Category Archives: Helpful Hints

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Sunshine And A Plate FOOD Festival 18-26 February 2017

saap-support-hospice-logo-no-datesAbout Sunshine and a Plate

The Air Chathams Sunshine and a Plate food festival confirms Whakatane as the Food Capital of the aptly named Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

Celebrate and share in the region’s lifestyle, artisan and wild food, hospitality, history and culture.

Taste, learn, laugh and indulge at dozens of events and cooking demos galore!

All event proceeds go directly to Hospice Eastern Bay of Plenty’s care of the community.

Click here for the calendar of events

Or visit the Facebook page for info and updates

Egg Poached In Sparkling Water

Poached-Egg-webWhile visiting AquaSplash In Putaruru where they bottle water from The Te Waihou River I was told that when the water is carbonated to give it a sparkle the ph drops to 4.5 from 7. At the time we were chatting about poaching eggs.

When poaching eggs I add 1tsp white vinegar to lower the ph to about 4 so the egg whites (protein) set and hold their shape.

Today I poached an egg to perfection at Te Waihou Bistro in Te Waihou Reserve Sparkling Water from AquaSplash without adding any vinegar.

TW_SparklingI have googled poaching eggs in sparkling water and have found no reference at all. Maybe a world first. This method will be on the Bistro Brunce menu starting December 13th.

Recipes to come

No Bread or Grain Open Sandwich Recipes

Eggplant-open-sandwichEasy Gluten free and paleo options coming during the next month.

Over the next month I will be taking you through many simple but very tasty options for bread/grain free open sandwiches. These recipes will be family friendly and easy to adapt to cater to the differing taste choices that people have in your home and when entertaining. They will include dairy and nut free options and all will be soy free as well.

An open sandwich usually consists of a slice of fresh bread with different spreads and toppings such as butter, pâté, cheese spreads, relishes, cold cuts such as roast beef, turkey, chicken, ham, bacon, salami, cheese slices or sausages like beerwurst and vegetables like bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, radish, spring onions (scallion), grated carrot and cucumber to name a few.

When living a Gluten-free life an open sandwich is a great option for a fun snack or meal and you can get the kids making their own. We can use GF breads but I prefer to use other things for the base such as large flat mushrooms, lightly grilled bell peppers (halved), egg plant slices (grilled on both sides), cucumber, large tomato slices to name a few.

ingredients-1As a brunch or an after school snack an open sandwich can be made by each person to their desired choices, this makes it ideal at gatherings of family and friends. It is also a great way to use leftovers from a large meal the day before. I use the grill a lot when I am making open sandwiches to melt in cheeses on the toppings and add some warmth when needed.

How to Propagate Rosemary

Rosemary-CuttingsI was asked the other day, “how do I propagate Rosemary”

Its quite easy, I do it all the time as I love to give away herbs to people that are starting out.

  • Take the clippings from a branch with new growth (green stem).
  • This is typically in the spring, but could be anytime depending on the watering conditions and how fresh the new growing stems are.

Propagating New Stem Cuttings

Make short clippings.

You want to take a clipping that is about 75-125mm (3 to 5 inches) long.  In the past, years ago I tried rooting a bigger/longer branch with the assumption being that more plant would mean a faster result.  However, this approach was rather unsuccessful…  (Smaller is better).  

Rosemary-Cuttings-trimmedAs it turns out, roots sprout much better from a green stem than from a dark woody one.  In the case of  rosemary, that green part of the stem is found at the last 75-125mm (3 to 5 inches) of a branch when it is growing.  Therefore, if you have a shorter branch, you will have more green wood on the cutting.

Then you just follow normal rooting procedure.  

Make a short clipping from the end of a branch

Remove about an 25-50mm (an inch or two) of the lowest needle like leaves.

Stick the cut end in clean water, and be sure not to cover the remaining leaves with water

Rosemary-Cuttings-Glass-2Put the cuttings in bright shade.

