It has been a hot summer; one of the hottest in history, in fact, with Atlanta reaching 106, the highest that’s ever been recorded. This forces us to both stay cool and stay indoors. We would love some treats though, but we don’t exactly want to turn on a hot oven inside, helping bake us along with whatever dish we’re cooking.
So, naturally, we have to cook outside… where it’s hot, and we don’t want to be.
There had been stories out there of people baking cookies in their car; the relatively low heat compared to an oven is balanced out by the extended period of time they’re in there. It’s a natural heat, one that doesn’t rack up the gas bill, and since you leave the car outside, it doesn’t heat up the house.
It was decided that biscuits would be an interesting diversion from cookies as well, and with cookies being called “biscuits” in other countries, a fun pun. We wanted to try out a silicone baking mat; compare that to the regular baking surface and see if there’s any difference than just cooking straight on a perforated sheet pan. With a quick run to the store for Hershey’s Mini Kisses (12 Big Deluxe Cookies in a Special Edition, which is just surprising that food can have a “Special Edition”) and Grands! Jr. Golden Layers Butter Tastin’ (10 Flaky Biscuits), we were ready… a week ago. We wanted to make sure we had a thermometer on hand, and that it was a hot enough day.
Our records for the event (we kept a thermometer in a cookie)
- 10:10 AM, 88°F in car (placing the cookies in the car)
- 10:20 AM, 75°F in cookie
- 11:05 AM, 130°F in cookie
- 12:00 PM, 131°F in cookie
- 12:30 PM,
Owning cast iron cookware is great. You can make almost anything in it, and it requires almost no maintaining.
You hear statements like this all the time, and it’s true… but notice the word “almost”. That word is a killer.
Well, because you do have to care for your cast iron. If it’s a Dutch oven, cast iron cooking pot, a pan or some other great piece of cast-iron cookware, you still need to clean and care for it.
Cast iron cookware requires seasoning.
Unfortunately, it’s not a spice. It’s the protective coating that you apply to your cookware. In today’s world, most cookware will come pre-seasoned (meaning that a coating has been applied to the cookware by the manufacturer). Even if you have pre-seasoned cookware, at some point you’re going to burn that blueberry cobbler and will need to re-season.
Seasoning starts with washing your cast iron Dutch oven or cookware with soap and water. This is the one and only time where soap should come in contact with your oven. The basic idea is to get the pan clean and back to the metal finish. Wash and prepare your oven. You can use an abrasive cleaning utensil like steel wool, or a coarse sponge. Clean, clean, clean.
Once it’s clean to your satisfaction, towel-dry the cookware. Make sure that the cookware is free of soap and water.
After cleaning, comes the fun part. Heat up your oven or grill. Between 375-450 degrees will work.
A trick I learned a few years ago is to place the (un-oiled) cast iron inside of the heating element for a few minutes (until it’s warm to the touch). Even after drying the metal moisture can still linger. This will remove any residual moisture for you and ensure a lasting … Read the rest
Who said that making drinks like a pro at home is only possible for professional chefs? You don’t have to enroll for cooking classes in order to learn how to make delicious drinks at home. Everyone has the ability to make drinks that will leave you licking your lips. Most likely, you already have everything needed to make drinks that will leave your guests asking for more. Here are some useful tips:
Select the freshest fruits for juicing
Fresh fruit juice is one of the simplest drinks to make at home. It’s important for you to select fruits and vegetables carefully prior to your juicing session. Fresh fruits ensure that you get the best flavor for your juice, thus eliminating any need for additional flavors. Fleshy fruits ensure that you obtain maximum yield from your fruits and vegetables. Following this tip mean you’ll only need a few fruits and vegetables for a high yield of juice.
Add artificial flavors only when necessary
Most of the ingredients used to make drinks at home have enough natural flavors, and typically don’t require any additional flavors. A good example is oranges and pineapples. These natural flavors are often very appetizing. You do not need to use artificial flavors for juicy fruits such as these. Neither do you need artificial flavors for vegetables such as carrots or tomatoes. However, you can add flavors to some fresh juices if you wish to serve them to young children. Adults more commonly don’t require any additional flavors.
Mix well and avoid excessive water
Water dilutes the flavor of your drink, and therefore needs to be used sparingly especially when making cocktails, fresh juices, and smoothies. When blending different types of drinks, it’s important to use the right measurements in order to retain the natural flavor of your … Read the rest
The chafing dish has been around for centuries and was typically used to prepare meals. Today, with all of the modern kitchen items available, the chafing dish is more commonly used to keep foods at a temperature more suitable for serving. The chafing dish consists of 2 pans. One pan holds water while the other pan fits on top of the pan containing the water.
