Kate's Cuisine

Oct 20 2014

Spinach Boreks

Spinach Boreks

After perusing through Wayne Gisslen’s Professional Cooking when trying to decide what to make for the pre-dinner spread at Thanksgiving this year, I ended up deciding on Spinach Boreks. I had assumed that they were a Greek dish – perhaps because of the spinach and feta cheese, or maybe because they reminded me so much of Spanakopitas. After eating these golden crispy triangles of deliciousness – and doing some research – I found out that they’re not really Greek at all, but rather Turkish. While it’s phyllo dough that’s used in North America, the Turks have a similar pastry known as yufka, and the term borek refers to any dish in which this particular type of dough is wrapped or twisted around a filling. I will warn you that the process of twisting and wrapping can be a long one, but it’s well worth it, I promise.

2 pounds spinach $4.99
3 tablespoons butter $0.18
3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped $0.11
1 tablespoon scallion, finely chopped $0.05
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped $0.08
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled $3.99
12 sheets phyllo dough $1.99
16 tablespoons melted butter $0.96
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $12.37
Cost per serving $0.49

1.) Trim, wash, and steam or boil the spinach just until it is thoroughly wilted. Drain, cool under cold running water, and squeeze dry. Chop fine.

2.) Heat the 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet set over low heat. Add the onions and the scallions, stir, and cook just until they are soft.

3.) Remove the skillet from the heat and add the spinach and dill. Stir to mix and coat the spinach with the butter.

4.) Add the cheese, season lightly with salt and pepper, and mix. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.

5.) Thaw the phyllo if it is frozen. Unwrap and unfold the stacks of sheets and cut them in half lengthwise. Keep any phyllo you are not working with covered with a moist paper towel or clean tea towel to prevent the dough from drying out.

6.) Taking one sheet at a time, brush it with the melted butter. Fold it in half lengthwise and butter it again.

7.) Place a small amount of the spinach mixture (about 1 tablespoon) at the very end of the buttered strip, and down near the bottom corner. Fold the phyllo under the spinach mixture up so that you encapsulate the spinach mixture within the phyllo and form a triangle at that end. Then fold back down and back up, repeating this pattern until you have folded the entire strip. As each borek is made, place the packets down on a baking sheet with the loose ends of the phyllo on the bottom.

8.) When all boreks have been made and are on the baking sheet, brush the tops of each one with melted butter.

9.) Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the boreks are golden brown and crisp, about 20 – 25 minutes.

10.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 17 2014

How to Treat Burns in the Kitchen

Treat Burns

Working in a restaurant kitchen comes with some potential hazards – cuts and burns being the biggest ones. The first chef I ever worked for told me once that “Burns are an inevitable part of working in a kitchen. But if you cut yourself, it’s because you weren’t paying attention.” Those words were actually of great comfort to me last Tuesday when I grabbed a bowl that was far too hot in the kitchen with my bare hands, and promptly burned the fingerprints (and a couple layers of skin) off my fingertips. For the rest of my shift I was overloaded with home remedies and treatment ideas that came from the servers and the others that were working in the kitchen with me at the time. But when you have your hand in a bucket of ice water and can’t stop wincing from the pain, digesting what everyone is saying – let alone knowing which one will work best – is difficult at best. To treat a burn promptly and accurately, it’s best to know what to do before the burn actually happens (and then try your best to remember when the time comes.)

The Three Degree of Burns

The severity of your burn will depend on the care that is needed for it, so it’s important that you try to determine that before proceeding with treatment.

  • First-degree burns are the least severe type, as they only burn the outer layer of skin and don’t go any deeper. With these types of burns the skin will turn red and may even swell. Because these are minor burns home remedies such as Aloe Vera are typically enough to treat them but if the burn affects a large amount of skin, it’s best to seek medical attention.
  • Second-degree burns, unlike those in the first degree, burn through the entire first layer of skin and the second layer of skin. This is the type of burn I suffered and I can tell you from experience that they hurt like a son of a mother! Along with the pain there will likely be some swelling, and the skin will turn bright red and may have a splotchy appearance. When you suffer from a second-degree burn, blisters will also appear. While you will be in a great deal of pain, the Mayo Clinic still says that emergency care is not necessary unless the burn is larger than 3 inches in diameter.
  • Third-degree burns are the most severe type, as they burn through all layers of skin and with that, cause permanent tissue damage. The area of the skin in this case might take on a charred appearance or turn white and dry. When third-degree burns occur, it’s best to seek medical attention right away to prevent as much damage to the tissue as possible.

Immediate Treatment of the Burn

Of course, after being burned the first thing you’ll want to do is treat it. There are many over-the-counter lotions and sprays that can be used for this, but first you’ll need to completely cool the skin down – and the more severe the burn, the longer this will take. Having only really suffered from very minor burns before, immediately after grabbing that blasted bowl I ran to the sink and started to run cool water over my fingertips. The cook I was working with instead filled a bucket with ice water and told me to keep my hand in there. My hand stayed in that water for a good hour due to the fact that whenever I took it out, my hand would begin throbbing again. But, here’s a tip for you when it comes to ice and burns – don’t use it!

Since suffering that burn, I’ve learned that ice should never be used to treat burns. It seems like common sense that ice will cool your burn down the quickest, but it can have other effects on your system that will only make your overall condition worse – such as shock. When any part of your body goes from extreme heat to extreme cold, it can send your entire system into shock and that comes with its own host of problems. Also, putting ice anywhere near the burn can actually cause more damage to the affected area and take it longer to heal. Instead, fill a bucket or a bowl with cool water and let the burn soak in that. If like me, taking the burn out of the cool water is too painful for too long, soak a cloth in cold water and then wrap it around the area, taping it with electrical or first aid tape to hold it on. While I lost the use of my left hand while doing this, it did allow me to stop thinking about the pain for several minutes at a time (and that was a real victory, let me tell you.)

Home Remedies

So you’re in your kitchen and all you want is for the pain to stop. Luckily, if the burn is not severe, a quick look around your kitchen will most likely bring you the relief you seek.

  • Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera was always growing in at least three areas of my home growing up and I suspect the same is true for many of you. The reason for this? It has tons of healing properties for many ailments, and it’s pain-killing and astringent properties are especially helpful in healing burns. Because Aloe Vera also has tissue-healing properties, it’s also suitable to use on severe burns. First rinse the area with cool water then cut a small piece of the plant off and squeeze some of the fresh gel right onto the burn.
  • Raw potato. Potatoes have anti-irritating and soothing properties, and they can also take away the pain and reduce the chance of blisters appearing. Just slice off a piece of raw potato and rub in on the burn, trying to get as much of the juice from the potato as possible onto the burn.
  • Honey. Honey can help draw the fluid out of a burn, which might help prevent blisters that would otherwise form. Just spread a small amount onto gauze and then place the gauze right over the burn. Remember to change the dressing and apply fresh honey to new gauze several times a day.
  • Fresh lettuce. This is one I thought of on my own before my hand was wrapped in a cloth and I’d do anything to stop the pain. I can’t tell you what qualities lettuce possesses that helps, but I can tell you that it stops the pain. All that’s needed is a leaf large enough to cover the area and, if you still need to use the affected area like I did, a way to keep it on, such as bandages or gauze.

Blisters: To Pop, or Not to Pop?

The biggest piece of advice I got for days after getting burned was also the worst. It seemed that everyone and their brother wanted me to pop the blisters that had formed. The reasons for this were several, but none of them were right. Blisters actually help to keep bacteria from getting inside the wound, and that helps keep infection out. As soon as you pop them, you leave the area wide open to anything that wants to get inside, plus you lose the small cushion that nature gave you to help with the pain. And while blisters themselves might be slightly painful, it’s nothing compared to what you’ll feel directly after popping them (and for days after!) I didn’t pop my blisters and I can tell you, I’m better for it.

Oct 06 2014

Veal Parmesan

Veal Parm 2

If you ask my husband, the only protein that should be breaded and covered in spaghetti sauce and cheese, is chicken. But there’s more than one way to a good Parm; and while this recipe is similar to Chicken Parm, the technique is a bit different due to the fact that the veal cutlets used in Veal Parm should be cooked quickly to keep them from becoming tough.

