culinary terms 101, mirepoix

Like any industry, the kitchen has its own lingo. Many of the terms used in a professional kitchen come from France. One of the first terms we learned in school was mirepoix.

Quite simply, mirepoix refers to a mix of 2 parts onions, 1 part carrots, and 1 part celery. There are variations on mirepoix which include parsnips, bell pepper, or leeks. The size of the dice depends on what kind of recipe you are making. The shorter cooking time of a recipe, the smaller the dice.. Likewise, the longer the cooking time, the larger the dice. This principle can be applied to most recipes!

Onions, carrots, and celery are humble ingredients you can pick up inexpensively at nearly any grocery. Mirepoix helps to form the backbone of a kitchen. Off the top of my head I can think of more recipes that use mirepoix (stocks, soups, sauces, rice pilaf, braises) than ones that don’t.

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roasted sweet potato fries

With school and the financial limitations it imposes, I am looking for even more ways to enjoy my favorite treats without spending a lot of unnecessary moolah. Obviously, this involves going out to eat less. Now, I don’t think I eat out that often, but in reality I do, mostly for convenience. Every taco, hot dog, or basket of cheese curds adds up to quite a pretty penny, financially AND nutritionally. I usually want pizza. At first, I think about about going out, but I end up staying in and improvising. Sometimes, I want Chinese. I think about going out, but once I look at my stockpile of food, I realize I can also improvise a vaguely Chinese meal. So, let’s say I really want a burger. Unfortunately, I only have tuna, not a half pound of grass-fed ground beef. When I want a burger, normally what I really want is a serving of french fries. Small Bar is a local pub about 2 blocks from my house. They have amazing sweet potato fries and I happen to have sweet potatoes! Presto! Sweet Potato Fries!

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato,
Salt, to taste
Olive Oil, enough to coat sweet potatoes
1 tsp dried spice (I used smoked paprika, but curry or adobo or anything you like would probably work equally well)
1 cookie sheet
Parchment paper to cover cookie sheet
Oven, preheated to 450

1. Cut sweet potato into strips.
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2. Sprinkle with olive oil, follow with salt and spice. Flip over so each side of each slice is lightly coated in the oil.
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3. Place in pre heated oven.
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4. After 15 minutes, turn each slice over, cook for 15 more minutes. After a half hour, they should be finished.

5. Let the fries cool a bit and then eat them before they get too cold!
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pact

A friend and I made a pact with virtual spit and hi-fives to update our blogs more in December, kind of like a Christmas present for our remaining readers.

Today at school we made bacon wrapped shrimp served with cheesy grits, spinach, and tomato jam. It was tasty, but a little salty for my liking.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about breakfast. I find it much easier to concentrate when I have something to snack on before the day really starts. This morning was kind of rushed and I didn’t have time to make anything. However, I did get to snack on my favorite cereal, Barbara’s Puffins in the peanut butter flavor.
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This is an admittedly weak entry. More tomorrow. Braised pork! Cranberry Tartlets! Homemade Burgers!