Category Archives: Food

A Cornucopia of Thanksgiving Ideas

You might say hosting Thanksgiving is the pinnacle of entertaining. Little else distracts from the focus on gathering ‘round for the big meal…there are no unique gifts to shop for, no one is excluded because of their beliefs, and after the meal guests can simply relax over a football game or two.

However, if you’re hosting, it’s worth looking at a few unique gift items for yourself to ensure a memorable feast. We have a few suggestions to help the day go smoothly and wow your family and friends.84960_1000x1000

Make sure there’s plenty of ice for thirsty guests with this portable tabletop ice maker that produces ample cubes more efficiently than lesser models. Yielding conical-shaped cubes in batches of 12, the ice maker creates nearly 2 lbs. of ice per hour. Analysts from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute praise this unit for its ability to produce, “a batch of clear, well-formed cubes in just under 10 minutes.”12857_1000x1000

Whether you’re laying out hors d’oeuvres, displaying desserts or setting a more intimate-feeling dining table, this wooden lazy Susan will complement your beautiful décor while making it easier for guests to grab the goodies. It features a wooden top supported by a repurposed wine barrel metal hoop. The 23″-diameter tray rests flat on a table and smoothly spins 360° on steel ball bearings. And as you’re writing up your holiday shopping list, keep this lazy Susan in mind as a unique gift for any oenophiles you know. 12482_1000x1000

After the feast, coffee is in order to combat the effects of turkey and loads of carbs. Bring your favorite barista to your kitchen in the guise of this fully automatic, exactingly designed Swiss coffee maker. Built to standards coffee connoisseurs expect, this barista makes drinks from Espresso to Cappuccino and beyond. A simple turn of the dial selects one of 29 different drinks, all in perfect proportions. Two hoppers hold different flavors or brands of beans for customized blends.

Finally, as Thanksgiving approaches, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for your readership and your loyalty to our commitment to always bring you The Best, The Only and The Unexpected.

Extend Summer with Warmth of Hospitality

So soon, summer comes to its unofficial close on Labor Day. Already, we see the marked difference in darker, cooler mornings and noticeably earlier sunsets.12298_1000x1000

But for many folks, the best weather of the year is yet to come, and even when earlier darkness brings a chill in the air, many weeks still lie ahead to entertain outdoors.

Help your guests enjoy the unique gifts of a crisp fall evening with accessories that will add light and warmth to your yard or patio. This hearth table, for instance, features a granite top cut from the mountains in China’s Shanxi province, so each handcrafted table is one-of-a-kind. A cutout section in the center contains a stainless steel fire pit, powered by a propane tank or a connection to a natural gas line86860_1000x1000.

In smaller spaces, this tabletop fireplace88478_1000x1000 provides the color, charm, and comfort of a wood-burning fire without the smoke, smells, or sparks. It’s fueled by recycled liquid ethanol, so the 7″-high flame gives off only carbon dioxide and water vapor, making it suitable for use indoors or out. Consider this mini fireplace as an appropriate and unique gift for a housewarming, too—pun intended.

Provide illumination along with an architectural element with these all-weather obelisk torches. The elegant torches continue a long sculptural tradition begun in ancient Egypt, where similar obelisks were first fashioned to flank temple entrances. They have extra-long cotton wicks to fill the evening with soft, romantic light.

Pair these unique gift ideas for warmth and light with rustic fall decorations and hearty, seasonal dishes such as chili or pumpkin soup. Your outdoor parties will be a success even through the end of October and will keep guests feeling cozy, comfortable, and relaxed.

Unique Gifts Bring the Farm to Your Table

You wandered the farmers’ market to find the freshest, tastiest heirloom tomatoes. You battled to grab the last bunches of brilliant green broccoli rabe. You waited in long lines at the heritage beef butcher’s kiosk to get the finest grass-fed, free-range beef brisket—the one your friend told you was “to die for” after five hours of smoking and slow roasting.

