Kitchen, Kitchen Tools, Reference, Uncategorized

6 Items Every Wedding Registry Needs: The Starter Kitchen

6 Items Every Wedding Registry Needs - The Starter Kitchen | The Spicy Bee

Whether you’re planning your own registry or looking to purchase something for someone else, narrowing down the options for purchase are daunting. When I created our registries, I was overwhelmed by the amount of options I could consider and the range of products and prices for which I could register. Now when I think about what I would ask for with a new home vs. what I did ask for when I shared a 600sq ft apartment, a number of helpful items come to mind. With that I compiled this list of 6 items every wedding registry needs that involves work in the kitchen.  I’m going to start with sharing what the kitchen starter could really use.

  1. Nesting Bowls – A set like these can be inexplicably helpful in a tiny kitchen. I am especially fond of my set with rubber bottoms to keep them from slipping or hopping all over the countertops. Metal insides are perfect for hand mixers, while glass nesting bowls are timeless looking, can be heated (in most cases), and any set that comes with lids are so important for pulling double duty in a small kitchen. While I prefer to have 2 sets of nesting bowls in my kitchen, I keep my metal bowls close at hand and my glass bowls in the basement for when I need them.
  2. Cast Iron Enameled Oven – If I were stranded on  a desert island, a cast iron enameled oven would be the second thing on my list (right after a water filter). A 6qt oven is large enough to roast a chicken but small enough that it will still fit in most cabinets without issue. They can be quite beautiful too! Sometimes I just like to leave mine on the stove, as its orange color adds to my kitchen nicely. Be sure to try and match the couple’s registered items if possible (i.e. if they register for all blue dishware, sometimes a blue enameled oven is a nice touch. Other times it’s nice to contrast). Whether you go with a cost-effective brand like Lodge or a gourmet brand like Le Creuset, be sure to check the cookware for warranty info and any flaws in the glaze.
  3. Storage Containers – Glass is where it’s at. These Pyrex containers are mandatory for anyone looking to cook more at once or more often in general. The shelf life of this set with heavy use is about five years, which I find to be better than the snap on lids’ shelf life. The bottoms are oven safe (great for reheating food in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave) and the sets are dishwasher safe. Any couple would get use out of the set for storing leftovers, lunches, or fresh ingredients for prep.
  4. Cuisinart Food Processor – When storage is limited, some items have to be versatile. I have found Cuisinart to be just that. It’s great at blending things a blender can’t handle, and also has extra graters and add-ons to speed up the prep process. At around $100 for a 7-cup processor, it’s a good moderately priced gift option. Looking for a more affordable option for your registry? We have the 3-cup Cuisinart at home and it takes care of most small projects.
  5. Quality Kitchen Knives – A quality set should include a paring knife, a cook’s knife, and a shorter utility knife is always nice. Quality high-carbon stainless steal will last and last. The only other item that I love that isn’t in the above set is a pair of their Wusthof Kitchen Shears.
  6. Pepper Grinder & Salt Pot – I’m in a stage of my life at the moment where I want a salt pot instead of a shaker – but it’s nice to get back to my classic salt and pepper shakers when we have guests over. While many households may already have a table set for salt and pepper, having a go-to pepper grinder next to the stove can help food immensely! A salt pot also looks tasteful next to the stove, and mine allows me easy access to a large opening should I decide to measure my salt out instead of using my hands (albeit more times than not I’m just using my hands – and have you ever tried to measure teaspoons of salt out of those tall salt canisters?! Impossible.) Remember to include some fresh salt (Himalayan sea salt perhaps?) and peppercorns if you’re the one gifting! They add a lovely personal touch.

Just you wait–I’m compiling a list for kitchen pros as well 😉

Gluten-free, Recipe Time, Uncategorized

Life Lessons, Artichokes, and Hearts

Citrus Stuffed Artichokes | The Spicy Bee

While out with a friend recently at Lincoln, I had an abrupt realization – while I do not consider myself to have always known how to prepare and enjoy many fruits and vegetables, as a child, my mom always enjoyed making and sharing artichokes with us. I thought this was completely normal until I brought it up during the meal and my friend looked at me a bit puzzled. As we ordered our way through Jenn Louis‘ happy hour menu, the Jewish-Style Fried Artichokes with Lemon caught my eye. Once on the table, I sliced my crispy little beauties into quarters and greedily popped one into my mouth. These were slightly different to how I normally ate them growing up (as Jerusalem artichokes tend to be smaller in size to what I was used to), but the flavor profile was certainly there – crispy outside and a soft, warm, buttery heart at the center. I could feel myself grinning with child-like delight. I highly suggest working one’s way through Lincoln’s menu – it is an absolute delight.

Learning From Mother | The Spicy Bee

Later on I asked Ktams – had he grown up with artichokes? Only pickled artichoke hearts – and there’s a traumatic childhood story that goes along with them that I will leave for another time ;). It’s difficult to process at times that one’s childhood was so different from others – recently, I read a piece about a writer who grew up with parents that were professional ballroom dancers so instead of a living room they had a ballroom retrofit into their house – this was never odd to him, but it made him special in a way. I suppose this is sort of how I feel about the fact that I had the benefit of growing up with artichokes around. Such an odd food that is usually only seen in the processed form that resembles The Cheesecake Factory’s spinach artichoke dip. Now might be a good time to note that homemade spinach artichoke dip is equivalent to heaven and NEVER a bad party appetizer (my mom taught me this sage piece as well).

My favorite part of the artichoke is always the heart. Once you’ve plucked and eaten every little leaf, what remains is considered the heart. It takes a bit of care to ensure that you’ve removed the fuzzy little filaments (I prefer using a grapefruit spoon or a small serrated knife), but once drizzled with a touch of good olive oil or butter and toasted, the artichoke texture really comes to life. Eating artichokes with my mom usually meant the house was quiet, most of the meal had already been consumed, and the dishes were stacked up ready to be washed. My dad would retire to the family room to read, and she and I would just sit next to one another talking and sharing an artichoke and its heart.

As Mother’s day is this weekend, I wanted to surprise my mom with a new way to enjoy one of my favorite foods I enjoyed while growing up with her – we grilled them, steamed them, stuffed them, and baked them. Thank you mom for introducing me to such a fun food.

Citrus Stuffed Artichokes

Ingredients

2 large, whole artichokes (or 3-4 small ones)
1/2 Lemon, plus 2 lemons, juiced
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 c chicken broth or water
2 cloves garlic, plus 5 garlic cloves, minced, divided
4 sprigs fresh marjoram, chopped
2 T rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
12-15 oz ricotta cheese
2 preserved lemon slices, chopped (plus more for garnish)
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 egg
8 oz fontina cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Citrus Stuffed Artichokes | The Spicy Bee

Begin with prepping the artichokes by rinsing them under cold water. Cut the top inch off the artichoke and cut the stem down as pictured above. Tear off the coarser petals located toward the stem and discard. Cut the artichokes in half, then, with kitchen scissors, trim the tips of the artichoke leaves–this will make them less prickly to pick and eat later. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Take one of the lemons and rub it over the artichokes, being sure to get both sides–I’ll even squeeze some juice into the center for good measure. This will assist in keeping the leaves greener while they bake. Combine oil, rest of lemon juice, broth, garlic and herbs in a casserole dish. Cover, and bake for 30 minutes or until tender.

Citrus Stuffed Artichokes | The Spicy Bee

As the bake time is winding down, it’s time to work on the filling. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, chopped preserved lemons, minced garlic and spinach. Add to this the egg and a majority of the fontina cheese (some should be reserved to top the artichokes).

Remove the artichokes from the oven and then the pan. Reserve the broth in the pan for later. Carefully remove the choke (the fibrous part of the artichoke – this doesn’t taste good – discard). Spoon in the cheese mixture, and add each half back to the pan on their backs. At this point you can add a few last spoonfuls of filling, top with cheese, salt and pepper. At this point you may also decide to add some breadcrumbs to the topping, but I prefer to leave this recipe gluten-free. Broil the artichokes on high for up to 5 minutes (until tops brown). Remove from oven and serve immediately topped with a few spoonfuls of the reserved broth. Garnish with preserved lemons and your favorite hot sauce.

Citrus Stuffed Artichokes | The Spicy BeeThis item is especially great alongside a steak–I find it’s a bit reminiscent of a twice baked potato but oh so interesting! The broth in this recipe is also quite delicious! I think it would be lovely reduced and put over the top of parmesan-crusted baked chicken with green beans or added to a soup even.

The above recipe was adapted from Tyler Florence’s Braised Artichokes. Looking to learn more about artichokes?

Check out these neat articles on the vegetable:

Artichokes: A History
How to Cook & Eat an Artichoke
How to Prepare Artichoke Hearts

Gluten-free, Portland Local, Recipe Time, Sponsored Post

Salmon Risotto

Salmon Risotto Salt of the Surf | The Spicy Bee

While awfully high-maintenance, risotto is a deliciously filling comfort dish that can be added to without much degree of difficulty. Some of my favorite additions to risotto include broccoli, peas, fish, spinach, and fresh herbs. I thought I would share my base recipe with added veggies and fish – if cooking for guests, sometimes its best to keep things simple. This recipe with just herb and parmesan is lovely under a breast of chicken or grilled fish.

Salmon Risotto Salt of the Surf | The Spicy Bee

The recipe below was made with a local business’ mouth-watering, wild caught, Alaskan smoked salmon. Salt of the Surf (formerly Salt of the Sea), was started by Zane Luther, who spends much of his time on the water in Alaska, catching and processing Alaskan salmon and processing them in a contemporary fashion. All fish from Salt of the Surf are pressure bled, which means that right after the fish is caught, its head is removed and clean water is run through the system to push the blood out of the body as quickly as possible. The issue is, as the blood sits in the fish, it causes an increased rate of spoilage. Flushing the blood from the fish brings the product up to the next level in both taste and texture.

The moment I got this fish through my door I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it – risotto was my first trick–can you guess my second? I’ll be posting about that soon!

Interested in getting your hands on some of this beautiful product? For more information about Zane and his exceptional fish, you can like his Facebook page and order directly through him by calling 541-231-6835 or emailing him directly at Pressurebled@gmail.com.

Salmon Risotto Featuring Salt of the Surf Salmon

Salmon Risotto Salt of the Surf | The Spicy Bee

Ingredients

1 T Olive oil
4 T Butter, divided
1 Yellow onion, diced
4 c Hot chicken stock
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
1/2 c Dry white wine
1 1/2 c Peas (if frozen, thaw)
5 oz Salt of the Surf Smoked Salmon (Keta or Sockeye), sliced
4 T Curly parsley, chopped
1 c Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

Salmon Risotto Salt of the Surf | The Spicy Bee

Heat oil in a large cast iron pan. Add onion and keep moving, until translucent. Add butter and rice and stir consistently until you get a nutty smell from the rice (about 2 minutes)–avoid letting it brown! Then add wine, stirring until absorbed. Ladle in stock, one ladle-full at a time, being sure to keep the heat on and the rice moving. The key to great risotto is neither scorching nor water logging the rice.

Salmon Risotto Salt of the Surf | The Spicy Bee

Continue adding until fully incorporated, about 25-30 minutes. Check the rice–it should be tender not crunchy. If you run out of stock and you’re still not to the desired consistency, add water, similarly, one ladle at a time. When finished, fold in last 2 T of butter, peas, and parsley, then salmon and parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

Salmon Risotto Salt of the Surf | The Spicy Bee

 

What would you like in your risotto?