Wednesday, May 25, 2016

comfort food

If you haven't yet noticed - I'm super nostalgic. I'm not one of those people who hoards every single item and refuses to throw anything away.  I'm more of a selective hoarder, instead keeping "edited collections" instead of "piles of junk."  I may happen to have boxes of kitchen tools, an overabundance of clothing options, and enough greeting cards and skincare to start my own Hallmark and Sephora.  What can I say?  I like options and to be prepared.

I don't know if "obsessive" is the right term to describing my cooking, but it's much more than a love affair.  Food was always been much more than sustenance - it's been a centerpiece of my life.  From cooking with family and friends, to food shopping, farming and gardening, and managing upscale cooking stores, food is always the focus.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about your favorite holiday.  You may recall a general feeling, a few special memories.  If you were to cook something from that holiday, you'd instantly be transported back in time to the exact places and feelings you experienced.  This is one of the many joys I get from cooking every day - the opportunity to relive great memories and create new ones, as well! 

Here are a few kitchen goodies I'm loving:

garlic peeler
I absolutely love garlic.  There aren't many recipes I make that don't have at least a clove or two (or ten!).  Speed up your prep time with this handy plastic tube.  Break apart the head of garlic, place a clove inside the tube, firmly pressing and rolling.  The skin instantly falls off, revealing the "naked" clove.  I can peel a few heads of garlic in just a couple minutes. And to save even more time when cooking, each week I'll prepare both minced and sliced garlic and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  The garlic peeler rinses very easily and is also dishwasher safe.  US$9 at Williams-Sonoma.

Splatter Screen

This All-Clad splatter screen is a constant in my kitchen.  In short, it's super durable, dishwasher safe, and makes cooking both safer and much cleaner.  It's available in two different sizes, and I chose the larger version, which fits on almost all of my pans and ovens.  Anytime I'm searing, sauteing, braising, or cooking something on higher heats, I use the splatter screen.  From bacon to beef roast and sauces to soups, this kitchen essential prevents painful splatters and pesky messes.  (Side note: a few months ago I was trying out a new recipe for bourbon cheesecake ice cream and needed a fine sieve - a tool I surprisingly don't have.   But with a large mixing bowl, a silicon spatula, and my trusty splatter screen, all was well!)  About US$60 at Williams-Sonoma.

Staub @ Sur La Table

I absolutely love cooking in fabulous French cookware.  In my opinion, Staub's range is the best.  Their enamel-coated cast iron handles heat to 500ºF and is the high-tech version of traditional cast iron.  The interior of all Staub pots are enameled with a matte black finish, which allows for improved resistence to thermal shocks and scratching, making care easier and keeping maximum beauty.  The enamel also has anti-adhesive properties and requires no seasoning before first use, and is incredibly safe - made free of Cadmium, lead, PFOA, and PTFE. Best of all Staub makes for juicier, more succulent food - their lids are covered with little nubs, literally self-braising while cooking.  Staub is made in France, has a lifetime warranty, and compatible with gas, electric, and induction cooking devices.  (Side note: Staub is technically dishwasher safe, but I've always hand washed with Barkeeper's friend and a scrub brush.)  US$319,95 at Sur La Table.  








http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/product/shun-premier-santoku-knife?ID=742614&CategoryID=3865#fn=ppp%3D180%26spp%3D1%26sp%3D1%26rid%3D108%26spc%3D3%26cm_kws%3Dshun%20santoku%20knives%26cm_kws_ac%3Dshun+s%26pn%3D1

My favorite knife is all is the Santoku, Japanese for three virtues" or "three uses".  Its blade is typically between 13 and 20 centimetres (5.1 and 7.9 in) long, and has a flat edge and a sheepsfoot blade that curves in an angle approaching 60 degrees at the point. The top of the Santoku's handle is in line with the top of the blade. The word refers to the three cutting tasks which the knife performs well: slicing, chopping, and mincing. The Santoku's blade and handle are designed to work in harmony by matching the blade's width and weight to the those of the tang and handle. 

In short: other than peeling produce or slicing breads, I'm constantly using a Santoku.  My favorite is from a brand called Shun.  Knives must be comfortable in your hand, fitting and weighing perfectly.  When shopping for a new knife, be sure to hold as many as possible to the best fit.  US$225 at Bloomingdale's

 These are just a few of my everyday essentials.  What are some of your go-to goodies that you can't cook without? 

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