How to Use Salt

salt written in salt

Have you ever wondered why most if not all recipes call for salt? Have you ever wondered what salt should I use? Well below are a few tips to use when choosing salts.

Salt is used to intensify and balance flavors so it’s important to start with a small amount and then add as needed. If you are cooking for the masses, you may want to leave the food under salted and allow others to add salt at the table.

There are also several different types of salts on the market, so it can get a little confusing on which to choose. If you enjoy cooking and read through many recipes, you will notice kosher salt is the most popular. This is because kosher salt adheres to foods better, is iodine-free and has a less intense salty flavor.

Why is it called Kosher salt?  This is because the size of the crystal makes it ideal for drawing out moisture from meat which is perfect for use in the koshering process.

Iodized salt also known as table salt is becoming scarcer within checks pantries. From everything I have read, the only need for this salt is to help with a lack of iodine. However, experts are recommending getting your iodine from food and not salt.

Sea Salt is the least processed of all the salts. The flakes are gathered from evaporated seawater and may contain residual minerals that could modify the color. Depending on the size of the flake, you may rather use for finishing the dish.

Depending of the type of meal is when to add salt and how much. Below is a quick cheat sheet you can use:

  • Soups, stocks and sauces
    • ½ – 1 teaspoon per quart
    • Add a small amount while you sauté the base and then again when you add your liquid
    • Ass you cook and taste, continue to add in small quantities as needed
  • Meats, poultry and seafood
    • ¾ – 1 teaspoon per pound
    • Add before cooking
  • Boiling water for pastas and vegetables
    • 1 tablespoon per 4 cups
    • Add to the water before boiling

Sticking with the same brand of salt is the best way to go. This will help with consistency in your food and your recipes. Measuring along with keeping a record of how much salt you use will also help with consistency.

Happy Seasoning!

salt on blue table

Advertisements

Best Soft Boiled Egg Recipe

img_4293

Do you struggle trying to figure out what to make for breakfast? This egg recipe is a quick and easy way to make sure you eat a little protein in the morning.  Think of it like a poached egg but easier. The recipe takes about 7 minutes and you can pair it with anything you want, toast, crackers, bacon, sausage, etc.

Simply take a medium size pot and add enough water that when you add the egg it submerges completely under. Place the pot on high and let boil. When the water is boiling, add the eggs, one at a time, with a spoon and place the time for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, pour out the hot water and refill the pot with cold water. Let sit for about 1 minute and then peel the shell off the egg and place in a small serving bowl. They will look just like the photo above. DELICIOUS!

 


Not All Olive Oils are Made Equally

img_4334

There are a few factors that vary the flavor of true olive oil.  Factors include the type of olive, the process used, are the olives ripe or green, etc.  Not matter the factors, the olive oil should taste fresh and only the actual flavor should change. Some of the flavors you could experience are peppery, sweetness, spicy or fruity. and sometimes even a little bitter.  If you have ever noticed that some olive oils have different shades, that is also due to the olive used. Green olives tend to be lighter in flavor and may even have a greenish color while riper olives will give off a darker yellow and even a little buttery and rich. The trick is to make sure that you are buying true olive oil.

Another note is just because an olive oil is labeled extra-light, or light, does not mean quality or less fat, it usually means that it may be of lesser quality. Try to buy your olive oils from smaller producers that package their oils in darker or metal bottles. Since it’s important the way you store your olive oil and keeping it away from light, it’s great to know that you are purchasing it like that to start.

A few olive oils that make a good purchase and you can find on Amazon or local grocery are  Trader Joes California Estate Olive Oil , California Olive Ranch  , Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Check out these sites/article for more information on many other Olive Oils: The Worlds Best Olive Oils , The Best and Worst Olive Oil from the Grocery Store

 


The Banana vs The Plantain

plantainVS BANANA

I probably buy 30-35 bananas a week and I can assure you that all of them are eaten. Not only do I buy them because everyone in my home loves them but for several other reason…nutrients, taste, versatility, they look fantastic as decoration ; ), etc.

I remember when my son was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10 (2008) and sitting in the hospital speaking with the dietitian going over how I was going to have to adjust our entire lifestyle and eating habits. There were a few foods that she mentioned as staples and banana was one of the first ones. Since then bananas are one of the main items you can always find in my kitchen.

