Category Archives: Cook – Recipes from Friends

The Perfect Burger with HIC

The official start of grilling season is upon us. To ensure you are ready to prepare one of the top grilling favorites, the burger, HIC, Harold Import Co. has just the right tools.

Break out the grills and learn how best to prepare your patties, and your fries, for a perfect meal.

Here are a few tips for great tasting burgers.

  • You want your burgers juicy, so don’t go too lean. Choose your standard ground beef with 20% fat.
  • Add flavorings – onions, garlic, herbs and spices, but hold off on the salt at this point, as it will draw out the moisture.
  • Bind it together with an egg and some breadcrumbs.
  • Shape it using the HIC Burger Press.
  • Chill the burgers for an hour or more. This will help them keep their shape when cooking.
  • Plop them on the grill, and cook to your desired doneness. You can sprinkle them with salt while cooking – and, don’t forget to add cheese!

Check out these essential tools to create a

delicious burger feast with HIC. 

Our quarter pound burger press helps you quickly form burger patties that are uniform in thickness so they cook evenly throughout, AND they’re perfectly sized for your buns. So versatile, the HIC Burger Press can be used for any type of patties – beef, turkey, chicken, sausage or veggie. They are also great to use when preparing quinoa cakes and even individual hash browns!

For the perfect French fries, the HIC French Fry Potato Cutter cuts uniformly sized pieces so they cook evenly.  The cutter is designed to give you the ability to make thick cut or shoestring fried potatoes (or julienned veggies).

Round out your barbecue with delicious corn on the cob. HIC’s Corn Dishes are perfect for serving buttery sweet corn on the cob. The deeply curved shape cradles the cob, keeping them from rolling away, while containing butter. Perfect for effortless indoor and outdoor entertaining.

For more grilling inspiration this barbecue season, visit HIC, Harold Import Co.

Tuesday’s Tool: The Tortilla Press


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Cinco de Mayo is almost here! It’s time to start planning a delicious Mexican-inspired meal that will impress your family and friends.

HIC’s Tortilla Press is specially designed for creating 6.25-inch homemade tortillas and other artisan flat breads of the perfect thickness every time.  Made from heavyweight aluminum for durability, the sturdy handle provides for effortless leverage when making     tortillas.

If you’ve never made your own tortillas, you don’t know how easy it is to do. (Five simple steps!)

  1. Prepare your dough recipe or use ready-made dough.
  2. For best results, line both sides of the press with plastic wrap, wax paper, or parchment paper to prevent dough from sticking to the press.
  3. Roll a small amount of dough into a ball and place it in the center of the press. Flatten the dough slightly by hand then close the press.
  4. Fold the handle over the press and apply a firm pressure to create griddle-ready rounds.
  5. Gently remove the plastic wrap from the flattened dough and cook according to recipe.

The press is handy for making a variety of flatbreads, including Caribbean roti, focaccia, moo shoo pancakes, mini pie or tart shells, and more.

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You can purchase the HIC Tortilla Press here.

Stainless Steel Straws


Here in the U.S. it is estimated that we use nearly 500 million plastic strays each day. That is enough plastic straws to wrap around the earth almost 9 times every year!

Plastic straws and stirrers are listed as one of the top 10 marine plastic debris, contaminating our water and our marine life as well as so much more as it is carried up the food chain.

Change the tide of pollution and look for ways to cut back on plastic pollution this Earth Day. Using stainless steel reusable straws are one of the many ways you can make an impact.

HIC’s 18/8 Stainless Steel Drinking Straws add a splash of style to everyday beverages, smoothies, shakes, party drinks and cocktails. More economical and environmentally friendly than using traditional disposable straws, these straws are ideal for use at home or on the go.

They have a polished finish for a great look and are angled to make drinking from them easier. The reusable straws won’t rust, corrode, break, stain, absorb or transfer food flavors or odors.



