Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fondues

Fondues are definitely back in style. Whether its traditional, innovative, or simply retro, the fondue has made a welcome return to the dinner party scene.

The latest issue of Food and Wine Magazine even has a retro cheese fondue on its front cover for its New Year's eve dinner.


The fondue originated in Switzerland many centuries ago, and it is now, in fact, the country's national dish. This happened mainly because of the harsh winters in the Alpine mountains which meant that many villages were cut off for months at a time and food supplies were limited. The only readily available ingredients in many areas were cheese, wine, and bread. As the long winter continued, the cheese began to dry out, and the cheese fondue with the addition of wine and kirsch was born. The original Swiss fondue came from the region of Neuchatel and was made with Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese. Other villages soon adopted the dish and created their own versions, using local cheese and produce.

The recipe below is for the traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue.

Ingredients (serves 4)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 to 12 minutes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups grated Emmentaler cheese
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Method
  1. Cut the garlic clove, then rub it around the inside of the fondue pot.
  2. Pour in the wine and lemon juice, and place over the lit burner.
  3. Gradually add the cheeses, stirring throughout until completely melted.
  4. When the cheese has melted and begins to bubble, blend the cornstarch with the kirsch and stir into the pot.
  5. If the fondue becomes too thick, add a little extra warmed wine; if it is too thin, add a little extra cornstarch, blended with a small amount of water.
  6. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add remaining ingredients to taste.
Serve with a green salad, or fruit such as pears, apples and grapes. Salami, mixed pickles and prosciutto also work well.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Typhoon Gifts at Gourmet Fusion

Typhoon, one of our favorite suppliers, has produced some great gift ideas this year. All are made with the same superb quality and style that we have come to expect from Typhoon, but they are surprisingly affordable (and with 10% off this week, even better!).

Regular prices ranging from $9.99 for the Latte Mug and Frother or Chocolate Mug and Frother sets (great stocking stuffers), to $19.99 for all other gift sets.

For anyone who loves tea, coffee or chocolate, we have Tea for One Teapots in a striped gift box, mug and canister sets, Mad About Chocolate Sets and Complete Cappuccino sets.

If tea and coffee drinking is not your thing, why not check out the chocolate fondue gift sets?

This week the Gourmet Fusion store is offering all Typhoon gifts with 10% off, and there is still plenty of time for orders to be shipped and received in time Christmas.



If you simply love the range of Typhoon products and want to indulge yourself with something cool for the kitchen, how about something from the Italian Job Collection?

This Italian inspired range offers Italian styling with modern, practical lines, ideal for the modern kitchen.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Espresso Martini

Great as a cocktail by itself, or as an after dinner drink, the Espresso Martini is perfect for entertaining, and an ideal drink to include at parties and dinners for the holiday season.

Made with vodka, Kahlua and coffee, it is an elegant version of a cross between a Black Russian and an Irish Coffee, and is ultra simple to make. We like it using our Spanish Torrefacto coffee, as it adds an extra rich creamy coffee flavor to the drink, but regular coffee works just as well. Be sure to have plenty of coffee on hand, as one is never enough!

Espresso Martini Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Kahlua
  • 1 shot of freshly brewed, cream topped espresso
Method
  1. Pour the ingredients into a shaker over ice and shake well.
  2. Serve in a Martini glass.
  3. Garnish with three roasted coffee beans.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Deglingos on Sale!

As Christmas fast approaches, and the major stores are full of sales and special offers, Gourmet Fusion has decided to join in the fun, and for this weekend only all our Deglingos are on sale.

Originally $39.99, they are now available online and in our Leaping Lotus Solana Beach store with 20% off - so you can get that crazios, funnios character you have been waiting for for just $31.99!
They are suitable for all ages from babies to adults, except for Pikos the Hedgehog and Chickos the Hen, that have fabric spikes which may shed threads, and these could possibly be swallowed by babies.

Have some fun this holiday season and add a Deglingos to your Christmas stocking!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Crackers

If, like me, you have ever celebrated Christmas in England, you will know that Christmas crackers are an essential part of the holiday festivities. So, in great British tradition, we have included some in both our online and Solana Beach store.

What exactly are Christmas crackers? Apparently, they date back to Victorian Britain when a confectioner started selling sugared almonds, each with a motto and wrapped in a twisted paper package, as love tokens.

One day a jet of resin from the confectioner's log fire burst into flame with a loud crack. He decided to use this idea and make a log shaped package that would produce a surprise bang and inside would be an almond and a motto (not unlike a fortune cookie). This soon became a favorite at parties, and gradually toys and hats were added to each "cracker". By the end of the century it was well established as a traditional holiday custom and now each year many households in the UK have at least one box of party crackers to pull at meal times, parties and family gatherings over the holiday season.

In recent years, they have become ice breakers at all types of parties, dinner parties, weddings and celebrations. Why not try a box at this year's holiday get together - you will be surprised at how the donning of a paper hat can transform the most quiet person in the office to the talkative person you didn't know existed.

A selection of Christmas and Holiday crackers can be found at the the Gourmet Fusion store, and are great for Christmas, New Year, and any other holiday celebration. The English themed ones are especially fun, and include novelty gifts of a London bus, red telephone box, taxi cab, and many other great British institutions.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Creamy Smoked Paprika Chicken a La King

This is an adaptation of Chicken a La King, but it has the addition of smoked paprika, cream and white wine. This recipe uses cooked chicken, but turkey works for this recipe too (a great use of leftovers).

We served it over toasted English muffins, but you can also serve it with toast or with plain white rice. It is a great in the week, quick, tasty meal. If you don't have time to roast a chicken, use pre-cooked store bought chicken pieces instead.

Smoked Paprika Chicken A La King (serves 4)
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped English parsley
  • Sprigs parsley to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Recipe
  1. Heat the butter in a small pan.
  2. Add the onion, mushrooms, and green pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the flour and mix well with the vegetables. Gradually add the chicken stock, and stir until boiling.
  4. Add the white wine and sherry, and bring back to the boil. Heat for several minutes until liquid has reduced by half.
  5. Add the cream, smoked paprika and seasonings.
  6. Stir in the cooked chicken and chopped parsley.
  7. Heat through for a further 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately over toasted English muffins, toast or rice.
  9. Garnish with parsley sprigs and sprinkle with paprika.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Cattitude at Gourmet Fusion

Cattitude by HuesNBrews is one of the fun lines we have in the Gourmet Fusion store this holiday season.

HuesNBrews produce a really great range of coordinated items for , and this Cattitude travel tumbler is proving to be one of our most popular items in our store.

It is now also available online and comes in pink, black and white. The Cattitude products all have two mischievous on the front and cat paw prints on the back.


As well as the Travel Tumbler, we have Cattitude mugs, mug and coaster sets, cute little espresso cups, and tea for two sets.

The lead-free ceramics are available in pink, blue, ivory and green and are microwave and dishwasher safe.

Great as a for any cat lover, you are sure to delight everyone this holiday season with these cute little guys - and while you are shopping, why not treat yourself to one, too!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beaujolais Nouveau


Yesterday was the day for the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. If you are not familiar with Beaujolais Nouveau, on the third Thursday of each November, cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey from France to all parts of the world. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France, and is the most popular vin de primeur, fermented for just a few weeks then officially released for sale.

What makes Beaujolais Nouveau different to regular Beaujolais? It is a very young wine - pressed after only three days, creating a very light, fruity red wine, without the usual tannins normally found in red wines. It is also best when served slightly chilled, making it an ideal accompaniment to lighter foods such as pasta, poultry, cheese or fish. It is also a fairly inexpensive wine, so if you would normally buy a white wine but want to try something different this is definitely a wine worth tasting.

So if you are looking for a light, fruity, inexpensive wine to go with your Thanksgiving celebrations, why not try Beaujolais Nouveau for a change?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Moroccan Black Olive and Orange Salad

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food is becoming more and more popular, not only as a main course, but as a side dish, or appetizer.

A typical example of this is hummus, which as little as five years ago, was unheard of by many people and is now offered as an appetizer in at least two of the pizza chain restaurants here in Southern California.



With this in mind, and looking for something to pair with the heartier-style meals that are typical of this time of year, this Moroccan Black Olive and Orange salad makes an ideal accompaniment to many meals. It is light and refreshing and can be either an appetizer or a side dish.

Serve it in our elegant white serving tagines to add an elegant and exotic touch to your meal.


Moroccan Black Olive Orange Salad
Ingredients
  • 4 Navel Oranges
  • 1 Cup Pitted Oil-Cured Black Olives
  • 1/4 Cup Red Onion, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds, Crushed
  • Sea Salt
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Torn Mint Leave
Method
  1. Peel the oranges and with a paring knife, carefully scrape off as much of the white pith as possible, without tearing the fruit.
  2. Slice each orange crosswise into 3/8th-inch thick slices.
  3. Arrange the slices on a platter, slightly overlapping each one.
  4. Scatter the olives and the onions over the oranges.
  5. Season everything with the fennel seeds and salt.
  6. Splash the vinegar and drizzle olive oil over the salad.
  7. Place the mint on top.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cauliflower with Garlic and Paprika

The Gourmet Fusion store is now selling Spanish at both its online store and its Solana Beach location.

