Learning As I Chop

Did You Know?

Posted in Did You Know by R @ Learning As I Chop on March 30, 2011

This weekend, I decided to bake a fully wholewheat version of these muffins. However H had recently cleaned-out the fridge (believe me, I’m not complaining) and my tin of baking powder became a casualty. I had just returned from the store with my needed ingredients – fresh blueberries and an orange for zesting – and didn’t feel  like venturing out again. That is when I realized that my baking soda had made the cut. “Could I use that instead?” I wondered aloud. This lead me to googgle, where I realized that in fact I could. The result? Fluffy muffins that tasted even better this time around.

My little lesson has birthed a new series of posts for LAIC called “Did You Know?” Every time I learn a helpful new tip or tidbit, you will be the first (ok, maybe second after H) to know. Here is our inaugural piece of advice. If you ever find yourself with baking soda but without baking powder, try this equation:

“You need to use 2-3 times more baking powder than baking soda. The extra ingredients in the baking powder will have an effect on the taste of whatever you are making, but this isn’t necessarily bad.” (Source) 

Since my muffins called for 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder, I just used 1/2 and a pinch of tsp of baking soda instead. Worked like a charm and I have the muffins to prove it. Enjoy!

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When to Say When

Posted in Baking/Cooking, Tips by R @ Learning As I Chop on March 27, 2011

This morning, I looked through my cookbooks and decided upon a nice potato bake from Chef Tom. The only problem? I hadn’t heard of half of the ingredients.

Thankfully, Wikipedia came to my rescue yet again. What’s a morel? or a ramp? Think food – not accessible pathways. H also made a cute joke about “loose morals” that I found rather funny. But back to the food. I headed off to my local gourmet market, not exactly sure what I’d find. I was all prepared to substitute regular leeks and button mushrooms for the ramps and morels, but did find some morels hiding in this nice forest mix. Kind of like trail mix, only fungi. Feeling confident, I kept looking for the ramps but there were none to be found. So I grabbed a bunch of leeks and headed back to my kitchen.

The instructions suggested I soak the mushrooms (sold dried) for twenty minutes and they would be ready for cooking. The forest mix included a nice melange of mushrooms I’d never used – morels, chantarelles, oyster, shitake and some others. Then the unexpected happened. I’m a pretty brave eater, but although the mushrooms looked beautiful, I couldn’t bring myself to use them. I know, I know. I normally love mushrooms, but they smelled rather, well, weird.  As if they would somehow poison me. So I did something I’ve never done before – I tossed them. Look, I’m not proud. But sometimes you need to know when to say when. Cooking is something you should enjoy, eating even more so, and you should be excited about the end product – not afraid. So I forged again, sans fungi.

This recipe was pretty straightforward (after my epicurean scavenger hunt) and I appreciated the simple instructions. Would you believe that the leeks were sauteed in peanut oil? Interesting, no? I would’ve assumed olive.

I served these yummy potatoes with a roast chicken and greenbeans. Seemed similar to another dish I’ve made before. Maybe next time I’ll work with the mushrooms. Regardless, I looked forward to trying more recipes from Tom’s book. Enjoy!

Need Some Spring? Try Asparagus

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on March 23, 2011

Ever have one of those days where you pick your recipe, plan your dinner, go the market, get excited, lose your steam and wind-up wth pasta and jarred sauce? That was me the other night. I had lots of grandiose dinner plans for H and me, but once 7pm hit, I was a pumpkin. Rather than waste some of the ingredients I had purchased, namely the asparagus, I decided to use them the next day instead. So I entered asparagus into Epicurious and found a recipe for Sauteéd Chicken Cutlets with Asparagus, Spring Onions, and Parsley-Tarragon Gremolata:

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon minced shallot

2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1/4 teaspoon (scant) saffron threads

12 chicken cutlets (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick; about 2 pounds)

Coarse kosher salt

2 tablespoons (or more) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 pound spring onions or green onions (dark green parts discarded); white parts cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, pale green parts cut into 1/2-inchthick slices (scant 2 cups)

1 1/2 pounds slender asparagus, tops cut into 3-inch pieces, stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth

2 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream

Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl; cover gremolata and set aside. Heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add saffron and stir until slightly darker, about 30 seconds. Transfer to another small bowl; cool and crumble saffron. DO AHEAD: Gremolata and saffron can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Sprinkle chicken lightly with coarse salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, cook chicken until lightly browned and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Arrange chicken on platter; tent with foil.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and butter to same skillet. Add white and green parts of onions and sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add asparagus. Sprinkle saffron over vegetables. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper and sauté 1 minute. Add broth, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender and broth reduces and thickens to glaze, about 5 minutes. Stir in crème fraîche and gremolata. Season with salt and pepper. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to platter, arranging around chicken. Drizzle sauce over chicken and serve.

This recipe sounded great – I could use my asparagus and eat a relatively healthy meal. Having never heard of gremolata, I was also excited to try it. Here’s my first batch. Isn’t it pretty?

I hadn’t used tarragon before and was surprised that it could be paired with lemon, orange and shallots. However once I tried the tarragon, it made sense to me. Had a minty type of flavor to it.

And some greens

This recipe was pretty straightforward so I won’t go into it. My forgetfulness, however, did cause some kitchen excitement. Thought it was right on my list, chicken stock never made it to my shopping cart. Thank goodness for H and chicken bouillon, who saved the day. Note to self – always stock some stock in the pantry. One little cube and you get 2 cups of chicken broth in a pinch.

I was generally happy with this dish and consider it a nice introduction to Spring, despite the snow that is currently falling outside my window. Would pair well with some tasty wild rice (another thing we should stock at home) and a good glass of wine. Enjoy!