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Welcome to Fancy Food & Culinary Products' blog, your place to read reviews of the great fancy and gourmet products we find in the marketplace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Editor's Choice: Better than Bouillon

Flavorful stock is the base for many recipes, from risotto to paella to soup. I used to use those little dried out squares that you had to dissolve in warm water and didn't taste like much more than salty sand. After trying Better than Bouillon from Superior Touch, I will never again use a tiny dried square to flavor savory dishes.

The Better than Bouillon comes in glass jars that need to be refrigerated, and contain a creamy colloid of reduced stock made from...chickens or beef or veggies! You just scoop out a serving and throw it into whatever you are making. It becomes part of the dish effortlessly, without needing to dissolve, and there is no need to add water, if you don't want to. Just the bouillon.

What makes them different from the chicken stock I make myself, when I can be bothered to slave over a hot chicken carcass for a few hours, is they have no fat. They are also lower in sodium with 1/3 less salt than ordinary bouillon. That lower sodium thing in a big deal in my house where everyone is watching their salt intake. This is a painless way to lower sodium intake at a base level, and we don't even miss it, because this bouillon is so flavorful.

My mom makes the best mashed potatoes in the world. One of her secrets was to throw a beef bouillon cube into the potatoes when they were boiling. Now that I have turned her onto this product, that comes in a dizzying variety of flavors (beef, chicken, au jus, vegetable, clam, turkey, mushroom, ham, fish, chili and lobster) she just puts a little Beef Bouillon in the potatoes and that's that. And they are even better and more tasty, as if that were possible. This product has kicked my cooking up to another level, and a healthier one at that.

-Elizabeth Dugan

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Editor's Choice: Kay's Naturals Inc.

I’m always on the hunt for a good snack, especially at the office, but of course, I’m also trying to eat a little healthier. So when the package from Kay’s Naturals Inc. ( containing products made with soy protein arrived in the office, I was willing to take a look. I know soy is good for you. I use soy milk in my coffee. Besides April is National Soy Foods Month and it seemed like the perfect time to sample some product and report back my findings.

One item that caught my eye was the Protein Pretzel Sticks in Cinnamon Toast flavor. I like cinnamon French toast, so that looked promising. It turns out it was a good choice. The pretzels have a nice crunch to them, a valued asset to a satisfying snack and a tasty cinnamon toast — as promised — flavor.  They could be a good afternoon snack or be packed as part of a lunch.

On the healthy side, the 1.2-ounce bag offers eight percent of your daily calcium requirement. I also want to mention that the pretzels are gluten-free. I know that’s a consideration for some people and this gives them a pretzel alternative.

By the way, for those who like something more savory, Jalapeno Honey Mustard Pretzel Sticks are also available. Either choice would make a fine addition to a gift basket or as part of a healthy snacks display or promotion.

And, of course, for me, the pretzels are another good addition to the snack drawer.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Editor's Choice: Hammond's Candies Sweet & Spicy Cheese Dip

I have a confession; that’s not really a confession at all. It’s something that I think you must be completely abnormal if you disagree with. Now, don’t get me wrong. My parents taught me to be kind and open-minded. But, I’m not open-minded when it comes to cheese. I have a deep, thorough love for the product in all its many forms. In fact, if my husband and I are ever in an accident, it’s quite possible the only thing my grieving mourners will find in the refrigerator is a plethora of cheese products. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you, that while I was at the International Home & Housewares Show recently — I made every effort to score a variety of cheese products. And, I stumbled upon a gold mine. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Hammond’s Candies Sweet & Spicy Cheese Dip!

Hammond’s Candies is known for their tempting taffy and oversized lollipops. However, in recent history, it’s their line of delicious dips that have stolen the show and pulled me into their booth. You’ll likely remember this fascination from a year ago, when I sampled the company’s Pumpkin dip. Well, I’m happy to report that while that dip remains a favorite of mine — the Sweet & Spicy Cheese spread might have surpassed it.  The name of this dip thoroughly explains the ingredients. The dip is a mixture of sweet and spicy sauce and melted cheese. But, what amazes me is how harmoniously the two combine. I found myself scratching my head and wondering why we didn’t think of this sooner! While I originally sampled the dip with pretzels, I could see it used as a condiment on sandwiches. Or, perhaps in my wildest of fantasies, I imagined it as the dipping sauce for tasty chicken fingers. YUM!

Feel free to order the tempting treat yourself. The cost is remarkably reasonable for this small dip of heaven ($6.95 per jar). Just don’t report back to me if you don’t like it. There are some things even the most open-minded of people won’t understand!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Editor's Choice: Texas Toffee Almond Delight

I have a pretty serious sweet tooth, but generally avoid candy because of a certain...over-zealousness. Butterscotch, truffles, butter-mints and Jordan Almonds have all been eaten by me in quantities so vast as to make me sick for more than 24 hours, but without real regret. My stomach does not respond fast enough. I love these candies.

Toffee has always been a favorite of mine. If I was very well behaved in the grocery store, when I was a child, my mom would buy me a Skor or Heath bar and give me half there and half at home when I helped unloading the groceries. And then I would OD on the sugar. In hindsight, perhaps this was not the best reward and maybe set the pattern of my adult life and candy. Bygones!

Regardless, I was excited when I saw the bag of Texas Toffee Almond Delight emerge from the box at the office. I don't want to say I dove on it, and consumed a whole bag before my co-workers got to try any, dreamed about it that night, came back into the office and schemed about how I could get some more...but that is totally what happened. I'm sorry, co-workers. You snooze, you lose.

Wow, is this toffee good! Buttery and almost creamy while still being satisfyingly crunchy, it fills the mouth with a lovely caramel taste, tempered by the tasty almonds, so the sweetness isn't overwhelming.  Perhaps it is the obvious freshness of this candy that makes it so good. Skor  and Heath bars are all well and good, but Texas Toffee tastes as though it has just cooled enough to be put into the bag; as though your grandma just handed you a imperfectly jagged square and said, "Careful now, I just finished this batch!". Texas Toffee touts their candy as a holiday treat, but why limit yourself? Check out Texas Toffee and their other flavors as well: Pecan, Macadamia, Peanut and Toffee Sprinkles for ice cream!

-Elizabeth Dugan