Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Products I Am Loving! New and Not-So-New

#1 (Not-so-New) Silicone Pastry Brush

It has been years since I bought my first silicone pastry brush. In fact, I didn't buy one, I bought Ten! A few for me and several for gifts. The product excited me because its functionality was so superior. No more flavor transfer on the bristles (like BBQ sauce flavor in your apricot glaze) and no more bristles coming loose and settling on top of your pretty tarts! If you don't have one of these in your kitchen yet, you must get one - or two! I like the ones with very fine, flexible silicone "bristles". There are models with thicker, larger bristles, and those would be better for savory sauces. Check out these Danesco brand brushes below. I like the bright colors because they are easy to find in drawers, and storage containers. You can find them at Target, online, among other places.

#2 (Not-so-New) CDN Timer with Sound, Light and....Vibration!

When I was in my 20's and my brain was quick and sharp, I could have 3 or more items going at once and not need a timer - and I never burned anything. Now I have been known to forget about even one thing simmering on the stovetop or roasting in the oven. A timer is a must, and this one is simply the best I have ever encountered. First of all, its red, so it's easy to find. It has a strong magnet and also a clip, so you can attach it to clothing, or you can perch it on the counter where it can stand upright.
Now, most timers "sound off" and this one does too, with a nice loud staccato beep. But there is more, so much more. It also has a light, which flashes on and off and also a vibration setting - and you can choose 1, 2 or all 3 methods to work at once! But what I love is that you can pick and choose. So let's say you are hosting an extra fancy dinner party and you must keep tabs on your roast. Set this timer on vibration only and slip it into the pocket of your velvet lounging pants. While you are chatting away with guests, you will feel the vibrations and effortlessly excuse yourself to go to the kitchen. No loud sound interrupting the conversation! This is fabulous design at work. The light function works wonderfully for those hard of hearing or for those who would rather have a visual cue. It counts up, it counts down. You can set it for Hours/Minutes or Minutes/Seconds. It can go for 20 hours or 100 minutes. There is a Start and Restart function. Its made from ABS food-safe plastic and runs on AAA batteries and I don't even remember the last time I had to change them. You need this timer even if you have another one! I have bought these as presents, too and they always please the avid cook.

#1 (New Item) Cornstarch Packaging - Finally

I use cornstarch in everything from puddings, to dacquoise to savory dishes. Argo has been my go-to brand and it has traditionally come in that cardboard box, which you could not seal shut. It was also difficult to get the right amount out of the box in a clean manner. This post is not about a new food item - the cornstarch is great as always - but instead about a new package. Check out the pic below, which also shows the company's new packaging for baking powder:
It is now not only in an airtight, re-sealable container, but the wide opening allows for easy measuring, whether you need 1 tablespoon or 1/4-cup. It is also 100% recyclable. I will never buy cornstarch in a box again and I will be surprised if other companies don't follow suit. Look for Argo brand nationwide and Kingsford, which is the same company, with same packaging, in select areas of the western US.

#2 (New Item) "KitchenAid"-esque Flat Paddle Attachment

I tend to get a bit cocky and think that I am in-the-know when it comes to kitchen utensils and tools, especially when they have to do with baking. Well, my 23-year old daughter surprised me with a Christmas gift that I didn't even know existed - and I am so glad she brought this to my attention. Introducing the Beater Blade+:If you are familiar with the KitchenAid flat paddle attachment you will recognize that this is roughly the same shape, but this tool has the addition of what the company calls "wiper blades" along the edges. Indeed the edges are lined with rubber strips that act like rubber spatulas, continuously scraping the bottom of the bowl while the paddle rotates. It also reaches into the "dimple" at the bottom of the KitchenAid bowls! They are made in the USA and are UL Certified to ANSI and NSF2 Commercial Standards. I am In Love with mine. if you have a KitchenAid mixer, you Need this tool. Maybe two of them. The company makes them to fit tilt-head as well as lift models for KitchenAid as well as models for Cuisinart and Viking mixers. KitchenAid does not recommend this product. Here is the link:

#3 (New Item) Jewels! Sugar Jewels, That Is

Ahhhh ways to make your baked goods Gorgeous...EASILY! My great friend Beryl, of, brought these to my attention. On her site search for them under"Edible Sugar Diamonds and Gems". They come in "clear diamonds" as well as colors evoking Amethyst, Emeralds, Ruby, Turquoise and Topaz. Most look like they sound. I think the "Turquoise" looks even more like Sapphires. Perch one of these on a petit-fours or a cupcake and you have instant glamour. These will Wow the crowd at your next party.

#4 (New Item) Laser-Cut Cupcake Wrappers

Used to be that when someone said "cupcake" wrapper you thought of those fairly standard paper wrappers that you placed in the wells of your pan, to be filled with raw batter. These are a whole new idea. These are delicate, laser-cut "wrappers" that you should think of as "wrapping paper". You wrap them around your baked and cooled cupcakes as in the pictures below.

These are fabulous for weddings, wedding and baby showers, birthdays and holidays. They come in various colors and designs including snowflakes, stars of David, teapots, spider webs, sea shells, leaves, roses, hearts, a graduation design, a baby design and even choo-choo trains, among others.