Paprika is a source of vibrant color and flavor in cooking and is derived from a type of dried red pepper. The fresh pods from the mild Nora pepper are smoked over oak logs to develop the different aspects of the flavors. Peppers that are smoked over an oak fire develop into a rich and complex range of flavors which is much more powerful and pronounced than the sun-dried varieties.

The types of paprika we have available are sweet (dulce), hot (picante), and smoked (ahumado).

Pimenton Dulce: This lightly smoked variety is earthy and mild, and perfect for many dishes.

Pimenton Picante: This paprika is lightly smoked and blended with medium-hot varieties. It is slightly sweet to smokey in flavor, and will add a kick to your cooking.

Pimenton Ahumado: This is a rich and complex flavor with smokey overtones. This is the paprika that forms the basis of many Spanish meat and seafood dishes.

Our sweet and hot varieties of paprika are best used in sauces, vegetables, fish, eggs, and French Fries. Our smoked paprika works well in Paella, Fabada, beef and shellfish dishes, and for grilling.

The cauliflower recipe below is from the province of Murcia in Spain which is known for its wonderful vegetable gardens. We suggest using our sweet paprika in this .

Cauliflower with Garlic and Paprika (serves 6)
Ingredients
  • 2 lb small cauliflowers, cut into florets
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 or 3 thick slices coarse country bread, crusts removed (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Recipe
  1. Fill a bowl with water and add the cauliflower florets and lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the bread slices and fry, turning once, until crisp and golden on both sides, 3-5 minutes total. Remove from the pan, break into pieces, and place in a blender or food processor.
  3. Add the paprika to the oil remaining in the pan over low heat and cook for a minute or two to release its fragrance. Add the water and bring to a boil. Drain the cauliflower and add to the pan. Season with a little salt and cook, uncovered, until the cauliflower is tender, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, pine nuts and parsley to the blender or food processor and pulse until well crushed. When the cauliflower is tender, add about 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) of the cauliflower cooking water, pulse once, and then transfer the mixture to the frying pan. Stir to mix and cook for 5 minutes over low heat to blend the flavors.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a warmed serving bowl, and serve.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Latest Deglingos at Gourmet Fusion


The new have arrived at the Gourmet Fusion store. Just as crazios and cuteos as the rest of the gang, but with their own unique little quirks!






First of all there is MoLos the Lobster, the tough guy - well, not really, he's made of wonderfully soft, plush corduroy, with a funky red spotted trim. Next of the new characters is Lapinos the Bunny, the sporty one in the band. With his bunny teeth and little bob-tail, a real cutie!







Then we have Milkos the Cow, often referred to as Mad Cow, and finally Chikos the Hen, the snobby one in the bunch. Chikos is the only one not suitable for all ages - he is only suitable from three years upwards. But the rest are OK for everyone.






All are available online, together with the rest of the Deglingos in the Gourmet Fusion Store, or at the Solana Beach store in Leaping Lotus. They make great for the coming holiday season!












Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I-Pots

Now that the weather is starting to really feel like fall - even here in Southern California - the idea of making a hot drink at the end of a long day sounds like a great idea. With that in mind, the Gourmet Fusion store is introducing several new lines, including the I-pot range of teapots, shown here in the 17 ounce size.

I-Pot which stands for Infuser Pot, is a range of teapots that have a sleek modern design, yet the curved shape is slightly retro. They come in a host of colors ranging from subtle blues and greens, bright primaries of red, yellow and blue, and classic black and white. We are currently stocking the 17 ounce and 24 ounce size in both our online store and the Solana Beach store.

The brightly colored ceramic pot is lead free, and is dishwasher and microwave safe. The double walled stainless steel infuser that sits inside, and the flip top stainless steel lid are both removable for easy cleaning. The infuser is a large enough size to be ideal for use with both tea bags and loose leaf tea. These colorful pots are great for livening up a gloomy, rainy day in any kitchen, and make wonderful gifts!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Apple Pie

Now that fall is here, everyone's thoughts are turning to the coming holidays, cozy days spent lazing in front of a fireplace, spending time with family and friends and trying to keep out of the cold!

Growing up in , as I did, meant that you generally ate whatever was in season, and right about now were the "late" fruits such as as damsons, plums, gooseberries and, of course, apples.

Cooking apples were bought at the market as they were cheap and nearly always available and with them you could make , apple crumble, apple upside-down pudding or just plain old baked apples! So it's not surprising that as soon as fall arrives, my thoughts turn to baking apple pie. The below for Old English apple pie, with its filling of apple, dried fruit and spices makes the pastry "from scratch" which is more usual in England, but you can substitute your favorite pie crust mix if you prefer.