The set includes four 18/8 stainless steel straws and a nylon-bristle cleaning brush, perfectly sized to fit inside the straws.

Wash in warm, soapy water and scrub the interior with the cleaning brush, then rinse well. They are also dishwasher safe.

You can purchase them here.

Make a Style Statement with HIC’s Copper Barware


Add the subtle and warm glow of copper to the bar with HIC’s eye-catching collection of bar tools. In line with bar and kitchen décor trends, the copper bar tools are the perfect choice for every home bar enthusiast as well as the professional.

Following contemporary style trends, copper elevates our barware collection with style and taste. With the HIC Copper Barware, you’ll enjoy the benefits of copper, which is known to enhance the drinking experience. The copper-plated 18/8 stainless steel barware insulates the beverage to maintain drink temperature.

From Margaritas to Moscow Mules, the HIC Copper Barware is poised to add a creative style to a perfectly prepared drink.


The complete collection includes a Copper Cocktail Shaker, Double Jigger, Hip Flask, and on-trend hammered copper Moscow Mule Drinking Mug. For more information, visit HIC, Harold Import Co.

Tuesday’s Tool: The World’s Greatest Dual-Action Potato Masher and Ricer


Rich, creamy and smooth!

Thanksgiving is almost here, and that means mashed potatoes are on the menu. The World’s Greatest Dual-Action Potato Masher and Ricer from HIC, Harold Import Co. is specially designed with a spring-loaded action to mash and rice potatoes ensuring lumps are eliminated in a single action! More efficient than using a typical masher with open-wire design, the Dual-Action Potato Masher and Ricer breaks food down with the wires and extrudes it through the holes in the built-in ricer disc to eliminate lumps for a smoother, creamier texture.

MasherInUseA versatile addition to your holiday cooking tools collection, the Potato Masher Ricer is great for mashing softer cooked foods, like potatoes, yams, pumpkin, squash, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, carrots, apples, bananas, and more.

Made from 18/8 stainless steel, The World’s Greatest Dual-Action Potato Masher Ricer is sturdy, durable, and will never rust or transfer flavors or odors between uses.

Easy to use and clean. Rinse immediately before starches harden. Dishwasher safe for a thorough cleaning.


Coeur à La Crème: Getting to the Heart of Things this Valentine’s Day

Simple to make, and delightful to eat, the Coeur à la Crème is a classic French dessert made with a few simple ingredients and topped with fresh fruit, making it a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day – or any day – with a loved one.

The French call it coeur à la crème (or heart of cream). It is a rich and creamy dessert that is believed to get its start in the French countryside way back in the Middle Ages. Most likely born out of efficiency, and the desire to use all ingredients on hand, the dairymaids discovered that when the whey drained from the milk during traditional cheesemaking, the remaining curds could be mixed with leftover cream to create a delightfully light and fresh cheese that was made even more tasty when topped with the sweetness of the fresh fruits of the season.

The dessert is relatively inexpensive to make, featuring only a few ingredients, and just a bit of preparation time.   Using only cottage cheese, cream cheese, and heavy cream, which are then mixed and placed in a mold lined with cheesecloth so it can drain, the creamy treat is ready to eat in a few hours — although some Coeur à la Crème makers like to prepare this two days ahead of time to allow for the proper draining, and melding of the flavors of the dairy used.

Essential to the process is the draining of the liquids from the cheeses. The dairymaids of old used a strainer or colander to do the trick, but today, it is traditional to prepare it in a heart-shaped Coeur à la Crème mold. Made of porcelain and perforated at the bottom to allow the ‘whey’ to drain, and the curds to remain, the Coeur à la Crème mold is lined with cheesecloth or kitchen paper, and set above a pan or bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours, before it is ready to enjoy.

Molds vary in sizes, but the individual 4” (15 oz.) molds are a great way to serve up a romantic treat for two on Valentine’s Day, or even for individual servings at a dinner party.

This fresh cheese creation is delightful when created in the classic heart-shaped mold, and served as a complement to afternoon tea, alongside a cup of coffee for dessert, or a glass of wine for a romantic, and creamy, way to top off a Valentine’s Day meal with your loved one.

Quick and easy to create, here is an old-fashioned Coeur à la Crème recipe that will delight anyone this Valentine’s Day.

Old-Fashioned Coeur à la Crème

  • 1, 8 oz. container of whipped cream cheese
  • 1, 8 oz. container of cottage cheese, farmer cheese, or ricotta
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 container of fresh berries, washed
  • or, 1 package of frozen berries, thawed.

1. Blend the cream cheese with cottage cheese, and slowly add the heavy cream. This can be done by hand or in a food processor.

2. Line the Coeur à la Crème mold with cheesecloth or kitchen paper and pour in the blended cheese.

3. Place the mold over a bowl (to catch the draining whey), the slip it into the refrigerator, and chill for at least four hours.

4. Once firm and draining is complete, unmold the cheese by carefully turning it top-side-down on the serving platter.

When ready to eat, it is traditionally served with fresh berries or jam, but can also be topped with a chocolate sauce. Or, you can sweeten things up a bit by mixing a bit of sugar, vanilla and a fruit liqueur to create a fruit sauce that will accompany fresh berries. If desired, the Coeur a la Crème can even be served as an appetizer, and topped with savory seasonings or herbs.

However you serve it, the Coeur à la Crème is a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day, yet can be enjoyed all year round.

To learn more about HIC, Harold Import Co/’s Coeur à la Crème, available in an individual 4″ (15 oz.) size, or 7.25″ (24. oz) size, visit here.

To purchase, visit here.


Tuesday’s Tool: Fante’s Mamma Maria’s Mezzaluna



Fante’s Mamma Maria’s Mezzaluna Rocking Chopper quickly transforms ingredients with a speed and efficiency that’s unmatched by knives to save time during food preparation.

Made in Italy, the beautifully curved blade, with its half-moon profile, makes quick work of chopping and mincing foods. Featuring a 9-1/2” stainless steel blade with beechwood handles, this versatile addition to cutlery and chef knives helps prepare quick healthy meals. Use it for mincing and chopping garlic, herbs, fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, even block chocolate, and more. It doubles nicely as a pizza cutter, too. Its ergonomic design is comfortable and easy to use.

To learn more about the Mezzaluna, visit us here. To purchase, visit our Where to Buy page, or here.



HIC, Harold Import Co. Signs Deal as Exclusive Supplier for Marcato Line of Italian Made Products


(January, 2016) Building on a tradition that began three generations ago, HIC, Harold Import Co. is proud to announce that as of January 1, 2016, the company will be the exclusive supplier of Marcato products here in the U.S. Marcato S.P.A. is the leading manufacturer in the world of machines and accessories for fresh pasta, biscuits, bread and pizza.

HIC, Harold Import Co. has a three-decade relationship with Marcato, providing the company’s retail customers with pasta machines and accessories from this iconic brand since the 1990’s.

“With this new agreement, we are excited to offer our customers a full range of products from this iconic brand,” explains Robert Laub, president, HIC, Harold Import Co. “Like HIC, Marcato is a family run business, and our long-standing relationship with Marcato has set the groundwork for our new agreement in which HIC, Harold Import Co. will be the exclusive supplier of Marcato products in the U.S. As the the full line source for all Marcato products in the U.S., we are confident that our partnership will prove to be a successful brand-building venture.”

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Marcato’s history began in 1930 when Otello Marcato started producing pasta machines in a small workshop behind his house. His dream was to bring the authentic flavor of life in the kitchen – recipes, floury hands and smiles at the table – into every family.

“We are keenly interested in strengthening our relationships with retailers and consumers, and our confident that our agreement with HIC is a perfect way to continue to build the Marcato brand in the U.S.,” explains Giacomo Marcato, vice president, Marcato, S.p.A. “In addition to offering a full range of products to the U.S. market, we are dedicated to strengthening our relationship with retailers, supporting them with exciting brand-building opportunities including product training, in-store demonstrations, and consumer outreach programs,” Marcato added.

Under the agreement, HIC, Harold Import Co. will offer an extensive collection of high-quality and colorful Marcato products including the world-famous Atlas 150 pasta machine along with its 13 accessories for creating pasta of different thickness, cuts and shapes. Also available is a Ravioli Tablet, the Pasta Drying Rack, Pasta Rake, and Dispenser, in addition to Marcato’s Biscuit Maker – all made in Italy at the family factory.

HIC, Harold Import Co. offers the best culinary supplies, essential cooking tools, gourmet kitchen supplies and food preparation equipment at the most affordable prices. With more than 3,000 culinary supply products from the company’s own brands, exclusive brands, and top brands, HIC products are available in over 10,000 retail outlets worldwide.

Marcato will be holding a demo in the Kitchen Theater on Saturday, January 16th from 1:30-2:30 during the AmericasMart Atlanta. During the International Home + Housewares Show, held in Chicago this March, Chef Fabio Vivani, chef, culinary personality, restaurateur and cookbook author, will be at the HC, Harold Import Co. booth demonstrating Marcato products, signing books and sharing stories about Italy. Stay tuned for more details on this fun event.

For more information, contact HIC, Harold Import Co., at 800-526-2163. For media inquiries, contact Laura Everage,, 415-306-4546.


Mrs. Anderson’s Animal Cracker Cookie Cutters

Oh, the memories so many of us have of reaching into a circus-train shaped box and pulling out an elephant, camel, hippo, goat or donkey cookie. Animal Crackers are a favorite childhood treat, and  HIC brings you the Mrs. Anderson’s Animal Cracker Cookie Cutter Set. This delightful collection of four cookie cutters (elephant, giraffe, zebra and lion) lets you create your own home-made animal cookies.

Made of BPA-free plastic, the cookie cutters come with a spring-action that stamps a design into the dough while aiding in the release of the  shapes. Perfect for homemade animal crackers, the set is also fun to use when creating decorative pie crusts, or baking gingerbread cookies.

To use, roll out the cookie dough and sprinkle a little flour on the cutters to keep the dough from sticking. Press the cookie cutter firmly into the dough, then press the spring-action lever to emboss the design into the dough and release the cookie.

Below is a recipe that is included with the set — but you can experiment and use your favorite cookie cutter recipe —  You can even try making chocolate Animal Cookies.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this item is donated to Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). C-CAP works with public schools across the country to prepare disadvantaged high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. HIC is proud to support C-CAP by donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of select items. To learn more visit

Lemony Shortbread Animal Cookies


    1 lb butter

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp lemon zest

2 tsp lemon juice

4 cups all purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Mix in lemon juice. Scrape down sides of bowl to incorporate ingredients.

Add 2 cups of flour into the mixture and combine until incorporated. Then, add remaining flour until dough begins to form a ball. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl, incorporating all ingredients.

Wrap dough ball in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly flour rolling pin and work surface. Once dough is chilled, roll out dough to 1/4″ thick. Use the Mrs. Anderson’s Animal Cookie Cutters to cut dough into desired shapes. Place cut Shapes onto baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees F, for 9 to 12 minutes, or until edges are a light golden brown.

The Lemony Shortbread Animal Cookie Recipe was created by Christopher Williams, who attended  Richards Career Academy and graduated with a Scholarship from C-CAP to attend Johnson & Wales University in Colorado. He graduated in 2010 and currently works as a pastry chef.

The History Behind Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen New Easy Stir-Fry Sauce Bottle

Article Contributed by Nicole Herman, with Notes from Helen Chen

Helen Chen is a leading Asian culinary expert, cookbook author, cooking instructor and developer of Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen® cookware and cooking supplies, in partnership with Harold Import Co. (Scroll to the base of this post to learn more about Helen.) Every great tool has a great story – This is the history behind Helen’s new Easy Stir-Fry Sauce Bottle.

