My First Refrigerator Pickles

June 23, 2014
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Last weekend I found myself with a couple of pounds of cucumbers from the garden, both the standard green kirby kind and those of the lemon cucumber variety. There was no way we were going to be able to eat all of them before they got soft and wrinkled, and I’d already given away several, so I decided to take my first foray into pickle making.

Not ready to get into canning, I chose to make “refrigerator pickles” which don’t require water baths, canning jars, or my irrational fear healthy respect of botulism.

After I made the pickles, I put the hastily snapped photo above on the Formerchef Facebook Page and it got such a positive response, I thought I’d share what I did for those who were interested but also new to pickling. I’m certainly no expert here, just a pickle newbie, but the results were good enough that …

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How To Make Vegetable Stock

June 17, 2014
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In previous posts we’ve talked about the basics of making any kind of homemade stock, learned how to make chicken stock and veal/beef stock and now it’s time to look at making a vegetable stock.

While vegetable stock may not have some of the “body” of a stock made with bones, it can still add significant flavor and is excellent for enhancing vegetarian dishes, soups, stews, curries and risottos. Use a light vegetable stock in the same way you would use a light chicken stock; for poaching vegetables, cooking a rice pilaf, or as an addition to a light sauce or light colored curry. Use a darker, roasted vegetable stock, for soups and vegetarian chilies and stews. Consider adding dried mushrooms to a vegetable stock to add color and enhance the flavor (mushrooms are a flavor enhancer because they contain glutamic acid, a naturally occurring version of MSG).

There …

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The Sacred Valley- A Pisco Cocktail

June 14, 2014
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My husband and I recently spent nine days in Peru, our first time to that country and our first trip to South America. This visit marked our travels to our 6th continent (someday Antarctica, someday…).

We had a fantastic time exploring the Inca ruins of the Sacred Valley, including the incomparable Machu Picchu and wandering the streets and markets of the colonial city of Cusco and the vibrant capital of Lima. We spent our time eating and drinking as much as possible of the best Peru has to offer; we ate ceviche, alpaca and even tasted guinea pig. We had a 15 course Japanese-Peruvian fusion meal to rival the best Michelin starred restaurants in the world and an fragrant, life affirming, bowl of chicken soup at a market stall which cost about $2. And we drank Pisco, lots and lots of Pisco.

What is Pisco? Besides

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Soft Shell Crab Piccata Plus How To Clean Soft Shell Crabs

May 17, 2014
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Friends, we’re now in soft shell crab season, which typically runs late April through September. The season seems to have started late this year, but with the weird weather all over the country, that’s not surprising.

Soft Shell Crab Primer:

Just what are soft shell crabs you ask? Soft shells are Blue Crabs which have molted their hard shell to grow a larger one. This phase only lasts a few days until the new shell hardens. During the “soft shell” phase the entire crab can be eaten, “shell” and all. Blue Crabs, with their blue tinged claws (hence the name), are found on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and are very popular in Maryland. In the soft shell phase they are most commonly fried, sautéed or tempura battered.If possible, buy soft shell crabs still alive. If you are only able to find ones which have been cleaned, then make sure …

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Ahi Tuna Crudo with Sweet Soy, Wasabi and Cucumber

May 10, 2014
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Since the first human caught a fish and realized it was edible, people have had to figure out how to eat it now and how preserve the delicate flesh for eating later.  Smoking, drying, or curing (and sometimes all three) were used to by migrating tribes as a means to carry their bounty with them.  Several ways of eating raw fish in the moment also evolved; sushi, sashimi, ceviche, carpaccio, and crudos are just a few.  Whether a simple sashimi with a splash of soy sauce or a classic ceviche covered in citrus juice, cooks always strive to make it different and better.  Two methods, gravlax and crudo, give us options at opposite ends of the spectrum for enjoying raw fish at its finest.

Crudo’s origins lay with the fishermen of the Mediterranean who would often eat their catch fresh out of the sea with nothing more than a drizzle …

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How To Make Veal Stock

May 3, 2014
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In a previous post featured Stocks 101, all about the ease, affordability and impact of making a great stock from scratch. Since we’ve already covered making a chicken stock, the next stock in your repertoire should be a beef or veal stock.

Everyone should make a true veal stock at least once to experience the wonder of the flavor it imparts to a dish. Veal stock is typically used as the base for French onion soup and in meat sauces. Cook book author and food writer Michael Ruhlman says that veal stock has the “qualities of humility and generosity—it brings out and expands other flavors without calling attention to itself” and this is true. Take a small amount of veal stock demi-glace, swirl it with butter, and you have an instant sauce for homemade pasta. Add shallots to that swirl and it’s perfect over a grilled steak. Veal …

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