Tag Archives: Kitchen Shears

10 Essential Kitchen Tools

10 Essential Kitchen Tools_Foodie for TwoAside from having loved ones join you, or sipping a glass of wine, there are two things that can make time spent in the kitchen more enjoyable: the right tools available and mise en place (everything in place) – or the prep work already done.  Instead of food today, I have a peek into my kitchen with some favorite tools that help make cooking a little easier.  There are a lot more than 10 tools in my arsenal but these are at the top of my list.  First, having at least one good quality sharp kitchen knife goes without saying and will always be my #1 essential kitchen tool.  Here are a few of my essentials:

Garlic PressGarlic Press
Garlic presses have gotten a bad rap over the years.  I bought into the hype that a chef’s knife was the only way to chop (or mince or mash) garlic cloves at home and have officially bucked the trend by going old school.  One of my favorite new tools from 2012 was a Kuhn-Rikon garlic press.  It’s Swiss-made and a design marvel; ergonomically easy to squeeze, the compartment swings open completely allowing for simple clean-up.

Set of Mixing Bowls
I love my glass nesting mixing bowls because they are all in one place, have various sizes and convenient to use.  If I had the room, I would add a set of stainless steel bowls.

Wire WhisksWire Whisks
Never underestimate the value of a good whisk.  Look for well-balanced, strong handles, firm whisks and a good overall weight.  Plastic covered whisks help protect the pan surface and won’t scratch.

Parchment Paper (Costco)
Oh, what would I do without my parchment paper!  I was first introduced to it in the culinary world and have been smitten ever since.  It is the perfect liner for sheet pans to roast vegetables or bake cookies, and the best way to cook bacon without the mess or splatter.

Here’s how I cook bacon in the oven: Heat oven to 375º and line a sheet pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overlap the edges (helps keep the grease contained).  Separate the bacon slices and place on the sheet pan in a single layer.  Cook the bacon for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and crispy, turning slices over once during baking.  For easy clean-up, let the pan cool, gather up the paper and toss.

Sheet Pans
I prefer the heavy duty pans (12” x1 7”) that don’t warp in the oven heat, and adore my quarter sheet (9” x 12”) pan for cooking smaller items.

Kitchen ShearsKitchen Shears
I like the versatility of kitchen shears because they make the task of quick cutting a breeze.  They’re great for snipping chives, scallions and herbs, or cutting bacon lardons or chicken strips.

RamekinsRamekins
Whether it’s for cooking crème brulee, individual macaroni and cheese or French onion soup, ramekins are just the right size, cook food evenly and clean up easily.  They also come in handy for mise en place by keeping your ingredients organized.

Measuring SpoonsSilicone Spoons
Sauteéing and stirring is made easier with these heavy-duty, well-balanced spoons from Tovolo.  They are stain resistant and dishwasher safe.  Plus they come in all kinds of fun colors!

Durable Measuring Spoons with 1/8 teaspoon measurement
I prefer stainless steel measuring spoons over plastic because they last longer and have a solid feel to them.  My favorite set has a 1/8 teaspoon for precision measuring.  I have several sets of measuring spoons and keep them in small container in a drawer; when baking, I pull out the container rather than going back and forth to the drawer for each ingredient measure.

Good Plastic Wrap with a built-in slide cutter (Costco)
Have you ever heard of the catering death wrap?  When transporting food, it needs to arrive neatly, fresh and intact so copious amounts of plastic wrap are often used to achieve this.  I brought this trick home, although in a more restrained fashion.  When I buy meat, I portion it out for two servings and wrap it up for freezing.  It’s also great for preserving small bread loaves in the freezer, placing between chicken filets when pounding out for paillards, and of course for extra wrapping when taking food to parties.

Now that you have seen my list, what are your favorite kitchen tools?  Are there any that you just can’t live without?  I would love to hear about it.

Eat well and share the love!Logo Foodie for Two

Chatfield Holiday Lights 1A little leftover Holiday Cheer from our stroll through the Denver Botanic Gardens Trail of Lights at Chatfield – this is my favorite tree to view each year!  I am not sure how tall it is, but you can see the scale from the people standing in the bottom left foreground.

