18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

I found this article online and made a few corrections and additions, but it has great information.

These baking mistakes threaten your beautiful bundts, bread, and bar cookies. Here’s what you should do instead…

In cooking, you’re encouraged to riff: Edamame in your stir-fry? Sure! A splash of rice wine vinegar in your pan sauce? Why not! Curious about herbes de Provence in your chicken rub? Give it a whirl!

In baking, however, creativity should be directed toward what you decide to make and how you decorate it—not how you cook it. That’s because baking is a science; cooking is an art. Science has rules. Art? Not so much.

You don’t read the recipe.

As you do with any IKEA furniture, you should read through the steps and gather your tools before you start mixing and whipping. Otherwise, you might get started and realize you’re one short a cup of cocoa powder of what your recipe needs. Or worse, you’ll start mixing up the dough for the birthday party you’re going to tonight and then realize it’s supposed to chill overnight. Oops!

The fix: Pull your recipe up on your phone, or get it from your cookbook. Read the ingredient list, and assemble everything that’s listed. Then, read the directions. You can even go so far as to “pretend” each step. This way, you can double check you have every ingredient and every appliance or tool you need.

You decide to wing it instead of measuring the ingredients.

The “a little of this, a little of that” mentality may suit you well in cooking, but in baking, it could backfire. After all, consider this: cookies, cakes, and bread contain many of the same ingredients: eggs, flour, sugar, butter, for example. In the right ratios, they make a specific type of baked good. In the wrong ratios, they could be a disaster. That’s why it’s vital to measure every ingredient, from the flour to the tiniest bit of cinnamon.

The fix: Use your measuring spoons and cups. You need the right ratios to get the best results. Save the winging it for your salad dressing.

You don’t respect the comma.

Has the comma in “1 cup flour, sifted” ever confused you? What about the comma in “1/2 cup pecans, chopped”? The comma is telling you something very important. Do you know what?

The fix: The comma is telling you to first measure the ingredient and then perform the task. Measure the cup of flour, then sift it. Or measure the half cup of pecans, then chop them. There’s a big difference between half a cup of chopped pecans and half a cup of pecans that were measured, then chopped. It can dramatically affect your final result.

You use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients (or vice versa).

Liquid measuring cups and dry measuring cups measure things differently. Though it’s not a significant amount, it’s enough that it could affect the texture of your final product.

The fix: Use wet measuring cups (typically, the glass type you pour from) for everything liquid: water, oil, honey, milk, molasses, corn syrup, etc. Use dry cups for everything else, from flour and sugar to chocolate chips and yogurt. With the dry cups, be sure to use a flat surface, like the back of a knife, to swipe across the top of the cup to remove excess before adding to the batter.

You dip your measuring cup into the flour.

Dipping a measuring cup into a bag or jar of flour packs the flour into the well of the measuring cup. It may seem like the easiest way to scoop flour, but you’re actually getting more flour than you really need. Too much flour will turn into dense bread, hard cookies, and stiff cakes.

The fix: You need the same amount of flour each time to get consistent results, and you can do this in two ways: The less accurate option is to use a spoon to lightly scoop flour into a dry measuring cup, then use a flat edge (like a knife) to level off the flour. The most accurate way to measure flour is with a digital scale. A cup of all-purpose flour should be 130 grams.

You don’t preheat your oven.

We’ve all been there: You’ve just finished rolling out a tray full of cookie dough only to realize your oven is cool as a cucumber. So to save time, you turn the oven on and just stick the pan in any way. Bad idea. The quick and sudden heat is an important part of the baking process. If the dough heats slowly, you may have a mess on your hands.

The fix: If you realize the oven isn’t pre-heated when you’re ready to bake, just let the dough or batter sit while the oven heats up. Most ovens can be heated in about 10 minutes time. If you’re working with a temperature-sensitive dough, pop it in the fridge until the oven is ready.

You’ve never measured your oven’s temperature.

I have some bad news: Your oven could be lying to you. Just because it says 350°F doesn’t mean it really is. That means your brownies or pastries may not bake properly because your oven could be too hot, or even too cool. And 25°F in one direction can make a big difference in the final product.

The fix: Invest in an oven thermometer. Hang it from the grates in your oven the next time you turn it on. Let the oven pre-heat fully, and then see what the thermometer says. That will give you an idea of how correct your oven is—and how you need to adjust the oven when you bake in it.

You substitute baking powder for baking soda.

They might share a similar name, and they even look similar out of the box. But baking soda and baking powder are quite different. Baking soda must have an accompanying acid (lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, for example) to activate it; baking powder, on the other hand, has that acid already. If you use the wrong one, your baked goods will take a hit.

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

mediterranean baked cod

 

Mediterrean Cod.jpg

mediterranean baked cod recipe with lemon and garlic


INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lb Cod fillet pieces (4-6 pieces)
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Lemon Juice Mixture 

  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

For Coating

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, and melted butter in a shallow bowl. Set aside
  3. In another shallow bowl, mix all-purpose flour, spices, salt and pepper. Set next to the lemon juice mixture.
  4. Pat fish fillet dry. Dip fish in the lemon juice mixture then dip in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (watch the oil to be sure it is sizzling but not smoking). Add fish and sear on each side to give it some color, but do not fully cook (about a couple of minutes on each side) Remove from heat.
  6. To the remaining lemon juice mixture, add the minced garlic and mix. Drizzle all over the fish fillets.
  7. Bake in the heated oven for until it begins to flake easily with a fork (10 minutes should do it, but begin checking earlier). Remove from heat and sprinkle chopped parsley.

 

  1. Lebanese Rice with Vermicelli.jpg

    lebanese rice with vermicelli


    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 cups long grain or medium grain rice
    • Water
    • 1 cup broken vermicelli pasta
    • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    • Salt
    • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, optional to finishServing suggestions: Serve immediately with Lebanese rice and  Mediterranean chickpea salad or traditional Greek salad.

