Archive for July, 2010

Summer Cooking Camp

July 9, 2010

My Summer Cooking Camp is starting on Monday, July 12, I have the preschool class at 10-11:15 and the up to 10 yrs old at 12:30-1:45. The camp runs from Mon- Friday. We will be cooking up foods from around the world that are finger foods. We are going beyond the Chicken Nugget. It should be a delicious world tour. Fudgesicles and Angelic Deviled Eggs from America, Inari and Cucumber Rolls from Japan, , pork wontons from China, Agua Fresca and oven baked churros from Mexico, Cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwiches and scones from England. It should be a delicious world tour.

Angelic Deviled Eggs

Usually deviled eggs are made with all the egg yolks and mayo. Mine are angelic because we swap out some of the yolks and all of the mayo. You want some yolks because egg yolks not only give your deviled eggs the yellow coloring but they also help to prevent Macular degeneration in the eyes.

Hardware- small pot with lid, bowl of ice water, egg slicer, tablespoon, teaspoon, mixing bowl, slotted spoon,

Software- number of eggs that will fit into your pot (for me it is 6), 2-3 teaspoons of greek nonfat plain yogurt, 2 pinch kosher salt, 1/2-1 teaspoon sweet pickles chopped or sweet relish without the juice, fresh cracked black pepper, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard, small drizzle milk, rinse and finely chop 3 baby carrots.

Normally you want really fresh eggs for cooking but this is an instance where an older but not expired egg is best. Reason being that eggshells are porous. They let air and moisture in and out of the egg. Eggs have an inner membrane just beneath the shell. As the egg gets older and it is hard boiled the air between the shell and that membrane expands and you will notice that the shell won’t stick to the hardboiled white part of the egg. So you won’t be pulling the white off along with the shell when you peel it.

Steps:

  • Boil the eggs in the pot. Remember start with cold water on med low for 5 minutes to bring the water and eggs up in temperature. Then turn up the heat to med. Once the water starts to boil set your timer for 1 minute or count for 60 seconds.
  • After the timer goes off, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 15 minutes.
  • As soon as the timer goes off, carefully scoop out the eggs with the slotted spoon and put them in the cold ice water to stop the cooking process. Using this method prevents the darkness that often is on hard boiled egg’s yolk.
  • Take your eggs out of the water and peel them. Put them back in the bowl of water just to wash off any tiny eggshells that you might have missed.
  • Cut the eggs in half lengthwise.
  • Pull out the yolks of 4 eggs and put them in a mixing bowl. Give the other 2 yolks to your dog or throw them away.
  • Chop up 2 of the egg halves using your egg slicer or a fork and add it to the bowl. This adds more protein to each egg halve and bulks up the mixture.
  • Add the greek yogurt, relish/pickles, mustard, carrots (I like the color and crunch),salt and a couple of turns of pepper
  • Mix well
  • Using a teaspoon scoop the mixture into the egg whites so it makes a gentle mound. Or you can get fancy and put the mixture into a piping bag and squeeze it in the whites.
  • Place them on your serving plate
  • Either sprinkle the tops of the yellow mixture with paprika or cracked black pepper
  • If you aren’t going to eat them right away, put them in a tupperware and stick them in the fridge.

Enjoy.

Cucumber Roll

Hardware- cutting board, wooden spoon for spreading out the rice, plate to have your cucumber sticks on, sharp knife, bamboo sushi mat, small bowl of water

Software-Sticky rice (I like to mix half brown and half white), toasted sesame seeds, shredded Persian cucumbers, nori (not the salted toasted one)

Steps

  • Make the rice according to the package directions.
  • Once the rice is cooked, mix together the different rices and sesame seeds.
  • Lay a sheet of nori on your bamboo mat.
  • Spread rice on the bottom 1/2 of the nori sheet. You can dip your fingertips in water and use them to flatten out the rice.
  • Lay a thin row of cucumbers at the bottom of the rice.
  • Roll the bottom of the bamboo mat along with the ingredients over on itself tucking the nori in. As you press the nori in, pull the bamboo mat away and continue the rolling motion to roll up the nori like a sleeping bag.
  • Place the roll seam side down on the cutting board and cut into bite size pieces. If rice is sticking to your knife, dip it in a glass of water sliding the blade against the rim to wipe off the excess water and rice grains.

You can substitute other veggies in this roll. This is a great way of stretching your rotisserie chicken into another meal. Just shred it into strips and add it on top of the cucumber. I usually add finely chopped carrots, sweet egg, avocado slices, and steamed green beans/raw sugar snap peas. This is my kids favorite lunch/dinner.

