Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year! Enjoy These Champagne Cocktails

Nelson's Blood
When I was a little kid, I would sometimes browse through my father’s big book of cocktail recipes (I think it was “Bartender’s Black Book”), dreaming about all the cool drinks I could one day have as an adult. The Pointsetta, a mixture of cranberry juice and Champagne or sparkling white, always stood out to me. Maybe it was my love of cranberry juice, or my fear of the taste of whiskey or vodka, but that drink always sounded so refreshing.

Years later (after I was 21, of course), I actually had a Poinsettia at a New Year’s party. The verdict? Extremely delicious. I went on to discover that there are many cool things you can do with Champagne and sparkling white wines. 

Here are a few of my favorite Champagne cocktails, some with my own additions. And don’t forget to visit and buy a champagnekey or cocktail tools so you can make these drinks right!

A classic Champagne drink, usually served during breakfast or brunch, but tastes good any time. It’s just one part Champagne and 2 parts ice-cold orange juice. I like to add a splash of ginger beer if I’m making these at home. Or, mix the orange juice with some ice, peeled ginger, and sea salt in a blender (to taste) and serve as usual.

French 75
To me, this is just ice, gin, and Champagne. Some recipes call for powdered sugar and lemon rind. If you really want citrus in there, I would use lime or orange; they complement the Champagne better.

I’ve only had this drink a few times; it’s a little too time intensive. Mix peach schnapps, peach (or pear, if you want to go nut) juice, lemon juice, and Champagne. The classic recipe calls for fresh picked, fresh squeezed pears – that sounds great, but I neither have access to fresh peaches, nor do I own a juicing machine.  

Nelson’s Blood
I’ve only had this once, and it was a long time ago, but I remember it fondly. Mix 1 part Portuguese dessert wine with 5 parts Champagne.  The result is a sweet, interestingly colored drink.

Do you have any good Champagne cocktail suggestions? Let us know! Have a happy New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Top 10 Chef Tools

With only 2-ish weeks 1 week to go before 2012, it’s that top-10 list time of year. There are many lists for books, movies, quotes, etc. We noticed there’s a dearth of top 10 chef tool lists. So, using data from our website and Google, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 products sold on this year.

This isn't a critical overview; it's based solely on popularity - in other words, you made this list possible! without further words, here's the top 10:

I hate peeling garlic! No. 10 on our list.

10) E-Z-Roll Garlic Peeler Tube (red): What is it about red? For whatever reason, the red version of this handy garlic peeler (it also comes in blue, white, and green) was popular all year. Is peeling garlic is such a frustrating activity that it makes people see red? ($7.95)

Hot summer, cool treats. No. 9.
9) Norpro Frozen Ice Pop Maker: Last summer was one of the hottest on record for much of the country, thus it was a big summer for frozen treats. This simple device produces 10 ice pops (at a time) in any flavor you want. As a bonus, it comes with 24 wooden sticks. ($16.69)

8) India Tree Food Coloring: Natural Decorating Colors: These brilliant colors are made of all-natural ingredients; you won’t find any Lake #40 or Yellow #23 here. To make red, blue and yellow, India Tree extracts the natural colors of beets, red cabbage, and turmeric. That’s it! ($22.39)

7) RSVP Clear Glass Spice Jars: One of the worst things in the world is a disorganized spice cabinet (or rack). Until I picked up a bunch of spice jars, I had a whole shelf full of spices in plastic bags and random jars; it was a mess with cinnamon and basil spilled everywhere. Buying just 10 of these jars changed my life. No more mess, and a lot easier than pouring spics out of an old plastic bag! ($1.25/each)

Avocado seat belts! No. 6.

6) Evriholder Avo Saver: This guy was one of a couple of products that just exploded this year. We sold about a dozen of these handy things until around Nov. 1 – and then demand just exploded. Buy why not? Avocados are expensive and delicious, but sometimes you can’t finish a whole one. This solves that problem, and even has a cute little seatbelt your avocado halves. ($3.95 each)

5) RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Drink Straws: Reusable-drinking straws fell out of favor between 1928 and the early aughts. Now they’re back with a vengeance. It certainly helped that Oprah Winfrey named these particular straws as one of her “favorite things.” These are the drinking equivalent to shopping with reusable bags. (Set of 4 for $9.95) 
Perfect mashed potatoes at No. 4

4) RSVP Potato Ricer: The verdict is in: we like our mashed potatoes on the chunky side. This handy, sturdy tool creates wonderful little pearls of potato (mixed with butter, salt, pepper, garlic, and whatever else is in your secret recipe). Use it to puree most root vegetables by hand. ($13.95)

3) RSVP CookMarks: Wow, RSVP is doing well here, huh? Thanks to a feature in Cooking Light magazine, these handy cookbook bookmarks were a year-end smash. These keep your cookbook pages clean (grip the ring and use the long part of this guy to change pages), and you won’t have to frantically flip through pages if your cookbook slams shut – a can of beans can’t always hold the pages open. ($9.95/set)

2) Tovolo King Cube Silicone Ice Cube: 2011 was the year of big, frosty ice cubes, and this tray (if you can call it that) delivers. It's as flexible, like a rubber band, so no more banging your tray on the counter. Second, it makes big, honking cubes that melt slow, keeping your drink cool longer. (Featured in the Wall Street Journal earlier this summer as a best bet for homemade cocktails.) ($8.45)

Davy is No. 1!
1) Norpro Davy Crack’it Squirrel Nutcracker: Who would’ve thought that the master of all chef tools in 2011 would be an 8-inch-tall stainless steel squirrel? Cuteness and a knack for cracking nuts from almonds to Brazilians won Davy the top spot. But, for a moment, let’s ponder Davy’s cleverness. Squirrels are known for their love and hoarding of nuts. And, squirrels are pretty efficient at opening nuts. So, a human (probably unable to catch an actual squirrel), replicated those abilities in a cute statue with a handy little lever attached; he looks great perched inside a China cabinet, or standing on the dining room table next to a bowl of cracked nut shells. And, he has a hilarious pun for a name. Davy, Davy Crack’it; king of the chef tools this year! ($13.95)

Have a great Christmas and a fun New Year! See You in 2012!