Category Archives: Cook – Recipes from Friends

The Baking Bible – The Newest Cookbook from Rose Levy Beranbaum, and Rose’s Specialty Bakeware

The Baking BIble By Rose Levy Beranbaum

The Baking BIble By Rose Levy Beranbaum

The latest and most comprehensive baking book yet from best-selling author and “diva of desserts” Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Legendary baker Rose Levy Beranbaum is back with her most extensive “bible” yet. With all-new recipes for the best cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, candies, pastries, breads, and more, this magnum opus draws from Rose’s passion and expertise in every category of baking. As is to be expected from the woman who’s been called “the most meticulous cook who ever lived,” each sumptuous recipe is truly foolproof—with detail-oriented instructions that eliminate guesswork, “plan-aheads,” ingenious tips, and highlights for success. From simple everyday crowd-pleasers (Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins, Gingersnaps, Gooseberry Crisp) to show-stopping stunners (Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart, Mango Bango Cheesecake, White Christmas Peppermint Cake) to bakery-style pastries developed for the home kitchen (the famous French Kouign Amann), every recipe proves that delicious perfection is within reach for any baker. The Baking Bible will soon be available in fine kitchen shops nationwide.

The Baking Bible is all of Rose’s best work under one cover. Photographer Ben Fink has created a poetic masterpiece video, using the still photographs he shot from the book. An amazing collection of images woven into a moving collage of magical beauty. 


If you’d like to meet Rose, see her national book signing tour dates here.

Harold Import Co. and Rose Levy Beranbaum have a long-standing relationship, and have co-designed Rose’s Specialty Bakeware products.  HIC has teamed up with several bloggers to show how recipes from The Baking Bible can be made using Rose’s Specialty Bakeware; each blog post below features a recipe from The Baking Bible, paired with one of Rose’s Specialty Bakeware items. These products can be found in kitchen shops nationwide, and on Rose’s website.

From the blog Cookistry:  Rose’s White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Mousseline from pg. 67 of The Baking Bible, baked using Rose’s Silicone Baking Bowl.









From the blog Cindy’s Recipes and Writings: Rose’s Sour Cherry Pie from pg. 200 of The Baking Bible, baked in Rose’s Perfect Pie Plate.

Sour-Cherry-Pie from Cindy's Recipes and Writings

Sour-Cherry-Pie from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings








From the blog The Food Hunter’s Guide to CuisineThe Ischler Cookies from pg. 356 of The Baking Bible, baked using Rose’s Silicone Baking Bowl.

Ischler cookies from The Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine

Ischler cookies from The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine







From the blog Rants from My Crazy KitchenRose’s White Christmas Peppermint Cake from pg. 31 of The Baking Bible, baked using Rose’s Heavenly Cake Strips.

White Christmas Peppermint Cake from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen

White Christmas Peppermint Cake from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen









From the blog Mad Rantings of Andrew’s MomRose’s Mud Turtle Pie from pg. 269 of The Baking Bible, baked in Rose’s Perfect Pie Plate.

Turtle Pie from Mad Rantings of Andrew's Mom

Turtle Pie from Mad Rantings of Andrew’s Mom






A luminary in the world of food writing, Rose is a Contributing Editor to Food Arts Magazine where “Rose’s Sugar Bible” (April 2000) received two prestigious awards: The Association of Food Journalists Award for the Best Food Feature in a Magazine and The Jacob’s Creek World Food Award for Best Food Article. She is also a contributor to The Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Bride’s, Reader’s Digest, and Hemispheres. Rose has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation/D’Artagnon Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.

Contributed by Nicole Herman, of HIC.

Making Pizza With Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan

Contributed by Liana, of the Fante family of Philadelphia.

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan

At our family gatherings, we always provide a spread of way too much food. After all, that is the Italian way. Don’t get me wrong, we eat a ton of it, but after everyone goes home, I am left with pounds of antipasto and a huge clean up from the meal.

Leftover Antipasto, the Perfect Pizza Topping

Leftover Antipasto, the Perfect Pizza Topping

Unfortunately for me, my family loves prosciutto as much as I do so my leftovers consist of a lot of roasted vegetables and mozzarella! The next day, I am in no mood to cook and clean up after another complicated meal. My solution? Pizza night!

I don’t know about your family, but my family loves pizza! It is delicious and convenient as well as incredibly easy to make. I always have sauce in the freezer, and if not, it is simple enough to whip up a quick marinara (or doctor a jar of sauce to make it your own!). I waver between making my own pizza dough and walking down the block to buy some from my local pizza shop for a couple of dollars. On days after a large gathering, you can bet I am buying the dough!

I take home my dough and make sure that it is at room temperature. I like to roll my dough out right in the pizza pan. I flour the pan and use my hands or a Pizza Ball (a great little gadget!) to press and stretch the dough. Once I work the dough into shape and bulk up the edges of the crust, I add sauce, tons of mozzarella cheese and my toppings of choice.

Uncooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

Uncooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

I love the Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan for its depth, because I can tailor exactly how thick or thin I like my crust to be, and pile on the toppings (especially convenient when I have leftover roasted peppers and eggplant to eat).

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan, Close up View of the Pan Surface

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan, Close up View of the Pan Surface

The pan has a textured stainless steel surface which provides a naturally stick resistance surface without the worry of any nonstick coatings. And because it is stainless steel, when dinner is over I can just throw it in the dishwasher and relax with the rest of my wine! Easy as a pizza pie.

Cooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

Cooked Pizza with Antipasto Toppings

Fante’s Cousin Serafina’s Micro-Textured Pizza Pan can be purchased from Fante’s Kitchenware Shop in Philadelphia, and on their website.

Find out how to place a wholesale order for any products from the Fante’s line, from Harold Import Co.

Cooking Ancient Grains with Helen Chen

Quinoa made in Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker. This salad also contains edamame, kernel  corn, black beans, red bell pepper, Vidalia onion and chives.

Quinoa made in Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker. This salad also contains edamame, kernel corn, black beans, red bell pepper, Vidalia onion and chives.

Article Contributed by Nicole Herman, of HIC, With Helen Chen

Our friend Helen Chen, widely acknowledged authority in Asian cooking, teacher, and cookbook author, is an expert at making perfect rice of many varietals. She has even designed a beautiful porcelain rice cooking vessel with Harold Import Co. so we can all achieve her perfect rice in our own kitchens. We’ve had some lively discussions about the growing popularity of ancient grains on both restaurant menus and in home cooked meals, and Helen offered to show us jut how easy it is to use her Perfect Rice Cooker to cook the grain quinoa. (One tool, many uses. We like this.)

Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker used to make Quinoa

Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker used to make Quinoa

How to cook ancient grains with Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen®  Perfect Rice Cooker:

Made of high-fired white porcelain, the Perfect Rice Cooker is the ideal vessel for cooking not only all varieties of rice (jasmine, sushi, brown rice and even sweet rice) but it also cooks other grains such as barley and quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), the ancient grain from the Andean region of South America. (Recipes to make both are included with the Perfect Rice Cooker.) Helen recently returned from Peru and the area around Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire where quinoa is a major crop.

Grain Fields in Peru, Taken by Helen During her Trip

Grain Fields in Peru, Taken by Helen During her Trip

This gluten-free grain is enjoyed for its mild nutty taste and valued for its high nutritional value.  It’s an excellent source of complete protein, containing all eight amino acids, making it a perfect substitute for meat.  Cooked quinoa is very versatile and can be mixed with vegetables and seasonings, made into delicious salads or added to enrich soups.  It’s so easy and foolproof to cook quinoa in the Perfect Rice Cooker.

Quinoa made in Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker

Quinoa made in Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker

All you need:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Yield:  About 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

1. Wash and rinse the quinoa thoroughly in cold water and drain in a fine meshed colander or strainer.  This is to remove quinoa’s natural coating of saponins which can lead to a soapy or bitter taste.  Transfer the quinoa to the bowl of the rice cooker and add water.  Be sure all the grains are submerged.

