Good buys for foodies
What's new, what's in season and more, from Erica Marcus.
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.
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 Company hot dogs(Credit: The Brooklyn Hot Dog Company)
Center Moriches-raised Tony Fragogiannis and Port Jefferson's Justin Neiser are the driving forces behind the Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Hot Dog Company. 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)
Tate's Bake Shop Oranges & Cream cookies(Credit: Tate's Bake Shop )
Imagine a Creamsicle deciding it wants to be a cookie. That gives you an idea of the new, summertime star from Tate's Bake Shop, the dependable Southampton bakery. The latest addition to the repertoire is fittingly called Oranges & Cream. An 8-ounce bag (about 14 cookies) of the "Limited Edition Summer 2015" cookies is $5.25. The cookies are available at the bakery (43 North Sea Rd., Southampton; 631-283-9830) and online at tatesbakeshop.com, where three 8-ounce bags cost $19.99 plus shipping. -- Peter M. Gianotti
Chef's Story(Credit: International Culinary Center)
I've been grooving on the podcast series Chef's Story, a collection of hourlong interviews with restaurant chefs, conducted by Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder and CEO of the International Culinary Center cooking school in Manhattan. Hamilton asks penetrating questions of culinary superstars such as Jacques Pepin, Marcus Samuelsson, Wylie Dufresne, Lidia Bastianich, Thomas Keller, Bobby Flay and Barbara Lynch. New episodes air Wednesdays at noon on heritageradionetwork.org (search for Chef's Story), or download the podcast at iTunes, Podcast Addict or Podcast Republic.
Cooling grid and baking sheet(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
A rimmed baking sheet with a rack that fits neatly inside is invaluable for such kitchen tasks as seasoning burgers, drizzling pastries, resting hot foods from burgers to fried chicken, even roasting meats. The Wilton Advance nonstick cooling grid ($9.99) is the perfect companion to the oversized (15-by-21-inch) Wilton Baker's Best baking sheet ($14.99). Both are available at Bed Bath and Beyond.
ThermoWorks TX-1200(Credit: ThermoWorks)
Knowing the temperature of your grill is no less important than knowing the temperature of your oven, yet most grill thermometers fall woefully short of the mark. You want one that can rest on the grate and withstand the heat of the fire. The ThermoWorks TX-1200 is a simple-to-use digital probe whose cable can survive at 700 degrees. (You can also use it to take the temperature of food.) It's $34, and a stabilizing grate clip is $3. Available at thermoworks.com.
Arctic Zero(Credit: Arctic Zero)
There's nothing more satisfying than eating ice cream out of the carton, except, perhaps, finishing the whole thing. Which is not a problem with the Fit Frozen Desserts known as Arctic Zero. Each pint of the "creamy" flavors (such as chocolate-mint, chocolate-peanut butter, cappuccino) contains 150 calories; the new "chunky" versions (with add-ins such as cookie dough, graham crackers and pecans) weigh in at a still-lean 300. The desserts have a lactose-free whey-protein base and are sweetened with sugar and monk fruit. Available at Fairway, Whole Foods, Best Yet, Stop & Shop and other specialty stores and supermarkets. Prices range from $4 to $5.
‘New York in a Dozen Dishes’(Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Long before the first food blogs, Robert Sietsema was scouring every corner of New York City's five boroughs for delicious food. In 1989, he started publishing a newsletter called "Down the Hatch," and from 1993 to 2003 he was the restaurant reviewer for the Village Voice. Now a critic at eater.com, his "New York in a Dozen Dishes" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22) is part memoir, part cultural history and entirely fascinating. Learn more than you ever thought possible about such iconic New York foods as pizza, egg foo young, fried chicken, brisket and more.
Ralph & Charlie's juices
Ralph and Charlie's is a Brooklyn-based manufacturer whose juices pay tribute to that undersung vegetable, the carrot. Carrot-cranberry, mango-carrot and pineapple-carrot are among 10 orange-hued flavors. Not a fan of carrot beverages? Sunny yellow papaya-orange-pineapple, crimson ruby-red grapefruit-pomegranate and green-apple-kiwi-pineapple provide some chromatic variety. The chug-friendly 18-ounce wide-mouth bottle retails for about $1.75 at most locations of Associated, Best Market, Fairway, Pathmark, ShopRite, Uncle Giuseppe's, Waldbaum's and Whole Foods.
