Growing up summer wasn’t summer with out fresh peaches. Mom would make peach jelly, peach pie filling, peach cobbler and peach pies. Peach pies are traditionally round, topped with a crust and if you’re like me, always served warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Now the round type pies are what’s expected when you tell someone one you’ve made a pie however you know me I like to mix it up; give the unexpected.
Okay fine, I’ll fess up. Honestly I didn’t want to be bothered with rolling the crust out, then having to roll out a 2nd one to make it pretty. And the thought of having perfect fluted edges… oy! I just wasn’t feeling all that effort (not that it’s a lot but still). I wanted pie, but I also wanted lazy. Wha? Don’t judge me. lol
That’s when I decided to go with a slab pie. Now I haven’t had a slab pie for eons; probably not since I was little and it was one of our summer neighborhood picnics. Slab pies are one of the best types of desserts to make for a crowd. They are portable and easy to eat. You don’t need utensils and you don’t have to worry about this delicate flaky crust that could fall apart when you’re trying to manhandle/shove it in your face.
I love growing my own fresh herbs. However if you’re like me you tend to plant more than can use – yes, even more. I think it’s because when we plant the seeds or plants we see them as teeny, not really knowing that they will get bigger and take over your gardens at times. So towards the end of summer you’re left with gorgeous fresh basil, oregano out the wazoo and enough parsley that you can’t give away. And if you’re like me you can’t bear the thought of letting one single leaf go to waste however you can only make so much pesto or can so many jars of pizza sauce. So what are you left to do?
Don’t let your herbs go to waste, dry them and fill up your spice jars!
First you need to decide how you want to dry them.
→ Less Tender Herbs — The more sturdy herbs such as rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and dill, thyme, summer savory and parsley are the easiest to dry using the air drying method.
→ Tender-Leaf Herbs — Basil, oregano, tarragon, lemon balm and the mints have a high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly. Try hanging the tender-leaf herbs or those with seeds inside paper bags to dry. Tear or punch holes in the sides of the bag. Suspend a small bunch (large amounts will mold) of herbs in a bag and close the top with a rubber band. Place where air currents will circulate through the bag. Any leaves and seeds that fall off will be caught in the bottom of the bag.
→ Gather 5-10 branches together and tie with string or a rubber band. The smaller the bundle, the easier and faster they will dry.
→ Put the bundle of herbs, stem-side up, in a paper bag (or wrap muslin, a mesh produce bag) with several holes around the bundle, and tie it at the neck.
→ Tie the end of the bag closed, being sure not to crush the herbs as you do, and poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation.
→ Hang the bag by the stem end in a warm, well-ventilated room.
→ After a week they will ready to be placed and stored in your spice jars.
→ Place herb leaves or seeds on a cookie sheet one inch deep or less.
→ Put herbs in an open oven on low heat – less than 180 degrees F – for 2-4 hours. To see if the herbs are dry, check if leaves crumble easily. Oven-dried herbs will cook a little, removing some of the potency and flavor.
The oven method actually the most labor-intensive, and the least energy-efficient method. Herbs need to be dried at about 100 degrees, but most ovens don’t go that low. They also need air circulation, and some ovens don’t have vents. You’ll need to get an oven thermometer and experiment. Try turning the oven on warm or its lowest setting for a while, then turning it off (while leaving the light on). You can also try propping the door open slightly with a wooden spoon
For this simply follow your machines instructions. Food dehydrators range in price from $30 to $400 so definitely buy what you can afford. Most that I’ve ready about that give great reviews are around the $150 range. Quality dehydrators have handy features such as timers and adjustable temperature control. Dehydrator drying is a fast and easy way to dry high quality herbs because temperature and air circulation can be controlled. Pre-heat dehydrator with the thermostat set to 95°F to 115°F. In areas with higher humidity, temperatures as high as 125°F may be needed. After rinsing under cool, running water and shaking to remove excess moisture, place the herbs in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Drying times may vary from 1 to 4 hours. Check periodically. Herbs are dry when they crumble, and stems break when bent.
