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TIP OF THE DAY: Pour-Over Coffee At Home

Chemex Coffee Maker

Chemex Coffee Maker

New Chemex Brewer

[1] The 1941 Chemex design, represented at the Museum of Modern Art and other museums (this photo is from the Brooklyn Museum Of Art). It’s $49.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond. [2] A freshly-dripped carafe of coffee (photo courtesy [3] The latest Chemex design, which adds a handle for easier pouring, was actually one of the original designs before the streamlined design was chosen. It’s $43.50 at Williams-Sonoma.


Waiting at a coffee bar recently, we overheard a customer watching her pour-over dripping into the cup. She said to the barista: “I wish I could do this at home!”

You can, it’s easy, and a lot less expensive than the pour-over, which took four passes from the barista.

In fact, in our youth…
…there were no specialty coffee bars (your take-out choice was Dunkin Donuts or a deli or diner),
…coffee at home was limited to a percolator or instant coffee, and
…people chose either Folgers or Maxwell House, but
…coffee aficionados made their coffee in a Chemex carafe with their favorite ground beans, usually from the supermarket although the real connoisseurs got mail-order beans from specialty shops.

If they were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee and tea shop, with loose beans and packaged coffee from around the world.

We were lucky: We lived in New York City, which had McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, established in 1895 and still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

A visit to McNulty’s was a trip back to another age. Today, the journey is accented with modern coffee makers and gadgets that didn’t exist at the time.

But the aroma is still the same: an exotic mingling of the many aromas of coffees and teas from around the world, kept in large glass canisters. There were burlap sacks of beans and chests of tea with stenciled markings from far away lands. The brass scale was also from the 19th century.

Amid the tea and coffee was one ultra-modern brewing apparatus: the Chemex drip coffee maker.


Pour over, also called manual drip brewing or the drip method, is a fashionable new term for an old, low-tech method of coffee brewing.

Ground coffee is added to a ceramic or plastic cone that sits in a paper filter atop a glass carafe, ceramic pot, coffee cup or other receptacle. The Chemex system eliminates the need for a cone by creating a carafe with a narrow neck that holds the filter.
Melitta, The First Pour-Over

The pour-over technique was invented by a German housewife, Melitta Benz, in 1908. Displeased with the grittiness and murkiness of coffee as it was then prepared, she devised a paper filter from a sheet of her son’s notebook paper, and set the filter into a brass cup into which she punched holes for the coffee to drip through.

The commercial version was made in ceramic (today available in ceramic or plastic). As anyone who has used a Melitta drip brewer knows, it became a great success for its superior brew.

Fast-forward a few decades, to inventor Peter Schlumbohm, a Ph.D chemist who had immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. He developed and sold his patents focused on heating and cooling systems, the thermos bottle and dry ice manufacturing among them.

In 1941, he released the Chemex drip coffee system with the coffee filter placed in a glass carafe.

Like the Melitta, the filter was filled with ground coffee and hot water, which drip-drip-dripped into the carafe.

Like the Melitta, it wasn’t the fastest cup of coffee around, but people with palates applauded the superior flavor. If you liked good black coffee, drip coffee was the way to go.

Its Bauhaus style design, elegant in thermal glass from Corning, received a big endorsement from the design community and was featured on the cover of the Museum of Modern Art’s “Useful Objects in Wartime” bulletin, making it “the official poster-child of [the] new emphasis on undecorated, functional simplicity [source]. It is included in the design collection of the Museum.


The Next Revolution In Home Coffee Brewing

In 1971, the first electric drip coffee maker to hit the consumer market, Mr. Coffee, revolutionized how many Americans brewed their coffee. Adios, percolator; bienvenidos, Mr. Coffee.

Mr. Coffee engendered shelves full of electric drip brands, which remained paramount until the Keurig single-serve beverage brewing system and the proliferation of K-Cup options too hold. In 2002, some 10,000 units were sold to offices, replacing the Bunn system and the need to clean the coffee pots and drink coffee that had been sitting on the burner for too long.

Consumers loved the Keurig system, and by 2006, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had acquired a stake, signed up leading coffee brands for the K-Cups

Gosh, has it only been ten years?

While the Melitta, Chemex and other pour-over apparatuses remained a niche product, our first experience with the modern pour-over took place in 2006 in San Francisco, where the line of customers stretched around the block to get a cup from Blue Bottle Coffee.

