Go Blue for Better Tortillas
Earthy, lightly sweet and robustly nutty: That’s what real masa harina should taste like. And that’s why we love Masienda Blue Masa Harina for homemade tortillas, which begins as single-origin heirloom corn grown in Oaxaca, Mexico. The kernels are lightly cooked before undergoing nixtamalization, a traditional process in which the corn is steeped in alkaline-infused water to soften the kernels. After being ground into a fine texture, the masa is dried slowly to preserve its freshly milled flavor. When cooked, the tortillas are pliable with a pleasant chew and, of course, are packed with traditional corn flavor. Available in 2.2-pound bags for $11.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so21-masa.
Not a Shred Is Lost
The basic box grater is a kitchen workhorse, but it isn’t always easy to use. So Danish company Eva Solo created a clever design that actually makes this tool a pleasure to use. The large stainless steel cylinder acts like a cup to contain food as it is grated, so you can easily see how much you’ve grated and transfer the food to your dish when you’re done. About 60 percent of the grater’s circumference is covered with grating holes, in traditional coarse and fine sizes, and we found it easy to brace the tool with one hand while grating with the other. It’s also easy to clean, as it’s both dishwasher-safe and large enough to easily wash by hand. Available for $55.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so21-grater.
Perfectly Charred Vegetables, No Grill Needed
The közmatık is a Turkish tool that’s the secret to perfect char-roasted vegetables, especially if you don’t have a grill or fire pit. The disk fits over the grate of a gas grill or the burner of a gas stove, so no more painstakingly monitoring vegetables under the broiler. The design lets heat circulate evenly around the vegetables, so you are truly roasting, rather than searing (as you would in a skillet). The közmatık’s holes are spaced close enough to hold even small vegetables, so there’s no struggle to keep a bulbous eggplant steady or stop slender spring onions from falling into the fire. And, once cooled, it can be thrown in the dishwasher for easy cleanup. Available for $42.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so21-char.
The Bread Knife You Didn’t Know You Needed
We didn’t realize how much we disliked our old bread knives until we tried the Suncraft Seseragi Bread Knife. With three unique blade edges, this smartly designed serrated knife combines the function of two knives in one. The tapered blade features a gently curved belly to facilitate clean slicing. A 2-inch section of wide wave serrations located closer to the tip of the knife dives in and saws through a crunchy outer crust, while the smaller teeth at the center of the blade cleanly slice through the inner crumb. It’s also ideal for delicate foods such as juicy tomatoes. Plus, the handle is specifically designed with a slight curve for a comfortable grip. Available for $69.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so21-knife.
So Much More Than Soy Sauce!
It’s sweet, salty and savory, and we want to put it on almost everything. Handcrafted by multigenerational soy sauce makers, Yun Hai Taiwanese Pantry Pineapple Soy Sauce is made by mixing sweet and juicy Taiwanese pineapple with black soybeans and salt, then leaving the mixture to ferment for 180 days in earthenware pots. The golden-brown liquid has a fruity fragrance that mingles with the more savory flavors, while the taste is a sweet, delicious funkiness with nuanced saltiness. Brighter and fruitier than the deep caramel of standard soy sauce, the condiment also packs a complex umami flavor not only from the nuttiness of the soy, but also from the fermented pineapple. Available for $25.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so21-soy.
First We Drink. Then We Measure.
Named for the dimpled indent at the bottom of your wine bottle, Colorado-based Wine Punts makes these unique measuring cups out of recycled wine bottles. They partner with local restaurants and hotels to repurpose tens of thousands of bottles per year. Made from sturdy, nonporous glass, these beaker-like measuring cups have a 2-cup capacity and show cup and ounce equivalents. They are great for cocktails, baking and more. The spout makes for mess-free pouring, while its high sides prevent microwave splattering when melting butter or heating sauces. Available for $25 at 177milkstreet.com/so21-wine.
Because they are almost joyfully formulaic, quick breads not only are fast and easy to assemble, they also are wonderfully versatile, baking up deliciously with almost any combination of seasonings, add-ins or base ingredients. So we asked the members of the Milk Street Facebook Community to share their favorite alternative quick bread recipes.
Stephanie Huddleston, of Gig Harbor, Washington, offered a savory option, combining tomatoes, feta, pine nuts, olive oil, za’atar and Aleppo pepper to create a quick bread with a Mediterranean flavor profile. We also borrowed an idea from Alin Manukyan, of Maywood, New Jersey, and tossed in some olives.
Jennifer Polse, of Oakland, California, had the idea to combine cocoa, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. We loved the combination, particularly with the addition of tahini. The bitter notes of the chocolate, nuttiness of the tahini, warmth of the cinnamon and fieriness of the cayenne are wonderfully complementary flavors.
And Michelle Downs Matlack, of Annandale, Virginia, suggested a quick-bread version of moist, tender carrot cake. Pistachios and tahini lend the bread loads of nutty notes, and candied ginger and orange bring bright, bracing flavor.
For Milk Street’s versions of all three recipes, go to 177milkstreet.com/communityrecipes.