Agua Fresca de Sandia aka Watermelon Juice

Watermelon is a great source of lycopene, fiber, and keeps you hydrated. Watermelon juice is a favorite drink for my son. He wouldn’t normally eat 5 slices of melon but if i puree them he eats all five and then some. Summer outdoor fun can dehydrate kids and you fast so keep a pitcher of this on hand. Just be sure to drink it all on the day you make it for the best flavor and texture. It can be frozen into popscicles too.

Hardware- Blender, knife, cutting board, wooden spoon, paper towels, pitcher

Software- whole watermelon

  • Wash the outside of the watermelon with soapy water.
  • Place a damp kitchen towel under a cutting board to prevent it from slipping and also so soak up the juice so it doesn’t spread all over the counter.
  • You can also place a paper towel on top of the cutting board to keep the melon from slipping around while you try to cut it in half.
  • Remember to never have your hand or fingers in front of the knife blade. Your knife could easily slip on the watermelon’s smooth rind.
  • Carefully, using a smooth bladed knife cut the melon in half. Put one of the halves aside.
  • Remove the paper towel.
  • lay the melon on the cut side so it doesn’t wobble around.
  • Cut it in half again and continue to cut parallel lines. then lay the semi circles on their sides and cut off the rinds. Throw these in your compost pile.
  • Cut the watermelon flesh into chunks and put them in your blender.
  • Put the lid on and blend away.
  • If your blade gets stuck, simply stop the motor and move the watermelon pieces around with your wooden spoon.
  • Put the lid back on tight and blend again.
  • Transfer your frothy drink to a pitcher.
  • Pour it in a tall glass over ice cubes and enjoy.

Pork and Chives Wontons

Hardware- mini/food processor, bamboo steamer (or any steamer), 2 mixing bowls, small bowls, silverware teaspoon, knife, cutting board, cheese cloth, colander, big pot that a bamboo steamer can sit on top of, plate with flour sprinkled on it,

Software- 1 lb lean ground pork, napa cabbage, firm tofu, chives, 1 egg, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, low sodium soy sauce, cracked black pepper, kosher salt, fresh wonton wrappers, corn starch,

Bamboo steamer helps to cook a group of wontons at once. Use the broad outer leaves of the napa cabbage on top of the bamboo slots. This prevents the wontons from sticking to the bamboo. If you don’t have cabbage leaves you can use wet paper towels or a wet cheese cloth.

The key to a good wonton is to take out as much moisture and air from the stuffing as you can. So we squeeze as hard as we can when called for.

Wontons are easiest to make if you use an assemble line tecnique. I make the stuffing then assemble the wontons and freeze them individually and transfer them to a ziploc freezer bag so that I can use just a few or a whole plateful at a time. The quality of these wontons is so good that you should steam them or boil them.

Procedure

Set a large pot of water to boil. Pull off the large broad outer leaves of the napa cabbage and set aside. Rinse off 5 of the remaining leaves, Cut them into 1 inch slices against the grain of the leaves. Place them in the boiling water to blanch. When they are soft but not mushy, dump them out into a colander and then into a large bowl of ice water. This is called shocking them. Shocking a vegetable will make sure your veggie retains its bright green color. It also stops the cooking process. Wrap your cooked cabbage leaves in a tea towel/cheese cloth and squeeze out as much water as you can. Set it aside. Open the tofu and rinse off one brick. place it in a cheesecloth and squeeze out as much water as you can. wash your chives and trim off the bottom ends cut them into smaller sticks so you have 1 cup, place them into a mixing bowl for later use.

using the palm of your hand break apart the garlic head. peel 2-3 cloves and place into processor’s mixing bowl, peel fresh ginger, break off a 1 inch knob and use the edge of a silverware teaspoon to scrape the skin off. Discard the skin. Slice the ginger and add it into the processor also. Add a large pinch of salt to help grind things up. Hit the processor’s button and chop into tiny pieces. Add the chive sticks to the processor bowl and press the chop button till the chives are into small pieces. Remove the sharp blade and scoop out the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the tofu, Add the blanched cabbage pieces. Add a teaspoon of corn starch. (as antimoisture insurance) Drizzle in 3 Tbsn of soy sauce. Add 2 Tbsn of fresh cracked black pepper. Using your clean hands, mix everything together.

