Friday, December 7, 2012

friday's tips and tricks...

I set the table for three last night...
and cooked up a few of the dishes that I practised at
The Dirty Apron last week.

My friend from across the pond came for dinner.

I made butternut squash soup...
though I must confess, I used my recipe instead of the Dirty Apron version.

And since I had no lobster at my beck and call...
I made a tortellini casserole rather than the lobster pasta dish.

The dessert was chocolate pate...
almost like the culinary class dessert.
I'll post the recipe sometime soon...
an easy make-ahead for the holiday season or anytime.
The roasted hazelnuts that were meant to garnish the dessert...
are still on the counter.

As for the tips and tricks that the chef shared with us last week...
let me pass along a few.

Did you know that stainless steel removes the garlic odour from your hands?
You can actually buy little bars of stainless steel...
shaped like a bar of soap...
especially for that purpose.
But taking a stainless steel spoon and rubbing your hands on it...
will do the trick just as well.
Who knew?

As for dishing out many bowls of soup in a big hurry...
here's the scoop.
Line the soup bowls up on the counter.
Put your hot soup into a pitcher and pour into the bowls,
rather than ladling it.
This works better for pureed soups...
rather than the chunky kind.

Parsley leaves are bitter when cooked (who knew)...
so mostly used  as a garnish or added at the end.

Here was one of my favorites...
pre-cook your pasta (even the previous day).
When your guests arrive for dinner...
put the pasta  back into the boiling pot of water for 1 minute. 
Dinner is ready in NO time! 

Here's a nifty little gadget that I purchased at the 'street market' in Palm Springs this fall.

It's called a 'miracle whisk' and rotates when the handle is pushed up and down.
It took me 1 minute to whip up this bowl of whipping cream...
and takes only a few seconds to froth steamed milk for coffee.
I actually bought it to put in the RV...
but so far I'm using it in my kitchen.

It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas...
and I have some lovely red and white roses on my table that are perfect for the season.
A gift from a friend.
How special is that?


  1. Oh and you had a roaring fire and lots of sweet conversation and I hope that there was a hug or two.

    Good tips all!

    Sweet roses. Lovely table...

  2. I just run the cold water and rub my hands around my stainless sink after cutting onions or garlic. Works great!!

  3. How absolutely lovely to imagine you and Pondie having dinner together in your beautiful home...and of course your E is always a gracious host as well.
    I can't wait to come over...=)

  4. Your post conveys something of the tranquility and comfort that lies beyond your Front Porch. An oasis. A Christmas Oasis. Every morsel, every laugh,! every word shared - the evening was a blessing for me. To relax with your and your husband and to catch up was to have a little holiday was like a balm. Thank you so very much for a wonderful evening.

  5. It's always a good time when Pondside comes over. Looks like you had a great week experimenting in your kitchen. I am still savoring the sausage bacon bites...Thank you for sharing those tips.

  6. How lovely to have this time together. I love the tips! Your home looks so inviting...

  7. How fun to have a visit from Pondside. I'm sure you had a wonderful meal and great conversation. Your living room looks beautiful and the roses are gorgeous Christmas colours.

  8. I love this post!!! Your sofa looks so inviting with that lovely fireplace glowing! You and Pondside are two of the nicest people in all of Blog Land! I am so privileged to 'follow' both of you!

  9. I'm in your valley today, looking at the beautiful snow on the hills all around. As we drove in last night, I thought of you and Pondside enjoying the evening together. How delightful for both of you.

    I'm taken by that whisk that moves by woman-power, not electricity. Do you have a name for it - or who it is made by?

    1. The whisk is called Miracle Whisk and they have a website:

  10. Wonderful tips from your kitchen.....and I loved peeking into your kitchen and seeing your seasonal decor....lovely!

  11. You had me giggling about the roasted hazel nuts! That sounds like something I do all the time! Your menu sounds delish and how wonderful to share it with Pondside!

  12. I agree with Rosella about the hazel nuts. I remember one occasion when my mother had company for dinner and had gone to a lot of trouble over the food. The meal was a great success, but after everyone left, my mother opened the fridge -- and found a special side which she had totally forgotten to put out on the table.

    She was chagrined, but secretly, I was glad -- it was one of my favourites and it meant that we got the leftovers the next day! xoxo

  13. Yummy meal! I learned the stainless steel trick years ago and still don't get why it works! Any time I have any scented on my hands from cooking I grab a spoon and run water over.
    My mom had a tool like that whisk years ago. I always wanted one but never could find one...glad someone put it back into production. Remember the mixing beaters that had a hand crank? I want another one of those too come to think of it!

  14. What great tips! Thank you for sharing them. I especially like the tip for pouring the soup. We're having a family Soup Night soon and with 11 of us there I will definitely use this tip.

  15. I can't help but think that Pondside is still smiling when she remembers the magical time that she spent with you in your beautiful home, and good tasting food. I appreciate that you shared the great tips with us. Who would have thought, soup could be poured from a pitcher! Great post!

  16. How nice that Pondisde was able to visit you, Judy! I'm sure seh enjoyed your dinner and conversation.

    I have one of those stainless steel hand bars to take the garlic odor off my hands but not a "miracle whisk" -- that looks like a neat gadget!


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson