Good buys for foodies
What's new, what's in season and more, from Erica Marcus.
'Live to Eat'(Credit: Little, Brown and Company)
Among cookbook bestseller lists, you'll find a majority are lifestyle tomes that promise to fast track weight loss or change your diet. The latest authors to cash in on the craze are Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow and chef Rocco DiSpirito. But all attempts at persuading me to give up my daily sugar-induced comas for "clean eating" have failed. Perhaps a new approach might work. Long Island chef Michael Psilakis has entered the field with a Mediterranean-inspired cookbook, "Live to Eat" (Little, Brown, $30), that might persuade fans of his restaurants MP Taverna in Roslyn -- or his six New York City outposts -- to cook with a healthier mindset. Dig through a list of pantry essentials affectionately named "The Magnificent Seven," which form the foundation of Psilakis' book. You'll find your own panacea in dishes such as Greek tabbouleh, Israeli couscous with shrimp, grilled swordfish, lamb chops with a side of baked potatoes, and baked turkey meatballs. -- Gary Duff
Crumbkins(Credit: Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake Co. )
Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake Co., the family-run, Calverton-based bakery, has introduced a bite-sized version of its old-fashioned crumb cakes -- well, one "Crumbkin" might require two or three bites. A package of 12 classic Crumbkins is $15, or compose your own variety pack from classic, blueberry, raspberry, blackout (chocolate cake and crumbs), Brooklyn Joe (chocolate cake, coffee ganache, classic crumbs), raspberry-blackout or Brooklyn Scout (chocolate cake, mint ganache, chocolate crumbs), $16 to $18. Order at clarksonavecrumb.com.
If you're a dark-chocolate lover who can exercise some degree of control, barkTHINS are the snack for you. They are roughly broken pieces of thin dark-chocolate "bark" embedded with a variety of fillings: almond, coconut-almond, pretzel, pumpkin seed, peanut, mint, gingerbread, peppermint-pretzel and blueberry crunch. The ingredient lists are short, non-GMO and, mostly, Fair Trade. The resealable 4.7-ounce bags are about $5 at Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Stop & Shop and other major retailers.
Almondina Toastees(Credit: Almondina)
I've loved Almondina cookies since their launch in 1989, with the original iteration containing nothing more than almonds, flour, sugar, egg whites, raisins and flavors. A couple brand extensions later, the manufacturer, YZ Enterprises, has introduced Toastees, tiny toasts that can be gobbled a few to the bite. Like their larger siblings, Toastees contain little more than almonds, flour, sugar and egg whites. The four flavors are sesame-almond (my favorite), coconut-orange-almond, cranberry-almond and lemon-poppy-almond. The 5.25-ounce package is available at Fairway and Uncle Giuseppe's markets for about $3.50.
Gluten-free Challah mix(Credit: Blends by Orly)
Challah is traditional for the Jewish High Holy Days, and Blends by Orly has introduced a line of gluten-free challah mixes so that even those with food sensitivities can enjoy home-baked loaves. The mixes come in three flavors: plain, poppyseed-onion and chocolate chip, and each package makes two loaves or 10 large rolls. The challah is certified kosher by OU and is also free of nuts, dairy and soy. Available for about $9 at Gourmet Glatt in Cedarhurst and Woodmere, Geffen Gourmet in Hewlett, Shop Delight and Everfresh in Great Neck, Seasons in Lawrence, Woodbury Kosher Meats in Hicksville and Kosher Thyme in Plainview. Also available online from Amazon and at blendsbyorly.com.
Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice cup(Credit: Zatarain’s)
You can have a Cup-a-Soup. You can have a Cup-a-Noodles. Why not a Cup-a-Red-Beans-and-Rice? The folks at Zatarain's must have had that very thought when they created a new way of eating its popular traditional New Orleans foods. How does it taste? Pretty much like red beans and rice, actually, and what it may lack in gloss it more than makes up in convenience. It's 1.75 ounces for about $1.49 at most grocery stores. -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch (TNS)
Greek BBQ in a Box(Credit: Athenian Greek Taverna)
Greek chefs are masters of the grill. Alex Homenides, chef and co-owner at Commack's Athenian Greek Taverna, is putting together everything you need for a Hellenic backyard barbecue. His Greek BBQ in a Box comes in two varieties, both serving 10 to 12 people: Option No. 1, $99, contains marinated chicken, pork sticks, burgers, pita, hummus, tzatziki and Greek salad. Option No. 2, $119, contains chicken kebabs, bone-in pork chops, Greek sausage, pita, feta cheese, tzatziki and Greek salad. You supply the fire. Call 631-499-7660 to order and pick up at 2187 Jericho Tpke., Commack. More info: atheniangreektaverna.com.
Cracker Barrel Macaroni & Cheese(Credit: Kraft Foods)
Kraft, the leader in packaged macaroni and cheese, has introduced a new line. Cracker Barrel Macaroni & Cheese dinners feature packets of liquid cheese -- as opposed to powdered -- and are made with Kraft's Cracker Barrel brand of cheeses. The four flavors are sharp Cheddar, sharp white Cheddar, Cheddar-Havarti and sharp Cheddar & bacon. The 14-ounce boxes are $3.49 and widely available in supermarkets nationwide. Cracker Barrel cheese, introduced by Kraft in 1954, is not related to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant-market chain.
Cooler bag(Credit: IKEA)
The Sommar 2016 polka-dot cooler bag is the perfect size for a picnic for two; it measures 12 inches in length, 8 inches in width and height. The underside of the lid has two straps for securing flatware or napkins and the shoulder strap makes for easy toting. It's $12.99 at IKEA in Hicksville.
'32 Yolks'(Credit: Random House)
The dominance of the French chef in American restaurant kitchens has gone the way of fedoras and the three-martini lunch, as Italian, Spanish and even homegrown dishes have eclipsed classic haute cuisine. But Eric Ripert, the three-Michelin-starred chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin in Manhattan, still strides the culinary landscape like a colossus. In "32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line" (Random House, $28), the chef, with the assistance of Veronica Chambers, recalls his first 24 years, rising from a troubled childhood in the South of France to a position at the Paris restaurant Jamin under the direction of the legendary Joel Robuchon. Ripert, 30 years younger than Jacques Pépin, provides a fascinating update to the kitchen system described in Pépin's 2003 autobiography "The Apprentice."
Trudeau’s Ice Sphere Mold(Credit: Trudeau)
My new beverage obsession is Trudeau's Ice Sphere Mold. It makes four big, round "ice cubes" that measure 2 inches in diameter and, because of their size and shape, melt much more slowly than conventional square cubes. Summer party game: Put one in your iced coffee or gin and tonic and see how long it takes to melt. Available for about $14 at amazon.com and bedbathandbeyond.com.
Hush Bistro's chipotle-BBQ ribs(Credit: Hush Bistro)
After tasting Marc Bynum's chipotle-BBQ St. Louis-style ribs, Oprah BFF Gayle King was so wowed that she touted them on the cover of July's O Magazine. Now Bynum, chef-owner of Hush Bistro in Farmingdale, is selling the ribs on his website, hushamericanbistro.com (click on "shop"). Smoky and spicy, the ribs are $24 for a full rack (about a dozen ribs). Two-day shipping is $59.98, but you can pick them up at the store a day after ordering for no additional charge. Hush Bistro is at 291 Main St., Farmingdale, 516-293-4874.
The vegan who lives in our house was starving when he came home from work last week, expecting to cook himself a time-consuming dinner. But a delivery box filled with plant-based frozen meals from Veestro was waiting. His only complaint: The portions were small on the Three-Layer Scramble, the Croquettes With Veggie Hash and the Golden Chickpea Stew With Quinoa. So he ate them all and declared them good. The service has plans that include a la carte, meal packs and weight-loss choices with several delivery options. A 21-day starter pack is $199. Order at veestro.com. -- Marjorie Robins
Rainbow cookies from The Bearded Baker(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
He made his name selling French macarons at Long Island farmers markets, but The Bearded Baker (aka Scott Krevat) has now introduced rainbow cookies to his lineup. These are about the most decadent (and messiest) rainbow cookies we've tasted: Three layers of moist almond cake barely containing two slathered layers of raspberry jam topped by homemade dark chocolate ganache. A 12-ounce box (containing 12 to 16 cookies) is $15 at farmers markets in Roslyn (Wednesday), Springs (Saturday), Rockville Centre and Southampton (both Sunday). For more information go to beardedbaker.com.
Charlie’s Legendary Onions(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
Charles Summa opened Charlie's Hot Dogs in 1963 and for the next four decades, Brentwood and Islip residents would congregate at the truck on Spur Drive North for a dog and a drink. The truck closed in 2006 but Summa's daughter, Jeanne Summa-Becvar, has brought back her father's signature topping, which she has dubbed Charlie's Legendary Onions -- sweet and sour, tender with a touch of tomato. Summa-Becvar sells the 16-ounce jars for $7 at the Islip farmers market (Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon). The onions are also sold, for $8-$9, at Pat's Marketplace in East Islip and East Northport, Kitchen Kabaret in Bay Shore, Nook & Cranny in Islip, Old World Fine Foods in Bohemia and online at charlieslegendaryonions.com.
Laurel’s Butter(Credit: Laurel’s Butter)
Laurel Bickford, a Division I track athlete and an IFBB figure bodybuilder, had always been a self-professed "peanut butter fanatic," finding the pantry staple the ideal natural form of protein to help fuel her workouts. In 2015, she started making and marketing her own Laurel's Butter, and the line has expanded to 10 regular flavors including dark chocolate, coconut-cashew, oatmeal cookie, banana bread and The Selfie, an almond butter with vanilla and cinnamon. Prices range from $6 to $11 for 8-ounce jars. Available at Long Island Super Bowls in Sayville and Patchogue, Supreme Blends in Commack and East Islip, Mission Nutrition in Hicksville and Total Nutrition in Syosset. For more information, a complete list of local retailers or to order online, go to laurelsbutter.com.
ParmCrisps(Credit: Kitchen Table Bakers)
Since 2003, Syosset-based Kitchen Table Bakers has been making snack crisps entirely from cheese. The name, ParmCrisp, was inspired by the first flavor, straight Parmesan. Now both the product line and retail distribution have broadened. The crisps come in nine flavors, all based on Parmesan -- aged Parmesan, sesame, jalapeño, rosemary, flaxseed, basil pesto, everything, garlic and Italian herb -- and 3-ounce tubs sell for about $6. The Parmesan, sesame and jalapeño crisps also come in 1.7-ounce resealable pouches of "mini" crisps. Available at, among other retailers, The Fresh Market, Grace's Marketplace in Greenvale, Southdown Marketplace, Iavarone Bros., Citarella, Babylon Meat Market and The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck. For more retailers, go to kitchentablebakers.com.
Like the best Indian cooks, Floyd Cardoz has achieved mastery over powerful, complex flavors. But in his new cookbook, the former chef at Manhattan's Tabla and North End Grill and winner of season 3 of "Top Chef Masters" brings both a global sophistication and a home cook's humility to 100 approachable recipes. "Flavorwalla: Big Flavor. Bold Spices. A New Way to Cook the Foods You Love" (Artisan, $29.95) is a volume that will help you see old ingredients in exciting new ways.
La Maison Maille mustard(Credit: Maille)
La Maison Maille, makers of Dijon mustard since 1747, has introduced three new flavors: carrot with a hint of shallot, olive with herbes de Provence, and beet honey. Each 3.8-ounce jar is $12, or buy all three packaged in a decorative gift box, $45 at maille.com.
