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Red Rocker Candy

If you’re a fan of snack mixes based on breakfast cereals and pretzels, but you’ve been thinking that snack mix just doesn’t seem decadent enough to serve your friends at your next party, Red Rocker Candy has a thought for you. Rocking Chair Mix is the company’s crunchy mix of cereals, pretzels and roasted almonds, all covered in white chocolate. Or, as one of my colleagues put it, “It’s not that unsatisfying yogurt coating.”

The letter that Jennifer Monges, a Manager at Red Rocker Candy, enclosed with the samples she sent our way says that the Rocking Chair Mix is often described as addictive, and Kitchenware News Associate Editor Amber Gallegos, the colleague who appreciated the white chocolate coating agrees. “Yeah, oh yeah,” she says. “Pretty bombalicious.” Rocking Chair Mix is offered in 7-ounce and 21-ounce cans.

Red Rocker Candy also offers Peppermint Bark from October through December. It’s a seasonal favorite that’s a feast for the eyes with white chocolate swirls and crushed peppermint candy on dark chocolate. The bark is sold in 8-ounce and 16-ounce boxes.

Cashew Toffee with White Chocolate is a classical buttery toffee topped with white chocolate and cashew bits. The company also offers Peanut Brittle and Pecan Brittle and promises that Pistachio Brittle will be available at the end of the year. The Cashew Toffee is offered in an 8-ounce bag and 16-ounce box. The brittles are offered in 8-ounce bags. Peanut Brittle also comes in a 16-ounce box, and Pecan Brittle comes in a 14-ounce box.

Red Rocker Candy was founded in 2002 and is based in Troy, Virginia. For more information, visit www.redrockercandy.com.

 

– Lorrie Baumann

 

World Olive Oils and “Second-Tier” Countries: A Tunisian Tasting

 

I cut short lunch today, and found myself standing at the counter of an always-busy local bread and sandwich shop, mulling what seemed like a good dozen and a half varieties of delicious-looking whole wheat loaves. The stakes were high. The occasion? I had promised my coworkers a “booth-style” tasting of a collection of extra-virgin olive oils from Tunisian olive oil producer CHO, that brought this North African country’s first branded oils to the world market two and a half years ago. While you have probably tasted Tunisian olive oil many times – as the world’s second largest net exporter of EVOO, the country’s bulk olive oils have long been rebranded or used in mixes from leading exporters Spain and Italy among others – we took a little test drive of CHO’s attractively-bottled EVOOs to give you a heads up on oils that are found in 4,000 retailers nationwide.

As my booth guests picked bread slice quarters and dipped into a selection of oils, I decided to start my taste excursion midstream, opting for the lemon-infused EVOO that gave plenty of citrus essence against a hearty, viscous golden oil. After cleansing my palate a bit with CHO’s original organic EVOO, which all agreed would make for fine cooking use, I finished my tour with the basil and garlic-infused oils. The basil was quite strong, enjoyable and definitely for the consumer with a dipping-type purpose in mind. The garlic also firmly announced its infusion and was quite tasty.

CHO is one of a growing number of producers world-wide that have been making inroads to the U.S. market; Tunisia accounts for nearly 11% of U.S. EVOO imports, behind only Spain and Italy. Nearby Morocco also registers in the top 10 suppliers of U.S.-consumed EVOO. Along with award-winning producers in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as Australia and a number of countries in and around the Mediterranean, these “second-tier” producing countries are giving an increasingly discerning American gourmet food consumer more and more EVOO choices at their local Whole Foods or specialty food shop.

Until our next selection of freshly-baked artisan bread and tasting session (unofficial word out of the newsroom has chocolate spreads leading slightly over tapenades as the next product category in the tasting booth), may all of your olive oil choices be infused with flavor and enjoyment.

David Bernard
Associate Editor

 

Baked Beans with Pendleton Barbecue Sauce

I used Pendleton© Brown Sugar+Molasses Barbecue Sauce the other night to make a batch of baked beans that turned out fabulous! I started with a couple of cups of cooked Anasazi beans. I put that in a pot with about half an onion that I chopped finely and browned in the fat I rendered out of a couple of strips of bacon. I drained the grease and added the browned onion and chopped bacon bits to the beans, then added enough of the barbecue sauce to moisten it well — probably about 3/4 cup. Then I just let it simmer for about 45 minutes while I baked some chicken and dressed some cole slaw. And the best thing is that I managed to stop eating while I still had some leftover beans and cole slaw for today’s lunch!

