Weighing ingredients

[chocolate-chip-cookies]I have a strong dislike for having “stuff” on my hands. I rinse my hands dozens of times while cooking because some dribble of egg white or grain of kosher salt is sticking to my finger tips.

One way I’ve learned to overcome this is by weighing ingredients. My fingers get to stay debris free AND the measurements are more accurate.

This chart from the folks at King Arthur Flour makes measuring ingredients significantly easier.

Why pack brown sugar into a measuring cup when I can just pour it into a bowl set on-top of a scale? 🙂 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar is equal to 160 grams while 3/4 cup of granulated sugar is 149 grams. Yes, you need to look up the conversion but if you jot it down next to the traditional measurement in your recipe you’ll only have to look it up once.

Hard-boiled Eggs, revisited


For decades I have made hard-boiled eggs the same way. Eggs in cold water, place on burner, bring to a boil, turn off burner, set timer to 20, no, 15, no, 13 minutes, cool quickly with running water, try to remove shells. Some eggs came out fine, most were a bit pock-marked where shell stuck. Often an egg was mangled badly enough that I couldn’t use it for deviled eggs. So often that I regularly cooked an extra egg.

I read/heard/saw a test of hard-boiled egg cooking methods and steam followed by an ice bath was deemed to provide the easiest removed shells. I gave it a try and I’m a convert. 9 eggs cooked; 9 eggs easily shelled.

Hard-boiled Eggs, revisited
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: none
Total time: 30 minutes


  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 3 cups ice

Special equipment:


  1. Place the steamer basket in a large saucepan. Add water so that the bottom of the steamer basket is just above the water. Cover and place over high heat.
  2. When the water comes to a boil carefully add the eggs and recover. Reduce the heat to medium-low; you want to maintain steam but you don’t need a vigorous boil for that. Set a timer for 13 minutes and walk away.
  3. About a minute before the timer goes off place the ice in a large bowl and add 3 cups of cold water to create an ice bath.
  4. When the timer goes off use a pot holder or tongs to lift the steamer basket. Slide the eggs into the ice bath. Set the timer for 15 minutes and walk away.
  5. Crack the eggs against a hard surface and peel away the shell. Enjoy with a little sea salt or use for deviled eggs. You could even get fancy by making Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs.

I think the credit goes to America’s Test Kitchen though whether it was in a magazine, one of their TV shows or on the radio I don’t know.

Recipe Index updated


I just wanted to let folks know that I’ve updated the recipe index to include stuff added in the last six month. I added 28 recipes during that period for soups, sweets and the courses in between. The total recipe count is over 200 at this point.

Explain to me again why I can’t figure out what to cook for dinner?

Sidecar Discussion – An Open Letter to Bartenders

A guy I know, OK, a close friend, has a blog where he reviews a simple drink, a gin and tonic, at every bar in lovely Worcester, Massachusetts.  He is a clever, often wry, on occasion sarcastic, writer.  I like his style.

Recently he shared something I have thought about when I visit various eating and drinking establishments.  I share it with you in the hopes that it enlightens your day (or at least gives you a moment of pause or humor).

Sidecar Discussion – An Open Letter to Bartenders.

Recipe Review: Low-Fat Fudgy Brownies

Podcasts are one of the many blessings of the Internet (seriously).  Among other things they make it possible to keep up with radio programs I am never around to hear when they are broadcast over the airwaves.  One of my favorites is America’s Test Kitchen Radio, from the producers of Cook’s Illustrated. I enjoy the call in segment the most; it’s kind of fun to guess what Chris and Bridget are going to give me answers.

Toward the end of the show they give a radio rundown of a recipe makeover. One of the test kitchen cooks explains how they took something general not-so-good and made it better. On the most recent episode I listened to the recipe was for low-fat fudgy brownies. It peaked my interest because, well, I like a fudgy brownie and low-fat isn’t a dirty phrase if it tastes good.

I made them this past Friday night while I waited for the blizzard that hit New England to rev up to full speed. The results were pretty good. I’ll give them high marks for the fudgy descriptor. Even several days later they were still moist and left a bit of brownie on the knife as I sliced it.

The chocolate flavor was a bit muted. That’s most likely my fault for using chocolate that was past its prime. They made a tasty brownie sundae; there goes the low-fat. 🙂

Give them a try when you have a chance and let me know what you think.

Recipe link: Low-Fat Fudgy Brownies

An aside about caramelizing onions

I am making some caramelized onions as part of dinner tonight and had time to take a few pictures along the way. I thought I’d share them with you so you have an idea of exactly how long it takes to do the job properly.

While I started with 5 pounds of onions in the photos I’ve had it take basically the same amount of time to do it with 1 onion.

caramelized onions @ 0 minutes

Raw onions to be caramelized.

caramelized onions @ 20 minutes

20 minutes into making caramelized onions.

caramelized onions @ 30 minutes

30 minutes into making caramelized onions.

caramelized onions @ 40 minutes

40 minutes into making caramelized onions.

caramelized onions @ 50 minutes

Finished caramelized onions (at 50 minutes).

At the end we ended up with about 3 cups of caramelized onions. The final weight was about 1 1/2 pounds.

In Praise of Swiss Chard

One of our favorite greens is Swiss chard. It is versatile and tasty. We’ve use it in soup, stews, pasta, salads and as a side dish. The small plants we put in the ground back in early May are really digging the cool nights and are flourishing as we reach the end of October.

Rainbow Swiss Chard, fresh from the garden

Rainbow Swiss Chard, fresh from the garden

We picked some after work tonight, as dusk was descending, along with some thyme, oregano, and winter savory. We used those in an old favorite, Orecchiette with Chickpeas.

I have a version closer to what we made tonight which doesn’t require the overnight soak of dried chickpeas nor the handcrafting of pasta. You can find it over here. Another advantage, it is a one pot meal. And tasty if I do say so myself.

Commentary on Weeknight Roast Chicken

Some people keep a recent copy of the New Yorker or TV Guide next to the arm chair, I keep food magazines. We subscribe to several and we keep most of them. Cook’s Illustrated is a favorite and they are often our go to source for recipes we know will deliver.

Dude, it's a chicken and it has been roasted.When I saw their recipe for Weeknight Roast Chicken I thought ‘how clever, I’ll have to try that’. As a picture is worth more than 999 words here is the result.

As simple as the recipe is (to summarize – high heat oven, preheat oven and pan at same time, rub chicken with oil, salt and pepper, add chicken to hot pan, cook) it was not without a few challenges.

The first problem was the smoke alarm going off. Apparently I’m not nearly as good at cleaning the inside of my oven as I am at cooking things inside my oven.

The second problem was that the lovely crisp skin lost it’s crispness while the chicken rested. It was sad really because it was such lovely crisp skin.

The final problem was that the breast came out a bit dry. The dark meat was still succulent though and everything did cook through at the same time.

In conclusion it was a good effort and worth a repeat… sometime after the inside of the oven has been cleaned.