Quinoa Submerged in Water in Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker

Quinoa Submerged in Water in Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Perfect Rice Cooker

2.  Place the uncovered rice cooker in a stock pot with enough water to reach about 2 inches up the side of the rice cooker.  Lower the bamboo handle so it’s level with the rim of the rice cooker.  Cover the stock pot and bring the water to a boil.  When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a slow boil and steam for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain.  Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.  Fluff with a rice paddle or fork and serve hot or cold in your favorite recipe.

Finished Cooked Quinoa

Finished Cooked Quinoa

Biography of Helen Chen

Helen Chen

Helen Chen

HIC, Harold Import Co. is proud to call Helen Chen a partner in Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen® made by HIC Harold Import Co.

Helen Chen is a leading Asian culinary expert, cookbook author, cooking instructor and developer of Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen® cookware and cooking supplies.  Helen learned to cook from her mother and has combined the comfort of home-style dishes with an updated incorporation of heart-healthy oils and readily available supermarket ingredients—making cooking great Asian food easier for everyone.

Helen Chen’s unique line of Asian cooking supplies was developed through many years of culinary experience and provides the kind of high-quality standards that you can expect from HIC, Harold Import Co. Some of the products available in the Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen®innovative line of Asian cooking utensils include steaming accessories, cutlery, cookware, tea & sake, tabletop, utensils and housewares.

*Not affiliated with Joyce Chen products

Hash Browns with Zucchini Prepared with the Benriner Slicer

Zucchini and Potato Hash Browns Made with the Benriner Slicer

Zucchini and Potato Hash Browns prepared with the Benriner Slicer

Benriner slicers are known and relied upon by professional chefs and home cooks around the world, for their quality, versatility, and razor sharp interchangeable blades. Have you ever wondered how the Benriner family (learn more about their history in our interview) uses this tool at home?  We asked Michiko Yamamoto, responsible for Benriner’s international marketing, and sister to owner Hajime and granddaughter of Benriner’s founder Uyuki Yamamoto, if she might shed a little light on how this iconic kitchen tool finds it’s way into her modern lifestyle.

Nicole Herman, of HIC: Michiko, let me start by thanking you for taking time to share with us. Do you use the Benriner in your home today?

Michiko: I have been using Benriner myself and have seen my mom use it for years since childhood.  I think salad was on the dinner table almost every day.  My mother didn’t teach me how to cook, but after living away from home, I learned to cook myself.   My recipes are far from what you will see in a cookbook or cooking programs, and I don’t even measure ingredients when I cook; however, I hope you can get some ideas or hints for creative recipes from me.

Nicole H: What kind of cuisine do you like to prepare with the Benriner?

Michiko: I like healthy eats – and I try my best to buy organic fresh fruits and vegetables. I feel discouraged to buy those ready-made salad bags, as they are pricey, plus when I get home all I need to do is to take out my Benriner slicer from the kitchen drawer and can quickly make vegetable slices and prepare a simple & healthy salad.

Benriner can turn those hard or bulky vegetables like carrots and cabbage, into delicate, beautiful garnish.  I usually mix them with chopped romaine lettuce, tomato, and avocado, to add some volume.  Once I make a lot of salad at home, it lasts for a few days, so I am forced to eat vegetables every day- I also bring it to work for my lunch and eat as dinner with extra protein (such as chicken meat or quinoa) in it.

I think there is no rule for cooking- you can be as creative as you like and explore the possibilities.   Through sharing some of the recipes I make using the Benriner, I hope to help and support other home cooks creative, beautiful, and delicious recipes.

Michiko’s Recipe for Hash Browns with Zucchini 

Tool: Benriner Slicer (model BN1)


Olive Oil

Potato Cut with the Benriner Fine Blade

Potato Cut with the Benriner Fine Blade

The Benriner comes with 3 blade attachments. Start by using the fine blade, and cut both potatoes and zucchini into short lengths, by running the vegetable across the blade at it’s end.

Zucchini Cut with the Benriner Fine Blade

Zucchini Cut with the Benriner Fine Blade

Then blend the cut potato and zucchini pieces. They are like noodles, and easy to mix.

Potato and Zucchini Patties Before Cooking

Potato and Zucchini Patties Before Cooking

Form the mix into individual portions, and make patties. No seasoning is needed at this step.

Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your skillet, heat, and place the patties in the pan, pressing them flat. Cook until the under side is crispy and golden; flip, and do the same to the other side. Season to taste after cooking. Tip: The patty will come apart easily until it is cooked, so pack the uncooked potato and zucchini into a tight ball in your hands before placing in the pan and flattening.

Zucchini and Potato Patties Served with Lasagna

Zucchini and Potato Patties Served with Lasagna

A nice accompaniment served along side lasagna and a light salad.

Looking for a Benriner slicer of your own? They can be found in fine kitchen shops nationwide, or Contact HIC.

Learn more about how to use the Benriner in these videos: 

See reviews of the Benriner from and Consumer Research

Contributed by Nicole Herman of HIC, Harold Import Co.

Cantaloupe and Blueberry Ice Pops

Cantaloupe and Blueberry Ice Pops

Cantaloupe and Blueberry Ice Pops

Temperatures are warming, days are at their longest, and with the bounty of fresh produce available at markets this time of year, we thought it would be fun to roll up our sleeves and make our very own frozen treats. We started experimenting with some less traditional ice pop flavors last summer, like watermelon and raspberry. Cantaloupe is at its peak now until September so we opted to make an ice pop with this sweet, water-rich fruit, throwing in plump fresh blueberries for a little texture. Cantaloupe and Blueberry Ice Pop Recipe First purée 3 cups of cut cantaloupe in a food processor (a blender could work too.)

Cantaloupe Puree

Cantaloupe Puree

Pour the purée into your ice pop mold, filling about 1/3 of the way (use any vessel you choose, but we found the volume in this recipe worked well with our set of 4 Ice Pop Molds.) Drop in a few blueberries. Then continue to pour the cantaloupe purée into the mold, followed by the addition of blueberries, alternating cantaloupe purée and blueberries until the mold is filled to within about 1/2 inch from the top lip (leaving room for the cap, and a little expansion of the contents as it freezes.)

Ice Pop Mold Filled with Cantaloupe and Blueberry Mixture

Ice Pop Mold Filled with Cantaloupe and Blueberry Mixture



Freeze for about 3 hours, or until firm. If you prefer more of a cantaloup blueberry slush, remove from the freezer after 1-2 hours, and enjoy!

Cantaloupe and Blueberry Ice Pop Fully Frozen

Cantaloupe and Blueberry Ice Pop Fully Frozen


Cantaloupe and Blueberry Slush

Cantaloupe and Blueberry Slush

Contributed by Nicole Herman of HIC, Harold Import Co.

Nonna’s Secret to Perfect Gnocchi Every Time – A Traditional Italian Recipe from the Fante Family of Philadelphia

Contributed by Liana, of the Fante family of Philadelphia.

I love gnocchi. Okay, full disclosure: I am obsessed with gnocchi. If gnocchi is on the menu, I will be ordering it. I love any excuse to make it for my friends and family. (Who am I kidding? I make them for me and force myself to share.) My obsession is so infamous that the gnocchi board in our Fante’s line is named after me.

Thinking about making gnocchi with Nonna always makes me smile. Gravy would be bubbling on the stove because Nonna believed that gnocchi deserved fresh gravy. All of us cousins would pile around her kitchen table after church Sunday morning to roll out the dough into long, thin ropes. She would always cut the pieces (lest we be trusted with sharp objects), and then we would all roll our share on the gnocchi boards (she kept four of them in the house so we wouldn’t have to take turns and fight – hence not letting us use sharp objects!). We all had our own quirky method, each with its own distinctive look. As we ate the gnocchi that afternoon the conversation would be peppered with interruptions of, “I got Sandro’s” or “this one must be Elisa’s” and the like.

Cousin Liana's Gnocchi Board from the Fante's Collection of Italian Cookware Made by Harold Import Co.

Cousin Liana’s Gnocchi Board from the Fante’s Collection of Italian Cookware Made by Harold Import Co.

Here is Nonna’s secret and some tips and recipes that she passed on to make your own gnocchi attempts a success!

