by Sarah Plowright-Williams, Kitchen Store Specialist

It’s no secret that veggies can be boring, especially for children. If your children are like I used to be, they look on anything green with suspicion and if it’s purple, well it must be from another planet. Purple can only be good if it’s in the form of clothes, namely a pretty party dress!

Spiralizers make vegetables fun to eat and they allow us to make healthier options; instead of adding the calories with pasta, make zucchini noodles with your favorite sauce instead. Oh, if only they’d had spiralizers in the 70’s, what a veggie fan I would have been……

In our test kitchen this week we put the KitchenAid spiralizing attachment through its paces. Sweet potatoes were our veggie of choice and everyone voted for spiral fries.

Gather The Supplies

KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment

Silpat Mat

Pinch Bowls

Sheet Pans

To Prepare

It helps if you choose a fairly long thin potato. Peel and cut off the ends. Attach your blade of choice. The KitchenAid offers 5: a fine and medium spiral blade, two slicing blades, and a peeler. We put the two spiral blades to the test.

It was super simple to use, just attach the potato to the vegetable mount and start the motor. The potatoes made perfect spirals in seconds and it was fun!

Cut & Bake

We cut the spirals into shorter lengths for ease of eating, misted with extra virgin oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper and the Summit Spice Ancho Chipotle Chili Blend.

We prepared two sheets; one with parchment paper and the other with a Silpat silicone mat, and laid the fries in a single layer.

Using the Jenn-Air True Convection Oven in our test kitchen for baking would give us the optimum conditions to crisp up the fries. True or European convection ovens are different than regular convection ovens in that they have a third heating element along with the fan which makes the temperatures more uniform in turn making dishes sear and caramelize better, making pastries lighter and flakier and the cooking time is reduced.

We baked the fries at 425F for about 20 minutes. Both the thin spiral and the larger spirals were very successful.

There was no noticeable difference between the sheets, so the parchment and Silpat both worked equally well. I’m now a spiralizing convert and can’t wait to try zucchini noodles with fresh Kodiak scallops and a white wine sauce!

No KitchenAid? No problem- try these other spiralizing products:

Microplane's Handheld Spiral Cutter with both a small and large barrel accommodates both long, slim and thick vegetables.

Or, this Tabletop Spiral Vegetable Slicer suctions to the table and has three blade insert choices so you can make fine spirals for veggie pasta, large spirals for fries, and flat spirals for pies and chips!

 

 

By Jill Anderson, Appliance Specialist
So, I have never cooked with a Tagine and it looked like it would be fun to try using it on our Big Green Egg. The Emile Henry Tagines are made of Flame Ceramic and are oven-safe up to 930 degrees F, so we knew it would do just fine on the Big Green Egg.

I chose a chicken recipe, Tagine M'Derbel Beraniya, from a book we sell at Allen & Petersen called "Cooking at the Kasbah", by Kitty Morse. I followed the recipe except when it came to cooking. I put the Tagine in the Big Green Egg for 50 minutes at 350F rather than on the stove top as suggested.
I accidentally stopped monitoring the Egg and forgot to close the Daisy Wheel on the top during the last of the cooking time. I know, I shouldn't just walk away from my cooking, but it got busy at work. Incidentally, with all that airflow, the temperature got up to 500 degrees in my absence. My co worker asked if I had been checking the temperature. Oops.
It was so hot, but because the Tagine acts as a heat diffuser to gently cook food, it was protected and the dish came out great without burning! The lid shape also helps to circulate steam and keep food moist and tender while retaining flavor, so really, it was the perfect vessel for cooking this dish on the Big Green Egg.
The chicken stayed tender and was infused with the flavors of the spices. The recipe also called for the chicken to be served with a thick sauce made with roasted eggplant slices and sundried tomatoes. We were able to roast the eggplant on a piece of tinfoil in the Egg while the Tagine was cooking. It really was fun to see that there is one more way to use the Egg in combination with another cooking method to produce a dish that you wouldn't normally associate with a charcoal cooker!
PS. Thank you Helen from our Kitchen Store for chopping all the onions and helping to remind me to check the Egg...

By Shaelyn VanAusdal, Kitchen Store Specialist

Kitchenaid’s Vegetable Sheet Cutter attachment is soon to be your new favorite toy in the kitchen. Cutting zucchini, cucumber, sweet potatoes and more for much healthier meals, has never been easier, not to mention more fun!

To try it out I made zucchini wraps. To do this I cut the zucchini to size and placed it on the attachment, putting the metal skewer tool through the center.
I placed the “thick” blade on and unlocked the arm so the blade was right on the zucchini.

I then turned it on to the lowest power and out came my sheets of zucchini! I cut my sheet into 6-8inch sections and was ready to get started.

With a paper towel, I dabbed the front and back of each sheet to get rid of some moisture so I could coat the middle of the sheets with a thin layer of cream cheese without it sliding off.
On the front half of my sheets I placed strips of carrots, avocado, cucumber, and a couple chunks of Italian seasoned meatballs. I rolled and sealed them on the end with Man Dip, which is a cream cheese dip with jalapeño chunks, to give it a little bit of a kick.

It's super fun, easy to use, and it cleaned up pretty well. It'll be very fun to try out recipes and reinvent old ones with this healthy twist!

By Helen Bismark, Kitchen Store Specialist

I recently grabbed a Kyocera Ceramic Knife to chop up some cooked bacon slices for my usual breakfast omelet. I was surprised by how the knife sliced easily through even the tougher parts of the bacon, making my prep job easier, which meant less time before I could enjoy my delicious breakfast! Knowing how sharp a Kyocera knife can be, even after regular use, I gathered more information on Kyocera ceramic products, and their benefits, to share with you for today’s ToolBox Tuesday Feature!

  • Ceramic cutting edges are sharper than metal
  • They won’t rust
  • You don’t have to sharpen or hone regularly
  • Stay sharp 10 times longer than a metal edge
  • Won’t absorb color or flavors
  • Don’t cause oxidation on foods
  • Comfortable grip
  • The blade can break and chip, so you should take care not to cut frozen food, any cutting that involves twisting, or boning
  • The manufacturer can sharpen dull or chipped blades
  • Made with Zirconium which assists in ‘Heavy Duty’ ceramic blade as well as enough metal to set off alarms
  • Kyocera is the leading manufacturer for ceramic blades which are traditionally sharpened by Japanese Masters

 

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By Sarah Plowright-Williams, Kitchen Store Specialist

We have been waiting in anticipation for the sun to come out so we could try one of our recipes in the Cuisinart Ice Cream Machine, which retails in our store at $89.99.

Sadly today, our pre-chosen ice cream test day it was gloomy and raining but the Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream we made put a smile of everyone’s face and the day became a whole lot brighter!

We chose a recipe from the book “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home” by Jeni Britton Bauer, which we carry in the store.

The Cuisinart machine was very simple to use. We pre froze the bowl for 24 hours and didn’t bring it out until we had our mixture ready to go.

We roasted the strawberries with a little sugar and allowed them to cool while we got our cream base ready.

The recipe was very simple and quick to make and nice in the fact that it wasn’t loaded with sugar.

We cooked off our milk and cream and thickened the mixture with cornstarch. In the meantime we used the Vitamix to puree the roasted strawberries with some lemon juice and then added this to our cream base along with some cream cheese and buttermilk.

We put the finished mixture in the fridge for about 45 minutes until it was cool. This is a very important step; you do need to have your mixture cold before you put it into the ice cream machine.

From that point it was simply a case of bringing the frozen bowl out of the freezer, putting it onto the machine and adding our mixture through the top. I like to add the cold mixture as the machine is running so that it doesn’t freeze onto the sides of the bowl.

We just let the machine do its job and about 45 minutes later we had a wonderfully rich and tasty ice cream. The recipe was a great success and the Cuisinart did an amazing job of making a gourmet ice cream that would be a perfect ending to a summer dinner party.

