Displaying items by tag: Compliments to the Chef, Paula and John Reardon

Friday, 28 June 2019 10:50

If This Pan Could Talk

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Summer time is wonderful. Along with beautiful weather are moments of making memories through family gatherings and celebrations. Summertime is always filled with food and fun. What is it about peach cobbler and summertime that we love so much? Think about it, whenever you think of delicious peach cobbler, you almost always think of warm summer nights, camping trips, and backyard barbecues. It’s as if this amazing dish has become the unofficial dessert of summertime fun!

So how do you take such a well known, traditional dish, and make it better? How do you improve on something that is so amazing already? Easy, you simplify the ingredients, making it easy to make, then you throw it all in a cast iron skillet and bake it right up. The peach cobbler dessert was among the many items my grandmother used her cast iron pans for. Whenever we visited my grandmother, her home smelled of meatballs, sausage and sauce cooking, with the gentle aroma of peach cobbler drifting into the hall. Shortly after we arrived, my grandmother would ask for assistance to take the cast iron pan of meatballs and sausage from the stove. Then she would pull the black frying pan from the oven. Quickly she would position the skillet on the table to cool with strict directions that we were not to “taste” it before it was officially served. We would all wait anxiously around the big dining room table. Each of us grandkids would secretly hope that we could get the cobbler before the meatballs. However, my grandmother was strict that we eat our main meal before any dessert. Being from an Italian family, meatballs and sausage were always part of the summertime picnic food.  As we would help her bring out her culinary delights to our summertime festivities, everyone would sit waiting for her food – because it was always so amazing. My grandmother was a practical person. She believed kitchen utensils should have more than one use. If you could use your cast-iron skillet for frying why not use it for baking? My grandmother passed on the tradition of baking in a cast-iron frying pan to my mother and in time to all of my brothers, sisters and to me. 

I am not alone in my story of cast iron. Cast iron has had a resurgence in demand. These pans are extremely versatile and can last a lifetime. Everything from frying eggs, cooking a stew and baking a pie can be done in a cast iron pan. With a little care, these pans can become a hand-me-down family heirloom. Owning one can open up a whole new world of cooking, and the flavor that a cast iron pan can add to food is amazing.

In order to be successful when using cast iron, you have to know how to care for it, basically what to do and what not to do to your pans. If you treat them right, they will be so easy to cook with and will quickly become your go-to pan. First, season your pan. Seasoning is basically oiling the pan to give it a nonstick surface and prevent rusting. Even though most pans are sold “pre-seasoned,” you’ll still want to season it before its first use. Give your new pan a good rinse with plain old water and then heat it on the stove over medium heat. Once the pan is warm, add a small amount of oil, Using a cloth, work the oil all around the inside bottom and sides of the pan. Give it a good coat, about a teaspoon for a 10-12 inch skillet, but not so much that there is standing oil in the pan. Then let it cool to room temp. You’ll want to repeat this process a few more times until the surface is glossy, but not sticky. and if needed, scrub lightly. A properly seasoned pan is naturally nonstick, however if there is stuff stuck to the pan, you can scrape it and scrub with a hard bristle brush. After washing or scrubbing if necessary, make sure to fully towel dry your pan to prevent rusting.

Our favorite and best selling cast iron is Lodge. Lodge is seasoned cast iron cookware so they begin the seasoning process for you. Lodge provides pre-seasoned cookware with no synthetic chemicals; just soy based vegetable oil. The more you use your cast iron, the better the seasoning becomes.  Lodge is MADE IN THE USA and has been making cast iron cookware in South Pittsburg, Tennessee since 1896. With over 120 years of experience, their cast iron is known for its high quality design, lifetime durability, and cooking versatility and is FAMILY-OWNED.

I wish I had my grandmother’s original cast iron. Oh, if those pans could talk, the stories they would tell. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your neighborhood kitchen and cutlery store, located at 33 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs, for cool tools to help you with your Fourth of July celebration. Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” Celebrate, reflect, and listen to the stories from generations beyond us. Savor the memories and bring back some of the recipes that those before you cooked for you. 

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

PeachCobbler

 

Published in Food
Thursday, 20 June 2019 13:01

Mop it Up

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Today is the start to the summer season. Nothing says summer more than firing up your outside grill and cooking outdoors. The scent of dinner sizzling on the grill and the joy of eating in the open air—cooking and dining outdoors are simple summer pleasures that deserve to be enjoyed more often. If there’s one dish that signifies summer in America, it’s ribs. Cooked outdoors in backyards across the country, ribs are a cherished pastime. No matter the style, one thing that many people can agree on is that using a mop or spray during the cooking of your ribs, especially if you are cooking them low and slow, can be a major advantage. Having the right tools to help you with your outside cooking is important.

Why Use A Mop? There are plenty of arguments for and against using a mop while you are cooking ribs, but we think the benefits definitely win. Using a mop will attract smoke to your ribs (in a good way) giving them more smoky flavor in a shorter amount of time. Also, if you are cooking your ribs low and slow (which we hope you are), a mop will help keep your meat from drying out. Competition barbecuers like using mops because it gives them a chance to add even more mouthwatering flavor to their ribs. It is a great way to experiment with different flavor profiles while tying them together to create an award-winning piece of meat. The best time to apply your mop is right after the crust has formed and you have flipped your meat. This will allow your mop to marry with the hot and bubbly surface of the crust where the meat juices are.

Many people are under the impression that you should never open a smoker or grill while meat is cooking. While you shouldn’t leave the lid open for long periods of time, it is quite okay to open the smoker or grill to spray or mop your meat. This is because most of the heat that is used to cook your meat thoroughly is actually stored in the outer layers of the meat and slowly transferred to the inner sections of meat. This temperature will stay almost exactly the same when the cooker is opened and the internal air temperature will quickly reheat once the lid is closed.  Mop A thin liquid that is generously and repeatedly brushed (or “mopped”) onto meat as it grills to keep it moist. Using a mop tool is ideal because it holds a lot of liquid, but you can also use a basting brush. 

At Compliments to the Chef, we carry a Rosewood 17-Inch Sauce Mop. This is an ideal tool for basting meats on the grill or in the smoker. The Sauce Mop is made with a cotton mop-head that soaks up sauce or marinade for barbequing. It is made with a Rosewood handle that will standup to everyday use. The Mop head washes out with soap and water. This basting mop makes it easy to prepare barbequing by soaking up the thinner sauces to baste over the meat. 

Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place for an assortment of cool tools to help you with your BBQ adventures. Get a Sauce Mop and mop up your summer grill creations. Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen” or outside while you are barbequing. 

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

Ribs

 

Published in Food
Friday, 14 June 2019 00:00

Food Prep Made Easy

Hello my Foodie Friends!

This weekend is Father’s Day. Not sure what to get dad since he already has a bazillion ties? A home cooked meal with some of his favorite foods is a great way to kick things off. How about cooking something special for him? Many of us have been lucky enough to grow up with dads who love to cook, who have mastered crème brûlée or grilling or taught us to make perfect rice. Others have dads who just love to eat, who will dig into a shared plate happily and are always ready to share a meal. This Sunday, we’ll honor all of them, maybe with pancakes or a special dinner or a thoughtful food-related gift. In preparing that special meal, there may be some cool culinary tools you need to help.

One tool that has become a “must have” in the kitchen drawer is the bench scraper. A bench scraper, which is also called a pastry scraper or dough scraper, is also used in working with pastry, bread, and other doughs. But even if you don’t bake regularly, it can still be a worthy investment for general cooking prep. It’s also space-efficient and easy to stow away in a prep drawer, and is a crazy-easy-to-clean, dishwasher-safe tool that can last you for decades.  A bench scraper is one of those inexpensive utensils that lasts a lifetime and has a million uses. 

When chopping vegetables, a bench scraper makes short work of transferring the veggies from the cutting board to the skillet or soup pot without losing half the veggies onto the floor during the transfer. Think of that flat piece of metal as a wide extension of your hand. Imagine the joy you would feel by only making ONE journey from your cutting board to your soup pot instead of your usual six trips as you balance those diced veggies on your knife or in your hand. You can also use your trusty scraper to smash whole cloves of garlic or to smash boiled potatoes before frying them.

My dad loved my mom’s cooking and my wife’s dad still enjoys a special meal presented to them on Father’s Day. I have to admit, I love a home cooked meal. I was recently thinking about what was my Dad’s “dream meal.” He was a meat and potatoes guy. My wife’s dad’s favorite part is the dessert at the end!

Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place to find those cool tools that can help you as you plan out your menus and get chopping.  For Father’s Day, eat together as a family!  Relish the memories and show Dad how much you love him. Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

Blondies

 

Published in Food
Friday, 07 June 2019 00:00

Press B for Bacon

Hello my Foodie Friends!

With warmer weather, our menus tend to be lighter making some of the delicious salads that we tend to avoid during the winter months.  Both my wife and I love Cobb Salads made with diced tomatoes, avocado, chicken, cheese, diced egg, and crispy bacon or adding bacon to potato salads. Now close your eyes and remember the smell of bacon cooking in the morning. Nothing like it! We love this aroma so much but many times it is not cooked correctly.  A familiar problem with cooking bacon is the bacon curling up on you and not crisping evenly.  This is where a bacon press comes in allowing you to flatten your bacon and cooking it to perfection. Bacon presses come in several shapes and styles; circular, rectangular, or shaped as a pig.  The press is made of heavy cast iron construction with heat resistant wood handles. The large surface allows for pressing multiple strips of bacon at once. 

There are also various other uses for the bacon press.  You can use it as a tortilla press by putting the dough ball between two sheets of plastic wrap and pressing down with the bacon press with all of your might.  Then, cook the tortilla in the skillet.  Or, you can use it to make a quesadilla by placing a heated bacon press on top of the tortilla to ensure even melting and browning. 

Another use for the bacon press is turning your next sandwich into a Panini by heating a seasoned skillet and placing the press inside to heat up. After building your sandwich, place the sandwich into the heated skillet and under the heated press, pressing slightly leaving your sandwich golden brown. A bacon press can be used on the outdoor BBQ grill to quick cook burgers or steaks on both sides at the same time.  Heat the press up on the grill before you begin cooking and place the press on top of the meat. 

Crispy hash browns are delicious for both breakfast and as a side dish for entrees.  Make crispy hash browns by placing 3 tbsp. of oil in a pan on medium heat, add the bacon press inside while the pan heats.  Once the pan heats up toss your potatoes in and place the heated bacon press on top. Cook until the hash browns are golden brown. For desserts, use a bacon press on bar cookies pressing gently to flatten the bar cookie and crispy rice treats. 

The Bacon Press is truly a versatile tool. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs. We carry both the round and rectangle bacon presses.  Have fun Pressing B for Bacon. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” 

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

BaconStick

 

Published in Food
Thursday, 30 May 2019 00:00

“Boont? Bundt…Boont?”

Hello my Foodie Friends!

With our location of 33 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs, next door to the Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas, I find myself reflecting on my favorite movies. Among my choice films is “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” that also has one my favorite movies scenes. The classic scene from the movie is when Maria Portokales receives a bundt cake from the mother of her future son-in-law.  Being cordial yet trying to understand what she is receiving, Maria glances at her daughter Toula, that elicits a back and forth dialog; “Boont? Bundt…Boont? Bundt. BOONT? BUNDT.....OH, IT’S A CAKE! There’s a hole in this cake!” 

Bundt cakes are a very delicious gift to give when going to see family or a friend. The bundt cake became popular in the 50’s and 60’s.  The bundt pan has become America’s best selling cake pan (according to Nordic Ware) to create a no-fuss cake. It is a perfect cake to serve a crowd and easy to slice. 

