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

Thursday, 09 April 2020 12:45

Pop On Over

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Most people fall into a rut when it comes to bread options. However, Popovers can be a deceptively simple item that will impress your family and friends and tickle their taste buds. Not only are popovers cost effective, they’re also a breeze to make as long as you follow a few simple rules: make sure the pan is hot before pouring in the batter, don’t fill the cups more than half full, and no opening the oven while they’re baking.

Having the correct pan is important to making airy popovers with golden domes. The secret is how the batter lies in the pan. Popover pans are used for making popovers. They are specially constructed to convey the heat directly to the batter, which needs to be added to a hot pan, similar to the way Yorkshire puddings are made. Popover pans are also made with tall, narrow cups, which create a distinctive shape. This creates steam that helps the popovers expand and become light and hollow on the inside. Then you can stuff them with things. A popover pan is deep with steep-sided wells.  This forces the batter upwards creating puffy domes and crispy sides. Investing in a real popover pan eventually starts to feel quite justifiable. These tins are really only useful for making popovers, but oh, what beautiful popovers they make! The trick is to make sure the pan is very hot before you add the butter and the batter.

At Compliments to the Chef, we carry popover pans from Nordicware and USA Pan.  Both the Nordicware pan and USA Pan’s are made in the U.S.A. These pans are designed to allow maximum airflow so popovers reach their full height. 

The next time you are not sure what to pop on over with to visit a friend or a family member, or to serve as a bread option, think about a creative popover to serve with the meal. During this challenging time – popovers may be a fun and creative way to add to your meal planning. Please call John at 518-226-4477 to set up an appointment to assist you’re your culinary needs. I’ll greet you wearing my mask and remember, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON PopOvers

Published in Food
Thursday, 02 April 2020 12:59

Do You Want To Wok?

Hello my Foodie Friends!

First let me thank all of you that have stopped in personally to let me know that you enjoy this column. Your kind words and well wishes have inspired me to keep coming back each week with new stories from the kitchen. I recall a recent visit from a young lady who come in and asked me for help buying cookware. It seems that there is something called “The Engagement Meal.”  This works by cooking your significant other a great meal so they will finally propose.  The young man in question had been taking a long time to pop the question. There is a lot of great karma in this strategy. As I discussed options for cookware, it brought me back to the first time my wife cooked for me. 

I still remember the candles and the gleam in her eyes. It was chicken and fried dough that we had picked up at a local farmers market. There were green beans and potatoes too. I called my mom and she said eat everything on your plate because it will mean a lot to her. Yes, I was a lucky young man at least that is what the emergency room doctor told me the next day. It seems I had salmonella poisoning but that is when I knew she was the one for me.  She tried her best and I remember the love she put into it and how she held my hand as they loaded me in the ambulance. Although the dinner was a learning curve for her, today she is an awesome cook.  So ladies or gentlemen it is the thought and trying that matters. A cooking vessel that may have helped with my special dinner would have been the Chinese Wok – a must have for your kitchen. 

A wok is a wide bowl shaped cooking vessel with handles used commonly in Chinese and Asian cooking. The types of foods generally cooked in woks are stir frying, stewing, boiling, braising and steaming. Compliments to the Chef carry a large assortment of high quality woks and Stir Fry’s that suit the needs of the Asian cooking enthusiast. Some of the best companies carry this cookware Joyce Chen, Helen Chen (her daughter), All-Clad, Lodge just to name a few. Carbon Steel or Cast Iron are my favorites.  They both spread heat evenly and are easy to clean up.  Though Cast Iron woks are superior to carbon steel woks in heat retention and uniform heat distribution and also allow forming a more stable layer of seasoning which makes it less prone to food sticking on the pan.  Carbon Steel woks are a little less expensive and still perform very well.  Although there are several sizes my customers usually prefer the 12” or 14” woks. It allows for big and small cooking. The handles are designed to stay cool on the stovetop, so you can easily remove the pan from the burner without using potholders. Its curved sides diffuse heat and extend the cooking surface, which helps with tossing and stirring. The great depth allows ample room to cook a whole fish, if so desired. Simmering, deep frying, or steaming, are just a few of its multiple uses. Season them with vegetable oil before use and after cleaning. Where ever your tastes take you this pan can deliver. 