'Pure Artistry'(Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Brooklyn-based pastry chef Emily Lael Aumiller sits squarely in the overlap of showstopping cakes and special-needs diets. Her creations are vegan and gluten free, yet look like they belong in a magazine -- as indeed they have (see Martha Stewart Weddings and Brides). Her new book, "Pure Artistry: Extraordinary Vegan & Gluten-Free Cakes" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35), provides a master class in special-diet cakes and cake decorating. With beautiful (and hardworking) photographs by Lauren Volo.
Yehuda Ancient Grain Matzo(Credit: Yehuda Matzos)
Should the bread of affliction taste this good? We were plotzing over Yehuda Ancient Grain Matzo, made from 100 percent organic whole spelt flour and imported from Israel. Spelt is a type of wheat that has been cultivated for about 7,000 years -- pretty ancient -- and has recently gained popularity. The matzo is pleasantly nutty, not as ponderous as some other whole-wheat matzo we have tried. The 10.5-ounce box contains 10 boards. Available at select Stop & Shop, ShopRite and kosher markets and all Whole Foods (Lake Grove, Manhasset, Jericho) for $8.49-$8.99.
Rapid Ramen Cooker(Credit: Rapid Brands)
The problem: Instant ramen noodles, one of the world's great fast meals, require a pot of boiling water to cook. The solution: the Rapid Ramen Cooker. The rectangular polypropylene "pan" accommodates one package of noodles and enough water to cook them in the microwave in four minutes. The product, invented by Christopher Johnson, was featured on Shark Tank in 2013. Now you can buy the Rapid Ramen Cooker in supermarkets, drugstores and other places. A two-pack sells for $10 on bedbathandbeyond.com and at most Bed Bath & Beyond stores; $11 on Amazon.com.
Mikey’s Muffins(Credit: Mikey's Muffins)
Manhasset native Michael Tierney graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and cooked in such exalted restaurants as The French Laundry in California and Eleven Madison Park before turning his attention to developing an English muffin that is grain-, gluten-, dairy- and soy-free. Mikey's Muffins are the result. Unlike a lot of special-diet foods, they are not full of processed ingredients: The original flavor contains only egg, almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt. (They are also available in toasted onion and cinnamon raisin.) The muffins are sold frozen. Each box contains four muffins and sells for about $7 at Wild by Nature and Fairway stores, Sherry's in Babylon, Rising Tide in Glen Cove and other natural foods markets. Go to mikeysmuffins.com for a complete list of retailers.
My latest cure for the traffic blues? Listening to "Evolutionaries," a podcast featuring fascinating conversations with such culinary luminaries as Tom Colicchio (restaurateur and "Top Chef" head judge), Mimi Sheraton (legendary restaurant critic), Michael Pollan (patron saint of locavores) and Harold McGee (culinary-science author). There are already 33 episodes to binge on, with new ones being added all the time. Subscribe to the podcasts with iTunes or Stitcher, or stream them at heritageradionetwork.org.
Frank & Maria’s Italian Pork Store extra-virgin olive oil(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
"Vino vecchio, olio nuovo" is an Italian adage that conveys the ancient truth that you want old wine, but new olive oil. You can't get much newer than the shipment that's just arrived at Frank & Maria's Italian Pork Store in Bay Shore. Owner Frank Salvaggio imports unfiltered, extra-virgin oil from Caltabellotta in Sicily, and this year's production is particularly fine -- mellow, fruity with a hint of sweetness and a green kick of a finish. It's $18.99 for 17 ounces at Frank & Maria's, 10 W. Main St., Bay Shore, 631-665-0047, frankandmarias.com.
Willie B's Bacon(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
Long Island-based barbecue champion Will Breakstone has long made meaty, not-too-sweet, not-too-salty, thick-cut bacon for his family, friends and catering customers. Now he's scaled up the operation and launched a website that allows perfect strangers to get their hands on it. The 1 1⁄4-pound packages are $15 plus shipping at williebsbbq.com. My foolproof, spatter-free method for cooking bacon: Lay strips close together on a low-sided baking sheet and cover bacon with a sheet of parchment paper. Place in a 350-degree oven (no need to preheat) for 20 to 40 minutes until bacon is done to your liking.
'My Kitchen in Rome'(Credit: Grand Central)
If I could crawl into a book and live there, you'd find me inside Rachel Roddy's new "My Kitchen in Rome: Recipes and Notes on Italian Cooking" (Grand Central, 2016). Roddy is a British expat who lives, photographs and blogs (at Rachel Eats) in Rome's Testaccio neighborhood. Roddy is a delightful writer, her approach to food both sensuous and sensible. The book, illustrated with beautiful pictures by the author and Nicholas Seaton, chronicles her adventures marketing, cooking and dining out, and manages to capture not only the singular, straightforward cuisine but also the soul of the Eternal City.
Whole Foods frozen salmon(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)
While you might not be wowed by the prices at the fresh fish counter at Whole Foods, its frozen section is offering a great buy for salmon lovers: farmed Atlantic and wild-caught sockeye included. Each pre-cut, portion-sealed two-pound bag full of fish is running $19.99. It's the kind of thing to stock up on and pull out for a midweek thaw and cook. The Atlantic was especially tender when roasted at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. -- MARJORIE ROBINS
'The Dorito Effect'(Credit: Simon & Schuster)
In his eye-opening book, "The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth about Food and Flavor" (Simon & Schuster, $27), Mark Schatzker takes the reader on a tour that includes chicken breeders, tomato farms, flavor researchers and snack-food makers. He synthesizes the seemingly disparate information to make a compelling argument: At the same time that Big Agriculture is making our meat and produce blander (because it's easier, quicker and cheaper to raise bland food), Big Food is pumping it full of artificial flavors so that we don't notice. It's this brave new disconnect between flavor and nutrition, he writes, that is driving the current epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
Flahavan's Irish steel cut oatmeal(Credit: Flahavan’s)
Flahavan's has been milling Irish oats on the banks of River Mahon in County Waterford for more than 200 years, and the oatmeal is starting to make inroads in the United States. We found the steel-cut oats creamy without being gluey, with a robust, oaty flavor. These are not quick-cooking oats, so here's the method we used: The night before you plan to serve, cover the oats with about three times as much water in a large saucepan (the oats need a lot of headroom or they'll bubble over onto your stovetop). Add a big pinch of salt, bring to a boil, then shut off the heat and cover the pan on the stove. The next morning, give the oats a good stir and simmer for a few minutes until done to your liking, adding more water if they are too thick, boiling off excess moisture if they are too thin. The attractive 28-ounce tin sells for about $8.50 at Best Markets, The Fresh Market (Woodbury), Kings (Garden City) and some ShopRites. Flahavan's is pronounced "FLAH-vins."
Trader Joe’s extra-virgin Laconia Greek olive oil(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
I'm a sucker for a pretty tin, but the contents of Trader Joe's new extra-virgin Laconia Greek olive oil, made from hand-picked Athinolia and Koroneiki olives, is every bit as impressive as the striking black-and-yellow package. Laconia, the region of the Peloponnese peninsula that includes ancient Sparta, is known for its olive oil, and this unfiltered elixir -- from the most recent olive harvest in the fall of 2015 -- is mildly fruity and mellow. The 1.5-liter (51-ounce) tin is $9.99, and supplies won't last much more than a month. At Trader Joe's in Lake Grove, Commack, Plainview, Garden City, Merrick, Oceanside and Hewlett.
HungerPass is a new Web-based dining club that matches diners looking for discounts with restaurants looking for diners. Log on to the site, enter where and / or what type of cuisine you'd like to eat, and you'll see which local restaurants are offering deals -- which must be at least 10 percent off the entire bill, drinks included. A restaurant might offer a discount for lunch, for an early dinner, or all day and night. Membership is $5 for one month, or $12 for a year. Currently, there are about 50 Long Island restaurants participating, including 388 Restaurant in Roslyn Heights, Spice Village Grill in Huntington and Mia's in Valley Stream. For more information or to sign up, go to hungerpass.com.
'You Have it Made'(Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Ellie Krieger is one of the most sensible sources of nutritional advice, and her cookbooks never sacrifice flavor for healthfulness. In her newest volume, "You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30), Krieger addresses the busy cook with workable strategies for making meals ahead of time. Each recipe includes instructions for refrigerating and/or freezing as well as storing and reheating. Recipes include pumpkin spice overnight oats, herbed salmon salad, creamy tomato soup, chicken enchilada pie and smoky smothered pork chops.
Stollen from Kenyer Bakery(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
Ken Mangan, owner of Kenyer Bakery in Bohemia, had heard all the complaints about stollen, the traditional German powdered-sugar-doused fruit bread: that it's too dry, that it's little more than a vehicle for the dreaded candied fruit. So he came up with a better stollen, one whose candied citrus peels have been swapped out for raisins, cranberries and walnuts. The crumb is moist, and to make it even moister, there are pockets of nut-apricot paste baked right in. "Slice the bread," Mangan instructed, "then spread the nut paste over each slice." The 1-pound, 12-ounce loaves sell for about $10 at Stop & Shop, most IGA supermarkets and Claws Seafood Market in West Sayville.
Prepara’s Roasting Laurel(Credit: Prepara)
Prepara's Roasting Laurel is a winning silicone alternative to a metal roasting rack. The 2-foot-long "branch" elevates food more than an inch above the surface of the pan and is bendable to support any size roast or bird or to cradle smaller foods (such as stuffed peppers) that you would like to keep upright. It's heat resistant to 500 degrees and dishwasher safe. It costs about $20 at Sur la Table stores, surlatable.com, prepara.com and amazon.com.
Urban Accents Turkey Brine and Rub Kit(Credit: Urban Accents)
For those who subscribe to the "must-brine'' school of turkey roasting, you can make your life easier with a brining bag or kit, available at many markets across Long Island. This Urban Accents Gourmet Gobbler Complete Turkey Brine and Rub Kit includes a BPA-free brining bag, spiced brine blend and a smoky peppercorn and herb rub. It's an anxiety-free way to get your bird tender for the table. $11.99 at Grace's Marketplace in Greenvale; $15.99 at Kitchen Kabaret in Roslyn Heights.
Serious Chocolate's Santa Boot(Credit: Serious Chocolate )
Patrice Lantier's Bay Shore chocolate shop, Serious Chocolate, closed this summer, but has reopened in Bohemia. Lantier has partnered with Papa's Country Porch, and now the homey bakery is selling her wares alongside its pies, cookies and cakes. For the holidays, Lantier has crafted lots of Serious Chocolates, including this Santa boot, which stands a little more than 4 inches tall. Available in milk or dark chocolate for $5.95 at Papa's Country Porch, 1611 Smithtown Ave., Bohemia, 631-419-6580 and online at serious-chocolate.com.
Treeline Cheese(Credit: Treeline Cheese)
If you've given up cheese for medical or ethical reasons, your ship has come in. Treeline Cheese is a dairy-free cheese made from cashew nuts that contains no lactose, no soy, no palm oil. Treeline, based in Kingston, New York, makes a milk from Brazilian cashews, then ferments it in a process reminiscent of that used for dairy cheese. Spreadable soft cheese (6 ounces, $7 to $8) come in four varieties: scallion, chipotle-serrano pepper, green peppercorn and herb-garlic. The harder aged Treeline (4 ounces, $7.50 to $9) is available in classic and cracked pepper. KOF-K kosher supervision. Available at Wild By Nature, Whole Foods, Rising Tide in Glen Cove and other natural food stores.
