Fearless Fresh https://fearlessfresh.com Cook Like a Boss Thu, 12 Oct 2017 05:18:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://fearlessfresh.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/cropped-FlameMark_Color300-opt-32x32.jpg Fearless Fresh https://fearlessfresh.com 32 32 Introducing Fearless Fresh Cooking Cheat Sheets! https://fearlessfresh.com/introducing-cooking-cheat-sheets/ https://fearlessfresh.com/introducing-cooking-cheat-sheets/#respond Sat, 07 Oct 2017 18:50:54 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=27463 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Fearless Fresh Cooking Cheat Sheets are like having a cooking teacher right there in the kitchen with you. These colorful cooking guides are full of easy-to-read recipe tables that allow you to mix and match ingredients, so you can create flavorful dishes with complete ease. For the next two weeks I’m offering all Cooking Cheat Sheets sets in a bundle at a discounted rate of 15% off + free shipping. If you order now, you will get the your cheat sheets will ship the first week of November.

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FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

OMG, I am SO freaking excited. Like, I can barely sit still while writing this email.

I’ve shared a little of the journey with you in past emails, and now it’s official: after days, weeks, MONTHS of work, the Fearless Fresh Cooking Cheat Sheets are finally done. I’ve crammed so much heart and soul into creating these guides for you, and I can’t wait for you to see them.

Fearless Fresh Cooking Cheat Sheets are like having a cooking teacher right there in the kitchen with you. These colorful cooking guides are full of easy-to-read recipe tables that allow you to mix and match ingredients, so you can create flavorful dishes with complete ease.

I’m preselling the cheat sheets for a discount until October 20th. I’ll be taking orders for the next two weeks and shipping them out the first week of November. Scroll down for a discount code!

If you want the whole story, check out the page where I lay out all the details. Otherwise scroll down for the highlight reel.

Now, take a peek at these beauties:

 

So, what exactly are Cooking Cheat Sheets? Instead of making this email a mile long (and I could with how excited I am about these things) I’ll give you a quick rundown of why they’re awesome.

First, I’ve created two separate sets of Cooking Cheat Sheets:

  1. My inaugural set of cooking guides, Cheat Sheets Series #1, includes charts will guide you through making creamy salad dressings, chopping herbs and vegetables, making the world’s easiest sauce, and more.
  2. The Mega-Measurement Guide is full of done-for-you kitchen math, so you’ll never have to convert measurements in your head again. 

Second, both sets are available in either physical laminated format or digital downloads.

The digital versions are in PDF format and compatible with any digital device.

The printed versions are full-color hand-held guides, printed on thick 100# cardstock, and covered with 10mil lamination for maximum durability. Three-hole punching through the lamination allow you to store your cheat sheets in a binder, so they’re always at arm’s reach when you need them.

Third, I designed Cooking Cheat Sheets with ease and creativity in mind. They’ll teach you how to:

  • Easily cook dinner without a recipe, with basic ratios where you just fill in the blank
  • Learn the in’s and out’s of ingredients, do you know exactly what to expect when you cook
  • Knock your knife skills into stratospheric levels, so you can chop like a freaking chefs while your friends give you the jealous side-eye
  • Develop your palate by expanding your flavor memory, meaning that you’ll instinctively know what flavors will go together, allowing you to create epic recipes on your own
  • Make solid cooking decisions based on health, flavor, texture, and what you’ve got in the fridge
Limited Earlybird Discount!

For the next two weeks I’m offering all Cooking Cheat Sheets sets in a bundle at a discounted rate of 15% off + free shipping. If you order now, you will get the your cheat sheets will ship the first week of November.

If you’re in the Facebook group, you’ll find a 10% off code there. Hop into the group here.

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Mexican Flavor Bomb: Avocado YUM Sauce Recipe https://fearlessfresh.com/mexican-avocado-sauce-recipe/ https://fearlessfresh.com/mexican-avocado-sauce-recipe/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2017 15:00:14 +0000 https://www.theculinarylife.com/?p=16483 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

This avocado sauce recipe is a great example of how to increase flavor with almost no effort. Not only does it hit almost every mandatory flavor note, it also whips up in less than a minute. As a sauce it's incredibly flavorful and very flexible, so you can serve it however you like it best -- thin, like a sauce, or thick and chunky, like the best guacamole you've ever eaten. If you're serving it in tacos, over enchiladas, or on top of chicken/fish/veggies, blend it to a smooth consistency so that it seeps into every nook and cranny of your dish. If you're eating it like a dip or serving it on top of bread, leave it chunkier so that it's easier to eat.

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FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Flavor Bomb Avocado Sauce Recipe on https://fearlessfresh.com

If you’re looking for MAX FLAVOR in, like, 30 seconds, this avocado sauce recipe will tickle every single bit of your palate. I talk a lot about flavor on Fearless Fresh, because eating bland, boring food is really demoralizing. (Come on, you know it’s true… it’s like living on nothing but toast for the rest of your life.) Life is short, and those little pops of flavor that make meals worth eating are good for the soul.

A lot of people think that flavor is this unattainable thing, something that’s complicated to figure out. Many of my students tell me their attempts at improving flavor are hit or miss at best. That makes me sad, because there are a few things that will double or triple the flavor of your dish with very little effort.

These tried-and-true techniques work every single time, and they’re easy to learn. I think you just guessed what we’ll be talking about the next few weeks. :)

This avocado sauce recipe is a great example. Not only does it hit almost every mandatory flavor note, it also whips up in less than a minute. As a sauce it’s incredibly flavorful and very flexible, so you can serve it however you like it best — thin, like a sauce, or thick and chunky, like the best guacamole you’ve ever eaten. If you’re serving it in tacos, over enchiladas, or on top of chicken/fish/veggies, blend it to a smooth consistency so that it seeps into every nook and cranny of your dish. If you’re eating it like a dip or serving it on top of bread, leave it chunkier so that it’s easier to eat.

Why is this avocado sauce so flavorful? Well, let’s take a peek at the ingredients list. There are a few guaranteed flavor bombs in this simple recipe:

  1. Tomatoes for acid/brightness
  2. Garlic always adds a little spice
  3. Hot peppers add heat, which keeps things interesting
  4. Cilantro bring a fresh green flavor to the dish
  5. Lemon juice is KING when it comes to adding brightness and life to a recipe
  6. And the most important part… SALT. This is where flavor starts. Without salt, everything else falls flat.

I’ll be talking a bit about salt in the upcoming weeks, and also creating a full lesson on how to salt your food so that it’s perfect. So keep an eye out for that. For now, enjoy this avocado sauce recipe and trust that it will bring a serious explosion of Mexican flavor to whatever you add it to. (Secret: it’s great over rice and chicken for a seriously simple weeknight dinner.)

Mexican Flavor Bomb: Avocado Sauce Recipe

This avocado sauce recipe is SUPER flavorful and can add a ton of personality to any dish you pour it onto. It can be served in two ways — thin, like a sauce, or thick and chunky, like the best guacamole you’ve ever eaten. If you’re serving it on tacos or another larger dish, blend the sauce until it’s completely smooth. If you’re serving it on bread or as a dip, pulse it a few times so that it has a chunky texture.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

  • 2 large Roma tomatoes (chopped (or half a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, with juice))
  • 1 large avocado (peeled, seed removed, and flesh chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)
  • 1 whole jalapeño pepper (or red pepper, chopped, seeds removed if you want to tone down the heat (optional))
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (packed)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice ((from half a lemon))
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  1. Toss everything in a blender or small food processor and pulse until it’s the texture you like. Personally, I blend it until completely smooth, but if I’m going to scoop it onto bread, I just pulse a few times to leave it a little chunkier so that it’s easier to eat. (Like it looks in the photo.)

