Talk about easy and way too delicious! These are the new Rice Krispy Treats. It’s not that traditional Rice Krispies aren’t good, they’re just a little boring and safe. These are the opposite. They’re over-the-top and surprising in a way that everyone, including Krispies, treats purists, will love.
And it just does not get any easier….
Cooking spray, for pan
5 tbsp. butter
1 (10-oz.) bag marshmallows
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
Pinch kosher salt
6 c. Rice Krispies Cereal
12 Reese’s cups
1/4 c. melted peanut butter, for garnish
1/4 c. melted chocolate, for garnish
Line a 9”-x-13” pan with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray. In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Stir in marshmallows, peanut butter, and salt and stir until mixture is melted. Remove from heat.
Immediately add Rice Krispies and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Working quickly, press half of mixture into an even layer in the pan, then top with a layer of Reese’s. Press remaining mixture over Reese’s.
Drizzle with melted chocolate and peanut butter, then refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
Slice into squares and serve. Maybe that should say slice & eat!
Here is a very interesting article about coffee and it’s effects or non-effects…
Every cup of coffee you drink comes a glass-half-full (or half-empty, depending on your mood) of insatiable questions. Outside of cannabis and maybe alcohol, coffee is probably the most misunderstood, readily available vice.
For instance, you may have heard coffee makes you poop like a racehorse on laxatives. And yes, that one’s true. But these 12 well-trodden myths are absolutely wrong. Read up, then wake up, kids.
1. Your afternoon cup will cause rampant insomnia
Caffeine is a stimulant. Obviously. But the caffeine you consume in your post-lunch cup of is processed through the liver at a fairly quick clip, and nearly all of it (roughly 75%) is flushed out of your body within four to seven hours.
So, if you’ve been scared to drink that second or third cup at 2pm… well, you shouldn’t be. Unless you are scared to poop in your office (see above).
2. You need to use boiling water on the grounds
If the temperature of your water goesabove 200 degrees Fahrenheit, the water can start to extract some of the bitter oils from coffee grounds and may even scorch them. You can attribute the burnt taste of coffee to boiling water poured directly on the grounds. In other words, don’t drop it like it’s hot.
3. Coffee dehydrates you
Take a look at your cup of coffee. Notice the watery consistency? You can attribute the lack of natural dehydration to all the added water in a cup of coffee. The amount of H2O in a cup makes up for the dehydrating effects of caffeine.
Still, you might not want to substitute coffee for Gatorade after your next sports ball game.
4. Coffee will cure your hangover
It might make you feel a little less groggy, and more alert (as coffee is prone to do). But trust me, it won’t cure your hangover. Sorry. Try exercising.
5. Coffee helps you lose weight
You know supermodels live on a diet of cigs and coffee, right? Well, the stimulating effects of caffeine can slightly increase your metabolism, but not enough to make a dent in your diet, especially in terms of long-term weight loss. Caffeine may reduce your desire to eat for a brief time, but there’s not enough evidence to show that long-term consumption aids weight loss. It could give you a little more energy to exercise though, right?
6. Caffeine is highly addictive
While there’s a little bit of truth to this one, it’s not as bad as Jessie Spano made it seem in Saved by the Bell. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which causes a very slight dependence, however, the withdrawal effects last only a day or two and are a far cry from the withdrawal effects of, oh, let’s say heroin. Coffee is not a gateway drug.
7. Coffee stunts your growth
This myth has been around forever and used to be the sole reason why I believed my NBA career never came to fruition. However, the belief that coffee does stunt your growth is just another lie told to short people. It’s unclear how this myth got started, but there’s no scientific evidence supporting it. I guess I just wasn’t genetically gifted… or good at basketball.
8. Coffee causes heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, rabies, scabies, etc.
Calm down, everything is going to be fine. This is mainly some Reefer Madness bullshit for the cafe set.
Consuming a moderate amount (up to 300 milligrams or three cups of coffee) of caffeine on the daily isn’t going to hurt you. If you have high blood pressure, you could potentially experience a temporary rise in heart rate, but there is no link between caffeine and high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, or rabies.Especiallyrabies. There’s even plenty of evidence from places like Harvard that coffee can be good for you, in moderation.
