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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

PRODUCT: LidLover

LidLover was created by a woman who wanted a lid that could fit with a tight seal around her kitchenware: bakeware, containers, cookware and dishes.

While LidLovers can (and should) be used year-round, now that it’s summer we especially like them to keep the bugs out of patio and picnic food.

The lids are easily storable and strong enough for the containers to be stacked. They can be easily stretched to fit over bowls with any type of rim.

Even better: You save money and the environment when you use LidLover instead of temporary, landfill-bound covers such as plastic wraps and foils.

The 12″ LidLover, with grooves fitting from 9″ to 12″, fits most large serving bowls and dishes. It’s $16.95.

 

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Seal ‘em, stack ‘em, save the environment and keep picnic insects out of your food. Photo courtesy LidLover.

 

LidLover is top rack dishwasher safe, may be used as a cover in the microwave and can be used in both the freezer (down to -40°F) and the oven (up to 400°F). All LidLover lids are made of BPA-free food grade silicone.

Check out the different varieties of LidLover on the company website.

If you’re invited to a picnic or a barbecue, bring one to the host!

  

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FOOD FUN: Pie Crust Cutters

Surrounded by luscious spring and summer fruits, it’s hard not to want to bake a pie—or to learn how to bake one, if you’ve never dipped a toe in the oven.

Two pie gadgets from Williams-Sonoma make even a novice seem like a sophisticated pie baker.

LATTICE PIE CRUST CUTTER

Like lattice crusts but lack the time or patience to make them?

Williams-Sonoma offers this solution: a lattice pie crust cutter. It quickly and easily cuts a lattice-like crust from rolled-out dough.

You simply place the lattice insert in the bottom of the gadget’s frame, then lay a sheet of rolled dough on top. To create the pattern, use a rolling pin to press the cutter into the dough. Lift off the insert and invert the latticed dough onto the pie.

It’s not as dramatic as a hand-woven lattice, but it’s certainly more interesting than a solid top crust!

   

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Press a lattice-style pie crust in 1-2-3. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

 

Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com, $19.95.

 

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A patriotic pie, indeed! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.com.

 

AMERICAN FLAG PIE CRUST CUTTER

What we really love is this American flag pie crust cutter, also from Williams-Sonoma and also $19.95.

While we try to avoid bringing single-use gadgets into our small kitchen, we made an exception for this one. Now, a patriotic pie will be our annual contribution to July 4th festivities.

Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com.

Both inserts are designed for use with a 12″ diameter pastry crust.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Oil & Vinegar Sprayer

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Spray on oil and vinegar. Photo courtesy Delta.

 

Just in time for summer cook-outs and picnics, we were sent samples of the large and small Evo Oil Sprayers.

They’re different from misters: The spray is less fine and wider. The company claims that the spray nozzle is no-clog (a complaint with the finer-spray misters); so far, that’s been true for us.

Today’s tip is: If you’re not yet using a mister/sprayer in the kitchen and for grilling, now’s the time to try one:

  • On cooking and baking pans and grill grates, instead of misters or aerosol-propelled (chemical) sprays. You also use your own quality oils, and can vary them (canola, olive, peanut or herb-infused, for example).
  • To evenly spray vegetables before roasting.
  • To spray butter- or herb-flavored oil on grains, popcorn and vegetables.
  • On salads, to save calories and the waste of vinaigrette at the bottom of the bowl.
  •  
    Available in two sizes, 8 ounces and 18 ounces, Evo is an option for people who aren’t happy with their current oil sprayers/misters. (We gave up on misters after trying to unclog two different brands.)

     
    The smaller size package consists of two bottles ($24.08). You can use one for oil and the other for vinegar; the bottles are different colors so you can easily tell which is which. We combined different oil and vinegar combinations into each bottle: one a balsamic vinaigrette, one a red wine vinaigrette.

    The large bottle ($19.99) comes with changeable silicone neck tags that identify five different kinds of oil plus balsamic vinegar (although you’d think that the color of the latter would be a dead giveaway). A funnel (provided) twists on to the bottle for easy filling.

    The Evo sprayers are made of high-quality plastic and are top-rack dishwasher safe; the sprayers are easily hand-washed in soapy water. Both components are BPA-, DEHP- and latex-free.

    The sleek ergonomic design is by Michael Graves Design Group, the architectural firm that has designed a variety of housewares including the iconic Alessi Michael Graves Kettle with Bird Whistle.

    Get your sprayers on Amazon.com, for yourself and for house gifts.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Use Your Julep Cups For Food

    Don’t put your julep cups away because the Kentucky Derby is over. Instead, think of what else you can serve in them, all year long.