Once food is prepared, it can be placed in the chafing dish that sits on top of the water pan. The water pan is heated so that the water gets hot and keeps the food warm; leaving it at a temperature that allows it to stay ready to serve. The chafing dish is great to have for parties, events, or any type of gathering with food.
Perhaps you’d like to prepare something for your chafing dish, try this easy Crab Dip recipe to help get you used to using the chafing dish.
- Melt 2- 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup of half and half, and stir together until smooth.
- Add 2 teaspoons of grated onion, 1 teaspoon of Wocestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon of tabasco sauce, and half of a teaspoon of salt.
- Next, add 12 oz precooked lump crabmeat (2 cups).
- Mix well and pour into your Chafing dish.
- Set the heat low so that the dip doesn’t scorch.
Serve with tortillia chips or your choice of toasted bread.
You might also like this easy-to-prepare Smokies recipe that is a great appetizer. Combine the following ingredients:
- 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of sandwich mustard
- 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- 1/2 cup of vinegar
- 1 can of jellied cranberry sauce
- 1 pound of cocktail sausage.
Place the combined mixture in … Read the rest
Can food prep methods be as trendy as fashion? You bet. Take a look at the top 10 food prep methods we expect to see at restaurants across the country this year.
From farm to table, consumers are looking for local when it comes to food. And what could be more home-grown than a pickle? Restaurants such as Farm Burger in Atlanta now have a variety of locally-sourced pickled vegetables such as carrots, beets, and okra on their menus, both as an appetizer and burger toppings.
Once a method for preserving food when refrigeration was not an option, fermenting is a great way to draw out the health benefits of certain foods. Fermented food is a great source of probiotics, which help regulate the digestive system. Look for variations of fermented favorites like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt on a menu near you.
Chefs throughout the world rely on the sous vide method to achieve perfect texture and preserve the moisture and flavor of meat, vegetables, and more. Using the sous vide method, food is cooked at the temperature it will be served at by vacuum sealing it and immersing it into a low temperature water bath. Chef Jason Wilson, owner of Crush in Seattle, uses the sous vide method for 90% of the items on his menu, including beef short ribs.
Liquid Nitrogen Chilling/Freezing
One of the coolest (no pun intended) food prep methods of 2012 is liquid nitrogen chilling/freezing. Liquid nitrogen enables chefs to freeze ingredients instantly, making it an excellent choice for preparing frozen desserts. It can also be used to create perfectly textured vegan ice cream from rice or coconut milk or for preparing flour from walnuts and other nuts.
A favorite for fish, oil-poaching is a great way to tenderize meat … Read the rest
An essential part of any restaurant kitchen, commercial food prep equipment improves operational efficiency by reducing labor. From food processors and blenders to mixers, grinders, and slicers, food prep equipment can reduce food processing time to mere minutes, compared to hours of manual slicing, dicing, chopping, blending, and mixing. Although restaurant owners recognize the benefits of stocking their kitchens with quality food processing equipment, many still find it hard to decide which pieces are best for their businesses. If you are starting a restaurant, you will want to consider five basic types of commercial food preparation equipment: food processors, blenders, mixers, slicers, and grinders.
Food processors come with a variety of interchangeable blades. Switching out the blades enables chefs to puree fruits, slice vegetables, mix and knead dough, shred cheese, and grind meat using a single appliance. Unlike blenders, commercial food processors can blend solid foods without adding additional liquids.
Commercial blenders have many of the same functions as food processors. Equipped with a sharp fixed blade underneath the container, blenders can be used to mix and crush ice and ingredients for alcoholic beverages, smoothies, and iced coffee drinks, create vegetable and fruit purees, make peanut butter, and more.
Designed to mix, blend, and beat ingredients, commercial mixers come in several different styles. Countertop or bench mixers have a capacity of 20 quarts or less, while floor mixers can handle up to 80 quarts or more. Commercial mixers can be fitted with a range of attachments, including dough hooks, bowl scrapers, and wire whips.
Slicers make it easy to cut meats, vegetables, and cheeses in varying widths. Constructed for specific types of foods, slicers are available in a range of models, including cheese slicers, meat slicers, tomato slicers, and vegetable slicers. … Read the rest