IN MY KITCHEN, OCTOBER 2021

In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Please visit her site to see what everybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, on the first day of January, April, July and October. If you are a food blogger, considering taking part of this fun event. It is chance to share those little things you bought or received as gifts and that make your life in the kitchen easier.

Starting with gifts…

From my friend Courtnie…

Courtnie, is my soon to be daughter-in-law (insert happy dance here). She sent us a set of sauces from the company she works on, Haven’s Kitchen. Their products are amazing and I loved each and every sauce. I hear they are becoming more and more available in other states of the country, so check their website and store locator and keep an eye for them in your favorite grocery store. My favorite way to use several of them was simply poured over zoodles. But they are great in meatloaf, turkey burgers, salmon. Thank you so much, Courtnie!

From my friend Louise…

A set of mini-tins, which I put to use recently and made very tasty little chocolate ganache tartlets. If you’ve missed the post, just jump over there with a click here. I still cannot believe I am the owner of such a great collection of baking tins…. Thanks a million, Louise!

From my amazing husband…

These were in a store in Colorado we visited during our trip last month. I fell in love with them and next think I knew, the hubby got them for me… A keeper, I tell ya!

In our kitchen…

A new ingredient, at least new to me, Job’s Tears. I heard about it in the cookbook by Heidi Swanson, Super Natural Simple. I have a weakness for all kinds of grains and this one will be on our menu soon.

In our kitchen…

Little gadgets to make Japanese-style rice cakes. Another idea I got from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, you can read all about this cookbook in Lisa’s review.

In our kitchen…

Tamarind Sauce, brand from Maggi, highly recommended in one of my cookbooks, I have not yet tried it. Apparently, mixed with yogurt and a few spices, it makes a killer little sauce…

In our kitchen…

With Halloween approaching, one needs to get ready. These are ice cube molds but also work well in cookie baking, as I learned from Marlyn (Montreal Confections). I will put that idea to test soon. This was found at a Dollar Store.

In our kitchen…

Speaking of Halloween, I could not resist getting this trio of small plates to help set the right atmosphere around the house… They were available at our grocery store, Dillons.

In our kitchen…

As you know, cookie baking is a constant thing in our kitchen. This spatula from Ateco is the best one to move cut dough and freshly baked cookies. Nice area, not too big, not too small.

In our kitchen…

Finally organized my collection of sprinkles in the basement. When they are in stackable containers with the contents easy to visualize, the life of a baker is so much easier!

In our kitchen…

Silicone mold to make special filigree decorations for cookies… I have a few projects in mind for this baby… It is part of a very cool set, found in amazon.

In our kitchen…

PME luster spray… probably one of my favorite finishing touches for some types of cookies. A very light spray is all you need. It gives it a pearly shine, smells wonderful and if you happen to have a little boo-boo on the surface of your icing, it makes it harder to notice. Below you see it on a cookie and a cupcake I made recently. Available at amazon, I bought it at ebay but it is not available right now.

In our kitchen…

Our backyard, after a ton of work from my beloved husband, turned out to be one favorite spot of our home. The corner chair is perfect to sit and enjoy the view of the woods, or to do some reading and studying. We got nice pumpkins, eggplants, tomatoes and plenty of peppers this year. Not to mention basil, lavender, oregano and dill.

Preparing lectures is a lot easier in this setting! I will miss it when the cold weather makes its appearance.

In our kitchen…

I made a nice batch of shortbread, flavored with a combination of cardamon, cloves and lavender. Placed the platter on top of a high cabinet so that a certain quadruped could not reach it. I did not realize it was not leveled, and just heard the crashing noise as I was leaving the room. Which – as Murphy’s Law would have it – I had vacuumed 37 minutes earlier. I lost two of my favorite white platters, and of course the full batch of cookies that were going to be donated next day. You win some, you lose some. Such is life.

In our kitchen…

Talking about upsetting stuff, I trusted the recommendation of Mr. Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen fame, and bought a fancy ginger grater, shown on the left, right by the one I have and love (and featured in a previous IMK). I was intrigued after he described it as the best of the best. Well, it is pathetic. I did what Mr. Kimball himself loves to do, and made a side-by-side comparison with that gadget and my oldie-but-goodie. The same effort gives around 6 times more perfectly grated ginger in the ceramic one. The one recommended by CK is a pain to use, it liquefies the ginger in puddles that pretty much stick to the underside of the metal top. I have not hated a gadget as much as this one in a long time. No idea how he could recommend something so inefficient. And before I forget, it also sucks to grate lemon or lime peel.

But what’s the best antidote for disasters and grievances?

COOKIES! These were inspired by our furry friends, who are very excited, running in circles, hoping for a few minutes of fame in my blog. Because, let’s make this clear: it is MY blog. OK?