    BEVERAGES

    Serve other cold beverages in these glamorous vessels. Kids won’t drink their milk? Let them drink it from the “special” silver julep cup.
     
    BUFFETS

    Use the julep cups to hold the forks, spoons and knives.
     
    FROZEN & OTHER DESSERTS

    Place julep cups in the freezer to chill them before adding ice cream, sorbet or other frozen dessert. The scoops will stay frozen much longer.

     

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    Today is National Shrimp Day. How about a “Shrimp Julep.” Photo courtesy Butter | NYC.

     
    You can also layer cake and ice cream in the cups, for a surprise ice cream cake dessert.

    And pudding is even more welcome when served in a julep cup.
     
    SALAD & VEGGIES

    Get your family to eat more salad and veggies by serving them in a glam silver container.

    Julep cups are also an impressive vessel for entertaining. Use them to serve anything to guests at a dinner party. They’ll also be impressed by your creativity.
     
    SEAFOOD

    Butter restaurant in New York City adds ice to the julep cup, but instead of bourbon and mint it adds shrimp and cocktail sauce. Can we take some creative license and call it a Shrimp Julep?
     
    SNACKING

    For fancy TV viewing, Oscar parties, Halloween and other occasions, fill the julep cups with snack food, from candy corn to popcorn.
     
    WHAT’S A JULEP?

    A julep is a sweet flavored drink made with sugar syrup, among other ingredients. A Mint Julep also adds bourbon, fresh mint and crushed or shaved ice.

      

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    PRODUCT: Easier Homemade Pretzels

    Here’s help if you want to make homemade pretzels (see the recipe below): the Silpat baking sheet for that Perfect Pretzel Baking Sheet.

    Just lay the dough over the outlines for uniform-shaped pretzels every time.

    The sheet is 16.5 inches x 11.6 inches.

    While the first group of pretzels is cooling down, put the next batch in…and count the moments until you can bite into a warm pretzel.

     

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    Turn out uniform shapes. Photo courtesy Silpat.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Spatter Guard For Mixers

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    No more cake mix spatters! Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Love to bake, but hate the messy mixer splatters?

    Kuhn Rikon, which has helped keep kitchens clean with its Splatter Guard cover for skillets and woks and a combination spatter shield and strainer, now brings neatness to baking.

    There’s a new spatter guard for electric mixers!

    You can keep the batter in the bowl with the Mixer Splatter Guard, which protects your work area from spatters generated by electric mixers.

    It works with bowls up to 12 inches in diameter. The transparent lid fits most handheld and stand mixers and allows you to see inside the bowl.

     
    For Immersion Blenders, Too

    The new mixer shield also works with immersion blenders, bringing neatness to soup-making as well.
     

    Head to Amazon.com to order yours, and perhaps a few extras as gifts for your favorite bakers.
     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Scrub Daddy Sponge

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    Scrub Daddy, our new kitchen essential. Photos by Faith Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    In the beginning, there was the sea sponge, one of the simplest animal organisms, believed to have evolved at least 700 million years ago. With no specialized organs and no locomotion, they attached to rocks on the sea bed, where they eat microscopic plants in the sea water.

    Under the skin is a simple skeleton made of a soft, porous material called spongin. Sponges have been harvested since ancient times and used for cleaning.

    In the 1940s, artificial sponges were developed by DuPont company, made from cellulose. Soon, cellulose sponges replaced natural sponges in America’s household. Today’s synthetic sponges can also be made from foamed plastic polymers.

    But as everyone who uses these sponges knows, they fall apart and worse, collect odors and bacteria—including salmonella and E.coli wiped from cutting boards and kitchen counters. The moist environment of a conventional sponge—wild or artificial—is conducive to bacterial growth.

    We are advised to regularly clean our sponges: in the dishwasher, microwave or washing machine; or by soaking in a solution of ammonia, bleach or vinegar.

     
    ENTER SCRUB DADDY

    Every so often, someone does create a better mousetrap. In this case, it was Aaron Krause, who created Scrub Daddy: a heavy-duty, scratch-free sponge. It is a champ at scrubbing off just about anything you want scrubbed.

    And it welcomes you with a smiling face, the mouth of which can be used to scrub utensils.

    Krause was washing and waxing cars for a living when he scratched a car. In response, he went home and invented a line of buffing and polishing pads, including the Scrub Daddy sponge.

    His business was bought out by 3M, which didn’t want Scrub Daddy because they had Scotch-Brite (not nearly as effective).

