Displaying items by tag: Compliments to the Chef, Paula and John Reardon
Hello my Foodie Friends!
June 16 was our daughter Aubrey’s birthday. It was also National Fudge Day! How old is Aubrey do you ask? Well, I’m not supposed to say but to me when I look at her, she is still five years old and she still would like more than the wrapping paper for a gift. Aubrey had a request that we use Sundae’s Best Hot Fudge for her Birthday dessert. In the past several months, we have all been sharing a lot of stay “in the house” family time, so her party was small.
However, it was with those that made it sweet. Paula and I love to use products from family-owned businesses, especially if they are locally owned. Among our favorites is a wonderful product of Katie and Jeff from Sundae’s Best Hot Fudge Sauce, which is a product of Greenfield’s Greatest Food Company, Inc. They use only the very best ingredients including real chocolate and cocoa. They also use award-winning NY State (Dake Family Owned) Stewarts® wholesome milk, cream and sweet butter. Sundaes Best Hot Fudge Sauce is great on ice cream, fruit, cake, in recipes or just grab a spoon and dig in. Jeff’s mom has been making this homemade hot fudge for family, friends and her church congregation for more than forty years...and she still does. Katie and her grandmother have had a Saratoga tradition enjoying hot fudge sundaes from ice cream shops since Katie was a little girl. They’ve combined mom’s recipe with their love for hot fudge to offer Sundaes Best. Katie, Jeff, Paula, John and Aubrey encourage you to start a Sundae Tradition of your own. You should see the smiles from those that receive Sundaes Best Hot Fudge Sauce as a gift. Did you see our Katie on Good Morning America on Saturday, June 13, 2020?
Stop by our family-owned Compliments to the Chef, downtown Saratoga’s neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located on 33 Railroad Place to get some of Sundae’s Best Hot Fudge Sauce. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen” especially when that special someone has chocolate to share.
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
Now that things are starting to open back up; I ask you, isn’t summertime wonderful? Summer is my favorite time of year. Along with beautiful weather, are moments of making memories through family gatherings and celebrations. Summertime is always filled with food and fun. Pineapples remind me of summer and its flavor is unmistakable. Think about it, whenever you think of pineapples, you almost always think of warm summer nights, camping trips, and backyard barbecues.
The fruit was named pineapple by European explorers in 1493 because it resembled a pine tree. The name spread out, but the Tupi language called it “nanas”, meaning “delicious fruit” and this fact was recorded by a French priest in 1555.
So, what can we make with Pineapples? How about putting fresh slices on a pizza or on your Ice Cream? How about making a Pineapple Cobbler with freshly cut pieces? If there is anything I have learned, it’s that fresh is always tastier than getting it from a can. My family was very strict about snacks while I was growing up. We could eat as much fruit as we wanted but no candy or chips. We were allowed to help mom prepare all the food and fruit and vegetables except pineapples. That was Dad’s job. Come to think of it, it might have been his only job. Cutting a pineapple up required the big knife! Was there an echo just now? Yes, the Big Knife or the machete would come out of hiding to the delight of the three little boys in our family. Dad would lower his voice and look at us straight in the eyes and declare; “you three boys are never to touch this knife. Do you understand me?” We would all nod that we understood as the blade smith used his weapon. “Thwap” came down his blade on the unsuspecting pineapple. His arm was strong and the prickly pineapple was no match for our version of John Wayne.
However, there is a better way to cut your pineapples. A tool that we sell that would have really helped the three little boys get their chance to tackle the fearsome pineapple, is the stainless steel Pineapple Slicer by OXO.
• It cores and slices whole pineapples quickly and easily
• Comfortable, non-slip knob ratchets to allow for continuous rotation without adjusting your grip
• Measurement markings help prevent piercing the bottom of the shell
• Parts separate for removing rings and easy cleaning
• Lays ﬂat in drawers for storage
• Ratcheting turning knob for continuous rotations
• Measurement markings on shaft help preventpiercing the bottom of the pineapple shell
• Knob and shaft separate with the press of a button for easy cleaning and are dish washer safe
• Sharp, medium-sized blade is shaped for compact storage
• Accommodates most pineapple sizes
• Soft, comfortable, non-slip grip and BPA free
I wish we had this tool when the “Duke” ruled the prickly pineapples. I still have his knife, but it somehow doesn’t look as big as it did in the golden age of the Pilgrim. 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 serve up some classic dishes and memories. 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.
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
Our family is holding up well during this stressful time. Like many of you, when we received our stay at home instructions we purchased a lot of canned goods. This seemed strange to my daughter who is not used to seeing many food items in cans except maybe Spaghetti O’s. I am of the age of remembering when cans ruled the pantry. When my brothers and I were very young, one of our jobs to help mom was to open the cans with a can opener! To three young boys, a can opener was a technological marvel. We would open a can and beg to open two more so every brother got his turn. We fought each other for the chance to open a can for mom.
Billy, the youngest, almost ruined it for us as he ended up with a bad cut from the edge of the can. The middle child, Danny, negotiated with mom an age limit on using the can opener. It was to begin at his age and little Billy had to wait another six months. In looking back at my childhood time (historically), we were all hiding under our desks and preparing for Air Raids and worse. Therefore, family households were well stocked on canned goods. There were so many canned options to choose from: green beans, soup, corn, creamed corn, Spaghetti O’s and many more.
As I look at the shelves in the supermarket today, I see we are buying a lot of canned goods again. There are many types of can openers. Often times the culinary connoisseur seeks to get the easiest and safest can opener they can for quick and efficient opening. I’m very happy to sell safety edge can openers now as well as the originals. OXO offers a can opener that has an auto safety lid lifter making it possible to open a can and never touch the lid. This smart little device combines a can-do attitude with amazing efficiency. Its super sharp wheel cuts cleanly beneath the lid to open cans without leaving behind any sharp edges. Thanks to OXO’s famous ergonomic design, using the opener is a breeze.
• Efficient can opener quickly removes lids andleaves behind a smooth, safe edge.
• Easy-turn side grip and soft, nonslip handles make this tool very comfortable to use.
• Stainless-steel cutting wheel doesn’t touch your food, so it stays fresh and clean.
• Built-in pliers for no-touch lid removal.
By cutting on the side of the can below the edge, the Smooth Edge Can Opener leaves no sharp edges on the can or lid. The sharp, hardened stainless steel cutting wheel stays clean, avoiding contact with can contents, while the lid pliers allow for no-touch lid removal.
If you prefer the old fashioned tried and true method, OXO has some to choose from.
One of them is the locking can opener: With its modern design and updated features, this OXO can opener is as easy on the eyes as it is in the hand. As you squeeze it closed, the locking mechanism snaps shut on the can, making it simple to open. To release, press the lock open with your thumb.
• Sharp stainless-steel cutting wheel.
• Designed to lock in place for easy opening without a tight grip.
These are some great examples to add to your collection of kitchen gadgets.
Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen” – even for little boys. Somewhere, someplace, someone is using a can opener!!
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
It looks like the nice weather has finally arrived and has stayed!! The season between Memorial Day and Labor Day brings the opportunity to host many outside events. Having a picnic with family and friends on a beautiful day can be a time that creates those unforgettable moments and memories that last a lifetime.
Having or attending a picnic remains one of my favorite things to do during the summer. This stems back to my childhood. As I have mentioned in past articles, I am one of five children. Having two sisters and two brothers always meant that the house was crazy, and my mother would do what she could to keep us outdoors.
Picnic time was a word that would stir up excitement and anticipation of having our favorite potato and egg salads, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other fabulous items that our family and friends would bring to the picnic. One tool that I continue to use to make some of my favorite picnic dishes is the egg slicer. The egg slicer is a kitchen utensil that is used to cut hardboiled eggs into uniform round slices. This kitchen utensil is typically made of aluminum or stainless steel with wire blades that slice through the egg as it rests in an oval pocket. An egg slicer can be used to create individual slices for sandwiches, salads, canapes, or other similar needs.
Even though it is somewhat of a single-purpose tool, I get more use out of a simple egg slicer than just about any other item in my kitchen. Here are a group of common kitchen ingredients that can be used with an egg slicer. Once you realize how easy it is to use the slicer over slicing manually, you’ll have a hard time going back—at least, if you’re slicing a large quantity at once, or small, slippery things like...
Whether you are team green or black, an egg slicer will make slicing olives for everything from simple salads to pizza toppings effortless. Make sure to place the appointed olive in the center of the slicer and quickly bring the slicing top to hold it securely in place before slicing it, since they can be quite slippery and apt to roll. Slicing a few olives should do the trick for most recipes that call for sliced olives.
No classic fruit salad is complete without the addition of sliced bananas. Same goes for banana pancakes. It might be easy enough to slice bananas (even without a cutting board), but having them uniform and cut in a flash is a whole other level of efficiency. This method works best with bananas that are not too ripe: cut a banana in quarters, so each piece can be sliced properly, then center the banana and press the blades down.
The egg slicer is your weapon of choice for slicing beautiful, picture-perfect pats of butter for your guests. Cut a stick of butter in quarters to make sure each piece can properly be sliced, then center the butter before slicing.
Kiwis are delicious in everything, from fruit tarts to fruit salads, but not always the easiest to cut by hand. Enter the egg slicer. Peel the skin (check out this link for the easiest way to do it!), cut the kiwis in half, then place each one in the cradle of the slicer to make uniform slices.
There is nothing better than sliced mushrooms as a pizza topping or grilled alongside a burger with onions. For an easier way to cut an entire mushroom, there is no better kitchen appliance than the egg slicer.
Sliced strawberries are extremely versatile and can go on top of anything, from pancakes to ice cream sundaes. To quickly slice an entire strawberry, center it in the cradle of the slicer; seconds later, you’ll have pretty uniform pieces for all your baking and cooking whims.
Cooked, sliced carrots add a pop of color to many meals, including salads and fried rice.
Sliced hot dogs have many uses, including being used as toppings on pizza or a great addition to chili. After cooking the hot dogs, let them cool off, then cut them into quarters so they’ll fit into the cradle of the slicer.
Whether you are making caprese salad or simply want to add some slices of mozzarella to your salad, slicing fresh mozzarella has never been simpler using an egg slicer. Place the entire ball into the slicer for a quick and painless way to get uniform slices.
You can’t beat sliced avocado on top of a fried egg or chicken tacos. And with the extra assistance of an egg slicer, your avocado slices will be much cleaner than cutting them by hand. Just place an avocado half in the slicer, then cut it in one swoop.
Wow, so many uses for a single, versatile kitchen tool! Stop by Compliments to the Chef in Saratoga Springs to pick up the kitchen accessories for your culinary needs. Take a slice of happiness with you and have a beautiful backyard outing with your family. Call or leave me an email and I can work with you on how to get you the cool tools you need. Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer. Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. We would like to thank all who have either served or are currently serving our country for your service. My father served in WWII fighting on the beaches of Normandy under General George Patton; my father-in-law served 22 years in the army, training and commanding young recruits in Korea and beyond. 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.
Now we have a new group of Heros fighting on the front lines for us. They are our Health Care Professionals, Nurses, Doctors, EMT’s, Firefighters and Police. Everyday they use their experience and risk their lives for us.
It’s sad that we may not be able to celebrate with as many of our friends as we would like but when you set this paper down look around the room at the most important people you’ll be celebrating with, your family! If the weather co-operates many of us will be grilling outside and we have a couple of tools that can be used on your grill.
The First and most important tool is a Thin Tip Thermometer.
Range is from -40F to 450F. It is for thin and thick cuts of meat with a 6 second response. Why is it important? How about E-Coli 0157:H7 or Salmonellosis? Rule of thumb is cook ground beef to a temperature of 155 degrees F for at least 15 seconds and poultry to 165 degrees F for at least 15 seconds. There are other temperatures for other foods so please check.
The second tool is the 20”x10.5” Cast Iron Reversible Griddle/Grill by Lodge.
Lodge Cast Iron has been making heirloom-quality cookware and accessories since 1896. They currently operate two foundries in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, their home since the very beginning. Backed by over 120 years of experience, each piece of Lodge cookware is crafted for durability and versatility. They don’t just make cookware — they make memories that last for generations. This 20 Inch double-burner Reversible Grill/Griddle functions as a dual cooking surface with both a smooth griddle and a ribbed grill. Fits over two stovetop burners. When used on the stove, set both burners to the same temperature for even cooking and excellent heat retention. Seasoned and ready to use.
• Seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil
• Unparalleled heat retention and even heating
• Use in the oven, on the stove, on the Grill, or over a Campfire
• Get a restaurant-quality sear
• Use to sear, sauté, bake, broil, or grill
• Made in the USA
I personally love this tool because it’s easy to clean and with the two sides, I can cook almost any food and have even heat distribution. You can make pancakes in the morning, flip it over and cook burgers and dogs in the afternoon. I can just hear Tim Allen say “UUUEEGGHH!?!”
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
While we have all been spending more time under one roof together as families and friends, the quickest way to someone’s heart has been honing our culinary skills and creating new and different food creations. There is nothing more impressive than whipping up a meal for your household. It is food that creates a home, connections, celebrations, and embraces family and friends. In creating meals, we are creating homes and a nurturing environment. The meals do not have to be fancy or gourmet. It isn’t about how special the recipe is. It is about being conscious of an important part of life and honoring that importance. By elevating the importance of food in our family’s lives, you pass that importance on to them. Families connect around the dinner table, all sharing the meal they know is just for them. They also learn the subtle ways you can say “I love you” through the daily care of mealtime.
Catching up on some of our favorite shows has been another fun item to do during our COVID-19 lockdown. Disney has offered the opportunity to watch some of the classics such as “Lady and the Tramp.” Watching this movie gave me the craving to make Spaghetti and Meatballs as one of our dinners. As one of the greatest love stories ever told, “Lady and the Tramp” is sure to melt the hearts of generations with its beloved characters, brilliant animation, memorable music and sweet sentiment. The animated treasure tells the story of Lady, a lovingly pampered cocker spaniel, and Tramp, a freewheeling mutt with a heart of gold. The best part is the creative, tender, iconic and downright romantic moment when the cocker spaniel and the schnauzer-mix in Lady and the Tramp serendipitously pull each other into a kiss when they slurp up the same noodle from a plate of spaghetti. It’s their first official date, it’s under a starry sky, there’s music, and they’re both completely oblivious about what’s about to happen until the very last moment when their lips touch!
At Compliments to the Chef, your neighborhood kitchen and cutlery store, we have several items by All-Clad that can assist with making your Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti and Meatballs dinner; the 8 Quart or the 12 Quart Multi Cooker that includes a steamer basket and a perforated pasta draining insert. The large pot works well for canning, blanching, or making large batches of soups, sauces, and stews. With the perforated insert in place, the multi cooker conveniently prepares homemade stocks, vegetables, or pasta—simply lift the insert to instantly drain. Prominent side handles ensure a secure hold when transporting the pot from the sink to the stovetop or when lifting the insert. The included steel steamer basket fits inside the insert for cooking delicate foods like vegetables or seafood.
Our prescription for a perfect evening? Whip up a pot of spaghetti and meat balls, light a few candles, stream in “Lady and Tramp,” and snuggle up with someone you love – or the whole family – and enjoy a little “Bella Notte” of your own. Finish with something sweet and a goodnight kiss. Show your love through the foods you cook. Stop by Compliments to the Chef located at 33 Railroad Place, call us or leave us an e-mail and we will work with you on how to get the culinary products you need to you. We are available to help Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
This weekend is Mother’s Day. Amid this time of lockdown, we have been given more time to connect as a family and spend more time together under one roof. Although it has been a challenging time – there are so many wonderful things I am seeing as I look at my own family and observe the families around me in my neighborhood. Families are spending much more time together doing things like playing indoor and outdoor games, learning new crafts, and honing culinary skills. Our families are feeling closer and more fulfilled. So how do we celebrate Mom this weekend? 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.” During these past weeks. many of us have been reminded of these traditions, discipline, wisdom, and nurturing of children while being under one roof together.
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 is the first one to start cooking a meal and the last to sit down for a meal? Who is still in the kitchen cleaning well after everyone else has left? What room in the house does Mom dole out free advice on dating, school, employment and dealing with disappointment? Where do some your funniest memories of Mom take place? Moms hold court in their kitchen as a judge does in his court room or 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 her how you feel about her. You cannot say “I love you Mom” enough. Mealtime is family time. Look at each other, listen to each other, tell stories, and talk about life. What ever the gift is that you give your Mom on Mother’s Day the greatest gift is the smile and love you give her. Hold onto these traditions and family time you have created over these weeks. Enjoy your time at home and make beautiful memories.
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
This coming week is Cinco de Mayo. Many of us foodies may be planning some stay at home celebrations (under one roof) 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 is 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 should not normally be able to clearly identify a 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. Please call John at 518-226-4477 to set up an appointment to assist with your culinary needs. I will greet you wearing my mask and remember Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
Sometimes you are surprised to find yourself reaching for a particular kitchen tool again and again. You often pull it, dirty, from the dishwasher and wash it by hand because you need it, right now! If you’re cooking at someone else’s house, you miss it. That’s how it is with my small whisk. I never expected this little whisk to become one of my favorite cooking tools. There are so many uses for the mini whisk.
I first fell in love with it when my kids were little, and Paula and I were teaching them how to help in the kitchen. Their eyes lit up when they saw a tool that was cool and their size. They never gave us trouble when we gave them a task.
If you’re just making a small batch of vinaigrette for a single or double serving of salad, a mini whisk is the perfect size. No need to pull out the full-size version.
Scrambled Eggs or Omelet
If you want to just whip up a couple eggs, a mini whisk is exactly the right size for a delicious omelet recipe.
If you’re just planning to make one cup of hot cocoa at a time, a mini whisk works wonders as compared to a spoon. In fact, whip it up extra quick and you’ll achieve a little froth as a bonus.
If you want to achieve a beautiful, shiny, golden brown coloring on anything from biscuits to pie crust, you’ll need to paint it with a little egg (yolk, white, or whole) wash first. And this is the perfect time to whip out that mini whisk.
You never want to over whip pancake batter lest it get too tough. For just a few servings, a mini whisk gets the job done well.
When you’re just mixing a few ingredients into a liquid base for a dipping sauce, a mini whisk is the ideal-sized utensil.
When kids are helping you out in the kitchen, a mini whisk is the perfect size for their cute little hands.
There’s no need to make things sloppy and messy by using a full-sized whisk when mixing just a few drinks.
If you’re only making a small batch of dry rub, a mini whisk fits the bill exactly.
When you need to stir your yeast into your warm liquid, nothing beats using a mini whisk to complete the job.
It may be a “mini me” but there are so many uses for this versatile tool to assist with your culinary needs. Have your little chefs help using this little tool too! At Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, located at 33 Railroad Place, we have Cool Tools for Cooks. Please call John at 518-226-4477 to set up an appointment to assist you with your culinary needs. I’ll greet you wearing my mask. Remember, we are all together under one roof during this time. “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” Have fun cooking.
