Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ubiquitous Must Have #1


What is it? I've written 9 of these, and the last one is some horrible, unreadable enigma! Kidding. It's Nonfat Dry Milk.

Why I love it:
  1. Shelf-stable. Make as much as you need.
  2. Versatility. Same product is a glass of milk one second, a Splenda aid the next, and then a thickener the next minute.
  3. Low in calories.
  4. Cheaper than milk because it's dehydrated.
  5. Comes in a box, usually with cows on it. I like the idea of boxed milk, alright?
So, if you hate skim milk, I really think that you'd make your peace with NDF. The flavor is concentrated, so if you dislike the texture & taste of skim (watery, bluish), you can reconstitute the milk by reducing the amount of liquid you'd normally use, or increase the amount of powder. Normal ratio is 1 cup of water to 1/3 c powder. Let's say you used the 1/3 c powder, but just 1/2 c water. You'd get this nice, creamy, sweet tasting milk by altering the ratio. You could swap out a lot of added calories in a recipe in addition to adding calcium and vitamins as well.

I use it for:

  • food base: smoothies, puddings, lattes
  • coffee creamer
  • soup thickener
  • ***Fat free whipped cream***
  • milk, duh
  • in recipes
The whipped cream trick is really neat; I hope to have video on that soon.

NDF, my favorite 3-letter abbreviation right after NPH. Y'know, Neil Patrick Harris...ubiquitious and a must have in his own right, I guess.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Foodprint: Dishing

A friend of mine was raving insanely about a place in Flushing that allows you to cook your own soup. Yeah, weird. I said it was insane If you're not one to with eat in Flushing regularly, or eat soup, or American Asian style cuisine...it is as odd as it sounds. But, you have to go, because it's fantastic.

(I guess I'm insane, too. Since, I'm writing it up. Oh noes.)

Yes, you can make your soup at home. Which is what my first response to "let's go to the hot pot place." Well, second.. I'm sure first was something inappropriate. Anyhow, it's a different experience when you take an in-house experience...out...house, erm. The place is Ice Fire Land. Aside from it's weird coolness, it's also healthy place to dine, by default! Even if you chose the more calorie laden items, you're still enjoying a nice hearty, broth-based and vegetable filled meal.

The soup is a selection of 2 or more elements, you pick an entree from protein based things like lamb, beef, fish, shrimp, there's even a vegetarian option, and the broth: hot, spicy, chicken and herbal, which was my choice -- and apparently pre-destined one at that.

I would go spicy for beef & lamb. Chicken for shrimp or fish, and herbal for fish, seafood and veggies. Pretty much, you can craft something familiar, yet unique. There's also a menu of extras.

And DIY sauces.

And this weird dessert thing I wasn't into, but cool.

And bubble tea.

Just go. I ran out of ands.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spice Girl (aka Flavor Transferring Lesson Two)

Remember when I talked to you about flavor building? (Well, not talked, but typed.) Now, I want to talk to you about spice layering. It's like flavor building's first cousin twice removed.

Everyone has either a favorite dish or a native dish. It can be the same dish or two different ones. It's also something that's been made several times by several different people and it probably has a standard recipe. Spice layering starts with these dishes, because things that grow together often taste good together and before we had globalization, you had to eat stuff from your 'hood. So, all the things you ate were more or less from one region.

For a class, I did a handout about how to use spices in cooking. As a demonstration, I brought four spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. I used instant hot chocolate as the base and asked people to sprinkle whatever they liked into their drink with two recommendations, which were cayenne with cinnamon and nutmeg with cardamom. The spices paired with another (hidden) flavor, the cocoa powder, gave the hot chocolate a new spin with no cooking involved. Also, by using spice, you can reduce some of the other ingredients that tend to add extra calories such as full-fat whipped cream, full fat milk or added sugar, because the flavor is so potent.

Spice layering is akin to listening to a good song on your i-pod, and loving it over and over. But, then you hear that song in concert in a specially designed acoustic hall with live musicians and instruments. Your ears get the full range of the music that ear buds CANNOT produce. Spices work that way. One note leads, and you love it, but the really beauty is combining it with other foods and spices to get the full effect.

Science can be really tasty AND analogous AND musical.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

Often, I leave the cooking channel on in the background. I'm actually very much in love with several TV chefs, but they don't know about each other, so please don't tell.

Something I've been hearing them say as of recent: make a plate. Better eating is obtainable through vanity! Go fig! Remember that whole post with my cool lunch bag ? (Including a broken link I should fix). Yeah, it's that same idea. Plus, when you take the time to make an actual plate, you assemble a meal. Meals are good, I hear. Also, presentation of the plate, it's a good basic skill to have if you ever want to cook for someone. Heck, even if you just bough cooked food and wanted to fool someone, you should know how to plate it.

It's also more likely that you'll ingest the food slower instead of the on-the-go inhaling so many of us do now. And if you enjoy it slowly, you may actually feel more sated as you are calmly, and timely eating your meal.

Just think...pretty as a picture and pretty as a trim waistline: presentation, presentation, presentation.