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Rinse the rice well (a few times) then place it in a medium bowl and cover with water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Test to see if you can easily break a grain of rice by simply placing it between your thumb and index finger. Drain well.
    2. In a medium non-stick cooking pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the vermicelli and continuously stir to toast it evenly. Vermicelli should turn a nice golden brown but watch carefully not to over-brown or burn it (If it burns, you must throw the vermicelli away and start over).
    3. Add the rice and continue to stir so that the rice will be well-coated with the olive oil. Season with salt.
    4. Now add 3 1/2 cups of water and bring it to a boil until the water significantly reduces (see the photo below). Turn the heat to low and cover.
    5. Cook for 15-20 minutes on low. Once fully cooked, turn the heat off and leave the rice undisturbed in the cooking pot for 10-15 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork.
    6. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

    NOTES

    • Pro Tips: 1. You must rinse the rice to get rid of excess starch which causes the rice to be sticky (Lebanese rice is not meant to be sticky). Then soak the rice in plenty of water for 15-20 minutes or until you can break one grain of rice by pressing it between your index finger and your thumb. 2.toasting the vermicelli in EVOO as a first step is what gives this rice great flavor. Do not skip this step. 3. If you can at all help it, let the rice rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
    • Recommended for this recipe: Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives).
    • SAVE! Try our Greek extra virgin olive oil bundle!

     

     

mediterranean baked cod

The Dimple in the Bottom of Wine Bottles? 

wine-punts-inside-2.jpg

Are they trying to shortchange you some milliliters of vino? Most likely no. But the real reason isn’t entirely clear.

Wine bottles are elegant. Their sloped necks come to a gentle peak. They’re supported by a stout but the understated trunk of a bottle. The color, typically rich sap green, absorbs color and emits a warm glow in the light of a kitchen or bar. The bottles themselves are sometimes as much a work of art as the wine that’s inside them.

But there’s one bit of the typical wine bottle that remains elusive: the bottom. The “dimple” or bulge at the bottom of many wine bottles is known as the “punt,” and it’s not entirely clear why it exists.

Wine bottles have had punts as long as the earth has had wine bottles, it seems, and until we have the capability to time travel, we’re left to wonder how the tradition of wine punts started and, perhaps more importantly, why we still do it today.

Do punts help winemakers cheat you of wine?

No, most punts are so small you’re not losing a single teaspoon. Some, yes, are more pronounced, but if this were really used as a cost-saving measure, you could bet most bottles would have exaggerated punts to make a good season’s wine supply stretch a bit more.

Are punts a sign of quality?

If you do a quick Google search on the theories behind wine bottle punts, you’ll quickly stumble across speculation that suggests higher quality wines have bigger punts because the bottle is more stout and sturdy. (More glass is needed for the longer punt, the theory goes, and wealthy winemakers can afford the more expensive bottles.) That’s just simply not true. A punt will tell you as much about the quality and taste of wine as the label will. That is to say, very little.

Do punts help wines cool faster?

This holds some merit. Punts increase surface area, so bottles in fridges or buckets of water might cool faster. But this theory is busted when you realize punts have been present on wine bottles long before anyone had heard of coolant for a refrigerator or even ice for that matter. So while it may help get your whites crisp and cool today, that’s not why punts exist.

Do punts collect sediment?

They actually do, but that’s not likely the reason they’re there. Sediment forms at the bottom of bottles as wine sits and ages. If you decant the wine, the sediment may remain in the valleys between the punt and bottle wall. That can help with flavor.

However, there’s no guarantee the sediment stays in place. It’s a happy byproduct of the punt’s existence, but it doesn’t seem that’s why punts were used in the first place.

So why do wine bottles have punts?

Truthfully, beats us. The best theory seems to be that wine bottle makers of yore needed a way to make sure their bottles stood flat on a table. The bottoms of hand-blown bottles may round out slightly as they cool. They may even have a sharp point because of the tools the glassblower uses. To keep this from happening (and bottles of wine from teeter-tottering off the table), glassblowers could have pushed up ever so slightly to create what we know today as the punt.

Now that most wine bottles are made by machine and are far sturdier than bottles made decades and centuries ago, the punt isn’t perhaps necessary. Instead, it seems to be a vestige of bygone days.

 

The Dimple in the Bottom of Wine Bottles? 

Romaine Could Be Hiding

1804w Romaine Lettuce

Americans are being told to avoid romaine lettuce at all costs for the second time this year, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new outbreak of E. coli associated with the leafy green in 11 different states. Earlier this spring, it took federal investigators upwards of six months to track down where a similar outbreak, which claimed the lives of five individuals and sickened more than 200. This latest announcement by the CDC, coming Thanksgiving week, is a blanket ban on all forms of the lettuce, and details have yet to emerge beyond the fact that it has caused 30 plus individuals to fall ill.

Currently, the CDC is advising that any romaine is disposed of or avoided, regardless of when or where it was harvested. Many of you seemed prepared to do so—Cooking Light readers shared their frustrations in the comments section of a Facebook post yesterday, with many expressing that they had already consumed romaine recently.

CDC Recommends Blanket Ban on ALL Romaine Lettuce, E. coli Discovered Once Again
Do not eat any form of romaine lettuce from any region, CDC warns.

With federal investigators unable to pinpoint an exact source of the outbreak yet, the risk of E. coli poisoning—and the chance of developing HUS, a rare form of kidney failure associated with a toxin in this viral E. coli strain—is particularly troublesome to many shoppers.

Some retailers have previously gone to great lengths to remove tainted romaine lettuce from their shelves, but romaine lettuce is a ubiquitous ingredient and can be found in many ready-to-eat products. In the coming weeks, as investigators work to discover what is causing illnesses in what’s sure to be more than just 11 states, taking the time to thoroughly check your meals for romaine could help you stay safe.

Salad Greens and Salad Bar

If you’re dining out, be sure to ask your server about any use of romaine in the food’s preparation (even if it’s not evident) and if the establishment has updated their menus. Pour over any ingredient list on pre-made or frozen food products to ensure that romaine isn’t a concern. And when you’re in the supermarket, check these eight products for romaine lettuce to be sure that all are safe for consumption:

1) Salad Bars

Whole Foods Salad Bar Tongs
Whole Foods

You may be anxious to visit a salad bar, and for good reason—E. coli bacteria can transfer on contact, so take good care when eating from any salad bar in the coming days. On the off chance that your supermarket has yet to dispose of romaine, do not buy ingredients in proximity to romaine, and remember that self-serve utensils can easily become cross contaminated. This is a good time to make romaine-free salads at home.

2) Bagged Salad Mixes

1808w Chopped Salads Aldi
The CDC was careful to include this in their bulletin: bagged mixes like Fresh Express’ “American” blend contains chopped romaine, which could be contaminated with E. coli.

