Friday Food Find: The Spiralizer!

If you have not heard of this little gadget, I am here to spread the word! The spiralizer takes a multitude of vegetables and turns them into pasta, chips, or shoe-string frittes. You can also use this tool to transform fruit into chips, salad, garnishes, ribbons, and more. The only limits are your imagination. My first attempt at using the spiralizer was a fresh zucchini and pea salad that was dressed with mint, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. It tasted like spring in a bowl. More…
If you have not heard of this little gadget, I am here to spread the word! The spiralizer takes a multitude of vegetables and turns them into pasta, chips, or shoe-string frittes. You can also use this tool to transform fruit into chips, salad, garnishes, ribbons, and more. The only limits are your imagination. My first attempt at using the spiralizer was a fresh zucchini and pea salad that was dressed with mint, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and olive oil that I had to submit as an assignment in my online cookery school, It tasted like spring in a bowl.

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I have been using it ever since on softer fruit and veg. But I was finding it difficult to use on harder veg. But I really wanted to use it to make sweet potato spaghetti. I decided to try par baking the sweet potato. It turns out that fiber just gets too stringy and you end up with a big sticky mess.

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I realize now that if I had put some thought in to it, I would have realized this was going to happen. I also tried par boiling with even worse success. So in a last-ditch effort, I tried spiralizing the hard, raw veg followed by a short bath in some boiling water. SUCCESS! While it was difficult to turn the crank, it did work, and looked amazing.

On a sidenote, I am now in search of a spiralizer that is similar to a pasta maker that you can secure to the counter top and is made of metal. I have yet to find, so if you are some inventor-type, please make a prototype and use kickstarter to make your millions. And as a thank you, all you have to do is sell me one at wholesale for this grand idea!

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It tasted really good raw, as I have found with all of the veg so far. But I now needed to test out a few batches to see how long it would need to cook to be used as a pasta in a dish I had swimming around in my head. After three attempts, I found what worked best for my. I submerged the shockingly bright tendrils in boiling water for exactly one minute before draining.

Next week, I will post the results of this along with an easy peasy dinner recipe that costs almost nothing to make, but looks and tastes amazing (and post a link here once I have it)! In the meantime, I highly suggest that you go out and get one of these! If you can not find one in your local shop,  here is a handy link to one online through Amazon. And that is not all, while I was looking for a link to this gadget, I also ran across this book that got really good reviews. I have have not read it, but have added it to my wish list!

Burnt to a Crisp

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Well, not exactly, but when roasting your veg there is a fine line between perfectly cooked and black. For me, it is rarely too-far-gone, but to each his own. In my experience, I have not found a vegetable that does not taste amazing roasted. I would compare it to smoked meats, smoked cheese, or really anything smoked. Most things just taste good smoked and most veg just tastes good roasted. More…

Well, not exactly, but when roasting your veg there is a fine line between perfectly cooked and black. For me, it is rarely too-far-gone, but to each his own. In my experience, I have not found a vegetable that does not taste amazing roasted. I would compare it to smoked meats, smoked cheese, or really anything smoked. Most things just taste good smoked and most veg just tastes good roasted.

In the roasting section of Unit Five, I learned the finer details of roasting, such as correct temp to roast at, why placement of veg on the sheet pan can be important, and many yummie practice recipes which were lovely to eat. The graded activity involved roasting either butternut squash or Brussels sprouts; BS happen to be one of my favorites so I chose that recipe. My only issue was that it was not exactly the correct season for fresh sprouts here. But the activity was pretty straight forward.  To start, you guessed it, gather my mise en place.sprouts1From there it was simply a matter of preparing the Brussels sprouts using the simple recipe; taking care to arrange the halved sprouts by size on the baking sheet—with the largest near the edges. I roasted them in a 400-degree oven turning 2/3 of the way through.

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Once roasted, I tossed with fine herbs and minced garlic. The result was perfectly browned sprouts that were enhanced by the sweetness the roasting provided without taking away the distinct flavor I enjoy in them.

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Unit Five wrapped up learning about puréed vegetables and their applications such as in soup, sauces, dips, etc. I learned about what type of purée different types of veg will provide, the best way to keep them warm, and how to ensure you get the consistency you are looking for.

The unit wrapped up too quickly and it made me consider taking the plant-based program after I complete this cooking course.

Oh, the Glorious Vegetable!

Unit Four wrapped up nicely with a few practice salads and dressing. I have a new-found friend in vinaigrette; while I still do not like vinegar, my horizons have been broadened by the concept that acid can be found in more than one form. And with that knowledge in my back pocket, I have embarked on Unit Five: Vegetables. Who knows, maybe I will get to marinade some veg with some of my dressing. I love vegetables and this unit can only enhance my repertoire and understanding of this food group. More…

Unit Four wrapped up nicely with a few practice salads and dressing. I have a new-found friend in vinaigrette; while I still do not like vinegar, my horizons have been broadened by the concept that acid can be found in more than one form. And with that knowledge in my back pocket, I have embarked on Unit Five: Vegetables. Who knows, maybe I will get to marinade some veg with some of my dressing. I love vegetables and this unit can only enhance my repertoire and understanding of this food group.

After spending time learning about how best to preserve pigment color, we delve into blanching and par-boiling. The best thing I learned in this exercise was that I can speed up nightly meals by par-boiling veg in advance and then they are primed and ready during the week for whatever I throw them into. The practice assignments were all good, but the creamed spinach was stellar.

My favorite exercise in this unit has to be the Potato Experiment. It was really quite easy; I highly recommend trying. Simply bring two pots of water to the simmer. In one pot, simmer a few potatoes in plain, unsalted water. In a second pot, simmer a few potatoes in water but season the water with salt and 2–3 bay leaves. Be sure to add enough salt so that the water tastes a bit salty. Once done, taste the potatoes. There’s a huge difference in taste between potato boiled in water versus one boiled in water, salt, and bay leaves. The potatoes that were cooked in the seasoned water were actually good all on their own without any added fat. I can only imagine that with a small pat of butter, they would be perfection!

Next in this unit is a section on steaming veggies. I thought that I had mastered steaming veg already, but it turns out that I learned a thing or two including how to steam potatoes if you want a fluffier end result. I personally prefer dense, creamy mashed potatoes, but I am sure there is a case where that is the texture I will want and now I know how. The best thing I learned though was that you can steam sweet potatoes/yams which is great in my opinion as I love them mashed and boiling yields water-logged fibers and I don’t always have the time to bake. The steaming option actually results in the best mashed sweet potatoes/yams I have made, and so easy. Simply peel, cut, and steam the yams, rice or mash, add some butter, salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Stir and enjoy~

Up next is roasting!