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Archive for Kitchenware-Tabletop

PRODUCT: A New Manual Coffee Grinder

Everything is cyclical, even mundane household appliances like the coffee grinder.

In centuries past, coffee beans were ground manually. Depending on your age, your great-grandmother ground beans in a rectangular wood or metal mill (or combination)
with a ceramic burr. The grains fell into a drawer underneath the mechanism.

But technology marches on: first to pre-ground coffee from supermarket brands, and then, by having your beans freshly ground at the market.

By the early 1970s, the movement to buying premium beans from different terroirs around the world had begun. Shops sprang up* that sold only beans. A cup of coffee was no longer just a cup of coffee.

The first electric grinder was invented in 1930, but was cumbersome and shortly discontinued. In the 1950s and 1960s, a new generation of engineers took up the challenge [source]. Slowly, they made their way across Europe, and then across the pond.

By the 1980s, most households that ground their beans at home had moved on to the new, small electric grinders that ground the beans with stainless steel blades. The result was quicker ground coffee with little or no no effort.

But purists complained that the friction and waste heat from the motor impacted the flavor. Some of them stuck with the manual mill and ceramic burr, which has never gone out of style. And commercial use grinders use only ceramic burrs, never metal blades.

There’s more coffee grinder history below. But since everything old is new again, we’d like to present old-school grinding technology with a new-school upgrade.

THE NEW BIALETTI HAND-GRINDER WITH A CERAMIC BURR

The Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder (photo #1) incorporates an easy-to-adjust ceramic burr grinder designed to utilize less effort, while creating more output (46%-165% depending on the coarseness of the grind).

A conical ceramic burr grinder crushes whole coffee beans into the desired coarseness, achieved with an easy-to-adjust wheel.

  • There are measurement markings on the bottom chamber that indicate the amount of grounds needed for a coarse, medium, fine, and ultra-fine, and for use in a coffee press, pour over, moka pot and ibrik (Turkish brew pot).
  • The grinder also has a silicone grip for secure handling.
     
    If you’re a coffee purist—or you need to buy a gift for one—Bialetti’s Manual Coffee Grinder is available at Target stores nationwide for an MSRP of $39.99; and at Amazon for $35.57.

     
    COFFEE GRINDER HISTORY

    In Ethiopia, people have been consuming coffee since around 800 C.E. Today, almost half of Ethiopians the people work in the trade; most coffee grown by small farmers.

    The legend has that around 800 C.E., an Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi, noticed his goats dancing with energy after nibbling the red fruit from plants they found on the slopes where he took them to graze.

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    Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder
    [1] The new manual Bialetti coffee grinder (photo Bialetti).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [2] A Turkish coffee grinder (photo Turkish Coffee World).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [3] An old wood and brass grinder (photo © Kean Eng Chan | Flickr).

     
    We don’t know if there was a Kaldi; but someone first gathered the beans and brought them back to his village, where the people were equally enthusiastic. A trade in coffee beans began and spread throughout Ethiopia.

    Eating The Coffee Beans

    The beans—actually they’re cherries with the beans inside—were first chewed for energy.

    Some time later, when monks got hold of beans, they began experimenting with them, first creating a coffee-derived wine.

    In fact, the word coffee derives from the Arabic qahwah, a type of wine, which became kahve in Turkish, then koffie in Dutch. “Coffee” entered the English language in 1582, via Dutch.

    Long before there was anything we’d recognize as a cup of hot coffee, Ethiopians would crush up the fresh berries and wrap them with fat, possibly as an energy food.

    The cherry fruit was eaten fresh or dried; but while looking for other uses, the seeds (what we know as the coffee beans) were pulverized in a mortar and pestle of stone or wood, then cooked or roasted.

    By the 14th century, coffee beans reached the city of Harrar, the center of trade for Ethiopia. From there it traveled to Mocca, the trading port of Yemen in the 14th century, then up through the Ottoman Empire and on to Europe.

    In the 17th an 18th centuries, Dutch, French and British traders introduced coffee throughout the world.

    The First Coffee Grinders

    The first grinding technique for coffee comprised pulverizing the beans with a mortar and pestle made of stone or wood.

    The mill itself is much older than the coffee trade. It was developed by the Greeks around 1350 B.C.E., to crush a substance (grains, e.g.) down into a fine powder.

    It took a while, but he first spice grinder was invented in the 15th century in Persia or Turkey. Like a tall, slender brass pepper mill, it also was used to grind coffee beans [source].
     
     
    ARE YOU A COFFEE LOVER?

    Take a look at our:

  • Coffee Glossary
  • Espresso Glossary
  • ________________

    *If coffee connoisseurs were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee 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. It’s still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Salad In A Wine Glass

    Tumbler Salad

    Riedel O Red Wine Tumbler

    Yogurt Parfaits

    Classic Layered Salad

    Avocado Layered Salad

    [1] A beautiful layered salad in a wine tumbler (photo courtesy Riedel Japan). [2] Riedel’s O series tumbler for red wine (photo courtesy Riedel). [3] How many different ways can you use them? See our list (photo Riedel | Facebook). [4] A classic layered salad (photo courtesy Kraft). [5] The most recent layered salad trend: in a Mason jar (here’s the recipe from the California Avocado Commission).

     

    Yesterday’s tip was to use salad as a soup garnish.

    Today we’re taking a slightly different turn.

    Serve an elegant layered salad in (photo #1) a wine tumbler, like Riedel’s O Red Wine Tumbler (photo #2).

    In fact, when you’re not drinking wine from the tumblers, you can variously use them:
     
    At Breakfast

  • Fruit Salad
  • Juice or milk
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Yogurt and granola
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    At Lunch

  • Salad
  • Soup
  • Dessert
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    At Dinner

  • First course
  • Sides
  • Dessert
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    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WINE TUMBLER & A WINE GLASS?

    Like its entire line of fine glassware for wine and spirits, Riedel’s wine tumblers are sophisticated glassware engineered for different grape varietals, to deliver the maximum flavors and aromas. The shape of the bowl and mouth direct the wine to different areas of the palate.

    Now, to the stemmed wine glass that has been around for many centuries. It is meant to be held by the stem, not by the bowl.

    Stemware was created for elegance, so the heat from one’s hand didn’t warm the wine in the bowl, and so one’s sticky fingers didn’t leave grease marks on the glass.

    But, with the increasing casual that has developed over the last 30 years, few people know or care about etiquette, and most people hold their stemware by the bowl.

    If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em; so Riedel, the world’s greatest wine glass maker, decided to give people what they want: a bowl with no stem.

    The O Stemless Tumblers line did so well, that Riedel has added lines with etched designs and colored bottoms.

    They’re an affordable gift. Check out the choices at Amazon.

    THE HISTORY OF LAYERED SALAD

    Try as we did, we couldn’t find a detailed reference to layered salad before the 1970s. A 2000 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel refers to a seven layer salad as a fat-laden salad that “helped give salads of the 1950s a bad name” [source].

    Ingredients are layered in a glass bowl, with the varied layer colors and textures providing eye appeal. Made for barbecues, parties, picnics, potlucks, it was/is assembled ahead of time and is easy to transport. It can feed a crowd, and was very popular with said crowd.

    The layers—as few or as many as the cook desires—commonly include:

  • Bacon or ham
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Green or red onions
  • Peas
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Tomatoes
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    The original dressing may have been mayonnaise-based or a mayo-sour cream combination. Depending on the cook, bottled Italian or ranch dressing can be employed.

    Personally, we skip the shredded cheddar and use a mayo-sour cream-chunky blue cheese dressing.

     

     
      

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    TRIVIA: National Egg Month

    May is National Egg Month, a time for some consciousness-raising.

    We look for Certified Humane eggs and don’t mind paying the premium for them. You’ve no doubt heard the horror stories of mass egg production.

    We buy from Pete and Gerry’s whenever we can: eggs produced on small family farms with a commitment to the humane treatment of the chickens.

    Pete & Gerry’s eggs are also USDA Organic, OU kosher and B-Corporation Certified: committed to sustainability.

