Monthly Archives: July 2012

How To Make Taurus-Baked Cookies And Biscuits

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It has been a hot summer; one of the hottest in history, in fact, with Atlanta reaching 106, the highest that’s ever been recorded. This forces us to both stay cool and stay indoors. We would love some treats though, but we don’t exactly want to turn on a hot oven inside, helping bake us along with whatever dish we’re cooking.

So, naturally, we have to cook outside… where it’s hot, and we don’t want to be.

There had been stories out there of people baking cookies in their car; the relatively low heat compared to an oven is balanced out by the extended period of time they’re in there. It’s a natural heat, one that doesn’t rack up the gas bill, and since you leave the car outside, it doesn’t heat up the house.

It was decided that biscuits would be an interesting diversion from cookies as well, and with cookies being called “biscuits” in other countries, a fun pun. We wanted to try out a silicone baking mat; compare that to the regular baking surface and see if there’s any difference than just cooking straight on a perforated sheet pan. With a quick run to the store for Hershey’s Mini Kisses (12 Big Deluxe Cookies in a Special Edition, which is just surprising that food can have a “Special Edition”) and Grands! Jr. Golden Layers Butter Tastin’ (10 Flaky Biscuits), we were ready… a week ago. We wanted to make sure we had a thermometer on hand, and that it was a hot enough day.

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STEP 1: Dish out premade cookie dough and biscuit dough onto a pan.

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STEP 2: Set nature to 88 degrees.

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STEP 3: Open the door of your 1999 Ford Taurus, placing the baking rack on the the dashboard.

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STEP 4: Bake for six hours by closing the door and walking away.

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STEP 5: Enjoy.

Our records for the event (we kept a thermometer in a cookie)

  • 10:10 AM, 88°F in car (placing the cookies in the car)
  • 10:20 AM, 75°F in cookie
  • 11:05 AM, 130°F in cookie
  • 12:00 PM, 131°F in cookie
  • 12:30 PM, 145°F in cookie
  • 1:00 PM, 156°F in cookie
  • 2:00 PM, 126°F in cookie (overcast; at this point, clouds covered the sky)
  • 3:00 PM, 120°F in cookie (still overcast)
  • 4:00 PM, 101°F in cookie (still overcast)

At 4:00 PM, we brought the plates in, and placed them on a tray… or at least, we tried to. The items on the silicone mat came off quickly, but the items placed directly on the tray took a little more coercion; since it’s perforated, they had to be lifted out of the perforations. From having worked in bakeries, it’s a good idea to place SOME sort of protection between the tray (either paper or the aforementioned silicone mat), but for experiment’s sake, we wanted to compare the silicone mat versus direct metal.

The general response to the cookies and biscuits was that they’d be great… if nature didn’t change it’s mind. At the height of the day, 1PM, the cookies had hit 156 degrees; only a few degrees off from the minimum required internal temperature for food service. Around this point, the sky went overcast… and the temperature proceeded to drop drastically. By the end of the working day, the cooking sheet was pulled out; cookies were nice and soft, but easily fell apart. The biscuits were solid on the outside and easy to handle, but doughy in the center. Still, with a little bit of butter or jelly, they’d be no real problem… after another minute in a toaster.

While we can’t officially advocate eating raw dough, we’ve all eaten raw cookie dought at some point in our lives, and this day was no exception. I did make sure to make people verbally agree not to be angry if they got sick from them, though.

The silicon pad worked wonders! Nothing stuck to it… which includes gravity, as due to the slight incline of the dashboard and parking lot, the cookies began to streak down the top. The cookies that weren’t on the dash, but straight on the preferoated cookie sheet, decided to drip down… leaving residue on my dash.

If anything? my car smells AMAZING now.

Check out our images of the event, including the time-lapse of the cookies and biscuits cooking over the course of the day, in the gallery below.
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It’s all in the Seasoning: Caring for your Cast Iron Cookware (Dutch oven, Pot or Pan)

WOC-A1737018_1213201014917_fullOwning cast iron cookware is great. You can make almost anything in it, and it requires almost no maintaining.

You hear statements like this all the time, and it’s true… but notice the word “almost”. That word is a killer.

Why?

Well, because you do have to care for your cast iron. If it’s a Dutch oven, cast iron cooking pot, a pan or some other great piece of cast-iron cookware, you still need to clean and care for it.

Cast iron cookware requires seasoning.

Unfortunately, it’s not a spice. It’s the protective coating that you apply to your cookware. In today’s world, most cookware will come pre-seasoned (meaning that a coating has been applied to the cookware by the manufacturer).  Even if you have pre-seasoned cookware, at some point you’re going to burn that blueberry cobbler and will need to re-season.

Seasoning starts with washing your cast iron Dutch oven or cookware with soap and water. This is the one and only time where soap should come in contact with your oven. The basic idea is to get the pan clean and back to the metal finish. Wash and prepare your oven. You can use an abrasive cleaning utensil like steel wool, or a coarse sponge. Clean, clean, clean.

Once it’s clean to your satisfaction, towel-dry the cookware. Make sure that the cookware is free of soap and water.

After cleaning, comes the fun part. Heat up your oven or grill. Between 375-450 degrees will work.

A trick I learned a few years ago is to place the (un-oiled) cast iron inside of the heating element for a few minutes (until it’s warm to the touch).  Even after drying the metal moisture can still linger. This will remove any residual moisture for you and ensure a lasting seasoning.

Remove your cookware from the oven and let it cool.

Next, use a paper towel or non-abrasive cloth to coat the cookware in cooking oil (I use vegetable oil, but you can certainly vary the oil to your liking). Place the oiled oven back inside the heat source.

Leave the cookware in the oven for no less than 1 hour.  Turn off the oven but do not remove the cookware.  You will need to wait until the cast-iron has cooled off sufficiently. This should be at least another hour.

A helpful hint: the first few times you cook after the seasoning process, make something with a lot of grease or fat (like bacon). It helps to ensure you have a nice coating inside your cookware to get you started.

Good seasoning can last a lifetime. Or, at least, until the next time you make blueberry cobbler.

Equipment Guide To Opening a Restaurant

Ever considered opening your own restaurant?

Whether it be an Italian, Mexican, Americana, or good ole fashioned sports bar you will need some bare essentials if you plan on doing it the right way. Having the right equipment means that you’ll be ready when your restaurant explodes in popularity, giving you the peace of mind when you need to ramp up your cooking and dining efforts.
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A Comprehensive Restaurant Equipment Buying Guide can be found on our main site where it lists all of the things you need to open your own restaurant. Among these essentials items:

  • Commercial ovens: Convection ovens, electric ovens, fryers, gas ovens, griddle top ranges, and microwaves.
  • Restaurant seating: Bar stools, chairs, high chairs, booths, and tables.
  • Commercial walk in refrigeration units: Walk-in coolers, walk in latch replacements, and strip curtains.
  • Plastic cutlery: Plastic cutlery kits, plastic forks, plastic knives, and plastic spoons.

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  • Food preparation: Aprons, blenders/juicers, can openers, chef knives and utensils, kitchen utensils, food warmers, gloves, heat lamps, measuring cups, storage containers, toasters, trays, work tables, 20 quart mixers, condiment bottles, and condiment pumps.
  • Office supplies: Clipboards, desks, tape & dispensers, files & filing supplies, message pads, cash bags, mounting tape, forms- record keeping, safes, time clocks & time cards, and time racks.
  • Pots and pans: Baine Marie pots, stock pots, sauce pots, bake pans, cast iron, crepe pans, stir fry pans, and fry pans.
  • Tableware: Bowls, China, flatware, glassware, linens, Melamine dinnerware, pitchers, plastic tumblers, and table top accessories.
  • Glassware: Disposable cups and lids, coffee cups, styrofoam cups and lids, and plastic tumblers.
  • Beverage Essentials: Coffee makers, coffee filters, specialty brewers, drink dispensers, and straws.
  • Ice Machines: Cube, flaker, nugget, and dicer ice machines, ice scoops, ice machine storage bins, and under-counter ice machines.
  • Freezers: Reach-in freezers, solid door freezers, under-counter freezers, chest freezers, pass-through freezers, remote condenser freezers, and ice cream freezers.
  • Refrigeration: Air curtain refrigeration, glass door refrigeration, milk refrigeration, reach-in refrigeration, underbar refrigeration, restaurant merchandisers, under-counter refrigeration, deli cases, refrigerated wine cabinets, and refrigerated bakery cases.
  • Cleaning Supplies & Equipment: Brooms & brushes, cleaning supplies, dust mops, bathroom cleaning supplies, paper towels, paper towel dispenser, soap and soap dispensers, sponges, trash cans, liners, and toilet paper.
  • Sinks: Bar sinks, bathroom sinks, and hand sinks.
  • Dish Machines: Conveyer dishwashers, high temperature dish washers, low temperature dishwashers, round dish machines, under-counter dishwashers, and upright dishwashers.

InstaWares offers a complete restaurant equipment buying guide that lists all of the essentials. You can also buy this equipment directly from the InstaWares.com main website.