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For the New Cook

Here are some Cool Tools to help the new cook discover the fun and joy of cooking.

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  1. Architec Recipe Rock

    Architec Recipe Rock

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Holds a recipe sheet or card off the counter and at a great angle

    With more of us printing recipes off the internet (maybe even some from Colbrook Kitchen!), someone had to come up with an elegant solution for getting the recipe off the counter and into an upright, readable position...and someone did!

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  2. blomus

    blomus "Knik" Trivet

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    $13.99

    Why It's Cool: Great trivet that folds up to take up very little space

    Trivets are essential tools for handling or serving any hot dish, to protect your countertops or your dining table. If you have ever forgotten to use one, then you’ve never forgotten the damage a hot dish can do, especially to wood. Everybody has some sort of trivet, or maybe a few trivets, or maybe even a collection …but simple is better: “X” marks the spot, with the blomus® Knik™ Trivet.

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  3. Confessions of a Serial Entertainer by Steven Stolman

    Book: Confessions of a Serial Entertainer by Steven Stolman (signed by the author)

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    $29.99

    Why It's Cool: Witty, entertaining and informative book about how to be a gracious, relaxed and confident host.

    We love cookbooks and have a huge library of them, but it’s not something we’ve chosen to carry at Colbrook Kitchen… until now. But then, this isn’t just a cookbook--it’s a guidebook for anyone who invites people over (or would like to) and wants to do it with a maximum of style and a minimum of stress.

    Steven Stolman, clothing designer, former president of Scalamandre Fabrics, author, and self-proclaimed serial entertainer, shares his secrets, not only of how to be a gracious host, but how to be a great guest as well. Steven is the author of 40 Years of Fabulous and Scalamandré: Haute Décor. And he's our cousin!
    He freely admits to using lots of shortcuts and packaged products to make life easier, and these tips and many others are part of the wit and wisdom that fills these pages and will make everyone from the novice to the veteran party thrower a more confident and successful host. And along the way Steven shares recipes for everything from Pimento Cheese through Chicken Milanese to Sorta Strawberries Romanoff.

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  4. Camerons Tortilla Warmer

    Camerons Tortilla Warmer

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    $7.99

    Why It's Cool: Warms tortillas in the microwave in 45 seconds...keeps them warm and soft for an hour

    With the recent rush away from glutens, we have been looking for appetizing alternatives to wrap our food for easy eating.  We love a nice warm corn tortilla; our favorite filling is Carnitas topped with Pico de Gallo and other traditional accompaniments, but there are so many choices: both traditional and adventurous. This does, however, present a couple of challenges. First, how do you warm the tortillas? And then how do you keep them warm, especially for a crowd? Many approaches to these issues have been less than satisfactory, until now.

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  5. Oval Banana Leaf

    Charles Viancin Banana Leaf Silicone Lids

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    $15.99

    Why It's Cool: Use instead of plastic wrap for a better seal and greener kitchen...and it's a universal lid on the stove or in the oven or microwave.

    When Kennedy and I started Colbrook Kitchen, we each found a tool that to us epitomized the concept of a Cool Tool: high design, high functionality and unique--something that in all our years of prowling cookware shops, we had never seen. For Kennedy, it was the Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker, and for me it was the Charles Viancin Lily Pad Lids. And it seems that you all agree, because these are our two best selling Cool Tools.

    A few months ago, when I was making a strata that needed to sit in the refrigerator overnight in a rectangular glass dish, I wondered why the Charles Viancin silicone lids couldn’t be made in squares and rectangles to cover the glass dishes that we all use. So I emailed Charles and asked. I wish I could take credit for turning this idea into a product, but in fact, as great minds run along the same paths, he had already thought of this.

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  6. Charles Viancin Big Silicone Lids (oversized round, square, oval and rectangular)

    Charles Viancin Big Silicone Lids (oversized round, square, oval and rectangular)

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    $15.99

    Why It's Cool: Use instead of plastic wrap for a better seal and greener kitchen...and it's a universal lid on the stove or in the oven or microwave.

    When Kennedy and I started Colbrook Kitchen, we each found a tool that to us epitomized the concept of a Cool Tool: high design, high functionality and unique--something that in all our years of prowling cookware shops, we had never seen. For Kennedy, it was the Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker, and for me it was the Charles Viancin Lily Pad Lids. And it seems that you all agree, because these are our two best selling Cool Tools.

    A few months ago, when I was making a strata that needed to sit in the refrigerator overnight in a rectangular glass dish, I wondered why the Charles Viancin silicone lids couldn’t be made in large rounds, squares, ovals and rectangles to cover the glass dishes that we all use. So I emailed Charles and asked. I wish I could take credit for turning this idea into a product, but in fact, as great minds run along the same paths, he had already thought of this.

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  7. Charles Viancin Cabbage Colander - Large

    Charles Viancin Cabbage Colander

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    Why It's Cool: Drains great, rolls up for easy storage (and looks cool)

    Colanders are a necessity in every kitchen … and the use of the plural form is intentional! But they take up so much storage space! The old-style metal versions, and even some of the newer versions in plastic or silicone, are just “too big” to go easily from sink or counter to the refrigerator, and they don’t stack conveniently, unless you have all the same models, and that almost never happens! And even the newest collapsible silicone models aren’t always the slimmest tools in your kitchen!

    And all they do is simply “be a colander” … they only serve a single purpose and don’t always do that well. Does your model have holes in the bottom only? Or do the holes go all the way up the sides? Does it drain efficiently? Or does water collect in the bottom, even though it was supposed to drain out? Does it do its primary job well? And can you do anything else with it? And how much space does it take up?

    Finally, we have a colander that answers all these questions, and more, in all the ways you would hope for … and of course it’s from Charles Viancin, whose designs are Inspired by Nature™ … this new design is no exception to his high standards of beauty and functionality.

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  8. Charles Viancin Double Boiler Insert

    Charles Viancin Double Boiler Insert

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Easy to store, easy to empty, can be used in microwave, oven or on stovetop

    There are certain times when you really need a double boiler--any time when what you’re cooking is too delicate for direct heat. Melting chocolate or butter are only two examples; my super easy zabaglione from my single days (for each person use 1 egg yolk, ½ egg shell full of sugar, and ½ egg shell full of marsala, and whisk for a long time--until doubled in volume--in a double boiler over simmering water; serve over fresh strawberries) is another.

    The function of a double boiler is necessary in any well-equipped kitchen, but the downsides are that it takes up a lot of space, it can be used only on a cooktop and the shape usually makes it difficult to get all of whatever you’re cooking in it, out of it … even with the best spatula skills. Well, not anymore….

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  9. Grape Cutting Board

    Charles Viancin Silicone Cutting Boards

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    Why It's Cool: Flexible to deliver cut food to pan or bowl, doesn't move on counter as you cut, dishwasher safe

    When we reviewed the Charles Viancin Lilypad Cutting Board, just over 1 year ago - wow! time is flying! - we talked about the many choices of cutting boards, including the fact that we all probably have several, in various sizes and materials, in our kitchen. Everybody has to face these choices. Piper has written a Cool Tip on this subject and, in prior first cutting board reviews, we summarized the basic criteria for making these choices:

    • Size: it should big enough that the cut food doesn’t fall off, but small enough that moving it doesn’t constitute exercise;
    • Sturdy: it shouldn’t move or curl while in use;
    • Durable: it should be firm enough that cutting on it won’t gouge it to shreds, but not so hard as to damage your knives;
      Convenient: it should be the right size - or sizes - and it should be dishwasher safe, so that we can be sure it’s really clean the next time we use it; and, finally,
    • Beauty: it should be beautiful in your kitchen - or wherever you use it - because, as  William Morris said, you should “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

    And now Charles Viancin has taken another step to assure that you can satisfy all these criteria with two simple products in two designs: the Silicone Cutting Boards in both medium and small in both Grape and Poppy designs.

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  10. Charles Viancin Silicone Lids

    Charles Viancin Silicone Lids

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    Why It's Cool: Use instead of plastic wrap for a better seal and greener kitchen...and it's a universal lid on the stove or in the oven or microwave.

    I’m pretty much a disaster when it comes to plastic wrap; it seems to stick to everything except the bowl I'm trying to cover.  And the green side of me hates to use it once and throw it away. If you're like me, you'll love these Charles Viancin Lids.

    Can't decide which design you like best? Join the crowd! Order one of the Mixed Bouquet Bundles, select the design for the large lid, and we'll choose the designs for the other sizes to give you a mixed bouquet of lids!

    Money saving bundles available in one design or in a Mixed Bouquet:

    • Bundle 1: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 medium/small, and 1 small ($44 value) = $39.99
    • Bundle 2: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 medium/small, and 2 x-small ($44 value) = $39.99
    • Big Bundle: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 medium/small, 1 small, 2 x-small, and 1 wine stopper ($55 value) = $49.99

    Make your choice in the drop-down menu below ...

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  11. Charles Viancin Silicone Pot Holder/Trivet

    Charles Viancin Silicone Pot Holder/Trivet

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    $7.99

    Why It's Cool: Soft, flexible multi-tasker: trivet, pot holder and jar opener

    When is a pot holder not merely a pot holder? And how could a pot holder be a Cool Tool?

    When it’s also a trivet, a bottle opener, and a lovely silicone piece designed by Charles Viancin, whose Inspired By Nature™ designs are some of our favorite Cool Tools.

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  12. Charles Viancin Silicone Snowflake Lids

    Charles Viancin Silicone Snowflake Lids

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    Why It's Cool: Use instead of plastic wrap for a better seal and greener kitchen...and it's a universal lid on the stove or in the oven or microwave.

    I’m pretty much a disaster when it comes to plastic wrap; it seems to stick to everything except the bowl I'm trying to cover.  And the green side of me hates to use it once and throw it away. If you're like me, you'll love these Charles Viancin Lids.

    The Snowflake design is the essence of winter in beautiful blue and white, with each lid in a different, but coordinating color.

    Money saving bundles:

    • Bundle 1: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 medium/small, and 1 small ($44 value) = $39.99
    • Bundle 2: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 medium/small, and 2 x-small ($44 value) = $39.99
    • Big Bundle: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 medium/small, 1 small, 2 x-small, and 1 wine stopper ($55 value) = $49.99

    Make your choice in the drop-down menu below ...

    Learn More
  13. Cherry Blossom

    Charles Viancin Value Sets

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    $30.99

    Why It's Cool: Use instead of plastic wrap for a better seal and greener kitchen...and it's oven safe...and now at an outstanding price!

    We all love Charles Viancin silicone lids: they’re beautiful, they’re useful, they’re effective, and they’re wonderful to own and to give as gifts. In addition, they’re “green” (reusable, recyclable, etc.) and take up very little space. And now (drum roll) for a limited time (drum roll again) they are even more reasonably priced!

    Those lovely folks at Charles Viancin have put together Value Sets in a few of the most popular designs and in the most popular sizes. Each set contains ... 1 large (11”/28cm), 1 medium (9”/23cm), 1 medium small (8”/20cm), and 2 x-small (4”/10cm) lids (drink covers) in one design; all beautifully packaged. Buy several: at least one for you, and several more as gifts; these prices won’t last forever!

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  14. Charles Viancin Violet Overboil Ring

    Charles Viancin Violet Overboil Ring

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    $13.99

    Why It's Cool: Stops water from boiling over...and looks good doing it

    Each year we go to the International Housewares Show in Chicago. It’s a total kid-in-a candy-store experience where all the vendors show off their latest and greatest hot new kitchen stuff. And then we spend the rest of the year putting this stuff through their paces, to choose only the best to bring to you as Cool Tools!

    About a year ago we saw ‘new’ tools intended to stop your pot from boiling over. We didn’t pay much attention because they were sort of ho-hum, although, truth be told, we have certainly had our share of boil overs. But this year one of our favorite vendors, Charles Viancin, offered a new “Overboil Ring” that was beautiful, as well as potentially useful, so we knew we had to test it out!

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  15. Charles Viancin Wine Bottle Stopper

    Charles Viancin Wine Bottle Stopper

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    $3.00

    Why It's Cool: Whimsical, beautiful wine bottle stopper that works with the Wine Preserver to keep your wine fresh for days

    One of the most often-asked questions is: “how can I most effectively preserve that open bottle of wine?” After much testing, and if you're not willing to buy one of these big deal expensive, big deal preserving systems, then our answer is an inert gas blanket to keep your wine and the air that could ruin it separate. And, if your gas preserver is going to be effective, then you should not be letting air seep into your open bottle by stoppering with the cork that you just drove the corkscrew through! Of course there are those cutesy cork-wrapped stoppers with the grapes on top, or their O-ringed cousins topped with art glass or golf balls or … all very nice as novelty gifts, but not very effective at sealing your open bottle of wine. So what are the alternatives?

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  16. Chef’n Bramble Berry Basket

    Chef'n Bramble Berry Basket

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Traditional design in modern materials that provides great functionality that extends the life of your berries.

    It’s going to be berry season soon (it may be already, in some parts of the country!), and whether you grow your own, or buy them from the local farmer’s market or grocery store, you’ll want to be prepared to enjoy those delicious gems for as long as possible.

    But the problem always has been that the berries seem to spoil before you get a chance to finish them. (How many times have you reached into the refrigerator, eager to enjoy some sweet luscious berries, when you’re instead met by a molding mess?).  

    We’ve published a Cool Tip about extending the mold-free life of berries, but we’ve still been in search of other solutions to this seasonal problem: how can you prolong the life of berries in your refrigerator? We’ve found a very useful Cool Tool to address this problem.

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  17. Chef'n Hullster Tomato Huller

    Chef'n Hullster Tomato Huller (Corer)

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    $9.99

    Why It's Cool: Cleanly and easily removes the hull (core) from the tomato, so it's ready to use!

    It almost tomato season, it’s almost tomato season, it’s almost tomato season!! I keep telling myself that, as I wait for the tomatoes to ripen in our garden. We actually had our first full-sized tomato from our garden (a Cherokee Purple) just last night … finally … and it was worth waiting for.

    So once tomato season finally arrives and there are many beautiful tomatoes in your garden, or in the farmers’ markets, what do you do to make them ready to devour? Well, first wash them (yes, I did grow up to be my mother!). Second, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT PUTTING THEM IN THE REFRIGERATOR! And the next, and final preparatory step is to hull the tomato.

    Hulling a tomato means to take out the core that formed at the south end of the stem; it’s that tasteless hard cone that’s at the top center of the tomato. So once you’re ready to hull a tomato, what’s the best way to do it? You can take a sharp little paring knife and dig the core out of the tomato. But I’ve never wanted to do a down-facing dog into a tomato with a sharp knife: the possibilities of slipping and doing damage to myself are too great.

    This problem cries out for a tool, and what do you want in a tomato huller that would make it a Cool Tool? First it has to be easy, so that even a child could do it well. But it can’t have scary dangerous sharp edges, because you may want to give it to your child, to help and  feel part of the dinner-making process. However, it does need to be able grasp and cut out the hull - the center core - without taking too much of the good part of the tomato, because, after all, tomato season is short! And you want that tool to extract the hull cleanly from the tomato … and do it with style. Oh yes, and you also want it to be dishwasher safe for safe and easy cleanup because, during tomato season, you will be using it every day!

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  18. Chef'n Kale, Greens and Herb Stripper

    Chef'n Kale, Greens and Herb Stripper

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    $7.99

    Why It's Cool: Takes the work out of getting rid of the tough stems!

    So I think we can all agree that kale is good for us: it’s nutrient-dense, loaded with antioxidants, a great source of vitamins C and K, a cholesterol and cancer fighter, a good source of minerals we often don’t get enough of, high in eye-protecting nutrients, and it may even help with weight loss.

    With all of those benefits, it’s no wonder it’s been catching on like wildfire. So we’ve been looking around for potential Cool Tools that make eating all the kale you should much simpler. For us, one of the biggest preparation frustrations with kale is just getting the edible part of the kale leaf off the nearly inedibly tough stems. We’ve tried cutting it off with a scissors, running a knife down both sides of the stem, tearing the leaf off the stem. None of these provided satisfactory results, and all of them took too much time and effort. There had to be a better way…

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  19. Chef'n Large Juicester

    Chef'n Large Juicester (Citrus Juicer)

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    $14.99

    Why It's Cool: Reams citrus to extract maximum juice, measures juice, strains out seeds, non-slip base

    There are so many recipes that require just a little citrus to brighten the dish, and many of them require a specific measurement. While we love the Stainless Steel Citrus Juicer, using this to juice into a measuring cup is often too awkward. So we’ve tested a lot of small citrus juicers with measurements and good reamers, and we finally found one that we think is great.

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  20. Chef'n SleekStor Pinch + Pour Measuring Beakers and Lids

    Chef'n SleekStor Pinch + Pour Measuring Beakers and Lids

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    $34.99

    Why It's Cool: Easy measure and pour without dripping (Squeeze to create spout)

    Measuring ingredients is just a necessary fact of life in the kitchen and there are a lot of different measuring vessels that you can use. What you want in a good measuring vessel is something that is easy to hold, easy to read, easy to pour, easy to clean, and accurate. That’s a minimum set of requirements.

    Added functionality might include: metric measurements (for those wonderful European recipes), space saving design (so it takes up very little storage space, which is always at a premium), easy release interior, (so that whatever you’re measuring falls easily into your mixing bowl, pot or pan), and a lid (yes, a lid, so that when you’re doing your mise-en-place ahead of time, you can actually store the ingredient in the measuring vessel and don’t have to dirty another bowl).

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