It’s that time of the year – as Chanukah approaches, doughnuts (or sufganiyot) call to us from the corner of every supermarket and bakery. I happen to love doughnuts and this is the one time of year I allow myself to indulge. It’s a mitzvah, right? I’m also excited this year because I’m going to try something I haven’t done in a while – making doughnuts at home. I’m about to purchase Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker by Mark Klebeck (Author), Michael Klebeck (Author), Scott Pitts (Photographer), and Jess Thomson (Collaborator). The Klebeck brothers sell 1.3 million doughnuts per week in their Seattle coffee shop so I figure they must know what they’re talking about. And the cookbook is meant to help the home cook who doesn’t have elaborate equipment make fresh, delicious doughnuts – yum! Yes, I know, they’re fried in oil – but hey, it’s Chanukah! If you make some before I do, let me know how they turn out. I can’t wait to get started…
This classic menorah finished in polished nickel is both sleek and functional. Perfect for extra guests or any child, it is sophisticated and reasonably priced.
Available at Crate & Barrel $32.95.
The brief winter season in Los Angeles is the only time of year that The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf sells its Winter Dream tea. This is a particularly delicious tea that evokes that cozy, around the fireplace winter feeling. With the flavor of cinnamon and other like spices, it is reminiscent of the mulled warm drinks of past generations. You can also add milk or whipped milk to make a winter dream latte which is a particular favorite. So, if you’re not in the mood for these hot coffee drinks, curl up with a nice cuppa winter dream tea, a few yummy cookies and a good book. And shut out the cold outdoors.
For years I have denied that a potato ricer is necessary for perfect mashed potatoes, after all I like them chunky anyway. But upon testing various potato recipes and personally experiencing the "gummy-ness" that can easier occur when mixing the cooked potatoes, I am now a convert to the need for a fantastic potato ricer. It "rices" the cooked potatoes without breaking it all down so that the final texture when mixed with the scrumptious flavorings (like salt, garlic, pareve sour cream, pareve milk, margarine etc.) is creamy and delicious.
They come in a variety of sizes and price points. The larger ones have the great feature of being able to work with larger quantities but also separate the peel from the flesh of the potatoes so there is no need to peel the potatoes, just boil, rice, and mix in the extras.
I like these two from Williams-Sonoma.com
Potato Ricer $29.95
Food Mill $149.95
Although significantly more expensive, this one is from All-Clad and can be used for soups, fruits, and holds a large quantity. Many other companies make food mills for a more competitive pricing like Amazon.com
We all need just a little boost to get back into cooking and serving after the marathon of the High Holidays!! These colorful linens from April Cornell are the perfect answer to those hostessing blues. Just looking at them perks me up and makes me want to invite some guests over immediately. They always have some great patterns on sale so you can indulge your fantasies and be thrifty at the same time! Do I want flowers or plaids or maybe both??! Check these out and add a bouquet of vibrant color to your next Shabbos table!
I love the variety of Bundt pan shapes available and enjoy presenting cakes in different shapes. I am so excited to get this new, well actually vintage, shape that has been released by Nordicware and Williams-Sonoma. Its a recreation of the 1950's original that was modeled from an old German stoneware mold. It's simple and chic and is updated to today's needs, meaning it's totally non-stick.
Available at Williams-Sonoma.com for $34.95
Last year I bought these whimsical spheres of clear handblown glass and used them for tea lights and flowers in the Succah. I hung them them with clear fishing wire so it gave the illusion of floating lights. At $3.95 each, they are an inexpensive way to decorate the Succah. Buy a few extra though, I did break a few while hanging them.
Available at CB2.com for $3.95 each
Just saw these pretty honey dishes at the new Breezy's in Cedarhurst, 917-885-0366. They are made by Mosser Glass in Cambridge, Ohio. I love the idea of a burst of color on the Yom Tov table. They are available in green, blue, red, white, and amber. the price is irresistible at only $30. I bought a few to use outside in the Succah too.
I love this hammered stainless steel honey pot with a dazzling and teasing brass bee on the top. It has a modern texture and a shiny finish that dresses the piece up for any holiday table. It includes a dipper and a glass insert for easy washing. It’s part of Mary Jurek’s gorgeous handmade collections. Check out her other work at Maryjurekdesignsinc.com or buy this piece from The Kitchen Clique for $115.
GKC has talked about iced tea a lot this summer. Now, I found the perfect iced tea maker and carafe by Eva Solo. Is there anything better on a hot day than a cold glass of iced tea from a chic pitcher. Here is how it works. The ice tea maker is designed to brew ice tea in the conventional and simple way: Spoon your desired mix of tea leaves or tea bags into the filter and add boiling water. Once the tea has brewed, remove the filter and insert the flip-top lid. Put the carafe with the hot tea in the fridge to cool down, and then add any additional flavours, sugar, cinnamon stick, mint, etc. and ice cubes before serving. It's designed specifically to fit easily in the fridge and the flip top lid ensures drip free pouring. It's a combination of glass, stainless steel and silicone which makes it extra cool looking. Available in black, green and yellow.
Available for $90 at http://www.emmohome.com/eva-solo-ice-tea-maker.html
No kitchen is complete without a good set of mixing bowls – or in our case, 3 good sets of mixing bowls!! Although they now make great plastic, silicone and stainless steel bowls, I confess a partiality for ceramic ones. I can’t claim they’re the most practical choice – they chip, crack and break (why do you think I’m buying new ones?!) – but they are the most attractive for those of us who like to leave them out on the counter. I like mine readily available for all the myriad of mixing tasks that arise – not to mention that they take up lots of room in the cabinet. I know I have to replace my cracked Mason Cash fleishig ones soon but at the moment my chipped milchig ones are my focus and I found these cute and reasonably priced ones at zappos of all places! If you found some great and colorful ones somewhere else, please let me know. I think my pareve ones may be up for replacement soon!
Eggit is flying of the shelves of all the kosher markets! Eggit is the new, super easy way to shine up your breads and pastries. It's all natural and works beautifully. When they say, "Spray it, bake it and let it shine", they are absolutely right! I tried it last week on all of my challahs, some with crumble topping, some with seeds and some with just plain Eggit spray (none with brushed on, drippy egg wash and no more deflated challahs from the brush puncturing the challah dough and deflating it). Each baked up with a shine and a crisp, slightly browned top. No mess and very evenly distributed. The spray is strong and generous, use it a few inches away from the pastries or breads. GKC loves it and you should try it too. Not just for challahs, I'm using it on goat cheese squares, baked ziti, and spinach spanikopita this week. I used it on a lattice topped pie and sprinkled it with some coarse sugar. It worked so well for the shine and helped bake the sugar into the topping. My friend Debby, sprayed it on chicken cutlets, added salt and spices and wow! instant browned, flavorfull chicken. Go find Eggit in your local market and if they don't have it yet, let them know that you would love to try it. It's distributed by Eggit and can be ordered by the market at 516 371 0070.
Cupcakes are the latest rage with no sign of fading. Here at GKC we feature recipes for S’mores Cupcakes, Gingerbread Cupcakes, Root Beer Cupcakes and more. And we are in the process of developing some others. Some people are intimidated by cakes (no one wants to make the first cut!) but no one is intimidated by cupcakes. And just as the recipes are terrific, there are some great ways of displaying them. This is one of our favorites from Midwest CBK and available through amazon. They also have a white (slightly different but still elegant) version and a jeweled gray option. Cupcakes have never looked this good!
Healthy ice cream just may exist. How perfect is that for warm summer days? How could this be you ask? A husband and wife team came up with an invention called Yonanas that turns frozen bananas into something the looks and tastes like ice cream without any added cream or sugar. I was skeptical for sure, but it turns out that this machine makes pretty darn tasty banana non-ice cream ice cream. You can add other fruits like strawberries, or blueberries or even chocolate to make it even more delicious. Seems kitschy but this one really works! Try it and you will be buying a lot more bananas!
Available at online at Yonanas for $49.95
Even in the age of the internet where so many recipes are available online, we still like to have a special cookbook binder in our kitchen where we can record those special recipes that a friend is sharing over the phone. Yes, some of us still do it that way (along with email of course). Or what could be a nicer gift for a child going off to college or seminary or a new bride than a recipe binder where they can collect their favorites – maybe stick in one or two of yours to get them started! I found a great collection of recipe binders that can be customized with the gift recipient’s name on them (or yours if you want; no one needs to know you bought it for yourself!) Visit www.zazzle.com to create the binder that suits your style. They have many different options to choose from. This is my particular favorite because I like the retro look: http://www.zazzle.com/retro_mixer_gingham_recipe_teal_binder-127217436447612543
But even the browsing is fun and you’ll probably think of a few people you’d like to buy one for!
Most GKC readers already know that I love to explore gourmet shops and find new kosher products. This past weekend while enjoying the Eastern End of Long Island I came across a new OU certified company that I must share with GKC readers. I love their products and you will too. Powell and Mahoney, creator of the vintage cocktail mixer, is a perfect fit for the reader that wants an easy, elegant cocktail, but does not have time to make homemade cocktails too. With flavors like Mojito, Red Sangria, Peach Bellini, Hot Toddy, Margarita and more, these cocktails require the addition of alcohol and garnish; that’s it. I tried the Red Sangria, mixed it with fruit and wine, and Wow! - instant refreshment and super gorgeous in the pitcher. One other thing…they make a bottle of simple syrup. To me this is ingenious to have around. Use it in homemade lemonade, popsicles, cocktails, ice tea and so much more.
Available in Hot Toddy, Peach Bellini, Bloody Mary, Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Red Sangria, Margarita, Ginger, Lemon Sour, and Simple Syrup.
It sounds like a word from Harry Potter but it’s really a simple wooden instrument using to crush fresh herbs, particularly mint, for those great summer drinks. Use it for the limeade featured here or for some great Mojitos. Or let us know what drink you like to use it for. There are modern stainless steel muddlers but I prefer the old-fashioned wooden kind. For a great selection, visit the muddler shop. It’s even fun to start a collection. Bottoms up!
