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  • 12 d.i.y. kits for every type of dad

    D'Artagnan Cassoulet Kit; $68.76

    With the dollar still so weak, you might not be able to send good old Dad to France , but this hearty casserole of garlicky sausages, gamey duck confit, meaty pork belly, and heirloom French beans is the next best thing. According to celebrity chef Alain Ducasse, traditional foods-dishes that take time to cook-are making a comeback. For the aspiring gourmand, this kit from the nation's leading purveyor of high-end, all-natural, and organic meats hits the spot regardless of the season. Kit serves 6 to 8 people and includes: 6 legs of duck confit, duck demi-glace, duck fat, duck and Armagnac sausages, garlic sausage, ventrèche (French pancetta), and Haricot Tarbais beans.

    Leeners Deluxe Cheese Kit; $89.95

    Whether Dad only has an hour to stretch and pull some fresh mozzarella or a few weeks to craft delicious aged hard cheeses like Cheddar and Gouda , this kit-one of the most comprehensive available-has everything he could need.

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  • Espresso dream machine

    For all those coffee connoisseurs familiar with the high-quality Francis Francis line of espresso makers in retro shapes and colors, check out the newest addition to the family, produced in conjunction with Illy Espresso: The iperEspresso machine.

    It works exclusively with Illy capsules. The capsules, designed and created by the famed Italian coffee company, work on a new two-process system to percolate your shot. The first step is hyperinfusion, which brings water and coffee in contact under the optimal pressure and the second part is an emulsion step wherein the coffee passes through a specially designed valve to form an exceptionally velvety rich crema.

    The one-touch operation of this machine makes it really simple to use with the same quality as Francis Francis' previous ground espresso based machines. I was skeptical never really liking capsule espresso in the past, but it really does produce a hot, good quality shot without all the mess. Plus, it looks really cool on

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  • The inside look of a new refrigerator

    [Ed. note: Shine contributor Callie isn't the only one who thinks French-door refrigerators are so hot right now. Here, editors pick their favorite model.]

    It doesn't take much to make a refrigerator look great on the outside, especially if it is a built-in and will be housed behind fabulous cabinetry. What matters most is the quality and the interior. A refrigerator has to work for you and your family. The new series of side-by-side refrigerators from GE Monogram do just that. They're flexible, sporting adjustable door bins and shelves and extra large with gallon-sized door bins that fit 3 gallon-size containers.

    But it's the details like the climate control drawer that will chill a wine in minutes or defrost meat in hours; a two compartment dairy bin with a magnetic seal that they say seals in freshness...I say it keeps stinky cheeses from contaminating the whole fridge; and a well-lit interior for finding even the lost condiments buried against the back

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  • Selecting the right steak

    On average, each American devours more than 60 pounds of beef each year. Red meat not only tastes great but is one way to ensure you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs. The following tips, accompanied by recipes from around the world, will inspire you to expand your steak-house repertoire, whether in the kitchen or backyard.

    Choosing the Right Cut

    Selecting the right type and cut of beef is the most critical step in cooking the perfect steak. The first step is to find a reputable butcher. If buying from a supermarket, pick your steak wisely: "Enhanced" beef has been injected with additives to increase moisture and tenderness; "natural" beef has been minimally processed and contains no additives, coloring, or preservatives; "organic" refers to the way the animal was raised; it must have access to a pasture, be on an organic feed diet, and given no growth hormones or antibiotics. Depending on personal preference and availability, you can select from the more

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  • Perfect picnics: light and easy

    Picnics create memories: The food, the company, the vibe-everything seems better in the open air. Even ants and strawberry stains are okay when you're sharing a meal with friends on a sunny day.

    Eating well outside takes only a little extra planning. Almost anything can be portable if you pack it in a tightly sealed container. Instead of trying to put together a complete menu that will appeal to everyone, fill your picnic basket with a variety of good, light choices, such as the ones we've gathered here.

    Surprised to see some of the items in this collection? Eggs are low in calories (about 75 for a large one) and loaded with protein and nutrients such as vitamin B12 and selenium. Plus, these deviled ones are made with olive oil, not mayo-simple substitutions like that figure into many of our hearty-but-wholesome hamper picks. Want to up the health factor even more? Try using whole wheat wraps and pasta.

