6 Ways to Spring Forward Your Coffee Habits

by Kitchenworks10. March 2015 08:22

As we lose an hour of sleep from Daylight Savings this week, you may want a stronger cup of joe to keep some spring in your step! Luckily there are a variety of ways to get your coffee fix -- here are the perks of each: 



Ever craved espresso but balk at losing counterspace to a giant machine? Bialetti has your answer: Made in Italy, this is the original manual stovetop espresso maker. An excellent option for folks who love the craft of espresso, Bialetti’s products allow you to fine tune your brew just how you like it. It’s fast, easy, and available in sizes from 1 to 12 cups.

 

 

If you believe vintage never truly goes out of style, a percolator may be up your alley. First introduced in the early 20th century, percolators maintained popularity until the early 1970’s when electric coffeemakers first hit the market. They’re still common among camping and outdoors enthusiasts for their simplicity and usability without electricity. 

 

 

Pourovers offer a lot of control, both in the strength of the coffee you brew and the temperature of the water used, and produce a cup of joe similar in consistency and flavor to an electric coffeemaker. Like the title suggests, this method entails pouring hot water over your coffee grounds via a reusable filter cone. Filter cones come in ceramic and plastic, as well as an array of sizes.  


Chemex 8 Cup Glass Coffeemaker

 

The most widely known style of pourover is the Chemex, which have spiked in popularity recently. While pourover filter cones vary in filtration, Chemex touts an optimized flow rate to maximize flavor and quality. A Chemex also offers similar user control as standard pourovers, just with fewer moving parts! 


  

Bonjour 3 Cup French Press

 

Another option for manual coffee brewing is the French press. Slightly more involved than a pourover, a French press requires more maintenance in both use and cleanup; however, many feel the quality of coffee you’ll get more than makes up for it! Operating without a filter, french presses allow the natural oils in your coffee beans to produce a richer brew.  New to the French press? This blog post offers a great step-by-step guide to get you started.

 

 

Finally, the most conventional of options, the electric coffeemaker. This mechanized system removes almost all preparation from your plate, some even allowing you to set your machine in sync with your morning alarm. Some folks feel electric coffeemakers offer a limited depth of flavor in comparison to other brewing methods, but it’ll certainly still get the job done.

 

 

One wonderful thing about coffee is that no two cups are the same: in both preparation and the beans themselves, there’s enough variation for everyone to find their style.

 

Join us on Pinterest for more coffee tidbits, recipes, and more!

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General | Products | Tips and Tricks

Top Turkey Tools

by Kitchenworks23. November 2014 11:22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey season is upon us!

 

There are those who find themselves daunted by the prospect of cooking holiday meals, while others rise to the challenge of planning, prepping, cooking, and serving the best possible version of Grandma's recipe that they've ever tasted. We choose to be the latter! And the best way to ensure this time of year remain joyful is to employ the help of some of the best kitchen tools out there. Here is our list of the Top Turkey Tools:

 

  • Trussing Pins and Twine

No stuffing, side dish, or table linens will be able to distract your guests from the misshapen turkey that will emerge from the oven if your bird is not properly trussed. While slightly daunting for first-timers, trussing is remarkably simple and will make your presentation memorable for all of the right reasons.

 

  • Roasting Pan

A quality roasting pan is a vital part of any kitchen. The key is to pick the pan that will be appropriate for you- Not everyone needs a standard size roast pan capable of handling a 16 lb turkey. Whether you choose a full size roaster or one fit for a toaster oven, remember to look for solid handles and even heat distribution.

 

  • Roasting Rack

The perfect roasting pan will be worthless without the proper roasting rack. Not only will this keep your bird from sticking to the pan and allow it to cook more evenly, but it will keep it safely out of those wonderful drippings that you’ll baste or make gravy with later. A "V" shaped rack or one with sloped sides will be helpful not only with turkeys, but with loins and roasts in the future.

 

  • Thermometer

Everyone has an opinion about turkey cooking times. Some theories are based on weight or skin color, but the most accurate way of knowing when your turkey should come out of the oven is by temperature. The bird will be cooked fully when the internal temperature of the thigh meat is 165°. You can use the classic pop-up version, an instant read meat thermometer, or our favorite- the Polder digital probe that will sit nicely on the counter and beep when your bird is done.

 

  • Baster

A good basting schedule will keep your bird nice and moist while adding extra flavor. Some people prefer the classic bulb baster, while others like to use a basting brush. This preference will depend somewhat on the thickness of your basting liquid of choice. The drippings caught in your roasting pan will work nicely or you could create a sauce with your flavors of choice. One of our favorite techniques is to cover the bird in a butter and herb soaked cheesecloth- the cloth will do most of the basting for you!

 

  • Turkey Lifters

Your bird is cooked. It’s out of the oven with a temperature of 165° and has turned a beautiful shade of bronzy brown. Your best platter is on the counter waiting to be the center of attention and your standing in front of the stove with 2 oven mitts, a fish spatula, a bbq fork, and a cookie sheet. Turkey lifters are the kind of item that you might overlook until this very moment. We are here to remind you- Buy the turkey lifters now so your prized poultry doesn’t end up on the floor!

 

  • Gravy Prep

Gravy is an integral part of many holiday meals. The classic turkey gravy takes advantage of those long hours in the oven and uses the pan drippings for wonderful flavor. You’ll want to strain off the majority of the unnecessary fat with either a fat mop or a gravy separator and then you’ll need a good whisk to keep the gravy moving.

 

  • Presentation 

After everything is cooked, rested, and whisked, you are ready to move to the table. Holiday meals can require certain tableware that might not be present on regular Thursday nights. A large turkey platter is essential, along with quality carving tools. A gravy pourer, whether the traditional gravy boat or a modernized version, is also vital. Appropriate servingware for each side dish and glassware for wine, champagne, or punch. A little ambiance is always nice as well- candles and linens are an easy way to make things special.

 

 

Finding your supplies a little lacking? Check out our selection of turkey tools here!

 

 

Happy Cooking! 

 

 

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Holidays | Tips and Tricks

Put it in a Pie!

by Kitchenworks22. October 2014 15:52

Check out some of our favorite pie tips, tools, and recipes!

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Autumn | Holidays | Recipes | Tips and Tricks

Sticking it out

by Gia26. January 2014 10:01

I've never been very good at New Years Resolutions. Apparently, I'm in good company. Only 8% of resolution-makers hold out. We're here today to talk about sticking it out.

The top 5 New Years resolutions are to:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Stay Fit and Healthy

Look familiar? Fear not! We have the perfect sanctuary for you to achieve your goals:

Your Kitchen!

You probably already know that home-cooked meals are healthier and cheaper than meals cooked outside of the home. Still throwing around some lame excuse for not cooking at home? Let's go through these huh?

I can't cook.

At a certain point in your life you couldn't read or type or speak more than 6 intelligible words. But, you learned. No one is born with the ability to slow-braise a perfect pork shoulder. As long as you're willing to eat your failures (or stock a few emergency frozen burritos) you can learn to cook anything.

  • Ask: your butcher, your grocer, your mom, your best friend. Everyone has an opinion on how to cook something and most people love to talk about food. Its also a great way to pick up cute chicks in the pasta aisle.

  • Use the internet: you can access the entirety of human knowledge from a screen in your pocket. Stop scrolling through top-10 lists and look up something of value. Youtube is chock full of how-to videos, and there are probably more cooking blogs than chefs in the world at this point. Benefit from someone else's mistakes.

  • Call Kitchenworks. Didn't think you could do that huh? Loving food is pretty much a pre-requisite for working here and we've helped customers through many a kitchen nightmare. Chances are, we have a good idea why your biscuits taste like glue

I don't have the right equipment.

You don't need fancy equipment to cook for yourself. When you find yourself coveting that new gadget on tv, remember that your ancestors got by with little more than a skillet and a stick and we're still passing down those recipes. 

All you need are:

I don't have time

Let's return to our ancestors, shall we? On average, they had more children, less electricity/running water, and far more diseases. You have time, you're just not spending it wisely. Here are some things that might help:

  • Plan your meals. You'll save time and money by pre-answering the much-resented 'what's for dinner' conversation. Go through your cookbooks or browse your grocery store serials for inspiration.

  • Involve the kids – picky eaters are much more likely to eat something that they had a hand in choosing and preparing.
  • Prep ahead of time. Only using half an onion for that breakfast omelet? Chop all of it anyway and save the rest for the sauce you're making for dinner. Having tacos for lunch? Cook all of the ground beef in the package and save the remainder for tomorrow's sloppy joes.

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

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

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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