  2. Taste the sauce and add more lemon juice and salt, if it needs it. Just add a small amount at a time and blend a few seconds, then taste again and add a little more if you prefer.

  3. If you blend it until it’s smooth, this sauce should be on the thinner side, like a gravy. Feel free to add water to reach a thinner consistency if you prefer, adding 1 tablespoon at a time and blending between each addition to test.

 

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Farro Salad Recipe with Sweet Corn and Cherry Tomatoes https://fearlessfresh.com/farro-salad-recipe-corn/ https://fearlessfresh.com/farro-salad-recipe-corn/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 15:00:41 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=21548 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

This farro salad is healthy, yes, but also hearty and incredibly flavorful. Whole grain farro fills you up while an impressively assertive cast of flavors makes this one of those two- or three-helping dishes: sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and some welcomely bitter green arugula to round the whole thing out. This farro salad hits so many flavor notes, and perfectly, that I've been eating it for dinner with nothing else without feeling deprived in any way.

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FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Farro Salad Recipe with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes on https://fearlessfresh.com

I’ve never met a farro salad I didn’t like at least passingly, but then I met Julie’s farro salad recipe, and suddenly I was in love. Delicious recipes that come together in less than 15 minutes are freaking GOLD right now. I’ve been super swamped lately, trying to launch my upcoming cooking cheat sheets while managing my surgery recovery (still can’t really use my right arm) so eating — let alone cooking — is a luxury these days. And eating healthy? Yeah, right. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been living on eggs, toast, and smoothies for the past month.

Come on, don’t judge. You know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

So, Julie’s farro salad. We’ve already established that she’s one hell of a good cook with her epic tiramisu cake and fall-off-the-bone grilled ribs, so it’s no surprise that when you visit Julie’s house, you eat really, really well. I’m always ready to be blown away from her grilling and baking prowess, and not being a general salad person, I honestly don’t pay that much attention to the salad bowl. But when I scooped a forkful of Julie’s farro salad into my face, well, let’s just say that everything else on the table fell away.

This farro salad is healthy, yes, but also hearty and incredibly flavorful. Whole grain farro fills you up while an impressively assertive cast of flavors makes this one of those two- or three-helping dishes: sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and some welcomely bitter green arugula to round the whole thing out. This farro salad hits so many flavor notes, and perfectly, that I’ve been eating it for dinner with nothing else without feeling deprived in any way.

If you’re convinced that whole grains are hard to cook, check out my advice on cooking whole grains with grace and speed. Or, do what I did earlier this month. Get the “10-minute Farro” from Trader Joe’s, which sells for $1.50 and cooks up in… you guessed it… ten minutes.

If you’re gluten-free or just don’t have any farro in the house, this salad is just as good with brown rice instead. You could also make it with pretty much any other grain you have handy: quinoa, barley, etc. Same goes for greens. If you’re not feeing the bitterness of arugula, swamp it out with baby chard, spinach, or whatever other green thing you’ve got hiding in a bag in your crisper threatening to expire before you eat it.

Alright, that’s enough of my heart-eyed salad blather. 😍 Here’s a note from Julie:

This farro salad recipe is one of my favorite go-to side dishes. It’s always a hit with friends and family.  Colorful and flavorful, it is super simple to make and easy to switch up if you don’t have fresh corn around.  In the summertime I like to cook whole cobs of corn for just a few minutes, then quickly drop the cobs in cold water to stop the cooking. When the corn is cool enough, I slice it right off the cob into the bowl of farro. If you don’t have whole corn on the cob you can use frozen corn, or you can substitute fresh zucchini. I like to dice up the zucchini into a small dice, then either add it fresh or lightly saute the zucchini in a small amount of olive oil before adding to the salad.  This farro salad recipe is great for picnics and barbecues, and is easy to double up for larger parties.

Oh, if you like this salad and are looking for other healthy, hearty dishes, definitely check out my curry quinoa salad with mango, ginger, mint, and Serrano peppers. It’s another zinger in the flavor department.

Farro Salad Recipe with Sweet Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

This farro salad cooks up quick, easy, and healthy. Super flavorful with a farro, corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, lemon juice, lemon zest, and arugula.

  • 1 cup farro (uncooked (or brown rice))
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces corn kernels ((about 3 ears or can use frozen))
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 3 scallions (sliced thin)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 bunch arugula (about 2 cups (loosely packed))
  1. Cook farro according to the package directions, making sure to salt the water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Once the farro is done, drain and rinse the grains under cold water. Drain again to remove all excess water. Put into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

  2. Bring another pot of salted water to boil and drop the corn in, cooking for 2 minutes, until it’s hot but not soft. Immediately drain the corn and rinse with cool water. Drain again to remove excess water and add the corn to the bowl with the farro. 

  3. Add the tomatoes, scallions, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir well, then salt and pepper to taste. 

  4. Right before serving, add the arugula. Don’t add it early or the leaves will wilt and get soggy. If you like, add a bit more olive oil and lemon juice to taste.

  • If you live near a Trader Joe’s, they sell 10-minute farro that cooks super fast. 
  • To make this recipe gluten-free, just brown rice instead of farro.
  • You could also make it with pretty much any other grain you have handy: quinoa, barley, etc.
  • Same goes for greens. If you’re not feeing the bitterness of arugula, swamp it out with baby chard, spinach, or another kind of greens.

This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.

 

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Summer Fig Jam Recipe with Aquavit https://fearlessfresh.com/fig-jam-aquavit/ https://fearlessfresh.com/fig-jam-aquavit/#respond Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:00:41 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=24210 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Each summer I have access to plenty of figs to make fig jam from and each year it’s a little bit different. One year I flavored my fig jam with orange juice and zest, another year with cinnamon sticks, and yet another with a generous pour of balsamic vinegar. This year’s fig jam was spiked with aquavit; a Scandinavian spirit flavored with caraway and star anise. The savory whisper complimented the inherent flowery flavors of the figs, resulting in what may be my favorite fig jam yet.

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FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Summer Fig Jam Recipe with Aquavit on https://fearlessfresh.com

This fascinating fig jam is compliments of my food writing friend/brother/husband/colleague Garrett McCord. Garrett formerly wrote the blog Vanilla Garlic, but he’s moved on to create an entirely new website about cocktails, Coupe de Gras. If you’re at all inclined towards intelligent cocktails or witty banter (or both) I highly recommend you check it out.

I’m all for boozy jams — hence this peach Bellini jam with champagne, or my other favorite, Mandarin marmalade with lemon verbena and Campari — but I’ve never made jam with aquavit. Leave it to Garrett to push the boundaries of what we think jam should conform to, creating something entirely different and worthy of your attention. Truly, that’s what he does best.

Jam is a creation that’s both simple and trying. I don’t say this to put you off attempting it, rather, it’s simply a statement of fact.

Fig jam only requires chopping, stirring, and boiling. Really. That’s it. It’s just that there is a lot of it. Lots of chopping. Lots of standing still and stirring for what can be up to an hour. Lots of slow bubbling and cooking – both the jam itself and the water bath – that turns your kitchen into a veritable sauna. (An environment even more tedious when suffered in the throes of a triple digit heat wave.)

