Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kettle Chips

It's likely that many of you know the potato chip revelation that is a bag of Kettle Chips. Made in Salem, Oregon, these all-natural chips are practically a meal. Thick, crunchy, satisfying.

But there is another revelation to be had! Kettle Chips has released a baked potato chip in the following flavors: salt & fresh ground pepper, sea salt & vinegar, aged white cheddar, hickory honey barbecue, and sea salt.

I've had the aged white cheddar and they were good--subtle cheese flavor with a lot of crunch. But the sea salt & vinegar that I bought this week were really fantastic. They explode with flavor, and I appreciate the quality of the chip. The baked chips from some brands seem almost powdery, and the flavor is all but non-existent. Kettle Chips, on the other hand, are baked with plenty of oil, which helps them retain that moist crispness of a fried chip. The really good news is that despite this fact, they contain 65% less fat than their fried cousins. Kettle Baked Chips are very flat, but sturdy; when you open the bag, you actually see mostly whole chips rather than a sack full of crumbs.

Only downside: these bags are only 4 oz. and I ate it in two sittings. At roughly $3, a little pricey, but quality is quality.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magazine: Cook's Illustrated

I have a bit of a confession to make. I'm addicted to food porn. If you haven't heard this term before, don't be too scandalized. It just means: food photography that makes your mouth water, it looks that good. I love photos of food. I think subconsciously I browse through them while eating, pretending that my reheated potato-leek soup is really steak frites with herb butter.

Which can occasionally be my downfall. My love of food photography kept me from ever picking up the magazine Cook's Illustrated in the bookstore, which is completely black and white. But this magazine is truly awesome. It comes out of America's Test Kitchen, which is a real kitchen/science lab located near Boston. Each recipe is accompanied by an in-depth article on the additions, subtractions, and other changes made to the dish, and how it affected the final product.

I finally picked up this magazine when I saw a color copy of their Best Recipes edition, and it's fabulous. It contains a lot of meat recipes, an area in which I need more expertise, and other delicious-looking dishes I want to try like oven-fried onion rings and boston cream cupcakes. It also includes sidebars on cooking techniques like choosing proper cuts of meat, kneading dough, etc.

I am also aware that there is a television show called America's Test Kitchen, which looks to be completely available online. I haven't watched yet, but I may today instead of reading my early American lit homework.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Labor Day Baking

I am totally psyched for my extended family's Labor Day weekend "camping" trip. All 30-some of us congregate in a little town in south-central Pennsylvania on my aunts' and uncles' rural creekside property. Some sleep indoors, some tent, and we all canoe, build fires, and, most importantly, eat a crap-ton. Except we're Mennonite, so it tastes a lot better than crap. It's more like an ambrosia-ton.... never mind.

This year, my contribution is an apple cheese pie, recipe found in Taste of Home's annual Fall Baking issue, and key lime white chocolate chip cookies. Here is my photo chronicle of baking the apple cheese pie.

This is a rather unique recipe, calling for a double crust, but also a layer of caramelized pecans under the bottom crust. So I started thus:

Then the bottom crust.

Then a layer of cream cheese, a little sharp cheddar, and a pinch of sugar, topped with sliced Granny Smith apples tossed with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and ginger.

Over goes the top crust, and into the oven.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is a PIE.

Unfortunately, the recipe called for me to invert the pie so the pecans would be on top, so I lost my beautiful top crust, but I am glad I inverted it while still warm. I used a larger, heavier pie dish to invert into so that it would keep its shape.

I made the whole house smoky because the juices dripped down into the oven, but the kitchen has been set to rights, and the dish looks gorgeous. I've only recently gotten into eating apple slices with sharp cheddar, so I'm excited about how that combination will taste in this pie. Check back for a tasting update next week!

Tasting update: This pie got fantastic reviews from its tasters! Not too sweet, with just the right hints of saltiness and tang from the cheddar and cream cheese. The Granny Smiths baked well, producing a soft bite while still maintaining their shape and texture. The nuts and cheese complimented each other beautifully. My only lament is that I didn't taste the pie warm; I suspect that its flavors may have been more robust if served soon after baking. I'm definitely keeping this recipe around!