Key Measurements ~ Laundry Room

Get the layout dimensions that will help you wash and fold and maybe do much more  comfortably and efficiently

Laundry rooms rule. If you have the luxury of space, laundry rooms can be more than places to clean clothes; they can be welcoming, accessible places for more activities, such as caring for pets, sewing, doing DIY projects, wrapping packages, starting seedlings and more. Several of my clients consider these spaces crucial to the operation of their homes, even finding a sense of peace when attending to their laundry room chores.

As with kitchens, there are a number of considerations and dimensions to be aware of during the planning stages for a multipurpose laundry room. Below are several functions you might want to consider and some basics for how to lay everything out.

Key Measurements ~ Laundry Room

Can You Go Back?

The other day, before I left Kitsap Kitchen and Bath, my last official appointment was with a lovely young couple that purchased the home my late husband and I built almost thirty years ago. Here is a drawing of the lovely 5,000 square foot home.  Drawing of Gordone.jpg

I wonder how other people feel when they go into a home that you designed, or built or bought and then sold and moved on.  It was lovely that they were such a nice young couple and loved the house.  It was hard, as over the years, the former owners had made significant changes to the interior and exterior that were very different from my initial vision.  The new owners were trying to repair all the things that were left unattended for several years.  My heart went out to them, as so many things need work.

Thirty years later my taste has certainly changed with color choices and was glad even back then, other than a pick tub & toilet in the master (now yucky) I had stayed with classic and beautiful choices.

Gordon front.jpg

This is the original exterior, but it is now light yellow with black trim, and the arches over the entry and the garage doors are now just a rectangle.  The architect was from California and good friend, but the arches and trim had to be repainted every year, as the V in the middle of the arch, opened the grain of the wood, so water got in the wood.  The lovely arch over the fireplace in the living room is gone and the antique Sheraton fireplace surround has disappeared that was above the master bedroom fireplace.  The trees are grown and beautiful!  There is a lot more landscaping that hides the front of the house a bit.

Gordon Living Room.jpg

This a photo from the living room looking into the dining room.  I had those two Captain’s chairs on the right for several years, but tired of them (still tired of them) and sold them ages ago. The columns are telling of the time it was designed and built, but classic lines are still lovely.  The new owners have had the floor refinished with exception of the entry where the last owner put black marble over the wood.  (yuck)  and the lighter color on the floor is much more up to date. I don’t have any photos of the kitchen, but it was a dream to work in, alone or with a party of people.

I would love to be the one redesigning their bathroom, but they did not contact me personally, so in the proper ethical and business since it is totally up to them.  But it does need to be updated, so I am glad they are taking it on.  I think it would be a very challenging, but overall fun project and would really add to the house.

How many of you have ventured back into a home you loved and what did you think about the changes?  Maybe as a design professional, it is harder for me to accept and love change?  How about you?

Can You Go Back?

New Laundry Rooms

Whether you have a laundry room with enough space for a built-in bench or just a hallway closet with sliding doors, these trending laundry areas offer plenty of ideas for making the most of every inch. Here are 10 clever ideas from the most popular laundry room photos on Houzz uploaded in the past three months, as determined by the number of times people saved them to their idea books.
New Laundry Rooms

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Aren’t we all looking for a million different ways to use chicken.  I found this recipe on Cafe Delites, a blog I follow, but will make a few changes next time I make it.  The sauce was very heavy.  I made it early in the afternoon and put it in my warming drawer.  This is one you need to make and immediately serve or the sauce gets gummy and too think.  I served it over sautéed spiraled squash and the sauce was great on that.   Pasta is always a wonderful choice or rice when the a sauce is creamy and garlicky!  And whatever you do, do not count calories on this one.  It comes in about 600 calories per serving.  Not a diet night!
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 10.03.01 AMMushrooms:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces (250 grams) brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Chicken:
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (I only used two and it made enough for four)
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (Fresh is always better to me)
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese  (I prefer fresh Mozzarella, so substituted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced or finely chopped (Okay so I love garlic and used 4)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons of water (OPTIONAL FOR A THICKER SAUCE)   [I do not recommend, as it made the sauce way too think]
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Instructions
Chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 400°F.

