Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New (To Me) Tips, Techniques and Recipes

Here are some easy but interesting tips and techniques, as well as a couple new recipes that I tried out this week... excuse the unattractive photos- all of these techniques were implemented after dark! 

Skillet smashed potato technique:

Pretty cool, easy and fun technique for making potatoes a little bit more exciting.  I boiled mine in chicken stock and a pat of butter until tender (based on this recipe), then smashed them lightly, seasoned with salt and pepper and threw them on a hot cast iron skillet to crisp up on the outside. Yum.

Vanilla-scented sugar:

I had scraped the seeds out of a vanilla bean for my coconut/vanilla rice pudding earlier this week, but didn't want to let the still-fragrant vanilla pod go to waste, so I stuck them into my sugar.  The pods release their remaining seeds and awesome vanilla scent into the sugar.  It's pretty intoxicating to open up the jar every morning to get sugar for my coffee.  Give it a try!

Creamed spinach:

Tim bought some fancy Australian filet mignon at our neighborhood butcher, so I seared them on the cast iron skillet and served them alongside this tasty creamed spinach from Tyler Florence.  I loosely interpreted it since I had frozen spinach and wanted to add some shallots. I sauteed the garlic and shallots first, then added in the cream and spices per the recipe and then dropped in the frozen spinach, which I had defrosted in the microwave and then de-watered by squeezing it with my ricer.  The spinach soaked up the cream, so it doesn't look very creamy, but it tasted rich and delicious.

Nutella banana pancakes:

I needed to use up one lone overripe banana we had hanging around, so I decided to make these super easy, extremely light and fluffy nutella banana pancakes.  So good!  The key to these pancakes is to not over mix them.  Leave the lumps. Don't be tempted to try to get a smooth batter.
 PS: Tim made me take a picture of these particular pancakes he made because he was proud of the perfect color and shape he achieved. 

Creamy parmesan salad dressing:

 Quick and delicious creamy parmesan salad dressing, based on the house dressing from a famous chain restaurant.  Takes about 3 minutes to make and tastes awesome.  So much better than pre-made salad dressing.