As regular readers know I am always looking for new, easier ways of performing kitchen tasks to share in this column.
Sometimes, my reaction is “Why didn’t I think of that?” But my reaction to the three that follow was “Are you kidding?” If I hadn’t seen the videos, I would have been doubly dubious. You might not actually use them, but I hope you will enjoy reading about them anyway, and I hope you will check out Lifehacker’s “Crazy Kitchen Tricks” videos at lifehacker.com.
Harvest pomegranate seeds in seconds
Until now, I have known only one way to extract the seeds from pomegranate: Cut it in halves or quarters, submerge it in a bowl of water and work the seeds out with your fingers. The seeds sink to the bottom and the husks float to the top.
Simple enough, right? But a little tedious and time consuming.
Lifehacker claims you can extract those pomegranate seeds in 10 seconds. The foodie who gives the demonstration is quite entertaining and obviously enthusiastic, saying this “freaking awesome” trick changed his life. Unfortunately he doesn’t give his name. (My husband says if this changed his life maybe he needs to get a life.)
Here is his method: Score a pomegranate around its equator just enough to break the skin. Gently pull or twist the halves apart. Hold one half in both hands, using your thumbs to gently stretch it around the sides as you would an orange to expose the pulp. This loosens the pomegranate seeds.
Next, hold the half in your hand seed side down over a bowl. “Smack” it sharply with a wooden spoon, and as the seeds are released allow them to fall through your fingers and into the bowl.
I didn’t see any juice splashing, but the video does suggest you might want to wear an apron or old shirt.
Peel a hard boiled egg
As if you haven’t seen enough tips on peeling hard boiled eggs, I found two more this week. One was to crack the shell all over and remove just enough to slip a teaspoon under the shell and work it around to separate the shell from the egg.
The other one was on Lifehacker’s “crazy tips” video. I have to preface this by saying, it isn’t the most appealing method, but if you are peeling the egg for yourself, it would be fine.
Blogger Tim Ferriss prefaces his video stating the obvious: Peeling hard-boiled eggs is a pain.
Here is his tip: Put eggs in a pan covered by 2 inches of water and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda (this is crucial). Bring to a boil. After the eggs have cooked for 12 minutes and been cooled in an ice water bath, tap and remove a little shell on each end, then blow on one end, which causes the hard-boiled egg to pop out the other end of the shell.
Before demonstrating, Lifehacker’s Adam Pash acknowledges that most of us would recoil at the idea of dumping a perfectly good bottle of wine into a blender. But, he says, Nathan Myhrvold, author of the $450, six-volume “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking” takes a scientific approach:
“I just pour the wine in, frappé away at the highest power setting for 30 to 60 seconds, and then allow the froth to subside (which happens quickly) before serving. I call it ‘hyperdecanting.’
“Although torturing an expensive wine in this way may cause sensitive oenophiles to avert their eyes,” Myhrvold continues, “it almost invariably improves red wines – particularly younger ones, but even a 1982 Château Margaux. Don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself.”
At thechive.com I found a few more tips:
Turn on your seat warmer to keep pizza hot on the way home.
- If you have forgotten to chill the wine, freeze white grapes and use them instead of ice to chill white wine without diluting it.
- Use a CD spindle to transport a bagel without crushing it.
- Use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a barbecue
- To slice bread without crushing it, turn the loaf upside down and begin the cut on the soft bottom crust. Why didn’t I think of that?
St. Patrick’s Day redux
I’m sure you have heard eternity defined as two people and a turkey … or a ham. I’ve never heard that said of corned beef – maybe because there are not too many 10- or 20-pound corned beefs. But if you happen to have St. Patrick’s Day leftovers, you might be looking for a way to use them. I love corned beef sandwiches, but in case you are looking for different ideas, these recipes sounded good to me.
Corned Beef Hash: In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, heat 2 teaspoons canola oil over medium-high heat. Chop and add 1 large onion; sauté until onion starts to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add 4 cups diced cooked potatoes or frozen hash brown potatoes; cook, stirring until they brown in spots and become crusty, about 8 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup chopped lean corned beef brisket (4 ounces) and 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until liquid is absorbed, 5 to 8 minutes. Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Fill a large skillet with 2 inches salted water and bring to a gentle simmer. Break 4 eggs, one at a time, onto a saucer and slide into the simmering water. Poach eggs until set to desired firmness, 4 to 5 minutes.
Divide hash among 4 plates and top each with an egg. Makes 4 servings.
Potato and Bacon Pancake: This recipe assumes that you have potatoes and bacon left over. If you only have potatoes, it will still be good. You could also cook and add some bacon. Mash 1 cup leftover cooked (roasted, boiled, baked or mashed) potatoes and bacon in a bowl. Mix in 1 egg. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt 2 teaspoons butter. Form potato mixture into 2 pancakes. Cook for about 3 minutes per side until golden brown and heated through.
Tomato and Cabbage Bisque: In heavy saucepan, sauté until brown and tender, 3 cups shredded cabbage, 1 finely chopped onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 2 (10 ounce) cans condensed tomato bisque soup (see note), 1 cup whole milk and 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese softened and cut into cubes. Stir well.
Cook until hot, but don’t boil, about 5 or 6 minutes. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese and serve hot.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Note: If you can’t find tomato bisque soup, use ordinary tomato soup and add 1/4 cup heavy cream.
Corned Beef and Swiss Dip: Preheat oven to 350 F.
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Chop and add 1 medium sized onion. Cook and stir until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Transfer onion to a large mixing bowl. Stir in 8 ounces diced corned beef, 2 (8-ounce) packages softened cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, 1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream, 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
Slice a piece of bread from the top of a 1-pound unsliced loaf of Italian bread. Hollow the center of the loaf, creating a long bread bowl. Leave at least 1/2 inch of bread on the sides. Reserve bread chunks from center of loaf for dipping if desired.
Spoon the corned beef mixture into the bread bowl.
Wrap the filled bread bowl in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until the dip is fully cooked and bubbling, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (This seems like a long time, so you might want to check it after 45 minutes.
Makes 24 appetizer servings.
Note: One reader/review suggested caramelizing the onions. She also said she had leftover dip and her family preferred it cold.