Kitchen survival

To budding chefs, cooking shows like Chopped, Iron Chef, The Barefoot Contessa and Everyday Italian are a source of inspiration and excitement. Who wouldn’t want to have the culinary acumen to turn sea urchins, rhubarb and cough drops into a delicious, restaurant-quality dessert?

But as much as they would like to transfer what they learn from those TV shows into their own kitchens, these hopeful cooks can be stymied by the dizzying array of kitchen gadgets and doo-dads those TV chefs always seem to have at hand.

I mean, seriously, a soft serve ice cream maker? Not exactly something you’ll find in every home. But before you start shopping for a liquid nitrogen vendor, consider these more moderate kitchen gadgets that can make your dishes easier, tastier and more fun to create:  Continue reading »

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Whether you’re entirely new to the restaurant business or you’re a seasoned veteran opening your tenth restaurant, there are certain safety precautions and features to keep in mind as you set up a commercial kitchen. Following are a few ideas of what to keep in mind as you go about outfitting the hub of your new restaurant: the kitchen.


It’s crucial that any cabinets or shelves be firmly attached to the walls. A collapsing shelf can result in a whole lot of broken dishes—not to mention potential injury to anyone unlucky enough to have been standing beneath the offending structure. Double check the cabinets’ installation instructions and make sure you or your contractor follow them to the letter.

Gas connection

If your kitchen installation will include a gas stove—and most commercial kitchens do—it’s crucial to make sure the gas lines are hooked up properly. Gas is obviously a highly combustible substance that must be dealt with carefully, so make sure the installation—and any future service calls—are done by a qualified installer, service agency or by the gas company itself. This way, you can be sure that every part of the gas connection—from the unseen underground gas fittings to the stove itself—is hooked up properly and remains in good working order.

Automatic pilot lights

On a similar note, purchasing a gas stove with an automatic pilot light can go a long way toward fire safety in your restaurant’s kitchen. In such an appliance, the pilot light is ignited electronically, and an automatic shutoff valve prevents the main burner from working when the pilot light isn’t lit or is otherwise malfunctioning. Most newer stoves offer this feature, so keep an eye out for it when shopping for both used and new models.

Walk-in freezers

Most commercial kitchens contain a walk-in freezer or combination refrigerator/freezer to store the large amounts of produce, dairy and other refrigerated foods necessary in a restaurant environment. When shopping for such an appliance, it’s imperative to look for one that has an inside door release to prevent employees from becoming trapped inside. If you’re buying a used model, test this feature multiple times before buying the unit to make sure it works properly.

Other bits and bobs

Besides the aforementioned items, there are other, smaller safety considerations that can make a significant impact on employee safety over time. Make sure all knives are kept sharpened; it might seem counterintuitive, but dull knives carry a far higher risk for cuts than sharp ones. Install an eyewash station and make sure employees know it’s there; this can be tremendously helpful in the event that an employee gets, say, ghost pepper juice in his eyes. And make sure the whole space is properly ventilated and meets all state and federal guidelines for safety and cleanliness.

Setting up commercial kitchen equipment requires planning and forethought, so be sure to make decisions carefully and always with an eye toward employee safety. Doing so will ensure better overall success. Good luck to you in the opening of your new restaurant!


Tapas conjure the vivid hues of the Cote d’Azure, the sweet spice of cinnamon-laced sangria, and the strains of the flamenco in the air. A delicious daydream for all the senses, it is little wonder tapas restaurants have become hugely popular in the US.

Unfortunately, even though they do not include the Cote d’Azure, the cost of frequenting these places can start to pinch after a while. Never fear, there is no reason to drop the tapas habit; instead, bring it into the intimate setting of your home and enjoy the experience in a new light.

Where to start? You need three essentials: Continue reading »

Having a great kitchen is the dream of many couples and single people who love to cook. For them, the kitchen is the star of the house and they make it as functional as possible.

Indeed, this particular area in the house where you prepare and cook food can serve many purposes. It can also be a place to dine and enjoy conversation with family members and can even serve as a study area for the kids.

While not all families can have their dream kitchen, it’s still possible to create one that best suits your lifestyle by doing some renovation work. For those building a new home, however, it’s always best to plan well the layout of the room to ensure you have enough space where you can prepare, cook and serve up meals to your loved ones.

