Contact us for all your culinary needs

Phone Number:
(780) 289-7220

Follow us for daily tips on Twitter & the Bolsters Catering Facebook page

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stocking your Kitchen

Stocking a kitchen with great gadgets and utensils can be really fun, although daunting. There are a few ways to begin collecting the equipment, utensils and appliances you need. One is to look through a list like this one, check off what you need, then go on a shopping spree. Another is a trial and error method. As you begin cooking, you'll quickly realize what utensils your kitchen is missing. Believe me, the first way is better! When you want to make a pie crust and realize you have no rolling pin, it can put you off pie crusts forever. If you really want to save money, take some time to cruise garage and tag sales. You can find excellent cooking equipment, utensils, and even appliances for pennies if you are a savvy shopper.

This is the basic list of equipment and utensils for cooking beginners. There may be other items you want to add. That's just fine! As long as a kitchen utensil or gadget works for you, and you use it, it's a good buy. Shop for quality over quantity, especially at first. I have several knives I bought 15 years ago that are still going strong. You can do the same.


  • made of high carbon stainless steel
  • 3 or 4" paring knife
  • a serrated knife
  • 8 or 10" chef's knife

Measuring Cups and Spoons

  • Various sizes, in metal and plastic
  • Get at least two sets of each, so you're not continually washing them as you cook
  • glass measuring cups with spout, for liquids


  • slotted spoon
  • wooden spoons
  • sturdy metal spoons
  • Soup ladle

Mixing Utensils

  • hand held electric mixer
  • Wire whisks in different sizes
  • eggbeater


  • straight spatulas
  • angle handle spatula
  • rubber scraper spatulas

Sieves and Colanders

  • nested varying size sieves, in stainless steel (work as flour sifters too)
  • steel or plastic colander

Pots and Pans

  • 1, 2, 4, and 8-quart saucepans with covers
  • 12" skillet with covers
  • 6 or 8" nonstick skillet
  • roasting pan
  • two 9" round cake pans
  • 9" square cake pan
  • 9"x13" baking pan
  • 9"x5" loaf pan
  • 9" pie pan
  • 12 cup muffin tin
  • cooling racks
  • two cookie sheets


  • swivel-bladed vegetable peeler
  • grater with various sized holes
  • rolling pin
  • can opener
  • kitchen timer
  • kitchen shears
  • corkscrew

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How To Store Potatoes At Home

After the potatoes have been picked, they are stored for a number of weeks. Thereafter, they enter the period of dormancy. When this period ends, the potatoes start to sprout. It is during the dormant period that potatoes are brought to the market, to be sold. The dormancy period of the potatoes has been known to last from one to, as many as, eight weeks. However, the lasting time of the potatoes depends upon the conditions in which they have been stored. Though it is a usual rule that potatoes should be stocked at a lower temperature, there are a number of tips that should be followed to ensure that they are stored properly. Read on to know how to store potatoes at home.
Storing Guide for Potatoes
We have provided the best ways in which potatoes can be stored at home and made to last a long time, without becoming sweet, turning green or sprouting.
  • Before storing the potatoes, put them in a paper bag with holes in it. Avoid using plastic bags, as they tend to increases condensation and thus, lead to development of mold.
  • Potatoes should always be stored at a place which is cool, dark and has lots of ventilation. One of the best options is to store the potatoes in a root cellar.
  • Avoid storing the potatoes in a pantry, as it may lead to their sprouting and dehydration.
  • Potatoes should not be in the refrigerator, especially below a temperature of 7 deg C. This is because below this temperature they develop a sweet taste and get darkened when they are cooked.
  • The ideal temperature at which potatoes should be stored is somewhere around 7- 10 deg C.
  • Never ever store potatoes along with onions. When the two of them are put together, they produce certain gases that spoil both of them.
  • Mature potatoes should not be stored for more than 2 months, while the new ones should be consumed within 1 week.
  • Sweet potatoes should be stored for a maximum period of one week only, since they are very delicate.
  • Never ever keep the potatoes in direct sunlight. In fact, keep them away from prolonged exposure to light. If exposed to light for too long, they become green, develop a bitter taste and might become toxic.
  • Keep on checking the stored potatoes every few days. The moment you see a soft, shriveled or sprouted potato, remove it from the storage area.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Question: Why Do Onions Make You Cry?