'A Girl and Her Greens'(Credit: Ecco)
Manhattan chef April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, The John Dory) preached the nose-to-tail gospel in her fine 2012 cookbook "A Girl and Her Pig." Now she's going the leaf-to-root route with "A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals From the Garden" written with J J Goode (Ecco, $34.99). The 80 recipes -- organized idiosyncratically into such chapters as "Put a spring in your step," "The humble potato," and "A little beast goes a long way" (strategic deployment of bacon) -- are gutsy, straightforward and entirely appealing.
Flavor Bombs(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
Port Washington resident Giovannina Bellino is the inventor of Flavor Bombs, a line of concentrated aromatic mixtures that provide a quick base for sauces, soups, stews or sautees. Each 2-ounce "bomb" contains extra-virgin olive oil with seasonings. The five flavors are mirepoix (onion, carrot and celery); soffritto (onion and garlic); basil with garlic, pignoli and cheese; sage with shallots and pecans; and rosemary with garlic, pignoli and lemon. Use the sage "bomb" in a turkey meatloaf; start your marinara sauce off with the soffritto "bomb." Flavor Bombs are $4.99 each and are sold in the frozen-food aisle at King Kullen supermarkets, Holiday Farms in Roslyn and Locust Valley Market. For more information, go to flavorbombs.net.
Campbell's Organic Soups(Credit: TNS / Abel Uribe)
Campbell's iconic red-and-white label got canned for the soupmaker's six new organic soups. They're packaged in green-accented recyclable cartons. Creamy Butternut Squash, Lentil, Garden Vegetable with Herbs and Sun-Ripened Tomato and Basil (all vegetarian/gluten free) plus Chicken Tortilla (gluten free) and Chicken Noodle. They're heat and eat (no water needed). We liked the slightly-sweet-spiced lentil. Well-flavored broth and nice-size meat chunks were a chicken noodle plus. A 17-ounce carton: $3.29. At major supermarkets.
--The Chicago Tribune
Petite cookies from Carla Hall(Credit: Carla Hall)
Carla Hall, co-host of ABC's "The Chew" (and one of the all-time favorite contestants on "Top Chef") has introduced a line of baked goods. We particularly liked the "petite cookies," bite-sized morsels of almond-ginger-cherry shortbread, Black Forest crinkle, chocolate-hazelnut praline, lemon-black-pepper shortbread, Mexican chocolate chip, oatmeal-cranberry-white-chocolate and pecan shortbread with vanilla salt. Clear plastic 6-ounce canisters are $6.50 to $8.50 at Fairway Markets in Plainview, Westbury and Lake Grove and online at carlahall.com. Exclusive to the website are gift-box samplers, large (six 3-ounce canisters) for $25, and small (three 3-ounce canisters) for $12.50.
European butter dish(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
European and European-style butters have been gaining ground in U.S. markets. Because the cream is cultured before it's churned, these butters have a richer taste and a higher fat content (usually 83 to 86 percent butterfat, compared with 81 to 83 percent for most American butters). I'm partial to Kerrygold from Ireland and Plugrá, made here in the French style (plus gras means "more fat"). These 8-ounce blocks don't fit into the standard American butter dish, so I was inspired to buy this European-size butter dish at Target. The sturdy, glass-covered dish is $7.99 and fits easily into my refrigerator's butter compartment.
'Clodagh's Irish Kitchen'(Credit: Kyle Books)
In her new book, "Clodagh's Irish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Traditional Flavors" (Kyle Books, $29.95), Dublin restaurateur Clodagh McKenna attributes the Irish culinary renaissance to an infusion of new "inspirational ideas" from "Irish people that have lived abroad (including myself)" as well as to the recent recession, which has led Irish people to "become more aware of the importance of supporting local farms, fisherman and food producers." In this beautifully photographed volume, the 150 recipes range from "Irish soul food" (such as lamb stew with pearl barley), to modern interpretations (lobster with dill gnocchi, sea beans and brown butter), to items that don't seem terribly Irish at all (breakfast tortilla with potatoes, tomatoes, sausage and bacon) but sound delicious all the same. McKenna is best known in the United States as the host of "Clodagh's Irish Food Trails," which has aired on PBS and CreateTV.
