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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, August 25, 2009

Editor's Choice: Daphne Baking Co.

Summer is beginning to wilt around the edges (though to many Chicagoans, it never felt like it started) but here at Fancy Food, we just put the final touches on our September Holiday issue, chock-full of winter holiday treats, grab-and-go gift ideas, and party supply tips and tricks. The winter season is in full swing in the minds of Fancy editors, so maybe it's not unusual that the Editor's Choice this week is Daphne Baking Company's Macadamia Nut Tart. While it strikes me as more of a winter-appropriate dessert, I got to try the tart (along with a sampling of other flavors from Daphne Baking Co.), and whether it was the brown sugar or the hint of maple syrup, the nutty, chewy sweetness was one that would definitely pick up and serve to friends or family. If it stayed around in my freezer long enough. The tart is great served plain, but would be heavenly warmed up with a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream. (Are you craving it yet?)

The tarts from Daphne Baking Co. come in boxes of two 3-in. tarts, and are available in not just Macadamia Nut, but Chocolate Raspberry, Lemon, Passion Fruit, Pumpkin and Chocolate as well. Find out more about Daphne Baking Co. at


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Editor's Choice: My Lunch Box

Some of my fondest memories from school are, sadly, not of the classroom, but rather in the lunchroom. Trading Little Debbie snack cakes, sipping from my Capri Sun juice bag and feasting on my favorite school foods (Mexican Pizza), left an indelible mark on me. As kids get older it becomes more important to teach them to create healthy meals for themselves and school lunch is no different.

Chronicle Books just introduced the My Lunch Box recipe box filled with 50 recipes easy enough and healthy enough for a child to make for themselves (or with an adult's help as indicated) and eat at school. Some of the main dish recipes (there are 25 total) are new to the lunch box, like the Chicken Chopstick Salad. I liked this recipe because is called for leftover chicken and is a not-so-common meal I think kids would really like. Then there are lunchtime classics reinvented to be something special. For example, the Swirlin’ Twirlin’ Pinwheels are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches rolled up to be more fun to eat. There are also 13 recipes for sides (Hearty Arty artichoke dip) and 12 treats recipes (Zucchini Cupcakes, anyone?).

The recipes aren’t rocket science and there’s some stuff a creative parent would be able to create, but that’s exactly why My Lunch Box is for kids. It gets the creative juices going and helps kids learn to plan meals and take an active role in meal preparation. The kit also comes with blank recipes cards and stickers that say “Mmmmmm …,” “Cheesy,” and "I made this on _______ ,” which I think will make testing the food that much more fun.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Editor's Choice: Baronia

I’ve never quite understood the pasta snobs out there in the culinary world. Maybe it’s because the blood running through my veins is exactly zero-percent Italian. But honestly, pasta is pasta…right?

I can hear them now. “WRONG!” they shout as their faces grow as red as a hot pot of Sunday gravy. Settle down, macaroni aficionados and fusilli connoisseurs! I finally get it! There is a distinct difference when you’re cooking good pasta.

When we received a package full of different varieties of Baronia Italian pasta, I took home the organic whole-wheat penne rigate for some experimentation. Relax, everyone; I wasn’t about to douse those precious tubes with an inferior jar of Prego. I was on a mission to make a meal with fresh ingredients to complement the authentic flavors of the pasta.

Luckily, my garden has been blessed with an overabundance of tomatoes this summer. Penne alla Vodka was definitely in order. To begin, I heated some olive oil in a pan and added chopped garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. I then removed the pan from the heat and added the vodka (note: cook with the stuff you would drink, aka, the good stuff). Returning the pan to the flame, I tossed in diced tomatoes, coarse salt and fresh black pepper. When my pasta was done cooking (I like mine al dente, so I boiled it for about 13 minutes), I drained it and added it to the pan. Finally, I poured in heavy cream and stirred until all the pasta was coated. I finished off the dish with freshly torn basil from my garden and some shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The first word that comes to mind when I tasted this dish was “robust.” The pasta’s pure earthiness combined with the sun-soaked flavor of the tomatoes was divine. And the extra kick from the red pepper flakes and vodka added a bite that balanced well with the mild cheese and cool basil.

This recipe is surprisingly foolproof and unsurprisingly delicious, so tout it away to your customers when you are promoting a high-quality pasta such as Baronia. And most importantly, let them know that it just won’t taste the same with a box of mediocre grocery-store pasta.

Visit to see more of Baronia’s offerings.