How to make them last longer and eliminate rusting
When you purchase a box of steel wool pads, immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. After years of having to throw away rusted and unused and smelly pads, you'll decide that this will be much more economical. In fact, you'll notice that the scissors get sharpened this way!
Plain steel wool pads, which are NOT filled with soap are kosher. Steel wool pads which are filled with soap do need kosher certification. Use steel wool to:
Eliminate coffee and tea stains from your carafe and porcelain mugs
Make your aluminum, iron and stainless steel pots and pans sparkle
Remove sticky tags, labels and glue off jars
Purge crusty baked-on food from casserole dishes
Brighten up flatware and serving utensils
Degrease stoves, ovens, broiler pans, oven racks and range hoods
Rachael Ray's steel wool tip: Watch this video to prevent steel wool from rusting.
One kosher brand of steel wool soap pads is Gefen Steel Wool Soap Pad (certified OU-P).
10 Ways to Flavor Whipped Cream
by Alice Medrich, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts
As much as I adore plain whipped cream, I also love that it can be flavored. It loses its marvelous neutral character and becomes a flavor component in its own right, and sometimes that is exactly what you want.
1. Coffee Whipped Cream:
Stir 2 teaspoons espresso powder or 2 1/2 teaspoons freeze-dried coffee crystals and a generous tablespoon of sugar into 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts, strawberries, pineapple.
2. Cocoa Whipped Cream:
Use 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 4 teaspoons sugar for 1 cup heavy cream. Mix the cocoa and sugar with a tablespoon or two of the cream to form a thick paste (this serves to eliminate the lumps in the cocoa) before stirring in the rest of the cream. (For Mocha Whipped Cream, add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder or freeze dried coffee crystals to taste.) For the thickest texture and richest flavor, refrigerate for an hour or overnight before whipping.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts.
3. Nibby Whipped Cream:
Start at least several hours ahead. Combine 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons roasted cacao nibs in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the nibs to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the nibs. Refrigerate the cream for at least several hours, or overnight, before whipping, adding sugar to taste.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts, meringues and Pavlov, coffee drinks, sweetened blackberries.
4. Jasmine Whipped Cream:
Start at least 8 hours ahead. Stir 1 tablespoon good-quality jasmine tea leaves into 1 cup heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours (no longer). Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the tea leaves to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the tea leaves. Whip the cream with 2 teaspoons sugar; or refrigerate it to whip up to a day later.
Tastes good with: rich chocolate desserts.
5. Orange Blossom Whipped Cream:
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, and 3/4 teaspoon orange flower water* to 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the flavor and sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts.
6. Rose Whipped Cream:
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon rose water to 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the flavor and sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: berries (in particular, strawberries), watermelon, chocolate desserts.
7. Halvah Whipped Cream:
Use 1/4 cup or more finely grated or crumbled halvah and 1 tablespoon of sugar (or more to taste) for 1 cup of cream. Whip and sweeten the cream as usual, then fold in the halvah. Or whip the halvah with the cream to start with, adding sugar to taste along the way; it won't get as fluffy, but the flavor will be more pronounced and the texture smoother.
Tastes good with: strawberries.
8. Lemon Whipped Cream:
Use 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons cold Lemon Curd for 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the cream with the sugar and fairly thick but not quite stiff. Whisk in the lemon curd.
Tastes good with: strawberries or blueberries, fresh ginger gingerbread.
9. Fresh Mint Whipped Cream:
Start at least 8 hours ahead. Stir 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves into 1cup heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours (no longer). Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the mint leaves to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the mint. Whip the cream with sugar to taste; or refrigerate it to whip up to a day later.
Tastes good with: strawberries or other berries, bananas, sponge cake, chocolate desserts, coffee drinks.
10. Praline Whipped Cream:
Use 1/2 cup to 1 1/4 cup (to taste) finely chopped or crushed Praline for 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the cream until it holds a soft shape. If you fold in the crushed praline shortly before serving, it will retain its lovely crunch. If you whip the cream and add the praline a few hours in advance, the cream will dissolve the caramelized sugar and take on more of a burnt sugar flavor and color, though the bits of praline will be less crunchy. Divine either way!
Tastes good with: Berries, peaches, nectarines, bananas, apricots, chocolate desserts. Or use to top or fill a simple sponge cake or a nutty sponge cake. It's a superb filling for cream puffs too.
Substitutions for Orange Flower Water include: For 1/2 tsp orange flower water substitute 2 to 3 tsp orange liqueur; or additional grated orange zest Other substitutes are orange extract, unsweetened orange juice concentrate. You can also use rose water or vanilla extract.
A Pear Guide
There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, but only a handful of heirloom varieties have been carefully cultivated into the juicy, delicious fruit known as Northwest–grown USA Pears. Each has a distinctive character, texture, and flavor. Try them all to find your favorites!
In Season: September - July
Flavor Profile: refreshing, sweet, juicy, with a hint of citrus
The Anjou is an all-purpose pear whose dense flesh makes it excellent for snacking, cooking, and slicing fresh into salads or over a bowl of oatmeal. Its skin color remains green as it ripens, so Check the Neck for Ripeness!