3) Ready-to-Eat Salads

mcdonalds-salad

Many supermarkets, as well as fast-casual chains and other food retailers, sell pre-made salads that have been massed produced in the last month. Double check the ingredient list before enjoying pre-made salads, even if you can’t see romaine in the container upon first glance.

4) Ready-to-Eat Sandwiches and Wraps

Lettuce is in nearly all pre-made sandwiches, and so it goes without saying to check these before buying. Lettuce wraps, as well as tortilla-based wraps, are of concern.

5) Grain Bowls and Noodle Bowls

Retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer a full selection of ready-to-eat entreés in their deli selections, including noodle bowls and grain bowls that contain lettuce.

6) Green Juice and Blended Beverages

lean and green smoothie

You should take time to inspect all smoothies and blended beverages for romaine—while V8 juice contains an ambiguous “lettuce” callout on the ingredient list, some ready-to-drink beverages—especially green juices—contain romaine alongside servings of kale and spinach. This might also be a good time to make blended green juice at home, where you can swap romaine for other hearty greens.

7) Soup

This is rarer than other items on this list, but blended, chilled soups, including items like packaged gazpacho, could contain romaine lettuce.

8) Refrigerated and Frozen Prepared Entreés and Appetizers

Romaine may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind in the frozen section, but it could be of concern in prepared foods that are available for purchase in your supermarket. Take the time to double check the ingredient list, and when in doubt, ask an employee for help.

Romaine Could Be Hiding

Add a little character to your kitchen

60 Kitchen Island Ideas That Serve Up Style and Functionality
These images of our favorite kitchen island ideas are sure to stir up design inspiration with fun, functional features around seating, storage, and more.

Kitchen islands are critical components in any kitchen. A multipurpose surface, they allow prep work, cooking, eating, working, and entertaining. For that reason, they’re also one of the most requested features in homes, both in purchases and renovations, but kitchen islands can vary tremendously in size and style, and aren’t right for every home.

Kitchen and White Cabinet The idea for Simon Pillard and Philippe Rossetti’s Lego kitchen island in Paris sprouted when Pillard put 500 blocks and a day’s worth of work into building a Lego-legged chair. They covered their kitchen island—a simple wooden block—with 20,000 Lego pieces.
I am not this big a fan of Legos, but someone might be….

If you’re considering a new kitchen or renovation, it’s important to think about how you envision using the island, given other factors that might be at play in the kitchen. For example, a kitchen island typically requires about 36″ between the edge of the island and the edge of the countertop, so an island is unlikely to work well in a very long, narrow kitchen. If you’re planning on having multiple people working in the kitchen at once, then 42″ to 48″ should be your goal. This also goes for spaces around appliances like a sink, stove, or dishwasher, so if you’d like to integrate a sink into the island, you’ll want to plan accordingly.

In terms of the width of an island, that also depends on how you’re planning on using it, and what utilities you may want to incorporate. A typical countertop is 24″ deep, and this goes for a basic kitchen island with no seating as well. However, if you’re incorporating appliances like a cooktop into the island, you should add a minimum of 8″ to this depth; most designers usually assume about 36″ to 42″ in depth for an island, but this can vary based on the size of the kitchen and planned use. In terms of length, the average size of a kitchen island is about 3’ by 6.5’, but this can always vary.

Here are lots of ideas with just photos!  Have fun looking and getting ideas.

 

60 Kitchen Island Ideas That Serve Up Style and Functionality - Photo 2 of 62 -

If your dream kitchen incorporates an island, and you’re worried you just don’t have room, think of other options, like a mobile island on castor wheels that can be moved about the space, or an island that’s only 18″ deep and a bit shorter than most.

Still not sure what exactly you’re looking for in your own kitchen island, or looking for ideas and inspiration? Read on to see 60 stylish kitchens with islands, each addressing the needs and spaces of each home—everything from wheels to sinks, and cooktops to book storage. We’ll take a look at islands that demonstrate these ideas:

  • Add creative seating
  •  Incorporate a sink
  •  Include a built-in stove for cooking
  •  Offer a bar or wine rack/fridge for entertaining
  • Gain space with clever storage

Dining Room, Bar, Stools, Pendant Lighting, and Light Hardwood Floor Jean-Christophe Aumas’ multihued Paris apartment houses both the highly sought artistic director and the stunning assemblage of furniture he’s brought back from his travels. Aumas designed the kitchen island, which is covered in marble tiles from Carrelages du Marais—the geometric floor tiles are from the same place—and strung the matrix of lights up above it. The barstools by Charlotte Perriand were discovered in a vintage store in Antwerp, Belgium. The green wall is covered in paint from Emery & Cie.

Kitchen, Stone Counter, Wood Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Cooktops, and Undermount Sink When architect Jaspar Jansen and his colleagues at i29 Interior Architects were commissioned to renovate a former garage in the central part of town, he sought to bring the outdoors in with natural finishes and colors. The kitchen features custom cabinetry and a large sliding door, both made from oak, that provides recessed storage space. A Foscarini Gregg Pendant hangs above the kitchen table and another over the island, which is made of oak with a thin, black stone countertop.

Kitchen, Glass Tile Backsplashe, Pendant Lighting, Granite Counter, Track Lighting, and Undermount Sink In New York about two hours north of New York City, architecture and interiors firm BarlisWedlick created an eclectic compound designed to suit a client with an idiosyncratic wish list. In the kitchen, a custom Stickbulb LED lamp hangs above a kitchen island topped by concrete from Get Real Surfaces. The cabinets and island feature a modern version of a traditional board and batten siding that are given an even more contemporary feel with the concrete countertop.

Kitchen, Track Lighting, Ceiling Lighting, Recessed Lighting, Concrete Floor, Wood Cabinet, Undermount Sink, and Pendant Lighting At a home about half an hour from Lake Tahoe, architect Jack Hawkins and interior designer Cheryl Chenault built a house that would support their clients’ unique requirements in a home that would be 8,000 to 10,000 square feet. In the kitchen, two islands, one in the shape of an L and the other a smaller rectangular island, are layered table over one portion create generous space to spread out. Norman Cherner barstools from Design Within Reach line the island in the kitchen, which is crowned by an open loft office. The faucets are from Dornbracht; the countertops are Caesarstone. Hawkins integrated a steel-clad casual eating nook, at left.

