June Newsletter: For Dads (or Other Outdoor Cooks) Anywhere!

Posted on June 08, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

Time to stoke your fires and get your rubs on. It’s prime grilling season, people, and we are here to help. We’ll guide you through some tools and other accoutrements for grilling and barbecuing (plus explain the difference!) as well as some gift ideas for Dad. But first, a little safety lesson: never use the pan or tools you used for raw proteins to take the finished dish off the grill, and make sure food is cooked fully to the proper temperature. 

Les Bonnes Temps…

Here is a quick guide to proper minimum cooking temperatures:

145° –Fish, and solid cuts of meat like steaks, chops and roasts.
155° – Ground beef or pork, and anything that is stuffed.

165° – All poultry and anything that is being reheated.

These temperatures are your target temperatures.  With poultry and larger cuts like roasts you will have what is called “carryover cooking.”  As your food rests, (resting allows the juices that have come to the outside parts of the meat to recede back in, giving you a much juicier dinner!) it will continue to cook about 5° before starting to cool a little.  Therefore, if you want your turkey to cook to 165°, take it out of the oven or off the grill when it hits 160°.  That could be the difference between a juicy, tasty turkey and one that is dry and overdone. 

Essential Tools

Since we just talked about proper temps, let’s talk how to measure them! Here are some of our favorite thermometers: 

For a quick check of many items, we love the CDN Digital Insta-Read for its easy-to-read display and quick response time. It also works with thinner cuts of meat.

If you want to keep a close eye on larger cuts and leave the probe in what you are cooking, we recommend the CDN Dual Sensing Probe Thermometer
 that allows you to monitor the temperature of both the meat you are cooking, and that of the oven or grill. 

There is also the CDN Bluetooth Dual Probe Thermometer & Timer
 which has 2 probes if you are cooking for a crowd and have a couple of roasts or birds on the grill, and connects with your smartphone to alert you not only when it IS ready, but will give you an anticipated time when it WILL be ready! 

Pick it up!

We have fallen in love with the new Kitchen Grips Glove set, available in small or large sizes, for both the grill and the oven. They fit snugger than most big grilling gloves, and the non-slip material is safe to handle things up to 500 degrees!

For picking things up to turn, we love the Rosle 16” Grill Tongs for the length, comfort (no sharp edges!) and the one-handed locking mechanism for ease of use when holding something in your other hand.

Put it down.

For delicate or small items, try the Outset Grill Grid, easy to clean thanks to the silicone non-stick coating, and perfect for smaller items

The Emile Henry Plancha is great for fish, small potatoes or anything that might roll away or slip off, thanks to the lips on the back and sides, as well as a juice well and pour spout on the front.

Emile Henry also makes our favorite Pizza Stone, which will work on any grill; Stuart uses it on his Big Green Egg, getting it up around 800 degrees! Speaking of which…

The Ultimate Grilling Tool!
The Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg does everything your grill can do; and more…and better. From smoking at low temps (around 180 degrees), barbecuing, grilling, baking (the most amazing chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever had! Crispy outside and cakey inside. It’s cookie nirvana…) and the above- mentioned pizza.

The ceramic body holds the heat, making the efficiency of the real lump wood charcoal even more efficient and recovery time from opening the grill about 2 minutes. With a little practice it is easy to regulate and control the temperature.

It is easy to light, as well. It basically has its own built-in chimney due to its shape and takes only 10-15 minutes to get to 350 degrees. The shape also helps it cook efficiently, especially when cooking indirect.

This is truly the ultimate cooking tool for the outdoor cook. Stop by either of our stores and our staff can walk you through the process and answer any questions you might have.

Question of the Month:
What’s the difference between smoking, barbecuing and grilling?

The differences between these methods can be broken down into time and temperature. The first two fall into the “Low and Slow” category. Smoking is cooking at around 150° to 180°for a long time. Barbecuing is a smoking method, cooking at 200-300° for a long time and usually with a rub and/or a sauce. The sauce is basted on several times during the process. These methods are always done with indirect cooking and using real charcoal or wood as the smoke source.

