Month: November 2010

Product Review – TFX Non Stick! Kitchen Sheets

First and foremost, I have to state that I’m not a fan of Silpats. They’re expensive (around $25), they’re bulky, and then there’s that whole fleshy feel thing… it’s disturbing. So when I was approached by Engstrom Trading, the distributors of TFX, to review their non-stick baking sheet, I was dubious – at best. I decided to really put the sheet through its paces to see if I could find fault with it. If I was going to put my stamp of approval on it – then I was going to come just short of abusing it. The test product is the 17″ x 13″ All-In-One kitchen Sheet – which fits any baking / cookie sheet. the material is a food-safe coated fiberglass, heat resistant to 500 degrees. Out of the box, its about the same thickness and weight of a sheet of parchment paper, which is a major plus over the bulky, hard to store Silpats. I imagine my kitchen is like most everyone’s, never enough storage for all the things I use on …

Curb Market Crawl – White Sweet Potatoes

Back just before the local markets spiraled down into pumpkin holiday hell, I paid a visit to Farmhouse Produce just east of Dahlonega at the intersection of Long Branch and 52 east. I didn’t really expect to find a lot that late in the season, but it never hurts look. Although most of the produce they had was coming from the Georgia Farmers Market in Forest Park, they did have a small crop of  locally grown O’Henry (or Old Henry) White Sweet Potatoes. They’re pretty much a rarity up here, so I snatched up a couple of pounds of taters, a pound of local butter and headed home. O’Henry potatoes are a true sweet potato. Unlike several varieties of white and colored yams that tend to be starchier, drier and less sweet, O’Henrys are exactly like the standard orange varieties that you find in your local market with a rich pudding texture when baked. They will also whip up smooth and creamy without the fibers and strings common in yams. I decided to utilize the …

The Thanksgiving Onslaught

Ah, so it begins… Monday marks the start of all-day kitchen relays getting ready for that all important food gluttony holiday. You’re psyched, you’ve run sample meals and test recipes, you’ve practiced operating on limited sleep for months to get you conditioned. But, now you have a dilemma…. what are you going to feed the miniature humans and the significant other species while you are channeling your inner Food Network genie? I have two words for you, my burgeoning chef. Tuna Casserole. Don’t turn your nose up. It’s fast, tasty, filling, and easy…. did I mention easy? Buck up, Buttercup. The fam can eat something a little less creative for the next couple of days. Whip up a batch and get on with the extravaganza. Tuna Casserole Serves 8 Ingredients 2 Cans Albacore Tuna in Oil – Drained 2 Cups Dry Macaroni 2 Eggs 1/2 Cup Chopped Onions 1/2 Cup Chopped Celery 1/2 Cup Chopped Mushrooms 2 Strips Thick Cut Bacon – Chopped 2 Cups Milk 2 Tablespoons Oil 2 Tablespoons Flour 1 Cup Bread …

Caramelized Onion Panade

It’s criminal what some restaurants consider onion soup. I’ve had my fill of instant broth, blanched onions, burnt cheese, and broth with dehydrated bits in it. Honestly – if you can’t make the effort to do it properly – don’t bother. Perfect onion soup isn’t hard. To do it right, you really only need 3 components – caramelized onions, broth, and a cheesy crouton. Although the onion soup below is a panade, it can easily become a standard by negating most of the bread layers Caramelized Onion Panade Serves 4 Ingredients 2 Red Onions – Peeled and Sliced into Rings 2 Vidalia (or Texas Sweet) Onions – Peeled and Sliced into Rings 2 White Onions – Peeled and sliced into Rings 2 Cloves Garlic – Crushed 2 Teaspoons Smoked Salt 1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper 1 Clove 1 Bayleaf 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 4 Cups Chicken Stock 16 Slices of Stale Bread 12 Slices Extra Sharp White Cheddar or Dubliner 4 Soup Crocks Spatula 1 Large Sauce Pan Preheat the Oven to 350 Heat …

Acorn Squash Panade

I truly despise pumpkin. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing it’s good for is cutting faces in… and shooting out of those huge cannons. There’s nothing you can do to mask that gourd-y, poot-y smell. So… you’ll never see a pumpkin recipe here. I say that, because… I guess… if you had to…. you could use pumpkin if you wanted to make a Large one of these. Although, I suggest that you use a turban squash, or a large delicata. The squash broth and nutmeg transforms this panade into a near pudding that is perfect on a cold winter evening. Acorn Squash Panade Serves 4 Ingredients 4 Acorn Squas 3 Cups stale bread – cubed 1 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan 3 Cups Chicken Stock 2 Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg 1 Teaspoon Smoked Salt 1 Shallot – Minced 1 Medium Sauce Pan 1 Immersion Blender 1 Baking Sheet Preheat the oven to 350 Cut the tops off of the squash and remove the seeds and strings With a spoon, hull out the interior pulp, leaving …