Answer: Unless you've avoided cooking, you've probably cut up an onion and experienced the burning and tearing you get from the vapors. When you cut an onion, you break cells, releasing their contents. Amino acid sulfoxides form sulfenic acids. Enzymes that were kept separate now are free to mix with the sulfurnic acids to produce propanethiol S-oxide, a volatile sulfur compound that wafts upward toward your eyes. This gas reacts with the water in your tears to form sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid burns, stimulating your eyes to release more tears to wash the irritant away.

Cooking the onion inactivates the enzyme, so while the smell of cooked onions may be strong, it doesn't burn your eyes. Aside from wearing safety goggles or running a fan, you can keep from crying by refrigerating your onion before cutting it (slows reactions and changes the chemistry inside the onion) or by cutting the onion under water.

The sulfur-containing compounds also leave a characteristic odor on your fingers. You may be able to remove or reduce some of the smell by wiping your fingers on a stainless steel scrubber.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to Boil Water

It may sound like a no-brainer but boiling water to make various dishes isn't always as simple as it may seem. Here are tips to make sure that boiling water is perfect for that recipe you're planning to cook.

The two basic "boils"

Although water boils at 212°F and only then is it a "real" boil, in some recipes when cooking we use the term "slow boil" as well.

* Slow boil - 205°F: A slow boil is reached when the water bubbles across the entire surface, but without the enthusiasm of a full boil. Bubbles are generally large and slow-moving.

* Full boil (rolling boil, real boil) - 212°F: A full boil is when all the water in the pot gets involved in fast-moving rolling waves of bubbles. The water bubbles enthusiastically and gives off steam.

"Simmer" isn't a boil at all, although it is sometimes called a "gentle boil." In Greek cooking, it is reached by boiling first, then reducing the heat to the stage where small bubbles can still be seen, usually over low heat.

Do bubbles mean boiling? No. Boiling (for water) means reaching a temperature of 212°F and steaming. Bubbles can form well before (as low as 160°F).

Note: Don't be deceived by pots that get hot very quickly around the sides and start to show little bubbles just around the edges. This doesn't fit into any part of boiling; rather, it's just the pot saying, "My sides are getting good and hot. Don't touch."

Water can be brought to a boil quickly over high heat, or slowly over medium heat. In Greek cooking, the water starts out cold, and the general rule of thumb is that if there is no food in the water, go for the high heat and get it to the boiling point as quickly as possible. If there is food in the water (eggs, some vegetables, etc.), bring it to a boil over lower heat. Check recipes for guidance.

Boiling salted water for pasta: Pasta recipes often call for adding the pasta to salted boiling water.

How much water? That general rule says one quart of water for each 1/4 pound of pasta. Making a pound of pasta? Up the water to 6 quarts. Not enough water leads to gummy pasta.

How much salt? The general rule is 1 2/3 teaspoons of salt (kosher sea salt is best) for each quart of water. Add the salt after the water comes to a full boil.

Adding salt may reduce the speed of the boil. Wait until water reaches full boil again before adding pasta.

Why add salt to boiling water for pasta? It's a matter of taste and recipe. If the recipe calls for it, there's usually a reason. If you're watching your sodium intake, don't add it and adjust seasonings later in the recipe.

Boiling water for eggs: This is one of the biggest surprises to those who grew up boiling eggs for 3 minutes for soft, 5 for medium, and 10 for hard.

