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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Kitchenware/Tabletop

GIFT: “Chocolate” Swiss Army Knife

chocolate-swiss-army-knife-2-230

A Swiss Army Knife for the chocolate lover. Photo courtesy Victorinox.

 

Who knew there were so many styles of Swiss Army Knife?

We’ve seen them in occasional colors beyond black and the signature red.

But there are 99 different designs, from animal prints and flowers to camouflage and skateboards.

For the chocolate lover, the Swiss Chocolate Classic SD Swiss Army Knife is the way to go. There’s a scored chocolate bar on one side; on the reverse side shows the chocolate peeled back from its silver foil.

The Swiss Chocolate Classic SD Swiss Army Knife is $17.25 and your readers can purchase it at SwissKnifeShop.com.

Engraving and gift bags are also available.

 

 
  

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FOOD FUN: Party Plate Decals For Any Occasion

christmas-plate-decals-createURplate

Just a few of the Christmas decal choices. Photo courtesy Create UR Plate.

 

We absolutely love this line of plate decals, created by party planner Sandy Casey of Create UR Plate.

Hundreds of choices let you tailor your dishes to any party occasion. The “magic” comes from adhesive decals, which adhere to the base of glass or plastic plates from the underside.

Made in sizes to fit both dinner plates and dessert plates, they’re $1.99 each and are reusable. The company also sells glass and plastic plates.

Can you think of a more elegant—and fun—idea for party plates? The many decal themes include:

  • Anniversary
  • Baby Shower
  • Birthday
  • Bridal Shower
  • Easter
  • Graduation
  • Halloween
  • Hanukkah
  • New Years
  • Passover
  • Patriotic
  • St. Patrick’s
  • Tailgaiting
  • Thanksgiving
  • Valentine
  • Wedding
  •  

    You can also create your own custom design with your own photos and jpgs. Perhaps some Bark Mitzvah plates for Fido?

    See why we find this product so exciting. Check out the plates for

  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  •  
    You can also create plates as gifts, with photos of the kids, pets, team logos and so forth.

    Party on!

     

    giving-thanks-230sq

    One of many different ways to customize your holiday dishes with reusable decals. Photo courtesy Create UR Plate.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serrated Peeler

    Every kitchen has a standard vegetable peeler to slice the skin from carrots, cucumbers, potatoes and other veggies.

    But there’s also a serrated peeler, which works better on softer produce like mangoes, nectarines, peaches, plums and that toughest of peeling challenges, tomatoes.

    Most home cooks who have both use the word “love,” as in, “I love the serrated peeler!”

    Of course, you can use a serrated peeler where you’d use a conventional peeler, on anything from asparagus to zucchini. But we use both, so we don’t dull the serrated blade on potatoes when we want to keep it sharp for those pesky tomatoes.

    The standard technique to peel thin-skinned produce is to blanch the item in boiling water, then chill it in ice water, then remove the skin with a sharp knife or fingers. A serrated peeler is the better way.

     

    serrated-peeler-hands-crisp-230

    Peeling tomatoes, bell peppers and mangoes is easy with a serrated peeler. Photo courtesy Crisp.

     

    And instead of charring bell peppers over a flame to remove the skin, just use a serrated peeler.

    How can you resist?

    • The angled-head serrated peeler from Crisp is $8.99 at CrispCooking.com. It also has an “eyer” at the top.
    • The highly regarded Messermeister serrated swivel peeler is $7.95 at Amazon.com.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Perfect Bacon Bowl

    If everything tastes better with bacon—as many Americans would have it—than everything tastes better in a bacon bowl.

    That’s what the manufacturers of Perfect Bacon Bowl say. While we might not want to toss fruit salad or ice cream into one, we do agree that a bowl made of 100% crisp bacon is great for:

  • Eggs and hash browns
  • Fondue
  • Grains, starches and veggies (try mashed potatoes!)
  • Low-carb burgers and cheeseburgers (the bacon bowl replaces the bun)
  • Pasta (try mac & cheese)
  • Salads (with lettuce and tomato, it’s a bread-free BLT!)
  •  
    The dishwasher-safe, bowl-shaped gadget cooks bacon to a perfect bowl shape, in the oven, toaster oven or microwave. Just wrap bacon slices around the form, cook. and you’ve got edible bowls made completely from bacon.

     

    Bacon-bowl-230

    What do you want in your bacon bowl? Photo courtesy Perfect Bacon Bowl.

     

    You can also use the device to make bread bowls for soups and stews, cornbread bowls for chili, and wherever your imagination takes you.

