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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A&E >  Food

Rating the frozen pies

With just puréed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil as toppings, a margherita is the pizza most reliant on high-quality ingredients. Because it can’t hide under blankets of part-skim mozzarella or highly seasoned sauce, the flavors of dough, tomato and cheese have to shine.

A&E >  Food

Kitchen essentials: Tools are a subjective choice of chefs

What makes a cooking utensil essential? For a home cook, that can be as subjective as the type of foods they like to prepare and eat. Sure, a couple of skillets and a pot can take care of most of the sautéing and simmering, but it’s always worth taking inspiration from kitchens across the globe to finish filling out our cabinets and drawers. Every culture comes with its own set of beloved tools that are inextricable from the foods that define it. Here are a few indispensable utensils that complete the kitchens of four cooking experts.
A&E >  Food

What do bay leaves do? A lot, if you use them right.

Pity the bay leaf. Once a symbol of success and renown in ancient Greece and Rome, it now suffers a reputation as a pointless, potentially dangerous (choking hazard!), ingredient. Even Ina Garten, perhaps as close as we come these days to the Greek priestesses who consumed bay before making their prophecies, recently wondered aloud what the fuss was all about.
A&E >  Food

In the Kitchen with Ricky: Brighten up winter with a cheery lemon pie

At this time of the year, when the days are darker and colder, it’s nice to have a bright treat. Today’s recipe for Winter Lemon Pie packs a citrusy punch and feels right for a dessert or a mid-morning snack. The buttery crust combined with the citrusy punch is a great match and the hint of vanilla ties it all together.
A&E >  Food

Pantry can help you serve up an easy Lemon Butter Pasta

Lemon, olive oil and garlic are the foundation of so many pantry meals, a harmonious trio I use to flavor pretty much everything – fish, chicken, vegetables, grains – stopping only at dessert because, well, garlic. Often spiked with chile flakes and Parmesan, the combination makes any dish taste deep and complex, without your having to do much to get there. It’s a no-brainer, easy alchemy that never fails.
A&E >  Food

How to make the most of your stand mixer

If you're anything like me, your stand mixer is one of your most prized kitchen possessions. It can do so much, but are you using it right? Whether you've just been gifted one for the holidays or are a practiced hand, here are some tips to help you maximize your stand mixer's potential and avert disaster.1. Get an extra bowlI know, I know, you (or the person who gave you the mixer) probably forked over a significant amount of cash. Still, if you bake a lot and intend to take on more involved recipes, having an extra bowl is worth it. It will help you move seamlessly between recipes on big-batch baking days during the holiday season. It's especially handy for recipes with multiple components, such as cake batters and frostings, or doughs that are separated for different flavors or colors. Because the mixer bowls are so large, I often find myself pulling them out for other tasks, including straining vegetable broth and whisking waffle batter.2. Gradually increase the speedDon't be in a rush to crank up the speed of your mixer. Often, it's best to gradually increase it. Sudden changes can cause ingredients to fly out of the bowl, whether it's flour or a hot sugar syrup. Been there.3. Stick to lower speeds with bread doughKneading bread dough is one of the best things to do with a stand mixer. But there are limits. Using too high a speed while kneading can overtax, even damage, your machine. Manufacturers typically recommend going no higher than low or medium-low (Speed 2 or 3, depending on the model) with yeast doughs. With softer bread dough, say, something like challah, I'm okay with pushing closer to medium if I'm really trying to bring the ingredients together. You can even briefly increase the speed to medium and drop it back down once things are better incorporated. Remember that beyond the risk to your machine, you can overknead the dough. If your dough is especially stiff, as with bagels, stick with the lower end of the spectrum.4. Keep utensils out of the mixer while it's runningI'll admit to giving in to the temptation to try to shove in a spatula or spoon to nudge in a wayward ingredient or push something off the attachment while the mixer is running. Just don't. If you catch it wrong, it's bad for the motor and, of course, you can hurt yourself or break your utensil. Take the extra second to turn off the mixer, during which you can . . .5. Scrape down the bowlA stand mixer is a wonderful machine, but it's not perfect. Ingredients can be left on the sides and bottom of the bowl, as well as the beater. Butter is a prime culprit. So once or twice during mixing, turn off the mixer and scrape everything down with a flexible spatula. I tend to do this between major additions - after I have creamed butter and sugar and before the eggs go in, before I add the dry ingredients, etc. It's also okay to stop using the mixer just before everything is incorporated and finish the job with a quick stir or two by hand to avoid overmixing, lest you end up with tough cookies or cake.6. Stay nearbyYou wouldn't walk away from something in the skillet, would you? Same logic here. Especially if you're mixing something particularly dense or stiff, the mixer can begin to hop around the counter, and you don't want to disappear the second it goes off the edge. (Yes, it's happened to at least one Voraciously staffer!) Also, it's important to be engaged with what's happening in the bowl. Is the mixer starting to sound or smell off? Are your ingredients threatening to fly out of the bowl? Is the mixer changing speeds on its own? (Another true story!) Do you need to mix for less or more time than the recipe says? All of these are good reasons to stay within arm's reach.7. Know when to skip itThe stand mixer does a lot of things well. It's not for everything, however. If you're beating a small amount of cream, or one or two egg whites, the attachment can struggle to make contact with the ingredients and whip them sufficiently. Sometimes it's best to just pull out your hand mixer or even a whisk.
A&E >  Food