 

Kitchen and Wood Cabinet In Roanoke Park, a neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, architect Matthew Hufft designed a home for his family that drew on the surrounding traditional homes. In the kitchen, Bertoia barstools are tucked under a custom honed-granite two-level kitchen island by a local company, Carthage Stoneworks. Hufft’s team designed and built the larch cabinets. The appliances are by Thermador.

 

Kitchen, White Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Light Hardwood Floor, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Range Hood, Range, and Drop In Sink The updated kitchen features a bright white palette. The countertop is Caesarstone's Blizzard surface and the stools are Crate and Barrel. The range hood is Futuro, the refrigerator is LG, and the dishwasher is Bosch.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, Open Cabinet, Range, Range Hood, Refrigerator, and Dark Hardwood The firm opened up the closed off kitchen, orienting it in the center of the living space.

Kitchen, Marble Counter, Marble Backsplashe, Range Hood, Range, and Open Cabinet Custom kitchen cabinets designed by Pulltab and fabricated by Maciek Winiarczyk hold mostly vintage ironstone that Geiger has found at flea markets and estate sales over the past 20 years. "I love white," she says, "because I think food always looks better on it." She also collects vintage wooden cutting boards, shown resting against the marble tile backsplash from Stone Source.

White on white

Kitchen, Undermount Sink, Range Hood, Range, Wood Cabinet, Light Hardwood Floor, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Recessed Lighting, and Wood Counter Movable and space-saving design elements define this creative family home in the Mission District. The kitchen was given an economical revamp by adding new drawer and door fronts to the existing cabinet boxes. Countertops were replaced with custom fabricated white oak butcher block surfaces, and a complementary white oak kitchen island was installed. A Wolf range, Vent-a-Hood hood, Franke stainless steel sink, and Bosch dishwasher complete the space.

Kitchen, Stone Counter, White Cabinet, and Dark Hardwood For a 1,500-square-foot condo in the Meatpacking District, Reddymade Design reconfigured the space to merge the kitchen, dining room, and living room into an open-plan arrangement. In the kitchen, the island unit is a modular piece by USM with a Vermont Black slate countertop. The Harry Bertoia stools are from Design Within Reach. The backsplash features Delft tiles, and the stove and range is Bertazzoni.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, and Ceiling Lighting With three sons in the family, the kitchen gets a lot of use. Hee barstools by Hee Welling for Hay slide up to a multi-functioning island where the family gathers to eat, study and play.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Recessed Lighting, Metal Cabinet, and Metal Backsplashe In this kitchen and dining room, architect Bergendy Cooke rethought traditional wood panelling using black pigment-stained veneer. The kitchen has expansive surfaces, including a long, wood-topped kitchen island where the couple cook and entertain, and where the children eat and play. "All of the materials were selected for their integrity and longevity," says Bergendy.

Kitchen, Range Hood, Marble Counter, Pendant Lighting, Range, White Cabinet, Undermount Sink, Medium Hardwood Floor, Marble Backsplashe, and Recessed Lighting The renovation of a 2,000-square-foot property updates a century-old design for a family of four. "We placed the kitchen at the center of the house to link with the dining room and the outdoor space," Moreau says. In the kitchen, a Wolf oven brings out the silver details in Coit’s Bianco Cararra backsplash and island. Hee bar stools by Hay are lined under the island.

Kitchen, Concrete Counter, Wood Cabinet, Range Hood, and Range By eliminating walls and incorporating a series of interior gardens, architect José Roberto Paredes creates an eclectic and inspired El Salvador beach house. In the kitchen, rough-hewn materials like a eucalyptus-log-and-thatch roof offset the monolithic concrete island and glossy subway tile backsplash. Claudia & Harry Washington built the vivid wooden sliding walls, which are inspired by the palm leaves that change color and create diagonal patterns in trees near the house. The bar stools were a street market discovery.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, Light Hardwood Floor, and White Cabinet A new kitchen at the front of the house completes the trifecta of reworked rooms on the main level. It fits nicely into the notion of balancing new and old elements throughout the house, with oak detailing married to exposed brick, offset by strip lamps. The Hee bar stools are by HAY, the Caravaggio P3 pendants are by Light Years, and the range oven is from Britannia.

Kitchen, Refrigerator, Cooktops, Wood Cabinet, Concrete Counter, White Cabinet, Dark Hardwood, Recessed Lighting, Wall Oven, and Undermount Sink Australian expats Carla and Paul Tucker tasked designer Dan Gayfer with expanding their Melbourne bungalow without adding any square footage. In the kitchen, a soft palette of wood, laminate, and tile created cohesion, impressive considering the clients didn’t see a single finish, color, or material in person prior to their homecoming. The kitchen cabinets were clad in Russian birch plywood, and the countertops were concrete.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Medium Hardwood Floor, White Cabinet, Range Hood, Range, Vessel Sink, Pendant Lighting, and Recessed Lighting A couple takes a minimalist approach to their Brooklyn apartment, focusing on supple materials, subtle gradations of color, and custom finishes by local craftsmen. The Mandayam–Vohra family gathers under one of Workstead’s signature three-arm chandeliers, shown here in its horizontal configuration. Bartenschlager designed the white cabinets and is responsible for the walnut counters both on the kitchen island and near the stove.

Kitchen, White Cabinet, Range Hood, Wall Oven, and Cooktops Painters accomplished the high-gloss finish on the cabinets of a kitchen in San Francisco by applying a coat of paint, polishing it with very high-grit sandpaper, repeating the process for each layer, then topping it with three coats of clear varnish. "It’s like an auto body," says builder Jeff King. "It’s incredibly beautiful." The island provides shelving space and storage as well as a second sink, an is topped with pietra grigio marble.

Kitchen, Metal Counter, Metal Cabinet, Drop In Sink, Range Hood, Wall Oven, Open Cabinet, Table Lighting, and Range The acclaimed Italian designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba carved a serene retreat out of a 17th-century oil mill in Salento, Italy, filling it with custom creations and their greatest hits. In their minimalist kitchen: sleek steel cabinet systems and the Kono range hood from Elmar. The multi-functional stainless steel island measures 20" deep and was designed by the couple for Elmar.

