Displaying items by tag: Compliments to the Chef, Paula and John Reardon

Thursday, 12 March 2020 15:29

Bring on the Corned Beef and Cabbage

Hello my Foodie Friends!

The upcoming week includes a very fun holiday; it is St. Patrick’s Day. My mother, who was Italian, used to say “Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s day.”  My father, who was Irish, always agreed because if he didn’t he ran the risk of not getting her delicious Corned Beef and Cabbage. So here is to all of our “Irish” lads and lassies.

So how did Corned Beef and Cabbage become an American dish served on St. Patrick’s Day? From the Middle Ages until sometime in the 19th century, the Irish were known for producing salted meats. It was actually considered their specialty. Most of the salted meats created in Ireland were done so for trade. The salted meats were deemed too luxurious for the poor Irish, so it went out of the country and the Irish would have to resort to other measures for meaty pleasure.  The closest and cheapest thing the Irish could get their hands on in terms of cured meats was salt pork — meat that’s similar to bacon. It was a staple for the Irish, and could be found in almost every home. As the Irish migrated to the United States, they couldn’t find salt pork in their new home, and bacon, the closest substitute, was insanely expensive. Thus, they turned to corned beef. It was the one thing Irish immigrants would eat in the U.S. because it reminded them of home.

The truth is, most Irish folks don’t eat corned beef and cabbage nowadays. However it’s become a tradition Irish-Americans readily adopted, and welcomed as part of the Irish-American heritage we have here now.

Preparing Corned Beef and Cabbage does require some essential tools. As you look for tools to use to make your Corned Beef and Cabbage; you may need a Dutch oven or a stock pot, and a good chef (cooks knife). The chef’s knife (sometimes called a cook’s knife) is the most important knife to have in your kitchen and within your knife collection. A chef’s knife is the go-to tool for more than 90 percent of daily kitchen tasks including most slicing and dicing of fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish. And while a chef’s knife may be the “king of the kitchen,” it should not be used to butcher or carve poultry, to remove the skin of large vegetables such as butternut squash, or, as some people have tried, to puncture a hole in cans. The broadness of a chef’s knife blade makes it unwieldy for tasks better suited to a smaller knife.

Many of our customers ask me what is the best brand knife to have. Choosing a chef’s knife “is like a dance partner.” A knife that feels comfortable and graceful in your hand might feel klutzy to someone else. When you start shopping for that perfect chef’s knife—one that will make slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing more pleasurable, precise, and effortless—it’s important to identify your personal preferences, and to realize that there isn’t one knife that’s right for everyone. Finding your ideal knife might take a little time, but you’ll know it when you’ve found it. Once you’ve got a knife in your hand you should immediately get a sense of its fit. It should feel comfortable, like a natural extension of your hand. It should inspire confidence, not instill fear. If it feels wrong, move on. If it feels pretty good; start chopping (or mock chopping), noting how you respond to the knife’s physical characteristics.

Weight: You’ll need to try several knives to find your ideal knife weight. One school of thought believes a hefty chef’s knife cuts through foods easier because it “falls” with more force. Another thinks a lighter chef’s knife flows more freely and lets you maneuver the knife more skillfully. Bottom line: Choose the style that feels right to you.

Balance: “Perfect balance” is in the palm of the beholder. Judge balance by gripping the knife by its handle. If it feels uncomfortably weighted toward the back of the handle or toward the blade, then it probably isn’t for you. An unbalanced knife will make you work harder. Side-to-side balance is also important. When you come down on the blade, the knife shouldn’t feel unstable, as if it wants to teeter toward one side or the other.

Size: An 8-inch chef’s knife is the most popular among home cooks because of its versatility. A 10-incher’s longer blade can cut more volume but may feel intimidating. A 6-inch chef’s knife can offer an element of agility, like that of a paring knife, but falls short when working with volume or when slicing through something large, like a watermelon.

As you prepare for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration events, stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, and let us help you choose the best knife for you. We carry some of the best knives made in the world. As you celebrate, be sure to compliment the chef and the host: 

“Corned beef and cabbage and leprechaun men. Colorful rainbows hide gold at their end. Shamrocks and clovers with three leaves plus one. Dress up in green—add a top hat for fun. Steal a quick kiss from the lasses in red. A tin whistle tune off the top of my head. Friends, raise a goblet and offer this toast— ‘The luck of the Irish and health to our host!’” - Richelle E. Goodrich

Remember my Foodie Friends “Life Happens in the Kitchen!”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON CornedBeefCabbage


Published in Food
Thursday, 05 March 2020 14:32

You're Waffle-y Cute

Hello my Foodie Friends!

How many of you like to eat breakfast foods any time of the day?  As a child, one of my favorite breakfast items was and still is waffles. I love the smell of cooking waffles when you walk into the kitchen. One of our family treats was waffles on Sunday morning. My mother would offer to put blueberries, strawberries, bananas and various fruits on our waffles. I have always loved waffles’ crispy wafer surface, soft interior and tiny golden pockets filled with maple syrup. The waffles of my dreams (and by now you realize this is nearing psychedelic-flashback territory), include the proper waffles are dark golden brown, crisp and served with butter melting into the square holes, maybe a salty pork product nearby such as bacon and real maple syrup. I would beg for a scoop of ice cream on top – but that idea was quickly nixed.

Waffles have been a favorite food for hundreds of years, possibly dating back to the 13th Century. Although Waffles were brought to Pennsylvania centuries ago by German settlers, they are experiencing a modern-day comeback that extends long after sunrise. There are many new food concepts out there that include creative approaches to waffles as an all day food. It is safe to say that Americans have developed a bit of a fascination, perhaps an obsession of making waffles a novelty breakfast item to decadent masterpieces. The first waffle irons with the characteristic honeycomb pattern appeared in the 1200’s when a craftsman designed and forged cooking irons. Original irons featured a hinged design. Consequently, the batter was poured in, pressed together, and cooked over an open hearth fire. Making crisp and fluffy homemade waffles has gotten easier since the days when you had to hold a long-handled waffle iron in the fire to get them perfectly browned. Modern waffle makers require little more effort than plugging them in and heating them up, but it can take a little practice to effortlessly turn out golden grids that pair perfectly with real maple syrup or crunchy fried chicken. A generously oiled and preheated waffle maker should produce an irresistible result every time.

We carry several types of Waffle makers by All-Clad. The All-Clad Waffle Maker cooks generous Belgian waffles at the same time. It features advanced heating technology for homogeneous browning; moreover, 7 levels of browning are possible. The steam release system prevents condensation buildup as waffles bake, for crispy outside and fluffy inside waffles. The ready to cook light signals when to add batter and the audible signal indicates when waffles are ready. The non-stick plates are easy to clean. An overflow batter tray put at the back of the cooking plate avoids mess. Another option is the delicious round waffles. 

I never met a waffle I didn’t like. After hearing the ways waffles can answer the never-ending “What’s for dinner?” question or liven up a winter party, you’ll never look at a box of Eggos the same way again. Who says waffles are just for breakfast? You could eat them for lunch, dinner and dessert too. Here are some ideas: 

Chicken and Bacon Waffles: Call it a meat-lovers waffle. Top your waffle with fried chicken and crispy bacon, and even mix bacon into the waffle batter. Save it for a lazy Sunday morning when you don’t have to leave the couch too quickly.

Waffled Brioche French Toast: If you’re the type who always waffles (har har) between French toast and waffles on the diner menu, you can get the best of both worlds at home. Pop a chunky slice of brioche in the waffle iron, and you’ll wind up with crispy divots (perfect for flooding with syrup) and maintain the fluffy, chewy texture typical of French toast.

Waffled Banana Bread: Banana bread is another morning favorite that can get a waffle update. Pour banana-bread batter straight into the waffle iron for a treat that’s both new and familiar — and cooks in way less time than typical banana bread.

Breakfast Grilled Cheese: Waffles to-go sounds like a trick until you realize that two waffles can sandwich all the gooey stuff (cream cheese and jam) inside for a handheld breakfast. 