To make perfect boiled eggs, place in a single layer in a pot with cold water (at least an inch over the eggs). Cover and bring to a full boil over medium heat. As soon as the water reaches full boil, remove the pot from the heat and let sit until done... which depends on the size of the egg, but generally 2-3 minutes for soft-boiled, 15-18 minutes for

Friday, April 23, 2010

entertain a kosher guest in my non-kosher home?

Question: How can I entertain a kosher guest in my non-kosher home?
My home is not kosher. I am hosting a meeting this week, and one of the members keeps kosher. What can I serve?


First, it is important to understand that there are many different levels of kosher observance. While some people may feel comfortable eating cold food like sliced carrots and hummus on your plates, other people will only eat store-bought items with certain kosher labels on disposable dishes in a non-kosher home. Unless you have knowledge to the contrary, it is safest to assume they maintain and you should cater to the highest level of kosher observance.

Tips for Entertaining a Kosher Guest in a Non-Kosher Home:
  1. Buy products at the store that have a kosher label on them and that can be served cold (baked goods, crackers, cheese, deli meat, bread, ...).
  2. Either buy dairy and parve products OR buy meat and parve products. Be sure not to buy and serve your kosher guest some dairy and some meat, as Jewish Dietary Laws prohibit mixing dairy and meat.
  3. Buy disposable plates, cutlery and cups. Anything you do to the kosher food should be done with disposable products. Use a disposable knife rather than your non-kosher knife to cut. Serve the food on disposable dishes.
  4. Keep the kosher food you bought separate from non-kosher food. When kosher food is mixed with non-kosher food, it becomes non-kosher. So don't put kosher meat and non-kosher meat together on one plate.
  5. Bring your kosher guest into the kitchen. This enables them to see the kosher label on the cookie box, which increases their comfort zone. It enables them to help you, which is good for them and for you as the host. Lastly, it can ensure success in some tricky cases. For instance, only someone with experience keeping kosher might catch that the mayonnaise, while kosher, is dairy and can't be used in the meat sandwich.
  6. Most importantly, maintain the right attitude. If you are feeling resentful about having to make an extra effort, your guest will feel your resentment and have a hard time enjoying the food. Treat your guest's kosher needs like you would any other dietary restriction.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coddled egg recipes

1. "Three-Minute Egg"
INGREDIENTS: 1/4tsp butter - 1 egg - salt & pepper
Butter the inside of the egg coddler and metal lid. Break an egg into the fine porcelain cup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Screw the lid firmly. Stand the egg coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 7-8 minutes. Lift from water and open.

2. "Oeuf aux Fine Herbes"
INGREDIENTS: 1/4 tsp. butter. 1 egg. 1 tsp. chopped parsley. 1 tsp chopped chives. salt and pepper.
Butter the inside of egg coddler and metal lid. Beat up the egg with the parsley and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and pour into egg coddler. Screw up lid, stand the coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 7-8 minutes until cooked.

3. "Cheesy-Egg"
INGREDIENTS: 1/4 tsp. butter. One Egg. 1/2 oz. (15 g) processed or other soft cheese. Salt and pepper.
Butter the inside of egg coddler and lid. Break the egg into the coddler, season with salt and pepper. Cut the cheese into 1/2" cubes and add to egg. Screw up lid and stand coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 7-8 minutes until egg is firm. Serve with cubes of bread or fingers of toast.

4. "Farmhouse Egg"
INGREDIENTS: 1/4 Tsp. butter. 1 Tblsp strips of bacon. 2 tsps. chopped onion. Chopped mushroom. One egg. 1/4 oz. (1 wedge) Gruyere.
Butter inside of coddler and metal lid. Fry the bacon strips, add onions and mushrooms, saute for a minute or so. Empty the mixture into the egg coddler, add the egg and stir. Season with salt and pepper, place the slice of Gruyere on top. Screw up lid and stand the coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 10-11 minutes until cooked.

