Tag Archives | OXO

Quick Pickled Apple Matchsticks & OXO Chef’s Mandoline

I got my first CSA share of the season a week ago, and in addition to the other spring vegetables like snap peas and breakfast radishes, it came with an enormous head of red butter lettuce, an unwieldy bunch of kale, dandelion greens, and bags of spicy arugula and mixed salad greens. You will not be at all surprised to hear that we’ve been eating a lot of salads lately.

Thought I eat salads all year round, I think of this time of year as the true salad season, and as such, I like to outfit my fridge accordingly. I work up a few easy things that can enhance all those greens and make it simple to shake together tasty little batches of vinaigrettes.

This spring, I’m particularly digging these quick pickled apple matchsticks. The are bright, tangy, and crunchy. In combination with a tangle of greens, some soft goat cheese, a few toasted walnuts, and a drizzle of olive oil, they make an incredibly pleasing salad.

The nice folks from OXO recently sent me one of their new Chef’s Mandoline Slicers to try out and it makes slicing apples for this quick pickle such a pleasure. Unlike other mandolines, where you have to manually change out different blades in order to create matchsticks, you simply turn a knob to dial up the julienne blade. What’s more, the guard is designed to wrap around the piece of food that you’re slicing, making the whole slicing act feel safer than any other mandoline I’ve used.

The same knob that allows you to move the julienne tines into place also adjusts the thickness of the cut. This means that you can select thickness settings in 0.5-mm intervals, which is an unusual amount of control for a mandoline that is priced under $100 (this one sells for $79.99). You can also select straight and wavy blades, and a French fry blade. There’s not much in the slicing realm that this mandoline can’t do.

If you’re still making bread and butter pickles with your grandmother’s rusty wavy slicer, consider giving yourself an upgrade this year. Your pickles will be more consistent and will come together in record time!
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New Year, New Breakfast with OXO

My father is a master breakfast maker. When he was very young, he did some time as short-order cook at IHOP and learned things like the difference between basted eggs and those cooked over easy. He became comfortable with poached eggs (and passed his worry-free poaching skills along to me). And he became a master pancake maker (evidence here).

Having spend a lifetime training at his elbow, I value breakfast time and take at least a few moments each day to make myself a morning meal (often, I post pictures of such creations to Instagram!).

Recently, my breakfast game got a serious upgrade thanks the to folks at OXO. They sent their Microwave Bacon Crisper, a snazzy Microwave Omelet Maker, an Adjustable Temperature Kettle, and a Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank. I’ve been making easy omelets, boiling water in no time, and making perfect cups of coffee.

The kettle was the biggest upgrade to my morning routine that they sent. It’s not my first variable temperature kettle, but it’s the most intuitive and easy to use that I’ve had. It’s also incredibly speedy. I feel like I switch it on, turn my back for a moment, and just a minute later, it’s ready. I also didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy having a glass kettle. I so enjoy watching the swirl of bubbles as the water reaches a boil.

I really love the omelet maker for its ease and speed. Grease the silicone pan (I use a dab of butter that I scoot around with my fingers), lay out your omelet ingredients, add the egg and microwave for a few minutes (timing depends on the amount of egg in the pan and the age/power of your microwave). Tuck a piece of cheese inside, fold over, and wait a few seconds. Done.

I’m also in love with the pour over coffee maker. I’m the only coffee drinker in my household, so I’ve always used a pour over system of some kind. But as an impatient person, I would just dump the water in and then end up drinking a mediocre cup. This brewer slows me down, removes the guess work, and prevents lousy coffee.

Finally, the bacon crisper. I must confess, this is the only piece of gear that didn’t rock my world. I’d never cooked bacon in the microwave before and the finished results left something to be desired. I can see using this tool to quickly crisp some bacon for a sandwich, but if it’s playing a starring role in the meal, I feel like the stovetop would serve better.

If you’re curious about the products I’ve mentioned,  Microwave Bacon Crisper, Microwave Omelet Maker, Adjustable Temperature Kettle, and Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank, head over to the OXO site to check them out!

Disclosure: OXO sent me the products you see pictured here for review and photography purposes. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions are entirely my own. 

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Babka for Now, Sticky Buns for Later + OXO Glass Bakeware

Use this sweet, yeasted dough to make a batch of apricot walnut babka for now, and a batch of sticky buns that can be par-baked and popped into the freezer for another day. It’s perfect do-ahead baking for the upcoming holiday.

Back in November, I got an email from OXO looking for bloggers to participate in a campaign designed to feature their sturdy glass bakeware. The idea was to create something that could be made ahead, frozen, and then either baked off or reheated later. Their glassware is particularly good for these fridge or freezer to oven situations, because it’s made from sturdy resistant borosilicate glass.

