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Techniques

This page is a collection of techniques I mention in my recipes.  These are very simple methods that I will link to in my recipes.  Of course there are more ways than one to do everything, so if you have a method that already works well for you, just keep using that.

Blanching- you want to blanch certain vegetables to bring out their color and cook them just slightly.  You want to do this with some vegetables that go on vegetable platters, in salads and sometimes in stir fry.  Typically you blank beans of all kinds- green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas.  To blanch, just boil water in a large enough pot for the amount you want to blanch.  When the water has reached boiling, put in vegetables and stir to get all covered in water.  Let boil for 1 minute, or until the vegetables have bright color, then remove from water and plunge in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Let cool in water, then drain.

Poaching chicken

Poaching is a great way to cook chicken quickly when you need it pre-cooked for a dish, such as burritos, chicken salads or enchiladas.

To poach, place chicken (either with skin and bones or without), meat side down in a large, lidded pan.  Fill pan with water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil.  Boil until cooked through (will vary depending on it they have bones and how large they are).  Remove from water and let cool until you can handle them, then remove skin and bones and shred chicken.

Poaching eggs

I loved poached eggs- they can have a soft, runny yolk and aren’t greasy.  They are commonly used in Eggs Benedict, and I love them on toast, which my brother called “Put down egg on toast” because you smash the yolk on the toast.

To poach and egg, fill a skillet halfway with water and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add 2 T vinegar to the pan (this helps prevent the eggs from spreading).  Crack eggs one at a time and gently pour each into the boiling water, trying to keep the egg together and prevent it from spreading.  Crack 3 more eggs into the skillet.  While eggs are cooking, you can take a spoon and pull the edges of the white up over top of the egg (you want the egg to remain in a nice, tight package).  Cook eggs for 3minutes, or longer if you want the yolk to be firm.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on top of each assembled muffin (be sure the eggs aren’t still covered with water).

Roasting peppers

This works for all types of peppers- bell peppers, jalapenos, poblanos, or any other medium or large pepper, and I have listed three techniques below below that will give equally good results.  The type of method you choose should depend on what equipment you have available.

Grilling-if you already have the grill turned on, simply place whole, cleaned and dried peppers directly over the flame, turning occasionally until all sides are blackened.  When skins are completely blackened and charred, remove peppers from grill and place in a covered bowl or Ziploc bag and let steam for 10 minutes, or until the skins are loosened and peppers are cool enough to handle.  Scrape skins off with back of a knife or your hands, then stem and seed.  Wipe off any extra blackened skin with a paper towel.  Don’t rinse- this will remove some of the flavor.

Gas flame– if you have a gas stove you can roast the peppers directly over the open flame on the burners.  Simply turn the burner on high and place whole, cleaned and dried peppers directly over the flame.  Turn occasionally with tongs until all sides are blackened.  When skins are completely blackened and charred, remove peppers from grill and place in a covered bowl or Ziploc bag and let steam for 10 minutes, or until the skins are loosened and peppers are cool enough to handle.  Scrape skins off with back of a knife or your hands, then stem and seed.  Wipe off any extra blackened skin with a paper towel.  Don’t rinse- this will remove some of the flavor.

Broiler– if you have an electric stove and don’t want to turn on a grill, you roast peppers under the broiler.  Turn on broiler and let heat up.  Place whole cleaned and dried peppers in broiler, rotating once until both sides are blackened.  When skins are completely blackened and charred, remove peppers from grill and place in a covered bowl or Ziploc bag and let steam for 10 minutes, or until the skins are loosened and peppers are cool enough to handle.  Scrape skins off with back of a knife or your hands, then stem and seed.  Wipe off any extra blackened skin with a paper towel.  Don’t rinse- this will remove some of the flavor.

Rice

I typically cook rice in my rice cooker because you can just turn it on and walk away.  They also let rice sit and steam at the perfect temperature for a long time, without getting mushy or crunch, until the rest of your meal is ready.  If you don’t want to buy a rice cooker (you can get them for $15.00!), or hate having extra appliances, you can make rice easily in on the stove top.  I use the same basic technique for all white rice (long grain, basmati and jasmine), but brown rice is a different story.  I’ve outlined directions for each below.  Also, a handy measuring tip- 1 c uncooked rice equals 2 c cooked rice.

White rice– Rinse rice and few times and drain to remove excess starch.  Place equal amounts rice and water (i.e. 1 c rice + 1 c water) in a sauce pot and heat on high until boiling.  When it boils, turn heat to very low and let simmer, undisturbed, for 15 minutes or until all water has boiled off.  Remove from heat, and keep covered, and let sit for 10 minutes to steam.  When done, fluff with a fork and serve.  (if you have extra water, simply drain it off and let steam until rice is nice and dry, not wet).  If rice isn’t cooked, add a little more water and let cook over very low heat until rice is done.

Brown rice– Brown rice has the rice bran still intact, so it take a lot longer to cook, and requires a larger water to rice ratio.  I usually soak brown rice for 30 minutes to an hour before I cook it, because it reduces cooking time by a lot.  However, if you don’t pre-soak, use these directions:  Rinse brown rice a few times to remove excess starch.  Add 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water in a saucepot.  Bring water and rice to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to very low and cook 40-45 minutes, or until all the water has boiled off, the rice bran as popped open, and rice is almost tender.  Turn off heat, and let steam for 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork and drain any excess water. (if you pre-soak the rice, keep an eye on the rice and remove from heat when the rice bran has opened- abotu 20-30 minutes).

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