Dave's Killer Bread(Credit: Dave's Killer Breads)
A West Coast favorite, Dave's Killer Bread is making its way eastward. The Portland-based bakery specializes in organic, multigrain breads that are aggressively seeded -- covered on all six sides and shot through with ¼ cup of flax, sunflower, poppy and pumpkin seeds -- and filled with almost every grain you've heard of: whole wheat, oats, millet, rye, amaranth, buckwheat, spelt, corn, kaumut and/or quinoa, depending on the bread. Fairway Markets (in Lake Grove, Westbury, Plainview) are now carrying five Killer loaves, 21 Whole Grains and Seeds, Good Seed and Blues Bread, Seeded Honey Wheat and 100% Whole Wheat. Each 27-ounce loaf is $5.99 and can be found in the open, refrigerated bread case.
'The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book'(Credit: Potter)
In "The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book" (Potter, $25), veteran cookbook authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough aim to bring that kitchen warhorse into the 21st century with recipes that blend old-fashioned ease with modern flavors. The book dispels any fear of explosions that prevent "Nervous Nellies" from cooking with pressure, then presents 500 recipes for every meal and ingredient. Since traditional stovetop models cook differently from the newfangled electric pressure cookers, each recipe gives instructions for both types of machines.
Ordigno(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
A little heat is always appreciated in the dead of winter, and this Calabrian condiment supplies plenty of it. Ordigno, Italian for "explosive device," is packaged to resemble a small, old-fashioned bomb. What causes the detonation in this melange of olive oil, eggplant, wild mushrooms, artichokes and tomatoes is a lavish dose of spicy red peperoni Calabrese. A 6.7-ounce jar is $9.99 at Iavarone Bros. in Woodbury, Wantagh and New Hyde Park.
Walkers Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies(Credit: Walkers Shortbread)
Walkers, the Hauppauge-based shortbread specialist, has introduced a line of gluten-free shortbread cookies that are slightly grittier than the originals, but very acceptable. Walkers has swapped out the wheat flour in favor of a blend made from rice and corn flours, potato starch and stabilizer, but other than that, the cookies are just butter, sugar and salt -- like the originals. The three flavors -- plain, ginger-lemon and chocolate chip, come in 4.9-ounce boxes (9 cookies) and cost $4.99. Available at most supermarkets and at us.walkersshortbread.com.
Fireworks chocolate bar(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
For Valentine's Day, Trader Joe's has introduced the Fireworks chocolate bar, made with dark chocolate, crunchy "popping candy" morsels and chipotle, pasilla and cayenne chilies. If it doesn't follow through on the stated intent to "ignite your senses," it is appealingly rich with just the right amount of spice. The 2.8-ounce Fireworks is $1.99 at Trader Joe's in Lake Grove, Commack, Plainview, Garden City, Merrick, Oceanside and Hewlett.
'1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die'(Credit: Workman)
Even if you have a reflexive distaste for books listing the 1,000 places you have to go or experiences you must have, make an exception for Mimi Sheraton's new "1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List" (Workman, $24.95). Sheraton, a former New York Times restaurant critic, has been dining, cooking and learning at a very high level for more than 40 years; all of that experience seemingly has gone into this engrossing compendium of restaurants and markets to visit, recipes to cook, ingredients to buy and much more.
OXO Good Grips egg beater(Credit: OXO Good Grips)
I suppose it was only a matter of time before the engineers at OXO Good Grips perfected the humble egg beater. This model has the company's signature ergonomic handle and a number of other features that improve on the original: the beaters' action is forceful but smooth and they eject easily for cleaning (in the dishwasher). And it's nice to know that in a power outage you can still whip cream. The OXO Good Grips egg beater is available at Bed Bath and Beyond, Kohl's, Sur La Table and online at oxo.com for $19.99.
La Florentine chocolate-covered torrone(Credit: Bruce Gilbert)
Nougat is best known in this country as the stuff in a Three Musketeers bar, but it gets a classier treatment in Italy, where it forms the basis of torrone. Whole Foods sells a prettily wrapped 5.3-ounce bar of La Florentine chocolate-covered torrone studded with hazelnuts, $8.99.
'A Good Food Day'(Credit: Potter)
I'm suspicious of health-themed cookbooks, since the authors tend to hail from the health camp rather than the cook camp. But I took notice when "A Good Food Day" (Potter, $30) crossed my desk because the author, Marco Canora, is chef at Manhattan's Hearth restaurant. "Healthy" to Canora means whole, unprocessed foods, lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, whole-milk dairy, grass-fed meats, wild fish and, given his Tuscan ancestry, plenty of olive oil. The 125 recipes here are not chef-y in the least, and include shaved asparagus, avocado and quinoa salad, brown rice risotto with mushrooms, cabbage and thyme, ginger-scallion turkey burgers and olive oil cake.
