Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Inspiration for Strawberries & Vinegar

 I adapted and combined different recipes from restaurants in the village. Making it myself cut the costs of eating out and sharpens my culinary skills. I have run into different versions of strawberries soaked in vinegar served over ice cream and strawberry -vinegar ice cream with balsamic vinegar emulsified in the cream. So I decided to create my own version of this sweet treat.

I started by buying quality balsamic vinegar from Eataly, in the flat iron district, which gave me better options within my budget. I can also put  this purchase towards other uses like adding it to bread and cheese with ginger virgin olive oil.

Strawberry Ice Cream with Balsamic Vinegar
    1.       1cup heavy  cream
    2.        2 cups half-n-half
    3.       2 cups sugar
    4.       2 cups fresh strawberries (food processed)
    5.       1 cup water
    6.       4 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
    7.       ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
    8.       1/3 cup of  milk powder or powered milk
    9.       Optional extra ½ cup of freeze dried or frozen strawberries
Tools Needed:
        I.            Food processor
      II.            Ice Cream maker
    III.            Strainer
    IV.            Heat Safe Container
      V.            5 quart pot

Bring the 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil.  Add the 2 cups of fresh food processed strawberries reducing everything to a simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture and place in a heat safe container that can be stored in the refrigerator.

The strawberry syrup should cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Mix the 2 cups of half-n-half and 1 cup of heavy cream followed by stirring in 1 cup of sugar. Then add the strawberry syrup, 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. To give it a boost, take ½ a cup of freeze dried or frozen strawberries, food process them and get strawberry powder. Stir that into the cream mixture. All of this gets poured in the  ice cream maker.

This ice cream should be considered a Philadelphia style ice cream because it contains no eggs.  As opposed to a New York style ice cream that contains eggs which is a custard.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cookbooks:man's true best friend

I think cookbooks are a home chef's best friend especially if you have never set foot in a kitchen before. Cookbooks can be scary if you are not use to them, but I am here to help decipher the clues. There are a lot of books out there that only tell you what to get and how to make it, but what about the basics? For starters kitchen safety and how to use certain appliances and utensils are rarely mentioned in the bigger cookbooks and never mentioned in recipes found online.

Though cooking may appear like magic, like I mentioned in my first post, there are equations and science involved in anything you need to cook. Alton Brown was one of the first cookbooks I ever bought and used for myself. I had been a fan of his show Good Eats on the Food Network for sometime before I had moved to the big city. He is great for anyone starting in the kitchen or if you love great easy to follow recipes. He talks about the basics like safety and food preparation as well as elevating comfort food from around the world.

Tight Wallet Big Stomach

I, like many New Yorkers, am on a tight budget to get me through the week, but I still like to go out and experience living in the best city in the world. If you have not heard of Groupon by now please google it because it can possible change your life. Groupon and Living Social (another website to google) provide people in cities across the country with deals/coupons on restaurants and bars in their hometown. Everyday a deal goes "live" where a restaurant, for example, will be featured and an email will be sent to you about that restaurant. It is great because you are offered 50% or more off your meal. Here's the catch, because there always is one, the deal expires after a certain time so you only have a limited time to buy it and a specific time to spend it. Once you buy your deal you generally have to wait 24hrs for it to be active and usable in the restaurant.

Groupon has evolved and offers deals called "Groupon Now" where you can buy a deal instantaneously and spend it right away. They also offer you a refund if you purchase a "Groupon Now" and don't spend it in the specified time. I love this even more than the daily deals because if I am out in any part of the city and get hungry I can buy my lunch with a deal I bought a minute before I walked into the restaurant. Groupon and Living Social do more than just restaurants so I highly suggest utilizing them for all of their services. I have been using them for over two years now and have very little to no complaints. I have also used these deals for activities to do while guests or family are visiting. This allows me to show them a good time while keeping everyone's pockets happy as well.

Wine and Dine

It is commonly known that certain wines should be paired with certain types of food. The wine is suppose to compliment what you are eating and elevate your palate. What many may not know is that beer serves this same function when you are eating. There is a book titled What to Drink with What you Eat which breaks down everything you can pair with beer and wine. As a highly acclaimed book it is an encyclopedia of information ranging from fine dining to fast food. The focus of the book is about flavor and how certain flavor combinations work together for a bigger picture. It is great because you can find what specific drink goes with something you are already cooking or you can start with what you want to drink and find what food goes best with that drink.

The author Karen Page is also responsible for another book which has changed the culinary world. The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs is not a cookbook in the traditional sense. It does not provide the reader with recipes and how to, instead she has listed every kind of ingredient you can think of and tells you what compliments that ingredient based on flavor and intensity. For example if you look up tomatoes she will give you a list of the best ingredients that go well with tomatoes whether that is different spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables or cheeses. I have found this very handy in my day to day life because I can use spices and other ingredients I would never have tried together on my own.

I Scream You Scream

Since I have starting taking myself seriously as a home chef my dream has been to get a stand mixer. I found that I enjoy  baking more than anything else I have experienced in the kitchen. When Christmas came this year I was elated to get my dream appliance by Kitchen Aid. Alton Brown, who I will reference a lot, has an entire book dedicated to just kitchen appliances and tools. In Alton Brown's Gear for your Kitchen he suggests a few brands that he feels are a good investment into your kitchen. The first being by Kitchen Aid (which is the one I have) the second being Delinghi. I love Alton because he breaks down everything you need to know, like why use it, how to use it and what kind to get.

After baking like crazy the first few months of my new toy I started researching the different attachments you can purchase to go along with your stand mixer. The first attachment I bought was a ice cream maker. I have been experimenting with making ice cream with lots of success. My first attempts followed different recipes depending on what I was trying to make. Yesterday I decided to go rogue and try a hand at creating my own ice cream concoction. I thought I should start with something simple like strawberry. I recently read that strawberries and balsamic vinegar, as strange as that might sound, pair very well together. So I made strawberry ice cream with a dash of vinegar to spice things up and everyone who has tried it have given me great reviews!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Welcom to Platter Matter

Hi welcome to Platter Matters.  A blog about ideas in food as well as recipes. 

 I started cooking after moving to New York. I couldn't eat out every night and the pre-made stuff isn’t satisfying in the long run. I have to eat every day, and improving ones abilities in the kitchen, ultimately leads to more happiness in ones life. I've been cooking seriously for about three years now and the experience of learning how to cook reminds me of the experience of learning card tricks as a child. The magic of a card trick doesn't come from the method, anyone can look online and learn all the ways magician hide cards, and even try them at home. What separates a professional and a hobbyist is the muscle memory. Most professional chefs cook the same meals repeatedly much like a magician. The difference between a home chef and a professional chef is repetition, the professional cooks a dish repeatedly.

It is good to cook in your kitchen because it means you’re not alienated from the space. Control of what you consume is important. It is easier to judge the quality of ingredients while they are whole and intact, and not in a finished product. Cooking is a process and takes time to cultivate skills. The best meal I have ever cooked is Bolognaise. The sauce is fun, it goes from being a crazy stew to a sauce and it takes 4 hours to do properly. A dish that has failed but I was able to make better the second or third time around has been pretzels from scratch.  Pretzels were challenging because they have to be burnt in the oven to get the dark golden brown color and flavor people like. It took me a few batches of gummy pretzels to realize the mistake