Quick Lobster Ravioli with Tarragon Butter Sauce

My grocery store recently had frozen wild-caught lobster tails on sale so I bought a few for a later indulgence.  These guys are small, 4.5 to 5 ounces each, and the perfect size for a scaled-down serving. The trick that makes the ravioli “quick” is using wonton wrappers instead of homemade ravioli dough.  Along with the lobster, the filling is the typical carrots, celery and onions with some corn and tarragon. But the taste is anything but typical!  The sautéed vegetables are a wonderful compliment to the rich, sweet lobster.  And the tarragon butter sauce puts them over the edge of goodness.  For future batches, I would give the butter a few more minutes in the pan for a brown butter sauce (gives a nuttier flavor).

To help with the task of getting the lobster meat out of the shell, I rely on my kitchen shears.  Just turn the lobster over and cut down the sides of the thin shell.  Then you can bend the shell open to reveal the wonderfully delicious treat waiting inside.  To quickly cook the meat, I chopped it up, tossed it with melted butter and broiled it for 4 or 5 minutes.  After the vegetables are sautéed, the lobster meat is stirred in and the filling is ready – all in less than 10 minutes!

The ravioli assembly goes quickly so you’ll want to have your water boiling and the butter melting before you start. To keep it simple, I use water instead of an egg wash. Brush the entire wonton surface so the top layer sticks to it (and doesn’t burst open during boiling).  Press the edges firmly closed with either your fingers or the tines of a fork.  The ravioli can be left as whole squares, or use a cookie cutter (2¾ inch diameter) for an elegant presentation.
In my book, these lobster raviolis are a perfect treat for either lunch or a light dinner.

Eat well and share the love!

Lobster Ravioli with Tarragon Butter Sauce
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies – makes 6 ravioli

Ingredients:
Lobster Tail
Meat from 1 small lobster tail, 4.5 to 5 ounces in weight
½ tablespoon butter, melted
Vegetables/Filling
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely diced carrots (about 1 small)
2 tablespoons finely diced celery (about ¾ of stalk)
2 tablespoons finely diced onion (about ¼ of an onion)
1 tablespoon frozen corn, chopped into smaller pieces
3 to 4 fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Pinch of kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper
Ravioli and Sauce
1 tablespoon flour (for dusting cutting board)
12 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 to 5 fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Garnish: Sea Salt, Fresh-cracked pepper

Directions:
Lobster:  Turn broiler to high, add ½ tablespoon butter to oven-proof dish and put in oven to melt. 

Using kitchen shears (or a sharp paring knife), turn the lobster over and cut along the edges of the thin shell and pull it back to expose the meat.  With both hands, grasp the sides of the lobster (fingers underneath, on the hard part of the shell) and bend out to break the sides and free the meat: if needed, gently cut away any connected meat on the sides.  Pull out the piece of meat, rinse well and remove any tamale (green) or remaining shell; pat dry with a paper towel. 

Roughly chop the lobster meat, add to the oven-proof dish and toss with the melted butter. Place under broiler (about 8 inches from element) and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until meat is white and no longer opaque.

Vegetables/Filling:  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the carrots, celery, tarragon and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add the onions and corn and continue cooking, stirring often, for 3 or 4 more minutes until onions are translucent and vegetables are soft.  Turn off the heat and add the cooked lobster meat.  Stir to combine and transfer to a bowl; let cool slightly.Reserve the skillet to make the butter sauce.

Ravioli and Butter Sauce:  Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Dust your cutting board with some flour and set up your assembly line: a ramekin filled halfway with water and pastry brush, a cookie cutter (2 ¾ inch diameter), the bowl of filling with a tablespoon measuring spoon, and the wonton wrappers (keep them covered with a damp paper towel).

When the water has come to a boil, return the skillet used for the filling to medium-low heat and add the butter and chopped tarragon.

Lay out 6 wonton wrappers on the cutting board, 2 rows of 3 wrappers, and brush the entire surface of the bottom (3) wontons with a light coat of water.  On the bottom row, place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each wonton.  Cover with the top wonton wrapper and gently press it on, making sure it’s well-sealed without any air trapped inside. Cut out a round shape using the cookie cutter; use your fingers or fork tines to firm press edges together. 

Add the ravioli to the boiling water and let cook for 3 minutes.  While the ravioli are cooking, increase the butter to medium-high heat and swirl pan often.  Transfer the cooked ravioli to plates and pour the butter sauce over them.    Garnish with sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper.

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A visit to Phoenix earlier this month to celebrate Mom’s 70th Birthday:
Picture below: Mom after a great steak dinner on her birthday day (isn’t she beautiful?!)

Picture below: Mom and I at her dinner party buffet with family and friends (my job was the food; that’s a Brandy Old Fashioned in my hand, post kitchen duty!)
With Love, Happy Birthday to Mom!!