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Highlights from the General Topics and Cookware boards. Food trends, food products, and burning questions.


Nutella is a delicious and creamy chocolate/hazelnut spread. You buy it by the jar, and it has lots of uses beyond eating it with a spoon.

Spread it on toast, good bread, croissants, waffles, pancakes, crepes, even tortillas! You can dip fruits too (bananas are wonderful with Nutella).

Sandwich it between two shortbread cookies.

Add it to ice cream base, before freezing.

Make Nutella ravioli! Just fill the ravioli wrapper with Nutella, brush egg wash around the edges and seal. Fry and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Donut hole extravaganza! Here’s a photo Weez took of some donut holes filled with Nutella and hazelnut gelato.

Board Links: Nutella…....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Favorite Pretzels

Martin’s pretzels are a favorite in New York. They can be ordered online or picked up at greenmarkets in NYC. They make hard pretzels, salted or unsalted, and they’re very good!

Also very popular are Snyders and Utz’s, both from Pennsylvania.

An unusual style of Pennsylvania pretzel is called “Unique,” which is both a style and a brand making that style. Unique Splits are extra dark, and come with extra salt–amazing and super crunchy.

Karl S is more old school, preferring Brachman’s twists, which he deems a delightful textural pleasure.

Board Links: Do you have a favorite brand of pretzels?

Food Shopping 101: Bad Apple

A mushy or “floury” apple is not easy to detect without biting into it, and by that time it’s too late! Here are some tips to guide you in buying the best apples.

Your best bet is to buy in season (i.e., in cool weather) from a grower or at a farmers’ market.

Look for apples that have some heft to them, and don’t yield when you apply pressure with your fingers. Check the blossom end (bottom) of the apple. It should be nice and tight with no signs of splitting, mold, or discoloration, advises Non Cognomina.

Note that apples packaged in “dimpled” cardboard, with a space for each apple, arrive in better shape, too.

Your supermarket, of course, sells apples year-round. Hopefully, the trucks that delivered them have ethylene gas filters. Here’s why: apples (and other fruits) produce ethylene as they ripen, which accelerates the aging process. In a truckload of fruit, the cumulative gas begins to age the fruit prematurely. Trucks with filters help extend shelf life.

Final note: Never hesitate to return bad fruit.

Board Links: floury apples.

Hot and Sour Soup

Trader Joe’s makes jarred hot and sour soup that’s nicely sour, with a bit of heat (if you want more, add some white pepper). A bit of white vinegar enhances the sourness.

The soup is nice on its own, but you can also use it as a base for adding more solid ingredients.

Board Links: Hot & Sour SOUP

Duck Eggs

Duck eggs are much larger than chicken eggs. The yolks are thicker too, so they can get rubbery if overcooked. Chocolate chick had some duck eggs (with bright orange yolks) cooked over-easy in Scotland, and proclaims them the best eggs she’s ever eaten.

They’re also rich and wonderful for baking, and they make custards turn out silky smooth.

Here’s a nice photo showing off the yolk and the dense white.

Order duck eggs online at

Board Links: Duck eggs?

Yuzu Pepper Paste

Yuzu pepper paste is a Japanese condiment that’s spicy and salty, with the citrus flavor of yuzu. In Japanese, it’s called Yuzu Koshou. There are two varieties: green, from green chile peppers and green yuzus, and red, from red peppers and yellow yuzus. A little goes a long way, and it’s great as a rub for chicken, fish, or meat. Look for it in Japanese markets.

Board Links: yuzu pepper paste

Traditional Waffle Irons

Traditional flat waffle irons are the exception these days, with thick Belgian waffles commanding prime breakfast real estate. Chowhounds endorse several irons that yield old-fashioned thin waffles.

Cuisinart makes three models garnering thumbs-up for ease of use and even heating. The Round Classic waffle iron and Heart-Shaped waffle iron (which produces a roundish flower that comes apart into 5 hearts!) cost around $30, and both store horizontally so they don’t take up much space. The 6-square iron is a larger, heavier model that makes a lot at once–great for serving a bunch of people or making batches for freezing.

Allstonian has been very happy with VillaWare’s Classic Heart Waffle Iron, which has a light and sounds a tone to let you know your waffle’s ready.

Board Links: Need a Waffle Iron Rec

Kozy Shack Pudding

Kozy Shack has some new flavors!

Black Forest is the usual chocolate pudding, with black cherries at the bottom. Cherries Jubilee is vanilla pudding with black cherries. Caitlin McGrath found the cherries to be of good quality, but the effect was just too sweet.

Lgoodwood tried Kozy Shack’s Bananas Foster and found it delicious, but a bit heavy on the cinnamon.

Their coffee pudding has been around for a while. The natural coffee flavor is light (think Breyer’s coffee ice cream) but true.

Of course, Kozy Shack rice pudding is an old standby, and very tasty. The regular rice pudding is like what you’d probably make at home, and the one called “European” has more spice.

There’s also a Kozy Shack by Request line of puddings with no sugar added.

Board Links: Kozy Shack Pudding: So Many New Flavors

Is it a Maine Lobster?

Homarus Americanus is the Latin name for lobsters from the North Atlantic. They are sometimes refered to as Maine lobsters, but not all these critters come from Maine.

American lobsters thrive in the cold waters of the Atlantic, including New England as well as Canada (so your Maine lobster may well be Canadian). Fishmongers can usually tell you where your lobster’s from, but the news is that lobsters from Maine will soon wear tags to make them easily identified.

Here’s some interesting reading on the topic.

Board Links: Lobster tag–certifiably in Maine?

Rotgut…or the Good Stuff?

When making mixed drinks, should you use high-class booze, or save the good stuff for more serious quaffing?

The first consideration is the ratio of mixer to spirit. The more mixer you use, the less you’ll need a quality spirit. As olfashiond advises, don’t drown an ounce of Grey Goose in six ounces of orange juice.

Adding fruit juice masks the taste of an inferior spirit, and is acceptable for a drink or two. However, some say that more expensive liquor might leave you feeling far better the next morning, if multiple drinks are consumed.

When in doubt, use quality ingredients.

Board Links: Quality of Liquor to use in mixed drinks