Infused Oils are a Very Fancy, Very Lazy DIY Gift

Step into any specialty food shop and you’ll encounter shelves of fancy vinegars and flavored oils. While the sleek packaging (such pretty bottles!) and infinite flavor combinations make them tempting purchases, it’s far less expensive to make your own—and almost as easy as plunking down a credit card. Not only do they make excellent host/hostess gifts, we’re seeing them in fine dining settings, too—AL’s Place in San Francisco infuses oil with kuri squash peels and kale stems, and at a recent pop-up dinner in anticipation of his new restaurant, chef Bo Bech served an oil infused with pine needles taken from a tree in the lobby of the NoMad Hotel—that’s right, Christmas tree oil. Here’s how to make your own.

Source: Even Lazy People Can Make This Fancy Edible Gift

Be careful about botulism when you’re using fresh herbs. Use within a week. I believe you can put your fresh herbs in a food dehydrator to remove the water content.

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Bring a Pot of Water to a Boil Faster by Microwaving Half of It

We love a great big labor-intensive all-day cooking project as much as the next crew of food writers, but that doesn’t mean we’re above cutting corners—especially when those corners save time and effort without compromising deliciousness. And yes, sometimes we even buy pre-made tomato sauce. From last-minute meals to do-this-all-the-time hacks, here are our go-to cooking cheats. May they serve you well.

Source: Staff Picks: Our Favorite Kitchen Shortcuts

I have to make some hummingbird food, and it takes a while for 6 cups of water to come to a boil…

Someone should run a test comparing the time and energy consumed for various techniques.

  1. Do as above, microwaving half until 200 degree F, and placing half on the stove top for heating, then combining and cook.
  2. Microwave all the water to say 200 degrees F and then place the water and pasta on the stove top to complete the cooking.
  3. Heat the water in two pans on the stove top and then combine and cook to completion.

Which leads to another question; what is the comparison on electricity use? Am I spending more money to microwave half my water than if I had heated it all on the stove?  Consider that electricity use will be different depending on the cooktop.  Microwaving the entire thing is the most energy efficient solution, short of an electric kettle. If you have an induction stove, it will be close. (note that this doesn’t account for the fossil fuel -> electricity conversion or the variance in fuel costs).

Make a Batch of Base Salad Dressing and Tweak It for Every Salad

While store-bought dressings and vinaigrettes are surely convenient, most are packed with sugar and sodium; the homemade stuff is quick to mix up, so stick with a recipe the next time you toss a salad. On this morning’s episode of The Kitchen, the cast introduced three bold — and fuss-free — salad dressings that can be ready in mere minutes. Start with Geoffrey Zakarian’s Base Vinaigrette (pictured above). Once you master that simple combination of red wine vinegar, shallots and oil, you can either serve that mixture on its own, like GZ does with arugula, or you can add more ingredients to create a brand-new dressing with rich tastes and textures.

Source: 1 Base Salad Dressing: 3 Ways to Use It

Combining a neutral oil (like canola) with a stronger oil (like extra virgin olive oil) can make for a more flavourful dressing.