Cooking Notes

Quina Quen“World big place.  Many many foods.”

—Quale, FFIX

  • When I portion out soups and stews, I use a half-cup ladle.  Each serving is one heaping scoop from the bottom, and a second scoop of mostly liquid, dipped from the top — hence, a serving is “a heaping cup.”  Of course, amounts will vary based on cooking time and other factors, but that’s the serving breakdown which I use to calculate nutritional information.
  • I often use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, for the health benefits as well as the unique, tart flavor.
  • When a recipe calls for Parmesan cheese, buy a good-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano.  You should be able to see the words stenciled on the rind.  Save the rinds for stock.
  • When you have chicken bones left over from a meal, make a rich stock that will taste much better than store-bought broth.  Put the bones in a soup pot and cover with water.  Add an onion and a garlic bulb, each sliced in half.  You can also add aging vegetables from your fridge: carrots, celery, etc.  Sprinkle in some peppercorns and add a sprig of rosemary if you have some in your garden.  Bring to just under a boil and simmer, covered, for about two hours.  Strain into another pot using a colander lined with cheesecloth.  Refrigerate overnight and skim off the fat.  Freeze in 2-cup containers for later use.
  • Italian seasoning is a blend of basil, oregano, and other spices.  You can buy it in most stores.
  • Herbes de Provence is a blend of thyme and other spices.
  • Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.  You can substitute ground cinnamon.
  • Oils should be purchased in small quantities and used quickly, before they go rancid.  When buying olive oil, choose extra-virgin.  Canola oil should be organic and expeller-pressed.  Keep a small bottle of sesame oil in the refrigerator for flavoring.