Except now it’s noon and your guests are coming at 3:00.84974_1000x1000

Solve this culinary conundrum with the One Hour Indoor Pressure Smoker. It will cook that brisket in only one hour—five times faster than traditional methods. Combining a pressure cooker and smoker in one appliance, this 6½-quart device increases internal pressure by 15 psi, cooking food faster while still allowing wood chips to release their unique gift of fragrant, flavor-enhancing smoke. The cooker can also be employed as a cold smoker, steamer, or even just a traditional low- or-high-pressure cooker.84871_1000x1000

As for those heirloom tomatoes, a salubriously delicious sauce can be made with the Genuine Italian Tomato Press. Imported from Italy, it peels, seeds, and strains fresh tomatoes to create a smooth puree. Capturing the flavor of seasonal produce without the laborious process of manually blanching, skinning, and coring the fruit, this efficient Old World tool processes up to three quarts of raw tomatoes at a time by simply turning a crank.88905_1000x1000

The fresh broccoli rabe can be cooked without butter or oil—reducing calories and fat—in a nonstick pan. This set of Scratchproof Nonstick Pans feature a ceramic-titanium coating that makes for easy cooking and cleanup. In tests by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute, fried eggs slid off the ungreased pan as if cooked on air, and the impervious non-stick surface suffered no damage when scrubbed with an abrasive pad and scratched with a metal fork. By the way, this pan set also make an ideal unique gift for a new graduate heading off to their first apartment.

The season for farmers’ markets is in full swing…make eating locally and eating well a fresh summer afternoon delight!

Take Our Cue…Unique Gifts for Dad’s Barbecue, That Is!

Smokin’ low and slow is the way to go for dear ol’ Dad this Father’s Day. It’s the endless quest for finger-licking, bone-sucking BBQ, good enough to make everyone’s mouth water.88539_1000x1000

We suggest Dad start slow and easy, with a meat marinade or dry rub ideal for smoking. The Only Kettle Grill Smoker Converter turns an ordinary kettle grill into a smoking pit, so Dad can cook his meats to juicy, pink perfection. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the insert rests atop a grill’s charcoal grate and provides a perforated platform for briquettes, woodchips, and water to work together to generate a dense, flavorful smoke.88516_1000x1000

Dad’s carefully planned ballet of rubbed meat and slow smoke can be monitored with timed, digital precision using The Smartphone Alerting Barbecue Thermometer. This device lets dad monitor his brisket while playing a game of softball, taking Mom for a stroll, or engaging in a game of lawn darts. The wireless transmitter sends real-time data to an iPad/iPhone app or Android app, alerting the cook when a pre-selected temperature or optimal cooking range is reached…Dad relaxes and has fun with the family in the meantime.88310_1000x100087471_1000x1000

And for the finest 14-hour smoked brisket that may take Dad into the hours past sunset, The Best Cordless Grill Light lets him baste his rib roast and plate those succulent unique gifts of burnt ends for the family soirée. This light earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it generated the brightest, most expansive light and was the only model with a timer.

Perhaps the Dad in your life is not one for manning the grill. No problem…we have plenty of other ideas for the perfect Father’s Day present. Our easy-to-use, online Father’s Day Gift Guide is available to help you choose just the right unique gifts for him.

Boost Your Health with Chocolate

Many a medical study has maligned some of our favorite foods. However, research consistently shows that chocolate is good for you. This is research we can get behind!12264_1000x1000 2

Tomorrow is National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day and it’s a great time to celebrate all things cocoa. Chocolate contains the alkaloid theobromine. This alkaloid is a unique gift from nature because it can help improve blood circulation, stimulate the brain, reduce cholesterol, and prevent coughs. Couple this with chocolate’s mood-lifting properties and you might call it a natural wonder drug! 12759_1000x1000

Marry rich chocolate with hickory-smoked bacon and you get this decadent treat. Premium thick-cut bacon is oven-baked until golden and crispy, then expertly hand dipped in chocolate. You might want to keep this bacon for yourself, but it also makes a perfect unique gift idea because it equally pleases those who love sweet or savory flavors. 12636_1000x1000

These crisp Moravian cookies are crafted using Old World techniques and enrobed in rich artisanal chocolate. The cookies are baked with all-natural ingredients and are coated in rich milk chocolate to create a sweet-tooth satisfying treat.

Using the best and freshest ingredients, these scrumptious pecan turtles start with a thick bed of fresh Georgia pecan pieces, topped with a dollop of caramel. Capped with a thick crown of rich milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate, each turtle variety offers an irresistible combination of crunchy, creamy, and chocolatey goodness with every bite.

Don’t let tomorrow slip by without some chocolate. It’s a great excuse to enjoy the great taste of cocoa that just may be good for you, too.