Wait a few weeks and the cuttings will have developed roots. Plant these into individual small pots with some fine potting mix and watch then grow. These can then be planted into garden begs or into larger pots if container growing.

Benefits of Nuts and dried fruits as part of our diet

Raw-Power-webBy Chef Jimmy Boswell 

Having nuts and dried fruits as a part of our daily diet offers many benefits and one of the most important is the way that they help stabilize our blood sugar levels and control those sugar lows in our busy lives. They also provide nutrients and minerals important to our daily diet. 

They are very convenient to pack into snack bags that can be “eaten on the run” as they offer in my view an easy and healthy snack that can be eaten anywhere. 

Nuts are packed full of good fats, oils and fiber and natural dried fruits have sugar, nutrients and minerals. We need sugars in out diet and the natural sugars that are found in dried fruits match well with the fats and oils from the nuts to create a stable breakfast and snack meal. 

The study “Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic diet” (Diabetes Care, August 2011)* suggests that eating about 55 grams, (2 oz) of nuts every day can improve glycemic control and serum lipids in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Fats and oils are an important part of out diet and they help stabilize blood sugar (glucose) control in out bodies. (1) 

What this means is that fats and oils are “slow burning fuels” that help to stabilize blood sugar and allow you to go between meals without feeling so hungry. Fats also send a signal to your brain to tell you when you’re satisfied, so you know when to stop eating. This suggests why people on low-fat diets are so hungry all the time. 

Other recent medical studies indicate that nuts may play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease. In one study, researchers found that although the benefits were greatest for frequent nut eaters, people who ate nuts even once a week had 25% less heart disease than those who avoided nuts completely. 

Tree nuts are cholesterol-free and chock-full of important nutrients, including protein and fiber. They are also a great source of vitamins such as folic acid, niacin and vitamins E and B6, and minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and potassium. 

“What goes up quickly, comes down quickly” 

I am sure that everyone reading this has had that mid-morning or afternoon crash. Studies have shown that people that are on the move all day and rely on marketed  “pick-me-up”  foods, caffeine and sugar to get then through regularly experience these crashes. 

“Convenient snack foods are high in refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and white sugar, which rob the body of enzymes, minerals and vitamins, especially B vitamins. B vitamins are essential for proper brain and nervous system function”. (1) 

References 

*“Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic diet” (Diabetes Care, August 2011) http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/8/1706.full 

(1) Source: Weston A. Price Foundation 
Replacing Refined Sugars with Natural Sugars One Step At a Time

Shared Grill-BBQ Plates Reduce Cross Contamination Potential

Gluten_Contaminated_bbqThe following are some points to consider that will help you have a Gluten free summer by minimizing cross contamination potential from a shared grill/BBQ plate.

What to do;

Try to grill/BBQ the gluten-free foods first, when the grates are clean, or else reserve a section of the grates just for the gluten-free food (be sure nothing with gluten drips onto it).

If these steps are not possible, grill/BBQ the gluten-free food on aluminum foil or in packets that will keep it off the grill/BBQ surface. I use a double layer of foil as a precaution.

Avoid other sources of cross-contamination.

Make sure separate sets of utensils/bowls etc are used for gluten-free food preparation and cooking. In particular, be careful that utensils used to handle gluten free food on the grill/BBQ are not also used on food that been marinated or coated with gluten containing sauces. Also, be sure the BBQ hosts understand how to protect gluten free food from cross-contamination.

Other Possible ways of Cross Contamination

When you are attending a BBQ, picnic or any other social event where there is both Gluten free and non Gluten free foods being served you have to watch out for cross contamination in communal foods such as dips, spreadable condiments, butter and anything else that could have had a Gluten contaminated utensil used in it. Never double dip! Butter dishes, jelly jars, and salsa at a BBQ are some examples of the types of places you’ll find potential gluten cross-contamination.

