Kitchen essentials field trip

One thing I have learned since “becoming fearless” in the kitchen is that the equipment and supplies you use makes a big difference in the outcome of your cooking.

I’m a no-nonsense type of person who likes organization so I’m drawn to kitchen tools and products that are multi-purpose. Also having something that is easy to store is a plus since I have a small kitchen. Every purchase is calculated.

The Fearless Cooking Club took a field trip to the Standard Restaurant Supply Store. There are two located in our area. It was an adventure.

Standard Restaurant Supply

rows and rows

Rows and rows of products. This aisle was all on glassware and barware.

B-52 Flavoring?

There was one side of the aisle devoted to 50 types of non-alcoholic syrups, regular and sugar-free .

Fiesta ware look alike

Several rows of serving plates, cups and platters. These are Fiestaware look a-likes.

Take home buys

Our purchases: the cheapest item was bamboo skewers,toothpicks with American flags, and a plastic squeeze bottle $0.59 each. The most expensive item $7.49 for a glass syrup server. The different flavored syrups were $5.49 each for a large bottle. Other purchases were foil mini cupcake liners (gold and silver), racks for candy making, different sizes of cookie sheets, and a pastry cloth and plastic pastry boards. Gabe, our pie man, mentioned that both of these were good substitute for rolling out pastry if you didn’t have a marble board.

Patty’s Points:

1. B-52 syrup is named for the famous bar drink made from Kahlúa liqueur, Irish Cream and Grand Marnier. This non-alcoholic syrup is a combination of coffee, Irish Cream and a hint of orange flavor. They also had a carrot cake flavored syrup. Who knew these flavors existed and how fun to see so many choices in one place!

2. This is a store that anyone can shop at but it is directed toward restaurant owners. They had furniture, cleaning products, industrial stoves, refrigerators, freezers, popcorn makers, paper products, silverware, professional knife-ware, and on and on.

3. You have to carefully look at the prices. Some items are quite cheap and then right next to it a similar item is two to three times the price. What is the difference? Maybe the detail on the glass is more detailed, then it is more expensive.

The sale racks were quite good. We got a pack of 12 dish towels for $6.59, marked down from $12.00. That makes the towels $0.50 a piece. The Fiestaware look a-likes were of good quality and inexpensive. It depends on what you want and what you want to spend.

4. Appliances are not routinely discounted for the public. I saw a mandolin for shaving veggies that caught my eye, $79.00. I would have to do some price comparisons at like Macy’s, Kohl’s or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Those stores routinely have coupons for 15%-30% discounts that I might get a better deal.

If you are a restaurant owner with an account you can get a price that is comparable to other supply stores. They also have on-site vendors who can customize your kitchen. That is if you want a commercial type kitchen. The manager said it could cost $10,000 to $350,000 to set up a kitchen, depending on what you are cooking and where you are located.

5. I spent $33.00. I’m not ready for the commercial kitchen yet.

National Pie Day

Today, January 23rd is National Pie Day

In celebration of this event, The Fearless Cooking Club will meet this weekend to celebrate Pizza Pie and Traditional Pie with a sweet and savory fillings.  Gabe “The Pie Man” will demonstrate the key to perfect pizza and pie dough.

In the spirit of my children and spouse who are engineers, the other Pi Day is March 14th (you know 3.14…….)

Stay tuned…..

King Oscar’s Torta

Oscar's Torta

The second annual Epiphany Party, the twelfth day of Christmas was held this past Sunday. Last year I made The Gift Cake so I thought I would continue the tradition of making a cake.

I saw the recipe for Oscar’s Torta recently published in the January 2013 edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine. This cake, with lots of hazelnuts, is named for Oscar II (1829-1907), king of Sweden and Norway.

January 2013 Living

Ingredients

Cake:

12 egg whites, room temperature

3 3/4 C powdered sugar

15 oz hazelnuts, chopped fine

1 3/4 sticks butter, plus more for pans

Glaze:

8 egg yolks

1 C cream

1 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp coarse salt

2 TBSP sliced almonds toasted,for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment. Separate eggs, placing 12 egg whites in 1 bowl and 8 egg yolks in another (reserve remaining 4 yolks for another use). Beat egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in hazelnuts and confectioners’ sugar. Divide among pans, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely. (Cake layers can be made 1 day ahead, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated.)