    They shared these fowl facts with us:

  • There’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. The color of the egg is actually determined by the color of the hen!
  • Young hens produce smaller eggs. The medium-size eggs come from pullets, hens that are less than a year old.
  • The smaller the egg, the thicker the shell. This makes them easier to crack (no fragments to fish out) and, for hard-boiled eggs, easier to peel.
  • What creates a double yolk? In a young hen that is just learning how to lay eggs, two eggs merged before the shell was formed.
  • All eggs aren’t equally flavorful. Aside from freshness (e.g., farmers market eggs), the tastiest eggs come from free-range hens they have real access to grass, where they can peck for worms and other insects that contribute to the flavor.
  • Fresh water, the space to roost and access to earth so they can dust-bathe are also essential. Cage-free and conventional hens spend their lives crammed together indoors. Cage-free hens aren’t confined to sit in a tiny cage, but are crammed onto the floor of a building with no room to move.
  • What’s the deal with cholesterol? In the 1980s, news warned against the consumption of eggs for people with high cholesterol. But the new news is, research has returned to the side of egg consumption. Don’t steer clear of eggs because of cholesterol. (If you have an issue, consult with your healthcare provider).
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    That’s good news, because…

  • The egg is a nutritional powerhouse, with 7 grams of high-quality protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, including the disease-fighting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and the macro-ingredient choline. Yes, there are 5 grams of fat, but only 1.6 grams are saturated fat (types of fat). And all for just 75-78 calories per large egg.
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    Now for the fun trivia:

     

    Natural Hens' Eggs Colors

    Tufted Araucana Chicken

    These eggs are all natural in color. The colors come from different breeds of hens. Those breeds don’t produce eggs as economically as breeds that produce white and brown eggs, so they are not sold commercially, except by some farmstands (photo courtesy The Egg Farm). [2] This tufted arcauna chicken, originally from South America, lays pale blue eggs (photo courtesy Awesome Araucana.

  • Why are eggs sold by the dozen? In England and other European countries from as early as the 700s and continuing until around 1960, the Imperial Unit System was used. There were twelve pennies to a shilling, which meant that an egg could be sold for a penny, or a dozen eggs could be sold for a shilling, with no change-making required.
  • By the Elizabethan period (1550-1600), selling eggs by the dozen was the standard practice. The English who emigrated to North America brought the system with them. Other countries have their own standards.
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    TIPS

  • To crack an egg: The best technique is to tap it on the counter, not on the rim of the bowl. You’ll avoid fragments, splinters, or whatever you call those exasperating little pieces that drop into the bowl.
  • To check if an egg is fresh or stale, raw or hard boiled: Just spin the egg on the counter. If it wobbles, it’s raw. If it spins easily, it’s hard boiled. A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float.
  • Egg sandwiches: A fried egg sandwich with bacon was popular in our youth. These days, one of our go-to quick meals for breakfast, lunch or light dinner is a sliced hard-boiled egg sandwich on rye toast. We buy the eggs pre-boiled and peeled (a great time saver!) and use an ever-changing variety of seasonal fixings (a favorite: roasted red pepper (pimento) with baby arugula) and mayo flavors. For weekend brunch: a slice of smoked salmon.
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    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS

    If you think of eggs as either white or brown, check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary. There are 10 choices in chicken eggs alone!
     
    SOME EGG-CELLENT LINKS

  • Egg Salad Recipes & The History Of Egg Salad
  • How To Make The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Egg Nutrition
  • Quail Egg Recipes
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sansaire Sous Vide Machine

    Sansaire Sous Vide Machine

    Sansaire Sous Vide

    Sous Vide Filet Mignon

    Sous Vide Filet Mignon

    Sous Vide Filet Mignon

    Sous Vide Machine

    [1] The Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator. [2] The back and side of the Sansaire, showing the clip that attaches to any pot. Step 1: Attach Sansaire to pot filled with water (photos 1 and 2 courtesy Sansaire. [3] Step 2: Season your food and place it in a cooking bag. [4] Place the bag in the water and set the time and temperature (photos 3 and 4 courtesy Williams-Sonoma). [5] Voilà: Cooked to your exact wishes. (Photo courtesy Frankie Celenza, Frankie Cooks | You Tube. Watch the video to see him cook the meat). [6] Before Sansaire, a sous vide machine was this big (photo courtesy Sous Vide Supreme).

     

    COOKING SOUS VIDE WITH SANSAIRE

    You’ve no doubt heard about sous vide (soo VEED) cooking. You may even have heard other home cooks say it produces the moistest, tenderest, most succulent and flavorful food, cooked to perfection.

    So why haven’t you tried it?

    Maybe it’s the lack of counter space for a sous vide machine (photo #5, about 14″ x 11″ footprint); or maybe it’s the price tag (up to $400, even $800)?

