Wednesday, December 26, 2007

culinary skill: blanching

The term blanching refers to the technique of plunging a food, usually a fruit or vegetable in to boiling water usually until either it's color is set or the food has softened slightly. This takes anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on what is being blanched.

Then the food is removed and put into an ice bath to "shock" or stop the cooking process and to set the color.

Why do you use this technique? It makes it easier to peel the skin of fruits like tomatoes and peaches . It also enhances the color of vegetables like green beans, asparagus or broccoli.

It's also a good idea to blanch fruits or vegetables that you intend to freeze, because blanching inactivates the enzymes that promote spoilage.

food focus: ginger

Ginger: a knobby, fibrous root, has smooth light brown skin with a sheen to it. The flesh of the root is white. Ginger root is a seasoning and flavors sweets, including cakes, cookies, breads, and beverages. It is also good in sauces, and fruit dishes, and is often used heavily in Asian cooking. When buying, look for ginger root with the least amount of knots and/or branching.
Nutritional Value:Ginger is said to stimulate gastric juices, and provide warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs.
Storage:Ginger root should be kept in a cool, dry place, usually at 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. After purchasing, ginger may be refrigerated in plastic wrap for up to one week. For longer storage, peel ginger root and cover it with sherry wine before refrigeration. Freezing for up to three months is also an option.

chinese chicken salad

Okay Friends...the holidays are almost over and I am sure we all have on our list of resolutions to start eating healthy and stuff. This is a recipe for the most delicious chicken salad and it's very appealing to the eye as well as the appetite! I've used it for parties several times and it's always a topic of conversation...cause it's just SO good!

Barefoot Contessa Chinese Chicken Salad
12 Servings

chicken breast halves (bone in, skin on)
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1lb or 450g
asparagus, ends removed,cut into thirds diagonally
red bell peppers, cored and seeded
scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons or 8g
sesame seeds, toasted

For the Dressing:
1 cup or 240 mL vegetable oil
1/4 cup or 60mL good
apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup or 80 mL
soy sauce
3 tablespoons or 30mL dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon or 15 mL
2 cloves or
garlic, minced
1 teaspoon or 5mL peeled grated
fresh ginger
2 tablespoon or 15g
sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup or 120g smooth peanut butter
4 teaspoons or 20mL
kosher salt
1 teaspoon or 5mL
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees celcius.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil.
Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large, bite-sized pieces.
Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender.
Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking.
Cut the peppers into strips about the size of the asparagus pieces.
Combine the shredded chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste.
Serve cold or at room temperature.