  2. Melt butter in a large (over 12-inch or 30 cm) oven proof pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add in mushrooms, salt and pepper (to your tastes), and parsley. Cook while stirring occasionally until soft. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing your chicken.
  3. Pat breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried parsley. Rub each piece to evenly coat in seasoning.

  4. Horizontally slice a slit through the thickest part of each breast to form a pocket. Place 2 slices of mozzarella into each breast pocket. (I was using fresh, so put about four or five slices)

  5. Divide the mushroom mixture into four (in my case two, but next time I would cut each in half, as they were large) equal portions and fill each breast with the mushroom mixture. Leave the juices in the pan for later. If there are any left over mushroom, you can use them later. Top the mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese per breast. Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the mushrooms inside while cooking.

  6. Heat the same pan the mushrooms were in along with the pan juices (the garlic butter will start to brown and take on a ‘nutty’ flavor). Add the chicken and sear until golden. Flip and sear on the other side until golden. Cover pan and continue cooking in preheated oven for a further 20 minutes, or until completely cooked through the middle and no longer pink. (I always check temperature to be sure it makes it to 170 degrees)

  7. Serve, with pan juices and any remaining mushrooms, on top of pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.  To make the optional cream sauce, transfer chicken to a warm plate, keeping all juices in the pan.

Sauce:
  1. Fry the garlic in the leftover pan juices until fragrant (about 1 minute). Reduce heat to low heat, and add the mustard and half and half .

  2. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add in any remaining mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until the parmesan cheese has melted slightly. (If the sauce is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch/water mixture into the centre of the pan and mix through fast to combine into the sauce. It will begin to thicken immediately). [oh yes it did and it was way too thick to look good]

  3. Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste. Add in the parsley and the chicken back into the pan to serve. (I like to plate my food, so could not imagine serving dinner from a pan) . 

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Cheese Dip Emergency

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 4.30.24 PMEver have people over without a lot of warning to go shopping.  It happens to me once in a while.  I found this wonderful simple formula for making a Cheese Dip.  An everyone seems to love cheese!  I love cheese, but only eat sheep or goat cheese.  Central Market in Poulsbo has a wonderful selection and I am starting to see other markets carry more of a variety of them.

A yummy and creamy cheese dip is always a welcome “bring-to” a party.  You stand and talk and snack and life is good.  It’s hard to go wrong and easy to be playful with your flavor combinations when you make cheesy hot dips without a recipe. If you follow the basic procedure for how to make baked cheese dips below, you can make one with whatever flavors and add-ins you want to suit your personal tastes. (or whatever you happen to have in the refrigerator or pantry)

1. START WITH A BLOCK OF CREAM CHEESE

The most versatile base for hot dips is simple and pure cream cheese. It’s the glue that holds everything together in the best creamy way.

Unless you’re making a cheesy baked dip for just one two or four, go ahead and start off with a full standard 8-ounce block of cream cheese. You’re more likely than not making this for a party, right? So start big. Depending on how many things you mix into your dip, starting with one block of cream cheese will make you about 3 cups of dip, enough to feed about 8 to 10 people depending on how much dip they go for.

Let your cream cheese sit out on the counter until it reaches room temperature. Or, if you can’t wait, chop it up and toss it into a microwave-proof bowl and zap it briefly a few times until it’s room temp. (One of things I do is put it in a plastic bag, in a bowl of hot water.  This works to bring eggs to room temperature too!)

2. NOW THIN IT OUT A BIT

To get your cream cheese to a place of being mixable, you need to thin it out with a bit of mayo or sour cream. Just add a few spoonfuls to the cream cheese and beat it all together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula in a big bowl until it’s smooth. Not getting smooth enough? Add a bit more. You don’t want this mixture to be too thin, but it should be something you can easily stir.

