Posts Tagged ‘kitchen tips’

Thanksgiving Countdown: Tip #3

November 13, 2017

Freeze it!

I have never been one to freeze things…I mean, if you make too much in advance, thaw and reheat it, you may as well just buy a TV dinner. That said, there are a few things that actually benefit from the deep chill. Pie crusts and biscuits to be precise. Go ahead and make your doughs now, roll them out and freeze them right in the pie or tart pan. If you are using a top crust, cut your lattice strips, decorative elements or full topper, and freeze it flat on a sheet pan. Just make sure that anything you freeze is well wrapped. Use plastic wrap and wrap in both directions to ensure that it is fully sealed and protected. Bottom crusts and biscuits can be baked frozen. Top crusts should be thawed just enough to be pliable. Frozen dough maintains its shape better and shrinks less during baking.  Brush it with a light egg wash to help it brown and you’re good to go.

It doesn’t take long to make crusts, so get them done now and save time and mess on the big day.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Thursday: Dried Fruit

December 8, 2016

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What exactly is Kitchen Tips Thursday, you may be asking? It’s when I am too busy to get the post up in time to call it Kitchen Tips Tuesday! Better late than never, right?
Today’s tip is about using dried fruit in baking. Before you stop reading, this isn’t just about fruit cake. In fact, I have never made a fruit cake, nor have I even considered it. I do however make delicious scones, and oatmeal walnut cookies, both of which use dried fruit in different ways.

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For the scones, the dried fruit (usually cranberries, but sometimes raisins, currents, dried cherries, dried blueberries or combination there of) are tossed in flour before being mixed into the dough. This is to keep them separated, and prevent them from getting sticky. This technique is often used in muffins when the fruit is fresh, as in the case of blueberry muffins, for example, to allow the fruit to disperse within the batter, rather than drop down to the bottom. Both of these items have heartier dough, and allow the fruit to become imbedded into the scone or muffin, thus protecting it from the heat of the oven.

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The opposite is the case for the cookies. My recipe calls for the dried fruit ( they use the classic raisins, but I make mine with cranberries) to be soaked in lightly beaten eggs and vanilla for an hour before getting added to the dry ingredients. This makes them plumper and prevents them from sucking the life out of the delicate cookie dough during baking. A very dry raisin will try to seek hydration from the moisture in the cookie, and it can also end up almost petrified after baking dries it out further. This method takes a bit longer ( get it started and go do something else for an hour) but it is well worth it for the end result.

Happy holiday baking!!!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Clean As You Go

January 12, 2016

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It is easy to make a big mess in the kitchen. Pots, pans, utensils, mixing bowls… they add up fast! Not to mention all of the ingredients spread out on the counters.  All that clutter can cause a bad case of kitchen chaos. Cooking, and especially baking is a methodical process. It becomes almost impossible to acheive perfection in a messy kitchen, and cleaning up becomes a chore that is unpleasant enough to drive you straight to Seamless. ( For non- New Yorkers, that means take-out!)

Here are my tips for dealing with the colossal mess that comes with cooking and baking for a crowd. Trust me on this one people. I just made 200 pink marshmallows. It doesn’t get much messier than that!

Start with a clean slate. Put away the clean dishes, wipe down the counters and empty the sink before you begin. Starting clean makes it easier to find things, and to have ample room for the task at hand.

Take out all of your ingredients. Rummaging through the cupboards with sticky hands is not the way to go. Suddenly, everything is sticky and will require you to wipe down things you wouldn’t normally have to. It also helps make sure that you have everything you need before you get started.

Wash the dishes as you go. When you are done with something, put it right into the sink to soak. Once you finish that part of the project, wash them or put them into the dishwasher. Don’t leave the mixing bowls from the cake in the sink, only to find you don’t have room to wash the lettuce for salad. It will also help you keep tabs on where things are. If you need to reuse a bowl or utensil for something else, it will be clean and ready for you.