Call us at Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store for those cool tools to help you with your special dinner. We’re open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday on an appointment basis and knocking at the door. We only let one person in at a time and practice social distancing. Also knife sharpening is still available! 

Oh and when you’re looking into each other’s eyes from across the table remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” 

 Take Care,
John & Paula

REARDON ShrimpPadThai

Published in Food
Thursday, 26 March 2020 12:50

Together Under One Roof

Hello my Foodie Friends!

We are certainly in an unprecedented time. Going to the grocery store has taken on a new meaning. This stuff makes us smile or chuckle or laugh out loud, exactly what we need as we face an unknown future amid the most serious disruption of our normal daily routine. Stress, boredom and a natural appreciation for culinary pleasures is sending millions under home confinement to the same place – back to the basics of cooking at home. For some, that means a new challenge of cooking from scratch more than usual (if that’s you, you might find solace in cooking from the pantry or freezer). But for those who have always loved cooking as both a respite from the news and a creative hobby, being inside during a pandemic presents a unique opportunity to get cozy with finicky and time-intensive recipes and kitchen skills that have previously been hard to carve out time to try. 

This is a time to do some of the things that you have put off for so long being challenged on time. Since we are all together under one roof; getting back to the basics takes on a new meaning. 

Cooking can be a way to nurture your self and learn things and stay active. It can be therapeutic focusing on that recipe you have always wanted to try, instead of thinking about the other worries you may have.

During this time of crisis and uncertainty; stay connected through cooking as a family, call your family and friends, and get back to the roots of cooking at home and eating as a family. Realize that this is a short period of time, and will change. Take time to lay low, smile and enjoy each other. Put some music on, dance, sing, and cook together under one roof. 

We at Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store try to live by the definition of family (we consider our foodie friends our family). While the direct legal and genetic relationships you share with others can help you create your definition of family, there is more to family relationships than these basic concepts. A true family provides emotional and spiritual kinship through our shared values, beliefs, and tradition, our common interests and experiences, and being a support during difficult times like these (acting as inspiration and giving unconditional friendship). Please call our store phone number (leave a message) if you need culinary items that we may stock. We can work out how to get them to you. 

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON BoozieTruffles

REARDON SweetPotatoRolls

Published in Food
Thursday, 19 March 2020 13:19

Happiness is... Cheesecake

Hello my Foodie Friends!

I love cheesecake. There I said it. I think my love of cheesecake stems from early in my childhood watching my relatives entertain and cheesecake being one of those wonderful dessert items that was served with coffee after the meal.  As a child, I was given a piece if I was good. Being one of five children, that was often times a challenge. So, why do so many people love to eat cheesecake? Cheesecake is creamy and yummy and can please some of the most discerning taste buds. The cheesecake has evolved with so many recipes over the years adopting ingredients from family traditions, or by adding fillings or flavors making it a personalized treat. Making cheesecake can be easy. The ingredients and the recipe can be flexible.

Cheesecake can be a unique global dessert. Each region of the world also has its own take on the best way to make the dessert. Italians use ricotta cheese, while the Greeks use mizithra or feta. Germans prefer cottage cheese, while the Japanese use a combination of cornstarch and egg whites. There are specialty cheesecakes that include blue cheese, seafood, spicy chilies and even tofu! In spite of all the variations, the popular dessert’s main ingredients – cheese, wheat and a sweetener –remain the same. No matter how you slice it, cheesecake is truly a dessert that has stood the test of time. From its earliest recorded beginnings on Samos over 4,000 years ago to its current iconic status around the world this creamy cake remains a favorite for sweet tooth’s of all ages.

To help make a cheesecake, you do need very important tools – the Spring form Pan.

Spring form pans are a kitchen essential for producing flawlessly smooth cheesecakes, perfectly crusted tarts, or intricate ice cream cakes without damage to their tops, bottoms, or sides. Meant to eliminate the risks associated with removing cakes from traditional pans, removing your product from the pan is the final step before placing your delicate treats on display, serving to your family or guests, or packaging them to go.

