Staff Picks: Gia

by Gia19. September 2013 14:59

Gia is our Web Store Manager. She is a proud Yankee with an insatiable sweet tooth and a weak spot for cute dogs with funny girls. Check out her favorites below!

Name: Gia

If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?

My grandmother's Penne with Sauce, Breaded Chicken Cutlets and Eggplant Parmesan + my mother's Roasted Cauliflower and a fresh Mixed Salad with 18-year aged Balsamic Vinegar and fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Aged Parmesan Cheese and Crusty Sourdough Bread.

What are your favorite meals to prepare?

What are your favorite restaurants?

This was like choosing my favorite child...I went a little overboard...

What are your essential cooking tools?

What are your essential kitchen tools?

What 5 products would you like to receive as gifts?

Staff Picks: Sara

by Gia19. September 2013 13:54

Sara is a newlywed, tabla-playing, martial arts practicing, all-around renaissance woman who staffs the floor with limitless humor. Check out her favorite products below!

Name: Sara

If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?

Chicken Tikka Masala

What are your favorite meals to prepare?

  • French Toast
  • Kebobs
  • Homemade Bread
  • Guacamole

What are your 3 favorite restaurants?

What are your essential cooking tools?

What 5 products would you like to receive as gifts?

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Staff Favorites

Staff Picks: Martha

by Gia19. September 2013 11:08

We're kicking off our birthday week with our first staff picks post by our fearless leader - Martha! Click here to see all of Martha's favorite products.

Click here to see all of our staff favorites - on sale for our birthday month!

Name:

Martha

What are your favorite meals to prepare?

  • Sundried Tomato and Cayenne Pepper Angel Hair Pasta with Herbed Lemon Mustard Grilled Chicken
  • Colerain (Eastern NC) Barbeque Chicken with Homemade Vinegar Slaw and Corbread
  • Chicken Marbella - from Silver Palate Cookbook
  • Pickled Shrimp with Onions on Crackers
  • Psari Plaki - Greek Baked Fish with Fresh Tomatoes, Onions, Lemon Juice and Dill

What are your favorite restaurants?

What are your essential cooking tools?

What are your essential kitchen tools?

What 5 products would you like to receive as gifts?

After 40+ years in the business, I have all of the small kitchen tools I could want, so here's a wishlist:

  • A Butcherblock Countertop
  • A Screen Porch - to be able to eat outside without mosquitos
  • A Double Set of Ovens
  • A Case of Veuve Clicquot Champagne
  • Champagne Glasses - exactly like my Govino plastic ones but in elegant glass.

Staff Picks: CL

by Gia11. September 2013 14:46

Our pinch hitter extraordinaire, CL, tells us about his favorite products and the meal for which he'd give up vegetarianism.

Name: CL

If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?

Pot Roast; I'm vegetarian, but if I'm on the way out...

What are your three favorite meals to prepare?

  • Vegetarian Lasagna
  • Vegetarian Meat(less) Loaf
  • Vegetarian Chili

What are your three favorite bars/restaurants?

What are your top 5 essential cooking tools?

What are your top 5 essential kitchen tools?

What 5 products would you like to receive as gifts?

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Products

Staff Picks: Banshion

by Gia11. September 2013 14:25

Banshion is our Operations Manager and something of a superhero around the store (hence his chosen image). He is a musical theater geek and a non-so-secret ninja who enjoys happy hour and entertaining small children.

Name: Banshion

If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?

Lasagna

What are your three favorite meals to prepare?

  • Beef Stew
  • Cheesecake
  • Raw Gumbo

What are your three favorite bars/restaurants?

What are your top 5 essential cooking tools?

What 5 items would you like to receive as a gift?

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Products | Staff Favorites

The Evolution of the Cuisinart Food Processor

by Gia30. August 2013 13:43

 

 

My personal philosophy when it comes to cooking is to remember that, at the base level, cooking is just regulating the amount of heat and moisture applied/maintained in food over time (flavoring is a whole other ballgame, but that's for another post). It is for this reason that I often tell new Kitchenworks staff members, when considering the relative quality of comparable products, to imagine the kitchen as a tropical jungle. A quality product is the one that is able to perform well through wide variances in heat and humidity. 

 

What does this have to do with Food Processors?