    See the video.

    Order on Amazon. A box of two bowls is just $5.87, with free shipping on orders over $35.

    That’s easy to reach when you choose Perfect Bacon Bowl as a stocking stuffer for your bacon-loving friends and family!

      

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    GADGET: Olive Stuffer

    Olive connoisseurs: If you’re disappointed with the quality of commercial stuffed olives—rubbery blue cheese, cheap and fishy anchovies, chewy jalapeños—you can now stuff your own premium ingredients with the Swissmar Olive Stuffer.

    Anchovies, feta, garlic, goat cheese, pecans, plus fresh herbs: Have fun creating your own stuffed olive creations. The spring-loaded olive stuffer lets you fill large pitted olives with anything.

    Simply load the stainless steel device with the stuffing(s) of your choice, place the plunger into the pitted olive, and release.

    Buy it at Williams-Sonona.com for $14.65.

    If you don’t have an olive pitter, you should pick one up, too.

     

    olive-stuffer-WS-230

    Become a master olive stuffer. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Avocado Saver

    It looks like an S&M harness for an avocado. But it’s the Avocado Saver from Williams-Sonoma, yours for $6.95.

    Why would you need an Avocado Saver? To quote the retailer:

    “Keep halved avocados fresh longer with this handy gadget, which reduces oxidation and browning by protecting the exposed side from air. Simply align the pit over the indentation, then secure the avocado with the adjustable rubber strap, which creates a tight seal against the plastic base.”

    Uh…have you not heard of plastic wrap?

    If you have use for an Avocado Saver, here’s the link to purchase it.

    Related Articles

  • Don’t Buy Silly Kitchen Gadgets
  • Kitchen Gadgets To Avoid
  •  

    avocado-saver-WS-230

    Another silly kitchen gadget? Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: George Foreman 5-Minute Burger

    george-foreman-5-minute-burger-grill-230Americans love their burgers.

    Eat burgers often? This George Foreman
    specialty grill cooks them—and the buns—in
    five minutes. Photo courtesy George
    Foreman.

     

    Today is National Cheeseburger Day; here’s a way to make them faster, with less mess.

    First, a public service announcement: If only Americans would eat fewer burgers. It would be better for health, better for the environment, better for the pocketbook, better for animal welfare.

    But that’s wishful thinking. So if you’ve got a burger habit, now it’s easier than ever to cook them at home. The new George Foreman 5-Minute Burger cooks the meat 50% faster and makes clean-up easy. Any child allowed near a hot appliance can use it.

  • The compartment on the top toasts the buns while the meat cooks.
  • The fat-removing slope design takes out up to 42% of the fat from a quarter-pound ground chuck burger.
  • The drip tray collects all the fat and can go right into the dishwasher.
  • In addition to burgers, the unit can cook chicken, fish, veggies, etc.
  • The small size is great for kitchens with not a lot of counter space.
  •  
    The advantages are great; we have just one caveat: It doesn’t cook two adult-size burgers. The two burgers shown in the photo are kid-size. We were able to fit one four-inch patty (we bought them pre-shaped from the store) on the plate; the second one would have fallen partially outside the borders.

    We’re not complaining: It’s still a terrific way to cook burgers if you don’t need to do it in quantity. And if you hand-make your own patties, it’s not an issue.

    The grill launched this summer at Walmart for $24.99. We found it on Amazon for $29.02 (and received ours as a test sample).
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL

    George Foreman did not create the George Foreman grill. He lucked out, earning more from his endorsement of it than from his celebrated boxing career.

    When the inventor, Michael Boehm of Batavia, Illinois, pitched his product to manufacturers, it was called The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine. He proposed heavyweight champion George Foreman as the spokesperson.

    Foreman was well-known for eating two reduced-fat hamburgers before every fight. Boehm sent a prototype of the grill to Foreman, who loved it. Salton signed on as the manufacturer and the appliance launched in 1994.

    The George Foreman Grill (there are now several designs) sold more than 100 million units in the first 15 years. Foreman himself was paid $137 million by Salton in 1999 for the use of his name. Prior to that, Wikipedia reports that he earned 40% of the profit on each grill sold—$4.5 million a month at the peak. [Source]
     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chillsner Beer Cooler

    chillsner-230

    Chill that beer in a minute. Photo
    courtesy Hewy Wine Chillers.

     

    We’re quite enamored of the Corkcicle, a reusable, gel-filled plastic icicle. Kept in the freezer until you need it, it becomes a wine cooler and bottle stopper that chills down a bottle of wine or maintains the temperature of an already chilled bottle.