Many people ask me how I won Paula’s heart and I tell them on our first date I brought a dozen Red Roses and a cheesecake to meet her Mom and Dad.  When I entered their home carrying both of them Paula said, “Wow, how did you know my mom loves cheesecake?” Thinking quick on my feet, I looked at Paula’s mom and said “here I got these for you!”   Paula’s mom quickly responded: “no one ever gets me flowers and cheesecake!” Her dad (retired Army Master Sergeant) just smiled at me and said in his southern drawl: “nice job young man”.  I was on a roll with my improvising and I told them that, in my family, it is a custom to give gifts to the mom.  So my sage advice to all young suitors out there is take care of the Mom and good things will follow. 

Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place. We have an assortment of spring form pans and accessories to assist with adding that special dessert to your menu. Remember my Food Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON BrownieCaramelCheesecake









 

Published in Food
Thursday, 12 March 2020 15:29

Bring on the Corned Beef and Cabbage

Hello my Foodie Friends!

The upcoming week includes a very fun holiday; it is St. Patrick’s Day. My mother, who was Italian, used to say “Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s day.”  My father, who was Irish, always agreed because if he didn’t he ran the risk of not getting her delicious Corned Beef and Cabbage. So here is to all of our “Irish” lads and lassies.

So how did Corned Beef and Cabbage become an American dish served on St. Patrick’s Day? From the Middle Ages until sometime in the 19th century, the Irish were known for producing salted meats. It was actually considered their specialty. Most of the salted meats created in Ireland were done so for trade. The salted meats were deemed too luxurious for the poor Irish, so it went out of the country and the Irish would have to resort to other measures for meaty pleasure.  The closest and cheapest thing the Irish could get their hands on in terms of cured meats was salt pork — meat that’s similar to bacon. It was a staple for the Irish, and could be found in almost every home. As the Irish migrated to the United States, they couldn’t find salt pork in their new home, and bacon, the closest substitute, was insanely expensive. Thus, they turned to corned beef. It was the one thing Irish immigrants would eat in the U.S. because it reminded them of home.

The truth is, most Irish folks don’t eat corned beef and cabbage nowadays. However it’s become a tradition Irish-Americans readily adopted, and welcomed as part of the Irish-American heritage we have here now.

Preparing Corned Beef and Cabbage does require some essential tools. As you look for tools to use to make your Corned Beef and Cabbage; you may need a Dutch oven or a stock pot, and a good chef (cooks knife). The chef’s knife (sometimes called a cook’s knife) is the most important knife to have in your kitchen and within your knife collection. A chef’s knife is the go-to tool for more than 90 percent of daily kitchen tasks including most slicing and dicing of fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish. And while a chef’s knife may be the “king of the kitchen,” it should not be used to butcher or carve poultry, to remove the skin of large vegetables such as butternut squash, or, as some people have tried, to puncture a hole in cans. The broadness of a chef’s knife blade makes it unwieldy for tasks better suited to a smaller knife.

Many of our customers ask me what is the best brand knife to have. Choosing a chef’s knife “is like a dance partner.” A knife that feels comfortable and graceful in your hand might feel klutzy to someone else. When you start shopping for that perfect chef’s knife—one that will make slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing more pleasurable, precise, and effortless—it’s important to identify your personal preferences, and to realize that there isn’t one knife that’s right for everyone. Finding your ideal knife might take a little time, but you’ll know it when you’ve found it. Once you’ve got a knife in your hand you should immediately get a sense of its fit. It should feel comfortable, like a natural extension of your hand. It should inspire confidence, not instill fear. If it feels wrong, move on. If it feels pretty good; start chopping (or mock chopping), noting how you respond to the knife’s physical characteristics.

Weight: You’ll need to try several knives to find your ideal knife weight. One school of thought believes a hefty chef’s knife cuts through foods easier because it “falls” with more force. Another thinks a lighter chef’s knife flows more freely and lets you maneuver the knife more skillfully. Bottom line: Choose the style that feels right to you.

Balance: “Perfect balance” is in the palm of the beholder. Judge balance by gripping the knife by its handle. If it feels uncomfortably weighted toward the back of the handle or toward the blade, then it probably isn’t for you. An unbalanced knife will make you work harder. Side-to-side balance is also important. When you come down on the blade, the knife shouldn’t feel unstable, as if it wants to teeter toward one side or the other.

