Thursday, November 10, 2016

Studio 5: Dinner Dice Challenge

I just didn't want the green beans.  I love food.  Pretty much all food, but NOT green beans.  I can eat them, and I do like how my Sister-in-law prepares her Haricot Verts, but I don't buy them  and I would never order them.  So...relief! I didn't get green beans, in fact, I kind of lucked out!

In case you are wondering 'what the heck' I'm talking about... Studio 5 did a Dinner Dice Challenge all this week.  Cooks (that's me!) came into the Studio, rolled the dice to find out which ingredients we would have to cook with and then we had 45 minutes during the show to 'whip' something up!

I loved this idea.  I'm not much of a recipe gal, I'm an open the fridge, connect the dots, create kind of gal.  This is more fun, more creative and takes less time too!

I'll post the video here in a few hours so you can watch what I rolled and how it turned out!

In the meantime, let me share a couple of my "lifelines".  They allowed us to bring in 3 items from our own kitchen.  Things we rely on when cooking like this.  I brought two confits.  A confit is basically a method of preserving food. 

Typically you cook and then cover the food in oil.  You may have heard of Duck confit (Oh good).  In this case, I made a Roasted Tomato Balsamic confit and a Garlic confit.  SO easy and SO delicious.  It adds a punch of flavor to pretty much anything you cook.

Garlic Confit

Garlic confit is as simple as super slow (as in poaching...lowest temperature possible) cooking garlic in oil for a few hours.  Place in a jar.  Keep in the fridge.  Now you have super flavorful garlic oil AND mellow garlic all ready to add to just about anything.

Here's an easy way to get a lot of garlic peeled quickly! I used 3 bulbs for this recipe.

Crush you bulb with the palm of your hand until it breaks apart.  Remove the cloves and place in a jar. Place lid on jar and shake vigorously until it looks like the peel are coming off.  

Poor garlic out of jar and remove peels.

Now...there are some other great ways to remove peels easily.  Here's one I enjoyed from Youtube, same concept, but using 2 bowls instead.  I also heard that putting them in the microwave for 30 seconds make them come off easier as well.  The trick here is to keep the clove as intact as possible.

If I'm using fresh garlic, just a few for a recipe, I will go ahead and smash the whole clove with the flat side of my large knife.  In this case, I'm going to chop up the entire clove anyway, so smashing it gives it a head start releasing all it's garlic loveliness.  

Roasted Tomato Balsamic Confit

I found a recipe for this on our recent, ubiquitous source of food info...the Facebook!  Seriously, one of best things I do in my kitchen.

If you grew tomatoes in your garden, this is the way to go!  If not, I've still done this in winter with Costco tomatoes and they were still good. 

Amazingly, it's November and I still have tomatoes in my garden, we just haven't had a hard frost, but I think one is coming next week, so I better finish picking them!

Because it's late this batch used smaller tomatoes than during the summer. 
No biggie, doesn't matter the size.

Place parchment down on a baking sheet (makes clean up a lot easier).  Cut ends off of tomato.  Just a thin slice off the smooth side so it lays flat.  Arrange on sheet.

Drizzle (or brush) generously with olive oil.  Sprinkle lightly with balsamic vinegar (this is optional...I've also made them without the vinegar, but wow, what a punch of flavor with the Balsamic!).  Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Also, optional, but very good is to add chopped garlic to the tops and a sprinkle of dried oregano, thyme or your favorite herb.

Two ways to cook them.  High & Fast OR Low & Slow.  You'll get a slightly different product depending on which way you cook.  The low & slow will have a more dehydrated (almost sun roasted look) to the tomato.  I like them to be a bit juicy still, so I opt for 425 F for 45 minutes or so.  For Low & Slow, go 250 for 2 hours.

Here's what you DO NOT want to do.  THINK you can go do an errand while they are roasting, be later than you thought and end up overcooking them (hence my picture above).  LOL

The black is simply the sugar in the Balsamic burning, you won't end up using that anyway.  It should, however, not be black and you should see juices run if you're cooking it properly.  Don't leave the kitchen, hang out and keep an eye on them.  I just didn't have time to do another batch before the show.

Place tomato halves into a large mouth jar.  If some tomatoes are peeking through the liquid at the top, add enough olive oil so it is covered.

Keep in the fridge for a week or two or you can also freeze the bottles, or using a pressure cooker, can them so they are shelf stable.

How to use these little beauties?  So many ways!  I had one friend make these and she said they were eating them with every meal.  

Breakfast: On a fried egg, or Egg sandwich.  

Lunch:  add a few to a pot with some vegetable or chicken broth and something to make it creamy (milk, cream, coconut milk), puree for a wonderful tomato soup.  Don't add seasoning to this until you taste it at the end, as the tomatoes are already seasoned heavily.

Dinner: Same concept as above, but this time keep it thicker to make a lovely Rose sauce for pasta.  On a crostini, bruschetta, mexican sauce for enchiladas etc...



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