All of this is even more true during summer; the season that brings about some of the most ideal produce for canning. Fresh berries, peaches that weep with juice at the merest touch, and tomatoes of every kind. The potential is nearly endless.

One of my favorite jam recipes is for fig jam. While figs aren’t my favorite fruit, when jammed they make for an excellent partner for cheese plates, sandwiches, grilled meats, vanilla ice cream, addition to fruit pies and so on. Plus, fig jam is a fantastic starter jam if you’re new to canning. It gels easily, has plenty of inherent sweetness, and the number of supporting flavors it marries well with allows the resulting jam to be easily customized to the maker’s taste.

My neighbor has a fig tree so large that the canopy is the size of a house and reaches three stories tall. The shade it casts covers at least 2,000 square feet. Similarly, it also drops about 2,000 square feet of figs every summer turning the street into a sticky and rather fermented mess. The neighborhood attempts to mediate this by picking the tree with eager abandon.

(Not that it does much good. Come August, that corner smells like rotting fruit and bad brandy, with often an inebriated raccoon or four stumbling about as if waiting for the Uber they ordered to take them home.)

This is the roundabout way to say that each summer I have access to plenty of figs to make fig jam from and each year it’s a little bit different. One year I flavored my fig jam with orange juice and zest, another year with cinnamon sticks, and yet another with a generous pour of balsamic vinegar. This year’s fig jam was spiked with aquavit; a Scandinavian spirit flavored with caraway and star anise. The savory whisper complimented the inherent flowery flavors of the figs, resulting in what may be my favorite fig jam yet.

This recipe consists of the basic instructions for making fig jam. You can process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes, or not. Doing so will ensure you can put the jars up for at least 18 months. Otherwise, the jam should be stored in the fridge and consumed within a few weeks.

The recipe also calls for aquavit for flavoring, but this can be swapped out for another favorite booze. If you prefer your jam sans-liquor, kick it out altogether and add a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, or another favorite warming spice — like this recipe for fig jam with pear and cinnamon. Fig jam is forgiving, so no stress on adding whatever you think might taste good.

Summer Fig Jam Recipe with Aquavit on https://fearlessfresh.com

Summer Fig Jam Recipe with Aquavit

This fig jam recipe is an excellent partner for cheese plates, sandwiches, grilled meats, vanilla ice cream, addition to fruit pies and so on.  Makes 6 cups of jam, give or take!

  • 4 pounds figs (diced)
  • 2 pounds granulated sugar
  • 1 whole lemon (juiced)
  • 1/3 cup aquavit
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed pot and stir together. Cover and place in the fridge to macerate (the process of sugar pulling out the liquids of fruit) for at least an hour, but preferably overnight. This will result in less chance of your jam crystallizing (something that can happen if all the sugar isn’t melted when you cook the jam) and encourage a better flavor.

  2. Thoroughly wash and dry 6 8-ounce ball jars along with their lids. Set the jars right-side-up in a baking sheet and hold them in an oven at 225°F for at least 20 minutes to sterilize. Leave the jars in the oven until you’re ready to fill them, because adding hot jam to cool jars is a recipe for disaster. (Note: Yes, some believe that you don’t need to pre-sterilize jars, but I do it anyway.)

  3. Place the pot over medium heat. Your jam will now go through a few phases of cooking that will take around 30-45 minutes of cooking start-to-finish. The first stage is the pre-boil phase where the mixture will get very wet and loose, your sugar will melt, and the fruit will release more juice.

  4. The second stage is the foaming phase. The jam will start giving up a mucky, thick foam. Take a wide, shallow spoon and skim the foam off the top. The foam is just excess sugars and proteins that are being cooked off. They’re harmless to the jam, but do cause it to look cloudy and unappetizing. I always place the foam in a container in the fridge and add it to smoothies, waffles, or ice cream. 

  5. Eventually the foaming will subside and give way to a more regular-looking boil. This is the boil stage. Now you must be attentive. Continuously stir the mixture as this will ensure that the fruit and sugar don’t sit and scald on the bottom of the pan. This process is cooking off the excess water and encouraging the sugar to reach a gel point.  

  6. The boil will soon slow down. Instead of lots of small bubbles, like in a simmer, you should see larger bubbles that struggle to the surface a bit as the mixture thickens. If you pull a spoon quickly across the bottom of the pot the jam should take a moment to catch up and fill in the trailing space behind your spoon, possibly making a sucking/scratching sound as it does. This is the jam stage! Once your jam is here, you’re done!

  7. Place hot jam into warm jars, leaving 1/4″ of head room. Either process in a water bath or allow to cool and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Jars can be sterilized by being run through a dishwasher, being boiled in water for 10 minutes, or heated in an oven set at 200°F (93°C) for 10 minutes. Sterilized jars help ensure your jam doesn’t go funky.

This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.

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Flavor Secrets: Orange Blossom Water = the Ultimate Orange Juice https://fearlessfresh.com/orange-blossom-water-ultimate-orange-juice/ https://fearlessfresh.com/orange-blossom-water-ultimate-orange-juice/#comments Mon, 03 Jul 2017 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.theculinarylife.com/?p=8620 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

– This little orange blossom water recipe really perks up your standard glass of OJ. – Flavor Secrets is a little series I’m running about a handful of single, simple ingredients that can take the flavor of your cooking to the next level with almost ZERO effort. Let’s start with something innocuous: Orange juice. And, orange juice is NOT the flavor secret I’m referring to — OJ is just a great example of how to use it. Orange juice probably isn’t something you think much about. Maybe you have it with breakfast, maybe you drink it at 1am in the middle of ...

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The Ultimate Orange Juice with Orange Blossom Water Recipe on https://fearlessfresh.com

– This little orange blossom water recipe really perks up your standard glass of OJ. –

Flavor Secrets is a little series I’m running about a handful of single, simple ingredients that can take the flavor of your cooking to the next level with almost ZERO effort. Let’s start with something innocuous: Orange juice.

And, orange juice is NOT the flavor secret I’m referring to — OJ is just a great example of how to use it.

Orange juice probably isn’t something you think much about. Maybe you have it with breakfast, maybe you drink it at 1am in the middle of a serious “holy crap OJ CRAVING.” (Or is that just me? Hrmm.) We all know there’s a big difference between fresh squeezed orange juice and the concentrated dreck you get in a frozen can, but really, elevating one’s orange juice is somewhere down near the bottom rung of most people’s priority ladder (as it should be).

If you had a quick, cheap way to make your orange juice into the most flavorful part of your day, would you care? Personally I’m always looking for little ways to make my day better, so yeah, I’d care.

I swear, I’m going somewhere semi-important with this. This post isn’t really about orange juice, it’s about how one small ingredient can make a HUGE different in flavor — and how you can put that ingredient to use elsewhere.

Enter orange blossom water (also known as orange flower water). What is it? Well, have you ever smelled a flowering orange tree? You know that heady aroma that almost pulls you face-first into the leaves? Imagine that smell bottled into a magical liquid. Orange blossom water has the power to take everyday citrus, such as your morning glass of orange juice, and blast it into flavorful depths previous unknown by your tastebuds. To boost your OJ, you simple add a 1/4 teaspoon to an 8-ounce glass. You’ll find the recipe below, but first I want to explain to you how orange blossom water can turn you into a total culinary boss, whom your friends beg for “your secret ingredient.”