Simple Tips for the Best Backyard BBQ

On the subject of friendly neighborhood competitions, the question came up on how to throw a better backyard barbecue.

There are fundamentals that should be observed, of course. If you’re serving steaks, buy the best cut you can afford. Better yet, grill a roast. A simple formula of 15 minutes per pound will yield a beautiful medium-rare presentation, and you can relax a bit and enjoy your guests and the unique gifts of their camaraderie while the meat cooks.

79824_300x300The flavor of your roast, as well as pretty much any meat, fish or fowl, can be made even better with smoke. This wood chip smoker box generates taste-enhancing smoke without producing flames, resulting in a more concentrated, robust flavor.

Try not to use lighter fluid to avoid a chemical after-taste on the food. If you’re using charcoal instead of a gas grill, light the coals using a chimney-style starter. Not only will the food taste better, this method is better for the environment, too.

86925_300x300To keep uncooked meats chilled till the coals are ready or to keep cold side dishes chilled until serving time, this food-chilling platter is ideal for BBQs, buffets, or picnics. The unit’s removable stainless steel platter is chilled by an included freezer pack that keeps cold meats, cheeses, hors d’oeuvres, sushi, or desserts chilled below 45° F for 50 minutes. Its plastic lid ensures protection from insects both indoors and out.

To throw a great backyard barbecue, you’ll need plenty of ice on hand for drinks and coolers. This portable ice maker earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it was the most efficient at producing ice. This model’s 1.8 lbs.-per-hour output was 80% more efficient than other models. The Best model also produced its first batch of clear, well-formed cubes in just under 10 81846A_300x300minutes.

Finally, make sure your guests won’t be eaten alive by mosquitoes. The One Acre Natural Attractant Mosquito Trap lures pesky skeeters within one-acre by emitting heat, odorless carbon dioxide (the same gas people expel during respiration) and light. When mosquitoes are drawn inside, they die of dehydration. You can give your friends and family the unique gift of an evening under the stars, without the next day’s itchy reminders of uninvited flying pests.

Essentials of a Great Cook

Cooking as a hobby is more popular than ever. There are entire TV networks devoted to the avocation, not to mention a plethora of cooking competition shows, professional and amateur alike.

But what makes a great cook? We interviewed a corporate chef for some essential points. Based on his tips, we also have a few recommendations for unique gifts that will help you wow the crowd at your next dinner party.

  1. Be hungry. Have the desire to please your own palate.
  2. Have a good sense of taste. If your friends come back for more, you’re on your way. If your friends would be willing to pay for your cooking, you may have a career.
  3. Practice, practice, practice your knife handling skills. And remember that a dull knife is more dangerous to use than a sharp one. Keep all your smooth and serrated knives in top condition.86822_300x300
  4. Cook by technique, not by recipes. Recipes teach the mistakes of others, technique teaches you to make your own recipes. Respect the experience of those who teach you.
  5. 84850_300x300Be organized and clean. As much as 60% of cooking is prepping, chopping, and cleaning. Many professionals use a prep station to be efficient and organized.
  6. Have a good sense of timing. Try to guess time without looking at the clock or timer. An innate sense of timing is a unique gift, but with practice you can develop the skill. Know the proper time and temperature for the safe cooking of different foods.
  7. 12527_300x300Be bold and creative. Go to school and take a variety of classes and instruction. Don’t be afraid to try something different that will really get friends and family talking, even something like traditional Cuban Lechon Asado.
  8. Above all, have joy and fun! If you enjoy what you’re doing, it will show in the results. And make sure to relax and enjoy your guests with a tasty beverage served in a fun atmosphere.

These Desserts Get Mouths to Watering

In just two weeks, Thanksgiving will kick off the holiday season for entertaining and for giving unique gifts to friends and family.

Whether you’re looking to grace your own holiday table with something different and unexpected for dessert, or if you’re looking for a unique hostess gift that ensures you get invited back next year, we have some ideas that guarantee the pumpkin pie stays in the fridge.84577_300x300

Melted chocolate cascades down the two tiers of this chocolate fondue fountain, turning dessert into entertainment. A crowd-pleaser at banquets and buffets, our home version animates traditional chocolate fondue by inviting guests to dip fruit, cheese, pretzels, and other snacks into the rippling streams. Guests will delight in getting hands-on, putting the finishing touch on their own dessert.12323_300x300

This authentic Key Lime Pie earned four National Championships at the annual Great American Pie Festival. The light and creamy dessert is the official pie flavor of the Sunshine State, with a delicious filling that combines the tartness of key lime juice with sweet condensed milk. This pie captures the authentic taste of South Florida honestly, without relying on artificial ingredients, fillers, or preservatives.