The Rosengarten Report(Credit: TLAstudio.com / Troy L. Amber)
An award-winning cookbook author and restaurant critic, David Rosengarten is best known for the pioneering Food Network show "Taste," which he hosted from 1994 to 2000. From 2001 to 2010, he published a newsletter, The Rosengarten Report, and now it's back. Each issue features reviews of foods, wines and restaurants, plus articles on culinary destinations and trends. The inaugural issue covers (in depth) the best Italian importers in the United States, the 10 best meals Rosengarten ate in 2014, his picks for the best Champagnes, an exposition on vindaloo, an essay on "The Rupture of Foodie-ism and How to Heal It" and instructions for cooking prime rib. The report is published quarterly in digital and print editions. Subscriptions are $60 for both and $45 for digital only. Get it at drosengarten.com.
'The Big Fat Surprise'(Credit: amazon.com)
In "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" (Simon and Schuster, $27.99), journalist Nina Teicholz builds on Gary Taubes' work, making a convincing case that red meat and saturated fats are not responsible for America's health woes.
"When the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet was first officially recommended to the public by the American Heart Association (AHA) in 1961, roughly one in seven adult Americans was obese," she writes. "Forty years later, that number was one in three. During these decades ... heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women." Teicholz explains how flawed science was adopted and promoted by the nation's nutrition establishment, and who benefited from the new guidelines.
OXO Good Grips Poultry Lifter(Credit: OXO Good Grips)
More than one Thanksgiving turkey has been damaged on the trip from roasting pan to serving platter. The OXO Good Grips Poultry Lifter is designed to ease this journey. A nonslip handle is attached to a big curved hook ending in two small prongs that secure the bird from within, without puncturing the meat. Made of stainless steel, it will lift birds weighing up to 24 pounds. Available for about $10 at Bed Bath and Beyond, Sur La Table, their websites and at oxo.com.
The Crab Place crabcakes(Credit: The Crab Place)
The city of Crisfield, on the eastern shore of Maryland, is at the center of the Chesapeake Bay's crab industry. The Crab Place, founded there in 1997, produces cakes that are 88 percent jumbo lump crabmeat from Maryland crabs. They have almost no breading. They are available in sizes from 2-ounce balls to 8-ounce jumbos and can be broiled, grilled, pan-seared or deep fried. A dozen 6-ounce crabcakes is $99.99. Next-day FedEx ground shipping adds $19.99. Go to crabplace.com or call 877-328-2722 for more information or to order.
'Eat More Better'(Credit: Simon and Schuster)
"The unexamined sandwich is not worth eating," writes Dan Pashman, author of the faux-gastronomic textbook "Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious" (Simon and Schuster, $24.99). In his Engineering chapter, you'll learn the relative merits of various types of sandwich bread. The Philosophy chapter includes exegeses of reincarnated bagels and resuscitated pizza. "Improving butter proportionality through muffin trifurcation" is explored in Mathematics. The book is hilarious and, if you're of a similarly obsessive ilk, pretty useful. Pashman also is the creator and host of the WNYC podcast The Sporkful (motto: "It's not for foodies, it's for eaters"), which can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store.
Veggetti spiral slicer(Credit: Veggetti)
Zucchini pasta -- that is, zucchini cut into thin ribbons resembling noodles -- is all the rage with the no-carb set, and Veggetti spiral slicer is a nifty little gadget that allows you to make it at home. The hourglass-shaped device is equipped with two sets of sharp little teeth, one for "spaghetti" and one for "fettuccine." Just twist your zucchini against the blades to make long, luxuriant ribbons. Then simmer or saute the ribbons, top with sauce, and pretend it's pasta. (Harder vegetables such as carrots and parsnips require more force to spiral-cut and don't come out quite so ribbonlike.) Available at Bed Bath and Beyond for $14.99 or online at amazon.com. For more information, go to buyveggetti.com.
