"She's not really an applesauce kid," my aunt warned me when I asked if I could test out a pouch of GoGo SqueeZ applesauce on my three year-old niece. We unscrewed the tiny yellow cap from the brightly-colored pouch of AppleBanana, and after an initial high-velocity blop of sauce landed on her shirt, Willow was soon quietly vending squeezes of the fine-textured fruit goo into her mouth.
Manufactured in France from all-natural ingredients by Materne, GoGo SqueeZ applesauce pouches have been available in the United States since 2008, but have been recently relaunched as 100 percent fruit. All of the flavors, including AppleApple, AppleCinnamon, AppleBanana, ApplePeach and AppleStrawberry, are gluten- and dairy-free and Kosher certified. Each pouch is around 60 calories, has no added sugar, and counts as one serving of fruit. The product is available at both Philadelphia Whole Foods; you can search for stores with Materne's product locator.
Since I am both childless and clueless, I left this evaluation to the experts: grandmothers, moms and favorite aunts.
Mom-Mom: I like the packaging. It's nice and bright and easy to hold. This would be good to bring to the beach. She really seems to like it, too. And there's no spoon! It's a better design than the squeeze yogurts.
Kay-Kay: This would be good for their lunchboxes for school, or when they get fussy in the car. They love things they can do themselves.
Gina: I can't believe she's eating it. She never likes applesauce. It's a great way to get kids to eat fruit.
Childless food writer: It's kind of a wasteful package and not recyclable. But you can re-seal it if the kid doesn't finish it, and the little nozzle is the perfect size for a child's small mouth. It tasted good, too. (I ate the blop I scooped off Willow's shirt; pretty good for a non-mom, right?)
DELICIOUS OR SUSPICIOUS?: Delicious. The kid loved the thing; when I asked her if she liked it, she just handed me the deflated pouch and said, "More."
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Meal Ticket recently received a sweet package of Reese's Pieces-ified (?) candies in the mail from the nice folks at Hershey's and decided to eat way too many of them in the name of Testing.
Reese's Pieces, as we all are intimately aware, are M&M versions of Reese's Peanut Butter cups. They debuted in the late '70s and got really famous after E.T. ate a shitload of them in the movie E.T. (In a particularly memorable and altogether shameless rip-off, Mac from 1988's Mac and Me loved Skittles with the same passion. He also liked dancing with fully uniformed football players inside McDonald's.) We've always wondered why similar candy bars couldn't get the same hit-with-a-shrink-ray treatment. Now they're here â Hershey's Special Dark candy bars now come in an array of foreboding crimson candy-coated colors, while the York Peppermint Patty Pieces rock a blue reminiscent of the KU Jayhawks jerseys.
Our favorite variety of the new Pieces line is Almond Joy, which was a surprise since that candy bar sits relatively low in our checkout-line impulse buy desirability rankings. Something about how the coconut starts tasting like gobs of shredded plastic if you chew too long. Anyways, there's none of that here, as each Joyful piece boasts near-microscopic amounts of almond, milk chocolate and coconut crammed into the shell (the elements aren't spit up separately by color, as we initially thought). How do they do it, fitting all that perfectly calibrated molar-aching goodness into such a petite package? Leave your best guess in the comments.
|Ideas in Food|
Dried pasta is cheap, filling and rather easy to cook. Fill a pot with salted water, wait until the whole thing is at a rolling boil, and dump the penne in. Twelve minutes later, dinner.
H. Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of Ideas In Food took a look at this process and asked how it could be made more efficient. The answer?ï¿½ Hydrating pasta in a Ziploc bag filled with water, the same way cooks hydrate beans before cooking. When their tests were successful ï¿½ pasta hydrated for 12 hours cooked up in one minute, just tossed into a pan of simmering sauce ï¿½ the pair shared their method with fellow chef/friend Shola Olunloyo, who experimented with hydrating pasta in mozzarella water (the water drained from making mozzarella at home) to infuse flavor.
Speaking of flavor, now they are roasting and smoking pasta to add even more nuances.