Gluten can often be found on cooking utensils, pots and pans, counter tops and more. Even cleaning cloths can spread gluten all over the place.

When I go to a sheared BBQ or picnic I always take my own condiments and keep then separate. I also label them in a bold colour that they are gluten free.

If possible try to have your gluten free food on a table separate from the non Gluten free food. It will protect the serving utensils and food from being cross contaminated.

If that isn’t possible, be sure to serve yourself and your family first before the other guests are served. Some people may not understand utensils used across dishes can be hazardous to anyone who is gluten-free.

Using Herbs

herbsOutlined below are some suggestions of what herbs to use with what meats or vegetables. Herbs are a great option when you are living a seasonal fresh to bring full flavour to your dishes. If you are not big on the use of herbs in your cooking start with some of the suggested matched below and play around with tastes.

You will find out what you like and this will open the door to even greater tasting foods.

I use both fresh and dried.

You can download this post as a pdf by clicking here

Herbs with meat.

Beef –
Basil, Bay leaf, Caraway, Chervil, Lovage seed, Cumin, Garlic Fenugreek, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme and Peppermint.

Lamb –
Basil, Bay leaf, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Chervil, Dill, Garlic, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Lovage seed, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Saffron, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme and Savory.

Ham –
Lovage, Marjoram, Mint, Mustard, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary and Savory.

Pork –
Anise, Caraway, Cardamom, Coriander, Chervil, Dill, Garlic, Ginger, Oregano, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Tarragon, Fennel, Lovage seed, Marjoram, Savory and Thyme.

Veal –
Basil, Bay leaf, Chervil, Chives, Ginger, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory and Thyme.

Venison –
Bay, Lovage seed, Rosemary, Sage, Savory and Sweet Marjoram.

Rabbit –
Basil, Bay, Marjoram, Lovage seed, Rosemary and Sage.

Liver –
Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Sage, Savory and Thyme.

Turkey –
Basil, Garlic, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme, Parsley and Sweet Marjoram.

Chicken –
Thyme, Anise, Basil, Bay leaf, Borage, Chervil, Chives, Cinnamon, Cumin, Dill, Fenugreek, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Lovage, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Mint Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory and Tarragon.

Duck –
Bay, Rosemary, Sage, Sweet Marjoram and Tarragon.

Goose – Fennel, Sage and Sweet Marjoram.

Fish – Anise, Basil, Borage, Caraway, Chevil, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Savory, Tarragon and Thyme.

Baked or Grilled Fish –
Basil, Bay, Caraway, Chervil, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, Lovage, Marjoram, Mints, Parsley, Savory, Tarragon and Thyme.

Salmon –
Dill seed and Rosemary.

Fish Soups – Bay, Lovage, Sage, Savory, Tarragon and Thyme.

Oily Fish – Fennel and Dill.

Seafood – Basil, Bay, Chervil, Chives, Dill, Fennel Seed, Marjoram, Rosemary, Tarragon and Thyme.

Herbs with vegetables

Artichokes –
Bay, Savory and Tarragon.

Asparagus –
Chives, Lemon Balm, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme, Chervil, Dill and Tarragon.

Avocado –
Dill, Marjoram and Tarragon.

Beans Dried –
Savory, Cumin, Garlic, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, and Thyme.

Beans, Green –
Savory, Basil, Caraway, Cloves, Dill, Marjoram, Mint, Sage and Thyme.

Broccoli –
Basil, Dill, Garlic, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Oregano, Tarragon and Thyme.

Brussel Sprouts –
Dill, Sage and Savory.

Cabbage –
Basil, Caraway, Cayenne, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Marjoram, Sage, Savory, Borage, Dill seed, Mint, Oregano and Savory.

Carrots –
Anise, Basil, Chervil, Chives, Cinnamon, Clove, Cumin, Dill, Sage, Ginger, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme and Chervil.

