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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

MOTHER’S DAY: Wellness Kitchen Mats

If your mother (wife, daughter, etc.) spends a lot of time standing on a hard kitchen floor, improve her life instantly with a Welllness Mat.

Every person who’s stood on our Wellness Mat and has purchased one. (No, we’re not commissioned salespeople, although we did receive one as a gift.)

The revolutionary anti-fatigue floor mats are ergonomically engineered and medically proven to provide unsurpassed comfort, safety, relief, and support while you stand, wherever you stand.

There are plain and decorator versions, in colors to suit every decor. See the choices on WellnessMats.com.

 

Find the instant-comfort mat in the color and design of your choice at WellnessMats.com.

We can guarantee that for a mom who spends a lot of time at the stove, kitchen counter or sink, this will be the most appreciated Mother’s Day gift of all. What could be better than unmatched comfort?

For people who are in tip-top shape, it’s a pillowy yet supportive standing surface that feels like heaven on your feet (and it’s puncture-resistant if you cook in heels). Those who have a few aches can say goodbye to back, knee, and foot pain.

  

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PRODUCT: Best Frying Pan For Eggs

Two happy eggs in The Egg Expert, GreenPan
USA’s perfectly sized pan. Photo by Elvira
Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

If you have a kitchen with limited storage space, you’re constrained in the number of pots and pans you can keep.

As petite as it is (five inches in diameter), we would never have thought to buy The Egg Expert, a pan whose unique selling proposition is that it can fry two eggs perfectly.

But when tried this little sweetheart sent to us by the folks from GreenPan USA, we fell in love: It’s the perfect pan for making fried eggs—at least, if you want your eggs to come out perfectly round and pretty.

The ceramic coating (Thermolon) in superb searing and creating crispy surfaces.

The heat distributes evenly, it browns food beautifully. The only caveat: The handle does warm up, so you may need a pot holder.

And it cleaned up more easily than any cookware we’ve ever used. After a dozen sets of eggs were fried, the pan still looks brand-new.

 
The Egg Expert is currently an exclusive item at KitchenCollection.com. At only $9.99 (special pricing), how can you not buy one for everybody on your Mother’s Day and Father’s Day lists?

In addition to its cooking prowess, GreenPan environmentally responsible cookware.

  • The products are cadmium- and lead-free.
  • There is 60% less carbon dioxide emitted during the curing phase of production of its Thermolon coating (a ceramic coating with excellent non-stick properties), compared to traditional coating.
  • Thermolon has an extra safety feature: If you overheat your pan, even up to 450°F, no toxic fumes will be released and the coating will not blister or peel. The coating is healthy, safe and does not contain any toxic chemicals or persistent pollutants.
  • The products incorporate previously used materials: upcycled stainless steel for the handles and upcycled aluminium for the cookware bodies (here‘s the difference between upcycled and recycled).
  •  
    Discover the whole line at Green-Pan.com.

    GreenPan products are available at retailers nationwide (store locator).

      

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    PRODUCT: Waffle Pancakes Griddle

    Fusion food of a different sort: waffle
    pancakes. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Pancakes or waffles: Can’t decide? This innovative griddle from Nordic Ware makes it simple to prepare delectable waffled pancakes—pancakes textured like waffles—in a jiffy.

    The innovative cast-aluminum nonstick griddle produces seven 3″ diameter, crispy golden cakes with deep pockets for syrup or toppings. We also used them to make dessert pancakes, topped with a scoop of ice cream, sliced bananas and chocolate sauce (fun and delicious).

    The riveted cast stainless steel handle stays cool; the nonstick finish ensures easy release and quick cleanup.

    Made in USA, the pan is currently a Williams-Sonoma exclusive, at retail stores or online.

    It’s yours for $39.95.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PANCAKES & WAFFLES

    Pancakes are generally soft and spongy, while waffles are crispy. Historically, waffle batter has more fat than pancake batter; the extra fat contributes to the crisping.

    Most mixes we see today state that they can be used for pancakes or waffles. If waffles made from such mixes don’t turn out crispy enough for you, try a waffles-only batter, or make it from scratch.