    Now, you can spend less than $200 and cook sous vide with pots you already have, with Sansaire’s Sous Vide Immersion Circulator.

    There’s no bulky countertop machine, but a far smaller device that stores and travels easily.

    Sous vide cooking uses precise temperature control to achieve perfect, consistent results, portion after portion, time after time.

    Foods are cooked evenly from edge to edge, to exactly the doneness you want. Temperature control keeps water within one degree of its ideal setting—a process that can’t be replicated by any other cooking method.

    You don’t have to be a gourmet cook.

    Sous vide cooking is an easy way to prepare any everyday dish as well as fancier ones. One of our editors even cooks his scrambled eggs sous vide to his desired consistency. (It also poaches and makes hard-boiled eggs.)

    The sous vide technique was developed in France to easily cook fine meals on trains, many portions at a time. Sous vide guarantees, for example, that a steak or piece of fish will turn out exactly as the client wishes.

    The quality of the food it produced attracted fine French chefs and caterers. Sous vide machines quickly appeared in some of the world’s best restaurants.

    It took a number of years for a home version to appear (photo #5), and just a couple of years after that for Sansaire’s conveniently small model that simply clips on to your pots.

    It’s not just for dedicated home cooks: It’s for those who don’t cook more often because they don’t have the time to cook and clean.

    Treat yourself to a Sansaire sous vide for $168, on Amazon.

    Give one as a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or graduation gift.

    You can also give it as a new baby gift! It heat milk or formula to precisely 98.6°F for worry-free feeding.

    Is sous vide cooking an adjustment to your process? Yes, but a very small one, like switching to an induction cooktop. You get the hang of it in very short order.
     
     
    THE BENEFITS OF SOUS VIDE COOKING

    We love sous vide: consistency, perfection, precise, predictable results. Plus no pots, pans, grills or ovens to clean. The only thing your pots contain are water, and sealed bags containing individual portions.

    Sous vide tenderizes tough cuts, keeps poultry juicy (no dry white meat!), cooks fish to perfection, retains the nutrients of vegetables, and uses less fat without sacrificing flavor. It makes perfectly poached eggs (or other style) every time.

    You can turn out perfect filet mignon and duck confit, but also everyday dishes from breakfast eggs, grain dishes, vegetables, sides, fish tostadas, chicken tikka masala, to dulce de leche.

    You can pasteurize raw eggs for mousse, Caesar salad, steak tartare and other recipes.

    There’s no cooking food to check and re-check. The machine keeps the water at a specific temperature for a specific time, at the end of which your food is ready to eat.

    More blessings of sous vide cooking:

  • Save time: Make whole meals in the one pot with no cookware to clean afterwards.
  • Foolproof results: Temperature control keeps water within one degree of its ideal setting.
  • No watching the pot. Sous vide enables unattended cooking, so you can spend more time with your guests or family.
  • No meal prep stress: One less pot to watch while turning out a meal.
  • Dinner is ready when you are: Foods won’t overcook while they hang out in the water bath.
  • No unwanted cooking aromas. You may enjoy the scent of meat and garlic from conventional cooking for a while. But unless you have a great ventilation set-up, you may not enjoy them hanging around the next day or the next.
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  • Try different recipes at the same time, in the same pot: Individual bags allow for individual flavors. Try sweet and sour chicken in one bag, teriyaki chicken in the other.
  • Please everyone: If someone doesn’t like cilantro, use another herb or seasoning in his/her pouch.
  • Use less fat: Cooking foods in a sealed environment allows you to coat proteins and vegetables with a fraction of the amount of oil or butter. Plus, vegetables retain all their nutrients in the sealed bag.
  • Gentle cooking: especially with meat, it means that the juices stay in the muscle and don’t run out when cut.
  • No plastic, no landfill option: Reusable silicone bags are available to enable green and plastic-free cooking*.
  • Small footprint: Roughly the size of a bottle of wine.
  • Better than slow cooker cooking: There’s never anything overcooked.
  • Portable: It’s easy to take the unit to another home to cook your dish.
  • Saves money over the original sous vide technique. The original Sous Vide Water Oven was $499 and required a vacuum sealing system to contain each serving, for another $80 plus plastic refill rolls at about $16 to $30 (depending on size).
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    ADD-ONS

    To ease yourself into sous vide cooking, consider:

