Archive for Equipment

Mashed Baked Potato Soup with Fries

I had a couple of russet potatoes that I picked up from the store, the other day. I did it not quite sure what to do with them yet. I was thinking baked potato, maybe. Nah, what about chili fries? No, soup! I don’t know. And then it dawned on me… I’m just gonna make ’em all!

Jeepers! I had no idea how involved it was! Talk about intense pre-planning! I kinda felt like Robert Irvine from Dinner Impossible! But I have to admit, I had fun. And the thing even turned out to be souper delicious! Even without the butter and sour cream, in fact!

And thank you for noticing! Yes, my blog is snowing and this soup is just perfect for my dinner tonight. By the way, it really is cold and snowing this very moment, here in my neck of the woods.

Okay, here’s some tips! There are two ways you can bake your potatoes. If you simply place them in the oven rack, naked, the skin will turn out crispy. If you wrap them in foil, steaming will occur, hence, it will keep the skin soft. It’s your choice. I like it crispy. Also, to emulate a deep fried texture, the fries need to be soaked in water and boiled before baking them. It’s still not exactly the same but it’s as close as you can get. Not bad, actually. And finally, a great and no-fuss way to mash potatoes is to use an immersion (stick) blender. As opposed to a hand mixer, that is, which can be a messy proposition. Now, get cookin’!

Here’s the recipe for 1 serving. Don’t be afraid to experiment and put your own stamp on it.

Ingredients: 1 Small and 1 Medium-Sized Russet Potatoes, Minced Garlic (1 Clove), 1 tsp. Finely Chopped Leeks, 2 strips of Extra lean Turkey Bacon (Diced), Chopped Fresh Chives, Olive Oil, Low-Fat Milk, Low-Sodium Chicken Stock, Grated Parmesan, Grill Seasonings, Salt & Pepper

Directions (1 person serving):
1) The baked potato – Scrub clean the medium potato while rinsing under cold tap water. Use a fork to pierce the potato as deep as you can and all around. This will allow for steam to escape and prevent the spud from bursting open and making a mess inside your oven. Wipe it dry with a paper towel. Now, coat a little olive oil around it and sprinkle with a little salt. Place on a baking tray and stick in the oven for 1 hour turning over halfway through.

2) The fries – Peel the small potato and cut lengthwise into thin slices. Put in a pot with cold water and bring to a rapid boil. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat off and drain the fries. Dry on a paper towel and place on a separate baking tray. Coat with a little olive oil and dust with grill seasonings. Place in oven along with the baking potatoes. They must have been baking for about half hour by now, so turn the baking potato over if you haven’t already.

3) The soup – Meanwhile, cook diced turkey bacon in the same pot with a little olive oil. When done, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil and set aside. In the same pot, saute some minced garlic and leeks adding a little more oil if needed, for a few minutes. Add a cup of chicken stock, stir until boiling and then, turn the heat off.

4) The mashed potato – By this time, both the baked potatoes and fries should be almost done, if not already. Take both trays out of the oven. Cut open the baking potato, scoop out the flesh and place in a mixing bowl. Add a sprinkle of parmesan, fresh ground pepper, some diced bacon, chopped chives and a splash of milk and start mashing. Transfer the mashed potato into the pot, turn the heat back on to medium low and stir until warm. Add more stock, if needed. You want the consistency of a thick creamy soup.

5) Putting it all together – Place the fleshed out potato skin in a soup bowl and ladle the soup in it. Dip a few pieces of fries (serving the rest on the side) and garnish with more bacon and chives. Enjoy this hearty meal quick, while the skin is  still crispy!

Ingredients: 1 Small and 1 Medium-Sized Russet Potatoes, Minced Garlic, 1 Tbs. Finely Chopped Leeks,2 strips of Extra lean Turkey

Bacon (Diced), Chopped Fresh Chives, Olive Oil, Low-Fat Milk, Low-Sodium Chicken Stock, Grated Parmesan, Grill Seasonings, Salt &

Pepper

Directions for 1 Serving:
1) The baked potatoes
Scrub clean the medium-sized potato while rinsing under cold tap water. Use a fork to pierce the potato as deep as you can all around.

This will allow for steam to excape and prevent the spud from bursting open and making a mess inside your oven. Wipe it dry with a

paper towel. Now, coat a little olive oil around it and sprinkle with salt. Place on a baking tray and stick in the oven for 1 hour

turning over halfway through.

2) The fries
Peel the small-sized potato and cut lengthwise into thin slices. Put in a pot with cold water and bring to a rapid boil. Once the

water starts to boil, turn the heat off and drain the fries. Dry on a paper towel and place on a separate baking tray. Coat with a

little olive oil and sprinkle with grill seasonings. Place in oven along with the baking potatoes. At this point, they must have been

baking for about half hour already, so turn the baking potato over if you haven’t already.

3) The soup
Meanwhile, cook diced turkey bacon in the same pot with a little olive oil. When done, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to

drain off excess oil and set aside. In the same pot, saute some minced garlic and leeks adding a little more oil if needed, for a few

minutes. Add a cup of chicken stock, stir until boiling and then, turn the heat off.

