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Do you live in a big city apartment? Or maybe one of those futuristic pod homes?  Then chances are your kitchen is about the size of your closet… it might even be in your closet if you’re one of the really lucky ones :)

Makes me feel better about my kitchen

Look, it’s a kitchen… in a closet!

After having lived in various tiny Manhattan apartments (the smallest one being 311 square feet!) I’ve learned first-hand what you absolutely need in a small kitchen, what’s nice to have and which ones are total a waste of space! You really learn to maximize square inches with the tools, gadgets and bakeware that will do many things and well. So here is a definitive working list of the essential tools that will help you cook your way through most recipes out there! The focus here is quality over quantity and items that are multi-purpose. I would love to hear, what are the kitchen tools that you absolutely can’t live without? What tools are just collecting dust?

Cookware

Must haves:

  • Nonstick Skillet: your stove top workhorse – handles everything from eggs to meat to grilled cheese!
  • Non-Stick Pot: use it to boil eggs, make soup, cook rice and anything that requires high sides.
  • Small Sauce Pan: use it for…. (duh) sauces, as a double boiler and even to hard boil one or two eggs at a time!

Nice-to-haves:

  • A cast-iron skillet: I put this under optional because it’s super heavy, takes up space and I personally rarely make things like steak or a skillet bake at home.
  • Crock pot: Multi-functional, but depending on how you eat this may not have a use in your home – it doesn’t in mine.

Total waste of space:

  • Bread machine: use the no-knead bread and bake in your dutch oven.
  • Rice maker: Seriously people!? Rice is super easy in a non-stick pot!

Bakeware

Must haves:

  • Large Cookie / Baking Sheet: find one that can withstand up to 500 F temperature – use this for pizza, cookies, bread, roasting nuts and even veggies. Get the biggest size your oven can accommodate - you’ll use this bad boy for everything! The back side can be used to cool anything flat – like a toffee or caramel.
  • Dutch Oven: you can make a million things in this including bread (goodbye bread machine)!
  • Casserole Dish: great for casseroles (duh #2) and anything else you’d want to serve in the same dish it was baked in. I also use mine to roast small quantities!

Nice-to-haves:

  • Loaf pan: good if you make quick breads often.
  • Jelly roll pan: higher sides than a cookie sheet – you can also use this to roast veggies !
  • Round cake pan: Useful if you make layer cakes often – you’ll need 2.
  • Spring form pan: Make a lot of cheesecakes? Then get one of these.

Total waste of space:

  • Those little single serve / special shaped cocottes – I mean they are adorable but you’ll probably use them once a year and they are a pain to store!

Cutlery

Must have:

  • Large Chef’s Knife: I love my Wusthof 8″ but really wish I had splurged on the 10″ double wide. A good chef’s knife will get you through many situations - if you learn how to wield it correctly it will be good to you. If anybody is looking for an idea of what to buy me for my birthday, look no further than this Wusthof 10-Inch Wide Chef’s Knife
  • Small Paring Knife: a 3″ paring knife will help you slice and dice your way through delicate and smaller jobs – peeling, coring, and splitting.
  • Serrated Knife: unless you don’t eat bread, tomatoes or are otherwise not human, you need a serrated knife. Those jagged blades grip onto softer surfaces and slice right through them.
  • The right cutting boards – a plastic board for meat, poultry and seafood and a wooden board for everything else.

Nice to have:

  • A pizza cutter: you can get by with the chef’s knife but a pizza cutter will slice through pizza, thinner breads (focaccia) and candies.
  • Cheese knife set: versatile and great if you entertain a lot. I default to 3 types of cheese – 1 hard (like manchego or aged cheddar), 1 soft (camembert or brie) and 1 mild crowd pleaser (like a smoked gouda) – set them on a nice wooden board and add grapes, figs and crackers!

Total waste of space:

  • Automatic knife sharpener: if you insist on maintaining your own knifes, get a traditional sharpening steel. Note: despite the misleading names, these products do not sharpen your knives, they only maintain the sharpness if used properly. Have your knives professionally sharpened once a year if you can.

Tools

Must have:

  • Can opener: well… how else are you going to open cans?!
  • Corkscrew/beer opener: duh!
  • Strainer or sieve: you can use this for straining solids, liquids, or even for things like tea.

Nice to have:

  • Flour sifter: if you’re a baker, you’ll need one. You can even find a tiny 1-cup flour sifter - that’s what I use and it works great!

Total waste of space:

  • There are millions! I’m thinking!