Keep up with the wiping up! If something spills, wipe it up as soon as you can. Not only will it keep your workspace tidy, it will avoid cross contamination of foods. It is also easier to wipe up something fresh, than to try to clean it up later when it becomes dry and crusted onto things.  Been there. Done that. Not fun.

For me, cooking and baking should be a calm experience. When all hell breaks loose in the kitchen, it takes the joy out of the process. It almost always shows in the end result too. Do your self a favor, and clean as you go. Its worth it!!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sinking Fruit

March 11, 2014

Blueberry muffins

When making muffins and coffee cakes with berries, it’s preferred to have them scattered evenly throughout the pastry. How do you avoid the blueberries sinking to the bottom? Make sure they are dry, and toss them lightly in flour before mixing them into the dough. The flour will keep them afloat, until the muffin is baked and enjoyed.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cutting Herbs

February 18, 2014

Person chopping chives

When chopping fresh herbs, toss a little salt on the cutting board to keep them from flying around.
If you only need a small quantity, consider snipping the herbs with a kitchen scissors.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Over Salting

November 12, 2013

While it is best to taste as you go, sometimes we get a little carried away with the salt shaker. When soups and sauces get too salty, simply drop in a peeled potato, and continue cooking. The potato absorbs the excess salt, essentially drawing it away from the rest of the food. When you are ready to serve the dish, remove the potato and check the seasonings once again.

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Dishes which contain potatoes, may need a little extra salt when they are finished, since the potatoes will have soaked it most of what was initially added.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Deveining Shrimp

September 24, 2013

We love shrimp; deveining them, not so much. This quick trick made the dirty and tedious job much easier. All you need is a pair of kitchen scissors.

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How to peel and devein shrimp:

Use kitchen shears to cut along the top of the shrimp. Squeeze the tail and gently pull it off, and then peel back the shell. Pull the now exposed “vein” from the shrimp and put it on a paper towel. Be sure to rinse the shrimp under cool water afterwards, to ensure that all the unwanted debris gets washed away.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Iced Tea

August 13, 2013

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I love to make homemade iced tea. It is so easy, economical and free of all the crap added to commercially made stuff. My iced tea recipe has only 2 ingredients: water, and tea. Lemon or sugar can be added to taste.

Simply boil the water, and add several tea bags, and it allow it to steep. Make sure it cools fully before refrigerating, or it will get cloudy. Remove the tea bags before storing to avoid the tea from tasting bitter.

Pretty simple, and hardly worth a full blown post. So what’s the big deal? The little trick I use to keep the boiling hot water from cracking the glass pitcher.

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Insert a large metal mixing spoon into the pitcher before pouring the hot water in. The metal spoon will absorb some of the heat, preventing the glass from breaking.

Easy. Simple. Great to know.

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Measuring Dry Ingredients

July 30, 2013

Here at Indigo Jones, we are big on the “unrecipe.” When cooking, we like to be flexible and use instinct to get the right amount of flavor to suit our palate. Baking is another story. Being casual with measurements can prove catastrophic.

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When measuring dry ingredients, such as flour for baking, it is important to be consistent, to get consistent results.

We like to use the fluff, stuff and level method:
Fluff up the flour, scoop it into a measuring cup, and level it off with a knife. It’s easy, and effective.

Other ingredients, such as brown sugar need to be packed firmly into the cup when measuring, to ensure the correct amount.

Using these techniques will help ensure perfect baked goods every time!

photo: Glasshouse Images 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Rescue a Burning Sauce

July 16, 2013

Serving Spoons Hanging over Stovetop

It happens to the best of us: we walk away from a slow cooking sauce , and before we know it, we smell something burning. Don’t panic; that chili or pasta sauce is still salvageable!

Resist the temptation to stir it, and quickly remove it from the heat. Pour the sauce into a clean pot, leaving the burnt part behind. The food will not have picked up the burned flavor and will continue to cook as if nothing ever happened.

photo: glasshouse images

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