    Check out our review of the best pancake mixes.

    Check out our Pancake & Waffle Glossary for all the different types of pancakes and waffles.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Chillers To Keep Party Food Cold

    A Tilt “chilling sphere” plopped into a bowl of
    guacamole. Photo courtesy Soiree Home.

     

    We recently received a pitch for “an iceless and flavorless stainless steel chilling sphere,” which “helps maintain a lasting chill for a variety of drinks and party dips without compromise.”

    The “compromise” is that perishable foods (those that are stored in the fridge) get warm as they sit out. If you’re concerned with food safety or simply want a dish to be chilled, you need to do something to fight the natural chemistry of things.

    The USDA advises that perishable foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Internal [food] temperatures higher than 40°F provide enable bacteria to multiply.

    The gel-filled stainless “chilling sphere” in the photo, called Tilt, “preserves the full flavor and texture of cold dips while preventing uneven chilling with ice and watery messes.” It is also “an enticing option for those who want to chill their drinks without diluting it [sic] with ice.”

     

    Sorry, but who wants a foreign object in the middle of the guacamole? And what’s wrong with the chilling solutions that already exist?

    Whether it’s for an extensive buffet or simply a bowl of dip next to the chips on the coffee table, here are some tried and true options to keep party food chilled.

    1. KEEP THE FOOD IN THE FRIDGE UNTIL YOU’RE READY TO SERVE IT. Resist setting out perishables in advance of the first guests.

    2. USE SMALLER BOWLS OR TRAYS. Instead of one large bowl of dip, for example, use a smaller bowl and refill from the fridge container as necessary (or keep a backup bowl in the fridge, ready to switch out). Do the same with platters/trays. Ideally, use stainless steel bowls which retain the cold longer, and keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to fill them and set them out.

    3. USE ICE-NESTED BOWLS OR TRAYS. An easy chilling solution is to nest the bowl or tray with the food in a larger bowl or tray, filled with an inch or two of ice. When the ice melts, replace it. Crushed ice melts more quickly but makes nesting easier than ice cubes. To contain the melted water on a try, you can put the ice in Ziploc-type bags. Or, instead of loose ice or a bag of ice, you can use ice cube trays (filled with ice cubes, of course), and replace them when melted with backup ice cube trays from the freezer.

     


    4. CONSIDER DEDICATED CHILLERS.
    If you entertain frequently, invest in acrylic chilling containers, like the one in the photo. It is also available in a two-compartment chiller, a four-compartment chiller and a five-compartment chiller that’s especially good for condiments.

    A stylish option we like has a stainless steel bowl that sits atop an ice-filled container. You may be able to create someting similar from dishes you already have. Here’s the platter chiller version.

    For outdoor events, there’s an inflatable buffet that we’ve written about previously. Like a hollowed-out pool float, you blow it up, fill the hollow with ice and nest the food on it.

    Try any of these solutions and party on!

     

    A lovely gift for your favorite party hosts. Photo courtesy Prodyne.

     

    If you really want a Tilt chilling sphere, head to SoireeHome.com.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Heart-Shaped Egg Molds

    Eggs of love. Photo courtesy Gifts and
    Gadgets | Amazon.

     

    How cute are these? Turn eggs into Valentine hearts or everyday love food, with Eggspress Heart Shaped Boiled Egg Molds.

    Use the heart-shaped, hard-cooked eggs (inaccurately called hard-boiled eggs—see hard-cooked eggs versus hard-boiled eggs):

  • At breakfast or snack time, on toast
  • At lunch, on a sliced egg sandwich
  • At lunch or dinner, on a salad
  • As a garnish or side at any meal, topped with flavored mayonnaise (including bacon mayonnaise), relish, chutney, etc.
  •  
    How would you use them?

    A set of two heart shaped molds is $9.95.

     

    HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS HAVE YOU HAD?

    See our egg-cellent Egg Glossary for the different types of eggs.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sistema Microwave Plastic Containers

    The soup gets hot, the bowl stays cool.
    Above: soup mug and noodle bowl. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We don’t have a huge amount of storage space, so we resist buying things that have single-purpose uses.