5. "Oeuf Baron"
INGREDIENTS:1/4 Tsp. butter. 1 1/2 tblsps sliced mushrooms. 1 egg. 1 tblsp chicken liver pate. salt and pepper.
Butter the inside of egg coddler and metal lid. Put the mushroom slices in bottom of egg coddler, season lightly with salt and pepper. Add th egg, season to taste, then add the pate. Screw up lid, stand coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 10-11 minutes until cooked.

6. "Ham'n-Egg"
INGREDIENTS: 1/4 Tsp. butter. 1/2 oz (15 g) cooked ham. 1 egg. salt and pepper.
Butter the inside of coddler and metal lig. Cut the ham into half-inh strips, about 2 1/2" long and line the prcelain cup with these. Add the egg, season with salt and pepper. Screw up the lid and place the coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 7-8 mins oruntil egg is cooked.

7. "Uovo con Tonno" (Tuna Egg)
INGREDIENTS: 1/4 Tsp Butter. 1 egg. 1 tblsp Flaked tuna fish. 2 tsps chopped onion. Salt and pepper.
Butter the inside of the egg coddler and metal lid. Scramble the egg and pour into the porcelain cup. Add finely flaked tuna and chopped onions, stir, season with salt and pepper. Screw up the lid and stand the coddler up to its neck in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 10-11 minutes until cooked.

Coddled Eggs - How To Coddle Eggs

Coddled eggs are made by very briefly immersing an egg in the shell in boiling water (to cook in water just below the boiling point) to slightly cook or coddle them.

The best eggs for coddling are the FRESHEST EGGS you can find (if eggs are more than a week old, the whites thin out). Whites of fresh eggs will gather compactly around the yolk, making a rounder, neater shape.

What Is An Egg Coddler?

It seems that a lot of people have never seen or used an Egg Coddler. Egg coddlers have been used in England since the 1800s. The original name for an egg coddler was pipkin.

An egg coddler is a porcelain or pottery cup with a lid that is used to prepare a dish called coddled eggs. The eggs are soft-cooked and similar to poached eggs, but the eggs are cooked more slowly than a boiled egg. The lid is a secure top that either clamps on or screws on the dish/cup.

The egg or eggs are broken into the buttered coddler and seasonings of your choice are added. The coddler is then closed with the lid and partially immersed in boiling water for a few minutes. When the eggs are cooked to the desired firmness, the coddler is lifted from the boiling water, the lid removed, and breakfast is served, in a lovely decorated dish.

How To Coddle Eggs - How To Cook Coddled Eggs:

Warning: Egg coddlers should not be used in the microwave. Do not allow your egg coddler to come in contact with an open flame or direct heat. Do not try to cook on a stovetop or burner.

In a large pot, bring water to boiling.

Using paper towel or fingertips, butter the inside of the Egg Coddler and the inside of the metal lid (you can also use olive oil, cooking oil, or non-stick spray).

Using room temperature eggs, break 1 or 2 eggs (according to size of the egg coddler) into the cup, and season to taste with pepper and salt. NOTE: If you use eggs straight from refrigerator, it will require a slightly longer cooking time than an egg that has warmed to room temperature.

Other ingredients can be added to the egg coddler before cooking (such as grated cheese, chopped herbs, and/or chopped ham or bacon). Adding a little cream can make your egg richer and more filling.

Screw on the lid (do not screw the lid on very tightly - a loose turn is sufficient)

Stand the egg coddler in a pan of boiling water making sure that the water level only reaches halfway up the porcelain body of the coddler, as the egg coddler should not be totally submerged in boiling water.

Simmer for 5 to 8 1/2 minutes, depending on the size of your coddler and the size of your eggs (see chart below).