Basically, the most important sections of a kitchen are the cooking area, storage area and the cleanup area. Many of today’s modern kitchens follow a work triangle layout to make it easier for the cook or head of the family to go back and forth between these areas. The triangle needs to have just enough space and not too big or too small. Continue reading »

Just because some chefs are celebrities does not mean that they do not encounter serious problems in their daily lives. If anything, history tells us that they have it worse as news of their personal misfortunes are plastered all over the newspapers, and now in the Internet as well.

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nigella lawson brownies

Nigella Lawson, world famous TV chef and cookbook author, knows this firsthand with controversial photos of her being choked by millionaire husband, Charles Saatchi, making the Internet rounds. The incident, which was seen and photographed by paparazzi named Jean-Paul, has drawn everyone’s eyes to Nigella Lawson and the issue of domestic abuse.

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Celebrating July 4th is about more than fireworks. It’s the opportunity to gather with family and friends for a celebration of the freedoms you enjoy because of your country’s independence. This year, celebrate the holiday with delicious and festive recipes in shades of red, white and blue.

Side Dishes

Peach Chicken Wings add grilling and food taste to your festive celebration. Process 2 cups of barbecue sauce, 1 finely chopped garlic clove and 2 peaches in a food processor. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup for basting. Toss 24 wings in the remaining sauce and chill. Combine the remaining sauce with 1 cup peach jam, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of hot sauce, 1 finely chopped garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a small saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat until slightly thickened. Baste the wings in this sauce as they grill.

Cilantro Tomato Corn Salad bursts with flavor and color, and you can adjust the ingredients to satisfy your palate. Combine the kernels from three cooked ears of corn with 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 chopped plum tomatoes, 1 seeded and finely chopped jalapeño pepper, 1/2 small, finely chopped red onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro, 1 pinch lemon-herb seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving.


Watermelon Salsa delivers a sweet punch of flavor in every bright red bite. In a white serving bowl, mix 2 cups seeded and coarsely chopped watermelon, 2 tablespoons chopped onion, 3 tablespoons seeded, chopped Anaheim chile, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt. Cover and chill then serve with blue corn chips.

Red, White and Blue Party Mix combines patriotic colors with a sweet and salty crunch as you involve your kids in the kitchen. Mix 1 cup yogurt coated mini pretzels, 1/2 cup yogurt coated raisins, 1/3 cup dried blueberries, 1/2 cup dried banana chips, 1/2 cup dried pineapple pieces and 1/3 cup dried sour cherries or cranberries into a large bowl. Serve the mix in individual flag buckets for guests to enjoy.


Berry Blue Fizz tastes great and looks festive when you serve it in clear glasses. Microwave 3 cups of water on high in a glass measuring cup for 5 minutes or until it boils. Pour in 4 (3 ounce) packages of blueberry gelatin and stir until dissolved. Cool slightly before adding 5 (12 fluid ounce) cans lemon-lime soda. Serve over a scoop of pineapple sherbet or vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Punch adds vibrant color to the drink table. Mash 4 cups of strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar. Let it sit for an hour before straining it. Add 3 cups orange juice, 3/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and 1-1/2 liters ginger ale.


Patriotic Fruit Salad ends the evening on a sweet note. In a seasonal serving bowl, mix 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon white pepper. Add 3 cups seeded and cubed watermelon, 2 cups blueberries and 1 cup julienned jicama. Stir, chill and enjoy.

July 4th gives you an opportunity to celebrate your country’s birthday and your freedom. Invite a few friends over and enjoy festive food and a fun time. What’s your favorite patriotic food?

When entertaining friends in the summer, think easy and breezy. Easy to make dishes that won’t leave you sweltering in a hot kitchen all day long and breezy, casual finger foods that match the lightness of summer living. Try these family-friendly dishes when entertaining a crowd on a summer afternoon or eve. Outdoor dining adds a nice touch to summer meals.

Appetizer: Homemade Hot Pretzels and Cheese

You can create pretzels from any basic yeast dough, so turn to your favorite pizza recipe and get started. After the dough has risen for one hour, roll it into a long tube. Now cut small 2-inch bits off to make pretzel bite, cut and brain longer 6-inch pieces for pretzel twists or shape into traditional pretzels. This dish is family-friendly and fun, and you can always take a shortcut by using purchased plain or whole wheat pizza dough. For the cheese sauce, serve a cheddar cheese dip or a nacho dip.

Main Meal: Cheese Stuffed Grilled Peppers with Grilled Kebabs and Corn Salad

To make the peppers, mix equal parts ricotta and cream cheese and add 1/2-part parmesan cheese. Remove the pepper stem and scrape the inside to remove the seeds. Fill the pepper with cheese mixture using a knife. Run with olive oil and grill for 7-8 minutes or until charred. Experiment with different types of peppers, such as Italian, bell or poblano.

When summer tomatoes and corn are at their best, make a simple salad. If the corn is quite fresh, use it raw; otherwise shuck the ears and blanch for 4 minutes. Remove the corn kernels from their cob. Slice cherry tomatoes in half, dice one-half a red onion and add fresh basil on top.

For kebabs, use your preferred meat and marinade for several hours or overnight in a simple lemon and oil dressing or another simple marinade. Slide the meat onto wooden or metal skewers and grill until cooked through. Try shrimp with lemon and oil, Asian-style beef or garlic-rosemary chicken.

Dessert: Watermelon Popsicles

This no-fuss dessert simply spells summer. De-seed and cut 2-1/2 cups of watermelon. Puree in a blender. If you wish, add tequila for a watermelon margarita popsicle or add lime or mint for a child-friendly twist on the watermelon pop. Pour the pureed watermelon into popsicle molds and freeze. If you don’t have a popsicle mold, use paper juice cups to hold the popsicle base and insert popsicle sticks when the liquid is partially frozen. To serve, run the popsicle mold under warm water and gentle slide out the pop.

For beverages, iced tea and lemonade both quench the thirst and are simple to make at home. If you prefer something sugar-free, add some fresh herbs or veggies to water to create a lightly flavored water. Try mint and cucumber or lemon balm and fresh lemon, for example. If you’re serving adults only, upgrade to a crisp white wine or rose, or try light summer ale or a shandy (half beer-half lemonade). With no-fuss, crowd-pleasing dishes like these; you just may become the preferred hostess.

All of these dishes are easy to scale up when you’re throwing large parties and are adaptable to allergens and personal preference. What are your go-to summer dishes for entertaining?

Some of you may be guilty of this – storing ingredients such as flour, baking soda and butter beyond their expiration dates. While you may think that these items can be stored for a long time, they too have their expiration dates.

flour baking soda

It’s about time then that you check their shelf life and label your container to make you aware when you need to throw them away. Here are useful tips you need to keep in mind.

Flour is a common kitchen ingredient that many housewives believe can last for a long time. When stored in the pantry, the maximum time you can keep your flour is six months. If you want to keep them longer for up to a year, though, the best storage space for it is the freezer or refrigerator. Just be sure to store it first in an airtight container before putting it in the fridge.

Butter is good for up to two weeks only but if you want to make it last for a month, again the freezer is where it should be stored. If you have several bars of butter, do remember to put only one of them in the fridge and the rest should be placed in the freezer.
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Memorial Day is observed the last weekend of May and is considered by many to be the official kick-off for summer. Most Americans know that Memorial Day is more than just a great time to fire up the outdoor grill – it’s a day to honor and remember our fallen soldiers. The first official observance of Memorial day was May 30, 1868 when, at Arlington Cemetery, flowers were placed on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers. Though it may have somber roots, Memorial Day is a time to appreciate friends and family and remember those who are no longer with us.

It seems all patriotic holidays are best celebrated with an outdoor barbecue. Maybe that’s because outdoor cooking lends itself to casual, family-friendly entertaining and traditional American fare. This year you can kick up your Memorial Day menu with bold versions of classic summer foods.

Sweet Tea

You need a refreshing drink to balance the spicy, robust flavors of grilled foods, and what’s more Americana that classic sweet tea?

For 2 quarts:

Being an important room in the house, any kitchen should have the proper lighting to ensure that those who use it can see everything clearly even at night. There are tricks in lighting a kitchen and it’s not actually enough that only a single light is installed on the ceiling.

Having only one ceiling-mounted lighting fixture creates a glaring effect and causes shadows which is a no-no in the kitchen, according to interior designers. To create a well-lit room, blending and layering four types of light is most ideal. Depending on what you want to achieve in your kitchen, all four should be taken into consideration but you can also choose to use only two of them if you’re after practicality.

kitchen lights

Task lighting is the most important of all and this is one placed above a person’s head and the countertop (work surface). This provides sufficient illumination when preparing ingredients and reading recipes whether from a book, magazine or an iPad. Ideally, this kind of light should be installed below the overhead cabinets.
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