How, What and Why?

I love to cook...ever since I discovered I could make a (semi-decent) living cooking, I have had a constant and wonderful love affair with food. Food has kept me company through jobs, relationships and friends; in good times and bad I have cooked and fed the people around me.
After a while, those people started asking me questions like "how do you cook an artichoke?" "what's the best way to cook a turkey?" "where can I find (insert new culinary ingredient)? and even "how do we fillet this trout we just caught?" over the phone, no less.
Lucky for me, my friends love to cook and eat as well and the more they cook, the more they wanted to know about different dishes, ingredients, recipes and techniques. foodFAQs came about as my answer to all those questions and more.
Through this blog, I hope to share my experiences in the kitchen while learning new things along the way, always cooking and eating. So please explore, learn, cook, eat and enjoy!

Soa

Stocks: The Foundation to Easy Meals

One of my favorite things to make are stocks; and from stocks comes soups and sauces. It is one of the easiest things to make and having well made stock on hand will give any cook endless options for that universal question every night... "what's for dinner?" (and with the weather turning colder, that answer for me is soup!)

I know everyone in the world can buy chicken stock from just about any grocery or convenience store and it is just that, convenient but wholly lacking any depth of flavor. If you really want to have a secret weapon in your arsenal of culinary tricks, consider having homemade stock on hand in the freezer at all times.

The definition of stock is flavored water and it is exactly that, simple and easy. I typically save the bones from any meats I have in the freezer until there are enough to put them in a pot with water to simmer. But you can always buy bones from any butcher very inexpensively to make a pot of stock.

I freeze the stock in several ways; in plastic pint and quart sized deli containers, zip lock bags and in ice cube form (pour into ice cube trays, freeze stock, pop out of the ice cube trays and store in zip lock bags or airtight containers). That way I can pick just the right amount of stock to defrost for each recipe instead of having a large container or can of stock or bouillon open. (incidentally, if you choose to use store bought, you can still freeze the stock in ice cube trays and use as needed)


Chicken Stock

5 pounds chicken bones
4 quarts water, approximately

Rise the bones under cold running water until the water runs clear. Place the chicken bones in a large stock pot and add just enough water to cover the bones by 2 to 3 inches. Bring the water to a boil, over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer the stock.  Using a ladle, skim any foam, fat and impurities from the top and continue simmering until the stock is flavorful, about 2 1/2 hours.

Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve and cool down in an ice bath. Use as needed or freeze in different sizes for future use.





I realize I have been remiss in posting and while I am very sorry that I couldn't devote time to this blog, I had a really good reason!

I have been creating another "dish".....

Please say hello to my other darling, salthospitality.com.  My very good friends at Dashcrowd have helped to create this very wonderful site (if I may say so).

Now that is set, I will be be spending some extra time with this blog and doing what I enjoy doing most, cooking and creating food!

And THANK YOU to all of my friends, family and supporters for all that you do for me. I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world!

Soa

Keep It Simple

Cooking and eating during the summer is such a great joy, especially with so much fresh seafood around. And the less done to the fish and seafood, the better! We were very lucky to get a special delivery of just caught bounties of the sea from our friends at DockToDish; beautiful mahi mahi, fresh dug clams and the freshest tuna possible.

Sean Barrett and his friend Rudi caught these lovlies off of Montauk in The Canyons and we could not have been more excited and honored to receive such delicious gifts.

The clams were just tossed with olive oil, garlic and parsley and placed on the grill in a foil baking dish and it could not have been simpler or better tasting.


(mahi mahi and tuna posts to come...)

Nothing like tomatoes in the summer...


Tomatoes are everywhere right now, all shapes and sizes, beautiful and juicy and one of the best savory fruits of the summer. The tomato plant is related to eggplants, peppers, tamarillos and tomatillos of the nightshade family originating in South America. These heirloom tomatoes are nothing like the pink supermarket variety that taste faintly of cardboard. Thanks to the careful seed saving farmers and gardeners, heirloom tomatoes are more widely available around the country. Enjoy them in all of their glory while they are fresh off the vine.

Some of my favorites are:
Cherokee Purple
Brandywine
Big Rainbow
Green Zebra
Sungolds
San Marzano
Black Cherry

Tomato Q&A
Q:  "How do you know when a tomato is ripe?"
A:  The tomato should feel heavy for it's size and the flesh should give slightly when gently squeezed.

Q:  "How do you slice a ripe tomato without crushing it?"
A:  I prefer to use a non carbon steel blade that is very sharp to cut through the skin. Another good option is a long serrated knife.

Q:  "Why do some recipes tell you to peel the tomato?"
A:  The skin of a tomato does not break down after cooking like the flesh does so if you are not pureeing the cooked tomatoes, there will be bits of skin floating around whatever the dish is. It's also a matter of personal preference, if you want to make a very refined dish, then I would say peel (make a cross hatch on the skin of tomato, drop the tomato in boiling water for about 30 seconds then shock in an ice bath; remove the tomato from the ice bath and peel away...) and seed (cut the tomato in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds or quarter the tomato and cut away the center and seeds) the tomato before using.




Crispy, Salty and Addictive

Staying the course of a healthy diet is incredibly difficult and there are temptations everywhere. And if you are anything like me, anything that is crispy and salty like potato chips, corn chips and crackers (just to name a few) are hard to resist.

So instead of denying myself the pleasure of the crispy, salty snack, I have been making and eating kale chips. Kale is high in beta carotene and vitamins A and C and a great source for calcium when avoiding dairy.

These crispy chips are low in fat and calories, high in flavor and most importantly, it satisfies my craving for anything fried, crackly and salty.

Spicy Garlic Kale Chips
1 bunch lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur, Tuscan or black kale)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 250˚F.
  2. Wash and dry the kale leaves. Remove the center rib completely and place the leaves in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil over the kale leaves and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the garlic powder, red pepper flakes and black pepper over the leaves, making sure each leaf is evenly coated.
  4. Arrange the leaves in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets and sprinkle evenly with fine sea salt.
  5. Bake the kale until crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the humidity.
About 1 cup of kale chips contains 45 calories, 1 gram of total fat 

kaleFAQS:

  • kale or borecole is related to the cabbage family including broccoli and cauliflower
  • kale is very high in beta carotene (provitamin A), vitamins C and K along with sulforaphane (an anti-cancer chemical) and is a good source of calcium and lutein
  • raw, steamed or quick sautéing the kale will preserve most of the nutrients
  • kale is a winter staple of many cuisines, especially in Asia and Europe
  • quickly freezing kale leaves before sautéing removes the bitterness and makes the kale more tender







Love, Health and Happiness

It's been a while since I last posted and it's due to the fact I have been trying to get in shape for the summer and have been cooking and eating what I thought of as uninteresting food. But something I read in the NY Times changed my mind.

It was a moving article by a nutritionist about cooking for her overweight dad while growing up in NYC. The article poignantly reminded me of the reason I first started cooking and that is because I loved feeding, teaching and sharing food with the people in my life.

Here is the link to the article http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/cooking-for-my-fat-dad/?smid=pl-share

I look forward to sharing what I have been cooking and eating to get into shape.

Soa