    He tried marketing Scrub Daddy himself, with minimal success ($100,000 in sales in 18 months). Then, he got an investment and assistance via Shark Tank that has generated $18 million in sales in 18 months.

     
    Scrub Daddy is made of a high-tech polymer texture that changes texture with the water temperature: It’s hard in cold water, for cleaning pots and grills; and soft in hot water for dishes.

    It’s safe to use (non-scratch) on just about every household surface. Like other sponges, it’s flexible to get to the bottom of coffee pots, mugs, vases, etc.

    We are thrilled—THRILLED!—with the cute little guy, who is made in happy colors: blue, green orange and yellow. There’s also a lemon-scented yellow version and a larger rectangle (no face). The company has also released Sponge Daddy, in the size of a conventional kitchen sponge (we haven’t tried it).

    We’ve used ours for a few months and it makes for happy scrubbing. Independent lab test showed it remains odor-free for up to two months. Beyond the kitchen, use it for:

  • Other household cleaning. Scrub Daddy adds fun to any chore.
  • Outdoor cleaning, from grills and swings to pool surfaces and decks.
  • Personal care, from handwashing (kids may like the face enough to use it more often) to exfoliating.
  • Auto care, the use that inspired it in the first place. Use it on your car or boat to clean dashboards, upholstery, wheels, windows, whatever.
  •  
    Scrub Daddy is sold in Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, SuperValu and Wal-Mart, with other retailers coming on board. There’s also a website, ScrubDaddy.com, but we hate to send you there because it needs work!

    You can also buy it on Amazon.com.

     

    PEACHY CLEAN, A PEACH-SCENTED SPONGE

    According to the manufacturers of Peachy Clean, the bacteria on a conventional sponge double every 20 minutes A scrubbing sponge is the #1 cross contaminator of food borne illnesses in the kitchen.

    So they created Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubbers, incorporating a new technology that is anti-microbial and anti-odor, resisting most odors caused by bacteria, mold and mildew.

    These scrubbers are specially designed to be fast drying to help reduce the bacteria, mold, and mildew growth facilitated by a moist environment.

    Also non-scratch, they last on average 3-6 months (they are the only scrubbers on the market that come with a 3 month warranty). Instead of a smiling face, the sponges smell like peaches.

    You can buy them on Amazon.com, and visit the company website, GetPeachyClean.com

     

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    Peachy clean has a subtle peach aroma. Photo by Julia Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    NOTE: Both of these sponges are scrubbers, as opposed to liquid picker-uppers. While they will wipe a counter, for major spills you’ll need a conventional sponge or paper towel.

      

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    PRODUCT: Fries In A Cone

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    French fry fun at home. Photo courtesy Gibson Table Compliments.

     

    If you love eating fries from a metal cone, the way some restaurants serve them, here’s a fun item from Gibson Table Compliments.

    The four-piece French Fry Serving Set has metal coned with ceramic inserts, a drip-proof alternative to the paper liners used at restaurants. There are two dipping cups that attach to each cone as an optional way to serve condiments.

    Beyond French fries, you can use the cones to serve other veggie fries and fried foods like mozzarella sticks. In fact, you can serve anything in them, from breakfast cereal to an ice cream sundae.

    A set of four is $25.00 at Amazon.com. All parts are dishwasher safe.

    If you prefer butcher paper in your cone instead of ceramic, here’s a similar cone-only product.

    The white tissue liners are sold in packs of 2,000. If you’re going to load up, consider this version, printed to look like an English, French or Italian newspaper.

    Love them!

     
    Now for more fun:

    How many different types of French fries have you had? There are almost 30!

      

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    RECIPE: Make Your Own Gummies

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    Fun project: Make your own gummies. Photo
    courtesy ChooseCherries.com.

     

    Gummy fan? We admit to a gummy habit.

    We were happy to discover that in 15 minutes, we could make our own gummies, with top-quality ingredients (including honey instead of refined sugar) and for less expense than purchasing them.

    It’s easy, so try it—perhaps inviting your favorite child to participate in the joy of making sweets. Prep time is just 5 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    The only thing you need to do is buy a candy mold—although you could use a sheet pan/jelly roll pan and cut the solid rectangle into squares. You also can try a mini ice cube tray. This recipe used a sheet mold tray with 64 molds of 3/4″ x 1″.

    This recipe is made with tart cherry juice. If you like the result, you can try it with other juice flavors–apple, cranberry, grape, etc.

    This recipe is courtesy of Mitzi Dulan, RD, of NutritionExpert.com, via ChooseCherries.com.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE GUMMIES

    Ingredients For 128 Pieces

  • 1-1/4 cups tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup honey
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the juice and gelatin in a small bowl, stirring until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan over low-medium heat and add the honey. Continue stirring until well mixed. Be sure not to boil!