Ingredients for the Pastry
  • 8 oz (2 cups) all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water
Ingredients for the Filling
  • 1 1/2 lbs cooking apples, peeled cored and sliced (firm apples such as Pippin, Rome Beauty and Granny Smith)
  • 4 tablespoons dried sultanas or raisins
  • 6 oz (2/3 cup) light brown sugar
  • Finely grated rind and juice of half a lemon
To Finish
  • milk
  • caster sugar

Method
  1. To prepare the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, then stir in the sugar. Add the butter in pieces and rub into the flour with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can use a food processor for this, if you prefer). Stir in enough cold water to hold the mixture together, then form into a smooth ball. Wrap in foil or greaseproof paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough in two and roll out one half on a floured board to a circle to fit the base of an 8-inch pie dish.
  3. Put the apples in a mixing bowl, then stir in the remaining filling ingredients. Spoon into the dough-lined pie dish. Roll out the remaining dough to a circle for the lid. Lay over the filling, pressing down and sealing the edge with water. Flute the edge with your fingers or crimp with the prongs of a fork. Brush with a little milk and dredge with caster sugar. Make a slit in the center of the pie for the steam to escape.
  4. Bake on a baking sheet in the center of a fairly hot oven (400 degF) for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderate (350 degF) and continue baking for 20 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

In England apple pie is usually served with custard sauce, or sweetened whipped cream. I have never seen the custard sauce in America, but it is usually made with a vanilla flavored powder (Bird's Custard Powder) to which hot milk and sugar are added and it makes a thick, yellow sauce which is delicious!

If you want to be really authentic and try this it can be purchased online at www.ukgoods.com.

A tangy cheddar is also good with apple pie, and the two are often served together in England.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gourmet Fusion at Leaping Lotus

Gourmet Fusion is excited about the opening of its new store at Leaping Lotus in Solana Beach's Design District on South Cedros.

If you haven't been to Leaping Lotus, it features many different merchants selling a wonderful array of products from all corners of the world which look great alongside our own international collection of kitchen and food products.

Gourmet Fusion will be selling all the favorites from its online store, such as our paella pan, its beautifully handcrafted ceramics from Spain, and our ever popular Union Jack mugs from England, but we have also included some new items and specialty food products in the Solana Beach location.

Our Spanish section includes creamy smooth milk and dark chocolate; olive oil pressed with rosemary or Seville oranges from Catalonia; the finest quality saffron, and three types of paprika to suit every taste.

In our Asian section you can find woks, rice and sushi makers, cooking utensils, and beautiful bamboo products, not to mention the many artisan crafted home decor items.

To our British section of teapots, mugs and English breakfast tea we have added delicious orange marmalade and lemon curd - yummy with toasted English muffins!

Of course, just for fun, the Deglingos, take pride of place at the front of the store, sitting mischievously below our Cattitude range of tea and coffee co-ordinates.

So next time you are in the San Diego area, be sure to stop by Gourmet Fusion store's new location at Leaping Lotus in Solana Beach and get a taste of something different.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Vegetarian Sweet Ginger Sauce Stir Fry

This heart-healthy recipe can be made in minutes once you have all the vegetables chopped up. You can use soba noodles that are low in sodium, or substitute wide whole wheat noodles which are also low in salt.

Vegetarian Sweet Ginger Sauce Stir Fry
(Serves 4 - 220 calories per serving)

Ingredients for the Sweet Ginger Sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce
Ingredients for the Stir Fry
  • 3 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 6 ounces water-packed light extra-firm tofu, frozen, prepared for cooking, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 scallions, white parts and 3 inches of the green, sliced on the diagonal in 1/2-i8inch slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 1/4 pound snow peas
  • 1/2 red bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces baby spinach (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces mung bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges
Method
  1. Combine all Sweet Ginger Sauce ingredients in a small pan, using chili sauce to taste. Heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. Cook the soba noodles 1 minute less than directed on the package, drain and set aside.
  3. Heat the sesame and peanut oils in a nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until hot.
  4. Stir int he tofu, scallions, garlic, carrots, snow peas, bell peppers and mushrooms.
  5. Stir fry for 2 minutes
  6. Lower the heat to medium; add the Sweet Ginger Sauce.
  7. Stir int he spinach, bean sprouts and reserved soba noodles.
  8. Cook just until the spinach wilts, then add the cilantro.
Serve immediately, garnished with lime wedges.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Environmentally Responsible Mobi

Gourmet Fusion has just added three new lines to its the popular range of Designer Zip Seal Bags by Mobi.

