9:15 a.m. Yesterday – Sabrina’s station

January 30, 2009



One of the most frequently asked questions members on our team report trying to answer is “what’s it like to work in a test kitchen?”  Truth is, it’s a great job if you like to cook and solve puzzles. Here’s another way to say it: working in a  test kitchen is like  combining home ec class with science lab but with no lockers, spares or cute teenaged boys to flirt with during the boring parts.

I took this picture yesterday morning after I saw Sabrina’s station all set up and ready for a day of recipe testing. Looking at it now, I realize that a picture really is worth 1,000 words: As you can see, you measure things in a lot of different ways in a test kitchen just like in science class.   In fact, if as a recipe tester you don’t spend a lot of time jotting down measurements of various kinds, chances are you won’t measure up in this business!

Daring Bakers Ride Again

January 29, 2009

img_2470Lord knows this is not my best food photograph. Nor was this my best Daring Baker’s challenge ever. Sigh. My kitchen karma was severely out of whack when I went to make these tuiles.  The result: most of them turned out pretty much ugly.

I paired my not so pretty tuiles with my semi-famous microwave butterscotch pudding (made with homo milk instead of the 2% called for in the original recipe and with demerrara sugar for a deep, rich flavour). The recipe uses two egg yolks so it was a perfect choice as a companion for the tuiles on a practical level.

My embarrassing results sting badly; you see I used to make a version of these feather light cookies on a daily basis when, at the beginning of my career, I was the pastry assistant in a restaurant kitchen. Oh the shame! Am I washed up?  Have I lost my touch? Or, was it just a bad baking day?  Sometimes the simplest tasks can be the most humbling!

But, enough whining about my uninspired results. Visit the Daring Baker’s site and click on the links to see what my fellow bakers have cooked up. Some of their results are absolutely lovely!

Credits:  This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Tea kettles: No longer only in Canada

January 28, 2009

electric-teakettlesWhen I started working in the test kitchen of Canadian Living magazine in the early nineties, I remember being surprised to learn that tea kettles, although common kitchen items in Canada, were relatively scarce is US kitchens. The rationale at the time was that Americans were more likely to drink coffee than tea so they didn’t give up counter space to an appliance they would use only rarely.

According to this poll and lengthy list of responses in popular New York City blog thekitchn, it looks like tea kettles are now popular on both sides of the border.

What about you? Do you plug in a kettle or put one on the stove top when you need a cuppa? And, are your current kettle habits new or rooted in long standing practice?

Edited to add:  I just saw this post on Not Martha which features a supremo kettle that has temperature settings for different kinds of hot drinks. So, if a kettle is on your shopping list, you might want to check this baby out!

Topline Trends Tuesdays: Goat Milk

January 27, 2009


Recently my trend tracker’s radar screen has picked up buzz about not only goat milk but also products made with goat milk. Turns out I’m not the only one picking up this static; this article highlights the trend, too.

If you’re wondering what’s enticing consumers to give goat milk a try, you should know that many people who are sensitive to cow milk can drink goat milk with no ill effect since the fatty acid and protein structure of goat milk is different than cow milk, making it easier to digest. Likewise, compared to cow milk, goat milk is higher in calcium and some other nutrients, too.

I haven’t tried goat milk or any products or recipes made with it myself but, I’m very curious about it. In fact, I really want to try these LaLoo ice creams.

Have any of you tried goat milk or goat milk products?  If so, are they very different in taste and texture to cow milk versions?

How to get a man’s attention

January 26, 2009

We all know the saying:  “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”,  but how do you get him to listen?

According to this British gravy mix commercial, the stomach route works pretty well then, too!


Change Family Day to Pie Day

January 25, 2009

It’s come to my attention that our American friends have had a pretty fantastic week. Not only have they been enjoying Obamapalooza but last week they had NATIONAL PIE DAYharold_9_kinds_of_pie!  That’s right. A day devoted to celebrating double crust goodness.

What did we have?  Nothing. What do we have to look forward to? Family Day. Boring. Oh how I wish our government had made our new holiday Pie Day instead!  

What do you think – is Pie Day more interesting than Family Day?  It certainly seems more inclusive since there are some people who don’t have families while, at least to my knowledge, there is no one who doesn’t like some kind of pie.

At the very least I’m going to bake a pie for Family Day and, I’ll read Harold and Purple Crayon with my son (who cares if he’s 12 and well past these kinds of books) since Harold — who has 9 favourite kinds of pie — is truly a pastry fan extraordinaire.

BTW: If you are in the Muskoka, Ontario area and you like the idea of pie day, you may also be please to know that Gourmet on the Lake’s Muskoka Food Boutique has started “Fresh Pie Fridays” so that you can have a great slice of double crust goodness without getting flour on your black pants.

Weird things you can do with vodka

January 23, 2009

skittlesvodkaPhoto credit: Euranna.net

Over the holidays I felt sorry for vodka. People were drinking gin martinis, Manhattans and many other spirit based drinks but vodka bottles, the former darling of the modern bar, were growing dusty on the back shelf. In fact, I made only one batch of pomegranate martinis during the whole festive season.  

Always keen to help a friend (even if it is a distilled spirit) in need, I did a little internet sleuthing and discovered that a strong faction of vodka support remains.

Check out these interesting ways to enjoy vodka. They might come in handy as you couch surf in the next few wintery weeks enjoying the return of Battlestar Galactica, Lost and Damages (oh, how I love a cocktail and a good hour long drama!):

Skittles vodka
Vodka in a tube
Sweet Tea vodka

And, if you want some truly innovative ways to use vodka around the house, consult this list.

What’s your favourite use for vodka? Do you drink it in martinis, infuse it with candies or use it as a foot odour cure like the site above recommends?