Tips 11-21 for “Tastes of Summer”

  1. Fresh herbs are abundant during the warmer summer months so it makes sense to pair them with season’s most popular cooking method. Herb salts and compound butter are 2 super easy ways to add extra flavor to grilled meats and vegetables. Simply combine chopped fresh herbs with either salt or soft butter. Be creative! Add some fresh citrus zest to salt combos for even more flavor variations.
  2. Salt-cured lemons are great to have on hand because there are so many ways to use them. Preserving slices of fresh lemon between 2 slabs of Himalayan salt greatly intensifies the natural citrus flavor by reducing the water content while simultaneously infusing the slices with salt. The result is a concentrated, briny treasure that is perfect in pasta dishes or wherever you want to add an unexpected intense “pop” of flavor and seasoning.
  3. Himalayan salt blocks are very versatile kitchen tools that can be used to cook, chill, cure, or serve food. Caution should be exercised when using the blocks with heat, however. The blocks may contain small amounts of moisture inside that can cause them to break or even explode when heated. It is very important to follow directions carefully and temper salt blocks over moderate heat before placing them in a hot oven.
  4. When selecting a Himalayan salt block for heat applications, be sure to choose one that is “cooking grade.” Also, look for one that has a minimal amount of pattern to it. The gorgeous grain pattern that makes for a beautiful presentation block becomes a liability in the oven. Each striation indicates a fissure or potential weakness that could cause the block to break apart or explode when heated.
  5. Technique is everything when using Himalayan salt blocks to cure, cook or serve food. It’s easy to end up with overly salted foods if you aren’t careful. For example, when serving watermelon and feta salad on a salt plate, arrange the watermelon slices so that only a small portion of the exposed surface area is in direct contact with the salt. This will give a perfect hint of salty flavor without overpowering the entire bite.
  6. Unlike red meats that can be seared on the outside and rare-to-medium on the inside, pork needs to be more uniformly cooked throughout. When grilling, a medium, direct heat is the best way to ensure the inside cooks evenly with the outside.
  7. The pork available today is a lot leaner than it was a couple generations ago. This means it can dry out quickly if overcooked. For years, pork was always served well done due to fears of trichinosis. As a result, an entire generation grew up believing tasteless, dry pork was the norm!However, in 2011 the USDA dropped the recommended internal cooking temperature of pork down to 145 F – a full 15-degree drop from previous recommendations. This means it is now okay to serve pork that is still juicy and a little pink inside. Just be sure to use an instant-read thermometer to confirm the meat has reached a safe internal temperature before serving.
  8. Warm goat cheese croutons are a great way to make any salad seem more like a full meal. For best results, make sure the croutons are at least ½” thick and not too wide across or they are more likely to break apart while handling. Also, be sure to get the oil hot enough before frying them, because they need to cook quickly or the goat cheese will start seeping out of the crust.
  9. Most recipes for warm goat cheese croutons call for using vegetable or canola oil for frying. However, coconut oil is a delicious, healthy alternative that does not infuse the melted cheese or breadcrumb crust with an overbearing coconut flavor. I highly recommend it!
  10. No ice cream maker? No problem! It is possible to make creamy, delicious ice cream at home without buying special equipment. The base for the ‘Salted Caramel and Pecan Ice Cream’ consists of just 2 simple ingredients: sweetened condensed milk and heavy whipping cream.
  11. Want to enjoy raw kale outside of juices and smoothies? Although the tough, somewhat bitter leaves can be a bit unappealing raw, there is a simple fix for that. Simply massage each leaf with olive, sesame or other oil until they become tenderer. Then enjoy kale in mixed green salads just like you would any green, leafy lettuce.
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