When we invite furry friends into our life, we never know how much time we will have with them, just that never seems long enough. I admit that the posts I write now about our pups carry a certain sadness in the background.

They are all aging and show clear signs that their prime is past. Buck, our oldest, is now almost completely deaf. We call his attention and direct him through clapping, which he can still hear a little bit. The thing I miss the most is his cute turning of the head when he used to hear a word he did not understand. I wish I had taken a few more pictures, maybe a video or two. I have the images in my memory, though. Vivid and clear. I adore this pup more than words can say.

Oscar had once again his share of struggles. He went for surgery last week to remove a tumor from his back leg. We hope they managed to remove most or all of it, and he seems to be recovering ok.

He wants to share his thoughts with you…

Hello, my many adoring fans!
I am recovering from a thing called surgery on my leg. I don’t remember much. After I chewed a leash and freed myself in a room I’d never been before, someone came with a HUGE thing called NEEDLE and it all got dark very quickly. I am not sure what happened next. All I know is that Dad came and rescued me from that surgery thing. And now I am very tired and sleepy. I guess I will have to wait until tomorrow to growl at my brothers and show them who’s boss.

BogeyQuitThatTM has issues with his back and neck, so he’s been through some courses of medication, and we are taking him to more regular walks, which – putting it mildly – goes a bit against his nature…

But apart from these unavoidable issues, life is the way it’s always been around the Bewitching Kitchen… The evenings almost always involve some fruit and TV watching. So here you have…

THE WATERMELON LINE

According to height, as any proper line requires. Where is Oscar, you may ask? He does not lower himself to lines or begging. But from close distance, he scrutinizes the scene. Trust me on this: he will make sure he gets his share.

And he also tries to make sure he gets more attention than that annoying TV screen…

Buck gets his food outside, so every morning he sits in the patio patiently waiting… it is the sweetest thing…

Speaking of food, Oscar definitely has a very unique approach to bowl-manners. He will push the bowl to the corner of the room, and his body invariably ends covered by the curtains. Pretty pathetic.

Buck wholeheartedly agrees…

BogeyQT TM sometimes gets very sad if he wants to play but his favorite human player is not around…

He’s been gone for AT LEAST three dog-eternities!

And the moment he hears the garage door opening… he positions himself in the best spot in the house!

But even if I am a bit hard at hearing, I fulfill all my doggie-duties, one of them being the
Guardian of The Cookies.

I also fulfill all my duties, they don’t involve cookies, for some reason I am not allowed near them. But Cuddling Humans? I am a pro!

As to Oscar, he believes duties are for sissies. He is the Alpha. And has the best hairdo to boot (cough, cough). BogeyQT is here barking about dirty beards. Oh, well… sibling rivalry.

As a good Alpha, you might remember he’d tried to attack Bogey but got my foot instead (see IMK last April). It’s been exactly 6 months. I suppose my foot will never lose the scars of that battle.

That’s all for now, folks! We will be back in January 2022 (is this year flying by or what?), to share our adventures in and around the Bewitching Kitchen.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2020

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen (and Beyond), October 2019

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2018

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2017

FIVE YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

SIX YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

EIGHT YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

NINE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

TEN YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

IN MY KITCHEN, JULY 2021

In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. At the end of this article you will find a link to jump to her site and see what everybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, on the first day of January, April, July and October. If you are a food blogger, considering taking part of this fun event. It is chance to share those little things you bought or received as gifts and that make your life in the kitchen easier. Or that simply bring you joy…

In our kitchen…

We’ve been enjoying strawberries on a regular basis, just straight as fruit with yogurt, or in sorbets made by the resident Sorbet Maker Extraordinaire, aka The Husband.

In our kitchen…

This is my current favorite brand of espresso powder, strong, powerful, intense. Great in cookies, brownies, anything joining coffee with chocolate, that match made in heaven.

In our kitchen…

Pomegranate molasses. I’ve tried many brands and settled on this one. It has the viscosity I like, some are so thick you need supernatural powers to remove it from the bottle.

In our kitchen…

Let the baking gadgets roll!

A special set of brushes, including some super thin. They come in handy to paint details in cookies with gel dye or luster powder diluted in alcohol.

In our kitchen…

Dinosaur cookie cutters with an optional insert to make a design. These got a little dusting with cocoa powder right before baking, no icing, super simple. But I like the effect. Cannot take credit for the idea, it was shared by Marlyn in her IG page.

In our kitchen…

A set of food-safe pens, they have two sides, one very thin, one thicker. I love their colors and the way they handle. They were used to make the cookies below:

In our kitchen…

A wooden stamp and my first set of cookies made with it… Etsy is a great spot to find this type of stamps, and they work well with many kinds of cookie dough. Strawberry Glazed Brown Sugar Cookie recipe found here.

