Dec 4, 2020, Gifts Cooks Will Love, From This Year on CS




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03.27.20  Marketplace  What fun for anyone, or anyone who loves both eating out and eating in. Todd Wilbur’s “Top Secret Recipes . . . Step by Step/Secret Formulas with Photos for Duplicating Your Favorite Famous Foods at Home” – is just that. Specifically, 125 recipes from over 60 sources – think fast food outlets, family restaurants, ethnic places, breakfast spots, steakhouses, coffee emporiums and dessert bars. The packaged goods clones include Twinkies®, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels®, Fudgsicles®, a couple of Girl Scout cookies, and more.  “Top Secret Recipes Step by Step”

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10.23.20  Cocktail Hour Buzz  While I’m guessing we probably all know some folks that can likely defy this promise, for the most part this is a very welcome prospect – wine glasses that won’t, or maybe we should say strongly resist, tipping over. They’re 12 oz and because of the design the maker says they’re “naturally aerating.” Hand blown, stemless, all in all very stylish. Prime eligible and right now at a nice discount. Set of two, by Culinex. Four and a half stars and an “Amazon’s Choice.”  “Spill-Proof Wine Glasses!”

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10.30.20  Shopping Finds  And a find it is indeed. Reese’s has taken its peanut butter a step further into the sauce realm. How many ways would you use it? Best think of lots of them because it comes in a 4.5 lb tub. I do sort f wish they’d taken a page from the candy and maybe swirled in some chocolate, but hey we can add that if we want. No disappointment indicated in the reviews, 4+ stars on Amazon, and an Amazon Choice. Btw, there’s also a topping version.  Reese’s peanut butter sauce 

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11.13.20  Shopping Finds  For anyone that uses the toaster oven on a regular basis, these pans are so handy, so welcome. I have them and just LOVE them. Four sweet little helpers that fit most ovens, with the two sheet pans and baking pan checking in at 11 x 7.75, and the baby pizza pan at 4″ also suitable for say rolls or muffins. Non-stick, 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, Prime eligible. And reasonable too! – at this writing $13.35 for the set, shows reg as $19.99. Toaster Oven Pans

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07.17.20  Featured Recipe  This book was actually linked in that Salon in conjunction with our featured recipe that week, the 3-ingredient Ice Cream Bread. But we thought just maybe some folks might be interested in making their own ice cream. And if so, how about turning to the ice cream icons. Their recipe book offers a bowlful of inventive flavors made with fruit, candy and cookies and even includes some of their “greatest hits.” Kindle and Prime Eligible paperback, 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, very reasonably priced.  Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

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10.09.20  Shopping Finds  What cook wouldn’t like to have fresh herbs available right in the kitchen. Especially when there are a number of options that make it so easy. In addition to the seeds or seedlings, they arrive variously with pots or self watering peat pots, potting soil or potting soil disks, seedling trays, plant markers, tools, gloves, grow light, growing guide. Some it seems include just about everything but a gardener. The pot shown {clickable} comes with paints so you can decorate it however you want.  Herb Starter Kits

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11.13.20  Quick Bites  They’re becoming an ever bigger thing, and that’s how they ended up in our newsy section. These “bombs” are made with cocoa or other ingredients inside a chocolate shell that “explodes” in hot milk. What fun! You can google them to see how to make them. Or you may be able to find them in your local grocery or general merchandise store. Or you can, no surprise there, find them on Amazon. The same Amazon page also has the molds to make your own.  Hot Cocoa Bombs

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11.20.20  Salon Topper  This sturdy cup is offered as a classic design, two tone, frosted, and morphing in both 11 oz & 15 oz sizes, plus as a stein and travel mug. Any would be great when you’re in the Salon and having a “Cuppa with Alexa.” Our very own CS design, and crafted by CA-based Zazzle, it’s perfect for that unique morning group. Yep, Coffeehounds, this one’s for you. And if you’re a dog lover, it’s even more for you. Especially if you know the answer to this – “Who’s a Good Coffeehound???”

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09.25.20  Shopping Finds  Anyone who cooks a lot will welcome having {finally} enough spatulas, one of the handiest tools in the kitchen on a par with whisks and good knives. And even better, in different sizes and styles with some flat and some scooped for different tasks. Plus a food brush. And on top of it all, so pretty, so festive. Heat-resistant, non-stick silicone and dishwasher safe. Right now the set is $13.50, Prime eligible, 5 stars, and an “Amazon’s Choice.”  7-pc Spatula Set

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05.22.20  Tips for Our Times  So, in this item in the Salon we were suggesting a tasty way for cooks and other food-o-philes to spend some enjoyable time at home. And that was online food-themed crossword puzzles. But . . . that’s a little hard to give as a gift, though we still like the general idea. So, decided to see what Amazon might have to offer and we found what looks like a goodie – as the site says, ” over 50 new food themed word searches and word scrambles by puzzle master Emily Jacobs.” Food for Fun

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Cobbler – Peach, Pecan & a Touch of Caramel, Sept 25-Oct 1, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

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Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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   Let’s Chat   

Quick Bites – Is your muffin tin phoning it in, just showing up for . . . muffins??? Let Food & Wine expand its job description with these 10 Spectacular Non-Muffin Recipes to Make in Your Muffin Tin. You can run the slide show or just scroll down on their page to find crustless quiche bites, mini black bottom cheesecakes, open face egg and ham sandwiches, maple-bacon popovers, brownie bites and the rest    Takeout is a nice indulgence, but if it’s a little more prevalent these days you might want to take a look at this nutritionist’s take on making your order a bit healthier with these 7 Simple Swaps on the Clean Plates site.     Indulgence meets healthy in this Cheeseburger Salad from MyRecipes.