Saffron Mourtairol – Comfort for the Soul

Shortly after my dad died, my mom placed a small quotation on the bulletin board by her desk. “When all you can see is pain, maybe then you lose sight of me.” I found it poignant. Perhaps that is why we love comfort foods so much. They allow us to relax, calm our souls, look past whatever horrible thing that has happened… and just be. Mourtairols from the Southwest regions of France are that kind of comfort food. The name means “death” in the Perigord dialect, for this was the typical “after funeral” meal served. Rich chicken Broth, infused with aromatic saffron and layered with meat and stale bread. Funerals notwithstanding, it is one of the most satisfying soups I’ve ever made. Saffron Mourtairol Serves 8 – 10 Ingredients 3 Quarts Chicken Stock 2 Cloves Garlic – Minced 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 2 Cups Poached (or roasted) Chicken – Skinned and shredded 2 Cups Carrots – Peeled and sliced thin 1 Loaf Stale Artisan Bread – Sourdough or any rough textured loaf, broken into egg-sized …

A Visit to the weekly BHA meeting…

I was late getting to the meeting. “Anytime of the day…” doesn’t really take into account that I had to pass by a doughnut shop and a bakery to get to the church basement. They were just beginning as I came in so I looked over the plate of provided carrot curls,  grabbed a cup of coffee and took my seat….  Would anyone like to share something today?“ I raised my hand and made my way to the podium. Hello, I’m Toby, and I am a Bread Hoarder.“ Hi, Toby!“ The enthusiastic greeting propels me forward… It’s been 12 weeks and 5 days since I bought my last loaf of artisan bread.“ …polite claps ruffled through the group. I look out over the body of like-minded folk and size up the attendees. They’re the same at every meeting. There’s the stoic, self-righteous members…proudly displaying their 100 Loaf buttons… almost militant in the fact that they haven’t bought anything more than pre-sliced loaf bread in 10 years. There are the “good” BHA’ers. The ones that have …

Kitchen Essentials – Smoked Salt

I used to work for a contractor in Atlanta that believed everything worth doing was a win – win – win situation. You do business right – you win. You price yourself competitively – you win. You do something clever – you win some more. If there wasn’t that extra win in it for him… well, that project just didn’t get the go. This is one of those wins. You might have guessed by now – I’m cheap. I really dislike paying money for something I can make myself for a fraction of the cost. Case in point… Smoked Salt. Smoked salt adds a unique layer to any meat preparation; it tweaks scrambled eggs to make them amazing; it makes brownies something special; it makes shellfish sing. A lot of the recipes I write utilize smoked salt – so, I go through a lot of it. Now I could pay $20.00 for a 4-ounce bottle of lower-end salt and have enough to last me for a month… or so… ..or I can buy a 2-pound …

Test Kitchen 5 . 5 – Buttermilk Brioche Alternatives

Knowing that I would be trying several incarnations of the brioche loaf, I divided the initial dough batch into 3 separate portions and froze them for later experimentation. This will also work well if you want to create several different filled breads. Each 1/3 will make a loaf about the size of a cantaloupe. My family does the whole Thanksgiving – Christmas – and every other holiday dinner. But our BIG do is Christmas Morning Breakfast. We’d work for weeks on the menu… trying out recipes.. deciding on the theme and table settings…..  it was a huge deal. And even though the entree and sides were  major components of the meal, the accompanying breads and pastries got the same scrutiny and care. The cinnamon~raisin bread is already on the list. And – I believe I’ve got the next two. The first alternative is Blueberry Puree and Orange Marmalade and the second is Cranberry and Pecan Blueberry ~ Orange Brioche Makes 1 Loaf Preparation 1/3 Buttermilk Brioche Recipe 1 Cup Fresh Blueberries 2 Tablespoons Sugar 1 …

Test Kitchen Five – Buttermilk Brioche

Clara, my great grandmother, always had a cow and always made her own butter. It was the duty of any visiting grand child – provided they could reach the handle – to work the butter churn. Clara would sit them down by the churn, drape aprons and dish cloths over their clothes, and put them to work splop.. splop.. splopping.. the paddle up and down into the clabbered milk to separate the butter from the milk. Little spittles of sour milk would spray up out of the churn and mist the poor unfortunate child’s face…. the meticulously protected clothes never seeing a drop. When one child would tire, she would sit the next down, barricade them against the spray and set them to churning. “Is it ready yet?“ “No child… not yet…“ “…but you didn’t even look!“ “I can tell by the sound. Keep churning.“ The result was fresh butter that Clara would put up into fancy butter molds, and the rest..well… that’s buttermilk. I used to watch my mom and dad drink buttermilk, and …