The first is the Endangered Species Edition which features a "Save Whales", and "Wisdom of Elephants" design. Each box of 20 has 10 of each design.

These bags help promote Mobi's endeavors to help endangered species through their aid and support of The National Zoo, NRDC and Global Colors.



Our other two designs are Candy Camo Pink, which is a fun, retro design, with bright pinks and yellows, ideal for make-up, lunches, snacks, crayons or whatever you can think of.

Then there is Flip Flops which is covered in tiny little flip flops and is just plain cute. Ideal for trips to the beach, or reminiscing about the beach!


All the Mobi zip seal bags incorporate environmentally responsible practices into their operations. They use recycled and recyclable material for all their packaging, and in 2008 they plan to introduce biodegradable films in their products.

Not only do Mobi believe in environmental responsibility, and supporting endangered species, but they also believe in supporting the manufacturing industry in the US - and all their products are made in the USA. Now what could be better than that?

Asian Pears

When I was in the supermarket recently, they were promoting Asian Pears, sometimes known as Apple , and letting people try samples in the store. In case, like me, you have not tried this fruit before, the Apple Pear is a relatively new fruit to many people, although they have been grown in California since the Gold Rush days, when Chinese miners planted them in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

They are very light and crisp in texture, and when ripe, very sweet and juicy. They reminded me of a ripe melon but with a crisp texture like an apple. I was advised that they could be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks and would not lose their flavor or texture. They are great to eat by themselves or paired with
and crackers, or in a winter like the recipe below, where the crisp textures and full flavors make a superb accompaniment to roast meats and poultry.

Winter Salad with Roquefort and Asian Pears

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
  • Leaves from 2 small heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 ripe Asian pears (or other firm pear such as Bosc or Red Crimson), halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Method
  1. In the bottom of a large salad bowl, stir the red wine vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper together.
  2. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil.
  3. Add the cheese and stir to combine.
  4. Add the lettuce, pears, red onion, and bell pepper to the bowl.
  5. Just before serving, toss gently to coat with the dressing.
  6. Sprinkle with the nuts and serve.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sushi

The natural flavors and aesthetic appeal of Japanese cuisine continue to attract worldwide interest and Sushi seems to be one of the foods which most people enjoy, even if they are not feeling adventurous enough to try some of the more unusual dishes.

Making sushi at home is considered a somewhat daunting task, and as the recipe below shows, it is for serious contenders only! However, a nifty little kit available in the Gourmet Fusion Store does take some of the pain out of this highly skilled task. The Sushi Magic Express Sushi Rolls & Nigiri Making Kit explains how to make healthy, delicious sushi and comes complete with handbook, recipes and all the tools necessary to make
making attainable for anyone, and it is also fun to do if friends come round for "Sushi Night".

Three different fillings are used in these nori-wrapped rolls of vinegared rice (see recipe for vinegared rice below): tuna, cucumber and pickled daikon, the last being available in jars in Japanese stores. This
is for sushi made without the Sushi Magic kit, and uses a bamboo mat for rolling.

Recipe for Rolled Sushi
Ingredients
  • 4 large sheets toasted dried laver (nori), each about 8 inches x 7 inches
  • 1 1/2 cups Vinegared Rice
  • 6 ounces fresh tuna
  • 6 ounces cucumber (1/2 English cucumber)
  • 6 ounces pickled daikon strips
  • 1 teaspoon mixed Japanese horseradish paste
  • 1 tablespoons pickled ginger slices
Method
  1. Cut the raw tuna into 4 strips of the same length as the nori.
  2. Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into sticks.
  3. Cut the nori in half. Place the half nori sheet on a bamboo rolling mat, with the shiny side down. Top the nori with 1/2 cup of he sushi rice, spread evenly on the sheet leaving a border of 1/2 inch free on the inside of the sheet.
  4. Take a little horseradish paste and spread it across the rice in the center.
  5. Place the tuna across the center of the horseradish and start to roll using the bamboo mat, making sure the nori sheet end goes under the rice.
  6. Roll the mat up firmly and squeeze gently.
  7. Remove the rolled sushi from the mat, cut in half and then into three pieces with a wet knife.
  8. Repeat the process with a filling of cucumber and again with a filling of pickled radish.
  9. Serve garnished with pickled ginger.
Recipe for Vinegared Rice
Ingredients
  • 4 cups short-grain rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 1/4 inch square dried kelp (konbu)
Dressing
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
Method
  1. Wash the rice gently under running water, taking care not to crush the grains, until the water runs clear.
  2. Leave the rice to drain in a colander for about 1 hour.
  3. Put in a saucepan with the water and kelp and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the rice is cooked and the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat. Remove the lid and cover the top of the pan with a towel to absorb any condensation. Put back the lid and leave the covered saucepan to one side for 20 minutes.
  5. While the rice is cooking, mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then set aside.
  6. Put the cooked rice in a wide wooden tub or plastic bowl. Stir gently in a circular motion with a rice paddle or wooden spoon, sprinkling in the dressing little by little, until it has been absorbed. Ideally, the rice mixture should be fanned to help cool it while the dressing is being stirred in.
  7. Cover the bowl containing the vinegared rice with a damp cloth until it is needed for sushi. Keep at room temperature, not in the refrigerator, and use within 12 hours.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Cat in The Hat

