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Archive for October, 2011

PRODUCT: A Handsome Stainless Steel Water Filtration Pitcher

If you use a water filtration pitcher, your choice has been limited to plastic.

Until now. Base Brands has introduced the Reduce Vision pitcher, the first stainless steel water filter pitcher and possibly the best water filtration pitcher.

The stainless steel doesn’t scratch as readily as the plastic pitchers we’ve had, and it’s lightweight and ergonomic. Stainless steel is also naturally bacteria-resistant.

Water pitcher filter cartridges typically filter out the same elements—we haven’t found any difference in taste when using different brands. The Reduce Vision pitcher accommodates most major brand filters, including Brita and Pur.

The 18/8 stainless steel pitcher has a 10 cup capacity and comes with one 60-day filter.

 

The sleekest water filtration pitcher is
made from stainless steel. Photo courtesy Base Brands.

 

At $36.47 on Amazon, it’s a bit more than the plastic water filtration pitchers—but worth it.

We keep one on our desk, where it fits in far more elegantly than a plastic water pitcher.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Garnish With Decorative Gourds

Use a decorative gourd as a food garnish.
Photo by FunWithFood | IST.

 

We enjoy decorating with gourds in the fall-to-winter months.

From still lifes on tables to place settings for dinner, these colorful ornamental varieties of squash and pumpkins perk up their surroundings.

Take them one step further: Use them to decorate your snacks and serving dishes, too.

On the rims of platters or in the center of dishes, they’ll turn any food into fun food.

Hardshell gourds have been used since the dawn of man as containers, cooking and eating vessels, plus numerous nonfood purposes.

Softshell gourds are the thinner-skinned, ornamental gourds grown for their bright colors.

 

Here’s a fun fact: The loofa or luffa is actually a third category of gourd. Also called a vegetable sponge, the exterior is cucumber-shaped. The dried, fibrous interior is used as a sponge.

Find more of our favorite vegetables and recipes in our Vegetables Section.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Take The Chicory Challenge

Cichorium is a genus of plants that resemble wildflowers, with beautiful lavender or pale blue blossoms. But two of the six wild species, native to Europe, are cultivated for food: chicory and endive. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked.

  • Common chicory, Cichorium intybus, is grown for its leaves, variously known as Belgian endive (red and white), endive, French endive, leaf chicory, radicchio or witloof. Some varieties are grown for their roots, which are used as a coffee substitute.
  • True endive, Cichorium endivia, is grown as a salad green. Curly endive (frisée or chicory frisée) and the broad-leafed escarole are also true endives.
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    Though it is common to find chicories in restaurant dishes, they are far less often embraced by home cooks.

    Why? They are not excessively costly, nor are they particularly hard to find. And they’re a particularly healthy food: a good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, potassium and vitamins B6, C, E and K.

     

    Some of the chicory group. From top left: escarole, leaf chicory, frisée (curly chicory), radicchio di Chiogga, radicchio di Treviso and Belgian endive. Photo courtesy Endive.com.

     

    The fact is, a lot of people don’t seem to like chicories, possibly due to their inherent bitterness. Perhaps in our country, where sugar is dumped into everything from bread to mustard and governments are looking at regulating the excessive amount of salt in prepared foods, people have been weaned away from the bitter flavor.

    Bitterness is an important taste in cooking and it has its place in balancing the saltiness, sweetness and acidity in many recipes. Give it a chance.

    How To Tame The Bitterness In Chicory

    The easiest way to soften the bitterness in chicories is to shock them in an ice bath. Simply plunge the vegetables into icy water (add ice cubes to cold tap water or refrigerated water) and leave them there for an hour or so. Then, give them a little nibble. If they’re still too bitter for your taste, repeat; continue to do so until you’re happy with the result. Then, remove and spin the leaves dry (if you don’t have a salad spinner, air drying is fine). You will be shocked (pun intended) at the difference it makes.

    If you are using the vegetable raw, remove the core from the head—the core is the most bitter part. With Belgian endive and radicchio, the easiest method is to cut the head in half lengthwise and then cut away the core.

    How To Use Chicories

    In addition to salad, you can cook chicories in any number of ways. Their heartiness allows them to stand up to most cooking methods, even grilling. Grilled radicchio is delicious, finished with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil, a squirt of lemon, a few pinches of coarse salt and some freshly ground pepper. Escarole sautéed with garlic in olive oil is a simple pleasure. Belgian endive, frisée (curly endive) and radicchio are beautiful in salads.

    Recipes

  • Radicchio overview and recipes
  • Festive radicchio salad recipe
  • Pear salad with blue cheese and radicchio recipe
  • Spinach, citrus and radicchio salad recipe
  • Grilled bitter greens with caraway peach dressing recipe
  • Angel hair pasta with scallops and escarole recipe
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    COOKING VIDEO: How Is Candy Corn Made

     

    October 30th is National Candy Corn Day. According to the National Confectioners Association, more than 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold during the Halloween season.

    The iconic Halloween confection was created in the late 1880s by George Roniger of the Wunderlee Candy Company, in Philadelphia. The first three-layer candy, it was made laboriously, by hand.

    Even with today’s machinery, it takes 4 to 5 days to create each piece of candy corn. Each kernel has 3.57 calories, and they’re all sugar (the ingredients are corn syrup, honey, sugar and food coloring, coated with carnauba wax, a wax from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree).

    The orange, yellow and white colors of the candy corn can actually be found in fresh corn kernels—though the colors are intensified by the candymakers. Some companies create an “Indian corn” version, substituting brown for the yellow base color.

    See candy corn being made in the video below.

    CANDY CORN TRIVIA
    The leading manufacturer of candy corn is Brach’s. Each year, the company sells enough candy corn to circle the earth 4.25 times.

       

       

    Find more of our favorite candy in our Gourmet Candy Section.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Pumpkin Soup In A Pumpkin Tureen

    You can buy a ceramic pumpkin tureen for the holiday season.

    Or, you can make one out of a real pumpkin, and have pumpkin soup to boot.

  • Select a handsome pumpkin of a size that suits your needs. Wash the pumpkin.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the “lid” off of the pumpkin.
  • Scoop the flesh out with an ice cream scoop. Scoop the flesh from the lid as well.
  • Toss the membrane; save the seeds to toast as a soup garnish.
  • Make soup from the flesh (recipes below).
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    If you’re making the soup in advance, you can keep the tureen in the fridge or a cool spot. We’d love to save and re-use the tureen, but we’ve never had enough freezer space to see how it freezes. If you do, wash the pumpkin tureen after you’ve served the soup, let it dry, freeze it and please let us know how it goes!

     

    Serve soup from a real pumpkin tureen. Photo by G.M. Vozd | IST.

     

    Decorate Your Tureen
    The most breathtaking pumpkin tureen we’ve seen is on the website Phoo-d. The rim is circled with fresh flowers. If you have the time and energy—or simply want to see a beautiful photo—take a look.

    Pumpkin Soup Recipes

  • Recipe #1: Pumpkin soup with chicken stock and milk
  • Recipe #2: Pumpkin soup with chicken stock, half-and-half and cocoa croutons
  • Recipe #3: Pumpkin soup with anise and Pernod-flavored cream cheese “sorbet”
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