The flavor implications are pretty incredible with this little trick; orange juice isn’t the only thing that orange blossom water will boost into something special. Here’s a short list of all the things that can be made 1000% better by adding a touch of orange blossom water:

  • Mimosas become even more epic 🥂 (which might cause you to need this list of hangover cures)
  • Lemon bars get a sweeter, slightly floral kick without any added sugar
  • Certain fruit pies/cobblers get a nice little punch, such as peach, strawberry, and rhubarb
  • Almost any fruit-based sorbet or sherbet will gladly accept a little love from orange blossom water
  • Lemon curd is taken to stratospheric levels…
  • …including lemon meringue pie, which tastes so good your friends will seriously end up licking the pie tin once it’s gone
  • Orange or lemon-based cakes can be elevated with orange blossom water, like adding add 1 teaspoon to my Meyer lemon cheesecake recipe
  • Even some savory dishes get a boost from orange blossom water, including couscous and Persian stew recipes

If you pick yourself up a bottle of orange blossom water and familiarize yourself with its aroma and flavor, you might be surprised by all the places you can use a sprinkling to spice up your cooking and baking. It’s relatively cheap — maybe $4 a bottle, max — so grab a bottle and start playing with it. There are many brands of orange blossom water available, but this is the brand I use (affiliate link). You can also find it at many grocery stores, in the international section (where you can also find pomegranate molasses, another one of my favorite flavor superheroes).

Of course, there’s a caveat: Orange blossom water is pretty powerful stuff, so a little goes a long way. Seriously. If you overdo it, you’ll end up tasting nothing but the essence, which becomes a not-so-pleasant experience. Make sure to keep an even hand when using orange blossom water, lest you feel like you’re drowning in an citrus perfume factory.

Here’s the recipe for your super special ULTIMATE orange juice. Give it a try, then get creative and experiment by adding a touch of orange blossom water to other recipes. You might be surprised where it works.

 

The Ultimate Orange Juice with Orange Blossom Water

Adding a little orange blossom water to your morning orange juice makes for an extra special touch to your AM ritual.

  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (plus more to taste)
  • 1 whole lemon (juiced)
  1. Divide the orange juice between 4 glasses. To each glass add 1/4 teaspoon of orange blossom water, stir well, and taste each glass. Add a little more orange flower water to taste, if you like, but add slowly as the floral notes can quickly overpower.
  2. Add a few drops of lemon juice to each glass, stir well, and taste. Serve ice cold.

This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.

 

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How to Freeze Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, and Other Berries https://fearlessfresh.com/how-to-freeze-blueberries-strawberries-blackberries/ https://fearlessfresh.com/how-to-freeze-blueberries-strawberries-blackberries/#respond Mon, 26 Jun 2017 15:00:54 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=21465 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Learning how to keep freeze blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and other summer berries can be frustrating without a few important tips. An endless variety of summer berries are filling the markets right now (and filling our mouths as we stuff ourselves silly with them). This is the best part of summer, in my opinion -- but berries tend to spoil quickly, especially when it's warm out.

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Learning how to freeze blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and other summer berries can be frustrating without a few important tips. An endless variety of summer berries are filling the markets right now (and filling our mouths as we stuff ourselves silly with them). This is the best part of summer, in my opinion — but berries tend to spoil quickly, especially when it’s warm out.

Small fruits tend to spoil faster than other produce, so if you end up with a ton of them, it’s often easier to learn how to freeze blueberries and other berries instead of storing them like celery or using the my method to keeping carrots fresh. What’s the best way to freeze berries? You’re in luck, because I happen to be a freaking pro at freezing produce. 😇

How to Freeze Blueberries, Strawberries, & Blackberries

Now matter what method you use to keep berries fresh, they will still eventually go bad. That’s just the nature of produce. If you have so many berries you can’t possible eat them all, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, etc, freeze beautifully. And freezing them is a little different than my method for how to freeze vegetables, so I thought I’d lay out the important details here, in a separate post.

(And before someone points it out, yes, I included cherries in that list of berries even though it’s technically a stone fruit. You get the idea.)​​

The best way to freeze blueberries (along with strawberries and other berries) is in a single layer on a sheet pan. If you try freezing them directly in zip-top bags or plastic storage containers, your berries will freeze into one big lump and you won’t be able to separate them until they’ve defrosted… which is no bueno.

You also need to make sure they’re sealed tightly in a plastic container or sealable bag, or else your berries will develop freezer burn and off flavors. I recently pulled some blueberries out of a friend’s freezer that tasted like… freezer. There was a small hole in the bag, which is all it took to let weird flavors make their way into the fruit. Most definitely NOT good eats.

Here are the simple steps on how to freeze blueberries (and strawberries, etc) so that they’re way, way, WAY easy to use later:

How to Freeze Blueberries, Strawberries, & Blackberries

Learning how to keep freeze blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and other summer berries can be frustrating without a few important tips. An endless variety of summer berries are filling the markets right now (and filling our mouths as we stuff ourselves silly with them). This is the best part of summer, in my opinion — but berries tend to spoil quickly, especially when it’s warm out.

  • 1 pound Berries (– blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, or whatever you've got)

Equipment:

  • Rimmed baking sheet (that will fit in your freezer)
  • Parchment paper
  • Zip-top bags (or sealable containers)
  1. Wash and dry your berries completely. Drying them is SO important. If your berries are wet when you freeze them, they’ll freeze together in clumps. Having a two-pound block of frozen blueberries is not a fun way to deal with them. Trust me.

  2. Find a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan that will fit into your freezer without having to tilt it. Tilting the pan will cause all of your berries to roll to one side, completely negating the purpose of freezing them in a flat pan.

  3. Line the pan with a piece of parchment.

  4. Spread your dry berries onto the parchment in a single layer. Do not pile them up — it’s a lot better to do multiple batches of berries instead of layering them too thickly. (See above mention re: sad panda block-o-berries.)

  5. Place the baking sheet in your freezer for at least 90 minutes.

  6. Quickly, before they have time to defrost, pop all the frozen berries off of the parchment and place them in sealed containers or zip-top bags.

  7. Use a sharpie to label the bags with what kind of berries you’re freezing. Don’t forget to write the date on the bag.

  8. Immediately place the bag or container in the freezer. Do not let the bag or container sit around, or you’ll have to start all over with wet, soggy berries. 

  9. Grab a new piece of parchment and repeat until all of your berries are frozen!

Nutritional analysis is based on blueberries.

I hope this is helpful! Now that you’ve got the berry-freezing skills in your back pocket, you’re welcome to bump me off my throne as “queen of frozen produce.”

 

This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.

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Sous Vide Ribs: Julie’s Barbecue Baby Back Ribs https://fearlessfresh.com/sous-vide-ribs-barbecue/ https://fearlessfresh.com/sous-vide-ribs-barbecue/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 15:00:24 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=21892 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

The best sous vide ribs are right here, by Seattleite Julie Dreyfoos. Finished on the grill, these are 1000% the best ribs you've ever eaten. Pinky swear. These ribs are fall-off-the-bone delicious. Super easy to make, with almost zero work.

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FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Sous Vide Ribs: Julie's Barbecue Baby Back Ribs on https://fearlessfresh.com

— How about the best sous vide ribs you’ve ever had? —

It’s almost summer, and that means everyone I know is firing up their grills. Well, the luckiest among us are heading to Julie’s house for dinner, because she’s FAMOUS for her barbecue sous vide ribs.