  • Sous Vide At Home Cookbook (photo #7): It’s the bible to start you off with confidence, showing times and temperatures to cook just about anything. On Amazon.
  • Reusable Bags (photo #2): If you’re not down with disposable plastic bags, these are the solution.On Amazon.
  • Sansaire Searing Kit: Put a perfect sear on a sous-vide steak. Blisters chiles, crisp chicken skin, add a char to anything. Designed specifically for home kitchen use, the kit includes a torch, a stainless steel rack and an enameled drip tray. On Amazon.
  • Steak Aging Sauce gives any steak the complex flavor of dry aging. Just add a spoonful to each pouch of meat before cooking. Se how lesser cuts taste like the expensive, aged cuts from steakhouses. On Amazon.
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    For a large number of portions, consider:

  • Polycarbonate Tub. On Amazon.
  • Cooking Rack. On Amazon.
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    Enjoy the era of sous vide cooking. Who knows what the next better-faster technique will be…but it sure won’t be for a while.
    ________________

    *Standard ziplock bags are fine and contain no BPA. S.C. Johnson, the company that makes both Ziploc brand bags and Saran Wrap, states on its website that it does NOT use BPA in the manufacture of these products.

     

    Sous Vide Cookbook

    Reusable Sous Vide Bags

    Sous Vide Cooking

    [7] Start with the Sous Vide At Home cookbook (photo courtesy Ten Speed Press). [8] Consider reusable plastic pouches (photo courtesy TopsHome). [9] Sous vide salmon (from the Sous Vide At Home cookbook).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eggs In A Nest & Dark Vs. Light Baking Pans

    Baked Eggs In Nests

    Easter Bunny Rabbit Rolls

    [1] Eggs in nests for breakfast (photo courtesy Cooking Light). [2] Bunny rabbit rolls (photo courtesy Artisan Bread In Five).

     

    What’s on tap for Easter breakfast? How about eggs in crispy hash brown nests (photo #1).

    If you want to make the adorable bunny rabbit rolls to serve with them, bake them first. You can make the dough the night before, and bring to room temperature before baking.

    EASTER EGG NESTS FOR BREAKFAST

    We adapted this recipe from one in Cooking Light. Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    You can also place a bacon or ham surprise on the bottom of the basket.

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1/4 cup refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes*)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded carrot (substitute beet or zucchini)
  • li>Optional: 1 tablespoon diced onion

  • Optional: 2 tablespoons crumbled crisp bacon or diced ham
  • 1 large egg
  • Crunchy salt (kosher or coarse or flaky sea salt)
  • Garnish: 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chives and/or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
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    Plus

  • Light-colored muffin pan
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Combine the shredded potato, carrot and optional onion, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

    2. MAKE the nests: Coat the muffin cups with cooking spray. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the cup, to above the rim. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Once baked…

     

    3. ADD the optional meat to the bottom of the nest. Crack 1 large egg into each nest. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes for runny eggs, or 12 to 15 minutes for set eggs.

    4. SPRINKLE the top with a dash of salt and garnish the egg and the plate with the chopped herbs.

    WHEN TO USE LIGHT VS. DARK COLOR BAKING PANS

    Depending on your age, all of your mother’s and grandmother’s baking pans were aluminum, a metal that absorbs and conducts heat evenly and is not reactive or corrosive.

    Then, test kitchens discovered that food browns better (e.g., the bottom of a baking sheet and the bottom and sides of a cake pan). This is because dark pans absorb more heat and thus, more heat radiates off the surface.

    For foods you want to brown (pizza, pie crusts, potato wedges, roasted vegetables), darker metal baking pans, sheets, and pie plates give you an edge.

    For recipes where you don’t want the extra browning on the bottom (breads, cakes, some cookies, muffins), use a light-colored pan, which absorbs less heat.

    That being said, we don’t know why Cooking Light specified a light muffin pan. There is no comments section on the page so we couldn’t ask; but we wouldn’t mind a browner potato nest (as opposed to a browner blueberry muffin).

    You don’t have to get rid of your pans. According to Cooking Light, if you bake in either dark metal pans or glass dishes, reduce the oven temperature by 25° and check for doneness early.

    Here’s an interesting article on the history of cookware and bakeware.

    ________________

    *1 package (19.7 ounces, 560 grams) yields 6 egg nests.

     
      

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