Browsing articles in "For the Kitchen"
Apr 6, 2012

A woodsy flavor with cedar planks

Just recently, I experimented with cedar planks on the grill. I’ve always wanted to try it to see if it actually makes a difference to the flavor. Well sure enough, it does! I did have some issues with my charcoal grill though. The charcoals had stayed on for quite some time, so by the time I wanted to grill, the fire had died down. I eventually had to finish cooking the salmon in the oven. However, during the time it was grilling on the planks, I could immediately taste the smokiness that the cedar planks had provided. It was the coolest concept and wish I wasn’t so new to this cooking process.

First things first, remove the planks from the packaging. I found these Fire & Flavor cedar planks sold at Kroger for only $7, and it comes with 2 planks. As stated in the directions, soak each plank in water for an hour before you start grilling. I used a heavy bowl to submerge them into the water. Whether you purchase these Fire & Flavor cedar planks or find some some actual cedar at Home Depot, soaking them in water is a must unless you want your wood to catch on fire! Just so you know, these cedar planks can be reused 2-3 times.

When you’ve soaked the planks for an hour and the charcoals are nice and hot, place the soaked planks on the grill. Heat both sides for 3 minutes according to the directions.

Next add your marinated fish on the planks. Cover the grill and allow the fish to cook through. Because my grill wasn’t hot enough, I didn’t get an accurate cooking time for the fish, but I’d imagine it would only be 20 minutes or so. I’m going to try this again soon and develop the timing and marinade better. But all in all, cedar planks are a very creative way to add additional flavor to fish. The fish stays tender and moist infused with a woodsy, earthy flavor…amazing!

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Mar 29, 2012

Global knives and a magnetic holder, a good pair

Registering for gifts was actually a blessing for Jared and I because we literally had nothing before we got married. We both had our fair share of Goodwill finds and college-rusted utensils, and I was sick of it! It was finally time to upgrade so we gave our used things back to Goodwill and registered for anything and everything. When we moved into our new home, our kitchen was set with new and shiny things we received from our friends and family. All the other rooms were empty, but the kitchen was packed! Haha.

Not gonna lie, there was one item we didn’t use right away just because I didn’t want to ruin them—my Global 3-piece knife set. Besides the stainless steel pots & pans and Kitchen Aid mixer, these knives were the third most expensive item on the list. Man, oh man, they are sharp as hell and feels so naturally in the hand. I will never go back to my non-name brand knife. Look at these beauties…

Before I opened the knives, I needed a place to put them. From Bed, Bath and Beyond, we purchased the magnetic knife holder for a mere $16.99. It measures a foot long and attaching it to the wall was simple. The holder comes with two screws that you drill into the pre-drilled holes on both sides of the holder. Pretty sturdy. So far so good. The Global 3-piece knife set was little more pricey at $229, which includes a 5 1/2″ carving, 8″ chef and 3″ paring knives.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering why I registered for these knives. For no good reason at all, I saw chefs on TV cooking with them. Now I know why :)

As you can see, I have several other knives on the magnetic holder. It’s a great tool for those lacking cabinet space, which we do. And that’s the main reason why I waited so long to use these knives. I didn’t want to dump them in a cabinet with all my other kitchen gadgets. I needed a designated spot for the knives and for less than $20, I’d say this holder makes complete sense. So, if you’re looking to invest in a fantastic set of knives and a holder, I totally recommend these two items.

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Mar 23, 2012

How I freeze my meats

I am a little paranoid about being wasteful, especially because my parents taught me at a very young age not to be. We ate at home 98% of the time. We ate whatever my parents cooked and finished whatever was on our plates. My parents were born and raised in the Philippines so I can understand their parenting habits. I am the same way today, and can’t imagine not teaching my kids the same habits.

One of my ways to not be wasteful starts with freezing my meats. It would be a shame to spend so much money on good quality meat for it to be ruined in the freezer. Because of my paranoia, I have three important steps to preparing my meats for the freezer. I know this might be a little over-the-top, but I’d rather not waste my food and money!

1. Cover with cling wrap. This first step is very important when preparing meats for the freezer. Be sure to wrap the meat tightly with cling wrap ensuring the cling wrap touches the meat. Remove any air pockets.

2. Cover with foil. This second step helps keep the meat fresh. After you’ve wrapped the meat with cling wrap, cover tightly with foil to prevent freezer burn.

3. Place in freezer zip lock bag. Just to be on the safe side, take your meat wrapped in plastic and then in foil, and place it in a freezer zip lock bag. As you zip up the bag, remove any air.

So these are my three steps to keep the meats cozy in the freezer. Just place the bags in the freezer and they should stay good for a few months.  To defrost, refrigerator overnight or pop in the microwave. Taking these extra steps is worth it!

With pork chops this time, cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Cover tightly with foil.

