12/30/14

What is: Caramelization

Ninja Cooking System Recipe

Caramelize – The process through which natural sugars in foods become browned and flavorful while cooking. This is usually done over a constant heat of low to medium-low. Caramelization can be quickened with the addition of a little sugar. Either way, be careful not to burn.

Favorite Recipe: Slow Cooker Pork and Sweet Potato Curry

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12/26/14

What is: Butterflying

how to butterfly a turkey breast

Butterfly – A method of cutting meats so that it will lay flat and even. It is difficult to describe without visual effects, but the meat is sliced in the center, without going all the way through, and opened to lay flat like the wings of a butterfly. In larger cuts, it is sliced in increments from middle to either side, and the flaps are opened like the pages of a book.

See our step-by-step photos of the process, here:  How to butterfly a turkey breast

Favorite recipe: Pork Wellington with Apple Sage Sauce

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12/24/14

What is: Braising

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Braise – To cook slowly in a small amount of liquid in a covered pot. Foods are usually browned prior to braising to add flavor. Braising can be done on top of the stove or in an oven, depending on the recipe.

Favorite recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Shallots

brussels-sprouts-with-bacon-and-shallots

By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed hungry families, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!

12/23/14

What is: Batter

What is batter

Batter – An uncooked, wet mixture that can be spooned or poured, as with cakes, pancakes, and muffins. Batters usually contain flour, eggs, and milk as their base. Some thin batters are used to coat foods before deep frying.

Favorite recipe: World’s Greatest 3-Berry Cobbler

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12/22/14

What is: Basmati Rice

Basmati rice – An aromatic, long grain brown or white rice from India and California. Basmati rice is nutty and fluffy. Use as you would regular long grain rice.

Basmati derives from the Sanskrit word “vasmati”, meaning “fragrant”.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, basmati rice has a “medium” glycemic index (between 56 and 69), thus making it more suitable for diabetics as compared to certain other grains and products made from white flour.

Favorite Recipe: Thai Pork Packets with Sesame Basmati Rice

Thai pork with Basmati Rice

12/20/14

Our deepest sympathies

Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies go out to the families, friends, and co-workers of NYPD police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

12/20/14

How to Roast Chestnuts in the Oven

How to Roast Chestnuts in the Oven

Let’s roast us some chestnuts!

Chestnuts come from the European Chestnut tree, which is related to oak and beech trees, and we’re all familiar with Nat King Cole’s Christmas song about roasting chestnuts on an open fire.

Roasting chestnuts is something I’d never done until yesterday…turns out I’ve been missing out on something completely awesome!

By the way, “water chestnuts” are a completely unrelated food that comes from a water-based plant.

Chestnuts have an amazing food history, but I want to keep this video short, I’ll just say, if you want to read about them, go type “Chestnut” into Wikipedia.

The flavor of these oven-roasted chestnuts is very mild, slightly sweet, and completely addictive.

Oven Roasted Chestnuts
2 pounds fresh un-shelled chestnuts
2-3 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons (or more) kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat you’re oven to 425 degrees, and give the chestnuts a quick rinse.

SCORING

Cut a little X on the round side of the husk, and I like to use a small serrated knife for this.  this is called “scoring”, which will let steam release during the roasting process. Set each chestnut flat-side down, and just cut a shallow X across the top.

I’m use a small hand-towel or bar-mop down on my cutting board, this can help keep things from sliding around while you’re cutting.

The chestnut doesn’t really have a shell, per say, buy more like a thick outer skin, and a thinner inner skin.

SOAKING

Next, soak your chestnuts in a bowl of very hot water. This will softens the husk some, and add some moisture for the steaming process.

By the way, Chestnuts are much lower in calories that other nuts, they have no cholesterol, are very low in fat, and they’re gluten free! They’re also the only nut that contains vitamin C, and lots of it.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

SPICES

Place your scored chestnuts in a large bowl and, for two pounds of chestnuts, pour in 1 stick of melted butter.