Much to the surprise of many Americans, Dr. Seuss stories are not read by children from other countries, such as England, where I grew up. Instead, I read all of the famous Enid Blyton books, from Brer Rabbit adventures, right through to the Famous Five books and the Secret Seven.

What has this got so do with the Gourmet Fusion store you are probably wondering? Well, we have many unusual items in our store, and the addition of Dr. Seuss's The Cat In The Hat Cookie Jar this week, is one such item. This authentic Dr. Seuss cookie jar is hand painted in bright colors in amazing detail, and seeing it prompted me to find out more about both Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat. It is sure to bring back many happy childhood memories, and not only is it great for storing , but it will make an ideal container for Trick or Treat , too!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mojito Time

As dusk falls in many cities around the world, bartenders are busy replenishing their bars with fresh fruit, herbs and ice, and they are ready for hour to begin. Among the favorites, the , with its great Cuban flavors, has become so popular that it now even rivals the martini in many bars.

So next time you invite friends round for drinks, turn up the Buena Vista Social Club CD, light a cigar, and sit back with with a refreshing Mojito, and create your own little Havana.


Ingredients for the Perfect Mojito
Method
  1. Pour the lime juice into a tall glass and dissolve the sugar in it.
  2. Add a little soda water and then gently crush the mint in the glass.
  3. Pour in the rum, two or three cubes of ice, and fill with soda water.
  4. Stir and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Pie Birds at Gourmet Fusion

If you are wondering what a is, it is a steam vent which is placed in the center of fruit and meat pies while they are cooking to let the steam out. These were used in England and were introduced in times, and supported the pastry in the middle of the pie so that it didn't sag in the center while cooking, as well as letting the steam out.

I grew up in England and learned to bake there, and do not recall any modern cook using a pie bird. However, these items (often in the shape of a bird) are now something of a collector's item, and as well as having a practical use, are mostly used for decorative purposes.


On researching pie birds, it appears that many celebrities, including Princess Diana, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and George Bush, have all collected pie birds. They come in many shapes and sizes, often a bird, but not always, as you can see from this cute little snowman pie vent shown here.

How to Use a Pie Bird

To releases steam during baking through the hole in the top using a pie vent, simply place the pie bird in the middle of the pie shell before filling. After filling around the pie bird, place the crust over the top of the beak, pushing down slightly, and the pie bird will release steam during baking.


Several pie birds are now available in the Gourmet Fusion and would make a great gift for the baker in the family, or the someone starting a pie bird collection.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Clam Chowder

Go into any seafood restaurant or any steak house, and you are sure to see clam chowder offered on the menu. is typical of most regional specialties in that there is no one - instead there are many varieties all containing the same base ingredients. The basic ingredients of a clam chowder are clams, onions and potatoes, and bacon or ham, giving the soup its distinctive smoky flavor. For a rich New England clam chowder, milk is often replaced with cream. In Manhattan clam chowder, however, there is neither milk nor cream, but plenty of fresh vegetables.

My favorite restaurant for clam chowder is San Francisco's Hog Island Oyster Company, which serves a whole array of oysters prepared in various ways, and clams either steamed or in a chowder, and the freshest salads you could ever taste. All of the vegetables are grown locally, and the menu changes according to whatever is in season.

Their clam chowder is different to many in that they leave the clams in the shells and serve them in a creamy broth, rather than chopping the clams and cooking them in a thick sauce. If you want to make chowder yourself, here is my version of this style of clam chowder.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 6 lb manila clams, soaked and scrubbed clean
  • 6 rashers bacon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups clam broth
  • 4 cups cream or half and half
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Method
  1. Scrub the clams thoroughly under running water, and leave to soak for several hours to remove any sand.
  2. Heat a 6-quart pot over a medium heat. Fry the bacon for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic and diced vegetables to the pan. Stir gently for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the clams and the thyme to the vegetable mixture, then add 3 cups of the clam broth and 1 cup of wine, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook gently until the clams open, discarding any that do not.
  5. Add the cream to the mixture and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  6. All the ingredients should be cooked through, but the potatoes should be in tact and the chowder should be neither too runny nor too dry.
Serve with a crispy sourdough roll, a fresh salad, and a glass of white wine or a chilled wheat beer, and it's truly heaven!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Salt and Pepper Garlic Spread

Everyone knows that the addition of garlic to any recipe adds a wonderful, subtle flavor, but roasted is also delicious when baked and used as a spread on crusty bread, pita bread and bruchetta. The addition of and pepper in this recipe makes it extra special. The flavor of roasted garlic spread is not as overwhelming as fresh garlic, and can often replace mayonnaise in many instances. The below is from the excellent book Salt & Pepper by Sandra Cook, Sara Slavin and Deborah Jones.

Ingredients


4 whole heads garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 575 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel away the loose, outer, papery layers from the garlic heads. Trim off the pointy end of each head to expose the tops of the cloves (cutting off about 1/2-inch will generally be enough).
  2. Place the garlic heads, cut sides up, in a small baking dish or garlic roaster.
  3. Drizzle them with the olive oil and sprinkle with the coarse salt and black pepper.
  4. Roast the garlic heads until the cloves are golden brown and begin to push out of the bulb, about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, let cool, then squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of heads into a small bowl.
  6. Mash with a fork, pour the oil from the baking dish into the mashed garlic, and stir together to make a paste.
Garlic spread will keep for up to one week in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. The garlic roaster shown here is available at the Gourmet Fusion store, together with other terra cotta products.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pistachio Margarita

If you got tired of drinking the same old mix this holiday weekend, why not try a new spin on your favorite cocktail? The Pistachio Margarita is exactly what it sounds like and is one of the signature cocktails at Vancouver's chic Bar None.

Bar None, housed in a converted warehouse, is contemporary, intimate, and offers something for every taste. Whether it's live music, international DJ's, a cigar lounge or Martini bar you're looking for, you'll find it here. If you are in Vancouver it's definitely worth a visit - but in the meantime, here's the recipe for Pistachio Margarita. You can find more signature in the in the fabulous book of the same name by Bill Tikos, founder of The Cool Hunter website.


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 ounces 1800 Cuervo Gold Tequila
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Finely ground, salted pistachio nuts
Method
  1. Rim a rocks glass with the pistachio nuts.
  2. Place the tequila, Cointreau, sugar and lime juice in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Pour and serve.

Deglingos at Gourmet Fusion

What are Deglingos and why are they at the Gourmet Fusion store? are a group of animals that each have their own quirky character and, they are fun and everyone loves them - kids, teens and adults. The Deglingos shown here is NoNos the Dog.

We have included them in the store firstly, because they are an international bunch - the brain child of French designers, and we love anything international. Secondly, the Gourmet Fusion store is about food, cooking, and your home to make life generally more enjoyable, so when we saw these cool characters, we knew we had to have them.

Forget the kids - you will want to keep these characters for yourself! They are made from soft, plush fabric, in funky colorful designs and they would make a great addition to any room. Leave them sitting casually on an ottoman, or leaning back on a cushion on the sofa - they are sure to become the talking point of any gathering. Choose your favorite character from BigBos the Wolf, Pikos the Hedgehog, Ratos the Rat, PoiloDos the Sheep, RonRonos the Cat or NoNos the Dog - of if you feel like making a scene in the living room, why not buy one of each?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Italian Ceramics at Gourmet Fusion

Gourmet Fusion has just added Intrada to our team of international suppliers. Intrada, specializes in Italian handcrafted by artisans from all over Italy. Some of their products are traditional in style, while others are contemporary to fit in with today's modern kitchens and dining rooms.

Whether you choose something traditional like the Capodimonte boxes, or the sleek modern look of the understated espresso cups, these stylish and functional decorative accessories will complement your
cooking, and add elegance and beauty to any dining room or kitchen. More authentic Italian ceramic pieces can be seen in the Gourmet Fusion store.

Monday, August 27, 2007

All About Coffee

It is possible that we owe coffee to Abyssinian or Arabian goats, which to the great astonishment of the goatherds, became unusually lively as soon as they nibbled the leaves and berries of a shrub known as kif or koffe. It was suspected that the animals' energy derived from the fruit of this plant. The shrub spread from the high plains of Ethiopia as far as Sudan and the Yemen, where experiments with the red capsules began. The Arabs finally developed a process to harness the stimulant effect in a form that was palatable. They released the seeds from the seed pod, roasted them - in the same way that nuts were treated - ground them in a mill, and finally poured boiling water on the powder. The very first cup of was ready!