When you think of a banana, you usually think of just peeling and eating, but there are so many other ways to eat it.  The banana is very sweet, but the green plantain is savory.  Not only are these fruits delicious, they also have great health benefits. Lets explore…

BANANA

 

Bananas are traditionally eaten raw as they are sweet while plantains are cooked before eaten whether baked or fried. The flavor of plantains, being adapted to cooking, is closer to a potato than a banana. A green and yellow plantain is firm and starchy, and will only start taking on some of the flavor profile of a banana after it becomes ripe or overripe when the exterior skin starts turning black. Frequently, plantains are consumed as chips. And though these chips taste more like potato chips, plantain chips are used with dips, more like tortilla chips.

Bananas are among the most popular fruits on earth.

Native to Southeast Asia, they are now grown in many warmer parts of the world.

There are many types of bananas available, which vary in color, size and shape. The most common type is the yellow banana, which is green when unripe.

Bananas contain a fair amount of fiber, as well as several antioxidants. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) also contains (123):

Medium Banana

  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 10% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 14% of the RDI.
  • Net carbs: 24 grams.
  • Fiber: 3.1 grams.
  • Protein: 1.3 grams.
  • Fat: 0.4 grams.

Each banana contains only about 105 calories, and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas contain very little protein and almost no fat.

The carbs in unripe (green) bananas consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as the banana ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose and sucrose).

Recipe ideas for Bananas

  • Banana Bread
  • Banana Pancakes or Waffles
  • Shakes
  • Mashed and mixed with granola and honey
  • Banana Flambe with ice cream

 

PLANTAINS

 

Plantains – although they look a lot like green bananas and are a close relative, plantains are very different. They are starchy, not sweet, and they are used as a vegetable in many recipes, especially in Latin America and Africa. Plantains are sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, they usually resemble green bananas; ripe plantains may be black in color. Plantains are longer than bananas and they have thicker skins. They also have natural brown spots and rough areas.

Generally speaking, bananas and plantains were bred to be different because they are used for different . Because plantains often plays a role in the kitchen, it evolved to excel as an ingredient in various dishes. And it shows up in many Cuban dishes, next to rice and black beans. Cubans used fried sweet plantains or tostones (fried green plantains) and rarely eat the plantain raw (sweetness arrives in a plantain when it starts blackening).  It is traditional that rice, beans and fried plantains partner together with the main dish.

Medium Plantain – Green

  • Potassium: 739 mg
  • Vitamin B6: .44 mg
  • Vitamin C: 27 mg
  • Magnesium: 55 mg
  • Carbs: 48 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fat: 0 g


Recipe ideas for Plantains

  • Tostones
  • Maduros
  • Mariquitas
  • Toston cups stuffed with….anything

Sofrito – The Sauce!

Sofrito

Sofrito is the base of many dishes in Cuban cuisine. The typical ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers. I have a few dishes in my cookbook with this sauce and I usually experiment a little with the different color peppers and the way that I incorporate the tomato. On my last blog, picadillo, you will see that the base for that dish is also a sofrito and I will be publishing a vegetarian dish later with this same base. I wanted to single out the sauce and specifically show you all how to make it, because if you can master this, you can make so many other different dishes. For a Cuban, this sauce is just as important as in the food culture as is the white rice and black beans.

If you make this sauce ahead of time and let all the flavors marry your dish will have a fuller flavor. I will show, on a late blog how to use this same sauce with two different proteins that will help you save time and wow your guests allowing them to think that you slaved in the kitchen. On the last

INGREDIENTS – MAKES ABOUT 3-4 CUPS OF SAUCE

  • Vidalia onion – 2 cups, small dice
  • Red pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Green pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Tomato sauce – 14 ounce can
  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Kosher salt – 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper – ½ tablespoon
  • Cumin – ½ tablespoon
  • Smoked paprika – ½ tablespoon
  • Onion powder – ½ tablespoons
  • Garlic powder – ½ tablespoon
  • Turmeric – ½ tablespoon
  • Bay leaves – 2