There are so many options to make with a waffle maker. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Pl. to pick up the essentials to make culinary delights. Have fun in the kitchen; tell that special someone they are “Waffle-y Cute.”  Remember my Foodie Friends “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON HamCheeseWaffles


Published in Food
Thursday, 27 February 2020 13:49

Hole in the World

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Over the years, Paula and I have been blessed with many wonderful people who have been an important part of our life. It is never easy to say goodbye to an incredible person who has passed away.  This month, our Saratoga Springs, Culinary, and Compliments to the Chef family lost an amazing chef and friend; Chef and Professor Rocco Verrigni to a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Our tribute is to a man, that from the moment we met him, had an amazing impact on my life, my wife Paula and on our entire culinary community. 

My friendship began with Rocco many years ago when he and I would be part of a refreshment center at a sports event. Rocco would make his family recipe for Macaroni Pie (the recipe is included). We would share stories of work in the restaurant/ hospitality industry. Our understanding of Rocco’s contributions to the culinary world continued as Paula entered into higher education academics working as a professor for SUNY Delhi on the SUNY Schenectady campus. Rocco’s influence and impact on the culinary and hospitality programs at SUNY Schenectady remain prevalent within each student, instructor, and administrator on that campus. Upon retirement, Rocco became a strong advocate and presence within our Compliments to the Chef family. Rocco or “Chef Rocco” as we called him, conducted many product and “how to” demonstrations for us. He always brought a level of genuine interest in our business, how we could service our community as a culinary resource, and how he could help and be part of what we are. We valued his insight, interest in certain products, and experience that he brought with him through our conversations and discussions as to what to carry in the store. Along with his foodie stories, came loving stories of his family gatherings and his close friendship to Singer/Musician Jeff Brisbin, a person who is now a good friend of our store. During Chef Rocco’s demo’s he would insist on proper knife skills such as knowing how to julienne a carrot with a paring knife before learning to use a mandoline slicer. When we challenged him on the consistency of size, he quickly produced a perfect julienne carrot from a paring knife. 

As Rocco worked through his illness, he focused on getting back to the true basics of how food is created, using very authentic approaches to recipes making everything from scratch, and realizing the nutritional value of everything that he made. Many of the skill sets he would demo in our store were based on the basics; knife skills, pasta making, stock-making and soups, and the focus on the products he used within our store demonstrations. 

Rocco leaves behind a spirit that embraced the life of an incredible person. He approached his illness with grace, integrity, strength, optimism, and courage. Values that truly reflected the good man he was. There is a “hole in the world” and a hole in our lives. Our hearts go out to his wife Karen and the Verrigni family. We are so thankful to have had Rocco as part our lives. His friendship, support, expertise, and genuineness as a good person will be with us forever. Remember my Food Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” For Rocco; the kitchen was his contribution to us; leaving a legacy in the culinary world and academics. I have included his recipe that was posted in the Daily Gazette in an interview with Rocco on December 16, 2015.  I had his Grandma’s Macaroni Pie; it is fabulous.

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON MacaroniPie


Published in Food
Thursday, 20 February 2020 13:50

It’s In The Cargo

Hello my Foodie Friends!

During these winter days, many individuals try to take a break to different parts of the country or world especially to the “warmer” sections of the globe. Although Saratoga is not considered “tropical” it does draw many travelers throughout the year. We enjoy talking to many of our culinary guests and hearing about what can be eventful travels from afar. Most recently, a couple from New Zealand shared a story about their son that brought back memories of a family vacation we had to Disney. 

Back in 2004, going through security at the airport had become a planned task to anticipate when beginning your travels.  My son was 12 and my daughter was 9 at the time.  I was bound to a wheel chair having just had surgery on my foot.  Security had chosen our family randomly to do a full security check. We all moved to the side and cooperated with the officers who held wands in their hands to check us.  My wife, daughter, and I all went through quickly. However, as I glanced to find my son – he was being held by one of the security officers.  We stood watching as the officer placed his wand and tapped on my son’s pocket of his cargo pants.  My son reached into his pocket and pulled out a bag of candy.  The guard then moved to the other pocket of my son’s pants and tapped on the pocket.  My son pulled out another bag of candy.  At this point my wife and I looked at each other wondering why my son packed all of this candy – since he never ate it and we rarely had it in the house. The security check was not quite over. The security officer continued to tap all of the pockets in my son’s cargo pants.  As you may know – cargo pants have many pockets.  My wife and I stood with our mouths open and were laughing each time my son reached into his pockets and pulled out more and more candy!! We could not believe what we saw. The security officer tried not to laugh as we kept proclaiming amazement of what we saw.  Once we made it past airport security – our vacation was incredible with many wonderful memories to add to our candy cargo stop. 

My son was able to keep all of the candy he had stashed away like a squirrel.  To this day – we are not quite sure why he had that much candy on him since he was and is still not a big candy eater. 

So how does this story tie into the culinary world? Chefs both professional and for those who just enjoy cooking find that storing and carrying their knives to cooking events or various locations can be a task and must be properly done. Chefs love their knives. They carry them everywhere in knife rolls, which are bags designed to house a whole bunch of very sharp knives in the safest and most discreet way possible.

You may not think you need to carry around knives and other kitchen tools. But if you’re planning a blowout barbecue at your summer rental house, or a camping trip that will involve fireside cooking, you should consider getting a knife roll.  For many, bringing knives and culinary tools with them to where they are traveling or cooking is considered precious cargo. Consider a knife bag as a way of assisting with those travels. 

We welcome our many visitors to Saratoga Springs, New York and look forward to hearing more of the fun stories that exist in traveling. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store to assist with your culinary needs.  We carry “cool tools” for the chef on the go.  Remember: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON BeefStroganoff


Published in Food
Thursday, 13 February 2020 15:49

Language of Food

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Guess what today is: Yes, it’s Valentines Day and I know the quickest way to someone’s heart is great cooking. There is nothing more impressive than whipping up a romantic meal for your partner. It is food that creates a home, connections, celebrations, and embraces family and friends. In creating meals, we are creating homes and a nurturing environment. The meals do not have to be fancy or gourmet. It isn’t about how special the recipe is. It is about being conscious of an important part of life and honoring that importance. By elevating the importance of food in our family’s lives, you pass that importance on to them. Families connect around the dinner table, all sharing the meal they know is just for them. They also learn the subtle ways you can say “I love you.” through the daily care of mealtime.

One of our favorite dishes is to make is Eggplant Parmigiana. When my wife Paula was at the end of her due dates for our children, she was always encouraged by the Italian women in the family to eat Italian food to induce her labor. We won’t promise you that by eating Eggplant Parmigiana you are guaranteed to go into labor, but according to some of the old Italian wives tales, it may be just the trick to get your baby’s show on the road. Ironically enough, Paula did eat Eggplant prior to each time she went into labor (early or not). Making Eggplant Parmigiana can be a tedious task of slicing and prepping.  Do you have a mandoline hiding in the back of your pantry, just begging to be used? Essentially, you can accomplish much of a mandoline’s work with a steady hand and a sharp knife. However, when slicing up zucchini ribbons, slicing eggplant or shredding brussel sprouts, mandolines cut prep time down significantly and promise consistent, even results. And they’re fun to use; especially when you need to create consistently thick or thin slices for your favorite recipe. At Compliments to the Chef we carry several different brands of mandolines. The OXO Good Grips mandoline is a perfect tool for home chefs. It is a trusty tool through thick and thin (produce). Slice or julienne cucumbers, potatoes and more with a turn of the comfortable dial on the Chef’s Mandoline Slicer.  We also carry mandolines by Zyllis and the Asian style Benriner. Each mandoline includes a food holder that protects hands and the stainless steel blade quickly makes even slices. All blades store safely on board and are removable for easy cleaning. With this easy-to-use mandoline, hands and fingers stay away from sharp blades at all times. Most mandolines come with three or four slicing blades beyond the basic blade. These allow you to slice paper thin, a little thicker (think potato chips), thick julienne (think french fries), and thin julienne. If you’re not sure how your blades will slice, invest in a few potatoes and try each setting out. It’s usually a good idea to have a few extra veggies on hand when you’re learning to use your mandoline as well so you can get the hang of the whole process. 

At Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, we have items that can assist with making your Valentine’s Dinner. Finish with something sweet and a goodnight kiss. Show your love through the foods you cook. Stop by Compliments to the Chef located at 33 Railroad Place and let us know how we can help you with your culinary needs. Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” Happy Valentines Day!

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON EggplantParm


Published in Food
Thursday, 06 February 2020 14:28

A Single Serving

Hello my Foodie Friends!

The focus and awareness of single servings has been on the rise. Factors and benefits such as convenience, freshness, and dietary awareness have a major appeal to everyday consumers. Now more then ever individuals are placing importance on elements such as convenience and dietary awareness. Everyone ranging from busy families on the go to people dealing with the everyday chaos of life can take advantage of the handiness that single-serve products provide! Single-serve cooking can assist with the emphasis being placed on leading healthier lifestyles. Single-serve products provide the health and wellness many are looking for. Portion and calorie control are much easier for on-the-go consumers to calculate, which offers convenience.

The Ramekin is an item we sell at Compliments to the Chef that can help you with your quest for single servings. What, exactly, is a “ramekin?” A ramekin is a small, single-serving sized small mould or dish, traditionally round with a fluted exterior, in which ramekins or other individual portions of food, such as soufflés or mousses, are baked and served; (also) a small container for an individual serving of sauce.

Typically made of ceramics, ramekins are small bowls that are often associated with custard desserts. Yet there are a wide variety of uses for ramekins in your kitchen. They can be used to mix a small amount of ingredients, hold snacks or serve dips and salsas. You can also use ramekins to bake many different foods -- from sweets to main dishes. This is particularly beneficial if you’re watching your weight because eating from these small bowls will help you manage portion size, a key component in controlling caloric intake.

There are so many uses for a ramekin. Here are a few:

You can bake eggs in a ramekin.  Eggs have been put on the bad food list in the past, but the truth is that they are a good protein option for starting your day. The cholesterol in eggs is in the yokes, so if that’s a concern you can always use just egg whites. Use ramekins to bake eggs as an alternative to the typical fried or scrambled eggs. Just crack an egg into a ramekin coated in nonstick cooking spray, pour one tablespoon of low-fat milk over it and season as desired. Try adding shredded low-fat cheese or Canadian bacon. You can also put vegetables like spinach, tomatoes or diced peppers on the bottom of the ramekin before adding the egg. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. The temperature of the egg should reach 160 degrees F, according to safety guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bread pudding is usually a decadent dessert, but you can fit it into your healthy diet. Using your favorite bread pudding recipe and preparing it in ramekins allows you to have a small single serving, keeping calories under control. You can also experiment with swapping some of the ingredients to boost nutritional value. For example, use whole wheat bread and low-fat milk instead of white bread and heavy cream or whole milk. Recipes like the pear bread pudding featured in “The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook” uses these substitutes as well as several spices to make a healthier, flavorful dish.

Mini pot pies and meatloaves: Portion control and attractive food presentation are both advantages you’ll get when preparing main dishes in ramekins. Serving a personal pot pie or meatloaf to your family will likely be a hit, especially for kids. You can still prepare your recipes for these classics as usual and then divide the prepared food among the ramekins before baking. You may need to cut down the amount of your original recipe, however, if you plan to use only a few ramekins. If you’re concerned about grease filling up the ramekins when cooking mini meatloaves, try placing a piece of bread — preferably somewhat stale or toasted — in the bottom of the dish. The bread will absorb a large amount of the grease. It will also help to use leaner ground beef; try to use 90 to 93 percent lean.

Fruit desserts: Ramekins are ideal for many classic desserts, such as custards, mousses and even mini baked cheesecakes. They also work well for baking individual fruit desserts, such as crisps and cobblers. Crisps use a topping primarily made with dried oats while cobblers are flour based. An additional advantage to preparing desserts this way is that you can use a variety of fruits to prepare several different crisps or cobblers at once.

One of our favorite uses for ramekins is for single servings of mac n cheese. Mac n cheese is down home comfort food and it makes you feel all warm and cozy. These little ramekins are ideal for individual servings of mac n cheese. 

Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs to pick up an array of sizes of ramekins and cool tools to assist you with your culinary needs. Enjoy those ridiculously delicious single serving creations. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” 

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON MacCheeseRamekins


Published in Food
Thursday, 30 January 2020 13:26

You’re Baking Me Crazy

Hello my Foodie Friends!

The winter months often times bring us “snow days” from work and school. Snow day; you know what that means? It’s time to bake some sweet goodies with your friends or family.  There are standard baking essentials that are needed to make your favorite baked treats. 

Cooking and baking are really enjoyable if you can find recipes that are inspiring and delicious. Flipping through a cookbook, you’ll find that most cooking and baking recipes use precise measurements. Portioning ingredients in a dish balances flavors to create the best-tasting recipes. Dry measuring cups, liquid measuring cups, and measuring spoons are three of the fundamental kitchen tools that will help you measure your ingredients. The best measuring cups and spoons make it easy to portion your ingredients and wash up after you’re done cooking or baking. Dry measuring cups are important kitchen tools to have in your drawers. The best measuring cup sets consist of five different measuring cups, ranging from 1/3 cup to 1 cup for measuring dry goods. You’ll find that dry measuring cups are made from many different materials, including plastic and stainless steel. Both of these types of materials can be placed in the dishwasher, which makes it easier to clean up after you’re done cooking or baking. These materials are used in measuring cups because they will not react with food and then can even be placed in the refrigerator or freezer if you need to cool ingredients. If you are baking, make sure that you clean out your measuring cups after each use to ensure that you don’t contaminate any of your ingredients. A well-stocked kitchen has both dry and liquid measuring cups. There is a slight difference in volume between dry and wet ingredients, so it’s important that you have both styles of measuring cups. The best liquid measuring cup sets have three different sizes, ranging from 1 cup to 4 cups of liquid. A lot of liquid measuring cups have spouts on the end, which makes them easy to pour into your recipe. Most liquid measuring cups have handles so you can transport them across the kitchen. This is especially helpful if you are incorporating warm liquid into your recipe. The majority of liquid measuring cups are made from plastic or glass, so they can go right in the dishwasher alongside your dry measuring cups.

Aside from measuring cups, measuring spoons are also a must-have in your kitchen. A standard set of measuring spoons is great if you are baking in the kitchen because you can use the right portion of baking soda and baking powder to get the perfect texture for your best sweet treats. Measuring spoons can measure both liquid and dry ingredients so they're super handy to have in the kitchen.

Stop in to Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place and stock up on baking supplies.  Don’t forget to keep your eye on your little helpers when measuring the Cinnamon-Sugar as three tablespoons could become six! Remember my Foodie Friends that “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” Stay warm and have fun baking. 

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON DonutMuffins


Published in Food
Thursday, 23 January 2020 13:22

Back to the Old Grind

Hello my Foodie Friends!

In kitchens throughout the world, there is one piece of technology that has been the same since the Stone Age: the mortar and pestle. The mortar and pestle is one of the most primitive kitchen tools. You place ingredients in a bowl usually made of stone or ceramic and them pound them with a tiny club. 

Why should every good cook—and everyone who loves herbs—own and use at least one mortar and pestle? Several reasons include: from history; the ceremony of using ancient tools and the joy of knowing the rhythm of how they work. For celebration: food feeds both body and soul, and the act of preparing it should be a pleasure, not a chore. And finally, for quality: there is a depth of flavor to spices and fresh herbs prepared this way that you just can’t get from a food processor. Mortars and pestles have been used for crushing and blending seeds, roots, herbs, and other foods. This dates back to prehistory, although information on their origins is hard to find. It’s only logical that early man and woman picked up the nearest rock and used it to crack open the nuts they gathered. Eventually they found similar tools to grind seed or grain into a powder, so that they could mix it with water to form a gruel and grind herbs and roots to flavor it.

Here’s a list of cooking tasks you can accomplish with a mortar and pestle:

• Grind your own peppercorns and spices including cinnamon sticks, coriander, and cloves.
• Remove cardamom seeds from their pods and then crush to use in Indian cooking.
• Grind sea salt to the fine texture of popcorn salt and season your movie night treat.
• Crush whole dry chilies into flakes.
• Crush capers to use in homemade tartar sauce recipes.
• Smash fresh peeled ginger to use in Asian recipes.
• Crush some flax seeds to release their benefits and add to yogurt for a nutritious breakfast or snack.
• Crush lavender to use in baking or potpourri.
• Crush herbs and seeds to make medicinal teas.
• Make fresh, homemade nut butters.
• Turn fresh garlic cloves into a paste and spread on Italian bread with olive oil for some intense garlic bread.
• Crush some fresh basil, garlic and pine nuts together in the larger sized units. Then mix in some olive oil to make super fresh and flavorful pesto.

The mortar and pestle is available in a wide variety of sizes and can be found made of ceramic, glass, porcelain, wood, metal, granite, marble or bamboo. The advantage of a using a mortar and pestle rather than an electric grinder or food processor include easier (as in no) assembly required, less noise and easy cleanup — no small parts or sharp blades to wash.

One of the most classic uses of the mortar and pestle is for pesto.  Combining the flavors of basil, pine nut, Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil can make a wonderful pesto to add to pasta, spread on a sandwich, or eat by the spoonful.  When it comes to making pesto, you can’t go wrong with a pestle and mortar. You could make it in a food processor, but you just won’t get the same flavors as when you’re pounding and crushing all that lovely basil by hand. 

Cooking can be fun! No matter how long you have been cooking, there is always something new to learn. The mortar and pestle may take a little elbow grease, but it is the tool that will not fail you.  Go back to the old grind for a while, stepping away from modern technology and use the mortar and pestle for your incredible culinary creations. Stop at Compliments to the Chef; your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place to get your “cool” Tools for Cooks. Remember; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON Pesto


Published in Food
Thursday, 16 January 2020 13:55

Cutting Edge

Hello my Foodie Friends!

As most of my Foodie Friends know, I am a heavy steel knife type of guy.  I was intrigued however, when a representative from the Kyocera Company stopped in to my store in 2004. I asked him why I would want a “plastic looking knife” over a carbon steel knife? He smiled and said “show me how sharp your steel one is.” I reached for one of my best knives and sliced a paper clean with no trouble with a smooth slice sound. I responded, “Now beat that!” Well, it was close to that song where: “fire blew from his fingertips as he rosined up his bow” as he took his knife and sliced the same type of paper. I then exclaimed “no sound, you missed!” Then I watched the paper float away as if a warm summer wind just decided to take it for a ride in my store. I was hooked. 

A sharp knife is a cook’s best friend.  This is evident with the use of a ceramic knife that offers tremendous ease and saves time as we cut up soft fruits, vegetables and boneless meats.  Ceramics are a fun and interesting breed of knife that are deceivingly sharp.  Professionals and home cooks use ceramic knives due to their sharpness, strength, density, and precision making it a great tool to add to your culinary collection.  Kyocera ceramic knives are the perfect compliment to your cutlery at home. As soon as you pick up a Kyocera ceramic knife, you will be intrigued with the benefits of using ceramics. The knife is light in weight yet balances perfectly in your palm. It is excellent for slicing fruits, vegetables, and boneless meats. The blade is ground to razor sharp perfection and holds their edge 10 times longer than other professional cutlery. Ceramic knives will not brown foods or transfer a metallic taste or smell.  Ceramic is impervious to acids, oils, and salts. The blades will never rust. 

Ceramic knives are intended to complement, not replace your cutlery. Use steel for carving, prying, and boning product.  Ceramic knives come in a variety of sizes making them perfect for all types of culinary tasks. Because of the manufacturing process, the blades of a ceramic knife are flat and free from waves. As a result of this technological advantage, the edges need to be ground with a diamond wheel or diamond sharpener.  Traditional knife sharpeners cannot sharpen a ceramic knife. Kyocera has a lifetime program for sharpening their ceramic knives.  You can also purchase one of their sharpeners made specifically for their ceramic knives. 

