Watermelon Slicer

by Kitchenworks25. July 2016 16:19

 

 

We look forward to summer watermelon all year long! This gorgeous new Italian-made gadget makes slicing and serving watermelon a breeze.

Solid 18/10 stainless steel construction quickly slices through a halved watermelon.

Simply follow along the rind to easily produce beautiful even slices.

 

Then flip your grip and squeeze the handles to grab and serve individual slices.

 If you've ever leaked watermelon juice all over the counter or spent 20 minutes wrestling a slippery melon only to serve mangled chunks, this tool is a life-saver! One of our new favorites!

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Popsicle Season

by Kitchenworks15. June 2016 15:45

Popsicle season is here again! Here's a peek at some of our favorite popsicle molds this summer:

Bug Pops

Six fun molds divided into 3 sets of 2- perfect for smaller batches of pops for little hands. One of the most popular sets!

 

 

Twin Pops

Classic double pops pull apart for easy sharing! One set of 4 double pops.

 

Star Pops

Set of 5 star shaped pops- perfectly patriotic for summer!

Groovy Pops

Larger grooved pops are popular for grownup frozen treats! Set of 6 molds.

Rocket Pops

Nostalgic rocket pops are popular with kids of all ages! Set of 6 pops.

Jewel Pops

The perfect substitute for sugary candy, these small pops are the size of a large lollipop and fit on your finger! Set of 6 jewel pops. 

 

 

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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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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

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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