Tuesday Tips ~ 12 March (on Wednesday!)

Yes, I know…I’m late…again!

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

And here is today’s yesterday’s tips………….

🙂  To rescue overcooked meats, slice thinly and cover slices with a salsa made from olive oil, lime juice, chopped tomatoes, onions and chilli.  The acid and oil replace the moisture in the meat.

TT:  Sounds good to me even if you don’t overcook the meat!

🙂  Don’t add soy sauce to the wok until right at the end of the cooking time.  if added earlier it will cause the food to stick to the pan and may give a bitter taste.

TT:  I’ll have to try this next time I make a stir-fry.

🙂  Clingfilm/plastic wrap can sometimes be very difficult to handle.  Try keeping it in the fridge ~ it also helps with finding the end.

TT:  Sorry, but I’m not keeping it in the fridge….too inconvenient.  My rolls of foil and clingfilm, plastic bags, etc. are in a drawer right at my work area.

entertaining guests🙂  Whether planning a dinner party or a meal for someone special, never try a new recipe and/or a new ingredient at the same time.

TT:  Instead, test it out on your family first!

🙂  If a recipe calls for self-raising flour and all you have is plain flour, use 1 level teaspoon of baking powder to every 110g/scant 4oz of flour.

TT:  Tried and tested and yes, it works.

🙂  Coffee grounds, filter paper, teabags, egg cartons and scrunched-up paper wrappers can all be added to the garden compost.

TT:  Raw egg shells can also be added.  Just crush them up first and with the egg cartons, tear it up into pieces.

tomato🙂  Put fresh tomatoes into boiling water for one minute to loosen skins before peeling and adding to sauces.

TT:  I usually score an ‘X’ on the bottom first as it helps to start the peel coming off.

browngrocerybag🙂  Drain foods cooked in oil on an empty brown grocery bag rather than paper towels, as this will retain the crispness.

TT:  Well this is fine IF YOU LIVE IN THE U.S. WHERE THEY ACTUALLY HAVE THESE!!  This country does not have brown grocery bags…everything is PLASTIC!  I wish we had brown grocery bags as at least they could be recycled.  I have a real problem with this tip considering it’s from a UK calendar!  (as a side note:  We bring our own reusable canvas bags when we go shopping so that we do not add to the already-full-of-plastic landfills areas)

OK kids, there you go.  I will try not to be late next week with my tips, but you know, sometimes life just….happens!

♥  Terri  ♥

Advertisements

What to do with…Tomatoes

tomatoMorning World!

Today we’re going to talk about the terrific TOMATO.

♣ Believed to benefit the heart along with other organs, they contain one of the most powerful, natural antioxidants, carotene lycopene, and has been found to help prevent prostate cancer, especially cooked tomatoes.  They are also good sources of vitamins A, C and E along with potassium.

♣ Botanically, the tomato is a fruit, but is considered a vegetable for most culinary uses.

♣ There are many varieties of tomato:

Standard ~ the ‘normal’ tomato, spherical in shape and around an inch to an inch and a half in diameter.

Beefsteak ~ a large version of the normal tomato. Because of their large size, these tomato varieties take longer to mature and ripen so really do not do well except in a greenhouse.

Cherry ~ just a small version of the normal tomato, often marble sized. Often from dwarf bush types.

Plum ~ the firm fleshed oval shaped fruit you find in Italian canned tomatoes. Tend to have been bred to store well as bottled or canned and they freeze well.

Baby Plum ~ another small version, but of the plum tomato.

♣ Tomatoes also come in a range of colors, varying from green to yellow to orange to deep red.

♣ As tomatoes are a sub-tropical fruit and dislike the cold, they should be stored at room temperature.  Remove any packaging and place in your fruit bowl.  Storing them in the fridge impairs natural ripening and flavor.  Over-ripe tomatoes will go soft even more quickly in the refrigerator.

A BEAUTY HINT: Tomato pulp is very good for the skin. It refreshes, tones and aids circulation and will restore acidity to the face after cleansing. To make a tomato face pack, make a paste by mixing tomato pulp with yoghurt. Apply to the face and leave for 10-15 minutes, then wash off.

♣ To ripen home-grown tomatoes, place them in a paper bag with a ripe tomato and keep at room temperature.

♣ Use under-ripe, green tomatoes for making chutney.  Use up over-ripe tomatoes to make soups or sauces which can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.

♣ To skin tomatoes, score an ‘X’ on the bottom and place tomatoes into boiling water for 15-30 seconds.  Remove and let cool enough to handle them.  The skin should come off easily.

Sun Driwd Tomatoes♣ Make your own ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes by sprinkling equal amounts of superfine/caster sugar and salt over halved tomatoes. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet and cook in the oven on a low heat for two and a half hours or until most of the liquid has dried out.

♣ A squeeze of lemon will remove the metallic taste from canned tomatoes.

Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked, used in stews and sauces and made into puree and ketchup, just to name a few.

I often make a quick and tasty tomato salad.  Chop a tomato into small pieces and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with a little dried basil and/or oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic and toss and eat.  Delicious!  Feel free to add some chopped cucumber also.  You can even put this mixture on top of toasted sliced Italian bread for some yummy bruschetta.

Want to make your own tomato sauce?  It’s easy and only takes 90 minutes of cooking time once it’s all thrown together.  You can find my recipe here on Food.com, (formerly Recipezaar) a recipe site I used to be on.  This sauce can be used on anything from pasta to pizza.

Canned tomatoes are an essential store cupboard staple in my book.  Add to chili, make a salsa or even a quick pasta sauce.  Braise chicken breasts in canned tomatoes with some onion and mushroom and seasonings.  Add to stews or make tomato soup!

There is so much that can be done with tomatoes.

Come on readers, what do you do with tomatoes?  Please share!

  Terri  

Eggplant Lasagna

Happy New Year all!

A few days before Christmas we received a box of foodie goods from my brother and sis-in-law.  We have been receiving a box of goodies from them for three years running now and if you’d like to see a sampling of what we got last year, you can check here.

We got most of the same stuff but a few different things, including a giant eggplant.  On the same day that this box arrived, Chef P and I had been in London at Borough Market and picked up a selection of fresh veg, cheeses and charcuterie.  Needless to say, we were loaded down with lots of food!  We’ve been trying to use as much of it as possible because as you know, we hate to waste food, especially really good, tasty foods as what we have.  We didn’t do pizza last Friday so we did pizza last Sunday…gourmet pizza!  We used the Italian salami we got at the market, including capicola, prosciutto, and fennel salami, smoked garlic (from the market), and fresh mozzarella (from the ‘box’), along with fresh basil and oregano, also from the ‘box’.

Also in the ‘box’ was the huge eggplant I mentioned above.  I had bought some ricotta cheese to use for our Christmas Cheer evening, but I didn’t get around to making what I was going to.  So I was thinking….I had eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil and oregano and all I needed was some homemade tomato sauce for the making of some eggplant lasagna…yum!

This is one of those recipes that you can just throw together without the problem of measuring anything, although I’ve given some to help you out a bit.  If you want to use a jarred sauce, please feel free, but you have to admit, home made is ALWAYS best.  I’ve given the recipe I use for the homemade sauce should you feel inspired to make your own.  It’s easy peasy to do, but does take about 90 minutes to cook, so get this started while you take on the other parts.

EGGPLANT LASAGNA

Sauce:

  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves, torn or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or fresh if you have it
  • 28oz/800g canned chopped tomatoes
  • salt, about 1/2 tsp or to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar

In a large saucepan, fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, cover and bring to the boil.  Stir and reduce heat to low and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced about the thickness of a pound coin or a bit thicker than a quarter)
  • salt
  • 18oz/500g ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp (or more) grated Parmesan
  • 8oz/225g mozzarella, grated or sliced (I used buffalo mozzarella and just tore pieces off)

Preheat oven to 180°c/350°f.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, egg and grated Parmesan and set aside.

Drizzle olive oil over two large baking sheets.  Place the slices of eggplant on the baking sheets in a single layer then drizzle over some more olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.  Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove and leave to sit until the sauce is done.

When the sauce is done, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary and remove from heat.  Put one large ladle of sauce into the ricotta mixture and stir to combine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Using a baking dish about 6″X9″ or roughly that size, put a ladle of sauce in the bottom, then a layer of eggplant.  Put about 3-4 spoonfuls of ricotta mix on top and spread over.  Then put another layer of sauce, eggplant and ricotta and repeat until all is used, ending with a layer of sauce.

Spread the mozzarella over the top to cover and place the baking dish on a baking sheet.  I do this in case it bubbles over and it’s better that it bubbles over on the pan rather than on the bottom of your oven!

You can leave it to sit at this point until you’re ready to bake it.  If you start to get some water on the sides of the dish (from the tomatoes), just soak it up with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 180°c/350°f.  Bake for 45-60 minutes until golden and bubbly.  Remove from oven and leave to rest about 10-15 minutes before serving.

(Sorry, I do not have an ‘after baking’ photo as I forgot to take one!)

Enjoy!

♥  Terri  ♥

Lunch at Fern’s in Canterbury

Chef P was on holiday from Good Friday until this past Monday and went back to work on Tuesday.  As you may know from reading some previous posts, we had been very busy.  On his last day off, we decided to head over to Canterbury, which we tend to visit about 3-4 times a year, even though we’re only a short distance away.  The last time we were there was around Christmas.

