Basics, Cooking, Essentials, Food, recipes

5 Easy Summer Salad Recipes

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Who doesn’t love a delicious salad? Easy, healthy and heat-free, make these salads ahead and refrigerate for cool relief all week.

Plus it’s a great excuse to try your tools: tongs, olive oil bottle, garlic skin remover, garlic mincer.

Heirloom Tomato and Cornbread Panzanella
Literally translated to “bread salad,” this is the easiest, and perhaps tastiest, summer salad and a fun one for kids to help with too.
Tip: You can use any dry crusty bread or toasted cornbread, as mentioned here! Skip the oven and use leftover stale bread (the traditional way!)

Grain Salad with Olives and Whole-Lemon Vinaigrette
Easy, hearty, flavorful – and great as leftovers! This actually gets better as it sits, which is true for all these salads.
Tip: Once you’re comfy making grain salads, you can add in whatever leftover ingredients (cooked meat, tofu, any veggies and even fruit!) you have to create your own recipe. You can also sub in any grain you have on hand or already cooked!

Kale, Apple and Walnut Tabbouleh
There’s probably no better go-to for salads than Philadelphia-based chef Michael Solomonov, since salads are a specialty and major part of Israeli cuisine. This is a great dish for breakfast or any time of day!
Tip: No sumac? No problem! Just omit it for a still-delicious recipe.

Cucumber Salad
This couldn’t be easier: a perfectly refreshing, 5-ingredient salad that’s a summer all-star!
Tip: The thinner you slice the cucumbers, either on a mandoline or carefully by hand, the more they’ll absorb the flavors.

Campanelle Pasta Salad
We love this version of pasta salad with pretty campanelle noodles and hearty tuna in olive oil. You can omit the tuna if you’re veg!
Tip: The secret to a great pasta salad? Don’t overcook the pasta.

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Basics, Cooking, Essentials, Food, Grilling, recipes, Tools

You Can Grill That!

Let your grill do wonders beyond burgers and dogs.

These are easy grilled foods for a party – or just for you! Not only does the grill work its magic in these recipes, but cleanup is super easy too so you can relax and enjoy.

Tip: Keep all your essential grilling tools (tongs, squeeze bottles, pastry brush, etc.) clean and handy for when the grill calls your name!

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  1. Pizza
    Perfect for al fresco summer dining, especially for groups, warm grilled pizza can be equally good and often better than a sad, soggy delivery pizza. That char really works wonders, and it’s super simple! Consider making a veggie one with no cheese for vegan/dairy-free friends and as a nice lighter option for everyone. Pair with a light red (chill it if you want!) or Lambrusco. The pizza can sit out for a bit, as long as it’s not boiling hot outside, so those who arrive late can still enjoy a piece (if there’s any left!) Use your sharpened knife or kitchen shears to slice it!
    Get the recipe.
  2. Grilled Lettuce
    This is an insanely easy way to impress friends and a great side dish for pizza! Channel your inner Giada with a colorful salad of grilled lettuces. All you need is your colander, cutting board, knife, tongs and olive oil bottle. You’ll just want to make sure this hits the grill before any meats, so your veg friends can enjoy without worry!
    Get the recipe.
  3. Avocado
    A quick few minutes on the grill, a little lime juice, salt & pepper creates individual guac bowls you can eat right out of the skin! Spice it up if you want with cayenne, paprika or hot sauce. No need for a huge bowl of guac to sit outside and brown in the heat when you can have a fresh, simple solution. (Also, yahoo for portion control!) Serve with tortilla chips and veggies of your choice.
    Get the recipe.
  4. Stone Fruit
    Warm dessert with no oven action? We’re in! There’s nothing like winding down a summer night with seasonal fruit, a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream (or whatever flavor you like!) and a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy the glory of peaches, plums and nectarines while they’re here!
    Get the recipe.
  5. Grilled Pound Cake
    If you have a cake-loving crowd (the best kind of crowd!) why not throw an already made cake onto the grill? This is basically impossible to mess up because most of the work is done! If you don’t have peaches, try another stone fruit or serve with any fresh berries you have on hand!
    Get the recipe.

 

Basics, Box 1, Cooking, Essentials, Food, Kitchen, recipes, Uncategorized

It’s Time! Tomato Recipes for Summer

They’re here! It’s July and we’re talking tomatoes. If you can resist eating all your ripe tomatoes with just a little salt & pepper, here are our favorite summer tomato recipes.

