Tag Archives: worcestershire

Need a Lift? Drop Some Acid.

No, I am not tripping, nor am I advocating you do anything similar. I’m talking about using acid as a food enhancer.

I once worked with a very talented chef, who although I suspect was probably high half the time, taught me a few things about acid and flavors.

Chef explained that when food tasted ‘flat’, it could usually use salt or more often than not, a bit of acid. At first I was perplexed by this statement, but I learned what my chef was trying to teach me.

The kitchen crew would be busy preparing dishes for service, cooks heavy with tasks and  items to prep and complete. Chef would routinely come on line to sample the food, sipping sauces, dressings, tasting our recent projects.

Chef would then yay or nay our progress, asking questions about recipes used. Ultimately I would hear the following sentences often enough, I began to understand the process of ingredients, chemistry and their dance together.

“More salt.”

“Needs acid.”

When properly used, acid enhances the natural flavors in the food you are preparing. It won’t alter the dish so much, but it gives it punch. It has this wonderful ability to give foods another layer of flavor. This I learned, could turn a mediocre meal into a party in the mouth.

Let me give you a few examples that will make good foods taste even better. Chances are you already have a few, if not all these goodies in your pantry or fridge right now. The following list is a sample of what I call my “Arsenal of Flavors.”

This is only a sampling of acids I recommend, but this will get you started. They are extremely versatile and demonstrate the beauty of key flavors. Hopefully, they will transform your meals, get you cooking more  and enjoying great food!

  • Citrus juice and their zest (orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Spanish Sherry Vinegar
  • Champagne Vinegar
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Red and White Wines
  • Some liquors and cordials such as Sake, Tequila, Port and Brandy
  • Pernod or Dry Vermouth
  • Mustards
  • Capers
  • Beer!
  • Soy Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce

Here is a recipe I am using tonight which incorporates acid in a marinade, a great example which will impart maximum flavor versus just throwing the damn bird on the grill. No love or respect. Without further adieu, I give you:

Love and Respect Marinade for Grilled Chicken

This marinade would also work well for shrimp, scallops, various cuts of fish and pork. Tonight I’m using 1 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This marinate makes about 1 cup, enough for up to 2 or 3 pounds of meat.

Key ingredients for the win.

Key ingredients for the win.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • a few dashes of hot sauce
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup. Stir completely and pour over meat, chicken or seafood. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour, turning halfway if you remember.

Giving the chicken some love.

Giving the chicken some love.

Remove meat from marinade and season with salt. Discard marinade. Grill chicken thighs over indirect heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes.

I am grilling the chicken tonight because it is still hotter than the be-jesus over here. I suppose you could broil the chicken, or saute, but I think a marinade and summer should require an outdoor cooking vessel.

Speaking of which, time to stop blogging, and get cooking.


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Noodle Head

I love noodles. Flat, thin, skinny, curly… You get the picture.

When I was a little girl, I have fond memories of my Mom’s buttered egg noodles (even better fried with more butter the next day). I also loved Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. I would sit down to a big bowl, and slurp the broth up with my spoon until the only thing remaining in the bowl would be a mountain of slippery, faintly seasoned noodles. I would spoon those babies on my spoon and savor every bite. I always saved the noodles for last, like a reward for having the restraint to only consume the broth.

Fast forward to the present. I know longer eat Campbell’s Noodle Soup (remember the sodium people!), but I still love me a bowl of noodles. So many cultures serve seriously great noodle dishes. Vietnamese Pho? Man, I could eat that every day. And the Chinese do their fair share of noodles, and Japan is close behind with their wheat Soba. And don’t get me started on the Italians. Mama Mia!

However, pasta seems to be one of those foods that is discouraged among many, mostly for dietary purposes. The no carb craze has made sure that consumption of noodles are only to be done in hiding, replaced with tofu or vegetables, sliced mechanically to resemble pasta, or forever banished altogether. Seriously, I’m not making the ‘tofu noodle’ thing up. I’ve seem them in the ‘health food freezer section’. Bleh.

One of my favorite noodle dishes is the classic Macaroni and Cheese. It is true comfort food for me. I love all kinds. Fancy types with penne, wild mushrooms and gorgonzola, to the Annie’s boxed type. The red box of Stouffer’s on the kitchen counter makes my heart soar. Yes, I am not proud, I love it.

Since my journey toward weight loss, trying to exercise regularly and stay as healthy as possible, I can’t have pasta every night. But I can’t live without noodles! I am a firm believer in eating what you crave, within reason. If I’m really craving mac and cheese, but I eat vegetable sticks instead, I won’t feel satisfied, and the odds that I raid the kitchen later in the day/night are practically guaranteed. Sometimes you just have to honor your mac and cheese voice.

Over the years I have made plenty of macaroni recipes. Most of them are fantastic, but they are also full of saturated fat, heavy cream, half and half, lots of butter and more cheese than we all need. I have created the recipe below, that I hope you will try, and  you really enjoy. It’s made with real ingredients, but the fat and calorie content are a fraction of the traditional recipes.

The longer I’m alive the more I realize moderation is key in life. Depriving ourselves is not something that works long term. Fixing yourself a lovely meal, sharing it with friends and family doesn’t sound like deprivation to me. It sounds like a reward at the end of a long day to sit down with a bowl of this pasta. And the best part is, you don’t have to wait to eat the noodles last!

This recipe will make approximately 4 servings (portion control people!) I have also cut the recipe in half for just me and my husband, and it works very well. If you like, 3 ounces of lean, chopped ham may be added to the pasta and cheese sauce before baking. Team it up with a big salad, and you have a tasty nutritional meal.

Give me my noodles! Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (2 cups) uncooked pasta of your choice (elbow and small penne are nice)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • a few dashes of hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to your taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups non-fat milk
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 4 ounces of cheese, grated, your choice (I use a mixture of sharp cheddar, gruyere and parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs tossed with 2 tablespoons grated cheese of your choice

Directions

Cook pasta until just al dente, still a bit firm as the pasta will finish cooking in the oven. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium sauce pan melt the oil over medium heat. Add the flour, grated onion, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, whisking to combine. Cook over medium low heat for a couple minutes, careful not to burn the roux. Slowly add the non-fat milk, stirring to incorporate with the roux. Add the hot sauce, nutmeg, black pepper and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the 4 ounces of grated cheese and the yogurt. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. (This mixture will not be thick like traditional sauces, because of the lack of heavy fat. The pasta will help that out with its natural starch as it bakes, so don’t panic!)

Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and if using, the chopped ham. Pour into a lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with the panko cheese mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Turn on your broiler, and broil casserole  until the top is brown and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand a few minuted before serving. Manja!