As our job is to know what’s new and wonderful in the world of food and drink, we waited for some 25 minutes. Sure, it was a good cup of coffer, but we didn’t do it again.

And we didn’t have to: The trend proliferated, and soon there was enough drip coffee in our own neighborhood to eliminate the line wait.

Which brings us to the present: pour-overs at home.

You can still buy a Melitta, and an improvement on it, the Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank Good Grips.

The water stays hot in the mini-tank instead of in an open filter. All you need is add ground coffee and hot water—no paper filter.

The set (photo at right) is just $15.99 at
Drip Tips

Drip coffee requires a particular technique to ensure that your brew is as good as Blue Bottle’s.

Here are Blue Bottle’s drip coffee-making tips.


Pour Over Coffee Oxo

Melitta Ceramic Coffee Maker

[4] It’s easy to make pour-over coffee at home with this $15.99 system from Oxo. [5] The modern Melitta system is $29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. You can also buy a $3.99 plastic cone to brew a cup atop your own cup or mug.




TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles From Lindt

Lindt Truffles With Sprinkles

Lindor Holiday Truffles

Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles

Lindor Truffle Cake

[1] Glamorized Pumpkin Spice Truffles: Lauren of Climbing Grier Mountain tops the truffles with a bit of frosting and gold sprinkles. [2] Boxes of Lindor truffles are available at retailers nationwide (photo courtesy [3] For larger sizes, head to This bag contains 75 truffles. [4] You don’t have to be a professional like Becky Bakes to create a holiday cake with Lindor truffles. Tip: Use a simpler garnish!


Last week was a big chocolate week for us, from the Big Chocolate Show in New York City to a media trip to Lindt’s U.S. headquarters in New Hampshire.

Our favorite discoveries were at Lindt: not just the million-square-foot bean-to-bar plant, thick with chocolate aroma, but the ability to taste just about everything Lindt produces.

We have many favorites, but one in particular is our Top Pick Of The Week: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles.

The milk chocolate shell has a creamy center of “smooth melting pumpkin spice filling.” We can’t get enough of them, and have stocked up on this limited edition (through the season, while supplies last) to get us through Valentine’s Day.


  • To fill our candy bowl throughout the season.
  • For trick-or-treaters.
  • For dessert and dessert cocktail garnishes.
  • For sundaes or parfaits (chopped or sliced).
  • For coffee, hot chocolate and pumpkintinis (recipe below).
  • For no-bake dessert tarts (see the creation of Lauren at
  • Place settings for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Holiday gifts (they’re KOF-K, too)
    No wonder Lindt packages these truffles in jumbo sizes in addition to the standard 5.1-ounce and 8.5-ounce packages available at retailers nationwide (suggested prices $4.39 and $6.99, respectively).

    For larger sizes, we headed to Lindt Outlet Stores and Lindt’s online store at There, you can find:

  • 75-piece gift bag, $28
  • 36-piece gift bag, $16
  • 550-piece case, $145

    Before we move on to drinking the truffles, here’s a quick note on how Lindor Truffles came to be.

    In 1845, Zurich store owner David Sprüngli-Schwarz and his son, Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, decided to be among the first confectioners in Switzerland to manufacture chocolate in a solid form.

    Prior to then, chocolate was a beverage, as it had been since Mesoamericans first began to use it around 1500 B.C.E. (the timeline of chocolate).

    Solid chocolate then was nothing like the product we know. It was a gritty, chewy product. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable, though. Some companies, like Tazo, still make this old-style chocolate.

    But progress marched forward.

    In 1879 chocolatier Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland, indadvertently developed a technique, conching, that created the smooth, silky chocolate we enjoy today.

    Ten years later, older brother Johann Rudolf Sprüngli acquired the Lindt business, and the secret to making smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. The new company was called Lindt & Sprüngli, but Lindt, the easier name to pronounce in different languages, became the brand name.

    Right after World War II, with time to re-focus on life’s pleasures, the creative chocolatiers at Lindt & Sprüngli developed the Lindor truffle, enrobing an even meltier center with its famed chocolate.

    Lindor is a contraction of Lindt d’Or, Golden Lindt. We heartily concur: These truffles are golden.

    Here’s the complete company history.



