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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: 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.

keurig-2.0-compoennts-2

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.
  •  

    keurig-2.0-components-230

    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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Five Minute Stackable Appetizer Maker

    Some gadgets are a snore. Others really make a difference. In the latter camp is the Five Minute Stackable Appetizer Maker.

    The device enables you to create bite size, multi-layered gourmet appetizers using everyday ingredients. Yes, even peanut butter and jelly or egg salad seems “gourmet” when made in this format!

    The manufacturer claims that this can be done in “just five minutes,” but that’s just for simple layering, slicing and plating. You need to add a bit of time for any prep work—making crab salad, slicing olives and pimentos, chopping nuts, whatever. But what you end up with is worth it: fancy and fun appetizers or dessert bites that can become a signature offering at your home.

    If you have great knife skills, you don’t need this gadget. Just build a loaf of layers and slice your own.

    If, however, you’d never get even slices without help, this is your gadget for triple- or quadruple-layer appetizer or dessert bites that delight adults and kids alike. The instructions are easy to follow and deliver perfectly proportioned pieces. The device is fool-proof: Anyone can turn out impressive, professional looking appetizers with inexpensive ingredients (or, feel free to load in the pricey ones).

       

    Stacked layers of crab salad, garnished with crème fraîche and celery. Feel free to add more complexity to your stacks: some watercress atop one of the crab layers or some pimento strips, for example. Photo courtesy Architec.

     

    HOW IT WORKS

    You layer the ingredients in the plastic mold (see the photo below), then use the slots in the mold to cut the loaf into even pieces.

    You start and ending the stacked loaf with bread or another base. The base can be polenta, tortillas or even sushi rice.

    The fillings can be anything that’s a bit moist or creamy—the ingredients need to be “flexible” since the mold presses them into bites that hold their shape. So avoid a hunk of iceberg lettuce (but arugula, cress, mesclun or baby spinach work) or roast turkey. But if there’s something you really want, you may be able to figure out how to make it work. (Shred the lettuce and dice the turkey into mini cubes in a layer with moist stuffing, for example.)

    The layers are pressed to your desired thickness, and you can keep adding layers until the body of the mold is full. Then slice. When you remove the mold, the appetizers can be served from the plastic bottom tray. But for impressing your guests, you’ll probably want to re-plate them.

    And of course, you can garnish them with whatever you like, from crème fraîche to caviar, or whipped cream for dessert stacks.

     

    Layers of pimento, goat cheese and black olives. In this photo, the bottom tray has been removed from the mold and the individual stacks are being separated for serving. Photo courtesy Architec.

     

    WHAT TO MAKE

    Kids will enjoy peanut butter, jelly and banana bites; ham and cheese; bacon and egg stacks on a toast or waffle base; and mini pizza stacks.

    Foodies will enjoy crab salad, smoked salmon, goat cheese, chicken mousse, and a garnish of caviar.

    For everyone else: you know what your friends and family like (onions? pickle relish?), and where your own creativity will lead you.

    For desserts, you can layer angel or pound cake with jam, fruit compote or pudding; make zebras from brownies, cheesecake and perhaps some jam; and otherwise layer your fantasy dessert ingredients.

    The fun of the Stackable Appetizer Maker is playing around with different ingredients to find what works for you. Do your experimenting right before lunch, so you can eat your experiments.

     
    WHERE TO BUY IT

    The Stackable Appetizer Maker is $19.99, available on Amazon or from the manufacturer, Architec, in your choice of black, blue or red.

    Customers have posted a lot of good comments on Amazon—that the cutting tool isn’t effective (use your own bread knife), that the recipe booklet is a mess (you’ll have no problem putting together your own combinations).

    There are also great tips not provided by the manufacturer, including:

  • Watch the video before you begin.
  • Use “squishable” ingredients with enough fat or moisture content to act as glue when the stacks are compressed. Spreads and salads (chicken, crab, egg, shrimp, tuna) work with a bread base.
  • Be sure that all the ingredients are cold.
  • Dip your knife in ice water after each cut to prevent sticking.
  •  
    You can watch the video and download the recipe book for free on the Architec website (the video link leads to YouTube).

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Nespresso Inissia

    inissia-blueberry-blue-230

    The Inissia: just 4.7 inches wide by x 12.6
    inches deep. Photo courtesy Nespresso.

     

    So many of us these days can’t live without a great cup of coffee, often leaving our posts one or more times a day to obtain one.

    The folks at Nespresso want you to have a great cup at your fingertips. They’ve created a new petite model, the Inissia: a single-serve coffee maker with a teeny footprint that fits in small spaces, from office desktops to dormitory rooms.

    And it’s only $99!

