Fresh summer vegetables = good eating!

zucchini boysMy favorite part of long summer days & fun times spent with family and friends is feeding them all delicious summer vegetables that I’ve grown in my own garden. Every year we grow tomatoes (mostly heirloom, beefsteak & plum), peppers (from jalapenos to bell peppers), cucumbers for salads & smaller cucumbers for pickling, blueberries, zucchini (some of the fastest growing & largest I’ve ever seen this year) and other random veggies that we want to “try out”…this year we “tried” to grow carrots…not so successful!

After being at the beach for a week, we arrived home to an almost overgrown garden thanks to the pretty much daily rain we’ve been receiving in Georgia this summer. After seeing our crop, I immediately starting perusing the internet to find something yummy & delicious I could do with my wonderful veggies.

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The Clam That Didn’t Get Away..

bowl of steamed clams
The escaping clam

Linguine with clams is one of my favorite dinners.  But, I only enjoyed it at restaurants.  I’ve always been a bit leery of actually dealing with the clams on my own.   Now, I’m happy to say frequently prepare my favorite linguini with clams recipe at home.  The clams aren’t difficult to handle at all.   The last time I made it a very aggressive clam took me by surprise.  This clam tried to get away!!

Fortunately I was able to keep the clam in check (or more accurately said in steam) and we had a wonderful dinner.

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It wouldn’t be Christmas unless I’m eating…Squirrel Brunswick Stew? Cristollen?

Christmas MealWe are a rather varied group at MetroKitchen.  Ranging from all American mid-westerners to native Atlantans to 1st generation Cuban-Americans.  We even have a naturalized US citizen born in Haiti, a 2nd generation of Polish descent and a New Orleans transplant.

As you might imagine, we have interesting discussions about our Christmas traditions, especially food.  In fact, those discussions are what led to this blog post!
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Baking for the Holidays

Peanut Butter SquaresHolidays make me feel like a Keebler Elf.  I just love to bake and love baking with quality bakeware.  I really like to watch people enjoy my cookies, especially at Christmas.  And, as a side bonus, when I bake cookies, I never eat them.    Great way to control calories during the eating season!   I eat everyone’s cookies, but not my own.  Probably  because of all of the broken cookies I “test!”

An absolute essential in my cookie baking are easy to clean pans that don’t warp (you know that popping sound you sometimes hear when a pan is not thick enough to handle 350 degrees or more needed for tasty cookies?)   I don’t want to have to worry about pans burning cookies or turning out cookies that aren’t quite done.  I count on my cookie sheets to be consistent.  Of the many brands I’ve tried over 30 years (been baking since I was a kid), I have 3 favorites.  I like each brand for different reasons.   Here’s what I think:

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MetroKitchen Celebrates the Holidays with Turducken

Turkey with Roasting Pan & LiftersAt MetroKitchen, we decided to celebrate a bit early this year.  Our 2011 holiday party was the result of a Turducken. Last week we had a few customers call us about roasting pans.  That led us to a discussion about turduckens, which led to the party.   Few had experienced this New Orleans delight, so it seemed like a great excuse for a party.  After 5 hours of baking and basting, the “birds” were ready to slice and serve.  Take a look:

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Staub Cast Iron Helps Overcome Roux Fears

Making Roux

Roux has forever intimidated me. I always burn it then have to resort to the instant roux. But, for a recent New Orleans-themed celebration, I decided it was time to go for the real stuff.

Great news! Roux is not that difficult. No reason to be intimidated. It takes some time…but not as much as I had thought. It takes some attention and stirring, but again, not a big deal. The real secret to roux success is the right kind of cooking vessel. My 8 qt Staub cast iron cocotte (also called a dutch oven or a casserole) made the difference. Cast iron slowly heats and then retains a consistent temperature. That’s the key to great roux. Previously I had used stainless fry pans and, yes had even tried it with non stick (which really doesn’t work). Staub cast iron is my secret to great and easy roux.

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New All-Clad Karahi Pan

All-Clad Karahi Pan

Tying on an apron, turning up my music, and spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking – that’s my idea of a relaxing evening. But after work, I’m hungry, so I like to make dishes that don’t take too long and that don’t require a lot of clean up. My ideal meal can be cooked in one dishwasher safe pot or pan. Recently I discovered a pan that I wish I had found years ago. Known for cooking curry, the All-Clad Karahi pan is versatile and small enough to fit on one burner, as opposed to other bowl-shaped pans that monopolize the stove top. The handles are well-placed, sitting higher than an average pan, and do not grow hot while the pan is on the stove, making it touchable, holdable, and movable without potholders or burning fingers. As to the cooking itself, for my first Karahi pan adventure I stir-fried chicken and broccoli (see this quick and easy recipe below). The stir-fry cooked evenly and nothing stuck to the bottom or sides of the pan. Despite its compact design, I cooked a pound-and-a-half of chicken and two large bunches of broccoli in the pan. It looks small but it cooks large. Like my other All Clad pots and pans, the Karahi is dishwasher safe, which I adore.

Update:  All-Clad has discontinued this item  as of 2009, but we recommend the the All-Clad Chef’s Pan as a comparable alternative.

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Fast Chili in an All-Clad Slow Cooker

I had to create this chili fast so I could support my beloved Red Sox. I did it, thanks to my Scanpan Classic 12 inch fry pan and the All-Clad slow cooker and this delicious fast chili recipe. The Red Sox did too!!

Here’s the story: I am the proud owner of a significant amount of antelope meat (yes, of the home on the plain fame). For those of you, like some co-workers who are totally turned off by game, think of the antelope in this way. They are not fed hormones. They live on the plains (truly). So they’re, if you will, the original organic meat. Anyway, moving past that, I had a hankering for chili, since it dropped below 80 in Atlanta. But my regular chili recipe requires some planning (actually finding fresh chiles etc). So, it was all about what’s in the pantry. [Read more…]

Happy Blending with the Viking Hand Blender

 

Viking Hand BlenderI was recently passed the “torch” to try out in my own kitchen. What is the “torch” you ask? Well it’s the new Viking Hand Blender, of course! It actually does resemble Miss Liberty’s “torch”, and it also gives new meaning to the word “freedom” in the kitchen, just as the “torch” exemplifies freedom to Americans. The Viking Hand Blender provides you with the ability to work anywhere in your kitchen, from your stove, to your counter top to your wine bar.

My mission was to create a desert smoothie without having to use a full-size blender, since I was just making a smoothie for two. One of the many great benefits of using the Viking Hand Blender is that it’s just the right size when creating smaller amounts of foods. Yet, at the same time, if you are cooking a butternut squash soup on the stove for a party of 8, the hand blender by Viking provides you with the convenience of blending the soup right on the stove in your pot. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and black berries, some crushed ice, mixed with non-fat vanilla yogurt and a dab of Cool Whip, was all it took to create a deliciously, creamy smoothie. The fact that all I had to do was place the ingredients in the 35 ounce mixing cup that came with the blender, and then immerse the blender into the yogurt mixture and lightly touch the speed button (I chose speed 1-the lower speed), and watch the Viking Hand Blender do its magic for literally 2-3 minutes, was amazing. I couldn’t get over how lightweight the actual blender was, and the ergonomic no slip grip provided great stability. Clean up was also a breeze, I chose to hand wash everything with mild soap and water. I never had to worry about bending down, pulling out my blender from the cabinet below and besides, cleaning a full size blender is never fun. Viking’s new Hand Blender is a great tool for the kitchen. You can store it easily or display it on your counter. You can also buy a separate chopper attachment as well. This product would also make a great gift, as it’s a multifunctional kitchen tool at a relatively low price. Create drinks at the bar, soups on the stove, or blend cake batter on your counter top, all with one tool.

Happy Blending!