Parchment VS Wax Paper

You have heard of both parchment and wax paper, but you have no idea what the difference is.

Parchment paper is oven safe up to 420f.  You can line cake pans, cookie sheets or whatever you want to bake with.  It is a bit more expensive than waxed paper.  Parchment paper can even be used to wrap and bake meats and vegetables, a process commonly called en papillote.

Wax paper must be totally covered with batter before baking.  It has a much lower burning point, so if placed in the oven with out anything covering it, it can start to smoke and burn.  Wax paper is typically used for lining cake pans only.

Baking Mat Bounties

After a lot of searching I found a large silphat baking mat.  This thing is incredible and has many uses.

I lay it out on the counter whenever I am baking or making pastries.  Now when I roll out pie crust, it is easy to life and does not require as much flour so the crust does not turn out tough.

When making chocolates or candies, they release with ease after they cool.  When you are shopping for a mat make sure that you find one that can withstand the heat of sugar before using.

When making bread, the dough does not stick to the counter and make a mess.  I love making cinnamon rolls and shaped breads now as they release with ease.

The proper mat will provide a great non-stick surface for most anything that you can think of in the kitchen and cleanup is a breeze.

 

Olive Rescue

It never fails to happen. You are trying to get the olives out of the jar and the opening is so small that they keep slipping from your grasp.

I have found that you can easily retrieve even the slipperiest of olives if you grab a melon baller.

It is small enough to fit into the mouth of the jar and scoop up every last olive with out making your fingers a mess.

Many Uses for the Melon Baller

Ok, You have seen the little gadget called a melon baller. You know, the little tool with a scoop on each end of a handle about 6 inches long.  You keep thinking to yourself, who would ever want one of those, we don’t eat enough melon!

Ahhhh, but here you are wrong. There are lots of little uses for a melon baller!

You can scoop little balls of ice cream for fancy little treats.

Got some butter and guests? Scoop out little balls of butter and place on a fancy dish for easier serving.

Making those little stuffed cherry tomato hors d’oeuvres? Use it to scoop out the center of the tomato for easy filling.

Oh, yeah, by the way, you can use it to scoop out little balls of melon too…..

Pastry Brushes

If you need to get a pastry brush, there are a ton of choices out there. Try to find a better quality brush that is made of boar hair or other natural bristle.

Nylon bristles are fine, but they tend to loose bristles faster and can melt when basting food over high heat. They also will tend to have a shorter life.

To keep one clean is even harder. Brushes can last for quite a long time if they are cared for properly.

After each use, wipe away any excess food then wash well with hot water and some liquid dish soap. Rinse the brush well under running hot water until the water runs clear and no soap is left in the brush.

Shake off any extra water and let air-dry. Occasionally you will find it necessary to do a deep cleaning on your brush.

To deep clean simply add about a teaspoon of bleach to about a pint of water.

Dip your clean brush into the solution and stir the solution with the brush.

After about a minute, remove the brush and rinse well in running hot water.

Shake off any extra water and let air-dry.

Sensible Scoops

Setting up a first time kitchen can be quite a task. You don’t know exactly what you need and when you do look, there are a billion choices. For a bare bones kitchen here is an item that you will want to have on hand. Please remember when you are making your purchases, don’t skimp on the quality. If you spend a little bit more now, you will save a lot of money down the road.

One of my favorite tools is a Stainless Steel Scoop. These are the guys that look like an ice cream scoop.

You can get 3 different sizes: 3 tablespoon, 2 tablespoon and 1 tablespoon.

If you can only get one, get the 2-tablespoon size. It is ideal for filling regular size muffin tins, making medium sized cookies, removing seeds from melons, making meatballs and portioning out cream based salads like chicken or potato.

The 1-tablespoon size is ideal for making small cookies, meatballs, filling miniature muffin tins and making melon balls.

The 3-tablespoon size is ideal for filling large muffin tins and making large cookies.

Selecting a Fry Pan

Setting up a first time kitchen can be quite a task. You don’t know exactly what you need and when you do look, there are a billion choices. Please remember when you are making your purchases, don’t skimp on the quality. If you spend a little bit more now, you will save a lot of money down the road.

A 10-inch nonstick fry pan is an essential. These are great for making anything from an omelet to a stir-fry.

Remember to once again select a heavy weight pan with a good thick nonstick coating.  The heavier the pan bottom, the more even the heat distribution.

If you have a special range, like gas or induction, double check to make sure that the pans are suitable for that type of stove.  A lot of the more inexpensive pans will melt on gas, or not work at all on induction.

Choosing Saute/Fry Pan

Setting up a first time kitchen can be quite a task. You don’t know exactly what you need and when you do look, there are a billion choices.

Please remember when you are making your purchases, don’t skimp on the quality. If you spend a little bit more now, you will save a lot of money down the road.

A definite need is a 10 and/or 12 inch Sautee/Fry pan.  You can use this pan for just about everything from frying up an egg to a frittata. You can also cook rice or chicken in it with ease.

Try to select one that has straight sides and a lid.  The heavier the pan, the more even the heat distribution.

Mixing Bowls

Setting up a first time kitchen can be quite a task. You don’t know exactly what you need and when you do look, there are a billion choices.  Please remember when you are making your purchases, don’t skimp on the quality.  If you spend a little bit more now, you will save a lot of money down the road.

A must have is a set of “Nesting” Ceramic or Glass Bowls. By purchasing a set of nested bowls, you will have most any size that you will ever need for cooking and baking and they will fit neatly into the cupboard.

For your primary purchase, select ceramic or glass because some recipes can have an adverse reaction to plastic, aluminum or steel.

You can also refrigerate and re-heat food in the microwave with ceramic or glass as long as there is no metal trim. Check the packaging for instructions for use.

Perfect Paring

Setting up a first time kitchen can be quite a task. You don’t know exactly what you need and when you do look, there are a billion choices. Please remember when you are making your purchases, don’t skimp on the quality. If you spend a little bit more now, you will save a lot of money down the road.

A paring knife blade is only about 3-4 inches long. Once again you will want to find one that is “full tang” which means that the metal goes all the way to the handle of the knife for stability.

You can use this for just about anything in the kitchen. I use mine for cutting up vegetables to boning meat.

Do not wash your knives in the dishwasher, this will dull your blade quicker and possibly ruin your handles.

Always wash with a warm soapy cloth then rinse well.

You will want to invest in a sharpener and sharpen your knives about every other use.

Sharp knives are usually not the cause of cuts; dull ones are because the knife slips.