9. Pregnant women shouldn’t drink coffee
Caffeine won’t harm a fetus, however, it is advised that women should limit their daily caffeine intake to only 200 milligrams — about one cup of standard coffee.
Caffeine can pass through the placenta and reach the baby, but there are no concrete studies proving it’s harmful. But… if you don’t want your baby to get all over active inside there, you might just want to play it safe and stick to decaf tea.
10. The darker the roast, the stronger the coffee
Quite the opposite, actually! Roasting actually burns off the caffeine and gives you more of an acidic taste.
11. All coffee has the same amount of caffeine
Not all coffees are brewed the same, and some cups have a hell of a lot more caffeine. For instance, McDonald’s has a measly 9.1 milligrams per fluid ounce as compared to the massive 20-milligram cup of Starbucks. Not all coffee is created equal, and this can definitely explain why some joe makes you a little more amped than others.
12. A cup of coffee will sober you up
The short answer? No. Caffeine can make an intoxicated person more alert, in theory, but a study by The American Psychological Association concluded that coffee does not reverse the negative cognitive impact of alcohol. It’s actually even worse for you, they report: “People who have consumed both alcohol and caffeine may feel awake and competent enough to handle potentially harmful situations, such as driving while intoxicated or placing themselves in dangerous social situations.”
Only time can sober you up. So please, don’t think coffee is your blotto panacea.
HOW TRADER JOE’S WINE BECAME CHEAPER THAN BOTTLED WATER
This is from a newsletter Online that I subscribe and finally the “true story” of Trader Joes Two Buck Chuck.
It might sound insane, but there’s a decent bottle of wine out there that costs less than some bottles of water.
That’s been the gimmick of Charles Shaw, aka “Two Buck Chuck,” which hit the shelves at Trader Joe’s in January 2002. The wine’s $1.99 price tag, simple off-white label, and saccharine flavor, closer to grape juice than wine, sparked a collective freakout among American bargain hunters. It flew in the face of the wine world’s snobbery; it was every person’s bottle of wine.
For years, there’s been more legend than truth in the story of how it remains so inexpensive. Word on the street was that Shaw had slashed the price to spite his ex-wife, who owned half of his Napa Valley winery. Others claimed branches, dead birds, and insects were fermented as a filler along with the grapes to keep costs down. Chuck Shaw himself — who went broke, sold the brand, and disappeared from the limelight decades ago — never quite set the record straight.
To get to the bottom of it, we tracked down a half-dozen insiders from the early days of the winery, including the reclusive man behind the label, who now lives alone in a Chicago high-rise and says he’s poised for a comeback with a new wine brand. The upshot? None of the lore is exactly true, but the real story is just as juicy.
The man behind the label
Before his name became synonymous with bargain booze, Charles Shaw was an early pioneer of the Napa Valley wine industry and made delicious, award-winning vino.
Chuck Shaw, founder of Charles Shaw: I was going to Stanford in 1971, taking a small-business class. My professor told each student to find a company in the area to work with. I heard about a guy who was making wine out of his garage, so I started working with him and fell in love. I knew I wanted a vineyard. But my wife, Lucy, said, “You don’t have any money,” so I took a job at a bank. The bank later asked me to go to Paris and my office ended up being right behind [famous wine expert] Steven Spurrier’s school. I got hooked. I flew to Napa and bought 20 acres above Lake Hennessey.
Bob Dempel, vineyard manager for a decade: He used Lucy’s mother’s money to start the winery. She had grown up wealthy; it was her inheritance.
Shaw: I moved my family there to start Charles Shaw winery in 1974. We were part of a pioneering group out there. In 1978, we made our first production of Gamay. We were so excited. It was carbonic, it had an amazing garnet color and was really quite striking. I liked to drink it with Tiffany’s all-purpose glass. You could smell it just sitting at the table, and people said it had notes of banana.