HOW TO MAKE IT…

  1. In a large pot on medium high heat add the oil, onions, green pepper and red peppers and cook for about 4-5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low or low depending on your stove
  4. Add the tomato sauce and stir well
  5. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and turmeric and stir again
  6. Add the bay leaves then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes; if the sauce gets to thick and you want to thin a little, you can add about a teaspoon of water at a time until the consistency is how you like it
  7. Remove from heat and either store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for later use or use immediately

Below is a sample of the Fricassee de Pollo dish in my cook book! Buy Cookbook Here

Fricase de Pollo_2


Season your Eggs 1st

IMG_0010

This is not the best photo but the recommendation I want to make is a simple one. We make a lot of egg dishes at my home especially since I love to make brunch for all occasions. I make quiches, I make breakfast sandwiches, I make omelettes, scrambled eggs, etc. With all of these dishes that call for scrambled eggs,the common denominator for each recipe is, always season your eggs first.  In this particular photo, the eggs are seasoned with oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, sale and pepper. The egg softens the dry oregano and really takes the dish to another flavor level. The below photo is after I add the egg mixture to a medium heat non stick pan that I sautéed veggies (any that you want) and made an omelette. You can then serve with some toast and a side of avocado or some sliced tomatoes.

IMG_0012


Try adding Pineapple

IMG_0664

I am not sure how many people enjoy mixing savory and sweet, but I love it! Of course not everything sweet goes with everything savory. I feel have this palate that can invent some cool flavors, but you can be the judge of that with this one.

This recipe is an invention from not having much to cook except a bunch of vegetables. I know I have let you know that I am a Pescatarian, but lately I have been a bit more vegetarian. I had a bunch of veggies in the fridge and I always buy pineapple. Pineapple is a versatile fruit that can be added to many dishes, dessert, salsa, BBQ, etc. In this dish, I don’t do anything special to the pineapple and simply garnish the veggies with it, somewhat of a salsa style. It was absolutely delicious. It added another dimension of flavor to the dish.


Ingredients:
serves 2 people

*Wild Mushrooms (Portobello, shiitake, cremini)  – 4 cups, medium dice
*Broccoli – 2 cups
*Spinach – 4 cups
*Onion – 1/2 cup, small dice
*Garlic – 1 clove, minced
*Grape seed oil – 2 tablespoons
*Salt – 1 teaspoon
*Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
*Garlic Powder – 1 teaspoon
*Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
*Oregano (dry) – 1 teaspoon
*Pineapple – 1 cup, small dice

  • You want to blanch the broccoli by adding it to a pot of boiling water for about 2-3 minutes and then immediately removing them with a slotted spoon and adding them to a bowl with iced water to stop it from cooking. (There are benefits in doing this step and my favorite is the bright green color the broccoli turns.) Remove from the cold water and set aside.
  • In a large non-stick pan, on medium-high heat, add the oil and then lower to medium.
  • Add the onion and cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic and cook for another minute, then the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the broccoli and spinach and then season with the spices and cokk for about 5 minutes. If you like the spinach really wilted, you can add with the mushrooms.
  • Serve with the pineapple salsa

Tips: You can add zucchini to the dish also to make it a little more substantial. You can add cilantro instead of oregano and change the flavor profile completely. You can also add minced red onions to the pineapple to a little more depth to the flavor.  I like to eat the dish hot, but you can certainly let it cool and eat more like a salad and you can also add a smaller portion to some coconut rice or quinoa.


Curve your sweet tooth craving

IMG_6349 (2).JPG

Do you find yourself craving sweets after every meal or in the middle of the day? I do at times and my husband has a big sweet tooth. When you are trying to eat well and watch what you eat, it’s hard to find something that will satisfy that need. Until now…Coffee is a great way to curb that craving by adding whipped cream. We normally will make cuban coffee, that is served in a small shot size mug and then add whipped cream to it. The whipped cream adds texture and you can eat it with a spoon as well. I normally add Stevia to the coffee to spare the sugar, but you can add a little brown sugar or some honey and the whipped cream and it is fantastic.

After you have the coffee, brush your teeth immediately and this also helps with the urge. It may be mental, but I always find that once I brush my teeth at night I don’t want to eat anything else. Try it out next time and tell me how it goes.