Lightly whisk egg yolks in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk in cream, granulated sugar, and salt, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and let cool in a bowl of ice water until cold (you should have 2 cups).

Melt butter (do not let it color), and add vanilla. Stir into egg-yolk mixture. Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate, and spread with 1/2 cup glaze. Repeat with a second layer and another 1/2 cup glaze. Place third layer on top, and spread with remaining 1 1/2 cups glaze, letting it drip down sides of cake. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and garnish with almonds. Refrigerate until ready to serve

Patty’s Points:

1. One of my friends discouraged me from making the cake due to the cost and labor intensive prep of the hazelnuts. 15 ounces of hazelnuts cost $5.50 which wasn’t too bad. The challenge was the removal of the hazelnut skins and chopping of the nuts. My daughter looked up on the internet this website on how to shell hazelnuts. Luckily I didn’t have to crack the nuts open, only remove the bitter skins.

hazelnuts

bitter skins

2. After roasting the nuts in the oven I placed them in a wet towel to steam for 2-3 minutes. I then rubbed them in a towel to remove the skins. It took me several attempts at repeating the process to get the skins removed. About a quarter of the nuts still had the skins adhered. Apparently that small amount doesn’t cause any bitterness to the entire recipe.

Chopped hazelnuts

putting it together

3.  The entire preparation of the cake and glaze took four hours, which was about the entire length of a football game.  My spouse was busy watching the Packers v. Vikings game. He was happy the Packers won. I was really tired by the time it was all completed.

Packer backer

4. The cake was a hit at the Epiphany Party. A woman who is gluten-free was excited about the cake and wanted the recipe.

5. If the recipe had some cocoa in the recipe it would replicate the flavor of Nutella, which I am a fan. Maybe next time.

Christmas time is here

It’s been wildly busy month in my kitchen and at my job. I now have a break in the action to post the events of the past four weeks.

Celebration #1. Out to dinner celebrating a co-worker’s birthday. The Irish Cream Liqueur were gifts to my girlfriends.

Gift giving Baileys

Celebration #2. Char and Dwayne hosted a fondue party. Three fondue electric plates were placed down the middle of the table and each hot plate had two bowls: one for cheese and one for hot oil. We dipped apples and bread in the cheese and we cooked steak cubes in the oil, dipping them in steak or horseradish sauce. Dessert was pound cake cubes and strawberries dipped into melted chocolate.

IMG_1839

IMG_1840

Celebration #3. The 23rd Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange. It was a grand gathering of baking talents.

23rd Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange

I made peppermint cream cheese brownies (recipe below).

peppermint cream cheese brownies

Final Celebration-Christmas dinner. We made a Roasted Garlic Herb Crusted Strip Roast featured on Epicurious.com. It was flavorful and tender. I think we found a winner!

strip roast

IMG_1943

Patty’s Points.

1. The Irish Cream Liqueur should be shaken before serving. It can be stored in the refrigerator for one month. The bottles came from The Container Store but any pretty bottle can be used.

2. The fondue electric heating plates and bowls were vintage and obtained from garage and estate sales. I have never seen anything like them. I loved that they were so versatile. I want one just like it!

3. I adapted the Cream Cheese Brownies recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (2004).

Peppermint Cream Cheese Brownies  

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees

Brownie Base:

Dry ingredients: 2/3 C flour + ¼ tsp. salt’+ ½ tsp. baking powder

Wet ingredients: 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate + 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate+8TBSP butter+1 C sugar + 2 tsp. vanilla + 3 eggs

Cream Cheese Filling: 8 oz. cream cheese softened, +1/4 C sugar+1/2 tsp. vanilla + 1 egg yolk+ 4 crushed candy canes

Directions:

Spray 8” square baking pan with non-stick spray. Fold two 16” pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 8” wide. Fit one sheet into the bottom of greased pan (the overhang will help in removal of bake brownies). Fit the 2nd sheet in the pan perpendicular to the 1st sheet. Spray the sheets with non-stick spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl and set aside.

In medium heatproof bowel set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla. Cool. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

In a small bowl beat cream cheese with sugar, vanilla, egg yolk and peppermint (optional) until evenly blended.

Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Drop half the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls over the batter. Repeat layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use the blade of a table knife or spoon handle and swirl the batter creating a marbling effect.

Bake in oven until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly or a toothpick inserted comes out with moist fudgy crumbs adhered to it; about 50-60 minutes.

Cool brownies in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove brownies from the pan using the foil or parchment handles Place brownies on wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled 3 hours Cut into 2 inch squares. Will keep in refrigerator for 5 days

brownies and peppermint ice cream

The brownies make a great dessert served with Peppermint Ice Cream and peppermint sticks. I am taking this to a dinner party tonight.

The Epiphany is the official twelfth day of Christmas so there are ten more days of celebrating!

 

 

Taking stock of Turkey Day

To say I have been busy is an understatement. The same is true for the rest of The Fearless Cooking club members. Thanksgiving came early this year, darn it. I have to work 3 days this week and family is coming in. I made something I have never made before and I could give it to my fellow cooks: turkey stock.

I used Alton Brown’s Chicken Stock recipe . If you look at the recipe it says it takes 14 hours. What a great recipe to put on the stove and forget about while cleaning the house.

The carrots were the final product of the garden and added to the stock.

Two gallons of water with the veggies.

Four turkey thighs added to the pot.

I didn’t have a stockpot big enough so I divided it into two pots.

Cooling off the stock.

Quarts of stock.

Patty’s Points:

1. Don’t tell Alton Brown but I didn’t follow his recipe to the letter. I used four turkey thighs that I roasted in the oven then added it to the stock pots. I read once that roasting the meat brings out great flavors before making gravy so I thought it would work for stock as well.

2. At the end of the day, I used the turkey meat and one quart of the stock for turkey noodle soup. It was a nice meal at the end of a long day of cleaning.

3. It made exactly five quarts of stock as the recipe stated. The slow, medium-low heat reduced the mixture into a fine concentrated stock. I will be sharing the stock with Joy and Char as they use it for their gravy or stuffing.

This cute little turkey made of pipe cleaners and a pine cone, made by my mother many, many years ago. I won’t be able to spend the holiday with Mom and Dad. They are getting older and I get out to visit them every two months. Each visit is a precious moment of remembering good times, despite the daily challenges they face. Thanksgiving is a holiday of purely being thankful without any pretenses or expectations. Happy Thanksgiving Mom and Dad.

Marvelous Marscapone

My final made-from-scratch cheese this past month was luscious and rich marscapone.The recipe came from The Denver Post who took the recipe from “Artisan Cheese Making at Home” by Mary Karlin. Check out her fabulous website.

The equipment and ingredients required were low key and easy to find at your local grocery store.

Ingredients

2 C pasteurized heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)

1/3 C powdered skin milk

1 lemon, cut in half

Make a clean area in your kitchen counter with clean towels. Assemble equipment: 2 quart non-reactive saucepan, thermometer, butter muslin (or double length of regular cheesecloth) metal spoon and colander.  Whisk the cream and powdered milk together and heat slowly up to 180 degrees F. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. It should take 40 minutes or so, then remove from heat.

Squeeze in half of the lemon juice, switch to a metal spoon and stir constantly to promote curd formation. Do not whisk. The cream will coat the back of the spoon when it is ready. Then add the remainder of the lemon juice and stir to incorporate. Cover and cool the cream in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

The following day the cream will look like yogurt. Transfer the curds to a muslin-lined colander (check out the 10/29/12 Oh Cheez  post for pictures). Draw the ends together and twist into a ball to squeeze out the liquid. The marscapone will then be thick and ready to use in recipes or refrigerate for up to two days.

Patty’s Points:

1) Super easy.

2) Super creamy and versatile.

3) Very little liquid was squeezed from the mixture. It took less than an hour to drain into curds.

4) For recipes on how to incorporate marscapone into recipes, check out Food Network, under ‘marscapone‘. You’ll find that Giada De Laurentis‘ name pops up quite a bit. She loves marscapone and has a variety of sweet and savory recipes to choose from.

The Fearless Cooking Club members each received a jar of marscapone to take home. Many have used it in place of clotted cream, whipped it into mashed sweet or white potatoes, or spread it atop crisp thin bread, with a lovely jam. Marvelous.