Bundt cake pans are cake pans that are usually 10” – 12” in diameter and are 5” deep with a hole in the center.  This ensures that deep cakes can bake evenly.  They usually have fluted or ridged designs to make your cake look impressive. Bundt pans were derived from ceramic German Kugelhopf pans, which bake tall, round and (usually) yeasted sweet breads or cakes. The cast aluminum version was trademarked in 1950 by the founder of NordicWare, the largest and certainly most well known maker of bundt-shaped pans. The pans were not popular with bakers at first, but after the Tunnel of Fudge cake – which was baked in a bundt pan -won 2nd in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off, sales of the pan took off and it is now one of the best selling pans in North America, with over 60 million sold. It is easy to see why, because the cakes are very stylish and, unlike layered cakes, look impressive without needing a drop of frosting. Plus, the NordicWare Bundt pans are made in the U.S.A. There are tens of thousands of recipes out there calling for bundt pans, and you won’t find another pan that can do the job as well.

There are many other uses for bundt pans.  You can bake any cake, meatloaf (fill center with mashed potatoes), various breads including Monkey bread or garlic bread, and jello!  Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place. We have an assortment of NordicWare cast aluminum bundt pans in all sizes and shapes. Next time you go to visit a friend or a “future family member” brings a bundt cake. Be patient if they do not totally understand what it is.  Have fun with it and enjoy!!  Remember; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” 

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

MonkeyBread

 

Published in Food
Thursday, 23 May 2019 00:00

Cuts like a Knife

Hello my Foodie Friends!

It is Memorial Day weekend and it is a time of remembering those men and women who gave their lives for America. My father served in WWII fighting on the beaches of Normandy; and my father-in-law served 22 years in the army, training and commanding young recruits. Our parents come from a period that is called “the greatest generation.” The stories that both my father and father-in-law have given over the years about their time in the war or in the service, and the stories both my mother and mother-in-law have told, reflect an incredible period of our history. As I reflect on this holiday, I think about my father at age 22 and realized he was in England getting ready for D-Day on Normandy Beach. It must have a scary time for my Dad. I don’t know for sure because he would never talk about it. The only thing he would say, and this is his Irish sense of humor talking, was “there were many bars in France and Belgium that had banned me for life.”

I lost my father nine years ago. Among the precious possessions that were handed off to us were his knives and a sharpening wheel that I use for knife repair. As a gift to each of my four other siblings, I sharpened and restored my father’s knives giving each one of my brothers and sisters knives that they could use and remember my father through each day as they prepared their meals. 

Knife sharpening is a service that I offer at Compliments to the Chef. Did you know that a sharp knife leads to fewer injuries? It does sound contradictory that a sharp knife could cause less injuries. However, a sharp knife means you make fewer cuts and do not have to work as hard as you would to cut when using a dull knife. The law of averages shows that there is less of a chance of cutting yourself with a sharp knife then with a dull knife. A sharp knife also cuts more precisely with less chance of slippage. Overall; a sharp knife promotes better cutting techniques. Even the finest knives will dull with regular use, but periodic sharpening will restore the blade’s keen edge. A dull knife requires greater force, tears at food, tires the hand and increases the odds of cutting yourself. Dull knives cause infinitely worse and more frequent injuries than sharp ones for a few reasons. Dull knives require more pressure to use, which can make them prone to slipping. And if they do, they hit with that much more force, and result in a more ragged, much harder to heal injury than one a sharp knife would make. Yes, it’s possible to sharpen and hone your knives at home, and it’s something everyone should do to preserve the integrity of your blades (and, again, stay safe). However, forestalling kitchen bloodshed should be one of your priorities. If you have your knives sharpened by a professional once or twice a year, you can maintain them without too much hassle. You can tell when your knife is dull, but a good rule of thumb is to try to slice through a tomato or a piece of paper. If the blade goes through anything but easily, it’s time to sharpen or have them sharpened by John.

This Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. We would like to thank all who have either served or are currently serving our country for your service.