    Lindor truffles are not just for eating. You can drink them:

  • Melted into hot milk to create milk chocolate.
  • Melted into hot coffee to create hot mocha.
  • Hot chocolate and coffee Lindor drinks can be shaken with ice for iced hot chocolate and iced mocha; whipped cream optional.
  • Flavored truffles (coconut, mint, orange, raspberry, etc.) can be used to add extra flavor accents.
    When we visited the Lindt Outlet Store (here’s a store locator for both Lindt Chocolate Shops and Lindt Outlet Stores), we found a large cafe counter offering the choice of these drinks and more. We dove right in.

    Our recommendation: For a less sweet drink, use two Lindor truffles per 8 ounces of hot milk or coffee. For a sweeter drink, use three truffles. Whisk them in one at a time.

    We haven’t stopped drinking Lindt hot chocolate since!

    Pizzazzerei set up a party bar, an idea you may want to try for your own fall entertaining.

    You can also use Lindt truffles as a cocktail garnish, matching the different Lindor flavors (more than 20) to specific drink recipes.

    With Lindor Pumpkin Spice, the choice is obvious:


    It’s like an alcoholic milkshake! Have it for dessert.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • ½ ounce cream liqueur
  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • ½ ounce pumpkin liqueur or pumpkin spice syrup
  • Ice and shaker
  • Garnish: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffle


    Lindor Pumpkin Spice  Hot Chocolate

    Lindt Pumpkintini With Lindor Truffle

    [5] Add two truffles to milk, stir, and you’ve got Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate. [6] The best Pumpkinitini has a Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffle garnish (photo courtesy Lindt).

    1. COMBINE the cream liqueur and vodka in an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Add pumpkin the liqueur or syrup.

    2. SHAKE and strain into chilled a martini glass. Garnish with the truffle. If you don’t have a cocktail pick, lightly notch the truffle and place it on the rim of the glass.

    See our article on pumpkin liqueur, and why you should buy a bottle while you can.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Babeth’s Feast Frozen Gourmet Food

    If you can’t cook or want to entertain but can’t be both cook and hostess, you can still serve a feast in your own home—no assistance necessary.

    As long as you can turn on the oven, you can serve a splendid repast any meal of the day, thanks to Babeth’s Feast gourmet frozen foods.

    You can serve them the day they arrive, or put them in the freezer for future feasting


    Elisbeth, founder of Babeth’s Feast, discovered premium frozen food while living in Paris. French people shop daily for fresh ingredients to cook.

    But they also frequent frozen food specialty stores. Elegantly prepared frozen foods enable them to serve more elaborate meals, just by turning on the oven.

    To eat at home and entertain friends in style, she began to purchase frozen hors d’oeuvres by the dozen to host effortless cocktail parties. On weekends, she created elaborate brunch buffets from frozen breakfast pastries, meats, soups, quiches and desserts.

    She became a champion of the power of flash-frozen foods to provide the flavor, quality, connection and convenience that busy people need.

    To these prepared foods she added her own salad and wine, and friends never suspected the food was ready-made. These Sunday gatherings became known as “Babeth’s Feast.”

    Upon moving to New York, Elisabeth was chagrined that no elegant frozen-food store could be found. She—and the entire European expat community—really missed that easy option.

    Ordering in just couldn’t compare, and calling a caterer was cost-prohibitive.

    Wanting the ease, the spontaneity and the quality selection, Elisabeth/Babeth decided to bring a premium frozen food store to her new hometown. After careful sourcing and extensive recipe development, she opened Babeth’s Feast, a shop on the Upper East Side.

    And on the Internet.

    Whether for fancy entertaining or simpler dinners for every day, you can dine as if you had a cook. (You do: Babeth and her team.)

    A selection of 300 dishes span breakfast, brunch, lunch, cocktails and dinners.


    Babeth's Feast Brunch

    Babeth's Feast Appetizers

    Brunch with your favorite dishes, and no effort except heating. [2] Fine hors d’oeuvres with cocktails couldn’t be easier (photos courtesy Babeth’s Feast).

    The recipes range from popular crowd pleasers and kid pleasers to more sophisticated foodie fare.

    And it’s proof that you can’t tell the difference between flash-frozen foods and made-from-scratch (we challenge you, Gordon Ramsay!). They deliver flavor, quality and convenience to fine dining* at home.

    So claim full credit for yourself, or let guests in on your secret. Babeth endorses both options.
    *It doesn’t have to be “fine.” There are plenty of choices for people who prefer mac and cheese, burgers and fries.


