March 30, 2010

Onions, Olive Oil and Chocolate

Depending on social engagements and work potlucks, sometimes I find myself baking and cooking in the morning. I make my coffee, get Micky’s morning routine started (food, outside, fetch with the orka ball, belly rubs) and then I cook.

This morning I made a white bean dip for a party tonight and after taste testing it, that dip was the only thing I could think to blog about this morning. It is freaking good.

But, I’m not going to wax poetic about white beans, rosemary and the magic of lemon zest. No my friends, I want to talk about much more random subjects. Little tidbits that are nestled in my brain after many couch reading sessions with Mark Bittman, Everyday Food, Food Network Magazine, Cooks Illustrated, Cooking Light and Real Simple.

Like onions. I didn’t know there was a name for red, white and yellow onions. They are called storage onions. Is that known? Anyway, the real tidbit is re: picking onions. Choose ones that do not have any smell. Onions that smell have been crushed in transit. They won’t be as fresh or crisp and may have some type of damage.

Or quality chocolate. So many baking recipes call for good chocolate, oftentimes Valrhona. I can speak from personal experience and preference that if you are going to bother making chocolate brownies, frosting, cakes, etc., then skip the regular grocery store fare and spring for the good stuff. Use your grocery store brand flour and sugar, but step up the flavor and quality with the chocolate. Or mix half Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips with your Hersheys or Toll House ones.

Personally, I like Scharffenberger. I can’t say why, probably because it was one of the first high quality chocolates I ever tasted.

And last but not least, olive oil. What is to say about olive oil that hasn’t been said? What I do know that nobody tells you, is that you should have two types of olive oil at the ready. Extra virgin for salad dressing and finishing off dishes, regular for frying and other things. I’m sure everyone else knows this, but I didn’t have a clear distinction on that when I started cooking in earnest a few years ago.

My last word, I really Colavita. Not as much as I liked the fresh pressed olive oil we brought home from Italy, but it works. I also like the big cans you can get at World Market. Very flavorful.

I’m sure there is more tucked away in my brain, ready for a chance question during a game of Trivial Pursuit, but cooking with these ingredients are on my mind this week.

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