Caring for your ceramic knife is important to ensure proper care and the prolonged life of the knife:
Please exercise the necessary caution when working, as the blades are very sharp

Ceramic knives are intended for the cutting of food. They are unsuitable for hitting and levering.
Ceramic blades are not shock resistant! Do not allow the knife to fall onto a hard floor or similar surfaces!
To ensure that the blade remains sharp over a long period, we recommend the use of a cutting surface made from wood or plastic.
Never try to cut hard objects such as frozen food, bones, metal, etc!
Never hold the knife in an open fire (high conductance of heat)!
Never clean with a wire brush!
Hand wash with a mild detergent after use.
Store the ceramic knife in a protective sheath.
Cleaning in a dishwasher is not recommended, unless it can be ensured that the knife cannotcome into contact with other objects.
Store out of the reach of children!

Ceramics are a cutting edge technology that can help make your culinary prep easier and fun.  Stop by Compliments to the Chef, Your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place, shop for cool tools for cooks. Looking for something different to give? Ceramic knives can be a very unique and useful gift to give to that foodie that has “everything.”  Remember: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON SpicyChickenThighs


Published in Food
Thursday, 09 January 2020 11:53

Grinding It Out!

Hello my Foodie Friends!

My Mom loved coffee and even way back then she was grinding her beans to how she liked them.  She had a small wooden hand grinder and she would grind them to the correct consistency for her taste.  You are probably wondering which one of the Reardon clan had the job of grinder when Mom thought we were ready. Well, it was the middle child Danny.  He got the job because he could fix anything!  The grinder wasn’t working and Mom called in Dan to fix it.  Even though he was a little boy, Dan could figure out what was wrong with anything that had moving parts and then make it work right.  There was talk, however, that the reason some things were broken was that Dan took them apart to see how they worked but Mom never knew so he was the “Hero.” 

Why Grind Beans at Home?
Grinding fresh whole coffee beans just before brewing will protect the aroma of your coffee and ensures the rich full-bodied taste stands out. Ground coffee interacts with the air around it and within hours loses a great deal of flavor. The longer the ground coffee is exposed to air, the more aroma will be lost from your brewed cup of coffee or espresso. Only grind what you need now. Don’t grind for the whole week! Once the beans are out of airtight packaging, keep them in a dry, dark container with a tight closing lid.

There are three different coffee grinding methods; conical burr grinders, disk burr grinders and blade grinders.

Conical Burr Grinders preserve the most flavor and can grind very fine with the highest consistency. The intricate design of the conical steel burrs allows for a high gear reduction to slow down the grinding speed below 500 rpm. The slower the speed the less heat is imparted to the ground coffee thus preserving the maximum amount of aroma. Due to the wide range of grind settings, conical burr grinders are ideal for all types of coffee equipment such as espresso machines, drip coffee makers, percolators, French press and can even grind extra fine for the preparation of Turkish coffee. 

Burr Grinders rotate at a considerable faster speed of 10,000 to 20,000 rpm and create a bit more warmth in the coffee than conical burr grinders. They are the most economical way of getting a consistent grind in a wide range of applications. They are ideal for drip coffee makers, percolators, French press and well suited for most pump espresso machines. However, they do not grind as fine as conical burr grinders and are not as quiet.

Blade Grinders are suitable for drip coffee makers and percolators. They also perform well for grinding spices and herbs. The blade rotates at very high speeds of 20,000 to 30,000 rpm thus heating up the ground coffee more than burr grinders and also creating a bit of coffee dust. That coffee dust can clog up the fine mesh of the metal baskets used in pump espresso machines. The advantage of blade grinders is they are inexpensive and easy to clean with little maintenance. 

If you love coffee then try grinding your own beans. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery Store, located at 33 Railroad Place to check out various options for grinding your coffee beans. Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”

 Take Care,
John & PaulaREARDON SourCreamCoffeeCake


Published in Food
Page 4 of 12


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