    2. REMOVE from the heat, allowing the mixture to slightly cool before pouring into the mold.

    3. LET cool for about 10 minutes or until it begins to gel before transferring into the refrigerator. Place in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes to allow it to set.

     

    WOW: A GUMMY-MAKING MACHINE!

    As we were looking for candy molds online, we came across this Gummy Candy Maker, $29.75.

    It includes the silicone molds to make gummy fish, worms and small bears—as well as a jumbo bear—with easy-to-use silicone molds. The central heated base holds the gelatin pot with a spout for easy pouring; the entire unit disassembles for easy cleaning.

    Reviews from 60 customers gave it 4.4 out of five stars, with many giving it five stars. If we can convince ourselves that this is an important appliance to bring into our small kitchen, we may be buying one soon.

    We think it makes a great Valentine gift.

     

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    This gummy maker has molds of favorite shapes. Photo courtesy Nostalgia Electrics.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Keurig 2.0 Coffee System

    The Keurig 2.0 was launched this past fall, and was on Christmas wish lists for more than a few Keurig fans. If Santa didn’t bring you one, it may be the time to pick one up.

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    Make single cups with smaller capsules, or a
    small carafe with a larger capsule. Photo
    courtesy Keurig Green Mountain.

     

    The 2.0 is a game changer in the single-serve coffee category. It makes both single cups, and 28-ounce carafes; the latter provides a bit more than four six-ounce pours into eight-ounce cups. (Alternatively, it will fill almost three mugs, if you pour ten ounces of coffee into a 12-ounce mug.)

    Here are the changes that may or may not affect you:

  • It requires a new size of K-Cup. The original Keurig K-Cups won’t work in the 2.0. The K-cups for the 2.0 are larger, similar to the Keurig VUE cups, which will work in the 2.0 for as long as the company keeps producing this green packaging (which for whatever reason was made in a different size and required a different Keurig machine entirely, which has been discontinued).
  • You can’t use cups not manufactured by Green Mountain, owners of Keurig. The 2.0 has an RFID reader that reads an RFID chip in the new cups. Nothing else will work. Keurig’s K-Cup patent expired in 2012, which made way for lower cost, third-party cups (also called “aftermarket” cups). Keurig could decide to sell aftermarket manufacturers a license, but don’t expect the lower prices if they’re paying a licensing fee.
  • The K-Cups seem to cost the same. Individual K-Cups run $17.99/$16.19 for 24 cups, or 75¢/67¢ per cup.
  •  

  • Similarly, there are no coffee filter baskets for outside coffee. If you have been using a refillable cup with your favorite, non-Green Mountain coffee, it won’t work with the 2.0. Hopefully, Keurig will manufacture a compatible basket down the road.
  • You need still other cups to make a carafe. These are called carafe packs, and they’re larger than K-Cups. The new opportunity: You can brew a carafe and stick it in the fridge for iced coffee. The carafe packs are selling on the Keurig website for $14.99/$13.49 for members, for eight units. That’s $1.87/$1.68 per carafe, or 47¢/42¢- per cup.
  •  

    THE THREE KEURIG MODELS

    The Keurig 2.0 Brewing System comes in three sizes, with an option that includes a variety of K-Cups and K-Carafe packs for an additional $10.

  • All three models brew single cups with K-cups and carafes with the K-Carafe Pack.
  • All three have “strength control,” allowing you to brew a stronger or weaker cup.
  • You get another 10 ounces of water in the reservoir, or another mug of coffee, with each size increase.
  •  
    The differences:

  • K300/350, $149.99, 60-ounce water reservoir. The clock is not programmable and the touch display is monochrome.
  • K400/450, $169.99, 70-ounce water reservoir. The touch display is in color, the clock is customizable and you can save favorite settings.
  •  

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    The coffee cup isn’t included, but the basic package includes the carafe. Our suggestion: Upgrade to the sampler kit. Photo courtesy Keurig Green Mountain.

  • K500/550, $199.99, 80-ounce water reservoir. The touch display is in color and large, the clock is customizable and you can save favorite settings. There’s a customizable night light and wallpaper, and a feature called hot water on-demand, if, for example, you need hot water to use with your own teabag or hot chocolate mix.
  •  
    Our philosophy is, when offered decisions like these, spend the extra few bucks and go deluxe. If you’re counting your dollars, you shouldn’t be paying more for coffee via a single cup system.

    For more information, visit Keurig.com.

      

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