Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade

Don’t reach for butter to top your bread.  Reach, instead, for olive tapenade.  It is one of the best ways to top the bread you serve with your dinner. If you are new to this term, it is pronounced “tep-ah-nod”.  If you are new to eating it, and you like French bread, then you are going to love this recipe!  You can easily make an olive spread that people are going to love. This is a recipe that originated in the south of France, which is probably why it is so good with French bread.  You can also serve this with chicken or fish. Olives are the primary ingredient for this condiment.  Pitted Kalamata olives are a great choice to use.  Be sure to make sure each olive really is pitted, so you don’t grind any pits with your olives when you add them to your food processor for pureeing. Use a nice, fruity olive oil.  Usually, the deeper the color, the better the flavor, so look for one that is a nice, dark green. Italian parsley is also a great option for herbs, though you can play around until you find the combination that works for you.  You can also add some black cracked pepper if you like it with a bit of bite. The video below shows you how easy it is to make this recipe. Closing_paragraph_here   Kalamata olives come from an area in Greece that is famous for their olives.  They are wonderfully flavorful.  Unlike more commonly known black and green olives, these are purple in color, though their color can deepen to dark brown or...
The Meaning of Simmer

The Meaning of Simmer

Have you ever seen recipes in cookbooks that say you need to simmer water or something else?  Ever wonder what that means exactly? If you haven’t thought about it before, are you wondering now?  I am! Simmering in relation to cooking is when liquids are cooked to temperatures at or just below the point of boiling.  The purpose of simmering is gentler cooking than boiling.  This helps prevent foods from breaking up or getting too tough. If you need to keep food simmering, you can achieve this by bringing your food to a boil, then reduce the heat so that there are no more steam bubbles.  The video below provides a very short example of what simmering water looks like: fsfa  Water that simmers is kept at a temperature of about 200 ° F.  It is a popular way to cook stews and sauces.  And now you know the meaning of simmer and what it looks...
How To Peel Garlic

How To Peel Garlic

Now that I know the proper way to crush garlic, I figure I should back up a bit and learn how to peel garlic.  You can’t crush it before the cloves have been peeled, right?  Well, I suppose you could, but the end result would be a bit less pasty than I’d want… If you have a beautiful garlic clove, set it on your counter or cutting board and apply pressure on it with the palm of your hand.  You don’t have to press very hard, since you are not trying to crush it.  The purpose of this is to loosen the individual cloves. Now that the cloves are free of the, um, whatever it is called (yeah, that was pitiful, I know…), throw away the papery covering.  Now you will need to get a large knife and place it sideways onto an individual clove. You will carefully hit the blade of the knife with the palm of your hand, but be very careful!  If you don’t have it just right on the clove, the knife can roll off the garlic clove and cut your hand. If you have done this correctly, the skin of the clove will come off very easily, and your hand is intact. Although there is a slight element of danger in peeling garlic, it looks a lot easier than the method I have been using. Up until now, I was removing the garlic skin with my fingers, and would occasionally get paper cuts underneath my fingernail.  This method of how to peel garlic will be much more user friendly on my...
How To Crush Garlic

How To Crush Garlic

I don’t know how to crush garlic.  This was not something I had ever thought about until earlier tonight.  This realization happened while I was looking through one of my cookbooks, and I found a recipe that required crushed garlic.  After some consideration, I came to the conclusion that it was probably an easy thing to do, but I this was something I needed to know. Fortunately, I found a video that shows that it is, as I suspected, easy to do.  This learning how to cook thing isn’t as hard as I thought! First, you need garlic cloves that have been peeled and chopped up a bit.  Then, sprinkle some salt onto them.  Apparently, this is to act as an abrasive so the knife won’t slip around. Use a large knife and hold it at a 45 degree angle over the garlic.  The woman in the video says to push through the garlic, but it looks more like she is pressing scraping at the same time.  This will be repeated several times until the garlic turns into a paste. I am ever-so-grateful that recipes don’t require crushed onions.  Garlic cloves don’t make my eyes sting and cry the way onions do.  Through the wonder of video I now know how to crush...
Cooking With a Convection Oven

Cooking With a Convection Oven

I have a convection oven but cooking with a convection oven eludes me.  I pretty much use it as a regular oven, and turn on the convection fans only when I want to speed up the cooking but have no idea what I should be doing. As you can probably guess, I was able to find a video that provides great tips on using this type of oven.  From what I understand, most recipes can be adapted for convection oven cooking.  The tips shared in this video will help you do this. Lower the designated temperature by 25 degrees (if your recipe says to cook something at 350, lower it to 325). Shorten the cooking time by 25%.  This is necessary because the circulating air cooks food quicker. Use any rack in the oven.  Many recipes say to place an item in a specific location within the oven, such as the center rack, but this is not important with convection cooking.  There are no hot or cold spots when the fan is on. Use a shallow pan.  The lower the edge, or lip, of the pan, the better the circulating air can flow over the food.  Higher edges block the flow of air, and will prevent food from getting fully cooked or crisped. Use cookware that is light or bright in color.  Dark cookware will cook food quicker, causing excessive crisping or browning.  Lighter and brighter is more conducive to the heat that is being circulated by the convection fans. For those who don’t know, a convection oven is one that has a fan inside that blows the hot...
Roasting Garlic

Roasting Garlic

Have you ever tried roasting garlic?  I haven’t, but I sure want to.  Roasted garlic is a food that I do not have often, but when I do, I just can’t get enough of it!  I sort of roasted garlic the other night when I made my roasted potato recipe, but my garlic was in poor shape (it had been sitting out for a while and was dried out), so the result was very poor. However, thanks to people who know a lot more than I do, I was able to find a video exactly on how to roast garlic. You will begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Next, take your garlic and chop off the top, so that several of the cloves are exposed.  Take some aluminum foil and shape it into a small bowl, then set the garlic in the middle.  The cut part of the garlic is facing up.  Place the garlic and foil onto a baking rack that is sitting inside a baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil onto the garlic cloves that are exposed.  Sprinkle a little salt on top.  Kosher salt would work well, and it has less sodium. Place the garlic in the oven and bake it for 45 minutes to one hour, until the garlic cloves are soft.  The cloves will turn a lovely brown, and now have a texture similar to peanut butter. You can eat the garlic by itself, with steak, or spread it on toasted french bread. This video got me wondering about what garlic is.  Turns out garlic is one of many edible plant bulbs,...

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