Grab your serrated knife and cutting board for the easiest tomato action!

  1. Tomato Peach Salad with Basil
    With all seasonal ingredients, this tasty summer treat is a show-stopping salad.
    Tip: Add burrata or mozzarella for a more substantial dish.
  2. Easy Vegan Bruschetta
    A simple go-to snack or appetizer. Kids like it too!
    Tip: Don’t have basil? Use up any fresh herbs you have on hand! Set aside a few plain ones for the kids.

  3. Tomato Margarita with Fennel Salt (or just regular salt!)
    Try this summer sipper in the backyard or on the porch. You’re welcome.
    Tip: Not feeling the fennel? Plain salt will do! Still feeling a bit fancy? Try a mix of Old Bay and salt on the rim!
  4. Easy Gazpacho
    Tip: Use your garlic tools & oil pourer from Box 1 to make this recipe even easier. This is a fun, customizable recipe, so don’t stress!
  5. Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce
    Tip: You can make this in advance and leave it either chilled or at room temp for later! It actually tastes better the longer it sits.

Continue reading “It’s Time! Tomato Recipes for Summer”

Essentials

What Kind of Oil Should I Cook With?

Since you have hopefully gotten acquainted with your new Garlic and Onion tools, I hope you didn’t think I would leave you hanging with the last item two items in your first months box. 

Let me introduce you to your Olive Oil bottle and Pourer Top. Whether you are cooking everyday or on occasion I can guarantee you will reach for this bottle EVERY time. The bottle is the perfect size; it’s large enough to hold a substantial amount of oil (whichever kind you prefer, and if you’re confused about which type to use – we’ll talk it out later) yet not super tall that it can easily fit on most counters or in most cabinets. And then there is the top…the top may be my favorite part. Have you ever tried to pour oil from a large container you buy from the store? You end up either spilling it all over the counter or end up with a pool of oil that not even a loaf of bread could sop up. But when you add the top to your bottle, you will get an even, controlled flow of golden oil.

There are some other factors that come into keeping this liquid gold as protected as possible. You always want to keep oil away from heat, light and air. Make sure your oil is not sitting close to a major heat source, such as your stove and oven (which is something that I recently learned..oops, we all have to start somewhere right?). Always store Olive Oil in a bottle with a cap or seal (TA DA), air exposure can affect the taste. The hinge pourer makes it easy to quickly pour your oil while cooking, but doesn’t affect the oxidation while storing. OK, now it’s time to cook.

There are a wide variety of options when it comes to oils and at a top level can be really overwhelming. I know when I first started cooking, I would stand in front of the shelves in the store and have no idea which type to buy. Most times I ended up buying whatever bottle looked nicest but wasn’t super expensive or what I recognized my mom had used. To be fair, there is nothing wrong with this technique, going with what you know is a safe choice. But as I started cooking more and did more research, I learned that the type of oil you choose makes a difference.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO, anyone?) – EVOO is probably the most widely-used cooking oil and has the highest quality. It is an unrefined oil (meaning not processed) and noticed by its greenish gold hue with a peppery taste. It is a bit more expense than other oils since it is made from the first cold press of olives. EVOO is ideal for dipping, drizzling, salad dressings or really any dish that won’t be heated as it will compromise the flavor.

Virgin Olive Oil – Just like EVOO, Virgin Oil is also made by first press, but has a slightly higher acidity level with the same good taste as EVOO. A lighter golden color with a slightly less “Olive” flavor, making it less in quality. Virgin Oil can can be used the same way as EVOO but because it has a lower smoking point it can be your go too with cooking with heat. Think sautéd veggies, searing meats, even in baking. 

Canola Oil – with a high smoking point of 400 degrees (meaning it can withstand a higher heat), Canola Oil is ideal for frying. But Contrary to popular belief, Canola Oil isn’t as bad as it seems.  It is low in saturated fats and due to its neutral flavor, Canola oil will leave you with a golden brown, crispy coating to your fried Mozzerella Stick Onion Rings (Thank you Tasty!)  

Coconut Oil – What can’t you do with it? By now we know that the  uses and benefits of Coconut oil are extensive, if you don’t I recommend you check it out. With a lower smoking point, Coconut Oil can be used in place of butter in any recipe. We recommend keeping it use to sautéd Veggies or when baking (plus it adds a great flavor).

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Rule of thumb – as long as your recipe is not calling for a ridiculous high heat (400 or higher) – in most cases you will be fine cooking with EVOO or Virgin Oil, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to keep vegetable or canola oil on hand (especially if you like to bake). You would be surprised how many other oils are out there. If you are interested in cooking with another healthy oil option check out this article.

On that note, go to the grocery store, pick out a new kind of oil, pair it with a nice crusty loaf of bread (maybe even a glass of wine?) and do a taste test for yourself. The more you taste and cook with oils, the more you will be able to gauge the differences and get a feel for which type will work for your recipe. It’s good for us…tastes delicious…makes other food taste better. Honestly, could it get any better than that?

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Essentials

Introduction to Garlic

Since we know how versatile Onions are and a key ingredient for every kitchen, we can’t forget about our other favorite flavor filled essential, Garlic. Let’s be real? How amazing is the smell of Garlic cooking with a little olive oil? Walking into a kitchen to the delicious aromatic smells of Garlic can make a grown man’s mouth water. Being a powerhouse and one of the most vital ingredients around, Garlic plays a central role in so many dishes culturally around the world.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret when it comes to cooking with Garlic, TIME is EVERYTHING. If you are keeping it raw, you will be left with a strong pungent flavor, that is almost spicy & bitter but once it begins to cook becomes mellow and sweet. You can have your beautifully crushed Garlic (thanks to our tools) go from pale to gold to a burnt crisp in the time it takes you to watch one Snapchat. But Garlic that is perfectly cooked will leave you with a well-balanced, nutty, smooth flavor. But no worries, we’ll show you the ropes. Let’s start at the beginning.

How Do I Pick the Right Garlic?

So you finally decide to make that Shrimp Scampi recipe you pinned 10 months ago, the first step, find the perfect head of Garlic. It’s not as hard as you think. When searching for the right head of Garlic, look for large, firm clean bulbs with unbroken skin. One head of Garlic should contain about ten to twenty individual cloves. When you bring it home, you will want to store in a cool dry place where air can circulate, avoid refrigerating.

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How Should I to use Garlic? 

Lets face it, you would rather have the smell of  Garlic cooking in a delicious butter sauce (for the scampi obviously) wafting throughout the kitchen and instead of lingering on your hands all day (or maybe you do, which in that case its cool with us). We have all have been there…and don’t get us started on how annoying can it be to get the skin off a clove!? Well, now you have a lifesaving tool that will help remove skin with ease and keep the scent of Garlic of those precious hands.

  1. Using your fingers, divide the whole bulb into individual cloves. Store remaining cloves with the skin on.
  2. To remove the skin, place clove into Garlic Roller and apply slight pressure down as you roll the roller back and forth against a hard flat surface.

(Tip: make sure to clear the tube of any remaining skin, this little step will help prevent littering your drawer with flakes)

Using our Garlic Chopper

  1. For chopped Garlic, once you have removed the skin, place one piece of Garlic (2 if tiny) into carriage of Garlic Chopper. Roll chopper for 15-20 seconds or until clove has been fully crushed.
  2. Remove from carriage and you are ready to use!

How Do I Cook Garlic?

What was that secret to cooking with Garlic? Oh yeah, timing…timing is KEY. Depending on the cook time will affect the outcome of the Garlic flavor. As always, when in doubt, follow your chosen recipe it won’t steer you wrong.

Raw minced or chopped Garlic adds a great flavor to dressings, marinades, and salsas. Bruschetta is a great example; ripe tomato, fresh basil, a little olive oil and raw Garlic. The sweetness that comes from the tomato and basil is a perfect compliment to the spicy raw Garlic which is all pulled together by the the smooth oil. The flavors meld together to make a fantastic app or side dish.

If there is one cooking technique you want to nail, its saute. You will find that Sauteed Garlic is commonly used for the base of sauces, casseroles, soups; with vegetables, or meat. For a perfect pale gold saute, add olive oil and Garlic (whether chopped, minced or sliced) to a pan and turn on the stove to medium heat. You will want to make sure you keep this slow and controlled,  within only for a few minutes, that amazing aroma will begin to build and that’s how you will know your ready to add in your other ingredients.

You can roast a whole bulb for about 25 minutes or individual cloves for 20 minutes to serve with roast meat. By cooking for a longer duration breaks down the chemical makeup which leaves you with a soft almost creamy clove that will pop right out of its skin. But OUR favorite way to roast Garlic is with chicken. We will be sharing our favorite roasted chicken recipe next month. It is SO ridiculously easy and delicious. If your looking to meal prep, we’ve gotcha covered.

