Easy ways of pimping your meals! :)

26 06 2009

I am usually a rather busy person. I teach biology labs in the university, sometimes have to grade a lot (even until bedtime and then some more!), also I am a part time freelance artist, keep touch with the family (something fundamental for me), take care of the husband (another must in my life), try to keep in shape through exercising, take part in art communities, blog and cook. Cooking takes time and sometimes time is what I am missing, so along the way I’ve learned some ways of pimping your every day simple meal for it to taste as if you really put a lot into it.

Favored oils and vinegars. Parragon books.

Favored oils and vinegars. Parragon books.

Let me introduce you today to oils and vinegars. They are easy to prepare, they take some time but I usually prepare them in those days that time is not an issue. I prepare a few of them, usually two or three at a time and keep them in the fridge, when I use them through the weeks until it’s time to make some more.

I got a book “Flavored Oils & Vinegars” by Parragon books, and it has been an inspiration. It not only brings recipes to delicious oils and vinegars, but it also brings recipes that suggest how to use them. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and the photos are just beautiful!

Basil oil:

2 cups of fresh basil leaves.

2 cloves of garlic (I use more!)

1 cup of olive oil.

Wash the basil leaves, pass them through boiling water and blanch for 5 seconds. Scoop out the leaves ad place in iced water. Dry the leaves as much as possible. Chop them in big pieces and place them in a jar. Add the garlic cut in halves.

Heat the oil until warmed (don’t boil!) for 5 minutes. Pour the oil in the jar on top of the garlic and basil leaves. Let cool, cover and place in fridge.

This oil has a great flavor that is not too dominant, but it is very aromatic. I use this delicious oil to garnish pasta, pizza and some salads.

Rosemary and lemon oil:

Rosemary Lemon Oil

Rosemary Lemon Oil

5 spprigs of rosemary (5 inches long)

zest of 2 lemons

1 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Remove the leaves fromt he rosemary, cut the lemon zest into strips.

Pour the oil into an oven proof glass recipient and add the leaves and zest. Place the recipient in a pie plate in the center of the oven and heat for one and a half to two hours.

Let cool for 30 minutes and store in the fridge.

I use this oil to marinate meats and to seal chicken. Also I use it to stir fry veggies and chicken. It really makes your house smell wonderful and it gives such an extra flavor to your meals that people would ask about it!

Rosemary and garlic balsamic vinegar:

Ten 2-inch sprigs of rosemary

4 cloves of garlic (cut in halves)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Wash the rosemary sprigs and separate the leaves. Combine the leaves and garlic in a jar.

In a saucepan heat the balsamic vinegar until it starts to bubble around the edges of the pan. Take out of the heat, wait until it cools down a little and pour into the jar. When it is cool, cover the jar and place in the fridge.

I use this vinegar to marinate meats and paint them before baking. It adds a great and unique flavor to them!

I hope you have enjoyed these ideas! If you have a new recipe on how to use them, please let me know!