Archive for the ‘Tools and Techniques’ Category

My favorite pan

December 4, 2008
10 Lodge Cast Iron

10" Lodge Cast Iron

A few years back, I was living in eastern Washington, where only the most intrepid friends and family members came to visit.  One such adventurous soul was CW, who brought me a copy of The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, thinking that, the sort of cook I was, surely I’d have a cast iron pan or two around.  But though I had gotten rid of everything non-stick several years before, at that point I only had a set of stainless steel Revere-ware and some other miscellaneous SS things.  No worries though, because CW also needed a chicken waterer, so we headed out to Ranch & Home, an all-purpose everything sort of store:  chicken waterers, gun safes, Justin boots, cast iron pans inside; hot tubs and livestock trailers in the parking lot.



Handy holiday hint

November 22, 2008

I’ve been on a cream gravy kick lately and, with the gravy-making potential of Thanksgiving just days away, wanted to share this tip for smoother, faster gravy:  have your liquid as hot as possible, before you add it to the roux.  Whether it’s stock, or milk, or wine, or coffee, or some mixture, heat it up.  Adding hot liquid to hot roux helps keep things smooth and thickens things up quicker.  Adding cold milk or whatever to hot fat-n-flour is a recipe for lumps and longer stirring.

Tiny Pies!

November 22, 2008

Link sent by my crafty friend E:  Tiny Pies Baked in Jars!  Also, canned cupcakes, a more portable riff on the office mug cake!

Getting to be that baking time of year…

September 19, 2008

It was overcast today, and cool, after weeks of sunny days.  I have a new kitchen I’m trying to sort out, and making my favorite tried-n-true recipes is an excellent way of figuring out the oven.  A friend is coming over tomorrow so I can sharpen her knives, and it would be nice to have some treats in the house.  My giant cast iron pan really really needs reseasoning, and if I’m going to heat the oven up anyway….

So many reasons to bake brownies.  (Like I needed more than 1.)


Roast chicken, asparagus, and hollandaise

May 2, 2008

First, roast a chicken. You can do this several days in advance. Get a nice 5 pound or so bird, pasture-raised if possible. Rinse it inside and out and dry it thoroughly (paper towels or a hair dryer, or leave it uncovered overnight in the fridge. Set in a shallow roasting pan breast-side up (put it on a rack if you want, I don’t generally use one), and sprinkle generously with thyme and lightly with cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Let it sit while the oven heats up to 450 deg F.


Rub your hands on the pan

March 11, 2008

Today’s tip:  Get rid of the smell of garlic or onions from your hands by rubbing them on wet stainless steel.  A pan, the sink, the faucet, the knife blade (carefully).  I don’t know why it works, but it does.  Some fancy kitchen place actually sells a block of stainless to keep at the sink; no need to spend $ on that, just fondle a utensil.

Dry before you fry

March 8, 2008

Tip for today: Whether it’s mushrooms you want to saute, cabbage you want to stir-fry, steak you want to sear, or potatoes you’re deep-frying, dry it as thoroughly as possible before you fry it. Reasons: Spattering will be reduced. When there’s moisture on the surface, it will boil into steam and insulate the surface of your food from the oil. (If your steaks and stew beef end up more gray than carmelized brown, this is probably why.)

It’s also a good idea to let the food come to room temperature if possible. Moisture condenses more readily on the surface of cold things, the lower differential temperature between the food and the oil means faster cooking, and since you are going to be cooking it at a high temperature, surface bacteria will be destroyed. A bad idea for any ground meat though, unless you are going to cook it very thoroughly.

Torta de Boda por <$60

February 19, 2008

This past week I was tasked with building a wedding cake for 12–15 revelers, with a budget of $60 and a time-limit of two days. The wedding was informal, intimate, and quick, and the cake was – more or less – the only concession to tradition. As such, there was some expectation of conservative design and smooth-white styling, orchid bouquets and a celebratory couple on the top tier. There was also an assumption that I, braggart chef that I am, would be able to turn in such a thing without a hitch. No worry, right?