    Forget a bulky ice bucket: This the perfect way to keep opened bottles of wine at just the right drinking temperature. It’s available in a standard edition, Corkcicle Classic, and a deluxe edition, Corkcicle One, which has a built-in aerator and pouring spout. Either is a great gift for wine lovers.

    Now Corkcicle has a beer brother: the Chillsner, for standard long neck beer bottles. The stainless steel frame contains the same proprietary thermal gel used in the Corkcicle. As with the Corkcicle, you keep the Chillsner in the freezer until you need it; then, simply insert it into the bottle.

    You can place the Chillsner in a warm bottle of beer and immediately sip cold beer through the spout (or pour it into a glass). Or, use the Chillsner to keep a pre-chilled bottle cold.

    If you’re drinking alfresco, the Chillsner also keeps the bugs out.

    Give as a summer gift, or plan for the holidays. Any beer drinker will be delighted.

     

    The list price is $29.95 for a two-unit gift box; but you’ll find the Chillsner for $20.95 on Amazon.com.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Buy Silly Kitchen Gadgets

    grape-cutter-230

    A special gadget slices grapes in half. A
    better gadget: a sharp knife and a cutting
    board. Photo courtesy OXO.

     

    We have the greatest respect for OXO Good Grips. They, and other manufacturers, produce kitchen gadgets that make food preparation easier.

    But some work better than others. We had great hopes for the mango splitter we purchased; it didn’t work and was promptly donated to Goodwill. While peeling mangoes is a pain, it’s still easier to use a knife and a vegetable peeler.

    Then, starting with the guacamole masher—a device made by Amco and other companies—as well as the separate OXO avocado slicer, without the mashing component, we began to wonder what was going on in the invention of new kitchen gadgets.

    They seemed to be unnecessary—drawer-clutterers that didn’t do any better job than the standard gadgets we already have. Yet, manufacturers won’t make these gadgets unless consumers will buy them.

    With the Caprese salad maker—a tomato and mozzarella slicer from Jed Mart, and another from Rösle—we noticed that things were getting out of hand. If you can’t evenly slice a mozzarella cheese or a tomato, you simply need to practice with a knife.

    A corn stripper/shucker? Don’t even think of it: Some ears of corn are simply too plump to fit through the one-size-does-not-fit-all kernel remover. Here’s how we cut corn kernels from the cob.

     

    The Basics Work Best

    We can’t imagine who would buy gadgets like these, because everyone we know who prepares food at home knows how to hold a knife and slice.

    And that’s all you need: a good knife and a cutting board. So today’s tip is: Please, save your money!

    The gadget that inspired today’s tip is the OXO Good Grips Grape and Small Tomato Slicing Guide (photo above).

    You fill the Guide (the container) with up to 1 cup of grapes, grape tomatoes, or other small fruits like kumquats, pitted cherries or pitted olives.

    Seriously: one cup of grapes or tomatoes? That’s not very much to slice by hand. A sharp kitchen knife will slice them faster and better.

    While we haven’t tried it (we’ve tried too many new-fangled gadgets, with no success), we opine that in the time it takes to load, slice, remove and clean the container, you can slice the grapes on a cutting board with your kitchen knife.

     

    Stop The Insanity

    The next time you’re tempted by a nifty-looking kitchen gadget, ask yourself:

    Will a sharp knife do as well? Then sharpen your knives, or treat yourself to a new paring knife if you must buy something.

    And don’t buy cheap knives: The edge isn’t great to start with, and will dull quickly. It’s no bargain.
     
    The Grand Finale

    A couple of months ago we received this pitch: “Nik of Time, Inc., introduces PantryChic™—a sleek and modern kitchen appliance line designed for precise ingredient measuring and simplified food preparation through its intuitive and innovative engineering. PantryChic promises to re-introduce families to the joy of baking, cooking and sharing a meal by addressing some of the tedious preparation steps to save time and allow for better more consistent results.”

    As you can see in the photo, this comprises a canister on a stand, that you place over a base with a mixing bowl. You dial the amount of flour or other ingredient and it is dispensed into the bowl.

     

    canisters-pantrychic-230

    Does this look like a better option for your kitchen? Photo courtesy Pantrychic.

     

    Seriously once more: Is this an improvement over a conventional canister and a measuring cup? Have we gotten to the point where we can’t scoop and measure with a spatula and achieve “consistent results?”

    And, as the company claims, will this “re-introduce families to the joy of baking?”

    Perhaps we just don’t get it, but you can find out more at PantryChic.com.

    MORE KITCHEN GADGETS TO AVOID.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Zucchini Day, Spiral Zucchini & Zucchini Pasta

    Whether served raw, roasted, baked, grilled, sautéed, pickled, or fried, zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables, and a seasonal summer favorite that’s abundantly available at farm stands and supermarkets.

    This summer squash is very low in calories—33 calories for a medium zucchini.

    There are many wonderful ways to serve zucchini:

  • Garnishes
  • Gratin
  • Grilled
  • Soufflé
  • Stir-fried zucchini ribbons
  • Zucchini and carrot slaw, “cole slaw” or salad
  • Zucchini pasta
  • Zucchini sticks, baked or fried
  •  
    Two of our favorite recipes are below. To make them, treat yourself to the new Microplane Spiral Cutter, a tool that quickly and effortlessly transforms zucchini—as well as carrots, cucumbers, radishes and other vegetables—into elegant spiral cuts and ribbons.

       

    sprial-grater-microplane-beauty-230L

    Food fun with the new Microplane Spiral Cutter. Photo courtesy Microplane.

     
    Thanks to Microplane for announcing this gadget in time for National Zucchini Day, August 8th.

    Resembling an old-school manual pencil sharpener in both style and function, the Spiral Cutter has two razor-sharp (surgical steel!) slicing barrels to accommodate different vegetables—the small barrel for long, slim vegetables such as carrots, the large barrel for cucumbers, summer squash and other, broader vegetables.

    It debuts this month in Black and Green for a suggested retail of $14.95. Learn more at Microplane.com.

    Then, you’ll be set to whip up this delicious salad:

    SPIRAL ZUCCHINI RECIPE # 1: THAI-STYLE ZUCCHINI RIBBON SALAD (BASED ON SOM TUM)

    We love green papaya salad, som tum. We can easily eat two appetizer portions at our local Thai restaurant.

    Our favorite guest blogger, Hannah Kaminsky, agrees. “Served chilled, the tender yet crisp strands of unripe papaya are cooling, yet still popping with bursts of heat from abundant flecks of chili peppers. Brightly acidic, tangy, and slightly salty, with just a touch of sweetness to take the edge off, every component must be in perfect balance to achieve a successful, harmonious dish.

    “Of course, the key ingredient, green papaya, isn’t typically available in hometown grocery stores, which is why I took a page from the ever-popular zucchini noodles. They don’t stay crisp as long as papaya, so be sure to leave them undressed until the minute you’re ready to serve.

     

    thai-zucchini-salad-kaminsky-230

    Zucchini Thai salad: zucchini replaces green
    papaya in the classic som tum recipe. Photo
    © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    “Even without the papaya, this recipe transports me to a delicious new world of flavor with every single bite.

    “The dish comes together very quickly, so prep all of your vegetables first and you’ll zip right through the rest of the preparation.”

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 ounces (a big handful) haricots verts (skinny green beans), lightly blanched
  • 2 medium zucchini, spiralized or julienned
  • 1/2 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • Handful skinny chives or scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted and salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing. Whisk together the lime juice, coconut sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and garlic. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but don’t worry: That’s exactly what you want. This isn’t like a traditional salad dressing; it should soak into the noodles a bit, and you will have a bit of a pool at the bottom when it’s in proper proportion.

    2. PLACE the green beans, zucchini ribbons and tomatoes in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Add the chili, a bit at a time, until it’s spicy enough for your personal taste. Give it one more good toss to mix everything around and evenly distribute the ingredients before transferring everything to a serving dish.

    3. TOP with a generous handful of sliced chives and chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

     
    SPIRAL ZUCCHINI RECIPE # 2: ZUCCHINI “SPAGHETTI”

    You will love this dish, part of our repertoire since we began to fashion our own “cuisine minceur” in high school. It does a great job emulating spaghetti, for very few calories and carbs.

    Ingredients

  • Zucchini ribbons
  • Sauce of choice—red, white, pesto, EVOO and garlic, etc.
  • Grated Parmigiano-Romano or other Italian grating cheese (for a texture change, consider shaving instead of grating)
  • Optional garnishes: capers, fresh herbs, green peas or other vegetables, panko bread crumbs, sautéed garlic slivers, sliced olives or any favorite pasta topper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK zucchini briefly, to al dente. (We steamed them in the microwave for 30 seconds).

    2. PLATE with sauce. Garnish with grated cheese and any other ingredients.

      

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