Grilling is done either direct or indirect depending on the food and the outcome you want, between 350-550° and done quickly. 

Tip of the Month:
Moist Burgers

For a great, moist burger, try cooking it the indirect method. Sear your burger (seasoned right before putting it on the grill!) for 2-3 minutes on each side over direct heat, then move to indirect heat and cook, with the lid closed for more flavor, until the desired doneness is reached. If cooking on a Big Green Egg, setup for indirect and cook at 400° with the lid closed and cook 2-3 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. The convection will give you a crusty exterior and a moist interior.

Book of the Month: 
Barbecue Sauces Rubs and Marinades (Bastes, Butters and Glazes, too.)

By Steven Raichlen(Workman Publishing) 
Just what the title says, an amazing collection of over 200 recipes for anything imaginable you’d put on you your grill, with influences not only from America, but around the world. After all, cooking over flame is a universal thing.

Recipe of the Month:
Roasted Chirmol Sauce
 

Pairings

Not much goes better with grilling than a nice cold (adult) beverage. If dad is the fancy type, he will love the beautiful copper shaker from Sertodo. This hand hammered beauty will get dad noticed. 

If dad is not the flashy type, this hammered steel shaker will still keep things fresh and classy.

Looking for a great addition to your mixed drinks? Inna Shrubs, a blend of fruit juice, sugar and vinegar is perfect for cocktails or even mock tails for the kids at the Q. If you are new to shrubs, we recommend the gift set with a small bottle of four seasonal flavors, all made in Emeryville from local, organic heirloom fruit.  

If dad’s idea of a mixed drink is putting an ice cube in his whiskey, then we have just the thing for him! Peugeot’s Whiskey Tasting Set will keep things cold without dilution thanks to the chiller base, and the unique shape of the bottom helps dissipate alcohol fumes so you smell the whiskey aromas instead of getting a nose full of ethanol! We know it works, because we have put it through some stringent testing.   

Facebook Giveaway 

Our Giveaway this month is a Finex 1 Qt. Sauce Pan, perfect for keeping your mop-sauce hot on the grill! To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway post. 

 

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May Newsletter: Mexican Food Fun Facts

Posted on June 05, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

The Many States of Mexican Cooking

When we think of Mexican food, we may not realize that there is much more to it than the border food and Americanized versions (or even creations)* that we find in most Mexican restaurants and taquerias in the U.S. Even more than American food differs in the South, Northeast, Midwest and West Coast, the cuisine of our neighbor en El Otro Lado varies greatly by region.

While there are 32 States in Mexico, they can be grouped into 7 culinary regions.

The North. Food from this region is what many of us in the United States think of when we think of Mexican food: flour tortillas, beans, rice, dried chiles and lots of beef and pork dishes. This is an arid region not good for growing much. Foods that can be preserved like beans, corn and chiles are widely used. The small grasses that do grow are good for raising cattle and once cows and other livestock were brought by the Europeans, meats and cheeses became a very important part of the diet here.

Puebla / Oaxaca.  The birth place of the famous seven moles, this is another region that many Americans are familiar with. Chocolate, black beans and corn are staples of the region, as well as unique varieties of chiles.

The Yucatán. Mayan and Caribbean cultures influence the foods of the Yucatán, where achiote (annatto seed) and the use of banana leaves are hallmarks. These two are combined in the famous dish, cochinita pibil, pork rubbed with an achiote paste, wrapped in banana leaves and then (traditionally) cooked buried in a pit in the ground. Near the coast seafood and sauces with brighter flavors prevail. It is also home to one of our favorite sauces, mole pipian, made from pumpkin seeds, herbs and chiles. (If you live in or are visiting Half Moon Bay, check out Café Capistrano just two blocks from our store, where they specialize in Yucatán cuisine.)

