Monday, February 28, 2011

Personal Culinary Epiphany: Homemade Brown Sugar (and some favorite cookie recipes!)

This tip may come as no surprise to some of you, but tonight I had a glorious revolution! 

After finally restocking my kitchen with sugar and flour last Wednesday I've had the urge to bake. I made some blueberry muffins last week but I hadn't baked good old chocolate chip cookies in longer than I remember. Tonight I decided I would bake some using my favorite cookie recipe: Toll House Cookies

As I was getting ready to head into the kitchen to whip up a batch I realized I didn't have brown sugar! This is a problem I often face and solve by running around the corner to the store to buy some. Tonight I got smart and finally came up with a solution! I said to myself, "well, brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses..." and the wheels turned. I have some blackstrap molasses for when I make Elie Krieger's Flu-Fighter Cookies and of course I have white sugar... *lightbulb!* mixing them with a little water will produce homemade brown sugar! 

Homemade Brown Sugar
A little less than 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of molasses (use less for lighter brown sugar, if you prefer)
Enough water to make the sugar "packed" (about 2 tablespoons)

Put sugar in a bowl, pour in molasses. Stir/Whisk together with fork until the sugar is mostly brown. Then add the water little by little until you get the desire of loosely 'packed' brown sugar. Voila! 

Yield: about 3/4 cup of brown sugar (the exact amount called for in the Toll House recipe) 

These are the cookies I always go to when I need to bake. The recipe is on the back of any bag of chocolate toll house morsels but it is written on my heart and I know all the measurements without looking. I always like to add a bit of cinnamon for spice and some rolled oats for texture. The result is the perfect, homey chocolate chip cookie. 

A moist, yet crunchy perfect cookie.
Never be without brown sugar again! Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kelsey Nixon Teaches the Essentials: Tips, Tools, Techniques, Pantry and More!

This past Tuesday I attended an excellent class taught by chef Kelsey Nixon sponsored by The Learning Annex.

Kelsey Nixon
Going into the class I wasn't sure what to expect. My fellow audience members and I were wondering "where's the kitchen?" when we entered the room at the Midtown Hitlon East. The description given by the Learning Annex didn't say there would be cooking, I think we just assumed Kelsey would be showing off some of her kitchen skills to help us learn them. 

Instead of cooking, we receive a very informative and fun presentation from Kelsey and great discussion with a room full of experienced home cooks. Kelsey gave a detailed background of her journey getting to where she is today. She has had great experiences from interning with Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, to working on her own cooking show in college: Kelsey's Kitchen, to earning a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu Hollywood, working on Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade, to being a contestant on The Next Food Network Star (which is where I know her from best) and finally to being one of Cooking Channel's leading chefs with Kelsey's Essentials

Kelsey's presentation covered the essentials in terms of Tips, Tools, Techniques, Pantry, and how to stay organized and implement these into your routine. Some of the essentials are no-brainers that any practiced home cook will have learned, hence why they are essential. But others are very smart ideas that can make a big difference in the kitchen. Here are 6 Essential Lists from Kelsey. More information and comments from Kelsey have been given in italics.