Wow, this week FLEW by! I swear it was just Wednesday and here it is already Sunday. So let’s dish, how was your week? Mine, other than flying by, went super fast. Like I honestly have to sit here and think what all I did. We had a bit of “excitement” here in the house the other day. Well before I go into that let me state that there are 2 things in this world that I have an incredible fear over – clowns and mice/rodents. Like we’re not talking I’m scared of them. No. I’m talking I have utter fear and terror when it comes to them. The clowns I have a reason why as that stems back to my childhood – we can save that for another post. But mice, considering I grew up on 41 acres in the country, you’d think I’d be ok with them. Nope. Like I will literally stand there paralyzed with fear; trembling and tears pouring down my face.
Living in the country field mice are common. That being said, they can be common OUTSIDE… or in a cats mouth. So the other morning my alarm goes off at 3:30. I get up, go pee, head into the closet and grab my clothes and go back into the bathroom to turn on my flat iron. While that’s heating up I walk over to the bed to start to get dressed and this thing makes a bee-line across the floor. Immediately I go to scream but hurry up and cover my mouth to not scare the daylights out of Mr. Fantabulous or wake him up. HOWEVER… the little sonofab… (you know where I’m going with that word) sensed my fear, immediately turned around and started to charge me. Folks I let out this shriek that rivaled a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert! Poor Mr. Fantabulous just about jumped out of the bed with a heart attack.
Remember me showing you how to make the most amazing Perfectly Poached Chicken breasts in a pressure cooker in 10 minutes? Crazy good, right? Well one thing about love making chicken that was is how one simple recipe can turn into incredible ‘new’ dishes!
Like this recipe… my skinny chicken burrito bowl. Unless you live in the sticks or never leave the house pretty much every town has a Chipotle place to eat. Heck we even have one nearby and I live in countrybumpkinville. The first time I was there I got their burrito bowl. It was good but I was surprised by how many people got it when honestly it’s one super simple thing to make yourself at a fraction of the cost. So I was set out to come up with not a copycat recipe but one that is TKW worthy cause after all I am a food snob. LOL
My recipe is pretty basic and what’s awesome about it, you can add in whatever you want. Don’t limit it to what’s in the recipe but rather expand it and add other things to it. Try grilled asparagus pieces, chopped fresh peppers. Maybe some jicama or crunchy tortilla strips. Well okay maybe not the last one as this is a healthy recipe. However you know me and I firmly believe in everything in moderation. Truth be told when I make this I do have a side of chips with it as I love to scoop it up with that and eat it. I like that textural balance of crunchy to the meatiness of the dish.
You’ve paid super close attention to detail on your recipe. You’ve measured twice, mixed once. You’ve adjusted the heat and whisked until your heart is content however for no rhyme or reason a sauce will break. As discussed in last week’s post there are ways you can prevent it however even the best chefs will have a sauce break on them. So this week I thought I should share with you some of my tricks of the trade in this week’s edition of Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer and discuss how to fix broken sauces.
When your hollandaise sauce has broken or your cream sauce has curdled not all is entirely lost. Both of these problems can be taken care of pretty simply.
Broken cream sauce –To fix a broken cream sauce, take ½ cup of heavy cream and reduce it down to 1/3 of its original volume. Slowly drizzle in the curdled sauce while whisking vigorously. This should bring the sauce right back to its creamy, silky consistency. You can avoid a cream sauce curdling by adding just a little starch to it in the form of a roux or cornstarch slurry.
It’s just starting to break – You’ll know your sauce is just starting to break when little droplets of fat will start to form around the edges of the bowl. When you see this, hold off on adding more fat for the moment and add a little liquid instead.
Use a teaspoon or two of whatever liquid you’ve used as a base and whisk vigorously. The sauce should tighten up in a few seconds and the fat droplets will get suspended back into the emulsion. If the sauce isn’t thick enough yet, you can pick back up with adding the fat one teaspoon at a time.
Your sauce it totally broken – you’ll know this as the fat and liquid have separated and the sauce will look grainy and thin. To save this one, you’ll need to do a few extra steps to save it.
In a separate bowl, whisk together one egg yolk and tablespoon of whatever liquid you’ve been using as a base. Whisking constantly, add the broken sauce to this egg yolk one teaspoon at a time. This will form a fresh emulsion and new stable sauce.
If you’re making a warm sauce and the eggs start to cook, unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do to save it. If you’re down to your last egg or stick of butter, you can strain out the curdled egg and begin a new sauce using a fresh egg and the old sauce like we describe above.