    In the kitchen, that restriction covers numerous gadgets and appliances. For example, we’d love a rice cooker to prepare healthy grains more easily; rice cookers can also be used to steam other foods. But we have more than one steaming solution already. So if we’re not going to use a rice cooker several times a week (as with the toaster, microwave, coffee maker and food processor), we can’t justify squeezing it in.

    Along the same lines, we resisted special plastic microwave dishes, opting to use our everyday dishes, which can be microwaved. But conventional plates and mugs can get overly hot-to-the-touch.

    One day, we were given a Sistema microwavable plastic mug at a trade show. We heated soup in it and—epiphany—the plastic remained cool to the touch while the soup got super hot. It was a solution worth making space for.

     

    We went on to purchase a Sistema noodle bowl and a covered plate to store and heat leftovers.

    Unlike ceramic, porcelain or other plastic containers—Tupperware or take-out containers—Sistema pieces, made of virgin polypropylene, do not get hot in the microwave.

     

    Sistema products are BPA free, microwave safe, freezer safe and dishwasher safe.

    The soup mug is $8.00 on Amazon; the noodle bowl is $8.49. The microwavable plate, $11.00, can double as a steamer.

    The products are available nationally; we just picked up a second mug at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

    ABOUT SISTEMA MICROWAVABLE CONTAINERS

    Sistema Plastics makes “dedicated microwave cooking products to make life easier.” We concur!

    Designed and made in New Zealand, the line includes steamers that make it easy to steam meals, covered plates to store and reheat leftovers, the soup mug that is perfect for soup or hot drinks, and a larger noodle bowl for ramen, pasta, or in our case, matzoh ball soup.

    See the whole line at SistemaPlastics.com.

     

    Spill-proof lids make the soup easily portable. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Slow Cooker For Entertaining

    Beef stew stays warm to the last spoonful in
    Cuisinart’s Multicooker. Photo courtesy Sur La
    Table.

     

    If you’re old enough to remember the original Crock Pot, you know how far slow cookers have come in functionality and aesthetic appeal. Today’s gleaming slow cookers can go from kitchen counter to dining table. And they do more than slow cook. Even the highly rated Crock Pot has gone glam, in gleaming stainless steel.

    Slow cookers have been a boon to people who don’t have the time or the desire to spend hours in the kitchen. Just add the ingredients to the unit, press a button and leave. After cooking, the appliance keeps food at the perfect serving temperature until you’re ready to eat it.

    But the slow cooker has evolved: Welcome the multicooker.

    The Cuisinart Multicooker does everything the stove will: It sears, browns, sautés, simmers, steams and slow cooks, all in one pot. It will keep food warm for up to 24 hours. And the parts clean easily in the dishwasher.

     

    For food cooked in conventional pots and pans, a slow cooker serves as a chafing dish or hot tray, keeping food warm. As you plan your Super Bowl fare, consider how you could use it for chicken, chili, stew or other hot fare.

    If you’re new to slow cooking, once you get the hang of it you’ll find that it does much more than you ever imagined:

  • Barbecue, including pulled chicken and pulled pork, ribs and wings
  •  

  • Breads
  • Braises
  • Casseroles
  • Chilis
  • Chutneys, jams and fruit butters
  • Desserts, from puddings to cakes
  • Eggs and other breakfast foods
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Meat loaf and meat balls
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Rice and other grains
  • Roasts, including pot roast (for a full roast you
    need an oval shape slow cooker and a capacity of 6
    quarts or larger)
  •  

    Crock Pot today: The company that started it all still makes one of the best slow cookers. Photo courtesy Cuisinart.

  • Sides
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Tex-Mex favorites (enchiladas, tacos)
  •  
    Pick up a cookbook, such as Slow Cooker Revolution, and start planning the menu!

    FOOD TRIVIA

    The original Crock Pot, introduced in 1971 by the Rival Company, was developed as an electric bean cooker. It was originally called the Beanery. Earlier, the Rival Company had introduced the electric can opener.