Is your stomach growling? Sorry, not sorry because We LOVE Garlic and want you to also. Hopefully with the aid of our tools, you’ll be whipping up Garlic goodness by the weekend. Not sure what to make? We have a few ideas for you.

Classic Garlic Bread
Shrimp Scampi
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Tomato Bruschetta 
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Easiest Garlic Mashed Potatoes
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Sauteed Spinach
Box 1, Cooking, Essentials, Food, Kitchen, Tools

What’s the Best Way to Cook an Onion

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Now that we have chosen and cut our onions like a pro, I bet you are asking, “How do I cook an Onion?” The terminology used in recipes can sometimes be vague or confusing for how long to cook an ingredient, but don’t get overwhelmed, the best tools you can use to help you are your senses. As previously mentioned, the smell of onions cooking isn’t just mouthwatering, it will guide you to knowing how your Onions are cooking, such as a sweet scent.. Along with the way they look whole cooking is also another gauge for how you want your outcome, if you see your onions are beginning to burn, you know will need to adjust.  

DIFFERENT WAYS OF COOKING AN ONION

If you are going to use your onion as a base, you will want to gently saute them chopped or sliced for about 7-10 minutes, then add in the rest of your ingredients. Keep them sauting for 40-45 minutes and you will have a delicious caramelized for your burger.

Roasting along with your favorite veggie is always a great idea, you will want to to slice or cut into wedges and roast for 40-50 minutes. Don’t forget to season with a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil!

If your recipe calls for making onions, you will want to put them in for about 20-30 minutes.

The best way to get comfortable with cooking with Onions (or any ingredient) is to just start where you are, with what you have. No one said it has to be perfect and the more you practice, the better you’ll get. As promised, we’ve included some of our favorite Onion recipes. They ideal for practicing your cutting skills. Happy cooking!

15- Minute Caramelized Onions

Easy French Onion Soup

Pico de Gallo

Guacamole

Asian stir fry

Box 1, Cooking, Essentials, Food, Kitchen, Tools

Onion Cutting 101

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As we’ve discussed before, onions are a must-have in almost every recipe. But no matter what onion you are incorporating into your dish, there is always one obstacle: cutting the onion without sobbing like you’ve just watched the end of The Notebook.

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Cutting onions doesn’t haven’t to be a tear-filled experience. With the help of our Onion Slicer, dicing and slicing onions becomes a breeze. This tool not only will help you perfectly dice, slice or mince onion, it will also save you from balling your eyes out trying to cook dinner and prevent your hands from smelling like onions for the rest of the night.

But enough talk. Let’s show you how to cut an onion.

Sliced Onions

  • Cut onion into halves.
  • Remove skin (you may need to remove an extra layer or two)
  • Place one half cut side down onto a flat, hard surface (preferably a cutting board)
  • Lightly push in your Onion Slicer into the rounded side (about ¾ of the way in)
  • With your knife, slice between each prong, continuing on until the last prong
  • Gently pull out the Onion Slicer
  • Use onion as directed in recipe

Remember that burger topper we spoke about ? This technique will give you a result of perfect half moons that are ideal for slow, long cooking delicious golden caramelized onions. Stay tuned, because we will share our fool proof recipe with you soon.

Diced Onions

  • Cut onion into halves.
  • Remove skin (you may need to remove an extra layer or two)
  • Place one half cut side down onto a flat, hard surface (preferably a cutting board)
  • Lightly push in your Onion Slicer into the rounded side (about ¾ of the way in)
  • With your knife, slice between each prong, continuing on until the last prong
  • Once sliced, run your knife over the exposed onion to finely chop or dice (as needed).
  • Gently pull out the Onion Slicer
  • Use onion as directed in recipe

Depending on how closely you cut will determine the size of your chop or dice. Some recipes call for diced chopped, that way the onion almost melts down into translucent sweet pieces. Others will call for finely chopped so you still get the dominant flavor, *COUGH QUAC COUGH*. Guacamole is a perfect example, with finely chopped onion mixed in, you still get the flavor and a bit of crunch but it basically blends into the creaminess of the avocado. When in doubt on which to use, always follow the recipe, if the recipe doesn’t specify (most do) try diced for one recipe and chopped for the next time, it wont make a dramatic difference. In the meantime you’ll be a pro with our slicer.

We’d love to see how you slice and dice, share your photos with use using #Quoconow. Heck, we’d even love to see other unique ways you would use the slicer! Stay tuned for more Quoco tips.