    Streamlined for maximum efficiency and simple to use, the small footprint (4.7 x 12.6 x 9 inches) weights a bit more than five pounds. The Inissia uses the same premium coffee capsules as the larger models. The water will be read in 25 seconds: an espresso (including the shorter ristretto and the taller lungo) or a full cup at the touch of a button.

    You can make up to 9 espressos without having to refill the water tank.

     
    A great gift for a college student or new member of the workforce, the Inissia is available in:
  • Blueberry Blue
  • Intense Black
  • Lime Yellow
  • Pure White
  • Ruby Red
  • Vanilla Cream
  •  
    It can be bundled with Nespresso’s wonderful Aeroccino Plus milk frother for $149.

     

    LARGER, WITH CREMA

    Another Nespresso innovation this year is the Vertuoline. It handles the larger American-style mugs as well as espresso cups, and tops both with rich, luxurious crema.

    Available in Black, Chrome and Red, the VertuoLine is priced at $299 and takes a new, flatter, rounder capsule than the original Nespresso machines.

    Check out the entire line at Nespresso.com.

     

    inissia-ruby-red-sideways-230

    A side view of the petite Inissia. It’s just 4.7 inches wide x 12.6 inches deep. Photo courtesy Nespresso.

     

      

    Comments

    GADGET: SKrAPr

    skrapr-230

    The standard SKrAPr with the free mini version. Photo courtsy SKrAPr.

     

    Tired of expending elbow grease to clean burned on or dried food from cooktops, stoves, ovens, barbecue grills, baking pans and counter tops?

    So was Richard Lambert, who solved the problem by inventing the whimsically-spelled SKrAPr. This kitchen gadget looks like a merger of a spatula and a paint scraper.

    The non-scratching blade scrapes residue off of smooth surfaces. The material is a patented composite resin that works on all smooth surfaces: aluminum, ceramic, glass, granite, hardwood, marble and stainless steel.

    Most messes can be SKrAPed up with water as the only lubricant—no chemical cleaners required.

    If SKrAPr looks like a device that can scrape off paint splatters or de-ice car windshields—well yes, it is.

     

    The Skrapr website isn’t up yet, but there is a Facebook page. You can buy it on Amazon.com ($14.51) and at retailers like Bed, Bath & Beyond.

    There’s a limited lifetime warranty.

    The company makes other tools as well, including:

  • Grill Cleaner
  • Curv Spreading Tool (spatula)
  • Spreader Set
  • Ice cream Skoopr
  •  
      

    Comments

    TIP: Christmas Pie Crust Cutters

    christmas-pie-crust-cutters-ws-230

    Use pie crust cutters for a professional effect. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Make your holiday pies Christmas-special with decorative crust cutters. The cutters make it easy to add seasonal fun to your pies.

    Just press them into the dough to form appliqués to go atop the pie, or to create cut-out designs in a pie’s top crust.

    You can also use them to garnish soups and salads. Or, cut out cookie dough for a dessert garnish.

    This year’s exclusive cutter set from Williams-Sonoma includes a Christmas tree, reindeer, Santa in sleigh and a snowflake.

    The shapes change yearly; you can build a collection of festive shapes over time.

    The durable spring-loaded cutters are designed for maximum precision, safety and easy of use. The spring mechanism creates delicate shapes embossed with fine detail. Even a child can use them.

     

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma stores or at WilliamsSonoma.com.

    Give a set to your favorite pie baker.

     
    TIPS FOR USING PIE CRUST CUTTERS

    For fun, color the dough red (for Santa), green for leaves, etc.

    Here are lots of tips for making pie crust cut-outs from King Arthur Flour, including helpful photos.

     

    fall-forest-piecrust-cutters-230s

    A Thanksgiving pie using fall-themed cut-outs. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments

    GADGET: Customizable Cookie Stamp

    Thanks to Hannah Kaminsky for tipping us off to this great cookie stamp.

    Whether for the experienced baker who’s looking for something new, or the newbie who wants to surprise friends, this little gadget rocks!

    Interchangeable letters, numbers, and symbols offer endless possibilities for personalized messages that you create within the frame of the stamp.

    Spell out names and messages (Congratulations, Happy Birthday, whatever) to make your next batch of cookies memorable.

    The Customizable Cookie Stamp is $15.00 at UncommonGoods.com.

     

    customizable-cookie-stamp-uncommongoods-kaminsky-230sq

    We love the possibilities of messages on cookies. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Zwilling Aurora ~ Dreamy New Cookware

    If you appreciate great cookware, you may wish to treat yourself to a set for Christmas; specifically, the new Aurora cookware from Zwilling J.A. Henckels.

    This is sexy cookware for a serious cook. First, the looks: a gleaming satin finish 18/10 magnetic stainless steel exterior, mirror finished, with gently curved sides.

    But more important is the beauty of the engineering.

  • The weight is distributed in a balanced manner so that even the largest piece does not feel heavy.
  • The ergonomic handles are attached to the base via a wishbone-shaped extension. This enables the handles to stay cool, as heat from the base dissipates between the space in the wishbone. This is a real plus—no more hot handles or potholders!
  • The rims are rolled for dripless pouring.
  •  
    The Sigma Clad five-ply construction both guarantees even heat distribution and makes the cookware stove top-flexible. Three aluminum layers are sandwiched between two stainless steel outer layers, making Aurora compatible with induction stove tops.

     

    aurora-set-beauty-230

    Made in Belgium with great looks and even greater performance. Photo courtesy Zwilling J.A. Henckels.

     
    As I am sure that in less than a decade nearly all cooking will be done on such surfaces, this cookware set is already compatible with the future.

    USING THE COOKWARE

    Although the recommendation from the manufacturer is not to use high heat (if possible), I had no problems using the skillet to sauté the skin side chicken breast at high heat with little more than a light coating of oil.

    On another occasion, I left the oil in a pan heating for too long and a distinct brown stain appeared. It did take some elbow grease to clean afterwards but it was restored to its original pristine condition.

    The only issue for some people desirous of Zwilling’s Aurora cookware set is the price. But you do get what you pay for. For serious cooks and for others willing to take care of their set, the longevity of these pieces will cancel out the cost in the long run. I expect to get full use out of this set for the next 12-15 years. (There’s a lifetime warranty.)

    At CutleryAndMore.com, the price is:

  • 7-Piece Set $599.95 (list $974)
  • 10-Piece Set $799.95 (list $1,414)
  •  
    The 10-piece set includes a 9.5-inch stainless steel skillet, 11-inch stainless steel skillet, 1.5-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart saute pan with lid and 8-quart stock pot with lid. (If you’re new to buying cookware, lids are counted as separate pieces.)

    To dip a toe in the water, you can buy an individual piece. The 9½-inch skillet is the lowest priced, at $79.95 (list $138).

    Aurora is the Latin word for sunrise, and Roman goddess of dawn. It’s the sunrise of a terrific line of cookware that we can’t recommend highly enough.

    For more information visit ZwillingOnline.com.

    —Kris Prasad

      

    Comments

    GADGET: The New Egg Timer

    There’s a new egg timer on the market, one that’s purely visual.

    We’ve been enjoying the new Taylor Egg Timer.

    Simply place the timer into the water when cooking eggs on the stove top. The colors will change, indicating when you have soft, medium or hard boiled eggs.

    Internal sensors in these 21st century egg timers calculate cooking stages precisely by temperature, not loosely by time. The timers heat up in precise synchronization with the eggs, and make automatic adjustments to accommodate the number of eggs, the amount of water and the altitude.

    For people who make boiled eggs, it’s the new best thing. It takes the guesswork out of cooking eggs and you get perfect results every time.

    And it’s a great stocking stuffer. It’s also a good for New Year’s resolutions: Make protein-rich hard boiled eggs for snacking.

     

    taylor-egg-timer-230

    One of the “21st century egg timers.” The red color moves up as the eggs get cooked. Photo courtesy Taylor.

     

    Versions from three different manufacturers are available now:

  • HIC, $6.79 on Amazon.com.
  • Norpro, $7.49 on Amazon.com.
  • We couldn’t find the Taylor egg timer for sale on line, but head to Target stores. It’s $4.99.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Share A Favorite Gadget

    For an inexpensive holiday gift or stocking stuffer, give one of your favorite kitchen gadgets—one that most people probably don’t have, but you wouldn’t want to be without.

    Last year for us it was a serrated peeler, two years ago a mushroom brush.

    But this year, it’s going to be a Wavy Knife from Crisp Cooking. Just by slicing in a normal fashion, it provides a decorative side to fruits and vegetables, whether cooked (including fries) or for crudités and salads.

    We have an old-fashioned crinkle cutter, but the wavy knife is an improvement, easier to use and potentially safer.

    The ergonomic handle provides a sure, comfortable grip and better cutting control. The offset blade provides plenty of “knuckle room” while cutting.

    At $12.99, it’s pricier than the peeler or mushroom brush, but it’s also a more substantial gift.

     

    crisp-cooking-wavy-knife-peanutbutterandpeppers.com-230

    This year’s gift to everyone old enough to cook: a Wavy Knife. Photo courtesy PeanutButterAndPeppers.com

     

    Check it out at CrispCooking.com.

      

    Comments

    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.

     

     
      

    Comments

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