Easy Elegance: Sorbet

by Gia5. July 2013 12:45
via flickr: joyosity

 

I'm a big fan of dishes that look really difficult and fancy but are actually absurdly easy. Sorbet is one of those dishes. Even the word sorbet sounds elegant and somehow exotic. Tell someone you're eating frozen sugar water and they'll scoff. Tell them it's sorbet, and they're impressed. Secret tip: they're the same thing!

All you need to make sorbet is water, sugar, and juice (ie: sugar water with vitamins). If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture in a shallow pan and then break up the ice crystals with a fork every so often until the mixture has reached desired consistency (technically this is a granita, and you should use straight sugar instead of simple syrup or it may get kind of gloopy).

 

Do you really need an Ice Cream Maker? 
I have been devoted to ice cream since I was a small child, but I always though an ice cream maker would go the way of the bread machine - I'd use it once, then never again. Then, I received a Donvier Ice Cream Maker as a gift a few years back and whoa was I wrong. Here's the real magic of an ice cream maker: once you know the capacity of the cylinder (mine is 1 qt/4 cups), you can literally put anything into it. No recipe needed. Pick up your favorite juice/sugar water from the store, measure out the needed volume, and in 30 min (ish) you've got a really impressive homemade dessert (for CHEAP). Some tips I've picked up along the way:

  • Keep your cylinder in the freezer (and freeze for at least 24 hours between uses) so that its always ready to use.
  • Chill your liquid mixture for as long as you can, preferably for at least 12 hours, so that it is as cold as it can be when you put it in the cylinder.
  • If you're not using a recipe, add more sugar than you think you'd need. Cold foods desensitize your taste buds so you won't taste half the sugar you put into it once its frozen.
  • The frozen cylinder kind of ice cream maker is instant dinner party/antsy kid entertainment. The mixture sits in the cylinder for 2-5min, then you turn the paddle and scrape off the frozen bits so that more liquid can reach the cold cylinder walls to be frozen, then you scrape that off 2-5min later, and the cycle continues. Put it in the middle of a circle and have folks take turns - make up a game to go with it! The clear top lets you watch the magic unfold and it makes a great conversation piece/learning experience.

Now, getting to the actual inspiration for this post: Lemon Herb Sorbet. I made it for a July 4th potluck last week and hot dog it was delicious. Everyone was impressed, even though they watched me make it! I used rosemary for mine, which was absolutely divine, but you can use whatever fresh herbs you have access to (caveat: choose an herb that will steep well - basil would pair great with lemon but won't steep well so wouldn't be the best choice here). 

 

Lemon Herb Sorbet Recipe

(adapted from Joy of Cooking)

*Adjust water/sugar/lemon according to the capacity of your ice cream maker, if you are using one.

Ingredients:

1.5c Water
1.5c Sugar
4 lemons
Large sprig of Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, or Lavendar

  1. Zest one of the lemons into long strips. Chop the strips into smaller pieces (you will be removing these later, so don't make them too small). 
  2. Combine the water, lemon zest and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (ie: make simple syrup). If you prefer a thicker syrup, let the mixture simmer for longer.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the herb sprig. Cover and let sit for 20-30min (depending on how strong you want the herb flavor to be).
  4. Juice all 4 lemons. Add juice to simple syrup mixture, cover, and let cool in refrigerator (for at least 1 hour - the colder the mixture is, the quicker it will set in the ice cream maker).
  5. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

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Products | Recipes | Tips and Tricks

Vendor Spotlight: Lodge Cast Iron

by Gia3. July 2013 10:35

 

When considering a company to kick off our July Made in America sale, Lodge was the obvious choice. While cast iron cookware has been used worldwide for hundreds of years, we still think of the cast iron skillet as an American icon - as versatile, hardworking, and durable as the Americans that have used them.