Size: An 8-inch chef’s knife is the most popular among home cooks because of its versatility. A 10-incher’s longer blade can cut more volume but may feel intimidating. A 6-inch chef’s knife can offer an element of agility, like that of a paring knife, but falls short when working with volume or when slicing through something large, like a watermelon.

As you prepare for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration events, stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, and let us help you choose the best knife for you. We carry some of the best knives made in the world. As you celebrate, be sure to compliment the chef and the host: 

“Corned beef and cabbage and leprechaun men. Colorful rainbows hide gold at their end. Shamrocks and clovers with three leaves plus one. Dress up in green—add a top hat for fun. Steal a quick kiss from the lasses in red. A tin whistle tune off the top of my head. Friends, raise a goblet and offer this toast— ‘The luck of the Irish and health to our host!’” - Richelle E. Goodrich

Remember my Foodie Friends “Life Happens in the Kitchen!”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON CornedBeefCabbage








 

Published in Food
Thursday, 05 March 2020 14:32

You're Waffle-y Cute

Hello my Foodie Friends!

How many of you like to eat breakfast foods any time of the day?  As a child, one of my favorite breakfast items was and still is waffles. I love the smell of cooking waffles when you walk into the kitchen. One of our family treats was waffles on Sunday morning. My mother would offer to put blueberries, strawberries, bananas and various fruits on our waffles. I have always loved waffles’ crispy wafer surface, soft interior and tiny golden pockets filled with maple syrup. The waffles of my dreams (and by now you realize this is nearing psychedelic-flashback territory), include the proper waffles are dark golden brown, crisp and served with butter melting into the square holes, maybe a salty pork product nearby such as bacon and real maple syrup. I would beg for a scoop of ice cream on top – but that idea was quickly nixed.

Waffles have been a favorite food for hundreds of years, possibly dating back to the 13th Century. Although Waffles were brought to Pennsylvania centuries ago by German settlers, they are experiencing a modern-day comeback that extends long after sunrise. There are many new food concepts out there that include creative approaches to waffles as an all day food. It is safe to say that Americans have developed a bit of a fascination, perhaps an obsession of making waffles a novelty breakfast item to decadent masterpieces. The first waffle irons with the characteristic honeycomb pattern appeared in the 1200’s when a craftsman designed and forged cooking irons. Original irons featured a hinged design. Consequently, the batter was poured in, pressed together, and cooked over an open hearth fire. Making crisp and fluffy homemade waffles has gotten easier since the days when you had to hold a long-handled waffle iron in the fire to get them perfectly browned. Modern waffle makers require little more effort than plugging them in and heating them up, but it can take a little practice to effortlessly turn out golden grids that pair perfectly with real maple syrup or crunchy fried chicken. A generously oiled and preheated waffle maker should produce an irresistible result every time.

We carry several types of Waffle makers by All-Clad. The All-Clad Waffle Maker cooks generous Belgian waffles at the same time. It features advanced heating technology for homogeneous browning; moreover, 7 levels of browning are possible. The steam release system prevents condensation buildup as waffles bake, for crispy outside and fluffy inside waffles. The ready to cook light signals when to add batter and the audible signal indicates when waffles are ready. The non-stick plates are easy to clean. An overflow batter tray put at the back of the cooking plate avoids mess. Another option is the delicious round waffles. 

I never met a waffle I didn’t like. After hearing the ways waffles can answer the never-ending “What’s for dinner?” question or liven up a winter party, you’ll never look at a box of Eggos the same way again. Who says waffles are just for breakfast? You could eat them for lunch, dinner and dessert too. Here are some ideas: 

Chicken and Bacon Waffles: Call it a meat-lovers waffle. Top your waffle with fried chicken and crispy bacon, and even mix bacon into the waffle batter. Save it for a lazy Sunday morning when you don’t have to leave the couch too quickly.

Waffled Brioche French Toast: If you’re the type who always waffles (har har) between French toast and waffles on the diner menu, you can get the best of both worlds at home. Pop a chunky slice of brioche in the waffle iron, and you’ll wind up with crispy divots (perfect for flooding with syrup) and maintain the fluffy, chewy texture typical of French toast.

