Monday, August 20, 2012

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer


As I promised in an earlier post, here is my review of my new KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer, which I purchase for $289 on Amazon.com in Onyx Black.

The KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer is a wonderful appliance that can do nearly any kitchen task you can think of with the wide assortment of nifty attachments available for it. From mixing to making pasta and everything in between, this mixer is the perfect addition to any kitchen. I have used it to mix and knead bread dough and to make cookie dough so far, but I'll be using it for many more things in the coming weeks. This mixer is any cook's dream come true!

In addition to it's amazing variety of uses, the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer is sleek and stylish, so there's no need to try to shove it into a cabinet to hide it out of sight when guests come over. Since it comes in dozens of beautiful colors, from neutral white to bright red, you'll be sure to find one that complements your kitchen perfectly. The mixer is heavy at nearly 25 pounds, but all that bulk is neatly put together into a sleek, sturdily-built appliance. The paint doesn't chip off easily, and the mixer is easy to wipe off. The outlet where you attach some of the bigger attachments is cleverly hidden with a removable silver knob featuring the KitchenAid logo. The entire mixer has a beautiful design that is hard to explain in terms other than "absolutely beautiful." Just take a look at any picture of these mixers to see how KitchenAid has mastered the art of appliance design.

The mixer does its job much quicker than any hand mixer could ever do. Give it 30 seconds or so, and the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer can whip up the perfect cake batter or cookie dough. Allow it 10 minutes on speed 6 with the dough hook and you will have a nicely kneaded mound of dough for delicious American Sandwich Bread, ready for rising without the need to knead by hand.

The KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer's handy versatility, sleek design, and incredible speed all make it the best choice for anyone who wants to have an easier time making their favorite recipes, from pasta to pumpkin bread, without the work, mess, or hassle of manual labor. I highly recommend spending the $300-$400 to get this wonderful appliance, because it will pay for itself time and time again. This mixer will be a cherished possession for you and your entire family for years to come.

Have any questions about the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer not answered in the post above? Just leave a comment below and I'll get back to you ASAP!

Enjoy!
Stacey

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Basic Yellow Cake



I was in the mood to bake a nice cake today as a welcome-home present for my dad, who has been on a business trip for a few days, but we only had two eggs on hand. After a few minutes of searching for a recipe that only called for two eggs, I found this recipe for a simple yellow cake. They work very well for layering. They turned out nicely, but be sure to use parchment or wax paper to avoid sticking. Also, if you've never made a cake from scratch before, be warned that they do taste quite different from cakes made from a boxed mix. That's not to say that made-from-scratch cakes are bad by any means, it's just a matter of personal preference.

Basic Yellow Cake

Makes: two 8-inch round cakes

Ingredients:

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup (14 tsp.) softened butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans and line with waxed paper or parchment paper.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. Cream sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs and vanilla to creamed mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed.

4. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Continue beating for one minute.

5. Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely.

6. Layer, fill, and frost as desired.

Enjoy!
Stacey


Recipe courtesy of Wilton.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ciabatta



This Italian ciabatta bread goes great with any pasta dish! It's amazing dipped in olive oil with a bit of black pepper like they do at some Italian restaurants such as Romano's Macaroni Grill. Be very careful with this recipe as a 450 degree oven is extremely hot and steamy, so use caution to avoid getting burned. Also, I found that the parchment paper sticks to the bread dough and bakes into it, so you may need to cut off the bottom crust of the finished product. I'm going to be working on finding a better technique that won't stick to either the baking stone or the bread soon, and I'll be sure to post an update as soon as I find one! I used an overturned baking sheet instead of an actual baking stone, however, so maybe that's the problem. If you own a baking stone and try this recipe, let me know in the comments what you find!

Notes: Two tablespoons of nonfat milk powder can be used in place of the liquid milk; increase the amount of water in the dough to 1 cup. As you make this bread, keep in mind that the dough is wet and very sticky. The key to manipulating it is working quickly and gently; rough handling will result in flat, tough loaves. When possible, use a large rubber spatula or bowl scraper to move the dough. If you have to use your hands, make sure they are well floured. Because the dough is so sticky, it must be prepared in a stand mixer. If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the bread on an overturned and preheated rimmed baking sheet set on the lowest oven rack. The bread will keep for up to 2 days, well wrapped and stored at room temperature. To recrisp the crust, place the unwrapped bread in a 450-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes. The bread will keep frozen for several months wrapped in foil and placed in a large zipper-lock bag. Thaw the bread at room temperature and recrisp using the instructions above.

Ciabatta

Makes: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

Biga:
1/8 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

Dough:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)

Directions:

1. For the biga: Combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours).

2. For the dough: Place biga and dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed until roughly combined and shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute; scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until dough becomes uniform mass that collects on paddle and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 6 minutes. Change to dough hook and knead bread on medium speed until smooth and shiny (dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. 

3. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough six more times (total of eight turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes longer. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

Enjoy!
Stacey


Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.

Pasta Aglio e Olio

While on vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in early July, I ate dinner at an adorable little Italian restaurant called Nona's. I ordered pasta aglio e olio (pasta with garlic and oil) for the first time and can honestly say that it was the best pasta dish I've had in my entire life. A few weeks after coming home and forgetting all about the meal, I came across a recipe for the exact same thing online! I made it for dinner for my family and I, along with some homemade ciabatta (recipe coming soon), and we all loved it! Here's the recipe.

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Ingredients:

1 pound spaghetti
Table salt
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic (about 30 small, 20 medium, 10 large, or 5 extra-large cloves from 1 or 2 heads)
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tsp. lemon juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (optional)

Directions:

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set large heatproof serving bowl on rack and heat oven to 200 degrees F. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add pasta and 1 1/2 tsp. table salt to boiling water, stir to separate pasta, and cook until al dente; reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.

2. While water is heating, combine 3 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tbsp. garlic, and 1/2 tsp. table salt or sea salt flakes in heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet; cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic foams and is sticky and straw-colored, 10 to 12 minutes. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon raw garlic, crushed red pepper, parsley, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. pasta cooking water to skillet and stir well to keep garlic from clumping.

3. Transfer drained pasta to warm serving bowl (the one you put in the oven); add remaining 3 tbsp. olive oil and remaining reserved pasta cooking water and toss to coat. Add garlic mixture and 3/4 tsp. table salt (or 1 tsp. sea salt flakes) to pasta; toss well to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkling individual bowls with portion of grated Parmesan, if desired.

Enjoy!
Stacey


Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.