Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing you a sparkling New Year…!

The Christmas cookies have been baked...

The Christmas candies crafted…
and all the yummy goodies have been wrapped, given and gobbled with delight.

The presents under the tree (blue Tiffany boxes included) have been opened and “ooohed and aaahed” over and so very much loved and appreciated…

In a few hours it will be a brand new year and a fresh new start for us all.

I just wanted to express my heartfelt appreciation and send hugs to my fellow bloggers for all their hints, tips, emergency helps, encouragement, and generous support.
(One in particular, even when she was on the road and working took the time to assist me...and you know who you are, chère Sue...!).
I feel very blessed that you all believed in my humble efforts.

I also want to send heartfelt virtual hugs and much gratitude to my faithful readers, followers and visitors. You are very kind to take the time out of your busy days to read my foodie words and view my images.
I very much appreciate your kind comments, as they let me know you are really out

I want to wish you a sparkling 2009, as lovely and sparkling as this Tiffany ceiling.
May 2009 be filled with love, happiness, joy and good health for you and your loved ones.

Une bonne nouvelle année...!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Joyeux Noël...!

I am grateful to you, my faithful blog readers, new readers and those who stop by to say hello.
I will be posting again after Christmas.
Thank you so much for all your kind comments, visit and for just viewing my blog images.

May all your Holiday celebrations be filled with joy, love warmth and happiness.

From my petite cuisine, heart and home to yours...

Joyeux Noël et une bonne nouvelle année…!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

kitchen tip Tuesday…handy holiday baking tips

It has been snowing like mad outside and I have been in my warm little kitchen baking Christmas cookies like mad for gift baskets.

In the spirit of the season of baking, I am giving a few simple baking tips that have helped me this week of intense baking.

I hope they serve you well as they have me over the past years. I will be posting cookies recipes and images of some my old favorites and some new concoctions I worked on this year.

Handy baking tips

~ Read a recipe all the way through BEFORE you begin.

~ Prep ingredients before you proceed. I always do a mise-en-place before I start to mix each recipe to stay organized.

~ Set an oven thermometer or add an addtional internal thermometer if your oven is older and you are unsure if the temperatures are accurate. A small $4.00 investment can save you from scads of burnt cookies.

~ Preheat the oven according to your recipe.

~ Measure flour using the dip and sweep method.

~ Always use unsalted butter.

~ Butter should be pliable.

~ Invest in the best ingredients and equipment.

Tips for baking cookies

~ When baked in the lower third of the oven, cookies tend to darken too much on the bottoms. If you are baking many batches at once and must use the lower third, insulate the bottoms from the heat by baking the cookies on two stacked baking sheets.

~ Many kinds of cookie dough can be frozen raw and baked later.

~ If you prefer soft cookies, slightly under-bake them.

~ Always rotate baking sheets, usually once about halfway through the baking time.

Above all, have with your food...!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

double kitchen tip Tuesday…NO dishwasher…and software for your cutting board

The first kitchen tip is the one I submitted to Culinary Cory to be in the running to win Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks.

tip # 1

Rather than plunk them in the dishwasher, always wash your good and sometimes very expensive chef knives by hand in mild detergent and water and then rinse well. Wash the carefully, one at a time so the knife blades don’t nick eash other or your fingers for that matter. Dry the knives thoroughly before putting them away in a knife block or protective knife roll with their knife guards in place. Also don’t let them soak in the hand wash water, as that can warp wooden handles.

The harsh and often citus acid chemicals of the dishwasher soap and the extreme high temperatures of a washer itself can damage the blades and the wood or composite handles. The expansion and contraction of the handles in the extreme heat in dishwashers can loosen the rivets causing the blade to shift over time. In the dishwasher, the knife blades can also be accidentally nicked when coming in contact with other silverware or dishes and lose their edge.

Many knives such as the Chroma knives designed by Porsche of pure Japanese steel even comes with a red warning label “NO dishwasher”…!

