Thursday, December 7, 2017

Uuni Cast Iron Casserole Dish and Sizzler Pan

I get a lot of offers to review things. But I don't accept them all. I always think about whether the item will be worth writing about.

First, I ask whether I've reviewed similar products before. It's fine if I've covered similar items, but I don't review products that are just knock-offs of existing items.

Next, I ask are whether the item could be better than other similar products. There are a bazillion whisks, for example, so if I get offered a whisk, I decline unless it has some new feature that will be interesting to write about, or that makes it better in some way.

Third, I'm always always always interested in things that are unique in the marketplace.

The cast iron casserole and sizzler dish combo from Uuni, is definitely the third. Yes, there have been cast iron pans for hundreds of years. What makes this one different is the design.

First, there's the casserole dish with two side handles. It's oval-shaped and deep, so it's great for slow braises on the stovetop, in the oven, or on the barbecue grill. Toss some mac and cheese in there, or a mess of greens. Or some cobbler.

The casserole has a lid, and the lid can be flipped over to use as a sizzle platter or for cooking or baking. The lid also has two side handles.

The third piece is a handle that hooks into the side handle of either the casserole or sizzle dish so you can move them around on the stove or in a hot oven or grill without needing pot holders.

The last piece is a wooden tray that either the casserole or sizzle pan can snuggle into, so you're not putting hot cast iron on delicate surfaces.

All together, this is a pretty unique collection of cooking tools, and well worth a look if you've already maxed out of cast iron frying pans or you're looking to add to your collection.

Since this is uncoated cast iron, it needs to be seasoned just like any other cast iron. So this is the kind of cookware that gets better and better with age.

Who's it for: People who like cooking in cast iron.

Pros: Unique shape.

Cons: Like any cast iron, it needs to be seasoned.

Wishes: I kind of wish the set included two sizzle pans and two wooden bases, for more options. But then again, they sell sizzler pans separately, so if that's what you're looking for, you can buy as many of those as you need.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Montgomery Inn Barbecue

Oy. I love food samples. I love trying new things that might not be on my radar.

The downside to food samples is that sometimes it takes me a while to do the sampling. I hate wasting food, and there's only so much that I can eat every day.

So when I got an amazing box of samples from Mongomery Inn, it took me a while to get through all the goodies.

Everything came frozen (well, except the sauce, which was just chilled from keeping company with the frozen goods) so it was safe for eating soon or for tucking into the freezer for later.

First, there was barbecue sauce in several flavors. Then, pre-cooked racks of ribs that just needed to be heated. A container of pulled pork arrived, too, as well as some baked beans.

I started with the ribs. They're seriously fall-off-the-bone, to the point where if I heated them and tried to cut them into individual ribs, they didn't hang onto the bones at all. Then I figured out that if I wanted to eat ribs on the bone, I could cut them while cold, then heat them to serving temp. The meat still fell right off the bone, but it was finger food rather than fork food.

I thought the rub was a little salty for my taste, but not terribly so. I slathered the ribs with the sauce before I heated them up, but I'm sure they would have been fine with just the rub. Yum!

The pulled pork was great for easy dinners, since all I had to do was heat it up and throw it on a bun. Since I like sauce ... I added more sauce to the top (did I mention that they sent me sauce? Yeah, they did). The meat was perfect for those sandwiches, and cooked to tenderness, but not dry or stringy. Seriously, all you need is buns and you're ready to go.

Last was the beans. I wasn't expecting much, but I was sooooo wrong. The beans said they included brisket, which had me imagining some dry shredded meat, but instead there were pieces of super-tender brisket along with some porky goodness as well. These were sweet with just a little kick. These are the beans that you order in bulk and bring to every potluck, where you tell people it's an old family recipe that you can't divulge. Seriously. These were insanely good.

The Montgomery Inn Barbecue Sauces are also available on Amazon, if you're looking for a new sauce to try for your own ribs, chicken, pork, whatever. But those beans ... so freaking good.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dash Rapid Cold Brew System

I've fallen in love with cold brew coffee. It's smoother, not as bitter, and seems to be less harsh on my tummy. It makes cheap grocery store coffee taste good, and when I spring for the good beans, it's swoon-worthy.

I like to make the cold brew extra-strong, so I can add it to hot water to have drinkable coffee in the morning. Sure, sometimes I'll have iced coffee, but most of the time, I prefer it hot.

So when I got an email offering me the Dash Rapid Cold Brew System, I was very curious. When I make cold brew, I set it up in the evening an let it steep all night. The Dash system makes cold brew in 15 minutes or less.

What kind of sorcery is that?

Of course I asked for a review unit, and set it up right away. I ran plain water through it first to see how it worked.

Very eeeenteresting. *mustache twirling optional*

The device pumps water through the grounds rather than just letting the water sit and steep. It goes from the carafe to the grounds and then back into the carafe. What you end up with is cold brew coffee that has been agitated to release more flavor in much less time.

There's a timer that you can set for up to 15 minutes, but if you haven't reached the right strength, I don't see any reason why you couldn't start it over again for another round.

The pump on this is a little noisy. Not as noisy as a blender, but it definitely makes more noise than the pump on something like a desktop waterfall or my Aero Garden. But of course, this isn't meant to be soothing, and it's not on for a long time. Just long enough to make the cold brew.

I've used this several times now, making larger batches to store in my fridge so I can make my usual hot coffee. I haven't yet found exactly the right ratio of coffee to water to the most concentrated brew, but I'm getting close. For someone who doesn't want concentrate, it's just a matter of adjusting the ratio to make your preferred drinking strength.

I have to say that it's nice to be able to make the coffee so fast. There have been a few times I've forgotten to set up my overnight brew, which led to a sad, coffee-less morning. Now, the worst that can happen is a 30-minute wait.

Since the brewer pumps both clear water and coffee, I've been cleaning it between brews by running clear water through it. One cycle seems to be enough, but if it was putting it into storage, I'd probably do two brews for more complete cleaning, so there would be no coffee residue at all.

This takes about the same amount of space as my other cold brewer, although it's a different shape, and it's smaller than many standard coffee makers. On the downside, it requires electricity. Not a big deal, but you still need to set it up somewhere near an outlet. Since it's relatively small and lightweight, this is easy to move around or store.

Overall, I like this a whole lot more than I expected. And I like the idea that if I want a quick cup of afternoon cold-brew decaf, I can have it ready to drink in a very short time.

The Dash Rapid Cold Brew System is available at Target.

Who's it for: Pe0ple who drink coffee and prefer cold brew.

Pros: Yay, it works!

Cons: It's a tad noisy.

Wishes: With appliances in the kitchen that are made in so many colors, this one is only available in black. For now.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.