Monday, March 28, 2011

Infuse, infuse, infuse!

When I'm cooking, I try to infuse as much as possible. It helps enhance the flavor of anything you are cooking.
Here are some examples:
  • Infuse your oil. Heat your pan up and then pour whatever oil you are using into the pan. If I'm making pancakes or french toast I add a little vegetable oil and then infuse it with butter. It gives it that diner taste. The vegetable oil helps protect the butter from burning. If I'm searing steak i would get the oil hot and infuse it with a fresh herb or garlic (careful not to burn though, burnt garlic is awful).
  • Infuse your cooking water. When I boil noodles, rice, coucous, etc. I infuse the water with something that is in the dish - whole peppercorns, fresh herbs, half an onion (whole), whole cloves of garlic, half a lemon (whole with rind), etc.
  • Infuse your powered sugar. Make vanilla powered sugar by sticking a vanilla bean inside the bag/container. It's great for homemade frosting.
  • Infuse your high-proof alcohol. Make your own vanilla extract with vodka, rum or bourbon (80 proof). You need three vanilla beans per 1 cup. Store the mason jar in a dark place and in two months you have vanilla extract! 
  • Infuse your whipping cream. Pour a cup of whipping cream (or however much you need) into a tightly sealed container. Add whole coffee beans, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. When you are ready to whip your cream, pour whipping cream through a strainer. Beat cream on high speed in a cool, stainless steel bowl - add a little vanilla and powered sugar and you will have amazing, homemade coffee-infused whip cream. YUM!
  • Infuse your breakfast syrup - real, fake, organic...whatever! Pour some in a small pan and add fresh blueberries, strawberries, pecans, almonds, apples, cinnamon sticks - possibilities are endless! Make sure its on very low heat. It doesn't take long for the syrup to heat up.
  • Infuse your simple syrup. When I get any citrus on sale I juice them and make limeade, etc. I usually take the rinds and use them to enhance my simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar). In the summer time when I have loads of fresh herbs from my garden, I will also add herbs along with the rinds. I have made limeade with mint simple syrup and lemonade with rosemary or basil simple syrup. I have also made grapefruit juice with cinnamon syrup (cinnamon stick) and orangeade with lavendar syrup. It's refreshing and subtle.

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