Waffled Banana Bread: Banana bread is another morning favorite that can get a waffle update. Pour banana-bread batter straight into the waffle iron for a treat that’s both new and familiar — and cooks in way less time than typical banana bread.

Breakfast Grilled Cheese: Waffles to-go sounds like a trick until you realize that two waffles can sandwich all the gooey stuff (cream cheese and jam) inside for a handheld breakfast. 

There are so many options to make with a waffle maker. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Pl. to pick up the essentials to make culinary delights. Have fun in the kitchen; tell that special someone they are “Waffle-y Cute.”  Remember my Foodie Friends “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON HamCheeseWaffles







 

Published in Food
Thursday, 27 February 2020 13:49

Hole in the World

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Over the years, Paula and I have been blessed with many wonderful people who have been an important part of our life. It is never easy to say goodbye to an incredible person who has passed away.  This month, our Saratoga Springs, Culinary, and Compliments to the Chef family lost an amazing chef and friend; Chef and Professor Rocco Verrigni to a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Our tribute is to a man, that from the moment we met him, had an amazing impact on my life, my wife Paula and on our entire culinary community. 

My friendship began with Rocco many years ago when he and I would be part of a refreshment center at a sports event. Rocco would make his family recipe for Macaroni Pie (the recipe is included). We would share stories of work in the restaurant/ hospitality industry. Our understanding of Rocco’s contributions to the culinary world continued as Paula entered into higher education academics working as a professor for SUNY Delhi on the SUNY Schenectady campus. Rocco’s influence and impact on the culinary and hospitality programs at SUNY Schenectady remain prevalent within each student, instructor, and administrator on that campus. Upon retirement, Rocco became a strong advocate and presence within our Compliments to the Chef family. Rocco or “Chef Rocco” as we called him, conducted many product and “how to” demonstrations for us. He always brought a level of genuine interest in our business, how we could service our community as a culinary resource, and how he could help and be part of what we are. We valued his insight, interest in certain products, and experience that he brought with him through our conversations and discussions as to what to carry in the store. Along with his foodie stories, came loving stories of his family gatherings and his close friendship to Singer/Musician Jeff Brisbin, a person who is now a good friend of our store. During Chef Rocco’s demo’s he would insist on proper knife skills such as knowing how to julienne a carrot with a paring knife before learning to use a mandoline slicer. When we challenged him on the consistency of size, he quickly produced a perfect julienne carrot from a paring knife. 

As Rocco worked through his illness, he focused on getting back to the true basics of how food is created, using very authentic approaches to recipes making everything from scratch, and realizing the nutritional value of everything that he made. Many of the skill sets he would demo in our store were based on the basics; knife skills, pasta making, stock-making and soups, and the focus on the products he used within our store demonstrations. 

Rocco leaves behind a spirit that embraced the life of an incredible person. He approached his illness with grace, integrity, strength, optimism, and courage. Values that truly reflected the good man he was. There is a “hole in the world” and a hole in our lives. Our hearts go out to his wife Karen and the Verrigni family. We are so thankful to have had Rocco as part our lives. His friendship, support, expertise, and genuineness as a good person will be with us forever. Remember my Food Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” For Rocco; the kitchen was his contribution to us; leaving a legacy in the culinary world and academics. I have included his recipe that was posted in the Daily Gazette in an interview with Rocco on December 16, 2015.  I had his Grandma’s Macaroni Pie; it is fabulous.

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON MacaroniPie






 

Published in Food
Thursday, 20 February 2020 13:50

It’s In The Cargo

Hello my Foodie Friends!

During these winter days, many individuals try to take a break to different parts of the country or world especially to the “warmer” sections of the globe. Although Saratoga is not considered “tropical” it does draw many travelers throughout the year. We enjoy talking to many of our culinary guests and hearing about what can be eventful travels from afar. Most recently, a couple from New Zealand shared a story about their son that brought back memories of a family vacation we had to Disney. 

