Cooking and Gadgets

No Weigh!!

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by Darryle Pollack

scale.jpg So there we are, my two children, my ex-husband and his side of the family sitting at the table. All adults ranging in age from 20 to 70.  Dinner is over, I am paying no attention to the conversation at the far end of the table when I see my nephew approaching with a bathroom scale.  I have no idea what instigated this, but it apparently involves a discussion about someone's weight.  (Not mine, I assure you.)

Now that he has our attention, my nephew puts the scale on the floor next to the table, steps on -- and tells the assembled group how much he weighs.  Mind you, this is AFTER dinner, not before, and we have all just consumed excessive amounts of bread, pasta, and other carbohydrates. 

About Umami

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by Amy Sherman

umamibook.jpg Umami was discovered by a Japanese researcher one hundred years ago. Dr. Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University recognized that certain foods like asparagus, tomatoes, meat and cheese all shared a common taste. It's a bit hard to put your finger on, though it's often described as "savory." I think it's easier to think of it as the taste that makes your mouth water. It also has a distinctive mouth feel, it lends a fullness or roundness.

One of the first things I learned at a recent Umami Symposium is that while taste and flavor are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Flavor is determined by taste and smell. There are only five tastes--sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. Just as sweetness is imparted by sugar, umami is imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods. It is also manufactured in monosodium glutamate. It is added or occurs naturally in products with hydrolyzed soy protein and autolyzed yeast such as Marmite, Vegemite, Maggi, and Kewpie mayonnaise. It also exists in most cheese flavored snack foods.

The Kitchen Survival Kit

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by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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The TEN THINGS (even if you don’t cook) to keep in your KITCHEN at all times (so you can make yourself something decent to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner) even if you only shop for real food once a month:

My First Cookbook - A Treasury Of Great Recipes

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by Laraine Newman
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Given my love of sugar and horror, its no surprise that the first cookbook I used was by Mary and Vincent Price. It was called A Treasury of Great Recipes. Long before you had the countless husband and wife teams traveling and writing about the places they've eaten, you had Mary and Vincent Price, of all people, with photographs and anecdotes told in what is clearly Price's voice.  Charming and funny, he was a wonderful raconteur and gourmand.

The first thing I made from that cookbook was an Apricot Mousse. My mother would make it and put it in these adorable little ceramic pots with lids on them and called them pot de crème. That's why, when I went to look up the recipe, I though I'd hallucinated the whole thing because that wasn’t how it was categorized in the cookbook. But it enabled me to take a walk down cookbook memory lane. It was bittersweet to gaze upon my dusty volumes of Gourmet's compendiums. So sad. But, I digress.

Custard Easier than Crème Brûlée

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by David Latt

beachshore.jpg One of the delights of living in the Pacific Palisades is being able to take daily walks along the beach. The walks are great for exercise but also to enjoy the way the beach, ocean, and sky look in the early morning. I have to admit that I would never have discovered the pleasures of walking on the beach had it not been for my wife. For Michelle taking a walk is as necessary as breathing. I think she learned the benefits of walking from her mom, Helen. Whenever we visit her parents in New Jersey, she and her mom head to the boardwalk to take a long walk. This is their way of catching up and clearing their minds before the day begins.

This morning we walked with our friends Janet, Kelly, and Annette. We hadn't seen Kelly for a month because she and her family had been in Europe. She told us that one of the high points of the trip was a crème brûlée she'd eaten in Paris. That dessert was so delicious she couldn't stop thinking about its perfect crust and flavorful custard.

The Seduction of New Kitchen Utensils

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by Seale Ballenger

deta-201.jpgWhile frantically trying to come up with great holiday gift ideas each year for various members of my family, I often ask them what they would like to receive, making the assumption that giving them something they want is better than the random shot-in-the-dark that often results in an unsuccessful or unwanted present.  When queried this year, my partner’s stepmother informed me that she wanted kitchen utensils “of any kind,” citing the fact that most of hers were at least twenty years old or older. 