 Mexico City. Centrally located, and the oldest capital city in the Americas (and built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan) the city is a melting pot when it comes to foods. Foods from all regions are imported here, and the food scene is very cosmopolitan.

 Western Mexico. West of Mexico City the states of Michoacán, Jalisco and Colima including a coastal area along the Pacific form the next food region, which features tropical fruits and Pacific seafood. This is also the region that gives us posole, birria and tequila.

 Veracruz. The Afro-Caribbean influence is seen in the foods here as the slave trade introduced yucca, plantains, sweet potatoes and peanuts to this region on the Gulf of Mexico. This is also the region that gave us the orchid flower that was developed into vanilla

 Chiapas. The tropical rainforests in the Chiapas region are lush with fruits and unique herbs, while the highlands are great for cattle and cheese production.

 *When dining in a small café in Sayulita a few years back, I was shocked to see wet burritos on the menu. I had always emphatically told people that wet burritos were not “real” Mexican food. After the meal I asked to speak with the chef who explained to me that he had learned to make wet burritos when working illegally in a restaurant in L.A. My suspicions were confirmed!  --Charles

 Breaking Down Culinary Walls

When Bay Area Chef Laurence Jossel (La Follie, Kokkari, Gary Danko) worked at Kokkari one of the dishwashers asked if his son could have a job. He consented, and very soon when a job as a prep cook opened up he gave the kid, who had impressed him with his hard work and intelligence, a shot at the position. When Jossel opened his own place soon after, he took the kid, Gonzalo Guzmán, with him, and he quickly worked his way up the ranks. Fast forward some more and Jossel brought Guzmán to help him open NOPA, where Guzmán worked up to Sous-Chef. When the idea came to Jossel to open a higher end Mexican restaurant, Nopalito, he knew exactly who should be in charge.

 Book of the Month:
Nopalito by Gonzalo Guzmán (Ten Speed Press, 2017)  

When buying cookbooks, they usually fall into one of the following categories: 1) Reference. These are books that remind us of a technique we have forgotten or need to learn, or have some historical context that we are interested in. 2) Inspiration. Often books from chefs with complicated recipes, these books give us ideas but we usually don't cook from them much, 3) Everyday cookbooks. These are the ones we use recipes from a lot.

Good cookbooks will fall into two of these categories. Nopalito  is one of the rare few that falls into all three. Guzmán's recipes are based in tradition yet have a slight modern flair. Despite this, they are not overly complicated and his voice in the book is one of a teacher guiding us. Nopalito deserves a spot on your bookshelf that is easily accessed. 

Recipe of the Month: 
Chilaquiles Rojos con Huevos from Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen

 Question of the Month:
What’s a Comal?

 A comal is a griddle, great for making and warming tortillas, roasting vegetables for salsa, quesadillas and carne asada. The proper plural for comal is “comales,” though you’ll more often hear people say “comals.” (One tomal, two tomales; one comal, two comales.)

Tip of the Month:
Toasting Garlic

One of the secrets of Mexican cuisine is the toasting of ingredients. One of our favorites is toasting garlic cloves still in their skins in a dry fry pan or on a comal. This brings out a nice toasty flavor to the garlic without all the strong, harsh flavors that crushed garlic usually has. Simply break up the head of garlic into cloves, but leave the papery skin on. Toss onto a pre-heated comal and turn occasionally till all the cloves have dark brown to black spots on the skin. (Silicone tipped tongs work best for this.) Remove to a cutting board and let cool slightly before peeling. Use as desired.

Tools for the Mexican Kitchen

Comal. As stated above, the comal is a griddle used for cooking and warming tortillas, roasting vegetables or cooking thin cuts of meat. 

Tortilla Press. Available in 6’ or 8” Diameters, this tool makes quick work of getting evenly-pressed tortillas ready to cook on the comal! 

Bean Pots. The Chamba 3.5 qt SS3 is our favorite bean pot, perfect for a pound of beans simmering away on the stove. The small surface area on the bottom and the rounded sides help keep things moving while cooking. The flavor and texture of beans cooked in Chamba is unmatchable! If a pound of beans isn’t enough for your family, move on up to the 6 qt SS4

Molcajete. This mortar and pestle made out of basalt has a rough texture that has been used to grind herb, spices, fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. The resulting foods have a coarseness to them that can’t be replicated when using a blender. The use of this ancient tool can also offset therapy costs. 

Bean Masher/Avocado Masher.If you don’t have a molcajete, this smaller version of a potato masher is great for making guacamole and refried beans. 

Mexican Oregano. Related to lemon verbena , Mexican Oregano has a high volatile oil content. It is used in flavoring many dishes of Mexico and Central America. Mexican oregano is stronger and less sweet than Mediterranean oregano and is suited well for spicy, hot, dishes. It is a key flavoring for bean dishes, burritos. taco fillings, and salsas. 

Salsas and Moles – We carry a variety of authentic salsas in jars that are surprisingly good from Fundidora, hot sauce from Rancho Gordo and moles from Hernan.

Posoles. -- We are pleased to have an exclusive with some rare posoles from Rancho Gordo, made from Blue Corn, Red Corn and a white variety called Cacahuazintle that has a bit larger kernel than the rest. According to Chef Guzman at Nopalito, the color differences are due to small variations in the starches, sugars and protein that each variety contains. 

Facebook Giveaway:
Chamba Comal

Our Giveaway this month is a Chamba Comal! To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway post. 

 

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April Newsletter: Breakfast Tips

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

The Most Important Meal of the Morning

It is the meal that gets our day going, and can determine if we feel sunny-side up, scrambled or fried. Having the right tools can help ease the stress, especially during the week when we are all rushing.

From eggs, to hash, bacon or making gravy, a skillet is an indispensable pan for breakfast. One of our favorites is the classic cast iron with a twist from Finex. Made in Portland, OR these thoughtfully-designed pans can turn out soft, custardy scrambled eggs or put a good brown crust on home fries. And clean-up is a snap.

If we can’t convince you how easy it is to care for your cast iron, then maybe you should go for our favorite non-stick skillets from Swiss Diamond, the best non-stick we have found. The also make great griddles in single or double burner sizes. 

Tip of the Month: 
Poach Pods

If poached eggs are more your jam but you have trouble making them at home, we suggest Fusion Brands Poach Pods. Have a sauce pan ready with water at a good strong simmer, but not boiling. Rub the pods with olive oil or melted butter. (Do NOT use a cooking spray! The propellants in them tend to gunk up on the surface of what you use, making them tacky, the opposite of what you want!) Drop the eggs in the pods and place them floating on top of the water. Cover the pan and cook 3-5 minutes depending on how you like your eggs and just scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Slip them out of the pods and right onto your English Muffin. For those of you that like to get technical, this is actually coddling, not poaching. 

Question of the Month:
What’s the difference between poaching and coddling?

Poaching is cooking something directly in a liquid below the boiling point. Coddling is almost the same thing, but the food is secured in some sort of vessel rather than directly in the liquid. The results for both methods are tender and gently cooked foods such as fish, eggs, chicken or even fruits poached in wine.

Morning Elixers

We can’t mention breakfasts without bringing up a morning cup! Whether it’s coffee, tea or juice we have you covered! We carry our own line of locally roasted coffees, incredible full leaf teas from England and the best juicer around for any kind of juice, as well as the best juice glasses to put it in.

For the mornings you need to get out quick, with a kettle and an AeroPress you can have a wonderful cup of coffee made directly into your travel mug and be out the door in under 10 minutes.  

Book of the Month:
The Perfect Start to Your DayTonia George

With sections on drinks (Pomegranate & Orange Sunrise), eggs (Eggs en Cocotte with Leeks and Tapenade), baked goods (Bagels!) and even making your own jams (Grapefruit and Cardamom marmalade), this book has everything you’ll need for making breakfasts for yourself during the week or entertaining a crowd for a weekend brunch.