4) The mashed potato
By this time, both the baked potatoes and fries should be almost done, if not already. Take both trays out of the oven. Cut open the

baking potato, scoop out the flesh and place in a mixing bowl. Add a sprinkle of parmesan, fresh ground pepper, some diced bacon,

chopped chives and a splash of milk and start mashing. Use a hand blender, if you have, one to make it easier to mash. Transfer the

mashed potato into the pot, turn the heat back on to medium low and stir until warm. Add more stock, if needed. You want the

consistency of a thick creamy soup.

5) Putting it all together
Place the fleshed out potato skin in a soup bowl and ladle the soup in it. Dip a few pieces of fries (serving the rest on the side)

and garnish with more bacon and chives. Enjoy this hearty meal!

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Barbecue Ribs

Sometimes, you just want to reward yourself for being good. With your healthy dieting, that is. Nothing wrong with that. Everything in moderation, right? So go ahead and enjoy a treat every once in a while. For me, I’ll have this succulent, very slow-cooked barbecue pork ribs, please.

About once every three to four months, I would see to it that I grab a slab of ribs from the store and look forward to a weekend of pure barbecue bliss. Now, I’m really not a big pork eater, mind you. But after having gone back and forth with both pork and beef, I find that pork is better when it comes to barbecuing ribs. To me, anyway. And to cook it, I’ve used the grill, the crock pot and other means but yet, I found slow-cooking it in the oven brings out the tenderest meat. If I had a smoker, I’d probably go for that instead but for now, the oven does a great job.

I don’t use wet ingredients to marinate the slab. I simply rub it with a store bought rub mixture a day ahead, wrap it in foil and pop it in the fridge. The next morning, I preheat the oven to 250F, place the foil covered slab on a baking pan and stick it in the oven for about eight hours. I pour water in the pan to keep the meat moist while cooking. In about four hours, I’ll open the oven door, turn the slab over for even cooking and then pour more water in the pan. After another four hours, you can bet I am just about ready to go nuts!

The barbecue sauce is only added when serving. Unless the entire slab will be consumed in one sitting, it’s just not wise to have wet sauce on the leftover ribs to store in the fridge. Trust me, when you reheat that thing the next day, the sugar in the sauce will burn and turn the meat into leather. Now, if it will all be consumed that same night, by all means, take the ribs out of the oven about 30 minutes before it’s done and brush sauce all over it. That would be yummy, indeed!

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Kitchenware makeover

A few months ago, I was cooking some kind of gravy on my old non-stick pan and noticed for the first time that the edge was flaking off and the flakes were getting mixed in with the food. Not only was the sight horrific but so was the thought that this had been going on for a very long time and that I only began to notice just now. Right away, I threw out the gravy and quickly got on the web to research the best kitchenware I could afford. That’s right, it’s time for a kitchenware makeover.

For days, I read blogs, forums, product reviews, you name it. I wanted to invest on something I don’t have to throw away in just a few years. I don’t mind shelling out a few bucks more for something that does not need a whole lot of babying, either. But a lot of what I read out there tells me that All-Clad and Demeyere are the way to go. I’ve seen these and they are built like a tank, for sure. Very tempting. But, excuse me? A $500 frying pan? Do I really need a Rolls Royce? If I’m a pro working in a fast-paced kitchen, making my living off of cooking, heck yeah, I’d go all out. But I actually have the luxury of  taking it easy and avoiding unnecessary banging, clanging and dropping of my pots and pans. I hand wash all of them and never put them in the dishwasher. However, sturdiness and long-term reliability are still an important factor, regardless.

So, I chucked all of my non-sticks and headed to Bed Bath & Beyond. But I really couldn’t justify paying too much when I know there’s something else out there that’s a little less but will the do job for me, just the same. The lady was actually nice enough to suggest that I go next door to Kohl’s as they might have something that’s just right for me. So I went to Kohl’s and was surprised to see a complete line of Food Network kitchenware. Whoa! A TV network with its own line of kitchen gadgetry? I wasn’t so sure at first. But with close inspection, I could tell there’s quality in there that’s never going to be seen in Walmart.

Well, after an hour of futzing around, I was down to a couple of choices. I knew I was going to stay far far away from regular non-stick and that copper is way out of my budget. Cast iron is cool but talk about a big baby! As heavy and sturdy as it is, you still gotta do all this seasoning and re-seasoning. And you can only wash it with water, and you have to dry it by hand and wah wah wah!

Anyway, now it was down to either stainless steel or hard-anodized. I picked the hard-anodized pans for convenience’s sake. I got two of those. I like stainless steel, I actually have an older 12″ Emerilware stainless steel pan with copper lining that rocks. But it’s just a pain to clean, sometimes. I also got a stainless steel pot and an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven that I just love to death!

It’s been about four months since, and I am still in love with these pots and pans. They’re still looking brand new even when I have been cooking almost everyday. And now that I’m a little more knowledgeable about these products, I am looking forward to caring for them and seeing them through years and years of joyous kitchen adventures.

Or maybe, I should just start saving for a Demeyere set now. Never say never…

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