Liz Bernier, known at CCKS as Liz-tastic, is one of the amazing assistants helping run Chef Contos kitchen & store. Liz and I are having a great time this holiday season, the store is festive and full of interesting holiday gifts, not to mention the baked goods that consistently tempt customers. Liz is passionate about baking and I wanted to share with you her top 5 favorite things in the store, not surprisingly some items are baking related. Please join me in welcoming Liz Bernier!
5 favorite Things (plus bonus)
When Courtney asked me to write down five things that I love from the store I thought, five things?! I could probably make a list of over 100 things in the store that I love and why I love them. So I walked around the store and picked out things that I have and find myself always reaching for in the kitchen, or something that I am always drawn to in the store. Here is the list I came up with, after a lot of narrowing down!
- Small cookie spatula: It is such a simple tool, how can it be the first thing on my favorite things list? But before I had this tool I would have never thought about how much I would use it, I constantly find myself using it for something I would not have originally imagined. It is small so it is extremely maneuverable, unlike a traditional spatula you have to move it all over just to get a piece of lasagna out of the pan or serving cake and pie, but this small spatula makes it so easy. And of course, it is great at taking cookies off the sheet!
- Truffle Salt: Three words...Truffle Salt Popcorn! I first tried this when Courtney made it for a class, and I knew it was something I needed to have in my kitchen. It is amazing on popcorn, it just takes it to the next level (as I write this Courtney is making popcorn cooked in goose fat with truffle salt!!), french fries, steak and gives a welcomed pop of flavor when sprinkled on a variety of different foods.
- Turk Cast Iron Pan: This pan is made in Germany, and what I really love about it is the grooves in the pan, it gives it a great look but it also transfers the grooves to the food you cook, resulting in pancakes that hold the most syrup possible, which being in Vermont we all know is an important ratio! This pan is also great for cooking fish, beef, vegetables and omelets.
- Mast Brothers Family Cookbook: We carry a lot of Mast Brothers chocolate, so I was thrilled when we got their cookbook in last month. An entire cookbook devoted to this amazing chocolate made in Brooklyn by a duo of bearded brothers who work with farmers from around the world. The great thing about this book is that in addition to all the traditional chocolate recipes, sweets such as Chocolate Bread Pudding and Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt, they also have a great number of savory recipes, such as Cincinnati Chili, Cacao Country Pate and Steak with Nibs & Peppercorns. The book also includes the story of the brothers, the journey of their company and the farmers and producers their chocolate comes from, which in my opinion really adds to the cookbook.
- Food Lover’s Companion: This book is essentially a dictionary of food and food terms, I never imagined I would use it as much as I do when I purchased it. I often find myself wondering about an ingredient or term I come across in recipes and a quick flip through this book gives me the information I need without being overwhelmed by links upon links you get with a web search. In addition to the ‘dictionary’ section of the book, the back contains a number of quick, helpful reference guides such as what apples to use for what purpose, ingredient substitutions and measurement conversions. This book makes a great addition to any food lover’s library, and is a fantastic gift!
- Bonus! Wine Barrel Lazy Susan: I had a list of my top seven items and couldn’t narrow it down to five so I am giving you a bonus favorite. These beautiful pieces just arrived and every time I walk past them I imagine them holding a variety of cheeses and cured meats as the centerpiece on a table for a party. They are made from the top or bottom of the barrel and have the stamped on markings from the wine producer, giving them a rustic feel.