Kitchenaid 12 Piece Knife Block Set in Red or Black

Every kitchen needs a good knife set.  Some knives are meant to be kept in drawers, but the KitchenAid 12-piece knife block set comes with its own block of wood to store the knives in, so you can save drawer space.  The block itself has a fairly small footprint, so it won’t take up much counter space, and the knife slots are angled, so you can fit the set on a counter beneath an overhanging cabinet.

This KitchenAid knife set comes in black, with stamped end caps, and candy apple red.  Other than color and style, the two sets are almost identical.  Both have the same knives, but the Santoku knife that comes with the red set is listed as having a four-and-a-half-inch blade, while the Santoku knife that comes with the black set has a five-inch blade.

The knives in this KitchenAid set are good quality.  They come with a sharpener, but you may never need it, because the knives keep their edge for a long time.  There are four steak knives, a slicer, a chef’s knife, a serrated utility knife, a Santoku knife, and a parer.  The set also comes with a strong pair of kitchen shears.

The knife handles are decorative but also provide a good grip.  The blades are solid, high carbon stainless steel, and it takes a lot of force to bend the tips.  The paring knife has a very sharp point and blade.  It’s a great small knife, perfect for coring and cutting onions.

On one website, the instructions say to only hand wash these knives and dry them immediately, but they have survived many trips inside the dishwasher and come out with nothing worse than water spots.  Whether you hand wash them or wash them in the dishwasher, be sure that they are completely dry before putting them back in the wood block.

The wood block looks good and makes a great holder for the knives.  Because some of the knives are very sharp, however, you have to be careful when sliding them into their slots – if they glance the wood, they can easily splinter it.

The KitchenAid 12-piece knife block set can be purchased from several places online.  ShopKitchenAid.com and Overstock.com both sell the black knife set for $49.99.  The red set can be purchased from Target.com for $89.99 or from Overstock.com for $88.99.

How to Thicken Gravy how to Fix Runny Gravy

Oh no! Your perfect meal is almost ready, but your gravy is runny! What to do? The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and relax. This is a problem with an easy remedy. Gravy can become runny for a couple of different reasons. The most common reason is that you either didn’t use enough thickener for the amount of liquid that you have or the thickener that you used wasn’t thick enough. If you are using a left-over gravy, sometimes it will break down during re-heating causing the gravy to become runny.

The solution to any of the above stated problems is essentially the same. You will need to mix up a thickening agent and add it to the gravy. The type of agent that you use depends on both your personal taste and the type of gravy that you are trying to thicken. For a milk-based gravy you will need to use flour to thicken it because any other method will not result in the look and texture that is desirable for a milk-based gravy. For meat-based gravies (beef, chicken, turkey, etc) you may use either flour or cornstarch. Some people prefer the taste and home-style appearance of gravies thickened with flour, while others prefer the texture and clearer appearance of gravies thickened with cornstarch.

To thicken with flour: Heat the runny gravy to a low simmer. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup of cold water for every cup of gravy that you have. Whisk until there are no lumps. If there are lumps in your thickening agent, there will be lumps in your gravy. Gradually whisk this mixture into your simmering gravy. Stir constantly for approximately one minute, or until the gravy thickens.

To thicken with cornstarch: Again, heat the runny gravy to a low simmer. In a small bowl or cup, stir together one tablespoon of corstarch and one tablespoon of water for every cup of gravy. Stir this into the simmering gravy. This gravy will thicken very quickly. Simmer for about a minute until the “starchy” taste disappears, but do not cook for too long or the excess heat will cause the gravy to thin out again.

With both of these methods, it is important to stir the thickening agent into water before adding it to the gravy. If you attempt to add the thickener to the gravy without whisking it into water first, the fat particles in the gravy will adhere to the flour or cornstarch and result in lumps that cannot be smoothed out and the gravy will still be thin. If you find that the gravy becomes too thick, you can gradually stir in a small amount of broth or water until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Bon Apetit!

How to Make Catfish Batter

Making catfish batter is a simple (and sometimes messy) process. Many cooks opt to simply dredge their catfish fillets or pieces in a mixture of cornmeal and spices. However, a batter gives the catfish another whole dimension of flavor and texture. You don’t have to be Julia Child to create a scrumptious piece of fried catfish but you do need to prepare for the process.

Catfish
First you should decide if you will be using catfish fillets or pieces. If you prefer catfish nuggets, then the fillets can be cut into the appropriate size. If choosing nugget size, look for fat fillets or you may end up with skinny catfish strips instead. For battering, nuggets are the easiest to work with.

Flavors
Do you like your catfish regular or packed with punch? A good catfish batter will have the typical salt and pepper but if you prefer a flavorful kick, you may want to add something extra to your recipe like Cajun spices or hot sauce. A popular addition to catfish batter or most any fish recipe is Old Bay Seasoning. Remember, you can ruin a good catfish batter by not adding any flavoring like salt or adding way too much. Find a recipe that you know you will enjoy the flavors – one of the most popular recipes is a beer batter.

If you don’t want to make a homemade catfish batter, there are some very good boxed batters available at the grocery store – some cooks even prefer to use a boxed onion ring batter. Your own additional flavors can be added to the boxed versions like hot sauce, pepper flakes, or Cajun seasoning. For making your own catfish batter, a typical recipe will call for

1 cup flour,

1 teaspoon baking powder,

2 beaten eggs,

2/3 cup milk,

buttermilk, or beer,

1 tablespoon melted butter,

salt, and spices.

The ingredients are whisked until smooth. This recipe is enough for approximately one pound of fish.

Preparation of Catfish
You have a choice to simply dip the catfish fillets or nuggets into your batter recipe or prepare the catfish for battering. Soaking the catfish in buttermilk for up to 2 hours is a common preparation technique.

Cooking Catfish
After finding a good batter recipe, the catfish is dipped in the batter and deep fried in oil. Oil should be 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Tongs are the best way to dredge the catfish pieces and place in the hot oil. Do not crowd the fish when frying. Fry the catfish until fully browned on all sides; remove from oil and dry on paper towel.

Tips
One of the most common problems that novice catfish cooks come across is the batter not sticking to the fish. This problem is typically caused from wet fish. It’s important to work with catfish that isn’t overly wet. Simply dry the fish with a clean paper towel to remove any access moisture from the outside of the fish. This is extremely important if the fish has been soaked in buttermilk beforehand. Moisture on the outside of the fish will keep the batter from staying attached to the fish.