John & Paula
Hello my Foodie Friends!
This past week, as Paula and I began some “spring cleaning,” I was going through our kitchen gadget drawer evaluating the tools that I use. One tool that I use on a regular basis is an instant-read thermometer. An instant-read thermometer might seem like one of those kitchen gadgets you don’t really need. Most of us cook by the seat of our pants anyhow, right? I think you’ll find that if you get a thermometer, you’ll use it a lot, and it will increase your confidence in a wide range of kitchen tasks. One of the most important reasons why we are open for a few hours a day is because we sell a lot of thermometers to restaurants in our town. Let me tell you that the chefs in this town are very serious about food safety!
Everyone should have an instant read thermometer in their kitchen, as it gives you better control over everything from chicken thighs to caramels. So named because it gives a temperature reading very quickly, an instant-read thermometer is an essential food safety and sanitation tool. An instant-read thermometer consists of a stainless steel stem that serves as a temperature probe, and either a dial or a digital readout. One advantage of the analog type (the kind with the dial) is that they can be calibrated relatively easily, so you’ll be sure of always getting a true reading.
Note that an instant-read thermometer is different from a meat thermometer. An instant-read thermometer is used for taking a quick temperature reading of an item, but you don’t leave it in the food while it cooks. A meat thermometer is inserted into a piece of meat before roasting and is left in the roast during cooking.
So, why do you need an instant read thermometer? Here are some of the things I use an instant-read thermometer for:
Checking to see if oven-baked food like lasagna is hot enough to serve (160 F is great; 140 F will do if you are in a hurry)
Making sure custard isn’t overcooked (if you get to 185 F the egg proteins will get very tough)
Food Safety 101: if you are going to keep something perishable out of the refrigerator for an extended period of time it must be below 40 F or above 140 F
Food Safety 102: make sure anything with egg yolks reaches at least 160 F to kill salmonella (especially if it will be served to the young, old, or immunocompromised)
Checking refrigerator temperatures – just stick it in your soymilk or pickle jar for a second. Try it on a few shelves; you might be surprised at the variation.
Oil temperature for deep frying.
Sugar temperature for candy.
Bread is done at about 205 F (no more knocking on the loaf and listening for a hollow sound); quickbreads around 195 F.
How do you use an Instant-Read Thermometer? An instant-read thermometer is ideal for checking the temperatures of liquids such as stocks and soups, making sure they are cooling quickly enough to minimize the growth of bacteria; or for checking the temperatures of hot foods that are being held for service on a buffet.
It can also be used to check the internal temperature of a roasting chicken. Insert the stem into the deepest part of the thigh, where it meets the breast, making sure not to hit bone. Just remember that each time you pierce the bird like this, some of its juices escape, causing it to dry out.
Avoiding Cross-Contamination: Take care to wash and sanitize the thermometer’s stem after it has been inserted into a food product (such as the undercooked poultry mentioned above) and before using it again on another item. Otherwise, you risk passing bacteria from one product to another, which is called cross-contamination.
At Compliments to the Chef, one of our favorite instant-read thermometers is the “ThermoPop” by Thermoworks. The ThermoPop offers super-fast readings within the final degree in only 3 to 4 seconds! Designed for serious chefs and professionals, the ThermoPop features big digits and a backlight for dark conditions. Molded-in seals and buttons make it splash-proof. Durable construction outlasts similarly priced pocket thermometers. Simple operation reduces user errors. Wide range is suitable for frozen foods and deep fryer testing. Accuracy is guaranteed to remain within ±2°F (1°C) up to 248°F (120°C).
What’s cooking in your kitchen Saratoga? Please call, John, at 518-226-4477 to set up an appointment to assist you is your culinary needs. I’ll greet you wearing my mask and remember, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”
John & Paula