Remove the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, and add to the bowl.

Next, sprinkle with two teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. If that seems like a lot of salt, remember that most of it is going on the husks, which we’re going to remove.

Mix well to combine the seasonings and evenly coat the chestnuts with butter.

ROASTING

Next, we’re going to pour out our chestnuts in a SINGLE LAYER (that’s very important) on a foil-lined baking sheet. Gather up the edges of the foil, on all four sides, leaving a small opening in the top for steam to escape.

Roast between 45-60 minutes, until the cut edges of the husk begins to curl up, and then remove them from the heat, and let them rest another 15 minutes, still covered in foil.

PEELING

Once the edges have curled up, they shouldn’t be TOO difficult on the thumbs to peel. I’m not going to lie to you, the husks toughen up while roasting, and those edges get sharp. It might not be a bad idea to wear some kitchen gloves for this part.

After you’ve removed the husk, and the inner skin, everything left is sweet, edible meat.

Transfer your chestnuts to a plate or platter, use a spatula to scrape in any butter and spices left in the pan over them, season with more salt, if desired, and toss them a bit to coat.

Serve hot or warm.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

12/19/14

And the winner is…

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Big thanks to all of you who entered our 2014 Christmas Contest for a chance to win the 3-pc. Henkels Knife Set!

Photo: Enter to WIN a Henckels 3-Piece Classic Starter Knife Set! These are my favorite professional-quality knifes, and I’ve used mine every day for almost 20 years, so we thought, "Hey, what better way to say Merry Christmas to one of our awesome readers, than with a beautiful set of Henckels?" The set includes:     4″ Paring knife     6″ Utility/Sandwich Knife     The classic 8″ Chef’s Knife.     Lifetime warranty     Stainless Steel Blades     3 Rivet knife handles     List Price: $211.00     To enter, please “Like” one or both of our Facebook PAGES. Once you “like” our page, then “Like” AND “Share” this post & you are entered to win! Winner will be picked Friday, December 19th, and prizes will ship by the end of the month! 1 Contest, 1 Prize, 3 Chances to WIN! We are running this contest both our Simplysmartdinnerplans.com and our Burnin' Love BBQ Facebook pages, enter both pages to double your chance of winning! www.facebook.com/simplysmartdinnerplans www.facebook.com/BurninLoveBBQ For a THIRD chance to win, subscribe to our SimplySmartDinnerPlans weekly newsletter, here:  http://wp.me/P2Zut9-1EU   (If you’re already a subscriber, just leave a comment in the section below that post, and that will count, too!) We will pick one lucky winner at random. Good Luck! -Chef Perry SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

I wish, I wish, I wish I could set a set to everyone who entered, but alas…there can be only one.

AND THE WINNER IS…

LEE WILMORE!

CONGRATULATIONS Lee! Please send us your shipping address (hautemealz@gmail.com), and we’ll get your knives on the way to you, asap!

Thank you everyone who participated in the Christmas contest…it was a hoot, and you can be sure we’ll be doing another one soon!

I wonder what the prize should be for THAT one…???

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

(By the way, if liked this, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

12/19/14

What is: Umami

Umami – from the Japanese meaning “pleasant savory taste”, and popularly referred to as savoriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.

The Chinese characters 旨味 are used for a more general meaning to describe a food as delicious.

Umami is most notably found in fish, shellfish, cured meats, vegetables (e.g., mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.) or green tea, and fermented and aged products like cheeses, shrimp pastes, soy sauce, etc.

Anchovies are another popular umami food. In fact, they’re often added to Italian red sauces as a “secret ingredient” to sharpen the other flavors in the dish. You’ve probably had them more than once like this and didn’t even know it, as there’s typically no detectable anchovy or “fishy” flavor in the finished sauce.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Humans’ first encounter with umami is often breast milk. It contains roughly the same amount of umami as broth.

Favorite Recipe: Filet Mignon with Umami Merlot Sauce

Filet Mignon with Umami Merlot Sauce