Scullery Skills: Peeling an Apple (Like a Boss)

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the immortal words of Montell Jordan, this is how we do it.

Enough said.

(HT: Pivot Marketing‘s weekly newsletter)

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Scullery Skills: Homemade Brown Sugar

April 24, 2012 § 19 Comments

I’m never buying brown sugar again. Period. There’s no need. It’s sugar and molasses. That’s it. Well, it’s also a kick ass song by The Rolling Stones, but that’s neither here nor there.

You can save that other canister where you were keeping the brown sugar (which, let’s face it, unless you do more baking than the average person, your brown sugar has probably just dried out into a mass of crusty junk), and use it instead for coffee beans or tea bags (giggle) or candied walnuts.

I’ll concede that it would be good having a half cup or so around for general use sprinkling on oatmeal or grits or whatever. But I’ve come to realize there’s no use keeping around entire 1lb bags of the stuff except around the holidays when you’re doing a lot of baking. Otherwise, make that goodness fresh. Fresh goodness is always better than crusty goodness.

So, today’s Skullery Skills is also kind of a recipe post that I’ll link back to whenever I post anything that requires brown sugar. Let’s get to it.

What You’ll Need How Much
granulated white sugar 1 c
molasses 1 T (light brown)
2 T (dark brown)

1) In a medium sized bowl, use a fork or hand mixer* to stir together the sugar and molasses until completely mixed. There shouldn’t be any lumps or streaks of molasses left.

*Update: my friend Mel recommends a pastry cutter.

2) Done.

Put it, not in your face, but in whatever your recipe calls for. Or, scrub your body with it? People baffle me, man.

Makes the equivalent of 1 cup fully packed brown sugar.

Pro Tip: If your recipe calls for more than a cup, I’d suggest using a hand mixer, unless you got the arms for it.

Scullery Skills: An Outsourced Post

March 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Republicans are going to pitch a fit for outsourcing today’s Scullery Skills post, what with all that “This is America! Hire Americans!” rhetoric. But, you right-wingers jerking your knees at the “O-word” need only to click the link to find I’m only referencing a Cooking Light article, a publication based right here in the good ol’ You Es of Aye*.

Image from referenced Cooking Light article. Please don't sue me, CL.

This article, The Most Common Cooking Mistakes, is basically a Scullery Skills crash course, so given my lack of time to write my own more specifically targeted Skills post, I’m just gonna link you over there. There is a lot of good knowledge there. I even borrowed some of the knowledge to update my recipe for sweet potato “fries” (bottom rack instead of middle, and added a step to soak them for 30 minutes before tossing in oil).

So go. Go and bask in the glory of knowledge.

*Did y’all get that I alluded to every single country on the North American continent? Pr’ smooth, aye?

Scullery Skills: Dicing an Onion

January 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

First off, if you’re into reading and words and all that stuff, my poem “The Book of Ecclesiastes” was published at Punchnel’s Online Magazine yesterday. Check it out if you’d like. If you don’t believe in reading and you’re just here for the food, read on.

So far, 4 of the 5 recipes I’ve posted here require you to dice an onion. It’s a pretty necessary skill, and to be honest, most people have no idea how to do it right. Yes. There is a right way to dice an onion, and I’m about to show you it.

I went a vast majority of my life not knowing how to dice an onion the right way, to get consistently sized chunks of onion without taking forever, turning each cross cut on it’s side and doing some rainbow dance with the knife, all the while crying like a bitch and trying not to snot on everything. (By the way, if you want to know why onions do this, I’ll include some sciencey shit after the jump.)

Before we embark on this journey of learning together, I should tell you having a set of good, sharp knives is perhaps the single most important thing to have in your kitchen, tied only by a good set of pots & pans. For slicing vegetables, I swear by the Kyocera ceramic knife that appears in these pictures. I also have a solid set of JA Henckels Classic knives that have never let me down.

Now. Time for some onion knife-fu.

Dicing an Onion

Pro tip: put a damp paper towel under your cutting board to prevent slipping, and after you're done cutting, you can use it to wipe down the counter top.

1) Slice the ass end (not the root end) off your onion.

2) Cut the onion in half through the root end (if we're extending the previous "ass end" metaphor, you can imagine this as cleaving through the onion's dumb head).