3. BEAT IN SOME FLAVOR

So, how do you want the base of your dip to taste? Some of your flavoring elements can flavor as well as help thin the dip base: add some lemon juice, hot sauce, or mustard and beat until smooth. Now add a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper too, and any spices you might want to use to pair with your mix-ins. Old Bay seasoning is classic if you’re making a crab dip, and a pinch of cayenne or paprika helps boost the flavor of almost any dip, but don’t stop there—use whatever spices you want! Some finely chopped garlic can go in at this stage too, and/or any citrus zest: lemon, lime, or orange. Stir it all one more time so it’s nice and smooth and your flavoring elements are fully incorporated.

4. ADD GRATED CHEESE

A cheesy baked dip is nothing without a lot of shredded cheese that will get nice and melty in the oven. So, start grating and piling in the cheese! You can use any one or mix of cheese you want—just make sure most of it is a meltable cheese. Monterey Jack or mozzarella or cheddar are always good safe melty bets, as are fontina and gruyère. If you want to add a less smoothly melty cheese like Parmesan or Gorgonzola or Brie for flavor, you should, just make sure to pair it with a mild meltable cheese like Monterey Jack or mozzarella to make sure you get the best texture.

How much cheese should you add? If you started with that 8 ounce block of cream cheese, go for about a cup of cheese. Or just eyeball it and keep adding and stirring until it looks like you have a nice even distribution of grated cheese covered in creamy base. You don’t want the cheese to overwhelm the base, because you still have to add your mix-ins!

5. ADD YOUR MIX-INS

You could just leave your dip as is at this point, and it would be cheesy and delicious, but don’t you want to have a little more fun with it? It’s time to add some mix-ins! Spinach and artichoke dip anyone? Add a couple handfuls of chopped marinated or frozen artichoke hearts and some defrosted and drained frozen spinach. Or how about cooked crabmeat? Or crumbled cooked bacon? Or how about BOTH? Caramelized onions are a great mix-in, or you can use finely chopped raw onion or shallot if you want more of an oniony zing. Any chopped fresh herb works here too. Consider cooked and crumbled sausage, cooked lobster meat, diced chopped roasted bell peppers, and more. No need to measure—just add your mix-ins a bit at a time and stir to combine until your dip has a nice even distribution of base, cheese, and mix-ins. Have a taste. How’s it doing? Feel free to tweak the flavor with more salt, flavorings, or mix-ins.

6. PACK IT INTO A BAKING DISH, THEN BAKE

Now it’s time to turn your dip bubbly. Preheat your oven to 375°F and transfer your dip creation to a baking dish, casserole, or oven-proof skillet. Pretty much any size works—just make sure it’s pretty wide to get more bubbly golden-brown surface area. If you have too much dip to fit in your preferred vessel, fear not—pack the leftovers into a resealable container, and refrigerate for a few days until the craving for baked cheesy dip strikes again. Top the surface of the dip with more grated cheese and/or some breadcrumbs for crunch, and put your baking dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet before putting it in the oven to protect your oven from drips. Pop it in the oven and bake until bubbling, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your baking dish. Once the dip is done, let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in with chips/bread/pita/spoons if you can—you’ll save yourself (and your guests!) from dip-induced mouth burns.

cheese-artichoke-dip-super-bowl-windmill-farms-produce

7. OR, SURROUND IT WITH DOUGH, THEN BAKE

For hot dip and dipping bread all in one dish, bake your rolls and your dip all in the same vessel. You can use any kind of bread dough you want, homemade or store-bought, but the easiest option is some store-bought pizza dough. For an 8-inch round, you’ll want about a pound and a half of dough. Let it come to room temperature, then cut it into golf ball sized pieces.