In our kitchen…

A heat gun and special shrink-wrap plastic bags. I am not happy with the heat gun, so I won’t include a link to it. It shuts down after sealing just 4 or 5 bags, which is annoying. I need to get a better one. But I am totally in love with this method to pack cookies, they stay perfect for days, and look quite nice in their little shinny nest.

In our kitchen…

A new springerle type mold. I have not used it yet, but I am not done with my obsessive bee-phase. I cannot wait to try it. Stay tuned!

In our kitchen…

A few new silicone molds, all from etsy.com. They can be used for fondant or modeling chocolate, and some are easier to handle than others. Here is my first set of cookies with two of them.

In our kitchen…

A new tea cup… how could I resist it? Dots and bling! Here it is with some of my favorite tea of all times, Rose Mint from Bigelow….

Not exactly in our kitchen….

Our raised bed made by Phil, and the two guardians of the plants. Amazing the progress in 6 weeks! We’ve enjoyed the most delicious lettuce ever coming from our garden… All credit goes to the husband, I don’t get close to the plants so they have a chance to thrive.

Speaking of credit to the husband…

Last Summer he built this outside patio (featured exactly one year ago in IMK) and we now enjoy dining outside when the weather is just right for it. The dogs are not able to visit the upper part of our backyard, so when we are dining, they can be in the lower part, but usually will climb the steps, for a stare and whine game.

Playing favorites again, aren’t we? Why are the two lesser dogs showing up whereas you ignore me?

Not ignoring you, and to prove it, let’s start the canine grievances with the Resident Mutt. Oscar has been through some trying times lately. For starters, he was offered strawberries, a capital offense in his book.

To add insult to injury, he had to face that dreadful Summer Shave…

But the real killer was a trip to the vet for a small intervention that was not pleasant and put our trooper in bad shape for a few days. We are happy to inform that he is fully recovered now. However, his humans got a bit of a lecture from the vet because apparently His Highness is overweight. He’s been on a diet and we can see positive effects already.

His older brother is getting the same treatment, also with clear improvement…

Hi! My name is Buck and I disapprove of this message.

I say NO to diet! YES to bread!

And if I cannot have bread, I will find stuff around and complement my diet on my own…

And now, let’s check on our Black-Dotted Capeless Hero, aka Bogey Quit That…

I am waiting for my Human to play with me…

But he seems to be gone, and I am here waiting… and waiting…

I guess I’ll have to settle for his shoes for now…
(This picture makes me melt. There, I confessed it)

Because they are such good boys (cough, cough), I decided to cookie them…

Buck was pleased, as he believes he is the most elegant cookie model!

I would have to dispute the statement. The photo below was taken exactly 20 minutes after his bath, explaining part of the abundant gray hair on my head.

BogeyQT also sees things differently. He realizes he is the only one who gets not just one cookie, but two. And a tea cup to boot!

So what does Oscar think about that?

Cookies? Who cares about cookies or tea cups?
The fool still pees like a girl!

Fool? Who, me? You are obviously jealous of my black-spotted nature…

I float way above it all, and march to the beat of my own drum…

That’s all for now, friends! We are tired of being in the spotlight, and wish you all a nice Summer!

My little forever-puppy-Bucky-Boy turns 14 today! He is dreaming of yet another year of bliss around the Bewitching Kitchen, and I just want his dream to come true…

SEE YOU IN OCTOBER!

To see what is happening in other food bloggers’ kitchens,
click here.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2020

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2019

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2018

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2017

FIVE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Falafel and a Bonus Recipe

SIX YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

NINE YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

TEN YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Chicken Breasts, Coffee, and Serendipity

IN MY KITCHEN, APRIL 2021

In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. At the end of this post you will find a link to jump to her site and see what everybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, with a new post on the first day of January, April, July and October. Like clockwork. I am the daughter of my Dad, after all.

I like to start by sharing gifts, and this time I have A LOT to be grateful for.

From my friend Caro…

A set of 10 (!!!!) Sugarflair gel food colors. If you are into cookies, macarons, buttercream, you’ve definitely heard of this brand. It is the “creme de la creme” in food coloring. Tricky to find in the US, unless you are ready to pay a great deal of cash for them. Until now, I had just flirted with them online. Not anymore. They are amazing. Thank you so much, Caro!

From my friends Val and Steve…

The most perfect mask ever! And contrary to most I get, this one fits me perfectly. Thank you so so much! Buck seems a little unhappy with it, but I said it is nothing personal against his breed.

From our grad student, Taihao…

My very favorite chocolate treat, which he offered me as a Birthday gift. Since I had no idea he even knew it was my Birthday, the surprise was even sweeter. Thank you, Taihao!

Another Birthday gift, from our friend Heather from sunny CA, Meyer lemons from her backyard.

I already put many of them to use, in macarons, and sandwich cookies. And, of course also in our regular cooking. Thank you, Heather!

