Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

How to buy a stove/range – shopping tips

November 8, 2013

Whether you call it a stove or a range, you’re going to want to keep these considerations in mind when shopping for a new … oh I give up.

black-electric-range

Though freestanding ranges are the most commonly used, slide-in ranges are growing in popularity. Featuring unfinished sides and controls on the front, this style lends a more built-in look, great for islands, and featuring decorative backsplashes. Professional ranges mimic the performance and appearance of a true commercial range.

pro-style-range

Pro-style ranges use the most durable components and achieve high temperatures for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering.

Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) can include built-in griddles and grills. Their ovens offer convection and high-temperature broiling. Convection ovens use airflow for even heat distribution and consistent baking, even with multiple racks. When cooking meats, convection fans sear the skin to retain moisture.

wolf-range

Gas vs. electric

Professional and aspiring chefs usually prefer gas due to a common misconception of all-around superior performance; In most cases electric ranges boil liquid just as quickly and frequently, electric burners reach extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. But the heat-retention qualities of electric coils and ceramic surfaces cannot range from high to low heat instantaneously as gas cooktops can. But glass surfaces of electric ranges are the easiest to clean and maintain.

When it comes to ovens, electric responds quicker to temperature changes, providing less heat variance overall for more consistent baking results. However, gas ovens provide more “moist heat,” which is better for meats and vegetables. For cooks who want the best of both worlds, the dual-fuel range has the flexibility and control of gas burners on the cooktop with the accuracy and precision of an electric oven.

Induction range burners use magnets to directly heat cookware and leaving the surface cool to the touch, combining an unmatched degree of safety with high power and the responsiveness of gas.

‘HOT’ features to consider

  • Warming Drawer – functions as a keep-warm area.
  • Second Oven – additional cavity functions as a separate oven. Perfect for cooking short items such as pizzas, pies, casseroles, etc.

slide-in-double-oven-range

  • Split Oven Racks – can be partially removed as needed for cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.

    split-rack

    Split racks accommodate simultaneous baking of tall dishes.

Breakfast on the grill: Bacon Asparagus Quiche Tarts & Grilled doughnuts

April 11, 2013

You might not be thinking about grilling right now, but we never stop.

In fact, Joe Warner will be grilling for KARE 11 tomorrow morning sometime from the 5:45 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Bacon Asparagus Quiche Tarts

Makes 12 pastries

  • 1 package flaky biscuit dough
  • Muffin tins (to accommodate 12 pastries)
  • Cooking spray

“Custard”

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 oz shredded swiss cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

“Filling”

  • ½ cup chopped asparagus, cooked
  • ½ cup chopped bacon, cooked crispy
  • 6 oz cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, whatever)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onion for topping
  1. Preheat grill to 350 degrees
  2. Line muffin tins and grease with cooking spray.  Take biscuit dough and place about a spoonful sized and flattened dough ball into the tin.  Place on middle rack of oven and bake for 5 minutes or until dough rises close to the top of the tin.
  3. Remove tins and set aside for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  4. While dough is cooling, whisk the custard ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. After dough has cooled enough, form the dough around the muffin tin sides.  It should be able to rise to about a quarter inch from the top of the liner.  Put a pinch of cheese in the bottom of each tin and then top that with about 2 Tbsp total of chopped asparagus and bacon.
  6. Put 2-3 Tbsp of the custard into each tin, filling to just beneath the top of the dough.  Top with another pinch of cheese and a pinch of green onions.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the custard is set.
  8. Best served warm, not hot…so let cool a bit before removing from the tin and liner.

Make it vegetarian by substituting 8 oz mushrooms (chopped, cooked, and dried)  for bacon.

Note: Bacon and asparagus can be grilled at 350 degrees prior to cooking the pastries.  Bacon should be cooked on a broiler pan for 10 minutes a side.  Asparagus should be lightly oiled, with salt and pepper to taste and grilled for about 10 minutes or until crisp.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

…and now for my FAVORITE recipe I’ve ever made up:

Incredibly Easy Grilled Donuts

Grill refrigerated biscuits on a cookie sheet (or well-oiled grill grate) using indirect heat at about 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, melt a stick of butter in a grill-safe bowl away from direct heat. Dip warm biscuits in the melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar. Yum!

Baking tips: how to soften butter

December 6, 2012
microwaving-butter

Betcha didn’t think Christmas cookie baking could be improved with your microwave.

This weekend, the ladies in my family attempted to start a tradition of Christmas cookie baking.

Baking Christmas cookies takes a lot of planning and shopping and measuring and mixing and of course, baking (which includes cooling and sometimes rotating, if your oven lacks convection).

My soon-to-be sister-in-law chose to make these Russian Tea Cakes for the first time ever. The recipe calls for a cup of softened butter, but because we were making 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen, we needed a cup and a half of softened butter (that’s a lot). And although I am  horrible baker, she asked me a question I could actually answer:

“How do you get butter to soften without melting it?”

Because of our early morning start, the butter I brought to my mom’s was still refrigerator-hard. So we needed to intercede.

Perhaps your experience with softening butter in the microwave involves you — nose pressed up against the glass — nuking the flavorful fat ingredient in short intervals and praying it doesn’t melt.

Softening gone wrong

Softening gone wrong

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

 

To soften our cup and a half of butter, we microwaved each stick for a minute a piece at 10% power.

Based on your microwave, you might want to amp up to 20% and adjust the time or even use the defrost setting (which is 30% power).

Later, we also adjusted our microwave power to soften cream cheese for Peanut Butter Balls (which are amazing, by the way).

Microwave power levels can also come in handy for reheating foods, I’ve found. Foods like pizza and French fries revive less soggier when microwaved longer at lower power.

Try it out!

See our beautiful topless grills, LIVE!

May 8, 2012

I love my gas grill, but the configuration doesn’t make for easy conversation with my guests (OK, fine, guest).

Think about it: I flip the top to land about even with my mouth, which maybe doesn’t matter as I — like many I suspect — locate my gas grill against something (a wall, a deck, a fence) anyway.

How am I supposed to conversate? Who wants to gather round that?

Now imagine a setup where the grill is more like a cooktop setup…just open, with no top to baffle your babble or keeps guests away (my personality handles that just fine, thank you!).

OK, stop imagining; I found my picture of it.

Those who have lots of friends and parties (and are into that kind of stuff) will probably wonder why no one thought of this before. This being the DCS Liberty, which “even allows you to effortlessly host an omelet bar in your outdoor kitchen.” Well thank goodness!

It’s called the Liberty because all the individual applications free up your outdoor living design, unhinging it from all those icky conventions and letting you enjoy your outdoor cooking experience along with — instead of apart from — all your friend(s).

You can pretty much mix and match all the individual pieces in the DCS Liberty Collection to do whatever you want. This curved shape lets everyone gather round (pun intended).

DCS expert Michael Mahin will be traveling from Warner Stellian Appliance store to store this summer, cooking on the Liberty and feeding you ideas about outdoor entertaining. Stop by and ask him a lot of questions. He’ll be able to answer because he’ll be cooking topless…topless grill, that is.

Woodbury appliance store
Thursday, May 10 from 4 to 7 p.m.

St. Paul appliance store
Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, May 20 from noon to 4 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 11 from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.

Maple Grove appliance store
Saturday, June 2 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Edina appliance store
Saturday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Apple Valley appliance store
Saturday, July 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

4 ways to cook more efficiently

March 27, 2012

No, I’m not offering tips on expediting meals with mise en place. I’m talking about ways to save energy when cooking.*

Stoves, cooktops and ovens aren’t Energy Star rated, because most models use about the same amount of energy. But there are certainly ways to use less gas or electricity when cooking.

Here are 4 tips to help you become a more energy-efficient cook:

1. Keep your burner caps and drip pans clean
Maintaining a tidy cook surface isn’t just about impressing company (or your cat).

Dirty surfaces don’t reflect heat as well as polished surfaces, thus wasting energy and potentially your time. Read my manageable daily cleanup plan.

2. Match pots and pans to the size of your burners
Unless you’re using an induction cooktop or range, you’re heating a lot of air while you try to heat your food. Induction cooking is 20% more efficient than electric and 70% more efficient than gas.

To mitigate energy loss, choose the appropriate sized pot or pan for the size of burner you’re cooking on (i.e. don’t put a 1-qt saucepan on a ginormous “power burner”).

3. Cover your pots while boiling water
When you think about it, it makes no sense to boil water in an uncovered pot. Using a cover helps water boil faster while creating pressure and preventing evaporation.

