This is one of the all-time great Valentine’s Day homemade gifts (and it’s not really a recipe…more like a very impressive technique). Although it might look like it’s hard to prepare, it really isn’t…and it’s a lot of fun to make.
Easy, fun and really impressive…the trifecta in homemade gift preparation!
1. Grab a few bulk coffee-bean bags from your grocery store (they are by the bulk coffee..and they’re FREE!). You need bags that are lined with a plastic coating so after being painted with chocolate, you can peel them off easily. Cut the coffee bags so they are about 3-5 inches tall.
2. Then, in a double boiler over low heat, melt 2-3 cups of semisweet chocolate morsels.
3. Lay a bag on its side, and with a pastry brush, start at the bottom and paint the melted chocolate over the entire interior of the bag. Use plenty of chocolate to get a nice thick layer coating the inside of the bag, which will make it less likely for the chocolate to break when peeling off the bag later. Repeat with additional bags.
4. Stand the bags up and place in the refrigerator to harden for at least 30 minutes and…. Read More …
My new favorite cooking “toy” is my Anova Sous Vide machine…it’s the ultimate Really Cool Kitchen Tool. Everything I’ve made so far (steak, chicken and pork) has come out perfectly every time with restaurant quality results…it’s kinda idiot-proof! All you do is just attach the machine to any pot, add water and click start, put whatever you want to cook in a sealable bag (any ziplock-type bag will do), remove the air, drop it in the water and set the timer! You can also use the free wirelessly Bluetooth connected Anova Culinary app on your phone to find your recipe and cooking settings for exactly how you like it done, and just hit the “Start” button and the Anova goes to work. Shown here is my Sous Vide pork tenderloin. I just marinated it in teriyaki for a few hours, placed it in the Sous Vide bath and after an hour at 136°, I removed it and seared it on all sides for 2 minutes in a screaming hot cast iron pan. It was tender, perfectly cooked from end-to-end and incredibly tasty. I know this sounds like a gushing paid-for review, but it’s really not…I just love it that much.
If you want to keep your food ultra-fresh, an air-tight seal locks in freshness and helps protect food from spoiling, but you don’t have to invest a couple of hundred bucks on a vacuum sealer and a never-ending supply of expensive proprietary bags. All you need is a regular freezer/storage bag (about 8¢) and a straw (free at any fast food place) and you’re good-to-go. To paraphrase Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, “Just put your lips together and…suck!”
The free straws work really well, but I actually use these clear acrylic straws…they last forever, are washable and don’t collapse or bend while you’re using them…they’re great!
– Sharp, stainless steel blades for easy grating
– Medium and fine grating surfaces, and slicing surface
– Slim construction conveniently fits into drawers
– Soft, comfortable, non-slip grip
…but the BEST thing about it is that you can catch, measure and store whatever you’re preparing in the storage container that clips onto the bottom of the grater, and then seal the freshly cut/grated ingredients with the included lid. It’s perfect for grating and keeping the mozzarella fresh before adding it to my Caramelized Onions, Sausage and Mushroom Sourdough Pizza.
Mystified by the incredible assortment of beef cuts out there and what to do with each of them? Here is a great Cheat Sheet for Meat Treats by visually that literally breaks down the cow and gives you the name of each cut, where it comes from, an idea of how much it costs and the best method to cook it. Load this cheat sheet to your mobile phone and pull it up next time you’re shopping for meat.
Now that you know the best way to sharpen your knives (see previous post for the Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener)…here is the best and cheapest way to keep them sharp. Every time you put an unprotected knife in a drawer you run the risk of ruining the edge. It just takes a little bump to bend or roll the delicate edge of a sharp knife, and although honing with a good sharpening steel is something you should be doing, as it will straighten out the blade’s edge, it doesn’t actually sharpen the knife. Over time the knife will start to dull, until one beautiful summer day while you’re futilely attempting to slice a tomato for a BLT, the knife slips off the fruit (yes, the tomato is a fruit…look it up) and lops off your entire thumb (ok…that’s a little dramatic, but I’m trying to make a point here). Of course, you can buy knife guards, but it’s exceptionally easy to make them at home. All you do is take some cardboard (the thin kind from a gift box works best, but any cardboard will do), cut a long strip that’s the length of the knife’s blade and a little more then twice as wide as the blade, fold it in half length-wise to fit the knife, and just staple evenly down the open edge. Slip this on whenever you store your knives, and they’ll stay sharp no matter how much they rattle around in that overstuffed drawer.
Don’t you just hate it when you open a package of bacon and it’s hard to separate the strips? I admit, it’s not a problem as dire as global warming or the economy, but at least there’s any easy remedy for this annoying situation. Just roll the package of bacon into a tight cylinder shape before opening it, and the bacon strips will be easy to separate. And don’t forget to use the classic Cast Iron Bacon Press when cooking…it helps the bacon cook evenly and actually prevents it from curling up…it’s great for BLTs.
After you’ve grated your block of Parmesan right down to the hard rind, don’t you dare throw it out. Place it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer. Next time you make stew, soup or spaghetti sauce, just toss in a big chunk of rind as it’s cooking, and that great intense, salty unique Parmesan flavor will infuse the sauce…just don’t forget to remove it before serving! If you do forget, please click here immediately. 🙂
A sharp, well balanced knife that feels good in your hand is a pleasure to work with and makes cooking that much more enjoyable…when the right knife is used properly, it really makes you feel very “cheffy”. I’ve already posted how to sharpen knives and keep them sharp, and the amazing chart below (which I totally copied from Kitchen Kapers) really helps you figure out exactly what knife to use (or buy) for the job at hand.