THE SECRET: Everyone thinks I am crazy, but my Nonna (born and raised on a farm in northern Italy) used instant mashed potatoes to make her gnocchi. Shocking, I know. Guess what? She experimented for years, and ultimately settled on instant because they helped her to control the recipe. The amount of starch and water in each potato varies, so a gnocchi recipe is constantly changing based on that. As you may know from making pasta, the humidity changes make a difference in the amount of flour required as well. With all of these variables, achieving the perfect gnocchi is a tough task! Also, by using instant potatoes, you can make an incredibly dry potato mixture (using butter and milk), further reducing the amount of flour you need to use. The result? Gnocchi with intense potato flavor and a light, airy texture that melts in your mouth.

THE PRO TIP: Nonna never made gnocchi in the summer or when it was raining. I learned the hard way that it was because humidity wreaks havoc on gnocchi. I made them on a hot and humid July day for a party I was throwing, assuming I could simply adjust the flour as needed for a successful batch. It was truly a disaster. I had to run out and buy an extra 5 pounds of flour (which we used all of) to get the proper texture, and ended up with incredibly dense gnocchi. Nonna, I now understand why we had to wait until summer was over  to have gnocchi, and I’m sorry for bothering you so much about it!

To all you purists out there, more power to you! I’ve included both her recipes below. Have fun with them! There are so many wonderful gnocchi variations, that once you have the basics down you can get creative.

Nonna’s Perfect Gnocchi
Serves 4

1 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 ½ Cups Instant Potato Flakes
2 eggs
¾ Cup All-Purpose flour + more for sprinkling

In a small saucepan, melt the butter in the milk over low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the potato flakes while stirring. The result should be a very dry potato mixture that has a crumbly texture. Set aside to cool.

Once the potato mixture is cool enough to touch, combine the eggs, flour and potatoes. Knead until the dough is a homogenous color and texture. If the dough is too sticky, add a small amount of flour and knead together. Be careful not to add to much flour!

Making Gnocchi

Making Gnocchi

Once the dough is formed, divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into long ropes about 3/4 inches thick. Cut them into ¾ inch “dumplings,” dusting with flour as your go. Prepare your gnocchi board by sprinkling a little flour on it. Roll one at a time using your gnocchi board, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. To roll, simply press the side of your thumb into your “dumpling” creating a divet and use even pressure to push down. The result will be a half moon curl with ridges on the outside and a small pocket in the center.

Boil at least a 3 quart pot of water and salt to taste. Add 1/3 of the gnocchi to the boiling water, give a quick stir, and cover with the lid. When the water comes back to a boil (1-2 minutes) your gnocchi will be cooked perfectly. Skim them off the top of the water with a spider and then add your favorite sauce immediately. Repeat twice with the rest of the gnocchi. Enjoy!


Nonna’s Potato Gnocchi
Serves 6-7

5 Idaho Potatoes
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Butter (or Oil)
Pinch of Salt
All-Purpose Flour

Boil potatoes in water, then skin them and rice them into a pile while still hot. Make a similar, or slightly smaller, sized pile of sifted flour. Mix the riced potatoes and flour with the eggs and butter. Mix only until a paste is formed, but not too long, or the mixture will become too soft.

Cousin Liana's Gnocchi Board from the Fante's Signature Line of Italian Cookware from Harold Import Co.

Cousin Liana’s Gnocchi Board from the Fante’s Signature Line of Italian Cookware from Harold Import Co.

Roll the dough into strips 1/2” to 3/4” in diameter, and cut them into 1” lengths. Roll Gnocchi on your gnocchi board, to create indentations that will permit better and quicker cooking.

Put Gnocchi into salted boiling water one at a time, to prevent their sticking together. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, according to desired taste. Serve with tomato or meat sauce.

Benriner Mandolin Slicer Makes Baked Potato Chips

Baked Potato Chips made by blogger Food (Just Sayin') with the Benriner Mandolin Slicer from Harold Import Co.

Baked Potato Chips made by blogger Food (Just Sayin’) with the Benriner Mandolin Slicer from Harold Import Co.

Toni Snearly, author of Food (Just Sayin’), is a self described “foodie cookin’, goodie bakin’, organic livin’, charity givin’, tree huggin’ type of gal.”  

Toni put our Benriner Mandolin Slicer to the test, and shows how easy it is to create homemade baked potato chips using the Benriner, turning a whole potato into chip-perfect slices in under 10 seconds. Read the full post on Food (Just Sayin’): Baked Potato Chips Made Easy with Benriner.

Explore this history of Benriner in our interview with Michiko. Want to find a Benriner Mandolin Slicer of your own? Check out Fante’s of Philadelphia. Also found in fine kitchen shops nation wide.

See the Consumer Search report on mandolins.

Ali Bouzari – An Interview With the Food Biochemist, Chef, and Innovator

Ali Bouzari

Ali Bouzari (left)

If you knew that a 20-something food Biochemist was influencing your menu at The French Laundry (should you be so lucky to snag a table) would that raise your eyebrows? Elite culinary establishments such as The French Laundry, Benu of San Francisco, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and the world’s premier culinary college, The Culinary Institute of America, are experiencing the influence of  Ali Bouzari, food scientist, chef, innovator and thought leader.  Ali is one of the instructors and creators of the culinary science curriculum at the CIA, a PhD student in biochemistry at UC Davis, and a Culinary Science and Menu and Research and Development Consultant for some of the most prominent dining establishments in California.  

Ali gives a Ted Talk at UC Davis on May 4, 2014. (Starting at 3:13:00)

As Harold Import Co. grows in the food service and supply industry, we are delighted to have the opportunity to connect with passionate, trend setting culinary professionals like Ali, who in turn push us to critique and improve our own creative processes and raise the bar in all that we do for our Customers. 

The Interview – Getting to Know Ali Bouzari

Nicole Herman., of HIC: Ali, I want to first thank you for taking the time to share with us. I think our readers are really going to enjoy learning about you and your unique approach to all things culinary.

Nicole: When did you first know you wanted to be a chef?

Ali Bouzari: The best way to answer is to say when I first started to cook in restaurants, which I did in high school. My choices were to wait tables, be a host, or cook.  I started cooking in an orthodox Jewish catering company where I learned more than basic knife skills – I learned how to make Jewish delights and how to prepare kosher food. We did bar mitzvahs, parties, and sometimes 500 person events. I realized I really enjoyed this, and learned that if you can cater a Passover dinner, you can pretty much do anything

Nicole: Who or what has been the most influential factor in your life, personally and professionally?

Ali: Personally, the reason food has been on my radar is because of my dad. He was an excellent cook. His family is from Iran and the culture there is obsessed with food, it’s an all consuming part of life, and it’s really fun.  There is a joyous attitude toward food, they don’t take it seriously. I grew up with crazy Iranian dudes eating great food and making it fun, and it was refreshing to focus on. Professionally, I’ve had people help me along the way – My professor at UC Davis, my boss at the Culinary Institute of America, they were amazing facilitators. Chefs that have driven me – one is Thomas Keller. At the first fine dining gig I had as a line cook, my chef gave me a copy of The French Laundry cookbook. He said, “check this out, this is why we do everything that we do.” I learned good habits from this book, and I imprinted on French laundry culture.

Ali Bouzari

Ali Bouzari

While I was in Spain for a year in undergrad, it was right after the peak of the Spanish avant-garde movement. I saw Ferran Adria of elBulli talk once, and it was crazy eye opening. This was my first time realizing that having a meal taste and smell really good was not the only important thing. Emotion and nostalgia can enter in too… and unless it tastes good, it doesn’t matter. The creativity was inspiring. Harold McGee’s book On Food and Cooking written in early 1980’s set a lot in motion. I read it in undergrad when I was cooking part time and studying biochemistry. I found that with this knowledge I could cook better than I thought I should be able to. I would look under the hood of what I was working on. Then I Googled books on the science of food and kept finding Harold McGee’s book. I read it cover to cover. To this day, I start with this book when researching. My guidance to students at the CIA – If you read this cover to cover, you will be a better cook than your peers, it teaches you the rules of the game.

Nicole: What is your favorite meal to make? And To eat?

Ali: Most meaningful – An old Persian standby, the shish kabob, basmati rice with saffron, and traditional accompaniments. The shish kabob is made of ground beef, sumac, black pepper, onions and shallots. It’s formed onto a skewer that hangs horizontally. The trick is to get the right ratio of fat and protein, it must cling to skewer and not fall into the fire.  It needs to brown well. I like this because it feels very old world, and I made this with my dad for our friends growing up.

