Behind The Scenes of America’s Test Kitchen

Behind The Scenes of America’s Test Kitchen

One of the cookbooks that I find myself returning to time and time again is my “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.”  It is full of recipes, as well as great kitchen tips and advice.  What I did not know when I bought the book was that it is based on a TV show called “America’s Test Kitchen.” They are devoted to trying out both recipes and gadgets so they can recommend only methods or items that work.  In other words, they do all the hard work, or buy all the kitchen gadgets, so we don’t have to.  We get to benefit from their hard work. The video below shows their Gadget Guru, Lisa McManus, talking about this very thing. It is pretty awesome having a group of people testing out gadgets, and then sharing their results.   As someone who loves, and has many, kitchen tools, this is very helpful. America’s Test Kitchen is a 30 minute cooking show that has been on the air since  January of 2001.  It is still being produced, with no end in site.  It was created by Cook’s Illustrated, which is a very popular magazine for cooks. I have not yet seen the show, since I only recently learned about it.  But, I look forward to finding it on my local cable lineup and watching.  No doubt this show will help me on my quest to learn how to...
Patt Miller Takes 2nd Place in Pizza Tossing

Patt Miller Takes 2nd Place in Pizza Tossing

My last post was about a guy named Patt Miller.  It was about his bid to win at the World Championship of Pizza Tossing in Italy, in 2010.  I was so impressed with his tossing that I had to find another video. My one complaint about the previous video was that Patt was very small.  As impressive as his pizza tossing was, he was very hard to see.  This time, the video I found shows Patt closer up, which makes his dough tossing even more impressive. Check out all the wicked moves he has in the opening montage.  Flaming pizza dough, for crying out loud! And, did you see him roll the spinning dough across both his arms? My personal favorite move was when he juggled the dough.  Seriously, how does he do that? He certainly has his fans.  Either the person taking the video, or someone near him, was cheering quite loudly.  It is somewhat distracting.  Ignore it, though, and you are in for a treat. Patt Miller placed second in this particular competition (can you imagine what the first place performance was like?).  He has been working with pizza since he was 15 years old, and now owns his own restaurant.  Way to go,...
Pizza Tossing

Pizza Tossing

This post is a little out of the blue because it does not have anything to do with cooking.  It is food related, though, so I guess I am keeping (somewhat) on topic with it. Do not ask me why, but I suddenly wanted to see a video of someone tossing a pizza.  Not like you might see in an Italian restaurant, but really good tossing.  Professional, even.  I did not know if such a thing exists, so I did a search on YouTube. You’ve just got to love that wonderful video channel!  Turns out that there are not only lots of videos of people twirling dough, but there are even pizza tossing competitions, with the most amazing tossing I have ever seen! The video below shows a guy named Patt Miller in one of the rounds at the World (!) championship in 2010.  It was held in Italy, which is so very appropriate. Check out the way he grabs blobs of dough and starts twirling them into flat pies.  He even juggles the dough, all while spinning it.  Amazing! Unfortunately for this guy, he dropped one of the pizzas, and this cost him a chance at the finals, and he ended up placing 7th.  It does not, however, lessen the “Wow!’ factor from me.  I could never do what he does, and he makes it look so gosh darn easy. I can only imagine how long it takes to learn how to toss pizza dough like this guy does.  Then, it would take years of practice to make it to the pizza tossing championship.  For me, I’m quite...
What To Do With Wilted Lettuce

What To Do With Wilted Lettuce

Earlier this week my refrigerator broke (or so I thought – it just needed to be reset) and we had to move a lot of food from our kitchen fridge to our extra one in the garage.  While moving foods I noticed that we had some lettuce that was starting to wilt, and I wondered if there was anything we could do with it other than throw it out. Turns out, there is.  Some of you are probably laughing at me right now and know what’s coming up.  Just remember that I’m still learning how to cook, and go easy on me. I learned that you can cut up your wilted lettuce (this is lettuce that is not slimy or rotten, merely losing its water content and no longer crisp), then chop up a few garlic cloves.  Add some olive oil to a pan and heat it up, then add the lettuce and garlic.  Sprinkle some salt over the top, and saute it until cooked. I’m pretty sure this is what Asian cultures do on a regular basis, but it never occurred to me to do this before.  I shudder to think of how much lettuce I have tossed out when I could have sauteed it instead. Getting lettuce to last longer can be frustrating.  Sometimes it seems that it starts wilting after just a few days.  One thing you can do is buy lettuce by the head, instead of prepackaged, already cut.  It will last much longer if you cut it yourself when you are ready to use it, since prepackaged lettuce often ends up as wilted...
Roasting Artichokes

Roasting Artichokes

Artichokes are a heavenly food for me.  Usually I eat my artichokes after steaming them.  Or, more often, I cook them in my pressure cooker. But as much as I enjoy them, I’ve been wanting to learn to cook them in the oven. Turns out, this is not hard to do (I didn’t really think it was, but I still avoided it). You will need to cut off the top of your artichoke.  You can hold on to the stem while cutting.  Remove about 1 1/2″ off the top. Next, remove the stem.  Be careful not to get hurt from the spikes on each leaf. Put the cut artichoke in a bowl, then squeeze a lemon over the top and bottom.  The juice on the top will help add flavor to the finished product, and the juice on the bottom will help keep the cut area from browning too much. Get a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Place the artichoke onto the foil.  It is important to use heavy duty foil, so that it doesn’t rip or tear during this process. Open the top of the artichoke a little, then use a knife to cut the middle.  Drizzle some olive oil over the top.  Stuff a garlic clove into the cut middle.  You can add more garlic if you are a garlic lover (I am!). Sprinkle kosher salt over the top.  Pour any lemon juice from the bowl over the top of the artichoke. Wrap the artichoke inside the foil, then wrap it again with a second piece.  You want to make sure it is tightly wrapped...
Mexican Marinade

Mexican Marinade

A great Mexican marinade will add zest to chicken, pork, and fish.  Sure, you can buy marinade at your local grocery store, but why do that when you can just as easily make your own.  The end results are so much better when you have made the marinade yourself. This recipe is a combination of chipotle and pepper that has been pureed together, with fresh lime juice added to it.  When shopping for the chipotle peppers, look for one that is made with adobo sauce. Chef Brian in the video below used two cans of the chipotle peppers.  Add your pepper mixture to your blender, then puree it.  Scoop some into a bowl, and pour fresh lime juice over it.  If limes are not in season where you live, you can use lime juice from a bottle, but it won’t be quite as fresh tasting. Be generous with your lime juice, since you want this to be liquidy (is that a word?).  Mix is with some chipotle peppers until is is nicely combined.  Then, pour it over your meat of choice and let it marinade for an hour or more.  The longer it marinades, the stronger the flavor. Wondering what adobo sauce is?  I’m not afraid to admit that I didn’t know what it was.  Turns out adobo is Spanish for marinade, so that makes perfect sense why you would want to look for chipotle peppers that have been prepared in adobo sauce.  This is one Mexican marinade that sounds...

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