Back in 2004, going through security at the airport had become a planned task to anticipate when beginning your travels.  My son was 12 and my daughter was 9 at the time.  I was bound to a wheel chair having just had surgery on my foot.  Security had chosen our family randomly to do a full security check. We all moved to the side and cooperated with the officers who held wands in their hands to check us.  My wife, daughter, and I all went through quickly. However, as I glanced to find my son – he was being held by one of the security officers.  We stood watching as the officer placed his wand and tapped on my son’s pocket of his cargo pants.  My son reached into his pocket and pulled out a bag of candy.  The guard then moved to the other pocket of my son’s pants and tapped on the pocket.  My son pulled out another bag of candy.  At this point my wife and I looked at each other wondering why my son packed all of this candy – since he never ate it and we rarely had it in the house. The security check was not quite over. The security officer continued to tap all of the pockets in my son’s cargo pants.  As you may know – cargo pants have many pockets.  My wife and I stood with our mouths open and were laughing each time my son reached into his pockets and pulled out more and more candy!! We could not believe what we saw. The security officer tried not to laugh as we kept proclaiming amazement of what we saw.  Once we made it past airport security – our vacation was incredible with many wonderful memories to add to our candy cargo stop. 

My son was able to keep all of the candy he had stashed away like a squirrel.  To this day – we are not quite sure why he had that much candy on him since he was and is still not a big candy eater. 

So how does this story tie into the culinary world? Chefs both professional and for those who just enjoy cooking find that storing and carrying their knives to cooking events or various locations can be a task and must be properly done. Chefs love their knives. They carry them everywhere in knife rolls, which are bags designed to house a whole bunch of very sharp knives in the safest and most discreet way possible.

You may not think you need to carry around knives and other kitchen tools. But if you’re planning a blowout barbecue at your summer rental house, or a camping trip that will involve fireside cooking, you should consider getting a knife roll.  For many, bringing knives and culinary tools with them to where they are traveling or cooking is considered precious cargo. Consider a knife bag as a way of assisting with those travels. 

We welcome our many visitors to Saratoga Springs, New York and look forward to hearing more of the fun stories that exist in traveling. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store to assist with your culinary needs.  We carry “cool tools” for the chef on the go.  Remember: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON BeefStroganoff





 

Published in Food
Thursday, 13 February 2020 15:49

Language of Food

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Guess what today is: Yes, it’s Valentines Day and I know the quickest way to someone’s heart is great cooking. There is nothing more impressive than whipping up a romantic meal for your partner. 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.

One of our favorite dishes is to make is Eggplant Parmigiana. When my wife Paula was at the end of her due dates for our children, she was always encouraged by the Italian women in the family to eat Italian food to induce her labor. We won’t promise you that by eating Eggplant Parmigiana you are guaranteed to go into labor, but according to some of the old Italian wives tales, it may be just the trick to get your baby’s show on the road. Ironically enough, Paula did eat Eggplant prior to each time she went into labor (early or not). Making Eggplant Parmigiana can be a tedious task of slicing and prepping.  Do you have a mandoline hiding in the back of your pantry, just begging to be used? Essentially, you can accomplish much of a mandoline’s work with a steady hand and a sharp knife. However, when slicing up zucchini ribbons, slicing eggplant or shredding brussel sprouts, mandolines cut prep time down significantly and promise consistent, even results. And they’re fun to use; especially when you need to create consistently thick or thin slices for your favorite recipe. At Compliments to the Chef we carry several different brands of mandolines. The OXO Good Grips mandoline is a perfect tool for home chefs. It is a trusty tool through thick and thin (produce). Slice or julienne cucumbers, potatoes and more with a turn of the comfortable dial on the Chef’s Mandoline Slicer.  We also carry mandolines by Zyllis and the Asian style Benriner. Each mandoline includes a food holder that protects hands and the stainless steel blade quickly makes even slices. All blades store safely on board and are removable for easy cleaning. With this easy-to-use mandoline, hands and fingers stay away from sharp blades at all times. Most mandolines come with three or four slicing blades beyond the basic blade. These allow you to slice paper thin, a little thicker (think potato chips), thick julienne (think french fries), and thin julienne. If you’re not sure how your blades will slice, invest in a few potatoes and try each setting out. It’s usually a good idea to have a few extra veggies on hand when you’re learning to use your mandoline as well so you can get the hang of the whole process. 

At Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, we have items that can assist with making your Valentine’s Dinner. 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 and let us know how we can help you with your culinary needs. Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” Happy Valentines Day!

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON EggplantParm




 

Published in Food
Thursday, 06 February 2020 14:28

A Single Serving

Hello my Foodie Friends!

The focus and awareness of single servings has been on the rise. Factors and benefits such as convenience, freshness, and dietary awareness have a major appeal to everyday consumers. Now more then ever individuals are placing importance on elements such as convenience and dietary awareness. Everyone ranging from busy families on the go to people dealing with the everyday chaos of life can take advantage of the handiness that single-serve products provide! Single-serve cooking can assist with the emphasis being placed on leading healthier lifestyles. Single-serve products provide the health and wellness many are looking for. Portion and calorie control are much easier for on-the-go consumers to calculate, which offers convenience.

The Ramekin is an item we sell at Compliments to the Chef that can help you with your quest for single servings. What, exactly, is a “ramekin?” A ramekin is a small, single-serving sized small mould or dish, traditionally round with a fluted exterior, in which ramekins or other individual portions of food, such as soufflés or mousses, are baked and served; (also) a small container for an individual serving of sauce.

Typically made of ceramics, ramekins are small bowls that are often associated with custard desserts. Yet there are a wide variety of uses for ramekins in your kitchen. They can be used to mix a small amount of ingredients, hold snacks or serve dips and salsas. You can also use ramekins to bake many different foods -- from sweets to main dishes. This is particularly beneficial if you’re watching your weight because eating from these small bowls will help you manage portion size, a key component in controlling caloric intake.

There are so many uses for a ramekin. Here are a few:

You can bake eggs in a ramekin.  Eggs have been put on the bad food list in the past, but the truth is that they are a good protein option for starting your day. The cholesterol in eggs is in the yokes, so if that’s a concern you can always use just egg whites. Use ramekins to bake eggs as an alternative to the typical fried or scrambled eggs. Just crack an egg into a ramekin coated in nonstick cooking spray, pour one tablespoon of low-fat milk over it and season as desired. Try adding shredded low-fat cheese or Canadian bacon. You can also put vegetables like spinach, tomatoes or diced peppers on the bottom of the ramekin before adding the egg. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. The temperature of the egg should reach 160 degrees F, according to safety guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bread pudding is usually a decadent dessert, but you can fit it into your healthy diet. Using your favorite bread pudding recipe and preparing it in ramekins allows you to have a small single serving, keeping calories under control. You can also experiment with swapping some of the ingredients to boost nutritional value. For example, use whole wheat bread and low-fat milk instead of white bread and heavy cream or whole milk. Recipes like the pear bread pudding featured in “The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook” uses these substitutes as well as several spices to make a healthier, flavorful dish.

Mini pot pies and meatloaves: Portion control and attractive food presentation are both advantages you’ll get when preparing main dishes in ramekins. Serving a personal pot pie or meatloaf to your family will likely be a hit, especially for kids. You can still prepare your recipes for these classics as usual and then divide the prepared food among the ramekins before baking. You may need to cut down the amount of your original recipe, however, if you plan to use only a few ramekins. If you’re concerned about grease filling up the ramekins when cooking mini meatloaves, try placing a piece of bread — preferably somewhat stale or toasted — in the bottom of the dish. The bread will absorb a large amount of the grease. It will also help to use leaner ground beef; try to use 90 to 93 percent lean.

Fruit desserts: Ramekins are ideal for many classic desserts, such as custards, mousses and even mini baked cheesecakes. They also work well for baking individual fruit desserts, such as crisps and cobblers. Crisps use a topping primarily made with dried oats while cobblers are flour based. An additional advantage to preparing desserts this way is that you can use a variety of fruits to prepare several different crisps or cobblers at once.

One of our favorite uses for ramekins is for single servings of mac n cheese. Mac n cheese is down home comfort food and it makes you feel all warm and cozy. These little ramekins are ideal for individual servings of mac n cheese. 

Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs to pick up an array of sizes of ramekins and cool tools to assist you with your culinary needs. Enjoy those ridiculously delicious single serving creations. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” 

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON MacCheeseRamekins



 

Published in Food
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