Nicole: You’ve been called both a scientist and a chef. Do you identify with one more than the other? 

Ali: No. My whole career is predicated on the belief that I am not ever going to be the world’s greatest chef or scientist, but I can do both together pretty well, and that enables me to do some cool stuff. I try to keep one foot in the culinary world and keep those skills as honed as possible. If I walk into The French Laundry to teach them anything, I owe it to the team there to know what’s going on to the point that I could at least hack it being a prep cook. Scientists need to learn to respect chefs more, too. As an educator and scientist, I think it is easier to understand the food if you’ve touched it, keeping your cook side very current.

Nicole: What is your cooking philosophy?

Ali: A couple. In general, one of my favorite things as a home cook, and as a single college age guy, there are a lot of leftovers in my life. Great advice I heard –  Don’t just reheat food, recreate it. I might make basmati rice one night, then turn it into soup or fried rice the next night. This is a good culinary workout for the brain. My more over arching cooking philosophy – Pay attention to the rules of the game you’re playing. Know the basic behavior of the basic ingredients you’re working with.

Nicole: We tend to be creatures of habit, and revert to eating what we know and is quick, especially when life gets hectic. What advice would you give a home chef to help get them out of their cooking ruts, without needing to make an especially time consuming elaborate meal? 

Ali: Get in touch with age-old culinary mantra of “mise en place.” This is a French term chefs have all over their brain. It’s the idea that you should be prepared, given what comes your way in the kitchen. The real cooking happens during prep. If you have leftovers, you can just add prepped foods – I’d add things with a lot of flavor, like preserves, pickles, fermented things.  You can take something as simple as roast chicken, and add pickled onions or a little miso, or cherry relish that are already really flavorful, and make something amazing in a little amount of time.

Another philosophy – A chef told me once that at least every dish on his menu had at least one ingredient that took a lot of time to make, with complex deep flavors. If you can make this type of food in batches and keep it around, then you have a giant bar of great ingredients to pluck from  at your will. Start with a couple different pickles. Fermented beets, fennel,  even vinegar pickles. Roasted garlic, pesto, a nice stock. Then you have a wide palate of foods to pull from and create something wonderful, with out a lot of time.

Nicole – So, it’s all about the prep.

Ali – If you live in a place like California, subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, where you pay a local farm a lump amount, and they drop off fresh produce at your door, filled with what’s at peak freshness for that time of year. This is a great forcing function to learn how to cook a variety of things. (Kolrabi anyone?)

Nicole: What kitchen tool do you find indispensable, that might come as a surprise to people? 

Ali: 2 – One is kind of obvious – A spoon. The untold love story of the kitchen. A chef on their game will have 5-10 different spoons on hand that they will pet before they go to sleep. This reflects the dual nature of a chef: A knife, which is essential, represents how a chef has to do superhuman tasks under pressure, and the spoon represents how chefs have to be at the same time gentle, nurturing. A Knife is penetrating and aggressive. A spoon is supportive, gentle, finessing. I really like spoons. A lot of chefs really love the “Kunz” spoon, named after Gray Kunz of Lespinasse. Chef of the old guard, a perfectionist, a formidable presence in the kitchen, had these spoons designed for his staff. His cooks had a serial number identified spoon designed with balance, proportion, a perfect bowl at the end, wide enough to use as quasi spatula.

I also like a heat proof spatula. It needs to be rigid yet bendy. Every restaurant has a myth about how using spatulas saved some company a bazillion dollars, minimizing waste by getting every bit out of a container. I love spatulas for stirring things. There is no place for a wooden spoon for me. Every grandmother who stands by using a wooden spoon, just hasn’t used a great heat proof spatula yet.

Nicole: Do you have a dream or goal for the culinary world? 

Ali: Yes! The culinary world is unique in a lot of ways. It’s an industry based on a medium that is inherently dependent on scientific principles but has turned a blind eye to acknowledging the principles for fear of upsetting the tradition and artisanal nature, they are afraid science will do away with this. It’s like saying that by understanding how the English language works, you won’t be as good of a poet. You can learn the rules, and then break them. Learn the science, then do crazy stuff. The irritating thing about humans in artisanal fields is when they reject progress. People will say,  “I don’t want to do anything with science in the kitchen.” Too bad, science is always in the kitchen. Whether or not you want to acknowledge it is the question. This is not avant-garde stuff. There is so much chemistry and physics going on in the kitchen, if the average line cook understood the “why” of roasting a chicken vs. how, we’d all eat better and our culinary staff would be better equipped. I’d like to raise the scientific literacy of the culinary community.  Knowledge makes it better.


You can learn more about Ali Bouzari on The Culinary Institute of America‘s website and on UC Davis Magazine. Follow Ali on Twitter.

Interested in learning more about HIC? We’d love to speak with you. For Customer, wholesale, or press inquiries, please reach us here. Or, shoot us a note via Facebook.

Contributed by Nicole Herman of HIC, Harold Import Co.

Oven to Table Bakeware: Sweet & Savory Served with Simplicity and Style

Oven To Table Serveware Filled with Sweet and Savory Delights

Oven To Table Bakeware Filled with Sweet and Savory Delights

The kitchen can be a hectic place, which is why I always turn to my favorite tools and cookware to help me get through the process. A key part of my collection is finding multipurpose items that not only save on the space (I’ve a small kitchen), save on time (I’m crunched for time), and add a bit of style to meal service (Why not impress the family with presentation, too?)

When most of us think of multifunctional kitchenware, we think of those small appliances that come with a plug. I use my food processor for everything from chopping vegetables to making dough. I use my electric pressure cooker for sautéing veggies, pressure-cooking beans and for making soup. I use my slow cooker for roasts, casseroles, and keeping mulled wine at perfect temperature for a party. And my professional-grade blender serves up everything from smoothies to freshly ground spices.

But, beyond the multifunctional electric appliances, my kitchen is filled with a few essential pieces of cookware and bakeware. In particular, one of my favorites is my oven-to-table ware — a white, porcelain, fluted baker.

Yes, it’s a basic baker, no bells and whistles, but it’s utility outshines many of my high-end plugged-in tools in the kitchen. The reason is simple: It cooks just about everything, saves me time, and is pretty stylish too.

One of the main benefits of using oven-to-table ware is its utility. One dish goes from freezer to fridge, and from oven (or microwave) to the table. Perfect for use all year round, these pieces are particularly handy during the holiday season, and  are ideal for everything from breakfast, lunch and dinner (Chicken Pot Pie), to appetizers, side dishes (Corn Bread, Wild Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing) and desserts (Parisian Apple Crisp).

My oven-to-table ware is perfect for hectic evenings, casual or formal parties, or for delicious appetizers for game-time. I often pre-make meals, and store them in the freezer until ready to use. If, by chance, there are leftovers, I slip the baker in the fridge, until we’re ready to eat again – when I reheat in the same piece, in either the oven or the microwave.

Another coveted benefit of using my oven-to-table ware is the idea of having fewer dishes to clean. One pot, from freezer to oven to table – is a welcomed choice especially in our home (we don’t have a dishwasher!) Made to last a lifetime, the porcelain oven to table bakers are easily cleaned by hand with soap and water, or in the dishwasher.

Oven-to-table ware comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s best to have several different sizes on hand – some can be single serve, others big enough for a party, and still others sized perfectly for those family one-pot meals.

As for styling, I opt for a classic white. Sure, matching patterned pieces are fun to have, but the classic white glaze with its decorative fluted edges takes me through the seasons, and looks great whenever, or wherever, I use it –  from casual everyday occasions to the formal dinner parties.

Here is one of my favorite meals to make in my oven-to-table baker: (you can find HIC’s Oven-To-Table Fine Porcelain Fluted Baker here)

Polenta Pie

An easy deep-dish pizza with a thick and crunchy cornmeal crust. It takes a total of 1 ¼ hours to prepare, most of which is the crust-baking time. The recipe yields 1, 10-inch pie, which serves four. We like to substitute our favorite vegetables, or those we have currently available. Also, at times we skip the tomato slices and add a bit of tomato sauce instead.