We caught up with these thinkers for the implications behind debunking of one cooking's greatest wives' tales, to cook greener, faster and smarter.
Does pre-hydrating pasta have a time- and energy-saving application in the commercial restaurant kitchen?
H. Alexander Talbot: Aki and I had been bouncing the idea of cooking pasta more efficiently, we have a young daughter so we try to cook things faster ... we were wondering what we could do with pasta. We did different tests, and Shola being a good friend of ours, we called him up on it.
We do private workshops with chefs, and we shoot them our ideas/informations. Shola had mozzarella water on hand from making cheese, so he had it on hand and gave it a shot with hydration. He was thrilled with the results.
Shola Olunloyo: YES Yes and yes. Certainly "fresh" pastas cook very rapidly but dry pastas can be dramatically reduced in cooking times by this process, and there is no reason why it would take longer that 4 minutes tops to make any dry pasta dish. It speeds up service in a restaurant and certainly saves energy in terms of boiling water forever, using gas or electricity. It's completely greener than the old school method. Seems the Italian rule is an old wives tale. This has huge implications. I could not taste any difference between unhydrated or hydrated pasta except one took 3 minutes and the other took 12.
Can home cooks make flavored hydrating liquids like mozzarella water without special equipment?
Shola Olunloyo: You don't need any special equipment to make mozzarella water, it's essentially the identical process to making mozzarella cheese. Stainless steel bowls, double boiler, pots, skimmers and cheesecloth. That being said I doubt any home cook short of the most avid have the time or interest. There are, however, other, simpler flavoring agents, it just has to be strong flavors.
H. Alexander Talbot: Water and linguine in a ziploc bag. After that, surely we can do flavors, thinned tomato sauce on hand with rigatoni. Ideally you finish pasta in sauce and we are just reversing things. Hydrate pasta in flavored liquid, then finish it in the sauce itself without putting a pot of water on to boil.ï¿½ We're building in efficiency.
In restaurant with dried pasta, you blanch it ahead of time and cool it, then you reheat it again to finish cooking for service. This is a soak, pat it dry and it's ready.
On a hot summer day, you don't have to have stoves going all the time. Linguine soaked for hour and half, rigatoni soaks for 2 hours, overnight ... a 2 hour soak took 3 minutes to cook. An overnight soaked pasta cooked in about a minute. Funnily enough, we did a rehearsal dinner and made a vegan lasagna and shrimp lasagna, and didn't blanch the lasagna noodles. Just added more sauce to our pan ... it cooks and hydrates at the same time. You don't have to blanch or buy no-boil lasagna noodles.
We ask why ... what is possible, just because we've done it the same way for so long doesn't mean you have to keep doing it that way.
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
|Click to make these Cheetos even larger.|
I've carried on a long, rhapsodical and oft-tumultuous love affair with Cheetos in my 25-ish years on this earth. Remember in middle school, when I tried to make out with my female best friend, only to be rejected because I had a bunch of neon orange gunk stuck all up in my braces? Then later on she became a disaffected outsider while I became a lame wannabe thug who wears ski goggles? Never mind, that's from Can't Hardly Wait. Foreal though, I've been eating Cheetos for a minute. That's why I was excited to try GIANT CHEETOS (it seems only right to type that in all caps), a relatively new development from the Frito-Lay camp.
In terms of taste and texture, GIANT CHEETOS ï¿½ they're very similar in size and shape to campfire marshmallows, but I would advise against roasting these jawns on a stick ï¿½ have much more in common with cheese puffs than the crunchy snacks we've come to know/love/eat while high. (Above, I placed a few of the CHEETOS next to a quarter and a Burt's Bees chapstick for scale.) My chief complaint is that there was not enough cheesiness in each GIANT CHEETO to justify the amount of chewing required to finish one. Since classic Cheetos are such a cheeseified snack, I was expecting the GIANT CHEETO to deliver a similarly pleasurable experience, just on a larger, more 'roid-ragey scale. That ain't the case ï¿½ they're mostly dry and cottonmouth-inducing.
I stand with the OG Cheetos for life.
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