12575A_300x300Lauded by The New York Times as “The only Danish pastry in America any self-respecting Dane would eat”, this Danish kringle is made fresh according to a fourth-generation family recipe. As Wisconsin’s official state pastry, this award-winning version takes three days to prepare using Old-World techniques. It’s a unique gift that can be enjoyed for breakfast, with coffee, or as dessert.

Gourmet Gifts That Click With The Coffee Klatch

A cold wind is sweeping across the country and our bodies crave a warm refreshing break to stave off winter’s frosty fury. While we can’t change the weather, these unique gifts of gourmet delights make the cold easier to bear as you dish the latest gossip with the coffee klatch or hunker down by yourself with a hot cup of tea and a good read.12264_300x300

A chocolatier’s mouth waters with envy at the sight of Marini’s Hand Dipped Chocolate Bacon. The latest craze for an edible unique gift, Dutch cocoa milk chocolate and luxuriously rich, French dark chocolate enrobe thick-cut, hickory smoked bacon. Bacon makes winter life much better!

Arndt’s Homemade Fudge Gift Basket features four slabs of luscious love. This 12417_300x300unique gift basket is the pride of Illinois’s small-town antique fudgery. In its third generation of family ownership, Arndt’s still uses the freshest butter and cream to make its decadent flavors. The tin includes maple nut, old-fashioned peanut butter and chunky rocky road, along with a super-rich chocolate.

The Genuine Smith Island Cake is Maryland’s official state dessert. For 200 years, bakers on Smith Island, a remote fishing village at the southern tip of the Chesapeake Bay, have sent the cake out with the local watermen 12379_300x300during the autumn oyster harvest. The fishermen found that the thick fudge frosting helped preserve the cake for the duration of their voyage, while their wives took pride in how delicately thin and moist they could make the interior layers. Gourmet Coffee has met its match!

The ultimate coffee klatch can only be achieved with the ultimate espresso maker. The Genuine Italian Astoria Dual Espresso Machine presents the classic style from 1901, with modern microprocessor controls. This commercial-grade dual espresso maker from 10911_300x300Italy is the same kind trusted in fine restaurants. The ornate copper dome is handmade in Morocco and topped with a brass eagle, and is accented with highly polished copper and stainless steel steam wands and panels.

Sno Time Like the Present for a Cool Treat

Statistically speaking, the third week of July is the hottest time of the year. How appropriate, then, that today is National Ice Cream Day.

First designated in 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan, the entire month of July, along with the third Sunday of the month, recognizes ice cream as a fun and nutritious food, one in which 90 percent of Americans indulge.The Genuine Good Humor Ice Cream Cart

This Ice Cream Day, you could be the most popular person in your neighborhood with The Genuine Good Humor Ice Cream Cart. This is the genuine cart that was first produced for the Good Humor Company over 75 years ago. Four brass bells hang from the handlebar, an iconic feature that attracted children by the dozens to street corners in America’s growing suburbs following World War II.

For those looking for a low-fat, healthy treat, The Frozen Fruit Soft Serve Processor instantly turns frozen fruit and other flavorings into a soft-serve confection. The unit combines frozen bananas and any additional fruit or chocolate and instantly churns the ingredients to produce a treat with the silky-smooth texture of frozen yogurt or soft-serve ice cream, but without the additional fat, sugar, or preservatives. It makes a great and unique gift for lactose-intolerant friends or family.

Because summer is a great time to celebrate frozen treats of all kinds, The Classic Snow Cone Cart will remind you of the type found at beaches, parks, and zoos. Three dispensers The Classic Snow Cone Makerlet guests apply the flavored syrup in grand Sno-Kone tradition. You may want to pair your Sno-Kone cart with The Best Portable Ice Maker. This portable appliance earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it was the most efficient at producing ice.

So, if you’re feeling warm on this summer day, cool off with a delicious serving of ice cream, sherbet, gelato, sorbet, water ice, soft serve, snow cone, or frozen yogurt. Whichever you choose, it’s sure to be refreshing!