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Shopping Finds – I don’t know about you but it seemed I never had enough spatulas . . . until I found this festive set. Plus a food brush! Right now the 7-pc spatula set is $8.99, Prime eligible, 5 stars, and an “Amazon’s Choice.”    Want to decorate the kitchen for Halloween? And to cite the spirit of the Salon – whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you – Amazon’s got you covered.    If you’re having trouble finding bouillon powder, as I have, you might try the jarred bases which I have found at the grocery store – have to be careful of the saltiness but quite the flavor whammy.

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Kitchen Talk – So, I finally took a look at the necktag that was on the ginger syrup {09.18.20 Salon}, and in   addition to a recipe for seasoned ginger party nuts, even more uses – ice cream, baked chicken, oatmeal {always like some help in that bowl}, yogurt parfait, chocolate cake, even cocktails . . . and roasted carrots to which I added a bit of butter, and mmm-mmm.    If you’re avoiding gluten, have I got a recipe for you. The title, Flourless Oat Banana Muffins, doesn’t do it justice given its flavor boosters of peanut butter, honey, spices and chocolate chips. Actually even better the next day.

      On the Table 

Peach cobbler – five ingredients – tons of yum

As this week’s title tells you, the peach filling has some company in the pan. Pecans for crunch, bits for extra richness.

About the bits. The recipe calls for toffee but once I spotted caramel chips, a substitution was immediately in play.

And this tasty dish couldn’t be easier. Layer, sprinkle x 2, stir briefly, sprinkle x 3. Ready to bake.

About the baking. This prep is actually designed for campfire cooking, buried in hot coals. It bakes in a parchment-lined Dutch Oven.

No problem. I used a 9 x 13 pan treated with baking spray. Then based on other cobbler recipes, baked at 350 for 50 minutes covered. Checking if it’s done all the way through can be dicey since the tester will be going through the fruit too. If you’re not sure, remove a scoop of the cobbler and use the tester on some of the cake that’s fallen to the bottom.

Recipe Notes – You could certainly still use parchment paper if you wanted. I think next time I would skip the brief stir, maybe instead just using the back of a spoon to press down a little bit of the cake mix. Sweetness is front and center here so if too much add a dollop of sour cream.

Next week – Knife & Fork Bacon Cheeseburger, savory sauce under and over

Recipe on the AllRecipes site    Cobbler cookbooks on Amazon

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

So, pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How do you make a French omelette? Of the four that immediately pop up on the screen, we’re going to link to Chef John’s prep on AllRecipes because he is more detailed on what makes it an authentic French omelette, also shunning extra ingredients because as he says, it’s “just eggs and butter, no filling . . . 10% ingredients, 90% technique.” Demo too.

Alexa says request: How do you make banana bread cake? But the option from Food Network Kitchen takes it a big step further. Called Banana Bread Lava Cake, it’s rich in spices and of course bananas, but the star of the show, the “lava,” the secret ingredient – here revealed – is ice cream bars! This one also has a demo.

My request: Alexa, how do you soften hard brown sugar? Wikihow is cited for two solutions, one that calls for imprisoning the sugar with a slice of bread or apple in a plastic bag, the other pressing the nuker into service. But if you go to the Wikihow site for this advice you’ll actually find six ways.

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, national & local news, sports, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, alerts, Amazon delivery notifications, most security camera connections . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the styles here on this Amazon page

{Echo owners, if you say Alexa play oldies {others too?} the lyrics scroll on the screen – let’s sing along!}

   Cocktail Hour Buzz  

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

♦ Perfect for the food-centric chat in our Salons. “Parsley, thyme and basil are typical savory herbs used to enhance the flavor of meat. But my favorite herb is rosemary. It’s great with chicken, beef or pork, great flavor and great fragrance as the meat cooks. You’ll find it in many Spanish recipes.” – Pld, Chicago

{Photo from Amazon, source of a variety of herb seeds}

  One of perhaps the best pieces of advice from the Playboy book featured in our 09.04.20 Salon: Take care of all  the preliminaries hours before or, if possible, the day before the event – e.g., amassing ice cubes, polishing brandy snifters, shopping, cooking, marinating, table setting, disks for the stereo, setting out cocktail napkin napkins, or if that’s the plan, hiring help. And then the real nugget: during the party Relax! – “. . . enjoy yourself at your own party.”

  Well, we don’t know if Linus will see the Great Pumpkin for this first time ever this year. But what whiskey-sippin’ folks can see for the first time ever this year is Pumpking Pumpkin Whiskey, a sibling to the well-established Pumpking Imperial Ales by Southern Tier Brewing.  🍺  Cheers.  

  More foodie chat. The acronym DOP on such Italian treats as salumi, fromaggi, olive oil, balsamic vinegars, stands for “protected designation of origin” . . .  showing that it “is legally guaranteed by the European Union to be ‘authentic, or made in the original town or region with traditional ingredients'” (in other words: no mystery ingredients). This bit of instruction from Eately and thanks for making us smarter.

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