8 veal cutlets $8.62
1 cup all-purpose flour $0.14
3 eggs $0.60
2 cups fine bread crumbs $0.84
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/2 cup $2.99
1 tablespoon dried basil $0.27
1 tablespoon dried oregano $0.20
1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce $1.25
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella (enough to make about 2 cups), sliced into 16 thin slices $5.69
8 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $20.80
Cost per serving $5.20

1.) Dry the veal cutlets with paper towels, set aside, and set up a breading station. Place the flour in one bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Crack the eggs into a second bowl and beat them lightly. In a third bowl place the bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and combine all ingredients well.

2.) One by one, bread the veal cutlets. Start by coating them entirely in the flour and shaking off the excess. Then dip them in the egg, again making sure that each cutlet is entirely coated. Lastly, lay the cutlets down into the bread crumb mixture, and sprinkle and press the bread crumb mixture onto each cutlet. As each cutlet is done, set them aside on a plate and continue with each cutlet.

3.) When all cutlets are breaded, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, also heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven and bring the temperature up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a deep-frying thermometer, do the spoon test. When you think the oil might be up to temperature, place the long end of a wooden spoon into the centre of the oil. If tiny bubbles start running up alongside the spoon, the oil is hot enough.

4.) When oil is hot, gently place the cutlets into the pot, cooking them in two batches, as not to overcrowd the pot. Cook for about 3 minutes, then remove, placing them onto paper towels, and repeat with the second batch. Remove the oil from the heat once all cutlets have been cooked.

5.) Place the cutlets onto baking sheet in a single layer. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons over the middle of each cutlet, topping with 2 slices of the mozzarella cheese. Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook until the sauce is warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 5 – 10 minutes.

6.) Lay veal on top of a pile of pasta and spaghetti sauce, serve, and enjoy!

Oct 04 2014

Spicy Sausage Linguine in a Rose Sauce

Spicy Sausage

There are no shortages of food ideas in a restaurant kitchen. From finding different ingredients in the walk-in, to discussing ideas with the chef, to learning different ways to plate and present food to make sure it looks its best, these are the most obvious places in which you’ll find new ideas. But there are other, lesser-known areas around the restaurant to get even more food ideas, such as the server that comes in for lunch with a specific, not-on-the-menu item and asks if you can prepare it. That’s what happened here. I didn’t actually make this dish the day said server came in to request it, but I was there and I watched as it was prepared. When finished, it looked so good I had to come home and see if I could recreate it. I didn’t do such a bad job, if I may say.

1/2 package dried linguine $0.99
3 cups spaghetti sauce $3.36
2 cups Alfredo sauce $3.03
4 hot Italian sausage $2.68
1 tablespoon olive oil $0.03
2 – 3 tablespoons Srirarcha    $0.15
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese $1.49
1/2 cup fresh basil $0.75
Salt $0.01

Total cost $12.49
Cost per serving $3.12

1.) Combine the spaghetti sauce, Alfredo sauce, and Srirarcha sauce into a large saucepan. Stir to combine, set over medium heat and warm through. Taste along the way and adjust seasoning if necessary.

2.) While the sauce is warming through, fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil. When boiling gently drop in the Italian sausages and lower heat to a simmer. Cook sausages in the water for about 20 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes, but cool enough so that you can handle them. When cooled, thinly slice them on a diagonal.

3.) Bring another large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. When rapidly boiling, drop linguine in, stir, and cook for about 8 minutes, until it’s just al dente and has a bit of bite left to it.

4.) Heat the olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sliced sausage and stir to coat the sausage in the oil. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, until the sausage is carmalized and nice and crispy along the edges. Then lower heat and add the rose sauce that has been warming. When linguini is finished cooking, use tongs or a pasta ladle to remove it from the water and add it directly to the pan holding the sauce and sausage. Stir to thoroughly coat the pasta in the sauce.

5.) Add the Parmesan cheese to the pasta and stir again to coat. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

6.) Lay the basil leaves flat on a cutting board and roll up into a cigar. Slice into thin strips to chiffonade the basil, cutting them into ribbons. Plate pasta onto individual plates and garnish each with the chiffonade of basil.

7.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 03 2014

Warm Bean Salad

Warm Bean Salad

Sometimes you only have to change the smallest thing about a dish and it becomes something completely different. Sometimes that’s an ingredient, sometimes it’s a specific technique, and with this dish, it was a matter of turning up the heat. Literally. I made a bean salad  dressing, warmed it through on the stove, and then poured it over beans – which were also hot. It completely transformed the dish, yet stayed true to bean salad as I know and love it. This might be one of my favourite salads yet.