Cauliflower –
Basil, Caraway, Chives, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Marjoram, Parsley, Rosemary, Savory, Tarragon and Fennel.

Corn –
Chevil, Chives, Lemon Balm, Saffron, Sage and, Thyme.

Eggplant –
Basil, Cinnamon, Dill, Garlic, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Savory and Thyme.

Lentils –
Garlic, Mint , Parsley, Savory and Sorrel.

Mushrooms –
Coriander, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Tarragon, Thyme, Basil, Dill, Lemon Balm, Parsley, Rosemary and Savory.

Onions –
Basil, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme.

Parsnips –
Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Parsley, Savory and Thyme.

Peas –
Caraway, Chevil, Chives, Rosemary, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme, Basil, Chervil, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley and Sage.

Potatoes –
Parsley, Basil, Caraway, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Lovage, Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Tarragon and Thyme.

Spinach –
Anise, Basil, Caraway, Chevil, Chives, Cinnamon, Dill, Rosemary, Thyme, Borage, Marjoram, Mint, Sage, Sorrel and Tarragon.

Squash –
Basil, Caraway, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Savory and Dill.

Tomatoes –
Basil, Bay leaf, Chives, Chervil, Coriander, Dill, Garlic, Lovage, Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Savory, Tarragon and Thyme.

Turnips –
Dill seed, Marjoram and Savory.

Zucchini –
Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Rosemary and Tarragon.

Brining A Chicken or Turkey

Nosh_Turkey-2Why brine a whole chicken or Turkey? 

The answer is simple. It will season the bird with the added herbs, lemon slices and sugar. It adds moisture and reduces the chance of the chicken or turkey drying out while its cooking especially with bigger sized birds. 

Brining consists of making a salt water solution in a 1:8 cup ratio of salt to water. The bird is then soaked in the brine for a period of time, much like a marinade. I soak at a ratio of 1 hour for every 400g (1lb). 

To put it scientifically, the brine hydrates the muscle tissues allowing them to retain moisture during cooking. This means the whole bird will be moist and areas like the breast meat will not be dry. 

The simple 1:32 cup ratio if salt to water can be enhanced by adding fresh herbs in the liquid so as to infuse the meat not just with moisture, but flavour as well. 

Additionally, you can substitute part of the water with other liquids, such as lemon or orange juice or apple cider. I have also in the past used some apricot juice. About 2 cups with great results. 

Chicken-BrineThe recipe below is for brining a whole turkey. For a medium sized chicken halve the recipe. 

2 lemons, cut into thick slices
6 bay leaves
100g (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
25g (1 ounce) thyme
1/2 cup honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1 cup sea salt
8 liters (2 gallons) water 

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a low boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. 

Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken or turkey, add the bird and refrigerate 12 hours for a turkey and 6 for a chicken. The chicken may be too salty if you brine the chicken for more than 6 hours. 

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, cover and let it rest at room temperature for over an hour. You can rest it in the fridge overnight if required 

Roast as per suppliers instructions.

Is Eating Seasonal and Local Expensive Part One Getting Started

Chicken-Lemon_Honey_Ch-SkewAs a seasonal fresh chef I get told all the time that “we can’t eat local and seasonal fresh, it costs too much”. 

I have to say, this is not true and it can be made a reality with a little understanding on how to buy in season. Seasonal food is better for you and the planet , plenty of nutrients and flavour ! 

Eating locally supports the economy you live in or are close to. It also supports local and smaller farms who are farming sustainably 

Eating seasonally also reduces food costs because when we buy what is abundant and in season, the supply is higher and this means the cost of the food is lower. This enables you to buy better quality items while stretching your food dollars. Often they will have specials and you can buy up on, blanch vegetables and freeze for later use. 

When I say local I don’t mean at the supermarket, I mean from your local farmers markets or green grocer. The benefit of buying from these two is that either they have grown the produce themselves or they have sourced from local suppliers and can tell you where it has come from. 

