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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mushrooms

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To assemble the mushrooms: Spread a light layer of melted chocolate on the underside of the mushroom cap and using a toothpick, drag 'gill' lines moving from the center to the edge. With the same tooth pick, gently poke a hole in the center of the meringue cap and move in a circular motion to enlarge the hole until it is about the size of the diameter of the stem. Dip the top of the stem in chocolate and press into the opening. Set the assembled mushrooms aside to allow the chocolate to cool and harden.

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For our cake roll, we made a thin sponge cake, piping faux wood grain darkened with cocoa onto a silpat mat before spreading the remaining lighter batter over the top. For the filling we simply mixed melted chocolate with a room temperature bin of CoolWhip to create a fudgy mousse. Once the cake has cooled, spread the filling evenly over the inside so that the pattern remains on the underside of the cake and shows on the surface when rolled.

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Any cracking on the edges or surface are forgiven by the fact that it's supposed to look like wood 😉

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Extra pieces of cake can be used as limbs and the mushrooms can be attached to the log with a light dip into melted chocolate.  Use the rest to decorate the plate and to serve to each guest with their slice.

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Yule logs are a festive and fun alternative to traditional chocolate cake and can be frosted as much or as little as you like. Adding a layer of chocolate frosting dragged with a bark-like pattern can simplify production even more and a light dusting of powdered sugar brings a  feel of freshly fallen snow to the table.

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However you choose to serve it, we hope your Yule Log with be shared with friends & family around the dinner table as you celebrate together. From our family to yours, wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

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These orange-filled chocolates will make you feel like a real chocolatier, even though they are really easy to make—especially when they are made in our festive Christmas chocolate molds! When prettily packaged, these chocolates make the perfect gift for friends, neighbors, coworkers, (or yourself).

For the filling:

One 15oz jar of marshmallow fluff

5-6 drops orange food coloring

1 tsp Mexican vanilla

½ tsp orange zest

¾ - 1 cup powdered sugar

Mix fluff, food coloring, vanilla, and orange zest together in the KitchenAid mixer fitted with the whip attachment.

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Add powdered sugar slowly until mixture reaches desired consistency for filling the chocolates.

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Using a double boiler, melt Callebaut semisweet callets. When they are fully melted, remove from heat and mix in about five solid chips until melted (this is an easy trick to temper the chocolate).

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Fill each well of the chocolate mold and turn it around to coat entire well.

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Turn upside down on Silpat mat and allow excess to drip out, and then use a bench scraper to scrape excess of the top of the mold.

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Place the mold in the fridge until solid.

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Using a disposable piping bag, fill each well, but not quite to the top of the mold.

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Pour more melted chocolate over the filling, and then use the bench scraper again to smooth the top and scrape off the excess onto the silpat. Once the extra melted chocolate has hardened, you can re-melt it!

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Put the chocolates back into the fridge for a few hours until solid. To remove, whack the mold upside down against the counter or a cutting board. If the chocolates don’t come out easily, try placing the mold into the freezer for a few minutes.

For some extra special decorating fun, use a small paintbrush to paint white chocolate into the molds before filling. This technique allows you to add extra details to your chocolate masterpieces!

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One of our favorite bon bon molds is the fat santa - he's so jolly!

 

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