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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

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!

      

    Comments

    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]
     
      

    Comments

    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.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Zoku Slush/Slushie Maker

    Do the kids on “Glee” ever drink their slushies? We only recall slushie attacks, wasting the sweet, frozen drink by throwing it on a classmate.

    Perhaps they each have a Zoku Slush and Shake Maker, where they enjoy slushies at home to their hearts’ delight.

    This convenient device uses a cup that is pre-frozen in your freezer. Then, you add a liquid of choice and stir with a special spoon. The beverage freezes right before your eyes.

    The frozen inner core fits into an outer sleeve that keeps your hands from getting cold (and your slushie from warming up). It’s easy to use and easy to clean.

    By making your own, you can avoid the additives in, say, a 7-11 Slurpee, drink that consists of water and flavoring plus dextrin (a thickening agent), high fructose corn syrup (boo!) or erythritol (a noncaloric sugar alcohol used in Slurpee Lite), glycerin (a fat emulsifier), citric acid (a natural preservative that also adds a tart flavor), potassium benzoate (another preservative, that inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast), gum acacia (a stabilizer), quillaia extract (a foaming agent in some soft drinks), glycerol ester of wood rosin (an emulsifier and stabilizer) and food color.

    Jeepers, would you feed that to your kids? Not to mention, if you have a refined palate, your own slushie made with quality juice will taste so much better.

       

    zoku-slush-maker-ws-230

    Make your own icy, slurpy, slushie. You can make a practically noncaloric version with Crystal Light or other diet beverage. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    You can make frozen Margaritas and other frozen cocktails (a frozen Bloody Mary could be interesting on a hot day) and you can have fun experimenting with other recipes. We particularly enjoyed a slushie Thai iced tea).

    You can also slush almond milk/coconut milk/rice milk/soy milk, chocolate milk, iced coffee, lemonade and your favorite juice or soda, lemonade.

    When we slushed Crystal Light lemonade, it was like eating no-calorie granita. Perhaps the greatest boon to us is the ability to convert diet beverages into no-cal/low-cal frozen desserts!

    While we haven’t tried it yet, the company says you can also make milkshakes. We’re quite happy with blender shakes.

     

    orange-juice-slushie-230

    Add a scoop of ice cream to an orange juice
    slushie for a “Creamsicle” slushie. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    There are a few caveats:

  • The cups hold only eight ounces. That‘s not good if you want a supersized Slurpee-style drink; but it is good news if you want to keep the calories down.
  • You need to store the inner core in the freezer. The instructions say 8 hours freezing time, but we found 24 hours is better (freezer temperatures vary).
  • The instructions underestimate the time required for slush. They say that it can take “as little as 7 minutes.” Freezer temperatures vary, and Zoku may have used a commercial freezer in their testing. But in our experience, it can take 15-20 minutes for the slush to fully form.
  • You need to be hands on. You add the cold liquid to the cup and let it sit for 3-5 minutes; as the slush forms, you push it down with the special spoon provided and wait for more slush to form. You repeat this process several times until the whole cup turns to slush.
  • It’s best for one person. While you can make two slushies from one frozen inner cup, it does take time. So either buy more than one unit, or plan to enjoy a solitary slushie while the second one is freezing. After that, the cup needs to go back into the freezer for many hours.
  •  
    Still, for a diet treat or a child’s snack (children can learn to make their own), this device can be a real find.

     

    ZOKU SLUSH VS. BLENDER DRINKS

    Why not make a frozen drink the old fashioned way, in a blender with ice cubes?

    The benefit of the Zoku Slush and Shake Maker is that there’s no ice to dilute your drink. It’s $19.95 at WilliamsSonoma.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Get A Food Ring

    crab-mango-avo-tower-theheatherman-portlandOR-230

    This fancy first course is not that hard to
    make. Photo courtesy The Heathman |
    Portland, Oregon.

     

    It isn’t hard to make fancy appetizers like the one in the photo. All you need is a food ring. It is also called a ring mold, although that term can also refer to a multi-serving container like the type used for gelatin molds.

    We admit to a fondness for molded, layered recipes, like this crab, mango and avocado stack served at The Heathman Restaurant and Bar in Portland, Oregon. Thanks to executive chef Michael Stanton for sharing his recipe, below.

    Chef Stanton tops his dish with wild arugula. In the northwest and elsewhere, wild arugula is often found growing in streams, there for the picking. You can substitute cultivated arugula from the market. More substitutions are offered below.

    In fact, part of the fun of cooking is taking the recipe in a different direction, with a substitution. No mango? How about fresh pineapple? No avocado? How about tuna tartare?

     

    RECIPE: DUNGENESS CRAB MANGO SALAD

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1/2 cup mango, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup Dungeness or other crab meat
  • Chive oil or other herb-infused olive oil (basil, rosemary)
  • 1 cup wild or cultivated arugula
  • Fresh press olive oil (to taste)
  • Food ring
  • Garnishes: citrus vinaigrette (recipe below) and chive oil*
  •  
    *If you don’t have/can’t find chive oil, use basil oil or rosemary oil.

     

    RECIPE: CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (lemon and/or orange, lime or yuzu)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK ingredients together until well-blended.

     

    food-ring-HICbrands-230sq

    The only food ring you’ll need: This one can be adjusted to different diameters. Photo courtesy HIC Brands.

     
    Assembly

    1. MOLD the chopped avocado in 2-3 inch ring atop the serving plate. Place the mango on top, followed by the crab.

    2. REMOVE the ring mold, swirl the vinaigrette and chive oil around the plate. Toss wild arugula in fresh olive oil and place on top.
     
    MORE AT THE HEATHMAN

    If you’re in Portland, stop by for afternoon tea. It’s served in the hotel’s historic Tea Court Lounge; reservations are required.

    The traditional tea menu, created by pastry chef John Gayer, includes Smoked Salmon Napoleon, Paté Maison, John’s Famous Lanai Banana Bread and Parisian Opera Cake, along with a wide selection of teas from Fonté Coffee and Tea Company, a Northwest micro roaster based in Seattle.

    The children’s Peter Rabbit Tea for Little Sippers sports Ants On A Log, Snickerdoodle Cookie, Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcake and Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: BerryBreeze Refrigerator Air Purifier

    Even if you don’t need an air purifier for your home, you may need one for your fridge.

    BerryBreeze is a 21st-century improvement on the open box of baking soda, left in the refrigerator or freezer to filter migrating aromas from raw and cooked foods.

    But BerryBreeze does more.

    The same process that neutralizes odors also preserves produce, by destroying harmful bacteria and mold that cause fruit and vegetables to decay. The manufacturer claims it will keep produce fresher for up to 10 days, or two to three times longer. The benefit: less waste of food and money, less to toss into the landfill.

    BerryBreeze is a rebranding of a machine called the Ozonator, which you may have seen on TV.

    It runs on four D batteries. The device converts the oxygen in the fridge to ozone (activated oxygen), a powerful oxidizing agent that destroys surface molecules of bacteria and mold. It also defuses ethylene, a gas emitted by numerous fruits (including apples and melons) which speeds up the ripening and rotting of foods.

     

    berry-breeze-230

    The same process that purifies the air helps produce last longer. Photo courtesy BerryBreeze.

     
    We tried it and it did seem to extend the life of fragile raspberries. The fridge smelled better, but the machine isn’t a miracle worker: You have to do your part to tightly cover odorous items and police for rot.

    BerryBreeze is available at retailers nationwide, including Bed, Bath & Beyond and Whole Foods Markets. You can also buy it online at BerryBreeze.com.

    The retail price is $49.95; you supply the batteries.

      

    Comments

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