Sometimes we just want to add variety to our cooking methods, but without getting complicated and having to buy new appliances or cookware. Here are some uncomplicated, but unusual, fun ways to prepare different foods we love.
Upside-Down Pan Crêpes
If you’re looking for a simple way to make crêpes without a special crêpe pan or nonstick skillet, try the upside-down pan method. It requires no skill for shaping, and helps to eliminate undercooked, torn, uneven, or burnt crêpes. All you need is a regular frying pan that’s clean on the bottom. It takes about 45 seconds per crêpe and is a great method for making a large pile in a short amount of time.
First, make your crêpe batter — the basic ingredients include:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- olive oil
Wipe the bottom of your pan with olive oil using a paper towel. Then dip the bottom of your frying pan in the batter and place the pan upside down on the gas or electric burner (medium to high heat — test with first crêpe). The batter cooks on the pan’s underside, with the edges of the finished crêpe curling on the pan’s downward slope. Repeat for each crepe, including wiping the pan bottom with olive oil.
Poached Eggs in Little Pouches
Poached eggs often don’t hold their shape, and just disintegrate in the water. Fortunately, there’s a method of cooking that keeps them whole, and allows you to poach large batches at the same time, either for the family or when hosting a brunch.
- Line a cup or small bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it into the center, and leaving lots of overhang around the edges. You can use the same cup or bowl each time, but with fresh plastic wrapping.
- Spray the plastic wrap with a nonstick spray such as olive oil to prevent the eggs from sticking to the plastic after poaching.
- Crack an egg into the plastic-wrapped cup or bowl.
- Gather the sides of the plastic and twist them together to create an airtight pouch for the egg. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Then tie a tight knot. Set aside each finished wrapping on a plate.
- Repeat this with other eggs you’re poaching.
- Bring a pot of water to a simmer (185-200°F). You should see tiny bubbles rising to the surface. If there are big rolling bubbles, your water is too hot, and the result will be hard-boiled eggs.
- Drop the eggs into the simmering water and cook for 6 minutes.
- Remove each finished egg with a slotted spoon and place it on a plate. Let the eggs sit for about a minute so they’re not too hot to handle.
- Place each pouch on top of toast or an English muffin with bacon and cheese. Cut below the knot with scissors carefully so as not to puncture the egg, and peel away the plastic wrap.
Beer-can chicken is a whole chicken cooked upright with a can of beer as its base. You can actually use a ginger ale can instead, but many people prefer the beer can. This is a great way to roast a chicken in the oven. The chicken gets nice and crispy as it dry roasts on the outside, while the inside becomes incredibly moist with steamy beer (or ginger ale).
- 1 4-pound whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or other vegetable oil
- 1 opened, half-full can of beer or ginger ale at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
Then do the following:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Mix the salt, pepper, and thyme in a little bowl, and rub the mixture over the entire chicken. Next, rub the whole chicken with olive oil.
- Put a sprig of thyme (or another herb like rosemary or sage) in the beer can (optional).
- Place the beer can in a 9×9 ungreased baking dish. Lower the chicken onto the half-filled beer can (drink the other half) so that the chicken is upright, with the can in its cavity. Pull the legs forward to form a tripod.
- Cook in the oven until no longer pink near the bone (165°F on instant read thermometer inserted near the thigh bone), and the juices run clear — about 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove chicken from the oven, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Lift it off the can, using tongs and paper towels (two people make it easier), and place on a carving board or platter. Let it rest for another 10 minutes, then carve. Discard the beer can.
Fruit Pancakes in a Mug
A pancake in a mug makes a quick breakfast, a snack, or even a meal. You need to use a complete pancake mix for this. For fruit, choose from: fresh fruit or berries, a drained fruit cup, canned fruits (drained), pie filling, or dried fruits.
- Combine 1/2 cup complete pancake mix and 1/2 cup of water or milk in a 12-ounce microwave safe mug until completely mixed.
- Add a handful of fruit, such as 1/4 cup berries, chopped dried apricots, or canned peaches, etc.
- Cook for 1 minute to 1 minute 15 seconds in the microwave until firm on top. Timing may vary based on your microwave.
- Eat it just as is or add butter and a little drizzle of syrup.
Grilled Banana Split
This great dessert is the perfect way to finish your grilled dinner. Here’s how you grill a banana split:
- Split a banana lengthwise and leave it in the peel.
- Place it on the grill with the open side down for 2 minutes.
- Turn it over, and stuff the open pocket with favorite toppings — marshmallows, chocolate chips, brown sugar, nuts, chocolate and caramel syrup, strawberries, or anything you like.
- Grill for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from the grill, place in a dish, and top with an ice cream scoop, some sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry.
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