Stay close to family and friends this weekend and if you see a serviceman or woman say “thank you” to them! Let us at Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, help you get ready with your culinary needs for the holiday weekend.

Remember my Foodie Friends that “Life Happens in the Kitchen or around the grill.”

 Take Care,
John & Paula

Get the grill ready, remember to stock up on the charcoal and grab plenty of ice cold beverages. It’s time to kick off the outdoor grilling season with some Memorial Day culinary creations for the holiday weekend.

 

FlankSteak

 

Published in Food
Thursday, 16 May 2019 00:00

Whose Turn is it to Wash the Dishes?

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Each week we write about the fun of creating and cooking fabulous dishes.  However, with making these dishes comes the mess and dreaded task of cleaning up which becomes someone’s responsibility. Many conflicts occur within a household on whose turn it is to wash the dishes. I remember in my childhood years fighting with my four other siblings on who would be assigned the chore of doing the dishes. Having grown up in an Italian household with five children, my mother ran a tight ship and made sure all of us were assigned cleaning duties. Fighting over who was going to wash the dishes was a common occurrence even after my mother made it clear whose job it was that evening. Through the years we learned that washing the dishes did not take that long when each of us helped out. When we shared and helped each other in our household chores, we then had plenty of time to go and do what we wanted afterwards.  Through the years of doing chores together and playing together, we became good friends, a friendship that still holds today. 

“You know you’re an adult when you get excited when there is a new sponge in the sink.” -Unknown Author.

To this day, believe it or not, I enjoy washing dishes. I love bringing home new types of items to help me with this chore. One of our favorite items we have is a silicone scrubber from Kuhn Rikon. Say goodbye to the smelly sponges you have under your sink. With this new sponge, there are 5,000 silicone bristles that help to clean your dishes and also can be used on multiple types of surfaces. The Kuhn Rikon Stay Clean Scrubber stays cleaner than your typical sponge since the non-porous silicone bristles dry faster and will not harbor bacteria. The sponge is BPA free, and is an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable sponges. Make short work of washing dishes, countertop messes and more with this reusable silicone sponge. Made of durable, heat-resistant silicone, it is gentle enough for use with nonstick cookware, yet can handle even dried-on messes with ease. And you can toss it in the dishwasher when you’re done cleaning for a sponge that is as good as new every time you use it. It is dishwasher safe, so you’re always cleaning with a clean sponge. This fun and flexible scrubber will stand the test of time. 

So, whose ever job it is to wash the dishes, try out this really cool sponge!  Come visit Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, located at 33 Railroad Place, where we have Tools for Cooks. Have fun cooking and cleaning up.  Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

BroccoliMelts

 

Published in Food
Thursday, 09 May 2019 00:00

Moms Rule

Hello my Foodie Friends!

This weekend is Mother’s Day. It is a time that I find difficult in that I lost my mother many years ago. Paula’s Mom is still with us. She has been a special Mother-in-Law to me who I love very much. Remembering my mother at this time brings those memories that make me laugh and cry. I have talked about growing up in an Italian family in many of my articles. Recently, I was reminded by one of my customers that Italians are a matriarchal nationality. It’s the women who carry on the traditions and hand out the majority of discipline, wisdom and nurturing to the children. As I was growing up being one of five siblings, every room in the house involved teaching and training by my mother. The bedroom was making your bed, dusting furniture, sweeping the floor or vacuuming the rugs and organizing your clothes.  The bathroom was to be kept clean at all times and the living room was “keep your feet off the couch.”  The kitchen had the most intense training. Washing and drying dishes to cleaning and setting the table. At the kitchen table we learned so much by sitting at a table (not a center island the way we do today) and shared everything from how our day went to how to pass the potatoes. We learned manners; how to hold a fork and at the beginning of the meal watching how much Mom did to prepare the meals and us for dinner.  Her words before every meal were to wash up before you sit at the table. Every meal stated the essentials for us not to forget to do: “Remember, hands, face, neck and ears.” Why all the extras? With three boys and two girls who all played in a wondrous place (called the outdoors) that does not seem to exist anymore. Yes, even my sisters had a layer of dirt on them that was unacceptable at the dinner table.  We looked like we came out the mines coming in the door but at the table we were cleaned up nice or she sent us back for more washing. One such dinner my father, who was working two jobs at the time, asked for silence at the dinner table.   This was very difficult for five kids but we were doing ok until the whistle!  My Dad was exhausted and he had congestion in his nose.  So it whistled while he breathed through his nose as he ate.  As the whistling continued my brothers and I could not keep a straight face and we snickered.  My dad who could hear the whistle but he did not realize it was he who was whistling.  Dad then ordered the whistler to stop or to bed they would go. The whistling continued and we tried to freeze our faces but it would not work and I burst into uncontrollable laughter. I proclaimed: “Dad, it’s you!”  He questioned my sanity and I was off to bed for secret whistling.  My brothers and sisters were mum on the subject. I then laughed all the way to bed. In the end there was absolutely no rule Dad could make that my Mom was not allowed to break if she saw fit (Mom broke me out). I still to this day smile when I think of it or when I have dinner with my brothers and sisters bring up that time that dad whistled. 

