Two months after attending the 2019 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, I’m still marveling at how manufacturers return year after year with new and innovative items to inject style, efficiency, and fun into our homes.
I attend the show each year with a goal of identifying my top three favorite items, and although it seems an insurmountable task when faced with multiple buildings displaying the latest and greatest, I’m always surprised how easy the task becomes.
At the top of my list is an item I saw displayed last year as a prototype. The Bartesian countertop cocktail maker began as a Kickstarter project in 2015 and is like a K-cup for cocktails. With the aid of individual cocktail capsules and four reservoirs of favorite spirits, any host can be a mixologist at their next party.
This year, members of the media were invited to experience the Bartesian during an after-hours cocktail party at Beam Suntory. With the guidance of a step-by-step digital display located on top of the machine, an excellent selection of spirits, and a member of the mixology team standing by, I created an absolutely delicious daiquiri. I confirmed that night this little machine could be a big hit with party guests.
My second top pick is the Cuisinart 360 Outdoor Griddle Cooking Center. Ideal for small or large crowds, its round design allows guests to easily observe the cooking process while sipping chilled beverages and conversing with their hosts on the patio. This large, affordable griddle can even be turned into a smoker. It’s beautifully designed to be the entertaining center of any outdoor gathering.
My final top pick is a selection of serving platters and tableware engineered by Tempcontrol / Sanodegusto to keep food warm or chilled for an extended period. Since food safety and optimal enjoyment are always issues during our hot summer weather, my interest was immediately piqued by this dinnerware with internal temperature control.
Previously only available to restaurants, these plates and platters feature attractive marbled designs that appeal to my inner hostess, and will now be available for home kitchens. For my hot-off-the-grill steaks or kabobs, crisp salads, or chilled icebox pies, this new dinnerware ensures guests enjoy their meal at optimum temperature.
Speaking of chilled desserts, my recipe for Fresh Lemon Icebox Pie is poised to become this summer’s go-to dessert. It’s quick and easy to make and requires only a short baking time. The sweet pairing of dark chocolate graham cracker crust with a tangy, pale yellow, lemon filling flecked with tiny bits of lemon zest, ensure this pie is refreshingly tasty on a warm day.
Fresh Lemon Icebox Pie
1 ¼ cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (8-9 whole crackers)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture with your fingers into the bottom and up the sides of a pie dish, and bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
3 egg yolks
1¼ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (5 large lemons)
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, condensed milk, and lemon zest until well blended. Pour the mixture into the cooled piecrust and bake 25 minutes, or until the edge of the pie is set and the center is almost set. Remove the pie from the oven, cool on a rack, and chill several hours or overnight until it is cold. Garnish with swirls of Chantilly cream, slice, and serve.
Yield: Eight servings
Christy Rost is the author of three cookbooks, public television chef on PBS stations nationwide, and longtime resident of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. For additional recipes and entertaining tips, please visit her website at christyrost.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ChristyRost.