Recipe of the Month:
Cornmeal Waffles with Strawberry Topping

 Facebook Giveaway:
Chef’s Choice Waffle Maker

With a dial for doneness and a switch to choose if you want it crispy outside/moist inside or cooked evenly all the way through this waffle iron will please everyone! And the high quality non-stick finish makes cleaning hassle free.

To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway post. 

 

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March Newsletter: Crazy About Beans

Posted on March 08, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

Singing the Praises of Beans!

What food is high in protein, has virtually no fat and has more fiber than most whole grain foods? The answer is beans! Now a new U.S. dietary guidance message says that diets including beans may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. See? They really ARE good for your heart! (We’ll deal with the other part of that equation in a moment!)

When it comes to beans, we are huge fans of Rancho Gordo Beans for MANY reasons. First and foremost is flavor. These heirloom beans pack a punch in that department that you just can’t get out of a can. Simply cooked with a little sofrito/mirepoix of vegetables and in water, you get an amazing pot liquor, or as Steve Sando calls it, free soup! We also love the fact that RG is a local company, and most of their beans are grown in California or Washington. They also work with small farmers in Mexico to protect both small family farming and specialty heirloom varieties of beans.

 And the love is mutual! From Steve Sando's blog:

"Chamba was my first unglazed clay that I fell in love with. It's from Colombia and I first saw it in Half Moon Bay at a great shop that has since morphed into Toque Blanche. They've become the leaders in supplying  the fanciful cookware, in their store and over the internet. The website even has information about how the unique pots are made."

Tip of the Month: 
Dealing with those “side effects”

 There are a few types of multi-chain sugars in beans that are harder for us to digest, and when these start fermenting it causes gas. The benefit of this is that it helps create more good gut bacteria, so eating more beans (increasing gradually) will help these effects decrease, and more good gut bacteria has been shown to help with many other health issues as well.

Question of the Month:
Why does rice go with beans?

Personally, we think it tastes great and helps “lighten” up the dish. (A bean burrito without rice just seems a little heavy.) But there is a real practical side Beans contain most of the amino acids to make up a complete protein. The few they are missing are found in seeds and grains. While research has now shown that the two complementary items don’t need to be eaten at the same meal, certain things have been combined culinarily in the past such as beans and rice or chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste) to make hummus. Which leads us to….

Recipe of the Month
Classic Hummus

Stuart has combined recipes and techniques from Paula Wolfert’s Clay Pot Cooking book, Laura Pazzaglia’s Hip Pressure Cooking and depending on the result you want, an Alton Brown recipe to come up with his take on the classic recipe.

 Book of the Month
Supper at Rancho Gordo by Steve Sando


Take a very beany trip around the world in this wonderful collection of recipes from the kitchen of Rancho Gordo’s founder, Steve Sando. 

 

 

 Bean-Making Made Easier!
Fagor Multi Cooker-
Have it your way: beans in 40 minutes (pressure cooker) or 4 hours (slow cooker)! From $129.95
Chamba Medium Soup Pot-
It looks and cooks like a bean pot should! Great size for cooking 1 pound of beans. On sale, $49.95
RSVP Veggie Masher-
For making refried beans you'll love this handy tool. $9.95 
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet-
What's the best pan for frying those refried beans? Nothing beats cast iron! From $24.95
RG Deluxe Gift Set-
Let's get started right away with a great selection of beans and the  bean book. $58.95
March Facebook Giveaway:
Rancho Gordo Cassoulet Gift Set

This sampler box features two pounds of new-crop Cassoulet beans, grown in the USA from French Tarbais seed, and a copy of the new book, Cassoulet: A French Obsession by Kate Hill, published by Rancho Gordo Books.

To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway.

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Feb. Newsletter: Chocolate is not Candy; Chocolate is Food!

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments


Valentine’s Day, when love is in the air and our hearts and thoughts are filled with chocolate. We carry a delicious variety all year long: whether you are looking for a quick pick-me-up (Chocolate does nice things to your brain!), a gift for a friend or loved one or for baking with, we have you covered in chocolate… so to speak. And no need to feel guilty, this year Chocolate is a Superfood! 




Question of the Month:
How do you pick the chocolate you sell?

Over the years our focus has become a bit more, well, focused. We have always searched out the good and the great and sometimes they find us. We go to the San Francisco Fancy Food Show (which unfortunately has some decidedly UN-fancy foods!) and we have to taste some bad chocolate to find the good stuff. We suffer through that for one reason only, because we love you. Like our selection of olive oils, we also prefer to keep it local, and we are very fortunate in the Bay Area to have some great people doing amazing things with chocolate, such as Kathy Wiley at Poco Dolce and Christine Doerr at Neo Cocoa. Stuart is also an occasional judge at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon. This year we did find some great single varietal chocolate created “farm to bar” by K’ul Chocolate based in Minnesota. And loved the bold statement on their website: CHOCOLATE IS NOT CANDY. CHOCOLATE IS FOOD!

Tip of the Month:
“Bloomed” Chocolate

Some chocolate will get light streaks in it during storage. This is just cocoa butter melting and coming to the surface, then solidifying again. It is perfectly fine to use in recipes, as the melting or tempering of it will make the streaks go away.

Book of the Month
Dorie's Cookies


Sweets for your Sweet! Dorie’s Cookies has been out a short while, but has already made several “Best Of” lists this year! It’s with good reason; Dorie Greenspan is a multi-award winning author and expert baker, but with a writing style that makes it easy even for the beginner.

Dorie Greenspan, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2016 

February Facebook Giveaway:
Swissmar Fondue Set


Staying in the love and chocolate spirit, our monthly giveaway is a Swissmar Chocolate Fondue Set, perfect for just the two of you.

To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway post. 

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January Newsletter: A Healthy New Year!

Posted on January 16, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

A Healthy New Year!

This is the time of year we all strive to eat healthy--a desire that gets renewed each year after our overindulgence during the holidays. Whether it is a food item, like Rancho Gordo beans, great heart healthy olive oils from California or spices to enhance your dishes  or tools to make things easier like the kale and herb Stripper , the Fagor LUX Multicooker to make healthy meals in minutes or the best juicer we have found (which is great for making quick vegetable broths as well!) ; we have the stuff that will make it easier to help you stick to your plan.

Tip of the Month

Kale can get a bad rap, but there is no denying its health benefits. Our favorite variety is the Lacinato variety, sometimes called “Dinosaur Kale.” When juicing kale we recommend adding some lemon into the mix for two reasons: the vitamin C in citrus actually helps your body absorb the iron in the kale better, plus it hides that “green” and slight bitter flavor some people don’t like. When eating kale raw, we like to put a little olive oil and a small pinch of salt on it and then give it a little massage. This helps break down the fibers (you will see a noticeable difference in volume after a few minutes!) which makes the kale less chewy as well as a bit easier to digest.  Oh, and did we mention the kale stripper

Question of the Month:
What can I do if I’m not supposed to use salt?

If you are just trying to cut back, the number one source of high sodium is processed food, so cooking fresh will drastically reduce your intake. When cooking, salt can play an important function even beyond taste. If you season with salt as you cook it will get into the food, will help break down fibers and draw out moisture allowing other flavors to go in. When you cook with salt you actually use LESS than when shaking it on at the table. And the food will taste better. If you are trying to use no salt at all, then we recommend adding a dash of something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice or use an ancient salt substitute, sumac. Sumac is the dried berry of the sumac tree (no, the berry is not poisonous!) and has been used for centuries in place of salt on food because salt was very expensive. (Roman soldiers were paid in bags of salt, giving us the word “salary.”) Sumac actually hits the same receptors on the tongue as salt and its slightly tart flavor helps heighten the taste of food.

Entre Nous

2016 was a rewarding year for us, to say the least. In the spring our Half Moon Bay location was named “Best Homegoods Store” in the Bay Area in a readers poll and our Santa Cruz store received a similar honor as “Best Kitchenware Store” in The Good Times Santa Cruz. Our Half Moon Bay cooking classes were touted as one of the 5 Best Bay Area Cooking Classes. In February one of our products (the Chamba Comal) was featured in the Front Burner column of the New York Times!

The frosting on the cake was when our company as a whole was named the national “Retailer of the Year” Gourmet Retailer Magazine and concurrently the U.S. entrant in the international Global Innovator Award (gia).

Rather than rest on our laurels, we will strive to be even better and continue to be the best stores we can and keep improving and innovating in 2017. Thank you to all our customers for your support. You are why we do what we do.

Looking Backwards
Here’s a list of some of our top sellers in 2016.
  1. Oxo Spiralizer. The essential “play with your food” tool, we sold more than two a day throughout the year. $14.95 
  2. SCI Nylon Pan Scraper. What can you buy in a fancy kitchenware store for less than a buck? And, yes, they really work. $0.50 
  3. Rabitos Chocolate Stuffed Figs. Pure Decadent Bliss! Decadent brandy fudge stuffed dried figs dipped in chocolate. Imported from Cáceres, Spain. Our customers couldn’t seem to get enough of them. $19.95 (box of 9) 
  4. Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler. Best $5 bucks you can spend. Choose your color or collect the whole set! $4.95 
  5. Dream Farm Tools. Colorful, fun and functional, the tools from this Australian company solve everyday kitchen problems with clever, original designs. Our customers caught onto this right away and we could hardly keep them in stock.  
  6. Chef’n Kale and Herb Stripper. Sales of this took off as the demand for kale exploded. Works great for removing the stems from kale or smaller herbs like rosemary. Invite a stripper to your next party! $7.95 
  7. Chamba Comal. We couldn’t keep up with demand after this versatile piece was featured in a New York Times article. Great for heating tortillas and grilling vegies. $34.95 
  8. Lekue Popcorn Popper. Make healthy popcorn in just a few minutes with this microwave popper. Made in Spain. $19.95 
  9. Norpro Mini Whisk. Just the thing when you’re beating only a couple of eggs. $0.79 
  10. Kuhn-Rikon Paring Knife. A sheath, non-stick surface, inexpensive—great for picnics. $9.95 

 

 

January Giveaway

This month’s Facebook giveaway is a Chamba 6 Qt. Soup Pot (SS4), the perfect vessel for healthy soups, beans and whole grains. To enter, just go to one of our Facebook pages for Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz and follow the instructions for the giveaway post. Tag a friend in your post and if you win, your friend wins one, too!

Posted in Articles

It’s Knife Month at Toque Blanche

Posted on November 02, 2016 by Adriana Nelson | 1 comment

Whether you need a new knife, some help keeping it sharp or a little brush up on your skills, we got you covered. (We also have covers for your knives!) One of the most important aspects of owning knives is the upkeep.

Question of the Month:
“What is the difference between sharpening and honing?”

As you use your knife you create burrs, a rounding (read “dulling”) of the edge that causes the knife to slip rather than cut.  Honing gets rid of these burrs and is something you can and should do at home on a daily to weekly basis (depending on the knife and usage). You can do this in one of two ways. The most common is by using a steel, (that long, rod looking thing in your knife block). It’s not difficult and our staff is happy to show you how to properly use this tool. (Ignore how you see people use them on TV!) Stuart shows you how in the video below. 

If you feel uncomfortable using a steel, then a pull-through device might be for you. With these devices, the angle is set for you making it much easier for novices and pros alike to maintain a great edge. Which pull-through device you get might depend on what knives you have, but here is one of our favorites that can work for a variety of knife types, the KitchenIQ Angle Adjust.