In Season: September - May
Flavor Profile: aromatic, juicy, fresh and sweet
Sweet and succulent when ripe, red Anjou pears have a refreshingly sweet flavor and moist texture similar to their green counterparts. Their gorgeous maroon red skin adds a burst of color to salads, desserts, and entrees.
In Season: August - February
Flavor Profile: signature pear flavor with abundant juice
The Bartlett pear is unique in that its color turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens. Its creamy, sweet and aromatic flesh is perfect for eating fresh, as well as for canning or adding to salads or desserts.
In Season: August - January
Flavor Profile: juicy and sweet with a floral essence
Red Bartlett pears turn a gorgeous bright red as they ripen, and have a smooth, sweet, and juicy flesh. These delicious pears add a colorful pop to salads and desserts, and create a pretty pink hue when pureed or juiced with their skin intact.
In Season: September - April
Flavor Profile: crisp, woodsy and honey-sweet
Bosc pears are easily identified by their long, tapered necks, long stems, and skin that is naturally russeted to a cinnamon brown color. They have a dense, fragrant, honey-sweet flesh with a smooth texture that holds its shape well when heated. It is an excellent choice for eating fresh as well as for cooking.
In Season: September - March
Flavor Profile: succulent, buttery, and exceptionally sweet
Comice pears have a full, round shape with a short neck and stem. They are most often green and sometimes have a red blush in spots. This succulent pear has a custardy flesh and a mellow sweetness that makes it an elegant dessert pear which is also delicious when paired with cheese.
In Season: September - February
Flavor Profile: crunchy, earthy with a hint of vanilla
The Concorde pear is known for its tall, elongated neck and firm, dense flesh. Its skin is golden green and oftentimes has golden yellow russeting in spots. Its vanilla-sweet flavor and firm texture holds up well in heated applications, and it is also excellent for snacking.
In Season: October - March
Flavor Profile: crisp, tangy, and refreshingly sweet
The Forelle is an uncommon variety known for its smaller size and its unique yellow-green skin that is naturally decorated with crimson freckles. It has a crisp texture even when ripe, and is perfect for snacking, cooking, and pairing with wine and cheese.
In Season: September - February
Flavor Profile: bite-sized, crunchy, and ultra-sweet
Seckel pears are easily recognized by their small size and olive-green skin with a maroon blush. Known for their crunchy flesh and ultra-sweet flavor, they are an excellent choice for children’s snacks, pickling, or garnishing.
In Season: August – January
Flavor Profile: aromatic, moist and sweet with a floral essence
The Starkrimson pear is named for its brilliant crimson red color, which brightens as it ripens. It has a smooth flesh, sweet flavor, and a subtle floral aroma, making it perfect for snacking, salads, or any fresh use that shows off the brilliance of its skin.
USA Pears Bureau
How to Use Red Star PLATINUM Yeast
Red Star® PLATINUM Superior Baking Yeast is so simple to use and can be used in any recipe calling for yeast. It is a premium instant yeast blended with dough improvers* commonly used by professional bakers that will make your dough so forgiving that you will never be intimidated by yeast again!
For Traditional Recipes
• BLEND PLATINUM Yeast with dry ingredients and half of the flour in the recipe.
• ADD very warm liquids (120- 130°F). Avoid liquids that are too hot to touch.
• BLEND with enough remaining flour to make a firm dough.
• KNEAD on floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic.
• COVER, let REST a minimum of 10 minutes (or RISE to double, if desired)
• SHAPE dough as desired. COVER and let RISE until doubled in size.
• BAKE as directed according to recipe.
For Bread Machines
• Use liquids at 80°F; Add liquids, flour, dry ingredients. Add PLATINUM yeast last.
• Red Star® PLATINUM Superior Baking Yeast is a fast-rising, instant yeast; use ½ teaspoon per cup of flour in regular cycles.
• For express cycles, follow manufacturer’s manual for liquid temperatures and yeast levels.
Like any baker's yeast, Red Star® PLATINUM Superior Baking Yeast is a living organism and must be handled properly to ensure optimum performance. Never expose yeast to high temperatures during storage or use. Never use liquids that are too hot to touch.
Red Star® PLATINUM performs best in recipes that contain sugar and is certified Kosher parve under the rabbinical supervision of KOF-K.
NEVER AGAIN BE FEARFUL OF BAKING WITH YEAST!
*Red Star® PLATINUM is NOT gluten free because the dough improvers are derived from wheat flour. NOTE: For gluten free bakers, you can continue to use Red Star® Active Dry Yeast or Red Star® Quick Rise Yeast.
from Red Star PLATINUM Yeast
Recipe Card Holder – Improvise
Are you cooking/baking and need to look on the counter at the recipe? From Moxy Magazine, this easy tip for improvising a recipe card holder. Use a pants or skirt hanger instead — just hook it over a cabinet door pull and clip your recipe card into the clips used to hold your clothes.
