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June 8th, 2004


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02:48 pm - Here in America's Dream Kitchen
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So I'm outside narrating my life to myself as a walk to the car to fetch my sweater thinking "The heat beat down with the force of 1000 suns." Huh? 1! 1 sun is generating all the heat I'm feeling. I can understand a bit of dramatic license, but ahem, 1, not 1000. That's all I'm saying.

So yesterday we went to Clarke in Milford, MA. They're a luxury appliance wholesale distributer and they have a showroom floor and do custom design and stuff. They gave us a bit of an intro into the company and we toured the showroom floor. Hoppie drooled. He'll deny it, but I saw him.
We went in before the presentation started and talked with Christopher Kimball while he was standing around waiting for something to do. He's quite nice. I always thought from the show, he was a bit of a snob and stuff, but he's very down to earth, just a little quirky. I can live with that.
So we looked at more stuff from the showroom floor and then went back into the kitchen stage, which CK had said was the set that Ming Tsai uses for his cooking show. (although, ATK has their own kitchen they film from in Brookline. CK also told us about how they dress the set for the grilling and outdoor episodes. They do it out in the alley, they just have all the residents more their cars and lay down a flooring to simulate a backyard and dress the set. Neat huh?) Anyway, it's a nice setup, spacious with multiple counters and just a couple of burners, and an oven, refrigerator etc. (as opposed to ATK, which has 40 burner 20 ovens 2 kitchens including the prep kitchen.)
Erin runs the prep kitchen at ATK & is assisting CK with his recipes and plating.
First CK goes through a list of his favorite gadgets, the things they tested and found are worth the money and the time it saves you.
  • Tayler 13$ oven thermometer

  • Polder timers $12 &

  • Polder probe thermometers $35

  • Wustoff tritent or Henckle knives 10" 85$ and 8" chef’s knife (if you can only afford one, the 8")
    Things to look for in a knife:
    • feels good in hand

    • balance

    • hold it on top for close work, not back on the handle

    He also said he likes Japanse knives are good for slicing (as opposed to chopping)
    test for sharpness by cutting through paper

  • knife sharpener 3 slot model

  • thermopen instant read digital thermometer

  • zyless garlic press

  • garlic peeler (not necessary)

He talked about how he started Cooks 1980 and the TV show 4 years ago, and it's now the top rated Public TV cooking show, gave us some background and introduction and introduced the three food things he was going to make, a chicken dish, a shrimp dish, and a dessert. As he waited for things to cook, he answered questions. Some of the questions and answers appear below, others don't. Also snippets of recipes.
Chicken piard:
skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced in half lenghtwise then pounded to 1/2" thick.
Oil the plastic wrap & cover chicken w/ it on both sides to minimize tearing. Need even thickness.
Cook in regular skillet w/ a bit of oil. Oil first, then heat pan & look for rippling w/ smoke
salt & pepper the chicken (he recommends using a small bowl for salt that you can contaminate)
2 min 1 side/30 second other side (est) med high
add diced onion to pan
chicken stock & wine & reduce (red wine should be reduced under a simmer, you could sub verjus, lemon juice, vinegar sub for wine as a non-alcoholic alternative)
add cold butter off heat directly after herbs.
Hints for peelings eggs: ice water bath after cooking.
The woman next to me recommended 13 min at a soft boil then ice water, then pierce one end with a needle and peel.
And the woman behind me suggested I crack egg on one side, then slip teaspoon between egg & shell to peel off.
To cool soup guickly by pour into a shallow pan
any basic vegetable oil is good for cooking. Don’t waste good oil.
properly cooked food always looks good, it doesnt need to be dressed up.
The baked pear recipe comes from: Restaurant favorites 150 recipies modified for home cooking
hard pears., cut in half remove seeds, poach in sugar syrup + add cream (3/4 c heavy cream) drizzle w/ sauce & serve w/ Stilton cheese
1/3 c water 2 c sugar till bubbling (med high)
lower heat when adding pears
watch carefully on the caramelling
water w/ heat to boil
And more hints:
ketchup cleans copper pans
use corn syrup w/ sugar in chocolate recipes, on this recipe the issue is getting all to caramelize at the same time
wok in this order: meat, veggies, spices, then add meat back in then make sauce
Recommended cookbooks for novice kitchen users: How to Cook Everything, New Joy of Cooking, and Best Recipe
baking flour=cake flour
He recommends all clad saucepan & skillet as the basic must have cookware, it's expensive, but worth it, and says pyrex & other cheap stuff are good for baking. But warns that Pyrex will explode if you put it hot onto a wet surface.
Microwave tips:
  • 50% power 2 min for chocolate

  • 10% power to soften butter

CK like microwave polenta
The test kitchen reopens for tours Jun. 29 (signups on web site)
And he recommended another book he read about mortifying book signings, but I didn't get the name.
So that was it.


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