Compliments to the Chef would like to salute all the Moms who have made life happen in our homes and especially in the kitchen. Who was the first one to start cooking a meal and the last to sit down for a meal? Who was still in the kitchen cleaning well after everyone else had left? What room in the house did mom dole out free advice on dating, school, employment and dealing with disappointment? Where did some your funniest memories of Mom take place? Moms hold court in their kitchen as a judge does in his court room or the Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace. My Mom didn’t hold a staff like the Queen but she did carry a rolling pin and a wooden spoon. For a few years it was never very far from her right hand. 

This Mother’s Day when it is time for dinner, seat Mom first and clean up so she can enjoy her day.  Call Mom on a regular basis and tell how you feel about her. You cannot say “I love you, Mom” enough. I bet I know where she will be when you stop by to see her. Bring your family together for at least an hour a day.  Have Mom make it a rule; that way it will stick. Meal time is family time. Look at each other, listen to each other, tell stories, and talk about life. Whatever the gift is that you give your Mom on Mother’s Day, the greatest gift is the smile and hug you’ll give her at her front door. Stop in to Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place and share a fun story about your mom! Remember my Foodie Friends and Mom’s: “Life Happens in the Kitchen” – those memories will last you a lifetime.

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

FrenchToastCasserole

 

Published in Food
Thursday, 02 May 2019 00:00

Spice Up Your Taste

Hello my Foodie Friends!

This weekend is Cinco de Mayo. Many of us foodies may be planning some type of festivity for this day. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that commemorates the Mexican army's victory at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Although a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, the day is a popular celebration in the United States. And what better way to celebrate than to eat delicious Mexican food? An essential item needed in most recipes for Cinco de Mayo includes spices. Traditional Mexican cuisine has a distinct taste and it's made up of a few common ingredients. That spicy flavor is due to things like onions, garlic, chile powders, herbs, spices, and a few that are specific to this style of food. Oregano and cumin bring a lot to that signature Mexican flavor. Cumin has been around since the beginning of history. Its origin lies somewhere in the Mediterranean but has expanded in popularity because it is grown easily all over the world. It has a toasty yet somewhat bitter taste and gives Mexican dishes a certain flavor that cannot be replaced. Chile Powder is actually a blend of dried, powdered chiles, cumin, and oregano. Other spices are sometimes included in the mix, but those are the key ingredients. It is used primarily for seasoning meats and vegetables but has other uses as well.