From our friend Tanya, tent-baker extraordinaire, a very special cookie cutter that she designed and produced.

Tanya makes and sells cookie cutters in her etsy store. Visit with a click here. And marvel as what she created with this very cutter by reading her blog post on the subject.

A Birthday gift from the coolest couple in NYC, Courtnie and Alex…

I could not believe my eyes when I opened the package! You can set the puzzle as one very large cookie, or make a slightly smaller version removing some of the pieces. It is cool beyond description… I have already put it to use, and you will see the results soon.

From my beloved husband….

As usual, he finds the most amazing plates on ebay. These three were all from Anthropologie, and I cannot pick a favorite, even considering my intense love for elephants. I adore the three of them.

And finally, a most special gift, combination of wedding anniversary and Birthday…. (drum roll)

A mini-projector! Mine is AKASIO, and the only complaint I have is not being able to pair it with the computer via bluetooth. It was a Nightmare on Elm Street trying to make it work, finally we just decided to live with the cable and call it a day. It does pair with the cell phone. Go figure it out. But I love it. It truly opens up the horizons for cookie decorating. So. Much. Fun. On the photo, you can see the big puzzle cookie getting ready for some drawing.

In our kitchen…

Asafetida, a very unique spice used in Indian recipes. I see it as the cousin of fish sauce. You don’t want to sniff it, just trust that the taste it imparts to the food has nothing to do with its fragrance… It is used in tiny amounts, but it will definitely bring a touch of authenticity to your table.

In our kitchen…

This pan, with a triangular shape, was found by Phil in a visit to Marshall’s. I cannot tell you how much we both love it. It has the perfect shape to stir-fry small amounts of mushrooms or veggies. You know that trick that chefs love to do, sending food in the air as they stir-fry? This pan makes it super easy to do. Perfect size for cooking for two, I don’ t know why it’s not far more popular.

In our kitchen…

Chestnut flour. This is a very nice brand, with a delicate flavor and perfect texture. It works especially well in some vegan pastry recipes. Don’t run away, I promise they taste just like the “real thing.” Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…

A patterned silicone mat. It is a tool designed mainly for fondant and marzipan, but I used it to make a chocolate topping for cookies. I promise a blog post about the whole technique, which is surprisingly simple.

In our kitchen…

Speaking of patterned mats, I share also a patterned rolling pin. You can find countless types in shops at etsy.com with a simple search “embossed rolling pin.” I was not sure this tiny one would work well, but I am very impressed. Works like a dream. Still available here.

In our kitchen…

Sakura blossom green tea. This is caffeinated, so I use a little trick to reduce the caffeine a bit, as I like to enjoy tea after dinner. I boil water, put into the cup halfway up, add the tea bag, swirl it a bit for about 20 seconds, discard that water and proceed to make the tea with fresh hot water. Caffeine is very soluble and quite a bit of it is removed in the first brewing. I don’t detect much loss in overall taste of the tea, and it seems to work well for me. This is a green tea with a floral component that adds a lot to it. Order info here.

Speaking of tea, how could I resist this one?

I find it smooth, elegant, mysterious. Unpredictable, dramatic, way too intense, says the opposition. Jury still out.

Do you want to know one of Sally’s secrets?

She is totally obsessed with Audrey… Stencil from etsy.com

In our kitchen…

Cookie cutter & stencil combo. Another slippery slope in etsy.com… So many possibilities. You use the cookie cutter, bake the cookie, ice it, and let it set overnight. Then comes the stencil part, that you can either use an air-brush to get the overall design transferred to the surface, or use thick Royal icing scrubbed over it. I like to air-brush in dark grey or black, and once the ink dries I paint with food pens or luster dust. Check this store, one of my favorite sources.

In our kitchen…

A big bottle of Americolor white gel color. It is the only brand that works well for a cracked design on cookies. So easy to achieve! Cut the cookie shapes you like, brush a light coating of Americolor white (or any other color) and bake. It works best in recipes with a small amount of baking powder so that there is more lift during baking. Other brands do not work the same way, so keep that in mind. The dye does all the work, and the effect is really quite beautiful and elegant.

In our kitchen…

My little treasure chest of Royal icing flowers, ready and waiting to be added to cookies or cupcakes. I still need to work on the rose buds, there is a lot of room for improvement in those, but little by little I’m going to get there.

In our kitchen…

I know, a lot of cookie-oriented things, but that is the path I’ve been following lately. This set of hexagonal cookie cutters is one of my favorites. The shape is unusual and fun to play with.

All cookies except Thumper were made using the projector. Thumper was quite likely the most involved cookie I’ve made so far, following a tutorial online. I might compose a blog post about it at some point. The drawing is in fact a Royal icing transfer.

