Archive for December, 2011
Before I had my own kitchen, I never really understood why my Mum insisted on requesting spatulas as gifts each Christmas. How many spatulas does the woman really need?!? Turns out, you need a lot (forgive me Mum!). Little ones, thin ones, massive ones, coloured ones; really there is no limit when it comes to the shape, size and functionality of a good spatula.
This Christmas, my sister delivered in the true spirit of spatula giving. Not only did my mum get one, but I got one too. This one is from the Martha Stewart collection and it is simply genius. It is made of a durable silicone and shaped to hug the curves of an electric mixer, in my case, my lovely KitchenAid artisan mixer. It’s the first time I’ve been able to successfully scrape the sides of the mixer quickly and effortlessly. It made easy work of my ginger molasses spice cookies. Well done Tine and well done Martha.
Desperate for some chocolate a few weeks ago, I read the recipe on the inside of the Baker’s 70% baking chocolate. I halved the recipe and made 2 good sized individual portions. A quick 15 minute recipe for deliciously rich and warm chocolate molten cakes. These are impressive and easy peasy to make. Check out the recipe here courtesy of Kraft. I dusted mine with powdered sugar and topped them with some fresh raspberries.
Last week I hosted my first Pampered Chef Party. I had heard about the products through others in the past and ran into one of the business owners at an open house for the Executive Women’s Golf Association about two years ago. This year, I really wanted to get some friends together who I don’t get to see very often and this seemed like the perfect way, so I reconnected with Kathy and we planned the party.
I must admit, I was nervous. I didn’t want people to feel pressured to purchase product. I was upfront about that from the initial invite right down to the day-before reminders. These types of business models can sometimes be uncomfortable for attendees, so I did the best to reassure my guests that the purpose was first and foremost to get together, and then secondly to explore some kitchen tools and equipment.
While the Kathy prepared one appetizer to showcase a variety of the products, I prepared in advance a few new desserts courtesy of the LCBO Food and Drink magazine (if you’re in Ontario you can pick up free copy at the LCBO while supplies last). Not all of them are available online but the Candy Cane Red Velvet Trifle was an impressive display of Christmas colours and it tasted REALLY good. The coolness of the peppermint cream balanced the red velvet cake and white chocolate ganache (tip: I used the President’s Choice Red Velvet Cake Mix to save some time). Another crowd pleasure were the white chocolate and clementine shortbread sandwiches. Rich and buttery, with a hint of citrus, they looked amazing and they tasted great. Finally I got back to using a piping bag (also realized I could probably invest in a bigger one) and made Peppermint Spritz sticks. Light and crisp (because of the butter and shortening combination), and gently dusted with powdered sugar, they were a perfect accompaniment to the rest of the goodies. The recipe yields about 40 sticks (if not more) so they are really handy for a crowd, plus as the baker, you can sample a lot without depleting your supply <grins>.
As the party came to a close, the guests picked out their items from the catalogue and submitted their orders. A perk to hosting is that you get special discounts and products based on the number of attendees and total sales. I was able to select a number of new things for my kitchen including some stoneware, baking scoops, spatulas, adjustable measuring spoons and other unique gadgets. Overall the party was a huge success and I got lots of follow up emails to say how much my guests enjoyed the experience.
Regardless of the reason for hosting a party, I still find myself lost in the excitement of following a new recipe, laughing when I have to run out to the store 30 minutes before guests are slated to arrive because I bought the wrong chocolate, and the great satisfaction of creating something that everyone can enjoy.