Five Kitchen Tools I Can’t Live Without—Plus, We’re Moving!

I’m all about working smarter, not harder, in the kitchen. In this week’s video I’m sharing five items I can’t live without!

  1. KitchenAid Stand Mixer
  2. Wusthof Chef’s Knife
  3. Calphalon Non-stick pan
  4. method cleaning products
  5. Le Creuset French Oven

P.S. As many of you know I’m moving to Mexico City with my family.  So, Deb’s Kitchen will be taking a little hiatus, with getting a family of five ready for an international move and all. I hope to bring some new episodes once we’re settled in our new city. Thanks for all your support!

 

Yummy Jamaican Rice and Beans in Your Rice Cooker

Rice and beans has just a few ingredients, but for me, cooking it can be surprisingly high maintenance. It’s hard to know just how much water to add and exactly when to turn off the heat, and even with a watchful eye the bottom of the pan always seems to burn. I get it: Mastering the technique is a matter of tradition, a labor of love . . . an art more than a science. But I also just want some yummy rice and beans (or “peas” as they’re called in Jamaica). So, I caved and figured out how to make the dish in my amazing rice cooker and voila! Perfection every time. Here’s your fail proof, modernized Jamaican Rice & Peas recipe.

Quick Rice and Peas in the Rice CookerJamaican Rice and peas

  • ¾ cup canned red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white and light green only)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups long grain white rice (get the plain kind, like Uncle Ben’s
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • a few dots of butter
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • about 3 cups water (or, the amount of water needed to fill contents to line on your rice cooker for 3 cups rice)

Heat oil over medium heat. Sautee garlic and scallions until they just begin to brown, then gently add the kidney beans and thyme. Continue sautéing another minute, taking care not to mash or break the beans. Remove from heat.

Pour rice into rice cooker. Add coconut milk, then add the garlic/scallion/bean mixture. Add salt and pepper (about a teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Finally add water, enough water to fill the contents up to the line needed for 3 cups of rice in your rice cooker. Turn on rice cooker and cook!

Homemade Baby Food in 3 Simple Steps

This week I’m making homemade baby food with one of my favorite ingredients, Japanese sweet potatoes. These potatoes have a purplish skin and a pale yellow texture; the texture and flavor is kind of a cross between white starchy potatoes, a yuca, and a sweet potato. To make the baby food here’s all you need to do:

  1. Bake one sweet potato at 400 degrees for about an hour or until very mushy. Let cool slightly.
  2. Scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor, blender, or mini prep.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of water (to start) and pulse until blended and smooth. Keep adding water by the 1/4 cup until desired consistency is reached. For a young baby (5-6 months) you’ll want a smoother puree; for older babies it can be more chunky.
Japanese Sweet Potato Baby Food

Japanese sweet potatoes make a yummy baby food that’s not overly sweet.

The Most Amazing Tip Ever for How to Shred Chicken

Sometimes you just don’t have the time or patience to shred a breast of chicken or piece of meat with a fork. An amazingly simple alternative is to pop the cooked meat into your stand mixer, and using your paddle attachment, stir until shredded (about 30 seconds). Check out the video—It really works!

Quick & Delicious Dominican Chicken Sauté — Episode 23

From the first time our babysitter Rafaela cooked us this one-pot Dominican chicken, I was obsessed. Per usual we had a few chicken breasts in the freezer and she offered to whip up some dinner using those and a handful of vegetables we had in the fridge. There was a mortar and pestle involved. Fifteen minutes later emerged chicken so flavorful and delicious I begged her to teach me, and she kindly obliged. The recipe is simple enough, but I’ve found it takes some love to perfect. One trick is to use a bit more vinegar (I skipped this ingredient in the video). I think that helps keep the chicken juicy and gives it a lot of character. Also, don’t skimp on the vegetable oil. That’s critical to creating the delicious sauce or “sofrito” around the chicken.

Dominican Chicken Sauté

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Dominican chicken is a quick and delicious weeknight meal.

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into 3 inch pieces
  • juice of one lemon
  • splash of malt vinegar (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1/3 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large carrot sliced super thin with box grater
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano, divided
  • Sazon seasoning; salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Place garlic, dash of salt and pepper and half of oregano into a mortar; crush with pestle until blended. Add lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil and crush some more. Pour over chicken pieces and set aside to marinate about 20 minutes.

Heat 2+ tablespoons vegetable oil in large skillet or (ideally) French oven. Place chicken pieces into pot and cook on one side about 5 minutes until lightly brown, then flip with tongs and cook on the other side (trying to flip only once to cook). When chicken is a couple minutes from being done, add in all the veggies—red pepper, onion, carrot. Add a little more oil if needed and cook everything together, stirring occasionally. Season generously with Sazon, oregano, salt and pepper. When veggies are browned, remove from heat. Add cilantro (it will wilt). Serve over fluffy white rice.

Delicious Pancakes from Scratch — Episode 22

First a little disclaimer: I promise I’m not trying to sabotage your healthy-eating New Year’s resolutions. You could be thinking more “detoxifying juice cleanse” than “delicious, scrumptious pancakes” right now. I get it. I’m sticking more closely to a few of my own rules and eating these egg white pancakes right now, too. But when you’re ready to indulge again —next week, next month, whatever— this is the only pancake recipe you’ll ever need. Why not just use the boxed pancake mix, you ask? Because making them from scratch is about the same amount of work, but is so, so much more satisfying and delicious. I’ve found that the most important tip is to let the batter sit a bit before starting to cook. This delay gives the batter time to rise and thicken for extra fluffy pancakes.

Delicious Pancakes from Scratch (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Pancakes from scratch: fluffy, delicious, and shockingly easy.

Pancakes from scratch: fluffy, delicious, and shockingly easy.

  • 1 cup bread flour* (spooned and leveled)
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened. Let batter sit about 25 minutes to thicken. Heat butter in a heavy skillet or crepe pan. For each pancake spoon 2-3 tablespoons batter into pan. Cook until surface of pancake has bubbles and some have burst. Resist the urge to flip them too early! Ideally, you want to flip only once. Then flip and complete cooking until golden brown. Top with butter, heated syrup, and fresh fruit for pure amazingness.

*Note, bread flour is also known as “high gluten” flour. So while it makes the pancakes super fluffy, it can sometimes upset sensitive bellies. Substitute all-purpose flour instead.

Essentials for Impromptu Entertaining

Guests on the way but little time to prep? That’s the story of my life. Whether it’s holiday guests or friends stopping by to visit the new baby, I love having people over, so I try to keep a few things on hand for “impromptu” entertaining. These items include champagne, salty and sweet nibbles, cheese and crackers, good quality tea and (gasp!) premium baking mix. Check out the video for my reasons why!

Always have champagne on hand—it creates an instantly festive mood!

Always have champagne on hand—it creates an instantly festive mood!

Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies!

Looking for the perfect gift for your foodie friends and relatives? Yesterday I shared some of my absolute favorite foodie gift ideas with CBS 46. Check out the video, and here’s a summary of my picks.

For your best friend: Nature Box snack subscription; $19.95/month; www.naturebox.com/gift

For your sister: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams; Holiday in the Alps collection; $55; www.jenis.com

For your favorite couple: Garnish & Gather gourmet meal kits; starting at $35 (dinner for two); www.garnishandgather.com

For a great guy: Dreamfarm kitchen gadgets; $5.95­–$37.95; www.dreamfarm.com

For your mother-in-law: Le Creuset Cookware; 2 Qt. French Oven; $175; www.lecreuset.com

For the host/hostess:

Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic & Grenadine; $16/bottle; www.jackrudycocktailco.com

Bonne Maman French preserves; $5.69 per jar; www.bonnemaman.us

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My New Web Series! Watcha Cookin’—Jamaican Inspired Food

I’m thrilled to be hosting a new web cooking series called Watcha Cookin’. This series explores Caribbean-inspired cuisine, and the first episode is all about Jamaica—near and dear to my heart as a proud Jew-maican lady. I’m excited to be a part of the show for many reasons, including the fact that we get out of the “studio” (a.k.a. my kitchen) for some segments in the field, which is great fun and experience. Plus, I’m getting to experiment and develop all kinds of new Caribbean inspired recipes. I’m getting a lot of pointers from our Dominican babysitter Rafaela (who also taught me this) and her nephew Will, who are both amazing cooks. 

Check out this episode and let me know what you think!

How to Make a Kid-Friendly Quesadilla

I love it when a recipe takes just minutes to cook on the stove top—makes it easier to quiet my inner lazy cook and forgo the microwave. This kid-friendly cheese quesadilla is one of those recipes. I’ve been learning a bunch of Latin cooking techniques from our amazing babysitter/adopted “abuela” Rafaela, who is Dominican. When I spotted her toasting the flour tortilla in a bit of vegetable oil, I knew I could never go back to a soggy quesadilla land again. I like to do a blend of cheeses: queso for its mild flavor and melty goodness, and a sharp cheddar for some kick. Plus, you can sneak in some veggies for the kids if you chop them up really small, like we did in this pasta salad recipe. You can also add shredded chicken to this for extra protein, like my Jamaican Jerk style shown here

Cheese Quesadilla 

This broccoli and cheese quesadilla is quick, easy, and kid-friendly.

This broccoli and cheese quesadilla is quick, easy, and kid-friendly.

  • 1 cup Queso style and/or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup frozen broccoli, cooked & finely chopped
  • Large flour tortilla
  • Vegetable oil

Heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Place tortilla in pan and heat, turning every 10 seconds or so until bubbles form and tortilla begins to lightly brown. Add cheese and broccoli; cover pan with lid until cheese is melted (about 30 seconds). Fold tortilla in half and cut into wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream.