August 30, 2011

Cleaning Mushrooms

There is a myth- that you should not wash mushrooms.
You did catch that right... "myth".
You have a couple options of how to clean a mushroom.
A very common way peope say is to take a damp paper towel
and use you fingers to brush off any dirt or soil.
(This way kind of makes me feel like like a snob-
the way you brush/toss it off)

Another way to clean a mushroom is to take a little brush
(similar to a nail brush) and brush the dirt and soil off gently.

A third way is to just wash them with water! 
As long as you rinse or wash the mushrooms
right before you cut them- it's all good! 
Some people say that mushrooms get water logged
when you wash them and that's why they think water
is forbidden when it comes to mushrooms.

The only negative with washing mushrooms is when you wash them
and then store them. They become slimy and spoil quickly
because of the dampness. Otherwise... just give them
a quick wash before you use them. Don't be a snob. haha

August 28, 2011

End the summer with watermelon pie!

When I think of summer-
of the many things that come to my mind...

watermelon is one of them. So I wanted to officially end the summer
with a watermelon pie.  Now, when I think of pie- I think of
a crust and filling. Not only do I like to use things for 2 purposes (double-duty)
but having fun with food and making it different is always fun as well.
(similar to the jello orange wedges I've made) So to make a watermelon pie
it's pretty simple and for all the non-bakers...  there is no baking required!

Take a watermelon (preferably a smaller one)
and slice it (maybe an inch or 2 or 3) It's really whatever you want- 

Then you want to take a smaller pairing knife and cut the red of the watermelon from the rind.

Then, take the red of the watermelon and cut it in to wedges
(these will be your little pie slices)
If you're not sure of how many slices/wedges...
try 3 cuts to make 6 wedges to start.

Then take a spoon or a cooking brush and take some of your
favorite yogurt and slather it on the top and sides of
the watermelon wedges.  Don't forget to add your topping. I like to take almond slivers. The almond slivers work nice with the yogurt especially
because they just stick together perfectly with no effort.

And then voila!  Here is your simple, different, fun and cultivated way
to end your summer- with a watermelon pie! 
This recipe is pretty low in carbs as well!

August 26, 2011

Marriage Ref Contestant Was Right!

Have you ever watched the tv show called
Marriage Ref
produced by Jerry Seinfeld?

If you haven't... it's hosted by hilarious Tom Papa  where they take 3 different celebrities
each week and they discuss to see 3 different couples'
disputes to see who is more right!  
There was this one episode with this older couple and their
dispute was:  the husband was tired of his wife asking the server
literally how many minutes ago was the decaf coffee made?
They showed clips of the couple in many different restaurants and the
wife extensively asks the server when was it brewed.
She sternly tells the server she will know if he/she are lying about
when the coffee was brewed. She warns them that if it's a second longer
than 18 minutes it is old, not fresh and she will make them brew a fresh pot.

With sales or anything I guess- it's the way you ask or say something that
could make a huge difference!  Her husband's argument is... just drink
something else or order it and if it's a few seconds longer... it's not the end
of the world. Her argument ultimately is that if she's paying for the coffee-
she wants it fresh.  Basically super fresh!

After the celebrity panel discusses their opinions-
gearing towards the decision that the wife is too extreme...
they are able to research that brewed coffee is freshest
up to 20 minutes. Once it is over 20 minutes-
it starts to have that slightly burnt taste.
It doesn't mean you can't drink it or that it's spoiled...
it's just the freshest when it's within 20 minutes.
I never knew the mark for freshness in brewed coffee was 20 minutes.
Obviously the sooner you drink or eat food-
it is better but I never really knew there was a time.
So, the wife ended up winning the argument. 

August 23, 2011

What The Heck Is Splenda Anyway?

Ah, Splenda. The sugar alternative.
It's lower in calories... for the calorie counters.
It's an alternative if you can't have sugar.
If you break out like me from too much sugar...
Splenda is also the way to go.
Just like anything... always have things in moderation.
Splenda is the brand name for a sucralose based and obviously
artificial-sweetener that came from sugar.

Splenda is owned by a British company named Tate & Lyle.
Tate & Lyle were researchers at Queen Elizabeth College,
University of London. Splenda was discovered in 1976
and became approved in the U.S. in 1998. Since 1999,
Splenda has overtaken Equal  with their $1.5 billion
artificial sweetener market holding a 62% market share.
According to research, $212 million of Splenda was sold
in 2006 in the U.S. while Equal sold $48.7 million.