Founded in 1896, Lodge Cookware Company is still based in South Pittsburg, TN and led by two descendants of the original founder, Joseph Lodge. A commitment to innovation, employee support and environmental responsibility has allowed Lodge to prosper through two World Wars and the Great Depression. 

 Here are some things we love about Lodge Cast Iron:

Their Lodge Logic line is pre-seasoned. If you've ever accidentally filled your home with smoke while attempting to season a brand new cast iron pan, you realize the sheer genius of this.

Because of their commitment to quality and the environment, you know you're getting a pure Cast Iron pan. What does that mean?

  • The pan will heat up at a consistent temperature and maintain that high, constant, heat throughout the cooking process. This makes cast iron the ideal medium for frying, searing, and creating perfectly crispy cornbread.
  • You can put the pan on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, or directly into a campfire. No need to worry about whether impurities in the metal will leach into your foods at certain temperatures.
  • The cast iron is so durable that it will last for generations. Seriously - some of our customers have century old cast iron pans that they still use every day.
  • Once you season it, it is naturally nonstick. No PTFEs to worry about, no nagging your kids to use non-metal spatulas, no dousing the pan in globs of butter just to fry some eggs.
  • Cooking in a cast iron skillet is a great way for vegetarians (or anyone, really) to increase their iron intake without having to take nasty supplements (yes this has been scientifically proven).

Check out our Lodge Cast Iron Cookware - 15% off for the entire month of July!

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Products | Vendor Spotlight

How to Grill like a Boss

by Gia1. July 2013 16:22

Confession: I'm obsessed with my grill. Summer in North Carolina can be described as tropical at best, so between May and October, we grill anything and everything we can. During college, I used a cheap hand-me-down grill with uneven burners, a warped stainless steel grate, and more rusted parts than I care to admit. Now that I've upgraded (I have a CharBroil Gourmet 2-burner Tru-Infrared, and yes I realize that some of you will think that gas is cheating, but I've always got my trusty Weber for a 'true' grilling experience), I've become a bit fanatical about it.

Here are my top 5 tips for getting the most out of your grill:

Start off clean

As the old adage goes, where there's smoke there's fire. However, the opposite shouldn't be true when you're grilling (unless you're using your grill as a smoker). If you see smoke coming out of your grill, there is something burning inside of it and that smoke will infuse into your food and make it taste like whatever is smoking (and I'm guessing it isn't hickory chips...).

  1. WHILE YOUR GRILL IS OFF, remove the grill grate and clean out any debris that has fallen onto or near the burners. This will also help maintain your burners and keep everything cooking evenly.

  2. Replace the grill grate and turn your grill on to its highest setting. Close the cover and let the grill heat up for about 5-10 min. This will loosen anything stuck on your grate. Open the cover and use a grill brush* to scrape the grate clean. Close the cover and allow the grill to heat up again for another 5-10 min (or until whatever you scraped off of the grate has stopped smoking) to burn off what you've just cleaned.

  3. Lower the heat and allow the grill to cool to the heat level at which you intend to cook your food.

  4. Repeat step 2 after you have finished cooking, then turn off the gas and let your grill cool completely before covering with a grill cover (to prevent rust/nesting animals).

*Not all grill brushes are created equal. Most cheap stainless steel grill brushes are completely useless because they are held together with glue that can't withstand the heat of a grill and loosen over time, allowing the steel fibers to dislodge and stick to your grate (and then your food - gross.). Look for a grill brush with fibers that are woven into a metal handle. If you have a porcelain or enamel-coated grill grate, you'll need a brass brush, which is the only type that won't scratch the coating.

Wide Heavy Duty Grill Brush

Heavy Duty V-shaped Grill Brush

 

Oil the food, not the grill

Keep the tacky off the grill.

Since cooking on the stove generally starts with oil in the pan, the next logical step may be to oil your grill grate. DO NOT OIL YOUR GRILL GRATE. This will actually make your food stick to the grill because your grill is much hotter than your stovetop and in the time it takes for you to turn around and grab the food you were going to put on it, the oil has burned and your entire grill grate is tacky and smoking.

