Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bodum Fires Up the Grill with the FYRKAT

Just in time for grilling season, Bodum has introduced the FYRKAT (pronounced "Fire Cat") Charcoal Picnic Grill. I have long been a fan of Bodum's coffee and tea accessories including their kettles, french presses and tea pots. While viewing the line at this year's International Housewares Show, I was impressed by the lines and colors of the line and the ease-of-use this portable grill provides. With a 13.4" diameter it is the perfect size to grill whole fish, steaks, sausages, burgers and veggies. The grill is made from enamel-coated steel with chrome-plated steel legs and a heat-resistant silicone handles. Bodum has become well-known for their bright color palette and signature dotted silicone accents which will blend well with any color palette and motif adding just the right spark of color to become a great grilling vessel and a conversation starter. The grill retails for US $49.95 and will come in a variety of colors including green, orange, blue, yellow, white and black. Additional FYRKAT grill tools including tongs, grill fork, basting brush and grill brush can be purchased in the same color series or in complementary colors for a fresh look to your outdoor festivities. For more information please e-mail

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Le Creuset Stoneware Line Expanded

Last September, I ran a story which highlighted the Le Creuset Honeypot with dipper. I have long been a fan of the Le Creuset line of stoneware pieces which now include a full line of fruits and vegetables like the garlic-shaped stoneware piece, which I use as a storage vessel for one of my most frequently used items. I found the honeypot to be quite remarkable with its beautiful honeybee impression and the dipper which could conveniently be stored in the pot and would be a great gift for a person who enjoys adding honey to teas or recipes. Le Creuset has expanded its collection of stoneware accesories this year to include a more complete line of pieces that are both practical and reasonably priced. What is most impressive about this line is the fact that many of the new pieces also include a coordinating utensil whether it be the small spatula spoon for the mustard jar, a silicone brush for the barbecue sauce jar or a small fork for the olive jar. While these vessels are a perfect compliment to owners of Le Creuset lines in their signature vibrant colors, the pieces can fit quite nicely into most dining and entertainment setting providing wonderful pops of color and giving the host or hostess pieces which make it easy for guests to identify their contents. The barbecue sauce jar which hit stores this month just in time for grilling season in a rich cherry color, includes an impression of a pig and holds 16 ounces of sauce and the silicone basting brush. The piece retails for US $25. Also available this month is a syrup jar with a maple leaf impression (not pictured) also in the cherry color which holds 8 ounces of syrup retailing for US $10. Additional pieces at the US $25 price point premiering in June include the mustard jar in a beautiful Dijon color which compliments the line of muted yellow introduced in Williams-Sonoma stores roughly two years ago, the olive jar which features an impression of an olive branch on the inset in a beautiful green color that will coordinate well with black or green olives and the berry jam jars (not pictured) in cherry red. These pieces are wonderful for entertaining and are may signal Le Crueset's intention to expand the line to include pieces designed for other condiments including ketchup, steak sauce, relish, salsa, chutneys and other toppings. For more information please e-mail us at

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Quest for Perfect Tea Begins with PerfecTea

As the tea industry positions itself for substantial growth, tea aficionados are fortunate to have a wonderful assortment of implements on the market that enhance the tea drinking experience. For those of us who have expanded our tea knowledge and enjoy the benefits of many different types of teas whether they be black, green, red, white or herbal--maximizing tea flavors through optimum brewing temperatures is a goal not often attainable through the use of traditional stovetop kettles. Those kettles heat water just fine, but they very rarely provide temperature information beyond the boiling post which is perfectly suitable for black teas, but less so for other types of tea. The science of brewing tea through the pairing of tea type with a compatible water temperature is behind the Capresso PerfecTea, a beautiful addition to the growing line of variable temperature kettles on the market. While other models have simply served to create a functional apparatus, Capresso has infused thoughtful artistic touches and fine tuning that result in a distinctive kettle that stands above the competition. It is difficult to ignore the sheer elegance of The PerfecTea with its durable and scratch-resistant safety glass and a beautifully designed carafe that incorporates curvature and gentle sloping to create a piece that you will want to display on your countertop. The curved polypropylene handle is comfortable to hold and slip free and keeps cool when pouring. Even when the water is boiled, you do not feel heat emanating from the kettle along the handle. The clear carafe serves as a showcase for the water within, which is heated around a stainless steel dome that houses the heating element. The kettle holds up to 48 ounces of water which will easily serve up to six cups of tea, and is a quick and easy way to heat water for other foods and beverages including french press coffee, hot chocolates and instant soups. The kettle does include a whistle or bell to indicate the end of a heating cycle, so users should not stray from the kettle. Most notably, once the water has been heated through the power base, the kettle can be removed, which gives it a cordless feature absent on many other models. Pouring with the interference of a cord is a highlight of the unit while returning the kettle to the base is a snap. The lid is shiny and compliments the design of the kettle, but compared to the other components is a bit flimsy and lightweight (my only qualm)--however the lid can be easily set into an upright position which helps with drying the kettle after the disposal of water with each use. The base not only serves to heat the kettle with a knob that is easy to turn and control, and a touch button feature that provide a beautiful light blue LCD backlit illumination when pressed, it also houses a slide out guide which provides an easy reference for optimum temperatures which are found in Fahrenheit intervals of 100, 160, 175 and 195 degrees and Boil. After the desired temperature is reached, the unit automatically shuts off. In addition, dry boil protection serves as an added safety feature which prevents the kettle from being used when there is no water inside of it. Capresso has done a fine job of incorporating beautiful design with modern safety features, and created a practical, versatile and affordable variable temperature kettle in the PerfecTea. Questions or Comments? E-mail us at