Kalettes(Credit: Trader Joe's)
It's not every day you come across a new vegetable. Kalettes aren't just new to me, they are new to the world. The cross between kale and Brussels sprouts was developed by Tozer Seeds, a British vegetable breeding company. In an effort to re-energize Brussels sprouts sales, Tozer started working on the hybrid 15 years ago -- long before sprouts came back into fashion and kale became the "it" vegetable. (Note: The hybrid was achieved using traditional crossbreeding; no genetic modification required.) Kalettes are little leafy heads that grow on a thick stem like Brussels sprouts do. But the heads themselves, loose and composed of frilly, green-purple leaves, resemble kale. The taste is milder than most kale and, unlike Brussels sprouts, they don't have to be blanched or halved or sliced before being roasted or sauteed. I tossed the Kalettes into a pan with some olive oil and garlic and sauteed them for five minutes. The leaves deepened in color but lost very little volume -- unlike, say, spinach or chard, which sautee down to practically nothing. Both taste and texture were very satisfying; I think this vegetable has legs. Trader Joe's is selling Kalettes as "Kale Sprouts." An 8-ounce bag costs $3.49 and is available at all Long Island locations.
'Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done'(Credit: America’s Test Kitchen)
One of my favorite parts of Cook's Illustrated magazine is the "Quick Tips" feature in the front of every issue. Now the editors have compiled more than 1,000 of them into a compact book, "Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done" (America's Test Kitchen, $19.95). The book's chapters tackle organization, prep, storage, reheating, entertaining, cleaning, substitution and more and each hack is accompanied by one or more of the magazine's distinctive black-and-white drawings. Now you, too, can use a toothbrush to remove silk from ears of corn, slice olives in an egg slicer, whip cream in a Mason jar.
Dirty Chai(Credit: Celestial Seasonings)
What do you get if you mix espresso with chai tea? Dirty Chai, one of the new barista-style line of teas from Celestial Seasonings that includes ready-to-drink lattes, tea bags and concentrates. While masala chai spices dominate, there are espresso hints at the end. A 91/2-ounce bottle of latte is $2.99; a 20-bag box of tea is $4.99. -- Chicago Tribune
Pumpkin 'simmer sauces'(Credit: Williams-Sonoma)
Pumpkin is the taste of fall, and Williams-Sonoma has introduced three globally inspired, pumpkin-based "simmer sauces." Pumpkin Tagine, made with pumpkin, tomatoes, red peppers and North African spices, is a shortcut to producing the signature Moroccan stew. Indian Pumpkin Curry comprises pumpkin, tomato, caramelized onions, serrano chilies, coconut milk and sweet garam masala spices. Pumpkin Mole, a Mexican classic, combines pumpkin with pepitas, cocoa, guajillo chilies and spices. Each 15 1/2-ounce jar comes with recipes. Available at Williams-Sonoma stores at Walt Whitman and Roosevelt Field malls, and at williamssonoma.com.
Gluten free rosemary & thyme focaccia(Credit: Canyon Bakehouse)
Loaves of bread and bagels are pretty common in the gluten-free arena. Focaccia? Not so much -- unless you try Canyon Bakehouse's Gluten Free Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia. Brown rice and tapioca flours form the base; thyme, rosemary, black pepper and salt, the seasonings. It warms up nicely for dipping in olive oil or sauce. Sliced, it does a fine job with sandwich fixings. A 1-pound loaf is $6.49 at Target and Whole Foods and other local grocery and health-food markets. For more information go to canyonglutenfree.com.
'The Food Lab'
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is more than qualified to write about the hows and whys of cooking. An MIT graduate and former restaurant cook, he uses both the scientific method and serious cooking chops to question all received culinary wisdom on his quest to create the best recipes. "The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science" (W.W. Norton & Company, $49.95) is based on Lopez-Alt's popular blog of the same name at the food website Serious Eats. At more than 900 pages (and more than six pounds), the book reveals the secrets to making potatoes crisp, biscuits flaky, macaroni and cheese gooey and turkey moist -- among hundreds of other recipes. For the serious food nerd.