'We Make Beer'(Credit: St. Martin's Press)
In the past 40 years, there has been an explosion of American microbreweries -- more than 3,000, according to Sean Lewis, author of "We Make Beer: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America's Craft Brewers" (St. Martin's Press, $24.99). In this engaging volume, the frequent contributor to BeerAdvocate Magazine traces the history of American craft beers through profiles of the breweries themselves, among them Boston's Samuel Adams, California's Sierra Nevada, Portland's Allagash, Nashville's Jackalope and Austin's Black Star Co-op.
Gluten-free gravy(Credit: McCormick’s)
Need gluten-free gravy this holiday season? McCormick's new Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix and Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy Mix should help. Both use cornstarch for thickening power and are easily prepared with water, on the stove or in the microwave. Each had its requisite beef or poultry flavor, though both were a bit salty for our taste. Packages suggest twists on the basic mixes; cooks may want to go beyond those with their own enhancements (fresh herbs, spices, sauteed onions or mushrooms, etc.). Suggested retail price: 99 cents for beef; $1.29 for turkey. At major supermarkets.
'How to cook Everything Fast'(Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" (1998) is as close to a culinary bible as any contemporary cookbook. His newest volume, "How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35) is destined for the same status. In it, Bittman provides 2,000 recipes written in an innovative format that embeds the prep within the flow of the recipe (i.e. prepare the sauce while the pasta water boils) to use time more efficiently. With scores of sidebars offering general advice on shopping, ingredients and cooking methods.
Joseph Joseph Twin-Cut Compact 2-in-1 Scissors(Credit: Joseph Joseph)
Even if drawer space is at a premium in your kitchen, you'll have room for the Joseph Joseph Twin-Cut Compact 2-in-1 Scissors ($13), a tool that functions both as shears and, by locking the spring-loaded pivot in place, as a box cutter. Use the shears to open plastic bags, trim parchment and snip herbs; use the box cutter to neatly penetrate cartons and boxes. Get more information, watch a video or order at josephjoseph.com. Also available at Bloomingdale's in Roosevelt Field and amazon.com.
Trader Joe's Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
Trader Joe's Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil is just the thing for autumnal salads. It has a surprisingly dark color and a rich, mellow flavor that indeed tastes like pumpkin seeds. I use it -- and a little sherry vinegar -- to dress a salad of Boston lettuce, roasted beets, goat cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds. An 8.45-ounce can is $9.99 at Trader Joe's in Lake Grove, Commack, Plainview, Merrick, Oceanside and Hewlett.
Fairway High Road Craft Ice Cream(Credit: High Road Craft Ice Cream / Kelvin De la Cruz)
Sayville native Keith Schroeder has been producing High Road Craft Ice Cream since 2010, and since then the Atlanta-based company has been collecting accolades from all over the country. Now Schroeder has teamed up with Fairway Market to launch four flavors, using Fairway's own artisanal products: Fairway to Heaven Coffee, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Fig & Saba (with Calabrian figs in a grape syrup) and Fruitti di Bosco Stracciatella (berries and chocolate chips). Four of High Road's signature flavors — Pistachio Honey Ricotta, Vanilla Fleur de Sel, Bourbon Burned Sugar and Brown Butter Praline — also are available. Pints are $5.99 at Fairway Markets in Plainview and Westbury.
Grandpa Witmer's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Mixer(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)
The main drawback of natural peanut butter — made with only peanuts and salt — is that, without stabilizers, the oil separates and floats to the top. Storing the peanut butter upside down or in the refrigerator are two ways to deal with the problem. Here's an ingenious third way: Grandpa Witmer's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Mixer. This simple contraption consists of a curved metal stirring rod embedded in a screw cap that replaces the peanut butter jar's original one. Of the eight models, 100 is the most popular, fitting a 16-ounce jar of Smucker's; model 300 fits most Trader Joe's nut butters. You can order directly from witmerproducts.com and pay $9.95 plus $5.95 shipping and handling, or order from amazon.com, where, depending on the seller, it may cost more but may qualify for free shipping.
'Olives, Lemons & Za'atar'(Credit: Kyle Books)
In "Olives, Lemons & Za'atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking" (Kyle Books, $29.95), Rawia Bishara shares her refined, cosmopolitan recipes for specialties such as fattoush salad, chicken fetti (layered with bread), okra stew with lamb and pomegranate molasses and the exquisite cheese-filled pastry knafeh, as well as her recollections of growing up in Nazareth, Israel. To taste her food, you can go to Bishara's restaurant, Tanoreen, in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.