Julie, the Fearless Fresh production coordinator, has brought us a ton of sweet recipes in the past few years: her epic peach and blueberry upside down cake, a strawberry pie to die for, and what is very likely the best tiramisu you’ll ever eat. I think it’s funny that all of her posts thus far have been baking recipes, because Julie is most well known for her dinnertime prowess. Seriously — the woman cooks a dinner so beautiful she can bring you to tears. Her sous vide ribs are a perfect example of that. They’re moist, incredibly flavorful, and so tender that they feel like velvet in your mouth. She makes them whenever I visit her in Seattle, and those freaking ribs are always the highlight of my trip.

Sous vide is a thing for us.

I haven’t posted a lot of sous vide recipes here, mostly because not a lot of folks have a sous vide circulator, but I personally love this way of cooking and sous vide recipes are surprisingly quick and easy to prepare. Think of sous vide like a water-based crock pot that cooks everything to the perfect temperature. There’s no guesswork of is it over- or underdone? because you set the water to the temperature you want, and the food never gets any hotter than that.

If you’re in the market for a sous vide circulator, Julie and I both use the Joule by Chef Steps. (No, this is NOT a sponsored post — we both love this thing and use it in our daily lives.) It’s the easiest and sexiest circulator we’ve used, and we both have tested a bunch of different models. The Joule is easy to control from your phone and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your cupboard. Seriously, it’s smaller than a rolling pin. And the app you use to control it gives you photos of what your meat will look like when it’s been cooked at all the given temperatures, so it takes the guesswork out of figuring out what temp to cook your meat to. AWESOME.

Now that I’ve blathered on for half a page, here’s Julie talking about why she loves sous vide (and these ribs) so much. Enjoy!

. . . . . . . .

All About Julie’s Sous Vide Ribs

One of the things that I enjoy doing in the kitchen is trying out new toys. Um, I mean cooking tools. One of my favorite tools is an immersion circulator for cooking sous vide. I became intrigued with this type of cooking when local Seattle chef and author Dr. Nathan Myhrvold published a set of books called Modernist Cuisine, which “explores the history of cuisine and explains the science of cooking in a way that’s accessible to both professional chefs and home cooks.” I was fortunate to attend a cooking class when the books were published, and I got hooked on sous vide almost instantly.

The ability to bag your food and cook it at a precise temperature was so fascinating that I had to try it. My enjoyment of sous vide cooking has become an obsession. I now own two different styles of circulators, but my favorite is from Chef Steps called the Joule, which is really cool because there is an app for it that manages the temp and time. (I can even tell my Alexa/Amazon Echo to turn Joule on and set the temperature with voice commands!)  I have played around a bit with different vacuum sealers and ended up getting one that is so heavy I just barely got it in the door, but hey that is a different story. Thankfully you don’t need a sealer to cook sous vide recipes. You can use the water displacement method instead (link in recipe, below).

Like most people, I started out sous vide cooking steaks and salmon. Then I thought, why not try some baby back ribs? Cooking sous vide ribs will become your new go-to recipe for ribs. I recently went to a restaurant that made 36-hour sous vide beef short ribs. Yup, you guessed it — this week I am trying to make the same recipe at home.

 

Sous Vide Ribs: Julie's Barbecue Baby Back Ribs

The best sous vide ribs are right here, by Seattleite Julie Dreyfoos. Finished on the grill, these are 1000% the best ribs you’ve ever eaten. Pinky swear. These ribs are fall-off-the-bone delicious. Super easy to make, with almost zero work.

  • 4 pounds (2 whole racks) baby back pork ribs (cut to make 4 half slabs)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup barbecue rub ((use your favorite))
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce ((use your favorite))
  1. Prepare your sous vide setup by bringing your water up to 158°F (70°C).

  2. While the water is coming to temperature, prepare your ribs. Pat the ribs dry and coat all racks lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the ribs generously with your favorite meat rub. 

  3. Put each rack into it’s own sous vide or ziplock bag. Seal the bags shut with a vacuum sealer. Place the ribs in the water bath and let them cook for 12-24 hours. The longer they cook, the more tender they will be. (If you don’t have a sealer, use the water displacement method to force excess air out of the bag.)

  4. Once the sous vide ribs have cooked 12-24 hours, preheat your grill (if grilling) or turn on your broiler (if broiling). Take your ribs out of the water bath and gently remove them from the bags. Be careful because they will be very tender and want to fall apart on you.
  5. Lightly pat the ribs dry. If you are grilling, place ribs directly on the hot grates of your grill. If you’re broiling the ribs, place them in a single layer on a broiler pan.

  6. Use a pastry brush to slather the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Once the ribs are hot, gently flip them over and slather the other side. Be gentle while turning over, because they’ll want to fall apart on you. After a few minutes, gently flip them again and sauce a third time. I usually sauce both sides twice, flipping a few times to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn. 
  7. Once the ribs are good and hot, gently remove them from the grill or broiler. Serve immediately.

Special equipment: Immersion circulator, four very large sealable plastic bags, a deep water container large enough to hold all four bags of sous vide ribs comfortably and still allow the water to circulate. (We use commercial-grade Cambros because they’re light and indestructible.)

There are so many barbecue spice rubs out there, so don’t be afraid to play around.  (For example, I like to use some that are made with ground coffee.) When choosing a rub, be careful with the salt content — the less salt the better, as salt can cause meat to be less juicy when cooked for very long periods of time, like it is in this recipe.

This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.

 

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The one where I bare my soul and then freak the hell out https://fearlessfresh.com/the-one-where-i-bare-my-soul-and-then-freak-the-hell-out/ https://fearlessfresh.com/the-one-where-i-bare-my-soul-and-then-freak-the-hell-out/#respond Wed, 07 Jun 2017 15:00:59 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=23405 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

I'm super excited to share my big news: soon you're going to see my very first paid products. I feel a mix of emotions typing that. First I've got the crazy-ecstatic butterflies in my stomach because this is a LONG time coming. But I also feel a little fear -- fear that you'll resent me for charging for my work. I know this site is called Fearless Fresh, but come on -- I'm human. No one is totally fearless out of the gate. So I'm calling out my own anxieties and putting them on notice. I'm doing exactly what I encourage you to do in the kitchen: I'm doing it anyways.

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FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

rrWoman Waving Cold Sweat Emoji

I’m super excited to share my big news: soon you’re going to see my very first paid products. I feel a mix of emotions typing that.

First I’ve got the crazy-ecstatic butterflies in my stomach because this is a LONG time coming. But I also feel a little fear — fear that you’ll resent me for charging for my work. You’re the most important part of Fearless Fresh and your opinion is really important to me. It would kill me if you were angry with me.

But the truth is that I’ve invested so much of myself in Fearless Fresh (and The Culinary Life, back when that was my thing) and I haven’t made a single penny from either of them for the past four or five years.

Have you ever noticed that there’s no ads on my site? Well, it’s true. The small amount of income every month wasn’t worth ruining your experience on the website. And, the ad strategy demanded that I concentrate more on attracting eyeballs than creating useful, high-quality material… which is NOT how I roll. So there has literally been no income related to my websites for a very, very long time.

Now it’s time to change that. Momma’s gotta keep the lights on, right? And seriously, you guys, groceries and email list hosting are EXPENSIVE. No joke.

I know this site is called Fearless Fresh, but come on — I’m human. No one is totally fearless out of the gate. So I’m calling out my own anxieties and putting them on notice. I’m doing exactly what I encourage you to do in the kitchen: I’m doing it anyways.

So…. what’s coming?

Glad you asked! ;) In the coming months you’re going to see two things:

1 — Printed & laminated cooking cheat sheets

If you like the vault guides, I’m ramping up to create new guides that are SUPER specifically designed to help you in the kitchen. You’ll be able to create pan sauces in a blink, chop veggies like a pro, and convert any kitchen math that makes you scratch your head. These cheat sheets will be laminated and 3-hole punched for binders, so they will always within arm’s reach. (And they’re made to withstand any kitchen abuse you can throw at them!)

Also, if you’re not in the Kitchen Ninja Facebook Group, hop in there now because group members will be getting a special discount that won’t be offered anywhere else.

2 — The Perfect Pasta course

I wrote a cheat sheet on how to create perfect pasta and I was surprised at how popular it was. I get so many questions about pasta cooking problems, so I decided to jump into the video training arena and create a course on how to cook the best pasta of your life.

This one will take me some time to produce, so expect to see it later in the year — but high production value is my top priority, so you can bet it’s going to be worth the wait. And since it’s really important for me to get this information into your hands, it will be value-priced so that anyone who wants it can afford to buy it.

Whew, I feel a lot lighter after writing this email. Thanks for listening, thanks for being here, and thanks for being you. <3

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The Only 13 Kitchen Things You Need to Cook Like A Boss https://fearlessfresh.com/basic-kitchen-things-you-need/ https://fearlessfresh.com/basic-kitchen-things-you-need/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 15:00:50 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=22055 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

Let’s talk about the concept of the Minimal Viable Cook (MVC). You might be familiar with the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP from business circles) and the concept makes a lot of sense when applied to any number of topics. In this context, minimum viable cook refers to what you need to create something delicious. That includes the minimum skills you’ll need, the minimum ingredients you’ll need, and the minimum tools you’ll need to find success in the kitchen. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I teach more and more people to cook. My students ...

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FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

The Only 13 Kitchen Items You Need to Cook Like A Boss on https://fearlessfresh.com

Let’s talk about the concept of the Minimal Viable Cook (MVC). You might be familiar with the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP from business circles) and the concept makes a lot of sense when applied to any number of topics. In this context, minimum viable cook refers to what you need to create something delicious. That includes the minimum skills you’ll need, the minimum ingredients you’ll need, and the minimum tools you’ll need to find success in the kitchen.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I teach more and more people to cook. My students have their eyes on the prize, and rightly so — that’s where the inspiration is. But the truth is there’s no getting out of the bullpen unless you earn your way out. Reining in your attention now will drastically decrease the amount of time and effort it takes to become an incredible cook.

Why this topic? Why now?

Someone recently emailed me to say she was putting together her new kitchen after a bad breakup, where her former beau kept all of the cooking equipment. First of all, fail, I’m so sorry. Your story made me stabby. 🔪🔪🔪 Second of all, I have lots of thoughts on this topic, because I’m one of those people who totally nerds out on cooking equipment and has one of everything. It creates a hassle for storage, and don’t even get me started on how much drama it adds when I have to move. (And let’s not EVEN get into what it’s like to move with over 1,000 cookbooks in tow.)

Because of all of this… baggage… I often think about the impracticality of having so many belongings. I was bumming around Europe for a while and had all of my kitchen equipment, etc., in storage, and I would fantasize that the storage unit would burn down and I’d be FREE of the weight of all that STUFF. Then a huge insurance check would show up (hey, it’s my dream!) and I’d tra-la-la into the sunset unfettered by a literal ton of pots, pans, gadgets, accessories, and cookbooks.

But, I digress. The concept of minimum viable cook absolutely applies to cookware. You can accomplish great things with relatively few tools, and it may even be easier. (Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?)

Obviously, I’m a fan of cooking toys — sigh — but I’m writing this post because a lot of people outfit their kitchens with way too much stuff too early in the game. When you’re still building your skills, too many gadgets can create a weird sense of overwhelm… especially if you’re not 100% comfortable using a lot of the things you own. (I’m looking at you, fancy-ass blenders with 50 digital settings.) And using cooking implements incorrectly, or for the wrong task, makes cooking a whole lot harder than it needs to be.

The point of this post is to drive home the fact that you don’t need a lot of stuff to be an epic cook. In fact, if I were to craft the perfect minimalist kitchen that would still get 99% of cooking jobs done admirably, everything would probably fit into a single box. This list is for anyone setting up a new kitchen: folks who live in shoebox apartment, former cohabiters suddenly living alone, parents setting up their newly-launched kids, or anyone who’s trying to approach their kitchen with a minimalist mindset and needs a list of what to keep while getting rid of everything else. (Apologies for the last clause but I’m suddenly suffering from punctuation fatigue)

Here’s a [relatively] short list of exactly what you need in your kitchen to cook like a freaking boss, somewhat in order of importance. Sure, there are other things that would be nice to have, but the scope of this list is to include only the most-needed items. Enjoy!

Don’t forget, you can get all of this stuff for CHEAP at the restaurant supply store, otherwise known as cookware Mecca.

  1. 8-inch chef’s knife – This is the most important thing in your kitchen. If you’re going to splurge on one item, let it be this. Your chef’s knife will cut almost anything, without needing much else.
  2. 3-inch paring knife – A smaller knife is handy for doing things like peeling apples and coring strawberries + a few smaller jobs that your 8″ chef’s knife might be too unwieldy for.
  3. 12-inch cutting board – When it comes to cutting boards, get a larger one because nothing will make your brain cramp like trying to chop food on a cutting board that’s halfway covered with other stuff. I prefer wooden cutting boards, which are actually more anti-bacterial than plastic cutting boards. (Yup — that’s a University of California scientist-proven fact!)
  4. Heavy-bottom 3-quart saucepan with lid x 2 – Having a few pots around is super important, because without them, you’re not making much of anything. If you want to see how important pots are, or how much you rely on them, try hiding all of the pots in your house and watch whomever you live with curse you to high heaven. Get a thicker-bottomed pot that will protect your food from your stove’s too-close heating element and allow for even cooking.
  5. Heavy-bottom stainless steel pan with lid – A frying pan is a necessity in any kitchen, and everyone needs one without a nonstick coating. This bad boy will help you sauté mushrooms, sear chicken, toast spices, and countless other things. A stainless-steel pan is the only way to get any sort of browning out of your food (and browning = flavor). I recommend a 11- or 12-inch with a thick bottom. Thinner-bottomed pans will not only heat unevenly, they increase the chances that you’ll burn your food since there’s no protection from the heat source. Check your local restaurant supply store for frying pans that will last and not cost you a small fortune.
  6. Heavy-bottom nonstick pan – For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT try to cook eggs in a stainless-steel pan, lest you spent the next 3 days trying to scrape the leftover residue out of your pan. For eggs and other similar items, nonstick is the way to go. Try to get a good brand (check the reviews) that won’t lose its coating in six months. Again, 11- to 12-inch is a good side to shoot for.
  7. 8-quart stock pot, with lid, which doubles as a perfect pasta pot – This is one item that a lot of people think is unnecessary, but a good one does SO many things: it makes soup, washes greens, makes chili, cooks beans, processes jars for making jam, and boils pasta without the noodles sticking together. 8-quart is a good size.
  8. Half-size (18″ x 13″) baking sheet, x2 – You can make anything with these babies. Cookies, baked French fries, even a roast turkey in a pinch. I recommend having two at hand because they have so many uses and you’ll often need more than one.
  9. 8-inch square glass baking dish – I make everything in my square baking dish: casseroles, brownies, roast chicken, roast vegetables… you name it. This is probably one of the biggest workhorses in my kitchen.
  10. Measuring spoons – Ever tried to bake without measuring spoons? What does 1 teaspoon of baking soda look like in your hand? Yeah, exactly. That’s why you need these.
  11. Measuring cups (for both liquid and dry ingredients) – A liquid measuring cup is one that you can see through and has gradations on the side, so you can pour liquid into the cup and see how much you’ve got. I recommend a 2-cup minimum, with a 4-cup being the ideal. For dry ingredients, you need a set of individual plastic or metal measuring cups that includes 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup. Odd sizes are fine, but unnecessary if you’ve got the basics. (I.e., 3/4 cup = 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup)
  12. 10-inch strainer – Ok, this is something not a lot of people think about… until they go to strain their pasta or rinse a bowl of strawberries. There’s a special deity somewhere whose entire super power consists of dreaming up new curse words for that moment when you realize you don’t have a strainer. They’re only $5, so grab one. And make sure you get a metal strainer, because pouring boiling pasta water into a plastic strainer is most certainly NOT good eats.
  13. Electric hand mixer – I added this at the last minute because even though you can make whipped cream and beat egg whites by hand, I care about you and nerve damage in your elbow and shoulder SUCKS. (Speaking from experience here. :/) Sure, a big KitchenAid mixer is great, but you can totally get by with a $20 electric hand beater from Target… and you won’t end up in physical therapy.