Place in a freezer zip lock bag and then freeze! The secret to keep the freezer burn away from your meats.

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Mar 8, 2012

Garnish: Packaging life’s moments

A few weeks ago, I received a package in the mail from a company called Garnish. If you haven’t been introduced to this company yet, let me enlighten you. Garnish is a online store that offers reasonably inexpensive food packaging. These products are blank canvases, totally customizable and offer infinite possibilities. These products make any occasion, a special occasion. I only have my best friend to thank for introducing me to Garnish. She sent me an email just to tell me about this online store. She’s the best, thanks Mariam!

I opened up my package from Garnish and immediately, my head started to turn. I started thinking of ways to utilize these products in my food presentation and especially for my upcoming dinner party late March, where I’m having a few friends that I haven’t seen in a long time for a Mexican fiesta! I can certainly use these products to serve my food! I just love the simplicity of each product they offer. From disposable wooden baskets to twine, you can find everything you need to plan an intimate get-together or a even a large gathering, like a wedding.

Lets take a look at all the samples I received from Garnish:

Plastic mini cups: These would be perfect for desserts and hors d’oeuvres where a bite or two will do. I can also see these has the perfect shot glass :) Just kidding. Haha. They can also be re-used!

Large wood paper serving cone: The texture of these serving cones is amazing. They’re nice and sturdy, and big enough to serve homemade french fries. I’m looking forward to serving pommes frites later down the road!

White paper cone cup: The first thing I think of with these paper cone cups is sweet crunchy flavored ice. Mmmmm. Now all I need is a snow cone machine. I could also see  veggies and dip, fries with savory saucy or even peppermint sticks and marshmallows for a hot chocolate party.

Geometric paperboard cup: These containers have a thin corrugated pinstripe finish and as an extra bonus — you can bake right in them. Perfect size for individual appetizer serving or a mini salad.

Push pop with lid: I had to get push pops! I would totally fill with homemade ice cream or sorbet, maybe a trifle, pudding or gelatin. Whatever you choose…it will be fun and interactive. These come assembled for you and are re-useable push pop with lid.

Wooden disposable demi-tasse spoon: Ideal for small bites. Could dress up the spoons with a rubber stamp with names of guests, fitting words or cute designs.

Cocktail fork: Perfect for those cocktail franks that everyone loves. Let the kids pick away at their foods with the blunt ended cocktail forks. Pick a little here, pick a little there, you’ll want these picks everywhere!

Thanks so much, Suzanne at Garnish for sharing all these items for me. I can’t wait to start using them. Don’t worry Pretty Tasty Things readers, you’ll definitely see what I do with them!

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Jan 11, 2012

Three New Cookbooks!

The best thing about being a cook is receiving cookbooks as gifts! Seriously, is there a better gift? Don’t answer. Haha. This Christmas, I got three new cookbooks to add to my collection of 40+ books. Yes, I look at cookbooks for recipes, but the design of the book is intriguing to me as well. Being a graphic designer, I love how cookbooks are designed. I love the photography. I love the texture and thickness of the pages. I love the use of typography and color. For me, these cookbooks are a means of becoming inspired in the kitchen. Lets take a look at the three I received for Christmas!

So technically, this first one isn’t a cookbook, but it’s something for the kitchen and/or home. Good friends of ours, Brandon and Sara, got me Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Tips to Simplify Your Life by Susan Waggoner. I am obsessed with this book. It’s literally everything you need to know to simplify your life, hence the title. It gives you ideas and tip for everything and anything — cleaning cutter, painting a room, decorating, cleaning a bathroom, how to bake better, cooking tips, maintaining the lawn and being more green. The list goes just goes on and on. It’s things I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Not only is this book useful, the design of it is my favorite. Love the kraft-style cover with good typography and photography.

Cookbook number two was given to us from my sister, Sharon. She gave us The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden. What a perfect gift for us since we went to Spain for our honeymoon and Spain is our favorite country I’ve visited so far! This book is massive. Close to 600 pages of beautiful photography and detailed recipes. The first 100 pages or so gives readers an introduction about the country describing how food influences history and regions of Spain. If I had the money to make every recipe in this book, I would. Apparently, it’s also a New York Times bestseller. It’s definitely a must-have in the kitchen.

Last, but not least, Gourmet Gifts: 100 delicious recipes for every occasion by Dinah Corley. This was a gift from my bestie, Mariam. She and her sister live in Northern Virginia and went antiquing in the Leesburg area. She happened to run into a book signing at one of the antique shops and purchased this book for me, also signed by the author! This book has definitely inspired me to focus more on presentation, which I’ve been wanting to do. This book illustrates recipes for gift-giving and how to package them creatively. This book is colorful and bright, the instructions are thorough and detailed.

Share with me, did you get a cookbook for Christmas? If so, leave some love below and let me know what cookbook is now in your kitchen!

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