We took the train in, which is always so much easier than driving.  We strolled around and found that there was a Whittard’s and was finally able to find a tea infuser for my mother-in-law. 🙂  Don’t really know how long this store was there, but was glad to find it.  The last time I was at one of their stores was back in July when we were in London.  It just occurred to me; I’m in England where they drink tea like there’s no tomorrow and yet we had a hell of a time trying to find a tea infuser!  We looked in four other stores before I finally found one!

Around midday, we decided to get some lunch.  We don’t do fast food so had to find some place proper to eat.  We found a place that was actually hidden away as there’s really no storefront for it, just the entrance door with a sign pointing you upstairs.  We went to Fern’s Restaurant and Tearoom.  It’s a quaint little restaurant and as it was a weekday, it was rather quiet.  There was a woman dining alone at the table behind us and a couple who were sitting in one of the window seats having lunch.

The seats were leather with high backs and rather comfortable I might add.  The tables were a heavy wood (oak?) with cast iron pedestal bottoms.  Many of these places in Canterbury were once homes and it’s usually quite obvious.  There were two fireplaces (one in each corner) in the section of the room we were sat in with tiled edging.  Many homes back in the early times had more than one fireplace in a room just to get it warm enough.

Chef P ordered a vegetable quiche which came with fries(chips in the UK) and a cappuchino and I ordered a ham, cheese and tomato paninni which came with a small dressed salad and some potato chips(crisps in the UK) and a diet coke.

Now those of you who follow South Beach know that I shouldn’t have eaten some of what was placed in front of me.  The paninni bread alone is a no-no as it’s made with white flour and I really shouldn’t have eaten some all of the crisps.  Another thing that I never have anymore is soda, even diet soda, but I just felt like having it.  We never buy soda or potato chips and I very rarely eat them except in situations like this, so I really don’t feel guilty for having them.

It was a lovely relaxing lunch; something we don’t do often enough.  We’re heading up to Scotland at the end of June for a week, so we’ll get to do that quite a bit.  I’ll fill you in more on our upcoming trip as it gets closer.  Here’s one bit of info:  We’re taking a sleeper train up there!

Have a nice weekend!

♥ Terri  ♥♥

STORECUPBOARD STAPLES

Lucky for us, our cupboards are NEVER empty.  If anything, they’re probably too full, but it’s a great thing when it comes to cooking up a meal.  We probably have some less common items than most people would have, but those unusual ingredients give our meals that extra something special.

As not everyone wants to be a gourmet cook, here’s some ideas that will help you get more out of your cupboard than just a box of rice!

First of all, organisation is key, especially if you’re short of space.  Use the same method used by supermarkets and stack newer jars and cans behind the older ones so they get used up first.

Can’t see what’s in the back?  Get a step-up shelf or make a list of everything and keep it taped on the inside of the cabinet door.  This will also prevent you from buying items you already have.

Big bags of ground spice might seem economical, but they can go stale very quickly.  Instead, buy whole spices and grind them as needed.  Use a mortar and pestle or get yourself an electric spice grinder or coffee grinder used for spices only.

Store spices (as well as seeds and nuts) in airtight jars to stop them going stale.  Make sure you keep them IN the cabinet as light will make them go off sooner.

Canned tomatoes are probably my number one staple to always have on hand.  There is no need to spend a fortune on them either; the house value brand will do as you’re going to be adding other flavors to them anyway.  However, do experiment and see which you prefer.  There is one house brand that I will not use anymore as I didn’t like them…even after they were doctored up.  I won’t mention the store, but I will say they came in a green and white can.  Canned tomatoes can be used in a range of dishes including pizza toppings, stews and casseroles.

Keep just a few of your favorite pasta shapes.  Sticking to the same shapes and brand means cooking time will be the same and you can combine any opened bags or boxes.

Bags or boxes of rolled oats are much more economical than small pouches for your morning porridge.  They can also be used in your baking including cookies and of course, crumbles.

Store opened packets in sealable plastic containers or do what I do and store them in large empty instant coffee jars (cleaned, of course!) This extends their shelf life and prevents spillage.

Jars of anchovies are good way to add small amounts of protein and flavor to pasta sauces without costing a small fortune.  Capers, gherkins, olives and sun-dried tomatoes are also great for adding interesting flavor to recipes.

Stock up on soy sauce, Tabasco, Worcestershire Sauce and other flavoring sauces.  They help to season your food as well as add flavor and you need only a little, making them a great value.

Keep some bags of ready-to-mix pizza base (or make your own if you’re feeling ambitious) and you’ll never need to call pizza delivery.

There’s probably more things that some people like to keep on hand, so please feel free to share those ideas with the rest of us!

So go check your cupboards and make something delicious tonight!

**************************

Terri’s Tasty Funny….

You know you’re a lousy cook when your husband refers to the smoke alarm as the oven timer!