Use a silicone basting brush to oil any side of the food that will touch the grill. I promise it will come off (even fish skin). I like silicone because it doesn't absorb the flavors of any seasonings you may have added to the oil.

Extra Long Blue Silicone Brush Stainless Steel Handle

Red Silicone Angled BBQ Brush


Use tongs to flip your food and check the doneness

Grilling forks are big and ominous looking (and isn't that element of danger part of the thrill of grilling?) but poking holes in your food will only allow moisture to escape and leave you with dried out steaks and hockey puck burgers. Flip your food with tongs and use them as a burn-proof stand-in for your hand when attempting to discern the temperature of a piece of meat.

9" Locking Tongs with Nylon Heads 

18" Stainless Steel BBQ Tongs

 

Resist the urge to open the cover to just 'check' on the food

Without the reassuring presence of a window (like your oven) it can be really tempting to constantly open your grill to check on how your food is cooking. This prevents your grill from maintaining a constant temperature, and the frequent rush of cool air dries out your food. Use a timer to keep track of your cooking time (I lose things easily, so I prefer a magnetic one or one on a string) and use a grill thermometer to gauge the temperature of your grill (the built-in ones can degrade and lose their accuracy over time). 

Magnetic Timers: Small and Large

Digital Timer on a String

Grill Thermometer

 

Keep small foods together

 

 Otters hold hands so they don't drift away from each other while sleeping. 

(I am not suggesting that you grill an otter)

Veggies are my favorite thing to grill - the quick, high, heating brings out crisp flavors in a way similar to a wok. But, small cut vegetables can easily fall through a grill grate and turn into smoke bombs. Flexible FireWire skewers will keep your veggies locked in place (and don't need any pre-soaking). Use a grill wok for small, quick jobs (we use ours to heat up freezer bag curly fries - works just as well as the oven) or a grill basket for delicate items like fish fillets. 

FireWire Flexible Skewers

12" Enameled Grill Wok Topper

Nonstick Flexible Grill Basket

 

Do you have any grill tips that we've missed? Tell us in the comments!

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Products | Tips and Tricks

Why Buy American

by Gia28. June 2013 15:49
 

It wouldn't be the 4th of July without at least one flag cake

(kraftrecipes.com

Every year, for the entire month of July, we empty all of the display windows at our Chapel Hill, NC location, fill them all with American-made products, and put them all on sale. It is one of our most popular sales and one that, as a locally-owned and operated small business, we hold very dear to our hearts.

This year, we've decided to take the sale nationwide and offer the same discount for American-made goods on our online store. For the entire month of July, we'll be discounting our American-made products and posting about the awesome American manufacturers we carry. So, we wanted to take a moment to talk about why you should buy American.

1. Protect yourself

The U.S. has something many countries lack: consumer, worker and environmental protection laws. The FDA, FTC, and EPA all exist to help protect Americans from manufacturing and trade practices that are exploitative and environmentally damaging. When you buy American-made products, you can assume that the product you are buying is not going to hurt you (or wasn't made in a way that exploited anyone else). And, if you do find that that product is defective or dangerous, you have options available to you that many people the in the rest of the world lack.

2. Protect your money

For much of the 20th century, America was considered the most creative country in the world. When you create something, you have a vested interest in its quality. Call it hubris, but we all like to know that our ideas are being treated with care and attention. That's why it is not enough for a product to be American-designed but foreign-made. We've been in operation for over 30 years and in that time, we've seen countless products take a sudden and drastic switch in quality, with the culprit pretty much always being a switch in manufacturing base. If you want a quality, long-lasting, product, then you should buy one from the people who invented it because they are interested in seeing it succeed. 

