Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kitchen shortcut

I am a lazy cook, especially this time of year. I like slow braises and soups when it is cold like this winter. Also, because of what I like to cook, I use a lot of chopped garlic and ginger.

I used to buy the prechopped garlic stuff but then I discovered I could make my own chopped garlic that is 1) Cheaper 2) Fewer preservatives and 3) Tastes a lot better. I take about two pounds of garlic (I buy the prepeeled kind from the local Asian farmer's market) and put it in my small ten dollar food processor. I put cloves up about halfway and then put some olive oil and blitz it. I store it in an old spaghetti sauce jar. I keep repeating until I fill two spaghetti sauce jars. I put a thick layer of olive oil on top. The reason I use my cheapo food processor is that it does not do a good job of completely pureeing the garlic. There are some big chunks, which sometimes I like to cook with. But sometimes, I want the little mincey bits so I can scoop those out when I need be. I also have a large set of iced tea spoons (when in the south, you NEED them) and I use them to get either the large chunks or the little bits. Also, the olive oil layer helps preserve them and you get a garlic flavored oil that is nice to add to a salad dressing. Every so often, I add more olive oil. I keep it in the door of the refrigerator and use it almost every time I cook. It has never gotten rancid but that is probably because anything I cook that is savory has some garlic in it.

I also do the same thing with ginger. I peel it first and then hand chop one big hand of ginger and put some in the mini food processor as well. I store the ginger in sherry. I learned this trick from an old roommate's mother who actually grew her own ginger back in the day because they did not sell fresh ginger at her local market. This keeps indefinitely. Also the sherry takes on a gingery quality (because well DUH) and I will take that and add that to soy sauce or any Asian style dipping sauce. It is also really yummy in a marinade for meat in a stir fry. One thing I recommend is that you clearly label your products:
Chopped Ginger in Sherry
because I have had instances where people thought they were adding a pickle to a sandwich and then Lo and Behold I get a holler of "MINJENAH WHAT IS THIS?"

Both these little tricks take about ten minutes each. I only have to do them once a quarter and they have made a huge difference in my cooking.

No comments: