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~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (12/09/11) ~

Culinary Q & A #2What a fast start to December! Today, Kitchen Encounters and WHVL-TV celebrated our 1st anniversary!  Yes, we've done a years worth of cooking segments together, and, if you look to the left-hand column of this blog, you'll notice that we've now got all of the videos posted for you to watch (except of course for the most recent one)!  We'll be posting each one on a regular basis now and I hope you enjoy watching me on TV!

PICT4800I also kicked off the holiday season with four great posts which I'm pretty certain will fit into almost anyones "festive" repertoire.  My recipe for ~ Savory Shiitake, Gruyere & Roasted Tomato Tarts ~, is an appetizer that got fun comments from a lot of you.  You can find the recipe by clicking into Categories 1, 2, 11, 14 or 21.  It is preceded by a companion post, ~ Reducing Balsamic Vinegar:  To Create a Sauce, Syrup or Glaze for dipping or drizzing ~, which can be used in all sorts of culinary applications!  

PICT5109I bought my shiitake mushrooms in bulk last week, so I followed that post by making a ~ Succulent Shiitake Mushroom & Gruyere Quiche ~, which is just perfect for brunch any time of the year.  You can find that recipe in Categories 2, 9, 11 or 14.  Lastly, there is a dessert you won't want to miss.  ~ Silky Smooth Creme Caramel (Crema Caramella) ~, found in Categories 6 or 21.  It is elegant, extraordinary and exquisite!

One great question came my way yesterday, and Jen, your timing is perfect, as I, along with most of you, are gearing up to start our holiday baking!

Q.  Jen asks:  Mel, can you please explain to me what the difference is between parchment paper and wax paper?  Can I use one in place of the other?  My friend told me I can, but,  I looked at your beautiful cookie recipes and I see that you line all of your baking pans with parchment only.  Please advise.

PICT5136A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Jen, this is a very good question.  A lot of people confuse the two, and, for starters, let me say this:  wax paper should not be used in the oven. Parchment is coated with silicon, which gives it a nonstick, heat-resistant surface (to 450 degrees). Wax paper is coated with paraffin, which will melt when exposed to extreme heat.  I use parchment paper for lining my baking pans when baking cookies and many other things as well.  Why?   

Parchment eliminates the need to grease the baking pans, which in turn, speeds up the baking process considerably.  When you bake with a parchment lined pan, there is almost no cleanup and what is not to love about that.  Allow me to finish by saying that parchment is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased two ways:  in a roll or in precut sheets and rounds. Personally, I always purchase the precut sheets and/or rounds.  They are a bit more expensive than the roll, but the convenience far outweighs the pennys!  Happy holiday baking!

Enjoy your weekend everyone.  Once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


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