To discourage overbrowned cookie bottoms (which can happen when an oven heats unevenly), insulate the baking sheet by placing it inside a second baking sheet of the same size. The thin layer of air between the sheets will protect the top sheet form getting too hot.
To revive crisp cookies that have softened, bake them for 5 to 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Let them cool completely before storing.
To help soft cookies keep their texture, store them in an airtight container with a ceramic brown sugar softener, or with a piece of apple on a piece of aluminum foil, or soft bread (remove the apple after 24 hours).
from Tips Cook Love, Sur La Table, Rick Rodgers, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Parchment Paper Tip
Do you wonder how to make a piece of parchment paper lie flat on the baking sheet? Well, wonder no more!
Parchment paper is often sold in rolls, so when you want to use it, it remains in a curl. When you buy a roll, take a few minutes to cut it into lengths to fit your baking sheets. Put the stack of cut sheets between two baking sheets, then store them together to “iron” the parchment flat. If you have to use curly paper, butter the pan first to help the paper adhere.
from Tips Cooks Love, Rick Rodgers, Sur la Table
This thick dairy product resembles sour cream, but its flavor is much less tangy and more buttery. Unlike sour cream, it has the advantage of not curdling when heated. It is available at specialty stores and many supermarkets, but it can be pricey. To make your own crème fraîche:
Whisk together 1 cup heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized) and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a saucepan. Heat over low heat just until the mixture is lukewarm. Transfer to a bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until it is about the consistency of heavy cream, 24 to 36 hours) the exact time depends on the room temperature). Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for 24 hours to thicken more. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to two week.
from Tips Cooks Love, Rick Rodgers, Sur la Table
Always re-wrap cheese in fresh wrapping, preferably in waxed or parchment paper, after the cheese has been opened to avoid having the cheese dry out or pick up other flavors. Thus, re-wrapping the cheese in paper and then in plastic wrap to create a micro-environment for the cheese is the preferred storage treatment.
The recommended temperature range for storing cheese is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, at a high humidity level, preferably in the bottom vegetable/fruit bin.
If cheeses other than fresh cheeses and blues have surpassed their expiration dates (imprinted on the packaging) or if the cheese develops a blue-green mold on the exterior, make a cut about a ½ inch below the mold to ensure that it has been entirely removed; the remaining cheese will be fine.
In general, never freeze natural cheeses, as they may lose their texture, and in some cases their flavor profiles will be seriously altered. If you must freeze cheese, allow the cheese to thaw slowly in the refrigerator and use it for cooking, as the texture will become crumbly and dry after it is defrosted.
If stored and wrapped cheeses are overly dry, develop a slimy texture, exhibit ammoniated or any off odors, it’s best to discard them.
Cooking With Cheese:
When preparing dishes using cheese, add the cheese at the end of the preparation, especially in sauces, classic risotto, and soups. In casseroles and baked dishes, sprinkle the grated/shredded cheese over the dish the last ten minutes of baking.
Grating cheese is easier when the cheese is cold. Four ounces of ungrated cheese yields one cup when grated. Adjustments may be made up or down according to the recipe and the amount of cheese needed.
When cooking with cheese on the stovetop, cook cheese over low to medium heat, as cooking over high heat, or for long periods of time, will cause the cheese to separate.
Remember that aged cheeses have more concentrated flavor than younger cheeses and often require less additional seasoning.
Dishes prepared with cheese and cooked in a microwave oven should be cooked at lower power settings, to prevent the cheese from separating.
Simple greens can be transformed into elegant salad courses by the addition of crumbled feta, blue, soft-ripened goat cheeses, or grated hard cheeses, along with toasted nuts and sun-dried fruits, such as cranberries or cherries. A simple vinaigrette, with a trace of Dijon mustard is the classic dressing.
Soups topped with cheese croutons are delicious, simple, and elegant. You can use French bread slices, sprinkled with a bit of olive oil and crumbled chevre, cheddar, or semi-soft cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese has melted before adding to the soup.
When putting together a cheese board, to be served before or after dinner, remember to limit your selection to no more than five different cheeses. Serve cheeses of different sizes, shapes, and flavor or texture profiles to create diversity and add interest to your cheese board. Strong, pungent cheeses shouldn’t be placed next to delicately flavored cheeses, and try to have individual knives for each cheese.
Even modest cheese trays can be elegant when attention is given to the presentation. Try serving cheeses on a wooden board, marble slab, straw mat, or flat wicker basket. Do not to overcrowd the serving tray, as your guests will need room to slice the cheeses. Serve bread and/or plain crackers on a separate plate, or in a wicker basket.
Apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, fresh figs and melon add variety to a cheese board, especially if cheese is being served with cocktails. Additional accompaniments can include nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, figs, and any manner of condiments, such as floral honeys.
When designing a menu, consider when you want to serve cheese. Serving cheese after the main course, prior to or in place of dessert, adds an elegant touch to casual dinners. If served with cocktails, before dinner, remember that cheeses can be filling. Serve in limited quantities and variety.
Adapted from CheeseSociety.org: