Friday Favorites


I’m starting a new feature on Steamy Kitchen called Friday Favorites, mainly because at the end of the week, my mind is already numb from recipe writing, testing and chopping. Well, except this week as I just came back from a relaxing Mexican vacay with this gal which I’ll tell you about later. So, with absolutely NO excuse this week for a post about fabulous finds, I’ll just shut up and say that while my body is back home, my mind is still somewhere lounging on a Riviera Mayan beach.

From left to right, top to bottom:

1. Aged White Cheddar Kettle Popcorn from Popcorn Indiana. “Crunchy Crispy Sharp Savory” I’m addicted. I buy 5 bags at a time and can eat half a bag myself in ONE sitting. The photo above is the Buffalo Cheddar Popcorn, which I also like, but my absolute fav is the Aged White Cheddar (which I ate all of already so couldn’t get a shot of it this morning.) I usually buy these from my Fresh Market but recently found them at Walmart $3 each. The Smoked Cheddar and Original flavor is too sweet for me; the Buffalo Cheddar has a little spice kick.

2. Just got in the mail Andrea Nguyen’s new book that’s coming out next week, Asian Dumplings! I haven’t had a chance to try any of the recipes yet, but just from scanning through the 75 recipes for gyoza, spring rolls, samosas, steamed dumplings and baked puffs, I know you’ll just love the book.

3. This was an awesome Twitter-find. I saw Michael Ruhlman’s tweet about Guava Wood Smoked Sea Salt and immediately went on a search for owner of Tiki Spice, Michael McSweeny. Micheal, his wife and two adorble kids live on the beautiful island of Kauai and live for the perfect wave. Tiki Spice’s sea salt is hand-harvested, solar-dried Hawaiian Sea Salt. Michael then takes the salt and cool-smoked over native Guava Wood. The formula didn’t come easy – it took 2 years of testing before finally reaching that perfect smokiness.

4. Friend Chef Dave from sends over a box every few weeks with fantastic goodies to try. My latest favorite is the Bluegrass Soy Sauce, which is made in the USA “Bluegrass Soy Sauce is microbrewed in small batches using only whole Kentucky grown Non-GMO soybeans, locally grown red wheat and the purest limestone filtered Kentucky spring water. This special Soy Bean mash is fermented and aged to perfection in bourbon barrels to add remarkable depth and character.” It’s not a soy sauce that I’m cooking with (I think you lose some of that special bourbon/oakiness when you cook with it) – but thoroughly enjoy it as a dipping sauce or drizzle on to finish a dish.

5. Tony Tahhan is my latest blog-find! He teaches cooking classes part time in the D.C. area and specializes in Mediterranean cooking. His blog is full of step-by-step photos and cooking tips. Recipes like Lemon Infused, Basil Arugula Pesto include a tip on how to make your pesto greener, a Middle Eastern Stuffed Eggplant with meat and rice instructs you to put a layer of sliced carrots at the bottom of the pot so you don’t burn the eggplant.

6. Three-time James Beard Award winner, David Leite (author of Leite’s Culinaria) is launching is very first cookbook called The New Portuguese Table! I’m sooo proud of David for producing such a splendid cookbook with page after page of luscious food photography and dreamy photos of the Portugal land and seascape. How can you resist recipes like Grilled Chicken Slathered in Hot Sauce (frango com piri-piri), Sea Bass in Fennel and Orange (robalo com funcho e laranja) and Sauteed Chestnuts, Onions and Bacon (castanhas salteadas com cebolase toucinho entremeado). Earlier this year on a trip to NYC, I met up with David at a restuarant and we have no idea how much time had passed…we were so engrossed in conversation that by the time we looked up, we were the only guests left in the restaurant!

7. I was introduced to Scan Pan earlier this year in Seattle at the IFBC conference as we each got a small frying pan in our swag bag. I’m in love with their pressure-cast aluminum nonstick cookware that does NOT contain the harmful PFOA that most other nonstick cookware does. Scan Pan’s patented Green-Tek technology makes it clean and green.When I’m cooking on the Daytime show, I have to bring all of my own equipment, including pots and pans. This is what I bring on set because it’s beautiful, easy to clean and easy to cook with.

8. I met Ellen Davenport last year, when she sent me a sample of their California Rice Oil, perfectly suited for high-heat wok cooking. The oil is made from the rice BRAN – which is the outer layer of the rice which is usually milled off for white rice, but kept on in brown rice. It’s where all the nutrients are in a rice kernal. The best thing about California Rice Oil is its high smoke point and neutral taste. Plus, they got a stamp of approval from Cook’s Illustrated who tested the smoke point and taste of canola and Calfornia Rice Oil side by side. Not only was the rice bran oil the winner in the smoke point test but also beat out in the taste test.

I loved it so much that I bought 4 gallons of California Rice Oil to use in my cooking. I gave away 2 gallons of it to my friends, so I know I’ll be ordering more soon.

9. Aprons that make you look cute in the kitchen!? Hell yeah! The moment I arrived home last night, I ripped open a package from Kitsch’n Glam. I’ll be wearing these aprons on set because let’s face it, most aprons on the market today aren’t flattering. The halter top apron shows off some sexy curves!

Do you have a Friday Favorite to share?! Tell me!

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Comments 32

  1. Plumber_online (Rick)

    Your site is absoloutely Amazing, Most gentlemen I guess don’t really know how to (but secretly would love to) Cook. I love experiencing new foods and challenging my own taste of wonderful varieties of food. Now myself I am the outdoor grill Master. Learned it from coaching little league and grilling for 150 kids & parents at events. My 19 year old son (home from college this summer) has been watching your site and various cooking schools and I am so jealous of him. He has really become quite the little(HA 6’3″ 275lb) chef. Would you ever consider doing a outdoor grill special. Sorry I am personally new & you may have done one this summer. I have found a lot of Beef,Pork & Chicken ideas, Some good,some great & others not so good. But what I am after is Vegetables… such as Corn,Potatoes,Fruits & other great ideas you can fire on the side burner. Thank You again for having such a tremendous site. Makes me Hungry. Your Follower Rick

      1. Plumber_online (Rick)

        Just visited the site, Now that’s just what I was talking about. thank You so Very Much !!!

  2. Lisa P.

    My Friday fave? Alaea Red sea salt from Hawaii. It’s wonderfully nutty, rich, like little rubies on my food. The guava wood smoked sea salt sounds like my next fave….

      1. Lisa P.

        Ooooo! I’ll have to check that out. My fave salt creation, especially with the colored salts is crostini + ricotta + a sprinkle of salt (pink sea salt is beautiful) + a drizzle of olive oil. Total comfort food…mmmmmmm.

  3. Cathy

    Okay, seriously, with the amount of “vacations” you take…do you actually work? Just kidding, I’m jealous of course!

  4. chef gui


    I really like the Friday Fav concept. Visually beautiful. Great tips. And of course very smart marketing-wise.

    Talk soon.

    Chef Gui.

  5. Maryann

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! I have been looking for a blog like Tony Tahhan for so looooong. I am of Italian heritage and my husband is half Lebanese. Our fav genres are Mediterranian and Asian. This site is great. Can’t wait to spend some time browsing through it. Blowing kisses across the Skyway Bridge!!!

  6. Angelia McGowan

    Oh my goodness, that apron is the cutest ever, I had to take a second look after reading your post, I thought it was a halter top dress at first, too cute! My friday fav would be naturally more peanut butter, i love peanut butter, but it goes straight to my hips! so I just have a taste when I make my son’s sandwich. When I was a little I would eat it from the jar with a spoon, till my parents took it away, peanut butter is my weakness!

  7. Chef David

    Jaden, Also loving the California Rice Bran Oil. I’m playing with it this weekend and am finding it well-suited to all high temp applications. Great flavor, too.

    Thanks for the shout-out on the Bluegrass Soy Sauce – it’s incredible with sushi & sashimi and a little drizzle adds the perfect finishing touch to many dishes.

    Thanks again!

  8. Heidi Robb

    Such interesting selections! I’ve been looking for ‘the’ neutral oil, and can’t wait to try the CA rice bran oil featured here. And the soy looks special- much different than an aged tamari?

  9. Simone (junglefrog)

    O lucky you to have been to Mexico! It’s been exactly 12 years ago that I was there and we totally loved it. Have been planning to go back ever since… Looking forward to reading more about it!

  10. Audrey

    I’ve been searching for dumpling recipes, and I’ve found quite a few, but I’m definitely looking forward to ‘Asian Dumplings’! Thanks for the heads-up!

  11. [email protected]

    What a great idea! Wish I’d thought of it.

  12. Fuji Mama

    Love the Friday Faves idea! I’ve got the Asian Dumplings book in my shopping cart on, can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Those aprons are so cute. Ok, maybe this Friday Fave’s thing is a bad idea…my bank account is going to be hurting every Friday. One of my favorite new discoveries is Paperless Post:

  13. Ellen

    Hey Jaden, Thanks for the great write-up about California Rice Oil!!!
    My friday fave is a cocktail—Dark n’ Stormy
    2oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
    4 oz Ginger Beer

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