When cooking with spices, the room fills with aromas that fill our senses. Have you ever walked into a place and smelled your favorite memories? Smells of cooking can trigger memories so strong and real it feels like you’ve been transported back in time and brings a picture as sharp as a photograph of a special time in your life.  Through food we exchange stories of ourselves and our families. Spices have a way of transporting you to another place and time. Each spice or collection of spices has a story, and a wonderful, beautiful one at that. Spices are flavor enhancers! That might seem rather simplistic, but it really sums up how to think about spices and get the best from them. Rather than seeing these strange little bits of bark, seeds and roots as something to be used only on special occasions, or just when a recipe calls for them, look at your spice shelf as flavor enhancers to be added to your cooking (or even drinks) in small quantities at any time. You can add pretty much any spice you like to anything you cook - you’ll soon find there are NO RULES to making something taste delicious – the only way to really understand it is through trial and error.

Having said all that, you shouldn’t normally be able to clearly identify a particular spice in your cooking - if you can taste a spice clearly, the chances are you’ve added too much. If you taste your food as you go and add seasonings in small quantities your cooking will improve and your food will have more flavor. The saying ‘you can always add more, but you can never take away’ is a good one to bear in mind, so just add a little at a time, tasting all the time until you’re happy with it.

For some Americans, one perceived impediment to cooking with spices is the dislike of spicy food, even though spices are not spicy hot, per se. Spices can make food richly flavorful and aromatic, but they make it hot only if you add fresh, powdered or flaked chile peppers. That heat comes with a few benefits — spicy hot food reduces the need for salt, plus it helps the body sweat and potentially remove toxins.

At Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place, we offer many spices that can be used to help you with your Cinco de Mayo culinary creations. Stop in and spice up your taste with some unique flavors you have yet to try. Have a festive Cinco de Mayo. Remember Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

MexicanRice

 

Published in Food
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 20:00

My Little Cupcake

Hello my Foodie Friends!

With so many special events such as baby and bridal showers, birthdays, and weddings, bakeries and small businesses have been busy making delectable desserts for these events. One particular baked good that has gained tremendous popularity over the past two decades is the cupcake.  The big business and trend of making cupcakes has expanded through entrepreneurial bakers and bakeries taking advantage of the multiple varieties and creativity that can come with cupcakes.  However, making your own cupcakes can be an endearing gift that you can make for yourself or for someone special.  So, what is your cupcake personality? Do you prefer to indulge in rich double chocolate or simply vanilla? Maybe a wonderful red velvet or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting? Peanut butter fudge sounds delicious or even salted caramel, mocha, or coconut. Whether your personality is fun and festive, salt and sweet, business like, lovey-dovey, colorful, adventurous, or serious, there is a cupcake flavor for you. Since their creation, cupcakes have become a pop culture trend in the culinary world. They have spawned dozens of bakeries devoted entirely to them. While chocolate and vanilla remain classic favorites, fancy flavors such as raspberry meringue and espresso fudge can be found on menus. There are cookbooks, blogs, and magazines specifically dedicated to cupcakes. 

The history of cupcakes (retrieved from All About Cupcakes) is interesting to learn about. The cupcake evolved in the United States in the 19th century, and it was revolutionary because of the amount of time it saved in the kitchen. There was a shift from weighing out ingredients when baking to measuring out ingredients. According to the Food Timeline Web, food historians have yet to pinpoint exactly where the name of the cupcake originated. There are two theories: the cakes were originally cooked in cups, and the ingredients used to make the cupcakes were measured out by the cup. In the beginning, cupcakes were sometimes called “number” cakes, because they were easy to remember by the measurements of ingredients it took to create them: One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs, one cup of milk, and one spoonful of soda. Clearly, cupcakes today have expanded to a wide variety of ingredients, measurements, shapes, and decorations - but this was one of the first recipes for making what we know today as cupcakes. Cupcakes were convenient because they cooked much quicker than larger cakes. When baking was done in hearth ovens, it would take a long time to bake a cake, and the final product would often be burned. Muffin tins, also called gem pans, were popular around the turn of the 20th century, so people started creating cupcakes in tins. 

At Compliments to the Chef, your neighborhood kitchen and cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place, we carry various accessories to assist you with making your favorite cupcake recipe. Cupcakes are a sweet way to please a crowd, and to say “thank you,” or “I love you” to your little cupcake. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & Paula

 

LittleCupcake

 

Published in Food
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