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Friday Tip|It’s All The Same

Friday!

Today I want to talk a little about cooking philosophy. I’m an extremely literal person (so much so that it’s possible that I have a disorder). Not that nuance or entendre is lost on me, but I have made some serious social faux pas because my mind stays on the literal track instead of going there.

I think this is the reason I like recipes.  I like to follow them.  I like to learn “the way” to do things and then I get more comfortable experimenting.  While this character trait doesn’t lend itself to extemporaneous cooking out of the gate, what it is good for is noticing patterns.  And notice I have.

Friday Tip|The Power of Umami

Friday Tip time!  I’m certainly not the first person to ever expound upon umami, but I’m hoping we have some newbie cooks reading, and I think using it is such a neat trick, I thought talking about it was tip-worthy.

Just what the heck is umami?  If you were me and you watched this video

You might think it was soy sauce. Kikoman soy sauce in particular.* But umami is a little more complicated and a lot more fun than that.

Friday Tip|What To Do With Leftover Tomato Paste

Friday!  And this Friday leads the masses out of Los Angeles and leaves us with the quiet city all to ourselves…

But I digress.  Today’s tip is a piece of sheer genius that I found somewhere – quite possibly Cook’s Illustrated.  Lots of recipes call for a small amount of tomato paste, usually a tablespoon or two.  Cans of tomato paste are never that small (I think they would be impossible to open if they were), which inevitably means leftover paste.  You can circumvent this problem by purchasing a tube of tomato paste, which is quite convenient, but much more expensive than a can.*  Ninjas are thrifty creatures and just can’t stand to pass up an opportunity to save a little money.  So we buy the cans, but that leaves the pesky problem of what to do with the other six tablespoons of tomato paste…

Friday Tip|Planning

It’s Friday again??

So we seem to be having a bit of a dry spell here in the Friday Tip corner, but I wanted to put something out there for you to chew on.  This is what I came up with.

One of the things I wanted this blog to be about was saving money or being economical about cooking.  I love food.  I love cooking and I really love eating.  But few things warm my heart as much as the smell of $0.89/lb chicken bought on sale roasting in the oven.  It’s fantastic to make your own beautiful food at home, feeding yourself and your family, being social, talking and eating, hearing about each others’ day, or maybe listening to the radio.  But it’s really fantastic to realize that your food bill has been cut by 30%.

Friday Tip|Set It Up!

This is one of those posts where I man up and admit to being wrong.  Maybe not “W” wrong (my ego is too fragile for that), but mistaken in an assertion at the very least…

Above is a photo of all the ingredients for a pizza my husband is about to make*.  He likes to take everything out and have it ready to go (even measured out if possible) before he starts cooking.  Me, not so much…

Friday Tip|Repurpose Your Leftovers!

One of the keys to eating cheaply (and well) is eating everything you buy.  This inevitably means leftovers and leftovers can lead to food boredom, which is perilous for anyone trying to be careful with their food budget.

There are many compelling reasons for not wasting food, but our number one reason around here is that we are…chea…er…thrifty.  Not throwing out uneaten food saves on both food budget and, if you’re unfortunate enough to have to pay for your garbage pickup, waste bills as well.  But eating the same thing for days in a row gets really tedious, even if you are making things that are delicious.  How to combat the evils of food boredom?  By reusing your leftovers to create something new!

Friday Tip|Tempering

This week’s Friday Tip is a little late…my apologies to anyone waiting on pins and needles, but my guess is that most were distracted by the wedding more than chomping at the bit to get a cooking tip from me.

This week’s tip is about tempering.  It’s a very easy little trick/technique that can be used in a number of different ways and can really save your cookies when you need it.

Why temper?

Because there are times when you’ll want to add something that cooks either really quickly or at a relatively low temperature to something that is hot.  And you’ll want to incorporate that ingredient completely, rather than having it cook itself into heartbreaking little clumpy bits.  An example:

Friday Tip|Warming Plates

Buenas! How is it Friday already?

Today we’re getting away from the freezer and warming things up. Specifically plates.

Ever noticed how recipes sometimes ask for food to be transferred to a warm plate or platter? Warming dishes is simple enough but I’ve found a couple of ways to do it that I think are really easy, so I’m going to share them.

Friday Tip|Fat (keep it cold)

Little butter cubes (backed by the frozen chicken stock Rockettes) waiting to blossom into pie crust...

 

Happy Friday – time for a tip!

We can’t seem to get away from the freezer (what did we do before there were freezers?). Today’s tip is about fat – the kind you cut into pastry, not the kind that results from eating pastry.

A lot of new bakers – and seasoned ones, now that I think about it – are intimidated by pie crust. I’ve written about pie before, but this tip is so good that I think it warrants its own post. The key to working successfully with pie dough is keeping everything cold, especially the fat. So whatever fat you choose to use, keep it cold.

Friday Tip|Freezing (part two)

Happy Friday!

Last week I mentioned how much I like ice cube trays for freezing small amounts of liquid.  This week, I have another freezing tip that has to do with freezing smaller individual items that are not liquid.

Every so often, I’ll make a bit too much ravioli or gnocchi or other bit of yumminess and I’ll also actually have the foresight to realize that I have too much before I cook it.*  When that happens, I usually want to freeze the extra amount, because pasta and gnocchi are both too soft to just throw in a ziplock in the fridge and we don’t have a ton of space.  What to do?