3. Protect your country

The oldest argument to buy American is still the truest: buying American-made goods supports American jobs. No matter how many restrictions or incentives politicians attempt to place on American companies, the free market will win: supply will follow demand. If you demand American-made goods, companies will keep their manufacturing bases in America, which provides American jobs and strengthens the entire American economy.

Obviously, we here at Kitchenworks take this very seriously. None of us would have jobs without the support of our local community. But, there are plenty more reasons to shop local, all of which contribute to making America the best country it could possibly be.

4. Protect the world

Poor quality (ie: highly disposable) goods, long transportation routes, and unscrupulous manufacturing practices all wreak havoc on our environment. Buying American-made goods means creating less waste, using less fossil fuels, and protecting our air, earth and water. 

Realist caveat:

We don't necessarily believe that ALL non-American goods are bad. Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible for quality goods to come out of China (eg: Bambu is a high-quality brand that is proudly made in China) and there are just some things you can't make in America (like German Steel knives). The movement of goods and resources across the world is what makes all of our economies possible, and without international trade, most of us wouldn't have very much access to spices, sugar, or salt (and how would your kitchen work then?). The onus is on the manufacturer to create quality goods without exploiting their workers, their consumers, or the world, and here at Kitchenworks, we believe in honoring those manufacturers whenever we can.

Tell us about some of your favorite American-made products in the comments.

 

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Events | Holidays

Favorite Grilling Recipes for the Fourth of July

by matt24. June 2013 15:01

 

Grilled Corn Slaw with Tangy Lime Dressing

Photo: myinvisiblecrown.com

The Fourth of July holiday is right around the corner, and Independence Day is also one of the biggest grilling days of the year. Burgers and hotdogs are fine, but here at Kitchenworks we like to spice things up a bit. Whether its Thai grilled chicken wings, a tangy grilled corn slaw, or tilapia grilled in foil pouches, give something new a try at our holiday cookout this year. We'll get you started with some of our favorite grilling recipes and products:

Tilapia in White Wine with Scallions and Thai Basil

photo: greeneatsblog.com

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Recipes

Welcome to the brand-new Kitchenworks blog!

by matt6. June 2013 09:50

Why a blog? Well for almost 29 years we’ve operated a retail store in Chapel Hill, NC where we’ve been known for our incredible product knowledge. Many of those who shop with us have been coming to the store for years because they know that if they have a question, we have an answer.

We know practically everything there is to know about the products we sell, and even a whole lot about products we don’t sell. This blog is our chance to share our knowledge with you on the web, just the same as if you were standing in front of us here in our store.

Here is what you can expect from this blog:

  • Product run-downs - we’ll not only tell you the size and color of our new silicone spatulas, we’ll also tell you where they’re made, up to what temperature they’re heat-safe, and how they perform against other spatulas. We test practically everything!
  • Problem solving - need replacement parts for your Cuisinart food processor but can’t figure out which ones? We’ll post helpful tips and tricks to assist you in figuring out exactly which parts you do (and do not) need. We’ll also fill you in on brewing a great cup of coffee, how to make sure your cakes don’t stick to the pans, how to keep your stainless steel pans looking bright and shiny, and more.
  • Recipes - we all work in a kitchen store, and we all love to cook. In our world the week is not measured by Mondays and Wednesdays, but by days like Treat Tuesday and Brownie Friday. We’ll share some of our favorite recipes and food stories, as well as provide great ideas for things to make with some of the amazing products we sell. Stay tuned for great Fourth of July grilling recipes, what to make for a healthy(ish) Halloween bash, and which cocktails will really make a splash at your next pool party.
  • More!

The world is our oyster when it comes to this blog, and we’ve got the knives to shuck it! You might see a funny photo or two, a video demonstration, or a guest post from one of our favorite food bloggers. We’re just getting started, so stay tuned to see what we have in store for you!

Have ideas for things you’d like to see on the Kitchenworks blog? Shoot us an e-mail at info@kitchenworksinc.com with the word “blog” in the subject, and your suggestion just might become a blog post!

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