    Now get outside-and don't forget the napkins and utensils!


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  • How to throw a green party: eco-friendly food and more

    According to the Clean Air Council, every day 43,000 tons of food are thrown out in the United States , and each year Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. That's the bad news. The good news is that with a bit of creativity and a little know-how, you can throw a fun, festive affair without it taking a major toll on the environment.

    When planning an environmentally friendly party menu, leave your global appetite behind and think local. Shipping ingredients from another part of the world requires a tremendous amount of fuel. Look to your nearest farmers' market or CSA (community-supported agriculture) for in-season fruits and vegetables, as well as meat, eggs, and dairy products. They're fresher, taste better, and are oftentimes priced the lowest.

    Beyond "local," there are a number of other labels and designations to keep in mind, including organic, biodynamic, and sustainable. Organic food is regulated by the

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  • Elegant and aromatic arrangements

    Spectacular centerpieces take inspiration from unexpected places-ours began at farmers' markets.

    It's time to bring a little of the outdoors indoors with a spectacular floral arrangement. We have created a series of uniquely beautiful centerpieces that carry the appealing colors and heady fragrances of the outdoors to your table. In keeping with our love of all things food-related, each centerpiece features an unexpected edible element: Asparagus and baby artichokes replace traditional greens in an elegant array; glowing grapes cascade over the edge of a tall vase filled with budding branches; and fresh herbs impart a savory note to a sweet-smelling bouquet of lilies.

    Check out our slideshow for easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions and use the tips below for new ideas so you can express your own sense of style.

    general arrangement tips:

    Use Your Instincts
    There are no hard and fast rules for combining colors, shapes, and scents in floral arrangements.

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  • The top 5 sexiest Pinot Noirs

    These five wines help set the mood. Better yet, they're paired with recipes, so you've got five instant dinners.

    Beringer Third Century 2005 Pinot Noir, Central Coast , California

    (about $14)

    This bottle's name refers to the fact that this winery is now operating in its third century--the company has been around since 1876. The Central Coast is similar to the cool climate of Burgundy , and the fruit shows the same characteristics of just-ripe fruit with an intoxicating undercurrent of earth and spice. (Though if you really like spicy, you might consider a Zinfandel instead.)

    Meaty Recipe Pairing:
    Pork Tenderloin with Tart Cherry, Port, and Caraway Sauce
    The lovely aromas of port and caraway blend well with the alluring notes of spice and earth in this wine.

    Meatless Recipe Pairing:
    Seared Salmon with New Potatoes and Dijon Broth
    Dijon , traditionally made in Burgundy , is a natural complementary flavor to Pinot Noir, also made in the region.

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  • Top 5 Wedding Sparklers

    Nearly every wedding has a celebratory Champagne toast, but the sparkler doesn't have to come from France -or break your budget. Please note that wine prices may differ depending on where you live and whether you purchase in bulk. Not all caterers or event spaces allow brides and grooms (or their wedding planners) to choose wine, so check before you purchase.

    Zonin Prosecco Special Cuvee Brut, Veneto , Italy

    (about $11)

    Italian Prosecco is the ideal low-cost sparkling wine for weddings (though pricey versions are available too). Unlike Champagne , which gets its carbonation from a labor-intensive method that requires a second fermentation in the bottle, Prosecco's fizz comes from fermentation in pressurized tanks. It's a less costly process used by the vast majority of producers, and the quality of the resulting product can be very high, as it is with Zonin's Special Cuvee. This wine has floral aromas; lively effervescence; crisp apple, citrus, and almond flavors;

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  • What to Cook Now: Broccoli

    It may be nutrient-packed, but broccoli is much more than mere health food. Steamed, blanched, sautéed, or even braised, this verdant vegetable, along with its distant relatives broccoli rabe and Chinese broccoli, makes healthful eating seem as alluring as gorging on bacon.

    Use Your Eyes and Your Nose
    When shopping for broccoli, avoid heads that emit any odor and those whose florets have begun to sprout yellow flowers.

    Store Properly
    To store, put broccoli in the refrigerator stalk-end down in a large glass of water, and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.

    Save the Stems
    Don't throw out those delicious broccoli stems. Slice them into small pieces, and start to cook them about two minutes before you do the florets.

    Click here for many more recipes.


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