Gadgets & Other Stuff

Must have:

  • Small Food ProcessorMost of the major appliance makers carry the cutest little food processors. They come in fun colors and the 3-cup sized capacity is good for a lot of projects from hummus to pesto.
  • Silpat or non-stick sheet: great for frequent bakers – so that your food doesn’t stick to the baking sheet. Washable and easy to reuse.

Nice to have:

  • Stick blender: Also called an immersion blender, primarily used to make blended soups and purees. Added bonus: you don’t have to transfer your hot soup to the blender to use it!

Total waste of space:

  • How about those toaster ovens that toast the face of Hello Kitty into your bread. Brilliant but not a necessity!

Note: this post includes affiliate links.

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Recipe: Blueberry Curd & Lemon Glaze Cake

Ahu Eats: Ahu Eats: Blueberry Curd Cake with Lemon Glaze

Blueberry Curd Cake with Lemon Glaze

Most people know and love lemon curd – it’s tangy, smooth and is usually found in cakes or as a sort of jam. But what about all the other beautiful fruits out there just waiting to be… curd-ified?! (That sounds like a real word. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

Ahu Eats: Blueberry Curd

Blueberry Curd – the most amazing color

Well, turns out you can make curd with a lot of fruits! Any citrus or berry – and I’ve seen even seen it with tropical fruits like mango! So find some beautiful fruit and get to curdling! :)

Ahu Eats: Blueberry Curd on Vanilla Cake Base

Blueberry Curd on Vanilla Cake Base

There are lots of magical things you can do with fruit curds. I loved the thought of a cake that looked white on the outside and when you cut into it a beautifully rich purple pops out, but the possibilities are endless!  You may want to feature your curd in a more visible way… Or just spoon it directly to your mouth… whatever works! Note, this cake was made with my favorite basic cake recipe: the 1-2-3-4 cake.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Recipe: Blueberry Curd
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Beautifully deep purple blueberry curd. Use it in a layer cake, with scones or as a jam! Makes about a cup of curd - enough for a 9-inch cake.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large egg
  • splash of water
Instructions
  1. Combine the blueberries and water in a small saucepan. Cover and let it simmer until everything is super mushy and smells good. Optional: you can add some lemon zest here if you like. This step takes about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Strain your blueberries to get the chunks out - we want our curd to be smooth and shiny!
  3. Set up a double boiler - bring about an inch of water to a low simmer in a small pan and put your curd in a glass bowl over the simmering water.
  4. Whisk in the butter and sugar until everything is uniformly combined.
  5. Add in your egg and whisk gently until the whole thing reduces and gets to a thicker consistency. This can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes - but the test of readiness is if the curd coats the back of a spoon. It will continue to firm up after you take it off the heat.
  6. Remove your curd from the heat - you can either use it immediately (yum!) or store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Ahu Eats: Blueberry Curd on Vanilla Cake Base

Blueberry Curd on Vanilla Cake Base

This lemon glaze is the simplest frosting – and the tart lemon is a great complement to both the color and flavor of the blueberry!

Bonus Recipe: Lemon Glaze – Enough to glaze one 9 inch cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons, strained

Instructions

  1. Put your sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice a bit at a time and mix until the glaze reached the desired consistency. I like mine quite thick but just loose enough to pour over the cake.
  3. Pour it over your cake – it will spread beautifully itself but might need some encouragement from a frosting knife.
Ahu Eats: Blueberry Curd Cake with Lemon Glaze

Blueberry Curd Cake with Lemon Glaze

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Recipe: Rosewater Lemonade

Housekeeping Alert! You may have noticed that Ahu Eats looks slightly different – that’s because we’ve officially moved to WordPress. Woohoo! More changes are coming over the next month – both to the look and feel and as we clean up any little quirks, so stay tuned as we get a full ‘face lift’! In the meantime I’ve even started a full guide for Food Bloggers, including some thoughts on migrating from Blogger to WordPress!

Now on to the real serious business…. the yummy stuff.

We’ve officially passed the halfway point of summer so most of you have spent the better part of the last 7 weeks melting, frying, burning or some combination of the above. So if you gravitate towards sources of air conditioning, the sound of ice cream trucks and cool beverages like I do in the summertime, you will appreciate this Rosewater Lemonade.

Ahu Eats: Rose Infused Lemonade

Rose Infused Lemonade

Light, easy to assemble and a pleasure to drink, this Middle Eastern twist on the classic lemonade is sure to distract you from that bead of sweat forming on the back of your neck. The rosewater adds a floral hint that is the perfect pick-me-up! I mean, who doesn’t love flowers!? Perfect for your next brunch or afternoon tea.