Feel Good Foods gluten-free Asian dishes(Credit: Feel Good Foods)
Asian food lovers who are following a gluten-free diet have had their work cut out for them finding dumplings and egg rolls. Feel Good Foods is a new line of Asian frozen foods whose every item is gluten-free and dairy-free. The line includes three types of dumpling (chicken, pork and vegetable) and three egg rolls (chicken, shrimp and vegetable). The dumplings can be microwave-steamed or pan-fried; the egg rolls must be baked. Packages of 12 dumplings or three egg rolls are $6.99 at Whole Foods and Fairway.
'The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen'(Credit: Sterling Epicure)
California food writer Amelia Saltsman had an aha moment inspired by a tzimmes (sweet vegetable stew) recipe that aired on a local cooking show and quickly went viral. "It dawned on me that many cooks are seeking the kind of Jewish cooking I do," she wrote, "modern, seasonal, ingredient-driven, lighter and brighter... and reflective of the many flavors of the Jewish Diaspora." The result of this epiphany is "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition" (Sterling Epicure, $29.95), a cookbook that highlights the profound connection of Jewish traditions to the year's agricultural cycles. With stunning photography by Staci Valentine.
Grady's Cold Brew(Credit: Grady's Cold Brew)
The hottest thing in coffee is cold brew, a method in which ground coffee is mixed with cold water and left to steep. The resultant concentrate, smoother and less bitter than hot brew, can be drunk straight over ice, or cut with boiling water for a fresh cup. I've tried a number of cold-brew methods and Grady's "bean bag" is the easiest I've found: The bag (think huge, square tea bag filled with coffee) is dropped into a pitcher of water and left overnight. Brooklyn-based Grady's started selling bottled cold brew in 2011, and I could not tell the difference between it and the cold brew I made with the new bean bags. Available at Whole Foods, Fresh Direct and online at gradyscoldbrew.com. Each can ($12) contains four bags and makes 10 cups of concentrate.
Hal & Steve's Ice Cream(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
Plenty of places on Long Island make their own ice cream, but only one makes it from Long Island milk. Hal & Steve's Ice Cream is a collaboration between Aquebogue dairy farmer Hal Goodale and chocolatier Steven Amaral. The ice cream is made on Goodale's farm and sold at Amaral's North Fork Chocolate Company. And the local cred doesn't stop there. Fruit flavors (strawberry and strawberry-buttermilk ice creams, blueberry-ginger sorbet) are made with local produce; espresso ice cream is made with coffee beans from Aldo's in Greenport. From farther afield: French vanilla and Belgian chocolate. Scoops are $3.95 to $7.25; handpacked pints are $9.95, and tasting "flights" also are available. North Fork Chocolate Company is at 740 Main Rd., Aquebogue, 631-599-4944, northforkchocolate.com.
Brooklyn Hot Dog Co. hot dogs(Credit: The Brooklyn Hot Dog Co.)
Center Moriches-raised Tony Fragogiannis and Port Jefferson's Justin Neiser are the driving forces behind the Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Hot Dog Co. The dogs contain no nitrates or fillers and are stuffed into natural (sheep) casings that lend them a great snap. The dogs are long (about 8 inches) and lean -- really, they have about a third of the fat in a Nathan's frank. The five varieties are classic beef, beef and pork, gyro (beef and pork with Mediterranean seasonings), pepperoni (beef and pork) and Buffalo chicken (chicken and pork with a kick). Packages of six sell for about $10 at Christina's Epicure in East Norwich, Justin's Chop Shop in Westhampton, freshdirect.com and all Southdown Marketplaces, North Shore Farms and Iavarones. For more information and retailers, go to brooklynhotdogcompany.com.
Tubbies(Credit: Zak! Designs)
Give your ice cream a fighting chance against the heat with this insulated container from Zak! Designs. Each "Tubbie" accommodates a one-pint container of ice cream (or a larger quantity of hand-packed ice cream) and will keep it cold for hours. Perfect for picnics, or for leaving the ice cream out on the dining room table while guests help themselves. ($14.99 at JCPenney)