Polenta Pie in Oven to Table Bakeware from HIC

Polenta Pie in Oven to Table Bakeware from HIC


  • 1 ½ cups coarse cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups cold water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • a little olive oil


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup thinly sliced bell pepper
  • about 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 medium cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tsp dried basil (or 2Tbsp minced fresh basil)
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • fresh black pepper
  • ¼ lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 small – or 1 medium – ripe tomato(es), sliced

Combine cornmeal, salt, and cold water in a small bowl. Have the boiling water on the stove in a saucepan, and add the cornmeal mixture, whisking. Cook about 10 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. It will get very thick. Remove from heat, and let cool until it can be handled.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Oil a 10-inch pie pan or baker. Add the polenta, and use a spatula and wet hands to form it into a smooth, thick crust over the bottom and the sides of the pan. Brush the surface with olive oil, and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

While the crust bakes, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the onion, and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, and zucchini, and sauté until everything is tender. Stir in the garlic and herbs, and sauté just a few minutes more.

Turn up the oven to broiling temperature. Sprinkle half the cheese onto the bottom of the baked crust, then add the tomato slices. Spread the sautéed mixture over the tomatoes, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Broil until brown (about 5 minutes), and serve hot.

Source: The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

 Laura Everage is a writer, editor, swimmer, yoga-lover, wife, and mother of four. Her days start very early in the morning, but thanks to her favorite beverage, coffee, she is able to start each day on a good note. Laura began her journey in all things food and beverage related nearly 20 years ago, as Managing Editor of The Gourmet Retailer. She continues to write about food, coffee, tea and kitchenware and is currently working on a book entitled Courage in a Cup: Women, Coffee and the Global Economy. Laura is also founder and editor of her own website, Family Eats, and is editorial director/partner of Coffee Universe.Her work has appeared in a variety of trade magazines as well as consumer publications Saveur and Consumers’ Digest. Laura’s knowledge of the industry has landed her appearances on both the Food Network and Fine Living Network. To contact Laura, email

Helen Chen’s Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup. Bowl and check patterned bistro towel, from HIC.

Our friend Helen Chen, widely acknowledged expert in Chinese cooking, teacher, and cookbook author, has shared a perfect fall recipe with us – her Easy Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup. Rich and satisfying, it pairs perfectly with crunchy bread (if you’re thinking of baking your own, check out Rose Levy Beranbaum’s guide to the secret of great bread) and is hearty and delightful all on it’s own. We’re offering options – make the original, quick and delicious recipe from Helen, or take advantage of your local markets’ bounty of winter squash, and use fresh pumpkin in our modified vegetarian recipe based on Helen’s classic. (Scroll down.)

This creamy soup blends flavors and aromas that belie its short list of ingredients. Curry paste varies in spiciness so if you’re not familiar with it, start with a couple of teaspoons and add more to taste. If you can’t find curry paste in your local market, curry powder will do also.

Helen Chen’s Original Easy Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup Recipe


  • 1  (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1  (13.5 oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2  (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth
  • 2 to 5 tsp. red curry paste, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. grated peeled ginger or ginger powder
  • 2 tbls. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper

Combine the pumpkin and coconut milk in the stovetop clay casserole. Stir until well blended. Add the chicken broth a can at a time, stirring in between each addition to insure a smooth texture. Place the casserole over medium heat.

Stir in the curry paste, garlic powder, ginger, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes to develop the flavors.  Add the salt and pepper. Taste and correct seasoning as desired. Serves 6 to 8

Copyright © 2009 by Helen Chen. All rights reserved.

Pie pumpkin, about 7 inches in diameter, raw

Pie pumpkin, about 7 inches in diameter, raw

Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup -Vegetarian Version. Modified from Helen Chen’s Original Recipe (Above)


  • 1 pie pumpkin, about 7-9 inches in diameter, to produce 2 cups cooked pumpkin puree. This varietal is smaller than the size used for jack-o-lanterns, and less grainy in texture. Look for one that is bright orange, with no bruises.
  • 1 can (13.5oz) unsweetened light coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2- 5 tsp. red curry paste, or to taste, or 5 tsp. curry powder, or to taste
  • 1/2  tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. grated peeled ginger or ginger powder
  • 1 – 2 tsp. coarse sea salt; start with 1 tsp. and add slowly, up to 2 tsp., to taste
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the cooked pumpkin puree: First wash the pie pumpkin, and slice in half.  Scrape the seeds and stringy pulp from the inside, but don’t toss – you might want to save the seeds for roasting! (See: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe)

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Place both halves face down in a baking dish with about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom. Bake at 350 degrees, for about 40 minutes. It will be ready when the flesh is very soft if pierced with a fork. After removing from the oven, let the halves cool until you can handle them. Then scoop the contents from the rind into a bowl. If you desire a smooth textured soup, process the cooked pumpkin in a food mill or food processor. If you opt for a chunkier soup, just spoon the cooked pumpkin from the rind, right into a measuring cup, and then add to your soup pot.

Combine 2 cups of the cooked pumpkin or pumpkin puree and coconut milk in a soup pot on the stove top, over low heat.  Stir until well blended.

Add the vegetable broth slowly, and stir consistently.  Increase heat to medium.

Stir in the curry paste or powder, garlic powder, and ginger.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes to develop the flavors.  Add salt and pepper.  Taste and make adjustments to the seasoning as desired. If you use a coarse sea salt instead of the granulated version, you may find you need a bit more. Serves 4.

Just as we were about to post this, Helen kindly sent a note suggesting we might add a dollop of plain yogurt on top of the hot soup. Delicious. Thank you Helen, for the continuing education.

Contributed by Nicole H., of HIC

Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Biography of Helen Chen

Helen Chen

Helen Chen

Helen Chen is a widely acknowledged expert in Chinese cooking. Besides her role as an educator and cookbook author, she also is a product and business consultant to the housewares industry. In 2007 she created and developed a new line of Asian kitchenware under the brand name, “Helen’s Asian Kitchen,” expressly for Harold Import Company in New Jersey.

Having been born in China, and raised and educated in the United States, Helen brings the best of both worlds to her approach to the art of Chinese cuisine. She understands the needs of the American cook as only a native can, yet she is intimately knowledgeable with the culinary practices and philosophy of China.

Helen is the author of Helen Chen’s Chinese Home Cooking (Hearst Books,1994), Peking Cuisine (Orion Books,1997), Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Chinese Stir-Fries (John Wiley & Sons, 2009) and Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Asian Noodles (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). For more information, visit

*Not affiliated with Joyce Chen products

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Truffle Oil

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Truffle Oil

Roasted Brussels sprouts with truffle oil. Beechwood spoon, made in France, and Rose’s Perfect Pie Plate, both from HIC.

Brussels sprouts – The consistently controversial vegetable.  Most people fall into one of two camps here – you either love Brussels sprouts, or detest them. Whether it’s the smell, the texture, or the bad reputation they bear for being displeasing, many people just don’t embrace the Brussels sprout.  The technique used in this recipe was passed along from a good friend, who has converted many previously averse, to become embracers of the veggie. What’s different in this recipe? It’s all about changing the texture – We’ll roast both whole and sliced Brussels sprouts together, achieving a mix of softer whole sprouts, and crunchier sliced bits. Love pancetta and cheese? You’re covered. Just scroll down to the “Variations” section at the bottom of this post.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Truffle Oil Recipe


  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed, ends trimmed, but left whole
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed, ends trimmmed, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. truffle oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Himalayan sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Step-by-Step Instructions

Preparing the Brussels sprouts

First, rinse well.

Brussels sprouts rinsed in collander

Brussels sprouts rinsed in collander

Trim the excess stem at the bottom.

Cutting Brussels Sprout Stem

Cutting the Brussels sprout stem

Then, pull the extra rougher leaves off from around the outside of the Brussels sprout.

Peeling Brussels Sprout Leaves

Peeling Brussels sprout leaves

Trim the stem a bit closer, and create a notch in the bottom. The notch aids in more even cooking.

