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Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

I’ve been secretly wishing for a FoodSaver(R) system for years.  They don’t often pop up in searches on Craigslist, and I can understand why.  This thing ROCKS!

I bought the Chef Mini kit and the sealer itself is smaller than I thought it would be, great for counter-top use.  The first test will be sliced roast beef to freeze for lunches next week or next month.

Cookies did not really survive the vacuuming, they were sucked into crumb oblivion.

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We were out at the Outlet Mall (almost as bad as the real mall) shopping for gifts for the parents in November.  In one of the kitchen stores, I scoured every isle and every shelf searching for a cookie press to make my spritz cookies.  I gave up, the kids were looking at me like I was mad (the crazy kind not the about-to-blow-my-top kind).  I happened to turn around while leaving the store to hold the door open.  “THAT’S IT!”  I scream-whispered to Hubby.  “That’s the cookie press I was looking for all over the store!”  By then we had hit the point where the kids started acting like little animals, they needed to be fed.  I didn’t want to spend a moment more at the outlets either.

A couple of weeks went by and I decided to pick up a cookie press I found at the grocery store, a seasonal item sitting among the oven mitts, cookie cutters, and festive cupcake papers.  I tried the first batch of cookies, cleaned it up, and it’s been living on the kitchen counter ever since.

Little did I know, Hubby was listening to me at the mall.

Christmas came and I unwrapped Hubby’s gift (he even bought new paper to wrap it in).  An electric cookie press and piping tool.  Everything works better as a power tool, obviously cookie making and cake frosting needed an extra boost of horsepower too.  I thanked him profusely for the very thoughtful gift and that I would return my manual press or give it to his mom.

On the way home, Hubby confessed he had kept the receipt in case I wanted something else.  I liked his gift.  I liked the idea of faster, maybe more consistent, cookies.  Plus it was multi-purpose!  I opened the box and found a recipe booklet, several different flavours of cookie batter are included, as well as pâte à choux!  Awesome.  This will be a swell addition to kitchen toy island.

Now the manual cookie press needs a new home.

Giveaway!

All these contests have rules, so here it how to enter to win this cookie press (used once to subdue my craving for spritz)

  • Follow my blog (leave 1 comment for this)
  • Like Cardamom Finnish Cottage Bakery on Facebook (leave 1 comment for this)
  • Follow midnitechef on Twitter (leave 1 comment for this)

Choose any or all methods, maximum of three entries until contest closes Jan 14th, 2012

You must live in Canada or continental USA to win.  Random.org will be used to select the winner.

UPDATE:

The lucky comment is #1, that means The Edmonton Tourist!

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Kitchen toys are so much fun to share with the kids, at least the safe ones.  They love to push buttons and turn handles.  Big Brother was my pasta sous chef for the day, in charge of turning the hand crank of the pasta machine and using scraps of pasta to make his own noodles.  He is obsessed with Kung Fu Panda, and easily convinced he should eat lots of noodles, just like Po.

Little Sister can’t keep still now.  She has learned the tools of the toddler trade: chairs and stools.  These tools are especially useful to see what is cooking.  Any long utensil extends the toddler toolkit to be able to scoot objects off high surfaces and spilling them on the floor.

Big Brother and I worked on the ravioli.  I roasted the softball-sized acorn squash from the garden box with salt and pepper until it was soft.  The flesh of the squash was combined with fresh basil and Pecorino cheese.

The pasta dough is easy to prepare: I used about 2 cups of semolina flour and 2 large eggs.  Pour the flour on the counter and make a well in the middle.  Take off your pointy rings, they will become dough balls and you will tear the pasta sheets as you handle them.   Mix the eggs and slowly incorporate the flour, you might not use all of it.  Knead for about 1 minute until the dough springs back when you poke it.  Cover with a glass bowl and rest for 30 minutes.  Cut slices about an inch thick to begin squishing it down to size, either in a pasta roller or with a rolling pin.  Cut the sheets into squares, roughly the same size squares for even cooking.

Too much water around the rim of the first two ravioli caused a sticky mess.  From then on, I used a sprinkle of semolina flour on the work surface and very little water to seal the edges.

After the squash filling was used up, Big Brother had the chance to make more noodles as I boiled the finished ravioli.

Voilà, fresh ravioli!

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eBay find!

Thrifting is not just for clothing and accessories, you can find everything you need for your kitchen second-hand as far as machines and appliances go (and serving ware and dishes too).  I bought my bread maker off Craigslist, $40. Hubby found me a scale and food processor at a garage sale, $10.  The Antique Mall is a great place to find little plates and platters and decor for the table.  And today my pasta maker ($12 including S&H) arrived in the mail!

Let’s give it a try, shall we?

First is the dough.  1 egg to 100 grams semolina flour per serving.  Mix and knead the dough into a cohesive ball.  Divide the dough into manageable portions and flatten to an oval.  Start feeding the dough through the flat rollers, starting with the widest setting.