They sent out a Glass 9″ Pie Plate, a Glass 1.6 Qt Loaf Baking Dish, one SteeL Pie Server, a nifty Double Pastry Wheel, and 1″ Pastry Brush. I spent a little time pondering what I might make that would fit the assignment, make good use of these tools, and would also allow for a liberal application of jam.

What I came up with was a single dough that allowed me to both have a relatively immediate treat, as well as one to freeze and finish baking on another day. I’m calling this concept babka for now, sticky buns for later. Because who wouldn’t want that?

I started by searching out recipes for a sweet, yeast-risen dough. After a bit of internet searching and book scanning, I found what I was looking for in Tammy Donroe Inman’s fabulous book Wintersweet (it’s a favorite of mine for holiday baking).

I made Tammy’s dough the day before I wanted to bake. After its first rise, I punched it down, tucked it into a glass storage container, and popped it into the fridge (a handy trick any time you need to make yeasted doughs work for your schedule). The next day, I divided it up into two balls and began to turn one into babka. I opted for a filling of apricot jam and toasted walnuts.

Once the dough was rolled out into a large rectangle (about 18 x 12 inches), I brushed it with melted butter, spread out a half pint of apricot jam, and sprinkled the whole things with those toasted and chopped walnuts.

As far as I can tell, the thing that makes a babka a babka is that it’s a slightly sweet, buttery, yeasted dought that’s filled, rolled, sliced and twisted. And so that’s what I did. Starting with the short side, I carefully rolled until I had a fat tube of filled dough. Then, taking a sharp knife, I cut the roll down the middle, taking care to leave the top inch (or so) intact.

After slicing the dough, I took a deep, steadying breath, firmly grasped the two ends and twisted them outward in opposite directions. There was some filling loss, but not enough to be particularly worrisome.

Once sliced and twisted, it was simply a matter of nestling the dough in the loaf pan and letting it rise in a warm place before baking.

While the babka took its time rising, I turned my attention to that second ball of dough. Much like the babka, it needed to be rolled out into a generous rectangle. I brushed the dough with melted butter. However, instead of applying jam, I dusted the dough with cinnamon and sugar (using OXO’s tea ball to ensure even distribution) and used the rest of the walnuts.

I rolled up the dough (starting with the long side, rather than the short one) and sliced it into rounds. I set them into the pie plate and let them rise (at this point, the babka was ready for the oven, since I actually ate dinner in between working with the two sets of dough).

When the babka was done (it should be around 200 degrees F inside when finished. If the exposed jam seems to be getting too done, perch a sheet of foil on top of the pan) and the sticky buns had risen, I popped that pan into the oven. However, instead of cooking them to completion like the babka, I only baked them for 12 minutes. This is just long enough to get a little color and set their shape. Once they are cool, pop the pan into a big ziptop bag and nestle it into the freezer.

The night before you want to eat your sticky buns (perhaps when the babka is all gone?), pull the pan out of the freezer and make room for it in the fridge so that they can defrost slowly. The next morning, heat the oven to 350 degrees and slide in your pan of sticky buns. They’ll only need a quick 15 minutes in the oven and they’ll be ready to eat.

Brush the finished sticky buns with a little melted butter to help them stay soft, and then drizzle them with a little glaze made from powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and a dusting of cinnamon.

As we head into the frenzy of this week, wouldn’t it be nice to have a loaf of babka on the counter and a pan of sticky buns ready to go in the freezer?

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Mary’s Maine Bars & Bake a Difference with OXO For Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

oxo-good-grips-3-qt-baking-dish

I met Shianne on the first day of 6th grade. She had impressively high bangs (as was the fashion in 1991), had a delicately pretty face, and walked with a limp. Her family had moved to the area over the summer and though all of us were new to middle school, she was new to everything.

oxo-good-grips-2-qt-baking-dish-and-brownie-spatula

We became friends in those first weeks of school and I learned that she loved the New Kids on the Block (also all the rage in 1991) and had a younger sister the same age as mine. Once Shianne started to trust me, she shared the reason for her limp. When she was a baby, she had developed bone cancer. In order to save her life, they’d amputated her leg.

marys-maine-bars-ingredients

As an 11 year old, the hardest thing that I’d dealt with in life had been a little teasing from other kids. It was incredibly tough for me to fully grasp all that Shianne had lived through. Still, the thing she most wanted was to be normal and have a life like other kids. And so that’s what we did.

dry-ingredients-for-marys-maine-bars

We put on make-up for the school dances together, and gossiped about the boys on whom we crushed. We were cabin-mates at outdoor school and worked on the school paper together. At slumber parties, when our group of friends were all snuggled in our sleeping bags on the floor, there would be Shianne’s prosthetic leg on the floor next to her. It was an entirely normal middle school existence, until sometime near the start of 7th grade, when Shianne’s cancer came back.