Cooking time for a small egg coddler:

1 large egg - 5 1/2 minutes
1 medium egg - 5 minutes

Cooking time for a large egg coddler:

2 large eggs - 8 1/2 minutes
2 medium eggs - 6 1/2 minutes

Remove the egg coddler from the water using the end of a fork/spoon through the lifting ring or lift using oven mitts or other heat-proof gloves. Set the coddler on a towel, or trivet (not on a cold heat-conductive surface, such as a counter top. Using a towel and holding the lid by the rim, not by the lifting ring, twist the lid to loosen it.

Serve at the table in the coddler.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brown Bag Blues

For many kids, including my own, back to school not only means back to books and homework, but back to eating sandwiches for lunch. If you've got kids who don't like buying lunch at school, the whole sandwich scene can get pretty boring by October. But it's not always easy to think of new brown bag lunch ideas.

I'm forever trying out different options in the hope of keeping lunch interesting and desirable.

The first thing to consider when brainstorming brown bag lunch ideas is, of course, your child's food preferences. One child might really like cold pasta salad or even vegetable sushi, while another prefers pita sandwiches or crackers with cheese and fruit. But don't be afraid to try out a few of your own brown bag lunch ideas. It's good to expand your child's food horizons. It may take a few tries, but they may actually ask for it the next time.

For safety's sake, keeping the following lunch entrée options cold until lunchtime is essential. You can do this by packing a reusable ice pack. Or try packing a small water bottle or 100% juice box that has been frozen -- your child will have a slushy drink to enjoy at lunch, and won't have to worry about bringing an ice pack home.

15 Fresh Brown Bag Lunch Ideas

  1. Pasta Lover's Lunch Salad. Pack a cold pasta salad and a plastic fork, and your pasta lover will love you, too! Make your salad with lean meat or low-fat cheese (so it has some protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition, and use a whole-grain blend pasta, like Barilla Plus. Then just drizzle some light vinaigrette over the top and toss.
  2. Pita Pocket Sandwich. Pack your whole-grain pita pocket with chicken Caesar salad, or any other lean meat or cheese filler mixed with vegetables and dark green lettuce.
  3. The Fruit and Cheese Plate Special. Make crispy cracker sandwiches with whole-wheat crackers, slices of assorted cheese, and lean meats. Don't forget the fruit, which goes nicely with the cheese and adds fiber and nutrition.
  4. Cheez Whiz Fun Pack. Pack 1/8 cup of Cheez whiz, along with a plastic knife or spoon, wheat crackers, and celery sticks, and you have a Cheez whiz fun pack!
  5. Bagel With Cream Cheese, Please. Bagels are a wonderful foundation for hardy sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or locker all morning. You can toast a bagel in the morning and simply spread some light cream cheese in the middle. Or make a bagel sandwich with, say, a little light cream cheese, some turkey, and cranberry sauce, then top it off with alfalfa sprouts or Romaine lettuce.
  6. Carry a Cobb Salad. Plastic containers can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. Fill it with chopped green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, light cheese, and/or lean ham. You can buy packets of light dressing, or just use extra packets of light salad dressing left over from your last trip to the fast-food chain.
  7. It's a Wrap! Wraps are a nice change of pace from the usual sandwich. Use one of the new higher-fiber tortillas, like the multigrain flour tortillas available in most supermarkets. Then fill 'er up with chicken Caesar salad or assorted lean meats, cheese, tomato, sliced onion, shredded Romaine lettuce, and light dressing. Just roll it up and wrap in foil.
  8. Noodle Soup Cups. Many schools offer a hot water dispenser so kids can add hot water to packaged noodle soup cups. Some brands are higher in sodium and fat, and lower in fiber than others. Check out the options in stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.
  9. Veggie Sushi. Not all kids will go for this one, but there are some out there who really like seaweed-wrapped sushi rolls. You can now buy pre-made sushi at many supermarkets, too. Choosing the veggie-filled sushi means there's no chance the sushi will get a little "fishy" while it's in your kid's backpack.
  10. Toss Some Taco Salad. If taco salad is a favorite, you can pack the meat mixture tossed with the shredded cheese, tomatoes, and chopped Romaine lettuce in a plastic container. At lunchtime, your child can add crunchy, reduced-fat tortilla chips and a little light dressing.
  11. Fried Rice Can Be Fun. When made with eggs or chopped lean ham and lots of veggies, cold fried rice can be a satisfying noontime treat. Make your own, or plan on leftovers the night before if you're ordering from a restaurant.
  12. Talk About Taquitos. I started doing this last year, and it seems to have stuck with my girls. I pop some Bean and Cheese frozen Taquitos from Whole Foods into my toaster oven in the morning, then let them cool. Then, I wrap them in foil and make sure they stay cool by packing a frozen juice box or small water bottle. By noon, they are cold, fun finger food.
  13. BBQ Chicken Sandwich. Your child can assemble a yummy BBQ grilled chicken sandwich fresh at lunchtime. Just pack a grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breast (you can make it in your indoor grill the night before) with some lettuce and sliced tomato in one baggie, and a whole-wheat bun in another. Add a packet of BBQ sauce to the lunch bag, and it's good to go.
  14. Meal Muffins. Certain types of muffins work as a lunch entrée. If you bake them over the weekend and keep them in the freezer, you just have to pull one or two out in the morning. By lunch, they are nicely chilled and ready to eat. Try ham and cheese muffins, Mexican Cornbread muffins, or quiche muffins (quiche filling, baked with or without crust in a muffin pan).
  15. Turkey Jerky. You can round off a lunch packed with fruit, vegetables, and maybe trail mix or crackers by adding some high-protein turkey jerky. I found a turkey at Trader Joe's that is made without nitrites, MSG, or artificial ingredients, and the turkey is raised without added hormones. Can't argue with that. A 2-ounce serving of turkey jerky contains: 120 calories, 22 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 540 milligrams of sodium, and 20 milligrams of cholesterol.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BBQ Cooking times and guidlines

