of a Meal Assembly Business (I’m in a 12 step MAK program to free myself from the industry!)my experience in developing menus, my test kitchen and my experience as a Corporate Executive Chef. I have been through some harrowing experiences in my day, but my foray into Bankruptcy Court was indeed the most harrowing and devastating experience so far.

I would be happy to answer any question EXCEPT for my experience as a Meal Assembly Kitchen owner…this is a meals assembly kitchen free zone, there are other places where you can get those questions asked and answered, this is not one of them, sorry. My advice is to go to http://www.mealassemblywatch.com or unhappyfranchisee.com to find answers and ask questions.

This is a place where I will do my professional best to answer any cooking questions I can and give you a place to share your recipes, decorating and meal ideas.

Food is my passion and my creative outlet.

Welcome new friends! Ask away!

Chef Kadie