Kitchen, Concrete Floor, Refrigerator, and Colorful Cabinet Guess used inexpensive graded pine plywood so that he would get heavy grain patterns on the surfaces. One of the main goals in the kitchen was simplicity. To that end, he opted for a poured-in-place concrete island. "We didn’t know if we could afford to do that, but we found a great subcontractor [Nate Francis of Countertop Creations] here who had never really built anything like that," Guess says. "Because he was interested in giving it a shot and adding it to his portfolio, he didn’t charge an exorbitant amount of money because it was sort of an experiment for him as well." The kitchen features a GE Profile refrigerator and KitchenAid range, microwave, and dishwasher. The sink and faucet are from Kohler. The project's builder was Joe Doherty with Custom Homecrafters of Austin.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, White Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Range, Terrazzo Floor, Wall Oven, Refrigerator, and Drop In Sink The dining room is delineated from the kitchen by a long kitchen island with a higher partition between the two spaces. The island provides storage along its length, with exposed shelving at the ends. The drum lighting pendants by Axiom were also made using local timber.

Kitchen and Marble Counter For the kitchen, American cherry wood was used to create cabinets that establish a warm and sturdy tone. Each piece of lumber was purchased at auction by the Brillharts and stored in New Hampshire, before being shipped to Miami and milled on site. The wood island is painted black to provide a point of visual contrast. Himalayan marble countertops and stainless steel appliances lend moments of clean modernism to the kitchen, which is flooded with bright light thanks to patio windows that open to the yard.

Kitchen, Marble Counter, White Cabinet, Concrete Floor, Wood Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Undermount Sink, Recessed Lighting, and Cooktops The entire living and dining space features tough polished concrete floors. The architects intentionally contrasted the darker concrete and veneered pantry against the neutral white walls and marble. This color play runs through the renovated areas.

Kitchen, Metal Counter, Plywood, and Pendant Lighting Mark Fekete and Viviana de Loera, co-founders of interdisciplinary design firm MARK + VIVI, happily took on the challenge of building their dream home in a transitioning Montreal neighborhood. The couple's kitchen is an exercise in both sustainability and creativity. The island is wrapped with reclaimed scrap wood uncovered from the house during demolition. Chalkboard walls provide a whimsical canvas for graphic images and notes. Stainless steel was selected for the kitchen countertops, and the pair relied on a local industrial sheet metal fabricator to help them prepare the material for residential application. The mix of warm and cool adds depth and dimension to the space.

Kitchen In this kitchen in Australia, a freestanding island is lit by a skylight and track lighting, while the texture and color of the siding of the island provide a marked contrast to the dark cabinetry of the rest of the kitchen. An oversized sink makes the island an ideal prep space.

Kitchen Two sinks with angular faucets make this white and wood kitchen island the main prep area in this California kitchen. A long kitchen table protrudes out from the island in a contrasting dark stone with polished nickel legs for a strong visual demarcation between the island and the table, although the two are physically connected.

Kitchen, Light Hardwood Floor, Pendant Lighting, Wood Cabinet, Cooktops, and Metal Counter Twin daughters Merle and Anine join their parents in the family’s kitchen, designed by Jensen for Vipp. He explains that his role as chief designer at Vipp is to "work with their DNA" by refining the company’s trademark materials: stainless steel, painted metal, and rubber. For the utilitarian kitchen, "we wanted to get the feeling of a tool," he says. "It’s nice to have a space where you can actually work." The gas stovetop is by ABK and the refrigerator is by Smeg; Le Perroquet spotlights are from iGuzzini.

Kitchen, Ceiling Lighting, Undermount Sink, Quartzite Counter, White Cabinet, Refrigerator, Laminate, Medium Hardwood Floor, and Range Sitting on a spot that provides a commanding view of the ocean and hills beyond, this California home underwent a major renovation of the kitchen after the homeowners purchased it in foreclosure. A new entry space was created out of an unused hallway and the glazed door and side panels let in even more light, and the all-white kitchen with white countertops and cabinets features an oversized sink.

Kitchen, Concrete Counter, Cooktops, and Wall Oven At a seaside New Zealand house, the simple kitchen has strandboard cabinetry and an MDF island that conceals a fireplace at one end. The bright green cabinetry of the island are a happy pop of color that references the native greenery outside.

Kitchen, Engineered Quartz Counter, Cooktops, and Undermount Sink With clever storage and a retractable skylight, a London apartment designed by metalworker and owner Simone ten Hompel and Roger Hynam of Rogeroger Design Solutions feels larger than its 576 square feet. The team worked in a uniquely collaborative way, with Ullmayer Sylvester planning the space, Hynam creating the built-in storage and the kitchen island, and ten Hompel making models and scrawling on the wall to better envision their proposals. The kitchen island features a compact cooktop by Whirlpool and an integrated drainboard incised into the countertop for easy cleaning.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Concrete Floor, Cooktops, Ceiling Lighting, and Drop In Sink The House of Earth + Light had been featured in the pages of the New York Times and on the cover of Dwell’s premiere issue, and was revisited years later. In the kitchen, an elegant palette of materials defines the open space. The rear counter is sanded stainless steel; the island counter is Purpleheart (an exotic hardwood) with a range by Dacor.

 

Kitchen In an apartment renovation in Tel Aviv by Maya Sheinberger, a white and black kitchen comes together in a white island with black base and black bar stools by infiniti.

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, Cooktops, and Range Hood A green laminate countertop by Abet Laminati is surrounded by Norman Foster’s Emeco 20-06 counter stools at the island in the kitchen, which has an integrated Frigidaire induction range, Faber Cylindra Isola range hood, Blomberg dishwasher, Fisher & Paykel fridge, and flat-grain fir plywood cabinets by Portland craftsman Doug Chamblin. A Louis Poulsen PH 5 pendant illuminates a Modernica Tenon Table and Eames Molded Plastic chairs with Eiffel bases. A George Nelson Ball Clock hangs nearby.

Kitchen In Chicago’s Lower West Side, editorial director Chelsea Jackson and and her chef husband Arthur renovated their fourth-floor condominium to include a custom Bulthaup kitchen. "We wanted to find a kitchen island that would be light enough to make the room seem large while still standing up to heavy-duty cooking," Chelsea notes. Calls to kitchen retailers were fruitless until Arthur reached the Bulthaup showroom, where the staff suggested he come check out a floor model of the discontinued System 20 kitchen. The stainless steel island, with its precise profile and gas cooktop, was exactly what the couple was after, and they bought it on the spot. A full Bulthaup kitchen—completed with components from the B3 range—would soon become the centerpiece of their new home.

