Toolbox Tuesday: Turn up the Heat!

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By Tina LeBaron, Kitchen Store Specialist

Playing with your food – it’s something we’re all taught not to do. But when cooking day after day starts feeling like no more than another mundane chore, investing in new kitchen tools can add a whole new level to cooking that makes “playing with your food” a good thing that loved ones will love sampling from!

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So what is one of my all time favorite kitchen tools you ask? The Messermeister Cheflamme Torch of course! I know what you’re thinking; you were also taught that playing with fire is bad. I’m sorry, but bending the rule and throwing a little flame into your kitchen adventures is a great way to keep cooking exciting.

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The first dish that inevitably comes to mind is crème brulee, of which our number one source for recipes comes from a book by Mastrad that unleashes numerous possibilities. Titled Crèmes Brulees: Hot, Cold, Sweet, and Savory, there is something for every palate in the book that will nicely accompany the trusty torch in your future shopping basket.  Candied Orange and Lemon sounds like a tempting flavor combination (my favorite!), and Smoky Bacon Crème Brulee cannot possibly go wrong. But don’t feel limited to only a single use for your fun new toy. Here are some more quick and easy ways to play with fire and food!

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Fresh fruit is wonderful just as it is, but with a quick coating of sugar passed over with your torch, you’ll create a wonderful candied crunch.

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Oranges, grapefruit, and pears were my test subjects. They took a bit more sugar than expected to get the desired caramelized effect. As the sugar heats and liquefies, it can tend to mix with the fruit juices and run right off, which made my pears the easiest to work with.

Chef Lucy suggests kicking them up a notch by poaching them before adding the brulee topping.

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Oatmeal is another fun excuse to bring out the torch. Try topping your next oatmeal breakfast with brown sugar, and melting it with a low flame. Jazz it up even more with your favorite fruits or preserves. Cherry Amaretto from the Petersen Family Pantry is a winner here in the Wasilla store. Next add a bit of milk or cream, and your simple breakfast has – just like that – edged towards gourmet!

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Next time you’re making cupcakes, try a meringue topping to toast with your torch, or this easy Seven Minute Frosting we put on a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes, found here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/seven-minute-frosting-recipe

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Indoor s’mores in any form imaginable are another obvious must-try when summertime campfires are out of season. My s’more interpretation came in the shape of a marshmallow toasted on a pretzel stick, dipped in some melted Callebeaut chocolate, topped with coconut, and roasted one more time! (Can you tell how much fun I’ve been having with my favorite tool?)

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The torch isn’t just for sweets. It turned out great for roasting provolone cheese over French onion soup and croutons.

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It’s also great for roasting red bell peppers.

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I used them two different ways. First was for a homemade pizza that had more than one element made with extra love: fresh dough prepared for the crust, a special white wine cream sauce, two proteins, and a jar of artichokes hearts… the red bell pepper needed to shine. We cut it so that it could lay flat, and quickly roasted it with a kitchen torch, adding another elevated layer of flavor to the pizza.

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We cut the top off of another red bell pepper before roasting it and using it as a tasty edible vessel for a quinoa salad.

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Alas, all roads lead back to… crème brulee? Try skipping the frosting on your next batch of sugar cookies, and go from plain-Jane to a fancy ode to crème brulee. Dip them both before and after baking in a bowl of sugar, then torch the tops just before eating.

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Add a little whipped cream and that cookie just turned into something new and exciting!

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Comment and share photos of your favorite uses for the torch, or another cooking gadget that keeps you having fun in your kitchen!

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