    Babeth's Feast Dinner

    Salmon Dinner

    Did you make this rack of lamb dinner? Or this family-friendly salmon? Sure you did: You turned on the oven, didn’t you? (Photos courtesy Babeth’s Feast).



    We received the gift of an entire feast for THE NIBBLE team:

  • Hors d’oeuvre, four types warm from the oven
  • Carrot and coconut soup (so popular, it’s currently sold out)
  • Sea bass with miso sauce
  • Rack of lamb with red wine sauce
  • Desserts: chocolate soufflé and lemon tart
    For dinner alone, there are 15 meat and poultry choices, 10 fish and seafood choices, numerous sides from prepared vegetable dishes (Butternut Squash Crumble, Cauliflower Gratin), 10 different types of potatoes, 13 plain vegetables and 11 grains.

    Desserts are individual portions, from American favorites like lava cake, chocolate soufflé and lemon meringue tartlets, to French pastries like Opéra Gâteau.

    There are dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options.
    Can’t decide?

    There are samplers in every category with the three best-sellers.

    You can get servings for one, for a group, and kids portions.

    NYC store: 1422 3rd Avenue between 80th and 81st Streets, Manhattan


    Phone: 1.877.968.3327

    See more food photos at


    It’a a terrific gift for birthdays, anniversaries, new baby parents, new movers, and anyone who’d enjoy fine dining at home.

    Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentin’s Day, and other times when you want to spend time with people instead of the stove.

    And as a holiday gift?

    Just yesterday, as we were describing Babeth’s Feast to a friend, she said: “Give me the URL. [The adult kids] send us Omaha Steaks every year for Christmas and we’d like something else.”

    And yes, we’d like MORE!



    BOOK: The Gefilte Manifesto, New Cooking For The New Year

    The Gefilte Manifesto

    Gefilte Fish Terrine

    [1] Modernize Jewish cooking with The Gefilte Manifesto. Cover photo: parchment-wrapped trout roasted with sliced onions. [2] The new gefilte fish: a two-fish terrine (photos courtesy Flatiron Books).


    Those who don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, can still participate in one of the sweetest treats: sliced apples with honey for dipping. It symbolizes a sweet start to the new wear.

    This year, Rosh Hashanah spans Sunday, October 2 through Tuesday, October 4*.

    If you’re guesting for Rosh Hashanah and need a host/hostess gift, we like the new cookbook from Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, owners of The Gefilteria, a culinary venture that reimagines Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.


    THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, combines respect for culinary tradition with modern culinary preferences.

    The authors—Brooklynites Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz—took more than 100 recipes “pulled deep from the kitchens of Eastern Europe and the diaspora of North America.”

    They re-thought the recipes, taking into consideration modern palates, seasonality and consumers’ desire for easy-to-follow recipes.

    The authors’ variations on time-honored favorites add modern spins to both everyday and holiday dishes. Consider:

  • Fried Sour Pickles With Garlic Aïoli
  • Kasha Varnishkes With Brussels Sprouts
  • Kimchi Stuffed Cabbage
  • Savory Blintzes
  • Smoked Whitefish Gefilte Terrine
  • Sour Dill Martinis
  • Spinach & Leek Kreplach
    You’ll see how easy it is to make home-cured corned beef and pastrami, farmer cheese and honey-sesame chews—just like Great-Great-Great Grandmother did, but with modern conveniences like electricity, food processors and refrigerators.

    Get your copy here.

    Plan B: Bring a really fine honey like Savannah Bee, and a bowl of apples.
    *In the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, the dates of Jewish holidays vary yearly. They are based on the Hebrew calendar, which is not in sync with the Gregorian-Wester-Christian calendar.



    PRODUCT: Merci Chocolate

    Something fun and yummy in the chocolate space is finally available in the U.S.

    Merci, sold in Europe for some 50 years, is a brand of boxed chocolates manufactured by the German company August Storck KG.

    They are miniature bars, in an assortment of flavors made with fine ingredients, nicely packaged in a gift box.

    The delicious selection of rich European-style chocolates includes flavors such as Coffee and Cream, Cream Truffle, Dark Cream, Dark Mousse, Hazelnut-Almond, Hazelnut-Creme, Milk Chocolate and Praline-Creme, and merci will delight the palate.

    Each flavor has its own individual color wrap, to distinguish it from the other flavors in the box.