Brush each piece with some melted butter or olive oil, and arrange around the perimeter of an ovenproof skillet, pie plate, or round casserole dish. Set a small inverted bowl into the center to keep the dough from filling up too much of the center, then let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes as you preheat the oven to 375°F. Take the bowl away, then fill the center with your cheesy dip creation, top the dip and the dough with more shredded cheese, and bake until the dip is bubbly and bread is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

And don’t forget to wait that torturous 10 minutes before finally digging in.

Cheese Dip Emergency

Roast Beef Stock Recipe

This is a simple and wonderful recipe from Bon Appetit and I am going to make some this afternoon.

roast-beef-stockINGREDIENTS

  • 5 pounds veal or beef marrow bones
  • 4 peeled carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 halved peeled onions
  • 1 halved head of garlic
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley stems
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Roast marrow bones (have your butcher saw them into pieces) in a roasting pan, turning occasionally, until browned, 25–30 minutes. Cut carrots and celery into 3” pieces; add to pan along with onions and garlic. Roast, turning occasionally, until vegetables are brown, 25–30 minutes.

  • Transfer to a large stockpot; add cold water to cover. Pour off fat from pan, add ½ cup water, and stir, scraping up browned bits; add liquid to pot along with parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 4 hours, occasionally skimming foam and fat from surface and adding water as needed. Strain.

  • DO AHEAD: Stock can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Roast Beef Stock Recipe

The Key to Making Perfect Risotto

Risotto-420x278

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes.  I learned to make it several years ago and have made it many times.  There is so much you can add into it and make it interesting.  I received this article in an online newsletter and thought I might share it!  Rocco DiSpirito from Food & Wine wrote the following article.

Risotto might seem like a simple dish—it’s basically just rice, white wine and butter—that you probably rely on for a quick weeknight meal for your family, but there are several ways you can upgrade your technique to make this meal even better.

To start off, you’ll need a pan with straight, not curved sides. Add shallots and garlic to the pan (along with butter and olive oil—the proper amount depends on the recipe that you use) but some people prefer onions instead of shallots. Here is where the chef says things get tricky: You’ll want to cook your shallots until they are translucent, not browned. You don’t want to your risotto to have a caramelized flavor.

“Risotto should have a delicate, perfumey flavor,” he explains. “It should feel like 12-ply cashmere in your mouth when you’re done.”

Once the shallots are cooked, you can add the rice. DiSpirito says your rice should be “toasted,” but makes an important addendum: The rice shouldn’t be browned, just hardened on the outside. Once the outside of the rice (which cooks faster than the inside of the grain) gets hardened, you can start adding liquids to give the rice flavor and its signature creamy texture. DiSpirito used white wine and chicken stock in his version. If you use white wine at home, you’ll want to add it to the pan first, a little at a time, stirring constantly.

“The rice should be dry,” he advises. “There shouldn’t be any liquid in the pan because the rice should have absorbed [the white wine].”

Once the wine has been absorbed, you can start adding the chicken stock, a little at a time. Always remember to stir the rice as it’s cooking.

“Risotto is like a new born baby,” says DiSpirito. “You cannot leave it alone in it’s crib.”

As you probably know, there’s no cream in risotto, but it should have a smooth texture. It can only achieve that texture from continual stirring, according to DiSpirito.

“You beat the starch out of the rice into the liquid,” he says. “So you have this thickened liquid that is enveloping the rice that is perfectly soft.”

You know that you have the texture right when it feels like a “gummy bear.” If the dish is still crunchy, you can add more liquid to the pan and stir, to keep the rice cooking.

By the end of the process, you may have poured what feels like a ton of liquid into your pan. Don’t worry, you didn’t overdo it.

“If you’re cooking risotto properly, you’re adding two to three times the volume of liquid to rice,” says DiSpirito.

During the demonstration, the chef’s assistant hardly ever moved away the stove or put down the spatula. That’s how important it is to keep the rice moving in the pan—remember, if you want to get that creamy texture, you have to “beat the starch” out of the rice. If you’re doing this at home and don’t have the luxury of a sous chef, be sure to keep your ingredients close by so that you don’t have to stop stirring to reach into a cabinet or open a drawer. Looking for a healthier version? Try using cauliflower rice.

