Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stephanie's Kitchen Drawer: Baking Steel



A few months ago I decided to step up my pizza baking, I'm always trying to make better pizza.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to get a pizza oven built yet but this steel is a great way to make a perfectly mottled and crisp pizza crust.  Baking steel's are amazing, they conduct heat better than a stone does so they heat up and retain the heat better than a stone will.  This article on Serious Eats was a big help convincing me to get one.  I opted for a baking steel that had the same dimensions: i.e. width and length of my pizza stone.  The steel isn't the same thickness as my stone but that isn't as relevant.  The steel I have is made by NerdChef and I bought it through Amazon here.  I have the .375 inch thick steel.  The stone I have is from Amazon and I have had it for a few years.  The stone can be found here.  My baking steel is on the middle lower rack in my oven then above that on another rack I have the pizza stone.  Be sure to have the racks placed enough apart to have a pizza fit.   Also always preheat the steel and stone in your oven set to the highest temperature possible for at least an hour before baking pizza.   Another great article about how to use a baking steel is here.  this will be my next test I think, this technique and his dough recipe sound pretty awesome.  


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

We have Taco Tuesday every week at my house, our family is big on day specific menu's.  It's a bit of challenge to come up with a different taco filling each week so I don't feel like were having the same food every Tuesday.  I do have three children who never eat Taco's and will only eat quesadilla's made with the same orange sharp cheddar cheese and a specific flour tortilla.  Back to tacos, my Instant Pot hasn't been used to much, I did make homemade chicken noodle soup on Monday with homemade broth and noodles which was awesome since I only used the Instant Pot for the whole process.   I'm not a big fan of wet, mushy meat so Crock-Pots are my least favorite way to cook any sort of meat.  After some searching I determined a two fold approach would yield the best results int his recipe.  The pork is cooked in the Instant Pot but crisped up under the oven broiler.  

A combination of flavorful crispy edged pork and homemade guacamole and salsa are the highlights of this perfect taco.

Ingredients:

2 lbs Pork Shoulder
1 Yellow Onion
1 Lime
1 tablespoon Bacon Grease (or other oil)
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Chili Lime Seasoning
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Whole Cumin or 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder

 Peel and cut onion into big chunks.  Cut lime in half.

Turn on Instant Pot or comparable electric pressure cooker to sauté.  Melt bacon grease in pan then add 2 inch cubed pork and onion to pan and brown.

Add all the other ingredients to the pot including squeezing the limes over the pot.  Close lid according to directions, it chimes to help you know it is closed.  Set to high pressure for 30 minutes.
After pork is finished, allow pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes.  The Instant Pot has a timer telling you how long it has rested, very nice feature.  When it reaches the the de-pressuring stage I turn my oven on to the broil setting.

Remove pork from Instant Pot and place on a cookie sheet.  Using two forks shred the pork a little.  Don't completely shred it, just a little so more surface area will be broiled.   Place in a oven under the broiler for 15 minutes. 

 Look at that close up of the nice crispy pork, and then a pan out shot.  

Leave the juices in the Instant Pot and set to sauté, reduce the juices while the pork is under the broiler.

Pour the reduced juices on the pork and serve in your favorite taco.  I put corn tortillas on a griddle and slightly toast them then add the pork, homemade salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and cheese. 

Enjoy!

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:

2 lbs Pork Shoulder
1 Yellow Onion
1 Lime
1 tablespoon Bacon Grease (or other oil)
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Chili Lime Seasoning
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Whole Cumin or 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder

Process:

Peel and cut onion into big chunks.  Cut lime in half.
Turn on Instant Pot or comparable electric pressure cooker to sauté.  Melt bacon grease in pan then add 2 inch cubed pork and onion to pan and brown.

Add all the other ingredients to the pot including squeezing the limes over the pot.  Close lid according to directions, it chimes to help you know it is closed.  Set to high pressure for 30 minutes.

After pork is finished, allow pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes.  The Instant Pot has a timer telling you how long it has rested, very nice feature.  When it reaches the the de-pressuring stage I turn oven on to the broil setting.

