Friday, February 12, 2010

Cooking Techniques

Okay. Let's talk abou the cooking techniques that go into making Twice Baked Potatoes. 

Cleaning vegetables
First, the potatoes.  My mom always said that potataoes baked in the oven were just better than those from the microwave.  And, okay, Mom was just right about that.  The flavor is the same.  The texture is different.  To bake a potato in the oven.  Preheat to 425 degrees.  Scrub the holy heck out of them under running water.  I use what I call the mushroom brush on the left.  No because of the vegetable I'm cleaning but because of the shape of the thing.  I alternate with what I call "green scratchy pads"  I don't know the marketed name, but they are made by Scotch.  In the past, I've purchased vegetables that came in a plastic net bag.  Saving that and using it for scrubing works great, but I'm not buying that now.  This isn't rocket science.  Just decide what you are going to do and do it.  No pure or perfect answer.  Just thinking it out and being organized.  Live true to your values and do it. Don't let anyone stop you.

Bake cleaned potatoes in a 425 oven for 40 to 60 minutes.  To test for done, pinch between thumb and third finger to get plenty of give.  Or stick with a sharp knife until it easily goes in. 

To microwave, before cooking stick uncooked potatoes with a sharp knife to release pressure while cooking.  Skipping this step can create a potato explosion in your microwave.  Cook until done by the tests described above.  About 8 to 10 minutes for 4 potatoes.

Minced Garlic
Now Garlic.  I have very strong opinions about the stuff.  A love-hate relationship.  I love the stuff used a certain way.  It is great flavor.  I grow it in my ground, so I know what I am feeding people.  One of my good days in late June/ Early July is the day I get to dig garlic. If you're interested, here is more about that.

I like to mince garlic using the tool to the right.  Do what you want.  I watch food shows where they mince it with a knife.  I haven't have good success with that.  This tool gets the job done quickly and with minimum trouble or mess. Do what you want. 

When working with thing that need chopping, it is best to do that all before starting to cook.  It's more organized and lets you enjoy cooking.  

So keep a couple cutting boards for this purpose.  Wash in soapy water with your after-cooking dishes.  Once a week or twice a month, I soak them in bleach water in the big sink in my laundry room.  

There is an order to the world.  Practice order.                                                                     Remember to enjoy the Zen of Chopping.

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