Trim Brussels Sprout Stem Closely

Trim the Brussels sprout stem closely

Brussels Spout with notch cut into the bottom

Brussels spout with notch cut into the bottom

For this recipe we’re mixing both whole and sliced Brussels sprouts, because the smaller sliced pieces, as well as the bits that come off the sprout during the slicing process (don’t throw these out- put them in your roasting pan or pie plate) will become crunchier as they cook along side the whole sprouts, sopping up all of the truffle oil and collecting salt, adding savory flavor and variation in texture.

To prepare the sliced Brussels sprouts, first remove the stems and outside leaves, and cut the notch into the bottom. Then, cut in ¼-inch thick slices. We put The World’s Greatest™ Handy Dandy Super Slicer to work (To be notified when it’s available, Contact Us) which makes quick work of slicing any soft veggie or fruit in uniform widths, plus it locks in a closed position for drawer storage.  To note, if you have tough or very large Brussels sprouts, opt for a knife. The Handy Dandy Super Slicer works well if you have small, delicate sprouts. (Ergo Chef’s Pro Series Utility Knife is a great choice, with it’s ergonomic handle.)

Brussels Sprout in The World's Greatest Handy Dandy Super Slicer

Brussels sprout in The World’s Greatest Handy Dandy Super Slicer

Place both whole and sliced Brussels sprouts in a roasting pan or pie dish. In this recipe, we used Rose’s Perfect Pie Plate. Toss with 2 tbsp. truffle oil until the sprouts are well coated and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of Himalayan sea salt (you may prefer to add more to taste, after cooking) and a 1/2 tsp. or a few twists of fresh ground black pepper.

Brussels sprouts tossed with truffle oil and sea salt

Brussels sprouts tossed with truffle oil and sea salt

Brussels sprouts in Rose's Perfect Pie Plate, before roasting

Brussels sprouts in Rose’s Perfect Pie Plate, before roasting

Place the Brussels sprouts on the top rack of a 400-degree oven and cook for 20 minutes, then remove and stir so that the sprouts get coated with the truffle oil and salt that has migrated to the bottom of the pie plate. Put back in the 400 degree oven and cook for another 15 minutes, or until sprouts are browned. Note, the smaller pieces may brown more and have crunchier edges than the whole Brussels sprouts. The two compliment each other nicely.

Roasted brussels sprouts with truffle oil and sea salt

Roasted Brussels sprouts with truffle oil and sea salt


If you’d like to mix it up, here are a couple variations I’ve tried.

Use plain olive oil if you or your guests are not fond of truffles.

Toss in pancetta with the Brussels sprouts at the time roasting begins. This imparts a delicious flavor, and fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma of cooking bacon.

Add nuts during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Slivered almonds, pine nuts, or pecans are all delicious, sprinkled on top.

Add a 1/2 cup of grated cheese, such as Grana Padano or Romano, 5 minutes before roasting time is up. Stir in, and roast for the remaining time.

Contributed by Nicole H., of HIC

Roasted Broccoli & Cheddar Bisque from Modern Mrs. Cleaver

Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Bisque from Modern Mrs. Cleaver

Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Bisque from Modern Mrs. Cleaver

Modern Mrs. Cleaver first caught our attention almost a year ago, blogging with passion and humor, capturing and sharing her experiences with the world through beautiful photography and heart warming stories. She has a gift for inventing and passing along recipes that are cost effective and yet delicious and fun to make. We’re honored to have been a part of her recent recipe post, featuring Roasted Broccoli & Cheddar BisqueModern Mrs. Cleaver served her scrumptious bisque in our very own HIC Porcelain Lotus Bowl, reminding us that Autumn is not only a time to think about preparing our best nourishing, hearty, and comforting recipes, but also to be thoughtful in the presentation; That it can be as beautiful as the ingredients within. 

Looking for a few HIC Porcelain pieces for your table? Find yours.

Baked Squash with Anjou Pears

Baked Squash with Anjou Pears

Baked Squash with Anjou Pears

Baked squash with fresh picked Anjou pears – a perfect combination to welcome autumn’s arrival.

Winter squash is at it’s peak in markets around the country in late summer and early fall; this is the perfect time of year to incorporate this nutrient rich, delicious vegetable into your menu.  It can be incredibly versatile – perfect in sweet pies, savory side dishes, as a hearty salad topping, even used as a bowl for fall soups. We feature the winter squash varietal known as carnival squash in this post, beautifully colored in shades of gold, orange, and green, eye catching with it’s stripes and spots.  The meat inside is yellow and sweet, tasting a bit buttery and nutty when cooked. When picking out a winter squash, look for one free of moldy spots, and a hard, not tender skin.

Carnival Squash and Anjou Pear

Autumn’s Bounty – Carnival Squash and Anjou Pear

While perusing a local farmer’s market, we picked up fresh Anjou pears too – sweet, with a firmer texture than a Bartlett, which makes them a superior choice for cooking.

Baked Squash with Anjou Pear Recipe


1 carnival squash
3 Tbls butter
3 Tbls brown sugar
1 Anjou pear


Silpat baking mat (optional, but ideal for easily transferring baked squash wreaths to serving dishes)
Baking pan
Small pitcher to drizzle melted butter
Hard edged scraper or spatuala to remove squash seeds and distribute brown sugar

Step-by-Step Instructions


Carnival Squash

Remove top and bottom ½ inch from carnival squash. Slice remaining squash horizontally, into 3/4 inch thick slices. Remove seeds with a hard edge scraper. Place on baking sheet; using a Silpat mat is ideal to enable the squash wreaths to lift easily after baking, but you can make this dish without as Silpat too.


Sliced Carnival Squash on Silpat Baking Mat, Seeds Removed with Silicone Scraper Pictured

Slice and remove the core and seeds from the Anjou pear. Chop remaining slices into 1 inch pieces.

Carnival Squash Rounds Filled with Anjou Pear

Carnival Squash Rounds Filled with Anjou Pear

Fill each carnival squash rounds with chopped pear, and sprinkle with brown sugar.

Brown Sugar Adds a Touch of Sweetness to Anjou Pear Filled Carnival Squash

Brown Sugar Adds a Touch of Sweetness to Anjou Pear Filled Carnival Squash

Drizzle melted butter over the top.

Pour Butter over Squash and Pear Wreaths

Pour Butter over Squash and Pear Wreaths

Please in oven at 350 degrees, for 40 minutes. Serve!

Ideally, use a wide, flat spatula to transfer the squash wreaths to serving plates. 

Carnival Squash and Anjou Pear Wreaths

Carnival Squash and Anjou Pear Wreaths

Contributed by Nicole H., of HIC

Homemade Cavatelli from The Ranting Chef

Fante's Cousin Elisa's Cavatelli Maker

Fante’s Cousin Elisa’s Cavatelli Maker

Heard the Rantings of an Amateur Chef? This is the blog of Pat Geyer, who embarks on frequent culinary adventures, kindly sharing his lessons and excitement with lucky fans. We wanted to share his recent homemade cavatelli quest with you here at The Useful Tool. Pat put our Fante’s Cousin Elisa’s Cavatelli Maker to the test (made in partnership with the Fante family of Philadelphia) teaching readers how to turn out beautiful shell-shaped cavatelli pasta noodles. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make homemade cavatelli, Pat has you covered.

Cheese Spaetzle Recipe and Spaetzle Maker or “Hobel” Tips

Cheese Spaetzle or käsespätzle

Cheese Spaetzle or käsespätzle

Spätzle, as my Grandma Esther would spell it, loosely means “little sparrow” and gets it’s name from a time before kitchen tools like spaetzle makers, or “hobels” as they’re also known, were readily available. Historically it was shaped by hand with a spoon or knife and was thought to resemble small birds. Spaetzle is the base of many dishes in a cookbook my Grandma presented to me on my 16th birthday; A fantastic compilation of family photographs spanning 5 generations, rustic recipes laden with meat and starchy vegetables meant to feed a large farming family, ingredient lists calling for everything from goat’s milk to “Aunt Edna’s canned pears,” plenty of spaetzle, and clippings from newspapers and magazines that had significance to my Grandmother either culinary or personal. This book is a time capsule and I smile every time I go through it.