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, Recessed Lighting, Refrigerator, Light Hardwood Floor, Ceiling Lighting, Range, Wall Oven, Range Hood, and Drop In Sink In the kitchen, an island countertop serves as a mixed-use area for cooking, storage, and seating for up to five people. The room opens up to an outdoor dining area.

Kitchen, White Cabinet, and Metal Counter A Boston loft in a former textile factory receives a minimal, efficient kitchen at the hands of Bunker Workshop. In the kitchen, the island features a stainless steel countertop with a gas cooktop, oven, and a brick half wall.

Kitchen, Granite Counter, Range Hood, Range, and Wood Cabinet A pair of environmentally attuned architects combined adjoining properties in a Los Angeles canyon to house their modernist menagerie. With exposed industrial materials for finishes, the interior includes hand-troweled, waxed concrete floors, Douglas fir beams, and sealed-plywood ceilings. The open kitchen’s island, topped with soapstone, doubles as a bookcase for the living room.

Kitchen, Dark Hardwood, Wood Cabinet, Marble Counter, and Pendant Lighting A movable island, set on stainless steel casters, sits in the center of the kitchen. The Panasonic microwave is built into the cabinetry and the August pendant lights illuminating the island are by Uberhaus.

Kitchen, Granite Counter, White Cabinet, Range, and Range Hood Avid cooks, Jinhee and John spend part of every day around their custom-built kitchen island, surrounded by Compasso d’Oro barstools. The island is on castors, so it easily moves around the kitchen as needed. An edamame plant on their patio occasionally provides leaves for Korean dishes.

Kitchen, Ceiling Lighting, and Pendant Lighting A barrier-free house enables a family to come together amid the vineyards in Northern California. The kitchen is fully accessible and yet not institutional, with room for both extended family and a caregiver, and the ability to move between indoors and out without having to negotiate a single barrier. The island contains a micro kitchen for the family’s daughter, who is in a wheelchair, with a sink, refrigerator, and warming drawers within easy reach. The pendant is from Global Lighting.

Kitchen, Concrete Floor, and Metal Counter Who says kitchen islands can’t work in small spaces too? A design-minded pair ensures that their tiny seaside getaway in Hampshire, England, is shipshape. At 538 square feet, this home is efficiently designed, with an interior that was influenced by the compact housing that you see in Japan. The kitchen and island have been sized to fit the small space, but the island’s minimal finishings keep it feeling appropriate. 

Kitchen At this home in Sun Valley, the clients wanted a modern house that would feel authentic to the high desert mountain landscape, in a style dubbed "mountain industrial." Everything that touches the earth is stone and board-formed concrete, and everything that projects out is steel and glass, down to the kitchen island, which features two levels, an integrated sink, custom cabinetry, and polished nickel hardware.

Kitchen, Concrete Counter, and Recessed Lighting Smitten from the start with a 1970s concrete villa in rural Belgium, a resident and her designer embark on a sensitive renovation that excises the bad (carpeted walls, dark rooms) and highlights the good (idyllic setting, statement architecture). Owner Nathalie Vandemoortele worked with designer Renaud de Poorter on the interior renovations, which included opening up the heavy structure with the help of new windows and doors to the outside. A concrete bi-level island keeps the Brutalist vibe on the interior, but is open and light enough to feel balanced.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Slate, and Ceiling Lighting A short wall on the kitchen island hides clutter and keeps the straight lines of the design unmarred. Almost every lighting fixture, including the overhead Artemide Tolomeo light, is movable. The refrigerator and oven are from Fisher and Paykel.

 

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, Medium Hardwood Floor, Wall Oven, Ceiling Lighting, Recessed Lighting, and Pendant Lighting Aaron and Yuka Ruell transformed a 1950s Portland ranch house into a retro-inspired family home with plenty of spaces for their four children to roam. In the kitchen, interior designer Emily Knudsen Leland replaced purple laminate cabinets with flat-sawn eastern walnut, and added PentalQuartz countertops in polished Super White for contrast. The kitchen island is clad with original red tiles, and hanging cabinets above it were removed to maximize light and family-room views.

Kitchen A generously sized kitchen in a prefabricated home in Texas features crisp white cabinetry, contrasting with textured stone walls and a dark stone countertop. The kitchen features two islands that work together to form an L and a smaller rectangular island with castors sitting inside the L for additional prep space and mobility.

Kitchen At this home renovation in England, the architects kept the interiors minimal and stripped back, allowing for extra space to be used by the family as they pleased. A kitchen island with exposed plywood on the interior but painted on the exterior doubles up as a breakfast bar, and holds storage space for three Magis swivel beech barstools to be tucked away when not in use.

 

Kitchen At a home in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico that was designed as a collaboration between Gilberto L. Rodríguez, of GLR Arquitectos, and Alberto Campo Baeza, of Estudio Campo Baeza, the architects sought to pay homage to Mexican architect Luis Barragán. A strong presence of light and color are at play throughout the house, including the kitchen, where a clean white kitchen island covers bright neon yellow storage. The cabinets are translucent, seeming to glow from within, and provide a focal point in the otherwise white and black kitchen.

Kitchen Taking inspiration from barns, warehouses, Case Study Houses, and Japanese residential architecture, architect Marcus Lee and his wife, Rachel Hart—an architectural model maker—created a unique timber-framed home in Hackney, London. In the kitchen, the Corian kitchen island unit acts as a real hub with a television tucked away under the worktop. However, the kids sit at the island for breakfast and other meals, and when guests come, they end up sitting there and talking while the owners are cooking.

Kitchen On a sought after an idyllic island in the center of Amsterdam an old warehouse, formerly in use as a pillow factory and a garage has been converted to a warm and eclectic family home. The kitchen features a mixture of green tiles, green painted mullions, and exposed wood beams for a warm, soft feeling that contrast sharply with the more industrial stainless steel island. The kitchen island incorporates a stove top and storage, and benefits from natural light from the skylight overhead.

Kitchen, Laminate, Ceramic Tile Floor, Marble Backsplashe, and Pendant Lighting In a mountain retreat in the Czech Republic near the border with Germany, Martina Schultes designed a kitchen that brings the outside in, with wood plank paneling used on the walls and the kitchen island. The island and countertops are topped with black laminate, and the backsplash is a green marble.

