Tag Archives: Parchment Paper

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.

Warm La Tur Cheese with Chocolate Sauce & Charred Torn Bread

Do you read the magazine La Cucina Italiana? It’s on my fav subscription list because the magazine is unique and authentic with beautiful food photography. I was reading the November 2012 issue last week and was riveted when I turned to page 34. Before me was a stunning photograph of warm cheese wrapped in charred parchment paper, drizzled with a chocolate sauce and served with charred pieces of torn crusty bread. Cheese, chocolate and bread? Oh, yeah! I even tweeted about it, because I was so inspired by the sight of it. The recipe is from pastry chef Brooks Headley of the famed New York restaurant, Del Posto. Upon sight, my mind was instantly made up and I knew I had to try this recipe, very soon, as in the next day. The star inside the beautiful little packet is La Tur cheese from Piemonte, Italy. Made from cow, goat and sheep milk, it has a unique buttery, tangy flavor. You can find it at Murray’s Cheese, and at most Kroger (King Soopers, Fry’s) stores as well. After signing up, the recipe is available on-line from La Cucina Italiana. I thoroughly enjoyed this unique course and think it will be perfect for our December gourmet dinner.

La Tur cheese up close and out of the container – about the size of a ramekin, comes with a bottom paper wrapper to contain the gooey goodness inside.

“From the great wine region of Piemonte comes La Tur: a dense, creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk. Runny and oozing around the perimeter with a moist, cakey, palette-coating paste, its flavor is earthy and full, with a lingering lactic tang. The effect is like ice cream served from a warm scoop: decadent and melting from the outside in.”  

Region: Piemonte
Country: Italy
Cheese Type: Bloomy: Buttery & Rich
Milk Type: Pasteurized Goat, Sheep & Cow
Wine Pairing: Sparkling wines
Rennet: Animal
Age: 2-4 weeks

Source: Murray’s Cheese

Room temperature cheese, cut in half to show different layers (would not recommend doing at home, very messy and otherwise unnecessary). For easier removal from the container, loosen lid and turn cheese over onto lid while holding with the palm of your hand. Discard (please recycle) bottom part of container and carefully remove the paper wrapper around the bottom half.

Gently turn the cheese onto a piece of parchment paper (about 12 inches long). Wrap it like a present, seam side down, and fold extra paper at edges underneath.

And this is the reward! I used 60% cacao chocolate and would use just a splash of olive oil (definitely use a fruity extra virgin oil) next time instead of what the recipe called for; the cheese is so rich to begin with, I didn’t think it needed any more. And I would have liked the bread better if grilled, for a smoky flavor. Definitely serve with your favorite champagne. Cheers!

Thanks to La Cucina Italiana, and Del Posto for sharing!

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Eat well and share the love!