Here is a nice recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To avoid a bland, gummy risotto with watery, flavorless mushrooms, our mushroom risotto recipe calls for a combination of dried porcinis and fresh mushrooms, cooked separately and added to the finished risotto. To give our mushroom risotto recipe a complex flavor, we cooked the risotto in a broth enriched with the reconstituted porcini liquid and soy sauce and flavored with fresh thyme, parsley, and Parmesan.

TRY THIS RECOMMENDED COOKING COURSE
Perfect Sautéed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

2 bay leaves

6 sprigs fresh thyme
4sprigs fresh parsley leaves
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed in mesh strainer under running water.  ( You can get these fresh at some local markets and they are a lot better)
3 1/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp soy sauce
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean with a paper towel, stems discarded and caps             cut into fourths if small or sixths if medium
2 medium onions, chopped fine (2 cups)
Salt to taste
3 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced (about 1 tbl)
1 pound Arborio Rice (2 1/8 cups)
1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about a cup) Parmesano Reggiano is a better           parmesan and your risotto will taste much better with a better parmesan
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 6 AS MAIN COURSE, 8 AS FIRST COURSE

Cremini mushrooms are sometimes sold as baby bella mushrooms. If they’re not available, button mushrooms make a fine, though somewhat less flavorful, substitute. Toward the end of cooking, judge the doneness of the rice by tasting it.

 

1. Tie together bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and parsley sprigs with kitchen twine. ( I like to put in what looks like a large tea ball) 

2. Bring bundled herbs, porcini mushrooms, chicken broth, soy sauce, and 3 1/2 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce to medium-low and simmer until dried mushrooms are softened and fully hydrated, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove and discard herb bundle and strain broth through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl (you should have about 6 1/2 cups strained liquid); return liquid to saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Finely mince porcini and set aside.

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add Cremini mushrooms, 1 cup onions, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms are well browned, about 7 minutes.

5. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute, then transfer mushrooms to oven-safe bowl and keep warm in oven. Off heat, add 1/4 cup water to now-empty skillet and scrape with wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits; pour liquid from skillet into saucepan with broth.

6. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add remaining 1 cup onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and translucent, about 9 minutes.

7. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains’ edges are transparent, about 4 minutes.

8. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until rice absorbs wine. Add minced porcini and 3 1/2 cups broth and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until liquid is absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes.

9. Stir in additional 1/2 cup broth every 2 to 3 minutes until rice is cooked through but grains are still somewhat firm at center, 10 to 12 minutes (rice may not require all of broth).

10. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then stir in mushrooms (and any accumulated juices), Parmesan, and chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; serve immediately in warmed bowls.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 8.49.31 AM

The Key to Making Perfect Risotto

How to Buy and Store Goat Cheese

I don’t eat dairy, so enjoy all sorts of goat and sheep cheeses.  I found this article by Janet Rausa Fuller in Epicurious.

When you hear “goat cheese,” what probably comes to mind is that little white log: fresh chevre, creamy, tangy deliciousness.

It’s a good starting point. From there, goat cheese can run the gamut from firm to funky to crumbly to melty to nutty, you name it. Basically, anything cow or sheep’s milk can do, goat’s milk can do just as well—or better.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know on your next goat cheese excursion.

FINE FAT

You know how the cream in raw cow’s milk rises to the top? It doesn’t in goat’s milk. That’s because the fat molecules in goat’s milk are smaller and finer.

Think of it this way: Goat milk is naturally homogenized. It’s also more digestible and has less lactose than cow’s milk. When that milk is turned into fresh cheese, “It’s a whole different ball game,” Schad said. “That texture is going to be like silk in your mouth.”

By the way, the flavor of the milk has little to do with what goats eat. “It’s what they’re smelling right before they produce milk that transfers over,”  Impress your party guests with that one next time.