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By Sarah Plowright-Williams, Kitchen Store Specialist

Last week we decided to test-drive the Bosch Universal Mixer. This mixer's claim to fame is its ability to mix large quantities of dough - up to 15lbs at one time - and its revolutionary designed cookie paddles. We choose the chocolate chip cookie recipe from one of our books, “The Secret Lives of Baked Goods” by Jessie Oleson Moore.

While mixing our cookie dough we found that the open top design of the Bosch made it really easy to add ingredients and see what was happening inside our mixture.

The top cover allowed us to add the dry ingredients without flour flying out when we started to incorporate it into our dough, keeping our kitchen clean. The two open paddles allowed the cookie dough to mix evenly and quickly and not get stuck in the paddles.

     

While we know it can take care of large quantities of up to 5 times your normal recipe, we tried a small batch and it worked just as well.

The machine was easy to clean and while it is not as attractive as the KitchenAid stand mixers, it is lighter to move around and attaches easily to your work surface so that it is safe and secure while in use.

The cookies baked nice and evenly, were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside

and were definitely a hit with our colleagues in our Appliance Department!

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by Sarah Plowright-WIlliams, Kitchen Store Specialist

We were very excited about this blog; both Helen and I have been reading ebelskiver recipes for the past few weeks. These Danish stuffed pancakes are so versatile and can have savory fillings such as walnut, pear and blue cheese or sweet like pecan and salted caramel.

So putting an Alaskan theme on ebelskivers we decided we could make smoked salmon and cream cheese and perhaps wild blueberry and fireweed honey.  The really nice thing about ebelskivers is that the  list of fillings is really only contained by your imagination.

The batter we used was the basic batter from the Ebelskiver recipe book by Kevin Crafts. It was easy and the only real difference from the regular pancake batter was separating the eggs, whisking the whites and folding them in at the end.

We heated the pan and brushed it with melted butter. Helen put a tablespoon of batter in each well and followed this with a tablespoon of our filling, which were cinnamon chocolate chips.

We covered the filling with another tablespoon of batter and waited until little bubbles appeared around the outside.

This took about 4 minutes. We were a little apprehensive about how difficult it would be to turn the pancakes with the Timbers Ebelskiver Turners, but it was surprisingly simple. It took another 3 minutes to finish the cooking the other side. They kept well in the oven until we had used all the batter and the recipe yielded 21 pancakes; more than enough for four hungry people.

We served the pancakes with cinnamon powdered sugar and they were amazing, light and fluffy yet filling. I now have an ebelskiver pan to add to my overflowing kitchen and Sunday breakfast I will be treating myself to the iced gingerbread pancakes. Sunday can’t come fast enough!

 

 

 

 

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We asked Miss Helen to review a tool she's used recently - and since we just celebrated a coworker's birthday with cupcakes, she had a chance for some hands-on experience with the Tovolo Cupcake Scoop!

We've all had the less than convenient experience of trying to use a measuring cup and free fingers - or even two spoons - to scoop and fill the cupcake pan, only to have some of the papers filled to 3/4, others to half and still others to overflow... and somehow with more or less than a perfect dozen. But the Cupcake Scoop promises 'Perfect cupcakes with just one touch', so we confidently passed the challenge onto our freshest Kitchen Store Specialist. Here are Helen's first impressions on her first use of the product:

  • Easy Scooping
  • No Mess

The dished front allows you to scoop the batter and get from the bowl to the cup without drips, then the plunger moves the whole scoop forward, scraping as it goes, without you ever having to touch the batter.

  • No Waste
  • They all look 'cute'
  • Portion is good

Helen had chosen a 'from scratch' recipe that predicted one dozen cupcakes. She was delighted to find that there was exactly the right amount of batter to fill one cupcake pan and that all the cups were filled to the same height so that when that batter went in the oven, it made a dozen evenly baked cupcake tops for her to decorate for a lovely uniform batch. Plus, no awkward leftover batter or onsie-twosie batch bakes.