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nespresso Presents Limited Edition Paris and New York CitiZdots

Nespresso has taken inspiration from two of the most iconic cities in the world--New York City and Paris--to develop a limited edition collection of automatic espresso machines. Fresh off of the heels of a highly successful launch last year of the CitiZ and CitiZ with milk lines, the CitiZdots machines take cues from contemporary art to create a graphic interpretation that is sure to be a conversation starter in any home. Taking cues from a recent trend in housewares to appeal to the urban sophisticate who appreciates both form and function, the ultra slim machines fit well into smaller kitchens-- reducing the amount of counterspace used--while incorporating dazzling artwork into the living and dining space. The CitiZdots line pays homage to the architectural treasures and the urban feel of both Paris and New York as seen through the eyes of the Collectif T.O.T., a venture created in 2001 by graphic designers Sylvia and Lo Toth. The inspiration for the Paris-themed machine blends the city's unique place at the crux of the worlds of art, architecture and literature with images of the Eiffel Tower adorning the machine along with a sign for Saint-Germain in bleu, blanc and noir. The New York-themed machine by contrast blends two of the most recognizable icons of New York City life, the yellow taxi cab and the skyscraper which at one glance transports you to a "Gotham City-like" world of yellow and black. The machines use the Nespresso Grand Crus and includes an automatic standy mode that reduces energy consumption. Premiering this spring, the machines will retail for US $299 and will be available at select fine retailers and at the Nespresso Boutiques in New York, Boston, Miami and Montreal. The Nespresso Boutique-in-Shop locations including Bloomingdale's in Soho, Chevy Chase, Md., San Francisco, Costa Mesa, Calif. and Chicago as well as the Bay in Toronto and Vancouver will also carry the machines. In addition, machines may also be purchased through The Nespresso Club at or by calling 1.800.562.1465. For more information, please e-mail

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Storage Solutions - CoverMates

It is a truly rare find to visit a household that does not have a dedicated drawer for food storage products like wraps, bags and coverings. I have always found humor in the overdramatic scenes frequently portrayed in television commercials, but I have to admit that leaks, spoilage and decimation of my food has led to great moments of disappointment, anger and frustration. I am always on the lookout for great products that will help me to optimize my storage options, but old habits die hard. The first step for me was to break away from what I had been accustomed to using. I eventually had to admit that I have little dexterity with plastic wraps or foils. I finally realized that some people are especially gifted at wrapping food like others are at wrapping gifts. My trials led me to wonder if there was a class somewhere I should take on food wrapping techniques? I needed capsules on how to avoid pitfalls like seeing your plastic bunching up before you can tear it off, the asymetrical tear, or the punched look when the serrated blade penetrates but does not quite tear off the roll, or the worst mishap of all, dropping the entire roll from the box and then trying to straighten the plastic wrap for the next use. I eventually abandoned plastic for foil, but found little success there either. Foil appears so pretty and shiny on the first go round, but can often be diffcult to seal tightly. After one use it reveals its limited use--let's face it--no one really wants to use recycled foil. I eventually moved on and invested quite a few dollars into plastic storage container sets only to eventually lose lids because I could not quite figure out the best place to store them. I also found it difficult and sometimes impossible to get the lids to stay in place, and generally I found that many of the containers were too bulky for my needs. The makers of CoverMates apparently had me in mind when they developed their system. I never knew that what I was really in need of were stretch-to-fit covers that I could use on all of my lidless plastic storage containers just as easily as I would my dinnerware. The first thing CoverMates did right was to create a size system of small, medium, large and extra large--a perfect compliment to the way that many of us shop for clothing. We don't expect perfection when we buy these sizes, but we know the range of things they will fit. The food covers work in the freezer and the refrigerator, and are designed for both cooling and freezing. CoverMates are also compatible with microwaves and great for reheating, defrosting and steaming foods. The designers were very thoughtful and integrated corner vents to allow steam to escape during the microwaving process, built-in the flexbands which stretch to fit round and square containers because the covers accomodate corners. The heat-sealed edge allows the covers to be reusable because water cannot penetrate the seal. One will also find the heft of the covers to be a wonderful weight, not too heavy and not too light. Notably, they are clear covers which allow you to see your foods and to take the mystery out of guessing through cloudy lids or distorted covers. Finally, CoverMates are in line with many green aspects consumers like me are looking for, they are reusable and easy to clean (you can actually place them in the dishwasher). As an added plus, the covers are made with FDA-compliant food-grade polyethylene film and a biodegradable latex-free rubber band, and they are free of both BPA and PVC. The company is offering an internet special for ordering a sample set of CoverMates and a coupon.