When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive.  It’s the basic law of supply and demand, and when crops are in season you’ll be rewarded financially by purchasing what’s growing now. 

Ok, How Do I Start? 

Planning Your Weeks Meals 

The first thing I suggest is to start a meal plan for the coming week. I do these late in the week in the evening so I can take advantage of the farmers markets and green grocers. 

You can download a A4 weekly meal planning chart here…. 

www.jimmyboswell.com/GFS_Meal_Planning.pdf   

When you are starting chat with family and find out what they want over the next week and make a list of the meal suggestions. 

Spend time each week looking for recipes. The internet is great for this. Remember to bookmark sites you like to you can get back to them quickly. 

Decide what to prepare. I find it helpful to think in terms of categories, for example: 

Soup or Salad

Ethnic styled meals like Italian meatballs, curries etc

Pasta

Casserole

Quick & Easy. 

Ethnic – you could divide it into cooking styles 

grilling & BBQ’s

crock-pot

stir-fry

roast

If I pick one from each category, there’s sufficient variety that my family won’t complain, and by putting the Quick & Easy meals (tacos, hamburgers, spaghetti) on harried days, dinner will get done on time. 

Save one day a week for a new dish from a cookbook or a food blog if you like to try new things. If it’s from a blog, make sure you print out the recipe and keep it with your menu plan or in a notebook just for that purpose. 

To help with herbs and seasonings have a look at my blog on herb and spice blends that makes cooking a lot easier. 

http://www.tasteofhome.co.nz/everyday-dried-herb-blends/ 

Start a Meal Calendar.

Now that you’re getting inspired in what to eat, start a calendar of what you’d like to cook over the next few days or few weeks and mix and match meal requests from family and friends. 

Kids-in-KitchenThis is also a great way of getting kids in the kitchen helping meals that they love. They can start with washing vegetables, mixing things together, cracking eggs and loads more. This gives them pride in what has been cook and what they are eating. 

Choose a shopping day and make a shopping list. 

This makes it easier to plan where you need to go and this can save a lot of time and money. 

Check what’s on sale. 

This works in with meal planning and your shopping. When you are making the shopping list check your pantry and add to the list anything that needs to be re-stocked. 

Plan for leftovers.

This is a very good way to eat fresh and save money through buying when things are on special. I regularly cook one or two big healthy casseroles or ragus at the beginning of the week and eat off them all week long for lunch. 

Some people can only eat leftovers for a single night. There are many ways that we can have the leftovers in different ways. I will delve into this in another post. 

Be strategic about freezing.

The freezer is your friend. Actually, it’s the friend of future you. Make a double batch of that sauce you love, some stocks half or all for later. Make a double batch of soup, stew, chicken cacciatore — throw it in the freezer. Let a month go by, and those leftovers will look fresh and tasty! 

Don’t overstuff the refrigerator.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your fridge is over-full. Also, things get hidden in the back. Don’t let things go bad. Keep your fridge airy and light, with a sensible, realistic amount of food in it. 

Keep a well-stocked pantry.

Meals are easier and quicker to prepare if you keep your pantry well-stocked. Don’t run out of olive oil at inconvenient moments. Have spices and herbs ready to season and flavour dishes you are cooking.

Salt Seasoning Chicken Breasts and Pan Fried Vegetables

seasoning-the-chicken-breasChicken Breast 

As many of you will have found out chicken breast can end up dried out when its served. One of the most common reasons I have found relates to when you season the raw meat with salt. 

When I season chicken breast I only use pepper and herbs to start. The reason for this is that salt can remove moisture from the meat and when its cooked it can dry out quicker. I season with salt just before I cook it. 

Pan Fried Vegetables 

Time your salt seasoning when frying vegetables because if you add salt to vegetables before cooking, as soon as they hit the pan, the salt (sodium) will draw out and release moisture and they will steam and may not brown up very well. For deep, flavourful caramelization, add the salt seasoning at the end.

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