We don't carry many electronic kitchen appliances at our Chapel Hill location. This is for two reasons: we have a very small retail space and humidity wreaks havoc on electronic parts, including motors, circuit boards, and computer chips (which have become as ubiquitous in kitchen appliances as they have in cars)  It is for this reason that most kitchen appliances only have a 3 year warranty which, in our opinion, is just not worth the price.

Cuisinart Food Processors have always been the exception to this rule, which is why they are one of the few electronic appliances we carry.

 

What makes Cuisinart Food Processors different?

The most significant design aspect of a Cuisinart Food Processor is that it is simple to operate. Their Pro Classic line (ie: their consistent models, not the special editions), have only three settings: on, off and pulse. The absence of a computer chip makes the machine much less susceptible to changes in heat and humidity (not to mention user error). 

Cuisinart Buttons

The most significant engineering aspect is that the motors are self-contained. Other than the fans used to cool them, the motor parts are contained within a water tight plastic shell. This prevents the parts from rusting or accumulating debris, which degrades the lubrication needed to keep everything moving. 

Fun fact: Steve Jobs used the Cuisinart Food Processor design as inspiration for his 1977 Apple II computer.

 

James Beard Cuisinart CookbookBut are they still that good?

Yes...and no...

Like any longstanding multinational brand, the Cuisinart company has gone through myriad changes in the 40+ years since Carl Sontheimer hacked his Robot Coupe and Julia Child convinced Americans to try it out. And, as has been the fate of many American-owned companies, the quality of their products took a significant dive around 1992 when they moved manufacturing to China (machines had previously been manufactured in France and Japan).

Consumers across the world lament the post-1992 Cuisinart Food Processors as weaker than their predecessors, which is a true and valid critique. The motors are lighter, which means the parts are moving more and creating more friction. Friction = heat. The faster a machine produces heat, the harder it has to work to continue to perform at that intensity. Therefore, the new models must perform at a lower intensity than the older models in order to prevent overheating.

Vintage Cuisinart Food Processor

However, many home cooks are still using French and Japanese built motors and Cuisinart is still manufacturing replacement parts for those machines (which we'll cover in another post). You can purchase functioning, used, pre-1992 motors online (Ebay has tons) and, if you're willing to do a little searching (ahem...not too far), refurbish your own machine for about the same price as a new one. Customers call us daily wondering if its really worth it to replace their parts or if they should just buy a whole new machine. The answer comes down to the frequency of use - if your Cuisinart is an essential tool in your kitchen arsenal, then its worth it to keep the old motor and replace the parts. You will notice the difference in quality.

 

So if they're not the best, why do you still sell them?

Though we love working with professional chefs and restauranteurs, our primary mission is to provide quality tools for the home cook. That includes carrying products that the average American can afford. Cuisinart Food Processors are still the best bang for your buck. Most home cooks only use their processor for large meals and events, so it may not make sense for them to pay over $400 for an appliance they only intend to use a few times a year. For the price range ($50 - $250), Cuisinart Food Processors are still the highest quality food processor brand on the market today. 

 

Have questions about parts for your Cuisinart Food Processor?

Start here: How to Identify your Cuisinart Food Processor Model. You'll see links there to info and parts pages for almost every model of Cuisinart Food Processor.

 

Still stumped?

Email us at info@kitchenworksinc.com or call us at (800) 967-9755 and we'll be happy to help you identify which parts you need to get your processor back up and running.

Cantaloupe Strawberry Popsicles

by Gia26. July 2013 09:27

The cantaloupes in my garden were perfect last week, and then there was a strawberry sale at the supermarket (hence strawberries in August...), so I decided it would be the perfect time to try out one of our popsicle molds. When I was growing up, my father would make 'icees' by pouring fruit juice into dixie cups. Once frozen, we would scrape the tops with a metal spoon until there was a perfect mound of fruit-flavored 'snow' (and a few wax dixie cup shavings...). I had always thought that popsicle molds were just a little too fancy for us. Besides, the one time we did put wooden sticks into the dixie cups, they slid out of the middle before we could get the ice out from the sides - so disappointing.

Enter the perforated stick! These days, popsicle molds include a plastic stick that is perforated along the center, meaning that liquid will freeze inside of it and prevent it from sliding out of your popsicle while it melts. Genius! I used Star Popsicle Molds for this recipe. They're adorable, but I will probably need a bottle brush to properly clean them out, so if you want something you can fit a sponge into, I would go with the Groovy Popsicle Molds.