“CHARLES SHAW WINE USED TO BE GREAT — AND NOBODY DRANK IT. NOW, IT’S TERRIBLE AND IT’S SELLING LIKE GANGBUSTERS.”
Keith Wallace, wine expert and author: The wine he made back then was actually really good. But nobody was buying it because nobody knew much about Gamay. The irony is that Charles Shaw wine used to be great — and nobody drank it. Now, it’s terrible and it’s selling like gangbusters.
Shaw: By 1983, we were charging $13.50 for a bottle. In 1992, the business had grown to 115 acres. It was some of the best wine in the Napa Valley. We won awards internationally. Pretty soon, we were putting out 15,000 cases a year of multiple types of wine with some 60 employees.
Dempel: Beaujolais Nouveau was his pride and joy. Back then, a bottle was more than I could afford. It used to be very high-end. I would be there weekly inspecting the crop and I got to know Chuck and Lucy well. He was athletic and exceptionally good-looking and so was Lucy. Everyone in the Napa Valley knew them. When they walked into a restaurant, people would stare and say, “There go, Charles and Lucy Shaw.” They were treated like Jackie and JFK. Like a Camelot couple.
Bad Breaks and Big Mystery
After years of success as a legitimate Napa Valley winery, bad business moves, a baffling streak of bad luck, and an explosive divorce lead to the downfall of the multimillion-dollar brand.
Dempel: They started bleeding money in the early ’90s.
Shaw: I made some big mistakes. I released a batch of wine in small wooden barrels, which was a real popular thing to do at the time. This was 1986. The supplier was supposed to use beeswax but instead, they used paraffin [a petroleum-based wax] and it tainted the wine. It ruined it — you could taste it. And it broke my heart. And I had to recall almost all of them. It cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars. I lost 1,400 barrels.
I entered into a bad agreement with national distributors. I aggressively suggested we increase production quite dramatically on our Burgundy-style wines [in 1987]. It was my own darn fault. They agreed and we doubled them. But people in those days wanted merlot and cabernet. Nobody was thinking about Burgundies. This was long before the movie Sideways. We overproduced and I should have been more careful.
Then, in the late ’80s, we got root louse and had to replace an entire 50-acre vineyard. It was completely destroyed. A couple years later, there was a bit of a recession. One thing led to another and I lost everything in 1992. It was a hit of a few million dollars.
Dempel: Lucy was devastated they had lost her mother’s money. He started staying in the empty au pair’s room. And there was another guy fast on the scene. [Lucy didn’t reply to our interview request.]
Shaw: It was tough because I lost my wife and my business at the same time. It was was a very unhappy time for me. It really hurt. It’s still hard knowing it was my fault. It was a mess, in terms of the divorce. I didn’t fully recover from losing her and the business until six or eight years ago. I just kept thinking, “I wish I’d done this or that.” Now, here I am feeling almost 100% and I’m not a kid anymore. I’m 73.
Dempel: There was a little more to the story. Chuck would fly away all the time for fishing trips and leave Lucy and the kids behind. She told me that’s what broke them up. On one trip, the whole family came and they got into a big fight. He told her “it’s a woman’s job” to bring drinks for the kids on the boat. Boy, she didn’t like that.
Backsliding into bankruptcy
It was the early ’90s and the business was in a free fall. Amidst the turmoil, a familiar wine mogul known for his shrewd, vulture-like business style snaps up the failing label. Shaw doesn’t see a penny from the transaction.
Wallace: The winery had to be auctioned off and all of his vines were ripped up. It was sort of poetic.
Tom Eddy, court-appointed trustee of Charles Shaw vineyard: It was tragic. In 1992, they went bankrupt and stopped producing the wine. The creditors were after them. A judge overseeing the bankruptcy case hired me to protect the property. He said, “You make sure the place is locked and nobody breaks in. Keep the wine safe. Oh, and by the way, neither Charles or Lucy can set foot on the property.” I said, “That’s fine.” But I didn’t know what I was getting into.
Dempel: Chuck filed for bankruptcy [in 1992]. Workers never got paid — I never got paid. The last time I saw Chuck, he had stashed the last of his cash under the floor of his car. I bought him breakfast. I thought he was going through a major form of depression.