Helen Chen Teaching a Stir-Fry Cooking Class

Helen Chen Teaching a Stir-Fry Cooking Class

A Note From Helen –

It all started with a brilliant idea from my mother, Joyce Chen. In the 1950’s our restaurant was the first to serve authentic Sichuan dishes before Sichuan cuisine was even on the radar in the United States. The two most popular dishes were the ones made in the Kung Pao and Yu Xiang styles.  These dishes quickly became favorites with our restaurant clientele.  Since all of our dishes were cooked to order, our chefs had to cook the most popular ones multiple times each night.  My mother’s creative idea was to make the sauces herself, in advance, and have our chefs cook with them.  This would not only save them time, but also provide consistent quality control so no matter which chef cooked the dish, it would always come out of the kitchen perfectly delicious every time.

Chinese chefs can be just as temperamental as any other professional chef, but it was a testament to the quality of these sauces that our chefs not only agreed to use them, but quickly embraced the idea whole-heartedly when they realized how quick and easy they were to use…and how delicious they tasted.

For my mother, who was always thinking of ways to improve her art, it was a natural progression to take this concept from our restaurant kitchen to home kitchens.  For a time we had our own line of bottled stir-fry sauces.  Although they are no longer in production, people who remember them always tell me how wonderful they were and ask where they can buy more.

Enter, Helen’s Asian Kitchen Easy Stir-Fry Sauce Bottle.  The genesis of my new stir-fry sauce bottle came from my mother’s incredibly innovative idea of making her own stir-fry sauces, and  now you can too! I’ve chosen four of my own delicious and versatile stir-fry sauces that can make the home cook a master chef.  Now stir-frying can be truly quick, easy and always delicious.

Helen Chen Teaching Stir-Fry Cooking Class

Helen Chen Teaching Stir-Fry Cooking Class

My four unique sauces (Mandarin Orange, Canton Oyster, Beijing Hoisin and Sichuan Black Bean) are made with ingredients that can be readily found in most American supermarkets.  And for those people with food allergies, making sauces from scratch allows for substitutions that fit dietary requirements.  To use, simply follow the recipe – ingredients and quantities are printed right on the bottle – shake, and you’re ready to cook.  The sauces are incredibly versatile and may be used with just about any meat, seafood, vegetable, noodles or even as a marinade for kebabs or for barbecuing.  With your own bottled cooking sauces it’s easy to cook for one or for eight.  Plus, once the sauce is made, it will keep in the refrigerator for future use.

I’d like to share with you an easy stir-fry noodles recipe made with my Canton Oyster sauce, the recipe for which is also found right on my Easy Stir-Fry Sauce Bottle.

Recipe: Helen’s Easy Stir-Fry Noodles with Oyster Sauce (made in Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen® Easy Stir Fry Sauce Bottle)

Helen Chen's Easy Stir Fry Noodles

Helen Chen’s Easy Stir Fry Noodles with Oyster Sauce

You may vary the type and amount of shredded vegetables in this versatile recipe, or make it vegetarian by omitting the meat.  The stir-fry sauce will provide all the rich flavor you’ll need.

Serves 6

1 pound dry Chinese wheat noodles or thin spaghetti
8 ounces shredded lean pork or chicken breast
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons dry sherry
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
10 ounces shredded napa cabbage
5 medium dried black mushrooms, soaked in hot water 15 mins until soft
2 ounces snow peas, ends snapped off, strings removed and shredded on the diagonal
1 medium carrot, shredded
½ cup canned shredded bamboo shoots, drained
6 tablespoons Canton Oyster Stir Fry Sauce, or more to taste  (Made using the recipe on Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen® Easy Stir Fry Sauce Bottle, or you can purchase a pre-made sauce from your local grocer or Asian food specialty store.)

1.  In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until a little softer than al dente.  Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again.  Set aside.

2. In a small bowl mix meat with cornstarch and sherry. Drain the mushrooms and squeeze dry.  Cut off the stems with scissors and discard. Shred caps.

3.  In a wok, heat cooking oil over medium-high heat, add the well-stirred meat mixture and stir-fry about two minutes or until it separates and changes color, about 1 minute. Add the onion, cabbage, mushrooms, carrot and bamboo shoots and stir until the cabbage begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.

4.  Sprinkle the noodles with a few tablespoons of water to loosen them up, drain, then add them to the pan.  Pour the Canton Oyster Stir Fry Sauce over the noodles and add in the snow peas. Continue tossing and stirring until well mixed and evenly colored, about 1 minute.  Taste and add more sauce, if desired. Transfer the noodles to a serving platter and serve immediately.

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

Homemade Spaghetti Noodles Using Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin

Contributed by Liana, of the Fante family of Philadelphia.

Fante's Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Growing up, we made homemade spaghetti a couple of times a week with a pasta machine. In fact, my nonna had her machine set up on a table in her basement 24/7. That was her permanent pasta making station. After we were done rolling out and cutting the spaghetti, we brushed off the machine with a pastry brush and covered it with a homemade tea cozy until the next Sunday. Imagine that I thought we were totally normal! Doesn’t everyone have a pasta machine on its own altar in the basement? Apparently, not. But good news! You don’t need a pasta machine to make delicious homemade spaghetti.

Fante's Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

I’ve talked about our epic Sunday dinners before. Nonna’s favorite pasta, which she called “lasagna,” (but it wasn’t the layered cheese and sauce filled baked casserole we all think of with that name) was simple peasant pasta. We rolled out the sheets of dough, cut them down the center lengthwise, and then cut the pasta every two inches on a diagonal to make rough parallelograms. We boiled it in salted water and served it with fresh gravy, nothing fancy. It saved having to cut the fettuccine or spaghetti on the machine.

My mom talks about her nonna (my great-grandmother) making homemade spaghetti before pasta machines and chitarras (a stringed piece of equipment reminiscent of a guitar that you would press dough through the strings to cut). She rolled out the pasta dough with the handle of an old broom (her makeshift rolling pin) into a rectangular shape the width of the table. Then, she cut the dough into segments the length of spaghetti strands she wanted. Rolling up the segmented dough as though she were making a pinwheel dessert, she expertly sliced thin cross sections of dough with a sharp knife. If she were doing this to herbs it would be fancily called a “chiffonade.” Each cut made a single strand of spaghetti. Talk about a lot of work! (That’s why the peasant lasagna was so popular when making homemade pasta without a machine.) To ease cutting spaghetti without a machine, a clever craftsman created wooden rolling pins with grooves sharp enough to cut through dough for instant strands of spaghetti.

Fante's Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin in Use

Making homemade spaghetti by hand can be a great project for the family. Knead your favorite pasta dough recipe. Roll it out with a flat rolling pin into a rectangular shape about 1/16” thick and cut it to the desired length of your spaghetti with a knife. Make sure you have incorporated enough flour in your dough so that it is not sticky. The proper consistency will make the pasta much easier to cut and separate. Lightly flour the surface of the pasta dough. Apply even pressure on the pasta pin and roll it slowly down the length of your sheet of dough. If your pasta dough contains egg, the pasta pin will deeply score the dough and you will separate the strands by hand. (This is great fun for tiny fingers on the budding chefs in the kitchen!) To make separating strands easier, hold one hand and fingers on the main part of the dough and lightly pull on the single strand with the other hand to separate it from the pack. It goes very quickly once you get the hang of it (or delegate the job). If you make your pasta dough without egg, the spaghetti strands should separate easily just by rolling the pin across the dough. Cook and enjoy as you would your normal homemade spaghetti!

Fante’s Cousin Arturo’s Pasta Pin 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