Now, you can put whatever you darn well please into a popsicle mold, but good old sweetened water (just like sorbet!) is the general beginnings. Pureed fruit or fruit juice works perfectly, so you really don't have to add extra sugar (in which case you may want to skip the ode-to-sucrose that is to come), but I am going to digress for a moment and talk about simple syrup.

I spend an inordinate amount of time in the summer preparing simple syrup. Yes, I acknowledge I have a sugar addiction - I'm working on it - but I consider simple syrup to be the non-oil answer to compound butter. Mix in some flavorings and it adds an instant boost to any beverage or frozen treat. An old Italian bakery trick is to sprinkle simple syrup between cake layers to keep them moist. The secret to the majority of flavored simple syrups is the lemon zest. Which brings me to my next point...

microplane_zesterSometimes we have a product that really honestly has no equal. One of those products is the Microplane zester. Microplane has a patented laser-cut zesting surface (originally produced for woodworking) that is perfectly angled and never gets dull. I've used so many other zesters and have not yet come across one that removes only the oily aromatic rind of the lemon without any of the pith (ok so a very adept barkeep can make perfect lemon zests with a cheap peeler but that takes a LOT of practice and a perfectly ripe lemon). 

 

This recipe is going to be a bit rough on the measurements because every popsicle mold has a different capacity and because I am not particularly good at recording what I do while I do it. 

  

Cantaloupe Strawberry Popsicles

One Ripe Cantaloupe
5-6 Strawberries, chopped
1 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
Fresh Mint Leaves
Lemon zest

  1. Combine water, sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan over med-high heat. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves (ie: make simple syrup).
  2. Remove syrup from heat and add mint leaves. Cover and let sit 15 - 30 min.
  3. Strain lemon zest and mint leaves from syrup. Pour into sealable container and put in fridge/freezer to cool (your popsicles will work if the syrup isn't completely chilled, they'll just take longer to freeze). 
  4. Remove fruit from cantaloupe, chop and blend in a blender or food processor. I left mine kind of chunky since cantaloupe is so watery anyway, but you can process to your heart's content.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of the lemon-mint simple syrup to the cantaloupe mixture - depending on the ripeness of your melon, you may want to add more or less. Remember that freezing makes things taste less sweet (cold numbs your taste buds). Leftover lemon-mint syrup is great in cocktails, homemade soda, and any other kind of frozen treat.
  6. Grab clean popsicles molds. Fill each one with about a tablespoon of the cantaloupe mixture. Add a few pieces of chopped strawberries, then another tablespoon of cantaloupe, and continue to alternate like this until you get to the top of the mold. Resist the urge to just fill the whole thing with strawberries and then pour in cantaloupe from the top - that will leave air bubbles in your popsicles that will turn into holes when they're frozen and make it more difficult to remove the popsicles from the mold whole. 
  7. Pop in your sticks and place your popsicles in the freezer. Freeze for 4-6 hours.

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Products | Recipes

Fridge Pickles

by Gia18. July 2013 15:17

 

I have never been known for my patience. Most of my NC friends think its because I'm a yankee but, really, I just hate to wait. Until I moved south, I had no idea you even could pickle something without the whole canning process (which is still pretty intimidating to me - baby steps folks...). I love this recipe because its so darn simple and changeable, goes well with pretty much anything, and is a majorly impressive thing to bring to a cookout.

Fridge Pickles

3-4 Fresh Medium Cucumbers
1 Medium Onion
1 cup White Vinegar
1/2 - 1 cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Salt
Optional additions: celery salt, mustard seeds, whole peppercorns, garlic cloves, sliced green, hot or banana peppers, really whatever you please...

  1. Slice cucumbers and onion (and peppers if you are using them) into thin slices (see below for my review of the Oxo Hand-Held Mandoline). Drop into a large-ish container with a lid.
  2. Warm vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and salt until they both dissolve.
  3. Remove vinegar mixture from heat. Add spices of your choice (I used celery salt, mustard seeds, whole peppercorns and dehydrated garlic slices).
  4. Pour mixture over sliced vegetables. Toss to cover.
  5. Chill in refrigerator at least 12 hours.