Even though it can be a pain at times, taking the extra effort to care for your good knives will reward you with knives that remain sharper, safer and newer looking longer.
(I have had some knives for 15+ years).
It will also same bit of cash and time over the years, with fewer trips to the professional knife sharpener.

tip # 2

Before I begin cutting or chopping on my cutting board, I have a piece of skid proof plastic shelf or drawer liner that I place between the counter and the cutting board that will keep it anchored as I work. I like the particular one that is pictured as the tiny rectangles act as miniature suction cups and make my cutting surface immovable during food prep. When I work in a kitchen other than my own, I find that a damp kitchen towel between my cutting board and counter works well in a pinch.
I still work in the kitchen with safety as my need to spend Christmas Eve in the E.R.

One of my favorite Porsche-designed Japanese steel knife on my secured cutting board, ready for action...
now, if I only had a car that looked like this...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Santa's culinary elf...

”Every time I watch a chef chop an onion, I learn something about that person.” ~ Linda Carucci

Last week I submitted a tip to a Cookbook giveaway contest on the blog Culinary Cory. The prize was the book by Linda Carucci, Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks.

And WOW... I was fortunate enough to have won this wonderful book.

Linda Carucci is an award-winning cooking teacher and the Julia Child Curator of Food Arts at Copia, the food museum in Napa, California. I have visited Copia and Julia’s Kitchen restaurant at Copia so I was sure that this book would be wonderful, and I was right.

Right before I saw the give away contest on Culinary Cory's blog, I had spent some serious time carefully looking through this book and had added it to my list that I sent to sent to Santa.
Well Santa came early for me…
merci beaucoup to Santa’s culinary elf…!
Merci Cory...!

Now that I own this book, I can hardly put it down as it contains so much useful and easy to follow information for not only the novice cook etting up a kitchen but a great refresher course for experienced cooks.

However, even experienced cooks can find many fresh new ways of livening up your cooking skills and spicing up your menus with great new recipes.
Each recipe is explained so thoroughly that it is almost a class in itself. This is not surprising, since the book is filled with the fruits of the author's many years of culinary experience, teaching and running her own cooking school.

I will treasure this book and I promise to share the Cooking Schools Secret treasures contained in this book with all of you, my faithful readers.

Tomorrow on my blog in Kitchen tip Tuesday, I will also share the tip that I submitted to win this book.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

kitchen tip Tuesday…kitchen multi-tasker from the office

At this time of year I bake from the old recipe collection that belonged to my mother and grandmother and from my own recipe collection that are all still on paper recipe cards.

To hold the cards as I assemble and combine the recipe ingredients, I use a large Binder Clip.
It holds that card upright, easy to read and out of my way (and out of the way of flying flour and frosting…I am a messy baker...!)

I also keep a supply of small and medium clips on hand for a variety of tasks in the kitchen.

I use them to hold the skin closed after stuffing a whole chicken or game hen. I started to use them when I was in Paris and was stuffing whole Bresse chicken to roast for a dinner party at my appartement. I was naturally without a trussing needle and thread to close the cavity to keep the stuffing inside the bird. However, for some reason I had office supplies.
I have found this method to work like a charm, just be careful to let the clips cool before removing them.

I use binder clips to reseal multi-serve bags of frozen foods, pretzels, chips and the like.

Binder clips also come in handy to keep my side-towel in place, clipped to my apron as I cook.

I am sure there are many, many other uses for these multi-tasking clips from the office supply store.

How would you put Binder Clips to work in your kitchen?

I would love to hear your ideas…merci in advance...!

Monday, December 1, 2008

sugar snow on cinnamon creek...

From Sunday night to Monday morning we had our first significant snow that covered Cinnamon Creek in a blanket of sparkling sugary snow...
I just wanted to share it with my readers.

”Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, we hope it, we know it.” ~ Goethe