Thursday, November 13, 2008

Edge-y brownies

I've run across two examples of peculiar brownie pans whose stated purpose is to create more crispy edges for brownies. I'm a middle-of-the-pan gal, myself, because I actually favor soft, fudge-y brownies.

However, clearly there are those who don't agree with me. For the edge-of-the-pan brownie folks, here are your choices.

The Slice Solutions Brownie Edge Pan (top) has a grid that you put in the 11 x 17-inch pan once you've poured in the batter. Once baked, you remove the grid and are left with 18 perfectly cut brownies (with crispy edges). It sells for $19.95 from

Another way to get more edge is with the Baker's Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan (bottom). This 9 x 13.5-inch heavy-gauge, cast-aluminum pan just increases the number of edges. It sells for $34.95 from

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sewing the holiday bird

I remember my mother and grandmother struggling to lace up the bird on Thanksgiving. They used long metal pins to "pin" the flaps of skin together over the stuffing-filled cavity. Then they ran kitchen string around the pins (kind of like lacing up your ice skates) to keep the turkey closed, thus keeping the stuffing moist.

I have not carried on this tradition, because it seems like such a giant hassle. I usually stick a heel of bread at the end of the cavity, which is the lazy person's solution to the lacing problem.

However, I would be willing to reconsider this position if I had this little gizmo called TheFoodLoop Lace. It's a 22-inch length of heat-resistant silicone (good up to 675°F) with a stainless steel needle at one end. You sew up the turkey, leaving the needle in place. Once the bird is cooked, you remove it, wash it (it's dishwasher safe) and store it until you need it again.

It sells for $10 from fusionbrands.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Making noodles

So because of the lasagna cookbook I wrote about in yesterday's blog entry, I now have noodles on my mind (interesting image).

I remember years ago going to a demonstration by a Chinese noodle maker who took a length of dough and pulled it thin, folded it over, pulled it thin again, and repeated this process until in a matter of minutes, he had created over 4,000 noodles. It's really just simple math. You start with one big strand, fold it over for 2, fold that for 4, etc.

Guess how many times you have to fold the dough to get 4,096 noodles? Is it 100? 400?

It's only 12!

See the process in action:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lasagna and tamales

Starch is my downfall.

Ice cream doesn't tempt me. I actively dislike candy and cupcakes. But if you wave a piece of pasta or a slice of bread in front of me, I'll follow you anywhere.

This particular leaning is why I am so attracted to two cookbooks that have come out in the past couple of months. One is filled with lasagna recipes and the other with tamales. A festival of comfort food.

In The New Lasagna Cookbook, the author, Maria Bruscino Sanchez--who is the owner/baker of Sweet Maria's in Waterbury, Connecticut--offers classic lasagnas as well as some more modern takes on this wonderful casserole. Here are a couple of recipes just calling my name:

• Arugula and Prosciutto Lasagna
• Autumn Pancetta and Porcini Lasagna
• Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Lasagna
• Beet Lasagna with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce
• Pulled Pork Barbecue Lasagna

The second cookbook, called simply Tamales is by Daniel Hoyer, an instructor at The Santa Fe School of Cooking. The book starts out with all the basics, including a really helpful photographic step-by-step for wrapping tamales in corn husks or banana leaves. There is also an extremely thorough investigation of the various types of tamale dough and fillings that are used. And then he puts it all together in a chapter of recipes that are both traditional and nontraditional. Here are the ones I am currently craving:

• Chicken and Green Sauce Tamales
• Mushroom, Roasted Pepper, and Poblano Chile Tamales
• Tamales with Squash, Corn, and Chiles
• Tex-Mex Beef Tamales

And not to be forgotten are the sweet tamales:

• Pineapple and Coconut Tamales
• Chunky Dark Chocolate, Cherry, and Pecan Tamale (swoon)