The Anasazi beans are a Southwest heritage variety that I bought at my local farmers market. They’re a gorgeous bean with cranberry and cream speckles, and they have a creamy texture when cooked. The Brown Sugar + Molasses sauce is one of a pair of new flavors from Pendleton, which also makes new Hot+Spicy flavor and Original and Mesquite flavors. The sauces are made by Oregon Growers & Shippers in partnership with Hood River Distillers. The Brown Sugar + Molasses Sauce was created for consumers looking for a sweeter flavor profile and is made from premium quality molasses and dark brown sugar for a caramel flavor accented with hints of citrus from coriander and some mild heat from black and chipotle peppers and a backdrop of hickory smoke that add some spicy tang to that sweetness for a result that didn’t taste anything like candied beans.

 

– Lorrie Baumann

 

A Playful Take on an Italian Classic

 

By Lorrie Baumann

A colleague of mine at Oser Communications Group has asked me to review a recipe for Pasta with Jam Sauce concocted by Mr. West Collins and demonstrated in a YouTube video that can be seen at http://youtu.be/90tZUltzRBc. She asked me to respond to the video as a professional writer on matters of culinaria, based on my experience as editorial director of Gourmet News, the business newspaper of the specialty food industry, and Kitchenware News & Housewares Review magazine, as part of her participation in GISHWHES as a member of Team CommorientLoves6RMartial Arts.

Collins’ recipe calls for canned pasta sauce, carrot juice, Goldfish crackers and a whole apple with several bites out of it, which of course does not adhere to our traditional notions of how to make a great pasta sauce. It must be said, though, that there are certainly more recipes for pasta sauce out there than there have ever been pasta cooks to concoct them, so we must not accept without question the notion that Collins’ recipe is entirely new to the world.

We recreated the recipe in our editorial office with Hunt’s all-natural tomato sauce, which does not include added sugar; Polaner strawberry spreadable fruit, which is sweetened only with fruit juice; Bolthouse Farms carrot juice; Pepperidge Farm’s Baked Goldfish crackers, flavor blasted with “Xplosive Pizza + Parmesan” for a little bit of Italian flavoring; and a Red Delicious apple, which was removed when the pasta was served on elbow macaroni from a carton of Kraft macaroni and cheese.

The results admittedly fall short of our expectations for a fine Italian pasta sauce, due primarily to the ingredient choices, which could have been improved. However, ingredients are just one element in a successful culinary experience. Other necessary elements include technique and tools. Collins’ video demonstrates that he had available to him the essential tools of a modern American home kitchen, although it is also apparent that his technique with them is not expert. Clearly, that will benefit from future experiments in the kitchen and additional instruction from a knowledgeable cook with more culinary experience than he.

With quality ingredients, adequate tools and a firm grasp of basic technique, any cook can put an edible meal on the table. But putting an exceptional meal on the table calls for something else: the creativity born of imagination and a willingness to experiment. And that, Collins brings in abundance.

That being the case, the actual taste of the dish that results from Collins’ recipe is almost irrelevant. In any case, the sauce made from his recipe is not all that different from a nationally distributed brand that has certainly turned a profit over the years. What Collins is really serving up here, along with his Pasta with Jam Sauce, is fun. That the adults around him encouraged his experiment fostered his creativity and culinary courage. That they recorded it and shared it with us allows us also to have a taste of the fun.

However, if you are looking for your own opportunity to cook up a playful take on an Italian classic, I would suggest some experiments with the Maple Bacon Aioli recently released by Stonewall Kitchen, a premium product that you’ll find in a specialty grocery or gourmet store. Stonewall Kitchen sent me a couple of jars to sample and review, and I recently tried it out as a pizza sauce with good results. I used a prepared pizza crust from Trader Joe’s, rolled it out and spread it with the aioli, then topped it with chopped roast chicken and mozzarella cheese and baked it. Delicious!

 

 

 

Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ever

Stonewall Kitchen’s Maple Bacon Aioli adds a delicious fillip to a grilled cheese sandwich. Just spread the aioli on the outside of the bread, in place of the usual butter, and grill the sandwich as usual. The bread browns beautifully with a crispy surface texture, and the maple flavor adds a long finish that’s just fantastic. Glorious!

– Lorrie Baumann

Cooking with Stonewall Kitchens Maple Bacon Aioli

I first tasted Stonewall Kitchens Maple Bacon Aioli at the Summer Fancy Food Show this June, and my first thought was that this might be good to slather on some chicken breasts and bake. So when a couple of jars of the aioli arrived in the mail from Stonewall Kitchens today, there was no question but that I was going to race home and see what I could do with it.

I stopped first at Trader Joe’s, but the chicken breasts were expensive, so I got turkey cutlets instead. This is an experiment, after all, and we’re talking about $6 instead of about $11 for enough poultry to make dinner for two.

So, okay. I dipped out a few tablespoons of the Maple Bacon Aioli onto a saucer and dragged the 1/2-inch cutlets through it to coat them on both sides, then laid them onto the foil-lined baking pan that fits into the countertop oven. About 18 minutes at 400 degrees, and the cutlets were nicely browned and ready to serve.