In our kitchen…

A very unusual cookbook. No recipes, just ideas. One thousand ideas, to be precise. As you flip through the pages, you’ll see photos of beautiful cakes, cupcakes, cookies, with a number and the name of the bakery where they were made. The final pages of the book list all the numbers and the techniques used.

For instance, if you look at this particular page, you will see a picture with three flower-shaped cookies, number #589. Going on the list I saw they were sugar cookies decorated with with Royal icing, so I created my version of one of those cookies. Some people left pretty negative reviews for the book on amazon, complaining that “there are no recipes or instructions”, but I think they totally missed the point. It is more an inspirational type of book, not a guide. Order info here.

Well, I toyed with the idea of pulling an April 1st on the dogs, telling them it is a no-no for their five minutes of fame in MY blog. Because, let’s make it clear. It is MY blog. And, for reasons that shall become clear as I disclose their filthy ways, I am being VERY kind for allowing two of the three derelicts to bark their piece.

So, here’s what they’ve been up to in the past three months…

Oscar undoubtedly sees himself as the King of the World

Buck is definitely the Emperor of the Backyard….

No matter the weather, he patrols every square inch of the backyard when we put him outside, and only comes back when satisfied that things are how they are supposed to be in every single little spot. He always follows the same path, a very methodical pup.

and then, of course, we have the Photobomber of the Jungle…

Great composition, courtesy of my friend Steve…

and when he is not in his virtual jungle, he is best known as the Keeper of the Couch…

Oscar believes sofas and couches are for sissies. In fact, he never ceases to amaze us with his odd ways to get comfy.

Although in rare occasions, he will act like a more “normal” pup…

You would think that these two get along great, right? Well, not exactly, as my poor left ankle will prove to you.

Innocent? Not so fast, Black-Dotted Hero… On a Saturday night, as I sat down on a comfy arm chair to talk to my sexy husband, Oscar and Bogey approached the chair, and stood one on each side. All of a sudden I noticed Bogey growling at Oscar, showing him some major gums. In seconds, Oscar went for his leg but got my foot instead. Twice. The pain was something, as his bite definitely hit a nerve (literally). So, as I publish this post, I will be on day 4 of a 10-day course of antibiotics, and unable to wear closed shoes, as my ankle is very swollen.

They were charged and tried with a felony offense and sentenced to 14 days with no flesh of the steer. And had to sit through a long lecture on proper canine behavior, new rules and regulations set forth by His Highness, The Alpha Human.

Obviously, such turn of events truly pleased the oldest, most distinguished member of the pack…

The good boy is in fact the only one allowed to bond with his favorite human on her favorite couch…

Let’s make it abundantly clear: we did not feed him egg shells. He STOLE a shell that fell on the floor, ran away through the house with it, and then decided it was too nasty to consume. Those are the facts. His sentence has therefore been altered to 18 days without the flesh of the steer.

That’s all folks! I shiver to think what they will come up with for the next installment of IMK. See you (if I am still alive) on July 1st (clockwork, remember?).

To see what is happening in kitchens of other food bloggers around the world,

visit Sherry’s site with a click here.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2020

TWO YEARS AGO:  In My Kitchen, April 2019

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2018

FOUR YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2016

SIX YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

NINE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

TEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day

HAPPY NEW YEAR IN MY KITCHEN!

 

I cannot think of a better way to start 2021 than inviting my readers for a virtual tour of our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. At the end of this post you will find a link to jump to her site and see what everybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, with a new post on the first day of January, April, July and October.

Starting with gifts…

A little crocheted elephant with a magnet, super cute gift made and sent by my friend Jennifer, from California. Elephant is my favorite animal, and purple one of my favorite colors. She hit that one out of the park! Thank you!

From our graduate student, Taihao, a savory snack from China. Addictive to say the least. Dried green peas with a delicious mixture of spices.  It comes in a large bag with small portions that ensure the product stays fresh for a long time. I confess to finding unusual ways to enjoy it… like sprinkled over white rice with my dinner… 

From Phil, a new Springerle mold! It is amazing how he was able to find a style I don’t have, when I’ve been accumulating quite a few over the past couple of years. Made by hand in Switzerland! I love it and cannot wait to mold some cookie dough into it. For the photo it is laying on my leggings, I thought that they happened to match the mold quite well… Serendipity at work…

A new acquisition for our family, which is not exactly a kitchen gadget, but it does wonders on the kitchen floor…

A Roomba vacuum! We used to have one of the first models many years ago in Oklahoma but ended up leaving it behind. It had too many little issues with steps and corners, and we did not feel it was worth the trouble. Well, the technology behind these newer models is nothing short of amazing… we are totally in love with it. It avoids steps, it goes back to charge when cleaning is done, and goes underneath all the furniture, which in itself is pretty awesome. We are still learning all the features, but I highly recommend it. Every single room of our house is spotless clean, including the basement. We release the roomba at night, one area at a time. HEAVEN! 

