Wednesday, March 16, 2011

D.I.Y Cooking Guide

Wow! Thank you New York Times. This is such a great idea - I wish there were more that I could use. Some of them are a little ambious if you ask me. I'm honestly going to go to Safeway and pick up a box of corn muffin mix instead of making from scratch most days. But I'm sure making my own Nutella is going to be way cheaper than buying it from the store ($5 for a hazelnut spread? Puh-leeze. Hazlenuts are my State Nut!).

Over all though I love this piece and it's ideas. Really recommend going and checking out all their suggestions. For now though I'm going to only share the one's I'm super excited about.

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Chinese Chili-Scallion Oil


In a large pot fitted with a deep-frying thermometer, combine 2/3 cup hot red pepper flakes; 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled; 3 scallions, cut into thin rings; 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger; 2 1/2 cups corn or peanut oil, and 1/3 cup roasted sesame oil. Over medium-low heat, bring to a bubbly 225 to 250 degrees, stirring occasionally. Simmer 15 minutes, making sure the temperature does not rise above 250 degrees. Let cool. Scrape the oil and solids into a glass or plastic container and store tightly covered at room temperature.

Variations: Add any or all of the following before cooking: 1/3 cup Chinese black beans, coarsely chopped; the freshly grated zest of 3 large oranges; 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns.

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Chocolate-Hazelnut Paste

Toast 1 cup peeled hazelnuts in a dry pan until they are fragrant and golden, then let cool. Meanwhile, melt 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (not chips) and 2 ounces unsalted butter (4 tablespoons). Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Blend cooled nuts in a food processor until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes, drizzling in 1 to 2 tablespoons nut or vegetable oil. With the machine running, add the chocolate mixture, 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Transfer to a container and refrigerate.

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Preserved Lemons

Scrub 3 to 5 organic lemons, enough to fit snugly in a medium jar with a tight-fitting lid (have 2 to 4 more ready on the side). Slice each lemon from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom, almost cutting them into quarters but leaving them attached at one end. Rub kosher salt over the cut surfaces, then reshape the fruit. Cover the bottom of the jar with more kosher salt. Fit all the cut lemons in, breaking them apart if necessary. Sprinkle salt on each layer.

Press the lemons down to release their juices. Add to the jar 1 heaping teaspoon black peppercorns and 2 bay leaves, then squeeze the additional lemons into the jar until juice covers everything.

Close the jar and let ripen at cool room temperature, shaking the jar every day for 3 to 4 weeks, or until the rinds are tender to the bite. Then store it in the refrigerator.

To use, remove a piece of lemon and rinse it. (Add more fresh lemons to the brine as you use them up.) The minced rind is added at the very end of cooking or used raw; the pulp can be added to a simmering pot.

The brightness of this pickle has lately elbowed its way out of Morocco’s tagines. New York chefs add the minced peel to salads and garnish fried seafood with it; the cured-lemon flavor is particularly friendly to salmon, carrots, olives, parsley and potatoes. The lemony brine is great in a bloody mary.

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Really though there are a few more I'd love to try. Like making my own Kimchi or the Maple Vinegar.

This also helped me learn what the heck Crème Fraîche was (I always avoided recipes that had it or left it out because I had no idea how to make it or what it was).

I hope this becomes a regular piece (and if it already is would someone let me know). Happy DIY-ing. 

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