  • Easy Cleaning

Because the silicone plunger really presses all that gooey goodness off the front of the scoop, it just takes a quick rinse in warm soapy water to clean the scoop up for an air dry- and it's ready for the next batch. Or if you prefer- it's dishwasher safe, so you can toss it in with the rest of the party plates!

Consider this one Helen-tested, and approved!

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By Helen Bismark

It all begins with the basic kitchen ingredients; flour, water, salt, and yeast. Artisan bread or basic sandwich bread? Fruit and nut infused or herb bread? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I decided to make artisan bread and chose the White Bread with Poolish recipe from the book Flour Water Salt Yeast.

While this recipe is based on just those basic ingredients, it also involves an investment of time and dedication to a detailed process. Having the right tools makes the steps manageable.

First I had to make poolish- consisting of flour, water and yeast- the night before.

I used a square cambro for making my dough, though in the future I would recommend using a round container which would make it easier to handle because it was hard to get into the corners.

A bench scraper is the way to go when separating your final dough.

Shaping your dough into medium tight balls creates a great shape outcome.

Using the Staub covered cocottes was an ideal way to make a hard crust to protect the  bubbly inner bread "guts".

Plus the Staub was really easy to clean, and creates a great little "oven inside an oven".

Do not forget to preheat your Staub/dutch oven before baking.

Rolling something, like a long handled wooden spoon, down the middle of the loaf creates a lovely crease on the finished loaf and makes it easier to pick the dough up in a folded shape from your work surface to put it in your dutch oven without burning yourself.

I definitely recommend that you eat the bread the first day. Its texture is so much better the first day when the crust is crisp and the inside still moist.

I know it might smell tasty and you’d want to eat it right out of the oven, but you need to remember that it was inside an oven within an oven so you need to cool it down at least 10-15 minutes before slicing.

A nice sharp serrated utility or offset bread knife allows you to get through the hearty crust using motion - rather than force - to slice, preserving the soft interior texture without squishing the warm loaf.

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lollipops

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Making your own lollipops and hard candies can seem intimidating, but we tried two different methods to see which we preferred: one involves melted candies and the second uses sugar work and sprinkles. The first is for clear, window pain style lollies from the recipe above. Though it takes a bit more preparation work, the recipe is simple and makes a good batch of pops quickly.  The trick is to have everything, including the equipment, the sprinkles and the sticks, ready to go before you start the syrup.

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You'll definitely want a good, reliable candy thermometer on had for this process as the syrup must reach a specific temperature. We love this digital version that is programed with all the temps you need to know from soft ball to hard crack.

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You'll also want a high-heat resistant brush to keep the sugars from crystallizing on the side of the pan. Additionally, a silpat mat, particularly the macaron version marked with circles, makes it easy to plan your sprinkles ahead so that you can quickly pour the lollipops before the syrup cools too much.

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We found that the lighter edible glitters and crushed candies, like peppermint poprocks, were easier to put down first, while the larger decorative sprinkles went on easier after the syrup was poured because they can get pushed around by the force of the pour and end up all on the edges or keep the syrup from spreading uniformly. You do have to move quickly, though, so having one person to pour and one to decorate/ add the sticks is optimal.

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Once the syrup has cooled and the stick is firmly in place, you can transfer the pops to a sheet of parchment to complete their cool and do a second batch as needed on the silpat.

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The second method comes from one of our favorite Holiday Edibles CookBooks called Candy Aisle Crafts. You simply need a good selection of unwrapped hard candies, like Starlite Mints, Lifesavers or Jolly Ranchers, some pre-cut parchment strips and some sucker sticks.

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Once you've unwrapped your candies, you can arrange them on a parchment piece and essentially just melt the candies in the oven. While the candy is hot and pliable, you insert the stick and twist until it's covered.

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At this point you can use a sharp blade or scissors to cut the edges of the candies to have straight edges and angles, but here again, the secret is speed, so if you plan to shape your pops, do small batches to keep ahead of the cool-down.

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