The Best of Fine Cooking


December 1, 2007

Instant Bites

For excellent hot pepper jelly, contact Tierra Vegetables, based in California's Sonoma County wine country. The company sells seven varieties of spicy Chile jam, ranging in heat from mild to hot. Its Rojo is a brightly flavored jam with a nice balance of sweet and hot, while its Chipotle jam is smoky and complex (12-oz. jars are $10 each). To order, contact Tierra Vegetables at 888-7843772 (

Marcona almonds are sweet and rich, with an extraordinary crunch more like a macadamia nut than an almond. Look for the ones that are fried in extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled liberally with salt and serve them as a pre-dinner nosh with some olives and a glass of sherry. Available at some supermarkets, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Markets, and at (1-800-710-4304), where a 4-oz. package is $4.25.

Quince paste has a concentrated fruit flavor and honey-like sweetness that makes it the perfect foil for cheese. Do as the Spanish do: Cut it into slivers and serve it with a well-aged cheese like Manchego or Cheddar. Some supermarkets carry quince paste in their cheese section. A 14-oz. box is $9.95 at (1-800-710-4304).

Good mail-order sources for high-quality cheeses include (888212-3224) and MurraysCheese .com (888-692-4339). You can also go right to the source and order cheeses from individual cheese makers, such as Meyenberg (; 800-891-4628), which is known for its smoked jack goat cheese and various other goat milk cheeses and products, and Great Hill Blue (; 888-748-2208). Greek halloumi cheese is becoming much more widely available, and many supermarkets now carry it. You can also mail order halloumi from (877-446-8763).

You can find tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, in local supermarkets and health food stores. For mail-order sources, try Adriana's Caravan (; 800316-0820) or Sultan's Delight (; 800-8525046).

You'll find ready-to-eat chorizo in supermarkets (check the cheese or deli case) and specialty shops. Online, try (1-800-710-4304) for a variety of chorizos (from $5.95 for 7 oz.), as well as pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika, from $4.95) and jarred Spanish piquillo peppers (from $8.95).

Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce is available in some supermarkets and in Asian groceries. Online, try the Oriental Pantry (OrientalPantry .com; 978-264-4576).

Rice paper wrappers are available in most Asian groceries and in the ethnic food section of some supermarkets. You can also order them from Adriana's Caravan (; 800-316-0820), where a 1 2-oz. package of 8-inch round wrappers sells for $3.95. Tuong of toi (Chile garlic sauce) is also available in Asian groceries, or find it at from $2.47 (search under "chili garlic sauce").
For cupcake decorations like dragees, sprinkles, and fancy paper liners, contact Sweet Celebrations (; 800-328-6722).

Wooden tart tampers for tartlets are $4.95 at

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