You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Food Hack’ category.

Yes, it’s true. Things have been pom-centric around here lately. But I promised in my last post that I’d tell you the method I used for juicing a pomegranate. Here it is. I borrowed the basic idea from All The Marmalade, who has a great explanation and grenadine method.

Open a pomegranate and release the arils, in whatever is your favourite way (here’s ours). Once the arils are released, you need to crush them up with some sugar to macerate (think of what happens when you toss frozen berries with a bit of sugar– all that juice? Same idea.). My first attempt at this was a disaster: red hands, shredded saran wrap, and a stained potato masher was all that I got.

Then I had an inspiration– my potato ricer! It has holes larger than the seeds, so none could escape, and I could control the pressure so as not to crush the seeds with the juice and make it bitter*.

I scooped the seeds into the ricer, squeezed them gently over a bowl, then dumped the whole, crushed arils in with the released juice. A stay overnight in the fridge, and everything was ready to go.

One thing– if you’re making grenadine from this, you will still need to add more sugar to the reduced juice, but not as much as if you were starting with bottled pomegranate juice– the sugar maceration ensures that.

Technique and recipe:

To Juice a Pomegranate
I haven’t tried it yet, but I have a feeling this potato ricer technique would still work well without the sugar if you’re just going for the juice and don’t want any sweetness. Just skip the sugar/overnight maceration step. It’s a good alternative if you don’t have a juicer and don’t want any of the bitterness of the seeds in your juice.

1. Open a pomegranate and release the arils any way you find convenient.
2. Toss the arils with half their volume of granulated sugar (eg. 1 cup pomegranate=1/2 cup sugar)
3. Place the pomegranate/sugar mixture in a potato ricer and squeeze gently over a bowl to crush the arils and release some juice.
4. Toss the crushed arils in the juice, cover the bowl with cling wrap, and leave bowl in fridge to macerate overnight.
5. The next day, remove the bowl from the fridge and strain the mixture into a new bowl, crushing the arils gently to be sure you’re getting the most possible juice. Go ahead and use a potato ricer again if you want.

To make grenadine from your fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice

1. Measure the volume of juice that you’ve obtained.
2. Place the juice in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced by half.
3. Taste the syrup (cool it on a spoon first) for sweetness and check consistency. Add sugar if desired (I added approximately another 1/4 of the original volume). Bring back to a boil.
4. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool. Add a dash of vodka for preservation purposes and store in the fridge or freezer.

*On a side note, I got a great comment today on our grenadine post. Chelsey said that she’s made grenadine from fresh pomegranate before, and she juiced it by whirling the arils quickly through a food processor, another technique I’ve seen online (which has the benefit of being nice and simple. I must try this.) She said she liked how she got some seed flavour in the juice that way, but she noticed a bit of a similar “musty” flavour in her finished grenadine. So my conclusion is this: the reason the fresh pom grenadine I made tasted so much better to me is that it had NO seed in it. I assume that industrially-produced pomegranate juice is crushed to smithereens, and a huge amount of the seed goes into the juice, thus imparting that flavour that we both noticed! Something to think about.

Advertisement

When I was a little girl, my best friend always came to school with fancy lunches full of things that were unheard of in my household:¬† fruit roll-ups, sliced apples wrapped in saran wrap to keep them from browning, white bread. I was, I admit, jealous. From the vantage point of a 10-year-old raised on home-made whole wheat bread, apples peeled and browning in tupperware, and (okay, so I never minded the cookies) chocolate cookies made from scratch, my friend’s lunch was already pretty enviable. Then one day she showed up with a pomegranate.

I may have been bragging a little before (come on, as if homemade whole wheat bread did me any long-term damage), but I can tell you this humbly– I had never in my life seen nor heard of a pomegranate. Honestly, I don’t even know where her mom found it back then. I remember her nonchalantly pulling it apart, popping those brilliant red seeds in her mouth as if they were nothing, as if they were something she had every day, like ramen noodles or teddy grahams. She let me taste it, and I remember I was fascinated by the burst of juice as I bit into the seeds (now I know they’re called arils) and flummoxed by the little seed in the middle, which I spit out and dropped on the playground.

After that time, I never saw another pomegranate for years. Now, of course, pomegranate is everywhere. Those juicy little rubies jazz up every dish imaginable, and bottles of pom lurk in fridges across North America. But isn’t there still something impossibly exotic about a pomegranate?

Well, impossible, maybe. When I started buying pomegranates and trying to eat them with the nochalance of my old friend, I discovered one thing I hadn’t realized back then. That beautiful red? It’s really red, and it gets EVERYWHERE if you don’t know how to get into the fruit to release those little arils. Luckily, I’ve discovered a fool-proof (or at least juice-everywhere-proof) way to get into a pomegranate.


First, I cut a little cap off the top, like cutting a cap off a pumpkin. I do this at a shallow depth, to avoid cutting into the arils (see above). Once the top is off, I cut the pomegranate into quarters (like the photo at the top of this post), just scoring the skin (with the cap off, you’ll get an idea of the depth you need to cut so that you don’t cut into the arils). I pull the quarters apart, then submerge them in a bowl of water, gently pulling the little seeds away from the membrane. Actually, I’m not very gentle about it, to be honest, but with the pom underwater, there’s no danger of getting squirted with juice anyway. The arils will separate and fall to the bottom of the bowl, while the papery membrane will float to the top. When your pomegranate quarters are all emptied of seeds, just skim the floating membrane bits off the surface of the water, then drain the arils in a strainer.