With the notion fresh in my mind, I went flying out the door to the Broadway Panhandler, a local shop in the village which specializes in anything and everything relating to the kitchen.  Assuming I would be in-and-out and on my way in under twenty minutes, I was surprised when I emerged three hours later with a sack full of the latest kitchen gizmos and gadgets, as well as a variety of the newest versions of old standbys and favorite tools.

Kitchen Essentials

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by Russ Parsons & Amy Scattergood

From the L.A. Times

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Value is a relative concept. Just ask the folks at Lehman Brothers. But when it comes to ingredients and kitchen tools that beckon to the enthusiastic home cook, it's important to the bottom line -- in this case, a great meal -- to take a look at what's really worth your hard-earned cash -- and what isn't.

We scrutinized our kitchens and the merchandise. Our thumbs-up, thumbs-down verdicts on a couple of dozen popular or hyped cooking items follow. No apologies – we're opinionated. Some gadgets and goodies are grossly overvalued, others just don't get their due. We considered cost, efficacy and practicality – as well as the happiness factor. Because for a true chocoholic, a 3.5-ounce bar of Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao 72% cacao really is worth $6.

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My Goal For the Summer

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by Anna Harari

icedcoffee.jpg The best way to enjoy summer is to set goals for yourself.  The best summer I ever had was when my friend Becky and I set a goal to eat at every single restaurant on the 25 best cheap eats from Los Angeles magazine.  We failed to accomplish the goal, but is failure really such a bad thing when you’re eating well on the way there? 

This summer, I’ve come up with my first goal: learn how to successfully brew iced coffee, in other words, cold brew it. The first time I ever even heard about the concept was last year.  A new coffee shop opened in the NYU hood called Think Coffee.  I looked at the barista after my first sip and told him, “This is really amazing.”  He looked me dead in the eye and said “That’s because we cold brew it for 24 hours.  The way iced coffee should be made.”  I’m not going to lie, I kind of have a thing for pretentious baristas.  And I developed a major thing for Think iced coffee.  But then Think got popular, and popularity to me means only one thing: crowded. 

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

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by Amy Sherman

mustardroastedpotatoes.jpgIn addition to being an absolute pasta freak, I am passionate about potatoes. I could eat pasta everyday and potatoes, probably every other day. I love them every which way. A number of years ago Oprah's personal chef at the time wrote a cookbook called In the Kitchen with Rosie. It was a huge bestseller and featured very low fat recipes. There were some good recipes and techniques in the book. One of the recipes that made a big impression on me was called Mustard Roasted Potatoes.

The Mustard Roasted Potato recipe was red potatoes tossed with Dijon mustard, cumin, paprika, chili and cayenne. The potatoes roast in the oven and become all crusty and delectable. It's a great technique and can be endlessly varied. I've incorporated plain yogurt, fresh herbs, and different kinds of mustard. I like the Moroccan mustard from Dulcet Cuisine for this recipe because it has so much flavor you don't need to add any additional spices, but feel free to experiment and try any spiced mustard you like or add some spices.

Brie & Bacon Fettucine

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by Amy Sherman

briepasta.jpgI love the story of stone soup. I love it for all the wrong reasons. You know the story, right? The moral is that by sharing what one has, everyone eats well. But for me, I am like the greedy villagers, still amazed that soup can be made with a stone.

While not quite stone soup, you might think of this as "stone pasta". A dish of plain pasta it is made better with a bit of bacon, onion and a knob of brie. The resulting dish is kind of like Spaghetti Carbonara only faster and easier, and possibly even tastier. And I love Spaghetti Carbonara!

Brie has long been considered by many to be the most popular of all French cheeses. It comes from a province once called, "Brie" now called Seine-et-Marne which is not that far from Paris (and now more famous for being the site of a Disney Resort). Real brie is made from unpasteurized cow's milk but the version available in the US is made from pasteurized milk so the resulting cheese is milder and less ripe than true brie.

 

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