4. Skip preheating
Unless you’re baking and require precise temperatures, you don’t need to wait till your oven reaches 350 degrees to throw your food in.

I start cooking my casseroles as soon as I start my oven, and not only do they still turn out, they often turn out faster than if I wait for the oven to heat up! Better yet, shut off your oven a few minutes early and let residual heat finish off your dish. Even better yet, make two pans to freeze leftovers and reheat in the microwave later.

*If you’re trying to cook faster, use the microwave (coincidentally, using the microwave as an alternative to the oven cuts energy use in half).

Contest-winning recipe: Thai-licious rice, veggie and tofu stir fry

February 3, 2012

Coconut curry is quite possibly my favorite flavor, so the winning recipe for the yumPower Good For You Recipe Challenge on KMSP-FOX 9 News sounded right up my alley.

Watch the segment for information about the contest and our winner, Steph MacPhail, who gets $1500 from Warners’ Stellian to trick out her kitchen appliances (or get an awesome pet hair vacuum for her yellow lab).

Steph’s recipe includes lean protein, more than two servings of fruits and veggies and reduced fat and reduced sodium ingredients. I can’t wait to try it!

Thai-licious rice, veggie and tofu stir fry

For the baked tofu:

3 lbs tofu

1/2 cup low-fat coconut milk (get one 15 oz or so can of it, the rest will be used below)

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 Teaspoon curry powder

1 Teaspoon freshly grated ginger

For the rice and veggie mix:

1 1/2 cups brown rice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Cups sliced yellow onion

1 Cup chopped carrots

2 Cups broccoli florets

2 Cups sliced peppers (use green, yellow, or red, or a little of each)

1 Can (16 oz) pineapple, no sugar added, drained and juice reserved

1 Cup (approx) low-fat coconut milk

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 Teaspoon curry powder

2 Teaspoons freshly grated ginger

2 Tablespoons unsalted, chunky peanut butter

Optional: peanuts

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line a 13×9 baking sheet with parchment paper.

Drain and press tofu to remove some of the moisture, then cube.

In a medium bowl, combine tofu with coconut milk, soy sauce, curry, and ginger.

Let sit for a few minutes, then pour bowl contents onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, or until slightly crispy and brown.

Meanwhile, mix rice with 3 cups water in a soup pot.

Bring to a simmer; cover, then simmer until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large stir-fry pan or large skillet.

Add the onion and carrots and saute over medium heat until lightly browned.

Add the broccoli, bell pepper and pineapple and saute for 5-10 minutes.

When rice is cooked, add the stir fry mixture to the soup pot.

Add the remaining coconut milk, reserved pineapple juice, curry powder, soy sauce, peanut butter and ginger.

Stir gently, cooking for 5-10 minutes. Remove pot from burner. Remove tofu from oven and add promptly to the stir fry. Serve garnished with peanuts.

Serves 8 to 10.

Microwave cooking recipes: Risotto

January 12, 2012

How much do you actually cook in your microwave, versus reheating and defrosting?

All this week, my sister and appliance specialist Angela Warner has been judging the “Twin Cities Live” Microwave Cooking Challenge, which challenges contestants to create delicious and fun meals cooked only in the microwave.

Guess which one is my sister Angela Warner.

Contestants like “Next Food Network Star” contestant Justin Davis and Cities 97’s BT came up with really creative microwave recipes — even microwave cake recipes!

Yes cake…and nachos.

Angela’s on “Twin Cities Live” (on KSTP Channel 5) again at 3 today and tomorrow. You can find the contestants easy microwave recipes (and the not-so easy, too) here, here and here.

AND you can win this Danby stainless microwave from Warners’ Stellian by entering on the Twin Cities Live website.

Coincidentally, we got a microwave cooking book from Panasonic this week, and I thought I’d share this recipe for risotto.

Risotto, that creamy rice pasta, sometimes scares people off because it’s heavy on the “active time” equation of the process (you basically stir for at least 30 minutes nonstop). So the idea of making it in a microwave intrigued me. Let me know if you try this!

Risotto a la Parmigiana

From MasterChefs Microwave Recipes Made Easy

Ingredients

5-1/2 cups stock
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 minced yellow onion
2-1/4 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
3/4 dry white wine, warmed
1 cup grated Parmesan
5 tbsp. butter cut into 1 T. pieces
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions (note: P10, etc. refers to the power level setting on your microwave)

1. Place the stock and salt in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and simmer at P10 for 8 minutes. Reserve, keeping the stock covered and hot.