Types of Beans

The two main types of coffee beans grown for consumption are called Arabica and Robusta. The general differences between the two are taste and the conditions under which they grow. Arabica beans are delicate and require cool subtropical climates, they are vulnerable to cold and must be grown at a higher elevation of 1,900 to 6,500 feet. Robusta beans grow from hardier plants that can withstand tougher climate conditions, and are capable of growing well at low altitudes of 650 - 2,600 feet. The taste of
beans ranges from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy, with a roasted scent of fruity notes and sugary tones. The Robusta taste range is neutral-to-harsh and is often described as tasting grain-like, with a roasted scent similar to that of raw peanuts.

Different Coffee Bean Roasts

Coffee beans in their raw state (green) are subjected to heat for varying periods of time to achieve the different types of roasts, this is known as the roasting process. There are many different roasts of beans available on the market but the following guide lists the main categories and their common names.


Dark Roasts (14 minutes)
The darkest roasts such as Italian Roast are also known as "Heavy Roast". Beans are roasted to almost jet black giving a smoky well roasted taste. This masks the natural flavors of the coffee bean.


Medium Dark Roasts (12 to 13 minutes)

Medium dark roast is when the beans are roasted at a high enough temperature to bring the natural oil of the coffee to the surface. Examples of this are Espresso Roast and Kenyan.


Medium Roasts (9 to 11 minutes)

Medium roasts balance body with flavor. Some examples of medium roast coffee are American Roast (not as dark as any of the European roasts, but with good flavor), Columbian Narino, Guatemala Antigua and Serena Organic Blend (these last three being Starbucks offerings).


Light Roasts (7 minutes)

A light roast gives a very subtle flavor. The surface of the bean is usually dry with no oils present and flavor is light-bodied. Many Breakfast Blends are lightly roasted beans.


How to Store Coffee:
Roasted Beans
Roasted coffee beans gradually deteriorate after they have been roasted and are best used within six months, but they must be properly stored. Some people suggest storing beans in an airtight container in a freezer for up to 12 months and using them in small quantities as and when required. However, there is a debate about the effect this has on the beans when they defrost, and when I checked on my Starbucks bag of coffee beans, they simply suggest storing in an airtight container and using within one week of opening, and this would be my choice. If you roast your own beans, it is suggested that you only roast one week's worth at a time.


Ground Coffee

Ground coffee deteriorates very quickly. Ideally, you should grind the coffee immediately before use, but if you choose to buy it ready-ground, then it is best to buy it in very small quantities and use it as quickly as possible.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back To School Lunch Zipped With Style

Back to almost certainly means packing bags filled with books, papers, pencils and, of course, on-the-go snacks. These great little designer bags by Mobi from the Gourmet Fusion Store provide the answer to transporting all your goodies in a stylish and fun way.

The funky, bag shown here in Candy Camo Green can be used for kid’s snacks, candies, crayons, change, party favors and more. Great for back to school lunches, choose a different design for each day of the week, and liven up even the most boring packed lunch.



Other designs include Cupcake, which is great for birthday goodie bags, Polka Dots and Smiley Combo.

These fashionable, fun designer bags measure 6.5" x 6.25", and come in a box of 20 for $4.50.

Not just for kids, these quart-sized bags also comply with the FAA’s size regulations, making them perfect for organizing toiletries and cosmetics in carry-on luggage.





Monday, August 20, 2007

PoachPods Have Arrived!

Yes, Poachpods have arrived at the Gourmet Fusion store, and the great thing about them is that no special skill is required to make the perfect poached egg every time - if you can boil water, then you can make a perfect poached !

These innovative little by Fusion Brands, are made from super light flexible silicone, and they simply float in the water during cooking. Not only are they great for poaching eggs, they can also be used for flan and cakes, and molding gelatin (Jell-o) and desserts. So how exactly do they work?

To Poach an Egg in a PoachPod
Evenly oil the PoachPod, crack an egg into it, and float in boiling water. Cover the pan with a lid and cook in boiling water for 4 to 6 minutes or to desired firmness. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pad from the water. To remove the egg from the Poachpod, run a spoon around egg edge, then flip pod inside out and gently push egg out.

To Bake Flan, or Cakes in a PoachPod
Fill the PoachPod with your favorite batter and place on a pan for support, then cook as directed in your recipe.

To Mold Foods in a PoachPod
Fill PoachPod with food to be molded, chill if needed, and flip PoachPod inside out to remove food.

PoachPods are ideal for a quick or supper snack, and since you can use them in the freezer and microwave as well, the possibilities are endless. They come as a set of two in cool mint green, and dark forest green, and when you've finished, simply put them in the dishwasher and find a tiny space to store them! A set of two is available at the Gourmet Fusion online store, and also in our Solana Beach store at the Leaping Lotus for $9.99.