Spaetzle is traditionally used as a base for both sweet and savory dishes, soups, and one-dish meals, as it is in my family cookbook. It’s inexpensive, filling, and can be modified to please a variety of palates. I’ve attempted every recipe in Grandma’s cookbook including spaetzle with cherry sauce made with Grandma next to me, others like squash pie made along side my dad, and the one I’m sharing here – Käse or Light Cheese Spaetzle – I make for my family. Grandma Esther left a sweet message in the book, noting, “Dear Nee Nee, some of the dishes may not be so practical for modern times (Maybe she was thinking of the kidney pie? My ancestors didn’t waste a bit.) I hope you find a few that you can enjoy.” And I have. The flavor and texture of spaetzle is comforting, and brings warm feelings of nostalgia. It’s quick to whip together for guests, plus one batch of noodles can be topped a variety of ways to suit everyone around the table. I hope you might enjoy it too.

Grandma Esther’s käsespätzle or Spaetzle with Cheese Recipe

Spaetzle Ingredients

Spaetzle Ingredients

Spaetzle Ingredients (Makes 2 servings; Modified from original which served 10)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (this imparts a nuttier, heartier texture)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk

Spaetzle Dressing:
2 pats butter
½ cup grated cheese (my Grandmother used Emmentaler, a harder German cheese) Here is a great website with a guide to German cheeses, for your perusal.
Additional salt and pepper to season

Tools: Spaetzle Maker or Hobel. Visit HIC’s “Where to Buy” page to find one at a kitchen shop near you.


Combine the flour, salt and pepper.

Dry Spaetzle Ingredients

Dry Spaetzle Ingredients

Wet Spaetzle Ingredients

Wet Spaetzle Ingredients

In a second bowl, whisk the eggs and then add in the milk.

Create a depression in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. The flour should be added and blended gently and slowly, scraping from the sides of the bowl, until well combined.

Wet and Dry Spaetzle ingredients

Blend dry ingredients slowly into wet spaetzle ingredients

The dough should be thick but not ridged, like a stiff muffin batter. I find the dough is easiest to work with, when I refrigerate for 10 minutes before placing in the spaetzle maker or “Hobel.”

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Make sure the pot is wide enough to allow for the spaetzle maker to sit on top, if using this device. Place the spaetzle maker over the pot, and clip to one edge.

Spaetzle maker clipping to 4 quart pot

Spaetzle maker clipping to 4 quart pot

Fill the hopper with a ball of dough, filling it to the top. Slide the hopper across, and watch the dough fall through the holes, into the simmering pot below!

Moving dough through spaetzle maker

Moving dough through spaetzle maker

Do this in batches so you don’t get a thick layer of spaetzle accumulating, which can clump together. With this size recipe, and using a 4 quart pot, I found I don’t have to do batches, I can make all the spaetzle at once and there’s enough surface area on the top of the pot to deter clumping. This dough recipe fills the hoper of the spaetzle maker exactly once. You know the spaetzle is done, when it floats to the surface of the pot.

floating spaetzle

floating spaetzle

Stir it gently to prevent it from sticking. Remove the finished spaetzle noodles form the pot with a slotted spoon or dump the whole pot into a smooth surface colander (not a mesh strainer, I find it sticks to the mesh) and give it a light rinse of cold water.

Place the rinsed spaetzle into a bowl with sides high enough to permit tossing, and drop the 2 pats of butter on top. The heat of the spaetzle will melt the butter. Stir in. Sprinkle the cheese into the bowl as well, and stir to combine with the buttered spaetzle. Dish into smaller bowls, and add a little more salt and pepper to taste, if desired. (Or, more cheese on top.) Dig in!

Cheese Spaetzle

Cheese Spaetzle

Article Contributed by Nicole H., of HIC

Straight Up Deviled Eggs from Elizabeth Karmel

It’s finally here, the official start to grilling season—although anyone who knows me, knows that I grill year ’round!  Still, Memorial Day is a great time to celebrate cooking outdoors.
I love creating a build your own burger bar when I cook for a crowd.  It’s easy on the cook (me!) and lots of fun for my company.  I make up a mess of patties in advance and simply fill the grill with them.  When they are done, I put them on a platter and they join the buffet of buns, topping and condiments that I have laid out.  Because there are so many fun and tasty ways to top the burgers, I always count on each person having two.  This is a real crowd pleaser.
The day before my cookout, I always make my Straight Up Deviled Eggs while I am getting all the burger toppings together.  The eggs actually taste better once all the  deviled flavors have had a chance to meld and marry in the fridge. Try presenting the eggs in my Grill Friends Porcelain Egg Crate.  It is functional and whimsical.  But note that you will need to cut the eggs across instead of lengthwise.

On the day of the party, all you have to do is fill the shells with the deviled mixture.  I love that all the hard work is done and I have more time to enjoy my party!

Elizabeth Karmel

Straight-up Deviled Eggs Recipe

These classic deviled eggs are summer on a plate and a welcome addition to an cookout!

1 dozen large eggs
⅓ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons strong Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Zest of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of garlic powder
2-4 shakes Tabasco
Sea salt to taste
Smoked Paprika or minced fresh chives for garnish

Place the eggs in a large stockpot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, cover and turn off the heat.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water until eggs are cool to the touch.  Let sit another ten minutes.

Porcelain Egg Tray, part of Elizabeth Karmel's Grill Friends BBQ line. Made by HIC, Harold Import Co.

Porcelain Egg Tray, part of Elizabeth Karmel’s Grill Friends BBQ line. Made by HIC, Harold Import Co.

Peel eggs carefully, keeping whites in tact.  Cut in half across the middle and remove yolks.  Set whites aside in the Grill Friends Porcelain Egg Crate.  Break yolks up and mash with a fork until all large pieces are broken up and smooth.

Add mayonnaise, mustard, butter, lemon zest and juice, garlic powder and Tabasco.  Stir well.  Taste and season with sea salt.  Just before serving, place in a pastry bag or use a small spoon to fill egg white “boats” with “deviled” egg yolk mixture.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika for classic eggs, chives for a fancier-looking version.

Makes 24 deviled eggs

Looking for a juicy burger recipe? Check out Elizabeth Karmel’s Backyard Burgers. Try the Grill Friends Steakhouse Burger Press to make quick work of perfect patties.

Grill Friends Steakhouse Burger Press

Grill Friends Steakhouse Burger Press

Learn more about the Grill Friends line at

Aunt Gina’s Lasagna – A Traditional Italian Recipe from the Fante Family of Philadelphia

Fante Family

Fante Family

Sunday Dinners: The Special Occasions. Contributed by The Fante family.

Since I was a little girl, Sundays were reserved for family.  Both my parents’ businesses – Fante’s (a kitchen wares shop) and Esposito’s (a butcher shop) in the Italian Market of Philadelphia both closed by 2PM in order to have mid-afternoon Sunday dinner.  Along with my sister and 3 cousins, we would spend the whole day at our Nonni’s (grandparents’) home:  going to church, helping cook dinner and playing together. My Nonna would wake up at the crack of dawn to chop all the vegetables for the gravy and start it simmering with the tomatoes which she would put through a food mill to create a uniform sauce.  She would then make the meatballs and sausage, fry them, and add them to the sauce, which would be simmering on low heat by the time my sister and I woke up and made it downstairs for our traditional chocolate chip pancake breakfast (we were totally spoiled).

Filled to the brim with pancakes, we would help her to make the pasta dough and leave it to rest, covered, while we went to church.  When we returned, we would continue to cook the sauce, allowing it to simmer while we rolled out the dough on the manual pasta maker.  All of the cousins took turns working the crank and catching the pasta – it was always at least a 2-cousin job.