OMG! Spectacular! Juicy, luxuriously unctuous, fantastic. You could totally serve this to all your pickiest gourmet friends without missing any of the conversation. I think that next time I’ll make it with some roasted Brussels sprouts and I’ll lay the baked cutlets over some mashed potatoes, so that the Maple Bacon Aioli will lend its bacony goodness to the potatoes. No reason to spend the extra money for chicken breasts unless you want to.

–Lorrie

Taste the Maple-Bacon Flavors at Stonewall Kitchen #SFFSF14

By Lorrie Baumann

Stonewall Kitchen is showcasing the flavors of maple and bacon in two new products that will put a stamp of excellence on holiday entertaining events. See them in booth #3914 at the Summer Fancy Food Show. Maple Bacon Onion Jam has the sweetness of maple and onions combined with the savory umami of bacon for a flavorful and versatile product. Put it on the cheese tray during the cocktail hour or use it to glaze the dinnertime ham. There’s even a pizza recipe — just use the jam as the base sauce on the crust and then top with cheese. For a super-easy appetizer, pick up some flatbread at the grocery, spread it with this jam and toast it in the oven. That would be fabulous, and there’s no requirement at all that you tell anyone at all how easy that was to pull off.

DSCN0460[1]The other new maple-bacon product is a Maple Bacon Aioli that’s made with canola oil, real bacon bits and pure maple syrup. Try it as a sandwich spread, especially on a BLT, just use a dollop on grilled meats to add some extra flavor, or you could even use it as a dip for fries or vegetable sticks. After tasting it, I can hardly wait to slather it over some chicken pieces, bake that in the oven and serve it to somebody I love.

Stonewall Kitchen is also introducing a second aioli — this one a Cilantro Lime Aioli. Use this one to top fish tacos of other summertime Mexican dishes. Remember that commercial in which the hamster in the plastic ball points out that the dinnertime tacos aren’t going to eat themselves and then the young woman bounces in anticipation? “Oooh, tacos!” Well, that’s the reaction this Cilantro Lime Aioli would get.

The Maple Bacon Onion Jam retails for $7.95, and the aiolis retail for $7.50 for a 10.25-ounce bottle.

World Cup Also Feeds Us at #SFFS14

DSCN0453[1]Mexico thought ahead in its planning for the Summer Fancy Food Show and brought along a pair of big-screen TVs that made the centerpiece for a theater-in-the-round that attracted several hundred visitors to the Mexico pavilion in the 2300 aisle at the show as Mexico played against the Netherlands in their Round of 16 match at the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil.

– Lorrie

Beaverton Foods Trying Out New Sriracha Sauce Flavors at #SFFS14

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By Lorrie Baumann

Beaverton Foods CEO Domonic Biggi is in his booth #2263 taste-testing some bold new sauce flavors that incorporate sriracha as well as offering samples of its latest award-winner from the World Mustard Competition.

Beaverton Foods just took home a gold medal for its Inglehoffer Sriracha Mustard, which is available for sampling during the Summer Fancy Food Show alongside the new Inglehoffer Bread and Butter Pickle Mustard. Both of those are available at retail for a suggested price that’s around $3.89 to $4.49.

On the same table, Biggi is offering show attendees the chance to sample and comment on some of the flavors he’s experimenting with in his test kitchen. “It’s easy to be brilliant in your office,” he said, adding that he finds it even easier to be brilliant when his own intelligence is augmented by the advice of Fancy Food Show attendees, who bring exceptional palates and experience in food retailing with them.

Among the flavors he’s offering are Sweet & Sour Sriracha, Sriracha Sauce, Wasabi Tamari Sauce, Teriyaki Sriracha and a Creamy Sriracha Sauce. Depending on which of those flavors are greeted favorably at the show, they should be ready for release soon under either the Beaver or Ingelhoffer brand or both, Biggi said.

Buddy Squirrel Offering All-Natural Honey Bite Samples at #SFFS14

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By Lorrie Baumann

Buddy Squirrel is introducing a new line of All-Natural Honey Bites in booth #1160 at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show. The line is made with real Wisconsin honey, which eliminates the need for any artificial preservatives, and no artificial flavors or additives are used. Each of the bite-size snacks comes in around 80 calories.

There are three varieties: Cinnamon Coconut Almond, Cranberry Peanut Butter, and Pistachio Cashew, all made with premium nuts and packaged in cups that will fit into car cupholders for snacks on the go. Each 3.6 ounce cup contains a single variety of the bites and retails for about $6, and there’s also a 7.2-ounce cup with a variety assortment that retails for about $10, says Buddy Squirrel Marketing Coordinator Emily Zager.

The cups are sealed to maintain freshness, which gives them a shelf life of about six to eight months, and the bite-size treats are individually wrapped as well, so they’d be great for school lunch boxes or for tucking into the kids’ bags for summer camp. “It’s really designed for people on the go,” Zager says.