3) Cut vertical slits in the onion, about 1/4" apart, depending on how small you want your pieces. DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE ROOT. If you do, the whole thing falls apart, quite literally. Also, note how my fingertips are tucked back from the knife, using my knuckles to guide it. This is important if you like your fingertips.

4) Holding the sides of the onion, make 1-3 horizontal slits in the onion, again depending on how small you want your pieces. Again, don't cut the root. Never, ever cut the root.

Here is a picture of my saggy ass while cutting onions. Thank you to my wife, Britt, for taking these action shots for me, and this picture of my ass.

5) Cut vertically across the onion. Again, note the fingertips tucked back from the knife.

6) For a little added flair, turn the knife on its side and use it to scoop the diced onion pieces up and deposit them in whatever bowl/pan/pot they go into.

And Bob’s your uncle.
Click here for some sciencey shit about onions.

Scullery Skills: Holding Your Liquor (And Thus, Your Food)

January 20, 2012 § 8 Comments

If you like food, drinking responsibly is one of the most important skills to have. Probably more important even than good knife technique. At least you can fake your way through dicing an onion. You can’t fake your way through not vomiting when you’re doubled over a toilet doing your best Exorcist impression. And what’s the point of eating awesome food if you’re just going to get stupid drunk and throw it all up anyway?

Image Credit: Exploding Dog (click the picture to see more work by Sam Brown)

In the last post, I quipped, “everyone knows, no beer before liquor if you’re in for a long night,” which got me wondering if there was truth to this seemingly ubiquitous knowledge. It takes many shapes:

  • Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear; beer before liquor, you’ve never been sicker.
  • Beer before whiskey, always risky. Whiskey before beer, never fear.
  • Beer then wine, you’ll feel fine; wine then beer, you’ll feel queer.
  • Don’t mix the grape and the grain.

A quick Google search reveals what seems to be a limitless number of Answer.com’s and Snopes threads about possible explanations regarding the veracity of this comment, but the general consensus among the more credible sources says it’s a myth. What really matters is just, you know, not being a sloppy drunkard.

This bit from a New York Times article seems credible enough:

Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist at the New York University School of Medicine, What matters most, she said, is the amount of alcohol consumed and whether it is combined with any food, which slows absorption and minimizes sickness.

There is also another explanation for the popular “beer before liquor” claim, said Carlton K. Erickson, director of the Addiction Science Research and Education Center at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy. “Most people do not drink a lot of beer after they’ve had liquor,” he said.

“The pattern, more often, is that people will have beer and then move on to liquor at the end of the night, and so they think it’s the liquor that made them sick,” he continued. “But simply mixing the two really has nothing to do with it.”

So, there you have it. It’s not what you drink, but how much and how quickly. Go forth with this knowledge, all ye lushes, and hold your liquor.

Scullery Skills: Keeping Apples Looking Appley.

January 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

This is the first post in what will be an on-going series where I offer various how-to’s and tips/tricks for hanging around the scullery, which if you didn’t know, is a Brit synonym for “kitchen.”

It’s a little different, I guess. Dictionary.com says a scullery is “a small room or section of a pantry in which food is cleaned, trimmed, and cut into cooking portions before being sent to the kitchen,” but it’s close enough for me to capitalize on the alliteration. If my lack of accuracy bothers you, then you can go read some other food blog to get your “Kitchen Basics” or “Cooking 101.” I DON’T NEED YOU!

Wait. Don’t go. I’m just joking. I like you. Please stay. Here. I made you a delicious salad.

How do you like them apples?

See those apple slices, shining in their splendor, officially not browning? That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what you want.

I made this salad last night for a shindig with friends where I knew we weren’t going to be eating for at least an hour. We probably all know the “toss apples in lemon juice” trick to keep them from browning, but I didn’t want that lemon taste, not even a hint. I almost just took the apple and my own knife to cut them up right before we ate, but then I had a stroke of genius:

I simply tossed the apple slices in a little bit of the vinaigrette I planned to use on the salad.

This does the same thing as tossing them in lemon juice (adding an acid), but actually compliments the rest of the salad, instead of adding the unwanted hint of lemon.

If that’s all you wanted to know, you can stop here. If you want the full Beakman’s World version of the story, it’s after the jump.
Click here for some sciencey shit about apples.

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