    The idea for merci was born in 1965, as an affordable yet impressive way to say “thank you” (which incorporates “thank you for being you”). Its popularity spread, and Merci is now sold in 100 countries.

    Choices include:

  • All milk chocolate.
  • All dark chocolate.
  • Mixed milk and dark chocolate.
  • Assorted chocolate with almonds.
    The 20-piece box, with 8.8-ounces of chocolate, can be found for $7.50 (or more, depending on the retailer). You can purchase two boxes with free shipping for $21.90 on Amazon.

    In addition to Amazon, the chocolates are sold at CVS, Target, Walgreens and other chains and grocery stores nationwide.

    Can you give a box to yourself?

    No one’s going to stop you!

    In Europe, after-dinner coffee is often served with a napolitain, also called a pale or tasting square, just 5 to 10 grams. One or two of these small wrapped pieces are placed on the rim off the coffee cup.

    While Merci wrapped chocolates are stackable anytime, we enjoy serving them to guests with coffee. They easily can substitute for dessert, too.


    Merci Chocolates

    Merci Dark Chocolate

    Coffee & Napolitain

    [1] You can serve Merci from the box or in your favorite candy dish. [2] Merci’s dark chocolate collection (both photos courtesy Merci | Storck). [3] Instead of two napolitains with after-dinner coffee, serve one Merci bar (photo courtesy Sandstein | Wikipedia).

    A family business now managed by the fourth generation, Storck has been a confectioner for than 100 years.

    Its brands are sold worldwide. Best-known in the U.S. are Werther’s Original caramels and toffee (the difference), and Bendicks Buttermints, chocolate-covered after-dinner mints.

    For more information visit



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Ketchup For Your Cookout

    Homemade Ketchup

    Burger & Sweet Potato Fries

    Hot Dogs With Ketchup

    [1] Homemade ketchup [2] with burgers (photos courtesy GoodEggs) and [3] on franks (photo courtesy Applegate).


    If you’re considering making something for a cookout, how about homemade ketchup?

    You can make your own ketchup in just ten minutes of prep time, plus 45 minutes of cooking. You can choose a better sweetener, avoiding high fructose corn syrup by substituting agave*, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup or non-caloric sweetener.

    And you can add specialty seasonings such as chipotle, curry, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño and sriracha.

    The following recipe is from Good Eggs of San Francisco. Here’s an alternative ketchup recipe made with honey (instead of brown sugar and molasses), cloves (instead of cumin) and coconut oil (instead of olive oil).


    Ingredients For 1 Pint

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
    Flavor Variations

    Instead of the allspice, cloves and cumin, you can flavor the ketchup with other seasonings.

    Divide the base ketchup into half-cup test batches and test different flavors. Flavoring a half cup at a time enables you to adjust the seasonings to your particular taste.

  • Chipotle Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, chipotle chile powder and lime juice
  • Cranberry Ketchup: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.
  • Curry Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice.
  • Garlic Ketchup: 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice.
  • Horseradish Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish.
  • Jalapeño Ketchup: 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned jalapeños, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • Sriracha Ketchup: 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
    You can also make hickory-smoke ketchup with liquid smoke, add lemon zest, and so forth.
    *When using agave, use half the amount since it’s twice as sweet as the other sweeteners.

    1. ADD 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and place over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook for 3 minutes, until translucent; then add the garlic.

    2. AFTER another 4 minutes, add the tomatoes (including the liquid), vinegar, salt, allspice, cayenne and black pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, until the tomatoes have broken down. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

    3. POUR the mixture into a blender and pulse until it’s a smooth purée. Be careful: Blending a hot liquid requires extra attention. Using a dish towel, hold down the lid tightly. An immersion blender is a superior alternative for puréeing hot liquids.

    4. POUR the purée back into the pot and add the the brown sugar and molasses. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes uncovered, until the mixture has thickened. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.

    The concept was brought to England from Southeast Asia in the late 1600s, and had no tomatoes. The first printed recipe for kachop was an early version of what we know as Worcestershire Sauce.

    Check out the history of ketchup.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Hibiscus Salt & Ways To Use It

    Hibiscus Salt Rim

    Chocolate Cupcake With Salt Garnish

    Cherry Tomato Salad With Hibiscus Salt

    Fried Egg & Asparagus With Hibiscus Salt

    Hibiscus Blossom

    Top: Margarita rim. Second: Cupcake garnish. Third: Salad garnish. Third: Eggs. Photos courtesy Bottom: Hibiscus flower. Photo courtesy


    A number of years ago, hibiscus flowers became a trendy ingredient for mixologists and pastry chefs, with the import of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup from Australia’s Wild Hibiscus Flower Company.

    It took us this long to try the company’s second hibiscus product, Wild Hibiscus Flower Pyramid Salt Flakes. Salty, fruity-zingy-tart and beautiful, it’s become the latest “it” gift for us.


    First, what is hibiscus? It’s a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae—the same genus that gave us marshmallow. The genus contains several hundred species that are native to subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world.

    The flowers often have vivid colors and fragrances. The blossoms are used as a flavoring for everything from beverages to ice pops (we highly recommend hibiscus iced tea. The flavor is fruity and floral, with a tart, red fruit backbone.

    The blossoms are also used to make a gourmet finishing salt with a pyramid shape similar to England’s Maldon salt and Cyprus Sea Salt. Hibiscus salt is a blend of dried, ground hibiscus flowers and Australian pyramid salt flakes.

    Finishing salts are top-quality salts that are known for their unique textures, which allow them to quickly dissolve when applied to finished dishes. These include flake salt, fleur de sel, and French sea salt.
    Flake salt is a light crystal salt reminiscent of snowflakes. Seawater is are evaporated by the sun and wind producing salt brine that is slowly heated to the point where delicate pyramids shaped crystals of salt appear. The finished product is light, flaky sea salt.

    Flake salts are harvested all over the world: the Maldon River in England, Anglesey off the island of Wales, New Zealand, and Australia. The pink flake salt shown here comes from Australia’s Murray-Darling River Basin, where a red pigment, carotene, is secreted by algae.

    The crystals are small, fine, flat and pink; combining with the hibiscus yields a salt with violet hues.

    In addition to delicate flavor and eye appeal, the salt is rich with calcium and magnesium, among other minerals.

    The product is call natural, certified kosher (by Kosher Australia) and gluten free.


    Hibiscus salt can be sprinkled as is, crumbled for a finer presentation or used in a salt grinder. It can be used with sweet and savory foods and beverages.

  • Avocado toast, cream cheese, etc.
  • Cake and cupcake garnish
  • Chocolate bark
  • Cocktails and mocktails
  • Eggs
  • Fish, smoked salmon
  • Glass rimmer
  • Goat cheese log (roll the log in an elegant combination of the violet salt and chopped green pistachios) and other fresh cheeses
  • Hot chocolate
  • Ice cream, sorbet and other desserts (go for a salty contrast, or mix the hibiscus salt with some decorating salt for sweet-and-salty)
  • Melon
  • Plate garnish
  • Popcorn
  • Potatoes, rice and vegetables
  • Salad
  • Yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Lots more (including gifts)
    Get yours today.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Herb & Spice Grinders

    Some recipes instruct you to grind herbs or spices. In our grandmother’s day, that meant using a mortar and pestle. In our mother’s day, it meant using the coffee grinder for herbs and spices.

    Mom, a purist, had a second grinder for that purpose. Other folks had to first grind uncooked rice in their coffee grinder to remove minute particles of coffee, or else suffer coffee-accented spices.

    Today, manufacturers are doing more to meet the needs of home cooks. McCormick, for example, sells four popular herbs—basil, Italian blend, oregano and parsley—in non-refillable glass grinder bottles (center photo).

    On the spice end, McCormick has grinders for peppercorns and peppercorn-herb blends, seasoned salt blends and plain salt grinders.

    There are herb mills and spice grinders, a.k.a. mills, but we especially like the new Kyocera “Everything Grinder” (bottom photo—more about the mill below). Technically, “mill” refers to the entire device and “grinder” to the grinding mechanism inside the mill.


    Herbs, minerals and spices are three options to flavor foods.

  • Herbs are parts of leafy green plants, such as leaves and stems.
  • Spices are bark, berries, fruits, roots or seeds of plants. Peppercorns are the berries of a vine.
  • Minerals are solid inorganic substances. Salt is a mineral. Other minerals used in cooking include baking powder, baking soda, citric acid, MSG and tartaric acid. Sugar is not a mineral since it is derived from the sap of a plant.
  • Herbs and spices lose their flavor over time, but salt retains its flavoring.

    Now, one mill grinds everything: dried herbs, pepper, salt, seeds and spices: the Kyocera Everything Mill With Adjustable Advanced Ceramic Grinder.

    The company states that its advanced ceramic burr mill mechanism, close in hardness to a diamond, will outlast any metal-based grinding mill. Is adjusts from fine to coarse grinds.


    Marble Mortar & Pestle

    McCormick Oregano Spice Grinder

    Kyocera Everything Mill

    Top: Marble mortar and pestle from RSVP. Center: McCormick Spice Grinder. Bottom: Kyocera Everything Mill.

    The mill features a glass body, ceramic grinding mechanism and acrylic top. The glass base is dishwasher safe, and all components are rustproof.

    In addition to salt and peppercorns, you can grind celery, cumin, dill, flax, mustard and sesame seeds; any spices including red pepper flakes; and any dried herbs.

    To grind pliant fresh herbs you’ll still need a mortar and pestle (preferably) or a spice mill/coffee grinder with a metal blade. We’ve tried both and strongly recommend hand-grinding with a mortar and pestle for the finest flavor. Metal blades tear the leaves in a way that releases the oil in a different way. You’ll also need the mortar or metal blades stop grind nuts.

    But for most grinding, you can count on the Kyocera Everything Mill. There’s a color for every kitchen: Apple Green, Bright Black, Brilliant White, Candy Apple Red, Translucent Blue and Translucent Maroon.

    At $19.95, they make good gifts for your favorite cooks. All colors are available on
    FUN: The History Of Coffee Grinders.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Oven Mitts

    When you’re working with hot oven pans, stove pot handles, steaming pasta pots and the like, you need more protection than a cloth oven mitt. Otherwise, be prepared to say “Ouch!”

    We tossed our cloth oven mitts 15 years ago when the first Orka silicone oven mitts debuted. No matter pleasing the design—or the ability to wear a matching apron—cloth mitts didn’t provide enough burn protection.

    Beyond protection against burns, cloth mitts are neither waterproof nor oil-proof—and get pretty stained pretty fast.

    If you haven’t yet heeded the call, it’s time to toss your cloth oven mitts and bring in the heavy hitter: silicone.

    While there are numerous silicone mitts on they market, we recently gave our older ones away in favor of what we think is the new best: the Silicone Flex Mitt from The Triumphant Chef.

    They’re the latest generation of silicone: super-flexible, yet still heat resistant up to 450°F.

  • The no-slip silicone grips better than cloth—and even better grip from the circle-and-spoke pattern.
  • You can flip chops, steaks, hot dogs on the grill without tools.
  • You can easily hold down a turkey or roast while you carve it.
  • You can fully clean them in the sink with soap and hot water—or in the dishwasher.
    A couple of decades ago, Playtex Living Gloves promoted themselves as “so flexible, you can pick up a dime. We didn’t easily pick up a dime with Flex Mitts, but it was a cinch to pick up a quarter.

    Like those Living Gloves, they have a soft cloth liner, here quilted. They’re currently on sale at for $13.83 a pair, plus a bonus silicone basting brush. The gloves are available in:

  • Black
  • Canary Yellow
  • Dark Red
  • Lime Green
  • Royal Blue
  • Royal Purple
    Get them for your favorite cooks for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, summer grilling weekends…and think ahead to Christmas season.


    For much of man’s history, hot pots and pans were handled with cloth. One source notes that mittens have been in use for more 1,000 years for a wide range of protective purposes, including protecting hands from hot ovens.

    If so, they were abandoned somewhere along the line for the presumably more effective potholders.

    Apparently, a Texan named Earl Mitt (seriously?) came up with the idea in the early 1870s, after a bad burn while baking. In an effort to prevent getting burned again, he invented the first oven mitt from shoe leather and wool. After experimenting with different materials and designs, he finally came up with the oven mitt style of cooking glove. [Source]

    Today, the outer layers are typically made of cotton or polyester, while the inner layer is filled with an insulator fabric.

    Thanks, Earl; but they’re old technology now. Along with potholders, they provide incomplete protection against high heat, steam and oil splattering. A user can be scalded by boiling water and burned hot pans and steam.

    What are you waiting for?


    All Clad pot from Williams-Sonoma. It can be monogrammed!All-Clad Pasta Pot

    Tramontana Deep Fryer

    Super Flex Silicone Oven Gloves

    Super Flex Oven Mitts

    Do you really want to touch a hot pot with kitchen towels or cloth oven mitts? (All-Clad Pasta Pot and Tramontino Deep Fryer from Williams-Sonoma). Bottom: Our favorite protection, Super Flex Oven Mitts from The Triumphant Chef, with a soft quilted liner and a bonus matching basting brush.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Spreads, Cheese Condiments

    Fig Spread With Cheese

    Bonne Maman Fig Spread

    Top: Crostini with Brie, Serrano ham and Fig Spread (photo courtesy Favor The Moments). Bottom: Enjoy trying the different spreads with different cheeses (photo courtesy Bonne Maman).


    What’s a cheese condiment? What’s a cheese spread? you may ask. Here’s the food nerd explanation:

  • Cheese spread is one of the sweet cheese condiments.
  • A condiment is an auxiliary food product that adds flavor to another food.
  • “Condiment” is first found in print in French around 1420, and derives from the Latin condimentum, spice.
  • Mankind has been enjoying condiments for much longer, even before the dukkah of ancient Egypt the ancient Romans’ beloved fish sauce, garum.
    Chutney, ketchup, mustard and pickle relish are examples of condiments that enhance burgers and franks. Although you may not think of them as such, fudge sauce, marshmallow cream and whipped cream are ice cream condiments.

    Given America’s growing familiarity with fine cheeses, here’s an…


    What is the difference between a mostarda and a mustard? Why would you put honey on cheese? Can you use the same condiments on a log of fresh goat cheese and an aged Gouda?

    Cheeses are wonderful on their own, but cheese condiments can bring out their nuances. Similar to wine pairings, the flavor and age of the cheese are taken into account when deciding on pairings.

    We have an elaborate chart of cheese condiment pairings, from aged balsamic and mustard to sweet condiments such as chutney, honey and preserves.

    Cheeses served with sweet condiments make delicious appetizers, desserts and snacks.

    Take a look at the newest cheese condiments in town: three fruit spreads from premium jam, jelly and preserves company, Bonne Maman. They are all natural, non-GMO and certified kosher by OU.


    First, a word about “spreads.”

    There are different types of fruit spreads, including chutney, jam, jelly, preserve and others.

    Aside from the jam and jelly group, some people hear “cheese spread” and think of like Port Wine Cheddar. Not here.

    As regards jam, in the U.S., “fruit spread” is generally a reduced-calorie product, replacing all or part of the sugar with fruit juice concentrate and low-calorie sweeteners. Not the case with Bonne Maman.

    The new spreads from Bonne Mamam are very thick and concentrated preserves that don’t run or dribble: They stand firm, enabling you to use them in more ways. The flavor, too, is more intense—glorious, in fact. It was all we could do not to eat them directly from the jar. (Well, maybe we did.)

    The best pairings are the ones you like. We’ve made some suggestions, but let your palate be your guide.


    Black Cherry Spread Cheese Pairings

    Tart cherries pair well with both sharp and creamy cheeses. We pair it with goat cheese, Brie and Camenbert.
    Purple Fig Spread Cheese Pairings

    This one is easy: Fig pairs well with all types of cheese.
    Quince Spread Cheese Pairings

    For centuries, membrillo, quince paste, has been the classic condiment for aged Spanish cheeses. Cabrales and Manchego are most often found in the U.S., but your cheesemonger may also have Idiazabal, Roncal, Zamorano and others. Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano, with nuances similar to Manchego, pairs well; so does aged provolone. The nutty Swiss mountain cheeses are also a match: Appenzeller, Emmental (with the big holes called eyes), Gruyère* and French Comté.

    Plan a cheese tasting with fruit spreads and other condiments. Your family and friends will love it!

    As of this writing, you can download a $2 coupon on the Bonne Maman website.

    Looking for small Mother’s Day gifts or party favors? is currently selling a six-pack with free shipping.

    The spreads are also available at retailers nationwide.


    Quince Spread

    Bonne Maman Purple Fig Cheese Spread

    Top: Quince Spread atop a pyramid-shaped cheese (photo courtesy Taylor Takes A Taste). Bottom: A jar of Purple Fig Spread (photo courtesy

    *Switzerland has produced Gruyère for hundreds of years, but after an appeal to the EU, France was also allowed to use the name. French Gruyère must be made with tiny eyes—“between the size of a pea and a cherry”—to distinguish it from the original.



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