Ok, I lied. Here are a few more minor things:

Thankfully almost all of them will fit in one big crock in one utensil holder on the counter, so they really only count as one more thing, right? 😇😇😇

  • Pot holders – Because picking up hot things without them is… not advised.
  • Silicon spatula – You’ll need one or two of these for scraping things out of bowls.
  • Plastic flipper – You’ll need a flipper for flipping things. Get a plastic one so you don’t damage your pans.
  • Wooden spoon – Grandma was right! This is perfect for baking and using in a non-stick pan, because it won’t scratch the bottom.
  • Balloon whisk – Baking without one of these will never yield more than 50% success. If you want lofty, fluffy anything, you’ll need a whisk.
  • Nylon-tipped tongs – For picking hot things up and turning them over. Seriously, my tongs are usually the first thing I reach for in the kitchen. Get a set with nylon tips so they don’t scratch your nonstick pan.
  • Can opener – Even tried to open a can without one? ‘Nuff said.
  • Slotted spoon – Because a huge puddle of water under your food is no bueno.

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How to Make Salad Dressing — Easy Vinaigrette Method https://fearlessfresh.com/how-to-make-salad-dressing-vinaigrette/ https://fearlessfresh.com/how-to-make-salad-dressing-vinaigrette/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:19:08 +0000 https://fearlessfresh.com/?p=22349 FEARLESS FRESH: Learn to cook like a boss.

There are a million different ways to make salad dressing. You've seen row after row of dressings at the grocery store: Ranch, Italian, Russian, caesar, bleu cheese, thousand island... there are literally thousands to choose from. (And FYI, the term "French dressing" is just a fancy name for vinaigrette.) I'll eventually show you how to make all of these crazy salad dressings, but first we're going to start with the easiest: How to make a vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette is literally 4 or 5 ingredients, added to a jar and shaken. That's it. Now do you see why I'm starting here? 😇Also, vinaigrettes have a disproportionately high flavor to effort ratio, meaning they add a whole lot of awesome and require almost no work. In my book that gets an A+++++ WOUDL BUY AGAIN.

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How to Make Salad Dressing -- Easy Vinaigrette

Learning how to make salad dressing — even a really easy vinaigrette — is NOT on my priority list.

I’ll be honest. I’m not a salad person and I will probably NEVER be a salad person. (Except for non-standard versions like this watermelon-feta salad recipe…) I came from a family where “salad” meant wilted brown iceberg lettuce and waxy pink tomatoes that tasted more like plastic than anything that came from the ground. Even as a modern adult, in a world where salads are piled high with all sorts of delicious things, I still have a hard thing thinking of salad as food.

Instead, my thoughts are more along the lines of, “Fine, I’ll eat it if I have to… but only if you guarantee it will keep me from dying a slow, horrible death.” And I’m not the only one that feels this way. (Warning: There are hilarious curse words at the other end of that link. 😂 <3 Kelsey.)

Really, that’s not a great way to think of salad. We need greens to, you know, stay alive and sh*t. So how can we make salad tempting? Or even, daresay, a feast you would actually want to eat?

The first step is learning how to make salad dressing… and the easiest kind of salad dressing to make is a vinaigrette.

How to make salad dressing – easy vinaigrette method

There are a million different ways to learn how to make salad dressing. You’ve seen row after row of dressings at the grocery store: Ranch, Italian, Russian, Caesar, bleu cheese, thousand island… there are literally thousands to choose from. (And FYI, the term “French dressing” is just a fancy name for vinaigrette.) I’ll eventually show you how to make all of these crazy salad dressings, but first we’re going to start with the easiest: How to make a vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette is literally four or five ingredients, added to a jar and shaken. That’s it. Now do you see why I’m starting here? 😇

Also, vinaigrettes have a disproportionately high flavor to effort ratio, meaning they add a whole lot of awesome and require almost no work. In my book that gets an A+++++ WOULD BUY AGAIN. [sic]

How it works

When learning how to make salad dressing, what exactly goes into a vinaigrette? Well, only two things are mandatory: Oil and acid. (Oh, and a little salt… because salad without salt tastes like licking the bottom of your green waste bin.) Here’s the master vinaigrette ratio:

3 parts base oil + 1 part simple acid + flavoring

Like I said above, you add these goodies to a jar, shake, and voila — instant salad dressing. That’s literally all you need to do. (What, no applause of the proper use of the word literally?) Now let’s go through each component step-by-step:

Base oils to start your vinaigrette

Let’s start with the easiest part, the oil. What kind of oil should you use as the base for your vinaigrette? Here’s a list of the most commons oils most people use:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Olive oil (extra virgin works great here, if it’s mildly flavored)

Now, here’s the important thing about base oils: They need to be relatively subtle or neutral, or they’ll overpower your vinaigrette. Even a really strong olive oil can beat you over the head if it’s not balanced with a new neutral oil. So stick with a neutral oil for your base and read below for more on how to use stronger flavored oils. ⬇️

Simple acids to boost your vinaigrette

This is where you can really go crazy and use almost anything you want. When it comes to simple acids to add to your salad dressing, you can use whatever you think tastes good. The sky’s the limit. (Having difficulty restraining my use of literally here…) Also, here’s a quick factoid: If you use citrus juice in your vinaigrette, then you’ve actually made a citronette.

Check out these acid options:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Champagne vinegar
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Malt vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar (also crazy strong)
  • White wine vinegar
  • Rice wine/rice vinegar/mirin
  • Red wine vinegar (careful, this one is SUPER strong)
  • Lemon juice
  • Orange juice

If you’re just learning how to make salad dressing, stick with one kind of vinegar to start. Once you’ve gotten the feel of how to make a vinaigrette, feel free to mix and match your acids. But REMEMBER: but don’t go over the 25% acid standard ratio. Remember, 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. That means don’t add any more vinegar until you’ve completely mixed your vinaigrette, tasted it, and decided it needs more acid.

Salt and pepper

There’s no solid amount of salt and pepper that you should add to salad dressing, but I usually add BARE MINIMUM 1/4 teaspoon of each, and that’s for a small amount of vinaigrette. I recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon, shaking up the jar, and then adding a little more salt and pepper to taste.

A note on emulsifiers

Here’s a little helpful food science if you’re new to making salad dressing. When you shake up a vinaigrette, you’re creating a simple emulsion. What the hell am I even saying? Here’s a quick explanation: oil and water obviously don’t like to mix. When you do manage to mix them — such as when you make mayonnaise — you’ve created an emulsion. An emulsion is basically an even dispersion of tiny droplets of oil into liquid (or liquid into oil).

Now, there are a couple different kinds of emulsions: permanent and temporary.

  1. A permanent, stable emulsion stays mixed (obvs). Stable emulsions include mayonnaise, cheese (!), and even chocolate (!!!). Mind blown?
  2. A temporary, unstable emulsion separates after a few minutes. It will mix again once agitated, then separate again. Unstable emulsions include… your vinaigrette.

What does this mean? It means your vinaigrette will separate once you’ve stopped shaking the jar, and within a few minutes will return to several layers of oil-and-vinegar stubbornness. BUT! There’s a trick that will help it stay mixed together for longer!

Enter everyday emulsifiers. Mustard and egg yolks* contain natural emulsifiers, which will hold your salad dressing together longer. Just add a small spoonful of either one to your jar and shake as usual. The longer you shake the jar, the longer the emulsion will hold.

*Raw egg yolks are obviously one of those “eat at your own risk” things. I eat them on occasion, but I buy farm-fresh eggs where I know the chickens personally. That said, I would never serve raw eggs to children, the elderly, or the infirmed. (It’s not cool to kill people, y0.) You might consider buying pasteurized egg yolks, which would be safer.

Stop here or keep going?

Now, at this point you can shake up your vinaigrette and serve it as-is, with just oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. If you’re just learning how to make salad dressing, you might want to stop here the first time and see what a clean, basic vinaigrette tastes like. OR! You can continue down the path to ninja-ness, and add a few more elements to boost the flavor. In which case…. continue.

How to make salad dressing: FLAVOR BOMBS

Adding flavor to vinaigrette takes only another 3 minutes, and you might be surprised at how some of these simple goodies will blast your taste buds through the roof. This is where we get into the really good stuff — like mind-blowing flavor that beats the pants off store-bought dressings… for WAY cheaper.

Adding fresh or dry herbs

Next, you’ll want to consider adding a few freshly chopped herbs (check out my best advice for working with fresh herbs). Fresh herbs add a TON of flavor to salad dressing without added effort or cost. You can use dry herbs as well, if that’s what you’ve got. I add 1 teaspoon of fresh herbs (or 1/2 teaspoon of dry) per 1 cup of vinaigrette. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Tarragon
  • Mint

Other flavorings that will smack you in the face

So, what other extras can you add to a vinaigrette for even more flavor? Oh, my dear friend. Let me show you ALL THE THINGS you might add to your vinaigrette. You can add any one of these things, using about 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of vinaigrette:

  • Mustard -> a little Dijon will change your life here
  • Mayonnaise or aïoli
  • Red pepper flakes 🌶🔥
  • Crumbled bacon — YAAASSSSSS
  • Grated Parmesan cheese 🧀
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt
  • Honey 🍯
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic or shallots (minced)
  • Capers (minced)
  • Cornichons (minced)
  • Anchovies 🐟 (minced) –> don’t twitch, I promise they’re really good.

Secondary oils

Also, you might have noticed that I used to term “base oil” above, which indicates there may be some other kind of secondary oil involved. (Gold star for noticing: ⭐️) There are many oils out there that are stronger in flavor, so you don’t want to use them as your base oil, lest you be overpowered by GACK.* But they’re perfectly happy being used as an additional flavoring, so you can add 1 or 2 teaspoons to 1 cup of vinaigrette for a little extra BLAMMO.

  • Sesame oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Almond oil
  • Peanut oil

SHAKE LIKE THE DICKENS

Once you’ve got all your ingredients in a jar, slap the lid on tightly and shake that jar like your life depended on it. The longer you shake the longer the emulsion will hold, especially if you’ve added a little mustard or egg yolk (see above for a note on emulsifiers). You can go ahead and serve your dressing now, but I like to add one more step.

Time for a disco nap

After all of this salad dressing excitement, I like to let my vinaigrette sit in the jar 5-10 minutes before I serve pour it over the salad, to let the flavors meld a little. Then just give it one final shake to re-mix, and dress your salad like a freaking pro! After this little rest, you can also strain out any bits if you prefer.

How to dress a salad

Now this might seem like a silly thing to explain, but I think it’s important to mention that you don’t just dump a bunch of dressing on a salad and call it a day. I mean, you CAN do it this way, but there’s a much better way. Here’s how the pros do it:

  1. First, don’t add dressing to the salad until right before you serve it, as the vinegar and salt will quickly wilt your greens and make them look really, really sad.
  2. Add salad greens to a large metal bowl. Bigger than you might think, to keep from making a huge mess.
  3. Use a large spoon to drizzle a couple spoonfuls of dressing over the greens. Using a spoon makes sure you don’t add to much on accident (which can happen when you pour).
  4. Use tongs, two forks, or your hands to toss the salad so that every leaf has a little vinaigrette on it. If you’re adding cheese, seeds, nuts, or additional herbs, add them now. Add a little more dressing if you need to, and keep tossing until well dressed. And I mean, well dressed. Dry salads suck.
  5. Now dish the dressed salad into individual bowls. Any excess dressing will stay in the large metal bowl and prevent over-dressing, so you’ll end up with the perfect amount of vinaigrette in your salad. Yay!

How long will your vinaigrette keep?

If you don’t finish your vinaigrette, just put the lid back on the jar and keep it in the fridge. Vinaigrette will hold up for up 3 days if kept sealed and chilled — the oil and vinegar won’t go bad, but any additional items you added to your dressing (herbs, egg yolk, etc.) will start to spoil after the 3-day mark. And vinaigrette doesn’t freeze very well, so I wouldn’t even bother trying.

PHEW! Now what?

That was a WHOLE LOT of information, wasn’t it? I’ll make it easy for you. Below you’ll find a simple recipe for learning how to make a salad dressing using the easy vinaigrette method, step by step.

*GACK = TFW you put something super overpowering in your mouth and panic while you decide if you want to spit it out or can force yourself to swallow it.
**TFW = That Feels When

 

How to Make Salad Dressing (Easy Vinaigrette)

When learning how to make salad dressing, a vinaigrette is maybe the easiest thing you can throw together in your kitchen — you literally add 4 ingredients to a jar (one of them is salt/pepper) and shake the jar. That’s it! You can get a little fancier if you want to add extra flavor, but that’s just a matter of chopping some herbs and tossing them in the jar. Voila, instant delicious salad in 2 minutes.

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh herbs (chopped (optional))
  1. Add all ingredients to a jar. Tightly place the lid on the jar and shake well. Remove the lid and taste. Does it need more salt, pepper, or vinegar? Then add a little more. Shake and taste again.

  2. Once the flavor balance is as you like it, let the salad dressing sit at least 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. Shake it again before pouring over your salad.

You can add almost anything to your vinaigrette to customize it to your preference. Click the image below to grab your free printable chart with instructions on how to make your own customized vinaigrette.  

This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.

 

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