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Category: Tips

Test Kitchen video tips: Quinoa 101

Quinoa is a South American grain-like crop that is increasingly becoming popular in North American cuisine. While the leaves of the quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) plant can be cooked as a potherb, the seeds, or "grains" (while quinoa is not a true cereal, its seeds resemble and are similarly used like grains), of the plant are probably most commonly found (grains can be found at most major grocery stores), and can be cooked like rice, added to soups and stews, even popped.

Before cooking with quinoa, be sure to rinse the grains under running water; they are coated with sapopins (defensive compounds) that can give a finished dish a bitter taste if the seeds aren't rinsed before using.

For extra depth of flavor, try toasting the quinoa before cooking it. After rinsing the grains, dry them in a towel, then toast them briefly in a dry skillet until they color slightly and have a nutty aroma.

If you've never cooked quinoa before, the grains can be added to a variety of dishes, are easy to use and cook up quickly. Place the rinsed grains in boiling water (1 part seeds to 2 parts water) and cook until the quinoa is translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, 12 to 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Add the drained quinoa to salads, or flavor and serve as a side dish.

For some recipe ideas, continue reading after the jump.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
You can find me on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Video: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times

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Test Kitchen tips: Homemade gelato

Homemade gelatoHave you ever wanted to make your own homemade gelato, but didn't think it was possible without the proper equipment? Well, it can be done with nothing more than some bowls, a whisk ... and a little arm power.

Sheri Jennings contributed a great story on homemade gelatos, including recipes for making a variety of them -- chocolate, lemon, strawberry and even Parmesan -- using basic equipment. Try one, or a few, this weekend. They make a great weekend project.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
You can find me on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter

Photo credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Continue reading »

Kitchen gadget: Cake decorating stand

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Ever dream about cake decorating like a pro? Find yourself spending hours adding the final touches to your latest layered creation? You might want to invest in a good, sturdy cake decorating stand.

Cake decorating stands, also known as revolving cake stands and turntables, are lifesavers when it comes to frosting and decorating. A wide top swivels on top of a sturdy metal base, making it easy to rotate the cake when you’re smoothing out frosting or focused on detailed decorations.

The stands come in all shapes and materials. Avoid cheap stands that are often flimsy and wobble. Good ones generally consist of a light metal (typically aluminum) top over a heavy cast iron base; some are even fitted with ball bearings for a smooth swivel.

Cake decorating stands can be found at cooking and bakery supply stores, as well as at select craft and hobby stores. Stands range in price by type, but you can generally find one for $30 to $60.

If you have any kitchen gadgets or tips you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
You can find me on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Test Kitchen video tips: Fixing broken mayonnaise

There's something decidedly noble about making your own stuff in the kitchen, whatever it is -- spice blends, bread, cured meat. Or your own basic sauces, like mayonnaise. Try a little dab of homemade mayonnaise once -- bright with a light tang from a squeeze of fresh lemon, this custardy marvel is richer and more velvety than anything you'll find at the store -- and you may never want the jarred spread again.

And while it's not that hard to make -- combine one or two egg yolks, lemon juice, a touch of mustard, salt and then slowly whisk in a long drizzle of oil -- mayonnaise can be tricky if you don't take your time or give it the attention it deserves. Homemade mayonnaise takes some patience and care. Move too fast and your homemade mayonnaise can "break," its delicate emulsion coming undone and looking like a curdled mess.

If your mayonnaise breaks, don't worry (it's happened to all of us). It can be fixed. Grab a fresh egg yolk, and slowly beat your broken mayonnaise into the yolk. The fresh yolk will help to re-emulsify the sauce, bringing everything together and making for a smooth and happy sauce.