Remove pork from Instant Pot and place on a cookie sheet.  Using two forks shred the pork a little.  Don't completely shred it, just a little so more surface area will be broiled.   Place in a oven under the broiler for 15 minutes. 

Leave the juices in the Instant Pot and set to sauté, reduce the juices while the pork is under the broiler.

Pour the reduced juices on the pork and serve in your favorite taco. 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

We enjoy eating ice cream as a family, who doesn't?  Don't answer if you don't.  It can be challenge to make ice cream if you don't have an ice cream churn, its an uncommon kitchen appliance and even if you do then you also need ice and ice cream salt.  Getting all the supplies together may prove a challenge or maybe you just want ice cream without all the fuss.  This is a no fuss easy ice cream recipe that calls for just three ingredients and a few minutes of active preparing.  This is also a great base for adding a variety of mix-ins or toppings.  We like to make it into cookies and cream ice cream by adding crushed Oreo's or you could add my previous recipe of fruit salsa on top, that would be a delicious treat on a hot Summer evening.

Delicious simple vanilla ice cream, the start of a delicious and wonderful Summer evening on the back porch.


Ingredients:

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 12 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream


Pour cream into a mixer, mix with the whisk attachment on low for a minute then increase speed to medium and whip until stiff peaks are formed.  When you hold the whisk straight and the cream on the whisk remained straight up.


 Remove bowl from stand mixer, pour in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract to the whipped cream.  Gently stir the mixture with a spatula until all ingredients are combined.

 Pour mixture into a freezer safe lidded container and freeze for at least 2-4 hours.  

Serve in your favorite bowl.

Enjoy!

No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 12 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream

Process:
Pour cream into a mixer, mix with the whisk attachment on low for a minute then increase speed to medium and whip until stiff peaks are formed.  When you hold the whisk straight and the cream on the whisk remained straight up.

Remove bowl from stand mixer, pour in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract to the whipped cream.  Gently stir the mixture with a spatula until all ingredients are combined.

Pour mixture into a freezer safe lidded container and freeze for at least 2-4 hours.  

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fruit Salsa

As you all know I absolutely enjoy cooking, baking, preparing food of all sorts.  My pantry is full of a variety of ingredients and after hosting a party for my sister in law Shawn who sells Tupperware I slowly opened up to the possibilities of an organized kitchen and pantry with Tupperware.   Back In February I became a Tupperware consultant myself because I believe the products are great and worth sharing.  Last night my friend Rhonda let me host a Taco's & Tupperware Party at her house.  I made a lot of food including a traditional tomato salsa and a fruit salsa.   The fruit salsa was the big hit of the night and several ladies asked for the recipe so here it is for your enjoyment and pleasure.  Should you be interested in buying Tupperware or hosting a Facebook Tupperware or traditional in home Tupperware Party my website is here.

Aldi's has a great snack, cinnamon and sugar churros and they are the perfect food to eat with this fruit salsa.  They are the same as the churro's Taco Bell sells I think.  You could dip cinnamon and sugar tortilla chips in it too I suppose.



Ingredients:

1 lb Strawberries
1 pint Raspberries
3 Kiwis
2 Mangos
Juice from 1/2 Lime

 Rinse all the fruit.  Cut green stems off strawberries.  Peel mangoes

This is my Tupperware chop prep bowl, it hooks onto the drawer and allows me to peel over it. Its like Rachel Ray's garbage bowl but not on my counter so its out of the way.  

Cut the mango around the seed.  The seed is in the middle, if you cut a small portion of the mango on the bottom you can have it stand up and you cut from the top and along the edge of the seed.  Cut into  chunks.

 Peel the kiwi and cut into chunks.

Place the fruit in a Tupperware Power Chef if you have one or a food processor and chop the fruit.  You could also chop the fruit in a blender.  Otherwise chop the fruit into small pieces with a knife.  The Tupperware Power Chef is a great tool for the kitchen since it doesn't require electricity, it has a a pull cord.  It would be a great kitchen gadget for the kitchen and for camping.  My daughter Haley is modeling how to use the Power Chef, the amount of fruit in this salsa necessitated filling the container one and a half times to get all the fruit chopped but it would all fit in a standard food processor.


After all the fruit is chopped, pour into a bowl and squeeze the lime juice on the fruit and stir.  Its ready to dip into.  Remember this is highly perishable so eat it the same day, although it is so delicious you aren't likely to have left-overs. 


Enjoy!


Fruit Salsa

Ingredients:

1 lb Strawberries
1 pint Raspberries
3 Kiwis
2 Mangos
Juice from 1/2 Lime

Process:

Rinse all the fruit.  Cut green stems off strawberries.  Peel the mangoes.
Cut the mango around the seed.  The seed is in the middle, if you cut a small portion of the mango on the bottom you can have it stand up and you cut from the top and along the edge of the seed.  Cut into  chunks.

Place the fruit in a Tupperware Power Chef, food processor, or blender and chop the fruit.    Otherwise chop the fruit into small pieces with a knife. 

After all the fruit is chopped, pour into a bowl and squeeze the lime juice on the fruit and stir.  Its ready to dip into.  Remember this is highly perishable so eat it the same day, although it is so delicious you aren't likely to have left-overs. 

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stephanie's Kitchen Drawer: Enamel Dutch Oven


Remember my wild yeast starter and book about bread making?  I learned crusty bread needs steam and since a professional steam oven was way out of my price range the next best solution mentioned a variety of books and blogs was a dutch oven.  My yeast starter is getting bigger by the week so I needed to get serious about sourdough break baking.  After baking two loaves of sour dough bread in the 7.5 quart Lodge Dutch Oven I am a believer.  The bread was perfect and delicious.  I bought this dutch oven here.  You don't need the biggest Dutch Oven though, the 3 quart model would work well and your loaf would grow high versus wide like mine did.


Stephanie's Food For Thought


Last year just before Christmas I had this wonderful and crazy idea to make homemade chocolate chip Panetone for Christmas breakfast.  We have a family tradition of eating Panetone for Christmas morning.  My children don't like the traditional Panetone with dried fruit but they do like the chocolate chip variety.  I had been holding onto Panetone paper molds for a few years with the intention of making homemade Panetone.  I have a book recommended by my expert chef/scientist PhD friend Kristy called "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread."  I bought the book on Amazon here.  In this book is a great section on Panetone and it's history along with a recipe.  I highly recommend the book.  

Back to the wild yeast starter.  I wanted my own wild yeast starter so I could make traditional Panetone,  I bought this wild yeast starter from Amazon here.   My yeast starter wasn't ready in time for making the Panetone but I have used it to make the sourdough bread recipe found in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread."  The bread was delicious.  I highly recommend this starter and the book if you get a chance to order them both.   My starter is kept in a half gallon mason jar in my refrigerator.  I feed it once a week with high gluten flour and filtered water.  

Stephanie's Kitchen Drawer: Pressure Cooker Part 3


Have you heard about the latest in electric pressure cookers?  It's called the Instant Pot.   I left my pressure cooker in NYC with a friend since I had cooked chili in it for our very last Astoria Ward Halloween Party and Chili Cook-off.   We were moving and I had my friend Nellie hold onto the pressure cooker with the chili in it and bring it to church and told her to keep the pressure cooker after the activity.  Anyway point is I gave up my pressure cooker and have cooked without it for a little over a year.  Recently Amazon was celebrating receiving some award for excellence by giving every a discount of a little over $8 so I decided to take the plunge into the Instant Pot universe and buy one. I bought this particular instant pot.  This particular pressure cooker has over 16,000 reviews and averages 4 1/2 stars and is a Amazon #1 Best Seller so I figured all those reviews are very very good sign.  Today I'm using it for the first time to cook pork tenderloin.  We have a weekly food menu that calls for pork on Thursday's for dinner.  Pork tenderloin is one of the most versatile, inexpensive, and tender cuts of meat you can find.  I'll let you know what I think of it after I've tried it out on a few recipes.