Tok seel, a seared bean recipe, showcases the breadth of Mexican food

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 16, 2023

If your idea of Mexican food is dominated by cheese-smothered plates, this recipe, adapted from television host and cookbook author Pati Jinich’s cookbook “Treasures of the Mexican Table,” will be an eye-opener. In it, white beans are seared until lightly browned, then tossed with toasted, ground pumpkin seeds; fresh cilantro; chives; and scallions, and served with a bright squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of chopped, fresh chile.
A&E >  Food

Persian flavors scent this pot of rice and beans

Whenever I got sick as a kid, my mom wouldn’t make chicken soup – she’d serve me mushy rice and yogurt. Many rice-eating cultures eat rice and yogurt together as a meal or to ease an upset stomach. I grew to love the simple meal; it was calming and nourishing enough to sustain me through the worst of a fever. It’s still something I yearn for, whether I’m feeling under the weather or just want a dose of comfort.
A&E >  Food

What we’ll eat in 2023: 10 predictions

Nearly every big change in how we eat starts as a fad, which is really just a shared moment among a subset of diners or cooks that gains traction. Some fads fade away slowly, like wine coolers or molecular gastronomy. Others implode suddenly, like turmeric lattes or the pink sauce that shot up like a rocket on TikTok this year and then exploded.
A&E >  Food

10 simple things you can do to start fresh in the kitchen

The new year is a time for celebration, reflection and housework. I always feel calmer, more creative and more productive when I have a clean and organized space, so when the ball drops, I try to set myself up for as much happiness and success in the next 12 months as I can by starting with a tidy living space. And given that it is often described as the heart of the home – and it's my line of work – the kitchen is of utmost importance. Tackling the entire kitchen can be an intimidating task, so here's a manageable list of things to clean, ingredients to check, equipment to organize and more.
A&E >  Food

Pot of love: Stir up a cozy risotto for a new year’s party

Ten years ago, I drove upstate with my friends to go apple picking. We roasted the apples alongside root vegetables and showered it all with fresh dill, and I made a big pot of risotto for everyone. After dinner, we sat on the dock by a lake, drinking red wine out of Solo cups and watching the sun go down.
A&E >  Food

This easy breakfast strata is the ultimate way to start the year

I didn’t grow up eating many casseroles, and the main event at my family’s holiday brunch was bagels and lox. So, the first time I encountered a breakfast casserole at a New Year’s Day shindig, I was dubious. Where was the Nova and whitefish salad? Or at least the coffee cake and French toast I associated with parties held before noon?

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