Kitchen, Concrete Floor, Rug, and Pendant Lighting By using color, wood, and polished concrete floors, this apartment in Berlin is full of personality. In the kitchen, polished statuario marble covers both the island's countertop and the backsplash in the custom kitchen cabinet block. PSLAB designed the light fixtures, and the island has open shelving incorporated into it for easy access to cookbooks and other reading material.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, Marble Counter, Wood Cabinet, White Cabinet, Wall Oven, Range Hood, Refrigerator, Concrete Floor, Open Cabinet, Undermount Sink, Recessed Lighting, Range, and Subway Tile Backsplashe Architect Kevin Alter integrated wood from the original bungalow into the kitchen and covered the island in Carrara marble, with an interior clad in wood. A long table extends from the side of the island, and wine storage is integrated into one end of the island. New appliances include a Wolf range, a Broan hood, and a Miele oven and refrigerator. The Fucsia pendant lights are by Achille Castiglioni for Flos.

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, and Pendant Lighting For a Toronto couple with a love of minimalist Japanese architecture, a sleek, storage-packed kitchen was the first priority in their home's renovation. In the kitchen, white oak used for the cabinets, kitchen island, and dining table is finished with double-boiled linseed oil, which can be reapplied by the homeowners as the wood mellows and patinas. The custom beveled edge for the island's "Blizzard" white Caesarstone countertop forgoes the standard one-inch countertop overhang to save on space and maintain a sleek feel. A Vola faucet is used with a sink by Mekal.

Kitchen, Refrigerator, Medium Hardwood Floor, Wall Oven, Ceiling Lighting, Quartzite Counter, and Pendant Lighting This apartment, overlooking the beautiful beach and the urban views of Tel Aviv, was built in the late 1990s and hadn't been renovated since, until designer Maya Sheinberger came in. The kitchen cabinets were chosen in a grey color with a matte finish and for the countertops, the designer chose a bright Dekton with marble texture. Above the kitchen island, which is used for cooking and for light family meals, are three wooden lighting fixtures by Israeli designer Ohad Benit. 

Tucked away in the woods of Denmark, furniture design company Kobenhavens Mobelsnedkeri designed this vacation retreat that boats a striking pitch-black kitchen island. The home features a restrained color palette complemented with natural touches; the floor is a delicate pale oak, which contrasts with the bold statement of the dark cabinets and island. 

Viola Park ranks high on the list of great, modern kitchen systems and offers a range of kitchen islands. Among the features in their islands is the Pivot Storage System, shown here. Mounted below the counter to preserve counter space, the wood bins can be outfitted as knife block, utensil holder, or garbage bin. The system conveniently keeps your utensils where you need them, without taking up much-valued counter space.

In Auckland, New Zealand, architect Michael O’Sullivan and his partner Melissa Schollum braved a miniscule budget, withering looks from friends, and nasty nail-gun injuries to design and build their perfectly proportioned family home. The reflectivity of the brass kitchen island makes it seem to dematerialize.

Kitchen A young Vancouver family asked Falken Reynolds Interiors to convert their waterfront vacation home on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast into their primary residence. To facilitate livability for the foursome, an enlarged kitchen, complete with a large white island with wood hardware, was a major part of the renovation. 

Add a little character to your kitchen

10 European Desserts to Try

One of the things I love about travel is trying all the different foods that countries are famous in each area.  I try to do a little research before traveling to make sure I know what I should try.  I found the following article helpful and can’t wait to try the following.  I do not have recipes attached, but I might have to start finding them and trying them at home.

On The Great British Bakeoff, Paul Hollywood had the contestants attempt to makePastéis de Nata, and it was not one of the more successful endeavors, so not sure if I am going to try that one.

Europe’s cultural diversity manifests itself in its cuisine, from Italian pasta to French escargot. But for those travelers with a sweet tooth, this appetizing variety extends to the continent’s many mouthwatering desserts. Forget about your diet if you’re planning a trip soon, here are ten European desserts you have to try.

Rødgrød

Rødgrød
You’ll find fruity rødgrød if you visit Denmark, but the similar rote grütze can be found just across the border in northern Germany. Served hot or cold, it’s bursting with summer berries like redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, and blackberries. The fruit is cooked with sugar and some form of starch, like semolina or potato starch is added to make the pudding. Custard or cream often accompanies the dish to balance the acids in the fruit.

Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de Nata is the traditional Portuguese custard tarts that are small enough to fit in your mouth in one go. The best place to find them is in the Pastéis de Belem bakery that’s been churning them out in their millions since 1837. The proof of the quality is in the length of the queue, which snakes around the block whatever the time of day. They sell about 50,000 of these delicious tarts every day, which surely makes them a contender for western Europe’s favorite dessert.

Gelato

gelato
Italy’s dessert menu might encompass tiramisu, pannacotta, and zabaglione (all fabulous!) but its gelato is legendary the world over. Every imaginable flavor can be found, on street corners, at pavement cafes, and in fancy restaurants. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the same as ice cream, however. If what you see is heaped high above the edges of the container, it’s full of air and not the real deal.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis
This baked French dessert originates from the Limousin region and was popularized in the 19th century. It is usually made with black cherries, though raspberries, plums or blackberries are occasionally substituted. The fruit lines a baking dish and a thick batter is poured over the top. Traditionally, the cherry stones are left in, adding an almond-like flavor to the dish.

Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel is one of Austria’s greatest exports. Layers of thinly-rolled dough are filled to bursting with sweet apples, juicy raisins and a liberal measure of cinnamon. The first recipe dates from Vienna in 1696 and it’s just as popular today in the city’s many coffee houses.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding
Peruse the menu in any British gastropub and you’re almost guaranteed to find sticky toffee pudding. This dense, dark pudding is topped with lashings of toffee sauce and served with cream, ice cream or custard. It’s rich, so save plenty of room for dessert if you plan to try it.

 

Flan

Flan
A flan is not a flan when it’s from Spain. Instead of receiving a small tart or quiche, order flan in Spain and you’ll be presented with a tasty crème caramel. To make it, a caramel syrup lines a mold and warm custard are poured on top. It’s cooked in a water bath to ensure the custard doesn’t curdle and flipped over to serve once cooked and set.

Waffles

Waffles
If there’s one dessert synonymous with Belgium, then it’s surely waffles. Known as gaufre to the nation’s French speakers and waffels to Flemish speakers, the two most popular kinds hail from Brussels and Liege. Buy one from a street stall and eat it straight from the paper, dusted with icing sugar. In a cafe, you’ll find them served with fruit compote, Nutella or Chantilly cream, but hold off on the maple syrup as that’s not the way it’s done on home turf.