Eddy: Lucy was a pistol. She was supposed to leave the vineyard in 90 days. But in her mind, it was her place and she wasn’t leaving. I had to change the locks. It was ugly and pretty awkward for me. I told her, “I’d like to help you but I can’t. You need to start looking for a place that you and your kids can rent. Otherwise, it’s gonna be embarrassing if the sheriff has to come out here.” Eventually, she figured it out and left.
“I TRIED TO PUT IT ALL BEHIND ME BUT I NEVER STOPPED THINKING ABOUT WINE.”
Dempel: Years ago, I ran into Lucy. She was working as a salesperson at a bookstore. She looked me square in the face and said, “Bob, all of the money is gone. It was all my mother’s money, and now it’s gone.” I was taken aback. I thought, Here’s the Camelot lady and she’s selling fucking books.
Shaw: I tried to put it all behind me. I totally changed what I was doing. I went to Chicago and helped start a company called DataBase Network Systems. But that might have been foolish; I never stopped thinking about wine.
Eddy: We were trying to sell the vineyard for $3 million. The judge called and said, “Is there anything else we can sell?” I said, “Well, the trade name.” He said, “Let’s try to make a deal.” I thought that Fred Franzia, who owns Franzia and Bronco wines, would be interested. He would go after anyone who was in trouble, buy up distressed wineries, turn them around, and dump them off to someone else. It was his M.O. Fred Franzia is a controversial and colorful character. That’s all I’ll say about him. I don’t want him to come after me.
So Franzia said, “What do you want for it?” I said, “$35,000.” And he said, “Hell no,” and hung up. A week later he called back and offered $27,000. I was stunned because, really, I wasn’t expecting a nickel. It ended up being a brilliant business move on his part. [Note: Franzia declined an interview request.]
Shaw: I didn’t get any of that money. And I haven’t seen a penny since. Franzia doesn’t care about me and I stay out of his way.
Charles not in charge
Fred Franzia buys up the trademark and slashes the wine’s price. The $1.99 tag stirs up a slew of rumors about the wine’s quality, some of which aren’t terribly off the mark. The brand is sued for the levels of arsenic in the wine.
Eddy: Franzia used the exact same name and the exact same label on the bottle. Even the same original artwork: a picture of a little pagoda that used to sit by [Shaw’s] tennis court. He shocked the world by slapping a $1.99 label on it. Everybody in the industry thought it was impossible. He had the testicles that nobody else had, to sell wine at that price. He’d shoot over to Portugal or France and knock on the door of a cork or glass producer and say, “If I write you a check for $2 million, will you fill up this boat with cork? I don’t care about quality.”
Wallace: A few years ago, a report came out, claiming machine harvesting left branches, bugs, and birds in the grapes in the wine. It’s true that there is a method of machine harvesting, which I believe [Franzia] uses, and you get some bugs and birds in it. It sounds gross but it’s not really a big issue. The FDA has requirements on how much of that is OK. [Note: Franzia has claimed the company uses methods to filter out branches and animal residue.]
Brian Kabateck, lawyer: The company’s white zinfandel is one of 83 California wines that tested positive for high levels of inorganic arsenic. Our conclusion is that something is going on inside the winery, not in the field where grapes are grown. More likely than not, they’re adding something to the wine. It may be something in the filtering process that they’re using — something akin to cheap diatomaceous earth. Those high arsenic levels have an effect on the reproductive and cardiovascular systems. It has been linked to cancer. Arsenic is basically poison. It’s a significant public health risk. [Again, Franzia declined to comment for this story.]
Wallace: It’s not actually good. It’s so sweet and nasty. It’s full of residual sugar, which is bad for consumers. It’s not hard to make cheap wine. You can make anything cheaply by cutting corners. It is the complete industrialization of wine, making it a commodity like grain. A lot of it is automated with little concern for quality.
Eddy: The last time I was at Bronco, they were doing 7 million cases. That was 2010. It’s still one of Trader Joe’s most popular products.
