Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Kitchen and Cooking Tips

I hate to call these kitchen 'hacks' because I've had failed tries of using internet famous internet 'hacks'.  So these are just a few handy tips and tricks I've picked up over the years that I find handy and that actually work in streamlining cooking or kitchen organizing.  Some of these tips I picked up from my mom.  Some of them I picked up from roommates or friends.  Some of them I found on the internet and found useful.

  • sharpen your knife before each time you use it
    • I picked this up from an old roommate of mine.  He would sharpen (re-align) his knife before he used it every time.  It only takes half a minute, but makes a world of difference.  I mean, you get that stick thing sharpener in most knife blocks and sets anyway, so use it!  I try and do 10 alternating strokes on each side of the knife. Also, contrary to what most beginners think, a sharp knife is much safer to use than a dull knife.
  • use the back of a spoon to peel ginger
    • way easier than using a knife or vegetable peeler and saves more ginger
  • store Silpats (silicone baking sheets) rolled up in an empty paper towel roll
John helping
  • dunk boiled eggs in ice cold water to make peeling easier
  • line your toaster oven tray with aluminum foil
    • cuts down on clean up
  • use the refrigerator crisper drawers correctly
    • set one on 'high' humidity and place things that would wilt in there
    • set one on 'low' humidity and place things that would rot in there
  • freeze chicken bones and vegetable scraps in gallon bags in your freezer
    • once they're full, place in a slow cooker or large pot and fill with water, add salt and pepper and a bay leaf and make stock
  • keep a used produce back on your counter or in your sink for trash/scraps
    • this limits times you have to walk to your trash can.  Also, for any stinky stuff, if you tie a knot at the top of it after you're done, it cuts down on smell and the number of times you have to take your trash out
  • to peel garlic, cut the ends of a clove and then smash it with the side of your knife
  • when scooping things off your cutting board, use the back of your knife
    • this won't dull your knife blade and you won't accidentally cut yourself

Friday, August 25, 2017

Chicken Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is usually Japanese-style fried pork.  I use the same technique for chicken breasts.  This is super simple and, like all fried things, delicious.  I have made this with pork; a more traditional tonkatsu.  This usually requires frying twice to ensure the pork is cooked through.  I have also experimented with baking in an oven at 425*F on a wire rack after misting the coated chicken with oil with good success.

Chicken Tonkatsu
2 servings, Estimated time ~30 minutes
Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • canola oil for frying
  • Tonkatsu sauce*, shredded green cabbage, and sushi rice to serve
Directions:

  1. If chicken breasts are thicker than 1/2", pound slightly until uniformly about 1/2" thick
  2. Set up small separate bowls for flour and salt, beaten egg and 1 tbs. water, and panko bread crumbs. 
  3. Dredge the chicken breasts in flour, shake off any excess.  Dip in egg wash. Press into bread crumbs on both sides.
  4. Once oil is medium-high heat, fry chicken breasts about 2-3 minutes each side.
  5. Drain on a cooling rack.  Slice into ~1/4" slices.  Serve with rice, tonkatsu sauce, and shredded cabbage.
*Tonkatsu sauce is available to buy at Asian grocery stores and in some international aisles of grocery stores.  I generally make my own because I hate buying something I won't use all up and will take up room in my refrigerator.  And I usually have all the ingredients for making it on hand.

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 c. ketchup
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs. mirin
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 2 tbs. Worcester sauce
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
Directions: Whisk together all ingredients.  Adjust if necessary






Sunday, August 20, 2017

Shrimp and Grits


You know how you throw out or give away all the food in your fridge before you go on vacation? Yea, well it's a necessary evil of making sure you don't come home to a stinky house.  The problem with that, is it leaves you with no food when you come home from vacation and you're tired. And you have to unpack. And need to do 5 loads of laundry.

Going grocery shopping is one of the last things on my mind when I come home from a trip.

So I usually have a few things stocked in my pantry or freezer that I would consider 'staples'.  This is also helpful for if you have a baby and don't have time or the effort to have perishables.  And hate food waste.  I usually have some oatmeal and/or grits in the pantry for breakfast.  And I usually have some kind of seafood, ground beef, and chicken thighs or breasts in my freezer.  And I usually keep some parmesan cheese in my freezer.  So I happened to have some frozen shrimp in the freezer when we came home from our trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Hence....shrimp and grits for dinner!

Now, I did cheat and used some cherry tomatoes in my fridge that were a little bit less-than-fresh.  And green onions from my backyard garden (the only thing besides rosemary that had survived my year of gardening neglect).  So this meal is not entirely from the pantry/freezer.

Shrimp and Grits
2 portions, approximately 20-30 minute cooking and prep time
Ingredients:

  • stove-top grits for 2 servings
  • 1 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 tbs. butter
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 green onion,sliced

Directions:

  1. Prepare grits according to directions for 2 servings, stove-top.
  2. Remove from heat.  Fold in parmesan cheese and cover with lid to retain warmth.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Melt butter and oil until browned, about 1 minute.
  4. Saute garlic and tomatoes until tomatoes blister about 2-3 minutes
  5. Add shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until cooked through and starting to curl. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Plate grits and add shrimp and tomatoes.  Pour sauce over shrimp and grits.
  7. Garnish with green onions