      

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    GIFT: Water Bottles With A Twist

    You can “zing anything” in your water bottle with Aqua Zinger and Citrus Zinger, new concepts that should have great appeal for lovers of flavored water.

    The two new water bottles (actually thermos bottles that keep your drink cool as well) make naturally-infused flavored water, full of vitamins and other nutrients plus antioxidants. Commercially flavored waters use extracts.

    The double wall stainless steel thermos bottles keep your drink and ingredients insulated. A wide-mouth top allows for the easy addition of ice cubes. As a thermos, the products can be used to carry hot beverages as well.

    Both create a convenient new way to enjoy drinking water, adding your favorite flavors to satisfy your palate.

     

    The Aqua Zinger infuses flavor from fresh fruit and/or herbs into your water bottle. Photo courtesy Brookstone.

     

    AQUA ZINGER

    First, the Aqua Zinger: a water bottle that naturally infuses still or carbonated water with the juice and essence of fresh fruits and herbs: basil, blackberries, citrus, ginger, kiwi, mint, peach, raspberries, strawberries and other favorites.

    The fruits and herbs go into the bottom, screw-on base where grinder blades pulverize them and send the essences to infuse into the water. Mix and match and get creative: The flavors and ingredients are limited only by your imagination.

    Aqua Zinger Flavored Water Maker is $26.00 to $29.00 in stainless steel with aqua, lime green, hot pink or black accents; at Brookstone stores and Amazon.com.

     

    Citrus Zinger is a combination water bottle and citrus juicer. Photo courtesy Brookstone.

     

    CITRUS ZINGER

    When life gives you lemons, add them to the Citrus Zinger. Designed specifically for citrus fruits, Citrus Zinger juices clementines, lemons, limes and other citrus, and infuses the water with the juice. (Most oranges and grapefruits are too wide for the bottle-size juicer.)

    It’s the easiest way to extract citrus juice and infuse the flavor directly into your water bottle, enriching your water with vitamin C and flavonoids (citrus antioxidants).

    Citrus Zinger is available in aqua, lime green and orange for $20.

    MORE TO ZING

    The company also makes:

     

  • Vodka Zinger, a way for mixologists to infuse flavor into vodka or other spirits
  • Salad Zinger, which infuses flavor (citrus, fruit, garlic, onion, spices) into olive oil or a vinaigrette (peach balsamic salad dressing is a snap!)
  •  
    Learn more at ZingAnything.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Use A Pizza Stone

    Pizza stones can be square or round. Photo
    of this top-rated pizza stone courtesy
    KingArthurFlour.com.

     

    Here’s a gift for anyone who makes pizza at home—or needs some encouragement to do so. This tip is from Chef Johnny Gnall. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    If you are a true pizza lover, your home should not be without a pizza stone…and a pizza paddle too. If you’ve never used a pizza stone, you don’t know what you’re missing! It’s the only way to achieve restaurant-quality crust at home.

    A pizza stone makes a great holiday gift for any pizza lover, from the seasoned chef to kitchen beginner. I assure you: it will change the way you eat pizza forever!

    For those who resist buying single-use gadgets: Rest assured, you can do more with a pizza stone than make pizza.

     

    The simple beauty of a pizza stone is its ability to get crazy hot and remain bone dry (crispy!), which are the exact conditions you need for something like pizza crust.

    Another benefit: Pizza will rarely burn on a stone. More precisely, the crust will burn before the bottom will, so even though you can’t see it, you don’t have to stress out that the bottom is burning while it sits on the blazing hot stone.

    HOW TO USE A PIZZA STONE

    The pizza stone should come with instructions, but here’s an overview:

  • PREHEAT. A pizza stone has to be preheated. Always place your stone in a cold oven, then dial up the heat. This enables the stone to absorb heat evenly. In addition, a cold pizza stone placed in a hot oven can shatter.
  • HOT, HOT, HOT. Preheat the stone in a 450°F oven.
  • PADDLE. Once the stone has reached the proper temperature, it is too hot to handle with a conventional oven glove. That’s why you need a wooden pizza paddle, which slides underneath the pizza and can also be used to remove the stone.
  • SEASONING. A pizza stone needs to be seasoned first, so that when oil from the pie seeps into it, the stone is clean. It should develop a nonstick patina over time.
  • USE A PADDLE. The paddle brings your pie from the counter top to the stone in the oven, removes it when cooked, and also can remove the hot stone from the oven.
  •  