Sharpening is needed about every six months when the knife has flattened out some and honing doesn’t bring back the edge like it should. Many pull through devices can do this as well, or you can have it done at one of our stores (we are now offering inexpensive, while-you-wait knife sharpening at both stores). After sharpening, wash the knives in warm water and remember to be careful handling them because they are now sharper!

We’ll sharpen your knives for free on Saturday November 19th at our Half Moon Bay store! Click here for details.

Tip of the Month:
Selecting a knife

Selecting a knife is a very personal thing. The feel of the handle in your hand, the weight and rock of the knife as you cut, slice, mince and chop--all of these things can vary from cook to cook. However, if the knife you choose is well-made it will last you a lifetime and make your tasks a pleasure and not a chore. Our staff is here to help you select the right knife for you, but in the meantime here is a list of terms and tips that will help you in the process.

Holding a Knife– The best way to hold a chef knife is to pinch lightly with your thumb and forefinger where the bolster (see definition below) and blade meet, and then wrap your remaining fingers comfortably around the handle.  This gives you the best control because you are at the pivot point of the knife. 

Stamped vs. Forged Blades Stamped blades are punched from a single sheet of steel and a handle is attached; they often lack the balance, sharpness and tensile strength of the forged blade. They are typically less expensive, but may need to be sharpened more frequently than a forged knife. Forged blades go through dozens of steps to create a temper and shape that create a stronger, sharper knife. 

Bolster The bolster is a shaft of metal where the handle and the blade meet found on forged knives. It helps create balance, giving the cook better control in the knife.

Tang The tang is the shaft of metal that runs along the back spine of the knife and adds balance.  The tang should be at the very least three quarters through the handle, but preferably a full tang that goes to the end of the handle.

Metal Most knives today are made from High Carbon Stainless Steel, which combines the superior edge quality and maintenance of carbon steel as well as the stain resistant qualities of stainless steel.

Weight – The heft of a knife is a personal preference.  European knives tend to be thicker and heavier, letting the weight of the knife do the work for you, where Asian knives tend to be thinner and lighter, following the “path of least resistance” and reducing fatigue if you are cutting for longer periods of time.

Hollow Ground – This is a scallop that alternates on either side of the blade creating not only a fine edge, but the hollows help release surface tension, creating the ability to get very thin slices of meat or fish.

Cleaning – Hand wash your knives and towel dry.  Never put them in a sink full of water or in the dishwasher, as this could damage the blade and other items (and fingers).

Storage Keep knives in a block on the counter or in a drawer.  If storing in a drawer, make sure to use an edge guard of some sort; it protects the knife AND your fingers.

On the Surface of Things…

What you cut ON is just as important was what you cut WITH. Glass, marble, granite, porcelain and those cheap white plastic boards are BIG NO-NOS. These will dull your knives

Quality wood boards, or cutting boards from Epicurean Surfaces are what we recommend. 

Knife Specials

Wusthof Knife Sets – we have 2, 3 or 7-piece knife sets to meet your needs, and if those don’t work, spend $300 on open stock knives and get a free 7-Slot block with shears and a steel for free! 

Wusthof Classic Ikon Sale – ALL knives in the Ikon line are on sale! We have found the rounder handles of these knives feel better to people with either larger or smaller hands because of the fullness of the handle.

Shun Kanso 7SantokuKanso means “simplicity”, and that is exactly what this knife exemplifies. AUS10, a high carbon vanadium stainless steel with a rustic look for strength and durability and a simple contoured tagayason wood handle completes the look. Normally $114.95 now $89.95.

Shun Dual Core Kiritsuke The Dual-Core line from Shun uses two hard metals of various strengths, VG10 and VG2, so that the edge wears down at slightly different rates, creating micro-serrations to keep the edge razor sharp. Normally $299.99, now $239.99 

November Giveaway – Wusthof Studio Set

Go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook Page and tell us which knife in your kitchen you absolutely can't live without. You’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win this 5-Piece Knife Set (a $199.95 value)! Winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month.

 

 

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