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She started missing large stretches of school for treatment and recovery, but came whenever she felt strong enough. She lost her hair and came to school bald, but with make-up meticulously in place.

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Unlike her earlier bout with cancer, this second round did not end in remission. Shianne was treated endlessly, but the cancer was stronger. She died in the fall of 1994, just as she should have been starting high school with the rest of us.

I often find myself thinking about her. I wish I’d gotten to know her for longer and I wonder what her life would have been like had she lived.

mixing-marys-maine-bars

Recently, the folks at OXO put out the call, looking for bloggers to participate in an campaign for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to help raise both awareness and fund for childhood cancer research. They were also offering to donate $100 for every blog post written. Having been witness to Shianne’s experience, I volunteered to participate.

marys-maine-bars-batter

They offered up a few different recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s upcoming book, Dorie’s Cookies, along with the gear necessary to make the cookies. I opted to make Mary’s Maine Bars, which are a tender, molasses-rich bar cookie.

To ease the baking process, folks at OXO sent over a pair of their relatively new Good Grips Glass Baking Dishes with Lid (2 quart and 3 quart), as well as a clever Brownie Spatula and their Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer.

finished-marys-maine-bars

The baking dishes are made from BPA-free borosilicate glass, which allows them to withstand significant temperature changes. The handles are easy to grab and the lids make it possible to prep, stash in the fridge or freezer, and then go into the oven (obviously, you remove the lids before baking).

The OXO On Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer is the best hand mixer I’ve ever used (though, to be fair, the one I was using previously was from 1999). It has a simple-to-use digital control that allows you to change speed smoothly and the illuminated headlight means you can always see what’s happening in the bowl.

The recipe for Mary’s Maine Bars is after the jump. They’re perfect for sharing with friends, and are a good way to temper bittersweet memories.

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Farro, Kale, and Feta Salad + OXO SNAP Glass Round Containers

This farro, kale, and feta salad is easy to make, tastes great, and stores beautifully in OXO’s 8 Piece SNAP Glass Round Container Set.

stacked OXO containers

I have always had a thing for food storage containers. When I was in elementary school, I would beg to be allowed to pack peanuts or raisins for my lunch in one of my mom’s two tiny Tupperware containers (when I was still an infant, she had been invited to a Tupperware party by a neighbor, and though she wasn’t particularly interested in plastic food storage containers, had picked out the smallest item in the catalog so as not to be rude).

watermelon in OXO container

In middle school, I cajoled my parents into buying me a set of matching plastic containers, so that I could tote my lunchtime yogurt and granola in style. And I still remember how delighted I felt my senior year of college, when my roommates and I went in on the large assortment of food storage tubs and bowls at the local Kmart. Looking back on this, it’s really no wonder I’ve made a career out of putting food in containers.

vertical OXO snap containers

About a year ago, I became a little bit obsessed with this new wave of glass food storage containers with snap-on lids. Every time Scott and I went to Costco, I’d pause in front of the display of Pyrex Snapware for so long that he’d sigh and make a move to put a box in our cart. I’d snap out of my trance and tell him to put it back. Between the set of containers we’d gotten for our wedding and my VAST collection of jars, we simply did not need it.

pork and pineapple in OXO

So, when I got an email from the folks at OXO, asking if I might like to participate in a blogger promotion centered on their new 8 Piece SNAP Glass Round Container Set, my resolve crumbled and I said yes. I was finally going to get a chance to work with food storage containers with snap-on lids.

faro salad with bowl of greens

I’ve now had this set of containers in my kitchen for a couple weeks and they’ve become my preferred vessels (so much so that I’ve taken to hand-washing them between uses rather than wait to run them through the dishwasher).

The containers themselves are made of sturdy, shock-resistant borosilicate glass, so they can go straight from the fridge or freezer and into the oven or microwave. The lids have a thick, leakproof gasket (it comes out for cleaning) that, once locked into place, prevents even a drop of moisture from leaking out of the container.

This means that when you pack soup or a dressed salad into one and tuck it sideways into your work bag or backpack, you can be secure in the knowledge that it won’t leak all over your computer. This feature is also fabulous if you find yourself occasionally needing to set container on its edge in order to get it to fit into your fridge (this happens in my kitchen more than I’d like to admit).

plated farro salad

These containers are the perfect thing for the picnics and potlucks so many of us plan during these warmer months. Lately, my go-to dish for such events is a room temperature salad made of farro, lightly cooked kale, feta cheese, and golden raisins. I use a technique that I learned from my Deena many years ago, in which you cook the farro and the kale in the same pot, adding the kale no more than two minutes before the grain is finished.

You end up with both components cooked perfectly and only one pot to clean. I mix the rest of the salad in the cooking pot as well (wait to add the cheese until it’s cooled a bit), and then transfer it to the OXO container when it’s time to store or transport. I like to serve it over a bed of baby arugula, though considering the amount of kale you tuck into it, is entirely optional.

Disclosure: OXO sent me their 8 Piece SNAP Glass Round Container Set, 2-in-1 Salad Servers, and Little Salad Dressing Shaker to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Maple Bourbon Apple Butter + OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender

Looking for an easy, five-ingredient apple butter for holiday giving? Look no further than this small batch Maple Bourbon Apple Butter!

Finished Maple Bourbon Apple Butter - Food in Jars

My family got our first immersion blender when I was in middle school. I can’t remember where it came from, though if I was forced to guess, I’d bet that it was a gift from my grandmother. While she didn’t cook much herself, she garnered a great deal of pleasure from buying culinary appliances and giving them to others (probably in the hopes that they’d prepare something for her with it).

OXO Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender - Food in Jars

My sister and I claimed that immersion blender as our own, using to make jam and yogurt smoothies for breakfast and after school snacks of skim milk and chocolate SlimFast (it was the nineties, after all). Since then, there’s rarely been a time when I didn’t have an immersion blender in my kitchen.

Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

These days, I pull out my immersion blender on a near-daily basis and use it for soups, purees, fruit butters, jams, gravies, salad dressings, and mason jar mayonnaise. When I heard that OXO was bring an new immersion blender to market, I was excited to check it out because I knew that my current immersion blender was nearing the end of its lifespan and OXO products are always so thoughtfully designed.

OXO Core Clip - Food in Jars

Guys, the OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender is even better than I had hoped. The blender head is made of sturdy nylon, which means you don’t have to worry about scratching your bowls or cookware with metal. The shaft is coated in silicone, so that you can knock the drips of the blender without dinging the edges of your pan (I have a few pots that are pockmarked from repeated immersion blender banging). The blending end removes from the motor with the press of a button. The motor end has heft and the DC motor produces a lot of power.

Chopped Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

No matter what speed you’re on, the blender starts slowly to prevent splashes and then ramps up to whichever of the six speeds you’ve set it at. The speeds are controlled digitally and you can set them using the dial on the top of the blender. The cord comes with a useful clip on the end, so that you can wrap it around the handle and secure it in place. The wide power button is easy to press and hold. Oh, and lets not forget about the headlight, which illuminates whatever you’re blending. On my dark stovetop, this is so useful.

Cooked Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

For its maiden voyage in my kitchen, I used this lovely OXO immersion blender to make a batch of Maple Bourbon Apple Butter. Wanting to really test it, I cored and chopped five pounds of apples, but left the peels on (unlike this recent butter, where I peeled). In my experience, not all immersion blenders can break down even long-cooked apple peels, but this one handled it like it was nothing.

OXO Blending Apples - Food in Jars

No matter how large or small the batch size, I use a two-blend process when I make apple butter. I cook the fruit down into a soft sauce, puree the heck out of it, cook it down until it thickens and darkens, and then work it with the immersion blender again.

The reason for the second puree is two-fold. First, the peels aren’t always quite soften enough to disappear during that first round of blending. Second, most fruit butters clump a bit while you’re cooking them down, and I prefer a super smooth butter. Pureeing just before the butter goes into the jar ensures that silky texture.

OXO Blender in Action - Food in Jars

As the fruit was cooking down, I spent a little time pondering flavorings. I have plenty of spiced apple butters on my shelves, and wanted to opt for something different here. I know that the combination maple, bourbon, and orange zest isn’t a particularly novel one, but combined the richness of the long-cooked apples, was just the thing I was craving. My plan is to keep two of the jars for myself, and tuck the remaining two into gift baskets for people I know will appreciate it.

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter Overhead - Food in Jars

The OXO On Digital Illuminating Immersion Blender isn’t the only small kitchen appliance that OXO has brought to market lately. There’s also an illuminating hand mixer, a pair of motorized toasters, and a line of coffee makers and water kettles (several times lately, I’ve found myself at Williams-Sonoma, petting the 9-cup coffee maker). I look forward to seeing what OXO creates next!

Disclosure: OXO sent me this OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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