Staff Picks: Joanna

by Gia4. October 2013 12:16

Joanna is a New England native with an eye for design and a soft spot for a great deal. Come check out her fabulous window displays at our University Mall location!

Name: Joanna

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

Steamers, Lobster (with lots of melted butter for dipping) and fresh sweet corn on the cob; all to be shared with close family and dear friends.

What are your three favorite meals to prepare?

  • Party Appetizers
  • Sunday Dinners
  • Baking on a Snow Day

What are your favorite restaurants?

  • Crook's Corner (Chapel Hill, NC) - Shrimp & Grits on the patio: heaven!
  • Antonia's (Hillsborough, NC) - Perfect place for a leisurely Sunday afternoon brunch.
  • The Silver Shores Shanty (Falmouth Height, Cape Cod, MA) - Best fried clams on the cape!
  • Allen & Son BBQ (Pittsboro, NC) - Always good and tasty. They never dissappoint!

What are your top 5 essential cooking tools?

What are your top 5 essential kitchen tools?

What products would you like to receive as gifts?

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?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Products | 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!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Made in America | Products | Vendor Spotlight

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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!

Tags: , , , , , ,

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!

Tags: , , , ,

Products | Tips and Tricks

Tag cloud

RecentPosts