In a small dish, crack the egg and 1 Tbsn of water, scramble it up. Set aside. On a clean cutting board or plate, sprinkle on a dusting of flour. Open your package of wonton wrappers. Take out 5 wrappers. Put a damp towel on the open package so they don’t dry out. Lay the stack of 5 wrappers out on point so they are like a diamond. Pull the stack down about 1/2″ to create a border on which you can apply the egg wash. Continue pulling the pile down leaving a border until the wrappers are laying in an upside down chevron pattern. Dip your finger in the egg wash and run it over the wonton borders. Add a 1/2 Tbsn of stuffing to the center of the top wrapper. Lift the bottom corner of the wrapper and pull it up til the corner meets the top corner. Using your fingertips, press the remaining seams together. Use the palm of your hands to press out any excess air from the wonton. If you don’t, the air in the wrapper will expand in the cooking process and the wonton could come apart from the pressure. Lay your finished wonton on the floured plate. The flour prevents the wontons from sticking to the plate. Cover the plate with a slightly damp kitchen towel so the wontons don’t dry out. Continue stuffing the wrappers til the filling or wrappers are gone. If you have filling left, you can put it in a freezer ziploc bag labeled wonton filling and stick it in the freezer.

to be cont. later. please check back

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A Terrific Summer Job for Many Reasons

July 1, 2010

My 10 yr old has gone into biz for himself. It all started with the cookbook and the notion of cooking and charging his family. I told him we were the taste testers and he couldn’t charge us. But I did share the idea of cooking for friends and neighbors. Well, he made Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells. And I must say they were better than mine. You should have seen the look of pride. I told him the neighbors would love to have such a tasty home cooked meal. He wrote out a menu with prices. We talked about how businesses figure out the cost of their products. First he was going to charge what the book listed as the cost to make the dish. I explained that price would be just ingredients then he would have no profits. So he figured Ingredients plus profit. That is better thinking but I explained that businesses also have to take into consideration overhead. So for him it would be electricity, rent of my kitchen, water, gas. I told restaurants double or triple the base cost on their menus. Since he is just starting, he decided to double it. And I decided to be a nice mom and not charge overhead. In fact I even paid for the first batch of ingredients. He has to pay for the ingredients after that out of his profits. I explained to him that if he adds meat then he can charge more since meat is an added cost. He packed one stuffed shell for each household and walked them over to the neighbors. He explained that he was taking orders for his home made food and here is a sample of the stuffed shells. Then he had to be patient and wait for the orders to come in. Of course grandma and grandpa ordered one of everything on his menu. Even during their visit he got out the fry pan and made pancakes on the spot. The grandparents were impressed with how focused he was making them. A few days later he got his first order from the neighbors. He is funny. He told them he is not open on the weekend and he can only handle 2 orders at a time.

Here is the menu he passed out. Each item feeds 3-4 adults.

The Amazing Menu

A Dozen Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Marinara

With Extra Lean Ground Turkey….$18.00      Without Meat ….$12.00

Dinner Salad …….$5.00

Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Garbanzo beans.

Homemade Lemonade

by the cup…$1         by the Pitcher…..$5.00

Wheat Pancakes with your choice of toppings…….$3.00

Topping Choices …. M & Ms, Blueberries, or Cranberries

So being the teacher that I am, I couldn’t let this venture go without getting a few academic lessons in. I have him making a bar graph of menu items with number of orders on the other axis. Then he has another chart with a running total of customers and their order totals. And finally a subtraction problem deducting the amount he has from the $300.00 that he is trying to earn.

I paid for the ingredients to make the first batch so that he could make 2 orders of stuffed shells. Now that he has some money I made him pay for his own ingredients. He was shocked that the cost of the ingredients was so much. So after filling the 5th order at the cheaper price, we decided to raise the price of the stuffed shells from $10-$18. (i think it is still a bargain for a nice family size dinner entree.) He wanted to raise it to $30. I told him people might not want to pay that. I explained once he gets a fan base, then people will pay higher for his food because they know how good it is.

He has added a new item on his menu. Did I tell you he is a chocoholic? I found him a recipe for chocolate fudge. He has never had fudge. I told him it is a type of candy that is denser than a brownie and very sweet. We’ll see how it goes.

So the cafe is a success. He is just delivered his 9th order of stuffed shells. He has his heart set on buying a digital camera with his money. So we went comparison shopping at Office Depot, Best Buys, and Costco. He purchased a Nikon CoolPix in electric blue. Very cool. He is very proud of his purchase and has gone around snapping many pictures. I’ll see if I can get him to figure out how to get photos onto the blog.

2 b continued. please check back.