In our kitchen….

I am normally not too fond of a single-use gadget, but this is so great that I don’t want to be without it anymore. A ginger grater. It pretty much juices the ginger root into a nice pulp with zero effort. I love this baby!

In our kitchen….

A set of citric oils: lemon, orange and lime. These pack a ton of flavor, and are particularly nice to add to ganaches in bonbons and macaron fillings because all you need is a tiny amount. I learned about the oils in a cookbook dedicated to chocolate confections, but find myself using them quite often, even in salad dressings, or whisked into olive oil to dip a slice of sourdough bread.

In our kitchen….

Rose Petal Jam… Stay tuned for this one, which will show up in a certain cookie of French origin. Rose, violet and lavender are strong flavors that need to be used with caution, but when you hit that right amount, they are heavenly, in my opinion.  I found it at Marshalls for a very nice price, but it is available on amazon.

In our kitchen….

New wooden molds. The left one is traditional Springerle type, the right set (a double duty mold) is more appropriate for filled cookies, as they are very deep. Instead of rolling the dough and pressing the mold on it, you fill the mold with dough, press it in, fill, and add more dough to close the top (which will be then the bottom of the baked cookie). I have used the first mold to make White Chocolate Lime Molded Cookies…. The other mold is waiting patiently to play.

 

In our kitchen….

A very nice balsamic vinegar infused with blood orange. It is thick, and very delicious. Not only for savory uses like marinades, but also excellent in chocolate ganache.

In our kitchen….

A tip for dealing with macarons that end up with a little bump in the center. If that happens to you, a Microplane can fix it, as you can see in the composite below.

Just be gentle and work the blade until the bump is fully smooth. Although it will be good even if you serve the shells plain, a little decoration will hide all signs of your sneaky maneuver. 

In our kitchen….

As you may have noticed, I baked a lot of sugar cookies in December. They were sent to family members, friends, neighbors, and also shared in homeless meals. Three products related to cookie decoration are worth sharing. 

The black pearls by PME are excellent to use as eyes or buttons for decoration, as they do not “melt”  like other black products will do. By melting I mean release the color into the surrounding icing over time. Tulip Red is a red dye that does not have a sour taste. I had no idea but most red gel dyes have a taste that just like cilantro, some people are very sensitive to. If you are using red as a small detail on the cookie, no big deal, but if you are flooding a large extension of the cookie with red, consider getting this product.  Finally, my favorite of this trio: Diamond Dust from SugarArt. I love it so much!  You can buy already in a pump, it does wonders to cookies, like I showed you in my previous macaron post

You cannot select a portion of the cookie to be covered, it will stick even on dry icing, but it looks quite amazing with just a tiny spray. 

In our kitchen….

A super fine tip edible marker.  Another product I fell in love with, because for very delicate details, I am not skilled enough to work with royal icing.  One example is this little Santa I made last month.

The eyes needed to be as thin and delicate as possible. Only that type of marker will do. 

In our kitchen….

I use luster dust quite often, but this is different because it is water-soluble. From SweetSticks. You get a small bowl with water, wet the brush and swirl it around the surface. There is essentially no waste of product. And it does work quite well, as you can see in this little Christmas tree. 

 

In our kitchen….

This really is a life-changer gadget if you are into air-brushing: a Stencil Genie. Placing the stencil over a cookie and trying to steady it with one hand, spraying with the other, is simply a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, the edges of the design get all blurry. This simple plastic set shuts the stencil in place with magnets on the corners. You place it flat over the cookie and spray on. So clever and easy to use!  You can also see how I cover the surface of the countertop with plastic wrap, so that mess is kept at a minimum. Yes, there will be some waste of plastic, but the neat-freak in me prefers to live with that type of guilt. 

In our kitchen….

A feeble attempt at organizing my Sprinkle Entropy Corner. I label the tops so there is some hope of finding what I need. SS stands for Sanding Sugar. NP for Non-pareils. This is one box. It is not the only one. Enough said. Freud would have a blast with me.

 

So, that’s all for now, my friends.
New Year, New Rules.
The pups have had their share of fame in MY BLOG over the years,
and they’ve been putting on airs.
Enough is enough…..

Can they shame me in to it? How could they? Am I really that weak? 

Truth is, I have the unsettling feeling that if I remove them from these posts, my readership will drop to near zero. And they seem to know that too well (sigh). 

So what are these derelicts up to? 

Buck might be tremendously cute indeed, but he’s learned some nasty tricks from his bigger brother, the Black-Spotted-Capeless-Hero who attends by the name of BogeyQT. 

For many years he had never considered eating paper, but now we have to be very vigilant. Any piece of paper (or a big roll that finds itself on the floor) is immediately claimed and consumed. He did learn that from Bogey, but as a good student, he has definitely surpassed the teacher. 