What are some of your food storage concerns? Please e-mail

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cook Like Jackie Q&A - Reasonbaly Priced Yet Fabulous Knives

Cook Like Jackie loves to receive reader questions! Although we typically respond directly to our correspondence, we do post responses from time-to-time. Thanks to one of our Chicago-based readers for the following question:

Dear Jackie,
I'd love to tap your culinary wisdom for a minute. I'm on the hunt for some new cooking knives and wanted to get your input. I'm looking for something reasonably priced, but fabulous. Will you let me know if you have any favorites/good suggestions?

Thanks for the question!! I would suggest the Wusthof Gourmet 14-piece set. I bought them last year and the set was just under $200 and included the knife block and a set of six steak knives. Wusthof has been in the cutlery business for nearly 200 years, and forges each knife from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel with the help of sophisticated lasers which offer optimal precision. You will find that the knives are very durable and it is easy to work with them. Their classic yet simple styling means that they can go from kitchen to dinner table with ease.

The Wusthof Gourmet set starts you off with everything you will need including straight and serrated paring knives, a utility knife, a santoku, a bread knife as well a sharpening steel and a pair of cooking shears. The knives in this brand are typically quite expensive, but this set is a great way to introduce yourself to this great line for a great price. As your budget and needs change, you can always upgrade to a different style down the road including their classic, classic ikon or culinar series which typically are in the US $400 to US $1500 for block sets depending on the retailer and sale prices. Sur La Table is currently holding their annual cutlery event featuring special values including free shipping for all knife purchases over $49 and free sharpening of two knives. The banner link on our blog will send you directly to their website.

More questions? E-mail

Monday, April 5, 2010

New and Notable - Revol Showcases a Clean Slate With The New BASALT Line

Designing your dining space with slate can bring a sophisticated, modern touch which adds depth and texture to your tabletop. Last year, I experimented with slate by incorporating coasters, plates and bowls into my primary dining table setting. I quickly discovered that this material typically found gracing the roofs of some of the world's finest homes, can also be a fine compliment to a design scheme which includes multi-tonal greys and touches of metallic silver. Although I love the slate pieces, they are primarily decorative, so I was delighted to learned that Revol, the French company which already boasts over 200 years of heritage, and many fine products including a stunning line of white porcelain bakeware and dinnerware was introducing a line of slate products. However, I learned that the BASALT line is a masterful creation that is actually pigmented culinary-grade porcelain and not the metamorphic rock I have grown to love despite its limitations. The BASALT line provides the look of slate while providing the benefits of porcelain which results in greater versatility with respect to cooking, cleaning, durability and usage. Unlike natural slate, which is prone to chipping and scratching without undue care, one will find that the BASALT line is a slate lover's dream providing pieces that can serve you throughout an entire meal, from hors d'oeuvres to main dishes to desserts. Each piece is oven safe (up to 572 degrees), microwavable, freezer and dishwasher-safe, and the non-porous surface is hygenic and safe for foods. The most impressive aspects of the line lie in the design details because each piece captures all of the nuances of slate's texture and the waves of natural beauty that comes from these rock formations, a hallmark of their unmistakable beauty. Revol took their designs one step further by producing pieces that are slightly concaved to encourage meat juices and other liquids to collect at the center of the plate rather than running off and spreading across the surface which produces a clean presentation canvas that will allow your foods to display beautifully. The full line is primarily comprised of a variety of very affordable rectangular and square plates, many with indentations that will accomodate espresso and cappucino mugs and dessert cups including this plate which compliments a serving of dessert along with a cup of cappucino (retail US $14.95). Of particular note is this steak plate (retail US $49.95) which provides a reservoir along the perimeter evokative of a steakhouse cutting board, which can be adorned with fresh rosemary sprigs for added effect. The plate also includes an indentation to cradle a container for your favorite steak sauce, toppings, finishing salts or au jus. Are you ready to make a date with "slate"? Be on the lookout for the BASALT line this year. Have a question for Cook Like Jackie? E-mail