Wallace: Can you imagine how much that would suck? It’s your dream. You work hard and make really good wine. Then, all of a sudden, your name is tainted.
The amazing $2 bottle
In the early aughts, Charles Shaw wine gets its nickname, rising to cult stardom as the accessible and cheap wine option. But as Two Buck Chuck finds its place in the world, the original man behind the label gets left in the dust.
Shaw: I’ve seen some reports that are very wrong about why it’s cheap. Some of them are so wrong, they’re funny. No, the wine is not $2 because I wanted to get back at [Lucy]. I don’t know the particulars about how it’s made. But Franzia deserves the credit.
Wallace: People went apeshit. This was around 2002. Articles were saying this wine is amazing and actually drinkable. It was a fad — the “Macarena” of wine. I would always hear about it from college students. And it was this blue-collar pride thing. People thought, “This bottle is just as good as one that’s $20. Screw those snobs.”
Eddy: I’ve been in the wine business for 42 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. You’d watch little old ladies with blue hair, line up at the shop and say, “I want one case of that and one case of that.”
National Director of Public Relations for Trader Joe’s: Somewhere along the way, these wines were dubbed “Two Buck Chuck.” We wish we could take the credit for that, but alas, some scribe came up with that moniker.
Eddy: As far as I remember, it was a local wine writer who coined the term. Couldn’t tell you his name — but it stuck.
Shaw: I used to worry about having my name on a bargain wine. I went on 20/20 more than a decade ago, complaining about it. I said, “We started out with a premium winery. And now look at it.” But now I think that was immature of me. You know? I actually like the name Two Buck Chuck. It ties it to me. It’s better than the brand disappearing — or being forgotten.
Here is a wonderfully interesting article from Wine & Food Magazine on keeping your knives sharp. I sharpen mine a little everytime I use them.
Having a great knife makes cooking so much more enjoyable when you have this joy of cutting through something that’s so easy and effortless, plus it’s going to last you a lifetime and can even be an heirloom for your kids.
If you want to get the most out of that fancy new knife you bought—and have it last long enough to actually be an heirloom follow these tips from the experts.
Whatever you do: Don’t put them in the dishwasher.
The biggest mistake people make at home, according to Blanchard and Cox, is putting their knives in the dishwasher. Newer high-powered dishwashers can even warp the steel. You always want to hand wash and hand dry your knives.
“Use a kitchen rag or soft sponge be gentle.”
Remember that boning knives aren’t for … bones.
When it comes to knife work, bones are off-limits. Period. (And boning knives are designed for working around the bones and through the joints.)
People assume that Japanese knives can go through anything, that they’re like samurai swords. They cannot go through bone. They are finely made, like jewelry.
And please don’t try to cut through frozen food, either. That can damage the knife.
Ditch the bamboo cutting board.
What you’re cutting on is almost just as important as the technique you’re using. Hardwood is preferable. You can use plastic or composite rubber, especially when you’re cutting raw proteins, so you can just put it in the dishwasher. Bamboo is a little too rough.
Learn the difference between honing and sharpening.
Both are important. Honing, which you should do more frequently, involves grinding the edge of the knife on a stone to even it out. The process doesn’t sharpen the knife, but it fixes the blade’s alignment, which makes it feel sharper and cut better. Sharpening, on the other hand, involves actually shaving off some of the blade, and should be done a few times a year at home, or at a shop that professionally sharpens knives.
“”you don’t want to sharpen or hone your knifeon anything harder than the steel of the knife itself,” says Cox, suggesting ceramic honing rods. “Hone your knife a couple times on each side – always use the same amount of passes on each side. Go ten or twelve. But if you’re going more than ten or twelve on each side, and it doesn’t go right back, then its time to sharpen.”
Applying oil to a carbon steel knife will help prevent any oxidation or rusting, though don’t use any vegetable oils like canola or olive.
What happens with vegetable-based oils is they get rancid, so use Tsubaki oil, Camellia seed oil, very thin and neutral and you don’t need a lot of it. You can get mineral oil at the grocery store.
In many respects, you want to treat your knives like they are cast-iron pans.
For a stainless steel knife and carbon steel knife, you want to treat it like a cast-iron pan. Even for a stainless steel knife, some knives are high polished and contain nickel and silver. Humidity speeds up the oxidation process, causing the knives to rust, so you want to store them in as dry a place as possible.
I personally love the Wolf combination I chose for my kitchen remodel as it gives me more options. There is one large gas burner for using large pans or stock pots, that can exchange for a wok grill on the left. There are two inductions burners in the middle with two different sizes (water to boiling in under a minute), and two more gas burners on the right (one smaller & one larger). I wish I had a griddle, but did ever use one enough to make it worth adding. I love this stove and the downdraft works wonderfully.
Choosing to install a cooktop instead of a traditional range can open up sought-after space on your kitchen surface. Whether you opt for electric, gas, or induction technology, our picks for well-designed cooktops are efficient, easy to clean, and versatile.
This article from Cooking Light may save you lots of discomfort.
There’s a hot-list of foods that spread food-borne illnesses more than others, but there are a few steps you can take to best protect yourself from any sickness.
Home cooks are increasingly seeing alarming headlines about national outbreaks of serious food-borne illnesses and with the recent fervor over one of the worst E. coli outbreaks in the last decade, the topic of food safety has never been so relevant.
The list is based on information that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps for cooks looking to keep their kitchens as safe as possible. The shortlist of foods below are linked to food-borne illnesses more frequently than any other on the market. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce your chance of illness when eating them.
Which foods are the most likely to get you sick?
They’re as follows:
Did You Eat Romaine Lettuce? These Are the E. coli Warning Signs to Look For
A massive E. coli outbreak caused agencies to ask the entire nation to toss their romaine lettuce.
Chicken, beef, turkey, and pork
Raw and undercooked meat and poultry are surefire ways to get you sick. Nearly all raw poultry contains a bacteria called campylobacter, which the CDC says is the leading cause of “diarrheal sickness” in the United States. Other illness-causing bacteria linked to questionable meat include salmonella, E. coli, Yersinia (commonly found on raw pork), and C. perfringens (one of the most common bacteria leading to short-term food poisoning.)
Vegetables and fruits
It’s crucial to front-load your daily diet with tons of fresh vegetables and fruits, but raw variations can often cause food poisoning from contamination with salmonella, E. coli, and listeria bacteria. The exterior of uncooked fruits and vegetables are especially tricky as they’re a breeding ground for bacteria during transportation from farm to table, and especially at risk for cross-contamination in the kitchen. There are more than a few ways to clean them, however, and cooking your veggies is a sure way to eliminate most risk.
Raw milk and cheese
Some might think it’s very tasty, but health officials say that raw milk and the products made with unpasteurized milk can carry ample bacteria including E. coli, listeria, and salmonella, among others. Other dairy items that are more likely to hide harmful bacteria is feta cheese, brie and camembert, queso fresco, ice cream, and yogurt.
We watched as more than 200 million eggs were recalled due to a widespread salmonella contamination—the CDC says salmonella is often undetected, even for eggs that look clean and un-cracked. Choosing pasteurized eggs could help reduce that risk.
Raw shellfish and seafood
There is a greater chance to get sick with food poisoning from raw fish, yes. But raw shellfish is often more problematic than anything, with staples like oysters containing viruses and bacteria that could cause serious sickness—more than 100 people recently fell ill in California after eating raw oysters contaminated with norovirus.
Warm and humid growing conditions for things like alfalfa and bean sprouts lend themselves to perfect growing conditions for salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. Thoroughly cooking sprouts before placing them in any dish can help reduce the chance of you getting sick.
The last item on the list is flour, which is usually raw and hasn’t been treated and because we cook with it or use it in our baking, those germs are killed during cooking. Things like raw cookie dough have often been a source of food poisoning given that the flour in these staples hasn’t been cooked.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid food-borne illnesses altogether, but using the safety tips to enjoy the foods on the list above might save you from a firsthand experience with food poisoning. 1 in 6 people in the United States suffer through side effects of food-borne diseases, and more than 3,000 deaths each year are caused by foodborne pathogens, the CDC says.
This may help you want to “eat less” if you want to lose weight. I used to love raw chocolate chip cookie dough, but it does not look quite so appealing at the moment. Eat safe and enjoy!
Bon Appetit and Epicurious wrote this interesting article about our favorite snack – Cheese!
Putting cheese and crackers out at a party, whether sliced sharp cheddar and Triscuits or Humboldt Fog and crostini, is a simple way to welcome guests. Everyone loves cheese, and people will snack on it all night. But if hours go by and there’s still half a wedge of Brie on the cheese board, are you putting your friends in danger? In other words: How long can cheese sit out before you get sick or die?
Bringing cheese to room temperature is essential to help the fat loosen up, which gives the cheese a better texture and flavor. However, there is a ticking clock on how long it should stay out past that hour (or two) out of the fridge. To keep yourself safe from bacterial growth or spoilage, you should only keep cheese out for four hours, according to the director of food safety, quality, and regulatory compliance at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.
With that said, some cheeses fare better than others with quality after those four hours elapse. Higher moisture cheeses like ricotta, queso blanco, and mascarpone will deteriorate in quality and spoil faster when left on the counter. Soft cheeses including Brie, Camembert, or a bloomy-rind fancier cheese will last a little longer, and harder cheeses from cheddar to Gouda to Parmesan will hold up the longest. Parm, Romano, or harder cheeses will likely not have micro bacterium growth or very insignificant amounts throughout the duration of a party,. Those cheeses you’ll often see hanging in Italian markets or cut into pieces on display at the grocery store because they don’t require constant refrigeration.
Long before you get an upset stomach from cheese (uh, unless you’re lactose intolerant), you’ll probably notice that it’s looking a little sad. Cheese will dry out when left in open air, especially in a warmer room, and start to look crusty and crumbly. After eight hours on a cheese board, cheddar will likely not have a lot of bacterial growth, but it won’t look appealing to eat. However, there is no way to tell if there are bacteria on a piece of cheese based on looking because it’s microscopic. One thing you can tell immediately about a cheese gone bad is if there’s mold growing on it in the fridge. If you see that, cut off about 1–1½ inches around the mold and continue eating it. However, if a high-moisture cheese like ricotta or cream cheese has a spot of mold, throw it out it will have contaminated the entire container.
There has been some extensive research done in Wisconsin that proves cheese can stay out for up to six hours at 70°F or colder. Some cheeses tested for low levels of listeria, salmonella, Escherichia, and staphylococcus but nothing life-threatening. The level of water activity in a cheese determines how long it can stay out. Hard cheeses like Parmesan could be out for 24 hours and be fine, but a young cheddar is more vulnerable. You will see oiling off and drying out from it sitting out in the open air. If it starts to look like it’s glistening, that’s a sign to either put it back in the fridge or toss it.
Trust yourself. If it looks unappealing, don’t eat it. You probably won’t get sick, and definitely won’t die, but the quality of cheese can plummet dramatically after more than four hours at your party. Eat something else, take out a new block of cheese from the fridge, or maybe just serve fondue at your next party. Cheese sweats are always better than sweaty cheese.
*Pregnant women, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for food-borne illness and should take a higher level of caution.
This handmade pasta is delicious with the classic broccoli raab sauce, with an uncooked sauce of tomatoes and basil, or in a cream sauce with mussels and mint. The dough comes out best if you work the water in very slowly; don’t try to bring in too much flour at one time. Flour amounts are listed by weight (oz.) and by volume (cups); use either measurement.
I made mine with chicken and home-made pesto with basil from my garden, with a little cilantro and parmesan on the top. It was yummy and very easy. It does take a little time. I usually watch the cooking channel or a funny movie. You have to happy when you cook.
225 g/ 1 1/2 cup semolina flour
255 g/3/4 cup + I Tbl unbleached all-purpose flour
255 g/1 cup warm water
2 tsp salt
1. In a bowl, whisk the flours together well. Mound the flour on a work surface, make a deep well in the center and pour 2 Tbs. of the water in the center. With two fingers, stir in a little flour from the walls of the well. When the water is absorbed and a paste has formed, repeat with more water until you have a soft but not sticky dough.
You can do this in your KitchenAid with the dough hook.
2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth and supple, 7 to 8 minutes. If it crumbles during kneading, wet your hands to moisten the dough slightly. Cut off a golfball-size chunk of dough; cover the rest with plastic wrap. Roll the chunk into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter. With a very sharp knife, slice the cylinder into disks about 1/8 inch thick
3. Pick up a disk. If it’s squashed from cutting, squeeze it slightly between your thumb and index finger to return it to a circular shape. Put the disk in the palm of one hand and press down on it with the thumb of your other hand. Swivel your hand (not your thumb) twice to thin the center of the ear, leaving the rim a little thicker. If the dough sticks to your thumb, dip your thumb in a little flour as you work. Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you finish the disks, lay them on a clean dishtowel. When you’ve shaped an entire cylinder, sprinkle a little flour over the ears and repeat the process with a new chunk of dough.
4. If you’re not cooking the pasta immediately, spread the rounds out on floured baking sheets and leave them at room temperature at least overnight, or until they’re hard enough that you can’t slice them with a knife. (The time they take to dry depends on humidity and the moisture level in the dough itself.) Once the orecchiette is dry, transfer them to covered jars and store at room temperature.
5. You can as an alternative, freeze them on a baking sheet with parchment and then put in a sealed container once they are frozen. Cook directly from the freezer – do not thaw.
6. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the orecchiette and simmer until they float to the surface, 2-3 minutes. Simmer for 1-2 minutes more, until al dente. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and serve right away.
The recipe I used is from “Pasta by Hand” by Jenn Louis and I totally recommend buying this book!
A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
1 lb. russet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher salt, to taste
4 oz. spinach
1 1⁄4 cups semolina flour, sifted, plus more
2 eggs, beaten
18 tbsp. unsalted butter
16 leaves fresh sage, minced
1⁄4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan
Put potatoes into a 4-qt. pot of salted water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 minutes. Drain; let cool. Peel potatoes; pass through medium plate of a food mill into a bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and 1 tbsp. of water; cook until wilted. Press on spinach in a sieve to extract liquid. Finely chop spinach; stir together with potatoes and semolina and form a well in the center.
Add eggs and salt and, using a fork, beat eggs into potato mixture.
Transfer dough to a work surface dusted with semolina; knead to combine.
Divide the dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a 1⁄2″-thick rope. Cut ropes into 1⁄2″-wide pieces; transfer to a semolina-dusted sheet tray.
Melt 10 tbsp. butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling, until butter browns, about 6 minutes.
Add sage and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat; set aside.
Working in 4 batches, add 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. oil to a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add dough pieces and cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 3–4 minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Wipe out the skillet and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and dough pieces.
Toss dumplings and brown butter sauce in the skillet until hot.
Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
Here is the photo of my version. Served with a lovely red wine!
Would definitely make for friends.
I made the gnocchi about three in the afternoon, and just put them all together right before dinner.
This is my go-to cake for special occasions, as every always loves it. But you do have to love chocolate ~ Caramel ~ English Toffee! It is a simple recipe, but the add-ins make it rich and delicious.
The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder (King Arthur available at Amazon)
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
One jar of the best caramel topping you can find, kept in the refrigerator to make it harder.
Big Malted Milk Balls
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring. Then line with 9″ round parchment paper and spray again. (I buy the pre-cut rounds by Wilton – available at Walmart)
For the cake:
Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
Using a serrated bread knife, cut each layer in half so you have four layers.
Putting it together:
Make the Chocolate Buttercream recipe shown below. Pipe or spoon a ridge of the buttercream all around the outside of the first layer.
Fill the center with the now hardened caramel
Put on the second & third layer and repeat
Frost the cake with rest of the frosting (there always seems to be a bit too much)
Put the English Toffee in a ziplock bag and crush with your rolling pin or meat pounder.
Decorate how you like with the Malted Milk Balls
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon espresso powder
Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.