 

Baklava

Baklava
Layer upon layer of rich, flaky filo pastry bound together with sweet honey and lavishly sprinkled with nuts, baklava is understandably the Greeks’ most popular sweet treat. But though they’ll argue the toss, it actually originated in the city of Istanbul in Turkey before migrating east. That’s still Europe, at least in part. Wherever you try it, it’s delicious.

Black Forest Cherry Gateau

Black Forest Cherry Gateau
Germans know a thing or two about cake, but its most famous cake is not quite what it appears. That signature bake, Black Forest Cherry Gateau, was invented, so they claim, in 1915 at the Café Agner in Bad Godesberg near Bonn. It’s so popular it even has its own food festival. The key ingredient is the “Schwarzwälder kirschwasser”, a potent cherry brandy which made its way across the border from Switzerland but is named after the Black Forest region of Germany. Without the kirsch, it’s just a chocolate and cherry cake.

10 European Desserts to Try

Chicche Verdi Del Nonno

GNOCCHI WITH BROWN BUTTER AND SAGE

 

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.

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb. russet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher salt, to taste
4 oz. spinach
14 cups semolina flour, sifted, plus more
2 eggs, beaten
18 tbsp. unsalted butter
16 leaves fresh sage, minced
14 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan

Instructions

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.
Chicche Verde  .jpg
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.
Yummy~
Chicche Verdi Del Nonno

Chocolate Caramel Cake

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.

Chocolate Cake with Caramel .jpg

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 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 eggs
  • 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.
  • English Toffee
  • Big Malted Milk Balls

Instructions

  • 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

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. 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.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. 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.

Serve with Champagne and have a wonderful time.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

I found this article interesting, as all three of my sons and my daughter-in-law love to cook and have made some wonderful meals.  My sons would make me breakfast in bed for my birthday and for Valentines Day, starting when they were eight or nine.  They are all excellent cooks and they definitely know what and where to put a butter knife.  We sat down and ate with candles and cloth napkins whenever we could at home.  I thought it was important that they have good manners and know the basics in the kitchen. I always wanted them to be comfortable with any and all dining situations!  And, you what!  It worked.

According to Tasting Table, Millennials Are the worst generation of cooks in the kitchen

Only 60 percent can confidently identify a butter knife
Millennials Don't Know How to Cook

They might be able to apply Snapchat filters better than you can, but if there’s one thing millennials can’t do, is find their way around the kitchen.

According to a study from Porch, between millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, millennials rate themselves as the worst kitchen cooks of all, with only 5 percent of twenty- to thirtysomethings considering themselves “very good” at home cooking. They rate themselves last in being able to tackle (very) basic dishes like fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and lasagna. (Though, they do feel more confident than baby boomers at baking store-bought plop-and-drop cookie dough.)

And while many baby boomers aren’t so great at identifying a salad spinner, Thrillist notes it’s not so bad once you consider about 40 percent of millennials can’t even recognize a butter knife.

The one thing they are good at? According to the study, millennials are the top generation investing in meal delivery services and utilizing internet videos for cooking advice. Hey, at least they’re trying.

 

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

Granite or ???

Is Granite Going Out of Style? This is an article from Home Advisor with some interesting information.  You have lots of options.  Here is a place to learn a little bit about some of them.

Could granite’s 30-year reign be coming to an end?  Granite remains a solid choice, as it is both durable and attractive and it’s become increasingly affordable. But there’s just no denying granite’s seeming decline. As homeowners opt for more modern kitchen designs, they’re also opting for more understated countertop alternatives.

Here’s a quick look at some of the countertop’s hottest contenders:

Engineered Quartz:

Perhaps granite’s top competitor, engineered quartz offers the beauty of stone without the maintenance. It’s tougher than granite, and it’s highly resistant to scratching, cracking, staining and heat. Unlike granite, which offers the unique qualities of natural stone, engineered quartz is largely uniform; because it’s engineered, there’s no choice of one-of-a-kind slab. There are, however, a number of colors and designs available from stark modern whites to options closely resembling marble. And, because engineered quartz is non-porous, it never has to be sealed like natural stone.

Wood:

Homeowners seek and appreciate natural wood countertops particularly easy butcher blocks and those custom-created by quality craftsmen. While wood countertops can add warmth, balance, and beauty to any modern home, they require a fair amount of maintenance. Because wood is susceptible to damage from heat and moisture, it must be sealed about once a month. The best part about wood, though, is that it can be refinished in the event that damage does occur.

Soapstone:

Soapstone is an attractive, natural quarried stone that ranges from light gray to green-black in color. While the material is soft and pliable, it’s nonporous so doesn’t require regular sealing like granite. Soapstone is resistant to stains and acidic materials. The downside to soapstone is that it is susceptible to scratches and deep indentations. Light gray soapstone will weather and darken over time, occasionally developing a patina finish. The material comes in smaller slabs so seams will be visible in soapstone countertops longer than seven feet.

Concrete:

Concrete countertops came onto the scene in the 1980s and they’ve evolved since. These days, precast concrete countertops are available in a number of different colors. Generally, they’re flat and smooth, and they can run from 1.5 inches to 10 feet long. While concrete countertops have historically cracked and chipped easily, recent innovations have made them less prone to damage. Concrete is naturally strong and heat-resistant, and slabs can be sealed to prevent staining.

Stainless Steel:

There’s a reason restaurants use stainless steel countertops in their kitchens. It’s heat-, rust- and stain-resistant; it’s easy to clean, and it won’t absorb or harbor even the toughest bacteria. The downside to stainless steel countertops is that they scratch easily and they show it. For this reason, it’s best to use a cutting board anytime you’re prepping food on a stainless steel countertop. It’s a good idea to choose a brushed stainless finish that will help conceal any marks. At first blush, you may think that stainless feels ultramodern or cold, but a balance of stainless steel and wood can create a warm, timeless and uber-functional kitchen.

Not Sure Which Countertop to Choose?

When you’re remodeling your kitchen, the most important question to ask yourself is this: Are you remodeling for yourself or a potential buyer? If you’re remodeling for yourself, go with what you like best. And if you love granite, by all means, go with granite! But if you’re remodeling with an eye toward selling, go with a more neutral option. You’ll get the upscale look you’re going for without alienating granite-tired buyers.

 

Granite or ???