For a recipe for homemade mayonnaise and a quick step-by-step on how it's made, follow the jump.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
twitter.com/noellecarter

Video: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times (top); Photos: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times (step-by-step photos below)

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Test Kitchen video tips: Portion dough using an ice cream scoop

Next time you're making a batch of cookies or muffins, consider portioning the dough using an ice cream scoop. The scoop is perfect for getting consistent amounts and makes quick work of divvying up the dough.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter

twitter/noellecarter

Video: Myung Chun

Test Kitchen tips: Perfect biscuits

Ever have a craving for biscuits?

Ever have a craving for biscuits? Not the hockey pucks, but those tender, lighter-than-air biscuits. The ones so delicate they have to be homemade and eaten fresh, while they're still warm. Maybe with a little tang from buttermilk, maybe a little zing from a touch of ginger. Maybe the ones so perfectly light they're simply called "angel biscuits."

A few years back, Paula Woods did a great story for Food on making great biscuits, exploring the secrets and tips to getting them right.

Continue reading below for a quick step-by-step on making your own biscuits, and check out these recipes. They make a great weekend project, whether you're planning a picnic or a simple meal at home.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
You can find me on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Upper photo: Eula Mae's buttermilk biscuits. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Lower photos: Step-by-step biscuit making. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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Test Kitchen video tips: Cheesecloth substitutions

If you ever find out you're short on cheesecloth in the kitchen, a coffee filter or linen dish towel -- even a paper towel -- can work in a pinch. 

Line a strainer with a coffee filter or towel (linen or paper) to strain stocks and broth, and substitute a coffee filter for cheesecloth when you need a sachet. A linen dish towel (torchon) is perfect for poaching a rolled item when it needs to keep its shape.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
twitter/noellecarter

Video credit: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times

Kitchen gadget: Nut mill

NutmillcarloschavezHere's a a classic that will take you back. You might remember chopping nuts for baking using a hand-cranked nut mill (which in the '70s was probably avocado green). The nuts go in the top compartment, you give the crank a few twirls, and voila! You won't get uniformly chopped nuts like this by beating them in a bag with a rolling pin.This retro nut mill was spotted in the baking section of Jons Marketplace in Los Angeles. The hourglass-shaped mill consists of a white, plastic, snap-top bin with a stainless steel grinder and a top that screws onto a glass basin to collect the chopped nuts. Straightforward and efficient. And the color is an improvement on avocado green.

Nut mills are available in the gadget sections of select grocery and cooking stores, and are available online. They run around $5.

Continue reading below for a recipe for walnut and raisin pie, one of our Top-10 Recipes from 2008.

If you have any kitchen gadgets or tips you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
twitter.com/noellecarter

Photo: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Continue reading »

Test Kitchen video tips: Soak wooden skewers before grilling

Before you throw your next batch of skewers on the grill, take some time to soak the wood before threading the food. Wooden skewers, like the classic bamboo skewers pictured above, can burn easily over a hot grill. Soaking them in warm water for 10 to 30 minutes before threading will keep the skewers from cooking along with the food.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
twitter.com/noellecarter

Video credit: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times

Continue reading »

Kitchen gadget: Aebleskiver pan

This is the pan for those who've caught on that neither their world -- nor their pancakes -- have to be flat. It's the aebleskiver pan, and it's a must-have kitchen toolThis is the pan for those who've caught on that neither their world -- nor their pancakes -- have to be flat. It's the aebleskiver pan, and it's a must-have kitchen tool when the craving arises for those little sphere-shaped Danish pancakes. The pans are generally round and often made from heavy cast iron, though other versions are made from lighter metals, such as aluminum, and covered with a nonstick coating. Each pan contains several half-spherical indentations (one for each aebleskiver) for making those perfectly round pancakes.

Aebleskiver pans are generally available at cooking stores, including Surfas in Culver City as well as select Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table stores. Prices vary depending on the material, but they typically range from $20 to $40. They are also widely available online.

Continue reading below for aebleskiver recipes.

If you have any kitchen gadgets or tips you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
twitter.com/noellecarter

Photos: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Continue reading »
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