2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the oil and onion and cook covered at P10 for 2-1/2 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

3. Add the rice to the onion and oil mixture, stir to combine and cook at P7 uncovered for 4 minutes, stirring every minute.

4. Add the warm wine and cook at P7 for 3 minutes, or until wine is mostly absorbed.

5. Add enough stock to barely cover rice and cook at P7 uncovered for 3 minutes, or until about 75% of the liquid as been absorbed; stir. Repeat this process until all the stock is used.

6. When the rice is cooked to al dente, remove from the microwave and quickly stir in the butter, grated Parmesan cheese and ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Burner-less induction cooktop senses the shape and location of cookware to heat anywhere on surface

January 9, 2012

Induction cooktops, already the hottest way to cook, just got hotter.

The new Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop heats up your cookware wheverer you place it - no burners.

No more being limited to four or five burners of the same shape.

The new Thermador Freedom cooktop lets cooks place their cookware anywhere on the cooking surface — even oddly shaped items like griddles or roasting pans (think of the gravy making possibilities).

The cooktop will intelligently recognize the cookware size, shape and position to deliver heat without boundaries.

If you’re wondering, ‘What is an induction cooktop?’ Induction cooking rivals gas cooking’s responsive temperature control while being much more efficient, safer (the surface stays cool to the touch) and the smooth surface naturally is easier to clean.

If you’re really into specifics, here’s more info from Thermador:

  • 48 individual 3-inch induction heating elements translates to a 63-percent more effective cooking area on the surface by eliminating the conventional standard of predefined elements.
  • A 6.5-inch, full-color touchscreen display that recognizes pot shape, size, and controls power setting and cooking time
  • Surface area to accommodate a 21-inch x 13-inch pan with the largest cooking surface in the industry
  • A range of 4,600-watt maximum power output with Boost feature and 15-watt minimum power output

But what would a super innovative product be without a color touchscreen these days? The obligatory touchscreen doesn’t just control temperature but shows the position of all cookware.

The Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop will be available July 2012 with a MSRP of $4,949.

Don’t put foil in the oven

December 19, 2011

Maybe your grandma used to use tinfoil to line her oven floor to aid clean up.

But times have changed; tinfoil is no longer made of tin. The stuff you use to shield your ham is actually aluminum foil, which has a lower heat tolerance.

The high temperatures of your oven floor can actually cause the foil to melt right onto that oven surface.

And you can’t clean it off.

We’ve had Warners’ Stellian Appliance customers spend hundreds of dollars replacing the oven floor on relatively new ranges because of this well-intentioned mistake.

Instead, aluminum foil-makers suggest you line the oven rack you’re using with aluminum foil rather than lining the oven itself.

Appliance trend: multitasking appliances

December 9, 2011

Buy based on how you cook most days.

When buying appliances, people often focus on two days of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What matters at that moment to you is finding a range whose oven accommodates a massive turkey.

Or, thinking about overflow casseroles and Christmas cookies, you opt for double ovens.

But what about the other 363 days of the year? If you’re not a serious baker, that second oven sits cold. And warming up that range with the huge oven capacity for a couple of baked potatoes wastes time and energy.

Instead, a trend we’re seeing is assembling a team of  appliances that can work alone during normal operations but also can multitask for occasional holidays and parties.

So instead of a giant range, combine a double oven range and convection microwave.

The smaller upper oven of the range can be used for one-dish meals. Come Christmas, you can bake a dessert up top while a roasts monopolizes the lower oven. The convection microwave can bake a casserole. My mom did this successfully for years with her Jenn-Air convection microwave (after she finally got rid of the old range she kept in the laundry room, only to be used during the holidays).
A convection microwave also works overtime when paired with a single oven, perfect for those who won’t make enough use of a double oven.

Better yet, make that second oven a speed oven for the ultimate versatility.


This GE Advantium (model PSB1001NSS; Miele makes an upgrade if you’ve got the dough) cooks up to 4 times faster than your grandmother’s oven – covering all 4 bases: warming/proofing, true convection, sensor microwave (that can rotate a 9×13 casserole on its turntable!) and of course, speed cooking.

Until I can upgrade to a convection microwave, I use my Crockpot for anything that doesn’t need “crisping,” but I’d love to hear how others really make use of their multitasking appliances.


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