Parchment paper! Inspired by A&M, I have been lining my roasting pans with parchment paper for roasting veggies (and I use it for almost every cake I make). Any other uses I am missing?
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I use parchment paper for cookies, for a lot of reasons: they make my old-fashioned (and near-black) sheets lighter in color so the bottoms of the cookies don't burn, there's no need to grease the sheets, and you can reuse the paper for several batches (I wipe down the parchment with a clean towel if there are droplets of butter or browned cookie bits, so to avoid adding a burned taste to subsequent batches).I don't have a lot of experience cooking En Papillote (French for "in parchment"); it is a method of cooking food, usually fish, in parchment or paper to keep it moist and steamy.
I cut it to fit down on top of braises (and then cover with foil and the lid) and it seems to make a difference.
Also, I put a piece on the chopping board when chopping, so that it's easier to trasport stuff tht's chopped into the pot (by making a cone). When grating/shredding/sifting (as long as it's not an enormous amount) I do it on the paper too, so it 'saves' a bowl and is easy to add.
Also, since I don't have a lot of those cute mis-type bowls, when I have a bunch of stuff I'm going to add--like for a soup or stir-fry, I put them out on their own little squares--which the retentive in me lables--so that I'm sure I've got everything. That's a variation of the last one, but still.
The classical use for parchment paper is using it for en papillote dishes, where you take fish and some aromatic vegetables, and some wine and broth, seal it in a parchment packet and bake it in a hot oven. Parchment paper can also be used to make makeshift pastry bags. There are as many uses for it as you can imagine.
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I use it when making bread in situations when I'm using a clay pot (the kind that needs to be soaked, and heated in the oven from the time you turn it on). I put my dough for its second rise on a sling on the parchment paper in the top half of the clay pot. (I use a small roasting clay pot, not one specifically made for bread making.) Then, when the oven is hot and the bread has risen, I just pour the hot water out of the bottom part, which was warming up in the oven, and move the dough with the sling right into it. Most of the bread recipes I've posted here have photos of bread made this way. It produces a beautiful loaf that's a nice size and shape for sandwiches. In my recipe for Everyday Potato Loaf there are photos to illustrate the procedure I use. You can also use parchment for the second rise of a free-form loaf, if you want to heat your pizza stone before putting the dough on it. ;o)
All great ideas! I also baKe pizza on it, in a sheet pan, or on a stone.
Also use a parchment lined sheet pan to freeze chopped fruit/grated veg.
You can also make little pastry bags for piping chocolate/icing.
And you can use it for making caramels, like A&M demonstrated today.
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Allow me to echo Mr Vittles here. For papillotte style cooking, cut out a heart shaped pattern of parchment, double it over. Inside that you can place your fish or frog or whatever. Be sure to moisten with wine or vermouth and of course add your herbs. Crinkle back the edges and bake.
And don't forget how handy -- essential, really -- it is for putting your dry beans/rice on when blind-baking a pie crust. ;o)
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All of these are good uses. The only thing I can add at the moment is when I make a candy or compound butter I use it to make a roll and then refridgerate or freeze. For example, when I make a compound butter I will add the softened compound butter to a sheet across (the short width) and pull the parchement over the butter and use a sheet pan like a squedgy to push and tighten into a roll.
Also, great for icebox cookies. Roll the logs, wrap in the paper, secure with light rubber bands, combine three or four or more rolls of dough in one plastic bag. The paper has more structure and stability than plastic wrap alone, so the logs hold up much beter. ;o)
I also put down a piece on top of braises, particularly pot roast.
I was going to say I prefer a silpat for roasting veggies or baking cookies (or banana leaves for 'en papillote'), but the one thing I really need parchment paper for is neopolitan-style pizza baking. I've never gotten the hang of dropping the pizza off a peel onto the pizza stone, but it still rises and browns well with parchment and is much easier to slide off the peel.
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