Notes:

Oxo Slicer with Onions

  • It may seem like this is not enough liquid to cover the cucumbers, but they will reduce and sweat while they sit in the fridge.
  • The first time I made this recipe, I used 1 cup of sugar, and it was a bit too sweet for me (I'm not so into sweet pickles), but my partner loved it so go figure. You can totally omit the sugar, or you can use some other kind of sweetener if you're not into sugar (stevia works nicely). Since the cucumbers sweat as they sit, you may also find that the added liquid makes the pickles less sweet over time.
  • If you add garlic, it may turn blue after a day or two in the solution. This is a perfectly normal enzymatic reaction and the garlic and pickles are still safe to eat.

 

I've been eyeing the Oxo Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer for a few months now and finally decided to bring it home and give it a spin. It is the cheapest hand-held mandoline that we carry (with a finger guard) and so I figured it would be a good introduction to the tool.

I am officially enamored! It was super easy to use, super sharp (do not be too proud for the finger guard people!) and stayed put in my hand or on the edge of the bowl, even though both were slippery with cuke juice. I sliced 4 large cucumbers and an onion into thin, even, strips in about 1 minute. I foresee this coming in really handy come casserole season (is there anything worse than one undercooked potato slice in a creamy bite of au gratin?). Move over Santuko, there's a new slicer in town...

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Recipes

Secret Weapon: Grapefruit Spoon

by Gia16. July 2013 12:56

Secret Weapon is our series on products that can be used for purposes outside of their intended use.

At first glance, a grapefruit spoon is one of those extraneous tools that makes one task much easier, but I rarely eat halved grapefruits and I use a grapefruit spoon almost daily.

Here's 5 more tasks for your grapefruit spoon: 

  1. Core soft or hard fruits and vegetables
  2. Create decorative lines on cake icing or cookies
  3. Remove strawberry stems
  4. Scrape ice for granita or piragüa
  5. Use as a tiny side-of-bowl style strainer

Have more secret uses for your grapefruit spoon? Tell us in the comments!

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Products | Secret Weapon | Tips and Tricks

Vendor Spotlight: Brushtech

by Gia7. July 2013 19:33

 

Brushtech is one of those companies that makes products you never knew you always needed (until you discover them in your local kitchen/hardware store, let out a very audible yelp, and find excuses to bring it up in conversation for weeks). If you garner any kind of satisfaction from getting your kitchen tools really clean, then you're about to be just as obsessed with them as we are.

Brushtech makes highly durable, insanely specific, kitchen and tool cleaning brushes. If you've ever attempted to wedge your sponge/dish brush into a bottle, straw, tea kettle spout, decanter, percolator, etc. (I could go on for the whole post) and still couldn't get that bit of caked on grime out of there, you need a Brushtech brush. All of their brushes are made in Plattsburg, NY (since 1976) by the Gujian family. 

Here are some reasons we love Brushtech brushes:

They go where other brushes can't.
Finally get between the holes in your strainer's mesh screen, or inside your reusable drinking straws (your drink will taste much better), percolator (no more bitter coffee), muffin tins (improves heat distribution) and hummingbird feeder (those things can get grimy). Even save yourself a call to the plumber with a hair catching drain brush.

They won't scratch delicate glass and crystal.
Reinforced foam brushes won't scratch glass or crystal and don't absorb water and bacteria, so they'll last much longer than conventional sponges. You also won't get your hand stuck when you create a vacuum attempting to reach the sponge to the bottom of your drinking glasses (maybe that's just me...).

They are super durable and super affordable
The bristles on a Brushtech brush are woven through the wire, not glued into a plastic head like most cheap cleaning brushes. This makes them more durable because there is no glue (which degrades over time). Also, the brushes are engineered to withstand the repetitive motions of everyday cleaning (they also manufacture industrial cleaning brushes), which means that your brushes won't end up flat and misshapen. If that wasn't enough, they're all less than $10, so you can show them to all your friends!

I have used my little V-shaped grill brush through three summers and it is still truckin! None of the bristles are bent or worn, it gets between (not just on top of) the grates, and it even works when the grill is cold. Plus, its made of brass, so it won't scratch the enamel coating on my cast iron grill top.

Check out our whole collection of Brushtech brushes:

Visit them them on youtube for informational videos and more brushes you never knew you always needed!

See a Brushtech brush you wish we carried? Shoot us an email at orders@kitchenworksinc.com and we'll put in a special order for you.

 

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Made in America | Products | Vendor Spotlight

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