1/4 cup olive oil $0.11
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard $0.24
Zest and juice of 1 lemon $0.33
3 tablespoons rice vinegar $0.42
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger $0.42
1 teaspoon cumin $0.25
1 teaspoon ground coriander $0.16
1 pound fresh or frozen beans, green or wax or a mixture of both $3.50
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted $0.79
Salt $0.01
Pepper $0.01

Total cost $6.24
Cost per serving $1.56

1.) In a blender combine olive oil, Dijon mustard, zest and juice of lemon, rice vinegar, ginger, cumin, coriander, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

2.) Pour dressing into a medium-sized saucepan and set over medium-low heat on the stove. Cook until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

3.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When rapidly boiling, drop the beans in and blanch them for just 1 minute, until they are bright green and crisp-tender. Remove from the water with tongs or a spider ladle and place them into the saucepan with the dressing. Turn so that all beans are completely coated in the dressing and cook for another minute or two.

4.) Remove beans from the saucepan and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

5.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 02 2014

Kate’s Ketchup


There’s an ongoing ketchup battle happening at my house. Brent only likes Heinz, the most expensive ketchup to be found at just about any grocery store, and one that he doesn’t appreciate me using in my cooking (such as when I need half the bottle to make barbecue sauce.) I’ve tried to convince him to buy two bottles – one Heinz for his dipping pleasure, and one cheapo brand for me to use when I need it. No dice. I just shouldn’t use the ketchup, apparently. So, after coming home from work the other day I figured it was just as much effort to simply make my own as it was to prepare for battle. Making my own ketchup is something I’ve done before, with pretty terrible results. But this time, I followed my gut instead of a recipe and it turned out much better. So good in fact, that my kids have decided to side with me in the ketchup battle and now only want to eat ketchup that mom made. I’m going to take that as a win.

3 tomatoes, chopped $0.84
1 tablespoon tomato paste $0.30
3/4 cup white sugar $0.12
1/2 cup vinegar $0.27
Salt $0.01

Total cost $1.54

1.) Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Empty mixture into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, or until mixture is reduced by half and is a ketchup-like consistency.

2.) Serve and enjoy!

Sep 29 2014

Quick Pickled Beets

Quick Pickled Beets

The term “quick pickled beets” is a bit misleading. I really thought it would be a matter of placing the beets in a bowl with some vinegar and seasoning and just let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Ah, but I had forgotten that the beets need to be softened first, and they also need to be peeled. That requires either steaming or roasting – which takes about 30 minutes. Peeling raw beets was something I learned very early on not to do. After making some red beet dish or another, I was talking to my grandma about it, and about how very difficult it was to peel them. She asked me if I had steamed the beets beforehand, to which I answered a very dismayed “no.” I’ve never made that mistake again and while it means that these “quick pickled beets” aren’t as quick as you might like, keep in mind that you’d spend just as much time trying to peel them in their raw form. And that you’d be a lot more frustrated at the end of it all.

4 beets $1.00
1/2 onion, thinly sliced $0.23
1/2 cup red wine vinegar $0.55
2 tablespoons sugar $0.02
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon $0.15
2 whole cloves $0.04
1/2 teaspoon salt $0.01
1/2 teaspoon pepper $0.01

Total cost $2.01
Cost per serving $0.50

1.) Chop the leaves and stems off of the beets. Place them in a steamer basket set into a pot and fill with 1 to 2 inches of water. Cover, turn heat to high and let beets steam for 30 – 40 minutes, until they are fork tender. Be sure to keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary.

2.) After beets are finished steaming, remove from the steamer basket and allow them to cool slightly, enough so you can handle them. Peel the skins off (use a knife if you have to, but you should be able to just slip them right off,) and dice the beets.

3.) While the beets are cooling, place the onion slices, red wine vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat. Simmer the mixture for 4 – 6 minutes, just until the onion softens some.

4.) Place the diced beets into a bowl and pour the pickling mixture from the saucepan over top. Let beets sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.) Serve and enjoy! (You can also store the pickled beets in an airtight container in the fridge for one week.)

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