After a thin sheet of pasta is formed, very lightly dust with flour if it’s tacky.  Keep thinning out the sheet of pasta by decreasing the size of the gap of the rollers.  Switch the sheet of pasta to the wide noodle roller.

I found a #6 to be the right thickness and the noodles won’t fall apart. A thicker #4 noodle was alright but it requires a longer cooking time.  So if you’re in a hurry make thin noodles!

 

Immediately toss the fresh pasta into salted boiling water.  Cover for the first 30 seconds to allow the water to return to a boil quickly, thus locking in the starches.  And make sure you salt the water, as you may recall, we didn’t put any salt in the dough!

Have the sauce simmering as you are working on the noodles.  Thin noodles will take only about 4-5 minutes to cook.  Thicker noodles may take 8-10 minutes.

The sauce is just a jar I had in the fridge, I threw in sausage and diced fresh tomato.  Keep the sauce hot.  Pull the noodles out of the water and put them in the pan of sauce.  Toss to coat every noodle.

 

Then serve to your guests (in this case: hungry munchkins).

Fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, chives) can be added on top.  And don’t forget some grated cheese.

Enjoy 🙂

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YAAAAY! New toy! New toy!

It dawned on me after bringing the bread machine home that it matches my kitchen.  The stove, fridge, KitchenAid, waffle iron, blender, toaster, and crock pot are all black with stainless steel.  The only odd duck is my Santuko, sporting a lovely red handle.  Oh well, she’s a special toy.

These little buggers are at least 100 bucks at regular stores.  I started searching on craigslist yesterday and this was one of three contenders.  Then I searched on epinions.com for the three brands of bread machines, just to see what people were saying.  This one stood apart with rave reviews and this is a replacement for my old bread maker (from a different manufacturer).  This little lady was 50$.  Divide that by 3$ per loaf of bread from the store and she will be paying for herself at loaf number 17. 

But wait… it’s not just for bread!

This machine, OK it’s a heated blender (sort of), can make dough for pizza/buns/cinnamon buns (blibble)/stromboli, pasta, cookie dough (I don’t really understand why this is a feature, guess it’s an added bonus?), AND JAM.  If you recall one of my early posts was about my jam addiction.  Strawberry season is just around the corner and I can’t wait to test the machine in that respect.  Imagine fresh bread with fresh jam.  Aaaahhhhh.

Test Case: White Bread

I’m optimistic.  The machine has been filled with the manufacturer’s specified ingredients, in the exact order from the manual.  The timer is set to produce a completed loaf of white bread by 6AM tomorrow.  (It has a 15 hour timer!)

We will see if this will help my bread making score.

The Result

A loaf of white bread with great texture!

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The best tool in the kitchen is the one you use the most. 

My new favorite is a Santuko knife I bought over the holidays.  The edge is razor-sharp, as any freshly purchased knife should be, and I’ve nicked a knuckle already with this blade while washing it during a supper preparation.  Instead of using several different knives for chopping and slicing and skinning, I use one which is versatile enough for every job.  This way the sink or counter tops stay clear of the clutter of dirty knives.  Washing between each ingredient is how I ended up with a souvenir of my red-handled Santoku.

My father was visiting for the holidays and wanted to get the kids something useful, and with the Canadian dollar almost matching US dollars it was a good time to shop south of the border.  I don’t care for the Outlet malls.  Usually they are too crowded and loud, plus you spend much of your time outdoors between shops.  The day we decided to go wasn’t terribly busy, phew!  I wondered into the first kitchen gadget store we found.  I had my mind set on new cookie sheets.  This is another frequently used tool in my kitchen and after a while the non-stick starts to stick, the glean of the metal fades, and inevitably I cook meat or seafood on them and you just can’t bake on them after that.  Maybe I’m just being spoiled here.  Not to worry though, the old pans remain to continue their service for meats and roasting shrimp or fillets of fish, asparagus, and squash. 

While shopping for the cookie sheets I spotted the knives hung on one wall in plastic sheaths.  What the heck, let’s see what they have here.  This knife stood out with the beautifully formed handle accented with ruby-red.  Santuko. It whispered.  I picked it up and felt the weight of the chef’s sword, light and balanced.  I didn’t even think about putting it back on the rack for someone else to touch it.  You’re coming home with me!

There’s even a magnetic knife rack to be mounted in the kitchen which was an impulse buy at IKEA while Christmas shopping for my sister-in-law.  No knife drawer for you, Santuko.

Diamonds are great but a great knife is a chef’s best friend!

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Weapon of Choice

What is your weapon of choice for zesting?

Currently I have three options, none of which I really like. 

Box graters tend to make quick work of a lime however most of the precious zest is stuck to the spurs.  Carrot (veggie) peelers can be too dull and are awkward to handle.  I tend to get too much of the bitter layer when using this method.  Small sharp knives are inherently dangerous since they are sharp as heck if you have a good quality one.  If you have decent knife skills, this is a good way to slice off the thin layer of zest of lemons and oranges.  I have yet to zest a lime with a knife.

Where’s the handy zester tool?  Good question!  Maybe Santa will read this and I’ll get one for Christmas…

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