In fact, he now seems to think that ANYTHING found on the floor is a chewing toy. He’s ruined my wooden scoop a couple of months ago, and for this installment of IMK, he made sure to destroy my favorite silicone spatula, the one that was perfect for macaronage (sigh). 

I guess my point is proven. 

I suppose this picture captures the very essence of our Black-Spotted-Capeless-Hero. I should thank my friends Jill and Astrid for jointly coining the term, which I suppose fits him well. But the mere sound of a knife leaving the drawer, a plastic wrap being ripped open, a wooden board laying on the countertop will wake up the beast from the arms of Morpheus to assume his very important function in our home. 

He’s had his share of Karma last month.  Somehow he cut his back leg and needed to go see a vet, which in pandemic times is even worse than normal. Phil could not go into the building with him, the vet came to the car and took a very scared BogeyQT away. 

He got a lot of attention and loving care, and was nursed back to health.  

His brothers were a bit concerned that socks-on-paws would become a thing. 

From Oscar: Since we are on the subject of “no way”,  let me remind you of my stance on tortillas. I don’t care how carefully you pass them over a fire, it might be appealing to you, but it disgusts me. I hope it is the last time I need to endure this type of offering. 

And to prove that 2020 was a very odd year, events with close to zero probability materialized as reality. 

 

The bottomline is that the only one who has absolutely no issues with any type of food is Bucky Boy. We constantly fight to keep his weight down, as it will definitely help him live longer. Plus, he seems a bit self-conscious at times…

No, Buck. You are just stocky and strong and powerful and I love you to pieces!

That’s all for now, my friends!  We start the year with high hopes that things will improve all over our planet. We know that the first semester will be still pretty dark, but as people get vaccinated in larger and larger numbers, we should be able to turn this page and recover as a society. Let’s do our part, get the vaccine when is our turn, and help end lingering doubts about it.  For my views on vaccination, you can read (and share) an article I wrote a few years ago. 

Oh, wait…. Oscar seems to have some wishes for 2021….

 

If you’d like to see what other food bloggers shared to start 2021 on a good note, read this post by Sherry and check out the link party at the end.   

HAPPY NEW YEAR,
from our home to yours!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Happy 2020 In My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy 2019 In My Kitchen!

THREE YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

SIX YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

NINE YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

TEN YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye

IN MY KITCHEN, OCTOBER 2020


It is that time of the year… I invite my readers for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. The idea is to share whatever you feel like. New gadgets, new ingredients, new cookbooks. Perhaps a few kitchen boo-boos (read on). Make sure to visit Sherry’s site, so you can check what is happening in kitchens all over the world.  And, if you are a food blogger, why not join this virtual fun? I’d love to see what’s happening in your kitchen too…

In our kitchen….

I never get tired of these Japanese fermented drinks! In fact, they transport  me straight to my childhood in Brazil. They were sold door to door by beautiful Japanese women carrying them in some type of insulated bag, and my Mom used to buy enough to last us until the next visit. Not very easy with me around. For decades I lost track of Yakult, but a few years ago our main grocery store in town started to sell them. And the best part is that I “converted” Phil into a Yakult-lover too.

In our kitchen….

My new tea-passion (it seems I keep finding teas to fall in love with on a regular basis). I’ve always known and enjoyed the regular type, red rooibos, but my friend Heather gave me the heads up on the green version which is not roasted. Oh, my! The flavor! It is so subtle and mellow, I highly recommend you try it if you just know the more common type.

In our kitchen…


Speaking of tea, I got a little Japanese tea cup that I found online. However, although I love the pattern, it is a bit too small, so I will use it instead to serve nuts and crackers.  But it is so whimsical, I intend to somehow mimic the pattern in a certain cookie made with almond flour and meringue. Can you guess which?

In our kitchen….

A few cookie cutters, the spider web is pretty cute, makes it a lot easier to decorate a spooky sugar cookie. The triangular coupled with mini-cookie cutters came in pretty handy to make some chocolate sandwich cookies that at some point shall be blogged about. I share a little sneak preview of both cookies…

In our kitchen…

I cannot believe that it took me years to figure out that a huge container for powdered sugar is the best way to deal with it. It holds several bags, and makes life so much easier!

In our kitchen….


This is my favorite light brown sugar, straight from the UK, but I found at amazon for a pretty good price, and of course, could not resist ordering some.

In our kitchen….

Fondant mats, also work great for marzipan, as you can see in the little lemon cupcake at the center.  You simply roll the marzipan on top of the mat and gently pull it with the nice impression formed on it.  Etsy is a great place to find them, although the first one is from Nycake.com. and to be honest, their stuff is a bit pricey. But very high quality.

In our kitchen….