I first saw these unique dessert cups at a wedding. A long row of them filled with chocolate mousse, fruits, nuts, candies, parfait, and more. I instantly loved the look and have been searching for them since. Fortunately Amazing Savings came out with an inexpensive version this week and I scooped them up. I served colorful sorbets and fruits and frozen grapes in each of three sets. They are the perfect size and a great modern shape. If you cannot locate them at Amazing Savings, try www.smartyhadaparty.com and get them for only $4.99 a set. Warning…the cones are easy to lose, so at this price, get a few extra sets and don’t worry if a guest drops one in the garbage.
It’s summertime and you are doing a lot of outdoor entertaining. I have found the perfect product and it’s even on sale right now. These beverage jars from Sur la Table look great and make serving drinks oh so easy. I would buy a few so that you can offer varieties of punches and drinks – Sangria, anyone? Or perhaps a Pomegranate and Lemonade Spritzer? And, as beautiful as they look outdoors and as summery as they feel, they also work indoors as well. For your next Sheva Brachos or parlor meeting or ... I would stock up now; who knows how long the sale will last? And hurry, before I beat you to it!
This is my (OK, all the celebrity chefs love it too) newest grilling essential that is perfect for any grill master (or novice). I love this because it is injected like a needle into the meat and it takes an extremely accurate and quick temperature. The speedy reading means less heat escapes from the grill while the lid is lifted. Many people make the mistake of cutting into a piece of meat to check for doneness, allowing for all the flavorful juices to run out of the meat. Next time, keep the meat juicy and use a thermapen or a meat thermometer for the perfectly prepared barbeque.
Available at our amazon shop for $93 in red, white, pink, purple and green.
GKC's Guide to Perfect Grilling Temperatures
|Meat Temperature Chart(Fahrenheit)|
120° - 125°130° - 135°
140° - 145°
150° - 155°
160° and above
135°140° - 150°
165° and above
|165° - 175°165° - 175°|
It’s grill season! Which means super easy, super quick, and really flavorful meals. Most people are already familiar with grilling burgers, chicken and steak but many struggle with grilling fish. It can be a little trickier with temperature and making sure the fish does not stick to the grill. Cedar Planks are my most favorite fish-grilling tool (Yes, I consider them a grilling essential!). Planking fish (or chicken or burgers) infuses food with delicious smoky flavor. They are easy to use and many are even presoaked (check the package for complete instructions). My other great reasons to use them are:
- Cedar Planks hold delicate meats and fish which might fall apart if they were grilled directly
- The food is kept moist and does not burn
- Plank grilling requires less supervision of the cooking process allowing you to spend more time socializing with your guests
- No BBQ to clean afterwards!
They are available at Williams-Sonoma, Target, Costco, and even in some supermarkets during the summer. We recommend getting packages that have lots of flavor, like apple wood, hickory, and maple.
*** Most cedar planks just need to be submerged in water for 30 minutes so they do not burn on the BBQ and then are ready to use.
I am a sucker for color in the kitchen. My cabinets are colorful, my tiles are colorful and I have a great orange blender. My Kitchen-Aid mixer is chrome but my Pesach one is a beautiful cobalt blue! So that’s why I love colorful kitchen tools and these mini rose-shaped colanders caught my eye. I like the raspberry color but it’s probably good to have more than one and the kiwi and sun colors also look pretty good! In fact so do the red and the poppy…It’s not infrequent that one person in the house will want some grapes or berries and I won’t wash to wash the whole bunch. This completely solves the problem – and in such an attractive and inexpensive way. What the heck; I’m ordering all the colors!!
I’m embarrassed to say this (well, actually I’m not) but I have been using the same style of box to house my mishloach manos for the last 3 years. I vary the colors but these boxes look so beautiful and elegant that I figure “why tamper with success?” I fill them with mandelbroit and then attach a stick candy that matches the box to the ribbon. It’s easy, it’s beautiful, it’s delicious. And it fulfills the mitzvah. What more could you want? Did I mention that everyone oohs and aahs and thinks I have real class??!!! These boxes are available at www.nashvillewraps.com in all different colors and sizes although these are my favorite.
GKC loves color and these colored bottles, available in fuchsia, red, orange, green and purple are perfect for making infused vodkas, homemade salad dressings or fresh squeezed juices. I also display them by the cook top and fill them with olive oil and canola oil for easy access when I am cooking.
Available at www.mxyplyzyk.com for $12.95
What can I say? I am a sucker for color and I’m willing to try this knife set based on color alone. But I don’t have to just indulge my eye. They will actually enhance my cooking as well. The Pure Komachi 2 Series 9-Piece Knife Set with Block has light-weight yet sharp knives. The set includes a 9-piece knife set includes 8-inch chef's, 8-inch bread, 6-1/2-inch Santoku, 4-inch tomato/cheese, 4-inch citrus, 3-1/2-inch paring, 6-inch utility and 5-3/4-inch sandwich knife, along with an acrylic storage block. And the customer reviews are spectacular. I’m planning to add my name to the list. The price is right and they will brighten up your kitchen, especially during these dark winter days. We have to chop a lot of vegetables to make our winter soups; these knives help make it more fun.