Holiday Cooking and Baking Fails & Fixes

Holiday Cooking and Baking Fails & Fixes

If you’ve ever searched for recipes or baking ideas on the internet, you’ll see a treasure trove of beautiful glossy images. Cookies perfectly decorated, a roast cooked to perfection and vibrantly colored vegetables that make the perfect pairing. You’ve got to hand it to the photographers and food stylists, they do their job so well it almost looks easy to create such perfection.

But for as many beautiful images there are flooding the internet, there are an equal amount of.. let’s say honest images. From those bakers who gave it their all, taking on the seemingly easy task of creating perfection only to land a little short. Self-proclaimed FAILS.

Now these ambitious bakers didn’t do it all wrong. Baking is a science! One missed step could have led their recipe astray. Not enough water? Too much heat? One slight deviation from the recipe can lead to a FAIL.

So we consulted with our cooking experts to get the answers on the most common holiday baking fails and how to fix them so your delicious creation can go from FAIL to FIXED!

Hands rolling pie crust

HOMEMADE PIE CRUST

FAIL: Crust cracks when rolled, baked, burns easily or shrinks.

Fix: Think cold! When making pie crust chill all your ingredients in advance (and not just the shortening). After mixing, form a flat disc, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator before rolling. Roll your choice from the center out, not back and forth, in all directions applying even pressure. Unlike bread dough, you want to handle pie crust as little as possible to keep the dough light and flaky.

Uncooked meat

UNEVENLY COOKED MEAT

FAIL: Burned on the outside, frozen or rare on the inside.

Fix: If you’re working with a frozen turkey or roast, allow proper time for it to defrost. Sometimes this process can take days, so plan ahead. When you are ready to cook, give your meat some time to reach room temperature. Thicker meats that are transferred from the refrigerator to the oven will often have a bullseye effect – well done on the outside and rare on the inside.

Christmas cookies on cookie sheet

COOKIE CUTTER COOKIES

FAIL: Cookies spread when baked and lose their shape.

Fix: Use parchment paper to line baking sheets and chill dough. After you’ve made your dough, let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour before you begin to roll and cut out shapes. After you’ve cut out shapes, place the baking sheet back in the refrigerator and allow the cut outs to chill for an hour or more before baking.

hard boiled eggs

HARD BOILED EGGS

FAILS: Eggs turn brown between yolk and egg white. Hard to peel.

Fix: Bring eggs and water to a boil together. This will allow the eggs to cook evenly and lessen the chance for the eggs to overcook. After bringing to a boil place the eggs in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. For easy peeling, use older eggs. Newer eggs have lower pH and cause the egg white to adhere to the membrane. If you don’t have older eggs, you add some baking soda to into the water to increase the pH.

vegetables in steamer

VEGETABLES

FAIL: Veggies turn mushy and colors become muted or even turn brown.

Fix: Don’t forget to shock your vegetables. Adding vegetables to an ice bath can stop the cooking process, keeping your vegetables crisp and colorful. Try adding salt to the ice bath for additional flavor. The salt will be absorbed into the outer layer of the vegetable to add flavor.

The holidays are here: 4 ways to get your Stand Mixer ready

The holidays are here: 4 ways to get your Stand Mixer ready

The holidays are fast approaching and for many of us, that means a lot of holiday baking!

 

Here are some simple tips from our KitchenAid brand expert that will get your stand mixer into tip top shape.

Beater Adjustments

Does your mixer not reach all the ingredients in the bottom of the bowl? Your beater may be too high.
Or, do you have the opposite problem? Is your beater is hitting the bottom of the bowl?
Is your flat beater chipping on the bottom? These are clues that your beater is too low.
You can easily raise or lower your beater by performing the “Dime Test”.

Neck or Hinge Pin Adjustments

Is the silver “pin” sticking out or moving while you mix?
Here’s how to fix it!

Extra Bowls and Beaters

We can all use an extra bowl for our holiday baking. Spend less time washing your bowl and more time making!
They make great holiday gifts (or to yourself?)
KitchenAid® has ceramic, glass and stainless bowls in colors and patterns and various sizes to choose from.

Flex Edge Beaters

A Flex Edge beater is a great holiday gift and greatly reduces bowl scraping.
Which one fits your mixer?

4 tips to keep your food fresh

4 tips to keep your food fresh

There’s not much worse than having a house full of family and friends when you discover your vegetables are past prime, your bread is stale, or the cheese you’re about to serve has grown an unsightly color.

 

Keep your foods at their best by using these handy tips:

  1. Store cheese in cheese paper or parchment paper instead of foil or plastic. Plastic wrap, foil and other non-porous materials can suffocate cheese, altering its flavors and accelerating spoilage. Cheese paper allows cheese to breathe while maintaining optimal humidity.
  2. Wrap bread in a dish towel and put it in a paper bag or use a bread box to keep it fresher longer. Bread actually goes stale faster in the refrigerator than it does at room temperature, so keep it out of the fridge. If you still have some left after a day or two, wrap it up and freeze it for longer-term storage.
  3. Wrap lettuce in aluminum foil to keep it fresh longer. A plastic lettuce storage container will also help, as well as wrapping the head in damp paper towel. The best place to store lettuce is in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  4. Our brands have refrigerators featuring flexible organizational spaces, which you can adjust to keep party platters, meat and cheese trays, and even sheet cakes at their freshest.
Yes you CAN cook a turkey in the microwave!

Yes you CAN cook a turkey in the microwave!

“Hey mom, how many minutes does it take to microwave a 25 pound turkey?”

The responses on social media can be funny, with reactions of shock, horror and disbelief. But even though mom typically knows best, mom may be wrong; you really can cook a turkey in a microwave!

Our microwave expert Evelyn Carpenter says it is possible but your microwave must have a convection mode.

Here are some of her tips for microwave turkey perfection:

  • Make sure your turkey will fit in the microwave cavity. Since you will be using convection, there will need to be adequate space to allow the airflow all around the turkey.
  • Prepare the turkey – defrost it first. Season – lift up the skin and rub the meat with the desired seasonings. You could inject the seasoning into the turkey breast. For a golden brown skin rub it with cooking oil.
  • You can place the turkey breast directly onto the rack with a plate underneath to catch the drippings. Or you can put the turkey into a heat and microwave safe dish and place it on the rack. Also, the turkey can be placed into a cooking bag – follow the cooking bag instructions.
  • Program the oven – the user has to enter the weight of the turkey breast. The cooking time will countdown.
    Check the temperature of the turkey after about 2/3 of the time. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, near the bone.
  • Remove the turkey when the temperature is 165F. Cover with foil and let stand 10 minutes.
How to use convection cooking and make your holiday meals legendary

How to use convection cooking and make your holiday meals legendary

Your reputation as a holiday chef is on the line.

You want perfectly browned turkey, succulent ham and evenly cooked pies and side dishes. It’s the perfect time to use that convection setting on your range!

For those who aren’t familiar, a convection oven has a fan and exhaust system that a regular oven does not, helping to circulate hot air evenly throughout the oven cavity, allowing for quicker and more even cooking. Here’s when using that convection setting will really help to make your holiday meals shine.

Roasting: Foods that are roasted like meats and vegetables can benefit greatly from convection cooking. They will cook faster more evenly, and the drier environment yields crispy skin and caramelizes foods much better.

Baking: Convection heat melts fat and creates steam faster, which helps to create more lift in pie doughs and pastries such as croissants. Because it is an even heat, convection cooking also allows you to bake more than one tray of cookies at a time without the need to rotate them part way through baking.

Covered cooking: If you’re covering up a side dish with a lid or a casserole dish with foil, moisture loss is not an issue, so you might as well cook on the convection setting.

Convection Tips

  • Lower the temperature: Lower the recommended oven temperature by 25°F with convection because it heats more evenly and best of all, more quickly.
  • Check earlier and more often: Foods cooked with convection should cook faster and be ready sooner than you’re used to, so check on them periodically until you get the hang of convection cooking.
  • Make sure air can circulate: Convection cooking depends on air circulation to work properly. Use trays, roasting pans, and shallow baking pans if possible, and don’t cover the oven shelves with foil. Space foods out so there is room for air to circulate all the way around.

Preserve your herbs before winter

Preserve your herbs before winter

As summer comes to end, you can preserve the fresh herbs and vegetables from your garden so that they can be enjoyed on a cold winter days.

According to the National Gardening Association food gardens are at the highest levels in more than a decade with 35% of all households in America growing food at home or in a community garden. Now that’s a lot of basil & rosemary! Here are some great, simple ideas to keep the summer taste fresh into winter.

Freeze & Preserve in Olive Oil

According to The Kitchn preserving in oil can help cut down the chances of browning and freezer burn. Add oil and herbs into an ice cube tray and you’ll have a delicious and convenient way to add flavor to your meals. While this method works well with harder herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano soft herbs like mint and dill are better preserved in other ways.For more tips on the best way to preserve in oil, check out our friends at thekitchn.com

Basil & Pesto Cubes

Similar to freezing herbs in oil, the basil cube can take a surplus of basil and allow it to last much longer. Simply hand chop or use a food processor to finely cut the basil leaves. Add enough oil to make a thick paste. You can add garlic and pine nuts for pesto or simply spoon the basil and oil mixture into ice cube trays to freeze. Once frozen you can transfer to a sealed freezer bag. According to The Kitchn you’ll want to use the cubes towards the end of the cooking process to finish the dish.

When you are ready to enjoy your hard work, the Food Network has some delicious recipes that incorporate basil and pesto: 50 Things to Make with Pesto.

Drying

There are many methods to drying herbs, using a rack or hanging the herbs are the most common. Both methods will leave you with delicious herbs but the flavor will be slightly less aromatic than fresh or frozen herbs. Rinse and dry herbs before starting. Both methods require a well ventilated, dry area with little to no direct sunlight. The drying process should be complete in about a week or so depending on the amount of humidity. Drying your herbs will concentrate the flavor so you don’t need to use as much during the cooking process.

Herb Butter

Simple, and simply delicious. Adding herbs to softened butter will add flavor to any dish throughout the winter. Simply whip one part herb to two parts softened butter, roll into a log, cover and freeze. The frozen butter is easily cut into slices and goes perfectly over vegetables and pasta. You can freeze garlic and parsley with butter and spread onto french bread for delicious and quick garlic bread.

For other great ideas and recipes for herb butter check out Southern Living, they have some unique combinations that will add flavor and impress your dinner guests: 6 Fancy Flavored Butter Recipes

Tips from Expert: Chef Ann Nolan.

  • Keep long stemmed herbs like parsley, cilantro, & basil fresh by trimming the bottom of the stems and placing them in water. Make sure to change the water daily.
  • Bushy herbs like thyme, oregano, tarragon, sage and rosemary are best stored between two damp pieces of food-safe paper towel and stored in an air tight plastic bag.
  • Before chopping herbs, make sure to remove all the stems. Stems can later be used together as a bouquet to add flavor to sauces, stocks and soups.
  • Before freezing, wash herbs and allow them to dry completely before starting the freezing process. This will help keep softer herbs from browning or freezer burn.
  • When using dry herbs in place of fresh remember the ratio 3:1 or three times more fresh than dried.
  • Even while following proper care, herbs can wilt quickly. Expect a shelf life of three weeks when stored at 32°F and two weeks when stored at 41°F.