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

  • 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
  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


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
  • 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
  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
  • 4 cups short-grain rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 1/4 inch square dried kelp (konbu)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  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
  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
  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.


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

  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.

  • 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
  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?