This is the labor of my beloved husband to his braces-wearing wife. Every time he cooks corn on the cob, he shaves the kernels off for me, season with salt, pepper, and lime, the way I like it…  And it just melts my heart.  It is still a bit of an ordeal to brush the teeth later, but totally worth it.  You guys have no idea how much I miss eating corn on the cob with gusto.

In our kitchen….

Springerle molds, which are slowly turning into an obsession of mine. It is the type of baking that brings me peace and serenity. Some molds work better than others, and I am still figuring things out in terms of dough recipes, flavors, decorations.

In our kitchen….

A new runner rug, as the old one got all stained and ugly as the years went by.  I love the colors, and some of the flowers  will definitely inspire cookie decorations…

In our kitchen….

Speaking of cookie decorations… Painted Macarons… Yes, I know there is room for improvement, but I still have a lot of fun channeling my inner Monet.  Painting cookies, oddly enough, relaxes me. I don’t think about politics, I don’t think about Covid, I get into a soothing Zen-mode instead.

In our kitchen…

A work in progress… my first attempt at hand-dipped bonbons, these are filled with pistachio and strawberry, but I had issues with the decoration. They were supposed to be decorated with two circles, one red, one green, but I was barely able to add one ring in some. I ended up using transfer sheets for many of them instead, the famous Plan B. I am gathering my strength to try again, it is quite a bit of work, but also a ton of fun!

In our kitchen…

A truly spectacular cinnamon raisin bread, which was part of a bake-along organized by my friends Caroline and Robyn, associated with a Facegroup Fan Page for the Great British Bake Off. If you want to see a very detailed tutorial to bake it, click here.  I made half the recipe for one loaf only.

Speaking of Caroline….

In our kitchen….

The clash between dream and reality….

This fun picture was a gift from my friend Caroline, who runs a fantastic baking blog that I urge you to visit (click here). Her son made this composite shot, with the mixer of my dreams, a beauty I saw face to face (rather… face to machine) in London last year (for a picture of the real meeting, go to last year’s IMK).  Yes, allow me to dream…

Because reality is quite a bit harsher as far as mixers are concerned….


Bread dough was happening. As I added a bit more flour with the machine still running, the hook hit the measuring cup, catapulting it up and… well, the picture is worth a thousand words.  It did not bring me joy.

And do you want to know what else did not bring me joy?

My favorite flour scoop, that I’ve had for years and years, somehow found its way to Buck’s bed, and again, the rest is history.  I’ve been searching for one like it, so far, no luck. If anybody knows where to get it, please leave me a comment.

And along the non-joy movement…. (RESPECT: something I seem unable to obtain in the sanctity of my own home)

Well, I guess the pups made their way into my post, once again. Come to think of it, this round up of In My Kitchen did not start with gifts, as I did not get any lately. Proving that the pups are way more popular than the food blogger, they got a gift in the mail, from my friend Jennifer…. Thank you, Jennifer!!!!

Life in pandemic times seem to suit them well. They are rarely outside, and “vacations” at the kennel are now nothing but a distant memory. Their main concern? Protect their humans and their property.

They will take breaks from snoring away anytime their help in the kitchen is needed.’

And are always happy to bond with one of their favorite humans…


So much sleeping and hanging around the house gets Buck a bit worried about his waistline, so he decided to drop us some hints….

Which prompted me to take him for walks, where love at first sight was waiting just a few houses down the street….

That female Jack Russell is a firecracker indeed!  She is just one year old, and patrols her front yard like nobody’s business… barks, barks, and runs around the tree in circles (they keep a long leash tied to the tree).  But that day, they both froze, staring at each other as if struck by Cupid’s arrow.  It was very sweet to witness…

Unfortunately, his sex appeal is a bit diminished after he and Oscar got into a little fight. Not over the attention of a female pup, but over an EMPTY food bowl that Oscar decided to protect as if it contained medium-rare T-bone steak. Go figure that one out. He is fully recovered by now, just a small scar and a bald spot where the cut was.

What can I say? Oscar is a special boy…

With very odd ways to get comfortable around the house. This is by far his new favorite spot now, wedged in between the leg of an armchair and the leg of the table. It hurts my ribs to look at it.

If you remember from my last In My Kitchen, Phil worked hard to build us a little outside patio, and I am thrilled to inform that the project is finished and was a total success!  Every evening we have a cup of tea together sitting outside. We are thinking of getting one of those stand up propane heaters so we can still enjoy our patio as the weather gets colder (sigh).

So that’s all for now, folks. I hope you liked this little tour around the Bewitching Kitchen… see you for another one on the first day of 2021!  And may 2021 be A LOT better than 2020. Right? Right?

 

 

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen (and Beyond), October 2019

TWO YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2018

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2017

FOUR YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FIVE YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

SIX YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

NINE YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

TEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire