Simple Red Chili Oil

I’m looking for a pop of flavor this time of year. With the abundance of leftovers, savory soups and root vegetables, flavors can easily start to blur together.

And a lasting way to get a pop of flavor is by infusing oil. It sounds fancy, but it’s a simple process that you can start before work and enjoy by lunch or dinner. Below, I’ve pictured some end of season peppers and their dehydrated counter part: some red pepper flakes. Today we’ll use the red pepper flakes.

I started with a couple of heaping tablespoons of the red pepper flakes and added them to a saucepan over low heat.



Next, I poured in two cups of olive oil (that’s what I had, but you could use canola or grape seed oil too. Any neutral oil works!)

I gave the mixture a quick stir and let it remain over low heat for 5 minutes.

At the end of 5 minutes, I turned the heat off, covered the saucepan with the lid and let the oil sit for two hours. It’s perfectly acceptable to let the oil sit all day long.

Why, whatever will you do with all that time?

After two hours, the oil starts to take on the red color of the chili flakes! The chili provides the pigment, the oil is the binder – the conduit of liquid flavor.

Drizzle the oil into a dish right away, or pour it into a glass jar and refrigerate it up to a month.

Bravo!

Infused oil is great as an addition to salt and pepper (a lovely finish for a soup), added into the cooking process (a beautiful beginning to an Arrabiata sauce or stir fry), as a dipping oil for bread or as the base for a fiery vinaigrette!

Simple Red Chili Oil: giving leftover [brown] turkey a much needed kick [of red]. Enjoy!

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Square Roots

How about a celebration of roots? The onset of winter can feel a little sad, since the farmer’s markets close down or move indoors. But there are some beautiful things growing under the soil this time of year. I often think of deep orange vegetables and brown potatoes, but there is an adventure of colors and flavors under the soil. So, let’s dig down and see what’s under the surface!

Check out these carrots… yellow, purple and your classic orange. Who knew late autumn / early winter could be so beautiful?

Yum, potatoes!

I have a daikon (Japanese radish) that desperately needs to be eaten! Talk about the epitome of ROOT. You can see the root tendrils reaching out around the edges! Do you like wasabi? Spicy! Daikon is the source of all wasabi…

I also have a bunch of parsley that I’d like to use…

Oh, and look at this beautiful turnip! The turnip is spicy, but not as spicy as the daikon.

I think that’s good for now. Grabbing the cutting board!

I think I’ll have an orange carrot, a yellow carrot and a purple carrot… Oooh a little dirt. Always a good sign.

Okay, I’ve washed the vegetables. Now let’s get square. First I chopped off the tops.

Grabbing a discard bowl (I’ll boil these discards to make homemade vegetable stock!)

Lookin’ rooty! Love the deep color.

Next, I chop off the tips.

Check out the bursting life inside this beaut root…

That is still too round for our square desires, so I started by taking a bit off the edge, creating a flat plane one side of the carrot.

Next, I flipped the carrot onto the flat edge. This keeps it from rolling away!

I continued the process, imagining the carrot as a block and removing the round edges.

Blocky.

My discard collection expands…

Okay, now we cut these down to size. I think of the carrot like a grid, breaking the big block into smaller squares. The smaller the pieces, the faster the cooking time. The roots will shrink slightly in the oven, so cut the pieces slightly bigger than you’d like.

I love the beautiful deep color.

Second column…

Flipping the pieces 90 degrees…

Lining the pieces up…

Cutting in an additional two columns…


And then I cut across…

Voila! This is the first point where the linear shapes really look square. It’s also the first point where I have to restrain myself from eating the roots raw.

I like using the edge of my knife as a scoop. I’m loading up my square roots onto my knife, to transfer them over to a parchment lined baking sheet.


Let’s move onto the yellow, shall we? I love the burst of color. This is the sunshine of November.

I repeated the same process that I did with the orange carrot.








Yellow square roots! I love carrots.

Transferring this over with the orange carrots.


The only rule here is to maintain a single layer of roots, so they’ll cook evenly. (Oh, preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit!)

This one is my favorite! I love the complimentary purple with a yellow stripe. There’s even a wild root hair showing it’s style. The darker purple encircling the yellow encircling a brighter purple hue – brilliant!

Blocking it up…

Column one…

Column two… wow!

Flip and repeat, until we get…

these beautiful pieces!

Onto the parchment.

Hello potato. Let’s get square.


I think this would be a nice 3×3 grid.




Square potatoes.

Adding it in to the mix. Our baking sheet looks full.

Since there are only two of us eating today, we’ll save the turnip and daikon for another day.

Spraying the roots with a spritz of olive oil (you could drizzle oil if you don’t have mister)…


A sprinkling of salt…


and pepper…

Into the oven at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 35 minutes…

About 20 minutes in (or at the half way point), flip the roots over…




Back into the oven for the remaining 15 minutes… (Wow, talk about influential. When the purple carrots touch the other roots, they turn the other roots purple!)


Pulling them out of the oven,

I added some parsley (though many other fresh green herbs would work: try rosemary or thyme or oregano or chervil or tarragon…) and bit more freshly ground pepper.

And there you have it! Prep time was 8 minutes, cooking time was 35.

Square roots. A beautiful secondary color scheme that makes a lovely addition to any meal (including breakfast)! Enjoy!

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The Ever Evolving Still Life

I think this video is beautiful. It’s one of four videos curated by Nowness.com.

Here are the other three videos in the series entitled Chefs on Sundays. Enjoy!

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