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Cooking tips from Celebrity Chef Rory Schepisi

When it comes to natural preserving, herbs are great because there are so many ways to make fresh herbs last a long time in your refrigerator and freezer. Using fresh herbs compared to dried herbs is a much better way to go—the flavor is 100 times better with fresh herbs, but many people say well “I’m not going to use all the herbs up, so I’ll just by dried herbs.” Stop right there. Below are a few simple techniques to always use fresh herbs. Fresh herbs freeze great and will last several months without losing any of their intensity.  You can freeze them a few different ways—all great and all simple.

1. Chop your herbs and place in a freezer ziplock bag removing all the air. Place infreezer. Now these herbs will form more of a block, but when you are ready to use them you can just hit the bag against a hard surface and they will break up easy. You can also separate your chopped herbs into smaller portion sized baggies and freeze them that way.

2. Freezing the stems individually. Place herbs on a cookie sheet not touching each other and place in freezer. Once frozen take individual stems and put them in a ziplock. Once they are frozen they will not stick together, so you can put them in one bag.

3. If you want to make your fresh herbs last long in your refrigerator, you  will have to wrap the bottom of the stems with wet paper towels and place in a ziplock bag removing all the air before sealing. This will keep them fresh for 10 to 14 days.

Fruits are another great item to preserve in the freezer. Most fruits freeze great, just make sure that the fruit is ripe when your freeze it, otherwise you will end up with a bland fruit at eating time. So buy your fruit in bulk when it is in season, freeze it and then you will have great tasting fruit year round.

Berries are great to freeze and you can use them to decorate drinks; substitute ice cubes by using frozen berries, or you can even freeze the berries with a little water in ice cube trays to make fun, tasty ice cubes.

Bananas are great too and will last a very long time if you freeze them with the peel on (don’t get scared when the peel turns black, the fruit inside will still stay fresh). Once ready to eat you can defrost them or have a great frozen treat. Remove the peel, place a skewer in them, and freeze and they make great healthy alternatives to ice pops.

Keeping veggies fresh

When it comes to keeping fresh veggies in your fridge for a number of days, the key is the moisture level of the vegetables.

1. Never put a medley of cut up different vegetables together in one container.

2. You can store sliced peppers like bell peppers for a least 5 days without problem

3. Sliced celery will stay good up to 10 days if stored in water

4. Diced or sliced onions will only last about 3 days before they start to get mushy

5. Peeled potatoes will not turn brown if stored in water

6. When it comes to lettuce, if you tear it with your hands instead of chopping it with a knife it will last a couple days longer.

Backyard Grilled Whole Red Snapper with a Caribbean Creole Oil

2 cleaned whole Snapper fish

1 cup olive oil

2 garlic gloves chopped

2 shallots, small dice

1 onion,  small dice

1/4 red bell pepper,  Julienne (very thinly sliced)

1/4 green bell pepper, Julienne (very thinly sliced)

to Give sauce extra spice  add 1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, Julienne (very thinly sliced)

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Fennel, thyme or rosemary sprigs (optional)

Creole oil

In a small pot heat oil, add garlic, shallot and onion. Let lightly simmer until you can smell the garlic , shallots and onions. This should take no more than 5 minutes. Add peppers. Remove oil from heat. Season with salt and pepper, stirring oil a few times. let Creole oil come to room temp and set aside for later.

(This method of preparing and Grilling can be used for almost any whole fish)

Preparing your Grill

Prepare you grill by letting get to hottest temp it will go. You want your grill to be hot to help prevent your whole fish from sticking. Using old rags or a lot of paper towels lightly saturate them with vegetable oil or cheaper oil and wipe down grill grates while hot. use tongs to hold towels so you don’t burn yourself. Your grill grates will start to smoke a bit if you are doing this correctly. Your grill is now ready to cook on.

Preparing your fish

Take your cleaned fish and dry with paper towel. Using a sharp knife make three slits about 2 inches apart almost down to the back bone on both sides of fish.  Using oil you made earlier brush the fish with the infused oil. Just use the oil, do not disturb the onions, garlic and peppers that will be sitting at the bottom of the oil. Brush the oil in the inside cavity of the fish as well. You can now place your herb sprigs in the inside cavity for extra flavor if you like. Season your fish with sea salt inside and out.

Cool Chef Trick: if you have some chopped herbs or even dried herbs, as soon as you turn your fish over sprinkle herbs onto grill , not the fish, to give a light herb infused smokiness.

Grilling your fish

Place your whole fish on grill with the tail toward the area of you grill with the lowest heat. We do this because the head area of your fish will take longer to grill. Let fish cook about 8 minutes then turn you fish over and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. Checking your fish at about 7 minutes to see how cooked it is. You will know your fish is done when the meat is opaque in color. Nice bright white. Remove from grill . Stir up your Creole oil and spoon onto fish starting at neck down to the tail.

Serve with rice or fried plantains and this dish will bring you to the heart of the Caribbean.

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