ALL-SEASON CHEESE

Used to be, spring was goat cheese season. Breeding happens in the fall and into early winter, so baby goats (and therefor goat milk) happened in the spring. But year-round demand means you can find goat cheese all the time, though artisans say the time of year can affect production.

“We get almost twice as much milk from our goat producers in the spring and summer as we do in the fall, which is why we started making aged cheeses to begin with, so we’d have cheeses that could hold.”

Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza with Goat Cheese

WHAT’S YOUR STYLE?

Goat cheese can be fresh (unripened) or ripened. Texture and flavor vary quite a bit beyond that depending how the cheese was made.

Fresh goat cheese is soft, young and not always log-shaped. Soft- or surface-ripened goat cheese develops a white or sometimes wrinkly rind as it ages over weeks; texture-wise, it can range from creamy to crumbly. Aged goat cheese is firm, ripened over a longer period and can be quite complex and pungent.

BUY JUST ENOUGH

Goat cheese is like bread or wine, to be enjoyed once you crack it open. So this is not the time for bulk shopping. Buy what you know you’re going to eat within seven days.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Plastic wrap invites unwanted mold, so avoid it if you can. “What happens if you put mushrooms in a plastic bag for a week? It’s the same thing.”

If you have a cheesemonger who lets you sample before you buy, who can slice to order, who constantly refreshes the case, who uses paper, not plastic, wrap … fantastic. That’s ideal—and probably not the situation at your average supermarket. Still, you can take steps to find the best options wherever you shop.

Fresh goat cheese should feel firm, not mushy, “otherwise you’re paying for water,”. For vacuum-sealed cheese, avoid excess liquid, leakage and any off-colors. For varieties with rind that have already been cut into, look for any separation between the rind and the cheese — you don’t want that. If it looks dried out as if it’s been sitting there a while, it probably has been.

LET IT BREATHE

Goat cheese—any cheese—needs humidity and some room to breathe. If you missed it the first (and second and third) time, here it is again: Plastic wrap BAD.

Vacuum-wrapped chevre from the grocery store can keep, unopened, for at least two months. But once opened, take it out of the packaging and store in a lidded plastic or glass container in the refrigerator.

For varieties with rind that didn’t come in paper, wrap first in wax paper and then in plastic and store in the refrigerator drawer. “You’re creating a layer of breathability.”

CHECK, SCRAPE, TOSS

And remember: You’re buying goat cheese to eat within a week, not to see how long it’ll keep in the fridge. Eat the fresh stuff within days, and check on the aged and softer ripened types every other day or so.

When you do, scrape off the surface with a knife and rewrap in a new layer of wax paper, then plastic wrap. While a spot of gray or brown mold isn’t cause for alarm, bright yellow or pink mold is, Schad says.

If your goat cheese tastes sour or way goat-ier than you think it should, toss that, too.

Quotes are by Schad, proprietor of Capriole in Indiana, one of the nation’s foremost makers of goat cheese. Naturally, she has much to say about the stuff, from what makes it so distinct (the fat molecules in the milk) to why plastic wrap is the enemy (hello, suffocation).

How to Buy and Store Goat Cheese

Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad

salad

I found this recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Mediterranean Cookbook and since I had all the ingredients, decided to give it a try.  I added a little and left out a little.  I made notes below the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound cremini or white button mushrooms, very thinly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, from the heart of the celery, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or tarragon
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces shaved Parmesan

Toss together the mushrooms, celery, parsley, and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the lemon juice (or lemon juice and vinegar) and olive oil, and toss with the vegetables. Just before serving, toss again with the Parmesan.

Notes:

I used a little dried tarragon, as my chives are way out in the garden and probably frozen.  I did not use any vinegar as the recipe from the book did not call for any, but I did use EVOO (1/4 cup) and mixed it with the lemon juice, then added the very thinly (1/8 inch or less) mushrooms and thinly sliced celery to the mix and let it set for 10 minutes.

Since I had 2 ounces of grated regiano parmesano in the refrigerator I add that, then shaved the same for the top of the salad.  My garden is a little short of parsley this time of year, so I added baby arugula.

This would be a lovely salad to serve for dinner with friends, as it is a bit different, but delicious.  Hope you enjoy making it.

 

Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad

Chocolate Bark

IMG_7028

Last week I had some friend over for “Fondue” and to play “Cards Against Humanity”. So we drank wine, ate fondue and had a lovely evening.  I had served dried figs and dried apricots to dip in the fondue. (along with a lot of other stuff) One container of apricots had been in brandy for about a year.  I siphoned off the apricot brandy to try late.  My sweet husband drank it before I had a chance to try it.  He liked it.

But I had left over dried fruit and chocolate in my baking drawer, so I decided to make some very simple Chocolate Bark using what was left over.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely diced dried figs
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. each ground allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, and aniseed
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 lb. dark chocolate in block or bar form (I had some milk chocolate, so added that into about 8 oz of 70% cocoa)
  • 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup finely diced candied orange peel ( I used the left over dried apricots and some of the brandied apricots.)   

Nutritional Information

Preparation

  • Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment, and tape the parchment to the baking sheets. Put a piece of parchment on the counter, too. Have ready an instant-read thermometer.
  • In a small bowl, toss the figs with the spices. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and sift out the excess spices; reserve for another use.

Melt and temper the chocolate

  • Finely chop 2 lb. of the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a 4-quart saucepan. Cut the other 1 lb. of chocolate into two pieces.
  • Fill the saucepan with about 2 inches of water (it should not touch the bowl). Bring the water to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, and put the bowl of chocolate over it. Gently stir the chocolate occasionally with a silicone spatula until it is fully melted and reaches between 115°F and 120°F on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the bowl from the pot, wipe the bottom dry, and add one of the 1/2 lb. blocks of chocolate to the bowl. Constantly fold the solid chocolate with the melted chocolate; the solid chocolate will melt somewhat but not fully. Take the temperature of the chocolate now and then. When it drops to 95°F, after 4 to 5 minutes, take what’s left of the solid chocolate out of the bowl. Add the second block of chocolate and fold constantly. When the temperature drops to 90°F, take the block out. (The chocolate blocks can be reused for other recipes.) Gently stir the melted chocolate for 1 minute more.

Spread the chocolate, top, and cool

  • Divide the melted chocolate between the prepared baking sheets, and working quickly, spread it to about 1/4 inch thick with an offset spatula. Immediately sprinkle the figs, almonds, and orange peel over both sheets of warm chocolate, pressing down lightly.
  • Place in a cool (60°F to 65°F) room or refrigerate it for just 5 minutes to set. For best results, let the bark sit for 12 hours before breaking it into shards.

Tip

If your chocolate does not come in large blocks, use the biggest pieces you can, such as two 4-oz. bars in place of the 1/2-lb. chunk. The large size makes it easy to retrieve the unmelted chocolate once the melted chocolate is in temper.

And here is the Brandied Apricot Recipe just in case…

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g soft dried apricots
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 5–6 star anise flowers
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 cups (750ml) brandy

METHOD

  1. Layer the fruit and spices in sterilised jars and cover with brandy.
  2. Screw on the sterilised lids and leave to stand in a cool dark place for at least one month before serving.
    *Will last up to six months once opened.

Cook’s notes:

  1. Try preserving the apricots in gin, vodka or a fortified wine, such as white muscadel.
  2. Un-sulphured, dried, organic apricots give the best results, although they might be darker in colour than sulphured ones.
  3. Serve with cheese, in baked puddings or chopped up and stirred into thick cream, mascarpone or ice cream.
  4. Drain some apricots and dip them in melted dark chocolate for an after-dinner treat with coffee. You can even serve small nips of the leftover spiced brandy as a digestive after a meal.

This recipe makes ± 2 cups (500ml)

Chocolate Bark