The cooking times and temperatures outlined in this chart are guidelines only and may vary based on cooking conditions and the actual barbeque.

Low = 300ºF
Medium = 450ºF
High = 650ºF

Hamburger 3/4" thickMediumMedium: 8 to 10 minutes
Well Done: 10 to 15 minutes
Frozen PattiesLow to MediumMedium: 12 to 14 minutes
Steak 1" ThickMediumRare: 3 to 6 minutes
Medium: 6 to 9 minutes
Well Done: 9 to 12 minutes
RoastLowRare: 12 to 15 minutes/lb
Medium: 15 to 20 minutes/lb
Well Done: 20 to 25 minutes/lb
Chops 1/2"MediumMedium: 8 to 10 minutes
Well Done: 15 to 20 minutes
Ribs (3-4 lb)Low to Medium (indirect)45 to 90 minutes
Roast (3-5 lb)Low to MediumWell Done: 18 to 23 minutes/lb
Chops 1/2"Medium6 to 12 minutes
Chicken (2 1/2 - 3 1/2 lb)Low (with rotisserie burner)75 to 90 minutes
Turkey/Chicken (2-5 lb)Medium/Low30 minutes/lb
Chicken-halved/quarteredLow25 to 30 minutes
Chicken Breast (6 oz)Medium (direct)8 to 12 minutes
Boneless Chicken Breasts(halves)Medium10 to 12 minutes
Fillets 6-8 ozMedium to Hot8 to 12 minutes
Steaks 1" thickMedium to HotWell done: 10 to 15 minutes
Shrimp large or jumboLow to Medium8 to 12 minutes
General Guidelines: * if fish is frozen, brush with oil & double grilling time.
(wrap vegetables in foil)Baking Potato, wholeMedium25 to 30 minutes
Corn, whole**Remove outer husks and soak in water prior to grillingLow to Medium15 to 20 minutes
Zucchini, halvedMedium6 to 10 minutes
**The higher the water content or density of the vegetables you are cooking, the longer the cooking time.