Once you have the arils separated, you can store them in a bowl in the fridge, or do something crazy with them, like juice them to make homemade grenadine. Oh yes, that post is coming soon.

Remix No. 1:

The Original:
Cut Copy – Lights and Music (from In Ghost Colours)

The Remix:
Boyz Noize – Happy Birthday Remix (from Lights and Music Single)

Remix No. 2:

The Original:
Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Epic Last Song (from You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Yourself Into)

The Remix:
Lifelike – Epic Last Song (from Epic Last Song Single)

Remix No. 3:

The Original:
Kraft – Kraft Dinner
– KD is okay, but it could be better. I’m right, right? Hanne and I got home late one night and I wanted junk food. KD sounded about right, but it’s boring and one-dimensional. So…

The Remix:
Supper in Stereo – BKD
– Fry four or five strips of bacon. Instead of using butter or milk as per regular KD instructions, use some (or all!) of the bacon grease. Chop bacon into chunks and mix it into finished KD. Peas would be good, too, I think. I’m going to try that.

Here’s a quick trick we learned from our favorite food friends– the frosty mug. Whenever we go over to their place, they serve us beer in a heavy glass that has come straight out of their freezer. This is enormously satisfying in the summertime, but it’s still useful as we head into winter. The best part about this hack is that it works to chill your only slightly-cooled beer. For Canadian winters, this means that your beer, already half-chilled just from carrying it home, can be cooled to a perfect temperature just by pouring it into your frosty, frosty mug. If you want your not-so-cold beer NOW, give it a try.

Quick! Before the frost hits, harvest all of the green tomatoes left on your plants. Make sure the tomatoes aren’t touching (to prevent rot) and keep them in a dark warm spot. I stowed mine in a clementine orange box. I shoved half an egg carton inside to keep the small rolly cherry tomatoes apart. I stuck the clementine box on top of the fridge (a warm spot) and put a cardboard box over top to keep the light out. Approximately three weeks later I have ripe tomatoes.

Sorry about the lack of updates. It’s my fault, and it’s also Herman Melville’s fault, and Robert Browning’s, and more than a few others. Their books just HAD to be long and involved. But… it’s all over now, and none of my reading has to be for exams anymore.

Anyway, here’s a quick coffee trick that got me through the mornings of studying when heating up the espresso machine seemed like far too much wasted effort (yeah, I’ve been a little on edge). I learned about cold-brewed coffee first on another blog (sorry, I’ve forgotten where), and it seems the word has spread– it’s been everywhere. It’s great for summer and very time-efficient, as long as you plan ahead. Too bad summer’s over… I didn’t do such a great job with the plan-ahead posting, clearly. I’m thinking it might be good for the winter months too, on those days when you’re leaving the house with your coffee cup and you just know your coffee’s going to get cold before you get the chance to savour it.

The flavour is great too, especially when you use half-decent coffee. It’s mellower than regular brewed coffee, and a little nutty tasting. Perfect for a hot day! Yes, I know it’s fall. I’m sorry.

All you need to do to make your very own batch of cold-brewed coffee is dump some freshly ground coffee in a container and pour water over it. Leave it overnight in the fridge, and in the morning, you’ve brewed your coffee! I don’t measure my grounds, but I think I use about a 1/4 cup of coffee for 1 1/2-2 cups of water. You could alter this to your own tastes. When the coffee is ready, I pour it into our Bodum french press to get rid of the grounds detritus. That’s it!

Trust me, it’s worth a try, just for the flavour difference. Try it even though it’s not really summer anymore.

P.S. Happy National Coffee Day!

Salsa Cilantro HackThis food hack was passed down from Hanne’s parents. Simply add some cilantro to your store bought salsa. Not only will you add depth of flavour, but cilantro also gives your salsa some muscle. Have you noticed how cilantro makes spicy spicier?

Sorry for the circa 1980s cookbook photo. We’re working on improving our presentation and equipment. Any tips or camera recommendations?

McAuslan St-Ambroise Pale Ale

Originally posted May 19th.

 

Tonight I’m off to barter a 6-pack of McAuslan’s St-Ambroise Pale Ale for my coworker’s friend’s pasta. This Quebec brew has been my beer of choice for the past two years in Montreal, especially during the NHL playoffs. I wrung many McAuslan necks last year cheering (like this nutter via Deadspin) my Oilers to game 7 of the heartbreaking Stanley Cup Final. I nearly wrung the neck of a fellow hockey watcher (not fan) when he figured cheering for the Hurricanes and sharing my beer was an acceptable combo. I told him to put my beer back in the fridge, that cheering for the ‘Canes because their city is closer to Montreal than Edmonton was ludicrous and finally, childishly, that ‘Canes captain Rob Brind’Amour gave even the French a bad name (here’s his ugly mug under the beautiful one…I still hurt). It was a bad night. Maybe my surrogate Sens will fair better this year.

 

Anyway. I should have figured out this whole beer for food deal sooner. Tomorrow, friends recently back from a long trip in Argentina are coming over, WITH FOOD. All I have to do is hit my corner store (called d√©panneurs or deps here) for some beer and dinner’s served. Only two days to go until Hanne gets back and I’ve finally gotten the hang of feeding myself.