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Archive for November 2013

Having the right tools in the kitchen can be crucial to saving time with minimal effort.

Having the right tools in the kitchen can be crucial to saving time with minimal effort.

We use many more gadgets, gizmos and widgets in the Amoretti test kitchen when preparing the recipes you find here on the Amoretti Blog than we have previously discussed and we’d like give you even more ideas of what tools would assist you in preparing the recipes you find in our blog faster and easier.

In some of our brunch tea drink recipes we mention a tea ball. A tea ball, also called a tea infuser, is a handy gadget to have when brewing tea. Unlike a tea bag, you get to decide what kind of tea to use, you can custom blend teas to your taste, and you decide how much tea to use per cup. Tea balls come in several different designs, but they all work the same way: Put the desired quantity of loose tea into the tea ball, place the tea ball into the container (cup, mug or pot), add the hot water and allow the tea to steep until it has achieved the strength you want. If you are a tea drinker or regularly prepare tea for other family members or guests, you might want to consider a cast iron tea pot. Cast iron tea pots come in several sizes that will brew from 2 to 6 cups of tea. Most cast iron tea pots have an infuser basket built in to the opening, so you simply put the desired amount of tea into the infuser basket, add the hot water and allow the tea to steep for about 5 minutes. The cast iron material distributes the heat evenly and retains the heat to keep the tea at a drinkable temperature longer. The infuser basket can be removed from the pot to keep the tea from becoming too strong or bitter, or, as you consume the tea you can add more hot water to the pot to continue brewing tea with the same tea leaves.

Zest is a key ingredient for many beverages and gourmet food recipes.

Zest is a key ingredient for many beverages and gourmet food recipes.

Spatulas, spoonulas and dough scrapers are an important part of preparing baked goods. Spatulas and spoonulas are made of silicone and are as durable as they are attractive. They’re sturdy, stylish and the silicone head is heat resistant to 475°F. A good spatula is essential for folding additional ingredients into a mixture, like when you fold the whipped egg whites into the Belgian waffle batter in our Chicken and Waffles recipe or the egg mixture into the dry ingredients of the Almond Orange Olive Oil Cake. A spoonula is a kitchen tool which combines a spoon and a spatula into one implement. Curved like a spoon, flexible like a spatula, the spoonula was used to stir the pomegranate syrup and cornstarch when making the turkey glaze and the crème filling for the Orange Cream cake. With the broad spoon ensuring wide coverage while the flexible body scrapes into all corners of the pan, nothing is missed. A dough scraper is generally a small sheet of stainless steel, approximately 3-inches high by 5-inches wide, with a handle of wood, plastic, or simply a roll in the steel blade along one of the long sides. Essential for handling raw dough on the work surface, you can use it to help pick up, turn, fold and portion dough. We used a dough scraper to handle and portion the dough for our Sticky Buns. In a more generic role, a dough scraper, in conjunction with your free hand, is extremely useful in transferring sliced, diced and chopped foods from the cutting board to a pot or pan.

Temperature is an important part of preparing foods. For example, when cooking meat, especially poultry, it is extremely important from a health standpoint to ensure a safe temperature has been reached before serving it to your family or guests. One essential tool to assist you in providing food cooked to the required temperature is the instant read thermometer. Available in just about any kitchen store as well as online, they are available with either analog or digital readouts. An instant read thermometer was used to check the internal temperature of the chicken breasts in the Chicken & Waffles recipe. Another type of thermometer for cooking meat and poultry is the probe thermometer and timer. These thermometers consist of a base unit with a digital readout and a probe with a cable that plugs into the base unit. The base unit will usually have settings for both temperature and time, and some type of alarm that alerts you that the set temperature has been reached or the cooking time has expired. We used the probe thermometer to ensure a safe temperature was reached when cooking our Turkey with Pomegranate Maple Glaze. Candy, Jelly, and deep frying thermometers are submersible units capable of providing an accurate temperature reading when making candy, putting up preserves, or deep frying. These thermometers are available in either analog or digital readout design, as well a probe and cable type with a remote base unit and a digital readout. These thermometers have a clip of some kind on the submersible part of the unit so the user can attach it to the side of a pot and adjust the depth, so it’s not touching the bottom. We will use a submersible thermometer to determine that the temperature of the canola oil being used to fry our beignets has reached 350°F and to monitor the temperature as we add the beignets to be sure it doesn’t drop too low.

We have so many more gadgets, gizmos and widgets in the Amoretti Test Kitchens, and we will be sure to point them out when they are being used to prepare the recipes we provide.

Categories : Uncategorized
A few gadgets and gizmos can make dessert and meal preparation much easier and faster.

A few gadgets and gizmos can make dessert and meal preparation much easier and faster.

There used to be a kitchen store in a shopping mall nearby that had a selection of kitchen tools that was, in a word, unbelievable. You would walk in the front door, turn to your left and you were looking at a wall, 10 feet high and about 40 feet long, completely covered in gadgets, gizmos and widgets! I could spend, and have spent, an entire afternoon just checking them out, and every visit brought new and different gadgets, gizmos and widgets to peruse.

Don’t get the wrong idea. We are not expanding the Amoretti Store to include the sale of hardware, and we are not going to promote any particular brand or manufacturer of these items over another, but the Amoretti® Test Kitchen drawers are overflowing with the small tools we call gadgets, gizmos and widgets, which we use when preparing the recipes you find here on the Amoretti® Blog, and we’d like to talk a little bit about these items and their uses so you have a better idea of what tools would be advantageous to have in your kitchen in order to prepare the recipes you find in our blog faster and easier. We try not to promote any “single use items” unless it’s absolutely necessary, so you will find that the tools we discuss here are employed for many different uses.

Once you get all the right tools, go ahead and try out some of our amazing products.

Once you get all the right tools, go ahead and try out some of our amazing products.

For example, let’s talk about the Pear Melba with Roman Raspberry Gelato recipe. Of course, we used an ice cream scoop to remove the raspberry sorbet from its container and put it into the serving dish, and everyone should own at least one ice cream scoop. But did you know that ice cream scoops come in different types and sizes, and that a small ice cream scoop is perfect for portioning out things like cookie dough evenly? We don’t recommend any one type or size of ice cream scoop, we just recommend that you have at least one in your utensil drawer.

We also used a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the pears, and a melon baller to core them so as not to lose any more of that delicious fruit than necessary. A vegetable peeler is also a tool that comes in many styles and sizes, and also different materials. We have several different types in the Amoretti Test Kitchen drawers, featuring both stainless steel and ceramic blades, in both horizontal and vertical positions, and we will select the one we feel is best for the task at hand and is most comfortable for the user. For those of you who may not be familiar with a melon baller, it is a small round scoop with a sharp edge, designed to cut rounded pieces of melon from the whole fruit, especially for use in salads. Not only did we use our melon baller to core our pears, we also used it to prepare the fruit for our Assorted Melon Salad with Champagne Dressing.

Zesters and graters are another class of tool everyone should have at their disposal. Zesters are primarily for removing the aromatic skin from citrus fruits without the bitter white pith. The single headed zesting tool consists of a handle attached to a head with small cutting holes which is used to remove narrow shavings as the tool is pulled along the skin of the fruit. Some models also have a single cutter below the cutting holes that is used to remove wider and longer portions of the zest, to be used as a garnish or decoration. The microplane type of zester/grater is used for zesting citrus fruit and for grating harder materials like ginger root and hard cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano. The handiest type of grater is a box grater, which has multiple sized grating surfaces and is primarily used for grating softer cheeses, shredding vegetables like potatoes and carrots, and for making fresh bread crumbs.

Two of my favorite time saving gadgets are the garlic press and its big brother, the potato ricer. When a recipe calls for minced garlic, it is much quicker and easier to remove the skin from the garlic clove and squeeze it through a garlic press than to finely chop it with a kitchen knife, and there is no danger to your fingers. When making mashed or whipped potatoes, the potato ricer provides a uniform size and texture to your cooked potatoes that no hand masher can provide, and is faster and easier than using a mixer, so your potato is still hot and ready for milk, butter, and seasonings. Another benefit of the potato ricer is, you can cook small potatoes like fingerlings, Yukon Golds, and red skinned potatoes whole, and when you squeeze them through the potato ricer, the potato comes out the bottom and the skin stays behind! I also use my potato ricer to prepare my world famous spaghetti and meatball cake, for which I will provide a recipe soon. Take my word for it, everyone to whom you serve this cake will be impressed, if not totally amazed, by your ingenuity!

Categories : Uncategorized