Normal Sunday dinners meant fresh meatballs, sausage and gravy served with homemade pasta of some kind.  For special occasions like birthdays and holidays, we would do trays of lasagna. Nonna would supervise all of the extra tasks for making the lasagna, the most important being the fresh grated cheese.  We love cheese!  And did I mention our Sunday dinners included an epic amount of food?  Every week about 12 family members would join us around a table meant for 6, filled with enough food to comfortably feed 30.  These large trays of lasagna require a lot of cheese.  The older cousins were responsible to grate about a pound of parmesan and shred about 2 pounds of mozzarella.  We all proudly sported some scarred knuckles from the rasp we used [that we swear] she had brought with her from Italy.  It was torture.  She eventually replaced it with a large rotary grater which made the job so much easier!   It handled the volume, and it was simple to swap the drums for each cheese.  We could also all take turns since it didn’t require as much elbow grease or Band-Aids. We are so excited to have a new cousin (#6) – Nico!  We can’t wait for the day we can enlist his help to use the grater named after him to make some Sunday dinner lasagna. Here is the recipe for a smaller-portion of our lasagna.  We typically make it with just sauce and cheese. You can certainly substitute bought lasagna for the pasta portions and add meat to customize it to your family’s tastes.  You can also find many of our family recipes (as well as embarrassing family photos) included with the Fante’s line of products.  Buon appetito!

Aunt Gina of the Fante Family

Aunt Gina of the Fante Family

Aunt Gina’s Lasagna

Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 lb. homemade lasagna strips
1 lb. ground meat (beef, pork or mixture)
4 cups salsa marinara (recipe, scroll down)
16 oz. mozzarella, shredded
16 oz. grated cheese (parmigiano and pecorino)

1. Brown ground meat in a fry pan then drain off the fat. Place salsa marinara in a sauce pan, stir in browned meat and heat gently over a medium flame until it’s hot. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking.

2. Meanwhile, roll pasta dough (scroll down for recipe) to desired thickness and cut into 2 ½” wide strips (Try Cousin Daniele’s Expandable Dough Cutter. Available at Fante’s)

Fante's Cousin Daniele's Expandable Dough Cutter

Fante’s Cousin Daniele’s Expandable Dough Cutter

3. Spoon hot meat sauce into the bottom of a 11” x 15” baking dish.

4. Place a single layer of lasagna strips into the baking dish, lengthwise. Layer with grated cheese (try Fante’s Papa Francesco’s Rotary Cheese Grater or Fante’s Cousin Nico’s Suction Base Cheese Grater, available at Fante’s)  and mozzarella then top with meat sauce. Repeat these steps for the second layer but place lasagna strips widthwise. Alternating the direction of the pasta strips will keep your lasagna from falling apart when it’s cut.

Fante's Cousin Nico's Suction Base Cheese Grater

Fante’s Cousin Nico’s Suction Base Cheese Grater

5. Repeat step 5 to make as many layers as you like. Finish by spooning more sauce on top and sprinkle with grated cheese. 6. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until sauce and cheese are bubbling. Remove lasagna from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Grandma Nadia of the Fante Family

Grandma Nadia of the Fante Family

Grandma Nadia’s Pasta Dough

Makes 2 pounds of dough
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 to 8 ounces tepid water, as needed

1. Place flour on a wooden board, make a well and break the eggs into it.

2. If you prefer, you can mix it in a bowl with a fork or in an electric mixer with a dough hook.

Pasta Dough Step 1

Pasta Dough Step 1


Nadias Pasta Dough Step 2

3. Slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs. There should be just enough moisture so the ingredients stick together to form a smooth, elastic ball but not enough to stick to the table or bowl.

Pasta Dough Step 3

Pasta Dough Step 3

Nadias Pasta Dough Step 4

Pasta Dough Step 4

4. You may need to add a bit of water if the dough is too dry and crumbly, or a bit more flour if too wet and sticky.

5. Cover the dough with a clean towel and let it set for about 30 minutes.

6. Use a sharp knife to cut off a chunk from the ball (photo 4).

7. Flatten the chunk of dough with the heal of your hand then roll it out to the desired thickness with a floured rolling pin.

8. Proceed with Step 2 of Aunt Gina’s lasagna recipe instructions, above.

Attilio of the Fante Family

Attilio of the Fante Family

Attilio’s and Mariella’s Salsa Marinara – Marinara Sauce

Makes 1 quart (4 to 6 servings)
36-oz. can crushed tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (Try Fante’s Uncle Cristian’s Garlic Slicer and Grater, available at Fante’s)

Fante's Uncle Cristians Garlic Slicer and Grater

Fante’s Uncle Cristians Garlic Slicer and Grater

¼ onion, coarsely chopped
Olive oil Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Sauté garlic, onion and red pepper in olive oil. Remove them from the oil before they brown.

2. Add tomatoes.

3. Simmer for about 40 minutes.

4. After 15 minutes add salt and pepper to taste.

5. After another 30 minutes, check sauce for consistency; if too watery, leave lid off to reduce.

6. Stir often to avoid sticking, especially if the pot you’re using does not have a heavy bottom.

Buon appetito!


Asparagus Salad with an Asian Twist – A Recipe to Celebrate Spring from Helen Chen

Article contributed by leading Asian culinary expert, cookbook author, cooking instructor, and developer of Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen® cookware and cooking supplies, Helen Chen.

Asparagus Salad

Asparagus Salad

I so look forward to spring.  Not only for the promise of warm weather and longer days, but also for the anticipation of fresh local produce.  What better harbinger of the coming seasonal bounty than asparagus.

In New England, we have a number of farms that grow this delectable vegetable, but in Western Massachusetts, the town of Hadley, crowned “The Asparagus Capital of the World,” is famous for it.  I don’t know if that moniker is still actually true, but here in Massachusetts we are used to hyperbole.  To us, Boston is “The Hub of the Universe!”

Asparagus fits beautifully into Asian cuisine where it is most commonly parboiled or stir fried.  One of my favorite (and easiest) asparagus recipes is a salad I learned from my mother.   She always made it when asparagus were in season.  It’s quick, incredibly easy and pairs deliciously with Asian or Western foods.  I make it all the time and have converted many friends with this recipe.


When buying asparagus, look for bright green spears with tight crowns.  Anything limp, yellowed or wrinkled should be passed by.  I prefer spears that are at least ½” in diameter because I think the thicker spears are more tender and better tasting.   Be careful not to overcook the spears and remember to immediately plunge them into cold water after cooking to maintain that spring green color and tender-crisp texture.

Welcome spring to your table with this tasty asparagus salad.  Happy Spring!

Helen Chen


1 pound fresh asparagus

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1.  Cut or snap off the tough ends of the asparagus.  Wash well and cut on the diagonal into 1½-inch lengths.  (I like to use my incredibly sharp Ceramic Paring Knife)

2.  Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.  Add the asparagus pieces and as soon as the water returns to a boil, drain and quickly cool in cold water to stop the cooking.  Drain well.  (The asparagus may be cooked a day ahead and refrigerated)

3. Just before serving, place the asparagus in a serving dish and toss with the soy sauce and sesame oil.  Serve at room temperature.


Among my (and just about every professional chef’s) favorite and frequently used tools for straining are my “Spider” skimmers and basket.  They are affectionately called “spiders” because of the “web” of hand-woven stainless steel wire that make up the basket.  They drain incredibly fast and thoroughly.  Even better than a colander!

Spider Strainer Basket

Spider Strainer Basket

With the Spider Strainer Basket, simply fill it with the asparagus pieces and place the whole basket into the boiling water. Convenient hooks on the handle allow the basket to be attached to the side of the pot.  When the asparagus are done just lift the basket out of the hot water and rinse under cold water in the sink. See where to find a Spider Strainer Basket near you.

Would you like to meet Helen? See Helen Chen’s Cooking class schedule.

Copyright © 1994 and 2013 by Helen Chen.  All rights reserved.

Biography of the Author, Helen Chen

Helen Chen

Helen Chen

Helen Chen is a widely acknowledged expert in Chinese cooking. Besides her role as an educator and cookbook author, she also is a product and business consultant to the housewares industry. In 2007 she created and developed a new line of Asian kitchenware under the brand name, “Helen’s Asian Kitchen,” expressly for Harold Import Company in New Jersey.

Having been born in China, and raised and educated in the United States, Helen brings the best of both worlds to her approach to the art of Chinese cuisine. She understands the needs of the American cook as only a native can, yet she is intimately knowledgeable with the culinary practices and philosophy of China.

Helen is the author of Helen Chen’s Chinese Home Cooking (Hearst Books,1994), Peking Cuisine (Orion Books,1997), Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Chinese Stir-Fries (John Wiley & Sons, 2009) and Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Asian Noodles (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). For more information, visit

*Not affiliated with Joyce Chen Products