Splenda is made in a granular form or in tablet form.
There is good and bad to Splenda of course. If you can't have sugar...
obviously, it is a choice. The bad part is that it's a chemical.
It is made from many chemicals together "chemical soup" some call it.
chemicals including chlorine, fluorine, bromine, iodine and others.
When you know that it is made partly by chlorine... it is a turnoff -
but you gotta do what you gotta do.

August 22, 2011

Stacking Plates

When you are stacking plates in your cabinet...
it is a good idea to take some paper plates and place a paper plate
in between each plate to prevent any scratches, chipping or extra dust.
If the plate has a glaze or painting on it.. it will help preserve that as well.
It doesn't make sense to do this for your everyday plates...
but if you have slightly nicer plates that you don't use regularly-
it would be a great idea.
(You can also get 100 paper plates from the dollar store for.... yep,  a dollar)

August 13, 2011

Simple Mashed Potatoes

Just like the way some people have trouble boiling a hard boiled egg-
potatoes aren't the simplest either.

Here is a simple fool-proof way to make basic mashed potatoes.
You can simply start with any kind of potato-
Wash it, and peel it.

After peeling the skin, dice it into small pieces (the smaller the better)
Keep in mind that you are planning to mash these little cubes up once
they are fully cooked.

The next tip is to place the diced up potatoes into a pan large enough
that the potatoes will be completely submerged in water...
BUT make sure the water is cold water!  The reason for the cold water
is that in the time that it takes the cold water to get hot and boiling...
it gives the potatoes that extra time to get comfy in the hot tub.

This is when I add the salt into the water to give the potatoes
some flavor through the boiling  process.
If I'm not too tired, I'll even add a little chicken broth
to raise the flavor even more.

Once the water starts to boil rapidly... lower the heat from high
to medium and cover the pan slightly to help keep the heat in the hot tub.
Once it's been boiling for a few minutes- take a fork (not a knife-
because the knife will just slice it rather than show it's tenderness)
and see if the fork goes through the potato nicely. 
You'll know if it's tender or still needs a little more boiling.
(The more tender the potato is... the less lumps you will have
in your mashed potatoes!)

Once the potatoes have passed the smooth-fork-tender test...
You can drain the water from the pan.

Lastly, you want to get out your masher while adding a little butter
and a splash of milk or cream. Whether to use milk or cream can be
based off of what consistency you want your mashed potatoes
to be. If you don't want then as thick... I'd go with the milk. 
Butter milk is a great alternative also!
Add very little salt if needed (you shouldn't really have to add too
much because you salted the water)

Once you get the basic mashed potatoes down...
you can add your shredded cheese in there, or your garlic
or chives or whatever floats your boat!

The Girl And The Goat (CHI)

Girl & The Goat is a rustic restaurant with a busy, busy environment.
The restaurant is open for dinner from 4:30-11pm and 12 on weekends.
Good luck getting a table unless you have some skills.
(not to brag, but I was able to get a table)
The owner and chef of Girl & The Goat is Stephanie Izard...
winner of Top Chef.
The restaurant has been open for less than 2 years but is filled to
capacity  every single night. The food is pretty amazing.
The portions are on the smaller side but filled with so much
savory flavor- you feel lucky just enjoying the first bite.
Now when I say filled with flavor... you almost want to pick up
your plate and lick every last drop of sauce or seasoning.
Now, that's tasty. If you ever make it to the windy city of Chicago-
you must stop by at The Girl & The Goat even if you have to stand or
sit by the waiting area to get some food.

The menu is filled with vegetables, fish and meat that are locally grown
on farms along with the bread that is baked daily.

Now, when you look at the menu.... you think... hmmm I'm not sure if
I want anything from here... it's kind of weird... very different but
in a good way. You might think... there are ingredients I'm not sure
if I would ever eat or have ever heard of. 
But, you take a deep breath and tell yourself to be brave and you order
anything off the menu... but you should definitely order and try the
"Pig's Face"  yes, I said pig's face.


It is slightly pricey... but worth every bite & dollar.
The Pig's face is very tender and it basically melts in your mouth
especially with the egg mixed in along with the 2 dominant flavors of
cilantro and almond butter with tints of the tartness of tamarind.
I can't say enough about this dish!