    HOW TO CLEAN A PIZZA STONE

  • A bench scraper works well, particularly for removing hardened bits of melted cheese.
  • Most stones are dishwasher safe, and can also be wiped with a non-chemical cleaner.
  • Bear in mind that a pizza stone will pick up conditioning and beauty marks as you use it. Don’t worry about it being spotless, and don’t worry about bacteria: Pizza bakes at temperatures hotter than any bacteria or foodborne illness can withstand.
  •  
    THE PIZZA PADDLE

    If you want to make pizza with minimal muss and fuss, you should also own a pizza paddle. Then, along with the pizza stone, you’re ready to compete with the local pizzeria.

    The paddle, dusted with a bit of semolina flour or cornmeal, is the most effective way to get the raw, stretched pie onto the stone.

     

    Growing oysters off the coast of Louisiana. Photo courtesy Louisiana Seafood News.

     

  • Stretch an edge of the dough over the lip at the end of the paddle. When putting the pizza into the oven, touch this dough edge to the stone first.
  • It should stick to the stone and allow you to carefully slide the paddle out and leave the pizza behind. (Don’t worry; it takes a little practice to yield pretty pizzas.)
  •  
    Without a paddle to build on, it’s challenging to move the pie to the hot stone from whatever surface you’ve built it on.

    WHAT ELSE TO DO WITH A PIZZA STONE

    Beyond making a pie from scratch, a pizza stone is perfect for getting any number of dough-related items especially toasty and delicious; just think of the idea pizza, and apply that to:

    Canapés: Small appetizers like crackers and crostinis can get soggy if they sit with toppings longer than intended. A quick trip into a 350°F oven on a pizza stone will bring them back to life, strengthening the base and rewarming the toppings. Make bubbly, mini tuna melts on brioche rounds; remove and plate with ease using a spatula.

    Cookies: Picture your favorite chocolate chip (or other) cookie, hot from the oven, with a crispy bottom and a soft top, chocolate chips all gooey. A minute or two on a pizza stone will give you just that. Bonus: A crispy bottom stands up particularly well to a milk dunking!

    Cold/Leftover Pizza: Never again use a microwave to reheat your pizza, and that overly chewy crust that stretches like taffy will become a thing of the past! Five minutes on a hot pizza stone will have your slice tasting like it did when it arrived at your front door or your table at the pizzeria.

    Pastries: A danish, scone, or other sweet pastry will get hot without getting soggy if you put it on a pizza stone. Keep an eye on pastries with fillings or glazes, as they will conduct heat more quickly and need less time than you might think.

    Sandwiches: Open faced or closed, a hot sando made (or simply finished) on a pizza stone is unmistakably the most delicious way to enjoy it. The bread will get as crispy as possible, helping strengthen it for wetter fillings and condiments. Starting a grilled cheese open faced on a pizza stone helps get the cheese brown and bubbly, adding another layer of flavor to the sandwich when you put your two halves together.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Kitchen Scale

    A kitchen scale can be a welcome gift.
    Photo courtesy Eat Smart Products.

     

    In tandem with our low calorie egg nog recipes, we’re suggesting what some people might think is not a great gift idea: a kitchen scale to weigh and measure portions.

    While you wouldn’t give one to just anybody, if you have loved ones who are always voicing their need to take off a few pounds, they’ll love you for hearing them and helping them achieve their goal.

    A kitchen scale is not just a “diet scale”: It’s very useful for weighing recipe ingredients, not to mention calculating postage, for those of us who still use snail mail.

    The EatSmart line offers economically priced multifunction home scales, perfect for everyday tasks. They include a Calorie Factors Book making it easy to achieve goals such as portion control and calorie counting.

     

    The EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale shown in the photo comes in black, burgundy chrome, white with a chrome top or all-white.

    Check out the line at EatSmartProducts.com.

      

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