Archive for the ‘Kitchen Tools’ Category

Over the years, I have acquired some great kitchen appliances, pans and other gear from my Mom. And by acquired, I mean stolen. OK, not exactly. But she loans them to me and then I “store” them for her. My parents’ house is only five miles away from mine, so if she wants something back (or needs to “borrow” it from me) it isn’t a big deal. The bonus is that I have access to items I wouldn’t necessarily buy and am able to put them to good use if the mood strikes me.

This week, I was in the mood for bundt cake. OK – I was craving it. I must have spotted the bundt pan in the basement recently. Or maybe I was tempted by a piece of bundt cake at the coffee shop. Either way, I couldn’t stop thinking about bundt cake. After a quick inventory of my fridge, I realized I had some excess blueberries that needed to be used up. Blueberry bundt cake was in the cards.

I found an easy recipe by just doing a quick search on Epicurious. Side note: I have the Epicurious app on the iPad the Mister gave me for my birthday in May. This has become my constant cooking companion. I prop up my iPad on its little stand in the kitchen whenever I am cooking and have access to all the recipes I have bookmarked online or on the Epicurious app.)

I modified the recipe below only slightly. They called or orange zest, but I only had lemons. Blueberries and lemons seem like a better match to my palette anyways. I just used a little less than they called for, as noted below. I also glazed the cake with a simple icing rather than dusting it with powdered sugar like they suggested. I think it made a prettier cake in the end.

Blueberry Bundt Cake
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest, or 1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh blueberries

½ cup powdered sugar
½-2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 10-inch-diameter Bundt pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 2/3 cups sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in orange peel and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Make the glaze: Whisk ½ teaspoon of lemon juice into the powdered sugar. Add more lemon juice drop by drop until it is the consistency of thick syrup.

Cool cake in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely. Place a plan under the rack and the glaze over the top. Once it is done dripping and the glaze has hardened a little, transfer the cake to a plate and serve.

Read Full Post »

Kitchen gear I love

Kitchen Gear I Love:

There are certain items in my kitchen I just can’t live without. In fact, these are probably the same items no cook can live without. Wooden spoons, tongs and a good non-stick skillet come to mind. Out of all the items crammed into my kitchen cupboards and drawers, and cluttering my kitchen counters though, there are a select few that I love. Yes, L.O.V.E. It’s been a long time since I’ve shared with you some of my favorite kitchen gear, but it’s time I tell you about a few of them…

Sharp knives

When you first buy a knife, the edge is super sharp. Once you start using it though, it quickly dulls. Honing it helps, but every so often you need it professionally sharpened. No, not for free at the meat counter of QFC. Pony up a few bucks and get it sharpened by the pros. I read a great article about knife sharpening last year and took my knives to the Epicurean Edge in Kirkland. They have mail-order service too. They charge $2-4/inch and will give you a honing lesson for free. It was there that I also learned that you should hone your knives after every four hours of use. Check out the edge on this baby!


I’ve heard these called a variety of things, but could only find them online when I searched for “portion scoop.” Anyways, these are super handy when you want uniformly sized anything. I use them the most for cookie dough, but have used them for portioning muffin or cupcake batter into the pan and even for portioning out meatballs. They come in a variety of sizes and can be found a restaurant supply stores and some kitchen stores. And on amazon.com, of course.

Bench scraper

These are also called dough scrapers, but they have a myriad of other uses. Some are even marketed for scooping food from your cutting board into the pot or pan. I think the basic style above can you be used for it all though. Once you have one in your kitchen, you’ll find you use it all the time. 

Mom’s Kitchen Aid

So you can’t buy this exact Kitchen Aid for your home, but if you do a lot of cooking and baking – especially if you do a lot of baking – this tool is invaluable. I am lucky enough to have partially inherited my mother’s Kitchen Aid. I say “partially,” because she is still alive and technically, I just “store” it for her at my house. I use it a lot more than she does, so it lives with me now.
There are a few things that I have made lately that would have been nearly impossible without this mixer. Marshmallows for one one – you need to whisk the sugar mixture for 15 minutes. Actually, for anything requiring egg whites beaten to firm or stiff peaks – soufflé, mousse, angel food cake – this mixer is a life saver.

The new ones are cute – especially with all the bright colors you can now buy, but I like this old one and its rather worn appearance. Even though it is 30+ years old and has “walked” off the counter when my mother wasn’t looking, it still works like a champ. If you are considering buying one of your own, buy the biggest one you can afford. The 4-quart one is really too small for many dough recipes. Get a 5-quart at a minimum or a 6-quart if you can.

Read Full Post »

I come from a long line of kitchen gadget collectors. OK, just two. But still, my Mom and Dad appear to have acquired every plastic tool, gadget or implement that has been invented for the home cook. If “it slices, it dices”…they own it.

While they are very generous, some of the gadgety gifts my parents have given me just aren’t very useful. The “chopper” and the “fat mop,” just haven’t cut it. Literally.

A couple of years back though, they gave me something called “The Alligator.” I was skeptical. Heck, I didn’t even try it for a couple of years. It was stuffed into a drawer for a long time before I gave it a go.

“Mr. Chompers,” as I have since nicknamed him, has become a kitchen gadget that is actual used a great deal in my kitchen. Granted, if I had better knife skills I could probably finely dice an onion in seconds. But, I don’t. Enter Mr. Chompers. I can finely dice an onion in seconds. Literally. And, the thing cleans up quickly and has even chomped through carrots and celery.

I still chop onions by hand on occasion. If I just need half an onion or a small onion, I’ll chop by hand. If I am cooking for a crowd though, or making a big batch of chili or spaghetti sauce, you better believe I turn to Mr. Chompers.

Read Full Post »

The more time I spend in the kitchen, the more I recognize how key the right tools are. I’m not talking about gadgets (we all know what a slippery slope that can be), but useful tools that really earn their space in the drawer or cupboard.

Here is a round-up of gear that is making my life easier this month:

Dansko Clogs
Standing on your feet for any length of time is tiring, particularly if your day job is sitting on your ass all day. I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis too, thanks in part to my high arches, so I needed some good arch support. While these aren’t the most attractive shoes, they are damn comfortable. I can stand for hours and hours wearing them and my feet and legs feel great.

Flour Sack Towels
For Christmas this year, my mom gave me a dozen of these. I use them for everything: tucked into my apron during long cooking sessions, covering rising bread, draining freshly washed salad fixings or lasagna sheets and more.

1/4 Sheet Pan
This is such a handy sized pan to have. It easily fits in the fridge and is ideal for small batches or meals. I can’t really think of what I use it for, but just know that I love it.

Electric Kettle
I am not a tea drinker, but am an Americano drinker. This kettle boils water in about a minute. If you need a hot water bath – for crème brûlée for example – this is really handy because it is easy to pour too. Of course, we also use it when we need to unclog a drain…

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.