Friday, 03 March 2017 14:53

A Single Serving

Written by John Reardon
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Hello my Food Friends! The focus and awareness of single servings has been on the rise. Factors and benefits such as convenience, freshness, and dietary awareness have a major appeal to everyday consumers. Now more then ever individuals are placing importance on elements such as convenience and dietary awareness. Everyone ranging from busy families on the go to people dealing with the everyday chaos of life can take advantage of the handiness that single-serve products provide! Single-serve cooking can assist with the emphasis being placed on leading healthier lifestyles. Single-serve products provide the health and wellness many are looking for. Portion and calorie control are much easier for on-the-go consumers to calculate, which offers convenience. The Ramekin is an item we sell at Compliments to the Chef that can help you with your quest for single servings. What, exactly, is a “ramekin”? A ramekin is a small, single-serving sized small mold or dish, traditionally round with a fluted exterior, in which ramekins or other individual portions of food, such as soufflés or mousses, are baked and served; (also) a small container for an individual serving of sauce. Typically made of ceramics, ramekins are small bowls that are often associated with custard desserts. Yet there are a wide variety of uses for ramekins in your kitchen. They can be used to mix a small amount of ingredients, hold snacks or serve dips and salsas. You can also use ramekins to bake many different foods -- from sweets to main dishes. This is particularly beneficial if you’re watching your weight because eating from these small bowls will help you manage portion size, a key component in controlling caloric intake. There are so many uses for a ramekin. Here are a few: You can bake eggs in a ramekin. Eggs have been put on the bad food list in the past, but the truth is that they are a good protein option for starting your day. The cholesterol in eggs is in the yokes, so if that’s a concern you can always use just egg whites. Use ramekins to bake eggs as an alternative to the typical fried or scrambled eggs. Just crack an egg into a ramekin coated in nonstick cooking spray, pour one tablespoon of low-fat milk over it and season as desired. Try adding shredded low-fat cheese or Canadian bacon. You can also put vegetables like spinach, tomatoes or diced peppers on the bottom of the ramekin before adding the egg. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. The temperature of the egg should reach 160 degrees F, according to safety guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bread pudding is usually a decadent dessert, but you can fit it into your healthy diet. Using your favorite bread pudding recipe and preparing it in ramekins allows you to have a small single serving, keeping calories under control. You can also experiment with swapping some of the ingredients to boost nutritional value. For example, use whole wheat bread and low-fat milk instead of white bread and heavy cream or whole milk. Recipes like the pear bread pudding featured in “The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook” uses these substitutes as well as several spices to make a healthier, flavorful dish. Mini pot pies and meatloaves: Portion control and attractive food presentation are both advantages you’ll get when preparing main dishes in ramekins. Serving a personal pot pie or meatloaf to your family will likely be a hit, especially for kids. You can still prepare your recipes for these classics as usual and then divide the prepared food among the ramekins before baking. You may need to cut down the amount of your original recipe, however, if you plan to use only a few ramekins. If you’re concerned about grease filling up the ramekins when cooking mini meatloaves, try placing a piece of bread -- preferably somewhat stale or toasted -- in the bottom of the dish. The bread will absorb a large amount of the grease. It will also help to use leaner ground beef; try to use 90 to 93 percent lean. Fruit desserts: Ramekins are ideal for many classic desserts, such as custards, mousses and even mini-baked cheesecakes. They also work well for baking individual fruit desserts, such as crisps and cobblers. Crisps use a topping primarily made with dried oats while cobblers are flour-based. An additional advantage to preparing desserts this way is that you can use a variety of fruits to prepare several different crisps or cobblers at once. One of our favorite uses for ramekins is for single servings of mac n’ cheese recipes. Mac n cheese is down home comfort food and it makes you feel all warm and cozy. These little ramekins are ideal for individual servings of mac n’ cheese. I love the whole experience – I hold the ramekin as I scoop some out and I feel the warmth of it since it just came out of the oven. I scoop in and get a large spoonful of cheesy goodness. Along with the cheesy inside there is this crunchy and crumbly topping that might even be the best part of the dish. Here is the recipe - Amazing I tell you!! Mac n’ Cheese Ramekins Print Serves: 4 Ingredients • 1½ cups dry macaroni • 2 tbsp butter • 2 tbsp flour • 1 cup whole milk • ½ cup grated mozzarella • ½ cup grated cheddar • ⅓ cup parmesan • salt and pepper, to taste • 2 tbsp melted butter • ⅓ cup bread crumbs • ¼ cup grated cheddar • 1 tbsp parsley Instructions 1. Cook the macaroni according to packaged instructions. Drain, rinse and set aside. 2. In a saucepan, on medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth. This creates a roux. Continue to whisk it for a minute. 3. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Once smooth, add the cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. 4. In a large bowl, mix the macaroni with the cheese sauce until all the noodles are evenly coated in some sauce. 5. Grease 4 ramekins. Scoop the mac and cheese equally among the ramekins. 6. In a small bowl mix the melted butter and bread crumbs together until there is a dry and crumbly texture. Stir in the ¼ cup of grated cheddar and parsley. Spread the crumb topping evenly across the macaroni and cheese. 7. Bake in a 350F oven for 12-14 minutes. Stop by Compliments to the Chef located at 46 Marion Avenue in Saratoga Springs to pick up an array of sizes of ramekins and cool tools to assist you with your culinary needs. Enjoy those ridiculously delicious single serving creations. Remember: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” Take care, John and Paula
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