New products deserve your attention
December 6, 2019
One of the happy surprises I experience writing this column is how often I’m contacted by public relations firms looking for me to talk about their new product or specialty restaurant or food-focused book. I’m guessing they find me through the Cape Gazette online, which regularly features my column.
Most often, the message is a press release with photos, touting a product and offering samples. So far this year, I’ve only responded to two of those and thought I’d share my reactions here. I’ve also included the recipes both companies provided, featuring their innovative products.
The first is from a company called Steeped, Inc. based in Sant Cruz, California. Their goal is to deliver an ethically-sourced and sustainably-packaged single-serve coffee option. Individually-wrapped, nitro-sealed “coffee bags” replace the ubiquitous “K-cups”. The Steeped delivery system is far more environmentally friendly, as every part of the bag is recyclable, unlike the millions of pods currently accumulating in landfills.
The biggest challenge the company faced was delivering fresh flavor in a single-serve system. According to founder, Josh Wilbur, “in our nitro sealed bag, oxygen is replaced with nitrogen, so the coffee stays fresh as if it was ground moments ago.” As the coffee bag (filled with precision ground beans) steeps in hot water for about five minutes, the rich flavor blooms with distinctive body and aroma.
I was never a fan of the “K” system and the somewhat insipid cup of coffee their pods produced. Sampling the brews from Steeped coffee bags, I thoroughly enjoyed the range of flavor profiles from the light roast Sunrise blend to the dark roast Odyssey blend. There are also medium, extra dark and decaffeinated options. The sample pack and a coffee mug would make a terrific holiday gift for the coffee lover on your list (www.steepedcoffee.com).
The second company that shared samples was TBJ Gourmet, based in Pennsylvania. Their range of products began with a bacon jam developed by co-founder Bruce Kramer as part of his game-day tailgate recipe for bacon jam and goat cheese stuffed jalapeño poppers. He attracted the attention of chef Michael Orachewsky and their online business began (www.tbjgourmet.com).
For me, bacon jam seemed like an ideal sweet-savory combination and their formula does not disappoint. They’ve mixed uncured bacon (no nitrates or nitrites) with caramelized onions, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and seasonings to create a uniquely delicious flavor. My favorite recipes from their portfolio include bacon jam brie bites and bacon jam Brussel sprouts.
Other features of the company’s profile are their commitment to ethically and locally sourced ingredients as well as their collaboration with Philabundance, a hunger- relief organization. Proceeds from their sales of TBJ Gourmet’s spiced tomato jam helps keep surplus food out of the landfill and feed those in need. It’s also terrific on a grilled cheese sandwich or as an upscale condiment with hamburgers and fries.
As you plan your holiday gifting, you may want to order a sampler pack for the bacon-lover on your list - they’ll enjoy the drawings of smiling pigs on the box as much as the array of wonderful flavors inside.
Steeped Coffee Concentrate
1 dark roast Steeped coffee packet
6 oz water
Heat water to just below boiling, about 205 F. Place the Steeped bag in a 10-oz mug. Pour hot water over bag until mug is half full. Dip and dunk the bag continuously for about a minute. Allow to steep until dark and rich, about 5 to 7 minutes. Yield: 1 serving.
Steeped Iced Mocha
5 oz Steeped coffee concentrate
1 oz chocolate syrup
1 oz light cream
4 ice cubes
whipped cream, for garnish
In a tall glass, whisk together coffee concentrate, chocolate syrup and cream. Add ice cubes and stir. Garnish with whipped cream. Yield: 1 serving.
Bacon Jam Brussels Sprouts
1 lb Brussels sprouts
salt & pepper
2 T olive oil
3 T Bacon jam
3 oz crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Preheat oven to 450 F. Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Place in a baking pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes, tossing once or twice. Remove pan from oven, add bacon jam and toss to coat. Return to oven and cook an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with Gorgonzola to serve. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Bacon Jam Brie Bites
1 pkg mini phyllo cups
2/3 C bacon jam
5 oz brie
Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange cups in a single layer on a rimmed baking pan. Drop a spoonful of bacon jam into each cup. Top each cup with a small chunk of brie. Bake until cheese starts to bubble and melt, about 10 to 12 minutes. Yield: 15 cups.