Recipe: Rosewater Lemonade
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Refreshing rose lemonade - easy, simple and delightful!
Ingredients
  • 3 cups water
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1.5 - 2 tablespoons of rosewater - can be found in the ethnic section of your local grocer or online
  • dash of salt
Instructions
  1. Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and 1 cup of water in a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Let the simple syrup cool.
  3. Juice your lemons and to it add the simple syrup, the salt and the remaining water.
  4. Add in the rosewater ½ a tablespoon at a time until you get the flavor you like.
  5. Variations: use sparkling water instead of tap, freeze this lemonade into beautiful ice cubes or add it to some prosecco for a lovely brunch cocktail!
  6. I use frozen fruit or fruit frozen into ice cubes in my drinks - it makes things so much more beautiful and at the end of your drink you have a snack - it's a win-win! Click to read more about Frozen Fruit Sl-Ices (see what I did there?).

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Here are some other summery recipes to get you through the dog days! And if you’re on Facebook, visit us on our new Facebook page for more updates!

 

Any of the trio of yogurt dips: spinach, cucumber or shallots - serve with bread for a cooling light meal

Persian Saffron Pistachio Ice Cream – ice cream! Need I say more!

Quinoa Tabbouleh – a quick summer dinner that requires minimal stove time!

Fruity Ice Cubes - Use these in the Rosewater Lemonade!

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus – for those nights when all you can muster is to throw things into the food processor and hit ‘blend’

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A New Chapter for Ahu Eats!

Greetings dear readerlings -

Stopping by to let you know I’ve got some exciting things bubbling over at Ahu Eats (and no, it’s not just my sourdough starter!). One of the first changes you’ll notice is I am moving homes over to WordPress. Blogger has been a good home for the last two and a half years but I’m ready to take things to the next level (yes, I really just said that) and moving to WordPress is the first step!

Ahu Eats is Moving!

Ahu Eats is Moving!

While I work on packing up, moving and unpacking in my new digital home, I’d love to hear your thoughts: what do you wish there was more of in the food blog world? (Original recipes, interviews, giveaways, videos, better photos or anything else?) Stay tuned for a new home and new look very shortly! In the meantime, connect with Ahu Eats on Facebook Instagram and Twitter  all @ahueats for more delicious updates!

Stay hungry,
Ahu

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Recipe: Gluten-Free, Effort-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Take a quick journey with me….I frequently subject ask my colleagues to taste test my weekend baking projects (bless their hearts, really!), but until now, one colleague has been freed from excluded due to a gluten intolerance. After a weekend spent baking and an arm full of new samples to take to work – I thought I’d research some easy gluten-free sweets so that everybody could share in the sugar high!

 

Ahu Eats: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies


After a little tinkering… about 15 minutes… and an apartment that smelled of peanut butter, I ended up with these incredibly fudgy peanut butter cookies. They’re so insanely good and so insanely easy that… well, you’d be insane not to make them! Oh and they happen to be gluten-free!

Gluten Free Fudgy Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Hershey kiss candy to garnish each one (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Using a hand blender, mix all the ingredients (except the chocolates) together well.
3. Scoop out the dough and form them into little ping-pong sized balls with your hands.
4. Arrange your peanut-butter-ping-pong-balls (say that 5 times fast) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and press a fork in each one to create the classic peanut butter cookie look.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. (Note, depending on the oil content of the cookies, you may get a little smoke in your oven – just turn the fan on before opening the door).
6. If you want to, press a Hershey’s kiss into each one after they’ve cooled for a few minutes. Don’t press too hard or you’ll end up with a peanut-butter donut hole cookie like the one pictured below! 
 
Ahu Eats: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie Donut Hole!

Here are some other cookie recipes you may appreciate!

 
Ahu Eats: Shirini Keshmeshi (Persian Raisin Cookies)

Shirini Keshmeshi (Persian Raisin Cookies)

Shirini Keshmeshi – Persian Raisin Cookies

 

Ahu Eats: Olive Oil Saffron Cookies with Orange Glaze

Olive Oil Saffron Cookies with Orange Glaze

Saffron Olive Oil Cookies - fluffy, light and unique

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Lemon Curd Layer Cake.. & Scary Food Things

Over the last few years, I’ve excitedly tackled a lot of food projects that have always scared me – breads, complex Persian dishes and even quiche. But I never tried a layered cake – I always imagined needing some sort of Rube Goldberg-esque contraption to make one and a degree in pastry science.

 

Ahu Eats: Lemon Curd Layer Cake

Lemon Curd Layer Cake

With a glorious weekend of nothing in front of me last week, I decided to finally face my fears. I spent hours reading different recipes (side note: this is probably my favorite part of the cooking/baking process – anybody else with me?) and finally settled on a simple 1-2-3-4 Vanilla cake, lemon curd and swiss buttercream frosting. The result? A good-looking, glorious-tasting layered cake. The cake is not too sweet and the lemon curd gives a beautifully light ‘zing’ in each bite.

 

Ahu Eats: Lemon Curd Layer Cake

Lemon Curd Layer Cake

 

Ahu Eats: Lemon Curd Layer Cake Fully Frosted

Lemon Curd Layer Cake: Fully Frosted

 

Oh not to mention how incredible my apartment smells when the cakes were baking!I discovered that making it actually wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was fun – really fun.

 

1 2 3 4 Cake base for lemon curd layer cake

1 2 3 4 Cake base

 

Now I have a massive cake that seems like it could feed 16 people in my fridge – anybody want to come over for a slice?

 

Ahu Eats: Lemon Curd Layer Cake

Cakes drizzled with lemon curd

A few of the tips that really helped the process: freezing the layers before assembly – making them more manageable  using wax paper underneath the cake while frosting and doing a crumb coat.

Lemon Curd Layer Cake Crumb Coat

The crumb coat is key, to seal in all the crumbs before you shmear it with frosting!

I used Smitten Kitchen’s cake and lemon curd recipe both found here. The frosting is a Swiss Buttercream adapted from a few different recipes – basically this one for the 9-inch cake but only used 2.5 sticks of butter (!!!).

 

Ahu Eats: Lemon Curd Layer Cake

Lemon Curd Layer Cake

Next on my list? Real sourdough starter.

 

Lemon Curd Layer Cake Final Cut

Can anybody relate to this moment?

Tell me I’m not alone: what food-fears have you overcome or want to?

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Recipe : Poppyseed Bagels

After my recent trip to the King Arthur Flour headquarters, I’ve been a baking maniac, going through my bounty of spoils from the store there! While there, I picked up high-gluten flour on a whim – and decided to finally take the (scary) plunge of making bagels. Having lived in New York City for the last 7 years, I’ve had my share of bagels – and these are not only darn good, but relatively easy to make!

Ahu Eats: Homemade Poppyseed Bagels

Homemade Poppyseed Bagels


Poppyseed Bagels
 - makes 8 medium-sized bagelsTo make the bagels, I used this recipe from The Sophisticated Gourmet and this recipe from King Arthur Flour as my starting point then tweaked from there.

Dough
3.5 cups high-gluten flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons salt

Water bath
1 tablespoon sugar
Large pot filled with water

Toppings (optional)
1 egg white + splash of water
Poppyseeds, flake salt, sesame seeds, dried onions, etc

1. Activate your yeast by adding it along with 1.5 tablespoons of sugar to a bowl with 0.5 cups warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes then stir until it all dissolves.

2. While you’re waiting on the yeast, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture once it’s fully activated.

3. Add about 0.75-1.25 cups of warm water to the the dough until it comes together – you want it to be moist and elastic. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes (until your elbows ache or until the dough is nice and springy… whichever comes first).

4. Transfer the dough to a buttered or oiled bowl and let it rise (cover with a damp paper towel) until doubled in bulk – about an hour.

5. Think of a bad traffic jam then punch down your dough. While your dough recovers (10 mins is good) from the beating, preheat your oven to 425 F (or 460 if your oven is like mine and lies about the temperature!) and get your water bath going.

6. Divide your dough into 8 equal portions and roll each portion into little logs. For each dough-log, bring the ends together and pinch them twice upon themselves to create a nice seal. You now have 8 little raw bagels! Cover them with a damp paper towel and let them rest for another 10 minutes – these bagels are tired!

Ahu Eats: Poppyseed Bagels

Poppyseed Bagels: Ready to Bake!

8. Once all your bagels have paid a visit to the water bath, return them to the baking sheet. Brush each one with your egg-white-wash and then douse with poppyseeds. I like a lot. In fact, I should serve each of these bagels with a toothpick – but I digress.7. Bath time. So that your bagels don’t get lonely, plunk them two at a time into your simmering water bath for 1-2 minutes per side. The longer they ‘bathe’ the chewier the resulting bagels will be. I like mine chewy so did full 2 minutes each side!

9. Put your bagels into your hot oven for 20-25 minutes – they’re ready when they have reached a nice golden hue.

Ahu Eats: Homemade Poppyseed Bagels

Close up of poppyseed bagels – see the egg wash?

10. Let cool on a wire rack, then enjoy!

 

 

Ahu Eats: Homemade Poppyseed Bagels

Poppyseed Bagels – ready to be shmeared!

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